Secondhand Soul

Excerpt:

Something feels off. I can’t quite figure out what, but my paranoia has my eyes scanning the darkness around us, just beyond the glow of the flames. Though I do as he asks and hold the witch down – we’ve moved her to lie on her back – I’m hardly paying attention to what he’s doing, too focused on trying to find the source of my discomfort in the dark. I feel like we’re being watched. Just as I’m about to voice my concerns, Marcus begins a chant in what I’m guessing is Latin. I look away from the dark to see what he’s doing. A substance similar to vapor starts to rise up from the witch, swirling off her and slowly making its way to the the jewelry box between her and Marcus. It sits open on the floor at her feet, a soft, red glow emanating from it. Marcus’ eyes are closed as he continues his chant. The witch’s body struggles, trying to push us away though she’s still unconscious.

When I look up and around us again I catch a glimpse of movement off to my left. Something shoots out from the dark and I only barely have enough time to react.

“Marcus!” I let go of the witch and launch myself toward him, pushing him out of the way of the incoming arrow. We land with a thud, and with his concentration broken, the vapor is no longer making its way to the jewelry box, but floating steadily above the witch’s body.

It takes me a second to realize I took the arrow in my right shoulder.

“DAMMIT!” It burns, worse than anything I’d ever felt in my life – my whole arm feels like it’s on fire – and when I roll onto my back and try to pull it out, my hand burns, too. “Shit.”

“Videl what are you-?” But his question is interrupted at the sight of another arrow. He’s much faster than I am and manages to get out of its way. Clearly, whoever is attacking us knows he’s the bigger threat. I’m curled on my side now, trying to bite away the pain as tears stream down my cheeks.

I watch through blurry vision as Marcus disappears, and for a second I think he’s left me there to die. The burning in my arm starts to spread. Somewhere, someone screams and for a second I think it’s me. When Marcus returns – a bloody dagger in his hand – I realize it was probably our attacker screaming. Their voice has long died out.

“M-Marcus…it burns…” I can’t take the pain much longer, but I’ve run out of tears. The pain makes it hard to breathe, and I’m heaving, trying to take in as much air as I can. As if the air could put out the fire inside me.

“It’s alright. I’ve got you…”