Tidal / Page 76

Page 76


When he finally made it to the driveway of the sirens’ house, the car skidded in the mud and ended up getting stuck in the waterslogged grass under a tree. Daniel didn’t care, though. He just jumped out of the car and ran toward the house.

Before he even stepped inside, Daniel knew things weren’t good. One of the front windows had been smashed out, letting the rain pour inside, and he heard an unearthly roar—a sound he’d only heard once before, when Penn had been trying to kill him as the bird-monster.

“Gemma!” Daniel shouted and threw open the front door.

He’d never been inside the house before, so he had no real frame of reference, but it was obviously demolished. A couch had been upended, a coffee table snapped in half. Even the fridge had been pulled away from the wall and tipped on its side, with the food and beverages spilling out, looking like an eviscerated appliance.

Marcy was lying on her stomach, half hidden by the couch, and Daniel couldn’t tell if she was dead or merely unconscious. He didn’t have time to check on her or even to think about it, though, because there was a much bigger problem at hand.

Gemma was crouched down underneath the stairs, using them to shield her. She had a fire poker in one hand and held it pointed at the awful monster standing in front of her.

Lexi had her back to Daniel, her massive golden wings completely unfurled, so a large part of his view was obstructed. Her legs had grown much longer, so Lexi stood at least two feet taller than she had been before.

The smooth bronze skin of her legs had changed into blue-gray scales, and the knee jutted out backward. Her feet had clearly become those of a bird, her five toes converging into three, with long, sharp claws at the end of each one.

Her head had expanded and elongated as well, so her blond hair no longer covered her scalp evenly. It had become stringier and mangier, billowing out in thin wisps when the wind blew through the room.

The Lexi creature had heard him come inside, so she turned back to face him. Her large eyes were the yellow of a bird’s, and her mouth was overflowing with rows of jagged, pointy teeth. Her lips had peeled back around them to make room, and her jaw extended out farther than it had before.

Instead of saying anything, Lexi just threw back her head and laughed when she saw him. The sound came out more like a crow cawing than a human laugh, with a demonic undertone reverberating through it, and Daniel knew that that definitely could not be a good sign.

THIRTY-EIGHT

Reticence

Gemma had been holding off Lexi as best she could. That was hard to do when she refused to let herself shift into the monster, and Lexi had become a much larger, much stronger creature on a murderous rampage. Lexi had gotten a few good kicks in to Gemma’s stomach, and if she didn’t have siren healing powers, Gemma’d have been worried about internal bleeding. That’s why Gemma had hidden under the stairs—she clearly couldn’t fight her head-on.

“Just who I was hoping to see today,” Lexi told Daniel in her awful monster voice.

With Lexi’s back to her, Gemma stood up and drove the poker right into her shoulder. She wasn’t really sure where else would be a better place to stab her, since Alex had already proven that stabbing her through the heart did nothing.

Lexi roared in anger and grabbed the poker with her long, skinny fingers. Gemma slid out past her, running low to the floor to avoid Lexi’s wings as they flapped in rage.

“Daniel, run!” Gemma shouted, and she started to charge toward him.

Then she remembered Marcy, turned, and doubled back toward her. By the time she had turned around, Lexi had already gotten the poker free, and she threw it across the room. Daniel ducked, and it narrowly missed his head before it clattered against the wall.

Lexi stood between Gemma and Marcy, so Gemma swallowed hard and took a step back toward Daniel. Lexi lowered her head, her eyes narrowed, and when she stepped forward, her head made a bobbing movement that reminded Gemma of a robin looking for worms. It wasn’t nearly as cheerful an image, since Gemma and Daniel had become the worms.

“What’s the plan?” Daniel asked as Gemma moved toward him.

“I don’t really have one,” Gemma admitted.

“I have a plan for you,” Lexi said, her lips stretching in a distorted smile. “I plan on killing and eating both of you, and then getting the hell away from this town. The two of you are the reason I’ve been stuck here for so long, and once I get rid of you, I’ll be free of this godforsaken shithole.”

“Penn won’t like that,” Daniel said.

“Yeah, well, there won’t be much she can do about it once you’re dead,” Lexi shot back, and she ran at them.

Her legs were long and frighteningly fast. She looked clumsy and oversized, but she was agile and quick.

Gemma grabbed Daniel’s hand and bolted out of the way just in time to get out of Lexi’s grasp. They’d been standing by the broken window, and Lexi’s feet slipped in the water from the rain, so she skidded across the floor and crashed unceremoniously into the wall.

It would only be a matter of seconds before she was back on her feet again, which didn’t leave Gemma enough time to grab Marcy and get out of there.

They needed to come up with a game plan. Gemma ran to the only place she could think of where she and Daniel could at least grab a few seconds to gather their thoughts.

She led Daniel into the pantry and slammed the door behind them. It wasn’t a huge space, and it was totally dark, but both of them could fit in there easily. The door wasn’t the strongest, but at least it was something standing between them and Lexi.

“This is your plan?” Daniel panted as they leaned against the door.

“This is more like my plan before a plan,” Gemma said.

“Let me in, let me in,” Lexi cajoled in the silkiest voice she could manage. The tone wasn’t quite up to her usual standards. Something about being the bird-monster made it impossible for her to sound sweet.

Her talons ran up and down the door, making a scraping sound that gave Gemma the chills, but she wasn’t really trying to get in. At least not yet. The eerie clawing at the door was for effect.

“Not by the hair of my chin,” Daniel shot back, and that made Lexi cackle loudly again.

There was complete and total silence for a few seconds, which Gemma didn’t like. She didn’t know what Lexi was doing out there, but it probably wasn’t good.

“You’re supposed to let me know before you do shit like this,” Daniel reminded Gemma.


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