"I'm not sure he sees it that way," I whispered back.
Rose screamed, "Why, Arthur!" And he tried to walk out of the circle. It gave, gave like a piece of plastic stretched tight by a pushing hand.
I yelled, "Emmett Leroy Rose, I command you to stay." But the moment I had to yell anything, I knew we were in trouble.
Rose kept trying to move forward, and the circle was no longer a wall. It was folding outward--I could feel it. I threw my will and power not into the zombie but into the circle. I yelled, "NO!" and threw that no, that refusal, into the circle. It helped. It was as if the circle took a breath that it had needed. But I'd never tried to do anything like this before. I didn't know how long it would hold the dead man.
The dead man turned to me and said, "Let me out."
"I can't," I said.
"He killed me."
"No, he didn't. If he'd really killed you, you'd be outside this circle right now. If you were the righteously murdered, nothing I could do would hold you."
"Righteously murdered." And he gave a laugh so bitter that it hurt to hear it. "Righteous. No, not righteous. I took money. I knew was dirty. I told myself that as long as I didn't do any of the illegal stuff, it was okay. But it wasn't. It wasn't okay." He glanced back toward the circle, but then his eyes were all for Salvia. "I may not have been a righteous man, but I did not know what Georgie was doing to those kids. I swear to God, I didn't know. And you had the body put in my car. Did you see the boy before Jimmy moved him, Arthur? Did you see what Georgie had done to him? He ripped him open. Ripped him open!"
And he hit the circle, hit it with his hands like he was trying to reach through it, and it gave. I felt it begin to tear like paper.
I screamed, "No! This circle is mine! Within the limits of this circle of power I command. I command, not you, and I say no, no, Emmett Leroy Rose, you shall not pass this circle."
Rose staggered back from the circle. "Let me out!"
I screamed, "No! Fox, get Salvia out of here!" Then something hit me in the arm. Hit me so hard that it spun me around. I fell to all fours. I couldn't feel my arm, but I was bleeding. I had a second to think, Oh, I've been shot, before Micah moved past me, standing in front of me. Standing between me and where the shot had come from. He was pointing. I heard the second bullet hit the gravestone behind me, a sharp ping of sound.
Salvia was screaming, "Don't shoot her! Don't shoot her, you idiot. The zombie is up--don't shoot her now. It won't do any good."
I crawled around the tombstone, putting it between me and the shooter. My arm worked enough to help me scramble across the ground. The feeling was even returning to it, which was good, because that meant I wasn't hurt too badly.
The downside was that I was hurt, and now my body knew it. The bullet had only grazed me, but whatever grazed me had been of a big enough caliber that I could see things in my arm that were never meant to be visible to the naked eye. I hate seeing my own muscle and ligaments. It means the shit has hit the fan, and I'm standing downwind.
Gunshots were sounding, this time going away from us and out into the night. The FBI were returning fire. Good for them. I used my left hand to get my right one moving, so I could get my gun out. I wasn't as good left-handed, but it was better than nothing.
I yelled, "Micah!" With bullets flying, I wanted him with me.
But it wasn't Micah who loomed over me. Rose bent his large dark shape over me, reaching for me. I ordered him, "Don't."
"Let me out," he said.
"No," I said. I fired into him, though I knew better than anyone there that bullets wouldn't do a damn thing.
He was a zombie; they didn't feel pain. He grabbed me and lifted me off the ground as I fired point-blank into his chest. His body rocked with the impact, but that was all.
Claws blossomed through his throat a moment before I realized Micah was on the zombie's back, only his hands in half-clawed form, like only the really powerful shapeshifters could do. But you can't kill the dead.
Rose smashed me down with everything that his more-than-human body had in it. I hit the gravestone. The inside of my head was suddenly filled with white starbursts, then the starbursts were crimson, and the inside of my head spilled to velvet dark, and that was all she wrote. The velvet dark, and nothing.
I woke staring up at a white ceiling. Micah was standing by the bedside, smiling down at me. Bedside? My left arm was taped down to a little board and there were needles and tubes going into it. My right arm was bandaged like a mummy. Someone had left a florist shop in one corner near the window, complete with those silly character Mylar balloons.
"How long?" I asked, and my voice sounded funny. My throat felt like sandpaper.
"Forty-eight hours." He found one of those cups with the little bendy straws and brought it to me. The water tasted stale and metallic in a none-too-tasty sort of way, but my throat felt better.
The door opened, and a doctor, a nurse, and Nathaniel came through the door. The doctor and nurse I'd expected. I reached for Nathaniel and found that my right arm actually did work.
He gave me that wonderful smile, but it didn't reach his eyes. They looked haunted, and I knew that I'd put that particular look there. Me, getting hurt.
The doctor's name was Nelson, and the nurse was Debbie. Nurse Debbie, like she didn't have a last name, but I didn't protest. If it didn't bother her, I guess it didn't bother me.
Dr. Nelson was short and roundish, with most of his dark hair receding around a face that looked too young for either the hairline or the weight. "It's good to see you awake, Marshal." And he laughed, as if that amused him. "Sorry, but every time I say it, I keep thinking of Gunsmoke, my dad's favorite show."
"Glad I could be amusing," I said, and I had to clear my throat again.
Micah gave me some more water, and Nathaniel moved up on the other side of him. He touched the side of my face, and even the brush of his fingertips made me feel better.
Nurse Debbie's eyes flicked to the two men, and then her face had that pleasant professional look again.
"First, you're going to be fine," Nelson said. He had the nurse hold my arm up while he began to cut away the bandages.
"Good to hear it," I said in a voice that was beginning to sound more like me.
"Second, I have no idea why. You took a very large caliber rifle round to your right arm. There should be muscle damage, but there isn't." He slid the bandages off, handing them to the nurse to dispose of. He took my hand in his and raised my arm so I could see it. There was a slick, pink scar on the side of my arm, about an inch and a half wide at its widest. "It's been only forty-eight hours, Marshal. Care to explain how you're healing this fast?"
I gave him nice blank eyes.
He sighed and lowered my arm to the bed. He got out one of those little flashlights and began to shine it in my eyes. "Any pain?"
"No," I said.
He made me follow his fingers back and forth; he even made me look up and down. "Your head connected with a marble tombstone, so the FBI tells me. Our tests showed you had a concussion. Initially we thought your skull was cracked, and you were bleeding in places inside your head where you don't want to be bleeding." His eyes were very serious as he studied my face. "We ran a second set of tests before scheduling you for surgery, and what do you think, Marshal? No internal bleeding. Gone. We thought we'd read the first test wrong, but I've got the pictures to show what we saw that first night. There was a crack in your skull, and you were bleeding, but later that morning, it had stopped. In fact, the second set of tests shows the fracture healing. Healing like your arm is healing." His serious expression intensified.
"You know, the only person I've ever seen heal damage like this was a lycanthrope."
"Really," I said, giving him my best blank face.
"Really," he said, and looked at Micah. He had his sunglasses back on over his kitty-cat eyes, but something about the way Nelson looked at him said the doctor had probably seen Micah without the glasses. "We had to type you for surgery. There are certain things we look at it in a blood test, just routine these days. Guess what we found?"
"No idea," I said.
"Weird f**king shit," he said.
I laughed. "Should I be worried? I mean, are doctors supposed to say 'weird f**king shit' to their patients?"