I let my eyes sweep around the room, quickly assessing each possible hiding place and finally satisfied that the vampires probably were not lurking in the cupboards, I motioned for Michael to follow and we quickly crossed the room and found ourselves fortunately looking out onto the main hallway.
Well, I say fortunately, but I hadn’t banked on Meat-Head’s body to be still lying close to the door, blood and brains staining the floor around him. I stopped and gasped.
‘What?’ Michael hissed, straining to look past me ‘what is it?’
‘Couldn’t they have at least moved him?’ I groaned.
‘You’re scared of a dead body?’ he mused, raising his eyebrows at me in surprise ‘he isn’t going to get up you know? A bullet directly in the face tends to render you immobile. Permanently’
‘I know that!’ I hissed back, rolling my eyes ‘I just think it’s disgusting how you people leave the dead just lying around’
‘Well generally, as a rule, we don’t. If we did, there would be a hell of a lot more dead bodies decorating the streets. Most of us try to be slightly more careful than that’
‘Urgh’ I shuddered ‘I don’t even want to think about it’
‘Then don’t’ Michael snapped ‘you were the one who bought it up, remember?’
He eyed the hallway warily. Shards of light pierced the gloom on the left hand side and I looked at them, crestfallen, remembering those huge windows that lined the corridor that had led down to the dining room.
‘This is never going to work. I can’t do it’ he insisted, taking a step back into the kitchen behind us.
‘Wait a minute’ I said ‘you haven’t even tried yet and already you’re giving up?’
‘Giving up on getting myself killed? Yes! Even if I can make it to the door without making myself go blind from the light over there, how the hell am I meant to reach Sebastian’s car all the way across that forecourt?’
I looked at him, noting the beads of sweat that had broken out on his forehead and the trepidation all too clear in his eyes and then looked back at the door again.
‘See? Didn’t think of everything, did you Einstein?’
I ignored him and then found myself smiling, which to him, probably looked like a crazy person’s smile as that is exactly what it felt like, considering the situation.
‘The boot!’ I exclaimed ‘I can reverse the car across the forecourt right up to the door, flip the boot and you can run straight across the hallway into the trunk of the car!’
His eyes widened.
‘No, no, no’ he stammered, shaking his head ‘I’m not doing that’
‘Michael, come on! Think about it! If you do that special speedy run of yours, you can be into the boot quicker than I can say Van Helsing and we can be on our way’
He narrowed his eyes at me and I could see the blue flashing through the slits.
‘Your humour is starting to wear a little thin and it’s definitely not appropriate’
‘Isn’t it always better to laugh in the face of Death?’
‘This isn’t your death we’re talking about here! When it’s your turn, laugh all you want. I’d rather take it slightly more seriously than that’
‘Oh for goodness sake, Michael! Look, if I reverse the car right up, can you get in it quickly enough to not let the daylight hit you?’
‘Not without some kind of cover over my head and how am I meant to see where I’m going if I have a cover on my head?’
I glanced around the hallway, looking for something that we could use but the place had been stripped clean by the Gainsboroughs.
‘Okay, wait here’ I said hesitantly ‘I’m going to run down the corridor and see if I can find anything’
‘That’s not a good idea’ Michael said but I was gone before he could stop me.
I ran across the hallway towards the light and desperately tried not to look down at the congealed mess that was once Meat-Head’s face as I skirted the corner and ran towards the dining room. As I ran, I could feel the light warmth of the daylight on my skin and it felt odd to feel its touch, so accustomed I seemed to be now with the cold embrace of the night. It even hurt my eyes a little to look at it and I didn’t want to think how it would feel to Michael.
The door to the dining room was closed but I wasn’t overly worried about any vampires lurking within. After all, the dining room opened up directly onto this corridor and I knew they wouldn’t risk the daylight finding them in there. Pushing the doors open with a grunt of energy, I stormed into the room and saw exactly what I had hoped I would see.
Despite the fact my attention was mostly captivated by one or two snarling vampires earlier, I did remember seeing a curtain lining either side of a door at the back of the room. At the time I didn’t think too much about what the door was for or why there might be a curtain covering it, I was slightly preoccupied, you see, but I definitely remember spotting it and that’s exactly where I headed now. Flying across the room I didn’t pay too much attention to the floor until I skidded on something wet and felt my feet slipping out from underneath me and I landed with a slap, feeling the immediate sting in my palms. I hissed through my teeth and sat there, momentarily stunned to survey the damage. For a split second I wondered why the hell my hands were bleeding, when suddenly I realised that whilst it was my blood, it was not from any injury to my hands.
I had slipped on the blood spilled when Dominique had punctured my skin earlier. I sharply exhaled, unsure whether I was glad it was my blood and not someone else’s. It made me slightly nauseas to see my own blood pooled on the tiles and I instinctively held a blood-splattered hand to the covered gash on my neck that continued to burn.
Remembering suddenly why I was there, I stood up quickly, wiping my palms on my jeans and ran over to the door, noticing that the curtain had now been drawn across it. I frowned and then pulled at the heavy fabric as hard as I could, wrenching it from the track above.
‘Never can underestimate the importance of a good quality drape’ I said to myself and went to turn away, with reams of fabric held tightly in my arms.
For some reason, I stopped dead and turned back slowly, looking steadily at the door itself.
Why would a dining room have two doors? And why such a small one, half-hidden in the corner behind a thick curtain?
Curiosity is never a good thing. No good can ever come of being nosey. My Nan always told me so.
Grabbing the handle, I pushed down on it and opened the door slowly and carefully to reveal another staircase, this one leading down instead of up. A staircase, leading down into what must be another part of the basement, this one sheltered and protected from the open ruins of the east wing. Blackness greeted me.
I held my breath as I looked down into the shadows and flinched when I saw one move. I heard a shuffling noise which was joined by footsteps, slow but audible. A hiss in the darkness, followed by a rage-filled growl and more footsteps, louder now, as if there were being made by more than one person. I stepped back and the shadows shifted. Where the darkness faded halfway down the staircase, a face suddenly appeared; all glaring hate-filled eyes and lips curled back over sharp deadly teeth.
I jumped back in shock and slammed the door shut, hearing shouts and cries of rage from within and I turned and ran as fast as I could, being sure this time to avoid my blood on the floor. I skittered out into the corridor, hearing banging coming from the dining room and dared not to turn back but hearing furious voices and screams of rage behind me.
I reached the hallway and threw the curtain at Michael, who caught it deftly, but looked at me puzzled at my sudden speed.
‘You were right; it probably wasn’t a good idea!’ I shouted over my shoulder as I ran back to the main door ‘cover up, it’s time to go!’
Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2011