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Jessica Verday

The Hidden

(Hollow – 3)

To Lee. You know why.

PREFACE

My name is Abbey. And I’m in love with a ghost.

Chapter One. BROKEN

“If I can but reach that bridge,” thought Ichabod, “I am safe.”

– “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving

All I could hear was my heart beating. And all I could see were the Revenants looking down at me. As I stared up into Kame’s colorless eyes, I kept thinking, This can’t be happening. This isn’t real. It was going to happen like this?

“Will it happen now?” I asked Kame. “Are you here to help me … die?”

He didn’t answer my question.

“Is she okay?” Cacey whispered. “She doesn’t look good.”

Hysteria bubbled over, and I glanced down at myself. Blood covered my knees in dark, jagged lines, and my arm burned from where Vincent had tried to yank it out of the socket. My bedroom was in shambles. “I don’t look good?” I said. “I don’t look good?” Then I put my head down as tears covered my cheeks. This is it. Sophie, Kame, Uri, and Cacey are here to collect me. To help me pass over.

I was never going to see my parents again. Or Ben. I’d never have my own perfume shop, or graduate from high school. I’d never buy a house and get a dog.

I’d always wanted a dog.

But that didn’t matter anymore. My time was up. Besides, Kristen was already dead. And I was the reason for that. At least I’d get to be with Caspian.

“Caspian …,” I said desperately, and sat straight up. “Caspian!”

The floor was covered in glass and bits of broken wood-what was left of my perfume cabinet-but I didn’t care. Vincent had thrown Caspian. Hurt him. And he needed me.

I tried to crawl. Tried to get to him, but strong arms held me still. A wave of nausea swept over me, and the room spun crazily. My hands were slick from gripping the floor. Little pools of blood surrounded me in squiggly lines and half-shaped circles, forming a macabre version of a child’s painting.

“Easy, easy,” Kame said, his voice smooth and melodic, like the rush of soft spring air after a long-closed window has been opened. “Let’s look you over, Abbey.”

He glanced at my hands and my knees, gently moved my head from side to side to check for other wounds. Beside me Cacey was blowing out the candles that Vincent had lit, before gathering them into a small pile. Uri and Sophie were removing the flowers from the bed. Tossing them into a garbage can.

“Caspian!” I said, seeing his still form by the fireplace mantel. “Please … check Caspian …”

Cacey crouched down next to him and pulled up one of his eyelids. “That’s the trouble with Shades,” she complained. “Should I feel for a pulse? He’s already dead.”

“Cacey!” Uri reprimanded her, pausing from tying a knot in the trash bag to look over at me. “Tact? She’s been through a lot.”

“Sorry, sorry. I’m just saying.” She looked into his other eye and gave him a shake. “I think he’s still here.”

“Go check the bathroom for a first aid kit,” Kame instructed Cacey. “Sophie, find a phone. Call 911. We need to finish cleaning this up and get her to the hospital before-”

The sound of the front door banging open echoed beneath us, and Mom’s voice drifted up. “Abbey? Are you home yet? We got the strangest note that said there was an emergency town council meeting, and …”

Her voice got closer as she climbed the stairs and moved toward my room.

“Well, shit,” Cacey said. “Parents. What are we supposed to do about them?”

Kame sprang into action, directing Uri to toss the trash bag out the window, and then he scooped me up without even a second’s hesitation. Sophie grabbed the phone and punched in 911. Then she said loudly, “I’m so glad we got here in time! Just hold on, Abbey. Hold on. Help is coming.”

Mom burst into the room, and panic spread across her face. “What happened?” she screamed, seeing the blood and broken glass. “Abbey!”

She rushed over and tried to pry me free from Kame’s grip. “What’s wrong? What happened?” she asked, over and over again.

I couldn’t answer.

“She’s okay,” Kame said calmly, catching her eye. “Abbey will be fine and everything will be back to normal soon.” His tone was soothing. Mom started nodding at him, but the concern didn’t leave her face.

In the distance I could hear sirens. They sounded odd. Both loud and blaring, and then quiet and almost muted. Kame’s words started to fade in and out, with Mom’s voice in the background.

“… paramedics coming? I … don’t understand. Why would … Could have been killed! … Thank God you were …”

My head felt funny. My tongue was thick, and I tried to say something. Tried to say anything, but it wouldn’t come out. Dark spots crept into the edges of my vision, and my chest tightened. I think I’m …

But even that thought drifted away. So I did the only thing I could do.

I closed my eyes and slept.

The next time my eyelids opened, I saw a blue plastic chair with Cacey slumped over in it, asleep. I looked down, and there was tubing sticking out of my hand. I was lying in a hospital bed.

My throat ached fiercely, and I tried to clear it. “Cace-,” I croaked. “Cac … ey … water …”

She shifted, then sat up. Completely alert. “Oh. You’re awake.”

“Water?” I tried to look for a glass or pitcher, but the only thing sitting on the stand next to me was a TV remote and a small bowl.

Cacey came over and picked up the bowl. “Here. Ice chips. They don’t want you to drink any water yet. Something about a test they want to run.”

I greedily sucked down the chip of ice, and the tiny bit of cold relief that spread down my throat was blissful. She fed me four more pieces before she pulled the bowl back.

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