Kitty Raises Hell Page 48

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“I’m just asking you to try.”

“Gary wouldn’t go for it,” Tina said.

“We’ll tell him it’s an experiment,” Jules said.

Tina leaned back and studied the ceiling. Communing with the beyond, maybe. I wondered for a moment what it would be like to be her. Did she hear voices all the time? Some of the time? Was it like listening to a faint radio, like she only tuned in to distant spirits, or did they speak to her directly, loudly? How did a person live with something like that?

How annoyed would she be if I asked her all these questions?

Rubbing her face, she leaned forward and let out a sigh. A weight seemed to settle on her, slumping her shoulders, pulling her lips into a frown. It made her look older, far different from her screen persona. It wasn’t fear or trepidation, I didn’t think. More like resignation.

“Here’s what we do. I call the shots. If it doesn’t feel right, we stop, no arguing. Got it?”

Jules and I nodded.

“Where are we going to do this?” I asked. “What can we burn down this time?”

She scowled at me. “Not here. We have to keep at least one place safe. Can we get into New Moon? It talked to us once, there.”

I shook my head. “If we try to get in before the investigators are done with it, it’ll screw up the insurance.”

“Then we go to Flint House,” she said.

“The house that kills people?” I might have shrieked a little.

“I figure the demon’ll know where to find us, it’s been there before.”

A combined sense of curiosity and inevitability drove us. We wanted to see what would happen. We also didn’t have a whole lot of other options.

Well, there was always running away. Except we had no guarantee the thing wouldn’t follow us. Which was also the problem with me letting it go ahead and get me. Self-sacrifice was all well and good if you could guarantee that it would actually stop the attacks. Wouldn’t we all feel stupid if I let it kill me and it just kept attacking? Not that I’d be feeling much of anything at all. Or maybe I would, and that was another problem with this whole life-after-death concept.

I’d also kind of missed the moment when I stopped being able to run away. I had too much to protect now.

Being proactive was better than being morbid. So I helped Tina and the others set up another séance at Flint House. Jules summoned the Paradox PI camera crew, which arrived with the equipment van to set up the usual array of cameras, microphones, and gear.

“You guys really like getting your footage,” I said. “You’ll probably get a whole season’s worth of episodes out of this.”

“At this point, our production schedule is already screwed up beyond repair. We’re doing this for science,” Jules said. “Maybe we can get some hard, incontrovertible measurements. This is for posterity.”

Almost made me feel like we were doing something noble.

“But it wouldn’t hurt to get a good episode out of this,” Tina called from the other room, where she was setting up another camera. “If I’m going to do this for science I want some good screen time out of it.”

Noble and commercially viable. I could go for that.

I’d made up another batch of the blood-and-ruin potion. I should come up with a better name for it, like “Eau de Ick.”

“Don’t put it around the house,” Tina ordered when she saw it.

“Why not? I don’t want anything to burn down again.”

“We want this thing to be able to get in so we can talk to it. That can’t happen if you use that crap. But you know, keep it around. Just in case.”

We also brought along extra fire extinguishers. Just in case.

They set up a table like last time, but this time, Tina filled it with equipment. She might have been showing off an encyclopedia of medium and spiritualist tricks. There was a Ouija board—a new one, since the previous one was contaminated, she claimed; a pad of paper and a pen for automatic writing; a couple of heavy wires, like straightened coat hangers—dowsing rods; a plumb weight on a string; a bell.

“This must really be damaging your sensibilities,” I said to Jules. “All the table-rapping séance tricks, and here they are, for real.”

“I’m trying not to think about it,” he said, distracted as he tested yet another microphone, this one set up in the kitchen in the back of the house.

Perfect haunted-house setting, and I wasn’t sure anymore that this was a good idea. I’d felt safe at New Moon, and look what happened there. I didn’t at all feel safe here, and we hadn’t done anything yet.

The behind-the-camera techs left, and Jules, Tina, and I gathered in the front room, what would have been a parlor, now empty except for the round card table and filmy lace drapes over the front window.

“Right, Gary, I think that’s it. We should be all ready to go now,” Jules said into his headset microphone. Gary had woken up and demanded to come along. Jules and Tina argued, and Gary compromised by waiting in the van, observing via the monitors and speakers. I used the blood potion around the van, so at least they’d be protected.

Jules listened for an answer, gave a curt nod, and looked at us. “Ready?”

“What’s going to happen?” I said. “What can we expect?”

He said, “When the fakes do it, there’s a lot of swaying, moaning, convulsing, eyes rolling back in heads. That sort of thing. Their voices change, get really hoarse and deep and the like. Maybe that’s really how it works. Tina, is that how—Tina?”

Tina went very, very still. She hadn’t even sat down yet. She stood in the middle of the floor, arms straight at her side, fingers straight out, head canted to one side as if listening for something. Her eyes were closed, her back straight, like she’d just frozen there. And I knew something was happening, because her smell changed. It was subtle, like the difference in smell between the same perfume worn by two different people. She still smelled like Tina—hip twenty-something woman. But there was something extra now. A touch of brimstone. I tensed up and bit my lip to keep from growling.

Jules and I stood about five feet away from her, afraid to move.

“Guys, are you getting this?” Jules whispered into his headset. I didn’t hear the response, but I assumed it was affirmative.

“Tina?” Jules said. “Can you hear me, Tina?”

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