Spirit Page 39

Fire was spreading now, leaping from one tent to the next, sending black smoke billowing into the air.

Another generator exploded, also off to his left. The entire carnival was surrounded by fire.

Five generators in a circle. Didn’t get much clearer than that.

Hunter looked for Gabriel, for any of the Merricks. The chaos on the ground was insane: he couldn’t recognize anyone, and the smoke was getting thicker. Several people lay crumpled on the ground, but he couldn’t make out any of them. Sirens screamed somewhere in the distance.

The rage in this fire was familiar: he’d felt it a week ago, during the inferno in the library.


He’d been so stupid. He’d expected her to take out a house. One house.

There had to be hundreds of people here. He could feel the fire spreading, forming a true circle, preventing escape. She was going to kill them all.

And here he sat, fifty feet above the ground, unable to do a damn thing.

“We’re trapped,” said Kate.

Hunter looked at her. His head was clouded with too many complicated emotions, and he had to shut them down.

He studied the multicolored lights along the Ferris wheel supports. The whole thing was really just a big complicated wheel held together by steel bars and high tension wire.

The nearest support was in front of him, but lower, about ten feet away.

No, seven. Seven sounded better.

If he thought about this too long, he’d chicken out.

He climbed onto the safety bar, grabbing the steel frame and holding on.

“Holy crap,” Kate cried. “Are you insane?”

His hands were going to be making an impression in the steel in a second. He could feel sweat beginning to collect under his fingertips. “Don’t rock the car!” he shouted.

She went completely still.

Air whipped around him, excited by the frenzy of activity. He had nowhere near enough control to ask it to help him make this jump, but he tried anyway.

“You’re crazy,” said Kate.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” he said.

And then he jumped.

He hit the supports hard. The entire frame rattled. The metal rails were narrower than he’d expected, wet and hard to grip. Blood streaked the white paint, and he realized the rusted metal had sliced into his hands.

It didn’t hurt yet.

That meant it would hurt a lot later.

He swung his legs until he found purchase, then looped an arm around the support to take the pressure off his palms.

He took a glance. His hands were a mess.

Then he heard another scream and realized there were a lot of people a lot worse off than he was.

Hunter started to climb. It was like this stupid Ferris wheel had been built precisely to frustrate him, because each support was about a foot too far from the next for him to reach. He had to climb in, toward the center, before he could start climbing down.

His hands were still bleeding. They kept slipping.

Something hit the Ferris wheel and sent a shudder through the frame. He swore and had to loop an arm to stay upright. Had some idiot tried to follow him?

Yes. Kate.

She’d taken the impact better than he had—or maybe she’d just learned from watching him. She’d caught the bars with her arms, and now sat braced in the corner where two supports met. Hunter felt a moment of panic, wondering if he should climb up to help her—or continue climbing down.

But then she started to move, and he realized he should be following her lead.

Kate moved like a frigging acrobat. She twisted between the supports as if they’d been assembled specifically for her use. She’d almost caught up to him in a quarter of the time it had taken him to cross the same distance.

She looked like she belonged in a movie, her blond hair and fair skin striking against the backdrop of the Ferris wheel lightbulbs and the smoky blaze behind her.

“Seriously,” she called. “The staring?”

He shook himself and kept climbing. His palms burned but he ignored it.

The ride had stopped between passengers, so no car sat by the booth. The wheel stopped about ten feet above the platform—which was a six-foot square with a tiny operator booth, sitting about ten feet above the ground.

If he missed this jump, it would almost be worse than the first one. The first would have killed him.

This one would just hurt like a bitch.

He let go and dropped.

It hurt anyway. He felt the impact through his ankles and into his knees.

But he was down, and he was alive. Kate landed beside him, absorbing the jump like a cat.

They stared at each other for a moment. People were still screaming overhead, begging for someone to get them down.

He could still feel their panic.

He could also feel Kate’s hesitation.

If she wasn’t going to take action, he needed to. He gave her a quick shove toward the controls. “Get them down!” he said. “Before this generator goes.”

Then he didn’t look back. He leapt off the platform and went after Calla.

Fire was everywhere. Flames had jumped from the exterior booths to the food stands, and lightbulbs were popping left and right. The heat was intense, and people were running in panicked circles.

He couldn’t even help them—there was no way out until the fire was stopped.

Hunter felt for the cord of power holding this inferno together.

Then he followed it.

At the center, of course. He should have known.

Calla stood amidst the flames, her expression one of glee. The fire was hottest here, and bodies littered the ground around her. He didn’t want to know which ones were dead, but his senses told him.

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