S. P. Brown
Blood Moon: A Short Story of The Legacy
STOP: SPOILER ALERT
Before you continue reading, you should know that this short story contains spoilers of my first novel, The Legacy. If you have read The Legacy, please continue! If not, kindly exit your browser and go pick it up! Thank you! - S.P. Brown
The night was hot and muggy, the woods full of strange noises and otherworldly voices, no common summer night in Mississippi, full of hate and disorienting as hell to Deputy Rowena Hendricks. Death had come, and then they had all miraculously escaped. Mostly, anyway.
Rowena was one of the lucky ones. Now, at three in the morning, she found herself walking into the sheriff’s compound, not sure how she’d gotten there. Someone’s car. Some driver. She didn’t know who. An hour or so ago, her partner and Sheriff Boone had died in those woods. She was powerless to stop it. Now Boone’s ghost wanted her to carry on in his huge boots.
His ghost. She had to believe it because he had talked to her, face-to-face. And that wasn’t the strangest thing she’d seen. She’d left religion behind when she escaped the house after high school, but this night had reset her worldview. The supernatural was real. What next – Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy?
She’d seen dozens of apparitions walking among the living in those woods. They had battled sorcerers, and demons had been called forth into that damn clearing behind old man Scott’s farm.
She shook her head, walking through the deserted office complex. Maybe this mess could be cleared up by the Secret Service, but not likely. They’d showed up with Senator Rankin in tow after the fight was decided. He’d been kidnapped and had somehow been rescued. Details were scarce, but the hows and whys weren’t part of her pay grade. Until now.
Rowena had bigger problems than the shitstorm swirling around Washington in the aftermath of the terrorist bombing. She needed to assess her manpower and appoint someone she trusted as chief deputy. How deep had the bastards gone into Boone’s ranks? She had to find out. And her partner’s wife had to be told the father of their kids wasn’t coming home.
She made it to Boone’s office and sat at his desk. Only now it was her office, and this monstrosity was her desk. The big-ass block of mahogany swallowed up her five-two frame. What the hell was Boone thinking, insisting she take over the department? She’d listened attentively, nodding wide-eyed at his ghost, her vocal chords stuck somewhere between a grunt and a sigh when she tried to say something. Surrounded by his things now, it didn’t make sense. She should go home, grab a hot shower and a bottle of something hard to obliterate the memory of the last few hours. Two days of sleep would also help.
She knew it was a pipe dream. If not her, who? She couldn’t fool herself. She wanted the job – wanted it bad. But first things first. She needed to get officially appointed as interim sheriff. Then she would set the department right. She groaned. Who would believe her story? One mention of Boone’s ghost and they would laugh her into the next county. Boone had suggested an old-fashioned haunting might do the trick. Maybe…maybe not.
She rocked back in the oversized chair, chuckling at the utter nonsense of it all. Then tears started as the realization hit her. She was alone. Worse than alone. No one would believe her. What could she bring to this mess anyway, a lousy five-year term of service? She didn’t have the experience for this gig. She wasn’t sure she had the balls for the job under the best of circumstances, but now the world was spinning back to the days of sorcery and demons. How the hell could she cope with that?
Boone’s deputy corps was gutted. Turned somehow. Turned to the dark. Turned to evil. The rumors about Brick Taylor were right. He was the first to leave his humanity behind.
Apparently, Boone put him down a couple days before when Brick went rogue. That was the rumor anyway. It must be true. How many more of his remaining staff could she count on? How many more were still out there, turned, waiting for the right time to end her?
She rocked the chair, thinking. There was one man who seemed to be at the center of it all. Harry Black.
If only Boone had given her and her partner more information when he recruited them to provide sniper cover. For some reason, Boone had been taking orders from Black. How had Boone come to be involved in Black’s shit? And why had he been taking orders from a civilian? She knew less than nothing, but she had to find out.
She scanned the office, expecting to see his ghost smirking, hovering over his desk, appearing as a much younger man like in the clearing. He’d steadied her then, his words eventually calming her racing heart. But now, alone, she was beyond jittery. A million questions needed answers, and she needed them from a damn ghost.
Boone’s body was in the morgue by now. She had no idea if summoning him was even possible. He’d disappeared with the other apparitions as helicopters circled over the moonlit clearing.
She grabbed a notepad on the desk with the vague idea of making a to-do list and had jotted down, Go to UMMC, Talk to Black, when Boone’s phone began ringing.
“Hendricks,” she snapped, punching the button she’d seen Boone hit a thousand times. There was a long silence, but the breathing was loud enough to hear. “Hello,” she said again, trying harder to sound authoritative.
“There is the matter of the dead FBI man,” a male voice said. “Sheriff Boone was informed of his death by Black some hours ago. Body is still in the Warehouse district…Jackson. Front Street.”
“Who is this?”
The man laughed into the phone. “Too bad the old law man didn’t survive. Would have been fun to play with him more.” He hesitated. Rowena’s grip tightened. “The body will be ripening by now. You know what I mean, don’t you…girl?”
She sneered. “Who the fuck is this?”
The click left Rowena staring into the receiver. She looked up again, needing a glimpse of Boone, and cursed his continued absence. She turned to the wall clock. Three-thirty.
Boone had recently enacted a 12-hour work shift. This was based off a 14-day work schedule, a huge money saver. Four teams of officers for both patrol and corrections. Two teams on day shift, two on night. When one team was on duty, the other was off. People coming and going through the night. Driving up minutes before, people should have been around. Instead, the place was deserted.
She took a deep breath, trying to clear her mind. Was there anyone left? Anyone she could count on? If so, who? Who should be around at this hour? Who could she trust? The department had a little over a hundred full-time deputies and she knew them all. Boone usually had another seventy or so people he could count on in reserve. So, why hadn’t there been more help to take on those bastards?
The cold realization hit her, a sickening feeling she imagined death would be like. Boone either didn’t have the time to gear up for a war, or, more likely, he hadn’t trusted anyone but her and her partner. She got up. The mirror was only a few jittery-legged steps away.
Deepening shadows around her eyes gave her a haunted look, but the shower and stiff drink would have to wait. If Boone hadn’t trusted anyone in the department he’d personally built, neither could she.
Only two people out of a hundred good men and women. Had they all gone wrong?
The answer could wait. She made it back to the desk and saw a scribbled note in Boone’s awkward hand.
Agnes wants me to help the boy.
She sat, staring at the obvious reference to Agnes Black, Harry’s grandmother, known to everyone in these parts. The old lady had thrown a huge party for Senator Rankin only a couple weeks ago. Pictures from it were splattered all over the papers. Black’s grandmother had since died. Rowena read more of the note.
Something odd is happening. Wish I had seen her before she passed. Wish there had been time. Knew how eccentric she could be. But this is beyond eccentric. As real as it gets. They have the senator and likely his sister. Duffy is with Black. Fortunate to have an FBI man helping him, but how did they just disappear. Never seen anything like it. Can’t happen. Not possible. But it did. Now Black’s called with a plan. My gut tells me to trust him.
She walked to the bay of windows overlooking a courtyard. The moon was in the western sky – huge, beckoning – the note still in her hand. She knew what that plan had been; she and her partner lived it. Somehow the plan worked, but not because of anything law enforcement did. They were grossly outnumbered, but still made it out. How? How had anyone escaped? Now the call referencing a dead FBI agent. It seemed ominous, like the bastards were still in play, like none of this shit was finished.
She looked at the phone. There was someone she trusted. She walked back to the desk and dialed a number she still remembered. It had been so long, it surprised her when it came easily. He wouldn’t be alone, but she couldn’t help that. He answered on the tenth ring.
“It better be good at this hour, Sheriff.”
Rowena held her answer for a beat and almost slammed the receiver down, but damn it, she needed help.
A long pause mingled with creaking bed springs. Rowena’s temper flared when she heard a woman’s protest. Loose floor boards she knew well, muffled steps. It was a shock, no doubt, but she hoped his long silence meant he’d recognized her voice. He would be walking out of the room for some privacy.
“Did you hear me, Kurt? Boone’s dead.”
“Shit. How’d it happen? Why are you calling me?”
“Never mind how. I’ll fill you in once we meet. I need you. I have no one else I can trust.”
“Where’s Deke? He’s…"
Rowena cringed. Deke Pelgram. Boone’s Chief Deputy. One of the department’s finest. And a traitor. Black put him down not two hours before. “Dead.”
“Wh-what? What the fuck’s happening?”
The news shook the retired ranger, despite his usual unflappable demeanor, a trait Boone wanted to infuse into his deputies. Kurt Bozeman had served Boone well when called on for special assignment work, like providing sniper training for Rowena and her partner and the occasional presentation to his deputy corp. Rowena never understood why he’d always resisted Boone’s attempts to make him full-time.
“I need you, Kurt. I’ll fill you in. Get to Front Street. Jackson. Half hour. I’ll be waiting in a patrol car.” She hung up, wondering if he would be there.
Rowena checked her sidearm and got a rifle from the department’s armory. Just in case. She hurried through the compound on her way to the motor pool. Her suspicions had been right. The place was nearly deserted. Exceptions were in corrections where the dispatchers were. A few jail clerks were on hand. Better than nothing. As she nodded to those she passed, they questioned the absence of patrol deputies. They didn’t know her new status, didn’t know how ridiculous her answers would sound. She selected the nearest squad car and hit the streets.
The night seemed evil, even long after true evil had invaded their county. The moon had persisted in its full phase much longer than was usual. And though the skies were clear, the moonlight seemed muted. She stared up at it through the driver’s side window, and thought she detected a ruddy streak swathed across the surface. She did a double take, but in the next moment it was gone.
She parked across the street from the building in question, about thirty yards up. The caller had named the street, not the building, but this was the right place. It was a hunch because the lone working streetlight called to her. A beacon. Someone wanted her to find it.
A moment later Kurt’s truck pulled in behind her. He cut the lights as he turned the corner. Ever cautious, he had survived four tours of duty in various Middle-Eastern shitholes.
He came to her window in a low crouch, ready for war. He wore black, head to foot, black paste smeared across his face. A black tactical hat covered his blonde hair. His belt was loaded with extra magazines for the Glock 17 he carried. His usual hunting blade was in place for close up work. Overkill perhaps, but it gave her a kind of gruesome assurance.
He nodded and slipped easily into the rear seat, not willing to show himself street-side. If they were being watched, he’d have been seen. Any fuck taking a potshot at him would have to be damn good.
“Talk to me, Ro.”
“Caller said there’s a dead Fibbie inside. Said Boone knew it.”
She watched him in the rearview mirror. His eyes scanned the building and up the street.
“What happened tonight? Why’d you call from Boone’s phone and where’s your partner?”
"Freddie’s dead, too.”
The curses flew so quick she got only half of them. “Dammit. You gonna tell me what happened?”
“Not now.” She cut her eyes from the mirror, continuing to stare at the building. “Bad moon rising, Kurt. Can’t trust no one else.”
She watched him nod, understanding the reference. “Why?”
“Don’t know. Not gonna test it.”
“You think this is, what, a trap?”
She nodded. He was a better tactician than her any day of the week, so she waited for him to size up the situation.
“This isn’t even your jurisdiction.”
“Boone was working this case. Before he died, he told me to take over, become interim sheriff.” The lie was only a minor one. In fact, his ghost had been speaking to her as his body lay cold a few feet away. She would wait to spring the more, unnatural, details on him. He wouldn’t believe her anyway. Better for him to get a first-hand look if something weird hit them. A half-ass report now on something supernatural would distract him. She needed him focused.
“The whole force is compromised far as I can tell.”
He gave her a disbelieving look but didn’t challenge the idea. “Call Metro Jackson for backup
then. This is their show.”
She shook her head. “This is a continuing shitstorm. Most of their force was called in to protect Senator Rankin. He was taken to UMMC along with his Secret Service detail. Those boys were in bad shape. Until he’s on a plane to Washington wrapped up tighter than a damn burrito, no one around here is taking any other call.”
Mentioning Mississippi’s political wonder boy surprised him, but it was another detail that could wait. All that had happened was somehow connected to the D.C. bombing. It had to be. Without a word he slid from the car and took aim with his Glock. One round from the silenced weapon blew out the offending streetlight.
“No sniper location anywhere I can see,” he said, sliding back into the car. “Maybe the call was from a concerned citizen who ran across the body. He’s providing a service.”
“Hell, no. Bastard knew things. It’s a continuation.”
“Okay.” Bozeman thought a while. “These buildings all have loading docks in the rear. I did some heavy-lifting work here in high school during summers. Good way to stay in football shape. No lights on any of the back streets. Drive off dark. Park two blocks off in the back. We walk in from there.”
A minute later she found a dark spot down from a deserted corner. They both exited the car, eyes searching, before sizing up each other. It had been six months since she’d last seen him. Six months since their involvement. She had never wanted to see him again, but time had settled her a bit. And he was literally the best at what he did, so she had little choice.
“Tell me what happened,” Kurt said again. He started to place a tentative hand on her shoulder but thought better of it.
“Full report later. I promise. If we walk away from this, I’ll buy you a cup and you can offer me some career advice.” She said this with her eyes fixed on the two-story structure across from a grassed-over parking lot and a larger building with shot-out windows.
“Deal.” He scanned the place. “No parked cars. Doesn’t look occupied. That sliding door off the loading dock is partially up. Noticed it as I turned the corner. If people wanted it to be secure, it would be down and locked.”
“Or so they want you to think. Your hackles up yet?”
He thought a moment, holding his head higher as if to sense the air. “Not a bit. Let’s go.”
She let him take the lead. They crossed the lot at a jog and skirted the far side of the larger building. He stopped at the sheltered corner and together they looked around the edge of the structure. They were in a back alley with a clear view of the loading dock. A rat scurried away over the clink of glass shards.
No one was there. The moonlight seemed more intense now, as bright as she’d ever seen it, no longer muted. It bathed the back of the building in an earie glow, but the sliding door wasn’t up enough for them to get a good look inside.
“Don’t like this light. We split here. I’ll circle around to the far side. You go through that side door.” He pointed to a separate access door. “You okay with that?”
“We run to the platform then separate to either side. Give me ten seconds, then enter. Quietly.”
“Use your flash after a good minute in. I’ll do the same.” He gave her an appraising look. She met his eyes. “Shame about Freddie. I liked that wey.” This time he did put his big hand on her shoulder. “You okay?”
Moonlight turned his pale blue eyes to fire. She surprised herself by letting his hand rest where it was, reminding herself that the breakup was her idea. Something stupid about having to prove herself, get out from under his shadow, bullshit like that. In reality the cultural differences between them ate away at her, though black and white couples were everywhere in Mississippi. Her family didn’t help matters.
Their eyes became all there was in the night, a mutual entanglement, and now it embarrassed her. She turned away. “Let’s do this.”
Their timing was perfect. The lights flashed on together, the blackness of the room swallowing most of it. There was a huge opening in the dirty, concrete floor, containing a large shaft connected to enormous gears. On the other side of the opening, farther into the room, a bald, black man dressed in a sleek black suit sat on the floor, his long arms hugging his knees.
Rowena looked at Kurt across the way. He motioned for her to move as he began creeping along the far wall. She did the same on her side, all the while keeping an eye on the man sitting on the greasy floor. A different angle would give them a better look at the dead FBI agent.
Except he wasn’t dead. No dead body could just sit like that. Unless…
She shouted to Kurt, “He’s staged!”
He held a fist up for her to stop moving. The room was immense and so dark the blackness seemed to emanate from the pit of hell. It wasn’t total, because what few windows there were in the two-story structure were mostly pockmarked. The holes spawned high shadows across the corrugated metal skin of the walls. Kurt redirected his light in an attempt to penetrate more of the interior, but the blackness at floor level continued to stifle any attempt to further illuminate the interior.
“We may not be alone,” Rowena yelled, but Kurt either didn’t hear or chose not to respond.
Kurt finally gave her a thumbs up and crept towards the corpse. She did the same.
The man could have played defensive line in the NFL. Standing, he would clear Kurt by more than a head. Rowena moved in to get a better look at his face and noticed his badge. Someone had pinned it to the lapel of his jacket.
“Agent Duffy,” Rowena read and remembered Boone’s note. “I think he was working with Boone and Harry Black.”
“Black? Where have I heard that name?”
“Few days ago, in the papers. Mississippi’s newest billionaire.” Rowena hit her mic. “Dispatch, we have a body. Send a detail to—”
A buzzing sound silenced her. The sound of ten-thousand bumble bees assaulting her mind. Her hands shot to her ears. It affected Kurt the same way.
The laughter was even louder.
She searched for it before realizing it was coming from Agent Duffy, or what used to be him.
Buzzing and laughter died as suddenly as it started, replaced by the sound of sinews popping as the big man creaked to a standing position, as though the muscular rigor settling in after death was forced to break its hold. They backed off several paces, their guns leveled on the dead, but somehow still alive, agent.
She knew he had to be dead. She had been around stinking dead bodies. This body was definitely headed down that road.
“What the hell!” Kurt said, closer now to Rowena. He nudged her a step or two behind him. “The poor bastard can’t be alive.”
She grabbed Kurt’s shoulder, pulling him further away. “Not alive. Not like us.”
Agent Duffy didn’t seem to notice them. With difficulty, he turned his head, his dead tissues protesting. He worked his jaws, opening and closing his mouth. Then the dead man spoke. “This is our last working in this damnable city, but we will return.” As he said these words, the body of Agent Duffy turned slowly in a circle, taking in his surroundings, talking into the cavernous room. “Until then,” he completed his circle, “we will leave a message for the Black Protector.”
Quicker than should have been possible, the thing charged them, both arms outstretched.
Kurt pushed Rowena out of the way as Duffy came at them. In the same movement he ducked low, sweeping his left leg through the ankles of the oncoming zombie. The dead man fell hard onto his back and before its head snapped back to the concrete floor, Kurt shot three rounds into him.
The double tap to the head should have ended him, but these sorcerers apparently didn’t play by Hollywood rules. The thing lay there for a beat, then the laughing started up again.
Kurt had to jump aside when the zombie, in a clear violation of several laws of physics, rose to his feet in a damn good imitation of the way vampires moved in the films Rowena liked so much. It was like a stiff wind had picked the Duffy corpse up and settled him onto his big feet.
At Rowena’s side, Kurt said, “This is why you refused to tell me what the hell’s going on?”
The thing turned in a confused, jerky movement.
“How do we kill it?”
Rowena remembered the night’s hellish activities. “We can’t, but Black can.”
“Yeah? Well, he ain’t here at the moment.”
They were engulfed in shadows about thirty feet away when the dead agent found them. They began backing further into the dark.
“He’s at the hospital,” Rowena whispered. “Shot up pretty bad. Remember that Zombie show on TV? Take his brain out with the blade.”
“Tried that with the Glock. Didn’t work.”
“Just do it!”
Kurt pulled his knife as Agent Duffy advanced on them again, this time its speed even more evident. Before the zombie could grab him, Kurt jumped up and came down hard, driving the blade straight through the frontal lobe of the man.
Kurt stumbled after Rowena, but the knife stayed lodged in the man’s skull.
The thing stood there as though trying to decide his next play, finally reaching up to pull out the blade. A sickening amount of gray matter trailed after it. The knife clanged to the concrete floor.
“Right,” Rowena said, “fuck those shows. What’ll we do now?”
Kurt didn’t have any answers. Instead, he kept pulling her further away from the thing that refused to stay dead.
“We can’t let it out of here,” Rowena said.
Kurt didn’t answer her. He stopped backing away and addressed the dead man. “You said you had a message. Let’s hear it.”
It pointed to Rowena. “For her. We have no quarrel with you. Leave now and live. Stay and die,” the thing rolled its head as though trying to work out a neck spasm, “and become like this one.”
It meant dead, like Duffy, then something worse. Rowena grabbed Kurt’s hand.
“Don’t worry. I’m not leaving you.”
She yelled at the zombie. “You’ve just threatened a police officer. Give us the damn message.”
It laughed. “The senator will do our bidding in Washington yet. You will help.”
“The hell I will.”
The thing took a step towards them but stopped when the roll-up door began to bang and quiver like it had suddenly come alive. A wind howled against it, sweeping into the room. They widened their stance against it. Moonlight shining through the damaged window panes suddenly intensified a hundredfold, brightening the interior into a mix of swirling shadows. But these weren’t disjointed shadows, they were taking form.
The zombie, or whatever the hell the thing was, growled something unintelligible and shrank back from them.
Moonlight and blood don’t mix.
No one said those words. Rowena was sure of it. Not Kurt, who, bless his bravery, was standing tall beside her. She heard them nevertheless.
The knife is free. The thrall is moved away. Take it and cut your palm.
“Who said that?” Rowena whispered, turning, trying to find the person they hadn’t seen before.
Kurt pulled her closer. “Easy, Ro, no one’s speaking.”
“The hell they aren’t.” She spotted the knife. The thing had removed itself to a darker spot.
Kurt tried to hold her steady. “Don’t—”
She yanked her arm from his grip and ran to pick it up.
As if her arms were working on their own, both of them lifted, knife in one hand, sharp blade against the other palm. The light intensified. She stiffened, hesitating.
The thing sensed a change. Growling, it charged.
She could hear Kurt coming to her, cursing, ready to take the thing head on. He’d be no match for the brute.
The world slowed. Flecks of floating dust in the dirty room. Moonlit suspension. More words blossoming in her mind. This time she spoke them aloud to the hideous thing Agent Duffy had become.
“Lunae lumen et sanguis non commiscentur!”
She didn’t recognize her own voice, but these words formed on her lips, her vocal chords activating, her tongue speaking a language she didn’t know.
She slashed her palm. The knife clanged to the floor. Blood – red, vital— seeped from her flesh, dripping through the hot June night onto the filthy floor, dripping through moonlit shadows.
The thing halted, a look of terror, then anger, stretched across its black face.
Poor Agent Duffy. Rowena knew he hadn’t bargained for Black’s shit. He had paid the price, too, like her boss. Yet, now, even in death his body was still paying the price, but maybe not his spirit or soul. She’d have to ask her mother. She had lots of things to relearn.
The Duffy thing screamed, moonlight ricocheting off her palm, searing the former agent with its pale brilliance, a ray of muted, soft white so intense Rowena turned her face away.
Kurt did the same. He came to her, tried to help. The feelings she had denied herself flooded back in. She pulled his face down to her, trying to shield him as the light did its work on the dead man and whatever inside was animating him. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the shrieking ended.
They sensed together when it was time to look. They turned to Duffy, his body dissolving before them. There was now a smile on his face. It must be the real Duffy because tears were falling. A corpse crying? Or was it his spirit?
The long night felt over at last. Completely over. But like in the clearing in the woods behind Scott’s farm, Rowena was still at a loss for words.
They made it back to the patrol car and Kurt drove them to his truck. He bandaged her hand using a kit all units carried.
He sat behind the wheel of the unit and she sat next to him. They were silent, Kurt dressing her wound, complaining that she cut it too deep. She would need stitches. She really didn’t hear much of what he said. Her thoughts were on Duffy and what had been controlling his dead body. And on Harry Black. Was it he who spoke to her mind? She had to get to him and find out what the hell was going on.
Finally, she looked at Kurt and found him studying her.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she said.
“Like you know me.”
“I do know you. Quite well.”
She punched his shoulder with her good hand. He didn’t flinch.
“You gonna talk to me now?”
“Gotta get coffee first, remember?”
He nodded and looked in the mirror at his truck parked behind them.
“The monsters are gone…I think. It’ll be alright to leave it here.”
“That’s what that was? A monster?”
She thought about it. “Not at the end. At the end he was just a man.”
“A man who just…sparkled away…into nothing. How do you explain that?”
“I can’t…none of it. But I plan to find out.”
He reached for her hand, enfolded her fingers in his. She didn’t try to pull away.
“Felt good working with you again.”
She turned away from him. “Who’s the ‘friend’ I heard?”
“Nobody.” He turned more fully to her. “You know how long I waited for you to come to your senses. To come back to me.”
She knew, approximately, but she had been stubborn. “It’s not easy, Kurt. I—”
He lifted her hand, kissed it. “I don’t want to go on like this. I want you back.”
“And I can’t. Not now.”
“Why. I know you want to.”
“I-I need your help in other ways. Boone wants me to take over. I-I want to, but I need help I can trust. I need a chief.”
He released her. Turned away, staring straight ahead into the night, the moon still burning a path through the deserted streets.
“You hear me, Kurt? I need a Chief Deputy.”
“Had Pelgram, until he went rogue. I don’t know what I’ll be facing. I need you.”
He turned back, took her hand again, kissed it. “If it was anyone else, I’d walk away, but I can’t do that to you. Let’s talk. We’ll see.”
She smiled up at him as he started the patrol car and pulled away.
“I’m taking you home.”
She nodded and sat back in her seat, her head rolling to stare out of the window at the passing buildings and city lights. She thought of that voice in her head. It had saved them. How? Some kind of weird magic, no doubt. Black would know about it. She and Kurt would talk, work things out, maybe save the department. Hope swelled in her despite all that had happened, despite all she didn’t know.