Do you know Steve Reynolds?
Peter’s message crept into my head. I couldn’t hear him, or smell him, as if he wasn’t actually here and now. After our previous conversation at the restaurant, I began to realize Peter and I were out of sync in time. I stood here among the graves within the fog, and he stood there, a few steps apart in the world and a giant leap away in time.
“Steve? Of course I know Steve! Where is he?”
Laura shot me a peculiar look, the sort of face one shows the crazy old lady speaking to herself on the street corner. Of course, I understood to some extent what was going on, and that Peter was quite real standing at too far a distance for Laura, fully grounded in the world, to perceive. I wonder though if the crazy old lady would insist her voices are real, too.
He sent me your car, weapons, some blood, and a serum.
Peter’s message banged in the back of my head and swam around before fully taking meaning. I recognized words on their own as I felt them out, some sort of translation taking place. Peter had my car? Besides the wraith riding in the back, Laura on shotgun, I hadn’t noticed anyone else inside my beautiful car.
The time issue.
Peter stood over there, whenever. He appeared human, but then, so had Steve Reynolds, a master at creeping through the shadows within his quiet place taking shortcuts through time. Without a scent, I couldn’t be certain if Peter truly was human or another wraith.
Nine, Kandy is here.
Hearing this number, I quickly searched the area. Peter had addressed someone else, a specter within the boneyard on my side, a person in his time. The apparition remained hidden from me. Nine seemed an odd name, if it was truly a given name, not some cute nickname or designation. Stranger though, this number held some reverence for me in respect to a place in time. Of course, I needed to ask about this name.
“Who the hell is Nine?”
“The hell should I know,” said Laura. She folded her arms and frowned. “Kandy, you’re psychotic you know that? More than usual.”
Peter suddenly became more transparent then snapped back again. Features rippling out of the air, he became nearly lifelike. For a moment, I caught a familiar scent fading into a memory.
The serum is supposedly a cure for you and I.
“Let’s have it then.”
“Kandy?” said Laura. She huffed and patted her abdomen. “So now you want some of this? Here in the cemetery?”
I’m sorry, it was stolen.
“We need to get it back!”
Darkness swallowed Peter into a smoking figure and floated away, a rising mist melting into the fog over the graves. Laura had disappeared, too, or relative to her and her world, I had left her having lost grip with my anchor. I stood alone on the path behind the funeral home.
Among rows of old gravestones stood a lonely sepulcher, the place I had reawakened long ago when I had first witnessed the world through my Itoril eyes. It seemed strange standing before the stone structure now questioning my very nature. Not even an Itoril could cheat death, or stroll freely through time.
There were only two individuals I knew whom held such dark knowledge. The first, Steve Reynolds, my mentor in walking through the shadows between worlds. The second, Thyme from whom I had inherited my thirst for blood. The answer to the riddle for my tenuous grasp on the world must reside with these two, and the only place I knew to search for them was from the start here at the end.
Within the Thyme Sepulcher, after a bout of torment, my former life had ended. Bathing in blood within a sarcophagus, I had reawakened as Kandice Knight. I had drained all my thoughts of her away. Her name had abandoned memory long ago. I only knew her as a place in time, January Nine.