“When they brought you in…” Thomas says. He doesn’t finish, but I know what he means. I put my hand on his shoulder and give it a shake.
“I’m fine,” I say, and sit up a little with only a minimal struggle. “I’ve been in worse scrapes.”
Standing on the other side of his room with his back to all of us, acting like he’s got a lot more interesting things to be doing, Morfran gives a snort.
“Not likely.” He turns around. His wire specs have slid most of the way down his nose. “And you’re not out of this ‘scrape’ yet. You been Obeahed.”
Thomas, Carmel, and I all do that thing you do when someone is speaking another language: we look around at each other and then say, “Huh?”
“Obeahed, boy,” Morfran snaps. “West Indian voodoo magic. You’re just lucky that I spent six years on Anguilla, with Julian Baptiste. Now that was a real Obeahman.”
I stretch my limbs and sit up straighter. Except for a little tenderness in my back and side, plus the swimmy head stuff, I feel fine.
“I’ve been Obeahed by an Obeahman? Is this like how the Smurfs say they smurfing smurfed all the time?”
“Don’t joke, Cassio.”
It’s my mother. She looks awful. She’s been crying. I hate that.
“I still don’t know how he got into the house,” she says. “We were always so careful. And the barrier spell was working. It worked on Anna.”
“It was a great spell, Mrs. Lowood,” Anna responds gently. “I could never have crossed that threshold. No matter how much I would have liked to.” When she says this last part, her irises get three shades darker.
“What happened? What happened after I blacked out, or whatever?” I’m interested now. The relief of not being dead has worn off.
“I told him to come out and face me. He didn’t accept. He just smiled this terrible smile. Then he was gone. There was nothing but smoke.” Anna turns to Morfran. “What is he?”
“He was an Obeahman. What he is now, I don’t know. Any limitations he had left with his body. Now he’s only force.”
“What exactly is Obeah?” Carmel asks. “Am I the only one who doesn’t know?”
“It’s just another word for voodoo,” I say, and Morfran slams his fist into the wood corner of the counter.
“If you think that then you’re as good as dead.”
“What are you talking about?” I ask. I haul myself to my feet, unsteadily, and Anna takes my hand. This isn’t a conversation to have lying down.
“Obeah is voodoo,” he explains. “But voodoo is not Obeah. Voodoo is nothing more than Afro-Caribbean witchcraft. It follows the same rules as the magic we all practice. Obeah has no rules. Voodoo channels power. Obeah is power. An Obeahman doesn’t channel shit, he takes it into himself. He becomes the power source.”
“But the cross—I found a black cross, like yours for Papa Legba.”
Morfran waves his hand. “He probably started out as voodoo. He’s something much, much more now. You’ve gotten us into a world of shit.”
“What do you mean I’ve gotten us?” I ask. “It’s not like I called him. ‘Hey, guy who killed my dad, come terrorize me and my friends!’”
“You brought him here,” Morfran growls. “He’s been with you the whole time.” He glares at the athame in my hand. “Hitching a ride on that damn knife.”
No. No. That can’t be what’s happened. I know what he’s saying now, and it can’t be true. The athame feels heavy—heavier than before. The glint of its blade in the corner of my eye looks secretive and traitorous. He’s saying that this Obeahman and my athame are linked.
My brain fights it even though I know he’s right. Why else would he bring the knife back to me? Why else would Anna smell smoke when it cut her? It was tied to something else, she said. Something dark. I’d thought it was just the knife’s inherent power.
“He killed my father,” I hear myself say.
“Of course he did,” Morfran spits. “How do you think he became connected to the knife in the first place?”
I don’t say anything. Morfran is giving me the piece it together, genius look. We’ve all gotten it at one time or another. But I just got un-mojo-ed five minutes ago, so cut me some slack.
“It’s because of your father,” my mom whispers. And then, more to the point, “Because he ate your father.”