Home > Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles #3.5)(11)

Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles #3.5)(11)
Author: Kresley Cole

Number Eight didn’t move as they wheeled his stretcher away, didn’t even give a feeble wave to the crowd so they could cheer.

I shared a look with Brody, not quite a smile. His beefy face was just like mine, a face that turned ugly when he smiled. He’d noticed the scouts’ interest too. It was all happening according to his plan: Red Wings before I turned eighteen, then Stanley Cup by twenty.

I mouthed to him, I told you so. He’d been thinking those new accusations would follow me to Vancouver, had been worrying for no reason.

Nothing could touch me!

I glanced at the game clock, and got a spike of adrenaline. Three . . . two . . . one . . .

Back on the ice. Puck in play.

Number Twenty was giving me looks like he wanted to dance. At the thought, my body got hot, my skin flushed. This was what I loved! He was coming right at me. Bring it on, you little bitch!

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Number Thirty too late. Double-teaming me—

WHAM. As hard as the car wreck . . .

Next time I opened my eyes, I saw the roof of the stadium. Couldn’t breathe! I was laid out on the ice, gliding across the surface like a puck. Needed air! I was never on the ice.

They were laughing. Twenty skated closer, skidding inches from my head to spray my face with ice shavings. “That’s for my sister, you sick fuck.”

I needed to pummel their faces to meat! To goddamn meat! Breathe, Richter! Why couldn’t I move? My vision was going blurry, my body fever-hot. My fists felt like they were burning!

I got the weird sensation that I was sinking. Was the rink . . . melting? Surely I was unconscious, and this was a dream.

People started screaming. Players tried to run/skate off the thawing rink. There was no more smooth ice, just slush and sand. My head lolled to one side, and I saw my right hand. The glove looked like goop, like soup spilled on my knuckles. Melted too? Impossible.

Suddenly light flared through the stadium roof; outside the night was . . . day? Was I dying? Going to the light? I’d dreamed of hellfire for so long, there was no way I was going up.

More screams. That meant everyone else was seeing this! Where was Brody?

Fire rained down, flames landing all around me, on me. They didn’t burn. Felt . . . good. My lids went heavy.

No! I had to get up. I needed to get to my brother! I struggled to rise. The world seemed to tilt.

My eyes rolled back in my head, and my mind went under. . . .

When I came to, I couldn’t see shit. How long had I been out? I rubbed my eyes. Wait, where were my helmet and gloves? My pads and jersey? I slowly sat up. As my vision cleared, I saw black char marks all over my buck-naked body, but no burns. I gazed around. My brain refused to compute this sight.

The stadium was gone; only the metal skeleton that used to be the bleachers and a ring of steel girders were left. Farther out was a parking lot full of scorched cars. Tires smoked.

All around me were weird piles of ash. I made it to my bare feet. Where the hell were my skates? I blinked down at a pair of blades. My skates had . . . burned away.

Where the hell was Brody???

I lumbered toward the bleachers. I was sore, the way I got if I didn’t practice for a couple of days. Damn it, how long had I been out?

I passed an ash pile. Skate blades jutted from the bottom. Was that . . . a player? I saw another pile, and another, all with blades. Somehow their bodies had burned to ash. We must’ve been bombed by terrorists or something!

How had I survived? Why had I liked the fires hitting me?

“Brody!” I yelled. Silence.

I ran toward the spot where he’d been standing, hoping to see footprints in the ash. Instead, I found the golden end of his wooden cane, as well as the surgical implant they’d put in his knee. I shuffled the ash, uncovering the titanium rod that had been attached to his spine.

This is my brother. Brody was dead.

Rage like I’d never known exploded inside me, the need to kill—

The ground ruptured between my feet. I yelled, lunging to one side. When the crevice yawned wider, I took off in a sprint toward the parking lot, running full speed between scorched cars. But the opening kept growing, the edge right at my goddamned heels, like it was chasing me! Cars toppled down; ash swirled in the air till I could barely see, barely breathe.

It’ll catch me, then I’ll fall straight to hell!

The pavement disappeared beneath me. I lurched in midair and latched onto the side of the crevice, digging my fingers into the crumbling asphalt.

Choking on ash. Heart thundering. Legs flailing to find a foothold.

As I scrambled for a better grip, I glanced over my shoulder. The rift went so far down I’d never stop falling. Just go on forever.

A gust of steam shot up, wetting my skin. My fingers started to give way. Hold on, Richter! Hold on, you bitch-ass!

One finger slipped . . . two more . . . One hand.

’Bout to die. A yell ripped from my lungs. I was dangling from three fingers when another gust hit me from below.

Game over—

I dropped.

Inches? What the?? I frowned down at my feet. My body was . . . rising?

All around me lava bubbled up, wrapping me like a soft blanket.

It didn’t burn. No, the lava just carried me along.

Like a gift from hell. . . .

The Hierophant (V)

Guthrie, He of the Dark Rites

“We go now to our bloody business.”

A.k.a.: The Sacrificer, the Consecrator

Powers: Mind control, mesmerism, pathokinesis (emotion manipulation).

Special Skills: Genetic memory. Has an innate knowledge of sacrificial rituals. His mind control can last even after he’s dead.

Weapons: His brainwashed followers.

Tableau: A robed male holding his right hand high, two fingers raised, blessing his white-eyed followers.

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