The taxi lights tried to shine through the thick, tall hedges that lined the countryside lane, but failed to penetrate them. The car trundled along cobblestones, bouncing all the passengers inside. Fern looked out at the sky, but couldn’t see anything but darkness. The dashboard clock said it was almost two in the morning. Glancing at the taxi driver, she watched his white knuckles flexing on the wheel. The man was really concentrating as if he thought he was in horror movie and something was about to jump out and kill him.
That idea caused her to turn to Brook, who had his head pressed against the cold and still slightly open window. His eyes were shut and he seemed lost in thought again.
‘We’re not going to kill him are we?’ Fern whispered.
‘No. But we’ll take some of his blood,’ Brook answered without opening his eyes, ‘then I’ll send him on his way.’
Fern frowned, but didn’t say anything as a large gated turn off appeared on her side.
The Satnav flashed an arrow towards the gate and the driver turned in.
‘I’ll open it,’ Brook said and got out of the taxi.
Fern sat back, watching him unlocking and opening the gate. The drive slowly drove through then waited for Brook to get back in.
‘There’s another one further up,’ Brook pointed at.
The driver nodded and drove for another few minutes through dark bumpy land.
‘Your family own all of this?’ Fern asked, having pressed her face to the window to look out.
‘Yeah,’ Brook responded, ‘I rent some of the back fields to another farmer and some of the side ones go to people who own horses or want to store stuff. Extra money and its’ not as if I’ve got any use for the land.’
‘Your parents had a farm?’ Fern questioned.
She turned from him as the car slowly arrived at another gate. Brook got out, opened it and waved the taxi driver through. He got back in again and quietened Fern’s next questions with a kiss. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in close. He kept their lips together for the next few moments, as the taxi drove up to a large converted farmhouse and out buildings.
When he let her go, Brook slide from the car and opened the driver’s door, ‘get the stuff out and into the hallway.’
The driver nodded and got out.
Fern undid her seatbelt, opened the door and stepped out into the cool countryside air. She sniffed and smelt damp soil, plants, animals and smoke; gone was the salty breeze and sound of the sea. I’m going to miss it, she thought. She stretched, rubbed her face and walked to the front of the taxi.
The house loomed over her, abandoned and unwelcoming. She counted three floors then a fourth which looked like a converted attic. Large, curtained windows looked out of all floors like a blind man’s eyes questioning her. Fern noticed the massive white stones making up the house’s front wall and the fact there was no front porch or steps leading to the door and it was just flushed with the ground and the top foundations. Two large plant pots holding fruit bushes stood to either side of the door and there was a wire rack for boots next to the one on the right.
Brook had gone to the front door, opened it and stepped inside. A light came on and shone out of the door and Fern saw Brook disappearing into a room his left. She shuffled her feet, half-temped to go around the side of the house and find out how big the place was. However, the taxi driver walked past carrying her bags and she changed her mind.
Fern went to the car’s boot and pulled out some of the lighter thing. She took them inside the hallway and had to pause to admire everything. The walls were brick, just like the outside, but a lot smoother. There was a large hallway table to her right which was covered by a cream table cloth and held a phone, some framed photos, a bowl with keys in it and a bible. A rug covered the wooden floorboards and ran down towards a large dark wooden staircase and a closed door. Fern counted four doors to her right and three to her left.
The taxi driver came out of the first room to her left and she stepped to the side to let him pass. She couldn’t help but notice how his face looked frozen, almost zombie like. She watched him go back to the car and grab some other bags. She turned away and stepped inside the room.
Brook was piling up her stuff on a deep, dark red coloured sofa which sat in the middle of the room facing its twin across a cherry coffee table. Fern put her stuff down and walked around the room. A large fire place took up most of the back wall, the mantel above draped with a fake Christmas style green wreath which added a blast of colour to the dark room. Also on the mantel were a few photos of a couple’s –Brook’s parents? – wedding, a baby girl, a boy child-Brook ?- and a very old photo of what the farmhouse originally looked like.
‘Does the rest of the house look like this?’ Fern asked as she swept her fingers over the top of the other sofa.
‘No,’ Brook replied, ‘it’s the parlour and hardly used.’
Fern frowned and moved around the sofa as the taxi driver walked in and put some more bags down. He then hurried around again as Brook began adding those things to the pile.
‘It’s meant to be used by guests when they first arrive and as an overflow for parties. My parents never used it, but couldn’t come up with anything else to do with it,’ Brook explained.
Fern looked up at the ceiling and saw a sliver chandelier with dangling white crystal drops. The walls were covered in white wallpaper which had a red velvet fler design on. The carpet was a dark red plush, deep pile and hardly worn. Fern sat on the edge of the sofa and watched the taxi driver bringing in the last of her things.
The man stood awkwardly and out of place beside the sofa and Fern wondered if she looked the same. Feeling tried from all the traveling, she rested back on the sofa, sprawling out and sinking down. She watched Brook pushing her suitcases against the other sofa then turning to the man.
‘One last thing, before we pay you,’ Brook said.
The man just shrugged and held out his wrist.
Brook moved forward, wrapping his fingers around the man’s lower arm. He lowered his head and Fern watched Brook open his mouth, releasing his fangs. She smelt the blood before her eyes had sent the image of Brook biting down into a vein. She stopped up, unable to resist the lure of it and went over to them.
She thought about pushing Brook out of the way and taking the man all for herself. She paused at that thought, caught up between vampire mind and human. It was Brook loudly gulping and breathing, that drew her back. Fern saw him offering her the still bleeding wrist and eagerly she switched places with him.
Fern pressed her lips over the bite marks and sucked hard. Blood danced on her tongue, rich and salty. She swallowed and felt the hungry raising faster in her stomach. Two heartbeats echoed in her ears and for a few seconds all she could think about blood.
‘Don’t take too much,’ Brook hissed from behind her.
She ignored him and carried on. A voice in the back of her head whispered, this man is nothing but food, your survival.
Fern swallowed and almost hummed in delight. The warm blood was soaking though and tingling on the way down. She wanted, no, she needed more. She sank her teeth in harder and drew more blood. The man moaned and swayed, but stayed compliant.
‘That’s enough,’ Brook stated and grabbed her shoulder.
Fern tried to give a little shake of her head to show him it wasn’t, but Brook was already pulling her off. Instead of easing, Fern planted her feet more firmly into the carpet and lend harder into the taxi driver. She felt Brook’s hand tightening and pulling harder.
I’m much more stronger now, the vampire voice spoke.
I won’t let you kill him! Brook shouted inside Fern’s head.
Why does it matter? We’ve killed before, that same voice stated.
We shouldn’t. It makes surviving more difficult, Book explained, then aloud, ‘Fern stop!’
She opened her eyes and glanced at him, understanding but not able to obey. Blood filled her mouth, feeding a hunger that had felt unknown for so long.
Brook took his hand off her shoulder and wrapped both his arms around her stomach. He yanked her away, lifting and spinning her like a dancing partner as he did so. Fern cried out and wildly waved her arms. Brook shoved her down onto the carpet, but then had to sit on her to stop her from scrambling up and feasting again.
There was a loud thud and they both looked over to see the taxi driver slumped on the floor. He was face down and breathing shallowly, blood flowing from his wrist.
‘Look what you’ve done! He’s going to have to stay here now!’ Brook yelled.
Fern didn’t reply, but threw herself around under him, making loud animal like cries and growls.
‘And you gave into your vampire side,’ Brook added, ‘this is what you become when you lose control, an animal! We can’t live like that anymore.’
Fern growled menacingly and scratched at the carpet. Brook lent over and grabbed her hands, bring his face close to her’s as he did so. Fern strained upwards and tried to bite him. Brook pulled his head up just in time, his eyes glancing at the ceiling before going back down to her.
‘You have to fight the vampire,’ Brook said firmly, ‘you mustn’t give in. You can’t let the power consume you, Fern. Do you hear?’
She stopped struggling and looked at him with a determined expression on her face. Her body relaxed under him and Brook eased off some of the pressure. He caught a flash of a smile on Fern’s lips then she flipped him over and flew to the taxi driver. Brook hit the sofa and suitcases, pain ebbing through his back and legs. Quickly, he scrambled over to them, but Fern had her fangs buried in the man’s neck, draining him.
To Be Continued…