Velveteen

Free Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Book: Velveteen by Daniel Marks Read Free Book Online
Authors: Daniel Marks
exterior.
    The group followed as Manny turned and stalked off toward a tall gate, her heels clicking as she widened the gap between them. Beyond the black wrought iron lay a darkened cavern.
    The Shattered Hall.
    “Your crew has its work cut out for it on this one,” Manny said.
    “Looks like it!” Velvet jogged to keep up.
    “I’ve isolated the epicenter of the disturbance to a fortune-teller’s shop in Philadelphia. The details I’ve conjured will place each of you within a few blocks. Though this insertion will be a little different, you’ll be scattered where you need to be. The cemetery is not reasonably close, so I’m opting for a morgue.”
    “Tricky.” Velvet glanced behind her to find the twins straggling and Quentin walking backward, still gawking at the mass of souls in the hub.
    Manny and Velvet came up to the tall gates, and the rest of the group crowded in behind them. Velvet cringed. She hated this part. Manny waved her hands in front of a huge spiral locking mechanism embedded in a solid block of metal, and then stepped away. The coil retracted like a screw pulling out of cork, scraping against the insides of the block. The sound was nails dragging across a chalkboard, or rather, a big metal lawn rake dragging across a chalkboard.
    Screeeeeeeeeeeeee!
    The crowds of people behind them in the hub turned en masse toward the squelch, clapping their hands over their ears and grimacing, a wail of general complaint issuing from their gaping mouths. Velvet was right there with them, keeping out as much of the sound as she could before it got a chance to crawl up under her skin and start a different kind of quaking up her spine.
    The sharp end of the coil slid from the block, and Velvet watched with amazement as the metal sealed itself, healing, as though it had never been pierced to begin with.
    “No matter how many times I see that, I think the same thing. Genius, doll!” Logan’s mouth lolled, and his tongue protruded from his lips. He always tried to figure out the process, to see if it were a trick of light or some magical illusion the station agent was pulling. It was as if he were convinced it was an earthly sort of magic, one he could learn. He was determined to dissect her movements. But after the process was complete and there was nothing else to examine other than the gates swinging into the darkened passage, he exhaled heavily and shrugged it off.
    Velvet admired perseverance and recognized it immediately in the kid. He’d never give up. Never stop wondering about the mechanism, and never veer from completing his poltergeisting. They were alike, the two of them, though she hoped her face never twisted up the way his did while he was concentrating.
    Super crazy-looking.
    They followed the click of Manny’s high heels into the darkness, and stopped before a barely visible stone wall, itself the color of coal.
    Manny drew a matchstick from her sleeve and struck it against the wall. It spit to life and cast a living glow on the facade, revealing the appropriateness of the hall’s name. Fissures lined the wall; some split into the rock from floor to ceiling while others were mere scratches. The largest crack ran straight up the center, a foot wide and so deep that Velvet imagined it running straight through to the center of theplanet—if purgatory was even
on
the planet. A library ladder clung to a rail that ran the full length of the hall, however long that was. Velvet couldn’t remember ever seeing where it ended.
    “And so it begins,” the station agent said.
    She ran her slender finger along the sharp edges of the crack. It reacted to her flame, shimmering deep inside as though some treasure were sheltered in its depths, a thread of mother-of-pearl, opal. Something. No one was sure exactly how long ago the station’s foundation had been poured or how it had been done. Some speculated that the foundation was here before the first soul arrived, but that the station itself was constructed

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