Never Piss Off a Storm Goddess The drive past the art museum seemed strangely familiar – or at least, the view out the window did. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the feelings bubbling up from the hindspaces of my Swiss-cheesed brain. Of course, Kessiel didn’t help matters any. He kept distracting me by thrashing against my seat, trying to yell from behind the gag. He made an impressive amount of sound, considering he was essentially limited to projecting through his nose.

At one point, he started kicking at the door behind Lil. She quickly put a stop to this. Fixing a chilly gaze on him in the rearview mirror, she spat, “Kessiel? I will cut off an inch of your manhood for every ding you put into this car.”

She meant it, too.

Kessiel made unhappy noises from behind the three layers of duct tape. They might have been expletives, curses, or nursery rhymes for all I knew. But he settled down.

Pretty soon we were at RockefellerPark, with its old, crumbling stone work and little cultural corners dedicated to the city’s various ethnic populations. Lil pulled into the park near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, and I experienced another cloying sense of déjà vu. Maybe it was just a partial memory that survived the attack. Whatever it was, it was frustratingly elusive. Something kept drawing my eyes to the statue, but I couldn’t hold the thoughts long enough to understand their significance.

“Now what?” I asked as she cut the engine.

We were sitting in a pool of shadow, tucked back beneath the trees. In the rearview mirror, I could just make out the figure of Gandhi, caught in mid-stride with his walking stick.

“Now I get answers,” she said.

She reached over me and popped open the glove compartment. She was small enough that she had to practically lean across my lap to do so. I expected to get a noseful of the heady scent of spice and vanilla that always seemed to cling to her. Instead, I smelled ozone and fresh summer rain. At the same time, I felt a raw and primal terror crawling up the base of my spine. It curdled in my gut and made my heart leap to my throat. There was absolutely no reason for it. No reason at all.

And then Lil grabbed what she was seeking in the depths of the glove compartment. She sat up, moving off of me. The feeling faded almost immediately. Puzzled, I turned to study her face. Her gray eyes caught the light, only there wasn’t any light to really catch. Despite this, they flashed in threatening tones of gunmetal and silver. Her hair seemed wilder, her features fierce. She exuded death and danger as surely as she also exuded sex and perfume.

Almost as soon as I realized that, I felt a pressure shift in the car. My ears actually popped from it. There was a flash of metal that was not her eyes. She was holding a knife, her treasure from the glove compartment. She flipped the blade open with her thumb. It was elegantly curved and wickedly sharp, about four inches long. Long enough to kill.

Kessiel must have realized something was up, because he had fallen completely silent. I noticed then that Lil was holding the knife angled so that he could see it from where his head was pressed up against the door. She gazed down at the blade for a few moments and started chanting. She ran the ball of her thumb along the edge of the blade, leaving behind a thin trail of blood. The pressure in the car intensified, to the point where it started to feel electric. Then the wind gusted so hard, the trees around us groaned. Acorns rained down on the hood of the car along with some of the last dead leaves of autumn. And then it was just rain. With a blinding flash, the heavens opened up, and huge, fat drops hammered down upon the car. It had been close to freezing a few hours before, but now we were in the midst of a raging thunderstorm.

Lil looked up from her contemplation of the dagger, her eyes the color of lightning-torn clouds. With a grin that promised suffering and pain, she clambered into the backseat and straddled the prone form of Kessiel.

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