My legs are rooted. I can’t seem to do anything, but then he’s got me around the chest, holding my arms down and dragging me out. It isn’t until he flicks the light off and the scene in the room goes black that I shake him off and start to run.
“What do we do?”
That’s what Thomas keeps asking. Carmel has called twice, but I keep ignoring it. What do we do? I have no idea. I’m just sitting quietly in the passenger seat while Thomas drives nowhere in particular. This must be what catatonia feels like. There are no panicked thoughts running through my head. I’m not making plans or evaluating. There is only a gentle, rhythmic repetition. It is here. It is here.
One of my ears picks up Thomas’s voice. He’s on the phone to someone, explaining what we found. It must be Carmel. She must’ve given up on me and tried him, knowing she’d get an answer.
“I don’t know,” he says. “I think he’s freaking out. I think he might have lost it.”
My face twitches like it wants to react and rise to the challenge, but it’s sluggish, like coming off of Novocain at the dentist. Thoughts drip into my brain slowly. Will and Chase are dead. The thing that ate my father. Thomas is driving to nowhere.
None of the thoughts run into each other. None of them make much sense. But at least I’m not scared. Then the faucet drips faster, and Thomas shouts my name and hits me in the arm, effectively turning the water back on.
“Take me to Anna’s,” I say. He’s relieved. At least I’ve said something. At least I’ve made some kind of decision, some executive order.
“We’re going to do it,” I hear him say into the phone. “Yeah. We’re going there now. Meet us there. Don’t go in if we’re not there first!”
He’s misunderstood. How can I explain? He doesn’t know how my father died. He doesn’t know what this means—that it has finally caught up with me. It has managed to find me, now, when I’m practically defenseless. And I didn’t even know it was looking. I could almost smile. Fate is playing a practical joke.
Miles go past in a blur. Thomas is chattering encouraging things. He peels into Anna’s driveway and gets out. My door opens a few seconds later and he hauls me out by the arm.
“Come on, Cas,” he says. I look up at him gravely. “Are you ready?” he asks. “What are you going to do?”
I don’t know what to say. The state of shock is losing its charm. I want my brain back. Can’t it just shake itself off like a dog already and get back to work?
Our feet crunch up the cold gravel. My breath is visible in a bright little cloud. To my right, Thomas’s little clouds are showing up much faster, in nervous huffs.
“Are you okay?” he asks. “Man, I’ve never seen anything like that before. I can’t believe that she— That was—” He stops and bends over. He’s remembering, and if he remembers too hard, or too well, he might throw up. I reach an arm out to steady him.
“Maybe we should wait for Carmel,” he says. Then he pulls me back.
Anna’s door has opened. She’s coming out onto the porch, softly, like a doe. I look at her spring dress. She makes no move to wrap herself up, though the wind must be moving across her like sharp sheets of ice. Her bare, dead shoulders can’t feel it.
“Do you have it?” she asks. “Did you find it?”
“Do you have what?” Thomas whispers. “What’s she talking about?”
I shake my head as a reply to them both, and walk up the porch steps. I go right past her, into the house, and she follows.
“Cas,” she says. “What’s wrong?” Her fingers brush my arm.
“Back off, sister!” Thomas squeaks. He actually shoves her and gets in between us. He’s doing this ridiculous little sign-of-the-cross thing with his fingers, but I don’t fault him for it. He’s freaked. So am I.
“Thomas,” I say. “It wasn’t her.”
“She didn’t do it.”
I look at him calmly so he can see that the grip of shock is loosening its hold; I’m coming back to myself.
“And knock that off with your fingers,” I add. “She’s not a vampire, and even if she was, I don’t think your phalange-cross would do anything.”
He drops his hands. Relief relaxes the muscles in his face.
“They’re dead,” I say to Anna.
“Who’s dead? And why aren’t you going to accuse me again?”