Read The Dark Volume Online

Authors: Gordon Dahlquist

Tags: #Murder, #Magic, #Action & Adventure, #Fantasy Fiction, #Horror, #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Suspense, #Adventure fiction, #Steampunk, #Thrillers, #General

The Dark Volume (74 page)

“I cannot,” said Elöise, shaking her head at her own helplessness. “I cannot go. I have been waiting—”

“You cannot wait—the Doctor is gone!”

“But—I tried to say, so many times—”

“It has to have stood for something!”
Miss Temple cried. She surged unsteadily to her feet, shouting at the other woman. “Get up, Elöise! Save this much! Save
her!”

THE WHISTLE of Lydia's case as it swung in the air caused Miss Temple to turn just enough that the sharp metal corner did not punch through her skull, but the impact jarred her teeth and dropped her to the earth like a hammer. She lay without understanding, as if her head had been severed. There was blood in her mouth. She could not move.

A hissing whisper penetrated her ear like a poisonous smoke. She felt the soft lips pressed against her skin, and the warmth of each vicious word as it came.

“This is not the way, Celeste Temple—you're half dead and cannot feel a thing, cannot
think
a thing. For all your presumptions, I require that you taste your despair completely—that you
choke
on it. I want you to know to your bones when I have killed you.”

The mouth went away and Miss Temple lay for the longest time in the cold air, stunned and drifting, though she remembered somewhere that to truly sleep was to die. She lifted an impossibly heavy head and blinked gummed and crusted eyes.

Francesca Trapping was gone. Elöise was a shapeless huddle in the dirt, the dark wet stripe across her lolling throat reflecting the star light.

MISS TEMPLE retched, but nothing came. She finally stood, eyes tight against what she could not bear, and stumbled away. The gunshots had ceased—she must have outrun the search; it did not matter—she barely noticed. She was impossibly alone, and even the swirling visions that had for so long battered her mind could find no entrance to her shattered heart.

SHE WOULD reach the canal. Beyond the canal was the train. She had money in her boot. Beyond the train was the city, her certain death… and her revenge.

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