Kitty Raises Hell Page 20


“Come out, come out,” Tina said in a taunting voice, like she was mocking any lurking spirits, daring them to show themselves.

The plastic thingy gave a little static shock and slipped out from under my fingers.

It was the strangest feeling, not at all like Susan Tate yanking it away from the rest of us and then insisting she hadn’t done anything. The plastic gave a quick jerk, just a few centimeters, then stopped. I didn’t think anyone was moving it, unconsciously or otherwise, because all of us were sitting there, our hands in midair, fingers splayed and not touching the plastic. My skin tingled with the tiny static charge. I was sure I’d imagined it.

The little arrow pointed to YES.

“Gotcha, sucker,” Tina said, lips curling in a sly smile.

“Who did that?” Ben said. “Someone moved it.”

“Quiet,” Tina said. “Everything’s under control.”

“If this is some—”

“Quiet,” Gary added. Ben clamped his lips shut and glowered.

“Let’s try this again, shall we?” Tina said.

The familiar and safe surroundings at New Moon suddenly became odd, strange. Unwelcome. I regretted coming here for this experiment. But maybe Tina would tell us what was causing this, and we could stop it.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to touch the thing again, but with Tina’s urging, we all did. My nerves were quivering, waiting for something to happen.

“Right,” Tina murmured. “I want to know who we’re talking to. Who are you?”

The plastic zipped out of our grips again. I had to admit, part of me was ready to leave the room right there. But I definitely wanted to know what was going on. Had to know.

Our hands hovering, the planchette resting untouched, we looked. The arrow pointed to NO.

“You’re willing to reveal yourself but not willing to talk to us, is that it? Not good enough,” Tina said. “What are you?”

The thing didn’t move again.

Tina shook her head. “ Something’s here. I’m sure of it.”

“We can’t document gut feeling,” Gary said.

Closing her eyes, Tina touched the planchette, which slid slowly across the board. She wasn’t trying to be subtle—she might have been moving it herself. But it still seemed strange. The air temperature seemed to drop a few degrees.

With her eyes closed, unable to see what she was doing, she spelled out a word: F–I–R–E.

Maybe she’d practiced and could do it by feel; maybe this wasn’t for real. I wondered, though: If this really was working, was it because some spirit was moving the planchette? Or because one of us here believed it was? And was, in effect, subconsciously, psychically, telekinetically, whatever, moving it around because of it? Was a four-leaf clover lucky because the bearer believed it was?

Then there was fire.

A cloud of red flames billowed from the kitchen in cinematic glory, like it should have been a special effect in a movie. It washed through the room, pushing air and heat in front of it before dissipating. The table tipped, flew, and hit a wall. Ben and I dove for each other, crouching over and protecting each other. The Ouija board flew away, the planchette careening off another wall. Chairs launched and scattered, and Gary and Tina seemed to fly with them. Feeling cornered, I wanted to snarl. Wolf wanted to burst out and face the enemy. But there was no enemy, at least not one we could see. Not one we could face.

I wanted to say it was a gas-line explosion, that somebody had lit a match near a leaking stove. Old building like this, anything could happen. Funny that it chose that exact moment to ignite.

“Everybody out, get out!” Ben shouted. He grabbed my shirt and shoved me toward the front door.

“Where’s Gary? Gary!” Tina wailed.

“Tina! Come on!” It was Jules, clutching at her like Ben was clutching at me. He’d rushed in from outside.

“Gary’s hurt!” Tina called.

I saw Gary curled up by the wall, unconscious. He might have landed wrong, might have hit his head. Tina went and crouched by him, trying to pull his arm and drag him toward the door, but she didn’t have the strength. Jules helped her. The two of them pulled his arms over their shoulders.

Fear rattled me, and Wolf said to run, run. I looked back, saw flames in the kitchen, felt the heat, smelled it growing stronger, and despaired. Something in me snapped: No, this wasn’t going to happen, not my haven. This was my territory; I had to protect it. It couldn’t burn, I wouldn’t let it.

I squirmed out of Ben’s grasp and lunged for the fire extinguisher behind the bar.

“Kitty!” Ben shouted.

The walls were exposed brick. They wouldn’t burn, not right away, but the furniture and fixtures were another story. The blast had been quick, more sound than fury, but flames had taken hold, crawling toward the shelves of alcohol. I did battle, spraying foam wherever I saw fire. I wasn’t even thinking, so lost in the moment, the smells of fire, chemicals, and panic, to think about what I was doing. To think about the heat scorching my hair and roasting my skin.

Ben wrapped his arm around me and hauled me back. “We have to get out of here!”

“No!” I screamed. No explanation, no pleas about how I couldn’t lose this place. Just no. I fought him, kicking and elbowing as the chemical spray from the extinguisher bobbed and faltered. I was at the door of the kitchen now, where a dozen small fires ate away at whatever combustible material lay exposed: aprons, boxes and bags of ingredients, cooking supplies, blackened and disintegrating. Fires from hell. I couldn’t identify what fueled the flames; I just wanted to fight them.

Then Ben was standing beside me with a second extinguisher from the door of the kitchen.

I didn’t know how long we fought to save our restaurant and haven. The next thing I knew, a pair of firemen had grabbed hold of us and hauled us out of there. No arguing with them, but Ben snarled, like his wolf had come to the fore, and I bared my teeth. We were tired by then, hurt, and I at least used all my remaining strength to keep Wolf under control, no matter how wild I felt.

Outside, Ben and I huddled together.

“You okay?” he said, his voice shaky, scratching from the smoke.

I needed a moment to answer. “You keeping it together?”

“Yeah, I think. But I want to claw something.”


Paramedics started pawing at us, and I tried to push them away. Even if I was hurt, I’d heal soon enough; I’d come to appreciate that part of being a werewolf. They insisted on putting masks over our faces and feeding us oxygen, and I did feel burned. I felt hurt. But the pain, the sensations, were detached. I didn’t dare look at myself—seeing the burns would make them start hurting. So I ignored them.

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