Slowly, Michael put the phone down on the kitchen table next to his rapidly cooling macaroni and cheese. He felt numb now, but he knew he’d feel ill in a moment.
Then don’t wait a moment.
Michael stood gingerly and made for his bedroom. He’d gone over what to do a thousand times in his head, enough that he could do it now on autopilot.
And there wasn’t anything difficult to do now. He just changed into dark, loose jeans and a t-shirt large enough to conceal a washizaki short sword down his spine, but not so loose that it would restrict his movements. The gun Leroy had given him, and Sensei Barrie had trained him to use, went into his belt. He put the cell phone on silent mode, tucked it into his back pocket, pulled on his soft cotton gloves, and then he was ready.
He wanted to take a deep breath, but his throat was too tight to allow it.
Michael tucked his feet into comfortable black sneakers that he’d bought just for this and walked out into the night. He had never forgotten to lock his door in his life, but he did now.
* * *
Shiloh in the springtime was no more pleasant than Shiloh in winter. As muggy as the summer months and foggy as the winter ones, the weather covered pedestrians in sweat almost as soon as they stepped outside of their homes. Michael walked down the street through the all-encompassing fog, careful of the vehicles and people that would emerge right in front of him, leaving him a split second to move out of the way. It would have been safer to walk on the sidewalk, but forcing himself to stay alert like this occupied Michael’s mind.
Besides, at nearly midnight the back streets were mostly deserted anyway.
He reached the ugly gray concrete structure that was Shiloh Station after only ten minutes walk, though he was covered in sweat. The washizaki stuck to his back, and Michael hoped that it didn’t show through the t-shirt. He’d have to come up with something better to conceal it.