Chapter 17: Cold

The rest of the morning was pretty standard, we did little more than talk as my stomach grumbled for more pancakes before we left for school. We mustn't give in to gluttony, though! God forbid! What a load of complete tosh, no Christians talk like that! This girl's insane, keeping food away! It's inhumane! That's it, I'm staging a revolt, I'm-

"Alex?" a voice behind me interrupts as I stare into the cafeteria like a rabid animal. They caught me! I turn around and see David standing there looking all remorseful.

"Oh, hello," I say blandly as I return to my spying.

He quickly steps in front of me and continues. "I just wanted to say that I'm sorry I flipped out at you the other day." I don't respond with anything more than crossed arms and a stern glare. "It was rude and..."

"...And?" I ask impatiently.

"And..." he takes a deep breath, "you were right. About all of it, the magic and the firebolts and the pew-pew-pew. I don't know how you knew, and it's not exactly something that's easy for me to talk about."

"Why not?" I ask. "It sounds awesome, you could electrocute people and be all like 'UNLIMITED...POWAAA-'"

"It's not as awesome as it sounds," he interrupts. "So how did you find out, anyways? And don't say you read my mind."

"Well I didn't," I tell him. "I read your blood."

"Come on, you're not serious," he says.

"As a heart attack," I say. "I sort of just stumbled onto it when I touched some of my uncle's blood, then I fell onto this dead guy before this other undead guy locked lips with me - a lot of dead people seem to think I'm really kissable-" I pause mid-sentence to see him with a dumbfounded expression. "I'm really not crazy."

"You sure?" he asks.

"No, this all actually happened. I washed my mouth out with soap so I think I'm pretty much set," I say.

"That's...that's great, Alex," he says with an almost smile.

I squirm a bit in place as I try to think of something to say that's not crazy. Nothing comes to mind. "So, you see any good movies lately?"

"Actually there is one I want to see," he tells me as we start walking. He shrugs and says, "You could come with me if you want."

"Oh really?" I say. "You mean like a date?"

"Yeah," he grins.

"Is this how you usually ask girls out? Flip out at them, apologize, then saunter on over like you're Adonis?" I ask him.

"Well I didn't exactly plan to flip out but if that's what works..."

"Depends," I grin back. "When were you thinking?"

"How about tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow's Friday, right?"

"Yeah," he tells me. It's so nice to be up to date on these things. Hah! Up to date. It's funny because it's a date, on that date and now I'm...well it was funny to me.

"Okay, sure," I smile up at him.

"None of your dead friends are gonna get jealous, are they?" he asks me. He still thinks it's all some kind of joke, these dead people kissing me. Maybe it's better that it stays that way.

"Nah, they've got brains to eat," I grin, "so you're totally safe."

"Oh, you're funny," he laughs.

"Don't think I don't know it."

Math class was - get this! - boring as all fuck. The teacher is continuing to just give us math sheet upon math sheet, so I've taken to doodling on the pages. As I walk out of the classroom, however, I notice that some of the shapes I drew look awfully similar to the ones in the circle on the Arcanum's cover. That book keeps popping up in my head and it's driving me crazy.

I hear that voice from before laughing in the back of my mind, like I said something pretty fucking funny. For a little while I was almost sure that voice in my head was a one-time thing, like I wasn't fucking insane. Now it's giggling like a fucking douche bag peaking into the girl's change room. Okay maybe not exactly like that but it's still annoying.

I need to find out more about that damned book. How, though? Who the fuck could I go to who would know anything about...Ah, shit. As if the universe is playing some cosmic joke on me, the one person who seems to know anything about what's going on is standing down the hall. Nathaniel Corin. He's lucky today is a shitty and cloudy day otherwise he'd probably melt. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

Unfortunately, if anyone knows anything about that damned book, it's that creepy fuck. The person he's talking to walks away, leaving Mr. Amber-Yellow Eyes to stare me down. Chills run through my entire body, I can practically feel myself trembling with something like fear...It's not quite fear, not really...It's too forced.

"Alex," Hannah says, coming out of nowhere to save the day. "You okay?" She looks at where I was staring just in time for Nathaniel to walk away, back to his office. "What were you looking at?"

"I uh...ah..." I stammer. "Nothing, just the wind."

"The wind?" she repeats.


"You were looking at the wind?"

I stare at her blankly for a moment before asking, "What was the question?"

She cocks an eyebrow at me. I cock an eyebrow at her. We stand there for ten whole seconds.

Lunch finally came around, but instead of being social I told Hannah I have to see the social worker. She opts to come with me, however. She even brings her thing of carrots and her own book to read while she waits outside. I knock on the door, Hannah sits on the chair, and I'm welcomed into the room with open arms.

"Ms. Walker," Nathaniel says with a closed smile. "So nice to see you again." I close the door behind me and take a seat without asking. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"The Arcanum," I say. "What is it?"

He smiles smugly and leans back in his chair. "Why Alex, I'm afraid I have no idea what you're talking about."

"This all has to do with why my uncle is dead, doesn't it?" I continue. "The book was locked in the house, not with a safe but with magic, right?"

"Are you ill? Perhaps you should lay down," he says, making no motions to move in any way.

"You couldn't just open up the lock and grab it, could you?" I blaze onward. "No, Terrence had to hide it from Edmund, so he sealed it. The key couldn't just be anything, right? No, he used the one thing he was sure no one else had..." I snap my fingers. "It was blood, wasn't it? That's how you knew my uncle, you needed him to open it for you! But he caught onto it, and you killed him."

"That..." Nathaniel leans forward onto his elbows, "is a fantastic story, Ms. Walker. Very well, we'll play your game. What reason would I have to kill Barney Haldon?"

"Because he wasn't doing what you wanted," I tell him. "All those letters he wrote but never sent, I got the impression he wasn't exactly running your fan club. What I'm curious about is why he needs the Arcanum to break out of his prison. From Terrence's book it sounded more like his little prison was sealed by blood...unless..." The bloody images flash behind my eyes as everything starts to click together. "The fisherman! He needs the book to snare people!"

Nathaniel leans back again and stares at me sinisterly. "You're a very clever girl, Ms. Walker," he tells me. "You've figured out a great deal on your own."

"Well I am an avid watcher of Murdoch Mysteries," I say.

"There is one thing you failed to consider, however," he sits up. "What does this all have to do with you?"

"I assume it has to do with my blood and his key," I answer.

"Perhaps but he's not yet used this...this book to snare you yet, has he?"


"What did you last say to your mother?" he asks out of the blue.

My stomach sinks and spins all of the sudden just from the way he asked it. "What?"

"Your mother," he repeats. "Did you tell her you love her?"

My hands start to feel cold as I slowly comprehend what he's telling me. "Yes, of course."

"Good," he says. "Because for all your cleverness you have failed to see the greatest blunder of yours throughout this story."

"...What are you talking about?"

A sick grin plays out on his face, fully revealing his sharp, vampiric fangs. "You left her alone."

The cold feeling spreads, instantly consuming my entire body as the final words spill out of his mouth. I don't wait there a moment longer, I bolt up from the chair and storm out the door. Fuck understanding what the Arcanum is, fuck knowing what exactly Edmund wants. I hear Hannah calling my name and feel her racing after me but I don't have time to care. The next thing I know it, I'm out the door.

Notes: So if you're reading this...great! Please leave some feedback, I'm actively trying to improve and the feedback from you, the readers, is a huge part of that. Would it help if I said I loved you? I love you. Yes. You.

...Kiss me- I'm not doing this, just please review. Ta-ta!