pressed against my senses, but I stood firm. I would not let a bunch of millennia-old spirits boss me around.
I gulped. I was so out of my depth.
I pushed aside the terror and uncertainty, pouring my energy into calling the spirits to me. In the blurred edges of reality, I heard cars chugging up the foggy hill behind us, leaves rustling, water crashing against the shore, and the thud of my own heart. The occasional wail of police sirens pierced the night, though even that sound was faded, distant . . . detached.
The dead occupied my thoughts. Forgotten languages, not spoken in millennia, flooded my consciousness. I heard the stirring of every single spirit within the sound of my voice. And there were a lot of them buried under the very ground where I stood.
Focus, Rachel, focus.
I inched towards contact. I felt the spirits waking and turning their attention to me. Cold sweat pooled around the waist of my jeans and I shivered, though that came more likely from the unrelenting wind howling around me. If I did this wrong, I could call up even more spirits from their places of rest. If there was one thing I excelled at, it was attracting the attention of the dead.
Just another minute, I thought to myself. I steadied my breathing. I was ready.
“What is taking so long?” David shouted in my ear.
Do Not Annoy The Spirits
There are days that murder just doesn’t seem like that bad a thing. I remember arguing in an ethics class that we could all kill another human being under the perfect storm of circumstances. I stood there, in the single-digit temperatures, autumn mist now turned to rain and drenching me, and the bone-chilling wind blowing off the Atlantic Ocean two hundred feet from where I stood, and I stared at David, thinking this was that perfect storm of circumstances.
“Shut up,” I growled. The power I’d been holding drained out from me and my vision blurred from the unexpected release. The sky was darker than it had been, and Manny now held a flashlight. In the distance, sirens wailed and police lights flashed. “How much time did we lose?”
Jeremy pulled up his jacket sleeve to see his watch. “You were at it for about twenty minutes.”
“Shit,” I said. “I was close, too.” I glared at David. “I’ll have to start over. Don’t speak. At all.”
David opened his mouth to argue, but Mrs. Saunders cracked him against the back of the calves with her cane. She sat on her walker’s seat, a blanket wrapped around her, Manny holding an umbrella over her bundled form.
She shook her finger at David. “You listen ’ere, my son, I’ve had enough of your foolishness. You’re gonna shut your mouth, that’s what you’re gonna do. Not anodder peep, you ’ear me? Not a peep.” She squared her shoulders. “I’ll be having a talk with that pastor of yours as soon as this is over with, that’s what I’ll be doin’. You harassing good people like Rachel with those religious tracts and she out risking her life. Arsehole.” She mumbled the last word under her breath.
David just stared at the old lady. So did I. What else do you do when a ninety-three-year-old woman hits you, scowls at you, and then swears at you? You shut up, that’s what you do.
I looked at Jeremy, who shrugged a shoulder but had a wide grin on his face. Manny had a shocked look on his face: the one children often have when they first see someone else stand up to a parent—and win.
I gathered up my bearings and started again. I whispered for the spirits only once and a crushing pressure pressed against my chest. I gasped out a breath, frantically trying to work my lungs. Beside me, Mrs. Saunders gasped, “Mother of God.”
I opened my eyes and saw the spirits walking in my direction. Some still in their shimmering ethereal form, fading in and out, as though this world and the other played tug of war with them.
“Lord preserve us,” David whispered. “Demons.”
A shiver shook my body