Chapter 28: The Witching Hour
Janet opened her eyes and was immediately blinded by the beam of the flashlight. She shielded her eyes and pushed it away. It took a few moments for the spots dancing in front her eyes to fade, before she could see Marko’s and Andrea’s concerned faces looking down at her. They were shouting something at her but she couldn’t seem to focus. Janet closed her eyes again and wondered how long she had been out cold. Her back was beginning to hurt from laying on the hard floor, but she wasn’t ready to get up just yet.
She must have been out of it for several minutes, because she no longer felt jittery. Janet felt at peace, the way she always felt when she first awoke in the morning, before thoughts of all the impending deadlines and responsibilities began to weigh on her mind. That tiny restful moment had eluded her, since the start of the whole debacle with Andrea had begun. Janet wanted to savor the peace for a moment longer.
Andrea cut her sister’s reverie short with a vicious yank of the arm. Janet suddenly found herself jerked upright into a sitting position. She pulled her arm free before Andrea could tug on it again. Janet punched her sister in the leg.
“What the f…ow Andrea! Are you trying to rip my arm off? What’s your problem?”
“Well, you wouldn’t get up. We need to get out of here. Take your nap in the car sleeping beauty!”
“Well, excuse the hell out of me! I just got attacked by a…”
“Shadow which jumped through me first. You don’t see me falling out and acting wounded.”
Janet leaned forward staring at her sister’s mouth. Her breath was suddenly visibly frosty. A chill raced along Janet’s spine, causing her to shiver. She hugged herself for warmth and felt goosebumps standing out on her sleeveless forearms. Why was it so cold?
“Wait a minute Andrea. Let’s call a time out. Is it me or is it suddenly freezing in here?”
“Hey, you’re right!”
Marko spoke up, “That’s because the witching hour has begun. That’s why the shadow creature attacked. It wanted us to be here for this.”
Andrea balked, “What? You mean to tell me, that big cat was smart enough to…”
“It’s not really an animal. That’s just a form the spirit took to scare you.”
Janet gaze drifted over to Phillip’s body laying on its side in a patch of moonlight. She had detected movement out of the corner of her eye. Janet’s eyes widened and she jumped to her feet. She heard herself say aloud,”Marko, are you sure you killed Phillip?”
“Technically, he was already dead. I just put his body out of commission. Why?”
“Oh, no reason other than the fact that he’s moving!”
They turned and stared as black smoke steamed up from the body. Andrea didn’t know what was happening. Whatever it was couldn’t be good. She took a cautious step back and jumped when Marko’s warm hand closed around her arm.
“Don’t step outside the circle of light,” he cautioned.
She was about to ask why when she detected stealthy movement in the darkness around them. Andrea’s mouth was suddenly dry. The smoke rising from Phillip’s body seemed to take on the shape of a man. The trio was still gawking when it shot toward them. They had no time to react before it streamed into Marko’s open mouth and nostrils. He immediately began to choke and sputter.
Seized by a fit of coughing, Marko almost dropped the flashlight. Andrea took it and held it up over their heads to keep them in the beam of light. She watched her sister standing by impotently and it made her angry.
“Don’t just stand there Janet. Do something before he chokes to death!”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“I don’t know. You’re the seer. I’m just the warrior remember? Is that charm around your neck good for anything?”
“How the hell should I know? I’m new at this remember? It didn’t exactly come with an instruction manual. Let’s not forget your idiot boyfriend Ethan kidnapped me and cut my training short!”
“Don’t say that. He’s not my boyfriend!”
Marko’s coughing became more ragged and he dropped to his knees, unable to catch his breath. Andrea was attempting to prop him up with one arm when the shadow panther pounced, knocking her backwards. The flashlight went skittering across the floor and plunged the three of them into darkness.