“Uh … yeah.” She sighed and caught up to them.
Fortunately, when they got to the small cypress forest that ran along Anthemusa Bay, they didn’t go into it. Marcy stopped abruptly before going in and declared that it gave her bad energy, and that apparently would interfere with contacting the spirits.
“We’ll set it up here.” Marcy motioned to a grassy patch just outside the trees. “Sit down in a circle.”
“Shouldn’t it be nighttime or something?” Alex asked, but he still did as he was told. He sat with his legs crossed underneath him, and Harper and Marcy sat on either side of him so they formed a small circle.
“Shouldn’t what be nighttime?” Marcy asked. She set her book bag on her lap and began rummaging through it.
“It just feels weird to be doing a séance or whatever outside in the bright sunlight,” Alex said.
“Yeah, I feel like we should be in a spooky room with candles and incense,” Harper agreed.
“That’s because you guys are idiots,” Marcy told them.
“This coming from the girl who carries voodoo stuff in a Captain Planet backpack,” Harper muttered.
Marcy glared at her. “Nobody messes with Captain Planet. He keeps looters, plunderers, and evil spirits at bay. And I don’t practice voodoo. That’s not my thing.”
“What is your thing?” Harper asked.
“This.” Marcy pulled out a handful of black stones, a faded book, and a thick white candle.
“I thought you said people who brought candles were idiots,” Alex pointed out.
“No, I said you were idiots.”
Marcy put the candle in the center of their circle, then carefully laid out the smooth black stones around it. When Alex reached out to touch one, Marcy slapped his hand. Then she set the backpack aside and opened the book on her lap.
“Now what?” Harper asked when Marcy appeared to be finished laying out everything.
“I’m going to read from this book,” Marcy explained. “The incantation is in Latin. I don’t know why. I guess the dead all speak a dead language. It’s important that you don’t interrupt me and you don’t speak. Just sit quietly until I’m finished.”
After Harper and Alex both nodded in understanding, Marcy flipped open the book and began reading from it. Harper had no idea what most of the words meant, but every now and then she’d catch one like “necro” and “terra.”
As soon as Marcy finished, the candle lit up. A bluish flame burned from the wick, and even though the candle was white, the wax that dripped down the sides was black.
“How’d you do that?” Harper asked.
“I’m magic,” Marcy said matter-of-factly, and closed the book. “So it’s all set. We should be able to talk to Luke now.”
“Really?” Alex asked. “I can just … talk to him?”
“Yeah. I would start by saying his name and seeing if he’s around and wants to talk.”
“How will we know if he wants to talk?” Alex asked. “Will he just talk back?”
“The stones will vibrate if something’s present.” Marcy motioned to the black rocks. “And then we talk to him and decide how he’s going to answer. It’s usually stuff like, Knock once for yes, twice for no.”
“How will he be able to name a place, then?” Alex asked. “If we say, Where’s Gemma? it’s not like he can knock once, and we’ll go, Oh, right, Toledo.”
“Let’s just see if he’s here, and we’ll take it from there,” Marcy suggested. “You start, Alex, since you were closest to him.”
“Okay. Um…” He took a deep breath, then cautiously said, “Luke? Uh, Luke Benfield? It’s me, your friend Alex. Um, I wanted to know if you wanted to talk.”
They waited a few minutes, and when there was no response, Alex tried again. Even Harper joined in, and eventually Marcy retried the incantation. But no matter what they said, they got no response.
All afternoon the three of them tried communing with Luke. The hot sun beat down on them, and Marcy grumbled about the heat a few times, but she stuck with the séance. The stones ended up vibrating twice, but Marcy could never make any contact beyond that.
“So that’s it?” Alex asked when Marcy began packing up her stuff. “We’re giving up?”
“Sorry, loverboy,” Marcy said as the sun began to set. “There’s nothing more I can do. We’ll just have to go back to looking the old-fashioned way.”
Gemma reached a town about a half hour after leaving Sawyer’s house, but she drove around in it for a long time before she stopped. She needed to be sure that her head was clear and her hunger was under control.
That was actually what made her finally decide to stop. She figured that eating people food would at least do something about her appetite.
The only thing Gemma knew about what sirens were supposed to eat was what Lexi had told her back in the cabin on Bernie’s Island. Penn had wanted her to eat Alex, and Lexi had tried to convince her that eating him would be delicious.
But Gemma wasn’t sure exactly how much truth was in that. Based on the way the sirens spoke, she assumed that they needed to feed on humans somehow, but she wasn’t sure what that meant. Maybe they just drank blood like vampires. Or maybe they swallowed an entire person whole.
The only thing Gemma knew for certain was that she didn’t want to find out. She wasn’t yet at the point where cannibalism was an option, and she hoped she never got to that point.
But she still had to eat something, so she parked behind a restaurant. She’d wanted to park in front, but it was packed. Like Capri, this was another seaside resort, only much larger. The restaurant was a steakhouse, and that was why she’d picked it. She thought maybe eating a rare steak would be the best substitute for eating a person.
Before getting out of the car, Gemma checked herself in the mirror. She’d driven here with the windows open, and even though her hair had been blowing around for more than an hour, it still looked great. Gemma had to admit that she looked stunning. The glow that had grown dull the last few days had brightened up.
She wondered if maybe her kissing Sawyer had something to do with it. It occurred to Gemma that that was maybe what the sirens meant. Maybe they didn’t eat boys literally, but it was a figure of speech. Maybe they were like a type of succubus that fed on lust and sex.