Sisters of Blood and Spirit Page 45

The doors swung open like arms waiting for a hug.

“Oh, hell.”

I smiled. Poor Gage. He really wasn’t cut out for this stuff.

I led the way across the threshold into the ward. “Don’t touch the walls, don’t open any doors, and for the love of God, don’t go into any rooms.” When we found 314 I would be the one going inside.

The phone at the nurses’ station started ringing—it echoed through the corridor. Its bell grew louder and longer each time, until it sounded like it was simultaneously gargling and screaming.

“Knock it off!” I shouted. “It’s not scary, it’s just fucking annoying!”

The ringing stopped.

“Did you hear that?” Sarah’s eyes were as big as dinner plates. I could see her trembling.

“Yes,” I said. “I did.” After the phone stopped ringing someone had laughed.

“I want to go home,” Roxi announced. “Just putting that out there.”

“We all do,” Ben agreed.

I was about to say that we weren’t going anywhere without Wren, and then I saw her. Standing just outside one of the patient rooms, hair flowing around her shoulders as though lifted by a gentle breeze.

There was no wind in that corridor. Any energy came directly from her—not a good sign.

“That’s your sister?” Gage asked. Again, not good. If they could see her...

“Lark!” she cried. “This is it! This is his room.” She knew better than to say his name—that would summon him. As it was he was going to come for us soon.

As soon as we entered his room, I bet.

I didn’t care about Bent at that moment. I ran to Wren and hugged her. “You’re manifesting,” I whispered.

She nodded. “I know, but it’s all right. I’m in control. Um, Lark? You’re squishing me.”

I let go of her. “Sorry.”

Behind us the doors slammed shut again. A warning, but was it friendly or hostile?

I beckoned for the others to join us, and then I turned to look into room 314. Wren was right behind me. It was like walking into a beehive, the buzzing was so loud.

Josiah Bent wasn’t the only madman to have thought terrible things in this room, to have left part of himself behind. Every corner had someone hiding in it, smiling or wailing. A young man leered at me from beside the window.

“I’d like to taste your insides,” he said.

Wren hissed at him, her hair flying out around her head like tentacles. I squeezed her hand when my own hair lifted. I could feel her pulling at my soul—feeding on it.

“Stop it,” I said.

Luckily for me, she did. The young man grinned at her before flickering out of sight.

“Oh, my God,” Sarah said, covering her mouth and nose with her hand. “What’s that smell?”

“Rot,” I replied. “Death and insanity. Pain and suffering. Take your pick.”

“What are we looking for?” Kevin asked.

Wren turned her head to look at him. “His razor. Oh, and Adele says she’s sorry for scaring you.”

From the way his face tightened I guessed that Adele was the ghost that had possessed him. She had to be one of the many in this asylum under Bent’s control.

“How could he have kept a razor in here?” Mace asked. “Don’t they take those away?”

“They do now,” I answered. “They may have then, I don’t know. But it’s here. Somewhere—and probably someplace hidden.”

We began to scour the room. The ghosts zipped in and out, yelling at me, poking at me, pulling my hair. I swatted them away. I checked baseboards and in the closet, but found nothing.

“Here,” Ben said. He was at the window—where the leering ghost had stood. Had the young ghost wanted to distract me rather than discuss the edibility of my inner organs?

Ben gave the windowsill a quick, hard kick. It crashed to the floor, revealing a hidden cache behind it. There were several items there, but only one I cared about.

A straight razor with a pearl handle.

“Don’t touch it,” I said, tone sharp. If Ben picked that thing up, Bent might possess him, and then we’d be in a lot of trouble. Worse, Bent might decide to take a ride in Kevin’s head. Mediums were so open to spirits they were sometimes easily influenced. The last thing we needed was Kevin killing people.

I reached into the little cubby and curled my fingers around the razor. It ought to have been cool to the touch, but it wasn’t. It was hot, as though it had been lying in the sun for hours.

Images strobed behind my eyes, slamming violently into my brain; Bent as a young man, holding that very razor to a girl’s throat—a thin line of crimson. Using it on a man who had beat him at cards, on another woman who refused to have sex with him. On his own mother.

That was when he’d begun using the razor just for fun. He’d shave his face with it in the morning, then spend hours sharpening it so it could slice through flesh with almost painless efficiency. Bent’s favorite part had been seeing the look of surprise on his victims’ faces when they realized what he’d done.

Little nicks here and there—enough to sting. Enough to bleed, to incite panic. Slicing through flesh like it was butter, watching that sweet, red blood bubble to the surface. The smell of copper in his nostrils, the sobs in his ears. So. Damn. Good.

One girl, he’d licked the salt trail of her tears from her cheeks before following that same path with the razor.

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