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"I can't believe it..."
"There was so much blood."
Fragments of conversation hit Kendall Glynn from all sides, but the words were no more than an irrelevant buzzing in her brain. She was just as oblivious to the emergency vehicles scattered outside San Francisco's top-rated KPOW TV station. Some of her colleagues were crying, while others spoke to police. The sea of people behind the yellow crime-scene tape all looked the sameeager spectators hoping for a glimpse of more blood, more madness.
She'd had enough of both to last a lifetime.
"Miss? Have you been treated?"
Kendall's zombielike shuffling halted at the deep melodic voice close to her, and she turned to discover an EMT had appeared at her side. For a long moment she stared at him while his words slipped across the frozen surface of her mind without leaving a mark.
"I'm not hurt." Her voice came from far off, unrecognizable and rough around the edges. Which made sense. The last time she'd used it had been to scream.
"You might not be hurt, but you are in shock." Somehow she was moving again, heading for the back of an empty ambulance. It wasn't until he helped her into it that she realized he'd pulled her along like a lost two-year-old. "I'm going to check you out, okay?"
"This blood, it's not mine." Amazing, how calm she sounded.
"I understand." After settling her on the side of a gurney, the paramedic lifted her chin with a gloved hand and flashed a penlight across her eyes. "You've got lovely eyes, just like emeralds. Do you have a name?"
"My name is Zeke Reece. I'm going to take your vitals now, okay, Kendall?"
"I'm not hurt." He had to understand she wasn't the one who needed his attention. "The others, Dave Beamer and Jane Walters, they're the ones who..." Oh, God.
"They're being taken care of." A blood-pressure cuff slipped over her arm. Began to squeeze. "You were close to them when it went down, right? Can you tell me what happened?"
"I don't know." Confused, she shook her head. "One second Dave was doing his jobsmiling into the camera and reading the copy I wrote about a couple of murder-suicides. It was my first lead story."
"Maybe he didn't like how I wrote it." She couldn't seem to stop shaking her head. "The next thing I knew, Dave was choking our anchorwoman so hard I thought he'd snapped her neck, before he took his pen and..."
"Easy." Zeke moved to sit beside her and pushed her head between her knees. "You're not allowed to go that white, Kendall. Makes me think you're going to faint."
"I don't know what happened," she said again, closing her eyes and willing the queasiness to pass. "Everyone was screaming. It wasn't until I got close to Dave that I realized he was yelling the loudest. It's like he was possessed, jamming his pen into his own neck while he screamed for someone to stop him. I jumped on top of him, but..." She gulped in air until the ringing in her ears went away. "I think he's dead. I think Dave is dead." She trembled on the verge of admitting she'd seen the essence of Dave's life drain away, just as she'd witnessed her grandfather's life essence drift from his body in the hospital when she was a child. She'd told her mother about it, and had been reprimanded for letting her imagination run away with her like crazy Aunt Maggie, a woman who read palms and talked to spirits for a living. But deep down Kendall had always suspected what she'd seen that day was real, and Aunt Maggie probably wasn't as crazy as her family claimed.