Dream Weaver - Book 3 of Wizard - a Love Story
Chapter 14: Fatal Message
Copyright© 2013 by MisguidedChild
Sean turned and ran back towards the vehicles. He used air to slam footholds in the side of the shallow canyon as he ran up the side. The twenty foot cliff didn't even slow him down.
"Rafe, pull your Blazer up next to the Bronco," Sean yelled urgently. "We'll leave the Bronco here."
Sean tucked Megan's staff under one arm before jerking the back door of the Bronco open. He touched Scott, and energy poured into his friend. Scott's broken arm was healed along with several other scrapes and bruises.
"Scott, Lilly, get in the Blazer," Sean ordered anxiously.
Scott obeyed instantly. He helped his still groggy sister out the door. Flows of air gently lifted AJ and floated him out the door and into the Blazer where Scott belted him in. Bell followed on another flow of air.
Sean jumped into the front seat and yelled, "Go, Rafe. We need to get to the ranch."
Rafe took off in a spray of gravel.
"What about Udit and Lian?" Scott asked as the big Chevy careened down the gravel road. "Where's Megan?"
"They took Megan," Sean choked out with a sob. "Lian and Udit are dead."
"Oh no. Damn! Damn! Damn!" Scott said quietly from the back seat. After a moment he said, "Sean, check Lilly. She's bleeding pretty bad."
"Right, okay," Sean said distractedly, turning in his seat. "Care for the living," he muttered bitterly through a blur of tears.
Sean deftly extracted the bullet from Lilly's chest by carefully guiding it along the path of its entrance. That was quite a feat since they were bouncing down a gravel road. He searched for any other foreign debris as the bullet moved. He closed the flesh and healed it behind the bullet as it moved towards the surface. He nodded to himself as the bullet popped free and the skin healed behind it. The arm was a little more problematic because the bullet had nicked the bone. Still, it only took a moment longer.
By the time they reached the ranch, Sean had delved into and healed all four of his friends. They still weren't at their normal one hundred percent, but they were conscious and functioning well enough to exit the vehicle under their own power when the Blazer slid to a stop.
Lightning and Duncan followed Cory and Brennan out the door. The big dog was wearing a half snarl. The hair on the bob cat was standing on end and every other breath seemed to be a hiss. Brennan was carrying a shillelagh.
Seth, Liz, BB, Pappy and Laoshin followed Lightning and Duncan out the kitchen door. Pappy and BB were carrying their pump shotguns. Sean winced when he saw BB and Aunt Liz in the forefront. Laoshin exited the door at the back of the pack. She was carrying a shoulder bag.
"Where's Uncle Pete," Sean demanded as he exited the vehicle.
"He's on his way," Seth said. "What's wrong? The animals went nuts about ten minutes ago."
"We were ambushed," Sean replied, his voice cracking. "Lian and Udit are dead and they took Megan."
Liz screamed and sat down hard on the porch when her legs lost their strength.
"Aunt Liz, she's alive," Sean said urgently.
Duncan yowled in what sounded like an angry confirmation.
"I can feel her," Sean continued. "She isn't hurt but ... but she's blocked from me. I can't reach her but I can feel her."
BB just had a stunned look on his face. His grandfather had been a fixture in his life from his earliest memories. Udit had trained BB to assume his mantle of Shaman of the White Mountain Apache. BB hadn't expected the responsibility to settle on his shoulders so abruptly. The loss of his grandfather was nearly too much to bear.
Laoshin turned pale at the news, but her face showed no emotion. She carefully set the bag that she had prepared for Lian on the porch. Pappy touched her elbow but she shook her head before walking down the steps to face Sean.
Cory and Brennan followed her down and stood beside her.
"What happened?" Laoshin demanded coldly.
"There was an ambush that crashed the Bronco. An explosion under one of the tires caused it to crash," Sean said, his voice broken. "Udit and Lian were shot before I could get a shield around everyone. Lilly was shot too. AJ and Bell were knocked out and Scott had a broken arm. Lian was keeping Udit alive, but I don't know how. She talked to me for a moment, then drew power, and released it internally. They died together. That's when I saw they had taken Megan. I'm sorry. I wasn't fast enough. I wasn't strong enough."
"Boy!" Rafe's voice cracked from where he had stepped from the Blazer. "That was an ambush and you reacted faster than I've seen trained soldiers react to an ambush. There were what, five, six shooters on that ridge? Not to mention the pack of dogs that attacked. I don't know what made them attack or turn around but I heard yelling after they went back into the brush. You did better than anyone could expect."
Everyone knew the old teacher from school functions. Everyone liked his forthright manner of addressing subjects they had talked about. They also knew that he would be accompanying the group from the earlier phone call. But, no one expected him to rebuke Sean the way he had and they stared at the old gentleman in shock.
Sean nodded and said, "Right. Evaluate later. Act now. We need to get moving so we can find Megan. I think I can find her if I can get close enough."
"How about Mississippi?" Rafe demanded. "The only reason I'm out here is to go to Fort Adams with you. If you aren't going, then I need to start now. It will take me a few days to get there. I understand that your priorities must be to find your girlfriend but mine need to be my family. I don't want to wait a couple of days to get started."
"Fine. Take off and try to save your family. You saw what happened today. What chance do you think you'll have..." Sean retorted, but was interrupted by savage growls from Lightning and Duncan.
The animals were looking at the road and a car appeared from over a hill on the dirt road. It was moving slow and erratic and everyone watched it in silence until it disappeared behind the barn.
"What the hell is that about?" Seth wondered aloud.
They heard the car slow farther and turn in at the gate. Next came the sound of metal scraping on wood that sounded like the car had sideswiped the posts of the ranch lintel at slow speed.
Sean heard two shotguns pumping rounds in their chambers behind him. Lightning stalked forward, growling the whole time, until he stood at Sean's side. Sean's hand settled on Lightning's ruff, on the white hand print in the fur. The handprint was the remnant from the first battle they had faced together when Megan was born.
Duncan added a snarling growl to his hissing and Sean was surprised when the cat bounded forward to stand at Sean's other side.
A dirty brown Chevy Caprice wobbled around the corner of the barn at a slow speed. Paint, mirrors, and door handles were scraped off the passenger side of the car.
They could see the driver sitting stiffly in the front seat. Every few moments, he would jerkily move the steering wheel to correct his direction. The vehicle stopped in the middle of the ranch yard, well back from everyone. After a moment, the driver jerked forward and, after obviously fumbling with something, the engine died. The driver paused again before jerking upright again. A long moment later, the driver jerked sideways and opened the car door. A moment later, one leg swung out of the vehicle, followed by the other, after an unnatural amount of time. He was acting like a puppet with an amateur puppeteer holding the strings.
The driver stood and faced the group. None of them knew him, but they knew that the rictus of a smile on his face wasn't natural.
"Se ... an ... Dav ... id ... Kil ... pat ... rick... ," the man grated out in a voice that sounded like it had been pulled from the depths of hell.
The man's voice sounded lost and seemed to cause a gust of icy air to blow through the yard. Sean knew it wasn't the man's real voice. It was the voice of the Nightmare.
"I am Sean," he said, after it was clear the voice wasn't going to continue.
"Seek Meg ... an ... and she will die," the voice continued, reminding Sean of fingernails on a chalk board. "Come a ... lone or she will die. Meg ... an ... will be a ... live and un ... harmed at thirty one de ... grees se ... ven min ... utes west lati ... tude, nine ... ty one de ... grees four ... tee one min ... utes north long ... i ... tude. Come a ... lone or she will die."
"That is in the swamp," Sean replied, guessing at the location of the coordinates. "I can't get there without a guide. I have a guide but he won't come without guarantees that his family is safe."
Nearly a minute passed as they waited for an answer. When it came, the answer was chilling.
"He may guide you," the grating voice said. "His fam ... i ... ly is a ... live with lit ... tle dam ... age. They will be at the same lo ... ca ... tion. You must ar ... rive af ... ter mid ... night and be ... fore sun ... rise on Fri ... day, March twel ... fth. Me ... gan dies at sun ... rise on Fri ... day. Your guides fam ... ily dies immediately af ... ter. Do you un ... der ... stand?"
"I understand," Sean growled, nearly sounding like Lightning.
There was a pause before the man said, "Re ... peat the in ... struc ... tions."
"I can use a guide and I must reach thirty-one degrees, seven minutes north latitude, ninety-one degrees, forty-one minutes west longitude after midnight and before sunrise on Friday, March twelfth," Sean ground out angrily. "Megan will die at sunrise if I don't arrive before then. Rafe's family will be there and will die after Megan." Sean took a deep breath to calm himself before continuing. He wasn't successful. "If anything happens to Megan or Rafe's family, I will scour the earth to eliminate every Brujo in the world," Sean said, his voice so cold it seemed to form ice crystals in the air around him. "Until now, we've been satisfied to only respond to attacks. That will change if they're hurt. My life's work will be to eliminate every Brujo in the world. You will never have a foothold in this world again. The Nightmare will never be free again."
The only response was a dry, grating laugh. The laugh was disturbing, but when the man convulsed and the laugh changed to a scream, they all stepped back. The scream sounded like all the lost souls in the deepest depths of hell. It was a scream of loss, and hopelessness, and fear, and desperation. The man's back arched so far his back snapped like a dry twig. The crack when his back broke was clearly audible. The chilling scream turned into a gurgle as blood gushed from the man's mouth. Finally, the intensity of the scream lessened as the man's last breath expired, and then the body collapsed limply.
There was silence in the ranch yard until Pappy muttered, "Holy Mother of God!"