The blood was all consuming. Fern felt it tinging through her body, warming her and calming the growling hunger. Swallowing mouthful after a mouthful, she wondered how she’d been able to resist the blood’s lure before. Perhaps, I didn’t know how hungry I was? So much has happened over the last forty-eight hours. The thought faded from her mind, replaced with the dancing red swirls in a lava lamp like imagery.
She felt a hand pressing into her shoulder and a distance voice telling her to stop. She pressed her teeth and mouth over the bite mark more, determined to ignore the voice. Fern’s arms had wrapped themselves around the woman seconds after the first taste and now she couldn’t really feel them. Thinking about that, she couldn’t really feel anything other than the warm blood filling her.
‘Fern. Stop,’ Brook hissed into her ear.
I don’t want to, she answered back in her head.
Tough luck, Brook’s voice sounded within her thoughts.
Surprised, she slightly broke her grip on the woman. Brook noticing it, peeled her away quickly and pushed her towards the wall. Fern took the shuffle backwards caused by Brook’s shove before standing perfectly still in the middle of the room. She watched Brook lick her bite marks then set the woman down on the floor amongst the cardboard boxes.
‘How did you do that?’ Fern whispered.
Brook rubbed his hands on jeans then collected the backpack.
‘You said we couldn’t talk in our heads,’ she pressed.
‘We can now. We’ve shared the same human blood at the same time,’ Brook responded.
Fern looked at the woman and saw a fast healing bite mark on her left arm. Brook hadn’t bothered to arrange her as he had put her down, instead going for a just collapsed look. Fern tiled her head and really studied the woman.
‘I can sense things about her…’ Fern muttered aloud.
Brook, bag now swung over his shoulder was having a quick look through the boxes he hadn’t been able to before. He shot Fern a look over his shoulder, but didn’t answer. The sounds of him rummaging echoed loudly in Fern’s ears and she found it odd that she could detect each sound down to the movement that made it, even though she wasn’t looking. There were Brook’s sleeves and hands against the cardboard, the rustle of paper, plastic, the tiny tears of packing tape, the movement of items.
‘Her name is Nola,’ Fern spoke again.
‘Good to know. There’s nothing else here. Take this,’ Brook said and handed her the backpack then grabbed an empty one from the box. This bag was completely light blue and larger.
Fern didn’t move to take her bag, but continued, ‘she’s twenty-eight. An orphan and the only thing she ever wanted was for God to give her a family. He never did, so she made him her only family and became a nun.’
‘Fern. Here,’ Brook urged crossing the room and pressing the straps of the school bag into her hands.
She took the bag, not feeling the weight of it, ‘I didn’t know there were still nuns.’
‘Sure there is and monks, Pagans, Satanists…’
‘Yeah, you know, devil worshippers. We still need clothes…’
‘She is going to be okay?’ Fern asked in a small voice.
‘Yes. She’ll sleep it off and be fine. We need to go.’
‘Maybe I should stay here and make sure…’
‘No. The blood will lure you back and you’ll kill her. I can’t risk it and nor can you…I’ll explain more later. You’ll understand when the blood isn’t so fresh in your head,’ Brook clarified.
He opened the door and looked out. The soft voices and gently snoring of people reached out to them. Fern became painfully aware of how many sources of blood were around her. She licked her lips and thought about taking them all like the grim reaper. Their sleeping bodies would never know…it’d be so easy, she thought in a voice that wasn’t her own.
We’ll find someone else before we leave, Brook’s voice poked into her head, right now, the mission needs completing.
With a deep sigh of regret, Fern followed Brook out of the room and to the next door. She watched him open it, look inside and close it again. He crossed over and opened the two doors opposite them. Fern lent against the wall, her senses of hearing, sight, smell soaring and seemingly rushing everywhere to bring information back to her.
‘I feel…’ she looked down at her hands and dropped the backpack to the floor as she raised her hands to look at the crazy lines on her palms, ‘invincible.’
Brook bent before her, the bag’s handle tight within his three fingers, looked up at her.
‘It’s…strange…I feel able to do so much and there’s the wanting to do it. Nothing else matters…how can it?’
‘Here, put it on,’ Brook said rudely and shoved the bag into her arms again.
‘I want to fly, Brook. Let’s go outside! I want to fly to the moon!’
Fern tried to throw the bag away, but he held on to it. With a roll of his eyes, Brook pulled Fern off the wall and put the backpack onto her shoulders and back. Fern smiled, for the first time actually witnessing the fast movements of a vampire.
I bet I could do that too now, she thought.
Brook took her hand and led her back a door. He opened it and inside where racks and plastic boxes of clothes. They slipped inside and Brook closed the door as footsteps sounded in the corridor. There was a loud coughing and Fern saw the old man from before in her mind’s eye. Suddenly her vison was out in the corridor with him and she watched as he looked around. He moved off and out of the door, heading for the bathrooms, his clutched hand tight against his chest and thoughts wondering where the kids had gotten too.
‘You should watch out for the busy bodies,’ Brook whispered as they both heard the bathroom door close.
‘Clothes. Okay. We need….’
Brook moved off and began looking for underwear in the boxes.
Fern, trying not to giggle, looked through the racks of clothes. There wasn’t a great deal of choice and nearly everything was second or third hand. Quickly though, they gathered a selection of autumn and winter things and packed most of them in the backpacks.
‘Sorted,’ Brook stated and helped Fern slip into a long black faux suede coat.
Fern fixed the large hood and let Brook help her put on the now heavier bag. Fixing the straps, she watched Brook putting on the other bag.
‘Now what?’ Fern asked.
‘Now, I teach you how to be shadow and we nip someone on the way out,’ Brook answered.
Fern nodded, ‘a shadow. Do I just image being my own?’
‘If you want. Firstly, call the darkness in this room to you,’ Brook instructed.
Fern glanced around and realised they were in the dark for the first time, with just a crack of light coming in under the door. Wiggling her fingers against her side, she emptied her mind and focused at the wall.
‘What do I say?’ she breathed.
‘Nothing,’ Brook chuckled. ‘Think of nothing but the shadow in front of you and draw it into you. It’s a blanket and you are cloaking yourself with it.’
Fern bite her lip and did has he suggested. Something cool brushed against her skin and began creeping around her. A slight wave of panic then nothing but calm filled her. She had become the shadow. She looked down and saw her hands covered in a misty blackness, it seemed to be everywhere. Shooting a look over at Brook, she saw he was wearing the darkness too.
‘You made that look easy,’ Brook said, his voice high in awe.
‘Shouldn’t it have been?’ Fern asked.
‘Well…learning all these tricks can be difficult…’
Fern shrugged, ‘beginner’s luck? Oh, that man came back again…’
They stopped and listened to the man opening the first door then the one leading into the overflow room. He went into the corner again and folded himself up on the floor. Fern listened to his thoughts and grew worried by them.
Let’s move. We can’t be seen like this by humans, Brook’s command came.
Brook opened the door, Fern sticking behind him and they walked out of the room. Fern drew some more darkness to her as the corridor lights flickered above them. Brook was striding to the door and she hurried to catch up with him, thinking only of staying in her shadow cloak. Brook opened and slipped through the door. Fern did the same and as she surveyed the shelter’s main room this time, she didn’t react to the human suffering. Instead, she was filled with the urge to feed. She could hear so much blood pumping beneath skin and hearts making that motion possible.
Isn’t there a child or young innocent woman I could take? No one would notice, the vampire’s voice questioned in her mind.
There’ll be a night watch person we can take in the front hall, Brook’s mind whispered.
She nodded, feeling a slight flicker of disappointment at that, but falling into step behind him anyway. Brook led them to the double doors, opening one halfway and they easily went through. Fern guided the door back into place and tried to ignore the finger like tugs of the blood drawing her back. Instead as the door slotted into place, she looked up the hallway and saw a man sitting in a chair.
Brook went up to him and Fern followed. The man was dozing, his arms crossed against his chest and a torch slowly slipping from the fingers of his right hand. He was wearing a dark blue night guard’s suit and had the matching cap pulled down over his eyes. Brook stepped over his out stretched crossed legs and signalled to Fern to stay where she was on the man’s other side.
You try and take him, Brook spoke loudly into her head.
But I…What if he wakes? She called back.
I’ll take care of it. But you are strong enough now…go on.
I…don’t think I can…can’t we find a child or someone younger? Wouldn’t that be easier?
No. just do it. I need to see you can take them, Brook stated, do it now. We need to go.
Fern pressed her lips together and slightly bend down to try and see the man’s neck. She felt the shadow cloak slipping from her and hurriedly tugged it back up. The man’s neck wasn’t visible.
Where shall I bite? She asked.
Her eyes flicked to the man’s wrists and hands, which were the only bare skin she could see, other than the lower half of his face.
She glanced at him, but Brook was just standing there watching her. He had crossed his arms and ankles as he lent on the wall.
Has the telepathy ended already? Wow, it picked a crap time. Okay…the wrist…it’ll do.
Fern lowered herself slowly to the man’s wrists then gently touch his hand. Feeling like she was playing that tense game Operation and removing the most difficult bone, Fern eased the guard’s arm away. Quickly she unleased her fangs and sank them into the soft skin. Blood welled up and she gulped it down. Her eyes tried to flicker up to Brook to read him, but they fell shut beforehand.
The blood slipped through her and Fern tasted the difference from the nun’s straight away. The man’s was thicker, older, more salty and laced with something else….tobacco and whisky, she decided. She swallowed and went back for a second mouthful. A notion of movement above made her eyes snap open.
Had he awaken? No, it’s just Brook feeding too….
She shut her eyes again and took another few mouthfuls before stopping. Letting the man go, she pulled back and took in a deep breath of air. She wiped her mouth and got up off her bended knees. She spotted Brook back against the wall and stepped over to him.
‘You stopped yourself too…’ Brook whispered.
He reached for her and she moved into his arms, pressing her cheek against his chest. Brook wrapped his arms around her and put his chin on top of her hair.
‘You did good,’ he added.
‘I need some air…’ Fern mumbled.
Brook gave her a squeeze then led her to the door. He pressed a hand to it and Fern heard the turning of locks and drawing of bolts. Making a mental note to ask him about that later, she stepped outside. The rain and wind hit her, but she felt far above them now. She took a few deep breaths and cleared herself of the smell and noise of the shelter.
Brook closed the door behind them and took her hand. They walked down the steps, went a few meters away then turned into a narrow empty passageway down the side of the building. Brook took her right to the high wall end.
‘Now, we are going to fly home,’ he said quietly.
Fern’s eyes lit up and she almost began jumping up and down.
Brook put his hands on her shoulders, his face breaking into a smile.
‘Can we really?’ Fern gushed.
‘Yes. Just think about it. Think about going up and home,’ Brook described, ‘think about leaving the ground here and landing on the grass outside home. Concentrate.’
He took both her hands and shut his eyes. Fern did the same and tried to control the gigged feeling brimming inside of her. She thought about flying and home, about leaving the ground far behind and touching the clouds, the moon.
She felt Brook dropping her hands and hugging her again. His breathing was soft, warm and blood scented in her ear. She wiggled her toes and really thought about lifting off. How silly does this seem? The thought rocked through and she lost it. Fighting down a cry, she scrambled to try again.
However, she felt a rush of cold air and jumping motion as if Brook had thrown her upwards. The wind and rain hammered around them and she pressed herself tighter into Brook. Her mind declared they were flying, but she didn’t believe it. Maybe the weather had got worse? The wind howled in her ears and she felt the rain pouring into her hair. Why can I feel this icy coldness when I couldn’t before?
Her feet hit a soft but solid surface and she eased off Brook. She looked around, fully expecting them to be still in the passageway next to the shelter, but they weren’t. The sight of the woodland filled her vision and head. She smiled and let go of Brook. She stepped away and looked at the wind torn trees and bushes.
‘We did it!’ she yelled.
‘Just about,’ Brook spoke from behind her as he unlocked the door.
Fern laughed, unable to stop smiling, ‘we really flew…I can’t believe it!’
‘Come in out of the storm,’ Brook shouted.
Fern laughed loudly and was about to turn to him with something caught the corner of her eye. She stopped and looked harder into the patch of woodland. The shadow of a figure was stepping out from behind a tree.
Trust will continue next month.
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