bulging eye, just visible behind Ryan, scanned the room frantically â¦ until it found its target.
It locked onto something beside me, and then froze there.
âHello, Winter,â he rasped, struggling under Ryanâs grip. His bulging eye seemed to pulsate with wicked energy. âWhat a joy it is to see my former charge looking so desperate!â
I stepped further in front of my friend, protectively . I could sense her wanting to pounce, but I held my bandaged arm out to stop her.
âHa!â laughed Sligo. âAnd so the trap catches the bear!â
âShut up and tell us where Cal is,â I said, putting my hand behind my back. âYou need to do as we tell you now.â
Sligo ignored me, intent on taunting Winter instead. âArenât you going to say hello, sweetheart ? Feeling lonely in that big old house of yours?â he sneered. âIf you want company, Iâm sure I can arrange someone to, ah, pop around and pay you a visit.â
Ryan pushed him harder, and Sligo fell to his knees. Ryan lifted him back to his feet and shoved him up against the wall again, pinning him into position.
âNot so terrifying now, are you!â said Ryan.
Sligo was reaching out awkwardly for something on his left, but what? There was nothing in the room. It was empty.
But suddenly his fleshy fingers gripped a round, rocky protrusion in the wall, close to the corner. He pushed it flat with the palm of his hand and it sank away. The wall on our left started moving. Like a huge stone sliding door! Were there two chambers down here?
Sligo dived through the opening, out of Ryanâs startled grip.
Ryan and I flung ourselves on him, trying to pull him out. He mustnât get away!
But Sligo wasnât giving up. He kicked out and I copped a hit square in the face and fell back, knocking Winter down with me.
As quickly as the opening had appeared, it began closing again. I swooped forward, shoving my bag in the gap to try to keep it wedged open.
Sligo kicked out at the bag and sent it flying, knocking torches everywhere. Zigzags of light fell to the floor with us.
âIâm losing him!â Ryan yelled, as his fingers slipped. âBoges, quick, help!â
Ryan desperately tried to hang onto Sligoâs ankle but it was too late. Sligo had disappeared behind the closing wall.
âCal!â Winter was screaming. âAre you in there? Weâre here! Weâre here for you!â
I reached out, but the wall had already closed.Ryan was left clutching nothing but an empty shoe. He shook it, frustrated, then threw it hard against the wall on the other side of the room.
A piercing sound brought our attention up to the speaker in the corner. The three of us stared up at it, waiting for our next crippling message.
âTemper, temper,â Sligoâs voice mocked.
âWhereâs Cal?â Winter shouted. âWhat have you done with him?â
I ran my hand over the wall near the secret door, trying to find the protrusion Sligo had pushed to open it. But all I could find was a deep, round depression, as though the mechanism had jammed or had sealed shut from the other side.
âThereâs no way weâre leaving here without Cal,â Winter cried. âWhere is he?â
âNo, you will not be leaving this chamber,â Sligo warned. âIf any of you make a move for the trapdoor, Cal dies. I donât want to end his life prematurely. Believe me, I donât. I have other plans for him first.â
âWhat plans?â Winter shouted. âPlans for Cal? You said youâd give him the antidote and release him on the night of the charity auction!â
âYes,â Sligo said. â If youâd fulfilled your side of the deal, my little Delilah. But this changeseverything. Very disappointing. How can I trust you now? Now that youâve come spying on me? Maybe I should inject you all with a lethal dose of