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Monday, October 1, 2012

The Lens (16)



William had hoped against hope that Eliot would not call on him and his coven again, so when that dream was shattered by a visit from his new employer he hoped still that in the last minutes before the fighting started, they could all just walk away. His coven was too few to lose on a fool’s errand. William certainly did not want to sacrifice his men to protect a human of all people, who was haunted by some demons. Nothing here seemed ordinary. He was deep in the woods staring at a tall house off the beaten path. It was modern, which is in stark contrast to the desolate location. There was a garage, but no cars had been seen all day and there was no traffic along the roads either. It made sense that demons wouldn’t use them; they could just magically appear inside the house at will. Then there was the smell, which to a vampire is a warning, even though they caught the scent of human blood it felt tainted. Their noses were not as keen as a werewolf but it did not take a hound to know the people that lived here were not on the menu. The night was growing older now, entering adolescence; this would make the fight that much harder for the coven if they had to retreat from the sun before their job was complete and they would not get a second chance. They had camped out in caves and under specially made tents just watching and waiting. They were all restless waiting for this moment. There is a sudden rush of energy that fills through William. He knows the blood pact was taking its course. The coven was sufficiently near to him and as long as they were close by he and the rest of his kin would benefit from the pact he made with Eliot. It will be the only thing standing in between them and a pitiful execution by the demons. The rush of strength begins to overwhelm him. It floods through him in such a way that it reminds him of when blood used to course through his veins. It invigorates the hollow recess that was once occupied by a soul and beats on his chest with a rhythmic pulse like the beat of his long dead heart. His skin hardens, his eyes grow sharper, and his senses probe for danger miles away without prompt. The ancient magic of the pact has all but brought back to life these retched creatures. They will not wait longer for instruction, and even if William can contain his coven for another moment he may not be able to contain his own bloodlust until then. Eliot appears beside him in a way only William can see. “The time is now.” Whether he anticipated this response or just the sound alone was enough to set him off, William and his coven in the pitch black of night descended onto this house in total silence.

The length a couple lifetimes taught William a great deal about strategy and control, but no matter who you are there is a limit to how much power you can hold and how far it will drive you. To William’s credit he is functioning in a much higher capacity than most of his coven who looked upon the rocks at their feet with interest as if shredding them with their claws would be an adequate release for the intensity they felt charging them. Will is steady a moment. He sniffs at the air, feels at the ground and tastes the atmosphere. There is something wrong here more so than the nature of the job. He is too far into his bloodlust to tell what it is that does not sit well anymore. Now they were already at the walls, which had they been of the mind to notice they might have noted how much taller the building was when they were standing next to it. Here was there problem however, a vampire could not enter a home unless invited provided there was a human that lived there. The concerning factor being the grey area that develops when that human is possessed by a demon. They had to take the chance. On cue one of the vampires digs his hand through a window, it is not subtle and it is not without consequence as the whelp brings his hand out of the window it sizzled with burns. The house is protected. Now the hard part begins. William and the coven hold their position surrounding the exits and he turns impatiently every which way as if looking for someone. Eliot is standing beside him again. He looks carefully at the house and then off to the West. William says nothing. He fears the sound of words as they might break his warrior’s concentration. 

When William is suddenly overcome by a strange tearing feeling in his gut, he senses a link in the chain of his coven had been severed. This meant either a vampire moved out of range, the less likely scenario, or he had lost a brother tonight. The others feel it too and they howl at the dark. The shattering of the window had no doubt revealed their assault there was no use hiding any longer, not with the pact burning them inside out. William still could not detect the enemy, and judging by the back and forth pacing of his fellows they could not figure it out either. A handful of dust hits William from behind him, another link is broken. He twists around in anger, claws extended and his haggard face exposed. Before him stands a human figure holding a wooden stake in hand. He looks at William, smiles and then vanishes. Before the disappearing act William could not make sense of what he was looking at. The pact had interfered with his reasoning but not his instinct and he knew without a doubt that even a human possessed by a demon would have to give up some kind of vibe, and yet this one was undetectable. The roar from the others is intoxicating. They feel the loss as William does and they sense nothing yet that could harm them. William cries out to Eliot: “You tricked us!” Eliot does not betray any emotion as he stares on to the West a moment longer before turning to face Will. “Well yeah, I did. But you weren’t supposed to fail this miserably. They’re going to kill you but I don’t get why you can’t fight back.” 

The rage boils over, and William forgets that the image before him is not real. He slashes at Eliot to no effect. The image flickers like a screen shaking when you run a magnet over it. Eliot rolls his eyes. “Why are you so good? Can’t you see their cloaking the humans they’re wearing from your senses? Stop thinking like a vampire and start thinking like a demon hunter.”  William feels another snap in the chain. The pact is leaving him bit by bit with each loss. With another ear shattering roar William beckons the others to him. Let the demons escape he thought, I will find a way out of this. The options are limited. William must stay and fight in order to honor the pact or he will succumb to the wrath of the ancients. With the vampires positioned together they would be harder to pick off. The demon trying to make another pass at lone vampire now found himself surrounded by the coven. His face goes from gleeful to distress faster than he can blink. A shackle lands at his feet. It is a demon trap; the chains are imbued to hold a demon in one realm. Without the ability to blink he would have to rely on his skill and how much power he was willing to use. Three vampires tackle him, one holding each arm and the third digs his hands into the demons chest. The beast was attached to every nerve in the human body and he feels the claws tear through him. He erupts with black smoke pouring out of his wounds. The demon pushes the three off him using a wave of his power. It was as if the hands of the demon left hell and swatted the vampires back. Normally this was enough to crush anything on Earth, but the pact fueled them still and the three were back up again. Having counted the dead William knows he has 14 brothers left. This fight had already cost him dearly; he has no desire to lose anyone else. He jumps ahead of the others, the rest of the vampires circling him and the demon. The monster laughs at them. “You poor vampires, you don’t have a clue what you have done.” William has no ear for him, he sweeps an outstretched arm 180 degrees around towards the demons neck, but he runs into interference. There is a pressure in the air being created by the demon. He shields himself without raising a hand and then lifts both of them to propel William backwards. Just as he does so a Vampire from behind sends his fist through his back to the mortal chest. The distraction left him defenseless and now that the human body was dying it would not be long before the soul departed and the demon would have nothing to hold on to. “Demon hide is usually tougher than this,” spits the vampire that dealt the final strike. 

The doors of the house burst open as an older man creeps out. The lights finally come on around the outside; it almost looks as if this place is inhabited. The old man smiles, and then he applauds. “You killed an old man’s guardian. How brave of you.” The vampires swarm around him. They have a measure of control regained and now wait for William. “Old man, you are not human.” He snarls. Eliot for the first time looks perplexed. He had phased in and out of Williams head during the fighting and is not sure what to make of the old man. The old man looks at his hands while talking past them to the ground, “I seem to have forgotten my walking stick. Dear me, I fear I may live to regret that.” William reaches for him when a spear lands between them. The others roar and dance in and out of a circle around Will and the old man. They have no idea where it came from. High atop a tree William can just barely make out the shape of a figure. This one is certainly a demon. Even from hundreds of feet away he can feel it. 

The old man picks up the wooden staff that the new player sent hurtling towards them. He smiles. “Thank you my dear!” With cane in hand he taps it against the ground three times. The sound is weak and does not travel far. William is fed up with everything so he takes another swing at the old man. A force like a freight train smashes into William sending him through the nearest tree. Pact or no pact, dead or alive, it was one of the most painful experiences of his afterlife. 

The image from the tree tops is now gliding down the forest, a handful of vampires rush to meet with it. Meanwhile as William looks back up to the old man he seems him surrounded by demons. Undeterred by their presence William stands. “This is the last night we have before us my coven! Let us not go out alone!” The others cry and charge forward. There were four demons around the old man each one of them stood their ground as the old figure walked back towards the house. He had no desire to partake in the fighting. William stands still observing the fighting. He feels the power around him, it is no doubt that the greatest danger is coming from the figure that threw the staff. He charges in that direction. The five vampires left near the house face off with the four new demons. They break their column and file and each grab for a vampire. The two are still not evenly matched as the pact weakened with ever loss and now the demons had regained the upper hand. Each side traded blows with the vampires ripping and clawing at the flesh and the demons pushing and pulling them into tree after tree. Like rag dolls the vampires crashed but they always got back up. 

Deeper into the woods William saw the slim figure now gliding effortlessly in and out of range of the vampires near it. This close, Will could make out the long hair and flowing gown. It was a woman, at least on the surface, and she lead them further into the woods. Every now and again in between a dodge here and a dodge there she would toss a vampire off to the side slowing him down only slightly. William managed to catch them and then he stepped ahead of her. She twirls in a circle and lets her auburn hair come back to rest before she looks intently with piercing eyes towards William. “There you are!” She says removing a mirror from her pocket. There is a flash and then the mirror turns out to be a lens. Her eyes fade from a hazel color to a dark grey as she presses her hand out towards William, he thinks he can dodge the wave, he cannot. An invisible hand pins him to a tree and he watches the lens ignite. A wide beam escapes it, one of the vampires keeping pace had lunged for the woman. The light hit him instantly. His bare flesh glistened in the rays, a million reflections of light cascade over him and in that moment he sparkles. This is due to the flames shooting off his arms and suddenly bursting from his torso. The lens glows red as the light diminishes leaving dust where once a vampire was. The other two stagger in their assault. They glide backwards in hopes to escape the second volley. She burns them in the same shot.

She looks around at all the falling dust and relaxes her arms. Making a show of dusting herself off, she walks over to William still pinned to the tree. Her concentration was safely divided between operating the human body and holding him steady. “So, that was supposed to accomplish what exactly?” William growls, “I’ll say nothing to you demon wench.” 

“Hrmm, wasn’t talking to you, leech.” She looks deep into his eyes. “You are not riding solo.” Closing her human eyes she feels blindly through the air. William sees an opening and he reaches for her but his hands do not move. “Oh please, holding you steady is childs play. Don’t think my eyes aren’t on you just because they’re closed.” She opens her eyes as wide as she can and then blinks rapidly, gradually slowing down to bat her eye lashes. “Oh Eliot. You’re so crafty.” She addresses his specter as it stands by William. “Well Rebecca, I try. You want to tell me who that old man was?” She smiles and stands on the toes of her feet. “Maaayybe. You wanna tell me exactly where you are right now?” Eliot remains calm. “No.” 

“Alright,” she says laughing, “The old man is Daylen. You might be interested to know he isn’t human. In fact he and I are quite acquainted. He used to visit little Rebecca in her sleep.” Eliot does not take the bait. This has to be a trap. Rebecca manages to read the thoughts through Eliot’s stoic shield. “I know you well enough to know you don’t believe me. That’s good. Frankly I don’t believe a word I say these days,” she rocks back and forth as the conversation goes on. William feels her grip tighten. “It’s really good to get out once in a while and stretch my legs I have felt so cramped. All day long I just sit and wait for my powers to grow. I’m finally used to this damn body, and let me tell you it is in great shape for a little human plaything.” 

“Why are you stalling?”

“Because, Eliot. I know you can only hold this poor sap for a finite time. When you lose your grip I get to have a private conversation and by now you are way past your limit so I bet the nap you take after this will be quite a long one. Better still is you won’t be able to tell anyone what happened here until you wake up and by then Daylen and me will be long gone.” Eliot is unmoved. He looks at a watch he was holding and not wearing. He looks back at Rebecca and says, “I guess that’s all for now.” Rebecca laughs as she begins to stretch in much exaggerated movements. She cracks her knuckles and looks at William. The bloodlust from the pact has totally left him. He has felt his entire coven shrink away into the abyss while these two danced around questions. His role in their game of chess was about to be over. 

“Do say hi to everyone for me, the next time you stop by the house. Don’t be a stranger now; I will happily kill more of your pawns Eliot!” His last image of her was turning an eager face to William while she pressed him further into the tree. It was unnatural to see a vampire looked at as a meal.

“Well that was interesting,” Eliot says to Sean and Ian. The three of them were parked off the side of an interstate somewhere between Nevada and Oregon. Sean pats him on the back, “Well done buddy.” He is drained but the intermissions where he turned away from William, really saved him this time. “Rebecca was there. They definitely know we’re behind this one.” Ian’s brow furrowed. “How exactly do you know they know?” Eliot spaces out for a second, “Well she spoke with me. Not to me. With me. She revealed a little too much though…” The thought trails off. Sean nudges him. “Yeah, she said to say hi to everyone next time I was home. She knows we’re on the road. Probably knows Marko is alone with Alicia. Oh and then there was some old guy she wants us to believe is the sleep walker.” 

Taking a long drag of his cigarette Sean stares at Eliot. Now certain that he finished talking Sean begins, “So they’ve been watching the house. That’s good, we thought that might happen. Then they know we’ve been behind all the attacks against them recently. That’s good, I guess. We won’t get to thinking we’re too good to get caught. But I don’t get the part about the old man.” 

“Yeah,” says Ian. “Are they trying to get us to believe they didn’t lose the sleepwalker we’re looking for?” Eliot moves to the back seat to lie down. Sean puts out his smoke and moves over to his trucks bed. He lifts the tarp to look at the woman tied up and chained to the bed. “She’s still breathing.”

“Alright, Eliot, great job. Sean you got it from here, just drive around and keep this thing moving until I set up a safe house and tell the others. Sean secures the tarp over the prisoner. “Alright man. It sure is a hassle not being able to interrogate her at home.”

“I know Sean but we have to make it look like we haven’t gotten what we’re looking for. I’ll see you in a few.” Ian disappears. Sure is faster than an email Sean thinks to himself. He gets into the driver’s seat and turns the ignition. He sees Eliot, lost to his fatigue; now sound asleep in the back. The truck resumes its course to anywhere but home and Sean is left to think to himself for company. He cannot seem to grasp why luck has fallen into their lap all these times. How it is that it was this easy to catch the sleepwalker and how, if she was so important, would Rebecca leave her to protect some old man? There were no easy answers, not that they would matter in just a few days’ time. 

Marko sat facing a window in the dark. He looked out at the night like a statue. Alicia enters the room holding a bottle of wine. She puts down yet another journal and then sets two glasses on the table between her and Marko. They were both in the living room where Alicia had her first taste of the true history between Marko and her sister. Alicia clears her throat. “I want you to tell me more about Rebecca. I want to hear about her from you, the man who knew her best, and the only person in this house that doesn’t hide the truth from me.” He knows she has been drinking by how casually she says Rebecca, before it would never come out right. Before turning to face her, Marko catches the glimpse of an image. Someone who was not there before has just appeared down the road outside the house. “Alright,” he says “It’s about time.” He never takes his eyes of the figure. He knows it’s looking back. He can feel her.

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