Anna Dressed in Blood / Page 22

Page 22

“Let me go,” he stammers. “Let me go, man, it was just a joke! It was just a joke!”

She sets him on his feet. He’s bleeding from cuts on his face and hands. He takes one step backward. Anna bares her teeth. I hear my voice coming from somewhere else, telling her to stop or just screaming, and Mike doesn’t have any time to scream before she thrusts her hands into his chest, tearing through skin and muscle. She pushes her arms out to the sides, like she’s forcing her way through a closing door, and Mike Andover is torn in half. Both halves fall to their knees, jerking and skittering like insect parts.

Chase’s screams are coming from farther away. A car starts up. I’m scrambling away from the mess that used to be Mike, trying not to look at the half of his body that is still connected to his head. I don’t want to know if he’s still alive. I don’t want to know that he’s watching the other half of him twitch.

Anna is looking down at the corpse calmly. She looks at me for a long moment before turning her attention back to Mike. When the door bursts open she doesn’t seem to notice, and then I’m being dragged by my shoulders from behind, pulled out of the house and away from the blood, my legs thumping down the front porch steps. When whoever it is lets go of me, they drop me too suddenly on my head, and I don’t see anything anymore.


“Hey. Hey, man, are you waking up?”

I know that voice. I don’t like that voice. I crack my eyes open, and there’s his face, hovering over me.

“You had us worried there for a while. We probably shouldn’t have let you sleep so long. We probably should have taken you to a hospital, but we couldn’t really think of anything to say.”

“I’m fine, Thomas.” I reach up and rub my eyes, then gather my will and sit up, knowing that my world is about to swim and slosh hard enough that I might throw up. Somehow, I manage to swing my legs down to rest on the floor. “What happened?”

“You tell me.” He lights a cigarette. I wish he’d put it out. Beneath his scraggly hair and glasses he looks like a twelve-year-old who swiped a pack from his mother’s purse. “What were you doing in the Korlov house?”

“What were you doing following me?” I return, accepting the glass of water he holds out.

“What I said I was going to do,” he replies. “Only I never figured you’d need so much help. Nobody f**king goes into her house.” His blue eyes peer at me like I’m some kind of novelty idiot.

“Well, I didn’t just walk in and fall down.”

“I didn’t think so. But I can’t believe they did that, dumped you in the house and tried to kill you.”

I look around. I have no idea what time it is, but the sun is out and I’m in some kind of antique store. It’s cluttered, but full of nice things, not piles of old junk that you sometimes see in the seedier places. Still, it smells like old people.

I’m sitting on a dusty old couch near the back, with a pillow that is mostly saturated with my dried blood. At least I hope it’s my dried blood. I hope I wasn’t sleeping on some hepatitis-riddled rag.

I look at Thomas. He seems mad. He hates the Trojan Army; no doubt they’ve been picking on him since kindergarten. A skinny awkward kid like him, someone who claims to be psychic and hangs out in dusty curio shops, was probably their favorite target for swirlies and atomic wedgies. But they’re harmless pranksters. I don’t think they were really trying to kill me. They just didn’t take her seriously. They didn’t believe the stories. And now one of them is dead.

“Shit,” I say out loud. There’s no telling what’s going to happen to Anna now. Mike Andover wasn’t one of her usual transients or runaways. He was one of the school jocks, one of the party boys, and Chase saw everything. I can only hope that he was too scared to go to the cops.

Not that cops can stop Anna anyway. If they went into that house, there would only be more dead. Maybe she wouldn’t show herself to them at all. And besides, Anna is mine. The image of her conjures itself in my mind for a second, looming and pale and dripping red. But my injured brain can’t hold her.

I look over at Thomas, still nervously smoking.

“Thanks for pulling me out,” I say, and he nods.

“I didn’t want to,” he says. “I mean, I did want to, but seeing Mike laying in a sloppy pile didn’t exactly make me excited about it.” He sucks on his cigarette. “Jesus. I can’t believe he’s dead. I can’t believe she killed him.”

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