The air around Reid felt hot and thick, like summer humidity after a storm. But there was something charging within the thickness as well, buzzing soft at first, but swelling in intensity, rattling his teeth. His wound grew hotter and he grimaced against the worsening pain. His skin rippled with gooseflesh. His eyes trembled in their sockets.
And the delivery truck rose from the ground.
That last bit was enough to free Reid from his shock, and he scooted backward upon the pavement, heedless of the throbbing agony of his shoulder. The truck hovered, rotating slightly, dangling from unseen wires. Reid licked his lips and watched. The trucks couldn’t float. He was pretty sure that Mr. Landers would have told him if they could.
I will show you hurt, announced Magnus, his voice reverberating in the air, sharp like a crack of lightning, and Reid held the sides of his head at the magnitude of those words, rebounding throughout his mind like flaying shrapnel.
There was a cry, and Reid watched in awe as the rifleman was hoisted into the air. He was shooting wildly, and his legs kicked. He began screaming hysterics and dropped his weapon, which struck the ground and burped stray rounds into the wilderness. He was holding his head, too, and his eyes were wide and watery, and Reid realized that the policeman was sobbing. Their eyes met for a brief instant.
Help me, the policeman seemed to be saying, and then he was thrown.
He hurtled through empty space, arms pinwheeling and legs flailing. An unspoken scream choked him, too full of fear and horror to manage its way from his throat. He slammed into the windshield of the cruiser, imploding the glass inward. His legs twitched once, twice…and then went still.
“Hopper!” the other policeman screamed, staring toward wrecked mess of the car, his eyes wide and uncomprehending. “Hopper, my God, no!“
You speak of Gods, boomed Magnus. You know nothing.
The truck crashed back to the asphalt, booming, blocking Reid’s view. There were more gunshots, but they seemed impotent in the presence of such unknown and encompassing power. Reid struggled to his feet, hopping like a crow around the edge of the truck, terrified of what he might see but unable to resist something beyond his imagination.
There was another cry, and Reid watched as the handgun that had shot him scuttled across the pavement, twirling slighty before resting. It looked like a toy once it was out of the grasp of the policeman, and Reid scooped it up, staring at it with befuddlement.
The policeman was on his backside, walking crabwise on his hands and feet away from the towering Celestial. Magnus approached in soft but deliberate steps, his fiery eyes locked onto the aggressor, his pale hair flowing in the gentle breeze. Raw power seemed to ooze from him, and the air possessed a staticky charge.
“The gun! Give me back the gun!” The policeman’s words were thick through his own sobs. “He’s going to kill me! For God’s–”
And the words choked off, and he was lifted in the air, an unseen hand grasping him by the throat and hoisting him. His legs dangled and kicked, and his own hands raised to his throat, fighting off a grasp that by all rights should not even be there. Magnus was gripping empty air in front of him as he stalked forward, his mouth curved in a sinister scowl.
Cry out to your God for help, human, Magnus projected, and the words seemed to come from all angles, crashing down upon them. Your kind destroys, and then cries out when destruction falls upon them. Your kind seeks to rule, and to dominate, and once you’ve no other option, you fall to your knees and cry out for mercy.
The policeman rasped unintelligible words, and then gasped and choked. Magnus was inches from his, amber eyes piercing through him.
“You shall have none.”
The policeman was thrown into the trees, and with a sickening crunch, smashed into a huge trunk. His body tumbled, bending at unspeakable angles, and landed in a heap.