Authors: M. Lathan
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal, #Paranormal & Urban, #Teen & Young Adult
(Hidden Series Book Three)
Text copyright © 2014 M.
All Rights Reserved
Who acts so very
much like Nathan, it’s scary.
Love makes you do crazy things. It makes
you lurk in shadows, duck behind buildings, compromise everything you thought
you knew about yourself. All I know now is that I love him. All I know now is that
his soul and my soul are meant to be one.
That’s why I’m here in the shadows, on
to get the life I should
rightfully have. But I didn’t inherit patience, so this waiting was driving me
The moon is fighting to be seen through the
other lights in the sky. I wish I could see the beauty in it. I remember Emma
looking up to the sky in awe like it was this magical thing, naturally perfect.
When I look at something like the moon, I want to change it, make it better,
it suit me even more. And now I know I’ve lost my mind
because I’m thinking about the moon. I hate waiting.
But I stay there, quiet as a mouse,
Then, as if I’d done enough for God to
smile on me, the impossible happened right before my eyes. A smile stretched
across my face as I listened and finally learned the value of patience.
I must be quiet. Even my breaths are too
That was how I felt around John, even as
he lay there dead. Lydia Shaw’s morgue was about as silent as our home used to
Don’t make too much noise, Nathan.
John needs silence to read his paper, Nathan.
He’d turned our home into a
prison–an eerily quiet, suburban prison.
I stepped towards the smelly lump under
the white sheet and breathed slowly, silently out of my mouth. He reeked of
I’d heard death had a way of pardoning
sins and turning awful people into saints. That wouldn’t be true for me. I’d
hated John when he was living and breathing and ruining my life, and I still
hated him now. His stubby toes were exposed and blue. Blood no longer pumped
through his veins, bringing life to the feet he used to annoyingly tap on the
floor for hours, and I still wanted to punch him in the face.
Lydia nodded to the body, asking if I
wanted the sheet raised. I shook my head and moved on to the next lump. My
mother’s body barely made an impression against the sheet. She was all bone, a
tragic sort of skinny that made your skin crawl.
I suppressed a shiver. Lydia’s sheets
were too short. My mother’s toes were also exposed and blue, but unlike John, I
didn’t want to punch her in the face. I stared at her red nail polish that was
still perfectly intact, remembering a time when she’d twirled around the
kitchen to dry her wet toes while she cleaned.
birds, one stone
said. She wasn’t a skeleton in this memory. My mother was once a very beautiful
woman, before John wore her down, before the perfect life she so desperately
wanted started to eat away at her.
Lydia and Christine were staring at me, either
waiting for me to say something about their bodies or their deaths. “You need
longer sheets,” was all I could manage.
“I’ll see what I can do about that,”
Lydia said. “I will need to keep them here for evidence. After, we can bury or
cremate them. Let me know what you decide, and I’ll arrange it.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Whatever is
least inconvenient for you,” I said.
Christine gasped softly and wrapped her
arms around her stomach. Her lips trembled like the temperature had dropped
thirty degrees suddenly, and she was staring into thin air like she could see
something I couldn’t.
Her voice shook when she whispered, “Theresa
wants me to-”
“I don’t care what she wants,” I
interrupted. She looked crushed, so I softened my tone. “I’m sorry, babe. What
I meant was … I don’t want to communicate with her. Now or ever, please.”
If I had known her psychic powers were
sensitive enough to actually see or hear the dead, I would’ve asked her to stay
upstairs in her mother’s office. Humans like my girlfriend had brains that
performed at extremely high levels, making it possible for them to do all sorts
of crazy things. While an untrained human mind sensed normal things, her mind–and
the minds of psychic hunters–could see the future, hear your thoughts, and
know any and everything there was to know. And while a normal human brain told
legs and feet to move, she could easily make her brain move me.
I’d thought she could only feel death or
the chill of a ghost, but the way she was looking at absolutely nothing made it
clear that something, someone, was there.
“She didn’t want to talk to me when she
was alive,” I said. “…so she won’t get the chance to do it now.” I ignored the
half-truth in that and how much I wanted to apologize to my mom. I’d let Devin
St. Jermaine end her life last night, but I was too upset to say anything.
After all, John was here with her, and historically that had meant to be quiet.
Chris wandered away from my mother’s body
and caught a tear under her eye. I hated seeing her cry, but the panic that
stirred in my chest had nothing to do with her tears. I didn’t want my mom to
tell Chris anything about our relationship, things that would make me seem like
a liar. She’d say she loved me, she’d say we were close, and I didn’t have
enough space in my head to sort through the truthful lies I’d told.
“What is it?” I asked.
“She just passed on. She’s gone. I saw
her. I saw it happen.” She pointed to the space between the two bodies. “She
turned into a mix of light and dust. Mom, how did I see that?” She jumped and
turned to her mother. “I mean … Lydia,” she corrected.
“It’s okay, honey. We’re alone. You didn’t
drink Sophia’s potion today?” Chris shook her head. “That’s why.”
Her voice softened incredibly when
talking to her daughter, almost like she was a different person. I guessed she
was. To everyone else, she was Lydia Shaw: the frightening world leader. To
Christine, she was a gushy woman who sang her to sleep and smothered her with
affection anytime they were alone.
Lydia examined Christine’s eyes and
stared into her nose. I wasn’t exactly sure what she expected to learn about
her powers from that, but it was the cutest thing I’d ever seen. I had to tell
myself that I was too old to be jealous.
“You seem okay to me, but we should get
you out of here,” Lydia said. “The paranormal energy is off the charts in this
place. You’ll see more and hear more because of it.”
she’d meant her prison. Unlike Kamon’s ancient and piss-stained jail,
Lydia’s was clean and mostly empty. I’d heard it was because she never had time
to torture anyone, nor would the peace treaty between humans and magical kind
allow her to, so prisoners didn’t have a very long stay here. She specialized
in quick deaths, I’d heard.
But those were rumors. I was about to see
for myself. We weren’t here to see mothers turn into dust. We were here for my
statement against Devin and the other Peace Group employees that had stood in
that circle, egging him on as he slaughtered my parents.
What I’d thought was a magical community
service organization had turned out to be the exact opposite. Our trip wasn’t
about feeding our people. It was about sacrificing them with Kamon Yates for
the chance to bring Frederick Dreco back–the wizard that led the war
He’d failed, and to give his followers a
show, some penance for losing, he’d killed two humans. John and Theresa Reece.
The parents I’d told him all about.
I wasn’t entirely sure that I didn’t
belong on trial with him.
“Are you finished, Nathan?” Lydia asked.
I nodded, and she turned her attention back to Christine. “Let’s go, baby. The
energy upstairs is a little calmer, and Sophia can give you a dose of the
potion while you wait for us.”
Lydia led us out of the morgue and down a
long, sterile hallway. The more we walked, the more Christine tensed at my
side. She didn’t smell afraid. Her scent was neutral, but she’d gone deathly
“Eubanks,” she whispered, mostly to
herself. Her mother didn’t turn around. Christine’s voice was too faint for her
ears. “Indiana Eubanks.”
I knew Indiana Eubanks. She was Devin’s
on and off again girlfriend, a witch who smelled like sewage. On my application
for the Peace Group, I was asked to list all of my abilities. That was how
Devin knew to fool my telling sense of smell. He, Shane, and most of the
supervisors had created cover stories to excuse their putrid scents. Devin
didn’t like to bathe. Shane lived in the woods. Indiana felt “called to
minister” to our people in the sewers, the ones who had to hide from the world
to that extent.
It was all bullshit, but I believed it at
Sophia poked her head out of an elevator
at the end of the hall and beckoned Christine. As discussed, Lydia sent her upstairs
to her office where she would wait until I finished. She’d begged to come with
me to view the bodies, but Lydia thought the rest of it would be too much for
“Everything will be okay,” Chris said. “I’ll
be right upstairs when you’re done, and it’ll all be over.”
She kissed me and jogged to Sophia. The
elevator doors closed, and she left me alone with her mother. Sometimes, Lydia
smelled like Christine–sweet with a hint of spice–but right now,
she only smelled like oranges. Hugging and kissing her daughter brought out her
personality. Otherwise, she was just a blank slate, a blank person, who only
smelled like shampoo. I supposed if she were feeling something, I would sense
it, but unlike me, she wasn’t afraid or nervous about my testimonies. It was just
another day in the life of Lydia Shaw, I guessed.
She pointed to the
over and said, “We’ll start in there. It will be the first of
seventeen rooms. I charged everyone involved with murder, so the treaty calls
for us to be formal. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to go in each room and testify
against each culprit separately.”
“I expected that,” I said.
I knew the laws. I’d become a student of
them in my time with Devin. I’d taken on his attitude regarding the treaty,
Lydia, and so many things. In my time of being an idiot, I learned that if
Lydia proved any magical being had anything to do with the death of a human, she
could punish them any way she saw fit. Rumor had it, nine times out of ten, she
“They also tried to open a portal,” I
said. “They have those charges too, right?”
She shook her head. “They worked with
Kamon, but they only killed magical kind. That was very smart of Devin to let
that happen. Now that they’ve been found out, all they would have to say is
that Kamon coerced them or controlled their minds. It would be a waste of time
to charge them with anything regarding the portal. Your parents’ murder is all
we have on them.”
I nodded and stared at my feet. I was
almost nervous enough to back out of my promise to help her.
“So it’s my word against theirs?” I
“And my word is … final?” What I meant
And my word will kill them?
“Yes. It is all the evidence I need to
detain them indefinitely.”
I stopped breathing for a moment. I’d
expected her to fry them all. “Detain?” I asked. “That’s it?”
“I’m sorry. It’s the best I can do right
now. Because of Kamon’s attacks, killing more of your kind for only killing two
humans, not to minimize it, would be a disaster. I already have more threats of
revolt than I can handle. When I find a way to calm things down, we may be able
to reopen the case.”
Now she was nervous. It misted off of her
skin for a moment before mixing with the other scents in the air. Maybe this
wasn’t just another day in the life of Lydia Shaw. The Peace Group’s attacks
with Kamon could cause another war, and talking about it had made her nervous.
I understood why. If another war were to break out, she would be the one to
She cleared her throat, and I noticed I
hadn’t looked up in a while. She was kind of intimidating to stare at, but once
I did, I saw Christine in her cheekbones and in the shape of her nose. I
breathed a little easier then.
“Being detained with me is no cakewalk,
Nate,” she said. “They’ll pay.”
I chuckled from nerves and her calling me
Nate. Because of Chris, I was on a pet name basis with the most famous woman in
the world, the woman it wasn’t a cakewalk to be detained with. My life had
become incredibly strange.
She opened the door to the first
interrogation room, and we walked inside. It was a small metal box with two
chairs and a table, all the same color. If you stared long enough, the room
would blur into nothing but a silver two-dimensional square.
In one of the silver chairs, Indiana
Eubanks sat calmly with her hands in her lap. Her red curly hair was a mess on
her head, and her eyes were glazed over as if she’d gotten a lobotomy. In this
place, psychic agent headquarters, that probably wasn’t that much of an
“Should I sit?” I asked.
“That won’t be necessary. We’re waiting
for … ah, here he is.”
A moment later, someone knocked on the
door. Lydia opened it from where she stood, hands behind her back.
A wizard I’d seen before stepped into the
room and closed the door behind him. He was wearing the typical uniform of the Magical
Council’s officers–white suit with a white shirt and tie. I had no clue
why they needed to be so fancy.
“Hello,” he said, and extended his hand.
I shook it while sniffing silently. He smelled like mint. “I’m Jeffery. I don’t
know if you-”
“I remember you,” I said. “You were in
Sololá when we were there for the relief effort.” I rolled my eyes. Some relief
He smiled and nodded to Indiana. “I’m here
to witness your statements regarding the alleged culprits Her Honor and her
agents have captured. Start whenever you’re ready.”
I started immediately. The sooner we did
this, the sooner I could go home, crawl in bed with Chris, and end this
“This is Indiana Eubanks,” I said. “She
dates, or used to date, Devin. Devin St. Jermaine.” His name burned on my
tongue. I was itching to get to his room and give a statement that would at
least take away his freedom forever. “She was there last night. She was holding
the torch closest to Devin. She was laughing when he …”