Sisters of Blood and Spirit Page 46

“Ben,” I rasped, because he was closest to me. “Reach into my bag and see if there’s a plastic baggie in there.”

He opened the flap of my messenger bag and rummaged inside. A second or two later, he pulled out a Ziploc bag. It had sandwich crumbs in it, but I’d be embarrassed about that later.

“Dump some salt in,” I instructed. And once he’d filled a third of the bag, I tossed the razor into it. “Now add more and seal it.”

A roar rose up around us as the salt mixture covered the weapon. It seemed to start in the basement and climb up the walls, shaking the floor beneath our feet. The windows rattled, panes cracking. The bars were on the outside and would not protect us if the glass blew.

Neither Kevin nor I should have that blade. Bent would go for one of us immediately. The only other person strong enough to handle it was Ben. He’d been raised with knowledge of how to protect himself, and he wasn’t as afraid of ghosts—not like most people.

“Hide it,” I told him. I didn’t watch to see what he did. I turned to the others. “Get out.”

The place was still trembling when we ran out into the corridor, but not with the same frenzy. I knew better than to be relieved.

“What the hell?” Mace muttered.

A wheelchair moved slowly toward us. There wasn’t anyone in it. Cliche, but effective. Roxi yelped and grabbed Gage’s hand. Wren glided over to it and stopped it from moving any farther. That wasn’t good. The fact that she could interact with it meant that the spiritual energy in this place was strong. Too strong. Behind her I saw a flicker of light—like a glitch on a baby monitor. It was a man.

It was Bent.

“Wren!” I shouted, breaking into a run. Son of a bitch was not going to get her again. I pulled the canister of salt from my bag and wrenched it open, flinging it forward. “Duck!”

My sister dived out of the way just in time. Unfortunately, so did the man. The salt and iron scattered uselessly on the floor. That was okay—it bought us a few seconds.

I grabbed Wren’s hand. “We have to get out of here. Now.”

Her gaze locked with mine. “If he’ll let us out.”

“Oh, he’ll let us out,” I said. It wasn’t all bravado. This wasn’t my first bully of a ghost, and I still had a few tricks up my sleeve. And I had Wren.

Another flicker. I flung more salt, this time hitting a young girl in the chest. She screamed and fizzled out.

Sarah cried out. I whipped around to see several ghosts surrounding my friends. An old woman in a stained nightgown pulled at Sarah’s hair. A small boy tried to bite at Gage’s knee. Mace swung a heavy wrench and scattered a middle-aged woman in a nurse’s uniform. Ben flung salt, taking out another ghost and the one on Sarah.

Josiah Bent materialized a few feet down the corridor. Lights flickered around him like camera flashes. He looked as solid and real as any of us, but he didn’t have his razor—we did.

And from the look on his face, he wanted it back.

“Get to the door!” I shouted, putting myself between him and my friends as they ran for the stairs.

Wren put herself between me and Bent as I grabbed another salt can from my bag. Her hair spiraled like crimson tentacles as she drew herself up. She was taller—bigger than normal, her eyes bottomless black pits as she lashed out at him. Wicked claws slashed Bent’s face and laid it open—black blood spraying.

He looked surprised. Then he grabbed her by the throat. I didn’t hesitate. I emptied some of the can into my palm and threw a handful of the mixture—avoiding Wren—raining it down on him like hail. Bent shrieked and shattered.

I lifted my arm to shield myself from the spray of salt. When I lowered it, I blinked my stinging eyes. For a split second I saw a woman with white hair.

“You have to get out of here now,” she said. And then she was gone.

“Let’s go!” I shouted, reaching for my sister. She grabbed my hand and started running after the others. Her touch gave me preternatural speed.

We caught up to our friends downstairs, where we’d come in.

“Get out!” I yelled at them. “If the door won’t open, kick it down!”

“I’ll kick it down,” Wren promised. And she went and did just that. As it flew open, our companions ran toward it.

Mace fell to his knees, wrench clattering to the floor. He clutched his chest.

“No!” I shouted. I hit the floor hard beside him. The floor was so thick with dirt that I jerked to a stop rather than sliding. I caught Mace as he pitched forward. His eyes rolled back into his skull as he twitched in my arms. This was bad. So very bad.

Ben, Sarah, Gage and Roxi stopped just before the exit, each one staring at Mace in horror. Sarah must have been terrified or in shock, because she didn’t move. She just stood there, staring as though she couldn’t believe what was going on.

And all around us the building shook. Doors slammed. The telephone began to ring. I heard the shuffling footsteps of hundreds of lethargic and drugged inmates above my head. No longer just flickers. They had manifested. Goose bumps jumped up along my arms and neck. Bent was raising a damn army.

Wren heard it, too. “Lark? We have to go.”

Ben—brave Ben—had started toward me, ready to help me with Mace. But he had Bent’s razor, and if he didn’t escape with it, we were all dead. “Run!” I shouted at him and the others. “Run now!”

And they did. Call them cowards; call them smart. It didn’t matter. They did what I told them to do and that was all I cared about.

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