Spell Blind – Snippet 23

Chapter 13

Often on the cusp of a phasing, my dreams become fragmented to the point of incoherence, as if the insanity that’s about to be brought on by the moon has crept into my sleep. But not this night.

All night long I dreamed of the red sorcerer, and in every dream he was tracking me, hunting me down. I’d wake from one dream, fall back asleep, and slip right into another; my mind was like a flat stone skipping along the surface of a pond. At one point I dreamed that I was back in the monument with Billie, running along a dried river bed, leading her, pulling her by the hand. I kept staring back over my shoulder, expecting to see the red sorcerer. I could feel him behind us, and as much as I wanted to get away, to get Billie away, I also wanted to see his face, to find out who he was.

We reached a bend in the riverbed, and I hesitated, though now Billie tugged at my hand, trying to get me to run on. She said something to me that I didn’t hear, and I turned to her. And as I did, I saw her eyes widen at something she could see past my shoulder. She screamed, and I spun to look.

Which, of course, is when the phone rang, waking me from the dream. I groped for the receiver, missed it the first time, got it the second.

“Fearsson,” I mumbled.

“Sleeping late, I see,” Kona said. “You alone, or did you have another date?”

I grunted a laugh. “Both.”

“Good. What do you have for me?”

“So much for the social niceties.”

“You’re lucky you got as much as you did. I’m having a bad day, partner. It’s not even nine o’clock and my day’s shot to hell.”

I sat up, running a hand through my tangled hair. “Tell me. Maybe I can help.”

“It’s nothing you don’t already know. Gann is being arraigned right now, and I’ve got no way of proving to Hibbard or Arroyo or anyone else that he’s innocent.”

Right. “I’ll see what else I can find,” I said, forcing myself awake. “I didn’t get much from Q or Luis, but there’s another place I can go today.”

“We don’t have much time.”

I chuckled humorlessly. “Don’t I know it.”

“Meaning what?”

“Meaning that our friend has taken a particular interest in me. I don’t know why; I guess he knows I’m after him. But he’s taken the measure of my warding three times now and–”

“You’ve lost me, partner. It’s that mumbo-jumbo stuff again.”

“Sorry. He’s been testing me in a way, and he’s done it three times, which in magical circles basically means that he owns me. The next time, if he wants to hurt me, or kill me, or turn me into a toad, he can pretty much have his way.”

“And you’re guessing it won’t be the toad thing.”

I grinned, despite the tightness in my gut. “Yeah, something like that.”

“Well then, watch yourself,” she said.

“I will.”

I hung up, showered, and was soon on my way back to Mesa. There was a small park near Falcon Field where I knew other weremystes would be gathered today in anticipation of the full moon. The drive was as slow as one would expect on a weekday morning, and by the time I was parking the Z-ster I could see the crowd gathered among the small tents and plywood stalls.

Passers-by would have thought it nothing more than another small farmers’ market, of which there was no shortage in the Phoenix area. This market, though, was far from typical. We referred to it as the Moon Market, because it only turned up for a few days right before the phasing. Rather than selling produce and jams and homemade salsas, the sellers at the Moon Market sold herbs and oils, crystals and talismans, elixirs, incense, and bundled blends of flowers and native plants that resembled the sage sticks burned by the Pueblo people. Many of the items were similar to those Q sold at his place, only in far greater numbers and varieties, and often at much better prices. Some peddled their own spells, which they taught to other weremystes for a fee. Some sold knives or candles that they claimed to have charmed.

As usual, there were as many wannabes circulating among the tents as there were actual weremystes. Sometimes tourists stumbled across the market as well. They took pictures of the various displays and bought the occasional geode or quartz spear. But it was always easy to spot the weremystes in the crowd, even if direct sunlight obscured the wavering effect from their magic. They weren’t there for the fun of it, and they weren’t shopping for pretty trinkets. They moved around the market with quiet urgency, seeking something — anything — that might take the edge off the coming phasing.

I’d tried a few of the herbs early on: sachets of stargrass and alyssum that I was told to leave near all the windows and doors of my house; blends of anise, bay, pennyroyal, and rosemary that I was supposed to put in pots of boiling water. Once I even bought a wand made of mulberry. As far as I could tell, none of them had done anything to ease the pull of the moon.

But other weremystes swore by remedies like these, and who was I to argue? I knew cops who used one kind of aspirin, but not others. Different people have different headaches; same with phasings.

I wandered through the market, searching for people I knew, people who might be able to tell me something about the Blind Angel killings. A few vendors and shoppers appeared to recognize me, but most of them refused to make eye contact. They probably thought I was still a cop.

The first person I saw who both knew me and appeared willing to speak with me was an old Navajo named Barry Crowseye, who sold crystals at the market, and jewelry in a small shop in Tolleson. He waved me over when he spotted me and stood to shake my hand, reaching across a long table that was covered with baskets of polished stone — petrified wood, tiger’s-eye, citrine, jasper, bloodstone, malachite, and a dozen other stones I couldn’t identify.

I’d known Barry for years and he hadn’t changed at all. As far as I could tell, his hair had always been silver, and he had always worn it in a long ponytail. He was a big man, with a chiseled face that could have come straight off of a coin. If I’d been making a western and needed to cast the part of Indian Chief, I’d have tracked him down simply because he looked the part. His skin was the color of cherry wood, and his eyes were almost black. He was wearing jeans, a pale blue Los Lobos t-shirt, and a brown leather vest. And as always, the shimmer of magic around him was so strong that his face, neck, and shoulders were blurred.

“Good to see you, Jay,” he said, smiling at me, a gold tooth glinting. “Been a while.”

“You too, Barry. Things going well?”