Prom Nights from Hell Chapter Twelve
Miranda, dressed in the blue uniform, pushed aside the man she’d just hit over the head with the clock to reach Sibby. She still had handcuff bracelets around her wrists, each dangling a piece of chain. Her wrists, her hands, were shaking.
She lifted the unconscious girl gently. “Sibby, come on, open your eyes.”
It wasn’t supposed to have taken so long. The plan had been simple: She and Sibby would switch identities by switching outfits. When Deputy Reynolds double-crossed them, like Miranda knew he would, it would be Miranda disguised as Sibby he’d hand over to his crew, and she’d deal with them, then come back and rescue Sibby.
At least, that’s how it should have gone.
“Okay, Sib, time to wake up,” Miranda said, carrying the girl now, cradling her pressed against her chest as she moved as quickly as possible. She could hear Sibby’s heartbeat, but it was faint, and slow. Getting fainter. This is not happening.
“Rise and shine, Sibby,” she said, her voice cracking. “Up and at ’em.”
Miranda hadn’t expected to find all five of Deputy Reynolds’s goons waiting for her-shouldn’t someone have been in the getaway car? – and especially hadn’t anticipated the woman he’d picked up from the airport having rhinestone-studded brass knuckles. The blow to the head had given them time to cuff Miranda to a pipe and made her a little weak, so it had taken her longer than it should have to knock them off with a series of roundhouse kicks and one side scissor, then break the chain on the cuffs and free herself. Giving Deputy Reynolds more time with Sibby’s esophagus than she’d planned.
A lot more.
The heartbeat was getting softer, harder to hear.
“I’m so sorry, Sibby. I should have gotten here sooner. I tried my best, but I couldn’t get the handcuffs off and I was too weak and I failed and-” Miranda was having trouble seeing and realized she was crying. She stumbled but kept running. “Sibby, you’ve got to be okay. You can’t go. If you don’t come back, I swear I’ll never have fun again. Not once.” The heartbeat was just a whisper now, the girl in her arms a pale ghost. Miranda choked back a sob. “God, Sibby, please-“
Sibby’s eyes flickered. Color surged into her cheeks and her heart picked up. “Did it work?” she whispered.
Miranda swallowed the huge lump in her throat and resisted the urge to crush her. “It worked.”
“Clocked him with the clock, as requested.”
Sibby smiled, reached her hand up to Miranda’s cheek, then closed her eyes again. They didn’t reopen until they were in the car with the historical society behind them. She sat up and looked around. “I’m in the front seat.”
“Special occasion,” Miranda explained. “Don’t get used to it.”
“Right.” Sibby worked her neck back and forth. “That was a good plan. Trading outfits so they’d think you were me and not worry so much about restraints.”
“They still went all out.” Miranda pushed the cape back. “I broke the chain, but I can’t get the bracelets off.” Thinking for some reason of Kenzi at the prom saying, Are you ready to unshackle yourself from the insecurities of your youth? Are you ready to own your future?
“What happened to Plant Boy?”
“I called in an anonymous tip telling them where to find him and the bodies of the guards he shot. He should be on his way to jail.”
“How did you know you were right? That he was trying to trick us?”
“I can tell when people are lying.”
“Different things. Little gestures. Mostly by listening to their heartbeats.”
“Like if they speed up, they’re lying?”
“Everyone is different. You need to know how they react when they’re telling the truth to know how they react when they’re lying. His heartbeat gets slower, more even when he lies, like he’s trying to be extra careful.”
Sibby looked at her more closely. “You can hear people’s heartbeats?”
“I hear a lot of things.”
Sibby took that in. “When Plant Boy was strangling me because he thought I was you? He called me Princess. And said some people thought you had superpowers like a teen Wonder Woman or something.”
Miranda felt her chest get tight. “He did?”
“And he said there was a bounty on your head. Alive or dead. Although I’m sorry to say that I’m worth ten times as much as you are.”
“It’s not nice to brag.”
“Is it true? That you’re Wonder Woman?”
“Maybe the lack of oxygen went to your head but Wonder Woman is a comic-book character. Made up. I’m a real, normal person.”
Sibby snorted. “You are definitely not normal. You’re totally neurotic.” A pause. “That wasn’t an answer. Are you really a princess with superpowers?”
“Are you really a sacred prophet who knows everything that is going to happen?”
Their eyes met. Neither of them said anything.
Sibby stretched, sprawling out over the front seat, and Miranda turned up the radio and they drove on in silence, both of them smiling.
After a few miles Sibby said, “I’m starving. Could we stop for a burger?”
“Yeah, but we’re on a schedule, so no kissing strange guys.”
“I knew you were going to say that.”