Shelter

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It was the only place he could find to get out of the rain. Huddling into a corner, he made himself as warm and comfy as possible. He had already checked out the place and made sure no one else was in residence. The corner he had picked was also the best one. It was a large dry spot and he had clear views of the two doorways into the house.

He looked up and watched the rain falling in. The roof had long ago tumbled in, though the attic and floor above, creating a massive hole in the middle of the house. There were bits of roof tile, bricks, plaster and rubbish scattered around. He hadn’t seen any furniture and guessed the house had been well cleared out over the years.

He rested his head down and listened to the patter of the rain. Oddly he felt like an intruder. This had been someone’s home once. A place of love and safety. It had seemed nice too, a good place to bring up a family. Where had they gone though? What had made them move out?

Trying to dispel those thoughts- what did he care?- He settled for sleep. He began counting sheep jumping over a fence as was habit. He pictured each sheep differently as an individual as his father had taught him. Something about how that helps you fall asleep better.

With the lullaby of the rain, he fell asleep and dreamed of his childhood which he hadn’t thought about in years.

Street Ducks

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The streets were cold and wet. Not a place anybody would want to spend the night on. The homeless though had no other place to go.

T settled down in the doorway of what once had been a large Woolworths shop. Somehow, he had remembered that, despite the place being closed and boarded up years ago. Making sure to tuck his sleeping bag in to try and slow the cold from sipping underneath him, T lent back.

The pattering of the rain started to lull him to sleep, but a soft quacking awoke him. T opened his eyes and looked down at the large cardboard box by his feet. One of the two pet ducks inside the box was staring over the top at him with black beedy eyes.

‘There’s no more bread, Petal,’ T said gently.

The duck quacked and retreated back into the box.

T settled down again. He was just falling asleep when the sounds of police sirens cut through the quiet night. T awoke with a start. He looked around and saw a police car and van pulling up on the edge of the street. Uniform officers were getting out and coming towards him.

Sighing, T slowly began gathering his stuff.

‘Just give me a few minutes and I’ll be gone,’ T said as the first police person reached him.

‘It’s not about that,’ the man answered.

T paused and looked up. Rain was dripping off the policeman’s hat and shoulders of his jacket.

‘Do you have any ducks in there?’ the officer asked nodding to the box.

‘Yeah…’ T trailed as five more police people joined the first one.

‘I’m sorry, but we are going to have to remove them from you,’ the policeman said.

‘But why? I’ve done nothing wrong!’ T cried, ‘they were dumped and I’ve been looking after ’em. They is fancy birds, not wild ones. They’re my pets now.’

T reached defensively for the box and placed his head inside. He began stroking the ducks, who eagerly pushed against his hand.

‘There’s be concerns about their health. We have to take them,’ a female officer said.

‘I can look after ’em! I’ve been doing so for the last month,’ T declared, ‘you can’t take ’em there’re my friends.’

‘We have to. They don’t belong to you,’ a second policeman cut in, ‘just hand them over and won’t move you tonight.’

T shook his head, words failing him.

The female officer reached over and patted his arm. She guided T’s hand away from the ducks and before he could reach out again the first policeman had swooped in and picked up the box.

‘What will ya do with ’em?’ T shouted.

‘They will be fine. The RSPCA will look after them. Don’t worry. Why don’t I get you a cup of tea?’

‘Alright,’ T huffed as he watched the policeman hurrying away with his ducks.

The other officers began to disperses.

A sad hole sank into T’s chest that even the warmth of the tea couldn’t fix.

Mug

blur, coffee, cold

He noticed the mug in the frosted over window and decided to go in. The front and back doors were locked and boarded over with thick wood. However, a broken window allowed him access. He put his rucksack and sleeping bag through first. Then being careful not to snag any of his clothes, he squeezed in and found himself in a kitchen.

There was very little left. Just a few cupboards and the sink. He tried the light switch, but found the power to be off. Next he tried the sink taps. No water came out which meant there was none or it was frozen in the pipes.

Collecting his rucksack and sleeping bag, he decided to see the rest of the house. Every room was almost empty. There were a couple chairs knocking about, scraps of newspapers, a few books and empty cans. The walls were blank and the floors bare. The abandoned house felt colder then it did outside.

He went back to the kitchen after his wander. Putting his stuff down again, he decided it was better then nothing. He went to the window and looking out the dirty glass, he saw it was snowing. The flakes were melting just as fast as they were falling though. The wind seemed to be picking up though and the sky was already darkening.

Looking around the kitchen, he found a cupboard door that had come off and was resting on the floor. Picking it up, he used it to cover the broken window and that helped lessen the draft from outside a bit.

Then even though he didn’t really want to, he got his sleeping bag out and set it in the far corner of the kitchen. The window was further down, but still close if anyone else decided to come in. He got in the sleeping bag still wearing his shoes and coat. He lent against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest.

Looking at the mug on the other window sill above the sink, he wonder who had left it there. The last owner of the house? A builder? The new owner who’d stripped the place then maybe ran out of money to carry on? Perhaps, it had even been another person like him?

A homeless cast out. Forgotten by everyone, seemingly invisible in many places and surviving however they could. Until, God decided the struggling was over and called them back.

Trying to keep warm, he changed his mind into getting some sleep. Letting the wind howling be his lullaby, he dozed fitfully, never falling completely into the dream realm. It was a sad habit he had gotten into over the years. Too many times people had robbed what little he had or kicked him whilst he slept in doorways and upon street corners. Even though the abandon house should have been safe, he didn’t trust it.

The wind continued to howl outside, sending the snow flying thickly. Night came, a seemingly impenetrable darkness. The only sounds to be heard were the wind and the house creaking and moaning.

He listened to those noises as he lay awake. There was nothing unusual about them and he was too old to believe in ghosts. He settled onto the floor, using his rucksack as a lumpy pillow. He rested, trying not to fall asleep. However, days of walking and not eating had taken it’s toll. He fought actual sleep off for has long as he could, but give in without fully knowing.

When he next awoke, he was warm but still cold. Sitting up, he looked around then turned his face to the window. It was lighter out there now, but still looked like night time. He got out of his sleeping bag, regretting it, but knowing he had too. Going to the window, he looked out and saw it was daytime. The snow had stopped falling too and it was time he moved on again.

 

Tent

Tent, Camping, Woods, Camping Tent, Travel, Vacation

Listening to the hailstone outside, he gave thanks for the tent. Looking up, he made out the shadows of the ice balls cast by the street lamps from the bridge above. The hailstones were falling either side of the road bridge, safely away from him.

Wiggling further down in the sleeping bag and feeling warm drifts of air coming up, he settled down again. Shutting his eyes, he thought about his distant family and their refusal to help. The memory weighed heavily on his mind, like his parents’ deaths.

A car horn blared into the night followed by shouting voices. He awoke, heart hammering and fear spiking through his stomach. He listened, but couldn’t work out what the distant, disembodied voices were saying. Once they had faded and the background noises of the city fell into place again, he took some deep breaths and calmed himself.

It took him ages to fall back to sleep and what little he got was restless. The sound of heavy rain yank him awake as well as his bladder. Sighing, he got out of the warm sleeping bag, put on his shoes and unzipped the tent. A gusty wind sent goosebumps up his skin and caused him to shake. He got out on his hands and knees then stood up and looked around.

The early morning light seemed to have forgotten the space under the bridge. In the gloom, heaps of rubbish, an abandoned metal bin, boxes and black bags with thrown along the sides. There was a strong smell of decay and dampness. He got up and went to the wall, casting quick looks around. There was nothing but raising hills of thinly grassed soil at either side.

Above, the bridge shook as a trunk went passed. He did what he had to do then hurried back to his little camp. He got back inside the tent, tugging off his shoes and wrapping himself in an old blanket to bring the warmth back. He looked at the only things he now possessed and with a heavy heart saw that it was time to move on again.

Streets

The box was poor shelter against the heavy rainfall. I huddled under it and the pile of rag blankets in the doorway, trying to stay warm and dry. My thoughts dropped with the rain, how had I come to start the new year like this?

Safe

Bathroom stock photo

The bathroom ceiling was leaking. Corinna watched a drop of water falling and landing in the white bathtub. Studying the brown cork tiles, she wondered when they’d give up and tumble down. The yellow stains upon them and the pale green wall paper, told her the leak had been going on for some time now.

Looking down, she turned the taps of the bathtub on and watched clear water gush out of them. The plumbing groaned in the background and the newly fixed boiler added its voice as well. Corinna dipped her hand under the hot water tap and felt the warmish water against her skin. Smiling, she waited till the water had fully heated then put the plug in.

She stripped off all of her clothes, discarding the worn leather jacket, thin jumpers, t-shirt and vest top first. Her boots, jeans and leggings came next. Standing in her underwear, she got out her wash kit from her hiking bag and placed it in the sink, next to two towels she had found.

With the bath filling up, she got out the things she needed then took her underwear off. Putting one foot into the tub, she checked the temperature before getting in. Sitting then sliding down, she rested her head back and shut her eyes for a few moments. Water continued to pour around her feet causing her to feel both hot and cold at the same time. Corinna turned the taps off and settled back again. She listened to the gale force wind howling into the cracked window and driving the rain outside.

Glad she had escaped yet another stormy night, she fell to wondering for the countless time why the house had electricity and water still. Perhaps, and the thought chilled her for a moment, the house wasn’t abandoned? She listened, trying to decide if that was footsteps and voices she heard, or just the wind and the pipes again?

She sank further into the tub, not wanting to listen any more. Instead she asked herself when the last time she’d been in a bathtub was? A year and half ago or there about, she finally calculated, around the same time everything had gone belly up. No! I don’t want to think about it! Corinna thought and slapped the water with her hand.

She breathed deeply and pulling herself up to wash. Trying to ignore her thinning body, she moved on to wash her hair then lay in the soapy water. Shutting her eyes, she listened to the rain rattling against the window and the dripping from the ceiling. The boiler hummed in the distance and the wind knocked tree branches together outside.

A creaking noise, made Corinna’s eyes flashed open. She sat up causing the water to slosh around her and out of the tub. She listened, but heard nothing further. Wait what was that? The same sound came again. Corinna shook it off, deciding it was only the wind blowing something, a door or a window? Open and shut.

Trying to laugh it off, Corinna settled back down and put her flannel over her face. Breathing in the hot, soapy water, she emptied her head of everything. A minute went by, then she took the flannel off and soaked it in the water. She washed again, delaying getting out further. Wishing she’d brought one of the books she had spotted in the bedroom, Corinna looked around the bathroom. It seemed empty and mouldy. Pulling a face, she draped the flannel on her face again and listened to the wind howling.

A soft tapping, followed by more creaking, brought her out of a light doze. Corinna struggled upwards, the flannel dropping from her face. She thought about calling out, but decided against it. Maybe whoever it was wouldn’t come in here and she could sneak out. Almost laughing out loud at herself, Corinna sat up and climbed out of the tub. Grabbing a towel, she covered herself. Drying off, she found some cleaner clothes in her hiking bag, dressing she gathered up her stuff and crept out of the room.

She paused at the top of the staircase and debated leaving or not. Hearing no other sounds, she decided to risk it and walked into the room she had been staying in. Closing the door and setting down the bag, she grabbed the chair and slotted it against the door. Feeling safer, she got into the bed and lay down. Wrapping herself in the blankets and snuggling into the pillows, she tried to sleep. The sound of the rain and wind helped calm her and she felt herself dozing soon enough.

The creaking of the stairs, stirred Corinna. She froze and listened. There were footsteps coming up and heavy breathing. She bit her lip and tried to keep quiet. She heard the footsteps go along the hall and into the master bedroom. The door shut and she listened to the sound of someone preparing to get into bed. Holding her breath, she waited till she heard bed springs squeaking then got up.

Corinna quickly put some more clothes on and her boots. She slipped her hiking bag on and moved the chair from the door. Slowly, she opened it and peered out. There was a light on in the hallway and under the master bedroom door, she knew she hadn’t turned them on. She crept down the stairs and to the front door. How had she so badly mistake this house as being abandoned? It probably belonged to some old person who’d been away for a while.

Corinna unlocked the front door and stepped out into the storm. Blinking away rain, she walked into the night.              

Trust (Part 24)

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…’

‘Satan?’

‘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.

Fern nodded.

‘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.

Brook?

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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Trust (Part 23)

Taking Brook’s hand tightly, Fern kept her eyes on the floor as they walked to the back of the queue. The whispering voices of the greeters, one male and one female, followed them, making Fern think of a funereal party.  In the growing late evening and the heavy rain, the town’s cast outs were just bodies bundled into filthy, ragged clothes. Fern saw a mixed of old boots, shoes, slippers and bare feet shuffling along the pavement.

Brook gently swung her around the last person and they came to a stop. Fern raised her eyes and looked at the hunched over red jumper wearing man before them. He was coughing loudly and rubbing his chest with a stuck clenched hand. Fern prayed he didn’t turn around and rested her head on Brook’s shoulder to make whispering to him easier.

Brook kissed her head then said into her hair, ‘remember what I said?’

She brushed her cheek against his shoulder in a nod.

‘Your name is May. I’m Seth. We are brother and sister, running from our abusive stepfather. Yesterday, we got arrested by police and we lost all our things in our escape. Got it?’ Brook asked, ‘but you only say that if we get separated. Actually, let’s…say you’re mute.’

‘Mute?’ Fern hissed.

‘Yeah. It works. Or deaf? But that’s more difficult to pull off.’

‘Deaf makes more sense than mute,’ Fern countered.

Brook hushed her as the man in front of them turned slowly.

‘Sorry. Couldn’t spare a smoke, could ya?’ his raspy voice muttered the words.

Brook patted his pockets with a single hand then drew his packet of cigs and lighter. He slipped his hand out of Fern’s and offered the man one.

‘Ah, thanks,’ the man spoke, ‘finished mine this afternoon and what with the weather, couldn’t scrape the pennies.’

Brook lit the selected cig and the flicking orange glow illumined the homeless man’s dirty, yellowed fingers. Brook closed the lighter then decided to have one himself. Counting he had four left and reminding himself to not offer anyone else one, he pulled out the fifth slender white cig and lit up.

Fern had been carefully avoiding the man’s eyes and had been fixated on Brook. Though this whole time, she could feel the man’s eyes on her. Don’t talk, don’t answer. You can’t hear him, she chanted in her head.

‘On the run?’ the homeless man asked.

‘Yeah. Stepdad and police,’ Brook stated back.

‘Never been to a shelter before?’

Brook didn’t answer. He took a drag of the cig and flicked away the ash.

‘You should keep an eye on her…’ the homeless man said in a softer voice.

Fern stole a glance at him and noticed he was staring longingly at her breasts.

‘She’s deaf. Kid sister, fucking dead weight. She’s like a puppy I can’t get rid of,’ Brook sneered, ‘but I’ll keep an eye on her. I always do. Wanna smoke?’

Brook offered Fern the cig. She paused, shook her head then twisting her neck, pressed the side of her face into Brook’s shoulder. Now looking behind them, she watched the thin trails of smoke drifting into the night and wished she could leave with them.

‘Thanks again,’ the man said and turned back around. Though Fern was sure his eyes keep wondering to the sides to try and look at her again.

Brook slipped his arm around her and guided her forward. The queue seemed to have picked up pace and as they neared the doors, Fern heard someone from just inside the doorway mutter to someone else that they were nearly full. She shot Brook a look, but he was hurriedly finishing his cig. They reached the bottom step and Fern tapped her toes against the cold wet stone.

Throwing the butt away, Brook led her up the steps and ignoring the welcoming from the greeters, followed the homeless man into a hallway. Fern glanced around, noticing that the bare floor and walls were a hospital dark cream colour. They came to a stop a few steps in and peering around the line of people, spotted another set of doors ahead of them and two women with clipboards.

Fern looked over her shoulder and saw that the two greeters had come in and were now shutting and locking the door. A sudden wave of panic and fear tickled her stomach. She swallowed hard and gripped Brook’s arm tightly with both her hands. She focused on something else and saw that the greeters were wearing matching dark green t-shirts with white letters stamped in the right corner. She read; St Louis’ Shelter.

‘We are out of beds now!’ a loud female voice shouted.

Remembering at the last second not to turn towards the voice, Fern stayed still. She felt Brook giving her a small squeeze and musing into her hair with his chin. A flutter of voices blew into her ears then the woman continued talking, directing them all to a smaller side room where they could sleep on the floor. The queue shuffled forward, whispering grumpy voices filling the tall ceiling above them.

The two greeters had taken guard places on either side of the front doors. Fern turned back and as she approached the second set, gave into the dreaded thought of; we’re trapped in here now. She looked at Brook, but he was keeping his eyes fixed on the smallest of the three women. She, like the other woman she was with, was handing leaflets to everyone. They approached her and watched her look them up and down before handing a paper out.

Brook took it from her and she hand gestured for them to go in.

Shivering, Fern dug her nails into Brook’s arm and scanned the large room they had entered. It was hard to tell what, if anything this building had once been. There were high set windows in the wall before them, but like the walls in the corridor the four here were bare. The floor was lined with metal cot beds at one end and at the other long bench tables and chairs. Double white doors in the far corner led into an area signed as the kitchen.

Most of the beds were occupied with people laying down or sitting up. The few that were empty had the leaflets placed on the blankets. The room hummed with voices, snores and soft rustlings of things. Fern couldn’t pick out many faces from those that were sleeping, but she was shocked to see a teenage looking girl curled on a nearby bed with two very young children.

Whilst many of the homeless seemed to be males of all ages, there were a few women and children dotted around. Fern focused harder and picked out an old woman pawing through a bin bag, an exhausted blonde haired woman who looked to be in her mid-forties and a young adult black woman sitting on the edge of a bed, which had the sleeping form of a boy about ten years old curled under the blanket.

Brook looked in the other direction and Fern followed him. There were two doors ahead of them now. One was marked bathrooms and the other, where the tail end of homeless people were heading, wasn’t signed anything. Brook stepped over and Fern refusing to let go of him, went along too. Through the doors was another room with more doors leading off it. This room was smaller and had darker yellow coloured walls. Scattered about were a few old canvas camping beds and air beds. All of them seemed to have been claimed already. Fern counted twenty-three people, including her and Brook, before she watched the red jumper man settling to the floor in the corner to their right.

Brook glanced behind at the doors then finally removing Fern’s fingers from his arm, pushed the door and half stepped back out. Fern almost moved after him, but stopped herself as she heard him striking a conversation up with someone.

‘My sister needs some help.’

‘With what?’ a really soft female voice asked back.

Fern wondered if it was the woman who’d given them the leaflets.

‘She’s….well that woman’s monthly thing. We have nothing. Is there anything you could spare for her? Please?’

Fern heard the woman make a pouting shape with her mouth and breathe through it.

‘She’s deaf and dumb,’ Brook hissed back, ‘please? I don’t know what to do.’

‘Alright. Where is she?’

Staying still, Fern let Brook slip his fingers into her hand and close around her palm. She felt him tugging and turned to follow him out. The woman behind the door was the same one as above. She was short and young looking, with black hair framing her face. She was wearing a dark green t-shirt and a floor touching black cotton skirt.

‘This way,’ she said after a few seconds.

They followed her down a few doors and into a store room. Brook got Fern to stand against the wall then helped the woman search through the pile of opened cardboard boxes. Fern watched them pulling out things like packets of tampons, wet wipes, tissues, underwear, basic washing kits, soap and some more things. From a deep box, the woman pulled out a second hand school backpack that was red and black in colour. She began stuffing all the things inside.

‘What about clothes?’ Brook asked in a low voice.

Fern saw the woman start to turn her head and quickly looked down at her shoes. She tried to fix a blank expression her face, but felt too overwhelmed by sadness and guilt to achieve it. She also pressed her hands to the wall and made a little rocking motion as if she was trying to comfort herself without anyone noticing.

The woman turned back and gave Brook the backpack.

‘Sister, Please. I don’t want anything for myself. But for her. She’s just a child still and she’s been through so much,’ Brook’s pleading filled the hushed room.

The woman sighed and giving Fern another look, shook her head and muttered back, ‘you must wait for the handouts tomorrow. I need to go, the food is almost ready.’

‘No, please! She’s probably already bleed through those jeans. Just give her a few things. We won’t take the handouts. I’m desperate! Sister, don’t turn a child of God away. She needs your help.’

Fern looked shyly up, recognising the smooth tone of voice that Brook had fallen into. He’s hands were resting lightly on the woman’s shoulders and he was staring hard into her eyes. The woman was still and watching him, her face slowly going sleepy looking. The backpack was at their feet.

‘You want to help her, don’t you?’ Brook purred, ‘God wants you to do this, Sister. Can’t you hear him? He needs you to help this poor girl. Please?’

The woman nodded.

Brook slowly raised his hand and with a finger summoned Fern over. Sensing what was happening, Fern’s vampire instinct kicked in and on silent feet she went over. Brook pushed the woman’s head to the side and moved her hair away. Fern touched her arm and lend in as the smell of blood pulsing just under flesh began calling to her.

‘Do it,’ Brook whispered into Fern’s ear.

She give a single nodded and opened her mouth. Her fangs pressed against her tongue and lip then the sweet soft skin of the nun.

Trust (Part 22)

Fern followed Brook out of the apartment and felt cold rain on her skin. She looked up and saw the post twilight sky above. There was still a hint of colour at the edges, but the dark grey clouds were fast rolling in. Casting a glance at her clothes, she felt undressed though not cold, the changing weather didn’t seem to be effecting her as it would have done before. Though, she could already feel the rain soaking her woollen jumper and getting into her trainers.

‘I could use some new clothes,’ she announced.

Brook, who had been slowly walking away, turned on the spot. He was wearing a long black duffle coat and hiking boots. He looked more dressed for the coming autumn weather then she did. Brook frowned a little, but didn’t say anything.

‘It would be useful. I’d stand out less come winter,’ Fern concluded.

‘The place we’re going might be able to help with that,’ Brook stated then turned.

‘Why? Where are we going?’ Fern asked, hurrying to catch up with him.

She had expected to be dragged across the farm fields again, like last night, but this time Brook was heading in the opposite direction, towards the village.

‘One of the easiest sources of blood,’ Brook answered.

‘A blood bank?’ Fern giggled.

Brook give a swift shake of his head then stepped onto the edge of the woodland boarder. Fern paused before following him. The ground was soft and wet under foot. The stronger winds had also shaken loose small branches and Fern failed to avoid stepping on them. Brook negotiated the tree trunks and low branches with the skills of a squirrel. Fern was left in his wake, struggling to pick her way around.

‘You need to teach me to get through this,’ Fern moaned, ‘why is it so hard?’

‘It’s dense,’ Brook’s voice called from somewhere ahead of her, ‘and I shall teach you how to move like a deer.’

‘A deer? What? Ouch! Oh!’ Fern cried as she tripped over something solid.

Getting her balance back, she swept her hair away and looked down at the ground. Something was half buried in the soil next to a holly bush.

‘Fern?’ Brook said as he came back to her.

‘What is that?’ she asked and pointed at the ground.

‘Rubbish, most likely.’

Fern tapped the thing with her toe. She couldn’t make out what it was at all and felt half tempted to dig it out.

‘Take my hand,’ Brook stated.

She glanced at him then the object again, ‘but I want to know…’

‘Later…we’ll be late and I can’t be doing with that. Come on.’

‘Okay,’ she breathed and took his hand.

He tightened his fingers around her palm then led her out of the woodland. The outskirts of the village sprang up from the trees and they walked through the too quiet streets. Lamps pinged into life above them and cast unnatural and harsh orange light upon the damp pavements and roads. The top of a car parked up glistened like glitter and Fern’s mind whirled with the science behind rain drops and reflections.

‘What’s up with this village? It’s so dead…’ Fern spoke softly a minute later as they past yet other house that had no lights on.

‘It’s mostly holiday homes and old people who go to bed early,’ Brook explained, ‘this whole area is out of season now. It’s the first of September today.’

‘Wow, really? I’ve lost track of everything.’

‘It’ll be like that for a while then time will make sense again. Don’t worry about it.’

‘I’ll try,’ Fern responded thoughtfully.

Out of the village into the scrubland, Brook let go of Fern’s hand for a moment and sniffed the air. Fern looked around, listening and smelling too, but she couldn’t pick up on anything. Brook took her hand again and they entered a farm. In the first field, Fern looked back and could just see the dual carriageway bridge off to their left.

‘So, weren’t not going to seaside town?’ she asked, having worked out the direction of things.

‘No. Not for the moment with that…other vampire lurking there,’ Brook growled softly.

‘Dacian,’ Fern whispered then instantly regretted it.

She stopped, bit her tongue and tasted a pinprick of blood.

Brook shot her a look, his face and eyes flashing anger before returning to the calm form he had taken on tonight. He took a deep breath and sighed it out. He squeezed her hand and tugged her on.

‘We are going to have to talk about it,’ Fern pointed out, ‘I don’t think we should just forget it happened…I really don’t want that to be honest.’

‘You women,’ Brook said in a low voice, ‘always wanting to go back over things and get into long useless debates.’

Fern opened her mouth to snap back at him, but the loud barking of a dog stopped her.

Brook froze and she bumped into the side of him. She couldn’t see the dog, it was further up by the farm house, thankfully fenced in, but it had caught their scent.

‘This way,’ Brook muttered as an outside light came on and shone on a back garden.

Making their way out of the farm, they found themselves on a cobbled single road. Brook went to the left, taking them inland and further from the sea. Tall bushes and trees blocked their views of the fields and other surroundings. The rain became heavy and Fern’s mood dropped.

‘I’m wet through. How much further?’ she asked.

‘Not much,’ Brook answered.

‘How come we have to walk anyway? Can’t we fly or get a car or something?’

‘We can fly and run fast in short bursts,’ Brook answered carefully, ‘I had a car once, but up keep and money…’

‘Money? Oh my god, what are we doing about that?’ Fern yelled.

Brook spun and grabbed her shoulders, ‘calm down,’ he snapped, ‘it’s alright. One thing at a time, okay? You must being coming back to your human senses,’ he mumbled.

Fern’s stomach growled and she pressed her hands over it, ‘I need to…’

‘We’re almost there. You can see the town’s lights now.’

Fern looked where he had indicated and she could see glowing lights coming from buildings and the streetlamps. She let Brook take her hand again and after a few more minutes they had entered the town. Unlike the village, noise drift to them and Fern had to take a few moments to pick out things and connect them. She could hear cars and car horns on the road, peoples’ voices and footsteps coming from the buildings and the streets. Music and TV sounds leaked through windows, mingling with the rumble of cars and voices. A family of cats were meowing in an abandoned factory and an old dog was sheltering in a closed down shop doorway.

As they walked past the sad, skinny looking animal, Fern felt a tug on her heart. She stopped and felt the urge to do something for the dog. He or she was soaking wet and shivering. Fern couldn’t tell what breed it was, though the dog was big and dark brown, maybe in colour. It was hard to tell in the night rain. Brook called her and she waved him back to point out the poor creature.

‘We can’t do anything,’ was Brook’s response.

‘Why not? We could take him home or find someone…’

‘It’s not our place,’ Brook cut her off.

‘But!’

‘No!’ he snarled and grabbing her wrist pulled her away.

‘Brook!’ Fern shouted and tried to twist out of his grip.

Ignoring her, Brook dragged her around the corner and towards a large building. A cluster of people were queuing to get in and two people were inviting them through the double doors.

Fern caught her breath and looked at the scene before her. The heavy rain was making the queue of people look worse off, though she retracted that thought as she realised they were all homeless people.

‘Where are we?’ Fern whispered behind raised hands.

‘A shelter,’ Brook stated.

‘We’re going to fed off them?’

‘Yes and get you some new clothes too.’

‘But…we’re not homeless or poor…Wait are we?’

Brook shrugged, ‘what does it matter? Right now, we are putting on masks and becoming one of them. Don’t start. Just follow me and stay silent. You wanted to learn how to be a vampire, didn’t you?’

Fern nodded and looked at the floor. There has to be other ways though, she thought sadly.