Peter went flying back, glimpsing a dizzying whirl of sky, highway, and suburb before landing in his body with a jarring BZZZT.
He immediately began to jump and twitch. Kora reached up and grabbed his shoulders, pinning him against the driver’s seat. Eun reached over from the passenger seat and tried to grip his wrists but she couldn’t do it; his arms were thrashing like whips, smacking the windows and dashboard in unpredictable THUPs.
She tensed in place, eyeing them for a moment with rapt, unwavering focus, then plucked them from the air with a pair of quick, efficient snatches. It helped, but it didn’t solve the problem. His head continued spasming; his eyes rolled in their sockets like freewheeling marbles.
“Get his head!” she yelled at Kora.
Kora crossed her right arm over Peter’s upper chest, pinning his torso against the seat. At the same time, she reached up with her left and palmed his forehead, pulling his skull into the headrest. He jerked and bucked for a few more seconds, but then he settled down. His right eyeball was pointing down and to the right, while his left was pointing down and to the left.
“Is he okay?” Kora asked tightly, flexing her fingers in small, tense shifts to improve her grip.
Eun barely registered the question. She was too creeped out. “I…I don’t…”
Peter drew in a tremendous breath—huuuUUUUUHHHH—and Eun leapt back and let go of his wrists. She immediately darted forward, intent on grabbing them, but Peter raised a hand.
“It’s okay, Eun.” He patted Kora’s arm, which was still looped across his chest. “I’m good. You can let me go.”
The hand holding his forehead came an inch off his brow and slowly retracted. The arm across his chest slunk back in a cautious slide.
Peter chuckled, then coughed. “It’s okay, guys.” He pounded his chest with the inside of his fist. His t-shirt was completely soaked. “I’m good.”
“What about the Timekeeper?” Eun asked.
“I don’t know.” Peter gave her a haunted look. “Last time I saw him, he was still—”
[Fi-ht-ng. I -m st–l—] The demigod’s voice fritzed in and out of their minds. It was interspersed with the mental equivalent of snowy static, but they got the gist of his message.
He was still fighting. He was still alive.
[Timekeeper? Timekeeper!] Peter stretched out with his psyche. Desperation caused him to duck his head and raise a hand to his ear, as if he was activating a mic’d up earpiece. [Is there anything that—]
[NO.] The voice came through loud and clear this time. [I’ve managed to restrain her, but she got some good ones in. Listen carefully: your dimension isn’t safe. She won’t be able to gobble it down as fast as she would have if she was at the peak of her powers, but she’s still—]
[We need to get you some goddamn—]
[LISTEN. I’m going to have to put myself into a psychic coma so I can heal from the trauma.]
[That I’ll be inside an astral cocoon, so I won’t be able to help you. She’ll still be active, but her powers are diminished. I managed to throw some Enochian cuffs onto her before I retreated. They’ll slow her down, but they won’t stop her. It’s only a matter of time before she—] He cut off again.
[Timekeeper?] Peter’s eyes moved back and forth in frantic tics. [TIMEKEEPER!]
“Look!” Eun grabbed hold of Peter’s shoulder and shook it firmly, pointing at Bitefighter as he jumped up and down and emitted a chain of tiny, high-pitched squeaks.
“Not now,” he snapped. He jerked his shoulder away from Eun and threw her an irritable look, but when he saw what she was pointing at, his hand dropped from his ear and he stared intently at the extradimensional entity.
“What is it, buddy?” he asked in an urgent whisper. “Can you hear the Timekeeper?”
Instead of answering, Bitefighter sank to a knee and scribbled on his whiteboard in quick, scrawling loops. Peter held his breath.
When Bitefighter finished, he pushed to his feet and held his whiteboard up, moving it slowly from left to right, making sure that all three teens could see what he’d written.
FINAL MESSAGE FROM TIMEKEEPER, it read.
KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN.