to get a little thick in there.

“The good book speaks of the child of Satan, the physical manifestation of the downcast archangel himself. Now this child is prophesied to bring about the end of the world—”

“You’ll have to excuse me,” Harry said, sliding the stethoscope back into the interior pocket of his coat. “This sounds really interesting, but I think you’ve just about lost me here. All four of these children appear to be the picture of good health. The cast you’ve made for that little girl looks a little ragged, but there are no signs of infection. That’s the job that I’ve come here to do.”

“Not a believer,” she said, glancing up at him before lowering her chin and shaking her head.

“I was raised a church going kid,” Harry said, zipping his jacket and producing a pen from the outer pocket and handing it to the sister with the paperwork from the envelope. “Please sign here and here…”

“Now, believe me,” Catherine said, scribbling on the forms. “I found her story quite fantastic as well, almost comical were it not for the fear in her eyes. The thought of a biological farm set up to breed the antichrist was something of a mockery. I was in the process of inspecting her arms for tracks or some other signs of drug use when I found the… cuts.”

Harry turned around and tucked the envelope beneath his armpit.

“What kind of cuts?”

“She had long… tears… in the flesh on her back, jagged rips through the skin. They were deep, but they were old. The edges had already clotted, but the striations of the muscles beneath were still visible within the wounds.”

“I’ve seen a lot of that kind of thing, kids falling out of trees, branches snagging their skin and—”

“In two set of four parallel lines?”

Harry began to gnaw on the inside of his lower lip, his brow furrowing.

“I was just about to continue examining her when she jumped up from the table and ran for the door. There was nothing that we could do to stop her. Before any of us were able to follow, she had disappeared into the woods.”

“I’ll go ahead and have social services look into this commune, if there are any other signs of abuse, I guarantee you that they will handle the situation very quickly and decisively. In the meantime, Sister, please continue to take good care of these children. If there is anything that you need from my office or me don’t hesitate to call. That’s why we’re here.”

The Sister stared down at the polished floor, her cross clutched tightly in her right hand, her lips moving as though she was speaking, but no sound came out.

“Good day, Sister,” Harry said, nodding as he slipped past her into the hallway and headed for the stairs.

The two other Sisters who had been in the room when he had arrived were standing right outside of the door, huddled in conversation. They both peered up at him from beneath their habits, glancing only momentarily before heading back into the children’s room.

“Doctor,” Sister Catherine said from behind him. “Please, allow me to see you out.”

“Thank you,” Harry said politely as the two walked in silence down the staircase at the end of the hallway and onto the main floor.

They stopped at the front door and Harry offered a parting handshake.

“Good luck with those children,” he said. “Believe me, I can imagine how difficult it is to have four children all at once. That’s why my department and social services are here. If there is anything that you need, any kind of help whatsoever, don’t hesitate to call.”

“Thank you,” she said, smiling curtly.

“I really mean that… here, take one of my cards,” he said pulling a crumpled card from his pocket.

“I appreciate your assistance, doctor, and your offer of help, but I believe we know what we need to do.”

“Well then, Sister,” he said stepping out the open front door and turning to face her. “It was a pleasure meeting you, and best of luck.”

She just nodded and closed the door, the latch sliding audibly into place behind the thick door.

Shaking his head and smirking to himself, Harry headed across the courtyard, stopping at the edge of the iron overhang to pull his collar up to his ears. The wind blew the immense snowflakes sideways in front of him.

He must have been in there longer than he had originally thought, as his footprints from earlier were already filled, just dimples in the quickly accumulating snow. The forest beyond the road straight ahead had grown almost pitch black as the sun had begun to set behind the white-capped Rockies to the west. Quickening his pace, he stopped in front of his snow-covered car and pulled his hand into his sleeve. With his forearm, he brushed the thick, wet snow from his front windshield before circling the vehicle and doing the same to all of the glass. The back windshield was covered in a thin layer of ice from the wind blowing straight against it, but he figured once the inside of the car warmed up that it would melt in no time.

Pulling the keys from his pocket, he opened the door and climbed into the car. His breath clouded the inside of the windshield as he thrust the key into the ignition and brought the car to life. A dark brown cloud poured from the exhaust pipe as he revved the engine several times before sliding the levers on the dashboard to start the heater. Slipping the car into reverse, the snow crumpled aloud beneath the car’s weight, sounding as though it was driving on Styrofoam. Backing around the other snow-mounded car in the lot, he eased forward, the tires slipping as they fought for traction on the buried dirt lot. Finally, they caught, and he headed out onto the main road.

The bright orange setting sun behind him stained the gray cloud cover an almost reddish color, amplifying through the layer of ice on his back windshield. Flipping the latch on the bottom of his rear view mirror, he pointed it upward to keep the glare from reflecting directly into his eyes. It was only a few moments, however, before the setting sun slipped behind the jagged peaks, and the sky was overwhelmed by darkness.

It was barely half past five, but it appeared as though it were closer to midnight. The only visible light was from the thin beams of his headlamps, which were completely congested from the enormous flakes that danced in front, threatening to block out the light.

The road was growing slicker with each passing second and he was forced to slow the car down to barely more than a crawl to keep the back end from fishtailing as it had been doing roughly every twenty yards. The road opened into the small straightaway in the middle of the meadow that he recognized from the journey in. The small house set off on the right side of the road caught his eye as there was dim light peering out at him from behind the drawn curtains, flickering light as though from candles.

Focusing back on the road, he tapped the brakes twice, quickly, testing the slickness of the road, wanting to know for sure exactly how his car was going to perform coming into the woods ahead. The last thing that he wanted to do was to wrap his car around some tree in the middle of nowhere in what had to be the worst snowstorm that they had seen yet this season, quite possibly in the last several years, as well.

He couldn’t have been going more than five miles and hour now, hardly rolling down the tractionless country road, but that wasn’t to say that he had more than just the smallest fraction of control over the spinning tires on the ice covered road. It seemed to move with a life of its own out from in front of him as he watched it, darting in and out of the blackened forest that had grown closer and closer to the road. Crusted snow had begun to thicken on the windshield wipers, leaving arcs of frozen water across his view as they scraped back and forth against the clouding windshield. He was going to have no choice but to get out of the car and clean them off if he were to have any chance of…

Two small yellow lights reflected his headlights back at him from the center of the road ahead as a large black shadow appeared directly in front of the car.

Harry tapped the brakes twice in rapid succession before finally pinning the pedal to the ground. The back end slipped out from behind the car as he yanked the wheel into the slide to try to correct it. Buffeting back and forth, the rear end on the right side finally clipped the trunk of a tree, sending the front of the car careening off the side of the road.

 His arms straightened and his fists grew tight on the wheel. Closing his eyes, his teeth clenched tightly together, he waited for the loud thud as he either slammed into the animal that had wandered in his way, or into a tree. The muscles in his back tightened ferociously as the car came to a jerking stop.

Slowly, Harry opened his eyes, his bright white knuckles gently easing their grip from the wheel. He could barely see the front hood of the car through the snow-covered windshield, but could smell the cloud of smoke that

Вы читаете The Bloodspawn
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату