Anna Dressed in Blood / Page 76

Page 76

“What?” I snap.

“Use these at least,” he says, holding out a pair of gloves. I want to tell him that we aren’t cat-burglarizing anymore, but it’s easier to just put them on than to argue. He puts on a pair himself, and I twist the key in the lock and open the door.

The only thing good about going into the house is that the need for quiet is keeping Thomas from poking me with questions. My heart is hammering away inside my ribs, silent but insistent. My muscles are tense and twitchy. It isn’t at all like stalking a ghost. I don’t feel certain or strong. I feel like a five-year-old in a hedge maze after dark.

The interior of the place is nice. Hardwood floors and thick-carpeted rugs. The banister leading upstairs looks like it’s been treated with wood polish every day since it was carved. There is original art on the walls, and not the weird modern kind either—you know, the kind where some skinny bastard in New York declares some other skinny bastard a genius because he paints “really fierce red squares.” This art is classic, French-inspired shore-scapes and small, shadowed portraits of women in delicate lace dresses. My eyes would normally spend more time here. Gideon schooled me in art appreciation at the V&A in London.

Instead, I whisper to Thomas, “Let’s just get my knife and get out.”

I lead the way up the stairs and turn left at the top, toward the room with the drawn curtains. It occurs to me that I could be completely wrong. It might not be a bedroom at all. It might be storage, or a game room, or some other room that would conceivably have its curtains shut. But there’s no time for that now. I’m in front of the closed door.

The handle turns easily when I try it and the door swings partially open. Inside is too dark to see well, but I can make out the shape of a bed and, I think, a dresser. The room is empty. Thomas and I slide in like old pros. So far, so good. I pick my way toward the center of the room. My eyes blink to activate better night vision.

“Maybe we should try to turn on a lamp or something,” Thomas whispers.

“Maybe,” I reply absently. I’m not really paying attention. I can see a little bit better now, and what I’m seeing, I don’t like.

The drawers of the dresser are standing open. There are clothes spilling out of the tops, like they’ve been rifled through in a hurry. Even the placement of the bed looks strange. It’s sitting at an angle toward the wall. It’s been moved.

Turning in a circle, I see that the closet door is thrown open, and a poster near it is half torn down.

“Someone’s been here already,” Thomas says, dropping the whisper.

I realize that I’m sweating and wipe at my forehead with the back of my glove. It doesn’t make sense. Who would have been here already? Maybe Will had other enemies. That’s a hell of a coincidence, but then, coincidences seem to be going around.

In the dark, I sort of see something next to the poster, something on the wall. It looks like writing. I step closer to it and my foot strikes something on the floor with a familiar thump. I know what it is even before I tell Thomas to turn on the light. When the brightness floods the room, I’ve already started backing out, and we see what we’ve been standing in the middle of.

They’re both dead. The thing that my foot struck was Chase’s thigh—or what’s left of it—and what I thought was writing on the wall is actually long, thick sprays of blood. Dark, arterial blood in looping arcs. Thomas has grabbed my shirt from behind and is making this panicky gasping sound. I pull gently free. My head feels disconnected and clinical. The instinct to investigate is stronger than the urge to run.

Will’s body is behind the bed. He’s lying on his back and his eyes are open. One of the eyes is red, and I think at first that all the vessels have popped, but it’s only red from a blood splash. The room around them is demolished. The sheets and blankets are torn off and are lying in a heap by Will’s arm. He’s still wearing what I assume were his pajamas, just a pair of flannel pants and a t-shirt. Chase was dressed. I’m thinking these things like a CSI person might, ordering them and making note of them, to keep myself from thinking about what I noticed the moment the lights came on.

The wounds. There are wounds on both of them: bright, red, and still seeping. Large, ragged crescents of missing muscle and bone. I would know these wounds anywhere, even though I’ve only seen them in my imagination. They’re bite marks.

Something ate them.

Just like it ate my father.

“Cas!” Thomas shouts, and from the tone of his voice I know he’s said my name a few times already and gotten no response. “We’ve got to get out of here!”

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