She took two steps closer and the headache doubled. My legs wobbled, but I pushed my will to reinforce my mind’s defences.
“I am rarely at rest, little caller.”
My eyes widened. I’d attracted the attention of an aware, alive spirit whose power could crush my mind like a bug on the windshield, shattering my sanity and crushing my body. Ye gods. I looked at the motionless spirits around us. “Are you their leader?”
The old spirit took a moment to consider. “No.”
“Then why aren’t they attacking?” Mrs. Saunders asked.
The old spirit turned to Mrs. Saunders—and bowed. “Great Elder, I am keeping these mindless echoes from attacking you and ripping your bones through your flesh.”
Oh shit. “Great Spirit, I am honoured that you’ve taken notice of me.” The spirit grinned as I grimaced saying the words. “I seek your permission to allow these shades to return to their rest.”
“If the Great Elder can banish them, certainly you can, little caller.”
“They came back,” I whispered. “I need them to leave permanently.”
“This is our land,” she snarled and the words cut through me. I cried out in pain and my knees buckled under me, but I stayed upright. “Why should we be driven out first?”
I stared at the elder spirit, her eyes aflame. Literally. Red flickered in her eyes and her rage-fuelled power grew. I gulped down my fear.
“Elder spirit, I don’t wish to offend you,” I said, pushing myself to my feet.
Jeremy tightened his grip around my waist and I was grateful for the physical contact; it helped me strengthen my mental barriers.
“Old Spirit, I don’t want to fight you,” I said. It would have been more convincing if my voice didn’t crack.
The spirit laughed at me, a chortling sound that echoed in both my ears and my soul. “I have no control over these spirits. You waste your time focusing on me, little caller.” The spirit turned her gaze to the docks.
An explosion rocked the ground. The flesh spirits around us charged past. The elder spirit shrugged and walked away, the sense of her presence fading with each step farther from me.
“Merciful Redeemer,” Mrs. Saunders muttered.
A fireball burned its way through wood and fog. The docks were on fire. Sirens split the air seconds later.
I just stared at the fire, dread filling me. I had let the elder spirit distract me and had not continued the banishing. I had let her confuse and awe me with her presence. I should have ignored her and continued with calling and banishing the other spirits. She might have been too powerful to put back into the grave, but the others were not.
“Stupid Rachel,” I said under my breath.
Facing The Music And It’s Out Of Tune
With the banishing a complete failure and now the tourist dock on fire, I gave up. Fire trucks, ambulances (God, I hoped those weren’t needed), and lots of police cars cordoned off the area. I was simply too weak to drive, so Jeremy drove. I passed out before we’d even made the turn off to head home.
When I woke, I was on my sofa covered in two heavy blankets and with my oil furnace roaring to life. Faint hints of smoke filled the air; the wood furnace was on, too.
I squinted. The only light in the darkness came from the kitchen. Jeremy stood at my sink, washing my dishes. I sat up with a fright. How long had I been out?
Jeremy must’ve heard me, because he spun around, dripping dirty dishwater over my floor. He dropped the dish back in the sink; water sloshed over the counter and dribbled down the counters.
“Shit,” he spat and mopped up the water with a dishtowel. “Hey. You feeling all right?”
The room shifted on its axis—or was that me? I pushed myself to my feet and shuffled to the kitchen. “How long have I been out?”
He glanced at the clock. “Seven hours.”
I blinked at him and stared up at the clock. “Christ, it’s the middle of the night!”
“Easy.” He held his hands