Kitty Saves the World Page 47

He didn’t sound nervous, angry, or confrontational. Instead he sounded nonplussed. My nose flared, testing the air … Ben wasn’t angry because the smell was familiar.

I arrived just as Ben stepped aside to let our new visitor in. He was either a weathered young man or a vibrant middle-aged one, with a craggy face, close-cropped hair, and gray eyes. He wore a trench coat over slacks and a dress shirt, making him look dapper and poised.

Odysseus Grant.

“Hello,” he said, with a hint of a smile.

I hesitated just a moment before wrapping him in a hug, to give him a chance to escape, but he didn’t, handling my enthusiastic greeting with patience.

“What are you doing here?” I exclaimed. I’d met Odysseus Grant in Las Vegas, where he was a stage magician. His show was self-consciously old-fashioned, keeping alive a host of Vaudeville-era stage tricks. If he mixed some real magic into the show, who would notice? Until Amelia came along, he was my main resource for magical questions and problems. One of my allies, one of the good guys.

He tilted his head. “Would you think it odd if I said Anastasia sent me?” He’d also been a part of the nightmare reality show with me, Tina, and Anastasia. He’d taken a stake for the vampire and lived to tell the tale.

Anastasia—what the hell was she up to? It really did start to feel like I had a guardian angel looking out for me. “Yes. But I wouldn’t be surprised. You’re not the first.”

I led him to the kitchen, where Tina wrapped him in a more careful hug. Along with Anastasia, we were most of the survivors from that adventure.

“This isn’t a coincidence, that we’ve all been brought together here and now,” he said.

“It’s the earthquake, isn’t it?” Tina said. “It’s not natural.”

“It’s natural,” Grant said. “But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t triggered. That’s what you’ve been saying, isn’t it? That Roman has some kind of spell to control such phenomena.”

I said, “He has a spell that can ignite volcanoes. I don’t know about earthquakes. We’ve been trying to figure out where he’ll strike—”

“Show me,” Grant said.

I led him back to the office; the others followed.

“Roman’s making his move. He’s sent people after me, my pack, my restaurant.” In the office, he stepped back to regard the map with its tangled pattern of active volcanoes wending around the world like lacework. I continued. “He was in New Mexico just a few days ago, but I have reason to think he’s in Denver now. Maybe he did cause the earthquake, but we were sure he’d try to trigger a volcano.”

“Yes, that’s what Anastasia said.” He studied the map, then glanced around sharply, looking for something. “You’ve missed one.”

He found the box of red thumbtacks, pulled one out, and stuck it into the map a mere five hundred miles north of Denver.

“Right there. That’s your volcano,” he said.

I stared, then sank into a chair as the breath went out of me.

Chapter 14

ROUGHLY EVERY six hundred thousand years, a certain hot spot under the Earth’s crust erupts in a massive explosion. This hot spot was currently located under Yellowstone National Park. Geologists had found evidence of past eruptions in a series of craters that tracked westward, as plate tectonics moved the North American continent over that location. In modern times, the hot spot created a region full of geysers and hot springs, more concentrated thermal activity than anywhere else on the planet. Yellowstone Lake, the large body of water in the middle of the park, filled up part of the caldera that resulted from the most recent eruption, which covered much of the continent in meters of ash and spread a toxic cloud over half the planet.

The next eruption was about sixty thousand years overdue. The hot spot was ready to burst. A potential Yellowstone eruption was a favorite doomsday scenario with people who talked about that sort of thing. An eruption similar to the previous one would cause something like a nuclear winter, shrouding the planet in ash, raining dozens of feet of debris for hundreds of miles, blocking the sun, dropping global temperatures, resulting in the destruction of crops, mass starvation, and disease …

If a guy who could trigger volcanic eruptions wanted to destroy Denver, or civilization, he couldn’t do much better than the Yellowstone caldera.

I stared at that little red pin while Grant explained, and Ben supplemented with information from one of my volcano reference books. Grant was right, I’d totally missed this, because I’d been looking for volcanoes erupting right now. Not doomsday scenarios in my own backyard. I imagined the swath of destruction, painted a mental picture of ash sweeping away from that point in a big black smear. We wouldn’t even have time to run, if Yellowstone blew right now.

Was that earthquake a sign of things to come? A warning?

We moved back to the kitchen. The TV news was still running, with all its repetitive commentary and interviews with experts and video of reporters standing on street corners describing the destruction clearly visible right behind them. One was downtown, where a historic old Victorian house had lost part of its front porch, which had collapsed into its yard. Still didn’t look as bad as the ruins of New Moon.

I’d given the magician our translated copy of Amy Scanlon’s book of shadows, with its tangle of clues and commentary. I said, “Everything we know about the Manus Herculei is in here. Roman apparently went to Split, Croatia, last year to retrieve the spell from where he’d hidden it two thousand years before, after using it at Pompeii—”

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