One Grave at a Time

Page 54

"That was pathetic," I snapped. "I don't even need sage to fight you. You're pu**y enough all on your own."

His face twisted with rage, and a torrent of German erupted from his mouth. I took that as my signal to run for it, darting through the throngs of people going about their business on this lovely autumn evening.

I had made it as far an outdoor sports bar when it felt like a wrecking ball crashed into my back. It sent me flying forward, completely off-balance. I managed to turn enough to avoid the family with the small children and instead crashed into a table with several young men crouched over beer pitchers and chicken wings. The table broke under my impact, foamy liquid, glasses, and orange-smeared chicken parts splattering over me. The four men who'd been seated around it stared down at me in disbelief, two of them still holding chicken in their hands.

"What's your problem, lady?" one of them gasped.

They couldn't see that a ghost had blasted me into them, but did they really think I'd just swan dived into their table out of boredom? From my vantage point on the floor, I could see Kramer approaching, his form disappearing every time he had to poltergeist through someone in his way. I glanced back at the quartet of young men, desperately trying to think of something that would make them and the other patrons run away before the ghost got here.

"I'm on the rag and desperate for attention," I improvised, remembering Graham's derisive thoughts from that day at my old house. "So if you want to live, get the hell away from me!"

With that, I shoved the remains of the table at them, doing it slow enough so they could avoid it. They leapt out of its path and started backing away. Thankfully, they weren't the only ones. The outdoor seating area quickly began to clear of people.

"Crazy bitch," I heard, but my attention was all for the ghost. He was only a dozen feet away now, his mouth opening in a snarl. I needed to get him clear of these people before he decided to start killing some of them just for fun.

"Come and get me, limp dick!" I yelled, vaulting over the wall. A less-crowded section of shops was on the other side, parked cars lining the streets but their owners mostly elsewhere. I didn't look back to see if Kramer had taken the bait but continued my stream of insults while running flat out. "I know that whole bit about witches depriving men of their virile members was just your excuse for not being able to get it up unless you could-"

Something smashed into my back, sending an explosion of pain through me. It also threw me off-balance again. I ended up skidding down the sidewalk face-first, my velocity carrying me several feet before whatever he'd done to my back healed enough for me to stagger to my feet. As soon as I did, an invisible sledgehammer landed in my gut, knocking me back to my knees.

Someone screamed. I couldn't see who because my vision was blurry and filled with red. I spat out blood, sickening crunching noises sounding with that slight movement of my jaw. My face burned like it had been set on fire, but I got up again, braced for the blow I knew would come. Get away from the people, away from the people, I repeated to myself. No matter what he did to me, I'd heal. They wouldn't.

I made it a few feet, barely seeing where I was going because though I could feel my face mending, I still had blood in my eyes. Then I heard an ominous metallic boom and white-hot pain exploded all through my body. Lights flashed in my vision, and my ears rang with the sound of crunching metal and shattering glass. Now I really couldn't see, but the smell of gasoline and the tremendous weight pressing on me let me diagnose what had just happened.

Motherfucking ghost upended a car on me!

I didn't have time to be stunned at how much stronger the proximity to Halloween had made Kramer because the acrid scent warned me that I needed to move now. The ghost was probably busy trying to score a lighter or make lots of sparks to ignite all that flammable liquid contained in the fuel tank on top of me. I'd had a car explode next to me once before, and it had almost killed me. Being trapped underneath one if it went off? I'd be all the way dead, no doubt about it.

I tensed every muscle in my body, ignoring the flares of pain that were multiple broken bones trying to knit back together, and heaved up with all of my strength. Agony flashed through me, making me momentarily dizzy, but the weight moved off as far as my arms and legs could stretch. Another blisteringly painful heave, and I slithered out from under it, letting it fall back down with a crash once I was clear.

Several blinks later, and I could see enough to be dismayed at the cluster of people gathered nearby, each of them displaying varying degrees of shock. I didn't see any phones held up capturing footage, though, so I had to be grateful for that. Then I caught sight of someone else staring at me. Kramer floated in the empty space along the road where the car had been parked, his green gaze locked onto me with unrelenting intensity.

I didn't know why he wasn't zooming in for another of those bone-cracking energy shots, but damned if I'd just stand here and pose for him until he got around to it. I whirled, pointing myself in the least-populated direction of the street, and started to run. More bones crunched, and my skin felt like I'd been staked on an anthill before I finished healing, but I didn't stop running, waiting for the next blast of pain that would signal Kramer's catching up with me.

I heard a whoosh, then something hard pressed into my gut. My instant defensive reaction stilled when I recognized the power flooding around me, crackling the air with hidden currents. The ground left my feet as I was yanked upward, one strong arm around my midsection, the other locked around someone screaming in a high-pitched, feminine voice.

That scream was the sweetest music I'd heard because it meant Bones had gotten to Kramer's last intended victim in time to save her.

Chapter Thirty-One

Once we'd gone high and far enough away that we knew Kramer couldn't have followed, Bones texted Spade and told him to meet us at War Eagle Park where I-29 was closest to the Missouri River. It had been over an hour since we left Kramer raging on the ground, but we still wouldn't risk taking the woman directly to Spade's and giving the ghost even the smallest chance to track her there through me.

Her name was Sarah, and she hadn't settled down much since Bones took her away from her house, not that I blamed her. If that flight hadn't been enough to scare her senseless, it only took five minutes talking to her to realize that Kramer had tormented Sarah to the very edge of sanity. With Francine and Lisa out of his reach, he'd clearly made up for lost time with her, just as I'd feared he would. Sarah's thoughts were a mixture of white noise, terror, and repetitions of the same crap Kramer had spouted to me about not suffering witches to live and his being unstoppable. Bones and I told her she could trust us, making sure our eyes were lit up when we said it, but she seemed past the point of being calmed by our gazes.

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