Home > Dead Statues (Kiera Hudson Series Two #3)

Dead Statues (Kiera Hudson Series Two #3)
Author: Tim O'Rourke

Chapter One

Kiera

Push! That one word kept racing around my head, kicking up flaky fragments of brain matter and scattering them to the furthest corners of my mind. Potter sat slouched against the side of the wagon, his chin resting against his chest as he slept. The train tilted and shook as it snaked its way through the hills and down into the valleys.

Kayla slept in the far corner of the wagon, dirty tear tracks down both of her cheeks. Sam lay beside her, half boy – half wolf. He seemed less restless than before, only stirring as the train lurched over points in the tracks.

I looked down at the picture in my hands.

My dad stared out of it at me, he was smiling and his eyes were bright. He had one arm looped about my shoulder, and my head was tilted to one side, resting against his shoulder. As I stared at the picture in the weak shaft of moonlight that cut through the gap in the carriage door, I could see that I wasn’t smiling. I looked surprised – confused, somehow. Before Potter had fallen asleep, I had told him that the photograph had yet to be taken. He hadn’t believed me. I knew I was right, like Isidor had been right about the picture of him and Melody Rose. The photo of them had yet to be taken. Where had that beautiful picture of them standing together, looking happy, been snapped? Not in this world – not in the one which had been pushed. Isidor was dead now. I had seen it happen with my own eyes and I knew those images of him being decapitated by those Skin-walkers would never leave me. I looked up from the picture in my hands and stared at Kayla.

How was she going to survive now without her brother by her side? How were any of us going to survive without Isidor? He was part of us – part of what I now thought of as my family. We had lost too many already. We had lost Murphy and he had left a gaping wound in Potter. I could see the pain every time I looked into his eyes – but just recently, I had seen something else there. It was like Potter knew more than he was telling me – not trusting in me. Why did I think that? I couldn’t be sure. Since returning to Hallowed Manor from visiting my flat with the picture of me and my dad, Potter had been different. He had been distant from me. Perhaps withdrawn was the word I was searching for. When I’d shown him the word PUSH scrawled on the back of the picture, just like it had been written on the back of the photo of Isidor’s, Potter had got that look in his eyes again.

I had seen it. At the suggestion that my father might still be alive and that I would see him again, because how else had the picture ever been taken…Potter had become dismissive again. He had skulked away, where he propped himself against the side of the carriage and finally fell asleep.

“But I’m right about the picture,” I whispered aloud, as if trying to convince myself. “I know I am.”

The train rattled at speed over the tracks, and sliding the side door of the carriage open just an inch more, I peered down at the picture. What could I see? There must be something which would prove to me – to Potter – that the picture had yet to be taken, and had been put within my reach to lead me to my father. I held it up towards the gap in the door where the moonlight and chill night breeze rushed in. With my eyes screwed almost shut, I peered at the picture, trying to see anything – any clue as to where the picture might have been taken. The problem was, my father and I took up most of the picture, and what little I could see behind us was cast in gloomy shadow. It was impossible; I couldn’t see where the picture had been taken.

Then, as a gust of freezing cold air tried to snatch the picture from my hand, I whispered, “Kiera, how can you be so dumb?” With my free hand, I raked away my long, black hair which blew about my face, and looked at the picture again. “It’s not important where the picture was taken, but who took the photo – that’s what matters!”

Realising I had been talking out loud, I glanced quickly about the carriage at the others.

They were still asleep, so I looked once again back at the photograph. Someone must have taken the picture, right? Someone must have been there when I met up with my father again. Perhaps it might be this someone who would lead me to him?

Then with my skin breaking out in gooseflesh, I lowered the picture and stared out through the gap in the door.

“Perhaps my mother took the picture?” I gasped.

If my dad was still alive in this pushed world, maybe my mother was too. But she was a Vampyrus, right? The Vampyrus had all been taken back below into The Hollows, and the tunnels had been sealed. There were no Vampyrus in this new world. Then slowly, I turned my head and looked at Potter as he sat hunched asleep against the side of the wagon. I knew that there was at least one.

Chapter Two

Potter

“Just keep away from me,” I told her again, shifting my position against the tree so I didn’t have to look at her. I didn’t want to be close to her. Something deep inside of me was telling me it was wrong to be near her. Not because she was a threat to me, but because it wasn’t Kiera.

Then I felt her hand gently squeeze my shoulder as she turned me around to face her.

She looked into my eyes and said, “What’s wrong?”

“I just want to be left alone,” I whispered.

“That’s no fun,” she smiled.

“I haven’t come here to have fun,” I told her. “I’ve come to catch a killer.” I looked over her shoulder and I could see I was back at the wolf house. Even now I felt the dread and the pain seeping from its ramshackled frame. In the distance, I could hear the faint sound of children sobbing for their mothers.

Leaning in close to me, she whispered, “Something is happening here –”

“I know, children are being murdered…” I started.

“No, I didn’t mean that,” she whispered, brushing herself close against me.

“Something is happening between you and me – you feel it too, I know you do.”

I did feel it. The feelings I had for Eloisa Madison were wrong. I shouldn’t be feeling like this for anyone other than Kiera.

My head was telling me that it was okay. Eloisa Madison was before I’d met Kiera. Eloisa had happened after Sophie. So that was okay, wasn’t it?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I lied as she looked into my eyes, her lips hovering over mine.

“I’ve never met a man like you before, Potter,” she whispered, “a man who has such a dark side. You could take me away from all of this.”

“From all of what?” I said, fighting the desire to kiss her.

“All this death,” she whispered, then pressed her lips against mine.

As if drowning, I felt smothered by a wave of intense feelings and emotions, like nothing I had felt before, and I was kissing her back. Her tongue felt like velvet in my mouth as she hungrily pulled at me. Then I was falling backwards as she pushed me down onto the ground. I fell onto the carpet of leaves and pine needles that covered the floor of the woods. She sprang on top of me, pulling open my coat and nipping the skin of my neck with her teeth. The trees seemed to close in all around us, shielding us from view, like we were in our own world.

Eloisa’s soft hair fell across my face, and it felt so good. I ran my hands down her back and scratched at her with my claws.

Leaning up, she threw aside her shirt, and the chain with the cross shone just inches from my face.

Murphy’s chain?

Kiera’s chain!

Eloisa Madison lowered herself onto me and her skin felt warm and soft. I entwined my fingers in her hair and stared up into her eyes, but Madison had gone. It was Kiera I was making love to. I rolled her over onto the soft cushion of leaves and her breath felt hot against my neck as she said, “I love you, Potter.”

To hear her voice made my heart race as it was filled with joy. I made love to her and it felt like nothing I had experienced with her before. Although my heart was telling me it was Kiera, my head was telling me it was someone else. As I opened my eyes and looked down upon her face, it was Eloisa I could hear moaning and sighing softly beneath me.

“No!” I murmured, trying to pull myself free of her.

I arched my back and looked up. It was somehow colder now. A thin wisp of fog covered the ground. In it I could see a figure staring back at me from between the trees.

“Kiera?” I called out. “Is that you?”

my heart raced, fearing that it was. Had she seen me with Eloisa? Had she seen what we had done?

I glanced back down, but Eloisa Madison had gone. There was only me on my knees, bent double in the damp autumn leaves.

“Potter,” someone whispered, and I knew it was the person watching from between the trees who had spoken.

I looked up to see Murphy, standing in a swirl of fog like some unholy apparition.

“I’ve got something to show you,” he barked from around his pipe which jutted from the corner of his mouth. “Stop pricking about in the dirt and get over here!”

I clambered to my feet, and without saying another word and keeping close to the trees, Murphy led me towards a small graveyard. We hadn’t gone very far when he flapped his hand at me, signalling me to get down. I crouched behind a gravestone that tilted slightly to the right and peered over the top.

“What am I meant to be looking at?” I whispered to Murphy, who was hiding behind a gravestone to my left.

With the pipe hanging from the corner of his mouth, Murphy pointed into the distance.

From my hiding place, I looked in the direction he was pointing and saw a man standing alone in the middle of the graveyard. He was staring down at one of the headstones. It was as I looked at his drawn and ashen face that I recognised him, and my stomach knotted. The man I was spying on was Kiera’s father.

Hadn’t he died of cancer a few years back? I wondered.

I shot a look at Murphy, but it was if he had melted away like a ghost. “Kiera’s father is still very much alive here,” he whispered.

With his head cast down, Kiera’s father turned and seemed to slowly float back across the graveyard and disappear. When he had gone, Murphy stood up and rubbed the small of his back with his hands.

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