Afterlife Page 60

Come out.”

“The dolls,” Raquel whispered. She must have dreamed of them before.

In the dream bedroom, the dolls rustled some more, toppling into piles so that their gold and brown curls tangled together. In the center, I saw him.

If I hadn’t been able to feel the depth of Raquel’s fear, I might have laughed. This wraith didn’t look scary — just fat and kind of bald. Not very tall, either. And yet, as he studied me, tilting his head from side to side, there was something in the vacancy of his stare, and the greediness of his smile, that unsettled me 0111 every level.

Pretty. Pretty red hair. Have you come to play with me?

He shuffled out from the cloud of dolls. His body was naked, and disgusting, and my fear turned quickly to revulsion, then to anger.

I said, “I’m not here to play.”

Resonate, Patrice had said. I didn’t know how to do that, so I just concentrated on him, and thought of my own death. I remembered that strange sinking feeling of my body giving in, giving way. I remembered Lucas’s tears as he clutched my hand. It came back to me too vividly to bear — and yet I could feel the wraith being brought closer by the memories. I found my mind shaping words as though they were an incantation: By all that divides us from the living, I divide you from this place. By all the dm*ness that dwells within us, I consign you to darkness. By all the death that gives me power, I take your power from you.

The wraith began to shriek, an unearthly wail that reverberated throughout the house. Dana grabbed both of her ears, perhaps in pain, and dropped the compact to the floor. Raquel didn’t flinch. She grabbed the mirror and tossed it toward me, and I materialized just enough to catch it in my hand.

The moment I did, the force of the magic began drawing the wraith into the mirror. As I angled the mirror, the way Patrice had said, the wraith came apart before my eyes, not in a pretty mist like I was used to, but as though it were a physical thing being dismembered, blood and sinew, shrieks of pain. Yet it turned into so much dust as it flew into the mirror, howling the whole way — Until there was silence. The dream world had vanished. We stood in the living room, staring at the ice — caked mirror I held high above my head. “Is that … did we get him?” Dana asked breathlessly, her hands still at her ears.

“Oh, my God.” Raquel took a shuddering breath. “We caught it.”

“And as long as we don’t break the mirror, it can never get out again.” I’d fought it. I’d won. I knew how to stand up for myself against a wraith now; did that mean I was finally free?

“It’s trapped in a mirror?” Raquel blinked. “It’s not in the phantom zon e or something?”

I shrugged. “Wherever it is, it can’t get out again.”

Raquel started to laugh, a sound of pure joy, and then she flung her arms around me. With all my strength, I kept myself as solid as I could, because the hug felt way too good to miss.

“You did it,” she gasped. “You did it. That horrible thing — ”

“It’s okay.” I patted her back as I realized her laughter was turning into tears. “It can’t get you again.”

“You did that for me after what I did to you.”

“I did it for me, too — ”

“just shut up, okay?” Raquel hugged me tighter, and I took her advice and just held her while she cried. Over her shoulder, I could see Dana smiling at me beatifically, like I was her new favorite person in the whole world.

Once Raquel had settled down again, I handed her off to Dana for more hugging and returned my attention to the mirror. It was thickly iced, yet it seemed to me that I could glimpse something moving in the reflection.

“What are we going to do with that thing?” Raquel said. “Encase it in cement?”

“That’s not a bad idea.”

Then I felt the pull — almost physical, like I was being dragged.

“Bianca?” Raquel took a step forward. “You’re turning invisible.”

“Riverton! Don’t forget!” I called, before I lost the ability to make sound. ““ll make sure Lucas is there!”

“Bianca!” Raquel shouted again, but in an instant I was gone, somersaulting through the blue misty nothingness. I landed — or so it seemed, anyway. I looked down at soft green grass, then turned my face up to see Maxie standing above me. She wore a strange coat of some dark fur that looked more creepy than luxurious.

“What are you doing?” she demanded. “You’re siding with them against us now?”

“That thing had to be stopped.”

“That thing? Thing?’ Maxie looked like she might slap me. “I guess you might as well help Mrs. Bethany set the traps.”

A third voice interrupted our argument. “There’s a difference between what Bianca has done and Mrs. Bethany’s efforts.”

We turned to see Christopher. So I was in the land of lost things again — brought here, this time, against my will. Maxie had told me he was powerful, but this was my first evidence of exactly how much stronger Christopher was than the average wraith.

And yet it didn’t frighten me, because now I knew I had the power to defend myself. Any power Christopher now had, I might gain for myself in time — probably less time than it had taken him to learn.

The sunlight brightened Christopher’s dark brown hair, and his old — fashioned long coat was a deep bottle green. We were at the foot of a 161 building that looked like some sort of pagoda, except that a rattling elevate,d train straight out of the 191Os was rushing along behind it.

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