Chapter 26: Tangle
“Oh my god!” Corrie screamed. She tried to run toward Dawn, but she was still in trance, and she fell. She tried to yank herself out of trance, pulling her consciousness up hard, but when she tried to stand she was dizzy, and she knew she’d done it wrong. “Dawn!” she cried. Edie was screaming, too.
It was dark, and the lights that there were swam before her eyes, but at least she could see well enough to know that Dawn had dived out of the way and Paul had stumbled. He was still after her, though. Corrie squeezed her eyes shut and tried to calm her racing mind so she could get herself out of trance properly. She really hoped that Dawn was already out of trance.
Finally, she pulled it back up into herself, and then she was up and running. It was almost too bad there wasn’t further to run—at least that was in her skill set. She tried to tackle Paul, but only ended up grabbing his arm. That helped pull him to the ground, though. Behind her, she could hear Edie talking quickly and quietly, but couldn’t make out the words. What was she doing?
“Corrie, get out of the way!” Dawn shouted. Corrie tried to jump to her feet, but she was tangled in Paul’s long limbs. She cursed at him. He didn’t seem to notice.
Then a blast of water hit both of them. Corrie shrieked and started coughing as the water got into her mouth and throat. But at least it seemed to disorient Paul as well, and she was able to slip out of the tangle and stumble to her feet.
Dawn was standing up, still sending water blasting from her outstretched palms into Paul. Her eyes were wild and there was something dark on her shoulder—was that blood? “Are you all right?” Corrie gasped, reaching for her.
“Don’t worry about me,” Dawn said, sounding strained. “Get the knife away from him.”
Corrie looked down at Paul. He was on his knees now, shielding himself from the water with one hand, but apparently unable to get away from the force of the stream. His other hand dangled at his side, and the knife was held in that one. She circled him and grabbed for it, but he held it tightly.
She tried to think. It was all so bizarre. Why was he doing this? Was he trying to protect her somehow? That had to be it. He must blame Dawn for separating them somehow. That was completely insane, since they’d broken up before Corrie had even met Dawn, but there had to be something insane going on, or he wouldn’t be attacking people with a stone knife.
“Please give me the knife,” she said, but her mind was whirling. It was a stone knife. She could work with that, couldn’t she? Why would he even have a stone knife, though? It wasn’t as though they were exactly easy to find. He could have ordered it online, but he couldn’t have bought it on campus, could he?
“No!” he cried, though the words were garbled by the water rushing at him. “I need it!”
Corrie tried to think or how to persuade him, but she was interrupted by Edie. “I called campus security,” she said breathlessly. “They’re on their way.”
Corrie could have laughed if she hadn’t been trying to think so hard. Of course Edie thought of the practical thing to do. They’d been standing not ten feet from one of the emergency phones that were set up for that very purpose. “Good idea. Thanks.”
“What else can I do?”
“Help me. Grab his arm.”
Edie crouched down and grabbed Paul’s arm at the elbow with both hands. Corrie grabbed at the knife again, but he was still holding it tightly, and now it was wet. It slipped in her hand, slicing her finger and forcing another curse out of her. She stuck the cut in her mouth and sucked on it. It tingled somehow… or maybe that was just the fact that it was November and she was soaked. She was starting to shiver. She would have to conjure fire as soon as she could.
Magic. That was it. The knife was earth element. She should be able to change it to something else. She’d never done that before, but she was pretty sure it was possible. Right? “Keep holding him, Edie,” she said, and took hold of the knife with both her hands.
Breathe, she told herself, and did so, reaching within herself for her magic. It came to her summons eagerly. She smiled at how easy it had become and concentrated on creating harmless dirt. She felt it crumble between her hands, but when she moved them away, she saw that she had only created dirt; she hadn’t changed the knife into it.
Security would be here any minute, but she didn’t want anyone else getting hurt. She could disarm him. She grabbed the knife again and squeezed her eyes shut, concentrating on the change, thinking of a tree root this time. Something that couldn’t hurt them.
She felt a tingle between her hands, then something like fire, and then she blacked out.