Kitty Raises Hell Page 50

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“What is that?” she said, her horror plain.

“Looks like a classic case of glossolalia,” Jules said, almost happily.

Glossolalia. Speaking in tongues.

“That’s it,” Tina said, leaning back in her chair, holding her head in her hands. “I’m never, ever doing that again. It’s all Ouija boards from here on out.”

Nobody argued with her. We were all rather horrified. I had expected some kind of warning, but the possession of her had just happened. The demon had slipped into her presence without any sign. We’d had so little chance to react.

Tina was carrying a jar of blood goo with her at all times now.

“I don’t think it’s glossolalia,” Gary said, looking even more quizzical with the gauze over his eye. “In classic glossolalia cases, the subject speaks an unknown or made-up language. I think this is a real language.”

“But which one? Do you recognize it?” Jules said. “There are demonic languages. The medieval Cabbalistic writers talk about a language of demons, a language of hell—what if this is it?”

“No. There’s got to be a more logical explanation,” Gary said. “Don’t go over the deep end on us now.”

Jules said, “There are thousands of possible languages. We can’t rule out ancient ones, either. How are we going to figure out which one this is?”

“Call it a hunch. Give me a sec.” Gary turned the laptop toward him, closed the video screen and called up a Web browser. Within a minute, he’d found the site and played a video.

I couldn’t make out individual words, but it had a clipped rhythm to it. And Gary was right—it was familiar.

“What is it?” Tina said.

Gary showed us the screen, which was a mass of squiggling script. A video streaming in the corner showed military Jeeps rumbling down a yellow, dusty landscape. If I had to guess, I’d say Gary had found an Arabic news site.

“Arabic?” Jules asked.

“That’s only a demonic language if you’re a warmongering Republican,” I said, flippant. It was either laugh or cry in a situation like this.

“That’s it, then. I’m done. I’m a complete and utter believer. At least in Tina,” Jules said. “All those people who claim they’re channeling medieval German milkmaids or Cleopatra—and then they speak English? Tina, you don’t know Arabic, do you?”

She shook her head.

Jules laughed. “This is... it’s crazy . Do demons even have nationality?”

“Maybe they do,” Gary said. “If it really is Arabic it’ll be easy enough to find a translator and find out what it said.”

“So it’s an Arabic demon,” Tina said. “Now what?”

“Oh, my God, I know what it is,” Jules said, dumbstruck by his own revelation, staring into space. “An Arabic demon—it’s a genie.”

I had to admit, I wasn’t expecting that one. None of us were; we remained silent.

Jules kept on, pleading almost, like he needed us to tell him he was right. Or crazy.

“Like a genie in a bottle,” he said. “Arabic folklore, all those stories in One Thousand and One Nights . Genies aren’t supposed to have physical form. They’re magical beings, but they have sentience and will—they’re like people. Well?”

“Sorry,” I said. “All I can think of are reruns of sixties TV shows.”

“What if you’re right?” Tina said. “We still have to figure how to stop it.”

Gary said, “This is way outside my area of expertise.”

“I could make another round of e-mails and phone calls,” Jules said. “There’s a guy at Oxford who’s written about this. But he specializes in the folklore. I’m not sure what he’ll say when I tell him this is for real.”

“The worst he can do is say you’re nuts,” Tina said.

Jules smirked. “He’s already said that.”

I had an idea. Probably not a good idea, but I liked it anyway. “There’s something else we can do. We can turn this one over to the group mind.”

“Group mind?” Gary said.

“Friday night, my show. We throw this out to my listeners. See what happens. I’ve got a pretty diverse audience. Who knows? Maybe someone out there can help. We might be surprised.” I blinked hopefully.

Jules chuckled. “Where you’re concerned, I don’t think I’ll ever be surprised.”

“Please don’t say that,” I said. “That’s when the really weird shit starts happening.”

Like a knock on the door. Not again, I thought. We looked at the door, but nobody moved. Nobody wanted to see who would come visiting at this hour. Like maybe the demon had found another body and wanted a rematch. The knock came again.

Jules went to the door and checked the peephole, then opened the door and let Ben in. My husband didn’t look happy. My first thought was panic: What had happened? Who’d died now? But then, seeing him glare at me, the guilt landed in my stomach like a rock. I’d promised to call him, hadn’t I?

“Ben. Hi,” I said. I bit my lip.

“Would you believe I was just about ready to call the police?” he said.

I scrambled from my chair. “Would you all excuse us for a sec?”

As I passed Ben, I grabbed his sleeve and urged him outside. He was smirking.

There, in the dark under the porch light, we looked at each other. He didn’t look angry, just tired. Like he’d expected me to forget to call him. Like none of this surprised him. That made all this worse, and I didn’t know what to say.

“I’m sorry,” I said bleakly. It sounded lame.

“Have you checked your phone?”

My phone in my pocket. I’d turned it off before the experiment at Flint House and hadn’t looked at it since. When I did, I found six missed calls. All from Ben.

“I forgot to turn my phone back on after the séance.”

He blinked. “Wait a minute. You guys did another séance?”

“It never really got to the séance stage,” I said, realizing I was just digging the hole deeper. “It was more a demonic possession, really, but we stopped it. And we think we know what’s doing this now.” Always end on a bright note.

Why did I feel like I was trying to explain to my parents why I’d broken curfew? Ben was my husband, not my father, and I hated feeling like this about him.

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