The story so far:
Screams filled her ears, echoing off the walls of the bathroom. Her eyes flew open, a scream of her own caught in her throat. She woke to semi-darkness, the nightmare fresh in her mind. She shivered in the chill of early morning, her body slightly numb from the cold. Alone, she knew she was alone. Whatever had cried out had done so from her own consciousness. Just a dream.
Faint early morning light filtered through under the door, casting weird shadows in the bathroom. She gripped the blankets tighter around her shoulders, hoping to cut out some of the chill. Looking up, she saw a thin layer of frost along the corners of the bathroom mirror. As she settled down into the tub and burrowed deeper into the blankets, a faint sound caught her ears. Suddenly, Renni was all attention.
A soft buzzing whizzed by the bathroom door inside the hotel room. Though she hadn’t been so close to one in the last three months, Renni knew the sound of the Mongerer fireflies. Every morning she heard them. Close, but never so close.
She had to get out of there. She quietly tossed the blankets off her and went over the layout of the hotel room in her mind, trying to remember. The bathroom door was close to the hotel door. If the Mongerer had come in that way, there was a good chance other fireflies would be in the halls. But if it came through the window, then she might have an avenue of escape. How could she be sure? She looked over the edge of the tub to her backpack. She had a mirror in there.
Renni reached out for her bag and fell back in the tub, tears streaming down her face. Her leg wouldn’t move. She touched it gingerly. It’d swollen up again. She felt distinctly the sharp pang of metal against tender flesh. So many times she fought the urge to find some way of pulling the bullets out herself. She had a knife. She’d buried it deep in her bag the last time she thought of using it. As long as she had the rod and as long as it worked, she had a chance of overcoming the pain. It didn’t heal her, it just took away the hurt.
She shivered. The buzzing grew closer. A red glow replaced early dawn under the door. It moved back and forth searching. It would only be a matter of minutes before it would think to open the door. She’d seen them do it. Their pinchers worked well handling doorknobs. Renni gritted her teeth and tried again for her bag, biting her tongue to keep from crying out. This time, she wasn’t going for a mirror to slip under the door and see where the Mongerer had come from. This time, she needed the rod. She needed her legs. Because she needed to run.
She snagged the bag handle and yanked it into the tub. The Mongerer stopped its flight. Red lights grew brighter under the door. Renni reached into the bag and pulled out the rod. It elongated. The buzzing outside increased. More Mongerers joined the first. The light of their eyes grew so bright the entire bathroom became illuminated in a faint reddish glow. Renni pointed the rod towards her leg. She hesitated.
Every morning the Mongerers seemed to be on her heels. Every morning she saw them, near but not so near she could not escape. Yet, there were many survivors there in that city. If they were searching for survivors, they would’ve found the hoarders quickly, dispatched the hoarders quickly. She stared hard at the Harbinger gift given to her by Marshal. They weren’t looking for survivors. They were looking for the Harbinger technology. They were looking for her.
Renni almost threw the thing away from her. She almost shattered it against the bathroom mirror. But she knew she couldn’t. She would never get out of that tub without it. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” she whispered. Renni plunged the tip into her leg. The Mongerers slammed into the door.