His Father’s Eyes – Snippet 14

We went back to the terminal and made our way to the restroom once more. By now, there were several cops with the body, as well as a photographer from the ME’s office. This wasn’t a casting I could do in front of others without drawing attention to myself, which meant another camouflage spell. I retreated to the gate area, cast the spell so that it would work in the restroom — why couldn’t the guy have been murdered in a bar, or one of those lounges designed for wealthy business travelers? — and went back in.

As on the plane, no one noticed that I was there, not even Kona, since she was in the restroom when I cast the spell. I took up a position near the entrance, pulled out the sock and stone again, and cast the seeing spell.

Once more, I saw in the stone what Howell had seen. He walked into the men’s room, took a piss, and then went to the sink to wash his hands. Several other men were in here already. They gave Howell a wide berth. I assumed they had taken note of his appearance: the tattoos, the t-shirt, the shaved head. No one spoke to him or even dared make eye contact.

He braced his hands on the sink and closed eyes his, taking a long, rattling breath. Then he bent over and splashed water on his face. Seeing hand blowers but no paper towel dispensers, he muttered a curse and pulled up his shirt hem to dry his face. Leaning on the sink again he stared at himself in the mirror. A man crossed behind him and appeared to leave the restroom.

At this point, Howell gave no indication that he had noticed anything unusual. But viewing the scene through his eyes, knowing to watch for it, I did.

No one had entered the men’s room since Howell’s entrance, and now it seemed that those who walked in with him, and those who had already been here, were gone. Howell was alone, or at least alone with his eventual killer. I don’t know how the sorcerer managed this, but I didn’t doubt for an instant that he had.

Howell straightened, then swiveled his head left and right, his brow creasing. He checked the stalls, all of which were empty, before starting toward the restroom door. After two steps, he halted.

Anyone in here? he said.

His voice echoed off the tiles, but no one answered him.

He took another step, stopped again. Without warning, he whirled, an audible gasp torn from his chest.

What the f–? Who’s there?

He sounded more scared than angry, though I could tell he was trying for the latter.

Again, his question was met with silence. He was edging toward the door now, his back to the sinks. This was where he was going to die, and I didn’t see anyone. Not a soul.

He spun a second time, practically jumping out of his skin, swiping at something on his shoulder, something I couldn’t see. His killer seemed to be toying with him now. Was he camouflaged? Had he found some other spell to make himself invisible to Howell, and thus to me?

By this time, Howell was terrified; I could tell from his labored breathing, the tremor in his hands. He took a single purposeful stride toward the door and bounded off of something unseen, the way he would if he had walked into a wall.

Fucking hell! he said, the words choked, like a sob.

A blinding flash of green light made me squint and turn away, even as I heard Howell’s truncated scream in my head. When I peered at the stone again, it was nothing more than sea-green agate.

“Damn it,” I muttered, forgetting that I was camouflaged myself. My oath drew a frown from an older gentleman who was walking past me. He kept going, though, and I ground my teeth together, vowing to keep silent from now on.

I left the men’s room and positioned myself in a corner of the gate area. There I cast the seeing spell again, hoping that Howell might have seen something — anything — between the gate and the men’s room that would tell me more about his killer. But he walked straight from the plane to the restroom, interacting with no one, his gaze sweeping over the crowded airport, but settling on nothing in particular. Considering all the trouble I had gone through to cast the seeing spells I had little to show for my effort.

I found a deserted spot where I could remove the camouflage spell and then found Kona again. She was speaking with another detective from the PPD. I hung back until she was finished with him and then approached her.

“What have you got for me?” she asked.

“A sock.” I slipped her the sock, which she stuffed in her blazer pocket.

“Seriously, Justis.”

“Seriously, that’s about all I’ve got.”

“You mean, after all that mojo you were going to do, you didn’t find out anything?”

“Just that our killer casts a mean camouflage spell and can move around a men’s room without making much noise.”

“So you didn’t see him.”

I shook my head. “I saw what Howell saw, which was nothing at all. The guy snuck up on him, toyed with him for a few seconds, and then killed him with a spell.”

“The killer could still be here, then,” she said. “He could be watching everything we do, and we wouldn’t know it.”

“Or she. And yeah, that’s exactly right.”

She scanned the gate area, her expression curdling. “Honestly, I don’t know how you live every day with this magic shit. It would drive me up a wall.”

“Who says it doesn’t do the same to me?” I surveyed the airport as well. “But let me try something.” It wasn’t a spell I had attempted before, but Namid would have been the first to tell me that such things didn’t matter. If I could hold the elements in my head, I could cast it. It seemed easy enough, though I couldn’t figure out how to do it with only three elements; I’d need seven: me, the other sorcerer, his camouflage spell, my eyes, the gate area, his current location, and the removal of his spell. There were a few unknowns in that list, but I hoped I could conjure around those. I repeated the elements six times and released the magic on the seventh.

Nothing happened.

“Are you all right?” Kona asked, watching me, the corners of her mouth drawn down in mild disapproval.

“I was trying a spell. I hoped I might be able to strip away whatever magic our killer is using to hide himself. If he’s still here.”

“I take it the spell didn’t work.”

“Or he’s long gone.”

“Right. Look, Justis–”

“You have work to do,” I said, keenly aware in that moment of the fact that she was still a cop, and I wasn’t. Not that I’d needed the reminder. “I’ll get out of your hair.”

“I appreciate you coming all this way.”

“No problem. I think I can help you with this, if you want me to keep working on it.”

“I do. And with your new-found notoriety, the higher-ups are more willing to have you around.”

“Except Hibbard.”

“Yeah,” she said. “And nobody likes him anyway.”

We both grinned, though for no more than a second or two.

“I’ll ask around a bit,” I said, sobering. “See if any of my kind have heard people talking about a new player in town. Or about why the old players might take a new interest in domestic terrorists.”