Girl of Nightmares

Page 36


* * *

It's true what they say about answers only leading to more questions. There will always be more to find out, more to learn, more to do. So now I know that Anna's in Hell. And now I have to find a way to get her out. Sitting at my kitchen table, poking a fork at one of my mom's mushroom omelets, it feels like I've been stuffed into a cannon. There's so much to do. What the f**k am I doing here prodding a cheesy egg pouch?

"Do you want toast?"

"Not really."

"What's the matter with you?" My mom sits down in her bathrobe, looking worn around the edges. Last night I added a few more grays to her head, coming in with a bruised skull. She stayed awake while I slept, and shook me to consciousness every hour and a half, to make sure I didn't have a concussion and die. Last night she didn't ask questions. I suppose the relief of seeing me alive was enough. And maybe part of her doesn't want to know.

"The drum worked," I say quietly. "I saw Anna. She's in Hell."

Her eyes light up and burn out in the space of a blink.

"Hell?" she asks. "Fire and brimstone? Little red guy with a big fork and a pointy tail?"

"Is this funny to you?"

"Of course not," she replies. "I just never thought it actually existed." And she doesn't know what to say either.

"For the record, I didn't see any pointy tail. But she's in Hell. Or someplace like it. I guess it doesn't matter if it's the Hell or not."

My mom sighs. "I suppose that decades of murder is a lot to atone for. It doesn't feel fair to me, but-there's nothing we can do about it, sweetheart."

Atonement. The word makes me glare so hard that heat rays might shoot out of my eyeballs.

"As far as I'm concerned," I say, "it was all one big f**k-up."


"And I'm going to get her out."

Mom's eyes fall to her plate. "You know that isn't possible. You know that you can't."

"I think I can. My friends and I just opened a window between here and Hell, and I'm willing to bet that we can open a door."

There's a long, simmering silence. "It's an impossible thing to do and just trying it is probably enough to kill you."

I try to remember that she's my mother, and it's her job to talk to me about impossible, so I sort of nod. But she sees through it, and her feathers are up. In one breath she threatens to move my ass out of Thunder Bay, to take me far away from Thomas and his witchy ways . She even says she's going to take the athame and send it to Gideon.

"Don't you listen? When Gideon or I tell you something, do you listen?" Her lips form a tight, thin line. "What happened to Anna, I hate it. It's not fair. It might be the worst case of unfair I've ever heard. But you're not trying this, Cas. You're absolutely not."

"Yes, I will," I growl. "And it's not just her either. It's him. The bastard that killed Dad. He's there too. So I'm going to go after him and I'm going to kill him again. I'm going to kill him a thousand times." She starts to cry, and I'm dangerously close to it myself. "You didn't see her, Mom." She has to get it. I can't sit at this table and try to eat eggs when I know that she's trapped over there. There is only one thing I should be doing and I have no idea where to start.

I love her, I almost say. What would you do if it were Dad? I almost say. But I'm wrung out. She's wiping tears from her cheeks and I know she's thinking about the cost, how much this has cost us. I can't think about that anymore. I'm sorry as hell, but I can't. Not even for her. Not when I have work to do.

My fork clatters down on my plate. Food is out. And school is out too. There are only four days left, and most of them are pep rallies. I took my last test last Thursday, and passed with a B+ average. It's not like they're going to expel me.

* * *

Black Labs probably shouldn't eat peanut butter cookies. Maybe they shouldn't drink milk either. But they sure do like both of those things. Stella's head is lodged into my lap, and she's heaved most of her body onto the burgundy cushions of the sofa I'm sitting on. Her seal pup eyes flicker from my face to my glass of milk, so I tip it to the side to let her big pink tongue go to work. When she's finished, she slurps a thank-you into my palm.

"You're welcome," I say, and give her a scratch. I didn't want to eat anyway. I came to the shop right after my non-breakfast to see Morfran. Apparently he and Thomas sat up most of the night talking over the ritual, because he had this broody, sympathetic expression behind his glasses, and instantly plunked me onto this couch and served me a snack. Why do people keep trying to feed me?


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