(Link to Part 1)
. . . . The bullet hung in the air, aimed at my head. I couldn't move, though I could clearly see everything in my field of vision, including Sheriff Creston's enraged face and the hatred in his eyes. He wasn't moving, either. I couldn't even breathe, but apparently I didn't need to.
I stared at death coming for me.
The bullet wobbled, came forward an inch --
And it did again.
"Grab him," a voice said by my ear. I couldn't see anything but a small piece of shadow near my face.
"I -- I can't," the other person said. "If I try to, I'll -- I'll lose the spell. I can't pull him out fast enough!"
Maggie, I realized. My cousin. Despite her words, she still gave me reason to hope. I was not friendless here.
"Deflect the bullet?"
"Same problem." She gasped and I thought the bullet wobbled again. "Can't move fast enough to do another spell, Edmond."
"Then you have to grab him. It's the only chance you have, Maggie. You can't hold this spell much longer."
Maggie moved within my sight and leaned closer, her hands reaching towards my shoulder. Her metal wings unfurled, casting a shadow over both of us as she paused, her face pale and covered with a sheen of perspiration.
"Roll to your right, Mark," she said, her voice steady. "Be ready."
Panic had been held at bay, as still as my breath. I couldn't answer her. I could only hope I could move.
She reached -- the air seemed to tingle and sparkle as she grabbed my arm and I rolled --
Something brushed against my head, like a whisper of fire. I knew it was going to hurt more in a moment, but I had moved fast enough before she completely lost the spell.
Seriff Creston made an inarticulate growl of anger and fired again.
And that one hit home somewhere in my left chest. I jerked with the shock and pain and thought the next bullet would kill me. Then I feared he would shoot Maggie and her companion as well.
"Go --" I said to Maggie. Or tried to. "Go --"
She lifted a hand, her face dark with fury, and I saw branches, leaves, dirt and rocks sailing through the air at Sheriff Creston. I heard his yell of pain as she dragged me up to my feet and literally threw me through the gate to Elsewhere.
I couldn't say I felt safe.
I rolled as I hit the ground, ignoring the pain while I tried to find Maggie and fearing --
She caught me by the arm and dragged me a little ways farther. I clamped my mouth shut against the pain and the panic. I could feel a lot of blood running down my chest and every breath seemed harder to take.
I didn't think she was going to stop. Then I heard a howl and a yell of fear, and I thought maybe we ought to go farther and faster.
Maggie stopped a moment later and gently lowered me into the grass. There seemed to be a slight fog around us, but all the colors stood out, as though unnaturally bright. Beautiful colors as though everything had been made of jewels. The birds didn't just make calls, they made music. Even the scents in the air were so sweet that everything combined to be overwhelming. Elsewhere, I reminded myself. Not home.
"Mark." Maggie knelt beside me and her hand brushed very lightly over my shoulder. The pain lessened to a throb and I thought the bleeding stopped. Maggie shook her head with worry though. The wings on her back fluttered with an odd, metallic sound. "I don't dare try to get the bullet out. I need to get help for you. That magic will hold for a little while. I'm sorry I wasn't there faster."
"Came for me," I said, trying to get my mind to work. "Creston --"
"Edmond scared him off," she said, looking towards the gate. I tried to turn my head, but even that hurt too much. "You okay, Edmond?"
"Yeah. He kicked me, but I scared the hell out of him!"
A cat suddenly moved closer to me; sleek black fur, bright golden eyes that stared into my face. Then the mouth moved.
"He doesn't look very good, Maggie."
"I know. I need to get someone --"
"Davis." The lips moved again. Cat. Cat talking to Maggie. "And you better be quick."
Maggie leaned forward and touched the side of my face. I had a hard time looking away from the talking cat. "Stay still. I'll be back with Davis."
"Maggie --" I whispered, trying to find the words to say. "Thanks."
She gave a quick smile and stood.
The cat nudged at my hand. "Take the compass! You don't want anyone finding it on him."
"Edmond," she said, worried as she bent and took the compass from my fingers. "If you know --"
"I don't know anything except you better get Davis. Fast."
I managed to turn my head as Maggie took off running and leapt into the sky, the wings beating loudly against the air as she lifted. The silver feathers caught a glitter of light and shot random rainbows into the sky.
I finally looked back at the cat. He stared somewhere else.
"Edmond?" I said softly, thinking I must be wrong. Hallucinating. Something.
He blinked and looked at me. "If we have to, can you move? I didn't want to worry Maggie, but I think we're in trouble here."
"Creston?" I asked. I forced myself to sit up, though my head pounded.
"Nah. He wont come through. Not yet. There's far worse on this side than a human with a gun. And believe me, you don't want to meet up with them. Once they scent human blood --"
Somewhere off to the right, something howled and another picked up the sound. And another.
"Oh yeah," Edmond said with a sigh. "That's trouble."
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