Sisters of Blood and Spirit Page 63

Ben was on the floor in front of me, on his back, limbs splayed. One of his eyes had been gouged from his skull, leaving a gory, gaping hole. The other eye was open wide—staring at me. Beyond him lay the bodies of our other friends, broken and battered, eyes torn from their sockets. Drops of blood covered their faces, dripped across the dirty floor. I followed the trail with my gaze. The carnage rendered me mute, unable to even sob.

The blood led to an eyeball, alone on the floor—a tiny, octopus-like thing with its trailing tentacles. A dirty, bare foot dangled just above it. I looked up. Sitting on the reception desk was Wren. Her bloodred hair was a matted tangle around her head. Her eyes were huge and black—no whites at all. Around her mouth, her face was crusted with dried blood. In her hand was a morbid limp-balloon bouquet of hazels, browns and blues.

She was chewing. I didn’t want to know what.

“Lark,” she said. Her voice was a horrible groan—like a screen door with rusted hinges. She hopped off the desk, landing in a squat. Her gore-caked fingers dug into the tiles, still clutching her trophies. She crouch-crawled toward me. It was then that I noticed she was wearing a hospital gown—stained and foul. She was gaunt and feral, and smelled of death. Her nails clicked on the floor.

“Wren. What happened to you?”

Her head cocked to one side—at more of an angle than anything living could ever achieve. “Nothing. I’m just as I ought to be.”

I shook my head. “No. This isn’t you. You’re not a monster. You would never kill anybody.”

She laughed. “Silly Lark! I didn’t kill them—you did. You brought them here. You made it possible for Bent to get them, and to get me. I just took some treats.” She shook the eyeballs at me.

I glanced at my friends—all dead and defiled. How could I have done this? I was doing everything I could to protect them, to keep Bent from getting them.

When I turned back to my sister she was right there in front of me—so close I jumped back. She grinned—baring teeth that were stained with red, and had stringy bits caught between them.

“You know, Lark,” she began in a singsong voice, inching closer. “I’ve always thought you had the prettiest eyes.”

Then she jumped, and I screamed.


Lark’s scream summoned me immediately to her side. One second I was in the Shadow Lands after leaving the graveyard, and the next I was being ripped through space and time like a piece of lint being sucked up by a vacuum cleaner.

When I appeared beside Lark—who was sitting on the ground in a place I didn’t recognize—she was with Ben. She was pale, and there was the ghost of a man not far away, watching us with interest.

“Did you do something to my sister?” I demanded of him, letting the wind catch me up.

He actually shrank back from me. His face had been partially eaten by animals, but I could see enough to know I frightened him. “No. I’ve never hurt anyone.”

He had that disconcerted look of someone who had died suddenly and traumatically, but was foggy on the details. “Most people don’t end up left to rot in densely wooded areas unless someone brought them there for a reason.” And he didn’t look like anyone’s innocent victim.

The ghost’s response was to fade away.

I turned back to my sister. Ben sat beside her, his hand on her leg. He was asking her if she was okay. Had I corporeal form I might have kicked him then, I was jealous of them being able to touch. Then again, if I had form I would be with Kevin right now. Or someone. Probably.

What if I’d been the one born alive? What if we both had been?

“What happened?” I asked, taking her hand. No point thinking about what never was and could never be.

Lark’s gaze met mine. “What are you doing here?”

Ben glanced in my direction.

“You summoned me.” My anger began to dissipate the longer I looked at her shocked face. “Are you all right?”

She shook her head. “I had another vision.”

“I think I can see her,” Ben said, his tone full of wonder. “Just a little.”

My sister patted his hand. “That’s my fault. You’re both touching me, and I’m upset. It won’t last.”

“Too bad.” He waved at me. “Hey, Wren. It’s cool to see her, even for a little bit. She looks pissed.”

I waved back, and tried to look more pleasant.

“I pulled her here,” Lark explained. “She didn’t have a choice.”

“Huh.” He seemed to find that fascinating. Let it happen to him and see how much he liked it then. He gestured down the path with his thumb. “Do you want me to leave you alone?”


I drew back. Lark was afraid of me. Oh, I didn’t like this feeling—like I was trapped in a vise that wanted to slowly crush me into nothingness.

Ben looked surprised, too. “Are you sure?”

Lark shook her head, wisps of white hair lifting in the breeze. “Maybe just for a minute. If you don’t mind.”

“I’ll meet you back at the car.” He kissed her cheek, then rose to his feet and set off down the trail.

I sat down opposite Lark, just enough off the trail so I wouldn’t end up with a bicycle or jogger bounding through my skull. “How bad was it?”

“Bad.” It had to be—she couldn’t even look me in the eye.

“Tell me.” I didn’t want to hear it, but I had to.

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