Day 18 – Chapter 11 – 14

            J.T. roared.  It was too much, far too much.  Marin grabbed and thrown, Thom going for her, getting grabbed, crawling like a dying man toward water…
            And the thing that must be Angie’s Shadow Man kept moving, moving toward Thom.
            “Step off, you freak!”  He plunged toward the strange, cloaked man that seemed to flicker in and out of his vision, sword held high.
            The mists made of ghosts surged around him.  Something grabbed him, as if to stop him.
            “No, Jameson, please.  You’re not ready for it!”
            Constance, now isn’t the time.  I can’t let them die.
            “He’ll kill you!”
            He tugged free of her ghostly grip.  “Fortes fortuna adiuvat, Connie,” he growled.
            J.T. threw himself forward, howling some battlecry from a long ago battlefield he never fought on.
            At the very last second, the Shadow Man turned and caught the descending claymore between both hands.  J.T. could only see darkness and glinting red and gold inside the shadows of that dark hood—and the glint of sharp teeth as it smiled, an expression that promised torment before a slow death.
            His heart seized up, arms strained as his fingers tightened around the blade’s hilt.  It wasn’t cutting the thing’s hands.  How was it doing that?
            He grit his teeth.  If I hold it here, it’s not killing them.  It’s not hurting anyone else.  Just keep it busy until Paul and shove a shotgun against it and pull the trigger.
            Another shotgun blast echoed off to his left.  Paul—and Davon—were clearly still at work.  Drew and Carolyn were shouting.  J.T.’s pulse quickened.
            So eager to join the ghosts you see, Spiritweaver?
            A jolt went through him, like he’d been plunged into Lake Michigan in the dead of winter.
            He almost dropped the blade—almost.
            The Shadow Man sneered.  You and the Old Soul already belong to us.  You just don’t know it yet.
            “No,” J.T. whispered.  It was token denial, but necessary.  Dread coiled in his belly, coupled with nausea.  What if it was right?
            Oh yes.  Oh yes.
            J.T.’s arms trembled.
            Something smacked into the side of the Shadow Man’s head.  A clot of mud and sod thumped to the ground.  He roared and looked toward Carolyn, who stood nearby, hefting a cast-iron skillet in her free hand.
            “That’s right!”  She yelled at it.  “Start picking on someone else for a change.”
            Somehow, laughter that sounded like broken glass and cicadas became a rich, rolling laugh that shot shivers down J.T.’s spine.
            She’s trying to save you.  How touching.
            “Jay!  Down!”
            J.T. didn’t think—he dropped, rolling to the side.  The Shadow Man looked just in time to see Paul and Davon pull the triggers on their pair of shotguns.  The narrow-spread mass of shot caught the thing in the chest and it roared in pain—
            —and vanished into thin air.
            The mists surged forward, starting to swallow the remaining Greys and shadow-creatures.
            Someone was shouting in the distance.  J.T. recognized Tala’s voice, and Professor Doyle’s.
            Then the shadows were on them again.  One loomed over J.T., snarling, but he found himself strangely numb to fear.  He groped for the fallen sword, sucking air into his lungs as he drove a booted foot up toward the creature’s stomach.  His foot connected and the creature snarled, stumbling back.
            That was all the time he needed to roll to his feet and get his hands on the sword.  He straddled Thom’s fallen body and brandished the weapon, feeling strangely like someone out of one of the Lord of the Rings movies.
            “If you want them,” he panted, “Come and claim them.  But you’ll have to get through me first.”

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