chapter xxxivMature

The prospect of facing her anger did not seem very pleasant, to say the least, and though it felt a cowardly thing to do, Graeme decided it was better if he ran a few errands around town by himself while she rested up.  If he was lucky, she'd blow off some of her own steam waiting for him and her fury might be a little tempered upon his return.  The likelihood of his plan succeeding was slim to none, but it was worth a shot.  Either way she'd be furious when she awoke.

He left a note on the counter saying he'd gone for groceries and shut the door as quietly behind him as he could.  Usually he shopped at a local market within a mile and a half of his condominium, but for once, he felt like taking a longer drive.  There was a larger grocery outlet a few miles out of town and he made his way there with the windows down and the radio on.  Graeme swung through a drive-thru ATM to check his funds and was only mildly surprised to see that the Destroyer had helped himself to a large chunk of his savings.  It wasn't a terrible loss - it would take Graeme less than a week to earn the money back - but it was still irritating.  He hated feeling his life had gone out of his control, and it seemed that once it began to unravel it didn't stop.  In the meantime, he would have to make due with a little less than he'd planned.  He supposed he would simply have to make time to earn a little extra; the task loomed large against the backdrop of the thousands of other things he felt he needed to accomplish - and soon.  If he wasn't careful, he would lose control entirely and it would be the last time.  If he wasn't careful, the Destroyer would be back and there would be no fending him off.  The scars of the scripture tingled at the thought.  He wondered how strong the blood spell was, how much of a leg up it offered him against the Destroyer.  He hoped that Gabriel wasn't so angry with him that she left while he was gone, knowing he'd never be able to perform the Warlock's spell on his own.  He wasn't certain the two of them could manage it, but he thought he might have a chance to convince Tasaria to help them.

He'd had a burst of cleverness just as he'd been about to leave the Warlock's secret home, and he thought it would make for an excellent bargaining chip with Tasaria.

When he reached the store, he pushed a cart from aisle to aisle, taking his sweet time to inspect everything he wanted, to choose the most economical and nutritious option.  He rarely took the time to weigh the cost of each item against others of its kind, but he was dreading his return to his condo and the wrath he would face once he got there.  Doing math in the grocery store seemed a much less painful activity for the time being.  Still, despite his lollygagging, eventually he had to cash out and carry his items to the TransAm. 

In the near-empty parking lot, he threw his bags in the trunk and slammed it closed.  As he turned to make his way to the driver's side door, a round woman with glossy blue eyes stepped in his path.  At first glance he could tell something was off-kilter about her - it might have been her dilated pupils, or the frantic way her cracked lips moved silently, as if whispering something to herself, or the far-off expression that erased all of the lines on her face.

Her voice splintered as she spoke, fracturing into and out of whispers without warning.  He had to listen closely to even understand the words pouring from her mouth.  “There are dangers hunting for you in the shadows.  Return to the factory district on the trail of your demise.  There are pools of blood waiting to drown you.”  She repeated herself over and over, jumbling up the sentences as she did so.  There are pools of blood hunting for you.  The shadows wait to drown you.  Return to the factory district on the trail of your demise.  The factory district is a pool of shadows waiting to hunt you.

He skirted around her and sped out of the parking lot without looking back.

The End

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