The summoning, p.18
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       The Summoning, p.18

         Part #1 of Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong
Page 18



  “Leave their bodies. Move around like a ghost. Cool for cheating on tests or sneaking into the girls' locker room… for guys who'd do that kind of thing…”

  “Uh-?huh. You said Derek knows more about half- demons. Is that what he is?”

  He glanced toward the hall, head turning as if making sure he could still hear the water running.

  “You dragged it out of me, okay?”


  He turned onto his side, moving close enough to brush my leg. His voice dropped. “About Derek. What he is. If he asks, you dragged it out of me. ”

  I straightened, annoyance flickering. “So Derek doesn't want me to know what he is? The same guy who threw necromancer in my face and demanded I accept it. If he doesn't want—”

  “He does. He will. It's just… complicated. If you don't ask, he won't tell you. But if you ask…”

  His eyes lifted to mine, pleading with me to make this easy.

  I sighed. “Fine, I'm asking. What's Derek? One of these half-?demon things?”

  “No. There's not really a name for what he is. I guess you could call it the superman gene, but that's really cheesy. ”

  “Uh-?huh. ”

  “Which is why they don't call it that. Guys like Derek have… physical enhancements, you might say. Extra strong, as you saw. Better senses, too. That kind of thing. ”

  I glanced at the math text. “Smarter?”

  “Nah, that's just Derek. Or so my dad says. ”

  “Your dad's a… sorcerer, too, then, I guess. So he knows others… like us?”

  “Yeah. Supernaturals have a kind of community. Maybe network is a better word. You know others so you can talk to them, get things you can't get from the regular world, whatever. My dad used to be right into it. These days, not so much. Stuff… happened. ”

  He went quiet for a moment, plucking at a loose thread on the comforter, then he dropped it and flopped onto his back again. “We'll get into all that later. Huge story. Short answer is, yes, Dad used to be into the whole supernatural network. He worked for this research company, supernatural doctors and scientists trying to make things easier for other supernaturals. Dad's a lawyer, but they needed people like that, too. Anyway, that's how we got Derek. ”

  “Got Derek?”

  Simon made a face. “That didn't come out right. Sounds like Dad brought home a stray puppy. But that's kind of how it was. See, Derek's type? It's rare. We're all rare, but he's really, really rare. These people, the ones my dad worked for, they were raising him. He'd been orphaned or abandoned or something when he was just a baby, and they wanted to make sure he didn't end up in some human foster home, which would be bad when he hit, like, twelve and started throwing people across the room. Only, my dad's company wasn't really equipped to raise a kid. Derek doesn't talk much about living there, but I think it was like growing up in a hospital. My dad didn't like that, so they let him bring Derek home. It was… weird. Like he'd never been out before. Things like school or a shopping mall or even a highway totally freaked him out. He wasn't used to people, all that noise—”

  He went still, head turning toward the hall. The pipes clanked as the water shut off.

  “Later,” he mouthed.

  “He just got out. He can't hear—”

  “Oh yes, he can. ”

  I remembered what Simon said about Derek's “enhanced senses. ” Now I understood why Derek always seemed to be able to hear things he shouldn't have been able to. I made a mental note to be more careful.

  I cleared my throat, pitching it to normal. “Okay, so we've got sorcerers, witches, half-?demons, necromancers, shamans, and other really rare types, like Derek. That's it, right? I'm not going to run into any werewolves or vampires, am I?”

  He laughed. “That'd be cool. ”

  Cool, maybe, but I was happy to leave werewolves and vampires to Hollywood. I could believe in magic and ghosts and even spirit travel, but turning into an animal or sucking blood stretched disbelief farther than I cared to.

  A dozen questions leaped to my lips. Where was their father? What about the people his dad worked for? Why'd he leave them? What about Simon's mother? But Simon said he'd “get into that later. ” To demand their personal story now would be prying.

  “So there are three of us? In one place? That has to mean something. ”

  “Derek thinks it's because some supernatural powers—like yours and his—can't be explained, so humans chalk them up to mental illness. Some kids in homes could be supernatural. Most aren't. You have to talk to him about that. He explains stuff better. ”

  “Okay, back to me, then. What do these ghosts want?”

  He shrugged. “Help, I guess. ”

  “With what? Why me?”

  “Because you can hear them,” Derek said as he walked in, towel-?drying his hair. “Not much sense in talking to someone who can't hear you. ”

  “Well, duh. ”

  “I wasn't going to say it. ”

  I glared at him, but he had his back to me, neatly folding the towel and hanging it on the desk chair.

  He continued. “How many necromancers do you think are walking around out there?”

  “How would I know?”

  “Well, if the answer was 'a whole lot,' don't you think you'd have heard of them?”

  “Ease up, bro,” Simon murmured.

  “We're talking hundreds in the whole country. ” Derek yanked a comb through his hair. “Have you ever met an albino?”

  “No. ”

  “Statistically speaking, you're about three times more likely to bump into an albino than a necromancer. So, imagine you're a ghost. If you see a necro, it's like being stranded on a desert island, then spotting a plane overheard. Are you going to try to get their attention? Of course. As for what they want?” He turned the desk chair around and straddled it. “Who knows? If you were a ghost and you bumped into the one living being who could hear you, I'm sure you'd want something from her. To know what they want, you're going to need to ask them. ”

  “Easier said than done,” I muttered.

  I told them about the ghost in the basement.

  “There could still be something back there. Something you didn't find. Something important to him. “ He idly scratched his cheek, winced, and pulled his hand back. ”Maybe a paper or an object he'd like you to pass onto his family. "

  “Or clues to his murder,” Simon said. “Or buried treasure. ”

  Derek fixed him with a look, then shook his head. “Moving right along… it's probably something stupid, like a letter he forgot to give to his wife. Meaningless. ”

  That didn't sound stupid to me. Or meaningless. Kind of romantic, really. The ghost lingers for years, wanting to pass along that undelivered letter to his wife, now an old woman in a nursing home… Not my kind of movie, but I wouldn't call it stupid.

  “Whatever it is,” I said, “the point is moot because as long as I'm on these pills, I can't make contact to ask. ”

  Derek swiped at a drop of blood on his cheek, where he'd scratched a zit. He scowled with annoyance, letting it bubble over into his voice as he snapped, “Then you need to stop taking the pills. ”

  “Love to. If I could. But after what happened last night, they're giving me urine tests now. ”

  “Ugh. That's harsh. ” Simon went quiet, then snapped his fingers. “Hey, I've got an idea. It's kinda gross, but what if you take the pills, crush them and mix them with your, you know, urine. ”

  Derek stared at him.


  “You did pass chem last year, didn't you?”

  Simon flipped him the finger. “Okay, genius, what's your idea?”

  “I'll think about it. We should get her off those meds. I don't really care what that ghost wants, but he could be useful. As long as we have a willing subject, Chloe should take advantage of it, so she can lear
n. It's not like she's going anywhere soon… unless they ship her off. ”

  Simon shot him a look. “Not funny, bro. ”

  Derek raked his fingers through his wet hair. “Not trying to be funny. Seeing ghosts isn't easy to hide. It's not like casting spells. After this morning, with Dr. Davidoff and Gill, I caught some of their conversation later—” Derek glanced at me. “I was walking by and heard—”

  “She knows about your hearing, bro. ” Derek scowled at Simon, who only shrugged and said, “She figured it out. She's not stupid. Anyway, you overheard…”

  He stopped, head lifting. “Someone's coming. ”

  “Boys? Chloe?” Mrs. Talbot called from the stairs. “Snack time. Come on down. ”

  Simon called back that we were coming.

  “Just a sec,” I said. “You heard the doctors talking. What about?”

  “You. And whether Lyle House is the right place for you. ”


  WAS DEREK TRYING TO scare me? A few days ago I would have said yes, without hesitation. But now I knew it was only honesty. He'd heard it, so he passed it on, with no attempt to soften the blow because the thought wouldn't cross his mind.

  But it did make me all the more determined to get at least one question answered when the nurse popped her head in to announce lights-?out.

  “Mrs. Talbot?”

  “Yes, dear?” she said, peeking back in.

  “Can we call Liz yet? I'd really like to talk to her. To explain about that last night. ”

  “There's nothing to explain, dear. Liz is the one who feels horrible about it, frightening you like that. I'm sure you can call her on the weekend. "

  “This weekend'?”

  She slipped into the room, shutting the door behind her. “The other doctors tell me Liz is having some difficulty adjusting. ”

  Rae popped up from bed. “What's wrong?”

  “It's called post-?traumatic stress. That last night here was very difficult for her. The doctors in her new hospital don't want her reminded of it. ”

  “What if I don't mention it?”

  “Even talking to you will be a reminder, dear. By Sunday, they say she should be fine. Next week at the latest. ”

  Fingers of dread plucked at me.

  Not now, dear.

  Maybe next weekend.

  Maybe next week.

  Maybe never.

  I glanced at Rae, but pictured Liz instead, perched on the edge of the bed, wriggling her toes, purple and orange giraffes dancing.

  Dead Liz.

  Ghost Liz.

  That was ridiculous, of course. Even if I could dream up a reason why Lyle House would want to kill kids, what about their families? These weren't street kids and runaways. They had parents who would notice if they vanished. Notice and care.

  Are you so sure? What about Rae's parents? So attentive, always calling and coming by to see her? And Simon and Derek's dad? The Invisible Man?

  I rolled onto my side and wrapped my pillow around my ears, as if that could stifle the voice.

  Then I remembered what Simon had said earlier. Astral projecting. There was a race of supernaturals who could leave their bodies and teleport. Could necromancers see those teleporting spirits, too? I bet they could—that spirit would be the part that left the body, at death or during this astral projecting.

  So that's what Liz was. A . . . what did he call it? Shaman. She was astral-?projecting here and I was seeing her. That could explain why I could see and hear her, but not the ghosts. It might also explain the poltergeist. Liz was doing that projecting stuff without realizing it, and throwing things around.

  That had to be the answer. It had to be.

  * * *

  “Here,” Derek whispered, pressing an empty Mason jar into my hand. He'd pulled me aside after class and we were now standing at the base of the boy's staircase. “Take this up to your room and hide it. ”

  “It's a… jar. ”

  He grunted, exasperated that I was so dense I failed to see the critical importance of hiding an empty Mason jar in my room.

  “It's for your urine. ”

  “My what?”

  He rolled his eyes, a growl-?like sound sliding through his teeth as he leaned down, closer to my ear. “Urine. Pee. Whatever. For the testing. ”

  I lifted the jar to eye level. “I think they'll give me something smaller. ”

  This time he definitely growled. A quick glance around. Then he reached for my arm before stopping short and waving me onto the steps. He took them two at a time and was on the landing in a flash, then glowered back at me, as if I was dawdling.

  “You took your meds today, right?” he whispered.

  I nodded.

  “Then use this jar to save it. ”

  “Save… ?”

  “Your urine. If you give them some of today's tomorrow, it'll seem like you're still taking your meds. ”

  “You want me to… dole it out? Into specimen jars?”

  “Got a better idea?”

  “Um, no, but . . . ” I lifted the jar and stared into it.

  “Oh, for God's sake. Save your piss. Don't save your piss. It's all the same to me. ”

  Simon peeked around the corner, brows lifted. “I was going to ask what you guys were doing, but hearing that, I think I'll pass. ”

  Derek shooed me down the stairs. I tucked the jar into my knapsack. I'd really rather not use it, but if I squirmed at the thought of stockpiling urine, it would only prove I was the flighty girlie girl he expected.
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