|Posted by Mark Cantrell on August 17, 2012 at 3:00 PM|
Deadly Night Shade
By Mark Cantrell
When Shade's lover is killed by a vampire slayer, she vows revenge, but her murderous fury will lead to a terrible revelation about the man she intends to kill...
THE night air kissed her shoulders like an unwanted paramour. She shivered at its chilly touch and pulled her jacket tight around her slender body. The cold and the dark were terrible. She hated them, but they seemed like perfect companions for somebody alone.
It was dangerous, hanging around street corners. Supposedly she was the one to be feared, but so far they hadn't convinced her. She just looked down at her feet, and hoped nothing in the world would notice her fear. That was supposed to be the victim's problem.
"Shade!" She looked up. They called her that because she was afraid of the dark. She hated the name – it was meant to be a joke – but she didn't mind when Damien used it. Now his broad shoulders and tall body loomed up from the darkness. The figure brought a sense of security and she felt her body relax.
His hand took her own. Big, firm, reassuringly warm. She let him pull her deeper into the shadows. She knew what he wanted. What she wanted too, in a way. The bile rose in her throat but she fought to swallow it.
"You'll get over it," Damien said. A memory. It felt like telepathy all the same. He was like that. He sought to ease her into the life. Not like the others who simply laughed. That was Damien. He was the first man who ever tried to make her feel worthwhile.
Just as her body was unused to the frigid night, so her eyes were not yet accustomed to the shadows. Not like Damien, who could read them like a book. Even now, they told him what he needed to know. Shade watched his silhouette. He'd found something, she could tell by the delicate shift of his head. He was smiling. That much she knew.
The sounds of traffic emerged from the distance, laughter, and shouts of joy and despair. Revellers on their way home. A world she longed to rejoin. She swallowed her tears and watched her lover intently. At least she had him. Company, a guiding hand, some kind of affection.
Damien beckoned her forward. She moved reluctantly. A boy squinted from the shelter of a doorway. His eyes stared dully from a wasted face, cracked lips moved: "Spare any change?"
Darkness flowed in a blur. Light glinted from a pale face, from a blade. The boy struggled. His legs kicked uselessly at the air. No sound from Damien, even of exertion. A gurgle followed by a jet-spray of fluid. Shade felt her legs liquefy, her stomach heave. Damien's firm but guiding arm pulled her in until the blood took hold. It smelled of living death, yet it triggered the terrifying lust that took her with strength far greater.
Tears felt hot on her cheeks and stung her eyes. The blood felt hotter on her lips. With Damien's heat by her side, she found herself at the centre of a cocoon of warmth. Her tongue darted into the wound of its own volition, channelling the boy's heat until his struggles weakened.
A grunt from the shadows as Damien's lust neared its peak. Shade felt her own rising. A tooth pricked her tongue, mingling her blood with the boy's. She whimpered. Her skin rippled with electricity. A ball of energy tightened at the base of her skull until it exploded down her spine like lightning and discharged between her thrumming thighs.
She screamed and the fear retreated into the shadows.
EVEN through the dark glasses the city's glare stung her eyes. Not that she cared. Damien's arm held her waist and she felt wonderfully alive beneath his touch.
He stopped suddenly and pulled her in. She moaned at the sensation of his lips pressed against her own. Here was a hunger she could understand, not fear. It spoke of life, and the promise of life. Now she felt her own enhanced and fulfilled.
She tried to speak, but Damien's lips swallowed her words.
Instead their bodies communicated, and she enjoyed his hands mapping her body. The sound of a car back firing interrupted their passion. Damien flinched. Shade began to laugh but her giggles were squashed by his increasingly painful grip. He grunted. His mouth jerked and his fangs pierced her lip. Her knees buckled under his weight and she went down with him. He slumped to his knees and looked up with gaping eyes and a mouth that belched blood.
"Nononoooo –" her shivering voice seemed to come from somebody else. A low rattle in Damien's throat turned to silence. A few moments, that's all it took. All it ever took. She was alone again. A wave of numbness froze her body.
The outside world returned with a savage click. Shade looked up through her tears and saw the few scurrying figures and their screaming faces. A man smiled from the midst of the panic and raised a shotgun's hungry muzzle. Before she could even fully comprehend the scene, the primordial urge to survive took hold. Her loss forgotten, she ran into the maze of alleys.
THIS time the shadows welcomed her, or maybe she welcomed them. It didn't matter anymore. The fear was no longer all around; it was focused to a point closing from behind.
She turned corners blindly and stumbled over rubbish. Somehow she kept her balance. Even with her eyes closed, she couldn't tell where she was going. There was no heat, even if her eyelids worked properly. They tingled, but there was only the occasional blur of an ill-formed image.
Something snagged her feet. She flew forward and landed heavily. Pain brought tears to her eyes. In the poor light she saw the boy. His stiff fingers were tangled in her skirt as though trying to hold her back. The footsteps grew louder, the boy's eyes stared, the gash in his throat looked like a grin. The killer turned the corner and came towards her.
She cried and broke free. Then she was running unsteadily until she came out into the light on the other side of the alleyways. People scattered from her path. Muttered voices and shouts followed in her wake. She scarcely noticed – she could scarcely see – it was just background detail to terror. It wasn't until the city centre was left behind that she eased her pace. Her lungs ached and her throat felt sticky. Sweat was clammy beneath her armpits and there was a painful stitch in her side. At least the streets were darker now, and that eased the burning in her eyes.
Without people around she felt somehow lonely and exposed. She hurriedly glanced behind, and scanned the shadows for any hint of human heat. Police sirens sounded distant but comforting. It seemed safe. Maybe – just maybe – she'd lost him. She hoped so, prayed it was so, and with the hollow ache of grief opening in her heart, she headed for the only home she had left.
NOBODY was laughing now. She almost wished they were. Even laughter would be better than the awful silence. She could feel the eyes of the gang staring from their hideaways beyond the firelight.
She looked at Morgan. She'd never been able to look at him directly before. Now his dead face held a horrible fascination...
How does Shade fare against the slayer-vampire? Read the rest of the story in the anthology ISOLATION SPACE to find out.