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.With Dorothy’s help, he could follow it in the dark down to the farm.But it meant going up and over another bare ridge.He tried to get up and sat down again, so painful was his foot.“Ow.”“Give me your jacket,” Dorothy croaked in her broken voice.“I’m going to splint your foot.”He gave her his jacket.Using scissors hidden in her hand that Jacob hadn’t known about, she cut the jacket into strips.Searching in the dark, she picked up a pair of hard sticks, and then, using a screwdriver hidden in the tip of a finger, she removed a piece of plastic from the back of her head.“What are you doing?”“Lie down.Give me your foot.”He stretched out his foot.Dorothy, working swiftly, made a splint out of the sticks and jacket.She fitted the bent plastic headpiece under his heel as additional support, tying it up with the strips of jacket.“Stand up.”Jacob stood up.It still hurt like mad, but at least he could walk on it.“Put me on your shoulders.”He lifted Dorothy back onto his shoulders and ventured across the flowing creek.The water was cool and muddy, and it took away some of the burning sensation in his foot.On the far side he went back into the trees, keeping to the dark areas as Dorothy issued directions in her crackly voice.He started up the next ridge.As he went higher, the trees thinned out until there was nothing above him but a long, bare slope of matted grass and patches of low chaparral.He paused there, looking up at the long slope.The rain had stopped, and the storm had passed.The sky was thick with fast-moving clouds coming in from the Pacific, flaring white in the light of a nearly full moon.For a moment the moon broke through the cloud cover, bathing the landscape in silver before going dark again.Did he dare go over the ridge? He’d be a sitting duck up there.But if he went around it on the left, he would be heading down the valley in the direction the two men had gone.If they turned around and came back, looking for him, he would run right into them.He had to cross the ridge.“I believe the two men have split up,” whispered Dorothy.“One is backtracking; the other is going to climb that ridge in front of us.We’ve got to get up and over it before he blocks our way.Otherwise, we’ll be trapped in a pincer movement.”“Okay.” Without further talk Jacob started hiking up the slope, moving as fast as he could, leaving the darkness of the trees behind.For the moment the moon was behind a scudding cloud, but all around he could see splotches of moonlight passing over the hilly landscape.It looked to be about a hundred yards to the top of the hill.He glanced around.He could see no flashlights anywhere, in the forest or on the open slopes.He kept climbing, his foot smarting and his knees hurting.The top of the ridge was fifty yards away, forty, thirty.He stopped for a moment, gasping for air, his foot feeling like it was on fire.If he could just get over the ridge and down the other side …Just as he topped the ridge, he heard a gunshot from below, and a tuft of grass snapped up near his left foot.With a cry he threw himself down and looked back.He could see a light on the previous ridge—and the silhouette of a man.A third man.The man was shining a flashlight at him and calling into the valley.“He’s over here! Crossing that ridge!”He heard an answering shout on the ridge below him, and he could see a flashlight moving out of the trees and up the ridge, bobbing along toward him.“Run!” squeaked Dorothy.He leapt up and began running down the other side of the ridge, zigzagging again, leaping and jumping, gasping for breath.Each step just about killed his foot.He could see the dark shape of the man now, running along the side of the hill, aiming to cut him off from below.There was almost no cover between him and the trees along the creek at the bottom.Crack crack!He zigzagged.Crack crack! Another divot of grass jumped into the air just in front of him.“Shit!” He stumbled on.“Go left, hard left, and then straight down,” Dorothy said.“That’s heading toward the man!”“Mathematically, it’s the only way you’ll get past him.There’s a swale to the left that will give you cover.”Jacob veered left and down, and found himself in a long, brushy depression.Bashing his way through the knee-high chaparral, he could already see that there was no way he was going to reach the flower barn.But down in the flats were the old hop kilns he and Sully had once played in.Those ruins were closer.Maybe they could hide there.The swale leveled out suddenly.Twenty yards from him, and just above, was the running man.“Hey! You! Stop!” he shouted, dropping to one knee and raising a pistol.“Down!” Dorothy shouted.Jacob threw himself down and hit the grass.Crack crack!He rolled and was up on his feet again.Crack!He felt the wind from the bullet as it sang past his cheek.Glancing back, he saw the man plunging down the hillside, flashlight in one hand and gun in the other.The old hop kiln ruins were in the brushy flats alongside the creek, a quarter mile away.As he ran, he could hear the man gaining on him from behind, hear his grunting breaths.“Where are we going?” Dorothy asked, immediately sensing his change of direction.“To the old hop kilns.To hide.”Silence.“Got any better ideas?” Jacob asked, running.“I think we ought to give up,” said Dorothy.“They might not kill you if we give up.”“No way.Never.”“I think, then, that we’re going to die.”58“We’re almost there,” Melissa said, peering at the paper map.“The driveway’s a mile up the road, on the left.”The rain had stopped but the road was wet, glistening in the light of a nearly full moon that kept appearing and disappearing behind the clouds.Ford continued on for three-quarters of a mile at a slow speed.They were in the isolated hills above the town of Half Moon Bay, dotted with farms and a scattering of expensive estates.As they came around a bend, he could see, a quarter mile away on the side of a ridge, the lights of the house.He slowed to a stop.“What are you stopping for?” Melissa asked.“I don’t like it,” said Ford.“What do you mean?”“There are too many lights on in the house.”“It’s just a kid and a robot,” said Melissa [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]