Girl of Nightmares

Page 39


I narrow my eyes. "So there was never even one real zombie? Not even one? It's what the religion is famous for." I shouldn't have said that last part. Morfran's eyes bug out momentarily, and he sets his jaw.

"No real voodooist ever tried to raise a zombie. You can't put life back into something once it's gone." He turns back to his stew. I guess that's the end of that subject.

"We're not coming up with anything," I mutter. "I don't think these people even knew what the other side really was. I think they're just talking about contacting ghosts that were still trapped here, on this plane."

"Why don't you call Gideon?" Thomas asks. "He's the one who knows the most about the athame, right? And according to Carmel, the athame was seriously pulsing the night of the ritual. That's why she thought you were going to try to cross over. She thought you could."

"I've tried to call Gideon about a dozen times. Something's going on with him. He's not calling back."

"Is he okay?"

"I think so. I feel like he is. And I think someone would have heard and passed the news along if he wasn't."

The room goes quiet. Morfran is even stirring more quietly while he pretends not to listen. They would both like to know more about the knife. Inside, Morfran is dying to know, I'm sure of it. But Gideon has told me everything. He's sung me that stupid riddle-The blood of your ancestors forged this athame. Men of power bled their warrior, to put the spirits down-and the rest has been lost in time. I say the riddle out loud now, absently.

"Aunt Riika said something about it too," Thomas says softly, his eyes unfocused but looking in the general direction of the athame in my backpack. He starts to smile. "God, we're idiots. The knife is the door? It swings back and forth? It's just like Riika said. It's never really closed." His voice grows in intensity, his eyes swelling behind his glasses. "That's why the drum ritual wasn't just wind and voices like it was supposed to be! That's why we could open the window to Anna's Hell. That's probably why Anna's able to communicate with you from over there in the first place. The cut she took from the athame that didn't send her away . She's got her foot in the proverbial door."

"Wait," I say. The athame is a blade of steel and a handle of dark oiled wood. It isn't something you can crack open and walk through. Unless … my head is starting to hurt. I'm no good at this metaphysical crap. A knife is a knife, it's not also a door. "Are you saying I can use the knife to cut a gateway?"

"I'm saying the knife is the gateway."

He's killing me here. "What are you talking about? I can't walk through the knife. We can't pull Anna back through the knife."

"Cas, you're thinking in solid states," Thomas explains, and smiles at Morfran, who I must say looks damned impressed by his grandson. "Remember what Riika said. I don't know why I didn't catch on sooner. Don't think about the knife. Think about the shape behind the knife, about what the athame is, at its core. It isn't really a knife at all. It's a door, disguised as a knife."

"You're weirding me out."

"We just have to find the people who can tell us how to really use it," Thomas says, not even looking at me anymore, but at Morfran. "We have to find out how to blow it wide open."

* * *

My backpack feels heavy, now that I'm carrying an entire gateway inside it. Thomas's excitement is enough to lift him off the floor, but I can't wrap my head around what he wants to do. He wants to open the knife. He's saying that on the other side of the athame is Anna's Hell? No. The knife is the knife. It fits in my hand. On the other side of the knife is … the other side of the knife. But this hunch is all we have to go on, and every time I question him about feasibility, he smiles at me like he's Yoda and I'm just a dumbass without the Force.

"We're going to need Gideon, that's for certain. We need to know more about where the knife comes from, and how it's been used in the past."

"Sure," I say. Thomas is driving a bit too fast, and paying a bit too little attention. When he brakes at the stop sign before the high school, it's sudden and jerks me forward, almost onto the dash.

"Carmel's still not picking up," he mutters. "I hope we don't have to go in and find her."


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