Somewhere another Beth would change the future of our world, but I knew I wasn’t her. Rubbing the last of the chalk off the pavement I stood. It wasn’t a kind of magic I’d used before, and it was something I’d only tried because Raina believed it was the best option we had. Even if our lives would never be the same again she could do something to stop Max. Breathing in deeply, emotions sweeping through me, I stared out into the darkness, knowing he was out there somewhere. Had I managed to find him sooner… I shook my head.
One of my brother’s skills was hiding. Unfortunately he’d inherited it from Dad, who I hadn’t seen since the day I told them I’d never be like them. Max, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy taunting me, and our cousins, by making things as complicated as he could. Lou and Jen were in the middle of something they believed was more important than what was coming, so they’d contacted two other hunters. If they’d made a different choice we might have been looking at a different future, one with far less zombies, because I’d have been able to use their power to strengthen the ritual. The only reason I could was our blood bond. Creating other types of bonds was always possible, but it was a slow process. Too slow for me to be able to use it as a way of stopping Max.
I stepped back into my room. Writing an entry for the other Beth was the most important next step, because she’d need all the help I could give her. Drawing someone else into my place wasn’t something I’d wanted to do. Finding a way to deal with Max myself had been the priority, but as time passed it became obvious I didn’t have any other option. Someone else had to take my place. There had to be a Talis where the zombies were destroyed before they could do any damage if I stood any chance of fixing my Talis. Of course I also needed to live long enough to be able to do it.
There were no certainties. Even with the other Beth I couldn’t be certain she’d be able to save us. She was our only option, so I did what I thought was right, in the hope I might be able to save the people who were strong enough to get through the end of the world as we knew it. Magical zombies were very different to the normal kind, and Max was strong. Dad used to pit us against each other, one raising the dead and the other putting them back down, and I almost always lost, whichever side I was on. Raina said the ritual would draw someone who was as strong as him, giving them a chance to save my world. A tear trickled down my cheek. I wasn’t enough.
As I said on the bed my phone rang. For a moment I stared at the wall, knowing there was only one person it could be, before answering it. “Raina, I’m fine.”
“You’re lying. We both know you aren’t fine. If it wasn’t for Ethan I’d be there, Beth, but I need to keep him safe through all of this.” Raina sighed. “I have no idea if I’m going to be able to manage it. Not with how things are likely to be, but he’s someone we’ll need to put the world back together.”
“Surviving tomorrow will be complicated enough. We both know what’s coming, and I’ve got Jared to deal with as well.” I shook my head. “I’ve got no idea why either Jen or Lou thought sending them would be a good idea.”
“Out of every hunter I know they’re the two with the best chance of getting you through what’s coming. It would be better for everyone if Jen and Lou were able to get to you, but they’re too far to make it in time. You need hunters who’ll be able to fight the zombies.”
Nodding, I raked a hand through my hair. “I know. He also already hates me, thanks to my family, because I can’t possibly be different to them.”
“Jared will see who you really are soon enough. He should realise quickly enough you’re the only who stands a chance of being able to stop Max. That will be enough of a reason for him to keep you alive, until the time comes when we can take Max on, and win.”
“When, Raina? We both know it’s an if. So much of this relies on a ritual we can’t be certain will work, and if it does work we can’t know the right person will be drawn to Talis.”
“No, we can’t, but I wouldn’t have suggested the ritual if I didn’t think it was our best chance.”
“I know that too.” I looked down at my journal, at the notes I’d written on the ritual, to explain to the other Beth what I’d done. “This is our only chance. She’s our only chance.” I raked a hand through my hair. “I should get this done, and then try to get some sleep. Tomorrow will be a long day.”
“For all of us.”
Being able to feel her power touch me from hundreds of miles away wasn’t something I thought I’d ever get used to, but I knew she was gifting me something to help me through the day. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” I could hear the smile in her voice. “I’ll talk to you when I can.”
Then she was gone, and I was alone once more. Dropping the phone onto the bedside table I turned my focus to my journal. Knowing someone else was going to read it complicated everything. Ever since I’d talked to Raina about using the ritual I’d tried to write in such a way it would be useful to someone else, without looking like I was insane if someone who wasn’t her came across it. When the zombies attacked there was a chance I’d lose my life, and if that happened… well, at least I’d done my best to stop Max.
Breathing in deeply, telling myself Raina was right and I’d survive the first wave, because I had to. I’d be needed. Max wasn’t the kind of person to leave anything to chance. Thanks to him I was the only one who could put his zombies down. Anyone else with our skills who wasn’t a necromancer had been killed – which I realised pretty quickly when I went out looking for help. He wanted me to be the last, probably believing it was poetic as I was his sister, and for half our lives he’d been competing against me. I’d never bothered competing against him. There was no point. He was always stronger than me, but, thanks to Dad, he’d always seen me as the only person who might be able to stop him.
As I wrote about what was coming, to help my other self more than me, I found myself wondering what life would have been like had we not been born necromancers. How we might have been raised by Mum, rather than Dad. She was the one who’d made the decision to leave us with him when she realised the power we had. Knowing more than I did then I understand her choice, but for a long time I was angry with her, for never giving me a chance to be anything else. If she had chosen to raise me it wouldn’t have changed anything. I was a necromancer.
Fortunately I was able to use my power for good. I could help people who’d been harmed by those who walked darker paths, like my brother. Working with my cousins I’d stopped multiple necromancers, and I was certain the time would come when I’d be able to bring an end to the most dangerous of them all – Max. It was still possible, but the days coming would make it a hundred times more complicated. Maybe, if Raina was right, it would be with Jared and Sam by my side, rather than my cousins.