Thursday, June 30, 2005

Path of Destruction - 3

Stokes walked up to the table with the teenagers, one of whom was gripping the waitress' arm.

"Let her go," Stokes said, his voice calm and steady.

Everyone's attention turned to Stokes. The teenagers stared at him while Kara and I casually walked up on either side of Stokes, flanking him.

The girl glared at Kara and me. "Vampires," she said, hissing.

The eyes of all the teenagers glowed bright yellow, their irises enlarging to fill most of their eyes. Stokes took a step back and drew his gun, aiming it at them. The waitress screamed and tried to run away but the one boy held her tight. Nearby patrons scrambled from their booths and out the door.

"Let her go," Stokes said again, this time louder and more forceful.

The teenagers were suddenly standing, a movement so fast I couldn't see it. I had never seen a vampire or werewolf move so fast. What were we dealing with?

"I don't want to let her go," the boy said. He smiled at us and slowly licked the waitress' neck, a long slow lick, like a big cat savoring its food. "She is too tasty to let go."

The waitress was shivering with fear, and the boy seemed to be feeding off it. I wanted more than anything to stop her fear. Somehow the boy was intensifying her fear as he fed. I focused my attention on the waitress and walked right up to her. No one looked at me or tried to stop me. I cautiously wrapped my arms around her and tried to comfort her. The teenagers stared past me, and I turned around to see my own body standing next to Kara.

Then I knew what to do. I entered the waitress' body. Suddenly I was looking out through her eyes, feeling her terror, feeling the boy sucking my life-force out of me. I found the fear and soothed it. I found the muscle that contributed to the terror and relaxed it. I felt her body suddenly relax. I moved my free hand and her free hand moved. My fingers pried off the boy's fingers gripping my arm. I turned to face him, my eyes calm and strong. The teenagers were shocked to see this, speechless as I stood amidst them with no fear.

"Leave now," I said, and I heard the waitress' voice speak the words.

The teenagers backed away awkwardly toward the diner entrance, obviously nervous and confused.

"Shiva won't like this," the boy said. "Shiva really won't like this."

Something snapped hard and I was back in my own body. I rushed to the waitress as her body collapsed and caught her. Her eyes fluttered and looked at me, confused.

I looked up and the teenagers were gone.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Path of Destruction - 2

Kara and I sat in the booth across from Stokes in the all-night diner, sipping on strong coffee. The fluorescent lighting made everyone's skin look pasty, as if the diner was a hangout for the undead. About half the booths were filled with people you usually don't see during daylight hours.

Kara smiled at Stokes. "It's good to see you again, Detective."

Stokes grinned. "I owe you my life for getting me out of that place. Lawrence would have never let any of us out." His expression suddenly grew serious. "How are Madeleine and Clifford?"

Stokes had been there when both Madeleine and Clifford were made into vampires. Madeleine by Shiva, and Clifford by Kara. Kara still fought with guilt over doing that to Clifford, but they both knew it was their only chance to escape from Lawrence. And Clifford would follow his daughter into Hell to protect her.

"Madeleine is missing," I said. "For almost a month now."

"Clifford and Étienne are convinced she was kidnapped by Shiva," Kara said. "And is being held against her will."

"But you don't believe that," Stokes said.

"No," I said. "We think Madeleine went with Shiva willingly."

"So she and Shiva are responsible for this murder spree," Stokes said.

I nodded. I looked for our waitress and saw her talking with four teenagers in a booth across the room. Three boys and a girl, all dressed in black with long trench coats. I started counting their facial piercings when one of them looked at me, his eyes cold and dark. I could sense vampires, and they weren't vampires. Yet something wasn't right. Not entirely human. I looked away, back to Stokes. The gloomy lighting and late night atmosphere must be getting to me.

"Knowledge of vampires and werewolves is spreading," Stokes said. "Nobody is going public with the information yet, but rumors are that the president knows. They're afraid to start a national panic. We're under a lot of pressure to stop Shiva. He's not trying to hide anything. He's trying to flaunt his existence."

"I wouldn't underestimate him," Kara said. "He may be a sociopath, but he never does anything without a good reason."

Our conversation was interrupted by the four teenagers across the room. One of them yelled at the waitress. "I ordered my steak raw, and I bloody well want it raw!"

"Sir, we can't give you raw steak. It's rare."

The teenager grabbed the waitress's arm. "Maybe I should take a bite out of you. That would be raw."

I sighed as Stokes stood. This was going to be a long night.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Path of Destruction - 1

Kara and I ducked under the yellow tape stretched across the kitchen doorway.

"Don't touch anything," Detective Stokes said.

Stokes was tall and slim, dark brown skin, with hair graying at the temples. He had just recently become a homicide detective.

Another detective, a large stocky man, bald with a face like a bulldog, approached us. "You contaminate my crime scene and you'll wish you never met me."

I already wished I had never met him.

"These are the people I told you about," Stokes said to the detective. "Kara and Sparky Nix, this is Detective Bragg."

I nodded but Bragg ignored me and turned around. "This way," he said. He led us through the kitchen. It was large, like everything else in the mansion. Other detectives, spread out through the kitchen, paused while gathering evidence and stared at us. I got the feeling we weren't exactly welcome here.

We rounded a corner and Bragg stepped aside and stopped. Kara and I stopped next to him. It took me a moment to realize what I was looking at. The limbs were bent at angles that shouldn't be. The bodies entangled in a heap, most of their clothes ripped off. A nice neat pile in the center of the main cooking area. Some of the limbs were small, puncture wounds everywhere.

We were looking at the entire family.

Kara gasped. I fought the urge to throw up and looked away.

Bragg stared at us, studying our reactions. "You know who did this?"

I nodded. "Yes," I said. "I believe I do."

I took in a deep breath. Big mistake. I turned and ran out of the house, falling onto the grass. I breathed in the night air, and for some reason I didn't get sick.

I felt Kara's hand on my shoulder and I reached up to touch her soft skin. I needed something soft right now.

I looked up and saw Bragg and Stokes standing there. I squeezed Kara's hand.

"His name is Shiva," I said. "And he looks just like me."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

On Vacation

On vacation until June 27

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Soul Splitter - 3

Étienne called out, not even bothering to communicate silently with his guards. "Stop Corwyn!"

We heard loud crashes upstairs and Étienne moved faster than I'd ever seen. He wasn't wearing a cape like I had when I could fly, and yet he was at the top of the stairs in an instant. He didn't even really fly. It was more like an intention formed in his mind and he was there. He moved through the door just as quickly.

Kara seemed torn, looking up the stairs and then back at me. I gazed into her eyes and I felt most of my pain slip away. I had thought I would never be with her again.

She leaned in and kissed me and I kissed her back. I thought it was a strange time for us to be kissing, but given how much I missed her, I went with it, and felt all the magic we shared come up full force.

She pulled away and gasped for breath.

I smiled.

She blushed. "I had to be sure it was really you," she said.

I reached up to stroke the side of her face and my pain returned. She took my hand and gently moved it to her face, knowing what I wanted.

"I'm so sorry," I said. "I should have been able to stop him."

Kara put her finger to my lips. "That never could have happened, Sparky. In fact, you shouldn't have survived at all once the memories were restored."

"His memories couldn't reach my body," I said.

She smiled. "I keep forgetting what your real body is."

The door upstairs opened and Étienne walked through, standing silently at the top of the stairs.

Kara turned around and noticed the despondent look on his face. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"Shiva got away," he said. "Killed twelve of my best guards."

"That's not all," I said.

Étienne nodded. "Madeleine is missing."

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Soul Splitter - 2

The dungeon seemed to form around me and I saw Kara and Étienne outside the bars. Corwyn closed the cell door.

"What have you done?" Kara demanded.

"He started convulsing," Corwyn said. "I had to go in to keep him from hurting himself more than he did."

Sharp pain stabbed at my arms and legs, and I felt blood trickling down them. I tried opening my mouth, but I was too disoriented.

"You know how dangerous he is," Étienne said. "You know the rule. Never open the cell door when you're alone."

"Étienne," Corwyn said. "You know I can take care of myself. I wanted to help your friend."

Something wasn't right. My head pounded as I watched the three of them, standing there, talking. Oh, Kara. If only we had more time.

"I know you meant well," Étienne said. "But you should have called one of us first."

Corwyn nodded and then turned to me. He winked.

Kara looked at me through the bars. "Étienne, he's hurt badly. We need to help him."

Étienne glanced upward and two vampires came through the door at the top of the stairs and made their way down.

Corwyn started walking up the stairs. "I will get out of the way," he said.

I suddenly realized what had happened. I had been so used to being in the background, unable to control any part of my body, forced to watch as Shiva carved a path of evil in his every action. But somehow I was regaining control. The wink. That wasn't Corwyn outside the cell, casually walking up the stone steps. I strained to tell them, but my mouth wouldn't work right. I made slurring sounds as Kara and Étienne came through the cell door.

I tried pointing at the body that looked just like mine as it walked up the steps, but I only cut deeper into open wounds on my wrists. Kara rushed to my side and steadied my arms. I frantically tried to warn her. She tried to calm me down.

The door upstairs closed with a dull thud. I panted, and willed myself to relax. Finally, I managed to speak.

"Not Corwyn," I said.

Kara and Étienne looked at me with a moment of confusion. I pointed at the closed door at the top of the stairs.


Their eyes widened with panic.