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Witch & Wizard: The Fire

Whit and Wisty Allgood have sacrificed everything to lead the resistance against the merciless totalitarian regime that governs their world. Its supreme leader, The One Who Is The One, has banned everything they hold dear: books, music, art, and imagination. But the growing strength of the siblings' magic hasn't been enough to stop the One's evil rampage, and now he's executed the only family they had left.

Wisty knows that the time has finally come for her to face The One. But her fight and her fire only channel more power to this already invincible being. How can she and Whit possibly prepare for their imminent showdown with the ruthless villain that devastated their world-before he can truly become all-powerful?

In this stunning third installment of the epic Witch & Wizard series, the stakes have never been higher—and the consequences will change everything.

Book One | Blood Holiday

Chapter 2

Whit

I'VE GOT To get Wisty somewhere safe—like, now. We seem to have lost the club-wielding pigs behind the crowd for a few precious seconds, so I whirl around to find another alleyway...and nearly run smack into my own face. I stumble backward, chills running down my spine.

And then I see them.

A hundred posters, or a thousand, on every pole and window. Wisty and me.

WISTERIA ROSE ALLGOOD and 
WHITFORD P. ALLGOOD. 
WITCH AND WIZARD. 
HIGHLY DANGERoUS CRIMINALS. 
WANTED ALIVE. 
MOSTLY DEAD ACCEPTABLE. 

I whip around again, hyperventilating. I feel eyes on me everywhere. An old woman grins up at me with a mouthful of missing teeth. A couple of suits trot down the white marble steps of the Capitol building, their cigars pointed our way. There's a little girl standing off to the side, her wide, gray eyes boring into me. She knows.

They all know.

Right on cue, the squad storms through the entrance to the square, their heads flicking around in search of us. And then, like something out of a horror movie, the zombie wolves start to howl.

There's a small, partially bombed-out stone building down a side street that I can spot from here, and it looks promising. Or at least more promising than the jaws of the half-dead mutts. I slink toward it as inconspicuously as possible and slip in through a side door.

A gargantuan painting of The One Who Is The One greets me, his bald head and Technicolor eyes bearing down, and a sign on the wall reads: CONFESS YOUR CRIMES To THE NEW ORDER AND YOU WILL BE SPARED. THe ONE ALREADY KNOWS ALL. There are bullet shells on the floor.

This could be...really bad.

But there's no one here. We're safe—for now.

My shoulders and lower back muscles are screaming, so I finally slide my sister down to the floor. She looks like the image of death. I sit her up in my lap. "Come on, Wisty," I plead, wiping her face with my shirt. "Stay with me."

Her red hair is matted with sweat, but her teeth are chattering. I hold her clammy hand, whisper the words of some of my surefire healing spells over her, and add every ounce of hope I have into the mix.

Only...nothing works.

How can my power be bone-dry? I'm a wizard, but I can't even save my sister. She's my constant, my best friend. I can't just sit here and watch her get weaker, watch her eyes puff up as the blood leaks into them, watch her float in and out of consciousness until her world finally goes dark. I can't keep watching the people I care about most die.

I already did that.

Twice.

I wince, thinking of Mom and Dad. If they'd only taught me a bit more about how to wield this power before...

I can't finish the thought.

It's not just a problem with my power, I'm sure of it. There's something in the air here in the capital—like The One poisoned it or something—and it's turning the New Order followers into empty, nodding pod people, and the poor, potential dissenters into writhing, moaning Blood Plague victims.

The survival rates haven't been high.

"Why did you have to volunteer at that stupid plague camp and get sick, Wisty?" I whisper-shout at her through angry tears. "We've seen what The One can do, and if he wants every single freethinker in the ghetto to get sick, then no amount of healing spells is going to make you immune!"

I need my sister, the often annoying know-it-all, rebel leader, greatest threat to the New Order, unexpectedly rockin' musician, witch extraordinaire....I can't do this alone. No—I can't do this without her. She was the only one I had left in the world.

My breath catches in my throat. I've already been thinking of Wisty in the past tense.

I feel everything within me explode at once. I smash my hand into the painting of The One, but it's as if it's made of metal, and my hand throbs in agony.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," a voice says from the door. I whip around to find a young soldier seemingly dressed in his daddy's too-big uniform, pointing a gun at me from the entrance.

I almost laugh. This is the twerp who's bringing us in?

"Yeah, I kind of figured that out now, thanks," I say, cradling my injured hand. I look behind him. No one seems to have followed him here.

"On behalf of the New Order and in the name of The One Who Is The One"—he looks up at the painting reverently—"I demand that you surrender your power and turn over The One Who Has The Gift."

He means Wisty. The One wants her fire. I take a couple of steps toward my sister protectively. The barrel of the gun follows, trained between my eyes.

"Freeze, wizard," his adolescent voice cracks. "One more step and I blow you from here to the next dimension." It's like he's been rehearsing his lines on action figures.

"I've been to the next dimension, actually," I quip. "The Shadowland's not so bad." even with my hurt hand, I could easily deck him, if I could just get a few steps closer.

At my nonchalance, his expression changes to one of sour insolence. He evidently decides to up the ante. "Or I could just kill her instead," he says, swinging the gun toward Wisty. "They might even give me a medal."

They wouldn't. They'd be furious that he destroyed the potential of so much power, and probably execute him on the spot. I don't say this, though; the eager way he's fingering the trigger has my attention.

"Hey, now. No need to overreact," I say, putting my hands up. "Let's all just remain calm." I try to keep my voice even.

Boy soldier, brainwashed. When the first kill still feels like a game, when it still seems as if the victim will sit up afterward and ask to play again.

But Wisty won't.

Silence hangs thick between us as the kid debates between his conscience and his pride. I already know which will win, which always wins. His eyes narrow on the mark, his finger tightening. I start to sweat, ready to leap in front of my sister.

But before I get that far, his eyes flutter—and he crumples to the ground.

I let out a long breath. What just happened? Did my power suddenly flare up and go rogue? Did I have a perfectly targeted spasm of some kind?

No. Something had nailed him in the back of the head. I spot an object rolling to a stop nearby. A snow globe?

In the entryway behind him is that same big-eyed, grim-faced little girl who was watching me in the square. She looks fierce, her tiny mouth twisting in annoyance.

The expression kind of reminds me of Wisty at the height of her frustration with me. The girl is standing outside the door, beckoning me into the alleyway.

"You just gonna gawk at me, wizard boy? I've got more where that came from, if you need a little nap."

Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson

Read by Elijah Wood and Spencer Locke

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