“So what you’re saying is that a ghost can possess someone without the host going crazy if they’re aware of what’s going on?” Anna drawls.
“That’s not at all what I’m saying, so don’t get any ideas. You’re not hijacking my body,” I say without looking at her, but I hear her immediately start to pout, as I tuck the receipt back into the cloak’s pocket.
“I’d really like to get my hands on that Morpheous fellow,” she says distractedly. “I’d do all the leg work, get a few orgasms, and evacuate your body in time for you to get yours as well,” she adds.
Something clatters to the ground, startling the fuck out of both of us, and I whirl around to see another box has randomly tipped over.
“I think that storm did something to the house,” I tell her, frowning. “It sure as hell wasn’t a natural storm.”
“Well, that’s just a red cloak. Doesn’t turn you invisible like little Harry’s. You totally got gipped. Not even a wand in this joint,” she resumes.
I groan while pushing the hood down, but my brow furrows when I see snow starting to drop outside. That’s…very freaking random.
My breath comes out in a fog as I move to the window, unlock it, and push it open, feeling a cold, wet dollop of the legitimate snow hitting my hand.
“I realize it’s November, but it hasn’t been particularly cold enough to snow,” Anna states rhetorically as we both stare out at the rapidly falling snow that is slowly but surely starting to blanket the town.
“This place just gets more confusing by the second,” I tell her as I pull my hood back on my head.
“Where are you going in that cloak?” she asks from behind me. “You look ridiculous without a basket of goodies for Grandma,” she adds as I shut and relock the window.
“I haven’t unpacked my snow coats yet, and now’s the perfect time for a hike,” I tell her before walking out of the room and hurriedly jogging down the stairs, knowing she’ll follow.
“The bizarre snowfall is the perfect time for a hike?” she asks like she’s confused. “You’re right!”
What has me pausing is the slight shutting of the attic door, and I look up, seeing nothing there, but the door is definitely closed.
I didn’t shut it. Maybe it was the wind…
This weather is playing tricks on my mind, or maybe it’s the house, or maybe it’s this freaking cloak that I really don’t want to take off right now.
It feels like Mom is still here protecting me with it on, and I could use the false sense of security. Especially since I’m about to trek out into the woods to see if I can find the spot where they said my mother’s body was found.
With the bipolar weather as a sign of too much paranormal activity, there’s a good chance I can use my magic to try and catch a reflective image of the past right now.
I swallow the lump in my throat and pull the warm cloak around me a little tighter.
“We’re going to freeze to death,” Anna says as she catches up, mocking a shiver.
“You’re already dead, and I’m not normal,” I assure her, watching as the chunky snow continues to stack a harder trail in front of me.
“Where are we going?” Anna asks as she catches up.
“To the place where my mother’s body was found,” I answer quietly.
“Are you insane? It’s stupid to go somewhere you already know is a death spot.”
“It’s not like my mother’s killer is going to be lingering in the woods all these months later,” I remind her.
I don’t tell her I’m stupidly hoping for something like that, even though that’s not my prime objective. With a subtle dark grin, I move faster. My boots kick up the snow with my determined, forced strides.
“To Grandma’s house we go, to Grandma’s house we go…hi-ho fellatio, to Grandma’s house we go,” Anna sings, prompting me to groan.
“I don’t think you know what fellatio means,” I mutter under my breath.
“It rhymed with ho, and everyone knows ho and fellatio go hand-in-hand. I excelled at fellatio myself, and I wasn’t much of a spitter,” she tells me.
Bile rises to my throat.
“I’m not sure why I acknowledge you sometimes,” I add as I look around the snowy forest, while the thick snowdrops continue to relentlessly fall.
“Crazy weather we’re having,” she states as the wind comes in from an odd angle.
“It’s from too much paranormal activity congested in one place. In other words, this town has too many ghosts haunting it,” I tell her more decisively than the last time, now that I’ve had a chance to really feel the power so far away from the town. “Which is probably why the shopkeepers and townspeople shrug it off—they’ve just gotten used to it and likely think it’s part of the town’s unique flair.”
“Where is this death spot?” she asks, not even acknowledging my comment.
“Grandma’s house,” I assure her.
She nods like that’s pleasing.
“You should have brought a basket,” she goes on.
I glance up at the sun, making sure I’m still heading west, and hurrying because it looks like the sun is getting ready to descend for the day. I really don’t want to get caught out here at night.
Like every scary forest scene in a horror movie, I hear an ominous crack that has me coming to an abrupt halt and spinning around.
Anna jumps, whirling around as well, and we both stare for a second.
“It’s going to be right behind us. One of us should have stayed facing the other way,” she says as she screws her eyes shut and tenses.
“You’re already dead,” I hiss at her.
A shadow accompanies a scurrying sound, and I spin back around, searching my body for anything that can be used as a weapon. I elect to use my belt, since it’s just for looks. My pants are in no danger of falling off my ass without it, so I tear it away and wind it around my hand.
There’s nothing but white, dimly lit snow, and I glance up. Even though the sun still has an hour or so until it sets, it’s getting lost in the distance, the thick canopy of the tall trees in the woods blocking it out.
I should have planned against that, but despite having an excellent sense of direction, trekking around in the woods isn’t something I’ve ever done before.
“Is now a good time to tell you how stupid it was to come out into the woods alone?” Anna snaps.
Before I can point out that she’s the only ‘person’ I know in town, there’s a loud, vicious growl sounding much too close to my back.
Anna disappears, and I slowly close my eyes while trying not to make any sudden movements.
“Don’t worry! It’s just Grandma!” Anna shouts from somewhere behind me.
I’m not sure why gulping is a thing when you want to piss your pants, but it is. Because I do that just before giving a little tremble of terror.
“Oh my, what big teeth you have, Grandma,” Anna adds dramatically. “And those eyes are so big,” she prattles on as fear inches its way up my spine.
You have got to be kidding me. A wolf? A freaking wolf? I glance down, not amused by the irony of the fact I look way too much like the stupid Red Riding Hood who elected to leave her shotgun behind.
I should have brought that damn basket full of wolf’s bane. At least I could have used it to create an on-the-fly potion to scare them off…
Damn it. Anna told me to bring a basket.
My eyes open just in time to see a flash of gray, black, and reddish-brown fur scurry by in the distance, as a telling howl almost makes this horrifying moment in my life feel cliché.
My mother always said the universe has a twisted sense of humor, hence the reason gypsies like us even exist.
I’m not amused.
“Has Grandma always had this tail?” Anna asks like she’s confused.
I can’t even.
Shadows slowly turn into more visible forms, as the wolves from the distance inch closer with slow, deliberate motions, teeth bared and growls rumbling.
“Oh, Grandma has a lot of friends,” Anna says with a slight tremor of fear in her voice. “I don’t think they’re here to play Bingo.”
Heavy paws clap the forest floor, sending up chunks of snow, as they prowl closer and closer.
“Holy fucking shit. Grandma is a wolf, and so are all her friends!” Anna shouts with a hint of lucidity.
“Don’t worry. Don’t do anything stupid. I’ll be fine—”
“Hoooo-yaaaaa!” she shouts as she unleashes the small bit of telekinesis she’s mastered.
A wolf yelps as it crashes into a nearby tree, and all the wolves growl and begin snapping their jaws in response.
“That’s the something stupid I was referring to,” I gripe, just as they all lunge.
I twirl the cloak over me as I drop to my knees, shielding myself from at least watching my own body get ripped to shreds, clinging to the pointless belt still in my hand.
A startled wolf cries into the air, just as a weight crashes into my side, sending an explosion of pain rippling through my body, as I briefly lose control of all my extremities.
My body folds in on itself, feeling airborne for a sickening second, before I feel the revolting sensation of dropping. The fall is worse than the landing, because I sink into the powdered snow…the three feet it has rapidly risen.
Another wolf yelps and I brace, worried it’s about to do whatever again, but nothing happens.
Spitting out blood, I tear the hood back and push my hair out of my face, dimly seeing a man’s figure as he spins, kicking out a foot and nailing a wolf in the chest.
“Do you really think this will end well for you lot?” a familiar voice drawls, while the lone figure stands ready against the seven wolves who are surrounding him now.
My vision adjusts in time to see Vancetto Valhinseng, the man with the mouthful of a name, talking to the vicious, possibly rabid wolves, as they snap their jaws at him.
“Well, then. I guess we’ll play it your way,” he says as he leisurely removes his jacket and neatly folds it over a low-hanging branch like he has no fear at all.
My brow furrows when he pulls out what looks like two handles, and very shiny swords grow from the handles like they were magically hidden all along.
The wolves take a step back, almost as though they’re hesitating. Vancetto smirks when one finally launches itself at him from the side.
In an unnatural blur of motion, he dodges the wolf. I never saw him swing the sword, but the wolf crashes with a yelp as blood starts staining the snow around him.
When he’s slow to get up, the other wolves fly at Vancetto in a mass attack.
Anna is on her knees at my side, her eyes as wide as mine, while we watch Vancetto move like air, never disturbing the ground under him. He slices and moves through the fray, never once even ruffling his perfect shirt or dressy slacks.