That was the wrong sound. Guns sound like small bombs going off by your head.
Clear your mind.
Almost out of bullets.
For the last while, she had been hearing echoes in the cave. The soldiers were close now.
She was going to die here.
Those are not the right thoughts.
Brendan, Garrett, Belle, Jeremy. Belle had instructions, Jeremy had instructions. Faraday cages. It should be easy. Plans around the island. Everyone knew about the blackout zones. Mr. Kwong could tell her. He was right. Liz, you need to have more faith in other people.
She was looking around, mentally calculating the area she'd covered, the relays left. Someday she should learn the properties of radio waves in caves. She'd been here before.
Ethan had been the one with the note, by the ranger station.
And she had two relays left.
One was nearly above her, the one that she and Feo and Ethan had spotted. She had tried to smash it, then. Now she could destroy it for real. She had enough bullets.
There was another one. Had to be another one, up where she had first met Ethan and Feo, and Frankie, and Duncan, and Haruka, who'd been scared of her. They had all missed it.
Running. She was using the edges of the wall for balance, air pushing out of her throat. Wheezy and stumbling, half-falling.
Stagger. Land. Pick yourself up again. Rest soon. Try not to think.
The relay was now painfully obvious. Haruka. Feo. Duncan, Frankie, Ethan. The voices were closer now. Liz swore silently. She hadn't thought about the tunnels manipulating sound.
Last relay. Far away. High up.
Just like pitching.
Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate? A softball cheer. Now she could let herself stumble against the wall, let exhaustion sap her movements.
Jeremy, Mirabelle, Brendan, Garrett, all needed to do their part. Liz, you need to have more faith in other people.
She could lean against a wall.
She could stay alive a little longer, wait until the terrorists came, kill one or two of them with her. For Mr. Kwong. It was the least she could do.
But standing in the open wasn't the best way to do it. There was the alcove she'd been in before, the bag where she had stolen Cyrille's clothes, the corpse. Cyrille's body was rotting; Liz breathed through her mouth. She stepped into the alcove as Danya's mooks rounded the corner.
A crackle of voices. They had her location now, surprise surprise, and were arguing over who had to go first. Liz almost sighed. She had heard this so many times. People asking for drugs, people asking for math help. You're afraid of me.
Yeah. Danya's soldiers were afraid of her. It wasn't a bad thing.
She grinned reflexively.
No life flashing before her eyes, just people. Jeremy, Brendan, Garrett, Belle, her makeshift team. Kimberly, with her vendetta and Daisuke's gun. Dave, Isabel, Charlie, Winnie, Helen. The ever-bewildering Milo Taylor. Teo Weinstock and the bruises on her neck. In school, Jeremy counting cards, the fleeting camraderie of the girl's softball team. Hammy, Mom and Mr. Kwong.
Had she thought of him that way before? She didn't know. But it seemed obvious.
Her voice could take a little more. And it's not like Danya would show it to him, but it was good for posterity. Or something.
"Bye, Dad." She said. "I love you."
Was she crying? She hadn't realized she could cry anymore.
Bye, Dad. Thank you for teaching me. I wish I could save you. I think they're going to kill you now, and you're scared, I know you're scared, and I wish I could be there, take your place, drive a bargain. I wish I was cleverer. You always taught me to be clever. I wish I had done this better, gotten you free...
The soldier was getting closer.
I'm sorry, Dad.
She made sure the gun was steady, pulled off the safety. Something complicated, factorials of multiples of nine, could calm her hands.
She could hear the soldier's gun click. A squeak of shoes. An intake of breathe.
(G055 Liz Polanski: Deceased)