He fought to breathe, the biting pain roaring through him like molten lava. It permeated his body, his soul, carrying the bitter stench that literally choked him. He pushed, pushed at them, scrambling to breathe but it was no use.
He came awake abruptly and realized he was
covered in sweat and his breathing was labored. He was safe; he was in
his lair and he was safe. He repeated the words over and over, trying
desperately to believe them; to believe that he was okay but he knew
that he hadn’t been safe or okay since that night, so long ago.
was almost time for the end, almost. He knew that Tango and Josef
would end him and he could join all the other homeless wretches that
he’d saved from their own unspeakable lives. They hid their shame,
their pain, their loneliness, just as he did and now they were free.
He would be too. Someday, someday soon.
stirred in her uneasy slumber, aware of a door closing and Shatel’s
footsteps retreating up the rough, cement stairway. He was off to hunt
again and that meant they had a few hours before he returned and entered
And he’d have to, one way or another. If he had
someone with him he’d put them in the cell and if he didn’t, he’d try to
use allure to get Henry or Luka out of the cell but now that she knew
what he was doing she wouldn’t let him do it. She could counter his
allure she knew and he’d at least have a struggle and have to come in
here and they’d stake him.
Simple. Yeah, sure…
and Audrey headed back to Mick’s, armed with a renewed spirit and a bag
of groceries to stave off hunger, whenever it struck. Actually, Audrey
hadn’t had much of an appetite but Dorothy definitely needed to eat and
from the looks of Lani, well, she did too. When Logan used the key
that Mick had given him the loft was quiet with Lani and Josef sleeping
on the couch and no sign of Clark and Dorothy who must be in the bedroom
upstairs. Hopefully Mick was resting in his freezer because Logan was
really worried about his sire.
Not that he couldn’t blame him
for worrying because Logan knew that if he had a chance to get at Shatel
he’d hurt him, badly. It was something that Logan hadn’t ever really
considered before, hurting someone.
It was amazing, the turn his
life had taken when Beth discovered who he was. No more hiding away,
afraid of discovery as it had been for years. He and Clark had always
loved one another but their connection had faded somewhat over the
years. Until Beth changed all that.
Logan remembered when he and
Dorothy were fourteen and Clark was sixteen. Even then his brother had
loved Dorothy and she liked him too, although she wouldn’t admit it and
Logan had watched it all happily. He knew, even then that they’d get
married someday and have a family; he just didn’t count on it taking so
Clark used to tease him terribly, called him Nerdo because
Logan had been fascinated with the burgeoning uses of computers even
then. They had a Pong game at home that he played endlessly and in the
arcades he spent every bit of money he earned mowing lawns or for chores
on Space Invaders or Galaxian, Asteroids or Pac Man. He hadn’t minded
that Clark would tease him about it because he’d thought that his big
brother walked on water.
He still did.
He let out a long
sigh and Audrey looked at him as she was spreading cream cheese on an
Everything bagel. Her raised eyebrows posed a question and he grinned
at her and shrugged, indicating that it was nothing.
completed him, made his life worthwhile and again, it was because of
Beth. His niece, so beautiful and strong and so very brave. He was
determined that she wouldn’t have to wait much longer.
up the computers and settled down at the dining room table which had
been designated the work area while Audrey made coffee. He saw Josef
stand up and smooth a hand down his slacks and run fingers through his
hair, ever conscious of his appearance. Logan grinned at him as he made
his way into the kitchen and spoke with Audrey for a few minutes.
Lani stirred as well and finally sat up. “What time is it?” she asked no one in particular.
“It’s almost four, Lani. Do you want a bagel?” Audrey asked.
a moment Lani was going to refuse and then thought of the precious life
she was carrying within her and nodded, heading into the kitchen to see
what kind there were.
Audrey saw that although Lani was moving around she still looked tired and Audrey wasn’t the only one who noticed.
“Lani, why don’t you go home so you can sleep in the bed for a few hours and take a shower? You’ll feel better, Sweetness.”
you saying I stink?” Lani said, suddenly irritated. He didn’t exactly
smell fresh as a daisy either and suddenly the grouchy aspect of that
thought made her laugh. “You might be right. Sorry, love. I’m cranky
He nodded as he grinned at her, not at all upset.
“I’ll call Rob and have him come and get you. Eat your bagel while I do
that. And I’m having him bring me some clothes too.” His eyes
twinkled for a moment and the sudden thought occurred to her that he’d
known exactly what she’d been thinking. An embarrassed blush swept up
over her face and she turned away, trying to cover it but she knew that
It only took Rob 20 minutes to get there because
traffic was so light. Josef accompanied Lani downstairs and held her
for a moment at the car before she got in.
“Lani, I love you. No matter what, I’ll always love you.”
occurred to her that he still thought something was wrong. She hated
keeping this from him but she was still trying to sort it all out in her
head. Would she end up a single mother because he didn’t believe the
baby was his or he just didn’t want kids?
Big questions. And she didn’t have any answers.
streets were quiet at 4 in the morning, surprising since this was Los
Angeles but most of the so-called ‘good’ citizens of this city wouldn’t
be caught dead in the areas he wandered. Someone came up behind him,
the stealthy approach loud with his vamp hearing. He turned quickly and
saw a gun pointed at him and threw himself at the would-be bandit with a
loud snarl and growl, his eyes glowing silver. The man, who wasn’t
much more than a teenager slumped in Shatel’s arms after pissing his
pants in fear.
His heart was still beating steadily so he would
do nicely. He carried him back to the darkly shadowed alley where the
van was hidden and quickly administered a bit of chloroform to make sure
he stayed asleep and then as an afterthought put a piece of duct tape
over his mouth and handcuffed him to the inside of the van.
hoped the second one would be accomplished as easily and luck was with
him. He found his second victim a few minutes later, huddled under
cardboard and old, damp newspapers trying to stay warm this chilly
November night. Shatel looked at him, compassion in his eyes for the
plight of the man who only looked at him sadly. Shatel held his hand
out to the stranger, his eyes promising a doorway out of this existence
and the man rose shakily to his feet and wordlessly followed Shatel to
The first man was still out and Shatel held the cloth
over the second victims mouth and nose and soon he was sleeping as well.
Now, all that mattered was getting back the his lair and drinking his
He wondered if Beth had given into the hunger yet? How had
she resisted so far? She was young and the burning need for blood
should be driving her mad by now. Sooner or later she was going to have
to kill to survive. That’s just how it worked.
was holding her second cup of coffee, gently blowing on it and watching
the steam rise in swirling tendrils when something on the monitor
caught her attention.
“My gosh, there’s the van!” she exclaimed
as she sat the mug down and switched to a different traffic cam to get a
street view. “Yes, it’s the one; the tag matches.”
Josef and Logan both were staring at the laptop as the van moved down Main, almost alone in the early morning.
got the bastard,” Josef exclaimed and then growled as the van turned
and they lost it while Audrey searched for a different street camera.
“Be patient, Josef and give her room to work,” Logan said tensely.
“Logan, try to pick up the I-10 cams, that’s where he’s heading.”
“Are you sure?” Josef asked, feeling very frustrated that they lost sight of him.
got them up.” He typed an IM to Ishaq and let him know what they
found. His phone rang then and Logan put it on speaker and they carried
on the conversation live.
“Logan, I’ve got a satellite view of I-15. Isn’t that where the van headed before?”
“Yes, it is. If he goes that way again, we’re covered.”
we don’t know whether he’ll got that way again!” Josef exclaimed and
looked up as Mick rushed down the stairs, frost still in his hair as he
buttoned his shirt.
“You found him?” he asked hopefully.
“Audrey spotted the van,” Josef answered and they both watched as she deftly switched to different cams looking for him.
“Ah, there he is and I was right, he’s getting on the I-10.”
“Okay, we just have to follow him, then. Right?” Mick asked.
“Hopefully,” Logan said, frowning as he tried to find the best sat feed for I-10.
may have a problem, Logan,” Ishaq said. “The satellite you’re using is
going to reposition in approximately 22 minutes. We’ll have to find
“What? Stop it!” Josef said.
“We can’t; it’s a government satellite,” Ishaq said.
“Whose government? Ours?”
“The United States, yes.”
“I have friends,” Josef said.
would just caution you that what we are doing is illegal, Mr. Kostan.
Even your friends might not be accommodating in this matter.”
all listened to his voice calmly speaking the words. He had an
interesting accent and none of them could figure it out. Could be
British, but then it also sounded a bit middle eastern.
turned away, as if Ishaq could see his face and realize how angry he
was. “What other options are there?” he finally asked.
“I am checking now. There are many satellites circling the earth and we should be able to use one of them.”
I have him now,” Logan said as the van moved onto the freeway. “It’s
still not too congested so let’s hope we can stay with him.”
minutes later Ishaq said, “I have found another satellite to use.
However, it’s our friends, the Russians and they can be a bit
over-protective about their technology. I don’t know how long we’ll
have it before they discover us and block the signal.”
“What the hell are the Russians doing with a satellite focusing on LA?”
Mr. Kostan, they are only monitoring,” Ishaq said and they all heard
the sarcasm in his voice. “They feel turnabout is fair play, I believe
is the expression you Americans use.”
They all held their breath
when they lost the sat feed and Ishaq switched them to the new
satellite. They followed the van until it turned north, onto 385 before
their feed was cut.
“Oh my god! Can’t you get it back?” Mick asked.
“I’m sorry, it’s gone.”
heard the regret in Ishaq’s voice. “We’ve been searching in the wrong
area. He’s north and west of Victorville, not east as we thought.”
“Already working on a new search grid,” Logan said.
“It will be light enough to get in the air in a few minutes. I’m going up with Brody,” Mick said, already dialing his phone.
like that idea. I’ll go in my chopper. Logan, by the time Mick and I
get to the heliport have the new coordinates to Brody and Rich,”
speaking of his pilot.
“Okay,” Logan said, trying not to mind the
condescending tone. As the door to the loft closed he sat back in his
chair and looked at Audrey, who was trying to remain hopeful. “We’ve
got him this time Audey, wait and see.”
She nodded glumly and took a sip of her now cold coffee. She could only hope so.
Downstairs Mick headed for the Benz and Josef said, “NO. We’re going in the Ferrari, it’s faster.”
“Just don’t get us stopped,” Mick said as he crawled into the car.
let Lani out at the front door before pulling the car into the garage.
As she stepped up onto the entryway Franklin opened the door for her,
smiling a welcome.
“You're not usually up at this hour, Franklin. I suppose Josef called you?”
“No, actually when Rob left he told me he was going to get you. How are you Miss Lani?”
“Tired actually and very worried.”
“Yes, I’m sure you’ll want to rest. Would you care for some breakfast?”
was about to refuse since she’d ate a bagel an hour ago and then
decided some fruit might be good. “I’d love some fresh fruit if we have
“Of course we do. Anything else?”
She thought for a
moment how some tea would be nice because she was chilly. But tea had
caffeine. Did chamomile she wondered? She didn’t think so and asked
for that as well.
“Shall I bring it up for you?”
“No, I’m going to take a shower and then I’ll come down, but thank you, Franklin.”
welcome. I’ll have it in the kitchen for you, if that is okay?” He
knew that she enjoyed sitting in the quaint breakfast nook off the
She smiled and nodded before heading up the stairs. In
her room she peeled off her clothes and left them laying on the floor,
something she didn’t usually do but she decided they could wait until
after her shower and breakfast.
She turned the shower dial to
massage and let it work its magic on her back and shoulders. The
heated, steamy water was exactly what she needed and she stayed there
for 15 minutes before stepping out, feeling much better. She wrapped a
towel around her hair and slipped into a robe after she was dry.
Slippers were next and she was ready to head downstairs when she noticed
her phone was blinking, indicating a message.
The text from
Josef told her what had happened and that both he and Mick were going up
in the choppers and that he’d let her know what happened. She smiled
at the message, hopeful for the first time in 4 days now.
Bring her home safely was all she could think of. Please…
couple of hours after Shatel left Beth started waking up the others, so
that they could plan what would come next. They all knew that it was a
do or die thing and they were ready for it. Max was a little better,
her fever was still high though and they were all determined that this
time, no matter what they had to do, they would succeed.
“He uses something called allure
on his victims; that’s why they don’t usually protest, but go to him
willingly. And he might try it on you too, so try not to look at him
and keep your minds clear.
“Wouldn’t that just help? An idle mind and all?” Luka asked.
going to be sending you messages to stay strong.” They seemed
surprised and she said, “Okay, let’s try it.” She focused on them,
telling them to stand up and both of them did. “That was allure.”
“What?” they both asked.
“I told you to stand up and you did it.”
“That’s just coincidence!” Luka, ever - logical said.
She told them to both stand on one foot and they did. This time she laughed and they joined in as well.
“Okay, I surrender. So what are you going to tell us when Shatel is here?”
“That we have to stay strong, that we are strong. That we can do it,” she said simply.
we have a plan. Now I guess we just have to wait.” Luka sat back down
and leaned his head back against the rough cinderblocks. “So you and I
have the stakes and Henry, you’re going to distract him?”
think that works. I’m going to get him to turn his back on Beth so
that she can get to him. It’s a good plan but Beth, stabbing him from
behind with that stake isn’t going to be easy you know.”
“I know. It’s harder than from the first but that’s why Luka will have the second stake. Just in case.”
“Okay, I just hope he gets back soon.”
They didn’t know it yet, but they were going to get their wish.
turned off onto the blacktop road that led west into the desert from
395; Rancho Road it was called. Another 10 minutes and he’d be home and
it couldn’t be soon enough because he was very thirsty.
his tongue over his teeth and felt the points of his fangs and knew that
later he’d have to file them again, a constant chore but it was better
than having the fangs in his mouth. He couldn’t handle fangs at all;
he’d even pulled them a few times but they always grew back in so every
few days he had to file the points down.
Before long he wouldn’t
have to do that anymore either. Sweet oblivion was calling to him and
the voices told him he would have his reward soon. Very soon.
To be continued…