Anna Dressed in Blood / Page 18

Page 18

“So you’re into ghost stories?” Will Rosenberg asks, filling the space.

“Love them,” I say, standing up a little straighter. There’s a damp breeze coming off the water in all directions and my black t-shirt is starting to cling to me, giving me a chill. “At least when they don’t end with a cat-type Yeti crossing the road but not bothering to attack anybody.”

Will laughs. “I know. That’s the kind of story that should end with the punch line, ‘a little pu**y never hurt anybody.’ I tell them to add it, but nobody listens.”

I laugh too, even though I hear Carmel mutter toward my shoulder about how disgusting that is. Oh well. I like Will Rosenberg. He’s actually got a brain. Of course, that makes him the most dangerous of the three. From the way that Mike is standing, I know he’s waiting for Will to set something up, to get something going. Out of sheer curiosity I decide to make it easy for him.

“Know any better ones?” I ask.

“I know a few,” he says.

“I heard from Natalie that your mom’s some kind of a witch,” Chase interrupts. “No shit?”

“No shit.” I shrug my shoulders. “She tells fortunes,” I say to Carmel. “She sells candles and stuff online. You wouldn’t believe how much money there is in it.”

“Cool,” Carmel says, and smiles. “Maybe she can read mine sometime.”

“Jesus,” Mike says. “Just what this town needs: another goddamn weirdo. If your mom’s a witch, what does that make you? Harry Potter?”

“Mike,” Carmel says. “Don’t be a jerk.”

“I think that’s a lot to ask,” I say softly, but Mike ignores me and asks Carmel why she’s bothering to hang around such a freak. It’s very flattering. Carmel’s starting to look nervous, like she thinks that Mike might lose it and try to punch me over the wooden rail and down into the shallow water. I glance over the edge. In the dark I can’t really make out how deep it might be, but I don’t think it would be deep enough to cushion a fall, and I’d probably break my neck on a rock or something. I’m trying to stay cool and collected, keeping my hands in my pockets. Just the same, I hope my look of indifference is driving him nuts, because the comments he made about my mom, and about me being some kind of wimpy boy wizard, pissed me off. If he took me over the edge of the falls right now, I’d probably wind up stalking the wet rocks, dead and looking for him, unable to rest until I’d eaten his heart.

“Mike, chill,” Will says. “If he wants a ghost story, let’s give him the good one. Let’s give him the one that keeps the junior high kids up at night.”

“What’s that?” I ask. The hair is prickling up on the back of my neck.

“Anna Korlov. Anna Dressed in Blood.”

Her name moves through the dark like a dancer. Hearing it in someone else’s voice, outside of my own head, makes me shiver.

“Anna dressed in blood? Like Cinderella dressed in yellow?” I make light, because it will frustrate them. They’ll try harder to make her horrible, to make her terrifying, which is exactly what I want. But Will looks at me funny, like he’s wondering why I know that nursery rhyme.

“Anna Korlov died when she was sixteen,” he says after a moment. “Her throat was cut from ear to ear. She was on her way to a school dance when it happened. They found her body the next day, already covered with flies, and her white dress stained with blood.”

“They said it was her boyfriend, didn’t they?” Chase supplies like the perfect audience plant.

“They thought maybe.” Will shrugs. “Because he left town a few months after it happened. But everyone saw him at the dance that night. Asking about Anna, and figuring that she’d just stood him up.

“But it doesn’t matter how she died. Or who killed her. What matters is that she didn’t stay dead. About a year after they found her, she showed up back in her old house. See, they sold it after Anna’s mom kicked off from a heart attack six months earlier. This fisherman and his family bought it and moved in. Anna killed everyone. Tore them limb from limb. She left their heads and arms in piles at the foot of the stairs and hung their bodies in the basement.”

I look around at the pale faces of the small crowd that has gathered. Some of them look uncomfortable, including Carmel. Most of them just look curious, waiting for my reaction.

I’m breathing faster, but I make sure to sound skeptical when I ask, “How do you know it wasn’t just some drifter? Some psychopath who happened to break into the house while the fisherman was out?”

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