28 – The Chase
The Spirit Door to Centralia creaked open. Apprehensively, I tugged on the sleeves of my black Nysmic frock and took a big deep breath. My insides fluttered in both dread and anticipation. I wished Rosario could’ve taught me how to draught but we needed time to heal and rest our bodies. And believe me, Vincent did not miss any chance to tell me off how reckless I was to sustain such injuries.
“Shall we?” he said, gesturing for me to take his arm as though we were doing a 1960’s stroll under the moonlight instead of hunting wraiths.
With an involuntary smirk, I looped my arm around his, doing a little curtsy.
Then we both jumped into the door, fell into dark deep space for six seconds and suddenly did a high-dive into something hard and bumpy. The blackness was immediately replaced by gray and green like someone had just switched the backdrop. I clutched on Vincent while I gasp for breath and blinked the blur from my eyes. Once I got over the dizziness and established my transfer link to Vincent so I would not attract wraiths, I opened my eyes to see that we were in the middle of the road.
The moon was waning into a thin line and the absence of stars in the deep midnight sky told me that winter was near. Meaning, I might have to leave this world… and Vincent soon.
My eyesight immediately adjusted to the absence of light—one of the perks of being a familiar. There were huge cracks on the pavement, that I had to watch my every step so as not to get my boots caught.
Not too far away from us was a big smoldering sinkhole in the roadside with slabs of overturned concrete lining the edge of the pit. Soon, I could see the souls lining up to it. They were human in form, with pale translucent bodies and faces that disappeared and reformed as they moved.
Randomly interspersed with the crowd of souls were a few blotches of iridescent pulsing lights. It reminded me of those shimmering lights I saw as a soul when I died—the ones I used to find a Spirit Door and crossover.
What are those? I asked Vincent through the communication link by way of the Diviner’s link.
“Strays. What else?” he whispered distractedly.
No. That! I pointed to the lights but he just answered me with a what-are-you-talking-about look. Immediately, I dropped the matter and focused on the mission. “So basically, what do we do?”
“Kick wraith butt and be awesome,” he replied grinning. For some reason, I had the impression that he was imitating Amyr’s cool disposition. “We’ll scout all the main Spirit Gates in here while Vlad and the other guys cover the northern part. Don’t worry. Legions of Wraiths hardly ever come by at these parts. If needed, we can open doors for those souls.”
Vigilantly, we half-jogged half-sprinted sticking to the road as much as possible. Sinkholes were much easier to spot here than off the road. Underbrush grew everywhere. Houses and buildings looked dilapidated, decaying after all those years of neglect. Shutters and doors were either gone or hanging lopsidedly from the hinges, creaking eerily with the wind. Occasionally, a small animal would scurry away from us, rustling the bushes. Other than that, the night was as silent as a graveyard. I thought people were just exaggerating when they called Centralia a ghost town. Well, they weren’t.
Vincent led the way to a rundown house in the middle of an abandoned neighborhood. Before vaulting over the once white-washed wooden fences, I took a glance back at the empty street. At the side of my eye, I thought I caught a movement. Something that was clearly not an animal. With the hairs at the back of my neck standing up, I looked again but saw nothing.
“Something wrong?” Vincent asked.
“I thought I saw…” I shook my head. “Nothing.”
I followed Vincent into the house’s yard. Dried leaves, elbow-high grass and thorny bushes had overrun the lawn. This particular two-tiered house might have been white or beige once. But now, I couldn’t really tell its difference from all the other houses—gray and stark and sad.
We reached the backyard and I was stunned with what I saw. In front of us was a smoking sinkhole nearly as large as the huge gaping pit in front of the Sinclair mansion—a Spirit Gate. The air over the hole shimmered with the heat and energy as though it was some kind of gateway to hell. Hundreds of Strays were nudging each other to reach the Gate but it was as though something was preventing them from going in. As far as I could see, there was no hindrance.
|Saoirse Ronan||as Aramis Rayne|
|Landon Liboiron||as Vincent Sinclair|
|Asa Butterfield||as Vladimir Sinclair|
|Camilla Belle||as Rosario Cruz|
|Imran Khan||as Amyr Suresh|
|Richard Gere||as Archimedes|
|Jerry Trainor||as Maximillian|
|Ryan Potter||as Kyoshiro|
|Bradley Cooper||as Pilgrim Reaper|
|Taylor Swift||as Lindsay Moseley|
|Cody Linley||as Carter Applegate|