The many candle flames flickered against the shadowy walls and sent halos of light along the low curving roof. Fern opened her light green eyes slowly and a moan escaped her lips. She felt dizzy and nauseous as if she had the flu. With her right hand she felt for the edge of the camp bed she knew she was lying on and tightly gripped the metal frame. Fern rolled over and hung her head off the side. Breathing deeply, she stared at the wet, dark grey flagstones and wondered where she was.
Her head pounded with a headache, so Fern moved it slightly back and rested her forehead against the metal bar. Her dark blonde hair bunched up around her and her sweeping fringe fell back into place just above her eyes. She could hear her pulse and heartbeat in her left ear and noticed how loud and fast they both seemed to be beating. She was also naked and her skin was damp with sweat. She felt extremely hot.
I’m sick, I’ve got a fever, she thought, but where I am I? Maybe, I’m a hallucinating. Those candles are so bright.
Fern groaned and tried to move onto her back again, but her body felt too heavy and resisted the command. Struggling against it, she brought up her other arm and placed her hand over her eyes. Willing her body to fall back, her ears heard the clicking of a lighter. She paused, not sure if she was alone nor not. She casted her eyes about as the clicking continued. Far below her, Fern saw a new flame spring up. It appeared blue at first, but then settled into an orange glow.
The lighter was brought up to a cigarette, which quickly caught the flame. Fern held her breath and watched a thin trail of mist curl towards her. She heard the intake of breath and the exhale which caused a cloud of smoke. She could make out the outline of a person now. They were leaning against a moss covered wall, Legs drawn up, feet flat on the floor and the head tossed back. An arm stirred to remove the cigarette then put it back against the lips, in a slow almost thoughtful gesture.
She had the urge to cover her nakedness. Fern tried to shift again, but her body started shaking badly and she retched in the back of her throat. Dropping her head over the side, she went through the motions of vomiting without bring anything up. Tears sprung in her eyes and she could do nothing but ride out the pain in her chest and the heaving. She felt a trickle of something at the corner of her mouth and her tongue lapped at it automatically. She threw herself backwards, tasting stomach acid in her mouth.
‘You’re dying. But it’s alright. Don’t fight it,’ a male voice drifted out of the darkness. His words were slow and touched with sadness.
Fern swivelled her eyes down to him, but couldn’t make anything out further. He seemed dressed in shadows. She focused on the glowing end of the cigarette instead.
‘You won’t remember it anyway,’ he continued, ‘just like your human birth.’
She tried to question him, but couldn’t get the word out of her month. Instead, there was a groan in the sound of the letters. She wanted to move to see him better and ease the cramp in her back, but she didn’t have any energy to do it.
The ash fell from the cigarette and the lighter began clicking again. The flame sparked into life and Fern tried to focus really hard on his face, but still she couldn’t make it out. The lighter dipped and lit the wick of black candle. For a few seconds there were two flames entwining together, then he killed the lighter and the remaining flame became stable.
‘Your death stinks,’ he whispered and took a long drag on the cigarette.
Fern sniffed and desperately wanted to wipe her face. She brought her arm up with some difficulty and pressed her hand to her face. She heard him shifting suddenly, jeans scraping the flagstones, as if he was standing up. She rubbed her palm and wrist across her face, then dropped her arm across her breasts. She searched him out of the darkness again and saw that he had indeed stood up. His violet eyes were frozen on her face and she knew he was watching her closely. Fern could see him better now. He had shocking red shoulder length hair, which was cut in a punky style. His plum lips were in a small frown and Fern could see his pointy cheek bones and chin. He was topless and the shadows give added definition to chest muscles.
He came towards her slowly, finishing off his cigarette. Fern took in a deep breath and smelt liquorice. Puzzled, she smelt the air again and forget everything else. It was defiantly liquorice, underlined with anise and cloves. She took a few deep breaths enjoying the scent, but still mystified by it. She shut her eyes, but then opened them seconds later as she became aware that he was standing in front of her.
She looked up and watched him flick the butt away. Now, he was standing in the blazing light of the candles, she recognized him, ‘Brook?’ her cracked voice croaked his name.
‘Yeah? Who were you expecting, Dracula?’ he sniggered as he rolled the name off his tongue in a fake Transylvania accent.
‘No,’ she slurred and rubbed her aching head across the rough canvas of the camp bed.
‘The worse has passed,’ he explained calmly.
Fern groaned loudly, wondering how he could say that when she clearly so unwell. She felt his fingers touch her bare shoulder and watched him kneel beside her. Her eyes meet his violet ones and for a few moments she was lost in the amazing colour.
‘You could use a little more,’ Brook spoke.
‘Wh-at?’ Fern stuttered as she tried hard to remember what was happening here.
‘I couldn’t make you too powerful,’ he explained, though it was more to himself and he seemed unaware of her confusion.
Blinking away the candle light, she raised her head and looked at him. However, Brook had now removed his hand from her shoulder and placed it on the bed. He brought his other arm up between them. Fern watched him studying his wrist as if there was something there. Before she could ask him, Brook opened his mouth and pressed his wrist inside. She had a flash of déjà vu as Brook held his wrist out to her and she saw a well of blood.
To Be Continued…