30 stories

Well, it’s been a fraught weekend. We’ve spent most of it exploring the caves searching for this Great Snake everyone keeps talking about, which has been nice because ugh it’s so tense above ground.

Cara is still on lockdown. Lana’s got her locked in an upstairs bedroom of Kelvin’s house. She hasn’t run yet, which is surprising until you remember that Endymion is not human. There’s no escaping that shit. At least, not immediately and not without significant planning and effort.

Neal’s so pissed. He isn’t going up to see her anymore because yesterday they got in a fight. We were having dinner with her, because everyone else is happy to just leave her locked in that bedroom with the vampire at her door.

Not that these meals are particularly comfortable. We pretty much awkwardly eat our meal until it’s time to continue the same fight we’ve been having for four days.

So for example, it might go like this:

Julian: I need more mustard

Cara: Sure here

Neal: I’m so fucking sick of burgers

Cara: I doubt I’ll be eating many burgers once I’m stuck on Lana Island for the rest of my life

And then it’s open season.

It got especially bad yesterday.

Julian finally had enough, which is when you know it’s ugly. “Cara, for fucks sake, we all know you’re not going to stay at the school. I give you like, six months, before you figure out a way to escape. So can we give up the charade?”

And Cara stared at him with such a genuine expression of outrage that I stopped chewing.

“They’re draining my bank account,” she said. “They’re stripping me of all my aliases. They’re calling my contacts and telling them I’ve been burned. I’m never coming back from this.”

“Well fuck Cara, maybe you shouldn’t come back from this,” Neal said.

She laughed, shaking her head. “You want everyone to think you’re this bad ass, this anti-establishment, devil-may-care, out law,” she said. “But the second it gets messy, the second something goes wrong, you hide behind Lana’s skirts, just like you always have.”

Neal just stared at her for a moment and I thought he might rise to the bait. Instead, he said, “Fucking christ Cara, we’re not seventeen anymore.”

Cara flushed scarlet, but Neal wasn’t finished. “You have the most finely attuned sense of danger of anyone I’ve ever met. You know what’s happening in the world. Cases are on the rise, magic is flaring up. Don’t argue with me, you know it’s true.” He looked her in the eye. “Why the fog, Cara? I could turn a blind eye on haunted paintings and cursed teapots, but the fog?”

I sat there frozen. I hadn’t been totally aware of the depth of the betrayal Neal was feeling until that exact moment.

She had the decency to look down. “I know,” she said. “I knew I went too far the second I made the sale.”

“Then why didn’t you take it back?!” Neal cried.

Cara was quiet for a long, painful moment before she finally said, “It was a lot of —”

“If you say money, I swear to god.”

She just looked up at him and pressed her lips together.

“You’re lucky it was Lana that responded, not the Walthers.”

“I know.”

Neal passed a hand over his face. “You know I’m not going to be able to intervene with whatever Lana decides to do with you. They were injecting the stuff!”

Cara began, “It was their own choice to —”

“They didn’t know what it would do!”

“Listen I know, but for fuck’s sake,” Cara said. “How was I supposed to know they were going to inject the stuff! What kind of an idiot injects or inhales mystery chemical?”

Neal just looked at her, crestfallen, as if seeing her tragedy for the first time. “All the people in that cave are most likely going to die.”

“I know.”

We were all quiet for a long time before Neal finally said, “Jasper is still at Palefish with Clementine. He’ll stay as long as you want him to.”

Cara exhaled sharply, rolled her eyes, and impatiently swiped at her tears.

“Maybe you could stay,” Neal said. “There’s a lot you could teach.”

“Fuck you, Neal,” she said, but when he wrapped an arm around her shoulder she turned towards him and held on tight.

So yeah, it’s been an emotionally fraught weekend.

We were all honestly relieved when Lana had a case for us yesterday.

“Listen, I’m sorry to do this, and if you’d prefer to stay here I’ll call someone else,” Lana said. She’s looking pretty exhausted at this point. “But look at this.”

It was a youtube video, which has since been removed. Bunch of college-age kids doing one of those like city scape free-running videos, doing increasingly dangerous shit with go-pros stuck to their head. But usually when you see those videos, nobody falls.

Yeah, no, one of them fell. Like, a long way. Like, 30 stories. He shouldn’t have lived. His friends were all above him, shouting, freaking out. And then, from down below, he got up. He raised his arms above his head like fucking Rocky, and his friends lost it, just absolutely lost it.

“Lucky kid,” Neal said.

“Watch it from his perspective,” Lana said, and clicked a second video.

The first time I missed it. There he was, running along, enjoying his life. Then he slipped and for a long time it was just motion blur as he fell. And then he was still. He cursed. Then the camera whirled as he got to his feet, and he started shouting back up to his friends.

“Did you catch it?” Lana said. “Watch again.”

The second time it became clear that at some point in the fall, his rate of acceleration slowed way down. It was hard to spot with the motion blur, and it happened so slowly that it was easy to miss.

“Okay, what do you think we’re looking at?” Neal asked.

“No idea,” Lana said. “But this isn’t the only time something like this happened. Click through the videos.”

Apparently one miraculous fall wasn’t enough for this kid. In the next video he walked into traffic and I watched as he was yanked out of the way by… something, before he was hit by a car. Then the next one he was in a car, driving very fast down an empty highway, hands off the steering wheel while his friend filmed. On it’s own, not that interesting. Until it was time for the car to turn, and something in that car took the wheel and steered it for him.

“Alright, so there’s maybe something going on there,” Neal said.

“Could be another Dog Saint,” Lana said. Why she’s so interested in finding the last Dog Saint is beyond me. “Or any number of things really. Regardless, I’d like to be certain it’s not at all related to what we’ve got going on here.”

So, we’re off. Beverly’s on her way here to be with Cara, which is good because I didn’t feel good leaving her, but there’s a significant, loathsome, cowardly part of me that wants to escape this whole fiasco. I don’t want to look too hard at any of it.

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