Iced - Page 97/120

I can’t look away. How the heck is he alive? I feel like he’s stirring around in my brain. Watching the light go out of his cool, clear eyes in the alley behind BB&B had just about slayed me. I missed him. I bloody fecking missed him.

Ryodan says real soft, “Disappointed or loyal.”

I got no intention of dying. “Loyal,” I say.

He lets me go and walks away. I slump down the wall, scrubbing tears from my face. I hurt everywhere, face, hands, chest, ribs. “But you’re going to have to—”

“Do not try to barter with me right now.”

“But it’s not fair that I—”

“Life isn’t.”

“But I can’t stand working every night!”

“Deal with it.”

“You’re making me nuts! A person needs some time off!”

“Kid, you just never give up.”

“I’m like, alive. How could I?” I stand up and dust myself off. My tears are gone as mysteriously as they came.

He kicks a chair at me. “Sit. There are new house rules. Take notes. Violate one and you’re dead. Acknowledge.”

I roll my eyes and toss myself into the chair, slinging a leg over the side. Belligerence is me. “I’m listening,” I say irritably.

I hate rules. They always screw me up.


“Where do you think you’re going?

Don’t you know it’s dark outside?”

I slow-mo Joe it down the corridor cussing Ryodan but keeping it under my breath since he’s walking right next to me.

The new house rules are the biggest pile of BS I ever heard. It’s going to kill me to follow them. Literally result in my death because there’s no way I’ll remember to do everything he wants me to do while also keeping track of everything I’m not allowed to do. In addition to “Report to work at eight every night” is the most offensive rule of all: “You will never leave Chester’s unaccompanied by one of my people again.”

“So, I never get to be alone, like, ever?” I exploded, flabbergasted. “Dude, I need my private time.” I been alone most of my life. Too many people in my personal space start to chafe me after a while. I get edgy and weird. And tired, too, like they wear me out just being there. I have to get off by myself, or be with one person like Dancer to recharge.

He didn’t answer me.

Another one that really gets me is that I’m supposed to never question or argue with him in public! I’m going to be dead by morning. Only way I have a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding there is if I start wearing a muzzle or cut out my own tongue.

“You can say anything you want to me in private,” he said. “Which is way the fuck more than I permit anyone else.”

“I don’t want no private time with you.”

“Too bad,” he said. “Plan on a lot of it.”

“Why do you dick with me? Why don’t you just forget about me and let me live my life.” It’s weird to think he’s been watching me since I was nine. I never even noticed him. He’s noticed me probably more than anybody else ever has, including my mom.

Again, he doesn’t answer.

I walk with him to the end of a hallway on the third floor. He stops at a glass panel that’s smoked black and pulls a cloth hood out of his pocket. When he reaches for me, I duck back and say, “You’re kidding, right?”

He just looks at me until I snatch the hood from his hand, put it on myself, and let him guide me by an arm.

I suffer the indignity of being blinded in silence, and focus on absorbing every detail I can. I count steps. I sniff through the heavy fabric. I listen hard. When we get on an elevator and go down, I count seconds so I can figure out what floor he’s taking me to when I finally get some time alone, and I will. He can’t have someone on me every second of every day. He’ll get tired of it. I need to get back to Dancer! I need to talk to Ryodan about getting samples but when I brought up the Ice Monster he told me to stow it.

When we arrive at our destination and he pulls the hood off, I’m floored to see Ryodan’s got his own War Room, and of course it’s top-of-the-line, technological perfection, and makes ours look stupid! Once again I’m jealous. There are computers everywhere. CPUs and monitors and keyboards and I don’t know what half the stuff in the room is, and I know a lot. Dancer would go crazy in here!

He’s got a map up, too, but unlike our paper one, his is electronic, on a glass panel suspended from the ceiling, about twenty feet wide and ten feet tall. It’s something out of a futuristic movie. It’s got lots of lines and dots and triangulated areas marked out in different colors.


I drop down in a chair behind an enormous slab table that faces the map. There are nine chairs at the table. I wonder how long this room has been here, how many centuries these dudes who don’t seem to be able to die have sat in this room and plotted things. I wonder what kind of things guys like them plot. Coups? Economic catastrophes? World wars?

“So, Barrons is alive, too,” I fish.


“Dude, what the feck? I don’t know what your superpower is, but I want whatever you’ve got.”

“You think.”

“I know.”

“You don’t even know what it is. Yet you’d take it sight unseen.”

“To, like, never die? Fecking-A I would!”

“And if there’s a price.”

“Dude, we’re talking immortality. There ain’t no price too high!”

He gives me a faint smile. “Ask me again when you’re older.”

“Huh?” I say. “Really? When I’m older I can have whatever you got? Like, how much older? Fifteen?”

“I didn’t say you could have it. I said you could ask me. And no, not fifteen.”

“Dude, give me a little hope here.”

“I just did.”

He taps something in on a remote device and all the sudden I’m not looking at Dublin on the grid anymore. He’s zoomed out and I’m seeing a map of surrounding countries. There are dots pegged in England, Scotland, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Romania, and Greece. He zooms out farther and I see two in Morocco and one in Norway.

I let out a low whistle, horrified. Dancer and me were only seeing the little picture. “There’s more than one Ice Monster.”