Blood Legends: Undead – Episode Twelve
Black hole. Black heart. Black everything.
I looked up at the night sky. Silvery clouds stretched across the half moon and the stars shone like cryptic messages. Bats soared on silent wings while the sounds of night creatures echoed in my ears. Nothing had changed. Yet, everything had changed. No single element appeared the same to my vampire senses. Everything was accentuated. Everything was striking.
“Are you ready, dad?” Avila’s eyes flashed electric blue through the dark. Her skin appeared luminous and as pale as the clouds overhead as we stood at the foot of the forest assessing the cabin in the clearing.
The torment swirled in my gut and almost quelled the thirst biting at my veins when I looked at her. My girl. Ribbon laced braids and days at the fair. Lipstick on prom night. The way her eyes turned green before she was about to tell me a lie. Warm blood and a human heart. My girl had died and I wasn’t there for her. She had been reborn into the cold-blooded beings now dominating our world. She was now a vampire. It was time to level the score.
I gave a slight nod and glanced at Sun who stood next to Avila. Her golden hair tumbled over shoulders clad in black leather. It was just as lustrous as the eyes gleaming back at me. Her long talons clung at her hips as her gaze deepened.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
My jaw tightened.
Boisterous laughter erupted from behind the weathered timber walls of the cabin as the door flung open. A hawker male swayed as he gripped the balustrade to steady himself before making his way down the stairs. His voice slurred when he mumbled. Whiskey and tobacco mingled with the sickly odor of week-old sweat and carried on the breeze. His boots dragged across the clearing toward a tree. He belched repeatedly as he fiddled with his fly. The sound of his beating heart was intoxicating. I groaned inwardly and stepped forward, stopping when Sun grabbed my arm. Her fangs glinted with her hiss.
“Marius will kill you.”
My veins bulged with the venom coursing through me. It took everything I had to tame the rage. I reached for her hand. Cold on cold. Darkness accompanied apathy. It was consuming. I held her gaze. My lips barely moved when I replied.
“He already has.”
I released her hand and spun around before sprinting toward the hawker. The shadows were a part of me; the breeze was my ride. Blood was my lover. I stopped behind him and tilted my head to the side, watching as he stiffened before slowly cranking his neck around to look at me. Spidery eyes widened as I grinned.
He gasped. The tips of his filthy beard fell as he stumbled back.
“Wha — what the hell?”
I could feel the pressure splintering in the pit of my stomach. My pulse throbbed desperately. I ensnared a hand around his throat. My talons cut into his skin as I rolled back my lips, hissing. My movements were effortless. The sound of his wail distorted in my ears when I flung my jaw forward to sink my fangs into his flesh, instantly relishing the taste of the blood he offered. His pulse was ecstasy.
Sweet. Salty. Warm.
In the cold-blooded creature I’d become, it was the warmth I craved above all else. But there was not enough blood to bring back my humanity. There was not enough vengeance to bring back Scarla nor return Avila to her mortality. But there was the blood of dreams and dreams were yesterday’s wishes — and those wishes were my retribution.
I’d come here for more than just the blood of the hawkers that had killed Scarla. I had come with the promise of returning to Marius the rare blood he so desperately sought to possess. Promises made by the undead remained undead.
A growl tore through my throat as I released the hawker. He slumped at my feet. His blood coursed into my being. Elation gripped me. I felt my eyes blaze as Avila and Sun watched silently, the hunger in their stare unmistakable. I nodded and licked my lips.
“The ginger-beard is mine. No survivors.”
Demons. That was the word circling in my mind as we took the steps onto the cabin porch before crossing the threshold into the sitting room. Demons for the merciless creatures we had become and for the treacherous acts we now bestowed upon surviving humans. We had become what I had despised the most — slaves to the darkness and forever damned.
Avila and Sun stood either side of me as we paused to take in the scene. About a dozen hawkers sprawled on the lounges and lingered around the edges of the room, cackling. One of them sat on the floor and strummed an old guitar. Smoke curled from makeshift ashtrays and glowing pipes. Through the haze a withered coffee table crammed with bottles of whiskey and dirty glasses was the center of their world.
Silence fell as they became aware of us. Promises of death foreshadowed. It had never sounded so pleasing. My nostrils flared as I inhaled fragrant gifts. Sour pickings. Riffraff lineage flowing in sanguine fluid beckoned as I curled my upper lip and my eyes settled on ginger-beard.
His dark eyes flashed as he stood up. The machete he fingered was familiar. Sweat formed across his brow and clung to the tips of his beard as he squared his shoulders, facing me. The machete balanced ahead of him.
Some of the hawkers gathered beside him; others cried out and made for the doors leading to other parts of the cabin. There was no place they could hide.
My gaze rested on the machete.
“What do you think you’re gonna do with that, hmm?”
Ginger-beard swallowed. His heart thumped in my ear.
“I shoulda known you was a traitor to your kind.” He shook his head. “Club-fed pussy. Taking deals with the devil and feeding on the blood of the innocent. This was the only the way you could make it in the new world.”
“Perhaps you’re right.” I stepped forward. “But sometimes the people claiming to be our kind force us to make choices we never dreamed possible.”
He took a sharp breath. His fingers tightened around the machete handle. Avila and Sun began to advance. The hawkers standing next to him started to back away. Ginger-beard’s lips trembled.
“You came here for the blood — you can have it!” His fingers shook as he reached into his jacket pocket to produce the vial. “Take it — but hear this, blood-sucker — the time will come when the earth will know reckoning; an era when the Blood Legend will appear to right the wrongs of your kind and claim vengeance on all kindred. You will fall and you will fail.” He tossed the vial at me. “And I’ll be laughing from my grave.”
I gave a half laugh. Failure already blackened my heart. I slipped the vial in my pocket before lifting my arms in a sweeping gesture. When I spoke, my voice was hollow.
“Bleed the pigs.”
I lunged for ginger-beard as he swung the machete. The blade pierced my stomach but I felt nothing. His hair was like matted straw as I gripped his forehead. Bloodshot eyes swelled and brimmed from sunken sockets. Screams and wails reverberated across the room. Avila and Sun screeched as talons tore through flesh and fangs sunk into skin. I dug my fingers into his face. He didn’t even struggle as I looked into his eyes and gave him a black smile.
“You stole a part of my soul and now I’ll take yours with me to hell.”
I roared before abruptly twisting his head between my hands. The sound of bone crunched beneath the impact, but I didn’t stop. I couldn’t stop. A red haze filled my vision as I tore his head from his neck in one fluid action. Blood sprayed over me. My eyes closed and I saw Scarla.
Warm honeyed eyes. Long dark lashes. Soft skin, platinum locks and sensual hips. Lips and love; my love. Bella donna. She smiled and reached for me as my heart cracked and my soul yearned for one last touch — one final kiss. And then she was gone, and everything was black and bloody, and curdling cries filled the air as I looked at the unfolding massacre.
I turned away and left the cottage. I bolted through the forest. My feet were like wings. My heart pumped darkness. I stopped at the edge of the sea to gaze down at the footprints that spread like golden illusions beneath the pale moonlight.
My fingers felt like steel as I reached for the vial of rare blood; blood that had the power to transform me into something more powerful than any other vampire on earth. The same blood that took my girls.
I removed the lid from the vial, dropped to my knees and gazed at the dark sea. The cold water rushed all around me with the incoming tide. I felt nothing. Nothing.
“Did you ever want to step into someone else’s feet?”
Scarla’s voice taunted the edge of my soul as I recalled the last of our conversations.
“Don’t you mean shoes?”
I threw the vial into the receding waves and called her name. My voice was instantly stolen in the wind.
“Thousands of footprints have marked this beach over just as many years; I’d give anything to step in any one of them.”
I stretched to my feet. Her name was a whisper on my lips as I began following the prints back up the beach toward the road.
“But then you wouldn’t be here with me in this moment.”
Prints that would haunt me forever.
Thanks for reading! Black Heart is an urban fantasy set in a post apocalyptic world, and is the final instalment in Kim Petersen’s Blood Legends: Undead.