Luke and I had eaten a quick dinner at the little diner near his house. Then we headed straight out to start our search. Reports of odd behavior were coming in one after another, so we had plenty of leads to follow. Unfortunately, there were so many we could barely keep up. I wasn’t sure if it was because of Halloween, the full moon, or if it was normal. I had no reason to pay attention to police calls before this. There was always the chance it was just the few people without souls that we hadn’t been able to track down yet. At the rate they were deteriorating, it was absolutely possible. They were causing one problem after another.
I wondered what would happen to them in the long run if we couldn’t find them. Would they keep slipping further and further into madness? Would their bodies eventually give out? A body wasn’t meant to live without a soul.
Luke had tried to get me to let him handle it. After eating, we made a quick stop at his office, where he strapped on enough weapons to start a small war. He was more than prepared to handle it himself. I was beginning to wonder just how much more there was to his security business. Most security experts didn’t have so many security measures on their own office buildings. I also didn’t think it was normal that Luke had stocked enough weapons to supply a small nation. But what did I know?
As tempting as it was to step back and let him take care of everything for me, I just couldn’t do it. This was my mess. I should be here for it. I had to, at the very least, be here, even if I couldn’t use a weapon.
Snapping out of my thoughts, I struggled to catch up to Luke, who had almost disappeared in the maze of the cemetery. I called out, “Will you slow down? This place is creepy!”
He stopped moving and waited for me to catch up before speaking. “We don’t want to announce to everyone we’re here. Keep it down.” He started walking again, this time keeping a light hold on my arm.
“I don’t see anything—” At a sharp look from Luke, I lowered my voice before continuing in a loud whisper, “I don’t see anything. It’s too dark. And creepy. Maybe we should check out the next call?”
“It’s too quiet,” Luke whispered without slowing down.
“Right, as I said, I don’t think there’s anything here to find.” We had been searching the cemetery for over an hour and had found exactly nothing. I was feeling antsy. I wanted to put all of this behind us.
He stopped walking and moved closer, so he could speak softly. “No, it’s too quiet. There should be teenagers everywhere, daring each other to do stupid shit or hanging out drinking and scaring their girlfriends. Have you seen anyone since we’ve been here?” He shook his head, his eyes scanning the area around me. “There’s no one here. I have a bad feeling.”
I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up as chills ran up my arms. I sucked in a breath, tensing and grabbing onto Luke. “What do we do?” Oh, my goddess, I was such a girl.
My snakes slowly lifted from my hair but stayed quiet. I smoothed them down, trying to regain the control that had been slipping more and more lately. I could do this. Nodding to Luke, I headed for the back of the cemetery.
I slowed my pace when the large crypts came into view. Luke grabbed my arm and ushered me behind a large statue of an angel. “Don’t blink!” the words escaped before I could pull them back, and I shook my head at the confused look on his face.
Hushing me, Luke pointed to a crumbling crypt set into the side of a small hill. The door was open, and there was a soft flickering light coming from within. “Stay here.” He crouched and pulled his gun as he moved around the back of the statue and towards the open door.
Stay here? It was like he didn’t even know me. I was following, whether I wanted to or not. Whether it was a bad idea or not. With a quick look at the statue, I whispered, “I’m watching you.” Then followed behind Luke.
As we stepped through the doorway, the light flickered one last time then went out, leaving us in pitch blackness. Luke took my hand and put it on the waistband of his black jeans. I held on and waited while he took out a small flashlight and attached it to his gun.
We made our way around the small room, and after finding nothing, Luke said quietly, “All clear.”
“Then why are we whispering?” I asked.
“Because he could still be close.”
I waited while he searched every dark corner, eager to get moving. He holstered his gun and motioned for me to hold his flashlight on the wall. Kneeling, he pulled out a long heavy drawer, then recoiled.
“What? What is it?” I asked, moving closer to look.
He jumped up and blocked my view. “You don’t need to see this. He was here, though. I don’t think he went far. Stay behind me.” He pulled his gun.
I followed silently, keeping my eyes on the angel statue as we passed, and we resumed our search.
Luke held up a hand. “Shhh, I hear something.”
Unfortunately, I heard it too. It sounded like something was eating, only it didn’t sound like an animal. We followed the guttural sounds as quietly as we could manage. Ok, as I could manage. Luke moved like a freaking cat, not making a sound.
I tripped over something and stumbled, grabbing onto Luke to catch myself. Just as I did, a bloodstained head popped up, peering at us over a tombstone. Human eyes looked out, but there was only madness there with no trace left of humanity. Luke was shooting before I could even comprehend what I was seeing. Damn, he was fast.
We had finally found Rodney, but he was up and running the second he spotted us. I glanced down, catching sight of what he had been chewing on, and wished I hadn’t looked. I knew what Luke had found in the crypt…leftovers.
There was no way he was going to escape.
I tried my best to keep up but kept tripping over broken tombstones, overgrown roots, and rocks. How in the hell were they moving so fast? Three more quick shots rang out, then Luke shouted, “Got him!”
I caught up just as Luke was checking for a pulse. “Is he dead?” My control slipped, and my snakes rose, hissing around my shoulders.
“Yeah. I hit him six times before he finally went down.” He holstered his gun then, still kneeling, looked up at me. “Ready?”
My heart was still pounding, but relief flooded through me. “Yeah, let’s finish this.” I knelt, waiting for Luke to hold his eyes open, then touched his ankle, quickly releasing a thread of power into him, instantly turning Rodney to stone. The second it was done, I sent another jolt of power through him, the stone crumbling like a sandcastle at the beach.
Luke stood and asked, “What do you want to do with the…pieces?” He motioned back towards the direction we came from.
My stomach turned at the thought of having to do anything with the bloody mess left scattered around the cemetery. “Leave it. We took care of the monster. I know I should clean up his mess, but I just can’t. Let’s go take care of the rest of them.”