One Grave at a Time

Page 47

Then we had to worry about finding a way to force Kramer into it. No matter how I turned the problem around in my mind, it always came back to our best chance being when he was solid. I couldn't force vapor into the trap. Neither could Bones, even considering that he worked on expanding his telekinetic powers almost as much as on this trap, but those were useless against a disembodied form. Yet waiting until Kramer was solid meant waiting until Halloween night, and we hadn't found the third woman yet, so her life was at risk. Plus, the Inquisitor might only show up if we used Francine and Lisa as bait to draw him out. All the different things that could go wrong haunted me whenever I considered that option, no pun intended.

A knock sounded on the cellar door. "He's back," Tyler called out.

Bones rose, but I waved him back before wiping aside a chunk of hair that had come loose from my ponytail.

"You went the last two times. My turn."

His lips tightened, yet he made no comment, knowing it would lead to an argument that I'd win. I wasn't about to let him bear all of Kramer's loathsome personality, and the ghost only got more pissed when he was ignored. Considering the damage he'd already done to this house, we had to buy it by the time this was over.

I went up the stairs, noting that the wooden steps vibrated from the multiple thuds reverberating through the house. What's he using now? I wondered. Kramer couldn't come inside, not with all the sage we kept burning in every room, but he made good use of everything in the near perimeter. The car we'd driven here had been impressively destroyed, its windows and tires not lasting the first night, the rest of it bashed and battered over subsequent days. The old farmhouse lost its windows on that first night, too, plus a section of the front porch. We'd nailed wood over where the glass used to be, which proved far more durable, and spent a few hours watching TV until Kramer ripped off the satellite dish and chucked it through the car windshield.

Thank God there were no neighbors nearby to hear the unbelievable racket, but that was why we'd chosen this property. The surrounding land had once been a soybean field but clearly hadn't been planted or harvested in a while. I didn't know what circumstances had led the former owners to leave and, failing the sale of the house, choose to rent it, but it was the perfect place for Bones and me to build the trap without Kramer's prying eyes seeing what we were doing. All the materials had been delivered and put in the cellar before I got here, so Kramer hadn't been able to follow us to this place until after they were safely out of sight. I had no doubt the ghost knew Bones and I were busy with something, but he could only guess at what.

Tyler sat in the pantry, my iPad next to him and an open can of SpaghettiOs to the right of that. We'd stocked the refrigerator when we came here, but then Kramer ripped out the electrical lines leading to the house, and that meant no power to keep things fresh. He'd zapped himself in the process, all that electricity coursing through him rendering him solid for about ten minutes, but beating his ass while he was channeling high voltage would have only resulted in Bones or me getting electrocuted, too. Pity the trap wasn't ready yet. That would have made getting the bejesus shocked out of us worth it.

Tyler had been eating canned goods ever since the food spoiled, and his baleful expression said loud and clear that he hadn't developed a taste for them in the process. I didn't remind him that Bones could fly him to Spade's, where there would be plenty of better food to eat. Tyler was determined to help us catch the ghost, and any mention of his leaving was met with flat refusal.

"Want a bite?" Tyler said, holding up a speared forkful of noodles and meat medley.

I managed not to grimace out of sheer force of will. "Ah, no thanks."

"Me neither," he said, coughing a little before he went on. "Have I told you about all the steaks you're going to buy me when this is over?"

"Kobe, filets, prime ribs, you name it," I promised him. "Any luck on your research?"

While Bones and I were in the cellar cutting various rocks and minerals to piece together the trap, Tyler had been scouring the Internet for any authentic-sounding reference to a weapon against ghosts. It burned through a new backup battery a day, damn that lack of electricity, but as the time drew nearer, I was more anxious to find something that might help us prod Kramer into the trap. Yes, we had burning sage, but that made Kramer poof away-helpful when we wanted him gone, but not so much if we wanted to force him into a ghost jail. So far, Tyler hadn't come up with anything that we could test on Fabian or Elisabeth, but he was determined that the information existed and just had to be found.

"What do you think of this?" Tyler asked, turning the iPad around so I could see the screen.

I stared at the page displayed, wondering why Tyler was showing it to me. He must be starting his Christmas list early because this item had nothing to do with the supernatural. Then I looked at it more closely, thought it through . . . and started to smile.

"I love it," I said, careful in my reply because I knew Kramer was listening. "I want ten. No, make that two dozen. Bones has his credit card numbers memorized, get them from him later. We'll ship them to where Spade's staying."

Tyler grinned. "Sure will. Say hi to ol' Michael Myers for me."

"Huh? Oh, because Kramer's a Halloween serial killer, I get it. Sure, but you make sure to stay in here and don't come out."

He rolled his eyes. "Girlfriend, you might be dead, but I don't want to be yet. Bet your ass I'm staying in here."

Another crash sounded near the front of the house, louder than the other ones. My cue that Kramer was getting impatient. I'd love to leave him out there stewing in his own ectoplasm, but we had to keep the house standing for the next week, so we could finish the trap. Getting it out of here without the ghost seeing was going to be tricky enough. We didn't need to add to that trouble by having to move the trap to a new location just to finish it.

I left the pantry, passing through the kitchen with its bare, open cabinets-those doors made for great window coverings-and the family room where mattresses were the only furniture. When I got to the main entrance of the house, I picked up one of the glass jars filled with burning sage and ducked out of habit as soon as I opened the door.

Sure enough, a hunk of tree branch went whistling over me, followed immediately by two side mirrors from the car. They clanged into the family room, one landing on the mattresses, the others resting by the rest of the items Kramer had chucked at Bones earlier. I made a mental note to carry them out later and reappeared in the doorway.

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