Protection of Magic, The Leira Chronicles Book 3
By Martha Carr and Michael Anderle
“Everything alright in there? Who you talking to?” Cohen’s voice was shaking as it echoed down the hallway.
“Not the victim, if that’s what you’re asking,” Leira yelled back, glad she was telling the truth, for now.
She ran the light over the girl’s body. One clean hole in the center of her forehead just like in the vision. But the rest was different. The girl in the world in between was wearing jeans and a hoodie over a t-shirt. Her body was decked out in a sea foam green party dress with a sash. Like a giant doll. Even her hair was neatly arranged. “This is not good. Someone went to a lot of trouble. But, why this house?”
“House is for sale.” Cohen had quietly positioned himself in the doorway.
Leira started, shaking the light again.
“Huh, nice to know you can’t read minds.”
“I’m gonna guess that’s more of a blessing for me.” Leira went back to scanning the girl’s body. “Did you see these marks on her wrists? She was restrained but with something soft. Still, she pulled against them. Must have been in them a while. How long was she missing?”
“Not entirely sure,” said Cohen, running a hand through his hair. “She wasn’t due to testify and we thought she was safe. No one knew about her…”
“Okay, I get it. Not interested in placing blame How old is she?”
“Just turned twenty. A kid. Name was Casey.”
Leira reached out to move the girl’s hair off her shoulder. A recent bruise was on her shoulder. Leira gently touched the bruise sending a jolt of energy through her body. She looked up, expecting to see the blue wall but instead there was a familiar gray swirling mist. “Fuck,” Leira said quietly. She knew what she was looking at, an opening into the world in between. “Please don’t be a portal.” She braced herself, waiting to see what came next. “Maybe this is another way people just disappear.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Cohen had stepped back out of the room and was shouting at her from the hallway. “The goddamned temperature just dropped in there! What the hell are you doing? Communing with the dead? Magical shit can do that?” He sounded like he might cry.
The mist crept further into the room, enveloping Leira. She stomped one foot hard against the floor, grateful to still feel the cheap carpet underneath her shoes. Just a mist, okay. You only have one channel. Hunker down and get it done. No need to make this the exception. Let’s go.
“Casey, are you in there?” she called out. Her energy went out ahead of her, searching in the mist. Leira could feel the emptiness of everything in front of her but somehow she still instinctively knew what to do. Let the energy lead her. “Casey, I’m here. I’m ready to listen,” she said loudly.
The girl’s face slowly emerged, still dressed in the hoodie and jeans. She was desperately trying to push her energy out toward Leira. “You don’t have enough practice, do you? Fuck me,” whispered Leira, as she settled down, feeling compassion for the girl, using it to draw up energy through her feet, lighting up the symbols along her hands and arms till they reached her face.
“Holy mother of God!” Cohen was yelling from the hallway but he didn’t move, watching intently what was happening in the room. “A full on fucking ghost!”
The mist swirled around his ankles crawling up his legs. He pulled out his gun aiming it at the girl in the mist.
“Put your goddamned gun away!” Leira yelled. Her concentration was broken and she could feel the energy slipping away. “She’s already dead, you fucking moron! I’d like to not join her! Leave if you have to but stop interfering!” Leira turned back to the girl, letting everything else fade into the background. “Casey,” she whispered, “That’s right, I know who you are.”
The symbols along Leira’s arms and on her face started to glow brighter. Her energy pulsed around the girl, drawing closer. The girl held out her hands to Leira but something got in her way. She pounded against the clear wall, leaving hand prints but not getting through, yelling but none of the sounds carried into the room.
“Not a portal.” Leira felt a wave of relief.
The girl looked down at her body, shock coming over her. She pointed, jabbing again and again, shaking her head, tears filling her eyes.
“You can still feel everything. That’s the sorrow I felt before.” She wanted to pull back but resisted. The girl looked up at her and nodded. “And you can hear me, even if I can’t hear you. Who did this to you?” Leira pushed harder, sending the flow of magic more tightly around the girl, crossing the barrier between her world and the world in between. An image started to come to her of a balding man, wearing round-rimmed spectacles. He looked surprisingly small but she could feel Casey’s surprise at finding out he was freakishly strong. And angry. The last moments flowed up the current of energy and into Leira. It was all she could do to hold on and watch another death scene. And unlike the death of Prince Rolim, this time she could feel it from the inside. She gasped as the gun fired off a shot at Casey and ducked, even though she knew it was all in the past.
Suddenly, Leira’s feet moved forward as if she was being pulled.
“No!” yelled Cohen, taking a step back into the room.
The tug was even stronger. Something from the other side was hooking itself onto her magic and trying to pull her closer. Pull her to the other side. Is that even fucking possible?
Leira fought back, summoning the strong pulse of energy she had felt at Lavender Rock, shoving back at the energy while still trying to hang onto Casey. But just like Mara, Casey slipped backward, her arms outstretched toward Leira as a dark energy crept up the trail of magic Leira was leaving behind.
“Not fucking today!” she yelled, and summoned every feeling of courage she had ever known, using the feeling to shove as hard as she could at the advancing menace. Sparks crackled and popped in the center of it like a storm cloud about to throw off lightning. Leira held her arms out, her muscles aching, everything in her body tense as her feet started to slide forward again.
Not like this.
Cohen grabbed the doorknob with one hand and the back of Leira’s pants with the other and pulled for all he was worth, sliding with her, his hand slipping off of the doorknob. The darkening cloud grew closer and there was a buzz in the room it was making Leira’s head hurt.
“Let go!” Leira yelled over the roar of the hum. “It’ll take you too! There’s no way out of there!” Her arms vibrated from the flow of energy as the pain from holding onto the stream shot up into her shoulders.
Her feet started to slip over the edge of a void where the floor ended. She didn’t want to find out what that meant exactly and doubled her efforts. But she was growing tired. “Let go!” she yelled again at Cohen, but he held on, grasping at the nearby bed, jostling Casey’s dead body.
Suddenly, a second energy flow appeared, merging with hers, as the scent of lilacs came to her, growing stronger, pushing back at the amorphous beast. Tears poured down Leira’s cheeks. “Nana” she whispered, her arms still aching from the effort. The beast roared and Leira felt the rumble through every cell of her being, wondering how loud it must sound on the other side.
Still, the combined energy held and the mist receded until Leira fell backwards into a heap on top of Cohen, knocking the wind out of both of them.
Leira rolled over, getting up on her hands and knees, trying to catch her breath, tears still in her eyes. She covered her face. “Nana. No, enough,” she said, dropping her hands. She wiped the tears off her face. “Are you okay?”
Cohen was still lying on his back taking in air in short gulps.
“Take a deeper breath. You’ll hyperventilate that way. There you go. Are you hurt?”
He finally sat up, leaning against the bed. Casey’s cold arm slid over and tapped him on the back of the neck. He shuddered and moved down. “Yeah, yeah. What the motherfucking kind of asshole was that?”
Leira sat back. “I have no idea but I have an idea who killed the girl.”
“I’m not sure it’s worth it to take a shortcut like that!”
“What happened? What happened? Why did you guys toss the room?” Fischer came running into the room, his gun drawn, a look of panic on his face. “Somebody jump you? Killer come back?” He ran back out of the room and down the hallway, saw nothing and came running back, gun still out.
“Put that away. We’re okay,” said Leira, standing up. Every square inch of her body ached.
“The hocus pocus got turned up a few notches,” said Cohen, as Fischer helped him to get up.
“That was pretty brave of you. You didn’t have to do that,” said Leira. “I even told you to cut it out.”
“Look, we’re kind of assholes to newbies, granted. But we defend our own with our lives, if necessary. No exceptions. Welcome to the team,” he said, holding out his hand.
“Hell of a first day,” said Leira, shaking his hand.
“You want to tell me what cavalry that was that came in and saved our asses from the gates of hell?”
“It’s okay. We were told to expect secrets. They created a whole new level of clearance just for you.” Cohen brushed off his pants. “Just tell me what we need to know. Who’s the bastard who did this?” He pointed to Casey who had rolled partially onto her side.
“His name is Perry Jones. You’d pass right by him if you weren’t looking for him. Casey’s not his first kill. He didn’t know she was an informant. And you’re right. Talking to the dead is too dangerous. But there are easier ways to at least find Perry Jones. Give me a minute. His trail has a very distinct quality.”
“Then we go get him?”
“Then we capture his ass.”
“Welcome aboard, Agent Leira Berens. I’ll buy lunch.” Cohen pulled out a white handkerchief and wiped the sweat off his face. “Let’s never do that again.”
FROM MARTHA >>> Snippet #5! PROTECTION OF MAGIC, Book 3 is just 5 DAYS AWAY! Wednesday, August 30th! Got distracted by all the Hurricane Harvey talk (I’m in Texas) and forgot to send this one in! Hope it’s a peaceful and dry Friday for everyone. Stay safe…