The Ghost and the Graveyard

Chapter 21


I Perform My First Exorcism
I willed the arena to dissolve into the attic's sanded wood floor, and Rick left to check on Marcus/Michelle. That's when Logan returned. For a long time, he stared at me with the hollow expression of someone who'd completely lost hope. My heart broke to see him like this, and I opened my mouth to say something, anything to comfort him.
He cut me off. "Not now, Grateful. You're running out of darkness. Save your friend." He glanced toward the Book of Light.
I walked over to the tome and used two hands to open it. In my last lifetime, I must have been a freak about organization. It was tabbed like an encyclopedia. Exorcism-Vampires in the E section right after Exorcism-General and right before Exorcism-Wraiths.
The spell seemed simple enough. Forcing the vamp out was the easy part. Keeping him out was the greater challenge. A puree of honey, sage, and lemon balm had to be poured over the victim. The concoction acted as a one-way membrane to keep the vampire out of the victim's body. Salt, sprinkled in a ring around Michelle and me would act as a boundary to contain the vamp once released.
"Logan, can you make this puree for me? You're the best with the food processor." Anything to get him to stop staring at me like I'd killed his puppy.
He nodded and disappeared. A moment later I heard cabinet doors open in the kitchen and the scrape of the food processor being loaded onto the kitchen island.
Rick returned, grimacing in the direction of the sound, like Logan was a rodent in the walls. I shook my head. I had other problems.
"We can't leave Michelle in the bindings. Marcus has to be able to get out during the spell. But if we take the ropes off, he could attack me, using Michelle's body. You'll have to hold her down."
"I can't," he said, matter-of-factly. "I'll upset the balance of power within the ring."
"Crap. We have to contain her body." I flipped pages in my massive spell book, looking for answers.
"A paralyzation spell?" Rick offered.
I thumbed over to P. "It's complicated. It says it takes an hour to brew." I looked toward the darkened window.
"We don't have that kind of time," Rick said.
Paralysis. We needed to cause paralysis. The answer hit me. I snapped my fingers. "Propofol. We put her to sleep with medicine not magic!"
Rick stared at me blankly.
"Trust me." I conjured a bottle of propofol, aka milk of amnesia, and some IV supplies. I put her under on the couch in her apartment-styled attic room. I didn't think the medication would have any effect on the vampire, but he'd be trapped within an uncooperative body.
The door squeaked open. A mixing bowl and large container of salt floated to the coffee table. Logan formed by my side. "What is all this?"
"Anesthesia. Rick, help me remove the bindings." Her heavily sedated body was dead weight as Rick and I untied Michelle and removed her gag. I checked the drop rate on her IV.
"I'll clear a space for you." Rick tugged the coffee table back against the wall.
"Prudence? Are you here?" I yelled at the ceiling.
She formed next to Rick. "I'm here. You can do this. Just like riding a bike."
"In my past life," I mumbled. Per the book, I sprinkled the salt in a large circle around Michelle and me, closing us into my ring of magic. Step two was the balm. It felt sticky and thick when I stuck my hand into the mixing bowl, but I layered it as evenly across her body as possible. Afterward, I wished I could wash my hands, but I couldn't leave the circle.
The power came when I called it, like an ocean wave crashing to shore. Only, I was the shore, and the force of it almost knocked me over. It's hard to explain what it was I did to call the power or where it came from. I just know that when I made love to Rick, some part of me connected to it. Afterward it was there, waiting for me as if I had grown another appendage. But like a new appendage, it felt awkward wielding it, and I didn't have the benefit of a team of physical therapists to help me. All I had was Rick and Prudence trying to coach me from outside the circle.
"You have it, mi cielo. I can see it pulsing around you. Throw it into her chest, and your magic will drive the vampire out."
"How do I throw it?" I asked.
Prudence answered. "I've seen you do it before. You bring your hands to your chest, focus on the object and then thrust them toward your target."
I folded my hands in, concentrating on Michelle, and then pointed them at her. Nothing happened.
"The power is around you, not a part of you. You must collect it with your arms. Gather your aura, then throw it in her direction," Rick said.
I tried again. I closed my eyes and reached out my hands to the power. It circled me in a thick cloud like cream soup. With my eyes closed, I could sense a pulse collecting in my hands. When I brought them to my chest this time, the magic came with them. A great, glowing ball of energy formed in front of me. I opened my eyes, focused fully on Michelle, and pushed with everything I had.
No way was I prepared for how quickly Marcus would emerge from Michelle's body. He leaped on me in a flurry of slashing teeth and claws. As planned, I stepped out of the circle just in time for his face to slam into the magic barricade I'd created with the salt. Only I hadn't thought it through. Michelle was still sedated within the circle with Marcus. She couldn't step out because she was unconscious. Sure, he couldn't reenter her body because of the balm, but that didn't mean he couldn't hurt her. A couple of minutes of ricocheting around my magic ring and he turned his attention on her.
"No! Leave her alone!" I yelled.
"I'm sorry, witchy poo. I can't hear you from within this circle. Let me out and then maybe we can communicate." He bit down on the last word, turning it into a threat.
Rick paced the edge of the salt ring, a low growl bubbling up his throat.
"Oh, please. Caretaker, you are so out of your league. Even now the vampires are growing in number. Soon our army will be large enough to circumvent your defenses. You'll never be able to keep us in the underworld." He walked over to Michelle's IV and placed his hand on the clamp controlling the rate of administration.
"Stop," I yelled, but he began to turn the dial. The propofol flowed too quickly. If I didn't do something, she could go into cardiac arrest.
"Rick, what do I do? It could kill her."
"You control its existence. Take it away."
I willed the remaining drug to vanish, but it was too late. Marcus had opened the valve and allowed the anesthesia to flow into her vein as fast as her body would take it in. Her breathing slowed. She was in dangerous territory.
"I need to get to her."
"Very well, mi cielo. Break the circle and I will fight Marcus."
He didn't have to ask twice. I wiped away a section of salt, and the vamp blew by me, a black wind that smelled of sulfur. I ran to Michelle's side and took her pulse. Slow but steady.
"I need to stay with her," I called, but Rick and Marcus were already circling each other. I removed Michelle's IV and put pressure on the site, trying to watch what was happening in the room behind me.
Rick dove for Marcus in fast-forward. Marcus dodged, equally fast, sending Rick somersaulting across the floor. Marcus hustled toward Rick, positioning himself to deliver a kick to his gut. I willed a concrete wall between the two and watched Marcus' foot crash through it as if it were paper. Rick dodged to the side, grabbed Marcus' foot and lifted. I willed a row of wooden stakes behind Marcus, hoping he would fall backward, but he cartwheeled to the side and delivered a punch to Rick's ribs. I winced, but Rick barely flinched. Instead, he thrashed a half-shifted hand and shredded the front of Marcus' chest.
I was sure if Rick had the time and space to shift into his beast, Marcus would be history, but the vamp was strong, quick, and more intelligent than I had given him credit for. While I was thinking of ways to distract him to give Rick time to change, he spotted the attic window. Marcus dove through headfirst, sending a shower of glass into my front yard. Rick lunged after him.
I ran to the window and watched the chase continue toward the bridge. I thought Rick had him, but Marcus turned into fog and melted into the night. Rick followed, dematerializing. Deep inside, I knew we'd lost him. Marcus was free from the cemetery.
He'd escaped and with him any delusions I had of feeling safe.