Spell Blind – Snippet 26
Shooting at him had been stupid — useless as well as dangerous. On the other hand, it had made the sorcerer run, and might well have saved my life, at least for the moment. The rest was all nuisance. Someone was going to call the police, and I’d have to explain why I’d discharged my weapon, and what role I’d played in Shari’s death. Given the chance I would have called nine-one-one for her, of course, but I would have done so anonymously. No chance of that now.
But those were matters for later. In that instant I was interested only in the blond-haired, bald man who had killed her.
He’s much, much more than you think he is . . .
What had she meant by that?
I knew he was a more powerful weremyste than I was. He might have been the strongest sorcerer I’d ever encountered. And I guessed that he was strong physically, too. He appeared to be at least half a foot taller than me. He had the build of an athlete, and I couldn’t help remembering how far into South Mountain Park he’d carried Claudia. I also couldn’t deny that he was pulling away from me as we ran, much the way Antoine had the other day.
But I had a feeling that Shari had meant more than all of this.
It occurred to me that given the ease with which he’d tested my defenses those three times, chasing after him might not have been the best idea.
Even as I formed the thought, he stopped and turned to face me. I slowed, then halted, too, holding my weapon loosely at my side. I had a feeling that shooting at him again would be pointless, that he would be able to save himself with magic. The same magic he could use to attack me.
It was as if Namid was right beside me, shouting warnings. I sheathed myself in a shielding spell, the same protective cocoon I’d used against Namid’s magical fire. At the same time, I raised my pistol again.
The sorcerer laughed.
The touch of his magic was about as light as one of those lead aprons the dentist gives you for x-rays. It draped over my mind, pressing down on me. I couldn’t move my arms or my legs. I stood on the sidewalk, my weapon still aimed at the man, and I couldn’t even bring myself to pull the trigger.
“You should have left it alone,” he said. He didn’t shout or call back to me. He spoke the words, and I heard them as I would if he had been standing beside me, whispering in my ear. He had an accent of some sort, but at that moment I couldn’t place it. “You should have stayed away.”
My shooting hand started to turn. I fought to keep the Glock trained on him, but I might as well have tried to make the sun move west to east. I had no control over my own body. In a tiny corner of my mind I wondered what spell he was using on me; it was beyond any magic I knew. Panicking, I tried everything I could think of to throw him off. I recited wardings in my mind. I threw assailing spells at him. I even attempted my father’s transporting spell. Nothing worked. The weapon was turned toward me now. I opened my mouth and stuck the muzzle in, tasting the tang of metal and the bitter residue of gunpowder. I wanted to gag, but I couldn’t even do that much.
I felt my trigger finger twitch, and I closed my eyes, tears streaming down my face.
I heard Namid’s voice again. Defend yourself!
Yes. I refused to die here, killed by my own pistol. I had thrown every spell I knew at the guy, but maybe that was my mistake.
Three elements: the sidewalk, his feet, and a great big crack in the cement. I knew I couldn’t hurt him, but I didn’t need to. I only needed to knock him off balance for a second.
And I did. I opened my eyes in time to see him stumble, then right himself.
His magic wavered for an instant, long enough that I managed to pull the weapon from my mouth, nearly retching. I pointed the Glock at him again, though my hand was unsteady and my legs felt like they were about to give way.
“Hey! What the hell are you doin’?”
The voice came from the house to the right of me. I glanced that way, but wasn’t willing to take my eyes off the sorcerer for long. I saw anger flash across the killer’s face, and then I saw him laugh again.
He ran, vanishing around a corner. I couldn’t tell if he’d gone past the point where I could see him, or had used a spell to make himself disappear. To be honest, I didn’t care. I sank to my knees, my chest heaving.
“Hey, mister? You all right?”
I looked over at the man who’d saved my life. He was wearing old cutoff jean shorts and a sleeveless undershirt. His hair was black, but he had a grizzled beard.
“You shouldn’t play with your gun like that,” he said, frowning at me. “Scared me half to death.”
“Yeah,” I said, my voice ragged. “Sorry.”
“Who was that guy, anyway?” he asked, standing on tiptoes and craning to peer down the street after the sorcerer. “The one you were talking to.”
“I don’t know.” I forced myself back to my feet, though my legs still felt rubbery. “You need to call nine-one-one,” I told him. “Something’s happened to Ms. Bettancourt.”
“Shari?” the man said, concern in his voice, his brow knitting.
“Did he do it? That guy?”
“Call nine-one-one. Please.”
He stared at me a moment longer. Then he hurried back inside.
I walked — staggered really — back to Shari’s house, sat down on her front steps and placed my Glock on the top step next to me. If the sorcerer had come back, I’m not sure I would have had the strength even to lift the pistol, but having it near at hand made me feel better.
The first squad car arrived a few minutes later, stopping first in front of the neighbor’s house and then pulling up to Shari’s place. I didn’t move.
Two uniformed guys got out of the car, one Latino, one white, both of them young and burly. The Latino cop spotted my Glock first and reached for his weapon.
“Hands up!” he said, leveling his weapon at me.
I raised my hands and stared back at him as he and his partner — now with his pistol out, too — hurried up the path. The Latino cop kicked the Glock beyond my reach.