Noah’s Boy – Snippet 13
Bea couldn’t understand why the idea that she’d been dead and was alive again would have made her throw up. Perhaps it was the shock. And she couldn’t say she felt better afterwards. She wasn’t sure better was the word, except that the physical distress and then rinsing her mouth and washing her face and hands had made her feel like some time had elapsed. Like she’d had time to catch her breath.
Ormson was sitting at the table eating, but his girlfriend was hovering at the end of the hallway, waiting. She led Bea to the booth, and Ormson got up, tied on a bandana to confine his hair, went off to the restroom.
There was a steaming pot of tea and two cups by the table, and the woman poured the tea and pushed a cup at Bea, “I thought tea was better for you just now,” she said. Then pushed a container of sugar packets at Bea. “And sugar is good for shock.”
Bea rarely sweetened her tea, but she did it now.
The woman waited till Bea took a mouthful, then said, “My name is Kyrie, by the way.”
“I… my friends call me Bea.” She paused. “How– Why did Mr. Ormson say that about… about the Great– About my being killed?”
Kyrie looked serious. “Because you can’t shift afterwards, for about a day or so. Just getting hit on the head doesn’t stop you shifting, but being dead and coming back does.”
Bea was going to ask how they knew that, then stopped. She didn’t even want to know which of them it was who had been killed before. Instead, she inclined her head and took a mouthful of sweet tea. And swallowed. And looked up — to meet sympathy in the young woman’s eyes.
“If it makes you feel better, he once gutted Tom from neck to groin and left him for dead. I thought he was dead. The morgue here still talks about it as one of the oddest cases of shock. But… I thought he was dead.” Her eyes were dark with pain.
“But why?” Bea asked. “What was the point of roasting me alive? Or… undead or something?”
The woman smiled. “I think,” she said, “that this is The Great Sky Dragon’s idea of introducing you to Tom in a romantic fashion.”
“What?” Bea swallowed hard. “I want to tell you that I –”
“Don’t have the slightest interest in my boyfriend?” Kyrie said, and smiled. “Yeah. I kind of figured. You don’t look like an arranged marriage sort of girl, but you know, the… Himself is very old, and –”
“And has read way too many comic books?”
“Oh, more than likely,” Kyrie said dryly.
At that moment She only comes out at night sounded in the tiny tone of a cell phone, and Kyrie dug into her pocket to bring it out. She listed for a moment, then said, “Shit,” not as though it were a swearword, but as though it were a statement of fact. “Shit.”
* * *
Rafiel woke up. It was… cold, very cold, and it was hard and prickly under him, as if he were lying on a bed of thorns.
So this is what hell feels like, he thought. His mouth was parched, his body hurt as though someone had worked him over with sandpaper, and his eyes appeared to be glued shut. And his skin was icy cold, but covered in sweat. At least if he hadn’t lost a whole day. Had he lost a whole day?
Working against what seemed to be heavy weights sitting on each of his eyelids, he opened his eyes and looked up at a red-tinged sky. Only one eye worked. His left eye appeared to be obstructed — blackness was all he saw. Memory came back to him, of pursuing the feral shifter, of the strange female feline, of… Her paw penetrating his left eye.
Had she killed him? He had no idea if, like dragon shifters, lion shifters also came back from the dead, but he had a feeling that the same rules applied, that they were, somehow, all parts of a whole.
He managed to raise himself on his elbows. No, this was not something he could wait and heal from. For one, he was starving for protein — so hungry if a rabbit crossed his path, he’d eat it raw, with fur and all. For another, he was scratched, scraped and bitten over most of his body, and his left thigh appeared to have been torn open by a massive claw.
For a moment he was afraid to look at his right thigh. Then he did, and the phone was still there, secured by its orange coil.
It took him forever to get the phone off his thigh and even longer to dial Kyrie’s number, even though both she and Tom were on his contacts’ list. He kept hitting the wrong buttons. When he dialed it, he took the phone to his ear and then almost fell asleep, listening to the phone meep against his ear.
Suddenly there was Kyrie’s voice, “Hello?”
He had to swallow twice before he could talk, “Kyrie. I’m… hurt.”
“Out 25,” he said, then thought. “Goldminer’s road? I think.” Swallow trying to gather what was left of his saliva. “Field… Tom? Aerial?”
“Shit,” Kyrie said. “Shit.”
“Sorry. Risk. Hate to have him shift, but I –”
“Don’t mention,” Kyrie said. “It’s just… we don’t have anyone to man… Wait while I see if Anthony will stay on a little longer.”
“I–” Rafiel had to take a deep breath and was still shaky as he said. “It’s just I’m afraid whatever it was will come back and kill me.”
* * *
Kyrie didn’t remember what she’d told Bea. In fact, she started to get up from the table and leave without saying anything at all, until it occurred to her that the poor woman was likely to wonder. Then she turned back and said, “Beg your pardon. A friend of ours is in trouble and needs us.”
Anthony was taking off his apron when Kyrie opened the pass-through and entered the area behind the counter, where the grill and Tom’s new fryer, and all the food preparation machinery was. Something in her face must have alerted Anthony to trouble, because he turned around and said, “No. Don’t even think about it. My wife is already –”
“You have to, Anthony,” Kyrie said. “You just have to. We have to go and help Rafiel. It’s a matter of life or death.”
“Rafiel?” Tom said, turning around and meeting Kyrie’s expression which warned him that there would be absolutely no discussion of the trouble Rafiel had got himself into. “Oh… that… thing?”
Anthony looked fit to be tied. “You know, I thought the police force had teams and intervention and stuff for this kind of thing. Why does Officer Trall always need you guys to pull his fat out of the fire?”