“No,” Shay said in disbelief. She wasn’t sure if she was speaking to Isobel or to herself. “You’re supposed to be in Canada. I don’t understand . . .”
“I did say ‘everything’, didn’t I?” Kendall asked. She looked first to Shay, and then to the unconscious Aubree for confirmation. “Elijah and Macon were so kind as to drive up and get them so that they could join us.”
Anna gave Isobel and Ivory each a shove, and they sunk to the floor, nearly falling on top of each other. Elijah had to forcibly push Theo down to her knees, and with her hands tied behind her back, she wasn’t able to rise on her own.
“Isobel, I’m so sorry,” Shay told her. “Ivory, Theo. I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.”
Kendall smiled. “Alright, now we can begin the fun.”
She looked at Shay as if for her agreement on the matter, and Shay just glared at her with her lip curled in hatred. Kendall shrugged.
“One of these things is not like the other,” she trilled. She started at Aubree, pointing at each girl as she went down the row. “Eenie . . . Meenie . . . Minie . . . Human.”
Her finger hovered in the air over Theo.
“Theodora, isn’t it?” Kendall knelt before her and tilted her head to the side inquisitively. “Or do you prefer Theo?”
Theo muttered something that, even with the gag in her mouth, Shay could tell was a profanity.
“Leave her alone!” Shay shouted, but her voice cracked.
“You have such pretty hair.” Kendall ran her fingers through the silky black strands, and then, with sudden harshness, ripped several of them away. She stood and turned to Anna. “Anna?”
Anna nodded and left the room again. When she returned that time, she carried a small wooden chest. She handed it over to Kendall, who grinned and sat, cross-legged, on the ground with the chest in her lap.
She laid the strands out beside her on the floor and flipped open the lid on its worn brass hinges. Her fingers waved over the contents as she searched through them and hummed to herself.
She pulled out a cloth doll with stitched Xs for eyes and a tiny plastic bag filled with powder. She smeared the powder across the stomach of the doll, and then wound Theo’s hairs around it.
“Theodora,” she said loudly and clearly.
“No!” Shay dove forward in a feeble attempt to snatch the doll away, but both it and Kendall were too far out of her grasp. “Kendall, don’t. You don’t have to do this. You’re not bad—”
“You don’t know what I am,” Kendall hissed.“They haven’t done anything to you. You can torture me, you can kill me. I don’t care. Just let them go.”
Kendall sighed as if she were bickering with a relentless child and was becoming tired of it. “I feel as if I just gave my whole monologue for nothing. Were you even listening? Because you’re the one who asked me to give it to you, and now you’re just insulting me with your begging and what not.”
Shay caught Theo’s eye, and the girl blinked and looked away towards the wall. Her face was hard as stone and void of emotion. She was trying to be strong for them. For Shay.
“Theo, I’m sorry.”
Kendall took out a box of straight pins and set them down beside her. She opened the lid and pinched one between her fingers. She held it up so the shiny metal of it caught the light.
Then she jabbed it into the center of the doll.
Theo cried out through the gag and her body jerked as if something had hit her in the gut. Sand spilled from where the pin had punctured the cloth of the doll, and blood began to seep through Theo’s baby blue shirt.
Shay was trying to gather up her green lightning, but there was nothing there. It was like trying to draw up water from an empty well. She could keep scraping and scraping at the bottom, but she wasn’t going to succeed in finding anything until she gave it time to refill.
Isobel and Ivory were screaming and trying to get to Kendall, but Anna was holding them back.
Kendall left the pin protruding from the doll and reached for another.
Theo closed her eyes, and single tear escaped to slither down her cheek.
“Leave her alone!” Shay’s anger set off a spark, and that was all she needed. She grabbed hold of it and flung it at Kendall.
It knocked Kendall onto her back, and her body jolted. But a spark wasn’t enough to kill her, and Kendall sat up and shook herself. She was breathing heavy like a bull about to charge.
“You little b****!”
She stuck the pin in her hand into the doll right beside the first pin, but almost as if she couldn’t think of any other place to put it. She pulled a stone bowl out of the chest, almost dropping it in her angry haste. It clattered against the concrete as she set it down.
She pulled one of the pins out and with each word, she stabbed the doll again. “You. Are. Going. To. Die!”
Theo screamed. Her shirt was completely soaked through with red, and it was spreading from a gash in her thigh now, too. She was crying. Really crying. Theo never cried.
A pillar of flame shot up in the bowl.
Shay vaguely realized that she was also crying. Tears stung her eyes and poured in heavy streams down her cheeks. She felt as if she’d been stabbed in the chest herself. “Kendall, please. Don’t do this.”
“I’ve never burned a voodoo doll before. This ought to be an interesting experiment.”
Theo was staring at Shay with the wet, frightened eyes of a child.
“Just close your eyes,” Shay told her. Even as the words left her mouth, she knew they were a lie. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
Kendall lifted the doll above the fire.
Shay saw Kendall’s fingers loosen their grip.
A crash came from outside the closed door that made every head in the room snap up in alarm.
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