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Tick Tock

The playground was silent. A group of children, including Meghann, were playing on the monkey bars, but Hayden couldn't hear them. He wondered why they were all wearing white, but it was a dream. For some reason, in this playground version of heaven, everyone wore white. He wished he could see what he was wearing. It might have been significant. Then again, he wasn't used to having dreams that meant anything. He'd never know what the color of his clothes represented even if he could tell.

He was starting to piece things together, but not in any concrete way. He knew he had no choice. He knew Sky and Conrad also had no choice. But he didn't understand why.

"I didn't pick up the phone," Taren said.

Hayden turned around. Taren was on the ground, his body ripped and twisted. Blood seeped into the threads of his white suit. His head rested in the lap of a pale woman with cold skin. Black snakes coiled through her dark hair, and blood dripped from her eyes. Behind her, almost in the shadows, were two identical figures. They held spiked clubs in their hands.

"What would I have said? I just listened. He was taunting me. He knew I knew something, and he knew I couldn't quite make it click. The missing blood was at their hearts. The snakes were in knots. He was calling them back. He was screaming for vengeance. But who was he calling? I didn't know. I knew where. I went. Don't open the door." Taren lifted his left hand, showing Hayden the pentagram branded into his palm. "I don't believe in that kind of justice. But I am part of the conscience. Part of the torment. Part of the nemesis. And he had the nerve to try to replace me."

Hayden woke up and reached for a cigarette. Julian was still asleep, so he went to the kitchen. He made coffee, watched it drip into the pot for a minute, and then picked up the phone.

Conrad sounded like he was still half asleep, and Hayden could hear dogs barking in the background. "Hello? Hang on a second. Would you two shut up already? I got it." The dogs were quiet. "Thank you. Sorry about that."

"Do they always do that when the phone rings?" Hayden asked.

"Only when it's important. They're never wrong either. It's kinda weird."

"Well, I don't know how important this is, but I think we should go ahead and take a look at where the bodies were found."

"Mmm. Won't be much there. The cops already did that, and it's rained a hell of a lot lately."

"Yeah, but I don't want to sit around doing nothing until tonight. And I got a feeling we won't come up entirely empty."

"Okay. Gimme an hour."

"I wake up slow. Make it two and bring the dogs."

~

Crash and Hurricane weren't ordinary dogs. Hayden watched them sniff around each scene and got the strangest feeling that they were talking to each other as they searched. Conrad had told him that he'd rescued the dogs from a man who claimed the dogs had developed super powers as a result of abuse. Hayden figured there was more to the story than that, but Conrad didn't elaborate. Hurricane, a bullmastiff, had deep scars on his muzzle and had been wary of Hayden at first. Crash was an energetic border collie who seemed to be able to read people the way some psychologists could. Hayden didn't believe the super powers story but only because he didn't believe in super powers.

The first five sites turned up nothing. Taren had made sure the searches were as thorough as possible, and if anything had been missed, the recent downpours had washed it where it would never be found.

Kurt Osgood's body had been found on the runway of the abandoned Greeson-Ware Airfield. His throat had been opened with surgical precision, and his blood had been drained from that opening. His right hand had been cut off at the wrist. The wound had been cauterized, and his hand hadn't been found. That only fueled the speculation that whoever killed him didn't like something he'd written. Kurt had made a lot of enemies over the course of his fifteen-year career. The most recent victim of his muckraking was Conrad.

As Crash and Hurricane searched for clues, Hayden watched Conrad. Conrad was nervous. He paced and fidgeted with his keys, jabbed at rocks with his toes and did whatever he could to avoid looking at Hayden.

When the dogs came up empty, Hayden said, "You wanna tell me why you're so jumpy, or do you want me to tell you?"

"How 'bout neither?" Conrad asked.

"That wasn't one of the choices."

"I don't like this place."

"I can see that."

"I didn't do anything."

"What happened?"

Conrad took a deep breath. "I asked Osgood to meet me here the night he was killed. I wanted to make it clear to him that he didn't need to go digging around in my private life. I considered a lawsuit, but all the article did was question. I didn't really have grounds for a lawsuit. But I could threaten him. Out here with no witnesses, he couldn't prove anything if he made it public. I've got the more credible reputation. My word would win over his.

"I shouldn't have brought the gun, but I did. We got into an argument, I shot him in the foot, and then I left. I knew he wouldn't say anything, so I didn't think anything of it. Until Taren called me."

"I hope you told him everything you just told me, and I hope all of that's true."

"It's all true, and yes, I told him everything. He was nice enough to talk in private rather than in the box. He said he'd keep me completely out of it as long as I was honest with him. I had nothing to gain by lying to him."

"So when I read the autopsy report, there won't be any mention of a gunshot wound to Osgood's foot, and there won't be any mention of shell casings found on the scene."

"No. Taren buried it all. I don't know if shell casings were found anyway. It would have been only one, and we were closer to the tower than where the body was found. Osgood wasn't killed here."

"So what did Osgood write that pissed you off enough to shoot him?"

"You don't know?"

"I don't read that shit."

"It was about what happened to my father."

"And all you shot was his foot? I think I would've gone for both kneecaps, maybe taken off an ear."

"He put his hands up when I pulled out the gun. I was aiming for his right hand."

Hayden laughed.

Conrad shoved his hands in his pockets and whistled for Crash and Hurricane. "Paper targets don't flinch and scream like b-movie heroines."

Hayden kept laughing as they left Greeson-Ware Airfield. He stopped when he realized what the last location was.

~

There was still a band of yellow crime scene tape strung around the trees where Taren had been found. Less than a hundred feet away was the entrance to the mineshaft. The plywood that had been nailed across the mouth of it had been busted down years ago, and pieces of that barrier still rotted on the ground. Crash and Hurricane kept their tails between their legs.

Despite the heavy rains, Hayden could see large amounts of blood on the leaves, and every once in a while, he saw a bit of white poking though. His stomach bunched up, but it was what he had come to see.

Hurricane barked and pawed at something between the roots of a tree. It was Taren's gun. Hayden picked it up. The blood had been washed off, but he knew the gun had been covered with it. He slipped the magazine out and checked the chamber. Three bullets were missing. Hurricane had been paying close attention while Hayden looked over the gun, and before Hayden could even form the thought, Hurricane began to paw the ground for shell casings and sniff at the trees for the bullets. But he found nothing.

Crash had begun to dig into the dirt on the spot where Taren's body had been. He hadn't dug very far when he uncovered a disposable camera. He picked it up and dropped it in Conrad's hands.

"It looks like you were right," Conrad said.

"They knew they'd call it an accident and didn't even bother to do their fucking jobs," Hayden said.

"It's one of those water proof ones, too. Looks like six shots were taken."

"So do we drop it off at Wal-Mart? One hour film developing is cheap."

"Um, no. I can call in a favor."

"I wanna know where the bullets are."

Conrad looked at the opening to the mineshaft. Crash whined. Hurricane sat down between Conrad and the mineshaft and growled.

"Gimme your flashlight."

"Hayden -- "

"I'm tired of playing around. We're gonna run out of time, and someone else is gonna die. And I know who. Do you want to let that happen?"

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"I'm going down there." Hayden drew his gun and walked towards the opening. Hurricane barked at him.

"Maybe there's another way to stop the next one. We'll go find the person."

"Wouldn't do any good."

"How do you know?"

"It's Kyle."

"Why?"

"Because there were three of them, and Sky's the only one who hasn't been called out."

"Three what?"

"Fates or whatever the fuck they were."

"The Furies?"

"Whatever. I've seen them. He asked me something about fury in me, and I didn't know what it meant. But I know the answer now."

"Let's wait until you're a little saner before we go rushing down there, okay? What's the point of getting ourselves killed before we know who this killer is?"

"Then you stay here." Hayden pushed past Conrad and the dogs. When he stopped on the edge, his stomach cinched tight enough to make him double over. He steadied himself against a piece of rotting wood, staring into the black gullet of the mineshaft. He thought he was trembling, but the overwhelming sensation of being drawn into the mineshaft shut down everything other than his awareness of that call. He took one step, and Crash took a mouthful of his pants leg and wouldn't let him go any further.

Conrad turned on his flashlight. The tiny beam cut into the darkness. "I thought I was the impetuous one," he said.

"I'm sure you are," Hayden said. "Stay behind me." He took the flashlight, and they walked into the darkness. Crash and Hurricane refused to follow.

They had gone about fifty feet when they came to a stone door. A single line of symbols had been chiseled into the stone just above eye level.

"Can you read that?" Hayden asked.

"No," Conrad said. "But they're Greek letters."

"Taren told me not to open the door."

"Sounds like good advice to me."

"For now. Does that camera work?"

Conrad took the camera out of his pocket, squinted at it in the dimness then pushed a button to turn the flash on. An orange light came on. "Looks like we have a winner." He snapped a picture of the letters. "Now do we know anyone who can translate?"

"I bet Sky can."

"Oh?"

"Don't you ever wonder what he does during the day?"

"I guess he can't be a proper scholarly thief without knowing half a dozen dead languages. Can we get the hell out of here? This place makes me feel sick."

"Next time, we open the door."

~

Sky wasn't at the library when Conrad and Hayden arrived, and the library had closed at six. Hayden wanted to worry, but he didn't think he needed to. He sat on a bench and lit a cigarette. Conrad paced, looking down at his feet.

"Something wrong?" Hayden asked.

Conrad stopped and looked up. Hayden couldn't tell the difference between the fear and anger in Conrad's eyes. "This whole thing is wrong," Conrad said.

"I take it you managed to get the pictures developed."

"Yeah. I ended up having to pay Liz a lot of money for emotional damages. I don't think she'll ever be nice to me again."

"I'm sure you can convince her to forgive you."

"You haven't seen these pictures yet."

A grey Honda Prelude pulled into the parking lot. When it parked, Hayden looked at the license plate, but he wouldn't remember it. He was too surprised to see Sky in the passenger seat. The driver was a man with sandy blonde hair and sharp blue eyes. Something twitched in the pit of Hayden's stomach. The twitch turned into a hard twist when the man leaned over and kissed Sky.

"That's new," Conrad said.

Hayden kept watching the driver as Sky slid out of the car. For a second, their eyes met, and Hayden had to fight to keep from reaching for his gun. Cold crept through his gut. He swallowed hard and put his cigarette in his mouth. When the car was out of sight, the feeling faded. "Who was that?" he asked.

"His name's Tyler," Sky said. "I met him in the library."

"And you went home with him?"

"He has books the library doesn't have."

"Then you slept with him?"

Sky grinned, and a delicate blush spread across his cheeks. "I didn't sleep."

Hayden pulled back the collar of Sky's tee shirt to reveal a short chain of dark red bite marks across the top of Sky's shoulder. "I guess that's better than you getting whacked on the head with a lamp."

"Have you ever read the Kama Sutra?"

"The what?"

"I can loan you a copy. Julian would appreciate that. There's a section on biting. You don't have to screen my boyfriends for me, Dad."

Hayden wanted to believe that his uneasy feeling was because of the suddenness of Sky's new relationship, but the feeling was too strong to be ignored. He couldn't act on it and decided to wait it out.

Sky lead them through the wooded area behind the library, over a trickle of a creek and around the beginnings of a new subdivision before they arrived on a quiet, shaded street lined with small, neat houses. Modest cars sat in the driveways, and the lawns were trimmed, despite the recent heavy rains. It didn't look like the kind of neighborhood where a professional thief would make his home, but that was the biggest reason Sky had chosen it.

Sky's house was at the end of Venice Street, tucked further back on its lot than the others since the intersection with Paris Avenue served as the school bus stop for the area and thus saw more traffic. The house itself was the definition of nondescript; brick with trim in a neutral color and a sensible brown front door.

When Sky opened the door, Hayden and Conrad expected to see something that resembled a teenager's room, with things in places they didn't belong, small patches of rug peeking though piles of dirty clothes and general chaos. Instead, they saw a room that to describe as Spartan would be saying too much. In the middle of the hardwood floor was a black rug with dark blue and ivory designs on it. On the rug was a low black table. A potted cactus leaned towards the fading sunlight in the room's single window. A pile of worn cushions lounged in a corner of the room. Beyond the living room was a dining room, empty except for four bookshelves, each bulging with books. The kitchen to their right was a narrow hallway with just enough room for the refrigerator door to swing open all the way. And all of it was spotless.

Sky dropped his backpack at the corner of the rug and grabbed some cushions from the corner. "Sorry I don't have any chairs or anything," he said.

"Floors are good for sitting on," Conrad said.

"My knees are going to kill me for this," Hayden said. He sat down on one of the cushions Sky had dropped around the table. Both knees twinged as he bent them. He winced. "I'm too old for this shit."

"Quit bitching. You'll live."

Sky disappeared and came back a few minutes later with everything he'd taken from the police station, the tape from Taren's answering machine, his research notes and a tape player.

They started with the case files and didn't glean much that they didn't already know, although by the time they'd gone over the last one, it was clear that whoever had been calling 911 was asking for Taren and had been since the first one.

"Fucking son of a bitch," Hayden mumbled. "That's what Kenneth didn't want to tell me." He put a cigarette in his mouth. There was no ashtray so he just chewed on the filter. "They knew it was a serial killer from the very first one."

"They just didn't know why," Conrad said. "They had no way of knowing about what these people had done, except Osgood. They had no way of knowing this was supposed to be punishment."

"But what did Taren have to do with any of that? He didn't know any of these people personally. Why would someone ask for Taren to be sent to the crime scene? Especially an anonymous caller. Unless the caller is the killer."

"Nemesis," Sky said.

"Back to mythology," Conrad said. "But Nemesis wasn't the goddess of justice."

"No. She was really there to balance out luck. She was divine retribution. She was the reason people didn't do stupid shit. They knew she'd be all over them. Taren was Nemesis. All cops are to some degree."

"And the killer was trying to replace him," Hayden said. "I don't like the fact that I'm getting this from dreams. I don't remember my dreams most of the time."

"We're all getting this from dreams," Conrad said.

"Okay. So the killer thinks he's Nemesis. We're Furies. What about Aphrodite and the rest of the gang?"

"He wants vengeance. He wants crimes to be punished. He wants sinners to be tormented until they go mad, to really suffer for what they did. Something must have happened to him to make him want that," Sky said.

"A crime committed against him that went unpunished," Conrad said.

"Or just he'd seen enough of that happening to others."

"But who the fuck is it?" Hayden asked.

Sky chewed on his thumb and frowned.

"Sky?"

"Tyler works at Gorman and Krug."

Gorman and Krug was the investment firm where the second victim, Laura Stillwater, had worked. She had allegedly shredded documents containing evidence that her immediate supervisor was doing shady business on the side. She had quit before the scandal broke. Josh Portman, the third victim, had worked there until he was fired for lying on his resume.

Hayden bit down on the filter. The hard, uneasy twist deep in his stomach began to wind up again.

"We still have a lot of stuff to look through," Conrad said.

They read through the autopsy reports. Except for Taren, each victim had been drained of blood through cuts in their throats, and each had been missing a piece of their bodies. The missing pieces seemed almost arbitrary. Those wounds, like the cuts in the throats, were surgical. They weren't inflicted to cause death. Rather, they'd been inflicted to torment the victims. Each had ligature marks on both ankles, and there were minimal signs of struggling. There were no drugs or alcohol involved.

Partial fingerprints had been lifted from each victim but not enough to say for certain that the prints belonged to one person or who that person was. That hadn't stopped Taren from trying to piece together the fingerprints like a puzzle. The bloody print on the pentagram medallion might have been the same as some of the others, or it might not have.

"So what about your research, Sky?" Conrad asked. "What does the pentagram mean?"

"And the crows," Hayden said.

"The crows, I don't know," Sky said. "Crows are sacred to Hera and are trickster figures in Native American mythology. But ravens were messengers for Apollo. Odin had ravens named Thought and Memory. Crows are related to ravens, so maybe the killer is using them as messengers. Pentagrams are symbols of elemental and spiritual power." He paused and seemed reluctant to continue.

The twist in Hayden's stomach tightened.

Conrad pretended not to notice what Sky was beginning to conclude and that Hayden had all the evidence he needed in his gut. "And the Furies?" he asked.

"They punished sinners," Sky said. "But they were a lot more specific than just any crime. Killing your parents, disrespect of elders, breeches of etiquette; that was what they punished."

"And what made you think of all that stuff?"

"A dream. I don't remember all of it. I saw lots of pentagrams and wheels. I saw a map with all these colored dots of light. I watched one go out, and when it did, I felt like I was dying inside. I knew the person had been murdered. I knew I had to do something about it because no one else would."

The filter of Hayden's cigarette was too soggy to continue chewing on. He put it down on the table. "I don't wanna look at the autopsies any more," he said. "They aren't helping. I wanna see the pictures from that camera we found."

Conrad's face went pale. He shook his head. "I wish you wouldn't," he said, but he was pulling the envelope out of his bag anyway. The tremor in his hands was slight, but Hayden noticed it.

Hayden took the envelope and opened it. His hands were shaking, too, he realized. He slid the pictures out. His stomach churned, and he had to slap his hand over his mouth. He dropped the pictures to the table, but he couldn't take his eyes off the image. The light was bad, but he knew what he was looking at. There were six body parts lined up on a shelf, each with a pentagram carved into it. On the right side of the photo was a dark spot that might have been Taren's finger over the lens, but it wasn't. It was the same shadow that Hayden had seen outside his office the night before.

The second picture was of some kind of altar. It was brown with dried blood. Behind the altar were what looked to be statues. All Hayden could see were large hands. The shadow obscured more of the picture.

The third shot was of the statues' faces. There were three of them. Their eyes were red, and blood seemed to be running down their marble pale cheeks. Hayden couldn't tell what they were made out of, but he knew what they were. They were the Furies.

Taren hadn't taken the next three pictures, and Hayden managed to block the images out of his mind before his mind found a way to shut itself off. The final picture he handed to Sky. "That's down in the mineshaft," he said. His voice was faint. He could feel it wavering, and he took a few deep breaths before saying anything else. "Conrad says those are Greek letters. Can you translate that?"

Sky studied the picture. "Not off the top of my head, but I can look it up," he said. "Gimme about ten minutes. You can go smoke out back so you don't have to chew off another filter." He picked up the rest of the pictures. "And I'll get rid of these if you want."

Hayden nodded. He had trouble getting to his feet but not because of his knees. His stomach knotted and churned, and acid burned his throat. When he got outside to smoke, he couldn't. He could feel whatever was in the mineshaft drawing him to it, and in his head, the voice that had been taunting him in his dreams whispered, "Tick tock, detective."

On the back of the picture, Sky had written the word Erebus.

"And what the hell does that mean?" Hayden asked. The fear and grief had passed. His stomach was sore, but the knots were gone, replaced by the icy weight of anger. He would drink that away when they were done, and when the drunkenness had passed, he would go down into the mineshaft and open that door. What he would do down there, he wasn't sure. But he'd do something.

"Erebus is where the Furies lived," Sky said. "It was said to be the darkest pit of Hades."

The last thing they had to do was listen to the 911 calls and Taren's answering machine tape. They listened to the first call, but that was as far as they got. Sky ran out of the house as soon as he heard the voice. Hayden and Conrad didn't bother to go after him. They wouldn't catch him.

"Now what?" Conrad asked.

"I don't know," Hayden said. "It must be Tyler. Kyle's probably already dead."

"That doesn't make any sense."

"It doesn't have to. I knew as soon as I saw him that something wasn't right."

"I think we have to go down there now."

"Not tonight. I don't think Sky could deal with it tonight, and we all have to go."

"I'm gonna go see what I can dig up on this Tyler person."

"How? You don't even know his last name."

Conrad shrugged. "I don't need to know his name when I know his license plate number."

"You memorized the plate?"

"It was a vanity plate."

~

The river carried them through a burnt and tortured land. They saw smoldering fields, homes ripped to rubble, livestock slaughtered and left to rot. And there were bodies. Each corpse they encountered reeked of sin, but they had not been the one to punish the sinners.

Trailing her fingers in the river, Megaera said, "I have known the hands that did this."

The sisters listened again to the voice that called them, and then they walked on, gripping their weapons with unwavering hands.

~

The phone was ringing when Hayden got home. Something wobbled and crashed to the floor when he ran into a table in his rush to get it. His stomach drew into a knot. He yanked the receiver off the cradle. "Sky?" he asked. He heard voices in the background. He recognized police station sounds. "Sky, are you okay? Hey, say something, kid."

"Hayden ... " Sky's voice was faint, almost as if he were far away from the phone.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm ... I'm okay. But ... "

"I know. Sit tight. I'll be right there."

Kenneth was waiting for Hayden outside of the police station when Hayden got there, and there were two uniformed officers standing just inside the door, waiting to escort Hayden away if Kenneth couldn't convince him to leave.

"I told you I didn't want to see you here any more," Kenneth said.

"I'm here to pick up a friend," Hayden said.

"Friend? That's what you call that kid?"

"Kenneth, he called me. I'm not leaving here without him."

"Have you been drinking?"

"Yes, but not nearly enough."

"He's your snitch, isn't he?"

"Look, just let me go inside and get him. I'm not here because of Taren. And at least Conrad's not with me."

"Thank God for that."

"Is Sky under arrest?"

"Not yet."

"Not yet? What the fuck do you mean not yet?"

"Hayden, this is not your business. Leave."

"Unless he's being arrested, you have no reason to hold him. He called me, and I told him I'd come down here. I can make this hard on you, Kenneth, but I don't want to."

"Kyle Sullivan was one of the richest and most powerful men in this city. Now he's dead. The kid says they were lovers, and it's obvious Sullivan was a little too rough. I've got a suspect. I've got a motive. The only thing I don't have is a murder weapon, but believe me, that won't be hard to find."

"That's bullshit."

"I don't want to have to do anything rash."

"Then don't."

"I'm telling you to walk away."

"I'm sorry. I seem to have gone deaf. What was that?"

"The kid's not going anywhere."

"Fuck you." Hayden walked around Kenneth and started up the stairs. The two officers came out the doors with their hands on the butts of their guns. Hayden paused and studied their eyes. They were afraid of him. He wasn't sure why. He didn't have time to think about it. He just wanted to get past them.

The sensation that crept out of his stomach was not unlike the one time he'd drunk moonshine. It hit the pit of his stomach hard and fast, and then it washed over his whole body. It tingled up the back of his neck, and for a second, everything went black. When the blackness lifted, the officers were moving to the sides. As Hayden walked through the doors, he could see the hairs on their arms standing on end.

Hayden stalked down the hall. Kenneth wasn't far behind, but he wouldn't be able to stop Hayden.

Owen Thibault, the detective who'd gone out to Kyle's mansion when Sky had called to report the murder, had Sky in the box. Several people tried to stop Hayden from interrupting the interrogation, but they backed off without saying anything. Hayden opened the door. Owen was leaning towards Sky with sweat dripping down his temples. His face was red from his vigorous questioning and his frustration at getting no answers. Sky sat with his arms folded across his chest and stared back at Owen. He didn't flinch no matter how loud Owen got.

Owen looked up when Hayden came in. "You," he said. "And just what the fuck are you doing here?"

"Sorry to interrupt, but the kid's coming with me," Hayden said.

Owen backed away from the table and took a few steps towards Hayden. "I don't think so, Knight. The kid killed Sullivan. He's not going anywhere."

Hayden sighed and shut the door. "All right, Owen. Let's take a look at what we got here. How did Sullivan die?"

"I don't have to tell you."

"Gunshot wound to the head," Sky said. "The front door was open a little. He was flat on his back in the foyer. Like he'd answered the door and got shot."

"You shut the hell up, faggot."

Sky closed his eyes and tucked his chin to his chest. Tears rolled down his cheeks.

"Where's the gun?" Hayden asked.

"We haven't found it yet."

"Does he have gun powder on his hands?"

"No. You know what else he doesn't have?" Owen picked up a sheet of paper from the desk and shoved it in Hayden's face. "Fucking fingerprints. Look at this. Just smears."

Hayden snatched the paper out of Owen's hands. There were ten smudges of black ink, no lines, no loops, no whorls. The knot in his stomach snapped tight.

"So the little bastard had his fingerprints removed so he could kill his boyfriend without getting caught," Owen said.

"So why did he make the call? Why'd he stick around after he made the call? Does that make sense?"

"No, but nothing these homos does makes sense to me."

"Sky didn't kill Kyle. You know that."

"Well, then who did?"

"I don't know. That's your job to figure it out, isn't it? Get to it. This city doesn't like it when shit happens to their rich and powerful people. You gotta have something to tell them."

"Can we leave now?" Sky asked.

"Yeah, we're leaving."

~

Sky's hands were blank. After he'd scrubbed the ink off, he showed them to Hayden. Even the bands of lines at the joints were gone.

"How did that happen?" Hayden asked.

"I don't know. I didn't even notice it until they tried to fingerprint me. And watch this." Sky pressed his fingers against the bathroom mirror, and they began to sink into the mirror as if the mirror wasn't solid. He pulled his fingers away and stared down at them. "I think it's wearing off. I walked through a closed door earlier. I didn't realize the door was closed until after I walked through it."

"Tyler's into some kind of magic, isn't he?"

"Yeah, but this ... this isn't magic. I don't think."

"I think something happened to me, too."

"Yeah, I could tell."

"Sky, he won't get away with this."

"I know."

"Go get some sleep."

"I don't think I can."

Hayden opened the medicine cabinet and took out a bottle of Valium. "Take one. It'll help."

"I didn't know you used this stuff."

"Sometimes, I can't sleep either. But bourbon tastes better."

Hayden sat on the couch in the dark. It had started to storm again. He watched the lightning flash off the bottle on the coffee table. He tried not to watch the shadows or the ghosts that crowded into the corners with every burst, but their eyes haunted him. No matter how many times he told them that he would avenge them, they wouldn't go away. Even after he'd done all he could do, they would be there to remind him.