The Midnight Within - A Novel by JM Rosenberry (Chapters 1-11 Now Available)




CHAPTER ONE

(Please note that the author will be submitting each chapter as it is written and they will be added to this page)

October 8th

Stepping from the house, Amy shivered against the cold night air. She should have grabbed her coat, but she only wanted a few puffs off her cigarette and a few minutes away from the lights and noise of the party still raging behind the closed door. She began to shiver as she dropped her smoke, stepping on it with one spiked heel and bent down to blow out the candle-lit pumpkins at her feet. If it wasn't so cold out she would have gone for a walk to clear her head and try to forget about the drama of her life. 

The wind picked up, swirling dead leaves around her feet and rattled the branches of the bare trees above her head. It was the perfect night for a Halloween party even if it wasn't yet Halloween. It was the one night she thought she could forget her problems, becoming someone else, someone not so average even, for just one night.

Going back inside, Amy fought the tears that wanted to roll down her cold red cheeks. The sounds of music and laughter spilled from the other room, invading the small kitchen and making her want to march into the other room and turn off the stereo and kick everyone out. She reached  for the bottle of whisky she had left on the counter instead and dropped down on one of the mismatched stools they had gotten from clean up days. 

She was supposed to be having fun, dancing and flirting with her friends. Yet here she was alone in the dark, nursing a bottle of Jack and wishing she could be anywhere but here. No one came to check on her or asked if she needed another drink, not that she needed any more liquor. She never did understand how some of her friends could drink, throw up and continue to drink. Once she hit the wall all she wanted was to eat carbs and pass out. She hated the feeling of the room spinning and hated the s up even more.

Even more iserable she sat with the bottle nestled between her fabric - covered legs and let the tears roll down her face. She ate the last of the king cake, washing it down with the Jack Daniels and wishing she was anywhere but this miserable podunk town.

Outside the window the full orange moon was bright behind the black skeletal trees. Lifting the bottle she wet her lips, watching helplessly as a bright swath of pink fabric and a smear of bright red lipstick on a pale round face danced into her view through the brightly lit square of the doorway. Didn't they know she was there? Did they even care? A hot spike of anger rose up, tightening her chest. The couple falls heavily against the wall, kissing and groping with urgent need and fresh tears wet Amy's cheeks, tracking her cheap makeup and staining the fabric of her renaissance style gown. Why had she been stupid enough her crush to the party in the first place when she knew very well that her so called friend would make a move on him?

She had known what would happen and let it, watching in helpless disgust as they grouped each other without care. Amy hated them for what they were doing to her yet hated herself more for caring so much. Her mind raced: Not for the first time did her thoughts turn to the razor she kept hidden in her bedroom. How easy would it be to take the rest of her pills, drain the bottle and slit her wrists? The party would rage on and then perhaps she could find the peace she was so desperately craving.

~They wouldn't laugh at her then, would they?~

She was so lost in her own little fantasy she never noticed the stranger who had joined her in the dark kitchen until there was the strike of a single match, a momentary glimpse of a sharp-boned shadowy face, half hidden by long black hair and snowy white hands that toyed with the scattering of table decorations. When she went to stand the room seemed to tilt, the floor sliding away from her, bringing her back down into her chair and drawing a short laugh from her dry lips. Had she really drunk so much? And who the hell was this asshole in her kitchen?Shadow man smiled slowly, tilting his head and fixing her with an amber-eyed stare, It was the kind of look you saw every afternoon on TV, just before they cut to the commercial and it made her want to giggle. 

"Why does beauty hide herself in darkness?" He asked with a twitch of his almost too perfect lips. His voice had sent an instant hot ache straight into her groin and reddening her cheeks as she tried to stand once again on weak legs.

" Oh god you scared me? Did Cat put you up to this?" Laughing through her tears and swiping at her wet cheeks she squinted at him to get a better look. She should probably join the others but she was trying to figure out if she knew him or not. She would feel pretty foolish if he was someone she should know. 

"You definitely don't want to go in there." Shadow man chuckled as he flashed her a hungry heart-wrenching smile, his gaze following Amy's to the brightly lit doorway. "It's not going to be pretty. " His voice held the slightest hint of sadness as he dropped his clove into the punch.

" What does that mean?" Before she could move he was in front of her, trapping her between the counter and his well-muscled body.

"I want to help you; I'm here to set you free." His cold fingers brushed gently across her wet cheeks as he locked eyes with her. " I'm the monster that lives in your dreams. The monster who will love you to death. "One strong arm slid around her waist, pulling her hard, into his obvious need. " It's your pain and their ignorance that drew us to you, it was like a beacon calling us home."  His hands moved slowly over the curves of her body, his silken lips brushing the corner of her mouth as the first hard beats of "Closer" cut through the air and the first pain filled screams rose up in crescendo.

"It has begun." He purred into her ear. "Do you still wish to join them?"

" Please stop." Amy felt faint, her heart pounding like a big base drum as dark brackish blood splattered the bright yellow wall just beyond the doorway. She couldn't take her eyes off the pale round face or the blood that was now spreading into a pool from the gaping wound in the girl's neck. Was someone really killing her friends? Or was it just a sick joke. A very real looking, sick joke.

" No joke my love, now let me taste you." He breath in her ear was hot, his voice husky with hunger. Before she could protest, he scooped her up effortlessly, drawing her gaze from the carnage back to his handsome face. Oh how she wanted to drown in that gaze, wanted to feel the caress of his strong hands against her heated skin. It was all she could think about as he carried out of the kitchen and up the stairs knowing exactly what room to go to he kicked the door shut behind them.

Long after the screams died away and the house fell eerily silent, Black stood at the window with his back to the room and the dead girls empty gaze. The urge to head North was still gnawing at him. He wanted to see trees and deep green forests, not the endless empty rows of corn and brown fields. No, Going North would wait. Their next job could wait. They had a few other parties to crash first. He glanced at the girl on the bed, feeling let down. He craved a challenge, but like most of his victims she had only given him an empty willingness to please.  Was he getting too old for this? Or did women today really want nothing more than a dark hero to come in and sweep them off their feet. Where was the challenge in that? If he could glitter in sunlight he would not have to hunt, he could just sit back and let them come to him.

" Why do you mourn an empty vessel?" Shatter closed a black nailed hand over Black's shoulder. Behind them the first flickers of orange and yellow began to dance against the wall as the acrid smell of smoke and burnt flesh began to fill the small house.

"Didn't she find comfort in your arms?" This from Shatter's twin, who stood in the doorway.

" To mourn I would have to feel and I have not felt anything but hunger in decades." He let out another amused chuckle as he pushed past the twins and led them back down the stairs.

Casually they walked though the litter of mangled bodies and trash. Stopping at the broken front door, Black bent down to retrieve a single string of Mardi Gras beads. Yet another trinket for the growing pile. His thoughts once again turning to Jackson, seething behind his huge desk for sure. Well it didn't matter, they never played by the rules, Jack should've known that by now. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out his cloves, lit a match and inhaled deeply before letting the burning match drop down onto the gas- soaked floor.

Sated and ready for new adventure, never feeling more alive than they did at that moment, the trio of vampires emerged from the burning house. With arms around shoulders and matching sharp toothed grins they stumbled over the leaf-covered lawn in the pre dawn light to the waiting van. For them life was good, there would always be another lost soul, in another town, at another party, waiting for them to arrive.





CHAPTER TWO

There they were again. The white-haired singer and his taller dark haired guitarist who could make even mommy stop what she was doing and turn her head to watch when they came on the little TV in the kitchen, of course mommy would always change the channel to General Hospital, or one of her talk shows, telling Jessie she was not allowed to watch YouTube anymore, although not until after the pair had collapsed into a heap together on the floor of whatever sticky beer stained stage they were on.

Trez, her brother's friend looked a lot like the singer, with his messy white hair and clear blue eyes. Jessie had quite the crush on Trez, a fact that she would deny whenever that nasty Katie Carver teased her about it.  Boys were gross, always spitting, swearing or pulling her pigtails, although her brother Daniel's friend Zakk had a nice brother who was in her class. She liked Alex because he never teased her and had even given her candy on Valentines day. She liked Alex almost as much as the singer with the odd name-Ghost.

Reaching for the milk, Jessie poured it carefully over her cereal and carried it to the sunlit breakfast nook. In all the years she had been getting herself up and off to school by herself she had only spilled twice, a fact she was immensely proud of. On the little TV her favorite band had been replaced by the man with the different colored eyes, her brother's favorite singer. She knew this because of all the posters in Daniel's room and because her step-father was always muttering under his breath about how bad it all was. She didn't know if Nick meant the man who wore bright red lipstick or the posters on the wall. Both of which made her uneasy.

Four bites in she glanced up at the special Micky Mouse clock Nick had given to her on her last birthday. He had talked real slow as he told her that now that she was eight, she was expected to be on time for school all by herself, like a big girl. Jessie hated the clock. She did not need it to get herself up or to school. Of course her mother had scolded her. Reminding her to be gracious and thank him anyway. It was something that if done right, could make the pinched look on Nicks face go away for a little while. Jessie tried very hard to be good and make her parents happy, if only her brother would try to do the same.

Finished she stood up, cast a longing last glance at the TV, walked her bowl to the sink and made her way through the living-room to the bottom of the stairs. Her shoes and backpack sat on the bench by the door. Putting her shoes on she listened for the sounds of movement and was greeted by a long stretch of silence. She didn't want to go up those stairs but she also knew that if Daniel was late again Nick would put him in detention, or worse suspend him from school. Having to go to school and have a parent be your principal was a big deal for Jessie. It protected her from the bullies but while at school, once out of school she was on her own. Luckily they were all afraid of Zakk and Daniel so they left her pretty much alone.

Grabbing her backpack, the pink one with the Hello Kitty and Lost Souls stickers, she headed up the stairs, wishing she would see her mother in her tattered blue robe but the landing was empty and both bedroom doors were closed. She was going to miss the bus for sure now but that was ok with Jessie. It was a beautiful fall day and she could enjoy the decorated houses on the way. Daniel's friend, Mia always went all out for Halloween, decorating her small duplex with a mock graveyard and lots of skeletons. It was easily the best decorated place in town. She loved to imagine being able to do that to their house but Nick didn't like decorations, saying that it was offensive to others, and a waste of money. Whatever that meant.

Lingering outside Daniel's door, she wondered if her mother was even awake yet. Now that mommy worked nights, they hardly ever saw her; even on her days off she would be out with Trez's mom on a cocktail lunch and they wouldn't see her until late at night. It made Jessie feel sad but Daniel always told her not to feel bad, that some parents just didn't know how to be parents. She didn't understand that either but loved Daniel for trying to cheer her up and was happy to have him around as much as she did. She knew she was lucky, that's why it was so hard to deal with Nick and his moods. Nick was something she was not going to think about right now either.

Trying to be quiet Jessie inched open Daniel's bedroom door. It was always so dark in there and the posters made her feel like they wanted to reach out and grab her. Daniel hadn't always liked his room this way but when they moved from California to Minnesota, he had begun to like new music and had a new set of friends. He was still nice to her though so she hadn't minded the change. Going into his room now made her want to run screaming down the hall to her own pink bedroom, filled with her favorite dolls and stuffed animals.

Trying to be brave, Jessie pushed open the door, stepping  quickly across the threshold. Careful not to trip on the messy piles of cloths and scattered junk. Approaching the side of Daniel's bed she whispered loudly. " Danny? Are you up? You can't be late for school again."

Aware of her prescience, Daniel curled his naked frame tighter into a ball under the black blankets. The last thing he wanted was to be in school but if he didn't respond to her, she was apt to start poking at him. He managed to get one hand free and wave her away, but she kept talking.

" Get up Danny. Please. " Jessie grabbed the blanket.

" You don't want detention do you? Nick said you would be kicked out of school if you missed again."

Daniel rubbed his face as he sat up, letting the blanket falls away from his chest. "Why are we whispering? " He asked as he ran his black nailed hands through his messy black hair. He must have looked very bad for her to pull away from him with such wide blue eyes. It dawned on him then that she was seeing the fresh bruises from the night before.

"Did Nick do that?" She sounded scared as she edged backwards toward the open door.

"No kido, Zakk and I were roughhousing again." He hated to lie to her but didn't want her to know how bad things between him and their step father had gotten.

" You better go before you miss the buss and have to go to detention with me."

That seemed to ease the tension and make her giggle.

" Too late, snot-head. I already missed the bus. " Sticking out her tongue Jessie ran from the room, Halfway down she stopped, turned round and called up the stairs to him. " Don't forget you said you would help me carve my pumpkin tonight."

"I won't. "

" Promise! "

" I promise! Now go . "

Daniel listened to Jessie Pound the rest of the way down the stairs before grabbing a pair of jeans from the floor and slipped out of bed; still, only half awake. Reaching down into the pile of discarded cloths for an unwrinkled Korn T-shirt, pulling it down over his head he stepped to the full length mirror and grinned at the outline of his new nipple ring under his shirt.

Britt would pitch a fit but he didn't care, he loved it.

Quickly finger combing his hair, he grabbed his smokes and headed toward the bathroom. It had been yet another drunken night downtown with friends when they had stopped to look into lighted shop windows at one of Mia's new paintings and, Zakk had spotted a tattoo shop across the street, The rest was history. It might have been the perfect night had Nick not been waiting for him when he got home. Daniel's relationship with Nick was strained to stay the least and it didn't help that Nick was also the principal at the high school. Nick was on almost every committee in town and well liked by everyone. From the outside they were the perfect family, which was complete bullshit. The only reason he had not moved out was because of Jessie. As far as he knew Nick had not laid a hand on her and Daniel was afraid that would change if he did leave home for good.

Going down the back stairs he crossed the bright kitchen to grab a bagel off the counter. Zakk would be there at any moment, leaning on the horn if Daniel didn't come out right away. His hand was on the knob when Shannon Demorte spoke from behind.

" Hey Dan. We need to talk." She held a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and an ice pack in the other. She looked worse than he did and he wondered when she had gotten so old and washed out.

Shannon had once been the pride and joy of Hakke, otherwise known as that decaying little shit splat of a town on the other side of the lake. She had been prom queen, and all around star, until falling in love with the local bad boy, gotten knocked up and left town before she could graduate, only to return with, two kids and a divorce behind her. Now bitter, angry and looking more like a bag lady instead of a prom queen she was about to lay into her teenage son.

" We just don't know what to do with you any more. "

" Can we do this later? I'm late and you know how Nick loves to put me in detention." 

Crossing his arms, Daniel leaned against the counter and gave her his best petulant stare.
His mother rolled her eyes at him. She could see he was trying to piss her off and it was working " Your father and I are really worried about you. You're out late every night, if you bother coming home at all. Your skipping schools and hanging out with that Myiah girl.

"It's Mia." Daniel dropped his gaze, examining his black painted fingernails. " Myiah is that playhouse DJ. "

"Whatever, I don't like it. Why would a thirty-year-old woman want to hang out with teenagers? Are you sleeping with her? Is she your dealer?"

Offended he picked up the lunch money Jessie forgot to take and said frostily, "She's more of a mother than you will ever be and Nick can kiss my white ass."

Shannon's fingers tightened reflexively around the steaming mug, her lips drawing down into a thin line. "Your smart mouth is another thing I don't like, Nick and I are worried sick and don't know what to do any more."

Daniel slipped his shades on, forced a weak smile for her and said, "You could try getting rid of him, he's a prick and you know it."

His mother dropped her angry gaze as she sipped at her coffee. She was trying to choose her words carefully. "Sure he can be a jerk but you don't understand him or even try for that matter. I would love for you to just try a little harder to follow our rules. "

" Nick is NOT my father and I am not going to follow HIS rules." Daniel exploded. "Maybe I should move out." Hurt that she blamed him for everything that was going wrong in her life he tossed the bagel onto the counter and stormed out to Zakk's waiting car in the driveway.

It was going to be a very long day. Unless he didn't go to school. It wouldn't be the first time he had ditched and probably wouldn't be the last. He was surprised that Nick had not thrown him out but that was because his mom did a pretty good job of convincing Nick to give him one more chance.

" How much do you not want to go to school today? "

Zakk ran a blue nailed hand through his faded blue hair and grinned over at his best friend. " About as much as I want a root canal. Why? "

" Because if I show up late, and we are going to late very late then Nick's going to put his boot in my face. He's been threatening to have me suspended and sent away. I really don't want to deal with it on such a nice day. "

It was going to be a beautiful day in the seventies with sunny skies and the first real color arriving on the trees all around the lake. There was no way either of them would have enjoyed sitting in class on such a nice October day. It was a day for hanging out in the park or cruising around town.

" You got something in mind? " Zakk produced a joint, lit it and handed it over to Daniel. He eased the mustang out into the street and headed towards the lake. He never needed an excuse to skip school and his mother wouldn't notice if he did. Zakk had always had decent grades when he applied himself which wasn't as much as the adults in his life wanted from him but he didn't care, as soon as they graduated they were out of here anyway. His dream was to be a chef somewhere in a big city cooking for one of the greats.

Disdain was a decently sized small town on the north end of lake Minnetonka. A quiet upper class suburb of the twin cities, but it wasn't all upper class, the side of town that Zakk and Daniel came from was more middle class than upper. The shops on the lake were trendy but if you went a few blocks in then you found your less expensive bookstores, junk shops and family owned eateries.

Lake Street was always busy in the summer with the influx of tourists but once school started it got pretty quiet in Disdain. The lake people closed up their cabins, headed home while the townie's got ready for fall and Football. It would be great if Zakk fit into that school pride thing but he had never been a small kid and his love of Horror had put him on the outside for most of his life. He was lucky though, he had grown up here. It was Daniel who had been an outsider, from California no less. Living with his mother and sister in a trailer at first and then with Nick after he married Daniels' mom. It made a great story to tell at fancy school functions except for one minor detail. Daniel was considered a delinquent. Of course that just made the gossips in town talk even more and it had drawn attention away from Zakk until he and Daniel had become friends.

Now it was looking like Daniel would be sent away yet here they were headed anywhere but the school. They passed the shuttered shops, banks and fancy bakeries. If they were to keep going he could drive all the way around the lake, passing dozens of small towns just like Disdain. It was depressing and Zakk needed to get out of the car. Pulling into a parking lot he didn't need to speak to Daniel to let him know this was their destination. Daniel could either sit in the car or follow him.

Shouldering his backpack Zakk took the keys from the ignition and got out of the Mustang. Luckily the gates of the Disdain memorial cemetery were open.



CHAPTER THREE

Jackson Carver was a busy man who didn't have time for silly games and Jack had reached his breaking point. He had waited long enough and should have put a stop to it a long time ago.  He should have sent a clearer message to the gutter punk that had caused his family so much trouble. He didn’t have time to deal with his daughters drama when he was trying to reach his deadlines and with his business partners breathing down his neck he was out of time. 

Outside his office window the sun was sinking, the buildings of downtown awash in the brilliant pinks and oranges that only  autumn in Minnesota could create. It had been hot all week, hovering in the nineties, but inside his dark office Jack was almost cold. Turning his broad back to the window, he moved back to his huge oak desk and dropped into the soft leather seat with a quiet sigh. He watched the tiny droplets of water drip down the side of a glass of highball in front of him before bringing the amber liquid to his lips. 

It had been a long day of meetings and interviews, some of which he found quite pleasurable, others not so much. He had several interviews with a dozen young, eager looking girls who dressed more like they wanted to work at a strip club than his office, all of them more than willing to do whatever needed to be done to get ahead. Leaning back in the big leather chair, he growled softly as he slowly tried to work the cramps out of his stiff fingers before rubbing fiercely at his temples. He could feel another one of his headaches coming on, the ones he only got when dealing with some nastiness or other, and this was looking like a real stinker. He was so close to closing a deal on a new property and now he had to deal with Britt’s constant tears. 

If only the boy had learned to stay away from his daughter there wouldn't have been a problem. Had he just slunk back to the gutter he'd come from, Jack would not have to take matters into his own hands. Not that he would ever dirty his own hands; he had other ways of getting it done. Britney was his princess after all, It was his job to protect her at all costs. What father wouldn't? She was the daughter he thought he would never have after having three boys before her. It broke his heart to see her cry and drove him crazy to watch her deal with such heartache. 

Yes, he should have put a stop to it from the start, should have tried harder to keep them apart, but the harder he pushed her to stop seeing him the more she wanted him in her life. It was starting to affect his business. Diverting Britt's attention away from her job, and Jack could not have that. He needed her to keep working, but the gutter rat had made her doubt her ability at what Jack knew she was perfect for. Not even her sister brought in the amount of money that Britt could and it was all about to fall apart. If only there was a fix for raging teenage hormones. 

This was a problem that needed to be dealt with carefully he could not risk being tied to whatever misfortune happened to the boy. Unfortunately he couldn't just disappear either. Too many people knew Daniel and knew how much Jack hated him. The kids of Disdain would start to talk if anything happened to one of their own. It didn't help that there had been a string of unsolved murders around their small community, making people see bogymen hiding in their back yards. The last thing Jack wanted was unnecessary attention.
     
 Luckily he could call in a favor that no one could trace back to him. He didn't like going this far unless he had no other choice. Unfortunately he had to make sure no one knew what he was about to do. His phone rang and he snapped into the receiver.

" No! I need you back here." He scowled at the phone, eyes narrowing. "NO! I won't wait. I don't care who you want to check out. Come back right away."  Jackson's cheeks burned as he stared at the phone. If only he could reach though the receiver and throttle the man on the other end. He was tired of their games and wanted them to do what he said without asking so many bloody questions. Well he would just have to make them want to come back. "Trust me, you will like this one and I won't tell you how to do it either, just that it needs to be done soon. I'll even double your money."
He rubbed at his temple again, eyes closing as his smile slipped. Perhaps it was time to end his partnership with them after all. He would decide after they arrived and after they had taken care of the gutter rat.  Hanging up he went back to the blue prints spread out over the top of his desk. He had a meeting with Vlad and the others in an hour and as much as he wanted to skip it he couldn’t ignore this one. There was a knock at the door, his secretary peered in at him with a meek smile. 

“ Sorry to bother you but there is a Detective Cooper here to see you. “ 

“ Tell him I am busy.” 

“ Tell me yourself. “  Cooper pushed past the girl with a tight smile. 

“ I don’t have time to talk Detective. I’m late for a meeting. “  

“ If you would return my calls I might be inclined not to bother, but you seem to always be busy Jack. “ 

“ So tell me what you want. “ Jack narrowed his eyes at the other man.

 To say Jack hated the man was an understatement. Cooper seemed to be everywhere at once and Jack was beginning to think that Daniel was not the only one who needed to disappear. 

“ I just wanted to follow up on a few things. “ Cooper opened his notebook to squint down at the notes he had jotted down.  “ The last time you saw your oldest son Sam was over a year ago? “ 

“ I can’t tell you the last time I saw him detective. We were not close. “ 

“ From what I understand he was last seen out at the Haunted Farm. Your farm to be exact. “ 

“ That’s right. He and his brothers were playing in a band that night and he never made it home to his mother. “ 

“ Now his mother is not the girl’s mother? Correct? “  

“ No. And I don’t have a relationship with her or my other sons. “ 

“ Who still live in Disdain? “ 

“ Do you have a point Detective? “  

“ Well it’s really strange that your son vanished from your property and a few years later another young man also vanishes into thin air and he was also last seen at that same property." 
 “
“ You know as well as I do that Thane had a history of run ins with the law. Are you really surprised he left town without telling his uncle? As I recall you were investigating him for Rape and battery correct? “
   
“ Chester, The uncle is your hired hand? Who lives on the property right? “

“ And was cleared if I am correct. “  

“ Yes. Did your son know Thane? Were they friends? Enemies? How did he get along with the other boys? “

“ No one got along with Thane except that little twink he always ran around with. “ 

“ Trez. His name is Trez and he’s a good kid from what I’ve seen. “

“ Don’t you have better things to do, Detective? “  

“ If it were my kid that went missing….”  Cooper stood up, tucking his notebook back into his pocket. 

“ I told you. My boys and I are not close. Brittney and Katie don’t even know they have brothers.” 

“ Isn’t that a shitty thing to do? Keeping secrets from your own children? “ 

“ Not when it’s for the best. Now if you don’t mind, I am late for my meeting. If you need me to answer anything else just call. “

“ Yeah, I shouldn’t need to contact you again unless I find out something else. “ 

   Cooper paused to look at all the photos of the girls that were scattered around the office. You would never have known that Jaxson Carver had almost led the perfect double life.  How far would he have gone to protect his secrets. He said it himself, he had not been close to his sons so how easy would it be to silence someone who might have wanted to strike back at the man who abandoned him? 

“ Good night Detective. “  

“ I’ll be in touch.”  Copper nodded as he left the office.


 Jack waited a few minutes before he reached for his phone. The gutter punk was not the only problem to be taken care of anymore. He slipped his coat on and stood up. He had a lot to figure out and the sooner he got the meeting over with the sooner he could focus on other things. It really would be taking out two birds with one stone. Rubbing absently at his temples he shut the lights off and left the office.



CHAPTER FOUR

  
Mia was almost asleep on her sun warmed stone when the snap of a broken branch caught her attention. Cracking open one heavily lined eye, she squinted toward the sound of someone moving slowly towards her. She was not about to move for just anyone and was relived to see a familiar head of blue moving though the branches. 

Stretching she sat up and swung her feet out over the large stone she had been laying on and put on her happy face. She had known her peace would be broken eventually. It always was when she visited the old overgrown cemetery In the middle of town.

Just in case it wasn't who she thought it was Mia reached for her camera and a smoke from her dress pocket. Some of the older townie's had a problem with people hanging out here, even though it was a long forgotten and neglected place. She preferred the old abandoned theme park out by the Haunted Farm but that was over an hour to get to so she tended to hang out here instead. 

Lighting up, she toyed with the camera until the visitors came into view. " Well look what the cat dragged in. " One long purple braid fell into her face as she leaned forward to snag the bottle of wine from the base of her stone. " Aren't you a little early for the party? " She asked, wetting her lips as Zakk and Daniel crossed the grassy space in front of her.

"What's that? A little hair of the dog? " Zakk joked, hefting his weight onto the stone next to Mia's and tossed the butt of his smoke into the urn at his feet. The color was high in his chubby cheeks as he watched Daniel drop his long black patchwork coat onto the ground at the base of Mia's perch. 

" So what brings you out here on a Friday morning? You didn't call in another bomb threat did you?" 

"We blew up the school." Daniel grinned throwing his head back to look up at Mia's upside down face.

"I must have slept through it." Laughing, she nudged Daniel in the ribs. She did not like the troubled look on his face and didn't need to ask but did so anyway. " Nick again?" 

" Nope, mom this time. I need to follow their rules or get out. " Daniel pulled the hair over his eyes as he slouched down against the cold stone. His lower lip jutted out, making him looks like a scolded child. 

Mia's heart went out to him, having met his parents a few times she understood the look. She too had been dealing with a shitty father for a while now, except Daniel's father was not famous like hers was. "I have space you know." She said it with an offhandedness that left you wondering if she was talking about helping him out or just her way of saying, I know how you feel. 

Daniel's response was to tug on the laces of her Doc Martin boots in a silent reply of thanks. They all knew she didn't have space for another person in her small duplex. Wanting to lighten the mood Daniel took the joint from his pocket, he had been saving it for later but the second he had gotten in the car he had known they would not be going to school that day. He lit the joint, inhaling the fragrant smoke with practiced ease, hi eyes following a spider up the side of their shared stone. 

Relaxing he held it up for Mia. She gave them a what the hell shrug of her shoulders and reached down. Their fingers touched and Mia's heart skipped a beat. She felt as if she had been stuck by lighting but the sky was clear. Dizzy she fell backwards and kept falling. All she could think was oh shit Toto I'm not in Kansas anymore. It had happened once before, when she was about to board a plane, yet somehow this felt different, more real somehow than the vision she had at the airport. She had taken a later flight out, finding out later than the plane she was supposed to be on had gone down over the ocean. 

In this one she was pushing through a crowd of kids, and catching snatches of a song. Halestorm or Evenesance she guessed. Either way it was some girl-fronted band at top volume. Smoke and sweat hung heavy in the air like a thick mass of webbing, making her want to escape this crowd. Luckily she spotted a staircase and pushed her way to it. She would have thought she was at carnival except for the fact that this was someone's house and not a balmy New Orleans night. 

It was a party of some sort, Halloween or a masquerade ball, by the look of the costumes. Whatever it was it was making her claustrophobic; she needed to find a way out but every which way she turned was blocked by a party goers. When the sounds of breaking glass and screams began to drown out the music she knew she had to move, Whatever was going on she wanted no part of it. Up the ornate staircase she went, finding herself in a long empty hallway littered with empty cups and trash. At the end of the hall was a closed red door. Mia made her way down the hall. Her fingers closing around the knob. 

From another door Zakk jumped out at her, making her scream. He was wearing one of those ornate animal masks and laughing. His finger pointing, back toward the staircase. More screams floated up from below filling her with fear. She screamed again when the door flew open and a half naked girl almost took her down. 

'No. wait! " Mia yelled to her as she rushed past. "Don't go down there! " 

"Better her than us." Daniel spoke from the now open doorway. Confused Mia turned her head to see what Daniel was talking about and realized it was his ex girlfriend Britt who had rust past her and the still laughing Zakk. He had removed his mask, dropping over the railing and did not see the impossibly tall figure standing in the shadows behind him until he stepped into the light. His long white hair was unkempt and he had the most piercing blue eyes Mia had ever seen. He grinned at them before grabbing Zakk and cutting his throat with one long sharp claw. Blood began to flow freely from the wound, yet Zakk continued to giggle. Britt screamed, dropping the clothing she had clutched to her chest and backed away as the man shoved Zakk over the banister rail and out of sight. 

Mia screamed as well struggling to free herself from Daniel's grip as another figure came up the stairs, moving fast he grabbed the naked Britt, pulling her to him. Ignoring her screams he flashed white fangs and eyes of glowing blue. That's when Mia realized they were twins. Monstrous bookends covered in blood. 

Daniel let go of Mia's arm, calmly stepping past her with a look of recognition, as if he knew who they were. The second twin reached out, pressing those long claws deep into the skin of Britt's creamy white breast, drawing blood.  "That one is mine." The taller twin snarled as the other stopped feeding from the thrashing girl. Licking at his bloodstained lips he locked eyes on Mia and Daniel. " I want to know if they taste as good as they smell? " 

Desperately Mia grabbed for Daniels arm, trying to pull him into the room. If she could get him into the room they could go out the window but Daniel was resisting her. The one holding Britt let go and began to advance down the hallway. From the same door Zakk had first come out of came yet another figure. He was shorter than the pair by almost a foot with long shining black hair and amber colored eyes. He was dressed in a fine black coat, purple velvet pants and high black boots and his voice was soft and seductive as hell. " Stand down shatter." Black closed a white hand over the one he called Shatter's arm and gave Mia a heartbreaking smile. " She is not the one." 

"I want her." Shatter snarled, bristling at the black haired one.

"It's the boy we want. She's just a pawn." 

Shatter grinned, his bloody clawed hand going to Daniel's throat. "I will have them both." His blue eyes were icy with madness as he slid his well-muscled arm around Daniel's waist, pulling him closer. 

"Get the hell away from him!" Mia screamed again. 

"What took you so long.?" Daniel said with a wicked smile of his own. That's when the door slammed shut on her, leaving her to desperately bang on the door. 

Without warning she was falling backwards again, leaving Daniel and the monsters behind. Mia awoke with her head in Zakk's lap her heart still racing as she tried to sit up and got dizzy again.

" Please don't go. "   Mia clutched at Daniel's arm scaring the crap out of both of them. 

" I'm right here. Are you ok? You hit your head when you fell. " 

" Just swear you won't go. " 

" OK, I swear we won't go anywhere. " Daniel helped Mia sit up, looking worriedly over her head at Zakk, He was worried about the bump to the head but she seemed ok, brushing him off as she reached for her cloves. " Can I get a ride home? " 

" Will you go to the walk in? " Zakk was holding her purse and camera. 

" No, I want to go home. " 

Without another word they followed Mia to Zakk's car. Both of them were worried about her, had been for some time. She was pale and a bit too thin but if they brought it up then she would tell them to get bent. They rode in silence for the few blocks to her tiny rented duplex. Mia brushing them off as she went inside. The boys waited a few minutes and then followed her in. They didn't speak as they settled into the Livingroom, knowing that when she was ready Mia would open up to them. 

" I love you but I don't need a babysitter. " Mia came into the Livingroom with a cup of tea and curled up next to Daniel. They had decided to watch some schlocky horror movie about some metal heads who raised Satan with their music. She rolled her eyes and grabbed the remote from Daniel's hand. 

" Hey! That looked good. " Daniel tried to get the remote back but Mia slapped his hands away. 

" Out! Go play in the sunshine. Go mow my lawn or something. " 


Laughing she kicked at him until he stood up with a hurt scowl on his face. She hated to kick them out but she really wanted to nap and knew that with the boys in the house a nap would never happen. So they stood up, still looking worried and tried to hang around some more, but Mia was having none of it and sent them on their way. She turned on Dr. Phil and promptly fell asleep, this time there were no bad dreams.


CHAPTER FIVE

Detective cooper slid  his solid frame into an empty booth just as Winters fire hit the stage. Ordering a beer and burger he flipped though his notes inside the tiny dive bar that sat on the edge of the lake.  Rock's was surrounded by high end shops yet the tacky dive bar didn't feel out of place and Cooper wondered how they managed to stay open without being cannibalized  by some chain place. 

It was early on a Fri night, a week since he had spoken to Jack at his office and yet Cooper couldn't seem to let go of the missing Guitarist or the simple fact that no one seemed bothered by his disappearance.  He had been told more than a few times  by the Sargent to stop digging and let it go. There was no indication of fowl play and the higher ups were getting annoyed with him. 

Sam had split. Simply up and left. Poof gone, as did Thane.  Well Detective Cooper wasn't buying it and that's what brought him out to Rock's on a busy Friday night.  He sipped his beer and listened to the band play.  He had to admit they were good and the crowd they drew were a good mix of younger collage age kids and older adults.  He studied the singer as he stalked across the stage, trying to see Jack in the kids features.   Rem had spiky blond hair and dark brown eyes.  He Had Jack's lips and maybe his bone structure.  The drummer, Blaze had his fathers chin and cocky grin.  He didn't have any photos of the boys with either parent and wasn't sure if he had any photos of their mother at all.  

What he did have was a few band photos of Sam who was also a good looking kid with a strong Jaw line and a penetrating gaze.  He chewed his dry burger as he studied his notes.  Sam had last been seen at Britt's birthday party on Halloween night. She had hired them the week before and Cooper wanted to know if either of them had known they were half siblings? 

 He knew he should be working on other cases but this one really bothered him.   

" Hey there, Andy.  Need another drink?  "   Katelyn Jade slid into the booth with a couple of beers and a bright smile.  "  Don't you ever stop working? "   

Copper smiled and held up his half full bottle to the young redheaded school librarian.  "  Yeah when I take a shit. "  He noted that she was wearing a black shirt with white lettering.  BLS it read across the front. Not a winters fire shirt.  Most of the people around the bar had on the same shirts.  Some of the townies worried it was a gang but Copper knew better.  BLS stood for Black Label Society. A band that made him turn off his radio if it came on in the car.  He was a Jazz guy and loved Billy Joel. 

" So what brings you out here on a Friday night?  Got a date? "  She grinned impishly at him. 

He couldn't tell if she was flirting or not, probably not since she had no problem getting dates. " How well did you know Sam Fire? "   He tried to sound offhanded but her expression told him otherwise.  It also told him she was going to lie. 

" Sam who? "   Her cheeks colored as her eyes moved to the spot on the stage that he would normally have stood. 

"  You know who I am talking about. "   So she had known him intimately, it was all over her pretty face and he had to admit that he was a bit jealous.   " Did he go to your school?  Do you remember seeing him there before he disappeared? "  

" They dropped out once they made their first record. "   

"  And the las time you saw him did he say anything strange?  Act differently? "  

"  No.  We had a fight. " 

" About? "  

"  Another guy.  What is this about anyway? "   Her brown eyes darkened with deep emotion.

"  Did you also know Thane Wolf?  "  

"  Come on Andy.  Yes I knew Thane as a student at my school.  No I was not sleeping with him. He was gay and you know it. "  

" Gay enough not to rape someone? "   

"  That's bullshit.  Thane didn't touch Mia. "    

"  You know this for a fact?   He had a rap sheet longer than the constitution. "   

"  So maybe Thane killed Sam and split.  Ever thought of that, Detective? "   

Seeing how upset she was, Cooper drank from the second beer and ordered them another round.  " Top of the list. "   He grumbled as the band ended their song and came off the stage. 

Remmy went right for Kate. Hugging her over the booth. "  Hello Detective. Surprised to see you out so late. " 

"  You can call me, Andy and I was wondering if you had a minute to chat."   

" I have enough time to hug my favorite girl and take a leak. "   Kissing Kate's cheek he took her beer and went towards the front. 

Blaze appeared where Remmy had been. Smiled sweetly at Kate and tipped his hat to Cooper before also vanishing into the crowd. 

" Charming. "   Cooper muttered as he put a few bills down for a tip.   

" They are actually very sweet. "  Kate said, getting up from the booth.  

"  I bet.  Just remember that if you think of anything or need anything you have my number. "  

"  I will keep that in mind. "  

He watched her as she rejoined her friends, then left the building.  He didn't feel like staying to see if  they would speak to him and with his head pounding he really just wanted to get some much needed sleep.  He could always go out to their rented cabin after a good night sleep and a decent breakfast. Calling it a night he left the dive bar and headed for home. 



CHAPTER SIX

~ New Orleans, LA ~

Black's hooded gaze fixed on the white-haired singer up on the tiny stage as he tried to get the image of the woman out of his head. Who was this woman named Mia, and why was she haunting his dreams? Mia, the name beat inside his head like a mantra, driving him mad and she was not the only one. He had dreamed of quite a few people from his past and they all seemed to be pulling him northward, back to his birthplace.  Often he would hear music and see a lithe dark haired youth with blood red lips who could sing like the angels.  He almost didn't want to sleep and Carver had called several times, but he never answered and probably wouldn't until they rolled into town. It might be days or even weeks for all he knew, what he did know was that he was in no hurry to go home again. They would return when he was ready, there were just to many ghosts for him to want to go back to Disdain. 

They continued to drive south, crashing every party they found along the way. It was incredibly easy to scan a room for any number of lost souls looking for someone to ~ GET THEM ~ and with a promise of a good time and a few well-placed compliments they practically begged to be slaughtered, often leading them right to their friends, who just happened to be having a party at some deserted location. It was sad really. Maybe it was time to start thinking about going to ground and sleeping for a long period of time. Oh who was he kidding? Going to ground was never an option. They loved the heat and the good hunting of Louisiana. If they ever settled in one spot, this would be it. There were too many small, dark and Smokey bars to name and what other place almost expected you to be mysterious in some form or another. A vampire in New Orleans blended in like bad carpeting in a busy casino. They loved this city, loved to hunt the waterfront streets and back alleys, taking out as many so-called vampires as they could.

Two nights ago he had walked past a small dark flat with an overgrown courtyard. He almost missed the man inside who thought that he was safely hidden from others of his kind, but Black had seen the curtain move and knew the other ancient one could see him as well. How different would his life have been, if he had been a student of this one and not the blond haired whore who had claimed him? Better to not dwell on that and leave the lonely one to himself.

Outside of town, along an overgrown road they had taken out a nest or family, as they liked to call themselves now. Seemed it was now fashionable to keep your chylder all on one leash, or all under one roof so to speak. Black had never had any use for the new social structures that had been popping up all over the country. As far as he was concerned they were all bunch of bloated jackals who called themselves kings and anointed sheriffs and other bullshit titles. Making Progenies for the sake of adding bodies to your clan. What a joke. Yet he had spared one dark-skinned cat shifter after they had burned their McMasion to the ground, he hadn't wanted to give a chase after feeding so well, and he knew she would spread the word about the renegades if she didn't get killed by a rival clan first. They then spent the day in one of the crypts on the grounds and the urge to go home had never been stronger.

Toying with the cheap plastic beads around his neck, he let his gaze slide from the stage to another dark corner where Shatter and Broken sat in a booth against the wall feeding from a dark-haired youth with chole lined eyes that reminded him of the boy from his dreams. Were they really going north? Back to a place he had tried so hard to forget? And was Mia really there? Living only blocks from the lake he used to swim in as a child?

    Oh how he loved how Mia's green eyes sparkled with fear. It was rare to connect with anyone so strongly and a shame he would have to end her life. If he was looking for a challenge then she would be it. Just how far would she be willing to go to protect her friends and family? Suddenly going North didn't seem so bad after all.  
Standing, Black took a gold coin from his pocket and tossed it at the singers feet. He gave the tall lanky guitarist a curt nod of his head and the slightest smile. They sounded good together. Shatter and Broken joined him at the back door, licking the blood from each other's fingers. They didn't know it but the pair on the stage had been spared, for now. There was one more stop before they hit the road again. Some backwater tiny town where people had been whispering about a blond haired waitress, rumored to be some kind of freak who could read your mind. Of course Black had not believed in vampires either, until he had become one. Funny how a person would reject anything they themselves could not see or do.

It was raining as they walked down Bourbon, the streets unusually quite for this time of night . . . Like Las Vegas, New Orleans always seemed to hum with activity. No matter where they went in the world this city held his heart.

They were almost to the van when a brightly lit sign caught his eye. He had not been into a shop such as this for a very long time. The twins hated anything to do with voodoo or spirits. Black reached out his hand to touch the old brass knob and the door swung silently open. The inside of the narrow shop was dimly lit and packed full of oddities, elixirs and old musty books. There was a long glass counter covered in dust and yellowed with age. It was as if no one had set a foot in the place for decades. Not waiting to see if they twins would follow he walked further into the store. There was a light was on in the back. He could also smell a thick floral perfume and hear a steady heart beat.

" Come in demon." She spoke before he had even crossed the threshold. "I have a message for you."

Careful not to touch anything, he stepped into the dimly lit room, stuffed with even more arcane items. The voice had come from a tiny figure seated at a small table, and she had her cards spread out before her and when she looked up he saw that she was blind. It was a good thing the twins had stayed outside. They would have broken something for sure.

"Sit demon." She pointed at an empty chair.

"No thank you." He stood his ground, crossing his arms and narrowing his eyes. He didn't like being called a demon probably any more than she would want to be called a witch. "What message do you have for me?"

"Sit." Her long nails scrabbled over the dark wood of the table.

"Or what?" He was tiring of the game.

"Do you really want to find out demon?" The empty chair slid away from the table as she spoke.

Black needed no further convincing. He sat with an unhappy scowl and the woman's pale face lit up with a smile. "Now give me your hand."

He reluctantly held out his cold white hand to her and wondered why he had even come in.

"Oh your full of secrets and pain demon."

"I'm not a demon." He didn't like the feel of her warm hand in his but her grip was strong.

" Should I call you dead one? A vampire or something else?"

" You should tell me what your message is."

" Oh you're in such a hurry to die. All of you are." She released him, pointed at one of her cards and chuckled softly. " Puppet,

that's what you are. A puppet on a string, being led to your death like a pig to slaughter. But the game has just begun and you could win if you're careful. Beware the sleeping woman." Her fingers tapped the image of a stone angle. "And here." She touched an image of a king on a throne.'

" The emperor. Betrayer and full of dark magic. Together they are your downfall. "

Black sighed, they were already his downfall, The sleeping woman and the magician, it was not new to him. So the calling was a very real thing and Jack might not be the source.

"There are others, the warrior woman, the fool and his companion, and the wolf. Family will be reunited and torn apart. The hunter will be the hunted." She reached into her lap, laying a small bottle of dark liquid on the table. "Drink this when the time is right."

Black almost laughed, his lips twitching and the old lady scowled at him from across the table. What could it hurt to take the offered vile. If anything he could get Broken to drink it. He thought about asking some questions, decided he didn't want to know and stood up. He put the liquid into his pocket, took from his other pocket a small bag of gems and tossed them down onto the cards.

" I make my own fate witch. " He turned his back on her and walked out into the shadowy store, fighting the urge to turn around. He knew if he did he would find an empty room.

Shuddering he left the store, happy to be back on the warm street. The twins were in the back of the van when he returned, cloths strewn everywhere and blood covering their nakedness. He shook his head, smiled and climbed into the front seat. Mia was on his mind again. Was she his warrior? He hoped so, he was looking for a fight and thought maybe she would be the one to give it to him. It had been a long time since he had found anyone that had captured his attention as much as she did and it made him grin for the first time in a while. Could it be that going home was a blessing in disguise? or perhaps it would be his downfall.  He didn't want to wait any longer so he turned the engine over and pulled the van away from the curb. It was time to go home. 


CHAPTER SEVEN

Curled up on her favorite overstuffed chair, Mia could not shake the foreboding feelings of dread that clung to her like a second skin. Something bad was coming, something Mia felt powerless to stop. It had been days and she still felt like the vampires could be around the next corner at any moment. It made her feel a little uneasy even in her own home so she walked down the block to her favorite book store to meet up with Zakk and Daniel a few days later. Maybe a good hot cup of her favorite coffee would shake the feeling of ick that didn't seem to want to leave her.  DARKWINDS, jokingly referred to as her first love was the one place she felt safe. The boys, of course had abandoned her the moment they set foot inside the old two-story bookstore, Daniel disappearing up the stairs to the second floor and Zakk headed to the small snack and coffee counter while Mia was content to sit by the window, feeling guilty for not staying in bed. 
Her fingers trembled as  she lifted the cup, spilling hot coffee over the rim of the chipped blue cup and into her lap. She swore softly and set the cup down annoyed that she couldn't even hold a cup without spilling. Glancing out the window she noticed the display window of the drug store across the street where, Cowboy was placing small colorful figures here and there. How she wished she had the patience to set up a display village, but there was always something else that needed to be done, always something to fix or a bill that needed to get paid first and it was not like her paintings were flying off the walls either. Mia was a great artist who had yet to break into the high end world of galleries and shows.  She was content to just make art and often sold it at the street fair and gave most of it away to friends. She didn't need the money with what her mother had left her after she had passed. Mia often wondered where the money had come from and figured her mother had been smart and taken what she could from Mia's father when he wasn't looking, which would have been often. 
Her eyes drifted from the display window to the street. It had rained earlier, plastering red and yellow leaves to the wet sidewalk, making it look like a child's a fresh art project. She let her eyes slip shut as she massaged at her temple. The GIFT was what her mother and grandmother had called it. It was something she had always taken for granted, like being ambidextrous or double jointed. For as long as she could remember, Mia had the uncanny ability to know things others did not. She could tell who was calling her without looking at her phone, or find things that others had lost. She had never had a real vision before and nothing like what had gone down at the cemetery and it scared the crap out of her.

"Anybody home? "

Heaving a sigh Mia opened her eyes, forced a smile for Zakk and gave him a slight shrug of her shoulders. " I'm sorry Zakky, im just tired. " How could she tell either of them how she was really feeling when even she didn't know how she was feeling. There was something she DID want to tell him though, not related to the vampires or whatever they were, but scary just the same.

" I think I saw Thane last night." Heaving another sigh she pulled her legs up under her knees.

"You saw Thane? "

" I saw someone. " Her eyes narrowed as she scowled up at Zakk.

" He was standing in my dark kitchen. I heard him, Zakk, he was saying that we would pay for what we did."

Zakk returned her scowl. "YOU didn't do anything and he's dead Mia, gone forever and not coming back. "

"I know but I can't stop the dreams and even during the day I feel him around me. "

" I don't want to talk about this. " Zakk's grey eyes darkened as he looked out the window. What his ex lover had done to Mia was part of the reason Zakk was glad he was dead. . When he looked back, he deliberately changed the subject. " You look like shit, when was the last time you got some solid sleep? " He knew that Mia slept very little, especially when she was working hard on some new paintings or when the nightmares got bad. " Maybe you should go home and spend some quality time with the boys. "

"I'm fine Zakk. I tried that and it lasted what? An hour? You really want to take me home and come get me in ten minuets? "

Satisfied with her answer he set another small cracked plate with a dry looking scone down on the table in front of her. The look of disdain on his face made her want to laugh. " They didn't have any pumpkin spice bars so I got you this scone thingy that Kasie recommended. I think it's a holdout from last year. "

"You're too good to me. " Mia's smile was genuine as she lifted her cup back up to her lips. She was going to ask if they wanted to go to a movie when the annoying jangle of the bell over the door disturbed the quiet shop. Mia's hands froze and began to shake as Britt and her gaggle of followers came in. Oblivious to her reaction Zakk grimaced, raising his hand to the heavily made up blond who bounced over to them, the air suddenly fouled by her expensive perfume.

" Zakky! " She squealed, waving an Orange and Black invitation at Zakk. " Zakky poo. I have been looking all over for you. I need to give this to Daniel. Is he here? "

"Sorry Britt, haven't seen him. " Zakk grinned, lifting his shoulders into a shrug.

Pursing her lips together Britt locked eyes on Mia for only a second before pouring on the charm for Zakk. " You cut school again naughty boys and I was just frantic to find you. Daniel wont return my calls and I really wanted to give this to him personally. "

Mia's green eyes narrowed to slits as she glowered at Britt from behind her cup. That one had been trouble from day one, a top notch drama queen and coke head, Britt loved to play mind games. Back in May Britt had broken up with Daniel, then claimed she was pregnant and still in love with him. Feeling guilty he had drunk a bottle of jack and puked all over Mia's bathroom floor. The whole thing pissed Mia off to no end and had also pissed off Britt's overbearing asshole of a father, Jackson Carver, who had then started threatening to sue if Daniel didn't do the right thing. It took Mia everything she had not to launch herself across the table and wring the stupid cunt's neck. Of course if she was going to play the blame game then she needed to be angry with the woman who had driven Daniel into Britt's arms in the first Place.

Her name was Kaitlyn Jade, the school librarian who had a brief affair with Daniel the year before. Mia didn't blame the woman for ending it but, Kate's rejection had been the reason Daniel had even looked in Britt's direction in the first place.  She certainly didn't condone the relationship between teacher and student and in fact made it very clear to both of them how she felt, but at least Kate was stable and had been surprisingly good for Daniel, unlike Britt.

"I'm not sure where he is. " Zakk took the offered card in hopes that she would get the hint and leave. Hopefully Daniel didn't come down the stairs and blow the whole thing. "Did you go out to the Haunted Farm? I thought he was working it this year. "

Britt fluffed her hair, puckered her bright red lips at him. "He's NOT at the farm, I checked. So if you see him can you give this to him and make sure he calls me? I feel just awful about last summer. "

"I'm sure you do. " Mia muttered under her breath, If Britt even looked at her wrong she going to save the vampires the trouble and take the trollop out herself. 

Zakk caught the look on Mia's face and tried not to burst out laughing. He gave Britt his best puppy dog look by pouting and batting his grey eyes at her. "I swear I will have him call you as soon as I see him. "

" Have you checked Kate's? " Mia began to giggle behind her hands. 

Zakk glowered over his shoulder at her as he walked Britt to the door.  He wanted to put his foot in the blonds ass and kissed her cheek instead as he held the door for her.  "Don't worry. I'm sure he's around here somewhere."

" You're a peach, Zakky." Britt beamed at him as she stepped out onto the wet sidewalk.

"You know it. " Zakk kept the smile plastered on his face as the door closed on the group of girls. " God I hate that bitch. "   Zakk growled. 

"Who do we hate? " Asked Daniel from the rail above their heads. " Did I miss something? "

" Yeah. " Mia said with a dark scowl as she dropped the rock hard scone back onto its plate. " The queen of England just popped in for a bite to eat. " Uncurling her cramped legs. She got up from her chair and returned the cup to the counter, waving at Kasie as she shouldered her bag. It was time to go. She had a date with a good book and a pair of fat felines.  She hugged Zakk and waved up at Daniel before stepping outside. It was starting to rain again as she stepped out into the street, feeling only a little better than when she had arrived.  Perhaps throwing herself into her work would lift her spirits as it always had done before. Making sure there was no lurking van she shouldered her bag and headed for home. 



Chapter Eight

Detective Cooper sat in his car drinking cold coffee as he looked through his notes. There was a little coffee stand across from the bookstore that he had been going to for as long as he could remember. He saw Zakk’s car parked next to Darkwind’s and watched as Britt and her friends went inside. From what he gathered, Daniel and Britt had been off and on for some time. Jack hated him and maybe that was why she was so attracted to the kid. As far as Cooper knew, Daniel and Zakk had not been friends with Sam or his brothers. They had been friends with Thane though and that bothered him. He looked down at his notes again, looking for something he might be missing and without warning a giant crow landed on the hood of the car. Cooper jumped as the bird squawked at him, ruffling it’s large wings. His coffee spilled, splashing across the page of notes. He cussed as he scrambled to grab some napkins. 

Fucking Bird!  He growled at the crow.  

As he was looking at the bird he saw the bookstore door open and the group of girls come back out. They lingered for a few minutes before piling into someone's BMW parked behind Zakk's Mustang. Mia came out a few minutes later, looking around as if she was expecting someone to jump her.  He watched her light up a clove and walk away up the block towards her house. The crow squawked again and was gone in a flutter of black wings. Daniel and Zakk came out of the bookstore about ten minutes later and Cooper left the parking lot. He pulled into the open space in front of Zakk’s car and honked his horn. Both boys gave him a look and he knew they were debating blowing him off. Finally Zakk walked up to his open window.

“ You my friend are hard to get a hold of. “  

“ Yeah well. School and all. “ 

“ You got a minute. “ 

“ Not really Detective. “  

“ Don’t make me haul your ass in. Both of you. You have been avoiding me for far too long. Now haul your ass over to Chin chins and meet me there.” 

“ Right now? “ Zakk looked skeptical. 

“ You saying your not hungry? “ 

“ Fine but after this you have to back off us. Is that a deal? “  

“ Talk to me and and I will think about it. "  

     Zakk shrugged and went up to Daniels open window. Detective cooper watched them until Daniel got sulkily out of the car. He then drove over to the small parking lot and went into the small Chinese place across the street. It wasn’t the best buffet but it was the only decent one in a ten mile radius and the prices were good. He paid for their lunch and found them a booth towards the back. They came in reeking of weed and Cooper had to shake his head at them. He had to tell himself that he had been young once too but he had never had missing friends either. He told them to eat and chuckled when Zakk made a beeline for the hibachi station. Daniel got himself some noodles and rice and was first to be back at the table. Cooper had coffee and was still looking at his now stained yellow legal pad. 

“ How is everything? How’s Nick doing? “ Copper watched Daniel’s fork freeze for a second. 

“ He’s an abusive dick. “  

“ You know there are places you can go…”  

“ Right. Like last year when he tried to put me into therapy to get me sent to St. Peters? “ 

“ Well your almost eighteen. You just have to hang in there a little longer. “

Zakk joined them with a huge mound of food and the table fell silent. Cooper sighed and ran his hand though his thinning hair. “ So as you both may know I am working on the Sam Fire case. He’s still missing as is your friend Thane. “ 

“ He wasn’t my friend. “  Daniel snorted. 

“ I told you. We have no idea where he went. The last time we saw him he was beating on this kid we know and I stopped him. He left in a huff, he was drunk and that was it. He was never heard from again, although his uncle Chester keeps the light on for him just in case he comes back. “ 

“ You stopped him how? “ 

“ I bashed his brains in with a shovel. “  Zakk rolled his eyes and continued to eat. 

“ Do you think he raped your friend Mia? “  

Daniel slammed his fist onto the table, making them both jump.  “ He raped several women and you didn’t do shit about it. “  

“ No one came forward. I can’t arrest someone without a witness statement can I?   And  he was dating you at the time? “ Cooper looked over at Zakk. 

“ We were over by that time but yeah we had a thing for a while. “  

“ Did you know he was bi? “  

“ What kind of question is that? “  Zakk’s eyes darkened.  

“ Well if you didn’t know he was bi….”  

“  I didn’t kill him. “  Zakk looked sad. 

“ I thought you were working on the Sam Fire case? “ Daniel tried to change the subject.  

“ I am. Sam was also last seen out at The Haunted Farm. Almost a year ago to be exact. " 

“ Maybe they left together? “ Daniel smiled.  

“ So I hear. Somehow I don’t think that was the case. Sam and Thane were not friends. Know who was close to Sam? “  

“ Don’t go there. “ Daniel set his fork down and pushed his plate away. 

“ You know she could get into big trouble for what happened don’t you? “ Cooper scribbled down on the legal pad.  " I hear it's not the first time she's had a relationship with a student. " 

“ Look. Whatever your trying to say is bullshit. Leave her alone, leave us alone. Don’t talk to me and don’t talk to Mia either. “ 

“ Alright. I didn’t mean to push your buttons. I just want to tie up the lose ends and close this thing for good. “  

“ Thanks for lunch. “  Zakk scraped his plate clean and wished he could go back for more but Daniel was pissed and getting up. 

“ If you think of anything at all them call me. “  

“ Will do detective. “ Zakk sighed, pushing away from the table. “ I assume you have grilled Sam’s brothers? They didn’t have the best relationship either.” 

“ I have. On multiple occasions. So I guess I have hit the wall and I should focus on other stuff. You guys wouldn't know anything about a satanic cult would you? "  

" Seriously? "  It was Zakk's turn to roll his eyes.  

"  Be careful out there OK. "  

Cooper watched the pair go and wondered not for the first time if they really didn’t know anything or were they trying cover something up. He checked his phone and swore softly. The captain wanted him at yet another murder scene. It was starting to feel like they had a serial killer right there under their own noses and he was out here chasing ghosts. Getting up he went out  to his car and headed back to the bar that was starting to feel like a second home. 



Chapter Nine

With burgundy lip jutted, Mia stepped away from the canvas with a disgusted sigh. Something had pushed her to do a large abstract of bright colors and dripping wax but it was not turning out the way she had wanted it to. The paint was not a match to the color she had seen in her head and her hands were beginning to ache. She was distracted by a soft rustle in one shadowy corner and was startled enough to send paint splattering across her shoes, setting off a string of curse words that would make even Ron White blush. Pushing a long purple braid away from her face, she stepped away from the canvas. She was not going to get anything else done tonight with the way her mind kept wandering. She kept thinking about the vision/dream and what it could possibly mean. She understood why her brain would manifest a ghost but the vampires? If you even wanted to call them that–but what else would you call someone with jewel-like eyes, snowy skin and fangs? 

Whipping off her hands as she walked over to her workbench to drop the brush into a can of paint thinner. Perhaps it was time to go see Doc Brite after all. She searched for her keys amongst the clutter of beads, candles, feathers and other assorted junk. After leaving the bookstore she had gone straight into the garage she used as a studio and tried to get back to work. She could feel the chill in the air and knew it would soon be time to dig out her long coat or maybe even splurge a little and buy a new one, it wasn't like she didn't have the money, she just didn't like to spend it. 
Kicking off her paint splattered shoes she headed for the door with keys in hand. After going through three different pairs in less than two months she now made sure to leave her shoes in a bin by the door. Clicking off the light, she stepped into the chill October air. Mia had discovered that her best work was done at night. It also helped her sleep and provided less of a distraction unless the boys came over with a good bottle of wine and some cheesy horror, in which case all thoughts of work went right out the window. The street was dark and quiet as she trudged through the leaves to her decorated patio door. Mr. Scary was silently mowing behind the glass, rolling his fat black body when she tapped against the glass.

" Hey fatty. I bet you're hungry aren't you? "

Pushing the sliding glass door open she slipped in and scooped up the heavy cat, nuzzling him as she walked to the cluttered counter top. Scary draping himself over her shoulder, content to just hang there and purr. From the floor rose up another loud mow as Cooper curled his gray body around her ankles, looking up at her with his huge green eyes, eager to be fed.

" Hi baby. " She crooned, walking to the cupboard for the dry cat food.

Cooper and Scary had been her constant companions since the day she had left New York, she would have been lost without them, besides cats made better boyfriends. They didn't steal your car or ask you for money.

Setting Scary down, Mia poured the cat food into their dishes, trying to decide on what she wanted to do with the rest of her evening. Clubbing was out. She didn't have enough gas to drive into the city. She could try calling her best friend Kasie but the bookstore clerk was most likely still working. Zakk had mentioned going to a movie and they wanted her to rest anyway. She entertained the idea of walking down to the beach or the arcade but you really didn't see a lot of people out this late in the year. In the summer you couldn't go ten feet without running into someone you knew but as winter approached the streets emptied out until spring. She had been disgusted with the whole scene anyway. All the kids wanted to talk about nowadays were video games, Vampire the Masquerade, and Twilight. ~ God what had gone wrong with the world today ~

Sighing, she picked at the paint under her nails. The one thing she hated about living in the burbs was that fact that everything worth seeing or doing was at least a half hour's drive away and she never trusted her beater to make it that far. She had always meant to buy a new car with some of her savings but had never gotten around to it. A yawn escaped as she rubbed at her eyes. What she really needed was one good night's sleep, but she had a deadline to meet and who went to bed before nine anyway. Her thoughts returned to Daniel, the haunted look in his eyes bothered her. She hoped he was OK, maybe she would try to call them in a bit. One of the things she loved about Zakk and Daniel was the fact that they didn't always need to be doing something to have a good time. They could just hang out, talking for hours about nothing. They were smart when they wanted to be, not that she had anything against the kids that lost themselves in fantasy, there was just more to life than your computer screen and damage points, although Zakk would argue that point if she ever chose to bring it up. 

Heaving another sigh she cracked her neck, focused her eyes on the silent phone and was suddenly overcome by the urge to call home. A glance at the clock told her that father would be either at the studio or in some club, besides what would they say to each other? It had been more than six years with little to no contact between them, and even less between herself and her younger brother Devon. Her hand found the fridge handle instead and to her amazement she still had a half bottle of Cold Duck. Snagging the bottle, she closed the door on the meager contents inside. She really needed to sell a few more paintings or it might be she who needed another place to stay. She fought the urge to empty the fridge and give it a good scrub as she carried the bottle to the counter, retrieved a water spotted wine glass from above her head and poured herself a generous glass.

The first sip was heaven as she walked down the hall toward the bathroom. Setting the glass on the counter she stripped off her cloths and began to run herself a hot bath. Sipping the wine, she put her hair up. The tub, her pride and joy, it was a claw-footed monstrosity she had found in the dump and painted herself. Using Mardi Gras as a theme, she painted the inside gold, dark purple on the outside and finished it off using gold beads and green streamers as an accent. Mia loved her tub more than anything else that she owned.

She dropped in a bath fizzy, placed her wine within easy reach as she sank down into the hot water. Her mind was spinning, making it hard to think straight. Daniels fighting with his parents, Britt's bullshit, Thane, the thing at the cemetery and now this, the sudden urge to suddenly reconnect with her famous family. It was all just a little too much. Her chole lined eyes slipped shut, her hands moving over her body with a familiar touch. Lulled by the warmth she drifted off, soothed by the sound of soft music, music she could not place.  She thought she heard Winters Fire and fear rippled over her cooling flesh as her huge green eyes snapped open. She was no longer in the bath, but in the back of a van. The music so loud it was distorted and the mattress under her back was lumpy and rank with a smell so strong it made her want to gag. Real fear crawled slowly over her naked body as she fought to wake herself from this nightmare. A pair of strong hands held her down as she began to struggle in panic. A pair of bloodstained lips swam into view and Black's amber eyes glittered hungrily down at her.

"We're coming for you Mia. " His dark chuckle was a mere whisper of sound inside her head. "I am coming to give you eternal kisses. " His bloodstained mouth closed over her own dry lips, making her stomach flutter. Again she felt pressure as his black nailed hands closed tightly around her throat cutting off her air. Gasping and shuddering Mia Shot upright inside the tub, the wine glass falling to the floor and shattering into pieces as she flailed wildly. Cooper hissed and shot from the toilet seat, escaping just as the water sloshed over the side. Her heart pounded as she sat shivering in the cooling water. What the hell was going on? Was she losing her mind? Or had she been swept into a Twilight Zone episode.

Shaken she could barely lift herself up from the tub to towel off she managed to get back into her cloths. Sleep would be the last thing she got tonight. With the wine forgotten she was suddenly desperate for some caffeine she pulled on her long coat she knew just where to go. It was a place that had the best pumpkin pie cappuccino, and lots of light and noise as well. Grabbing her keys, she left the house without locking the door. Hurried to the car, Jumped into her bug and headed out.



Chapter Ten

A cold breeze blew in through the half-open window as dark skeletal trees drifted by like tall silent sentinels. Daniel had fallen into yet another moody silence, his midnight blue eyes fixed on the dark houses that seemed to get farther apart as they drove out past the city limits into the country.  Zakk rather enjoyed these rare silent moments with only the sound of the radio and the purr of the engine to keep him company, yet tonight he couldn't find comfort in silence. 

Daniel sighed as he shuffled through the CD's finally pulling Type O Negatives October rust and putting it into the player as the mustang began to gain speed. Content with his selection, he went back to staring out the window leaving Zakk to worry about what might be wrong with his two closest friends. 

  Zakk finally broke the silence.  " Do you remember that party last summer when we put that bottle of liquor and some other shit into a box and buried it outside that bar near Northfield?    He grinned at the memory of it. How warm the summer sun had been and how easy the liquor had gone down. 
" Barely. Wasn't that the night we tried to find that frog bar and ended up at the Rock with all those bikers who then invited us to party with them? "

" Yeah." Zakk laughed. " They had this band playing in someone's barn and the box was sitting in the bed of some guys truck. "

"Isn't that the night you tried to ride a horse or some shit? Man that was one fucked up night. I think I puked for a week after. "

" Yeah, they kept handing us beer after beer. Do you think it's still out there, still buried? " Daniel was still looking out the window at the passing houses, wondering what each house held inside it. " I have no idea. Didn't we make a pact to go looking for it in like ten years? " He smiled at the memory. They had done some very crazy stuff over the course of their four-year friendship.

Through the dirty windshield Zakk spotted the old run down motel that always reminded them of an old horror movie set, meaning they were almost to the turnoff for the Haunted Farm. Zakk had always hated the late fall and the chill that only grew worse as Halloween drew near. It was a reminder that winter was just around the corner. They had once drained a bottle of rotgut while arguing over the importance of the one forgotten holiday, Thanksgiving. It had always seemed to Zakk that society, as a whole had left turkey day in the dust, passing it up for the better money makers, Halloween and Christmas, while Daniel was disgusted with all of them as a whole. Consumerism he said, sounding a lot like Nick was the leading cause of what was really wrong with the world today.
"So what did Britt want? "

Startled, Zakk glanced over at Daniel, wondering just how much of their conversation he had heard. "She wanted to invite you to her stupid party and that you need to call her. " He tried and failed to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.

"Seriously? " Daniel snorted.

"Yeah, dude I thought Mia was going to launch herself across the table at her. " That brought smiles to both their faces as Zakk went on. "She says she's sorry, again. I thought you had seen her this week? "

"Oh she tried to talk to me but I shut her out. She kept hinting that she wanted to get high in the bathroom and talk. I just walked away. "

Daniel dug his nails into his jean clad legs. He knew Britt was not sorry about any of the crap she pulled and never would be. He might not show it, but Britt had hurt him pretty badly and if she thought an invitation to a party he was expected to be at was going to fix it then she was dead wrong. What she had done had messed him up, but that was only the start of it he guessed. He had been dumped twice now, first by Kate and then Britt. Sure did make a guy want to steer clear of the opposite sex for a while.

" She's crazy man and her dad. He's bad news. " Zakk stopped himself from going on another tangent about Jackson Carver. Daniel knew better than anyone how scary Jack was. Zakk loved to give Daniel shit about ending up at the bottom of the lake with Jimmy Hoffa if he was not careful.

" Did I tell you, Mia told me that she thought she saw Thane in her kitchen. "

Daniel shot Zakk a hard look but said nothing as Zakk rambled on, grateful that he didn't have to talk about what was going on with Britt.

"I know, right? The guys been dead for almost a year now and somehow he still has this power over her. Maybe we should talk to her about seeing a shrink or something? "

"We all need to see a shrink."  

"  Are you still having nightmares? "  
"Are you? "

" Yeah." Zakk sighed. It was not only Mia who was unable to sleep. Of course his mother kept telling Zakk that it was a normal reaction to a close friend's death, what she didn't know was how much Zakk had a hand in said death. She said the guilt he carried was the root of his dreams.

Daniel didn't think it was just guilt that kept him up at night. He had other issues. Failing all his classes, hated by his step father and feeling more and more disconnected with the world around him he had walked out on his job the week before. If he had to ask one more person if they wanted to make it into a combo, he was going to hold someone's head in the fryer. The job had been Nick's idea of course, it would give him character he said and help him save for a new car. The job had lasted longer than anyone thought it would and had gotten him out of the house and away from Nick.

" Do you think Mia's ok? I mean she looked like shit when we dropped her off after the cemetery. "  

" Don't know. " Daniel answered truthfully. " She took a very good knock to the head when she fell backwards. I wish she had let us crash at her place tonight. "

Zakk raked the faded blue hair back from his forehead, looking over at Daniel he suddenly wished they were out of the car. It happened that way sometimes. The car seemed to get smaller and smaller around his hefty frame. " Do you think she had a seizure? My aunt Carla once had one at the table during Christmas dinner and everyone freaked out, scared the hell out of me. There was this girl in fifth grade that had one on the playground and never came back to school. I was afraid to sleep for the longest time. "   He was rambling again and gaining steam as they reached the darkened sign for the Haunted Farm. " Maybe it was something she ate? I saw this episode of Buffy once..."

" She's fine Zakk. " Daniel growled, letting his friend know that he was done talking.

Zakk slowed the stanger down and turned off the two lane blacktop and onto the tree shrouded dirt road. It was late enough to be deserted or so he hoped and was happy to find the weedy parking lot empty when they reached the end of the long drive.

The haunt ran every weekend from the end of September and thru October except for Halloween night when it was closed for Britt's invitation only bash. Zakk never did get why Jackson Carver would close down the haunt on Halloween night just so his daughter could throw a party. Halloween night was the haunt's busiest night of the year. Of course Jack didn't really need the money the Haunt brought in. It was a novelty to him, a way to keep his princess happy.

Out of the car at last, Zakk looked around with a happy grin. His eyes went first to the haunted house with its old rickety front steps, to the darkened windows, and up to the shabby moss-covered roof with the rusted weather-vane on top. They never tired of coming up here, even if they just sat on the hood of the car passing a bottle or joint between them.

Paulie, the so-called guard was nearly blind and def in one ear spent all him time sleeping in the little ticket booth doing rounds maybe once a night if that. He never had done more than run a few punks off when they got mouthy or help a lost kid find their parents. Then there was Thane's uncle Chester who was the caretaker and could be easily bought with a case of Old Mill or a carton of smokes.  Chester could spend hours spinning stories about the depression or whom he had found getting it on up in the loft of the old barn. Chester lived in a vine-covered trailer off to the side of the barn, fixing fences and tending to the corn and pumpkins.

" Want to stay here? ..." Zakk glanced over his shoulder to see Daniel walking away into the mock cemetery at the edge of the lot his black shadow disappearing into the fog between the stones. " Hey asshole! " Sighing Zakk reached into the back seat, shouldered his backpack and followed his friend into the gathering darkness. It was cold and he wished he had brought his coat. He thought about getting back into the car then thought better of it. Daniel would never speak to him again if he left him out here, not that Daniel couldn't find another ride home. He could always find another way home, that was Daniel he could talk anyone into anything. Turning his back reached for the door handle and was startled to see someone sitting in the passenger seat. Startled he jumped back only to realized that there was no one in the car. The passenger seat was empty. Perhaps it was time to lay off the blunt's for a while. Shaken Zakk turned himself around and quickly headed in the direction that Daniel had gone.



CHAPTER ELEVEN

The boy's head lolled back as his hazel eyes glazed over and the last breath whispered from his too thin chest. Even in death he kept one hand locked around Blacks Wrist. Blood still trickling from around the wound in his dirty neck. They were somewhere in North Carolina or was it south? The twins had wanted to stop in some shitty little forgotten town, Missing something or other. It was a place full of spirits and dirty children that stood by the side of the road, the twins loved it but Black was ready to move on as soon as he had seen the town sign. Yet it didn't seem to be a bust after all as he licked his bloody lips and pulled free of the dead weight. Reaching over the boys head he pushed open the back door of the van. Cold rain blew in as lighting ripped open the sky above their heads. he suddenly liked this place with it's wide-open fields and old abandoned farm houses, lots of secrets in tiny places like this. Lost souls and wounded youth ripe for the picking. With his booted foot he sent the boy rolling right out the back and into a rain swollen puddle. He had been a drifter this one, hitching his way into town when they had picked him up, full of good drugs, a wad of cash, and a trustful easy smile on his dirty face.

Looking down at the dead kid, Black felt a deep dissatisfaction squirm inside of himself. Broken and Shatter were sitting owl eyed and pouting as if the boy would somehow come back to jerky life.  Spooked by the vision of Mia, they clung to each other with matching unhappy looks on their bloody faces. But Black had been more fascinated than afraid. Mia's resemblance to his Katia was almost uncanny, and their connection had been stronger as well, they had all felt it, even Mia. Yet he didn't think that she was the reason why they were being compelled to return to Disdain.  It couldn't be just her or even Jack for that matter. Mia was just another piece of the puzzle. He could almost smell the lingering scent of Dragons Blood and wine, and there was something else, something he could not quite put his finer on. She had secrets, buried so deep even he couldn't pull them from her mind.

" She's come back for us." Broken growled. "Come to take us with her for what we did to her."

Hot silent anger rose up inside Black once more. It was no longer showing on their faces but the fear was still in their eyes as they stared at the broken body, now only half visible in the mud beyond the bumper. Black could not count how many times he had to tell them that Zombies were not real and ghosts could not hurt them. Dead was dead, hell they were damn near indestructible themselves but there was no amount of reasoning with either of them when it came to the things they feared.

"Well she can't have you."  He tried to tamp down the rage building inside himself, but it was no use, his hand curled into a fist and shot out into the van wall, bowing out the other side. Blood began to trickle down Blacks wrist, the bones popping as he forced his broken hand open. He suddenly wanted to be out in the storm, away from his companions. He leapt from the van, his heavy booted feet coming down square in the center of the boy's chest, crushing bone and muscle with a sickening crunch. He said nothing as he walked toward the abandoned vine-covered house. He didn't understand how they had gone from fearless, to afraid of their own shadows. So many dark memories and here he was on his way to the place that hurt him the most. Reaching the crumbling house Black stood on the front porch, he could smell death from deep inside the empty house. It was a place of deep sorrow and pain. He smiled, knowing that there was no choice but to go to Disdain, find Mia and drain her dry.

It didn't matter what Jackson had in mind. He wanted her. Wanted to feel her tremble under the weight of his cold body. There was something else that was bothering him but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. Someone he knew he should be aware of but their name danced at the edge of his mind. Quite a few faces seemed to bubble to the surface the more he thought about it but he couldn't dwell on the past.  Not now, not when he had an actual need to head north.

After the fortune teller, Black had driven them out to the swamp. They found a place to spend the day and were off to the tiny backwater town of Temps as soon as the sun set. It was the sort of town where everyone knew each others name, probably because they were all related. What would it be like to Stay in a town like this? And work in the same four places. It has also gone up pretty fast as bright tongues of yellow and orange flickered against the side of the van. The diner had gone up even faster than Black had expected, smoke billowing from the shattered windows as tiny flames raced up the sides and into the eves, erasing all traces of the sin committed within. 
The house was empty except for the ghosts of long dead lovers and a crime that had been long forgotten. He hated being inside the place and soon returned to the waiting van. The twins, forgetting their fear were now howling with joy.  Arms linked as they spun round and round to the base beat of Slipknot's wait and bleed. Black climbed on top of the van, ever watchful and wary he waited for the sound of sirens, but like the last tiny town they torched it didn't seem that the fire brigade would be arriving any time soon. Although in Denmark, they had only missed the trucks by only a few minutes. Black had been on edge there as well, eager to be on the road and this time with an actual destination in mind.

" Time to drive." He growled down to the dancing pair, and their shared reply was carried back to him on the wind.

" We want pretty treats to eat, and bones to break. "

" Soon, but we have many miles to go and didn't you just get your fill? " Black rose up on stiff legs, annoyed by their ability to lose themselves in the NOW. He knew it was their mixed blood that caused the madness, making them sometimes childish and hard to deal with. " You can have all the treats you want when we get to the party. " The firelight danced against his white skin as a gentle breeze caught his waist length black hair, blowing the silken strands away from his sharp boned face and billowing his long black trench out like a sail. " They can't start the party without us. "

" Turn out the lights. This party is over. " Shatter said laughing as they swung round once more before staggering toward the van arm and arm. There were streaks of blood in their snowy hair and stained into their clothing. An easy fix when they got to another town but for now it would be OK, they would shed the soiled cloths as soon as they got back into the van.

" I want to ride the rides and steal the pretty trinkets. " Said, Broken. "Catch all the dollies and smash them to bits! "

" If you wish. " Answered Black, leaping down to join them at the back. Touching his fingers to their bloodstained lips, he climbed into the dark maw of the van. They had traveled this way for as long as he could remember, like gypsies. Ever feeding, cleansing and moving on.

" Away we go. " Chortled Shatter as Broken let out another, a high- pitched giggle. They did one more turn followed by a formal bow before bringing their bloody lips together for the sweetest kiss, and then they were off. The abandoned burning house getting smaller and smaller behind the speeding van.  

No comments:

Post a Comment