The Calling Page 29

“She’s a shape-shifter,” Daniel said. “Eventually she’s going to be able to turn into a cougar. Sam and I? We’re demon-hunters.”

Corey studied Daniel’s face, then mine.

“This is going to be a long talk, isn’t it?” he said at last.

“Yep. Better sit down.” Daniel pointed at the bag in Corey’s hand. “And break out the granola bars and drink boxes.”


WE TOLD THEM EVERYTHING—WELL, almost everything. I was saving the stuff I’d found out at the cabin. This was enough for now. Too much actually. Despite having seen our powers in action—my near-transformation and Daniel knocking out the pilot—Corey and Hayley couldn’t seem to process it.

Corey kept saying, “Are you sure?” tentatively, as if he didn’t want to insult our intelligence, but he couldn’t help thinking there had to be a logical explanation. Hayley just stared at me.

When I finally stopped talking, she said, “Are you crazy?”

“Hey!” Sam said.

“No, seriously. You think you’re going to change into a cougar? Maybe in thirty years you’ll start thinking college boys are kinda hot, but that’s the only sort of cougar you can turn into, Maya. Anything else is nuts.”

“Right,” Sam said. “So you weren’t here an hour ago? When her face started changing?”

“Yes, something did happen to her face. I don’t know what it was, but I’ll bet it has to do with those vitamins and drugs they were feeding us back in Salmon Creek. That’s what all this is about. They were doing medical experiments on us. It explains what Daniel did on the helicopter and what happened with Maya’s face.”

“And Rafe?” Sam said. “Does medical research explain why Rafe thought he was a skin-walker, too, when he’d never even been to the clinic?”

“I … I don’t know.” Hayley squared her shoulders. “No one ever saw Rafe do anything magical. He just thought he was one of these skin-walkers. That’s from your religion or whatever, right?”

“My religion?” I said.

“The stuff you people believe in.”

“You people?” Corey said. “Holy hell, Hayley. Did you really just say that?”

She went beet red. “I—I didn’t mean—”

“We know exactly what you meant,” Sam said. “Got a racist streak there, huh? Surprise, surprise.”

“I—I didn’t mean it like that,” Hayley stammered. “I just meant their, you know, heritage. Indian. Um, Native. Or—or—”

“It’s okay,” I said. “I’m sure you didn’t mean it like that. Yes, I’m Navajo. Mostly anyway. Rafe’s mother was Hopi. Both have skin-walkers as part of their beliefsystems, but I hadn’t even heard the word until a few days ago. My mom—my adopted one—is Haida. That’s what I know. No skin-walkers there.”

I tried to keep my tone even. Explaining, not lecturing. Whatever problems I’d had with Hayley in the past, she’d never showed any prejudice. It still pissed me off, though.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m really sorry. I’m just… I’m going to take a walk, okay?”

“You can’t wander off,” Sam said. “We’re being chased by—”

“She’s fine,” Daniel said. “I think we should all take a walk. Were you done looking at the ATV, Corey?”

Corey hesitated. “Um, no. You want me to see if I can get it running?”

Daniel nodded.

“What?” Sam said. “We don’t have time—”

“Yes, we do.” Daniel’s voice took on that low, soothing tone. “We’re going to walk back to the ATV. Hayley’s going to follow us. Corey’s going to try to fix the machine. And we’ll all relax. Just take twenty minutes to relax. If he can’t get it going, we’ll set out again.”

I suspected Daniel’s skill wouldn’t work on a fellow benandanti, but Sam would do as he said anyway. And it did calm Hayley and Corey. They nodded, and we made our way back to the ATV.

The ATV still sat there, keys in the ignition. Sam stalked off to sit on a fallen log and glower at us. Hayley murmured that she was going to walk a bit and promised to stay close. Daniel and I stood watch, leaving Corey to the ATV. He was good mechanically—without him, Daniel’s truck would have been relegated to a scrap heap long ago. Right now, it gave him some time to think. Same with Hayley and her quiet moment in the woods.

We couldn’t force them to accept that we had supernatural powers. Maybe they’d decide that these people were after us for another reason. Either way they’d keep running and that was all that mattered.

After a while, Corey turned on his haunches and said, “Too much damage. I’d need tools and even then I doubt I’d get her started.”

“It was worth a shot,” Daniel said. “Thanks.”

Corey nodded and wiped a spot of grease from the red ATV’s paint. “I don’t have the same symptoms as you guys,” he finally said. “But I know you think I’m something, too. Something supernatural.”

“There were two other terms on that list,” Daniel said. “Xana and sileni.”

“Which are…?”

“I have no idea. I tried a Web search on all the terms. I couldn’t get results for any, including benandanti and skin-walkers, which makes no sense, because we know they’re part of folklore.”

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