Kitty Raises Hell Page 57

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“Hey. Keep it together,” Ben said outside the KNOB building.

I took a deep breath and tried to shake it off. Jules and Tina were already there. It was time to get to work.

I trailed Grant’s blood potion around the station building, then left open jars of it inside, at the bottom of the stairs, the door to the elevator, and the entrance to the studio. I made Matt keep a jar near his console. The whole place stank with the sickly, rotting smell of it. The butcher who was supplying me had started to look at me funny.

However, this would keep us safe only here. The creature had made it clear that if it couldn’t have me, it would create chaos elsewhere. Protecting myself seemed so futile.

“You’re expecting trouble,” Matt said. The smell was so strong that even he, a normal human, was wrinkling his nose at it. “What kind of trouble?”

“It’s under control. Don’t worry about it,” I said flatly. Like that was totally convincing. Ben, smirking from the chair he’d settled into near the door, seemed to agree.

Matt gestured at the Paradox PI crew, who were setting up in the back of the studio. “Have you all figured out what happened to your van last week?”

“Still working on it,” I said blithely. “So, um, if anything really weird happens tonight, don’t freak out or anything.”

He scowled. “I hate when you say that.”

“I don’t think we’re going to get any vans tipping over or anything. It should stay pretty low-key. Just... weird.”

“Great. I feel so much better now.” If that didn’t sound sarcastic enough, his glare confirmed it.

At least, I was really hoping nothing happened here. I’d be heartbroken if anything happened to KNOB. More heartbroken than I already was.

Jules was tapping away at his laptop, with Tina looking over his shoulder. They were going to watch, listen, take notes, and cross-reference with their own research, and maybe add their own commentary off the air. The hope was we would come up with some information, then maybe we’d come up with some solutions. At least that was the plan. This was sort of an experiment.

As the start of the show neared, I put my hair back in a ponytail, settled before my microphone, adjusted my headset, and took a few deep, calming breaths. This was my world. I was in control. Nothing could touch me here.

The on-sign lit. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” started, giving me a boost of energy and a sense of mayhem. Bad moon indeed. No matter what the disaster, you only had to face it head-on, with fortitude. Yeah, I could do that.

Matt pointed, and I talked. “Good evening, and welcome to The Midnight Hour, the show that isn’t afraid of the dark or the creatures who live there. I’m your host, Kitty Norville, who keeps coming back for more.

“Tonight I want to do something a little different. I have a problem and I’m looking for information from the group mind. I’ve encountered a rather unusual supernatural creature, and it’s been causing problems. Remember last week? Van tipping over, mayhem, and chaos? It didn’t stop there, and a week later this thing is still out there, still after me. I need to figure out how to stop it, and maybe someone in radio land can help. Here’s what I’ve got. It likes fire. It may actually be made of fire, but it looks like a person, it acts like a person, and has a really wicked laugh. It’s been burning things down, burning people down, and I’m getting really sick of it. It seems to speak Arabic, and we think it might be a genie. Yes, I said genie. That’s a new one for me, too. Let me play you a little something we picked up.”

Matt cued up the recording we’d given him of possessed Tina speaking a language she didn’t know. We’d gotten a quick translation. Most of the words had been variations of the same: Stupid mortal, your ignorance is astonishing, I will burn you all, you’re helpless before me. Blah blah blah. The tone of the monologue had been clear: contempt.

“There it is. The language is Arabic, the words are chock-full of insult. Now I’m asking you. Animal, vegetable, mineral, or something from the great beyond? And I do believe I’ve got my first call of the evening. Joel from Pittsburgh, hello.”

A very serious-sounding man said, “Hi. Kitty. Clearly, Islamo-fascist terrorists are not just targeting us on the mortal plane. Obviously they’ve sent their netherworld demons after us, as well. We should have expected this. Those people will stop at nothing to destroy the American way of life.”

I winced. I should have known, as soon as I broadcast someone speaking Arabic, the paranoid political loons would raise their freak flag. “Actually, I have it on pretty good authority that this is a personal attack directed at me in response to... well, in response to various things. Trust me, this isn’t an ideological attack rooted in international terrorism. I’m not so egocentric or paranoid to think that I’d even be a target for international terrorism.”

“That’s exactly the sort of liberal head-in-the-sand attitude that is going to bring this great country to its knees! You’ll never see reason because you’re part of the biased left-wing media establishment.” I swore the guy was slavering.

A sane talk radio host would cut the guy off right about there. Instead, I spoke calmly, baiting the guy. Because, you know, it was funny.

“Let’s say for a minute you’re right,” I said, in the space where the caller paused to take a breath. “And this is a terrorist campaign waged by Islamic extremists. And, by the way, my research has indicated that the Koran does acknowledge the existence of genies. What would you do to counteract the attack? How would you stop it? Should I try throwing Republicans at it?”

He didn’t get the sarcasm. They never get the sarcasm.

“Kitty,” he said evenly, in all seriousness, “to rid yourself of this demon you must accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior.”

“Actually, exorcism is pretty high on the list of recommendations. But if we’re right about this thing, a Muslim cleric would probably be more helpful than yours. Moving on.”

Some folks weren’t convinced it was a genie.

“Hi, Kitty. Thanks for taking my call.”

“It’s my pleasure. You’ve got something for me?”

“It’s not a genie. It’s the Human Torch,” Mike from Austin said.

“As in the superhero? From the movie?”

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