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.This wasn’t the normal world, though, and Ned definitely wasn’t a normal gun.A burning blue wound blossomed in the vodyanoy’s side and another where the thick tail merged into his torso.He let out another watery foghorn blast but kept crawling toward Honey as the sapphire energy chewed his blubbery hide.The piskie pulled frantically at the clinging strands and tried to scramble away, but the vodyanoy was covering a lot more ground than she could.I knew I wouldn’t be able to get there in time.I could keep firing and hope for a lucky shot that would put the creature down or I could stop and aim.Indecision gripped me and I barreled on across the sand by inertia, fanning the Peacemaker’s hammer and silently praying for a kill-shot.The vodyanoy opened its mouth and screamed again, drowning Honey in a deluge of mucus, spittle and bile.It reached for her with one clawed hand, its long, knobby fingers twitching eagerly.Then I heard an echoing crack like thunder rolling overhead, and the vodyanoy’s head exploded, splashing greenish-black juice across the beach.The monster’s fat body dropped and jerked a few times before collapsing into a pool of evil, foul-smelling magic that quickly soaked into the sand.I ran to Honey and helped pull the last bits of tongue from her.Then we both looked over to where Jack had fallen.He lay there unmoving, his body limp and broken.A tortured cry tore itself from Honey’s lips and she half ran, half flew to his side.She cradled him in her arms, tilted her head back and wailed at the sky.I dropped to my knees beside them just as Adan ran up, holding the rifle lightly in one hand.Jack coughed and opened his eyes.He blinked.“Good fight,” he said.Honey made fists of both hands and began flailing at him, pummeling his chest and stomach.She was laughing and crying, and Jack finally defended himself by grabbing her and pulling her onto the sand with him, rolling over so she was pinned beneath his body.“Do not cry, my love,” he said, and I noticed the slight brogue in his voice for the first time.“The gods gave us victory this day and there is life in us still.” Honey pulled him closer and kissed him fiercely.I looked at Adan and cleared my throat.“Maybe we should…”“Yeah,” he said, and we turned and walked back toward the beach house.“Nice shot,” I said.He shrugged.“Frog-boy had a big fucking head.”“Yeah, he did.”Adan glanced at me and lifted an eyebrow.“What’s the problem?”“I was supposed to bring it to the Burning Man.”nineI was prepared to tell the Burning Man to grab a shovel and scoop up some sand if he insisted on having De dushka’s head.As it turned out, news of the hit beat us back to Van Nuys and the spirit wasn’t inclined to jack me up on a technicality.He’d arranged to escort Adan and me to the Mocambo later that night.It seemed the piskies weren’t welcome—La Calavera had a problem with the way the fairies had moved in and used her turf as a rest stop on the way from Avalon to Arcadia.I also considered asking Adan to stay behind.I knew the only way to stop the zombie outbreak was to rescue the Xolos, but in the meantime there were zombies running loose in L.A.Still, if Oberon, Terrence and Chavez couldn’t keep a lid on things, Adan probably wouldn’t make much of a difference.I didn’t really know what I’d be walking into—except that it was an underworld nightclub in the Between run by the Lady of the Dead.Even if I couldn’t be sure where I stood with Adan, I needed backup.I also needed to keep an eye on him.We grabbed some dinner in my condo and then crossed back over into the spirit world a little after ten.We met at the warehouse in Van Nuys and I was surprised to see the Burning Man had left his gangbangers at home.When I asked about it, he explained that the Mocambo was considered neutral ground in his world, and besides, there would be enough “dangerous men” in the club that a couple ghosts wouldn’t make much difference if things got ugly.I didn’t have a problem with it—the Burning Man was my ticket in the door, but he wasn’t my friend.Whether he had muscle or not, it wasn’t likely to change my fortunes either way.We walked into the mist and emerged on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, circa 1949 [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]