For the remainder of 2013, my posts will be from Layla Daltry’s perspective. She’s the hero of The Compass Master, a daring antiquities hunter, and while on the trail of a rare, precious artifact is living undercover in Denver as Helena Soister…
By the time I reached the museum doors, Annie had caught up with me.
“What’s going on?” she asked, panic in her voice.
“That man!” I said. “We’ve got to find him!”
I ran outside and toward one of the stone blocks that bordered the front steps, and did a really cool parkour leap up onto it and then onto its massive stone flower planter. From there I peered in all directions.
The rottweiler man was just to the north and running into Millennium Park.
I leaped off the planter before a museum guard could grab me and dashed toward the park. Annie’s steps pounded behind me. The mysterious stranger wasn’t with her or anywhere.
“That way!” I cried to her, my arm pointing the way. She was fast and caught up with me near a wall and clusters of trees and bushes, where I paused and looked frantically about. If I lost the rottweiler then I’d lose the scroll, my reputation… Everything.
Annie didn’t slow down. She ran into a cluster of trees and bushes while crying, “He’s in here!”
I sprinted after her—and stumbled to a stop.
The rottweiler man was cornered between high bushes and a wall. And Annie was within inches of him. As he turned and glared at me he reached into his jacket. Only now did I see suspicious bulge beneath it. Was that a gun? A hunting knife?
Suddenly he pivoted away from me and toward Annie, but as he moved his foot caught on a tree root and he almost fell but steadied himself by flinging out his free hand and grabbing Annie’s arm.
Annie screamed in shock. Instinctively I jumped toward her – and smack into a big wet pile of dog turds. Before I knew it I was sliding sideways but somehow stayed upright while inanely exclaiming,“Oh, crap! Stinky mess!”
Annie gaped at me and suddenly whipped the poisoned hatpin out of her pocket and stabbed it into the rottweiler’s neck.
“No!” I cried
The man shouted in shock and pain. He let go of Annie and reached up to the hatpin that was jutting out of him like a dainty, rather fetching version of Frankenstein’s neck bolt. But his fingers already seemed to be numb and they only brushed his ear, and his eyes rolled up in his head.
For a heavy man, he fell quietly. He also fell in the wrong direction and onto the hatpin, which shoved it further into his flesh.
“Ewww!” Annie groaned.
“I didn’t mean for you to use that thing!” I told her.
I shrugged. “My bad.”
“Is he dead?” Her voice was shaking.
“He shouldn’t be. The chemicals on that pin should only knock him out and make him sick.”
I crouched beside the man, rolled him over, pulled out the hatpin, and with a tissue wiped the blood off it before slipping them both into my pocket. “Can’t leave any evidence,” I mumbled.
I heard a movement behind me.
The mysterious stranger was walking toward us. He paused to look down at the rottweiler, and then at me, and he smiled…
TO BE CONTINUED…