We had been chanting for what felt like hours.
My voice was close to giving out and Jori was shaking.
One of the girls that Thuy brought–her name was Lydia or Libby or something–was bleeding pink foam from the corner of her mouth, making wet, meaty hiccup noises in the back of her throat.
“They’re coming!” Thuy shouted, wiping the girl’s face off, patting her cheek, trying to rouse her. “We’ve only got like, ten minutes, max, Eli!” he warned.
Nos vocamus tibi ab orbe
Nos vocamus ad te de luce
Nos vocamus in tenebris
Nos vocamus ad te nocte
Eli’s voice rang clear, thrumming with desperate rage — he had been the one holding onto her when she vanished, days and days ago, when the moon’s shadow passed over the earth. She had been the one raving about the darkness coming, the hunger, and then the sun went red as blood, and she started screaming about how they were coming to take her, how the dead wanted her, and would take her away.
And then she was gone.
It was Eli who screamed, then — until he drove himself hoarse.
Now, he all but carved the words into the sky with the sheer force of his voice, and we answered him, trying desperately to add what little will we had to his.
“Eli!” Thuy shouted. “Five minutes, man!”
Eli wouldn’t break his chant; he focused on the center of the circle and begged, demanded Addie’s return.
First, the circle was empty, then it wasn’t.
Addie flickered into being, writhing on the ground, wide eyes black and shining, her mouth open, screaming silently from whatever horrors she’d seen, wherever she’d gone.
Eli didn’t even finish the chant, scrambling up to grab Addie into his arms, while Thuy picked up Lydia and Jori hearded everyone back to the caravan. “Go! Go! GO!”
We drove away from the crossroads, leaving the candles burning and dust in our wake as the shadows approached from the west. The ground shook as we made our escape, and tried to put as much distance between us, and them, as possible.