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He hated to admit it, but if he'd listened to the warnings of his stalker, he might have avoided this clusterfuck.
J.C. Nikolaiev whipped his body through thick brush, ignoring the pain that tore up his side, every muscle in his body tense as he searched the shadows for an explanation of the voice in his head.
"Listen to me. You need to get off the mountains."
He was losing his mind. He'd finally lost his sanity in this world where monsters really did exist in the form of the psychic agents he served with had served with.
Monsters didn't always hide in the closet. Sometimes they looked like regular people with abilities too terrifying to imagine.
He couldn't stop moving. If he didn't escape and seek medical help soon he was going to be in deep shit. He was losing too much blood, the sticky wetness already soaking the material of his shirt against his side. His hand shook as he pressed it against his ribs but nothing alleviated the agony of the cuts.
J.C. glanced over his shoulder toward the smoke that lifted in the distance, snaking through the trees and around the rocky ledges of the mountainside. The fire from the explosion might have slowed the agents down, but they weren't far behind.
Hunched against the chill of the wind, he limped over a fallen, rotted tree, fingers tightening around his gun as he quickened his pace.
"Move, J.C., before they find you."
"Damn it." Pressure built behind his eyes as the words buzzed inside his head, the sensation unnerving and warm.
He studied the overhang of rock and the darkness beneath it. As much as he hated to give the voice credit, whoever she was, she was right. Staying still meant giving up and he was far from ready to hand himself over to be executed.
"Who are you?"
"Someone trying to help. You need to hurry before you're surrounded."
"No shit, Sherlock." He stepped off the path toward the sound of trickling water. His pace slowed to a stagger, his movements dulled by the gnawing pain. If he could follow the river down the mountain
"The trap has been set at the ridge."
Damn them. How had they gotten in front of him? Frustration made his pulse jump, his fingers curling into a tight fist until pain radiated up his wrist. J.C. shoved the woman's words away and stepped cautiously over a log.
Branches rustled overhead and he turned sharply toward the threat, catching a blur of movement in his peripheral vision. They were closing in.
A man jumped from the thick canopy of leaves above.
His assailant dropped into a roll, then fired a gun as he came to his feet. J.C. jerked to the right and lifted his hand to create a shield of air. He'd already aimed his own gun, pulling the trigger, but the man had already disappeared in the thick forest.
J.C. ran. He harnessed his psychic energy, focusing his mind on the ground until he could feel everything that made it upnot only the rock but also sediment and organic material. Directing his ability down, he scattered the molecules. Rocky plates pressed up against each other, the ground lifting and falling to create a wall of dirt.
Ahead, the jagged path was riddled with sharp drops. A misstep and his ankle gave out, the wind snatching his grunt of pain. He didn't have time to regain his balance or retrieve the fallen gun. Someone crashed into the back of his knees and he fell hard. His forehead cracked soundly against a treethe impact making his vision darken.
Warm blood slid from his hairline, down the side of his face.