I knew there wasn’t a scientist alive that would believe my story, and there was no degree of comfort in that. Then again, I suspected there would be even less comfort in dying like Alina had.
I couldn’t honestly say, Tell me, teach me everything, when all I really wanted to do was cover my ears and chant a childish, I can’t heeear you.
But I could say with complete sincerity that I wanted to live.
“All right, Barrons,” I said heavily. “Close the door. I’m listening.”
Fae: a.k.a. the Tuatha Dé Danaan. Divided into two courts: the Seelie or Light Court, and the Unseelie or Dark Court. Both courts have different castes of Fae, with the four royal houses occupying the highest caste of each. The Seelie Queen and her chosen consort rule the Light Court. The Unseelie King and his current concubine govern the Dark.
I looked at what I’d just written in my journal and shook my head. I was sitting in my fourteenth pub of the day, or rather early evening. I’d spent the entire day pub-hopping, staring at people, trying to have another double vision. I’d not been successful and the longer I went without having one, the more removed and implausible the events of last night seemed. As did the insanity I was penning in these pages.
Shades: one of the lowest castes of Unseelie. Sentient but barely. They hunger—they feed. They cannot bear direct light and hunt only at night. They steal life in the manner the Gray Man steals beauty, draining their victims with vampiric swiftness. Threat assessment: kills.
Jericho Barrons had told me many things last night before packing me off in a cab for The Clarin House. I’d decided to write them down, fully aware that it read like something straight out of a badly scripted late-night sci-fi horror flick.
Royal Hunters: a mid-level caste of Unseelie. Militantly sentient, they resemble the classic depiction of the devil, with cloven hooves, horns, long, satyr-like faces, leathery wings, fiery orange eyes, and tails. Seven to ten feet tall, they are capable of extraordinary speed on both hoof and wing. Their primary function: sidhe-seer exterminators. Threat assessment: kills.
Which led us to the real kicker:
Sidhe-seer: a person Fae magic doesn’t work on, capable of seeing past the illusions or “glamour” cast by the Fae to the true nature that lies beneath. Some can also see Tabh’rs, hidden portals between realms. Others can sense Seelie and Unseelie objects of power. Each sidhe-seer is different, with varying degrees of resistance to the Fae. Some are limited, some are advanced with multiple “special powers.”
I snorted. Special powers. Somebody’d been watching too much WB and it wasn’t me. The kicker was, I was supposedly one of these things. According to Barrons, this “True Vision” ran in bloodlines. He believed Alina must have had it, too, and that she’d been killed by one of the Fae she’d seen.
I closed my journal. It was already two-thirds full. Soon I would need a new one. The first half contained an outpouring of grief interspersed with disjointed memories of Alina. The next thirty or so pages were crammed with lists and ideas for tracking down her murderer.
And now the latest—I was filling page after page with absolute nonsense. Mom and Dad would lock me up and have me medicated if they ever got their hands on it. We don’t know what happened, Doctor, I could hear Dad say, handing over my diary. She went to Dublin and she just went crazy. I suddenly understood why Alina had always hidden hers.
I blinked and replayed that in my mind—Alina had always hidden hers.
Of course, how could I have forgotten?
Alina had kept a journal all her life. Since we’d been kids, she’d never missed a day of writing in it. I used to watch her down the hall at night, before we closed our bedroom doors to sleep, sprawled on her bed, writing away. Someday I’ll let you read it, Junior, she’d tell me. She’d started calling me little Mac (as opposed to Big Mac) when we were young, abbreviating it to Junior as I got older. Like when we’re both in our eighties, and it’s too late for you to learn any bad habits from me. She’d laugh and I’d laugh, too, because Alina didn’t have any bad habits, and we both knew it. Her journal had been her confidante, her best friend. She’d told it things she’d never told me. I knew, because I’d found more than a few. As I’d matured, I stopped hunting for her diaries, but she hadn’t stopped hiding them. Though she’d packed the ones she’d written in her younger years away in a locked trunk in the attic, she’d never stopped teasing me about how I would never find her latest greatest hiding place.
“Oh yes, I will,” I vowed. I’d find it even if it meant I had to dismantle her entire apartment, piece by piece. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before—that somewhere right here in Dublin was a record of every single thing that had happened to my sister since she’d arrived, including all there was to know about the mystery man she’d been seeing—but I’d been blinded by my focus on the Gardai and packing and the strange things I’d been seeing.