Authors: E.J. Stevens
Tags: #Teen Paranormal
Also by E.J. Stevens
SPIRIT GUIDE SERIES
She Smells the Dead
Brush with Death (Coming 2012)
DARK POETRY COLLECTIONS
From the Shadows
Shadows of Myth and Legend
Legend of Witchtrot Road
Published by Sacred Oaks Press
Copyright © 2011 E.J. Stevens
Al rights reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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I heard the harsh, grinding creak of a ship’s hul straining against stormy seas just as I felt the vertiginous tilt and rol of the waves beneath me. I considered letting the motion lul me back to sleep, but one thought kept creeping in to ruin my slumber.
I wasn’t on a boat.
With a jolt I tried to leap upright, but up was down and down was up, causing a searing pain to shoot through my shoulder as I dangled from the car safety belt. I needed to get a look around, but turning my head didn’t seem like an easy option. My neck was stiff, like the time I fel asleep with wet hair, and my head was pounding a rhythm that matched the vampire bats gnawing in my stomach.
on Yuki, you can do this.
Reaching up to grab the safety belt, I steadied myself and drew in a deep shuddering breath. It did nothing to calm my racing heartbeat, but the pain in my head momentarily lessened. Forcing my eyes to stay open, I turned them to my right and flinched. A ghostly pale face stared back at me and it took a moment for my sluggish brain to realize that the spectral form was only my reflection. I examined the sickly face suspended in the darkness and knew one thing for sure. I looked like hel .
For a moment I closed my eyes and gathered another steadying breath, remembering to breathe in the way I’d been taught during the numerous yoga classes that Cal had dragged me to over the years. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery of why I was hanging upside down from a car safety belt, I pul ed my eyes to the left. A golden amorphous shape hung glowing beside me and I jumped when it moaned.
“Emma?” I asked. My voice was dry and raspy and started a series of painful coughs that nearly made me pass out again.
Emma didn’t answer me, but with a rush of memory I knew that it was my friend beside me. Emma’s blond hair cascaded past her face to dangle above the glowing instrument panel. Pale skin, golden hair, and white blouse sleeve were marred only by a dark stream that trickled from her scalp along her arm to drip slowly,
tap tap tap
, off her fingers onto the windshield.
How did this happen? It had to be the curse. I clenched my fist in frustration as my eyes fil ed with tears.
We had known better. Emma with her research and me with my psychic gift to sense the dead; we knew the risks of messing with the curse, but that hadn’t stopped us. Our curiosity had won out over common sense and now we were paying the price.
Son of a dung beetle.
I just hoped we survived long enough to benefit from the lesson learned. Never mess with a curse and never, ever travel on Witchtrot Road after dark.
We never would have ventured onto Witchtrot Road if it hadn’t been for Dylan Jacobs. Dylan was a sophomore at Wakefield High, and though I didn’t know him very wel , I felt sad at the loss of someone so young. I also found his ghost difficult to ignore.
The announcement came a week earlier in homeroom.
The screeching of desks on linoleum tile and the buzz of giggling and whispers stil ed as the principal stated that a Wakefield High student had died in a tragic motorcycle accident. For a moment I wondered at the grisly details.
Maine winters were real y not conducive to motorcycling.
Had he slid on icy roads? Did he drive his bike off a bridge, plummeting into the frigid waters below?
With a shudder, I tried to shake off my morbid thoughts. I may have a major bridge phobia, but it didn’t mean every traffic accident had to include one.
“…counselors available…,” the school principal’s voice droned on over the intercom.
“Too bad they don’t offer counseling for smel ing the dead,” I muttered.
Students were already getting restless, shuffling feet and papers, as the announcement ended. I didn’t think anyone heard me, but a hand settled on my shoulder as Cal leaned in close.
“Do you smel him already?” Cal asked. “Is Dylan here?”
Of course Cal would hear my muttering with his super sensitive wolf hearing. It was easy to forget he was more than just my gorgeous boyfriend. Cal had recently discovered that he was descended from the Old Blood. He carried the spirit of a great silver wolf and could shift into wolf form. But even among his pack, Cal was special.
More special than being a studly werewolf?
Yes, even among the werewolves Cal was different. He was the pack alpha, and with that role came the weight of responsibility.
After our recent troubles with a psycho, werewolf hating murderer, Cal was taking his role as pack alpha more and more seriously. There were changes that needed to be made to protect the pack. This was made especial y clear when a young member of the pack was kidnapped just before Hal oween. When we tried to find Sam, and warn others of potential danger, we discovered that prior pack alphas had been keeping member identities a secret. The practice stemmed from a combination of paranoia and greed and had made contacting pack members nearly impossible.
Now Cal, with the help of our friends Emma and Simon, was creating a central database so the pack could be notified in the event of any emergency. We had al been spending a lot of time together at the cabin lately working on the project. Cal was determined to keep his pack safe.
Simon, who was also a werewolf and a major pain in my behind, was taking his new role as Cal’s second-in-command seriously as wel . We had al worked straight through the night, which was why I was nursing my second double-shot latte of the morning.
“No worries, the only thing I can smel is yummy caffeine goodness,” I answered with a smile.
Cal leaned in closer and nipped my ear once, sending shivers down my spine and heat to my face.
“You are a very bad boy Calvin Mil er,” I said huskily.
“Just keeping you awake,” Cal said with an impish grin.
He may have the face of an angel, but that didn’t mean he always acted like one. I was starting to wonder how much of Cal’s increasing wild streak was caused by his wolf spirit and how much was just teen rebel ion against massive responsibility. I was hoping it was the latter.
We al knew what a whopping dose of wild wolf could equate to. Simon was the poster child for “wolf crazy” and his wild side made him only one step away from a gigolo, but then again, maybe that was just Simon. I couldn’t picture Cal strutting around the room and flirting with anything that moved. No, Cal had always been a deep thinker who only acted after giving something a great deal of serious thought. He was calm and reserved. Wel , except for these recent displays of affection and thril seeking behavior. Who knows? Maybe it had something to do with me. It’s not like I was the most normal girlfriend in the world.
Not by a long shot.
Chairs scraped back as the bel rang.
“Saved by the bel ,” Cal teased. Looking down at me through his shaggy, brown bangs with shining blue eyes, he winked.
“Brat,” I said, reaching up on tiptoe to give him a quick kiss on the cheek. “See you at lunch.”
“Stay safe,” he said. “Text me if Dylan’s ghost starts bothering you.”
“Right, ‘cause you’l show him who’s boss,” I laughed.
“No, I’m just wondering what smel he’l have,” Cal said lightly.
It was meant as a joke. Cal always knew how to cheer me up, even when what I needed was just for him to say something sil y so I’d stop worrying. That’s the funny thing about soul mates and best friends. They always know the right thing to say.
I barely made it down the hal before I learned the answer to Cal’s question, but I had to wait until lunch to tel anyone. Sitting through al of my morning classes while smel ing motor oil had ruined my appetite, but I raced through the crowded hal to the cafeteria. I couldn’t wait to share the news with Emma and Cal.
When I first realized that the weird smel s that fol owed me around were the psychic smel impressions of dead people, I wasn’t too thril ed. Who wants the ability to smel the dead? I guess, in a bizarre twist of fate, I do. Smel ing the dead wouldn’t make me rich, or cool, or help me get into col ege, but it was a gift that I was beginning to appreciate.
I may not love being bombarded by smel impressions, especial y when they were unpleasant…
came back smelling like roses
, but I took my new responsibility seriously. It felt good to be helping spirits of the dead find peace. I could be their light in the darkness.
With the help of my friends, I had solved a few mysteries that helped spirits find their way into the light and I planned to lead many more. The image of glowing spirits of the dead returning to their families on the Day of the Dead was seared into my memory. It was the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen and I wanted to be a part of that, which was why I was so excited to smel the strong odor of motor oil.
Too bad it didn’t mix wel with the smel of greasy tater tots. Pul ing my purple and black skel y scarf from my bag, I wound it around my mouth and nose. I may look like a freak, wel …more so than usual, but the smel was now less nausea inducing so the scarf was there to stay. It may have lessened the food smel s, but the scarf didn’t do anything to dampen the multitude of conversations.
Stomping through the crowd in my new purple, vegan boots, a Christmas gift from Emma who “was sick of gagging at my dead cow footwear,” I caught pieces of conversation.
“…friend heard he hit pole number thirteen,” pseudo whispered a blond girl who was expertly tossing her silky hair to show off her tanned, bare shoulder.
“…probably suicide,” a dark haired guy said as he stuffed his mouth with tater tots. “They say he wasn’t wearing a helmet.”
“I bet it was the curse,” gushed a redheaded girl.
I stopped so fast that my boots squeaked against the floor. At second glance, I recognized the red haired girl from the library. She was a bit overly cheerful, I think her face might break if she ever stopped smiling, but I needed to know more about this supposed curse.
“Hey, um, can I sit here for a sec?” I asked.
I smiled, but realized belatedly that my scarf covered most of my face. Fortunately for me, librarian girl didn’t seem to notice.
“Sure!” she said, smiling. “You’re Yuki, right? Did you have any luck with your Hal oween report?”
Librarian girl had helped me find research materials that ultimately led to my discovery of Nera’s amulet and the capture of the werewolf kil er. I winced, feeling a sudden pang of guilt. Since she had helped to save my life and the lives of the pack, I real y should know her name.