The Panther Initiative
Toby stared at his phone screen. There it was again. Just a flicker, nothing you could take a screenshot of; it was too fast. But it was definitely a panther. An image of a panther, black, sleek, with glowing eyes, was every now and then flashing up on his phone. It didn’t matter which app he was using. It even happened on the lock screen.
‘Hey.’ He said it casually, as though it didn’t matter; wasn’t freaking him out. ‘Any of you getting a weird panther pic on your phone?’
His mates stared at him. ‘What?’
His body felt hot and cold. ‘Nothing.’ He gave a shrug, and a laugh. ‘Think my phone’s dying.’
Sayid slapped him on the back. ‘You want a new phone? My uncle just took in a load of reconditioned iPhones. Dead cheap.’
‘Mmm,’ said Toby, glancing at his phone screen again.
There it was. So fast, you wouldn’t notice it if you weren’t looking for it. He stuffed the phone in his pocket, and headed after the others, pulling up the collar of his coat against the chill wind.
Some instinct made him look to his right. There was a figure just outside the school gates, wearing a dark coat. Standing very, very still – and looking right at Toby.