Blood Thirst—Bonus Chapters
Sally, Tom, and Missy were sitting at breakfast when Herman came by. They weren’t supposed to get home until midday or afternoon, the group of travelers. Herman was definitely one of the travelers—he was the only one who went to town every time. Sally weren’t sure what to make of it when she opened up the door and saw him standing on the porch. He shore didn’t look too good.
“Hey, Herman. Come on in,” she said, opening the door. Herman hesitated a moment and then he come in as polite as you please. “How come you’re back so soon? Won’t you sit down and have some breakfast?”
Herman looked a might uncomfortable, which weren’t something he usually looked. He weren’t a man of many words, but he was the sort who’d be at ease just about anywhere.
“I’ll think I’ll pass, thank you kindly. I’m afraid I have some bad news.”
Sally followed him into the kitchen and the both of them sat down at the table with Uncle Tom. “Tom, Sally. There was a—an ambush. We think they must have been tipped off, but we’re not sure. It was hard to tell…it all happened very quickly, and it’s so dark in that building we stay in…”
“Why are you telling us here?” Tom asked, standing up so fast his chair fell right out from under him and hit the floor with a clatter. “You know this is a matter for the elders to discuss first.”
“It concerns you both,” Herman said, looking real easy now. “There were casualties, and I’m afraid Lucinda and Larry didn’t make it out.”
“I’m real sorry to hear that,” Tom said, not even sparing a glance at Sally. “But we need to take this up with the elders. Any others died?”
“Yes. Only my father and I, and one of the Hensons, made it back.”
How was that fair? Here Sally lost her whole dang family in a month, and them Hensons just kept turning up alive even when nobody wanted them around no how.
“And the newcomers?” Sally asked.
“None of them came out of the building. We assume they are all dead.”
“So y’all just ran away and left the others to get butchered?”
“No,” Herman said. “There was nothing we could do. And our orders were always to take care of ourselves first.” He shot Tom a nasty frown, but Tom didn’t seem to notice none.
“Well that don’t seem real community like to me,” Sally said. “I thought it was always the community first.”
“It is,” Tom said. “Now don’t you question me, girl. Just some members of the community gotta be more important than others for the good of everyone. We can’t lose Herman.”
Sally didn’t see how he could be all that important. He’d only lived here a few years and she’d done lived here her whole life. Herman didn’t have no kids, and he weren’t married. He didn’t have nobody depending on him. Didn’t seem real fair to her. Then again, Larry and Mama didn’t have nobody depending on them, neither. She was sure capable of taking care of herself.
“Did you see your attackers?” she asked, almost scared to find out. She’d made Draven promise not to kill nobody before she let him loose, but that didn’t mean he’d abide by that promise once he was on the loose. Maybe he’d revert back to his bloodsucking nature like a wild animal raised up at home and then let loose.
“They were bloodsuckers. Split up into two parties. Three in one group and two in another, though it was hard to tell in the dark what was going on. We weren’t in the room with the others because we were on guard, so we got out before anything killed us. Henson had gone out to relieve himself. We got him before he went back in. We would like to retrieve the bodies, of course, for a proper burial but…”
“That’s out of the question,” Tom said. “Too dangerous. We may have to leave our establishment here if the bloodsuckers are onto us.”
“We put a lot of garlic on before leaving town. They won’t be able to follow our trail. And they didn’t see us or, we’d all be dead. They think they’ve killed everyone. We went up above the tree line and looked down on the town with our telescopes, and we didn’t see any of the bloodsuckers come out, either. But we may have missed some while we were in the woods getting there. Like I said before, we’d like to go back and have a look, but for now it’s impossible.”
“Agreed,” said Tom. “Let’s meet with the elders in twenty minutes. We need to move quickly. Ain’t a need for panic yet, but we gotta keep guards out and stay armed at all times. Community meeting in one hour. Everyone needs to be prepared for the worst. And we’ll need to bring the weapons inside every house. No need to be dramatic, but if they got tipped off, they may be coming after us here. We done prepared for this moment for years.”
“Prepared for what moment?” Sally asked.
“Iffen they start coming onto our land, it’s war.”
Draven lay on the floor for a long while, until he grew cold and the smell of sap around him made him very hungry. But he couldn’t move. He was paralyzed. He thought about the little nest in the crawl space behind the curtain. How long would it take a family of rats to eat a room full of dead people?
He concentrated on scenting, since his senses still worked. He tried to count the bodies by scent, but there was so much sap spilled that all the scents mixed together and he couldn’t tell them apart. Superiors as well as humans had spilled blood. He thought at least one was still here, dead. Byron would have reported the incident by now. Tonight at first dark, a clean-up crew would come and take the bodies away and give the Superiors a proper funeral. No one would come to Draven’s. Or Angel’s. But they would be witness at each other’s.
Draven’s attention was diverted by a scraping sort of sound, a rustle. So the animals had come to feed. He wondered how many rats lived in the building, in the town. Surely they could squeeze in through some crack in the wall or shattered windowpane on the building’s exterior. Could they also squeeze into this room, where light barely penetrated, even in daytime? Enough light crept in for him to see the bodies more clearly, but that was all. A sapien would still be blind in here.
He heard the scraping again, behind him where he couldn’t see. He tried not to panic. That wouldn’t help. Nothing would help. He couldn’t even call out to scare them away, although he knew that would only work the first few times, until the rats saw that the noise held only empty threat.
None of the sapiens lived, and Draven found small comfort in the knowledge that he wouldn’t have to hear them screaming.
The noise drew closer, and he lay wishing he could close his eyes or cast them around the room. But nothing would move no matter how he willed his body to do something, anything, to scare the animals away. So he lay paralyzed, waiting for it to begin, so he could wait for it to finally end.
Cali lay in the bed next to Shelly, but she didn’t sleep. Had she really gotten so far, been so close to freedom? The whole escape now felt like a dream. She couldn’t make herself believe otherwise. It seemed so real, but also so dreamlike. And last night…the things she had seen, it all seemed too incredible to be real.
If she had escaped, why was she back here instead of at a blood bank or at least chained up? But when she moved she found that her ankle was cuffed. So she was chained. It had been real. At least some of it.
She wanted to remember the whole night, but her mind blurred when she reached for certain parts of the night before, and some parts of the night weren’t there at all. She remembered only dabs of coherent thought, the way a dreamer only remembers a few key points and not how she got to each one. She had been sleeping…was the rest of it a dream, from that moment on?
Larry had tried to have his way with her, and then he’d been gone. Something had come to her, some sort of demon-angel, and he hadn’t fed on her, so she knew he wasn’t a bloodsucker, but he’d put his mouth to hers and pulled something out of her. She didn’t remember anything for a while after that. And then someone had talked to her, but she couldn’t remember who. In her dream, she thought it was Man with Soft Hair from back home, but she wasn’t sure. She must have slept and been dreaming. And then Master had been there and that damn baby crying. What had happened?
They were all trying to get her, and she hadn’t known what they were saying but only the intention, and the baby cried and cried. And then Master had taken her and the baby and come home, and the baby still cried.
Cali sat up. The baby was still crying, not in her head but right here. It was beside the bed, wrapped up in her towel. When she picked it up, it smelled bad, so she took the diaper off and looked around for something, but she had nothing to replace it with. She put the baby on the towel on the bed. It cried and cried, and sucked hard on her finger for a minute, and then wailed. Shelly woke and went to the toilet, and when he came back, he looked at Cali trying in vain to comfort the baby.
“Well, looks like we finally had our baby,” he said, and went to the counter and started banging around. He came back with a cup of whitish liquid. A drop at a time, they fed the baby turnip water.
“I think I ran away and came back with a baby,” Cali said. “Was I dreaming?”
“No, girl, you weren’t dreaming. But I wouldn’t get too happy about all that.”
“Master said he’d deal with you tonight.”
A touch like a breath of cold air brushed across the back of Draven’s neck. A moment later, fingers stroked his cheek, the same strange substanceless whisper. He fought to speak, but words refused to form on his tongue, even when the cold fingers combed through his hair and found the painful entry point of the bullet.
The cold breeze of the fingers seemed to tunnel into the wound, but he could not cry out in pain. For minutes, the pain engulfed him, an endless ache that penetrated his skull, his brain, all the way through his teeth to the roots and through his flesh to his bones. When at last it ended, only a cold, frozen tunnel seemed to remain in his head like a dull throb.
And suddenly, he could move. He rolled onto his back slowly, sluggish with pain.
“How did you…move?” he asked at last, when he could speak again.
“Why didn’t you pull it out?” Angel asked, holding a steel spike out towards Draven. Draven accepted the item without thought. “I couldn’t move. How did you?”
Angel looked as if he might cry again. “How can anything be so cruel?”
Draven lay on the floor for a while, the pain in his head dulling. “Did you heal me?”
“I wish I could heal what hurts you,” Angel said. “The vampire took away our love.”
“I will get her back.”
“Do you want for my help?”
After a moment, Draven pushed himself up to sitting. Moving had never felt so luxurious. “No. I thank you for the offer. I am honored. But I will do this myself.”
“Thank you,” Angel said, and he leaned forward and kissed Draven’s cheek, a brush of cool, and then the boy stood. “I cannot use anything in this room. You may have them all.”
The bodies had grown cold, but Draven could still eat with some effort. “Why can’t you? How do you eat?”
“I only use the life force. I know that your people think they have evolved, but I have evolved further. I only use the pure energy, the life. I do not have to hurt them to eat.”
“Then I envy you,” Draven said, standing as well.
“Don’t,” Angel said, looking down. “I would that I could trade places with you.”
Draven reached for Angel and pulled him into an embrace. When he touched him, he felt a sort of peace, a calm like being embraced by the cool stream the night before. “I wish that I could help you more. You have saved my life, and yet, I have nothing to offer you in return. All I can offer is a warning. They will come back tonight and bring others with them. Be very careful, my friend.”
The theme of the evening. At least he’d given Sally his money. He had nothing for Angel, not even food to share.
“Do you know what an angel is?” Angel asked.
“Yes. I have read the holy books.”
Angel smiled. “Angels have been here since long before humans wrote those books.”
“Are you an angel, then?”
When the boy lowered his head, his hair fell across his forehead. He could have been a child, or an ancient. “I call myself that, and one day, I wish it comes true.”
“You have been one to me. You saved me from an unspeakable death. Please know if I can ever help you, I will.”
“Please eat. I cannot bear to see so much death with nothing coming from it.”
The boy turned and glided up the floor to the door. When it refused to open, he tore it from the hinges like it was made of paper and disappeared from sight. Draven turned to survey the room. Two dead Superiors, five humans. Surprising ratio, Draven thought as he knelt near the woman he had killed. He covered her face, closing her eyes in a gesture he hadn’t known he remembered from his days as a human.
Then he knelt beside Sally’s brother. He had told her he wouldn’t harm her family, and now they were all dead. How long would it take her to find out? She would think he had killed them and summoned the other Superiors, who must have followed the community members back from town. Draven hoped they didn’t know more, that they didn’t know about Sally’s community. He wouldn’t have cared if he’d been sure Sally was safe. He should have convinced her to evolve. Then he could forget about the whole lot of them and not care about their welfare.
He considered warning Sally somehow, but going back would be suicide. If they learned he had escaped, they would expect him to come back for revenge. This time, they wouldn’t let him live.
As he bent over Larry and began the difficult task of drawing still sap from the body, he imagined the scent of Cali under his lips again. He would go after her soon.
Byron woke unsure whether to focus on the hunger first or the anger. He went into his sapien apartment and jerked the blanket off the bed. The baby started crying when the female sat up. She had certainly proved more trouble than she was worth.
“You,” Byron said, jerking his head at the male. “Take the baby outside and make it shut up.”
At least one of the saps obeyed his commands. Byron fed from the female, not bothering with his usual politeness and civility. She was crying when he finished and stood.
“How did you get out?”
“I don’t know,” she said, blubbering in the annoying way humans did when they cried. What a useless bodily function.
“Who got you out?”
She didn’t know this either, or where she’d been going, or who the other saps were, or if she’d escaped through the door—that was the only possible explanation, that Byron had been sloppy and left the door to their apartment open. The sap didn’t know how long ago she’d escaped, or if she’d been planning it, or if more saps had escaped. She didn’t know anything, not even when Byron beat her, and not when he beat the male, who didn’t know anything, either.
The male didn’t know anything when Byron took to the baby, but the female sure started giving up answers then. It took only two minutes before he got what he wanted— the name. The sap who helped her get out of town, who supplied her, ran things, and got all the other escaped saps together was none other than Herman. Well, he’d practically known already. He hadn’t known that his sap was among the escapees until he’d seen her, though.
Now she said they were going to live in the abandoned town and fix it up. She didn’t know if other sapiens already lived there. Byron believed her because she kept crying and saying the same things even when he had the baby upside down by the foot. Disgusted, he dropped it on the bed and left. The stink and the noise of their crying were nauseating. He’d already eaten, so the smell of sap didn’t make him hungry enough to overcome his disgust.
He sat at his desk for a long time, sinking deep into thought and absently tapping his chin. Meyer Kidd had something going, something more complicated and organized and sly than Byron had imagined. He was luring humans away with the promise of freedom using his ‘escaped’ sap. At some point, he had to assume, Meyer was coming to collect the latest batch of runaways. But where did he keep them?
Byron had thought they’d solved the mystery when they found Angel Sinclair, and now more and more layers were being revealed from beneath the surface answers. Were Angel and Meyer connected? Was Angel working for Meyer, guarding the sapiens in the town until Meyer could come and get them? And where was Herman living? Or was Meyer working for Angel somehow? Instead of solving the case, Byron had lost two of his three partners and ended up with more questions than when he began.
Draven was going to get his human. It didn’t matter that she belonged to his former friend, that his former friend was more powerful in every sense, that his former friend had left him to die a slow and agonizing death because of this particular obsession. Maybe it hadn’t been an obsession when it started, but it had become one. Now that Byron had made it a contest, taken it to unnecessary extremes to defeat Draven.
Draven had been willing to beg, to work for her, to be decent and civil in the transaction. As long as he got her in the end. Byron had made it nasty. Well, Draven knew a thing or two about surviving, and he was pretty damn good at it. So he wasn’t going to accept defeat, no matter how nasty Byron got. Draven had seen the ugly side of human nature, and he didn’t think Superior nature was much worse.
He would walk to Princeton, forming a plan as he went. He’d sleep in old abandoned lots. He’d bathe in the stream. He’d wander the city until he found Cali, even if it took years. Time was not an issue for a Superior. He would keep searching until he found her, and then he would do what he had to, no matter how uncivilized was.
If it was illegal, if it took years, if it almost killed him…Whatever it was, he’d been through worse. This time, it would be worth it. This time, he would succeed. This time, he would get Cali.