The summoning, p.20
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       The Summoning, p.20

         Part #1 of Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong
 
Page 20

 

  Tori skipped class that afternoon, not surprisingly. The rule about not hiding out in your room apparently didn't apply to her, maybe because of her condition or maybe because of her mother's position. Between periods, I slipped upstairs to find her. She was in her bedroom, her sobs barely muffled by the closed door.

  I stood in the hall, listening to her cry, yearning to do something.

  In a movie, I'd go in there, comfort her, and maybe even become her friend. I'd seen it on the screen a dozen times. But again, that wasn't the same as experiencing it in real life, something I couldn't really appreciate until I was there, outside the door.

  Tori hated me.

  The thought made my stomach hurt. I'd never been hated before. I was the kind of kid that, if someone asked others what they thought of me, they'd say “Chloe? She's okay, I guess. ” They didn't love me, didn't hate me, just didn't think much about me either way.

  Whether I'd earned Tori's hate was another matter, but I couldn't argue with her experience of events. To her, I had barged in and taken her place. I'd become the “good patient” she desperately needed to be.

  If I walked into her room now, she wouldn't see a sympathetic face. She'd see a victor come to gloat, and she'd hate me all the more. So I left her there, crying in her room, alone.

  * * *

  When afternoon break ended, Mrs. Talbot announced classes were over for the day. We were going to make a rare trip into the outside world. We weren't going far—just to an indoor community pool a block away, within walking distance.

  A great idea. If only I had a bathing suit.

  Mrs. Talbot offered to call Aunt Lauren, but I wasn't about to interrupt my aunt for that, especially after she'd been dragged away for my misbehavior yesterday.

  I wasn't the only one being left behind, though. Derek had to go to his session with Dr. Gill. That didn't seem fair, but when I said so to Simon, he said Derek wasn't allowed on the outings. I guess that made sense, considering what he was in here for. The day I arrived, when they'd taken the others to lunch while I settled in, he must have been confined to his room.

  * * *

  After everyone left, I took advantage of the nurses being gone and hung out in my room, listening to music. I'd been up there only a few minutes when I thought I heard a rap at my door. I pulled out one earbud. Another rap. I was pretty sure ghosts couldn't knock, so I called a greeting.

  The door swung open. There stood Tori, looking . . . very un-?Tori-?like. Her dark hair stood in spikes, as if she'd been running her hands through it. Her shirt was wrinkled, the back untucked from her jeans.

  I sat up. “I thought you went swimming. ”

  “I have cramps. That okay with you?” Her words were clipped, with an undertone of her usual snottiness, but forced. “Anyway, I didn't come to borrow your eyeliner. Not like you have any. I just came to say you can have Simon. I've decided…” Her gaze slid away. “I'm not interested. He's not my type anyway. Too… young. ” A twist of her lips. “Immature. Anyway. Take him. He's all yours. ”

  I'd have been tempted to shoot back a “Gee, thanks” if it wasn't obvious how much this was hurting her. Simon was wrong. Tori did really like him.

  “Anyway”—she cleared her throat—“I've come to declare a truce. ”

  “Truce?"

  With an impatient wave, she stepped into the room, closing the door behind her. “This silly feud of ours. You aren't worth my . . . ” She trailed off, shoulder slumping. “No more fighting. You want Simon? Take him. You think you see ghosts? That's your problem. All I want is for you to tell Dr. Gill that I apologized for telling everyone you saw ghosts the first day. They were going to let me out Monday, but now they aren't. And it's your fault. ”

  “I didn't—”

  “I'm not done. ” A touch of her old attitude gave the words a snarky lilt. “You'll tell Dr. Gill that I apologized and maybe you blew the whole thing out of proportion. I thought it was cool you saw ghosts and you took it the wrong way, but that I've been nice to you ever since. ”

  “About 'giving' me Simon… I'm not—”

  “That's part one of the deal. Part two? I'll show you something you want to see. ”

  “What's that?”

  “In that—” a flip of her hand “—filthy crawl space. I was going downstairs to see when you were finally going to get my jeans washed, and I heard you and Rae looking for something. ”

  I wiped any expression from my face. “I don't know what—”

  “Oh, stuff it. Let me guess. Brady told Rae there was something in there, didn't he?”

  I had no idea what she meant but nodded.

  “It's a jewelry box full of old stuff. ” Her lips curled in distaste. “Brady showed me. He thought I might actually be interested in it. It's, like, antiques, he said. Gross. ” She shivered. “When I wasn't all 'Oh, wow, that's so sweet and romantic. I just love rotting necklaces and filthy crawl spaces,' he must have mentioned it to Rae. If you want, I can show you. ”

  “Sure, I guess. Maybe tonight—”

  “You think I'm going to risk getting into more trouble? I'll show you now, when I'll have time to shower after. And don't think you'll find it on your own, because you won't. ”

  I hesitated.

  Her mouth tightened. “Fine. You don't want to help me? That's just peachy. ”

  She headed for the door.

  I swung my legs over the side of the bed. “Hold up. I'm coming. ”

  Twenty-seven

  I CLIMBED ONTO THE LADDER, pushed open the door, and peered inside—into the pitch blackness. I pulled back and looked down at Tori.

  “Rae had a flashlight. We need to get it. ”

  An exasperated sigh. “Where is it?”

  “I don't know. I thought you'd—”

  “Why would I know where they keep flashlights? Do you think I sneak around at night? Read dirty books under the covers? Just go—” She stopped, lips curving in a mocking smile. “Oh, that's right. You're afraid of the dark, aren't you?”

  “Where did you hear—”

  She plucked at my pant leg. “Get down, little girl. I'll lead the way… and fend off all the nasty ghosts. ”

  “No, I've got it. Just give me a sec so my eyes adjust. ”

  Where was Rae and her matches when you needed them? Wait. Matches. She'd thrown them in here. I felt around, but the dark earth floor camouflaged the match-?book.

  “Hello?” Tori said. “Petrified with fear already? Move or get out of my way. ”

  I started forward.

  “Head left,” Tori said as she crawled in behind me. “It's about halfway to the wall. ”

  We'd gone around twenty feet when she said, “Swing right. See that pillar?”

  I squinted and could make out a support post.

  “It's right behind that. ”

  I crawled to the pillar and started feeling around the base of it.

  “Behind, not beside. Can't you do anything? Here, let me. ”

  She reached for my arm, hand wrapping around my forearm and yanking me off balance.

  “Hey!” I said. “That—”

  “Hurts?” Her fingers dug in harder. When I tried to wrench back, she kneed me in the stomach, and I doubled over. “Do you know how much trouble you got me in, Chloe? You come here, get Liz sent away, steal Simon, ruin my chance to get out. Well, you're about to get out yourself. A one way ticket to the loony bin. Let's see just how scared of the dark you really are. ”

  She lifted a ragged rectangle. A broken brick? She swung. Pain exploded in the back of my head and I pitched forward, tasting dirt before everything went black.

  * * *

  Several times I woke, groggy, some deeper part of me screaming, “You have to get up!” before the sleepy, confused part muttered, “It's just the pills again” and I drifted back into unconsciousness.

  * * *

 
Finally I remembered I wasn't taking the pills and I did wake. To the sound of labored breathing. I lay there, my brain still fuddled, heart racing, as I tried to call “Who's there?” But my lips wouldn't move.

  I rocked wildly, unable to get up, unable to move my arms, scarcely able to breathe. Then, as I struggled to inhale, I realized where the sound of heavy breathing came from. Me.

  I forced myself to lay still, to calm down. Something was tight across my cheeks, pulling the skin when I moved. Tape. I had tape over my mouth.

  My hands were tied behind my back, and my legs . . . I squinted into the dark, trying to see my feet, but with the door closed and no light coming in, I couldn't see anything. When I moved my legs, I could feel something holding them together near the ankles. Tied.

  That crazy bitch!

  I never thought I'd call someone that, but with Tori, no other word fit.

  She hadn't just lured me into the crawl space and knocked me out. She'd bound and gagged me.

  She was nuts. Absolutely nuts.

  Well, duh, that's why she's locked up in this place. Mentally disturbed. Read the label, Chloe. You're the idiot who forgot.

  Now I was stuck here, gagged and bound in the dark, waiting for someone to find me.

  Will anyone find you?

  Of course. They wouldn't just leave me here to rot.

  You've probably been unconscious for hours. Maybe they've stopped looking. Maybe they think you've run away.

  It didn't matter. Once Tori'd had her fun—and her revenge—she'd find a way to let someone know where I was.

  Will she? She's crazy, remember. All she cares about is getting rid of you. Maybe she'll decide it's better if you're never found. A few days without water…

  Stop that.

  They'll think someone broke in. Tied poor Chloe up and left her in the crawl space. That would make a good story. Chloe's last story.

  Ridiculous. They'd find me. Eventually. But I wasn't going to lie here and wait for rescue.

  I flipped onto my back and tried using my hands to push myself up. When I couldn't get a grip, I rolled onto my side, then twisted and squirmed until I was on my knees.

  There. At least I could inch forward. If I could make it to the other side of the crawl space, I could bang on the door, get someone's attention. It would be slow going, but—

  “Chloe?”

  A man's voice. Dr. Davidoff? I tried to answer, but could only make a muffled “uh-?uh” sound.

  “. . . your name… Chloe…”

  As the voice drew near, and I recognized it, the hairs on my arms went up. The basement ghost.

  I braced myself and looked around, knowing even as I did that I couldn't see anything in this blackness.

  This complete dark.

  “. . . relax… come for you…”

  I shifted forward and smacked nose-?first into a post. Pain exploded behind my eyes and they filled with tears. When I lowered my head, wincing, I smacked my skull into the post, and toppled sideways.

  Get up.

  What's the use? I can barely move. I can't see where I'm going. It's so dark.

  I lifted my head but, of course, saw nothing. Ghosts could be all around me, everywhere—

  Oh, stop that! They're ghosts. They can't do anything to you. They can't “come for you. ”

  “. . . summon them… you must…”

  I closed my eyes and concentrated on breathing. Nothing but breathing, blocking that voice.

  “. . . help you… listen… this house…”

  As terrified as I was, the moment I heard the words “this house” spoken with such urgency, I had to listen.

  “. . . good… relax… concentrate…”

  I struggled against my bonds, trying to push myself up.

  “No, relax… come for you… use the time… make contact. . . I can't. . . must get. . . their story… urgent. . . ”

  I strained to pick up more, struggling to understand. Relax and concentrate? Sounded like what Rae suggested. It had worked when I was with her, at least enough for me to see a flash.

  I closed my eyes.

  “. . . good… relax… summon…”

  I squeezed my eyes shut and imagined myself making contact with him. Pictured him. Visualized pulling him through. Strained until my temples began to throb.

  “. . . child . . . not so…”

  His voice was louder. I balled up my hands, willing myself to pass through the barrier, to contact the dead—

  “No!” the ghost said. “Don't—!”

  My head jerked up, eyes flying open to blackness.

  Are you there? I thought the words, then tried saying them, an “uh-?uh-?uh” against the gag.

  I ticked off two minutes of complete quiet. So much for pulling the ghost through. I must have shoved him farther out of reach.

  At least the interlude gave me a moment to calm down. My heart had stopped its scared-?rabbit pattering, and even the dark didn't seem so bad. If I could inch toward the door and bang on it…

  And what direction is the door?

  I'd just have to find out.

  I started toward a sliver of light that probably came from around the door. The ground trembled, and I pitched forward.

  As I straightened, the bindings around my hands moved, loosening. I twisted my arms, pulling my wrists apart. Whatever knot Tori had tied was poorly done, and slipping.

  Rich girls, I thought. That's what Rae would say.

  I worked my hands free. When I reached for my legs, the tremor came again, stronger now, and I had to brace myself to keep from falling over.
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll
Add comment

Add comment