Excerpt: Smoke & Mirrors

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“Going somewhere? “ Warren’s cold voice just outside the open door was unexpected, and Angela flinched, but didn’t draw the gun her hand was resting on as she listened, heart beginning to thump. How hard did she have to fight?

    She hadn’t heard them come, hadn’t felt a warning. Probably, they’d been here for a while, watching, letting her do the work of loading up supplies they’d soon have if she wasn’t careful here, didn’t handle it right. She heard the others now, the back up against the Witch, Arron’s two ally’s among them. Her heart pounded faster and she gave Warren a look that said to let her go as she turned, locked eyes with him, saw Arron’s dark face glaring over his shoulder. They were lined up across the bare, muddy courtyard in front of her building, cutting off any chance of escape, and they watched her openly this time, hunger in their eyes. They were still and quiet too, another bad sign, and then she saw the outline of bullet roof vests under thick layers of clothes, all of them but Warren wearing orange and yellow hardhats, and her heart skipped a beat. They’d come prepared. ‘Or, so they think.’ The Demon inside comforted. ‘Hold your ground.’.

“He’s close. I have to go. “Warren shook his head, beaten up face and slump of the shoulders telling her that the chain of command at the College had likely changed, making this a more dangerous confrontation. Talking her way out suddenly seemed very unlikely as she looked into his feverish, zealot’s eyes.

“If you move the car, they’ll open fire. Get out here. “Angela slowly slid to her feet, eyes going over the six, spread out men behind Arron, each with a firearm aimed at not the blazer, but her. She looked at Warren with a baiting brow raised, seeing he still had the bible under his arm.

“No longer under your protection, Preacher? “Warren shook his head, brown eyes bitter, discolored.

“No one is. “It was confirmation and yet none of the others stepped up do the speaking, to take control. When Warren closed the door and turned to face her, she noticed the others stayed well back, even Aaron, who she thought was probably the only one she had to really worry about shooting her. The others wanted her alive. Arron wanted her dead for humiliating him. were nervous looks exchanged between the half a dozen would-be captors instead of the scorn she had been hoping for, and that told her they had probably already discussed the possibilities of getting hurt and were determined to follow through. Her anger and anxious heart flared to life. She would have to fight her way out then. She nodded, slipping back to let the Witch have a little more control. She had to fight. She didn’t have to kill.

“And, we won’t!“ Her words seemed to be a cue for the scruffy males and they moved toward her together, eyes grim, faces leery as the Witch whispered the words and Angela muttered, hands casting them out.

“Poison! Blindness! Disease! Famine!’ The sky above them rolled as the spell swirled around them and the men reacted instantly, screaming, stumbling, pleading to be made whole again as they fell with horrid stomach cramps, broke out in painful welts and sores, and went blind, tripping, landing hard on the cold, dirty ground.

   Not effected by the vivid bluff, Warren put a hand out to grab her but jerked back as lightening flew into a tree in the courtyard next to them, shaking the ground. The oak exploded, raining down wooden shrapnel but Warren was not going to be deterred and he snatched her by her sweater, jerked her up against his hard, thin body.

“Surrender yourself to me, Witch! You’re mine!” Her face became a snarl of hatred.

“I belong to no man!” Lightening crashed again, close, and she pushed him away. When he went to grab her a second time, the Witch whispered two words and then Angela felt power flowing through her, something alive and hungry, and she closed her eyes as her newest gift was revealed.

“Fire! Ice!” Lightening cracked for a third time, hitting the truck Warren had come in, and it blew up, twisted metal raining over their battlefield. Warren and Arron ducked, but the Witch didn’t and she wasn’t hit. The sky opened up a second later and huge chunks of hail, black and heavy, began to pelt them. The four men who’s names she’d never known recovered too quickly, her magic weak, but they fled in fear, never thinking to use the guns that most of them had dropped from panicking fingers at her display of smoke and mirrors…

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