Happy Friday! Here are the first six chapters from the upcoming Blood of the Gods (The Vampire from Hell – Part 5). Feel free to check them out and share what you think. Remember if you haven’t read Part 4, you need to know that Rayea died at the end of that installment. So let’s so how this starts out :)
About Blood of the Gods (The Vampire from Hell Part 5)
Rayea, the Vampire from Hell, has been missing a year and presumed dead. In the fifth installment of the Vampire from Hell series, it’s open season on the Ancient Council. Angels and gods alike are being systematically wiped out. Only one person can save them, the Vampire from Hell, but how can Rayea do that when she doesn’t recall who she is and none of her friends can find her?
Click the image to pre-order Part 5 now!
Chapter 1 – Grace’s Diary
September 2. Early Morning.
As I poured myself a second cup of coffee and jotted down a few notes in my diary, I tried not to notice that Blick was staring at the calendar. Since Rayea’s disappearance, he had been staying with us, Demetri and me. Being a wolf god with the werewolf curse in his blood, Blick had an anger management problem and had a tendency to break stuff first and apologize later. His fits of rage were commonplace now. Some days, my vampire sense helped me read him. On days like this when he was in a dark and brooding mood, it didn’t matter that I knew what he was about to do before he did it.
“You know what day it is?” he asked. He ripped the calendar off the wall and shredded it into a million pieces. “I’m not sure how much longer I can do this.”
I scribbled down a note to get a new calendar in my diary, ripped the page out, and stuffed it in my jeans pocket. Had Blick not said it aloud, maybe I wouldn’t have thought about it. I’d been up since about 3 am and hadn’t slept at all. I’d been out hunting and sneaked in the back window. Unfortunately, Demetri had already left for work.
I agreed with Blick, silently in my head. Forgetting what had happened today (a year ago) wasn’t a possibility, for me, for any of us. I said the lie to my fragmented brain anyways. My heart was bleeding. So was Blick’s. Rayea had been missing one year to the day, to this date on the calendar and we had not stopped looking for her. None of us had. Blick. Lynn. Demetri. We all wanted her back, at any cost. We all believed she wasn’t dead. We all believed a vampire from Hell could not die, could not truly die, not this vampire anyways. I was holding out for the notion that I’d get to see my maker again. I desperately wanted to confess my sins to another vampire who would understand. Rayea had committed her list of sins so she’d have advice for me, something a maker can comfort her fledgling with. I wanted a conversation like that, with her, just once.
As Blick deposited the torn calendar into the recycle bin, I asked him, “Would she give up on you if you were presumed dead, Blick? Would she?” Having recently re-read her journal entries again, I wanted to tell Blick what I had read. Instead, I hesitated. I recalled the time Rayea (pronounced “RAY – ahh”) had talked about Blick almost going dark, almost being sucked into the world of evil by her father, Satan. He tempted all mortals and immortals with the darkness, and she had saved Blick from it. She had pulled him back from the edge. Okay along with the help of a blood god, but still. I knew how much Blick loved her. It was written on his face, every anniversary of every month on this day we had all faced it together, every second of every day when the second of the month rolled around.
He smiled at me with a bit of kindness in his tawny gold eyes and shook his head. His dark bangs fell in his eyes. He brushed them away and turned around quickly. I saw the tears surface in his eyes before he stomped out of the room. A loud crash made me jerk a bit. I wasn’t sure if it was fear of rooming with a wolf god or too much caffeine. I opted it was the second reason and wondered what new item I’d have to order online now. I’d find out later.
But I understand Blick’s rage. The longer we waited and hoped, the angrier he became. I felt every bit of it as well. However, I didn’t show it. Rayea was important to me too. I had no idea I’d lose my maker so soon and I was determined beyond any force in the universe against me to find her and bring her back. I may be her first fledgling vampire she created and that may mean that I was obsessed with finding her. But I wasn’t the only one. I kept that glow of hope burning in my heart for her. When she had turned me, I had not wanted to live. I had stabbed myself many times in an effort to end my life. I couldn’t go on with the abuse my ex-boyfriend, Nathan lavished upon me. I had given up. I had decided to end it all. Then Demetri had walked into my life.
Now, because of Demetri, because I had left with him, because of Rayea, because I had become a vampire like her, I loved life. I enjoyed every day of my second chance. I enjoyed being with a man who loved me. And I wanted to be the vampire she would want me to be, a vampire who did the right thing, who saved the innocent from the evil out there, and who stood up for those who couldn’t. Okay, maybe I stumbled now and then, but everything I had done in the past months had all been for Rayea. Correction, over the past twelve months. The date hit me square in the chest. Had it really been a year since she had disappeared? I wanted to jump on my bike and go speeding off into the night. I couldn’t believe it. Had it truly been that long? I wanted her back. As the days had turned into months, I refused to believe she was certainly dead. Even though we had not heard anything, I refused to admit it to anyone that our hope was fading. I refused to give up on getting her back. Lynn, Rayea’s best friend and I constantly thought of plans to find her. In the beginning, we’d present them to the guys. Later on, when Blick disagreed with every idea as he usually did and Demetri sided with him, we didn’t bring the subject up anymore. Lynn searched the internet for any sign of chatter about ‘the vampire from Hell’ and I went out each night and searched the streets.
Demetri, my boyfriend of eighteen months, had been Rayea’s boyfriend, he was her ex now, but they had remained the best of friends after they broke up, a fact I didn’t approve of when Demetri and I first started dating, and I had been turned. For a few months, I was mad with hunger, anger, excitement, delight, fury. A lot of my emotions escalated to the highest intensity levels you can imagine. I fought hard to control my thirst, and had it not been for Demetri, I probably wouldn’t have made it.
Once I realized Blick was her ultimate love, her soul mate, I let the jealously go. It didn’t matter that neither of them had admitted that yet. I believed it and so did Demetri. We both wanted Blick and Rayea to be happy together. I think that realization in the end is what made me understand what I must do.
Knowing that the guys wouldn’t approve of the idea, Lynn and I had gathered up Rayea’s blog entries and had published her online journal as a book. We did this four months after she vanished. Eight months later, a book called The Vampire from Hell was now a bestseller. It was taking on a life of its own. It didn’t matter that the author was missing, presumed dead. That only added to the mystery. An author who thought she was a vampire turned by her father, Satan. The people ate it up. And they finally learned that vampires do exist. At least the people who read the book know this fact. The others. Well, they can learn that on their own.
Some vampires, like what Rayea is and what I am, are day walkers. We can walk among humans undetected. We also can shoot flames from our hands. We are flame-throwing vampires. It sounds comical really, but it’s a nice skill to have when shit goes down in an alley, as Rayea would say, and you’re standing face to face with some demon from Hell or a creature who has snakes streaming out of their head.
The snake for hair person? That would be Rayea’s sister, Stephanie, who also calls herself the New Medusa. She died in the fight she had with Rayea that night at Max’s bar. We hoped that to be true. No one has heard from her either. I didn’t share with Demetri that I did want to meet Rayea’s sister, Stephanie. I had my own reasons, but I kept that to myself. I hadn’t told him everything, but I had told Rayea. She wrote about it in her journal. I suppose being the first person she made into a vampire would warrant a whole chapter to be written about you. At the same time, Demetri will be angry with me when he reads it. As time marches on, I didn’t realize how much I have appreciated her words. That’s probably why I re-read her writings over and over. They are a comfort to me when other things fall short. I’ll flip to that passage she wrote about me and add it here now.
Chapter 2 – Dead Girl (Rayea’s Journal)
From Rayea’s previous journal (published in The Vampire from Hell)*
“She has to wake up. Rayea. Rayea. RAYEA!”
I opened one eye and felt the soft surface of my down comforter beneath me. My phone was vibrating in my back pocket. I fumbled for it and pulled it from my jeans. Holding it up, I saw a photo of Ashton as the vampire character, Ron Maxwell, sneering at me. A call from Lynn.
Someone slapped my iPhone from my hand and it bounced across the bed.
“That thing has been ringing nonstop. Who is Lynn for god’s sake?”
Death’s voice was frantic. He was obviously frustrated with me for sleeping most of the day. I assumed it was close to nightfall because the sunlight coming in from the white sheer curtains in my bedroom had been replaced by the warm golden glow of streetlamps.
“You may want to be nice to her if you want her help with this situation, Demetri.”
“Situation?” I mumbled, attempting to push myself into the pillows lining the headboard of my bed.
Michael stood on one side of the bed while Death, or Demetri as was his formal name, glared at me from the other side.
Both of them pointed to a curly red-haired woman who had collapsed in one of the Queen Anne wingback chairs I had moved from the living room. Her long hair covered her face and her stomach was completely soaked in blood. [This would be me, Grace.]
“She looks like she’s dead. This isn’t my department, guys. I think it’s yours,” I replied, pointing my iPhone at Death. Twenty-two missed calls from Lynn. Shit. I had missed our lunch. “I’ve got to get going,” I said, bouncing off the bed. “Have either of you guys heard from Blick?”
As Michael and Death knelt down, examining the dead girl, they both paused and glanced at each other. Death returned to holding the girl’s hand, whispering to her. Michael slowly stood up and faced me. “Why, what have you heard?”
“I haven’t heard anything. I dreamed he was sick. That’s all. Is he okay?”
“Ohhhh, the Ra blood. I told you it would be intense. I’m sure Blick is fine. I need to be getting back anyway. I’ll tell him to text you. Okay?” Michael blew me a kiss accentuating his new smug vampire demeanor. Excuse me, angelic vampire. He then nudged Death’s shoulder. “Can you walk me out, man?”
I probably should have been more nervous than I was when I saw both angels acting weird, especially with Michael asking Death to walk him out. But it didn’t dawn on me at the time as to what it really meant. I assumed having a girl dying in my bedroom was reason enough for their odd behavior. Was she dead?
Carefully I approached the girl and smoothed her hair away from her face. She had beautiful, long lashes, high cheek bones, lush lips, and very pale skin probably because she had lost a great deal of blood. I felt her wrist for a pulse. It was very weak. Not a good sign.
I managed to unbutton her flannel shirt as far as her bra line and spread open her shirt. When I sliced away the soaked bandages with my long nails, I discovered she had probably 10 or 15 knife wounds. A few were very deep.
I sighed. “Who did this to you?”
“I think she did it to get back at her boyfriend.” Death pulled up the straight back chair that had been at my writing desk in front of the window. Crossing his long legs and peering down at her wounds, he added, “Her thoughts are confusing, but that’s about all I can get. ‘Nathan will pay for this.’ That’s what she keeps saying.”
“What do you propose we do?” I asked glancing at him. He had removed his light gray leather jacket and tossed it on the bed. One side of his dark T-shirt was drenched with blood.
“We have to save her. It’s my ass if we don’t.”
A frown crossed my face, and I was sure Death noticed it. “What are you talking about? May I remind you? You are the Angel of Death, not the Angel of Life.”
He sprang up from the chair and started pacing in front of us. He seemed more agitated and frustrated than I had ever seen him. “She has a mark. She’s important to one of the houses. J told me if I found a girl like this anywhere on Earth that I had to protect her. She’s not a soul that is to go over. And now I may be too late. I’m screwed.”
“Show me,” I said.
Slowly he pulled up the left flannel sleeve of her shirt. Beneath the fabric, right below the bend of her arm, she had a tattoo. A detailed symbol of a lion fighting a snake in black and red ink with blue and silver shadings. It was exquisite. It reminded me of paintings I’d seen in my art books.
“The mark of the dragon,” I whispered.
“What?” Death asked. “What do you mean? Have you seen this before, Rayea?”
“Something I dreamed about,” I mumbled, not wanting to divulge to Death the insanity of my blood-induced dream. “What is her name?” I asked, trying to think coherently.
Immediately, the girl sat upright, shouting at us. Her eyes blazed and her lion tattoo began to glow. Her entire body was scalding-hot to the touch.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of the tattoo actually moving along her arm as the lion whirled a few times around. She wasn’t a normal human, I thought to myself. It’s not possible. If J wants her saved, she has to be saved, I decided.
“Go get me a knife from the kitchen,” I said to Death.
He looked at me, then at Grace. “Rayea, do you know what you’re doing? Why can’t you use your fangs?”
“Go get me a knife,” I repeated. When Death left the bedroom, I spoke to Grace. Actually I put her in a light trance, so that she would obey my commands and calm down. She was in too much pain and I knew she needed a few moments of relief. “You’re going to be okay. I know we haven’t met, and I’m sorry for that, but you will be okay. I won’t hurt you.”
She blinked her vivid green eyes at me a few times. “The bar. I saw you in the bar.” Her voice was a hoarse whisper.
I ran to the bathroom and got her some water.
Her body temperature cooled somewhat as she drank the liquid and I dabbed her forehead with a damp towel. “He wanted to sell me off.”
I placed my hand on her right temple, hoping to access her memory. Maybe she could tell me what bar she meant, so I could get a location. Who wanted to sell her off? It sounded like she thought she had seen me before. Then the memory surfaced. She had watched me the night before drinking in Max’s bar, the Golden Skull. She had harmed herself because she’d rather die than exist with a boyfriend she despised. His name was Nathan and she loathed him. He wanted to sell her off to a woman he had met on the internet.
“The new Medusa,” Grace breathed, lightly laughing afterwards before she grimaced in pain and coughed.
I wiped a few spurts of blood from her lips. No one but Stephanie would use the new Medusa as her new super freak name. Now I knew I had to do something. If my plan didn’t work, I’d be in even more trouble, not really with the Council, but with J. That thought seriously frightened me. He could burn my brain into a clump of ashes with a snap of his fingers. If this girl was important to him, I had to do something. And if Stephanie was on the loose, I couldn’t begin to think what that meant. Lynn. Ashton. I had to know they were okay.
“Grace, can you hear me?”
“How long have you had this tattoo? Is it recent?” I pressed my index finger into her left arm to show here where I meant.
“After that night. The first time. Nathan. He sliced me up.”
I put my hand against her face again, reading her thoughts. Her boyfriend wanted to be a vampire. In a bloodletting ritual, he had harmed her and somehow she had survived the first set of injuries. He wanted her to be a vampire too, but Grace’s change had gone wrong.
“Fire,” Grace whispered. “Fire shoots from my hands now.”
Good god. I had to think about this. If she was something like me, able to send flames from her hands, she would be even more dangerous if I turned her into a vampire. I didn’t know how to turn her however, so we did have a situation. I gritted my teeth. Then my mother’s words came to me. “Protect your friends. Keep them safe.” Ra’s words overlapped my mother’s as they walked through my mind. “You will not always be a fledgling vampire. Knowing who is of a pure heart and soul will guide you. You will defeat all evil. It’s who you are. The mark of the dragon will guide you.” I could recall everything from the dream, meeting Ra, meeting my mother, their conversations, the blood tea, and the supposed blood god racing around in my veins. Despite it all being a dream, I knew those events were real. It had actually happened as far as I was concerned.
Then the voice inside my head said one simple phrase: “The angel drank your blood. Why can’t this girl drink yours?”
Maybe that could work unless I still had some of the poison in my system.
“Can I show you something, Grace? We aren’t so different after all. Watch.”
Her body stiffened when she saw a small ball of fire I summoned to rise from my fingertips.
“Oh my god,” she whispered.
I straightened one of my hands out and waved the other hand over the flames. Quickly they extinguished. A few streams of smoke floated upwards.
“Do you understand? I’m like you, and we’re on the same side. It’ll be okay.”
She chewed on her lips, nodding her head against her will.
“There is one other thing,” I said as I raised my left sleeve of my shirt.
Her eyes widened as she observed a tattoo of a dragon on my upper arm. It hadn’t been there before Michael had laid me in my bed to sleep off the power of Ra’s blood. But after my dream with meeting my mother and Ra, I had awakened up with a stinging sensation radiating from my arm like a burn. It was a tattoo similar to Grace’s. That couldn’t be by coincidence. Mine was an illustration of a dragon fighting a snake in black and blue ink with red and gold shadings. Anyone could tell it was created by the same artist, same shadings and similar colorings. It looked like it had been lifted from the walls of a pyramid. It had to be the mark of a house. Maybe it was the House of the Dragon. Ra’s story about the two sisters, Maia, the good daughter and Mehen, the evil flashed before me. But what did Grace’s lion tattoo mean? What house did it represent? I didn’t have time to process all of it. Whether or not we had been marked by the gods, I had a responsibility to try to save her. Or maybe I was rather bleary still from my blood dream and I was envisioning nonsense. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t letting this girl die, not in my house anyway.
“Grace, I want you to trust me, okay? I can help you, but I know you fear vampires.”
She stiffened again in the chair, pushing backwards into the fabric and winced in pain.
“It’s okay. It’s okay,” I said, taking her hands in mine. “I won’t hurt you, but we need to heal you. You must want to live though. I can’t make you want this. Live for revenge if that is enough. You can seek vengeance on Nathan, your asshole boyfriend.”
Rigid with fear, she managed to nod at me. She bared her teeth at me when another seizure of pain hit her. No fangs. Maybe she wasn’t like me after all.
I glanced around and saw Death standing in the doorway. “Do you think it’ll work?”
“I have no idea,” I stated flatly. “But I have to try.”
Slowly Grace dropped my hands and extended her arm towards Death. “Demetri,” she whispered.
He rushed over to her in the chair and took her hand in his. “I’ll do whatever I can. If you don’t survive, I’ll come for you. Do you understand me? I’ll find you no matter what.”
Seeing him respond to her request and verbally vomit a slew of promises he may not be able to keep, a slight smile played across my face. My eyebrows raised in amazement as my eyes widened. I exhaled slowly. My ex-boyfriend was finally in love. It was a glorious sight. As my face shifted into a wide grin, Death bumped me with his hip.
“Shut up,” he mouthed with his lips.
I continued to smile like an idiot at him. We’ll save her. Don’t worry. I let my thoughts pass quietly to him, not knowing if he could hear me telepathically.
“Do whatever you can please,” he replied. “I’m not giving this one up without a fight.”
Death’s words resonated with me. How many guys did I have to let get away before I figured out what I was running from when it came to love. What was I so scared of? Getting hurt? Deciding to leave the topic to discuss another day, I returned to my task before me. Before I could back out on my decision, I yanked the knife from the floor and sliced my right wrist open. As I let the blood from my right wrist fall onto Grace’s stomach, she screamed in pain. The blood sizzled as it rolled over her flesh.
“Rub the blood into her wounds,” I said to Death.
For a moment we watched in amazement as the blood cauterized the wounds.
Then I motioned for Grace to lift her chin. “Are you ready?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
When I raked the knife across my left wrist, cutting it as well, Grace wrinkled her face at me and shut her eyes. “No, I won’t.”
“You must,” Death said to her. “You must. You’ll die otherwise.”
“I want to die,” she retaliated.
Gently cupping Grace’s face in his right hand and pushing strands of her long red hair over her left shoulder, he stared into her eyes.
My heart sank. The memory of Ra and my mother showing compassion for one another in my dream surfaced. Two people in love.
“Grace, sweetheart, you have to do this. I already know I want to spend my life with you. Please, do this for us.” Despite the blood splattered on Grace’s face, Death kissed her and she returned his kiss.
I smiled at Death slightly when we briefly made eye contact again.
He nodded, and, patting me on the shoulder, stepped away for a moment.
“Grace, I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. But Demetri is right. You will die if we don’t do this. Trust me. Please. You won’t be like Nathan and his friends. You won’t be evil. There’s an alternative to those evil snake vampires. And we’re it. Do you understand?”
Grace slammed her eyes shut and fiercely nodded again. “Okay! I’m ready!” Opening her mouth widely, she tilted her head back against the wall.
The blood from my wrist fell into her mouth and down her cheek. I prayed it would be enough. I prayed it would work because ultimately I had no idea what I was doing.
“Where did you learn how to do this?” Death asked as he hovered in the doorway.
“Would you get over here and hold her hand please?”
“How much of this do I have to drink? This stuff is really warm!” Grace yelled as she spit some blood on Death’s face. “Sorry,” she giggled.
Death glanced over at me speechless.
I laughed at his expression. “I learned it watching Blood Realm,” I replied. Realizing he had failed to understand my response, I rephrased my answer. “Ashton’s TV show.”
“Oh, that’s just great. We’re in trouble now for sure.”
I nodded to Grace again and placed my other slashed wrist over her head. “Let’s drink a little bit more, okay?”
While Death sat with Grace, who had finally drifted off to sleep and was resting comfortably in the guest room, I bandaged my wrists, changed into a sleeveless blue t-shirt, faded jeans, and a black leather jacket, and decided to get some fresh air. My day had gone to Hell in a hand basket, and that was putting it mildly. “Check her pulse often and call me immediately if anything happens,” I had told Death.
“Rayea, we have to do that meeting thing at some point.”
“You wanna do it now? Or wait and see if she wakes up?” I had asked him.
“I’ll make some calls and see if I can put them off a little bit longer. J said I could use the ‘doing inventory/too busy’ excuse if necessary.”
So I had a stay of execution for a few more hours and I wanted to put it to good use. I needed some downtime, if that was possible. Bouncing out the door like a free man, I decided to make a couple of calls while I wandered around the streets of the Haight-Ashbury district and see the nightlife. Surely I can get some privacy in a sea of tourists, I thought.
I texted Blick and few times and got no response. Lynn as well did not reply to my text messages. She was probably busy with work. Finally while I waited at the light next to the Golden Skull bar, I texted Ashton. Was the world mad at me? A few moments later, he sent me a reply picture. He was in makeup and had his set of vampire fangs in. His text said, “Sexier than a gnome, right? xoxo.” I laughed out loud at the picture and text message. Ashton was the only guy I knew who sent xoxo’s as hugs and kisses in text. When I got one of his first text messages, I had to ask Lynn what it meant. Okay so maybe the entire world wasn’t mad at me. I realized I shouldn’t be worried about just my circle of friends, but after the day’s events, I was dreading having to start my new job at some point, or dying, if that was the case instead.
While I sent a reply text to Ashton asking him if I could have a rain check tonight, he replied that he had to work late anyways. I saved the image of him in his makeup and stuffed my phone in my jacket pocket. Once I realized I had wandered past the bar and ended up near the alley on Clayton Street, I looked for a parallel street sign to see how far away I was. It was a bright night in San Francisco and the moon hung low. I enjoyed being able to see in the dark so well which really didn’t matter when a light was on every street corner anyways. At night, many of the neighborhoods were lighted well. I stopped near a café. Leaning against a brick wall, I reached for my phone. Time to call Blick, I thought to myself.
This is Blick at Cloud.com. Leave a message after the beep.
Dang it! No answer. Why doesn’t he answer?
As I contemplated my next call, that being to Lynn in which I would beg her forgiveness for standing her up for lunch, I heard a few guys yelling in the alley next to the cafe. Their cheers were mixed with a dog barking and what seemed to be another animal screaming. Against my better judgment, I decided to investigate.
“There ya go, Zeus. You want that cat, don’t ya? Let ’em go at it again, T. I want this cat good and freaked out when we release him,” I heard one guy say.
Several of the others were too distracted with the scene in front of them to see or hear me as I silently watched from atop a dumpster behind them. I had used my vampire speed and agility to land just where I wanted to so I could survey everything. Sneaking around the city at night like a ninja was a vampire pastime I secretively enjoyed, but I’ll deny that if anyone tells the guys. Just saying.
The group of guys, all dressed in black sleeveless T-shirts, green camouflage pants, and black army boots, centered around two other guys in the middle of the circle. One held a brown stripped dog by a red leash and silver choker collar. When the other guy instructed him, he would let go of the leash so the dog could terrorize a medium size, fluffy orange cat they had obviously put in a wire cage. It made me sick to my stomach.
Finally when I hit my boot against the metal of the container, I had everyone’s attention.
“What do we have going on here, guys?” I asked the group politely.
The leader, who seemed to be the thinnest one in the lot of them, whirled around at me. He was certainly displeased with the interruption.
“Who the hell are you?”
I arched an eyebrow at him. “Wow,” I replied, crossing my legs. “You’re one sassy punk, aren’t you?”
Several of the other guys laughed. The one called T reined the dog in and bent down to check his wounds. “That cat tore a chunk out of Zeus’s cheek, Nathan. Let’s call this off, man. I need him tomorrow in the fights.”
The voice inside my head rallied. “Nathan? As in Grace’s Nathan, Rayea?”
I faltered for a second when I heard the voice call my name. “You just said my name?”
“I did,” the voice replied.
“What’s wrong with ya, you dumb ass? Cat got your tongue?”
The guys laughed at their leader’s words. Nathan, alive and in person. And within my grasp. I could take care of him for Grace if I wanted to. Instead I went for the Jeremy plan of action.
I leapt off the dumpster, landing just outside their circle, inches from Nathan. “You don’t wanna mess with me, friend,” I said. Baring my fangs, I hissed at him.
His cloudy blood-shot eyes almost popped out of his skull, and the color drained from his gaunt face.
Everyone scattered, running for the exit to the street, leaving the dog and cat abandoned. Taking a second look at me, the dog nodded.
“Well played, vampire.”
Telepathically I heard the dog speak to me and then watched as he too ran down the alley.
“Zeus, the dog,” the voice inside my head commented. “Fancy that.”
As I retracted my fangs, I knelt down near the cat. Every stitch of his fur was puffed up. He was trying to make himself look like a huge threat, hissing and growling at me.
“You want me to call the dog back, little one?” I asked him.
He bared his fangs at me as a response and crouched down in the middle of the cage. A row of his fur stuck up high along the ridge of his backbone.
“Come on, you can go home with me. I’ll stop at the Lucky Mart at the end of my street and get you some tuna. What do you say?”
Chapter 3 – Grace’s Diary
Blick’s deep voice interrupt my train of thought as he returned to the front room and I shoved the book I had been reading into my backpack. It was time I got my day started. “There’s been no word. Just checked the networks. Nothing. No word from her at all. If she was alive, no one could keep her from a computer. Don’t you think, Grace? She would share her thoughts. She would find a way. She would…if she were alive. How long do we keep believing she’s a…”
“That she’s alive?” I spat out. “Until Hell freezes over.” I tossed my coffee cup in the sink, ignoring the sound of breaking ceramic. I gathered up my computer and notes and shoved them violently into my backpack.
I felt Blick’s presence behind me. He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. Blick was several inches taller than me so really his muscular chest hit me right along my shoulders. I patted him on the hand. “We’re not giving up. Okay?” I knew he was a sensitive soul despite his gruff exterior. He was a wolf god, a werewolf, a hellhound. And to his enemies, he was a fearsome man. I didn’t react to his outbursts. I let him do as he pleased. I had learned from my time as a vampire that one knows when to pick one’s battles. Fighting Blick wasn’t an idea I would ever execute. He was now my friend too. He needed us like we needed him. And after reading Rayea’s journals, I knew how they both cared for each other. Had I not read it, I still would have known. I saw it everytime I looked up into Blick’s face, his chiseled features, his handsome dark looks. Of course his violent outbursts of anger meant one thing, he’d move heaven and earth to find Rayea. Blick had been worried about my maker ever since she had walked into Max’s bar, the Golden Skull that night trying to save J. And Blick knew something wasn’t right. He saw the destruction. He saw the burned ashes, the blood, the clumps of Rayea’s black hair, but no body, no presence of her at all. However, he knew she was in trouble. When she hadn’t returned, he was beside himself. Demetri had demanded he stay with us. Had he not, I would have. I tried to hide my emotions into a robotic realm. I tried to feel nothing about the fact that she was gone, that we were all grieving for her, and still were. I tried to act like I didn’t care, but I couldn’t do it. I thought about her constantly. I comforted Blick when I could and I ignored his fits of anger. It was pointless to react to them. When he broke something in our two-story apartment, I simply went out and got a new item. Had he agreed to get his own laptop, he wouldn’t keep smashing the extra ones I had bought. That didn’t happen, so I went out to replace it. To date, I was on my 15th laptop and I suspected until we found Rayea, the number would continue to grow.
“I’ll see ya tonight, Blick. I’m going to take Demetri’s bike, okay?” I pulled the book I had been reading from my backpack, pushed it into his hands, snagged my motorcycle helmet, and raced to the door. “She would want the world to know. And mark my words, we will find her!”
As I closed the door, I saw the stunned expression on his face. I had given him a copy of Rayea’s memoirs. The Vampire from Hell was alive and well, at least in print.
Chapter 4 – Phone Conversation (Grace and Demetri)
When I saw the call coming in on the bike’s dashboard, I knew who the call was from. I clicked my Bluetooth device wired into my helmet.
“How is he?”
“Don’t you mean how am I?” I asked, teasing Demetri a little bit. I knew he meant Blick.
“How much has he destroyed this morning and yes, how are you, sweetheart?”
Demetri rarely called me by my name anymore, but I loved his nicknames for me. I always called him by his formal name, instead of the nickname he had earned as the Angel of Death, a position he had left once the Council had told him they’d be processing Rayea’s journey over.
“He’s hanging in there. But we need a new calendar and some other piece of furniture I think.”
I laughed into the speaker. Silence surfaced on the line.
“I didn’t mean to do it, on this day of all days, but I gave him a book today.”
“Okay, what’s wrong with that? I don’t see Blick as a reader. Is he?”
“I don’t know,” I answered feeling the emotion I was attempting to hold back crack into my voice.”
“Sweetheart, what’s wrong? What book?”
“Lynn and I put Rayea’s journal entries together and released it as a book.”
I heard Demetri gasp.
“Several months ago actually when I was extremely volatile. I should have told you.”
The silence grew and I had sped up the motorcycle, flying at breakneck speed into the overcast morning. Finally I couldn’t stand it. “Demetri?”
“Slow the bike down. You’re probably already out of town now.”
I glanced along the highway, seeing open meadows and a few vineyards. Napa Valley, I thought. “I’m in Napa Valley.”
“I’m not mad at you. Why would I be? I think the world needs to know Rayea’s story and I know she’d want you to share it if she couldn’t. Telling Blick that is another story completely.”
“Okay, that makes sense. I just stepped into a hornet’s nest, didn’t I?” I pulled the bike over to the side of the road and slowly turned it around, headed back towards San Francisco.
“Maybe. But as far as I’m concerned everything is fine. I’ll talk to Blick. Looks like the fog is really bad today so take it slow driving back. I love you. I’ll talk to you later.”
The line went dead.
Chapter 5 – Communication (Grace & Lynn)
When I made it to the coffee shop, I got a text and was half expecting it to be Demetri when I saw Lynn’s name pop up. I waved to Sasha, the waitress.
I nodded and headed to the back of the sitting area. It was my morning ritual. After I arrived at the coffee shop, I’d ordered a black coffee with two creams. I politely thanked the waitress as she handed me my drink. Opening my laptop while lounging in one of their comfy chairs, I greedily gulped down the contents. Yeah, I was a vampire, but I still had been human at one point and caffeine is caffeine. I still adored it. It didn’t matter that blood satisfied my soul. Caffeine ignited my brain. If I tried to cut back on blood, like I did often, then my intake of caffeine increased. And that was that. As you may expect too, the hot liquid didn’t burn going down my throat. I had blood boiling in my veins already. What was a bit of hot coffee going to do to me?
“You’ve read that? It’s really good. But the chic dies in the end.”
I didn’t bat an eye when I heard the person’s comment. I carried the paperback version of Rayea’s book, The Vampire from Hell like I had the bible in my possession. I had heard the punch line before and of course, I knew how the story ended. But it wasn’t the end, I thought to myself as I looked up at the person spouting his drivel.
“Oh Grace, hello, how are you?”
I grimaced when I saw who it was. T, one of Nathan’s best friends and one of my mortal enemies. I elected to not let T get under my skin today as he had in the past. I was done with the lot of them. I wasn’t that scared, innocent girl who clung to them anymore. I had bigger friends, I had a real man who loved me, so what if he was an Angel of Death? He still loved me. He still wanted me. He still valued my opinions. Nathan and his friends like T here? Waste of space. I wanted to drain every drop of blood from their drug-infected bodies, but I wanted Rayea by my side more when I did it. Revenge would be hers and mine. Instead, I refrained from freaking out on T. I smiled and nodded to him.
“T, you are looking well. What’s new?”
“You know I can’t figure it out, but you don’t look the same. You don’t act the same. Nathan really misses you. It’s been months. Do you know that?”
“That’s adorable, but I’m not interested. Why don’t you go order your coffee and forget you saw me here?”
“Forget you? Hardly! Nathan will want to know I saw you. He will want to know everything!”
Fuck me, I thought. “I get that.” I decided that it would be in T’s best interest and mine if T didn’t remember this moment in his life. It was a decision of working a little magic on him or showing him into the bathroom and crushing his windpipe beneath my fangs. I voted for the first option while I knew my fangs hoped I’d change my mind and go for the jugular with the second suggestion.
“Here,” I said to T. “Let me show you this. Have you seen this?” I pointed to my laptop screen with every ounce my former human side could offer. Fourteen months as a vampire was taking its toll on me. As far as I was concerned I had been a vampire my entire life. I didn’t need a transformation to tell me I was at home with my new self. I knew and I loved the blood more than I’d care to admit.
“You have some interesting artifact on that screen? What’s so grand about it?” T asked as he moved in close to me. The early afternoon sun shone on his face through the window and I felt his heart skip a beat as he moved in close to me. I knew when the prey was frightened. I felt it in my bones. I didn’t have to learn it. It was instinctual. My entire vampire life was one sensory impulse after the other. I had no regrets for my actions at all. But the question if my maker would approve did float through my mind now and then. Was I a ‘good’ vampire?
When I wrapped my long fingers around T’s, I felt his fear surface. His eyes glistened and a few tears formed around the edges. The fiery effect of my deadly vampire nature on this cool morning took control of his lukewarm blood. It drilled its heat into his essence, right down to his beating heart.
“I would like to think that Nathan has forgotten me. You know?”
He nodded. He grimaced in freakish amazement as the sensation spread across his chest and up to his face. A sickening fear of unimaginable horror clutched his hand in broad daylight and T didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand it, but I knew with mortals I got my way. I controlled any being in my grasp and T was in my clutches.
“Don’t speak to Nathan about me. Don’t remember this. Instead, recall a waiter spilling hot coffee on the floor, nearly hitting you in the face with a flying spoon or something. Leave it alone, T. Leave it be.”
As he fled the shop, I watched him go. He’d probably call Nathan and explain to him some incoherent spew of insanity. He’d mention my name and remember nothing about the encounter, giving Nathan nothing he could use to find me.”
I didn’t want to come across Nathan, not now or ever. I wasn’t afraid of him. Instead, I was afraid of what I’d do to him if I had my hands around his neck.
In Rayea fashion, I cracked my neck, stretched my jawbone, low and proud, and unlocked my smartphone. I read Lynn’s text.
I wanted to go over a few notes I had made the night before. I wanted to ignore the thirst rising in me and I wanted to text Lynn and tell her I was in traffic, a comment she would not believe. Against all hope, I prayed she had a lead. She was Rayea’s best friend, a human, but a very cool person who got things done. We had become friends in the last months. When I couldn’t get Demetri or Blick to hear me, she’d listen to me and I really enjoyed that. I needed someone to listen to me, especially these days. And yeah, Lynn knew I was a vampire. She knew Rayea was a vampire. Is a vampire, I should say. It was a secret Rayea had kept from all of her friends on Earth, a fact I had rectified without permission. I had told both Lynn and Ashton, Lynn’s boyfriend the truth. Granted, they had seemed pretty cool about it. That still shocked me. The flexibility humans have. Anyways…as I was saying…
I motioned to Sasha for a refill and dialed Lynn’s number.
“You’re at it early.”
The sizzle in her voice never amazed me. Lynn was intense, a hard-core personality who if you were lucky enough to be her friend you were on the ‘good list’ for the day. If not, watch out. I had been through more of Lynn’s rants at the universe than I wanted to recall. “Couldn’t sleep.”
“I bet I know why. Look, I may have something. You online?” Lynn asked.
Like any respectable 21st-century- kid, I replied, “Always.”
“Cool. I have a link to send you this. I think it’s from Rayea. It’s a posting on a website called Deadit.”
I crushed my paper coffee cup and glared at my iPhone in disbelief. I ended the call and clinched the phone as I waited Lynn’s text message to come through. When I didn’t see the text, I send her a message instead. I watched my fingers as they composed my next text. I attempted to remain cool and cool.
“Is the posting by her or about her? Is she alive?”
“I think she is! ALIVE!”
This time it was me who pulled a ‘Blick.’ I crunched my iPhone in my hands and saw the plastic, electronics, and glass fall on the table. Fuck. I paid for my coffees and asked Sasha for a phone. “It’s an emergency and my phone is broken.” A true statement, I thought.
“Sure, hun. Boyfriend troubles? I see that all the time. Smashed a few phones myself. No worries.” She smiled and pointed to the back where a landline phone hung on the wall.
“Can you meet me? I’m at the coffee shop on Beach Street, Hyde and Beach Street.” I didn’t ask Lynn any pleasantries as I demanded my intentions through the phone.
“You bet,” she said, then paused for a moment. “The one by Macy’s and Saks’, across from Union Square?
“That’s it. Can you be here in thirty minutes?”
Chapter 6 – Deadness (Posting by Rayea)
Posting on Deadit.com
User Name: Fire_n_Fangs11
The best way to begin this posting is probably by starting with the first day I woke up which was a few days ago. Being dead is a lot like sitting all by yourself, inside your own head. No light. No noises. No interaction with others. Nothing except blackness before your eyes. Silence. It is a far greater hell than I would ever want to wish on anyone, even my enemies.
Now as I gain access to this discussion board on the Internet, I can put my thoughts together. I can share them with anyone who is out there. I can make sense of what’s happening to me and what will become of me. Officially, and unfortunately, all I know now is that I’m dead. I still seem to be a vampire. Not sure what is up with that. Oh and I am going to have to pay for my sins. More on that later. For now I am awake, so I think that’s a good thing.
As I was saying, the deadness. Probably the one thing that kept me going during my prison in darkness was the dreams. The images of my being with a man I hope to meet someday. Maybe I have met him before. I don’t know. In my dreams, he was taller than me by several inches. I’d enjoy staring up into his gleaming gold eyes and rugged face. His black hair framed his face nicely, and I’d giggle to myself when his long bangs fell into his eyes because his hair seemed to annoy him, but not enough to cut it. His voice was deep. A sound I dare say comforted me. When I dreamed of him, I felt safe in the darkness. I’d spend hours staring off into my black abyss, and when sleep finally took me, he was there, holding me in his arms, or sitting with me, or listening to me talk, or more.
He rarely spoke. Sometimes he did, but I couldn’t understand him. Mostly he’d whisper in my ear or along the inside of my neck. I didn’t really see him speak. It was more like an awareness. I heard his thoughts. His touch was soft and warm, very inviting. He was always so near to me when I dreamed of him. Even though I didn’t know his name, I knew I could trust him. I didn’t recognize him and that disappointed him. I wish I did know him. I enjoyed that feeling of contentment. In my hole of despairing death, I clung to that one feeling. Dare I say, I survived because of that one decision I had made, to trust the man in my dreams, for absolutely no reason except that I felt I could. When you’re in a situation like this, isn’t going with your gut feeling the best course of action you have?
I stayed like that for months or years I suppose. I don’t really know how long it was. I just know I woke up like this a few days ago. I woke up to new challenges. New realizations. New situations. A whole lot of questions, and a room filled with walking and talking skeletons.
I don’t know who I am. I have no memory of anything before that first day. I woke up in a dead void, a wasteland of skeletal people or creatures of every description who surrounded me. Humans, wolves, dragons, lions, dogs, cats, large and small whose faces surfaced before my eyes, popping up in front of me like they were all, one at a time, trying to get a better view of a movie show being played. I was the main attraction when I finally became alert and conscious.
“Now we can get some answers.”
“I’m not sure she’ll know right off where they are. How could she?”
“Where who is?” I asked a man who seemed to have the most authority in the group. His face wasn’t completely bare of skin, but it was close. Only half of the bottom part of it seemed covered with skin. The remaining was a dull gray skull. His skin was slowly decaying, dropping off to leave a bone structure of his empty face. Staring through his vacant eye socket, I could see the darkness in the back of his head. I struggled to remain calm and focus on the ‘good’ side of his face. The one eye that remained in place, for now. How many people wake up to a crowd of walking and talking skeletons eyeballing you? I felt a tightness in my throat. I wondered if a bony hand held me in its grasp. The feeling deepened. Pressure surfaced behind my eyes and traveled down the front of my face to my shoulders. I reached out for anything, anyone to keep me from falling. My head swayed. My mind whirled. I collapsed on the floor. I had no idea what was happening.
Finally, when I saw the crowd of skeletons leaning in closer, they screamed and pointed at me. I realized I had yelled at them. I didn’t hear my own scream because I saw fire rush up into the air before me. Had I just breathed fire?
Clattering and clapping deafened my ears. The crowd was cheering, rallying themselves into some kind of frenzy. I still was the main attraction. This is worse than the blackness, I thought.
“The vampire with the fire and fangs. Just breathe. You’re fine.” the man with half a face said.
“What is happening to me?” I examined my shoulders and face. Was I burning alive? Was I in Hell? What was going on? I stopped asking questions when I finally felt vampire fangs, my very long vampire fangs, drop and fall over my lips. I was a vampire?
The man did not answer. The crowd continued to enjoy my despair and confusion. Voices reached out to me and invaded my brain. After an extended period of silence, the noise was almost too much.
“She’s the one!”
“Finally a real way out!”
“Revenge will be ours!”
“Resurrection for the dead!”
I raised my hands in defiance and again flames shot forth. “Oh my god! I’m so sorry!”
A few skeletons laughed and cackled as a few others stomped out the flames. One small skeletal dog, on fire, ran in circles, chasing his tail in fright. Really I couldn’t tell if he was a dog or a wolf. His boney body dismissed that distinction.
“Put him out please,” I begged the group.
They didn’t pay any attention to me until the man with the half face stood up. He seemed much taller than the others, maybe seven-feet and dressed in a long faded black trench coat, black jeans, clunky black boots, and a faded cowboy hat. He waved his hat over the crowd. A rush of ice cold air filled the area and extinguished my flames.
I scrambled over to the dog I had set on fire. “Are you okay?” I didn’t think for a minute that the dog likely wouldn’t be able to answer me. I spoke to him as I would any human. I never questioned this fact for a moment.
To my surprise, he did respond. But first, he lavished me with kisses. I didn’t think I deserved that type of response because I had damaged his bone structure. Now he was several colors darker and covered in soot. Remaining fragments of skin hanging on his skeletal body had been burned away. I had cleared away those decayed shreds of hanging flesh with the fire, a purification of sorts. But the half faced man had saved him, not me. He had put out the flames.
I tried to understand the dog’s rapid speech, but I couldn’t. Either my brain wasn’t awake yet or I was close to panic myself because I didn’t know where I was. I resolved that it was probably a combination of both.
“Me too. Me too. Pure. You good. You too. Good. Yes. Yes. Lovely. We. You. We to be. Free. You. Help. Woo hoo!”
I attempted to calm the dog down. I pulled him to my face, wrapping my hands around his lower jaw and the dome of his skeletal head. “Shhhh,” I began. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’m so sorry I did that.”
A hush fell over the crowd. All the walking skeletons stopped celebrating. Their boney heads swiveled in my direction until their bodies turned too. That affect made my skin crawl a bit. The man stood nearby. “Now everyone, let us stay calm. Yes, after twelve months, she is finally awake and yes, we are all anxious to see what this means, but we have a long way to go. This is only the beginning.”
“She speaks concern,” one skeleton replied.
“She is kind!”
“She is nice. Nice, I tell you!” another one said.
The dog broke our embrace. He stood up on his bony back legs, punched his paws in the air at me as if he was a giant grizzly bear. “You cleanse. You nice. Thank you! Much thanks!” He returned to standing on his four legs and proceeded to race around my legs.
“Will he be okay?” I asked the man.
I felt his presence as he stood near us. He put his hand on my shoulder, as a long lost friend would do. I felt his icy energy radiate down my arm.
“Fire burns away the dead flesh,” the man said. We watched on as the dog ran through the crowd of skeletons. When the man wrapped his arm around me and pulled me into a half sort of hug, I felt like I had been thrown into a freezer. The icy sensations of his touch seeped into my flesh. I tried my best to not shiver in his embrace, but his closeness creeped me out.
“The decaying flesh itches and annoys them, especially the young ones. Unfortunately, I do not possess your gift. I cannot burn their discomfort away as you just did.
As the dog flew to my side again, the man stepped away from me. “You made a friend for life,” he chuckled.
Trying to ignore how strange the man’s icy touch had felt, I leaned over and placed my hand on the dog’s forehead. I wanted to soothe his rising excitement. I could tell he was starting to freak out, and the excitement was about to overload his system. I feared he’d spontaneously combust or something. Comforting him seemed a natural thing to do.
“You my friend!”
A few more dogs, large and dragging decayed flesh beneath their paws, slowly approached me.
I sat down on the floor and crossed my legs. This way I thought I could make the group of dogs understand that I was a friend.
The small dog whose bones I had just “polished” snuggled up beside me. He lifted his head up and barked at the approaching larger dogs.
“Tell me your name.” I rubbed his bony head over and over, fast at first, then slower when I began to relax and felt his body do the same.
“Jax? Jack or Jax?” I asked.
I glanced up to seeing him wagging his boney tale. The digits rattled like a rattlesnake’s tail as he moved it. As the large dogs encircled us, he growled at them with a warning. He whirled around to me and yelled his name. “Jax!”
“Jax, no,” I said. “I’m their friend too. Let’s all be friends. Okay? Behave yourself.” I invited the other skeleton dogs to join us. They too wanted to be ‘cleaned’ so I thought caressing them would solve the problem. As I gave each one of them some attention, rubbing them as if they all had the normal appearance of a canine, a gleaming white light began radiating from my hands, encircling them. The decayed flesh evaporated or sizzled away in a fury of bright light and smoke, followed by a rapid blue colored electricity that swarmed around them. As I rubbed the dogs, the energy surging in my hands grew hotter than fire, a white hot of immense power. It poured from my hands and encircled the dogs. Both lights of power fought each other, whirling around their bodies and faces until every trace of dead flesh was stripped away. Jax barked and ran around me in a circle. The other skeletons looked on in amazement as I too tried to understand what I had just done. Each animal stood before us, their skeletal bodies gleaming as white as snow.
I glanced at the man with half a face as I stood up. I fidgeted with my clothes, acting like I was dusting myself off, but I knew a wave of awesome power was about to hit me from the inside. I noticed my attire wasn’t too glamorous. A pair of black boots, faded jeans, a fitted grey t-shirt. Nothing to write home about. On the inside, my body was fueling itself of what I had just consumed through my hands. What kind of vampire am I? I wondered. My legs felt like jelly for a moment. Then a wave of intense warmth rushed through my entire body, starting at the center of my stomach and washing over me. I thought about sitting down again. Surely I wouldn’t be able to hold the power in. I gritted my teeth, refusing to let my fangs plunge forth. The energy I had just consumed from the skeletal dogs was astounding. Flesh and matter, and bits of deadness. My hands had taken it in. Evaporated any remaining decay from them. Glancing down at my hands again, I wondered if any flesh remained on them. What kind of a vampire am I really? Flames one minute. White hot electricity the next? My skin glowed a bit. Swirls of bluish waves still whirled around my hands and up my arms. I remained still, closing my eyes for a moment, hoping I could disappear. Please let this stop.
“She the one. Look!”
My eyes flew open when I heard Jax’s words. The wave of intense power had lessened and I felt normal again.
Just as I had cleansed the dogs free of their decayed prison of flesh, it also had unlocked some other transformation. The man with half a face stood over the dogs. He pulled out antique revolver from the inside pocket of his long worn-out coat, tipped his cowboy hat backwards with the barrel, and then touched each animal’s back gently with it three times. The name ‘Icy Western Godfather’ filtered into my head and I choked down the giggle. Where did that come from? I expected the man to shoot each animal in the back of the head with his gun. Luckily he did not.
Instead, a flurry of sparkling silver dust brushed over them. It took a moment for me to realize what I was witnessing. The silver dust fell upon them and a bone dropped off to reveal a patch of fur, then a healthy ear popped out, a black button nose appeared, and before I knew it the skeleton creatures were fully formed and fully recognizable grey wolves.
“Jax, and the others, were on their way to being G’s guardians before they were kidnapped and sent here to rot away for an eternity. Jax was only a wolf pup.”
The words the man with the half face spoke stunned me. “Who did this?” I couldn’t stop the question as it came out. I picked up Jax in his new furry white form as he returned to my side and clutched him in my arms. He looked a lot like a Siberian husky with a black button nose, big ears, long legs he had yet to grow into, and eyes as blue as an ocean. However his fur had no highlights of grey. It was entirely white.
Jax laughed and whipped his head back and forth. He was a ball of fun and mischief. He smothered me with wet kisses and hit the sides of my hip over and over with his tail.
“You will meet her soon, and then you and I will settle a debt. And heaven help her when she sees the likes of you,” the man said.
This declaration by the man sent the other skeletons into a frenzy. I had probably woke in the middle of a war or a nightmare. This was certainly a nightmare, even a very weird one. Jax and the other larger wolves who looked like mature adult canines rolled over on their backs in celebration. Then they jumped up, howled a few times, and ran off again into the crowd.
A walking skeleton dog who was formerly a wolf pup? A guardian frozen in time. A creature locked in a prison of bones? I looked over at the skeleton man with the cowboy hat. I assumed the questions were written across my face.
Another cold chill ran down my spine as the man with half a face placed his hand on my shoulder again. The hand of death?
My former state of quiet deadness I had been in faded into a memory. The dreams of my ideal guy evaporated before my eyes. My existence, if I had one before this moment, vanished like a whisper I thought I had heard, but had not. This was the end.
The man with the half face smiled down at me with a mouthful of yellow stained fangs. His one dark red eye radiated with some secret knowledge I feared I’d soon discover. He moved his bony hand to the small of my back and pushed me forward. More icy sensations tingled through me. “Here they call me the Ice Man. That’s rather obvious as I’m sure you can tell. You may remember my name? Beelzebub. We have met before. I’m one of the seven princes of Hell, the Hell your father stole from us. My brothers and I are soul searchers actually. You referred to me as ‘the best tracker you knew’.”
I shook my head. “I’m sorry. I don’t recall. What do you mean a debt?”
“It probably doesn’t’ matter now, especially if you don’t know who you are. I get that. Really I do,” he said and waved his boney arm at me. “But a bet is a bet, and I always collect.”
“What are you doing here? Wherever here is!” I snapped.
“Currently I am the keeper of this realm for the Ancient Council. We fabricated the documents so they think this is a Realm and Resurrection realm. It’s not really. Before that, you promised me a portion of Hell, your father’s domain in exchange for my help and you failed me. Mehen put me in charge here and we have been waiting a long time for you. Let me welcome you to Valeria. And today, Rayea is your Judgment Day.”
As Beelzebub pushed me forward through the crowd of skeletal creatures, Jax and his wolf mates laughed and jumped around us. They roared over and over, “Judgment. Judgment. Judgment. Judgment. Judgment. Judgment.”
“What are you talking about?” I yelled over the thudding noise their chant made, a rhythmic beat of a drum calling my soul into allegiance and retribution. I should have stayed asleep, I thought to myself. How complicated did death need to be?
“When we die, we all must be judged. You powerful friends have kept you from this day for a very long time. But now it is here. It doesn’t matter if we’re a human or a god, a dog or a cat, or a zombie or a vampire. We are all judged. After you killed J and G went into hiding, the council had to invent another ‘station,’ if you will. We have looked forward to seeing you for a long time now. After you are judged, I will have your soul. That’s my price for helping you find your sister before she harmed your friends. Mehen has signed off on it. It’s a go,”
“Surely you have me confused with someone else,” I interrupted. “What sister? What powerful friends? What are you talking about?”
He laughed and patted me on the shoulder, continuing to lead me through the crowd. “The fire-throwing vampire? Satan’s rebellious daughter? J’s prodigy. Oh no Rayea, we don’t have that wrong. Besides we knew you were coming. We are happy you are here. It just took you longer than we expected. How you made it out of that bar is still a mystery to me. I’m guessing your ex-boyfriend probably had something to do with that. Or maybe your beloved Blick did? No matter. I’m sure I’ll be meeting them soon as well. Soul searching is my life.”
Author’s Note: To learn all about Beelzebub, you can see Rayea’s first interaction with Beelzebub in the chapter named ‘Change of Plan’ and the Epilogue in A Vampire on Vacation (The Vampire from Hell Part 3).
If you’d like to send me any typo or grammar edit you read, please do so. I don’t mind at all. Email me at allyatallythomas dot com. ~ally