The Ghost and the Graveyard

Chapter 28


We Steal A Body
"Holy hell! Fuuuck, we've gotta stop Rick!"
I whipped out my cell phone and dialed the house, then kicked myself for not buying one of those old-fashioned answering machines. Rick wouldn't pick up my phone, and there was no way for him to know that it was me on the line. I tried our mental connection but got nothing. I guess my power didn't stretch that far.
"He's not answering."
"Try his cell."
"He doesn't have one. He's over three hundred years old. Technology isn't his thing."
"I guess when you spend your nights sending the unholy to the underworld, a cell phone isn't a priority."
"What are we going to do?"
Michelle and I turned toward Logan and blinked. The room was so quiet I could hear the fluid dripping in his IV. I pivoted toward the window and saw the sun low in the sky. We had roughly thirty-five minutes to stop Rick's spell. I wasn't sure what would happen if Rick tried to force Logan over, considering he wasn't exactly dead, but I didn't want to find out. One thing was clear to me; we needed to rejoin Logan to his body.
"We have to get back to the house, and Logan has to come with us."
"Are you kidding me? Grateful, he's been on continuous tube feeding for a month. If you disconnect it, he's going to go hypoglycemic on your ass." She was right, of course. People had to be weaned from the stuff slowly, over days and weeks. The machine had to keep running.
"We need an ambulance."
Michelle's face went stoic. "Oh my God. You're serious."
"As a heart attack." Or a coma.
"We could lose our licenses."
"Yes, we could. I don't expect you to do this with me."
"Are you kidding me? I'm totally in." She flipped open her cell phone. "I know an EMT who might be able to help."
While she talked to her friend, I moved to the nurse's station. It was shift change, so it was deserted; the nurses were in the rooms getting reports. I wondered for a minute why no one had been in Logan's room but then realized they would probably visit him last, considering he was stable and unconscious. It's true what they say, that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and comatose Logan was not squeaking.
I found a computer that one of the floor nurses hadn't logged out of. I felt guilty doing the dirty work under her name, but hell, if you couldn't train yourself to hit the little lock when you were done in the system, you deserved to be messed with. Also, if all went well tonight, I'd be using magic to reverse what I was about to do. I brought up Logan's file and marveled again that I had chosen the right name.
All that time I'd been searching for his name in his memories, and it was right in front of me-Logan Valentine, owner and chef of Valentine's, my favorite restaurant. I'd even seen the restaurant in his memories. I just didn't realize it was Valentine's. Somehow, the part of me that was the witch had known his name, even before I'd fully accepted my role.
I added a CT scan to his orders and scheduled it for now. That way, when the body was missing, the nurse would think radiology had come and taken him while she was away. That should give us enough time to get him home.
By the time I returned to the room, Michelle had found a gurney and was butting it up to the bed. "Help me move him."
"Sure, but we've gotta be quick. His nurse will be here any minute."
I moved to the other side of the bed and helped shift him onto the gurney. Moving his fluids over, I checked the drip rates. We had several hours before he'd run out. We were rolling him out the door when his nurse came barreling down the hall. Luckily she was new and didn't recognize either of us.
"Where are you two taking my patient?"
I tucked my ID into my pocket. "We're from Radiology. He's got orders for a CT."
"'Kay. You guys need help getting him in the elevator?"
"Nope. We've got it," Michelle said. With a cheesy smile plastered on my face, I held my breath until the doors closed.
I let it all out in a whoosh once we were alone.
"Should I be concerned she seemed almost excited to have one less patient to take care of?" Michelle asked.
"Wouldn't you be? I mean, it's not like people steal grown men in comas every day. She thinks he'll be back in an hour," I said.
"It's surprising, really, that more people don't get themselves a comatose guy. There's no better way to keep birds out of the garden."
I tried unsuccessfully to stifle a laugh.
"So, who is this EMT friend of yours and how are we going to get Logan to the ambulance?"
She shrugged. "The less you know the better. Trust me."
The elevator doors opened on the ground floor. I swung my head out and looked both ways.
"Clear," I whispered, and we rolled Logan out.
The hall seemed to stretch on forever as we proceeded toward the double doors to the back lot. Halfway there, trouble came around the bend in the form of Dr. Wellington. I winced. Dr. Wellington was St. John's resident windbag. This could take a while, and each passing minute could mean Logan's soul.
"Grateful Knight, I'm glad to run into you. I've been meaning to ask you about your opinion on the effects of low glycemic diet on controlling inflammation." Dr. Wellington walked right by Logan and Michelle as if they didn't exist and came to stand in front of me. Without looking up from the file in his hands, he continued to talk.
"Um, we're in the middle of something-"
"-this month's JAMA research seems to indicate..." Dr. Wellington droned on and on, motioning for me to follow him as he walked.
I complied, hoping to steer him away from the gurney and Logan. I knew better than to try to stop him. Dr. Wellington would not take a breath until his entire thought was aired in a verbal string of logic and statistics. I followed along until we stopped in front of the emergency room doors.
"So what do you think?" he asked me. I had no idea what he'd said.
"I think you are absolutely right about that. Insightful as ever, Doctor."
"Good. Then you'll help me chair a cross-disciplinary committee to make the change?"
"Um, sure," I said. Surely there was a spell in the Book of Light that would erase this conversation from Dr. Wellington's memory. I hoped.
He gave a little nod and disappeared into the emergency department. I raced back to where I had left Logan, but Michelle was gone, as was the gurney. As fast as I could walk without drawing attention to myself, I moved out the doors into the back lot and toward the ambulance. I hoped Michelle had made it without me, but the vehicle was dark and quiet. I looked in the window and saw the keys were in it.
"Psst," Michelle's voice came from the back. "Get in. You need to drive so I can stay back here with Logan."
I climbed behind the wheel and took off for home.
I've always loved sunsets, especially the orangey-pink ones that happen low in the sky on a cool fall night. But as I raced for home, I cursed the setting star that would without a doubt reach the horizon before we reached Logan. I sent up a silent prayer that Logan would wait to decide his fate, that he would resist Rick's spell.
Then I yelled to Logan in the back, just in case some part of his subconscious got through to his soul. "Logan, if you can hear me, don't choose. Please don't choose."
By the time I reached home, the sun was completely behind the horizon. I tore through the front door. Logan's ghost hovered over a bowl of blood in the foyer. Rick, in some kind of a trance, chanted in front of the circle of bones.
I did what any woman would have done. I slid, screaming, across the wood, crashing into the skulls and pushing the bowl out from under Logan. To be honest, I had no idea what the consequences of my actions would be. I could have forced him on right then.
But whether by magic or fate, I got lucky.