Wynefrede tried to make herself as small as possible inside the crate and held her breath as someone opened the lid of the crate next to her.
Then she heard a yell, too far away and faint to make out the words and the sound of a lid dropping back down.
“Omael saw him!” someone yelled from far down the hallway. “He’s out back, running away!”
A door slammed and all was silent.
The cultists must have spotted George. Wynefrede hoped that they didn’t catch him as she waited in the crate for any sign that the pursuers were coming back.
When several minutes passed in silence, she lifted the lid of the crate slightly and paused, then opened it all the way, looked around at the empty room, and climbed out. She leaned back in for the crowbar then, weapon in hand, went to the door and listened, then opened it a crack. The hallway was empty. She was about to step out when she heard footsteps. She ducked back inside the room and closed the door almost all the way. She didn’t shut it. It might make a sound and give away her presence. On the other hand, someone might see that the door was slightly open, and that would give her away just as well. She froze in place, waiting.
“Vladimir, before you go…” That was the voice of the guy wearing sandals. The big boss here on Lamacoln. Probably the guy who thought he was god.
That made Vladimir the one with the boots. She thought his voice was familiar. Well, not the voice as much as the intonation. The way he spoke. The choice of words. She couldn’t be sure, of course. She’d only met Vladimir once, years ago.
“If you could get some people here today, we could use them,” said Avourel. “Finnbogi could die any minute now. He could fall of a cliff, or drown, or get bitten by a snake. You don’t want that to happen.”
“No,” said Vladimir. “Not when we’re so close.”
“And can you open your gate any sooner? Every day Finnbogi is here, it’s an added risk.”
“We still haven’t finished setting up all the security protocols,” said Vladimir. “But fine. I’ll have the final tests rushed today. We’ll open it tomorrow. Are you bringing all your people through?”
“Just a couple,” said Avourel. “The ones who’ve already signed over all their money. I’ll keep working on the rest. “
Their footsteps echoed down the corridor and the voices got softer. Then a door closed behind them and the sound was cut off.
Wynefrede waited a beat, then eased the door open and peered out. The hallway was empty. She stepped out of the room, still holding on to the crowbar, then ran for the exit.
Outside, it was clear. All the cult members must be busy elsewhere, or chasing George through the woods. She dashed across the path and threw herself behind the hedge, then lay there, covered by branches, until her breathing was even again. Then she crawled away from the compound until the foliage thinned out and started running.