Girl of Nightmares

Page 81


"You don't have much of a problem hitting girls," she says.

"You don't have much of a problem hitting boys," I reply. "But this isn't real. Tonight will be. If you leave me on the other side, I'm as good as dead."

She nods. "The Order of the Biodag Dubh was entrusted with a duty. You corrupt it by bringing back a dead murderess."

"She's not a murderess anymore. She never really was. It was a curse." What's so hard to understand about that? But what did I expect? You can't rinse the cult off a person in only a couple of days. "What do you know about this anyway? And I mean really know. What have you seen? Anything? Or do you just swallow what you're told?"

She glares at me resentfully, like I'm being unfair. But she's probably going to try to kill me, and kill me righteously, so eff you very much.

"I know plenty." She smiles. "You might take me for a mindless drone, but I learn. I listen. I investigate. Far more than you do. Do you even know how the athame functions?"

"I stab. Things go away."

She laughs and mutters something under her breath. I think I catch the phrase "blunt instrument." Emphasis on the "blunt."

"The athame and the other side are linked," she says. "It comes from there. That is how it functions."

"You mean it comes from Hell," I say. In my pocket, the athame shifts, like its ears were pricked at the subject.

"Hell. Abbadon. Acheron. Hades. The other side. Those are just names that people call the place where dead things go." Jestine shakes her head. Her shoulders slump with sudden exhaustion. "We don't have much time," she says. "And you're still looking at me like I'm going to steal your lunch money. I don't want you dead, Cas. I'd never want that. I just don't understand why you want the things that you do."

Maybe it's the minor scuffle we just had, but her fatigue is contagious. I wish she wasn't mixed up in this. Despite everything, I like her. But you know what they say about wishing in one hand. She moves closer, and her fingers trace the line of my jaw. I take them away, but gently.

"Tell me about her, at least," she says.

"What do you want to know?" I ask, and look off into the trees.

"Anything," she shrugs. "What's made her so special? What made you so special to her, that she'd send herself into oblivion for you?"

"I don't know," I say . Why did I say that? I do know. I knew it the moment I heard Anna's name, and the first time she spoke. I knew when I walked out of her house with my insides still on the inside. It was admiration, and understanding. I'd never known anything like it, and neither had she.

"Well, tell me what she looked like then," Jestine says. "If we're going to bleed to death looking for her, I'd like to know who we're looking for."

I reach into my pocket for my wallet and fish out the newspaper photo of Anna when she was alive. I hand it to Jestine.

"She's pretty," she comments after a few moments. Pretty. That's what everyone says. My mom said it, and so did Carmel. But when they said it, it sounded like a lament, like it was a shame that such beauty was lost. When Jestine said it, it sounded derisive, like it was the only nice thing she could think of to say. Or maybe I'm just being defensive. Whatever it is, I hold my hand out for the picture and put it back in my wallet.

"It doesn't do her justice," I say. "She's fierce. Stronger than any of us."

Jestine shrugs, a "whatever" move. My hackles rise another few inches. But it doesn't matter. In a few hours, she'll see Anna for herself. She'll see her dressed in blood, her hair floating like it's suspended in water, eyes black and shining. And when she does, she won't be able to catch her breath.


Jestine was wrong. The Order did show up to take one of us. They took her, just before sunset. Two women walked up without a word. They weren't much older than us, both with stark black hair left loose and hanging. Jestine introduced them as Hardy and Wright. I guess junior members go by their last names. Either that or their parents are jerks.

Gideon came for me not much later. He found me wandering under the lampposts along the paved footpath. Good thing, too. The adrenaline had set in again, and I was this close to doing wind sprints. He led me back to the compound and through the buildings to his room, where rows of white candles had burnt down to nubs, and three of the dummy athames rested on red velvet.


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