Kyle was a man with a problem.
What he had been told wasn't as it should be.
Something was wrong, very wrong.
He had been waiting in the parking garage and she never came or went. Exasperated and wary he crouched his way to the security door and waited until a couple left by it and turned away from his direction and went to their car. He sprung up and grabbed the door and went into the building quickly. He looked at the panel of names and numbers on mailboxes, and remembered her friend's name and checked the number.
Standing as straight as he could he put on an air of nonchalance, as if he belonged there, even though he didn't. He passed many doors, and heard the television from one of them.
"...and a police spokesman at the scene refused to speculate on a motive for the execution-style slaying of the Encino housewife. He did however say that an accurate description of the suspect has been compiled from several witnesses..."
Paying it no heed he walked on until he found the door to the apartment he was looking for. He heard sounds... barely... a rhythmic thumping, gasps. He saw a bag of what was obviously trash left outside the door, a brown paper bag filled with an old lamp, a basket and some magazines. He picked up a magazine and saw her name. There was a yellow label that asked if the forwarding address was correct. He stared, then pocketed the magazine and took up the bag of trash, noticing the little 'Donation - Salvation Army' sticker on it. Walking out of the back door into the garage he headed out into the gathering night, shaking.
Something was horribly wrong.
* * *
Father Casull was used to the poor coming into his church, and he kept it open for all that needed God's protection. The man that came in sat near the back, with a bag of junk and started rummaging through it. He had seen many like him before, mind lost and clutching to whatever they could find that they thought was worth something to them. Slowly he closed his eyes and shook his head, as truly the poor of this world could be broken by life. He was about to approach the poor man when he saw him start to take things out of the bag: an old lamp, magazines, some sort of technical brochure, a straw basket with trinkets in it, an old watch, a pocketbook, change purse, and some pencils.
The man pocketed the change purse, put the brochure in a coat pocket, checked the watch and looked at the clock on the wall and adjusted the watch. He took a magazine and put it into another large pocket of his overcoat, then he gathered the rest up and put it back into the bag, stood up and lifted the bag with him and walked to the box Father Casull had placed for small donations and set the bag down under it, before he walked out of the church.
Puzzled, Father Casull walked to the bag and saw the donation tag on it, and closed his eyes. A man so poor that he needed to take such small things. Truly one of the dispossessed in life.
* * *
Kyle walked out of the church.
He needed to contact her. Warn her. He couldn't go to the authorities. Walking he went into a library and looked to see where the reference section was. Walking to it he found the major metropolitan phone books, but not the exact one he wanted. The information section told him the number he could phone for getting the number he wanted. Then he checked the maps and put down the North American Road Atlas, and he checked for the city he wanted in the back. With its look-up numbers his fingers traced over the grid until they came together at the city he wanted, which was close to New York City.
On the other side of the continent.
Something was very, very wrong.
* * *
Father Casull was tending to some homeless in the kitchen attached to the church. Sister Cathy was there with him and when he saw the man from before come into the church he gestured to her that he was going to see to him.
The man sat down in the last pew, his elbows on his knees and his face pressed to his hands. He walked up to him in the semi-dark at the back of the church.
"Is there anything I can do to help, my son?"
The man looked up at him, blinking.
"You seem to be in distress, my son. Is there anything that I can do for you? A warm meal, perhaps?"
The man smiled, wanly.
"That would be good, yes. Thank you."
"Of course, my son, follow me to the kitchen. We have a good barley and beef stew that Sister Cathy made up today."
The man got up, and followed the Priest back to the kitchen, where Sister Cathy smiled with a bowl of stew in her hands.
"Be welcome here," she said as she led the man to a table that the Father had indicated. He smiled at her and the man turned to her.
"It is my pleasure, sir. Bless you for coming to us."
The man nodded and sat down.
"May I join you, my son?" Father Casull asked.
He nodded yes and sat down across from the man. Father Casull had been changing his mental estimation of the man. It wasn't a 'beaten down by the world' look he had, yet it was familiar to him. Very much like some of the veterans who had lost their luck but not their dignity of self. And yet, for that, the man was clearly troubled.
Slowly the man started to take up the spoon and eat the stew, not noticing it as he ate it.
"Perhaps you would care to tell me about it, my son?"
The man looked to him.
"You wouldn't believe me."
Father Casull smiled at that.
"My belief is not as important as yours, my son. If it would ease your burden, I will listen and not pass judgment, for that isn't my place in this world."
The man nodded, and ate another spoonful of stew.
"My... close friend sent me here to warn his mother. She isn't... doesn't live where he told me she did. She is in desperate danger, but doesn't know it. I was sent to protect her, and I can't."
Father Casull sat back and looked at the man.
"He must be very close to you and he must trust you deeply to send you like this. Perhaps I can help you...." Father Casull looked with just a bit of askance on his face.
Father Casull smiled.
"... Kyle. And I'm Father Casull. I have seen men like you before, from the war. Why would he send you and not come himself? Is he hospitalized?"
"I could be spared from the fight for this. He can't."
"Yes, Father Casull, he is still fighting."
Father Casull had heard variations on that a number of times. Men so lost after returning that they couldn't distinguish between the fight they had left and normal life. But Kyle did not have that look. It wasn't a distant enemy he was fighting, one lost in the past.
"I understand, Kyle. And he sent you to protect his mother?"
Eating another spoonful of stew the man nodded.
"Well then, let me help you in contacting her. It is the least I can do."
Kyle looked at Father Casull. Perhaps there was just a glint of light, or a speck of hope to be seen in Kyle's eyes.
"I... thank you, Father Casull. That isn't necessary..."
"Of course it is! I am here to help the lost, Kyle."
* * *
Matt didn't know what woke him from his post-coital nap, but the motion he saw caused him to move. The large blade sliced the pillow open where his throat had been. He was caught by the powerful man with the knife and his strength brought the knife closer and closer to his throat. Matt gathered his strength and deflected the knife and it snapped against the headboard of the bed. He pounded his fists into the temples of his attacker's head and rolled out of the way. As he gets to the side of the bed he picks up the bedside lamp and smashes it on his assailant's back.
The powerful man knocks the lamp aside, grabs Matt and tosses him through the glass doors onto the balcony outside the room.
Matt gets up and rushes the man and they crash into a dresser, then a closet door as they hold each other and spin through the room. And then the man presses his fingers into Matt's gut and lifts him off the floor and throws him through the door into the next room.
A woman screams as she sees Matt on the floor, apparently lifeless.
A towering figure steps through and the woman runs, screaming.
The man calmly pulls out a .45 caliber Colt and shoots the woman once in the back. She falls to the ground and then scrambles towards the bathroom. The man steps slowly down the hall , takes aim and empties the magazine into her.
He steps away.
The phone rings and the man whirls pointing the empty pistol at it as if by reflex.
The answering machine picks up: "Hi there. (pause) Ha ha ha, fooled you. You're talking to a machine but don't be shy, it's okay. Machines need love too..."
The man turns, bends over and checks to make sure the woman is dead.
"...so talk to it and Ginger, that's me, will get back to you. Wait for the beep."
A man's voice is heard through the answering machine.
"Hello, this is Lieutenant Vukovich from Homicide Division, LAPD..."
The man in the room steps past the phone but something catches his attention. A picture of a woman in front of a fountain in a park. It is signed. The man picks it up and looks at the lifeless body of the woman and back to the picture.
"... trying to confirm if she still lives there. If she does tell her to come to the nearest police station right away as we believe her life is in danger."
The man looks at the answering machine, the picture, the dead woman. He then slowly looks around the dimly lit room until he sees a small phone book by the phone. He picks it up, flips through the pages and stops and examines one, then puts it down. Stepping over the dead body of Matt, he leaves as he entered.
* * *
Kyle made a decision: he had to. Not to act was out of the question, even if the act was to talk. He would face a long, hard journey without help.
"The woman I came here to protect, my friend's mother, apparently moved out of town. I have her address but, no way to get to her, warn her. And... she won't be expecting me, doesn't know me. Her son could never tell her... not directly."
Father Casull's brows pressed together.
"She is truly in danger? Physically?"
"Yes, Father Casull, she is. I heard on the news... the enemy is here to get her. This is all I have to go by," he said handing Father Casull the magazine with the change of address notice on it.
Father Casull arched an eyebrow. Sister Cathy did have the television on, but the sound off, and he saw a man in front of a building, apparently a plainclothes police officer, trying hard to answer questions. There was a flash of 'Phonebook Serial Killer' and the last woman he had killed. Father Casull trembled as he looked at one of the names on the screen that was repeated more than once, and the one on the change of address notice.
It was the same name.
"Dear God," he whispered almost silently to himself. He swallowed as he looked back to Kyle. "Someone is here to kill her?"
Kyle nodded, no.
"Not someone. He looks human but isn't. He can't be stopped by bullets, knives or normal weapons. He will not stop until he kills her."
An sketch drawing appeared on the screen.
"What does he look like, Kyle?"
"He is tall, bulky, short cropped black hair, lean face, somewhat gaunt..."
Kyle's back was to the television set. He was describing the man in the sketch, that had the words 'Suspected Serial Murderer'.
"A moment, my son," he waved to Sister Cathy who came over.
"Sister Cathy, how is Lewis doing?"
"Oh, he is still very shaken and frightened, Father Casull. He said... well, Father, he is afraid of going back to the neighborhood after what happened."
"Do you think he would be well enough for us to ask him a question or two?"
"I don't know, Father. He really is quite shaken up."
"Thank you, Sister Cathy, bless you."
"Of course, Father," she said before going back to the kitchen area.
Kyle had been finishing off the stew.
"The man... ahhh... you describe is strikingly similar to one that a young man named Lewis told us about this morning. Lewis had been running most of the night and came here and nearly collapsed. It was hard to get him to calm down and tell his story. He isn't from this neighborhood, but God's house is open to everyone. The encounter that he and his, ahhh, friends had with this... man... shook him deeply, and he is still afraid of meeting him again."
Kyle arched an eyebrow as Sister Cathy brought a glass of iced tea to him.
"Thank you," he said softly.
"Of course," she said before walking back to tend to one of the older homeless men in the kitchen.
"It would instill that kind of fear, Father Casull."
Father Casull nodded.
"If you are done then bring your glass of iced tea and I will see if we can't get you in contact with her," he said standing up.
Kyle picked up the glass of iced tea and followed Father Casull through the kitchen and into a room that was obviously a common room attached to living quarters further on. The Priest gestured to a seat and Kyle sat down. Father Casull sat down in a chair next to a table with a phone on it. He picked up the phone and dialed a number.
"Hello, information? I'm trying to get the phone number..."
* * *
The man walked into the old train station and looked at the schedule and the time. The next train to New York City would leave in an hour for its cross-continental trip, stopping at many places in between and would then go on to the next city after that.
He walked out into the night.
* * *
He set down the phone.
"No answer. Do you have anything else that might help, Kyle?"
Kyle shrugged and checked his pockets. Then took out the technical brochure and handed it over to Father Casull. He arched both his eyebrows in surprise and checked the time. Add three hours and... he smiled and picked up the phone and dialed a number.
* * *
She was at her desk early, as she wanted to keep this job and have a good record at it. It was a godsend that she didn't have to get yet another degree, this time in something useful! She didn't expect that she would get this job, from a standard application and basic interview at the job fair. But you don't know if you don't try, and she filled it all out and remembered the talk with the nice, older African-American fellow, Lucius Fox.
A good job was a godsend to get her away from the cashier's job she had while trying to get another degree. And this was a very, very good place to have a job, too! So she wanted to make sure that she didn't screw it up.
She picked up the folder of the job she was working on at the moment when the phone rang.
That startled her, as almost no one ever was awake this early. She picked up the receiver.
"Hello, this is Sarah Connor, XP Division, how may I help you?"
"No, Father Casull, I hadn't listened to the news.... I... what?" she gasped.
She sat, stunned.
"I... yes... hello, Kyle.... I... for me? But I haven't done anything...." she listened, perplexed,"...what I will do? I don't, that's just so insane.... I... yes, Father Casull. Can I have your number? I will check the news and get back to you."
Sarah Connor hung up the phone numbly, and went out of the office to the break room. The television was on and the morning show was on with its vapid content. They were talking about the 'LA Phonebook Serial Killer' going after Sarah Connor. Three so far and one possible mistaken...
"Ginger," Sarah whispered, "oh dear god..."
She stood there, stunned, as the face of her friend and old roommate from LA was shown. That Sarah Connor had moved recently. Her.
In disbelief Sarah turned from the television and was obviously lost in thought as she walked back to the office and her desk. She stared at the cubicle wall and then at the company logo. There was an 'Emergency Numbers' sheet under it, like there were at all the desks. She picked up the phone and dialed a number.
"Hello, security? I think someone is coming to kill me."
* * *
Lucius Fox had been at his desk for all of ten minutes before the phone rang. Almost like clockwork. Probably some project detail or schedule problem. He picked up the phone.
"Hello, this is Lucius Fox. Security?" he listened, "Yes I saw something on the news this morning... seriously?"
This was obviously not the average early morning call.
"I will be right there," he got up from his chair, grabbed his jacket and walked out to the secretary's desk and left a note. He walked briskly down the hall to the elevator bank and waited for a car to arrive. He punched the button for the third floor which had security's offices.
* * *
Planes were too risky.
Trains took too long.
He was driving a car down the freeway and was merging onto the thruway. The previous owner had not wanted to give up the car.
That was his last mistake.
* * *
"She must be taking this hard, my son. Perhaps you would like to lay down while we wait?"
Kyle was tensed up, nervous. Resting was the last thing on his mind.
"When the phone rings you will hear it, Kyle."
Kyle Reese smiled and nodded. He walked over to the sofa and took his sneakers off and lay down. He didn't intend to do more than just stare at the ceiling. Soon he was deeply asleep as Father Casull lay a light blanket on him, and then walked to get a cup of coffee.
"Sister Cathy, could you get Father Kelly here to take care of things?"
"Of course, Father Casull. How is he doing?"
"He is resting, the poor soul. We are waiting for someone to call us back and I will be in there with him when that happens. Make sure that Lewis is tended to, would you?"
"Yes, Father Casull. I hope things will go well for him."
"Bless you, Sister," he picked up the cup of coffee and walked back to the common room of his quarters. No sleep for him, that was obvious. He sat down and picked up his folder containing the draft of his next sermon and started writing further.
* * *
"And he is coming here to kill you?" Lucius asked, sitting next to the young woman on the sofa in security.
Sarah Connor nodded. "He went to my old apartment and killed my friend and her lover last night. That phone call..."
"Yes, Sarah, security is getting the phone number at your desk. I will phone up... ahhhh... Father Casull, don't worry."
He saw the security man come in with the notepad and stood up, then walked over to him.
"Does the name check out?" he asked the security man in low tones.
"It does, Mr. Fox. Within a mile of where she lived." He handed the notepad over to Lucius Fox, who took it and looked at it.
"Ok. Get me a good woman officer from security to be here, plus let the techs know I'm going to phone out in a couple of minutes, ok?"
The security man nodded, "Yes, Mr. Fox. I will let them know. Give it about ten minutes and I'll let the person who will be here know."
"Good! Get on it," Lucius turned from the man as he turned to leave and then went back to sit next to Sarah.
"I have the number, but want our technical staff to tap and record the call, Sarah. No matter what, you are in the safest possible place you can be. We protect our own here."
Sarah was shivering and nodded slightly. "Thank you, Mr. Fox. I never expected anything like this..."
"No one can, Sarah. And please, call me Lucius. We know a lot about sudden tragedy here and we will see you through this."
She looked up and smiled, after she had obviously been crying.
"Thank you, Lucius. I... Ginger was killed... instead of me."
"This killer obviously didn't care, Sarah," he looked up as woman in the security uniform came in and he waved her over to the other side of Sarah.
"Sarah this is..." he looked at the woman's badge, "Wendy Johnson, and she is here to make sure you get what you need. Do you want to be with me when I call Father Casull, Sarah?"
Sarah looked up while Wendy held her hands.
"I think so, Lucius. Someone is trying to save my life."
"More than one, Sarah. I will wait with you here until we get the word," he said shifting over to another chair in the utilitarian conference room.
* * *
The phone rang and Father Casull picked it up as he put the folder down. He saw Kyle's eyes open.
"Hello, this is Father Casull."
Kyle got up and walked over to the chair on the other side of the table, after picking up his sneakers and putting them on.
"Yes, that's right, Mr. Fox... I do have the gentleman here, Kyle... yes... his description matches, Mr. Fox and I have another young man who gave a similar one for an encounter the night before... yes... that's correct... he is here with me... of course..." he looked at Kyle then placed his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone.
"This is Mr. Lucius Fox, Sarah's boss where she works, and he wants to talk with you..."
Kyle pressed his lips together and nodded, taking the handset from Father Casull.
"This is Kyle... yes... its hard to describe.... you wouldn't believe me, Mr. Fox... it will sound as if I'm crazy... yes... she needs protection... it isn't a man, Mr. Fox... what is it? You won't believe me... uh-huh... ok... it is an infiltration unit from the future, a cybernetic organism that has a living flesh exterior on a metal internal skeletal frame... a miniature nuclear cell.... yes... very advanced, yes... a time projector... only living or highly similar material can pass through... that's right... no no weapons beyond what it can get here.... uh-huh... yes... that's right... a highly evolved cybernetic program called Skynet... yes... no... ok..."
He handed the handset back to Father Casull.
"This is Father Casull... yes, Mr. Fox... I can do that, yes... thats right... in four hours? I think Kyle can be ready by then, yes.... me? I don't... ahh, I understand, yes... that would be most generous, Mr. Fox, ahhh 'offer I can't refuse' of sorts..." the Priest chuckled softly,"... no, Mr. Fox it is quite reasonable, actually. Yes... good, I can arrange things here in that time, yes. Very good. We will be there in four hours. Good-bye to you and God bless you."
Father Casull put the phone in the cradle.
"We appear to have a jet that will be coming for us in four hours."
"Us?" asked Kyle.
"Yes, Mr. Fox wants to meet me and, ah, corroborate your story such as I can. I understand the feelings and the company he works for will be able to make a donation to the church for my time. I really can't refuse that. So you will need to get some rest, Kyle and I will nap, myself, after getting a travel case ready. You don't have anything else, do you, Kyle?"
"No, Father Casull. And it probably is faster this way... you don't seem to think I'm crazy, Father Casull."
"I told you I would not sit in judgment of you, my son. And everything you have said and done leads me to give you leeway in understanding."
Kyle Reese grunted.
"Thank you, Father Casull."
"Of course, Kyle. I don't think that the type of thing you describe will make better time."
"No, Father Casull. It is murderous and capable. Not stupid. Never that."
"There is a small room with a cot off the hallway to the back. It would probably be best for you to rest there. I will get you up in three hours or so, time enough for Sister Cathy or Father Kelly to get us to the airport."
"Thank you, Father Casull."
"Rest well, and God give you strength."
* * *
It drove the car into a gas station and pulled into the 'Full Service' lane.
"How can I help you, sir?" the young man asked when he got to the open window.
It handed a bill over to the young man, "Fill 'er up."
The young man unfolded the bill, "Yes, sir!" he said moving quickly to the pump and then opening the tank and filling the tank of the sports car. When it was full and he closed the tank and walked back, the driver said,
"Keep the change."
And drove off. The young man pocketed the $50 bill. That was a lot of change to keep.
* * *
The butler was being polite but firm, as he stood in the doorway of the gentleman's room. The man in question was sprawled out on the sheets of his bed, in a room holding many antique pieces of furniture for all that it was a room in a high-rise. He had been out late last night, as was his custom, and had needed some hard rest. Still he had gotten in at a relatively reasonable hour, all things told. The butler, getting no response, stepped further into the room and knelt down next to the bed.
"Master, Bruce, its Alfred."
The man's eyes shifted and then opened, looking at his butler.
"Good... ",he checked the bedside clock that slowly ticked off the seconds, "...morning? Alfred. Is it time for my breakfast already?"
"I'm sorry, sir, you will have to eat as you go. Unless you like what I can fix in the kitchen as the cook didn't expect to be needed for another few hours."
Bruce shifted in his bed and stretched, muscles flexing as he did so, stretching forward and back. Alfred moved from the bedside as Bruce stood up.
"That'll be fine, Alfred. What's up? Is the champagne shipment late again?" he asked with a wry grin.
Alfred smiled and tightened his lips.
"Perhaps permanently, Master Bruce. Apparently their importer was discovered to have some Mafia connections last night. You may have to see about a different vineyard for the next month or so."
Bruce arched his eyebrows in surprise.
"Just how do these people get involved in these things?"
"I'm sure I don't know, Master Bruce."
"What's up? The early wake-up must be something important. Another hostile take-over attempt?"
"No, nothing so easy, sir. Lucius says that he has a 'developing situation' and would like you to examine it."
Bruce had been heading to the bathroom, but stopped and turned.
"Lucius? It must be important. I'll see you in the kitchen in 10 minutes and have something light and portable to eat. Luckily its only a few floors down..." he said as he turned and wandered off to the bathroom.
"As you wish, Master Bruce. Your clothes for the daytime will be awaiting you..." he trailed off, and then said far more softly, "...not that you pay attention to mere dress suits..."
* * *
It pulled the car onto I-70.
The previous car had suffered a breakdown and was not worth the time to fix. This one had more space and better gas mileage.
That is what the salesman said.
He would make no more sales.
* * *
Lucius Fox looked up as he heard the door open to the room, he stood up.
"Hello, Mr. Wayne, I'm glad you could get here."
Bruce Wayne smiled as he looked to Lucius, then Wendy and then to Sarah.
"Well, when you told me you had something that was going on that I should hear about, I came as fast as I could, Lucius. Hello, Wendy, good to see you again,"
"Thank you, Mr. Wayne, it is good to see that you are doing well," said the security officer.
"...and you must be ..." Bruce looked to Lucius.
"Bruce this is the newest hire in the XP Division, Sarah Connor. She apparently has a killer after her."
Bruce was taken aback for a moment, then held out his hand. Sarah stood up and shook it, obviously bewildered.
"I... its so hard to believe, Mr. Wayne... its just so insane..." she half-sobbed that last.
Bruce clasped her hand and moved next to her, guiding her back to the sofa and then made sure that Wendy was available to help, easing her down.
"Killers can be that way, Sarah," Bruce looked over to Lucius who was sitting down, "could you fill me in, Lucius?"
"Of course, Mr. Wayne. Sarah received an incoming call routed from our switchboard at 6:05 AM. The caller had asked to be put through to Sarah Connor and the woman at the board looked up Sarah's number and transferred the call. From what Sarah said it was from a priest in her neighborhood in Los Angeles, a Father Casull, who had a man with him that needed to talk to her, a 'Kyle'. He informed Sarah that the 'Phonebook Serial Killer' in Los Angeles was after her. Father Casull then talked with Sarah and gave her his phone number so that she could get caught up on the news from yesterday. When she did that she saw..."
"My friend, Ginger..." Sarah said, shaking her head and looking down,"...and her lover... had been murdered... by the same killer that had killed three other Sarah Connors..."
Bruce slid his arm around Sarah's shoulders. Bruce had encountered many strange things in his young life, but was still unprepared for this.
"Sarah was shook up, Bruce, and called security here."
"That was the best move you could ever have made, Sarah," Bruce said softly. He looked back to Lucius Fox. "I take it you called Father Casull back?"
"I initiated the call after getting our technical people on it, Bruce. I felt we couldn't wait for... legalities."
Bruce Wayne nodded.
"A potential threat to the workplace, we are covered Lucius. We have the recording?"
"Yes, Mr. Wayne. I don't know... it is strange, but Father Casull vouches that the man is not the killer and his identification is cross-checked locally. But what 'Kyle' told me... we may want to keep this under security."
Bruce looked to Wendy.
"You are cleared, Wendy?"
"Yes, Mr. Wayne. TS."
Bruce Wayne nodded.
"Then lets move to the tech lab and talk to the audio engineers."
"Yes, Mr. Wayne. Ahh... Sarah hasn't heard the entire conversation, Mr. Wayne."
He gave a sharp look to Lucius.
"If it is about the person trying to kill her, then she needs to hear it all, Lucius."
"Of course, Mr. Wayne."
"Good. Wendy, you will escort us, but I'm afraid you aren't cleared for the full lab. Sarah is by having a 'need to know'."
"I understand, Mr. Wayne. I can wait for you out in the break room."
Bruce smiled and nodded, getting to his feet and helping Sarah to hers.
"And could you put a call into Alfred? I think that Sarah needs some light fare, to keep her out of shock. He will know what to fix if the cook doesn't."
Lucius smirked and Wendy smiled.
"Of course, Mr. Wayne," she said.
"Ok, lets go. Sarah you can hold on to me if you need to. I understand what it means to lose someone close to you unexpectedly."
Sarah Connor looked up into the dark eyes of Bruce Wayne... she had heard something about a murder in his family... within a few steps she was walking on her own. And they headed out of the room and down the hall.