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Dead Endings Book 2: Chapter 3

A downloadable package of this chapter (.pdf, .epub, and .mobi) is available in the Sparkler Monthly Issue #039 back issue.

A croissant disintegrated against the ceiling, raining crumbs like hail. Cutlery and cups took flight and crashed against the walls.

Cailen pushed back from the table and dove sideways out of her chair. It didn’t pay to stay stationary when a poltergeist was in full blow.

She thought she heard Gabriella yell something through the chaos, but the cacophony of noise was deafening, and her vantage point afforded her only a very narrow view of chairs and gum-studded table struts. Pairs of anonymous legs pumped for the exit.

“Benitez!” Cailen shouted back. “Get down, you idiot!” She grabbed at the woman’s ankle. Gabriella shook her off and hissed something that sounded surprisingly profane.

A dull roar like a freight train began building overhead, and several lights exploded. Waves of pressurized air tossed newspapers and napkins. Cailen tried tugging on Gabriella’s leg again, but motes of light began trickling through her grip. She abruptly let go. Gabriella wasn’t messing around, it seemed.

More glassware whizzed through the air, shards drumming against the tabletop, as the sparkling radiance flowing from Gabriella’s leg blossomed into a blinding light. Cailen threw her arms over her head.

There was another crash, more shouting, and then silence.

After a few peaceful seconds, Cailen edged out from under the table and peeked over the top. She gave a low whistle.

Shattered cups and plates littered the counters and floors. Several chairs were upended and food dribbled off the walls. Much of the damage was cosmetic, but it looked like a miniature tornado had touched down in the coffee shop.

She glanced up at Gabriella. Her friend stood rigid, uninjured, hands flat on the table. At least one powdered Danish had met its end on her face, and she looked pissed.

Cailen tactfully suppressed the laugh she felt rising in her throat and stood. “Well,” she said at last. “Lucky for us this was a coffee shop and not a knife store.”

Gabriella sighed.

Everett bounded over through the foody debris, saving Cailen from further comedic failure. His eyes were shining and his mouth was a perfect “O” of awe. Somehow, his clothing remained immaculate. Cailen sadly studied the jammy sleeve of her own shirt.

“That was…incredible!” he gushed. “Amazing! I never imagined… I mean, I totally missed Markle going geist back when–”

Cailen’s look sucked the air out of his sails. He coughed. “Uh, well, it was…something! But, um, what happened to the kid?”

Gabriella’s face went from pissed to cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms.

“He must’ve slipped out when he sicced Casper on us,” Cailen said with a backward glance at the door.

“He can do that?!” Everett exclaimed.

Cailen shrugged. “Told ya he was a little shit.”

Gabriella spun on her heel and stalked out of the shop. Cailen and Everett exchanged a look, then followed.

When she reached the door, Cailen heard a low voice whisper urgently, “Is it over?!”

Startled, she glanced down. There, under one of the small tables by the counter, was the banker-type she’d spied earlier. His eyes were wild under lashes powdered with sugar.

“Was it a bomb?!” he hissed. “It was terrorists, wasn’t it!”

Hoo boy.

Cailen chewed on the inside of her cheek thoughtfully for a moment, then crouched down to his level. Once the door shut behind Everett, she said gravely, “What you saw here today was not the work of terrorists.”

“What? Seriously? Was it a gas explosion, then?”

Cailen shook her head.

“No, man. Worse. Much worse.” She fixed him with her eyes. “Didn’t you see them?”

“See who?”

“Not ‘who,’ what.” She let her emphasis on the last word linger. His manicured hands twitched as his imagination clearly rumbled to life.

Cailen leaned forward. “I wouldn’t stay under the table,” she whispered. “They’ll be on the floor again soon, I bet. Coming out of the vents, the pipes…”

“Oh, God,” he breathed, looking around. “Is it…?”

“Yes,” she said. “Rats.

The man squealed and leapt to his feet, nearly flipping the table in his haste. He brushed at his clothes with jerky swipes before bolting for the door.

Cailen rose and strolled out after him. Gabriella and Everett, waiting on the pavement just outside the shop, turned to her from the direction he’d probably run screaming in.

“What?” Cailen said. “I’m just doing my part to get back at the one percent.”

She parried Gabriella’s questioning eyes with a question of her own. “So…what next? Tell me we’re going to track down this brat and spank him.”

“As much as I’d love to teach him some manners, I don’t think smacking someone else’s kid is a good idea.”

“Throw him into the Hudson?” Cailen suggested.

Gabriella pawed at the Danish crumbs in her hair with a scowl. “Don’t tempt me. What I really need is some info before we do anything. He’s not just a brat–he’s dangerous.”

“Then I’m tellin’ ya, a smack upside the head is the logical next move…”

“Um…” Everett piped up. “Although I’m super interested in what we’re doing next, aren’t you guys going to tell the coffee people what happened?” He looked meaningfully over at the closed door, which didn’t entirely muffle the growing sounds of shocked people stumbling around.

Cailen shrugged. “Be my guest. Or just tell them it was rats.”

“Rats? That doesn’t even make sense…”

“About as much sense as a poltergeist.”

Gabriella shook her head. “I don’t think you’d have much luck whichever way you went, Ev. Our time’s better spent figuring out how to pin this kid down, and for that, we need to head back to Brooklyn.”

“What’s in Brooklyn?” he asked.

Gabriella wiped a smear of fruit off her cheek. “The Laundry,” she said, and licked her fingers clean.

Proceed to Chapter 3, page 2–>

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