Spirit Page 40

More dead than alive. And the living ones were in pain. So much pain that it singed his senses, weighing him down.

All these people. He’d failed them all.

And he couldn’t stop her now. He didn’t even have a gun anymore. He didn’t know where the Merricks were, didn’t even know if he could control a fire of this magnitude if they were here.

“I told you,” she said, her voice high above the roar of the flames. Wind swirled through the fairgrounds, whipping the flames higher. “I told you what we would do.”

This was more power than she could generate on her own—and it was wild, almost uncontrollable. He wondered again who else was working with her.

How could they do this? Who could want a war so badly that they would kill innocent people?

“I’ll bring them,” Hunter said. He could feel the anguish and suffering in the space around him, and it made his voice break. “I’ll bring the Guides, Calla. Just stop this.”

“You had your chance. You knew what we would do. We want a war.”

“Please,” he said. “Please, stop this. I’ll bring them.”

“No, you won’t. You’re afraid of them. I know what you are, Hunter. I know what your father did.”

Of course she did—wasn’t that the whole problem? “I don’t—what are you—”

“I don’t think you understand how serious we are. They’re killing people, Hunter. Good people. Hypocrites.”

“You’re killing people, Calla.”

“For the greater good, right? Isn’t that what the Guides say?” Her eyes flashed in the darkness. The smoke in the air was hard to breathe through, but she smiled. “They need to take me seriously. Why should you get to live, when the rest of us don’t?”

“I don’t understand,” he said. His voice broke again. “Please.”

Her mouth opened, but before any sound could come out, her body jerked.


At first he didn’t get it. But then she crumpled.

And then Hunter saw the man with the gun.

Oh. Oh, shit.

He ran like hell.

He made it about fifty feet before someone called his name.

Someone. Kate.

Her voice drew his attention, made him almost turn.

And then something hit him in the shoulder. He stumbled and saw stars. His forearms were suddenly in the dirt. For a horrifying moment he thought he was going to be sick on himself.

Run, he told himself. Run, you wuss.

He forced himself back to his feet. One foot in front of the other.

This didn’t feel like running.

He stumbled again. The ground came up and hit him in the face. His arm wouldn’t work.

Then he was sick and he hated that they were going to find him dead, lying in his own puke.

His dad would be so disappointed.

“Hunter.” Someone was shaking him. Rolling him. “Hunter.”

He opened his eyes. It felt like he’d been sleeping for hours, but fire still filled the air. He could feel it everywhere, burning against his senses.

Gabriel was there, backed by fire, looking down at him. “Can you hear me?”

“Guide,” said Hunter. His voice sounded funny, distant and somewhat tinny. “You have to run.”

“I saw,” said Gabriel. “Don’t worry, we’ll—”

Hunter didn’t worry. The flaming sky went black.


Kate made it to Silver’s side just in time to see him pull the trigger again.

Too much was going on for her to examine the sudden wrench in her chest. “Stop!” she cried. “He’s not the one who started this!”

“I know.” Silver’s ice-blue eyes flicked her way.

“Then why are you shooting him?”

“Because he was negotiating with the one who did. You were with him. Why didn’t you detain him?”

“I was getting the people off the Ferris wheel.”

Wind was snapping at her hair, throwing smoke in her eyes and inciting the flames higher. Silver, by comparison, seemed to stand outside the maelstrom, as if it didn’t dare ruffle him.

“That is not your task here, Kathryn.”

“Isn’t our task to protect people?”

“Have you never heard the saying, the end justifies the means?”

He glanced at the sky, and Kate followed his gaze. The flames were over ten feet high now. At first she’d thought smoke obscured the stars above, but now she realized those were clouds moving in.

Heavy clouds, flickering with lightning. Thunder cracked overhead, and she watched Gabriel Merrick crouch over a very still Hunter.

Silver raised the gun again.

Kate didn’t know if he was pointing at Gabriel or Hunter. Her heart was beating a path into her throat.

She had to think. Think think think.

Silver cocked the gun.

“Kill them now and you’ll send the rest to ground,” she said.

She kept her voice even, a mere observation in the middle of an inferno fed by a windstorm. Sweat rolled down her back, tracing a line between her shoulder blades, and she ignored it.

Silver hesitated.

Kate shrugged like she didn’t care. “They’ve already outsmarted . . . how many Guides did you say?”

He released the hammer and lowered the weapon.

“Don’t you have a body to get rid of anyway?” Kate asked, thinking of Hunter’s issues with Calla—and wondering how this all fit together.

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