Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
Two days after the festival, Sloane still couldn’t shake the feeling that he knew. She shouldn’t have gone. She should have stood further away. And what was that with the strange mummy man?
If she could go back in time, she wouldn’t have gone.
If she could go back in time, Sloane would change so many things that had happened. She would have stopped Eli from going on that trip. She would have insisted her mother picked up dad at work. She probably would have even tried to stop the power outage from happening.
She couldn’t get caught up in the past. No one could change that.
Someone bumped into her cart, quickly apologized, scooted over. Sloane leaned against the cart handle. What else did she need? Oranges, flour, eggs and salt.
The oranges were displayed in a big wooden box. Sloane picked out a few nice looking ones. She turned to go to the baking aisle, but froze.
A sense of dread washed over her.
Sloane had never been the most openly observant, but she always, always knew when something bad was about to happen. She’d felt that way before she slipped while camping and sprained her wrist. She’d felt that way before her pet dog got hit by a car. She’d felt that way when Eli signed up for the trip, and on the night her dad didn’t return from work, she’d been queasy with it.
What could possibly go wrong now? Sloane spun in a circle, looking for danger. Would it happen to her? A random shopper, a cashier?
Four security officers entered the produce section through an employee door.
The hair on the back of Sloane’s neck stood up as if she’d been shocked.
Whoever these men were, they were most certainly not security officers.
Sloane turned her cart away from them. She didn’t know who they were, why they were here, or what they planned to do. She couldn’t exactly do anything about it either. What, would she go up to the store manager and say ‘hey, I have absolutely no evidence beyond a hunch, but there are four dangerous guys in here!’
Footsteps sped up behind her.
Sloane glanced over her shoulder. The security officers had increased their pace and turned directly towards her.
Whoever they were, she had the feeling that she couldn’t let them catch her. They must know.
Sloane abandoned her cart and sped walked through the produce section. Someone shouted from another aisle. She broke out into a run.
Where was the nearest exit? This store was massive, more of a market really, and she’d only been in here once before. The front door surely wouldn’t do. There might be more people outside. Who were these guys? They had to know about her magic. There was simply no other reason for them to come after her. Ransom, maybe, but Sloane couldn’t actually be certain her mother would pay a ransom for her.
Sloane sped up. Intermittent glances behind told her she was outpaced.
Okay, so she couldn’t run, she couldn’t hide, and the law almost certainly wouldn’t take her side.
There remained just one reasonable option. Reasonable?
It wasn’t really reasonable. Sloane found herself momentarily alone in an aisle. Was she really about to do this? Two security officers crashing out of the cereal section told her yes. She jerked her head, focused her mind, and sent a giant hanging sign reading Sandwiches! $8 down onto the pair.
Survival had never been so desperate that she had to use magic in public before. Now, every part of Sloane’s body and mind told her that she had to. These men were going to kill her if she didn’t. She hoped she wasn’t overreacting.
‘Attention shoppers,’ a voice came over the PA, ‘This is a safety emergency. Please exit the building calmly through the front entrance’
Emergency! Sloane determined she might have a shot of getting out with everyone else.
She’d disguised herself with magic a few times before.
Never as someone else, though: it had been blending into a tree, some tall grass, a rock face. She concentrated now. Her whole body tingled. She had to look as average -and as different- as possible.
Ergo; man, tall, heavy, darker skin, baseball cap, a pair of glasses.
A glance in the dairy case door displayed moderate success. It would have to do. Sloane hurried away from the unconscious (dead?) sign men, towards the front door.
She joined the gathering crowd lining up to walk out the door. Shit, they were doing it one at a time. Anyone who’d ever been around a Mage would sniff her out. Where else could she go? The opposite door opened, and Sloane’s heart sank.
Rose Hitchcock and Effie McCarty -arguably the two most powerful Mages- walked into the store.
Sloane backed up, turned around, directly into a security officer. Her disguise fell. He looked surprised for a moment - just long enough for Sloane to turn back around and dash into the crowd. Maybe she could put up another disguise and blend in. Honestly, at this point, she’d try anything. The Mages were here. They must know.
People shouted and stumbled as Sloane wove through them. She had to get out of sight of the Mages, and the security officers.
Someone grabbed her wrist.
“Here, over here!” the man shouted back towards the entrance. Sloane desperately tugged to no avail. He was much bigger than her, and it looked like he worked out.
Fine, then. Sloane sent a jolt of electricity through her arm, numbing it, but making the man let go with a yelp. She turned to run again. The crowd had parted now. The security officers were weaving through towards her. Sloane dove to the ground between a few strangers. She put up a hasty disguise as she did so.
She changed the disguise again when she stood back up a few feet away. They didn’t have to be good, just different. People backed away from her. Shit. This wasn’t working.
Something hit Sloane’s shoulder, and she stumbled as a shock ran through her body. Taser. Her jacket hadn’t taken it all.
She ran into a stack of shopping baskets, tripped, tried to get up on the nearest thing, but discovered that the nearest thing was a fresh fish case, and she’d just put her hand in ice. She fell again, this time smacking her face solidly into the metal side of the refrigerated wall and instantly blacking out.