The Wicked Will Rise Page 63

Dorothy recoiled in shock, and as my knife returned to me in a flash, a look of even deeper surprise crested her face.

In her moment of confusion, I drew the knife back and plunged it through her heart. I pushed it straight through her body until I saw the bloody tip come out the other side.

Dorothy screamed, doubling over in pain. Her mouth dropped open and her eyes bugged out; her smooth, china-white skin began to sag and wrinkle as she aged what looked like twenty years in the fraction of a second. She began to turn green.

I had done it. I had killed her.

I towered over her, raised my fist to the sky, and called down more of the darkness, letting it rip through me. I had done it. I had killed her. This was who I was. This was who I was meant to be.

Then she stood up.


Dorothy looked as surprised at her condition as I felt when I saw her get back up to her feet.

She wasn’t dead. I had given her everything I had, and it hadn’t been enough. She seemed as shocked I was.

She stared at me, then looked down at herself, where my knife was still lodged in her body. She began to laugh at the absurdity of it.

Then, with more strength than she should have had left in her, she kicked me in the stomach with a spiky heel and sent me flying onto my back. As I struggled to my feet, she flicked her wrist and shot a bolt of energy at me, hitting me square in the rib cage. My whole body seized in convulsions, pain shooting through my every nerve as I fell back down again.

Dorothy yanked my knife from her chest. Blood was squirting everywhere, but she didn’t seem to be feeling any pain. She held the blade aloft, looking at it curiously.

She shouldn’t have been able to do that. The knife was a part of me. No one else was supposed to be able to touch it unless I was using it to slice them open.

Then again, Dorothy shouldn’t have been alive either, after what I’d just done to her.

“Well,” she said. “I don’t know what just happened, but I guess it didn’t work. Cool knife, though.” She rested the hilt against her palm. “Looks like magic. The black kind.”

Now she was advancing toward me, brandishing my weapon. All I could do was lay there waiting for her, twitching. Her red shoes were sparkling with magic, and with every step she took she seemed to grow more powerful. Without even looking like she was trying to do it, she was drawing down a storm of lightning bolts from the sky, all of it flowing through her body and into her shoes like she was a living conduit for all the magic Oz had to offer.

Was it possible that I had somehow just made her more powerful?

“So. It seems that you have a bit of a problem. It looks like you can’t kill me, now doesn’t it? I think this is the part where you cry uncle.”

“Not on your life. Assuming you even have one anymore,” I said.

But I knew she was right. Maybe I still needed the Scarecrow’s brains, just like the Wizard had said, or maybe something else was the problem, but I wasn’t going to be able to beat her. Not like this.

All I could do was retreat to the one place I knew I would be safe. So, old hat or not, I pulled the darkness over me, feeling it envelope me like a familiar blanket. I burrowed into it as far as I could, closing out the flames, the smell, the screams—closing out the whole world until everything, everything, everything was pitch-black.

Everything except the one thing I was really trying to hide from. Against the utter nothingness of the shadow world, Dorothy looked Technicolor. Her eyes were so blue they vibrated, and her face—which had formerly been tinged with a sickly olive pallor—was now a vibrant, clownish green slashed with lips red as cartoon blood. Her shoes were the reddest of all. They were so bright I had to look away.

Even here, I couldn’t escape from her.

“You think you’re the only one who knows about the Darklands?” she asked, seething. “Oh, honey, this dimension might as well be my living room. Have to admit, I’ve never met anyone else who could get in here—even Glinda doesn’t get it. I guess it’s a Kansas thing!”

It’s hard to describe the powerlessness I felt just then. This was a different kind of powerlessness than I’d felt when Dorothy had me wrapped in her chains. Instead of feeling hypnotized—held in her thrall—I just felt hopeless, like nothing I could do would make a difference, so why bother trying?

She looked down at my knife curiously. Watching her touch it gave me a strange, awful feeling, like when you’re a little kid and you wiggle your tongue around in the hole where you just lost a tooth.

I could see that Dorothy understood my discomfort. “I doubt I can hurt you with it,” she said, “But I’m guessing as long as I’m holding it, you won’t be able to put up much of a fight. Shall we test the theory?”

She extended an arm and touched the tip of my knife to my collarbone. I didn’t resist. She drew the blade across my neck, pressing hard enough for me to feel pressure. But there was no blood, and no pain.

“I figured,” she said. “You get a feel for these things after a while, you know? Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I’ll just have to get creative.” She paused.

“Oh, never mind,” she said. “You can’t kill me, I can’t kill you; how predictable can it get? There’s probably some dull prophecy about it—there always is, isn’t there? Chosen ones and blah blah blah. Who can keep track? Good thing I don’t need to kill you anyway. Oh, I’d like to, but as Glinda’s constantly reminding me, a girl can’t have everything she wants. Not even me. But you’ve got your wants, and you’ve got your needs. And all I need”—she grabbed the strap of my bag and yanked it hard, snapping it—“is this.”

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