Black Heart – Chapter II Part X
by Steppen Sawicki
End of this chapter!
Back in the car, his brain was finally able to settle down a bit, though it was still pounding away. He didn’t want to think any more about the synagogue and the dead place, though he knew he probably should. But he could handle only so much at one time.
He glanced at Harper. She was watching the buildings go by out the window, hands folded neatly in her lap. So proper.
“So tell me something,” he said. “Anything. Just get my mind out of this gamma for a couple of minutes.”
“Like what?” Her voice was even, devoid of emotion. Like a robot.
“Like…anything. Okay, where are you really from? You don’t have an accent.”
“My father was American. You didn’t notice my last name?”
“Oh. Right.” He tapped at the steering wheel as he had earlier. “You grow up here?”
“I moved back and forth. But mostly I schooled here.”
“Mm.” He didn’t know what else to say. He was veering dangerously close to family history territory. He certainly didn’t want to bring that topic up. “So…”
“Stop! Stop the car!”
Bryan slammed on the brakes, the inertia throwing him against the seatbelt. The car behind them honked long and angry. “Harper, what the hell?”
She was already jumping out of the car and running back the way they had come. He jumped out too and danced back and forth a bit trying to figure out whether to follow or park the car. He decided to follow, leaving the car stopped in traffic, the other drivers shouting at him as he passed them.
He spied Harper ducking into a door, and he tried to go in too but was held back by a flood of people, running and screaming bloody murder. He was nearly knocked to the concrete, but flattened himself against the window. A part of his brain registered the sign on the window – a Thai restaurant – and then he saw Harper inside, waving her arms about in the midst of prone bodies. Capturing.
He already had a deck out, and he had a moment to think that Hussein told him no hunting tonight. Then a woman on the sidewalk screamed, not in fear but in pain. He turned to see her fall to the ground and whither, growing pale yellow and green and dry.
He tore a card. The effect of being Possessed after a dry spell of weeks was debilitating and strangely intoxicating, like getting drunk after swearing off alcohol. The thing in him saw the gamma and beta watching – their eyes on him so much clearer in this state – and was jealous and yet invited them closer.
He came to lying on the ground, terrified of how they would respond to the invitation. Bryan captured the demon sucking the woman dry as words filled his head.
There are more.
You need me.
Harper burst out onto the sidewalk, looking around. “You got it?” she asked Bryan.
“Yeah.” He took stock. The gamma hadn’t responded to the demon in him. It merely watched. The beta was still whispering sweet nothings, thinking his conscious mind wouldn’t notice. But he did notice. And judging from it still being in the card, it couldn’t do anything without his assistance.
“Fuck off,” he told it, and threw the demon in him into another card.
He turned to see Harper’s eyes narrow behind her glasses.
“Not you,” he told her.
A wailing suddenly came from the dead woman. Not from the corpse, from a small girl that knelt next to it, shaking and sobbing. It was just them and the girl and the dead now.
Harper had pooled her own demon back into a totem, a little nut it looked like to Bryan. She looked at the child as if not comprehending. “It got away from me,” she said as if defending herself to the girl. “There were six of them and it – ”
Her voice broke off and she turned away, covering her mouth with a hand. She might have sobbed, but instead she screamed and threw her fist at the window. It shattered and cascaded to the sidewalk, and the girl looked up at the two of them, wide-eyed and afraid.
But it didn’t surprise Bryan. He knew the outburst hadn’t come out of nowhere. He had practically expected it.