“Great Uncle Critch said it was like being a God,” Danny said. He said it defensively. Like I should give him something to be jealous of. He wanted to be jealous.
“Have you ever seen a Shade?” I asked. No, he hadn’t. I knew that, but I needed to make a point.
“No.” He shrugged and sneered slightly. “They look like a ghost, right?”
“My dad said they used to call them bog men. They glow green and have no lower bodies unless they’re poulter-geisting it. Their eyes are black, so black that it seems beyond anything you’ve ever seen. They’ll climb on top of you and your bones ache with the cold of their hollow souls. They open their blood red mouths and inhale your memories. That’s why they hang around old people so much. They don’t need them. They just want something that you have.”
“But you get rid of them,” he said. His eyes looked glazed and intense. He was getting the full explanation. Most of the other Watchers didn’t share this much with non-Watchers.
I held up my hand and concentrated on my fingers. The sharp, black, two-inch talons slid out. It was hard to prevent the rest of the transform, but his mom would have my head if she heard of even this much. “If I can’t convince them to leave, I reach into their chests and yank out their hearts.”
I heard him swallow, a loud gulp in the darkness I controlled. He probably didn’t know about that part. It felt heavy and woolen around me and I could twist it around any lights and wink them out. I could hide in it. I could push it against Shades so they left until I was ready to deal with them.
There were so many in this town—too many for just me, but I hated to drag Dad down here. I had some pride, after all. The idea popped into my head just then. Danny wanted to feel the weight of being a Draconian Watcher. Alrighty then, Danny Boy.
“So, Uncle Critch may have felt like a God but he was dealing with the damned devil every day… for the rest of his life.” I enunciated each word. When I saw the shiver run through him that had nothing to do with the cold, I added, “There are so many Shades that I’ll probably need your help, Danny. Can I count on you to help me?”
It’d be like having a side-kick or a minion. I’d always wanted a minion.
“Yeah, sure.” He nodded. “Are we going to kill people too? Great Uncle Critch said….”
“NO!” Geez, what kind of crap had Critch been spreading? Probably came out after one of those Thanksgiving dinners when someone hadn’t switched Crazy Uncle Critch to water half-way through. “We don’t kill people!” I shook my hand until the talons went away.
Okay, my minion was a bit twisted if he was disappointed we wouldn’t be killing people.
“I’d be okay with that,” he said.
Holy geez… maybe I was really glad that the birthright had fallen to me.
“Uncle Critch said it wasn’t something you bragged about but sometimes it was just something you had to do. It was the only way. If a person got swarmed by them and they ate their brains.” Danny made a sucking sound while gesturing away from his ear with his hand.
Uncle Critch had killed people that Shades had driven mad?
“I figure that Piper is already there, so if we need to kill her….”
“Holy hell!” I shouted, possibly louder than necessary. “We’re not killing Piper.”
Danny grimaced and scowled. “You’re sure? Your dad probably would… you know, to save her,” he muttered.
I slid a hand across my eyes, blocking Danny and his disappointed face from my view. I needed a moment. “My dad wouldn’t, because it wouldn’t be saving her. It’d be killing her.”
“Well, whatever,” he said.
We’d need to revisit this topic.