This continues an excerpt from Mad Science Institute, a novel of calamities, creatures, and college matriculation. The novel will be available 12/16/2011, but you can read the beginning here first!
He made a sudden turn through a red light and then veered into a parking garage that he knew had an exit on the other side of the block. After he pulled through to the far street, he saw no more bikers behind him.
His impulse was drive directly home to be with McKenzie, but he didn’t want to risk it. Instead, he headed out towards the coastal highway, where the long narrow roads would expose any pursuers. Only after he was satisfied that he had lost his tail did he return home.
It was early evening by the time he pulled into his driveway, and he was relieved to see his big blue truck awaiting him. Dean hopped out of the car and rushed to the front door, intending to throw it open and announce his victory. But when his hand touched the doorknob, his excitement evaporated. The door frame had broken away from the lock. Someone had kicked it in.
In a flash, Dean was inside, but the house was dark and silent. When he flipped the switch, the lights didn’t come on.
“McKenzie,” he called. There was no answer. He called louder, but still there was no answer. He moved through the dining room hallway and found that the lights didn’t work here, either. In the kitchen, the microwave and stove clocks were blank. Power outage, he thought, but when he looked through the window he saw that the neighbors had their back porch light on.
At the small kitchen table, he found one of the chairs had been overturned. A black suitcase was stashed neatly beside the next chair, and a laptop set up on top of the table. These must be her things, which meant McKenzie had definitely been inside. The question was: where had she gone?
He righted the chair and put it back in its spot and jabbed a few of the laptop’s keys. The screen remained as dead as his lights, but he noticed a white pad of paper tucked underneath the computer. He pulled it out to find a note in her handwriting:
They’re coming. They’re here. Whatever happens, I want you to know something.
My answer is yes. With all my heart, yes. I should have said it years ago.
Dean suddenly felt frantic. He must have failed to draw them away. They figured it out, and then they found her here, kicked in the front door, and cut the power somehow. But maybe it wasn’t too late—if McKenzie had gotten away, then he could still find her before they do.
He looked around, desperate to find some clue as to where she might have gone. Then he saw something black and shiny on the second step of his staircase. It was one of her shoes. He ran over it and up the stairway to find her there, on the landing, halfway to the second floor. She was laying face down, one hand underneath her and the other resting limply beside her.
Desperately, he rolled her over and brushed her hair from her face to find her eyes open and staring. There was no pulse. There was no breath.
Even as he began CPR, he knew, with the full weight of his professional experience, that it was too late. His futile rescue breaths would amount to nothing more than a goodbye kiss.