Blood Wars

#SampleSunday – Chapter 39 Blood Wars

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I expected the gigantic doors to creak open with one of those Hammer Horror type screams, but strangely they seemed to emit nothing but a low hiss of air as they swung open; or maybe it was just that the noise of my hammering heartbeat was masking any other sound, so loud it was as it echoed through me. Michael still gripped my hand in his and I felt somewhat comforted by the touch of his cool palm, despite knowing I was about to step a very shaky foot into the lion’s den.

The council chamber was even more cavernous than the hallway. The ceiling must have stretched up about fifty metres above our heads and it was probably twice as wide, yet oddly sparse for such a large room. I wasn’t sure what I had expected. Maybe something akin to my father’s opulent room in the Exodus den; with its luxurious furnishings and plush carpets. Yet much of this room was bare, except for the flaming torches which hung on the walls; an atmospheric touch I thought strange considering the electricity that had run through the rest of the underground den. There was a carpet; a long red one that marked the path we were to take as we approached the lions awaiting us.

It was uncomfortably warm in here for such a large room so far below ground and I looked around for another heat source, doubtful that the torches could create warmth that immediately conjured up the sweat which now covered my back in a thin sheen. In fact, the closer to the centre of the room we got, the warmer it became.

In the middle of the room on the floor was a huge stone circle, made up of intricately carved stone slabs patterned with some strange design and wording that could have been Latin. On the far side of the circle stood a large semi-circular table that looked as if it were carved out of the darkest marble, with faint silver-grey veins threading across the surface. Behind the table stood nine high-backed chairs, the centre chair was slightly larger than the rest and each chair was spaced exactly the same distance apart. And each chair was occupied, not by lions but by something far more predatory.

The Cerberean gestured for us to stop just at the point where the carpet ended and the stone circle began and they moved to flank us, five on Nathaniel’s side and the other five next to Michael. Malloy and Juliette stood behind us and I saw with dismay that more of The Cerberean stood behind the great table, almost acting as personal bodyguards for those seated there.

We waited.

And all the time, the Nine regarded us with interest; their shrewd eyes covering every inch of our skin; skin that I knew should be burning right now, organs boiling from the inside out until Nathaniel and I lay curled up in spasms on the floor. And they knew it too. I could sense the surprise in them and I realised that the wait had been for that reason alone.

They had been waiting for the sensors to fall and we had not.

There were five men and four women seated at the council table and they were probably so far removed from what I had imagined, that I was slightly stunned at the sight of the Nine. I had pictured nine Monty’s sitting in front of me; nine older, greying vampires except without Monty’s gentle nature and devoid of the kindness that always warmed his eyes. I was right about the eye thing, for theirs were like cold, unyielding stone and as hard as the slabs beneath my feet, but that’s all I was right about. They weren’t old. Well, at least, they didn’t look it, although of course I’m sure they were as old, if not older, than Monty, yet here sat nine vampires, some of whom looked barely older than me.

But I didn’t need to see ageing skin and greying hair to tell me that these vampires were Elders. I did not need to be brought to my knees in torturous submission to feel the power that they clearly held. It emanated from the Nine, like some strange aura that encapsulated them, radiating out and eclipsing us as we stood in front of them, awaiting our fate.

“Come closer,” said the Elder seated in the largest chair. He appeared to be in his late-thirties, with long blonde hair swept back from his face and tied neatly into a ponytail. Despite the size of his chair, I could see that he was very tall, probably over six-foot, and he sat poker straight up against the high back of the seat, with his hands on the table in front of him, palms flat and face down. His clothes; a black wool frock coat and red brocade waistcoat over a stiff, cotton white shirt, had a Victorian feel about them. His cheekbones could have rivalled Damien’s chiselled features, but whilst Michael’s friend was clearly model-handsome, I could see none of the same in the Elder’s face. Maybe it was his alabaster skin, almost as white as his shirt, or the venom in his stare, but there was something about this one that repelled me so much that I wanted to look away, as if direct eye contact with him might shrivel me into nothing but dust.

We stepped forward tentatively and he raised an eyebrow and curled one long index finger, beckoning us to keep going. When he had decided we were quite close enough, despite still being about fifteen metres away from the table, he raised his palm to indicate we were to go no further.

A wave of nausea rippled through me, so sharp and so sudden that I automatically took a small intake of breath and Michael’s grip instinctively tightened and I forced myself to focus on suppressing the sickness. Unfortunately, Michael wasn’t the only one who had noticed my slight waver and to my alarm the tall, blonde vampire stood abruptly and with quick, languid strides he walked around the table and crossed the stone circle until he stood directly in front of me. I noticed how the rest of the Nine seemed to suddenly stretch up in their chairs, their interest awakened even further by one of their own making the move to approach us. I had no doubt this was something very new to them.

The Elder was a good foot taller and I felt myself shrink back as he loomed over me. Even the touch of his shadow felt icy cold on my skin and I dreaded the touch of those long, spindly fingers even more.

Please don’t touch me. Please.

Thankfully he didn’t and to be honest I think he was just as repulsed by me, as I was by him. His eyes poured with malice, but under the hatred that seemed to drip from every pore, there was an undisguised interest that reminded me of a scientist examining a lab rat. If I’d had a tail, I think he would have picked me up by it and dangled me in front of his face, watching intently as I struggled and twisted to free myself from his grasp.

He looked from me to Nathaniel, who fared no better under his gaze and then cocking his head to one side, he reached out a hand and then he did touch me, placing his palm flat against my chest, directly over my furiously beating heart.

I gasped and felt Michael flinch.

“Be still, true-born or she’ll be dead within seconds,” said the Elder, never taking his eyes off of me for a moment. He never raised his voice, nor did he growl his warning, in fact there was a surprisingly lyrical quality in the way he spoke, but the intent was clear and could not have been more menacing. And I was under no illusions that he probably could kill me within seconds, and more to the point, clearly wanted to.

If you would like to read the full story, please check out LittleCinnamon on Wattpad!

Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2013

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Blood Wars · Dark Sanctuary · Wattpad

This is ….. The End

Afternoon bloggers, friends, weirdo’s and aliens.

So….the big news (well big to me anyway) is that yesterday I finally finished Blood Wars, Book Three in the Dark Sanctuary series and posted the final chapters to Wattpad.

There won’t be another book in the series, this is the final one. I should feel elated, right? I mean, I finished writing a novel after all. Months of work. Months of trying to catch some time to finish another chapter. To finish it is an achievement, surely? Yet, I feel…..well, slightly numb.

Is that normal? I never felt like this after the first two were finished but maybe that’s because I always knew there was going to be another book and I didn’t have to say goodbye to my characters just yet. I never intended to write a fourth in the series. Don’t get me wrong, whilst a big part of me could just keep writing Michael and Sarah’s story forever, I never wanted it to become strained and I was worried that is what it would become if I carried on.

But what will I do without Michael, Sarah and the rest of the gang in my life? Just over four years ago, I sat down and started writing the story of a young woman who had locked herself away in a little grey cottage out in the Bedfordshire countryside, hiding from a life-time of horrors that stalked her every move and I never expected to become so immersed in her world. But I guess that is what happens when you’re a writer. These characters might be fictional, but when you spend so much time thinking about how they look, the way they talk, the way in which they move, how they would react in each situation, they are not so much words on a page, but living, breathing people. And it’s incredibly difficult to say goodbye.

But goodbye it is and apart from thanking Sarah and Michael themselves for captivating me enough to want to keep writing their story, I have to say thank you to the real-life people who have helped and supported me along the way. I do feel that this is the part where Louis Walsh pops up and says ‘You’ve been on an incredible journey…blah..blah…blah’ but oh well….here goes anyway *cue Leona Lewis music* ๐Ÿ˜‰

My husband and son – for putting up with my own self-imposed exile in order to write these books. I have a habit of shutting myself off to write, to the exclusion of those around me and I’m not sure I would want to live with a writer, so god knows how you put up with it. I love you.

My family – for not hysterically laughing at me when I finally revealed that I liked to write. And for reading something which maybe isn’t your usual cup of tea just because your daughter/sister happened to write it.

To the ones whose fault it is I continued to write Dark Sanctuary – Hayley Gillam, Karen Cross and Chrissie Thompson; the first ones to read any of my stuff. I blame you all equally ๐Ÿ˜‰

My friends who have dutifully read the series, probably out of obligation, but hey, thanks anyway . You’re all amazing but a special shout out goes to Karen C, Donna, Kelly, Kazbah, Nadia, Dawn-Marie, Kathy, Jacqui and my trusted beta reader Alison (who is way more talented than I could ever hope to be).

Divas Daily Bookblog – thank you to Tina and Jules for being the first to write reviews of Dark Sanctuary and Lost Creatures. You guys are just awesome!

My Wattpad family – I couldn’t possibly name you all but I hope you know who you are. Many of you have been reading the series since I first started posting the first book and your support, comments and votes for an unpublished writer constantly amazes me. I never thought one person would read it, let alone all of you, so thank you – you rock!

Anyway….I think that’s enough sentimental crap for one day.

Time to start writing something new…….;-)

Linz xxx

PS. If you haven’t read Dark Sanctuary, please shimmy, shake or body-pop your way along to Wattpad.

http://www.wattpad.com/story/2108497-dark-sanctuary-book-one-in-the-dark-sanctuary

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Blood Wars · Dark Sanctuary · Music Monday

#MusicMonday – Phosphorescent ‘Song for Zula’

Happy Easter Monday my lovelies. It’s bank holiday here in the UK and we are busy cleaning up the remnants of chocolate ย from all those Easter eggs we’ve been eating and trying not to think about having to go back to work tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜‰

The good news is that it’s another short working week so can’t complain. The weekends are my main time for writing, so the closer I get to one, the happier I am.

As you know, Blood Wars (Book 3 in The Dark Sanctuary series) is still a work in progress. I’m up to chapter 35 now, unfortunately the end isn’t yet in sight, but it’s definitely progressing in the way I hoped it would and to top it off, the chapters uploaded so far on Wattpad are getting a positive reaction. Also following the reviews on Divas Daily Bookblog this weekend, I’ve had a couple of requests to publish on Amazon, so all in all I’m a happy bunny (of the non-Easter variety).

My friend Kelly, long-time reader of the series, sent me the link for this song by Phosphorescent and said she thought it was a perfect Michael and Sarah song, and I have to say I totally agree. On Wattpad there is a facility to upload multimedia files against each chapter and I’m thinking Song For Zula will be perfect for Chapter 34.

It’s a beautiful song and a new firm fave of mine. Thanks Kelly!

 

Blood Wars

#SampleSunday – Excerpt from Chapter 33 Blood Wars

“If the day were bright, you observed upon the house-tops, stretching far away, a long dark path; the shadow of the Monument; and turning round, the tall original was close beside you, with every hair erect upon his golden head, as if the doings of the city frightened him.”

– Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit

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The Monument to The Great Fire of London stands on the junction of Fish Street Hill and Monument Street and a short walk away from the site where the Great Fire started; Thomas Farynor’s bakery on Pudding Lane; the place where I knew the last Blood War had begun. Now that I knew the real reason behind the fire that had wiped out much of London from the bakery up to Smithfield, the significance of the name Pudding Lane seemed to take on new meaning. I had images of the vampires feasting on the entrails of their victims, draining them dry then harvesting their organs to gorge upon afterwards as they sat, safely ensconced in their hideaway beneath the streets of London.

As the cars pulled up in Monument Street, encased on all sides by great monolithic buildings, I could see the monument with its white-grey stonework rising into the city skyline and the gilded sculpture on top, like some great stone king wearing his golden crown, keeping watch over his city.

Looking at the monument now, I couldn’t help but feel something ominous emanating from the column. Maybe it was because I knew what it signified; not just the location where the Great Fire began, but the start of the Blood War and now the unofficial memorial for all those that had perished because of it.

“Beautiful,” sighed Sebastian, as we got out of the car and stood together looking up at the great stone structure. “And to think people visit this place every day without any clue as to who lives beneath it.”

I gawped at him. “You mean to tell me that the Elders live under the monument?”

“Well, one of the entrances is here, but the council chambers run under much of this area, from here down to St Dunstan Church,” he said.

“They live under the church too?”

“I know,” grinned Sebastian. “Wickedly sacrilegious isn’t it?”

Blood Wars · Wattpad

#SampleSunday – Vampires in the Desert – excerpt from Blood Wars

Nathaniel looked at me sharply. “You’re not a failure, Sarah. Okay, so you struggle with what we are; with what you are. That’s only natural. You don’t think that everyone of us hasn’t gone through something similar? That we haven’t tried to fight this? Despite what you think, none of us wanted to become killers.”
“Even Cam?” I said, sarcastically.
“Cam is….well, Cam is a complex person. I know his methods are harsh; cruel even. But underneath it all, he’s just as tortured as the rest of us. He just chooses to let it out through aggression. It’s the only way he knows how. He watched his whole family get slaughtered by vampires, when he was just seventeen. His mum and dad, two younger sisters, all wiped out. They tracked him you see, they knew he was a sensor and they tracked him back to where he lived. He didn’t even know what he was. He’d never come across a single vampire until that night. Him and his friends had sneaked into a club, managed to bluff their way past the doorman who thought they were legal age. A gang of vampires in the club spotted him. He didn’t know why he felt so sick, why they made him feel the way he did. He left and they followed him. They did unspeakable things to his family and he saw it all. He had to watch as they tortured and abused his sisters, they were only nine and eleven. And he couldn’t do a thing to stop them. Well, eventually his survival instinct kicked in and he managed to overpower the one who was holding him.”
“What did he do then?” I asked, wide-eyed and picturing scenes of a young Cam transforming into some all-powerful vampire slayer and hacking them to death with an array of kitchen knives and garden forks.
“He ran,” said Nathaniel, grimly. “He ran and he didn’t look back.”
I couldn’t imagine Cam running away from anything. He was one of those guys who looked like he always ran head-first into the melee with a Bowie knife gripped between his teeth and camouflage stripes painted across his face.
“Not long after, he joined up to the army. Pretty much as soon as he could. Built a career fighting over in the Middle East, honing his skills, making sure he became the best fighter he could. SAS training served him well and he began to feel a sense of order in his life once more, but it wasn’t to last.”
“Why? What happened?”
“An incident just outside of Kandahar. Cam was based over in Camp Bastion and his unit regularly patrolled the area around the city. He got to know some of the locals, you know, some of the kids would hang around, see what they could get from the soldiers and the soldiers would sometimes give the kids a few treats, just sweets and stuff, and the kids would give them info. Sometimes it wasn’t anything, just hearsay, stories, just to get something, but sometimes, just sometimes, they would have valuable information to sell. Well, anyway, one day, one of the more trusted kids tells Cam about a great warlord who lives just outside the city. He calls him a Shaytan which is Arabic for devil or demon. First of all, Cam thinks he’s just struck gold on a senior Taliban guy, but then the kid tells him terrible stories about how the Shaytan is rumoured to drink the blood of his victims and when Cam tries to probe for more info, the kid clams up, refuses to tell him anything else no matter what Cam offers him.”
“The Shaytan was a vampire!” I stared wide-eyed at Nathaniel.
“Yes, as were his people. There Cam is, thousands of miles away from a past he thought he had escaped from, only to find a vampire den just outside of Kandahar. And a prolific den at that. Heavily fortified, heavily armed. Not your average vampire den that’s for sure.”
“So what did he do?”
“He wanted the kid to take him there, show him where this Shaytan lived but the kid was too scared. But, what he did do, was introduce Cam to someone who knew the place, someone who had been held there and had managed to escape. Turns out this guy was a sensor too, although he was very old when Cam met him, his body bore the scars of his time with the vampires. Apparently the Shaytan had never met a sensor before, and had been fascinated by this guy, convinced if he drank his blood, the it would make him all-powerful. Of course, it didn’t and the Shaytan soon got bored and gave the sensor to his people as a pet. One day, after a particularly gruesome feeding session, the vampires didn’t chain him back up, believing that he would be dead by the next sunset. Thankfully, he didn’t die and he somehow managed to escape during the day when all the vampires were asleep. He gave Cam a detailed layout of the den, which was a mass of underground tunnels guarded by human insurgents during the day. Once Cam had everything he needed to know, he went to the den during daylight, killed all the human guards and set explosives at every tunnel entrance. As night fell, he detonated every bomb and blew the place sky high. Fireballs wiped out every vampire in those tunnels and anyone who somehow managed to escape was cut down by Cam.”
“Oh my god,” I whispered, thinking back to when I had sat in the bushes outside my father’s den, watching as the place was devoured by flames and bodies danced on fire around the yard.
“Forty-seven vampires were killed that day. Cam was arrested by the armed forces, and he was to be put on trial for the mass slaughter of forty-seven Afghans.”
“But they were vampires! And even if the military couldn’t know what they were, the Shaytan was a known warlord. Surely Cam couldn’t be put on trial for killing Taliban insurgents?”
“It was an unauthorised mission. A one-man mission that Cam had undertaken with stolen military weapons and explosives. And as far as the military were concerned it was a massacre. They had to make an example of him.”
“What did they do?”
“In the end, nothing. It never went to trial. Cam was released.”
“Wait a minute, I thought you said the army were going to make an example of him? Why would they just let him go?”
Nathaniel smiled wryly. “I guess sometimes it’s not a case of what you know, but who you know. Or in Cam’s case, who knows you. To everyone else, Cam was a loose cannon, a psycho who had flipped one day and slaughtered forty-seven Afghan civilians. But someone; someone high up, knew the truth. Someone who knew what Cam was, because he too was the same.”
“You mean a senior figure in the military was a sensor too?”
“Yes. Cam’s release was arranged on the quiet. Of course, the official line was that he had committed suicide whilst in custody. But the reality was very different. He was secreted out of Afghanistan, given an all-new identity and transported back to England, where he was introduced to me and I persuaded him to put his valuable skills to much better use than stirring up the dust in the Middle East.”
I was quiet for a moment, feeling the sun burning my forehead through the windscreen and for once, not enjoying the sensation of the heat on my skin. I could feel the sticky dampness under my arms and felt a strange longing for the cool shelter of the night sky.
“Okay,” I breathed finally. “So Cam has a story. He’s suffered. I get that. But we’ve all suffered. It doesn’t mean we all need to become psycho’s who get off on torturing vampires. And you condone it,” I added, staring at him accusatory.
“Look, I’m not always saying I’m comfortable with his methods, but there’s no doubt it gets results,” he said firmly.
“At what expense? Your soul?”
Nathaniel looked away for a moment, brushing his fingers over the red-hot dashboard as if wiping away imaginary dust. “Oh I think you’ll find I gave up my soul many years ago.”
I frowned, seeing the shadows pass across his face as he spoke and he licked at his lips as if suddenly his mouth had gone very dry.
“I don’t believe that,” I whispered and flinched instinctively as he turned his dark eyes upon me.
“You know the one thing I find so interesting about you? You are so quick to see the evil in some people and yet so sure there is goodness in others,” he said softly, his face impassive and unmoving. “So quick to condemn some and yet willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. How do you make those judgements? How is that one person gets the thumbs down and the next gets the thumbs up, when you know the same about either, and that is usually practically nothing at all in both cases?”
“I wouldn’t say that is exactly true,” I sniffed. “It’s not like I make snap decisions about people, it’s just that sometimes you just know. You can tell the good from the bad.”
“And you think I’m one of the good guys, Sarah?”
The coldness in his eyes did nothing to cool my burning skin. I swallowed hard and shifted in my seat, hearing the squeak of leather under my thighs.
“Well I don’t think good guys generally have a habit of kidnapping women in broad daylight. Nor do I think they allow the starvation and torture of anyone, vampire or not. But I’ve met my fair share of bad guys, and bad women come to think of it, and something tells me you’re not one of them.”
“You need to have words with that inner bastard radar of yours. Something tells me it’s on the blink.”
“Is this your way of telling me you’re one of the bad guys? Because I’ve got to tell you, whilst I don’t approve of the way you do things, my radar definitely isn’t going crazy right now,” I said, raising an eyebrow.
“You see this is the very problem. You base your opinion on what you think you know when in fact you know very little at all. If you knew, I would be willing to bet that your bastard radar would be resounding halfway to Australia.”
“Know what exactly?” I laughed. “Is this the point where you tell me you were the one who tortured puppies when you were a kid? Is this the point where you tell me you were the school bully who hounded kids for their lunch money?”
“No,” he replied, looking at me so intently that I felt my heart beat harder in my chest. “This is the point where I tell you I murdered my wife.”

Blood Wars · Wattpad · Writing

WHAT NO FANGS?

Evening dear readers, bloggers, friends and weirdos!

Recently I have been uploading chapters taken from Blood Wars Book 3 in the Dark Sanctuary series to Wattpad and I’m finding the feedback very interesting indeed.

Firstly let me say that if you are one of the lovely people who has been reading, voting and commenting on the Dark Sanctuary series, then a very big thank you to you! I still don’t understand the ranking system as one day I can reach the hallowed top 50 reads to then be plunged back into the lowly 200’s the next day. But people’s voting never goes unnoticed and I enjoy reading everyone’s comments and responding. I always try to respond where possible as I think it’s important to have healthy dialogue with your reader and I want them to know how much I appreciate anyone giving up their time to read my work (something which still feels quite remarkable to me).

But the feedback on Blood Wars has been particularly interesting as we are now in vampire versus sensor territory. I’ll try not to give too much away to anyone who hasn’t quite reached book three, but the story centres around the age-old war between vampires and their nemesis, the sensors. Books One and Two often hinted about why the vampires hate Sarah so much and Book Three is all about revealing why.

Sarah meets a group of sensors and is immediately drawn into their complex world of revenge, torture and organised hunting of the vampires. Despite trying to fight against their ways as much as she can, Sarah can’t deny what she is and the story is all about Sarah’s struggle to decide which side she should be on. Vampires or sensors? Or perhaps more importantly, Michael versus Nathaniel?

I think what has surprised me most so far, is that the general consensus seems to be a real backlash against the sensors which I find a little strange. Okay, so I admit I have not sugar-coated these people at all. They fight the vampires with every method available to them, whether it be cruel, distasteful and blood-thirsty. They’re not above a bit of torture or imprisonment.

But the crucial thing to remember is that they don’t do anything that the vampires themselves don’t do. I have already told the reader exactly what the vampires are capable of. They imprison people in cells, they drug, starve and torture and they kill in the most horrific ways. And for what reason? For sport. For entertainment. And for food.

Why do the sensors kill? To stop the vampires doing all of the above.

So just why does the reader dislike them so much?

I’d love to know the reason why and I am going to open this discussion up with my Wattpad readers but my instinct tells me that this argument comes back to Michael in particular and maybe the modern-day romanticised view of vampires. These days we prefer our vampires to sparkle, get married and live happily ever after, with a healthy bit of sex thrown into the mix and I think it’s interesting that no matter what I tell the reader about just exactly what Michael is capable of, maybe they do have him on that hallowed pedestal also occupied by the likes of Mr Cullen himself. No one seems to care how Michael made his fortune (killing off rich women to get his hands on their money), nobody gives a damn that Michael could probably have saved Sarah’s mother, nan and her friend James and nobody cares that underneath the beautiful eyes and great smile, he is undoubtedly a killer – and a good one at that. In fact, in the vampire world, Michael is a renowned and respected sensor killer.

Step forward, Michael’s arch enemy (spolier alert!) and leader of the sensors, Nathaniel. Brooding, tousled-hair, undoubtedly sexy Nathaniel. If I was channelling a bit of Caleb Followilll in Michael, then Nathaniel definitely has a bit of Eddie Vedder about him. He has a poet’s soul, a dark past and the respect of his group. I think he’s sexy. Sarah is definitely tempted. But so far the reader’s response is lukewarm to say the least. On paper, they’re actually not so different. They’re both definitely bad boys in their own way, but whereas Nathaniel seems to be judged for everything he does and says, Michael can do no wrong.

A few minds might change slightly when they learn more about Nathaniel’s story, but I still think the majority vote is always going to swing Michael’s way, and towards the vampires in general.

Why is it we are more judgmental of the sensors? Sarah might tell you it’s because in their quest to destroy the vampires, they have become little better than their enemy. Maybe some of my readers will agree with this. Maybe we expect them to hold the moral high ground because they are human?

Or maybe these days we just always want the vampire to win?

After all, what’s a hero without a set of sharp pointy teeth?

Blood Wars

“This is a vampire.” – excerpt from Blood Wars

Stephen unlocked the door and stepped inside the room. He beckoned for me to follow him and I did so, wrinkling my nose as the sour smell of urine mixing with the sweet sickly smell of blood.
The vampire did not even look up as we entered but from here I could clearly see the bruises and cuts that marked his bare arms. His ankle was a furious red where he was manacled to the wall and his feet were blood-stained and encrusted with dirt, particularly around the toes.
“Dinner time, fuck-face,” smiled Stephen and then the vampire did look up, staring at us through his greasy knotted locks.
I couldn’t help but swallow when he laid his eyes on me. They were a startling blue and reminded me of another pair of blue eyes that I hadn’t seen in months. The vampire ran those blue eyes over my face and then down my body, only resting momentarily on the cat that continued to purr softly in my arms.
“Do I get the cat or the girl?” the vampire said with a soft Irish lilt.
“Think of it as a fast food dive, not Gordon bloody Ramsey. You only get the cat, I’m afraid,” Stephen laughed.
“Shame,” remarked the vampire, shrugging his shoulders and resting his head back against the wall, still not taking his eyes from me.
“Go on then,” said Stephen nodding is head at the cat and then over to the vampire.
“You do it,” I quickly said, thrusting the poor creature into his arms.
Rolling his eyes, Stephen took the cat and holding it by the scruff of the neck, walked over to the vampire who held up his thin, pale arms and took the animal, not once looking like he might attempt to grab his captor instead. He held the cat in his arms, much like Stephen had, stroking it gently and holding it up so he could look intently into its big, saucer-like eyes. The cat miaowed sweetly.
In one quick movement, the vampire buried his face into the cat’s neck and the animal shrieked as its throat was pierced and the sound was so like a baby’s cry that I wanted to put my hand over my ears and squeeze my eyes shut so I wouldn’t see it struggle in his grasp. The sucking noise was almost too much to bear but the whole time Stephen just stood, leaning against the wall with his legs crossed at the ankles and arms folded across his chest, never taking his eyes off of the feeding vampire.
When the cat stopped moving and the vampire was done, he tossed the poor thing’s body into the corner, wiping his mouth and chin with the back of his hand.
“Your new recruit is squeamish, Stephen,” said the vampire, smirking. “Where is Nathaniel finding these people? Or maybe his training isn’t quite what it used to be?”
“Oh she’ll learn, don’t you worry,” Stephen replied. “Anyway, she’s not as fragile as she looks. Feeling better, Fergus? I can see a little colour coming back into your cheeks already.”
If there was, I couldn’t see it. The vampire – now known as Fergus – looked just as pale and deathly as he had when we had walked in.
“I’d feel better if I had the girl, but I guess the cat will have to suffice for now,” replied Fergus.
“Good,” said Stephen and before I could register what was happening, he walked quickly over to the vampire and kicked him hard in the kidneys. The vampire fell to the floor, clutching at his side and breathing heavily as he fought to control the pain he so clearly felt.
“What the hell are you doing?” I cried, grabbing hold of Stephen’s arm and trying to pull him back. Instead, Stephen kicked him again, this time in the leg and the vampire rolled onto his back, knees drawn up, his eyes squeezed shut and teeth set in a skeletal grimace.
I stared at Stephen, horrified. “What is wrong with you? He wasn’t doing anything. He was just sitting there. You didn’t have to kick the shit out of him!”
Stephen shrugged as if it were nothing but then I heard croaky, wheezing laughter and looked down to see Fergus still on his back, hand melded to his side, but laughing as he looked up at us. He carried on laughing until finally he sat up very slowly, shaking his head and smiling.
He’d just been kicked twice and he thought it was funny?
“Oh dear,” he chuckled. “Oh dear, oh dear. I’m starting to think Nathaniel is losing his touch. If this is the calibre of sensor he is now training, I think we vampires have very little to worry about.”
Stephen said nothing now to defend me, not that I thought he would mind you, but I at least expected him to jump to the defence of his leader. Instead he just leaned back against the wall again and smiled.
“A sensor who hates to see a vampire in pain,” Fergus grinned. “Now this is a very interesting development indeed.”
“More than that, my twisted Irish beast,” Stephen laughed in return. “Get to know her a little better and she might give you more than cat blood. This one has a thing for you animals, believe it or not.”
I stared at Stephen dumbfounded. What the hell was he doing? And how dare he bring that up?
Fergus looked at me, his eyes widening as he took in Stephen’s words. When he ran those eyes over me this time, he didn’t look like it was my blood he was interested in.
“Oh, so you’re that sensor are you? I’d heard about you. Marcus’ daughter, right?”
God how I hated hearing his name spoken out loud.
“How on earth did you end up with this lot, eh? Last I heard you’d taken off with your fella. Sebastian has had people out over most of the south looking for you. Where’s your boy now, eh? Where’s Michael?”
Hearing that name felt even worse. I felt a stab of pain rip through my chest, one laced with the unmistakable touch of guilt. I tried to ignore it but heard Stephen snort with laughter.
“Nathaniel thinks he can get her to join the dark side, Fergus. Can you believe it? The great Michael’s girlfriend a fully-trained vampire killer?”
They both laughed now and I stood between them, feeling my cheeks flush angrily.
“I’m glad you both find me so amusing,” I hissed.
“Ah darling, don’t be so snappy,” said Fergus, holding out his hands in a placating gesture and groaning slightly as he shifted his body so he could lean against the wall again. “We’re only playing. I’m assuming your boy isn’t around anymore because I’m quite sure you wouldn’t be holed up with these bastards, would ya?”
I said nothing. I wasn’t about to discuss Michael’s whereabouts with anyone. Not that I knew his whereabouts anyway.
Fergus sniffed and wiped away a thin line of snot that had descended from one nostril. “Well, wherever he is, I don’t think he’ll be too happy when he finds out where you are. Rumour has it he’s quite the big man when it comes to killing sensors. Bet you don’t fancy being on his hit list, do ya? If I were you I’d run from this lot as fast as those shapely pins will carry ya.”
He looked at me now with eyes so solemn that I did want to run, I could feel pinpricks of fear ripple up my spine.
“I’m fine here, thanks,” I frowned.
“No,” mused the vampire. “No, you’re not. Any bastard with eyes can see that, girl. You don’t belong here with them. Something tells me you’re a slightly different breed of sensor. I actually feel sorry for you, darling.”
When he looked at me now, I saw none of his previous mocking stare. His face was serious and somewhat sad. Here he was, battered, tortured and stinking of his own urine and blood and he felt sorry for me!
I was aware of Stephen drinking in this exchange between Fergus and myself, looking from one of us to the other. He laughed softly before gesturing towards me.
“Oh I wouldn’t feel too sorry for this one, Fergus, she isn’t the innocent vampire lover she makes out to be. In fact, she’s far more dangerous than she looks. Didn’t you know she burnt down Marcus’ den? Burned them fuckers alive. Lit a match, poured a bit of petrol and then sat outside, watching as the vamps fried like barbecued pork.”
“It wasn’t like that….” I started to say.
“Oh Sarah, don’t be so modest. You became the poster girl for the sensor cause that day. And lets not forget your achievements since. After all, you killed the big man himself. The head honcho. Your own father. I mean, you’ve got to have some fucking gall to do that!”
Fergus raised an eyebrow, the sadness fading from his eyes as he seemed to appraise me in a new light.
“Wait a minute, that wasn’t me!” I gasped. “I would never….”
“Come on, Sarah. Marcus wanted to make you a vampire and when you said no, he tried to have you killed. Only you and Michael got to him first. We all know that. Nothing to be ashamed of. You killed a den leader. Now that’s a trophy to hang over the mantelpiece, eh Fergus?”
Now the vampire was glaring at me, his face darkening and mouth set in a small, hard line.
“Doesn’t end there either, Fergus. Our Sarah here kills regardless of gender or age. She’s not bothered. Killed a young girl the other week you know.”
I turned on him now. “Stop it! Just shut up!”
He smiled a tight cruel smile. “Hungry as hell this girl was. Picked on the wrong sensor though didn’t she? Got her a good one, eh Sarah? Should have seen it Fergus, a knife right in the neck.”
“A girl?” Fergus said, eyeing us warily. “How old?”
“Eighteen, nineteen maybe. You might have known her. Pretty little thing. Dark hair. What was her name now?” he smirked and scratched his head in mock-contemplation.
I didn’t like the way this was going. I didn’t like the way this was going at all. Whatever Stephen’s agenda was, I was sure it was nothing good.
“Hmm, began with an E. Not Emily but something like it. Give me a second and I’m sure it will come to me,” he said, tapping at his skull.
“Emilia,” whispered Fergus, looking directly at me, his eyes red and watery.
“That’s it!” laughed Stephen. “Well done, Fergus. Emilia! The girl that Sarah killed was Emilia. I think she was from Juliette’s den too. Did you know her, Fergus?”
I looked from Stephen to the vampire, whose chest was moving in and out in great heaves now and I could hear his breath hiss dangerously between gritted teeth.
“Yes, yes I knew her,” he said and his voice trembled. Another small rivulet of snot run down his nose and upper lip, but this time he did it wipe it away.
“What? Wait a minute…” I began but before I could finish, Fergus’ face twisted into a molten mask of hate and with a tortured wail he launched himself with a strength I didn’t think he could possibly still possess. I heard the jangle of the chain, attached to his manacled ankle, as it dragged quickly along the floor behind him and before I knew it I felt his hand grip my shirt and his face was just inches from mine, contorting in fury as he howled his rage at me.
I cried out in shock and grabbed his wrist with both hands, but as I pulled he wouldn’t loosen his grasp and I stumbled backwards hearing the rip of fabric, releasing me from his clutches as I fell to the floor. Desperately I scrambled backwards across the blood-stained floor as he flailed and strained on his chain to try and reach me. The veins in his temples bulged. His fingers clawed at nothing but air as he screamed, his mouth open wide revealing awful fangs and spraying saliva everywhere.
Now I sat with my back pressed to the wall, gasping for air as Fergus continued to fight and struggle to get to me, his face rippling with hatred as he screamed obscenities at me. I was sure that at any moment that chain would break, so powerful was his fury.
Stephen had moved out of Fergus’ reach but his eyes gleamed with that same zeal I saw in the sensors’ eyes the day we went to The Black Cat. He side-stepped towards me and crouched down next to where I sat. With his mouth close to my ear, he spoke, never taking his eyes off of the raging vampire.
This is a vampire, Sarah. Take a good long look. See them for what they are. Blood-thirsty. Relentless. Evil. Never forget this. Never let down your guard. And never, ever trust them.”
The vampire continued to scream.

Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2013