Anna Dressed in Blood / Page 4

Page 4

They compromised on it, because my mom loved Shakespeare, and I ended up called Theseus Cassio. Theseus for the slayer of the Minotaur, and Cassio for Othello’s doomed lieutenant. I think it sounds straight-up stupid. Theseus Cassio Lowood. Everyone just calls me Cas. I suppose I should be glad—my dad also loved Norse mythology, so I might have wound up being called Thor, which would have been basically unbearable.

I exhale and look in the mirror. There are no marks on my face, or on my gray dress button-up, just like there were no marks on the Rally Sport’s upholstery (thank god). I look ridiculous. I’m in slacks and sleeves like I’m out on a big date, because that’s what I told Mr. Dean I needed the car for. When I left the house tonight my hair was combed back, and there was a little bit of gel in it, but after that f**king kerfuffle it’s hanging across my forehead in dark streaks.

“You should hurry up and get to bed, sweetheart. It’s late and we’ve got more packing to do.”

My mom is done with the knife. She’s floated back up against the doorjamb and her black cat is twisting around her ankles like a bored fish around a plastic castle.

“I just want to jump in the shower,” I say. She sighs and turns away.

“You did get him, didn’t you?” she says over her shoulder, almost like an afterthought.

“Yeah. I got him.”

She smiles at me. Her mouth looks sad and wistful. “It was close this time. You thought you’d have him finished before the end of July. Now it’s August.”

“He was a tougher hunt,” I say, pulling a towel down off the shelf. I don’t think she’s going to say anything else, but she stops and turns back.

“Would you have stayed here, if you hadn’t gotten him? Would you have pushed her back?”

I only think for a few seconds, just a natural pause in the conversation, because I knew the answer before she finished asking the question.


As my mom leaves, I drop the bomb. “Hey, can I borrow some cash for a new set of tires?”

“Theseus Cassio,” she moans, and I grimace, but her exhausted sigh tells me that I’m good to go in the morning.

* * *

Thunder Bay, Ontario, is our destination. I’m going there to kill her. Anna. Anna Korlov. Anna Dressed in Blood.

“This one has you worried, doesn’t it, Cas,” my mom says from behind the wheel of the U-Haul van. I keep telling her we should just buy our own moving truck, instead of renting. God knows we move often enough, following the ghosts.

“Why would you say that?” I ask, and she nods at my hand. I hadn’t realized it was tapping against my leather bag, which is where Dad’s athame is. With a focused effort, I don’t take it away. I just keep tapping like it doesn’t matter, like she’s overanalyzing and reading into things.

“I killed Peter Carver when I was fourteen, Mom,” I say. “I’ve been doing it ever since. Nothing much surprises me anymore.”

There’s a tightening in her face. “You shouldn’t say it like that. You didn’t ‘kill’ Peter Carver. You were attacked by Peter Carver and he was already dead.”

It amazes me sometimes how she can change a thing just by using the right words. If her occult supply shop ever goes under, she’s got a good future in branding.

I was attacked by Peter Carver, she says. Yeah. I was attacked. But only after I broke into the Carver family’s abandoned house. It had been my first job. I did it without my mom’s permission, which is actually an understatement. I did it against my mom’s screaming protests and had to pick the lock on my bedroom window to get out of the house. But I did it. I took my father’s knife and broke in. I waited until two a.m. in the room where Peter Carver shot his wife with a .44 caliber pistol and then hung himself with his own belt in the closet. I waited in the same room where his ghost had murdered a real estate agent trying to sell the house two years later, and then a property surveyor a year after that.

Thinking about it now, I remember my shaking hands and a stomach close to heaving. I remember the desperation to do it, to do what I was supposed to do, like my father had. When the ghosts finally showed up (yes, ghosts plural—turns out that Peter and his wife had reconciled, found a common interest in killing) I think I almost passed out. One came out of the closet with his neck so purple and bent it looked like it was on sideways, and the other bled up through the floor like a paper towel commercial in reverse. She hardly made it out of the boards, I’m proud to say. Instinct took over and I tacked her back down before she could make a move. Carver tackled me though, while I was trying to pull my knife out of the wood that was coated with the stain that used to be his wife. He almost threw me out the window before I scrambled back to the athame, mewling like a kitten. Stabbing him was almost an accident. The knife just sort of ran into him when he wrapped the end of his rope around my throat and spun me around. I never told my mom that part.

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