Dead Inside

Blood Legends: Undead – Episode Nine

Dreams are nothing but feeble whims on the devil’s tongue.


“Tea?” Sun’s smile evaporated as fast as it had emerged. The dark circles beneath her eyes darkened. “You need to drink something … eat something.”

I looked at the steaming mug she shoved toward me. My fingers felt numb.

“My grandmother used to say that tea makes everything better.” Sun gave a half laugh. When I stared back at her, she bit her bottom lip and looked away as she sat down on the sofa next to me. “Take it. You’re going to need your strength.”

I took the mug and pondered the hot milky broth. My grandmother used to say the same thing about tea. It was a lie. No amount of tea could ease the constant stabbing sensation crippling my stomach, nor could it erase the evil that took my lover and claimed my daughter. Tea wouldn’t make everything alright.

I tentatively took a sip and forced the liquid down my throat, grimacing. It hurt to swallow. It hurt to breathe. My skin was chilled from the inside out and it was guilt that weighed heavy on my heart. I was alive. Avila was not. I had forsaken her for a future hung on false dreams and unfounded myths. I’d failed my daughter.

Dreams have no place in this new reality. Dreams are nothing but feeble whims on the devil’s tongue. They mean nothing.

I set the mug down on the coffee table and stood up, running my fingers through my dark hair and sighing. Dead. Everything inside me felt bloodless. I barely glanced at Sun as I paced the cottage sitting room.

“You should go. The hawkers will be here before long.”

“I already told you, I’m not going anywhere. There’s nothing left for me.”

There’s nothing left for anyone.

I stopped at the window and peeled back the curtain, scanning the cottage porch and yard. My gaze settled on the dense twisted trunks bordering the gravel clearing as I contemplated her sudden appearance in my life. She had said she knew where to find me in the city the day before; that she’d followed us before discovering her daughter’s remains perishing on the floor of her living room. She said she had guns.

I spun around to see her bottom lip trembling, but her azure eyes blazed. I sighed.

“Stay with me and you’ll probably die before the end of this day.”

She gave a rueful laugh and rubbed her palms over her jeans. Her eyes moistened.

“You are the kindest person left in this world. You helped me when nobody else would.” She shook her head, her stringy golden hair clinging to her cheekbones. Her voice lowered. “I’ll die with you today, Jett.”

Her words were delivered with simplicity, yet they struck hard against my heart. I shook my head. I barely knew this woman and didn’t understand her reasoning, but there was no need to. In a world overrun by vampires, swindlers and criminals, nothing made sense anymore. She was a ray of light in an eternal darkness. She was like the sun.

“Your parents named you well.”

She smiled as our eyes briefly locked before I looked away and walked to where her guns lay on the floor. I picked up a long-barrelled firearm. My hands were clammy against the cold metal, but I felt a sense of comfort as I drew back the hammer and cocked the rifle before propping it by the cottage door. I’d never been overly fond of guns, nor had I owned one. Things were different now.

Sun stood and came up beside me. She selected a Glock 9mm handgun from the small stash of weapons and started inspecting the dull black short-barrelled pistol. Quick fingers ejected and reinserted the magazine before expertly gripping the handle and stuffing it in the pocket of her jeans. My curiosity was aroused but I said nothing.

“Where do you want me?” She flicked her chin toward the front door. “You want me to hide out in the trees?”

“No, they use the forest grounds as their cover. Stay by the window and keep out of sight. Train your gun on whoever has Scarla. If it goes to shit, kill as many of them as you can.”

“With pleasure.”

Scarla.

Just saying her name caused the shadow in my heart to deepen. I turned away and headed back to the window as my thoughts swirled with a thousand questions. Had I done the right thing by leaving Avila at the mercy of vampires for the sake of preventing further mayhem and horror? Had I made the right decision? Was she dead already?

Whether she was dead or not didn’t matter in that moment – or even if I’d made the right decision. The choice had already killed me on the inside, and I knew I would never forgive myself whatever the outcome.

The only thing that mattered now was Scarla and her safety. Rare blood and super-powerful vampires be damned. One of my girls had to survive this ordeal. Whatever became of the blood would be out of my hands once I traded it to the hawkers for Scarla’s return. I had to believe their hatred for the kindred would be enough to keep it from falling into their clawed hands. At least until I could realign and plan to retrieve it.  

I was thinking all these things when a movement in the yard caught my eye. I instantly stiffened as a dozen hawkers slinked from the shadowy trees into the clearing. I motioned to Sun who nodded and dashed toward the other window facing the porch. She meshed her slim body against the wall and stole a glance through the curtains, gripping her gun close to her chest as the sound of boots thumped on the porch stairs.

My heart thundered. Sweat pooled across my brow as I scanned the group of hawkers and spotted the tall nasty looking one that had delivered their ransom conditions forty-eight hours ago. He was clad in the same get-up – faded leather and dirty boots. His teeth were like rust between ginger whiskers as he grinned, and he fingered his switchblade as he bounded up the stairs.

 He banged on the flimsy door and at the same time, I saw Scarla. My eyes widened as she emerged from the trees with her feet dragging between two male hawkers who gripped her arms. Her pale hair hung over her face that was blotched with angry welts. Her swollen lips fell apart above a bruised jaw while her shredded clothes barely concealed her body.

What the fuck?

Rage took hold. Death was my friend. It was hot steel that claimed my blood and drowned out any coherent thoughts as I grabbed my machete before stomping toward the door and flinging it open to face my enemies. A sinister smile greeted me.

“Right on time.” The gingered hawker gave a wry laugh. His weathered eyes dropped to the machete I gripped at my side. He twirled the switchblade. “What ya think you’re gonna do with that, eh?”

Cut you all to pieces.

“Touch my woman again and you’ll find out, asshole.”

He growled and his eyes flashed at me before he glanced over his shoulder toward his mob. I braced myself and followed his gaze, taking in the leathered men carrying an array of weapons. Some carried swords in worn scabbards that swaddled their waists while others held blades and chains. Two hawkers stood at the foot of the forest doused in the shadows and pointing rifles at me. But it was the gangly looking man holding a hunting knife at Scarla’s throat that really caught my attention.

Dizziness threatened to overtake me when she lifted her chin long enough to blink at me through bloated eyes. Her head lulled forward, the afternoon sun catching the blood staining her scalp.

“Scarla.” Her name clung on my lips and panic seized me. I stepped across the threshold but ginger-beard sidestepped closer, blocking my way to the stairs.

A thick layer of grime crammed the wrinkles around his eyes as laughter erupted among the group. He cocked his head. His voice was gruff.

“Let’s start over, shall we? If you’d like to avoid watching the tart bleed like a dirty pig today, I suggest you give me what I came here for.”

My eyes stung as I glared at him and slowly reached into my pocket to retrieve the vial of blood that represented my daughter’s death and Scarla’s torture. The same drops of blood I knew would forever represent the death inside of me. Things were different now; everything felt bloodless.


Also published by P.S. I Love You on Medium


Dead Inside is an urban fantasy set in a post apocalyptic world, and is part of Kim Petersen’s Blood Legends. Episodes set to publish weekly for 12 Weeks. Catch up on previous episodes here.

Blood LegendsUndead – Episode Ten – The Void Available in:

2020-01-17T13:27:00

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The Void

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