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Authors: Duncan McGeary

Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Dark Fantasy, #Horror, #Gothic, #Vampires

Blood of Gold (7 page)

BOOK: Blood of Gold
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“But you love me, right?” he said, genuinely puzzled. “If you think I’m OK, then why wouldn’t you be OK?”

“I love you
in spite
of you being vampire,” she said quietly. “I don’t love you
because
you are vampire.”

“What about Jamie? You could be like her. She’s renounced all killing, and she seems fine with it.”

“I’m not ready,” Sylvie said.

Terrill left it at that. He’d always worry about her, and the fact that she was, like all humans, vulnerable to a thousand little things. At least she hadn’t completely shut the door on the idea. She just wasn’t ready.

 

#

 

They spent the rest of the day packing, and it was dark by the time they were done. They decided to wait for morning, then leave.

Not long after sunset, there was a knock at the door. Jamie went to answer it.

A strange vampire stood there, his eyes glowing with religious fervor. He was skinny, dressed in rags and smelled of the charnel house.

“‘The Blood of Gold shall transform you, absolve you, make you one with God,’” the vampire said without preamble. “‘Partake of Terrill’s blood and thou shalt be redeemed, reborn in God’s grace.’”

“Terrill? It’s for you,” Jamie said.

Terrill sat frozen at his desk, uncertain what to do. Sylvie got up, went to the door and led the vampire into the house. “What’s your name?” she asked kindly.

“Parks,” he mumbled. “Jon Parks.”

“Are you hungry?”

“NO!” he shouted. “I will not drink the blood of the innocent!”

“How about some raw pork?” Jamie said. “I’m sure this pig was guilty of something.”

Terrill laughed. He couldn’t help it. The whole thing was ludicrous. This poor creature was under some delusion that Terrill was holy, somehow. That he would wash him clean of his sins.

Terrill looked down at his arm. His skin had taken on a kind of bronzed tone, as if permanently tanned. It was the gold blood. There was no denying the gold blood.

“You’ve got to do it,” Sylvie said, as if she could read his mind.

After Jon had eaten some pork, they led him to the living room and had him sit down in the middle of the carpet. Terrill wondered what he should do next. Sylvie went to the kitchen and brought back a knife.

“A few drops should do it,” she said.

Terrill stood over the skinny vampire, who was trembling and blinking rapidly in excitement. His fangs had grown, and he was nearly vibrating with anticipation.

Reluctantly, Terrill cut into his forearm, and a line of gold blood grew until it began to drip. He held his dripping arm over Jon’s open mouth and found himself saying, “This is my blood. Accept it and be one with me.”

The others were looking at him with wide eyes. He ignored them, for at that moment, he truly did feel something awe-inspiring.

I can save the vampires
, he thought.
I really can.

The vampire Jon Parks suddenly stiffened and lay down on his back. Then he began to shake.

Uh oh,
Terrill thought.
Not again.

“Tell me you haven’t fed off a human recently,” Terrill said, feeling cold.

“I wanted… I wanted…” Jon muttered, looking sad. He looked up at Terrill. “I’m weak.”

Terrill stepped back, expecting him to explode, as Stuart, the leader of the Wilderings, had when he’d ingested Terrill’s blood. Instead, the skinny vampire’s flesh slid off his bones and instantly decayed into a putrid puddle. His back arched and his bones disconnected from each other, his skull rolling off to one side.

They all stood in a circle over the putrefying remains, too shocked to move.

Finally, Jamie spoke. “Next time, could we do this outside? I don’t think we’ll ever get those stains out of the carpet.”

No one laughed. Sylvie nodded, as if that had been a serious comment. “We’ll have to come up with some procedures, that’s for sure. Maybe some kind of test. Some way to weed out the less than sincere.”

Terrill was stunned, not only by the preceding events, but also by Sylvie’s words. It struck him that this was going to be a constant occurrence; that as
The Testament of Michael
reached more and more vampires, some were going to seek him out, both worthy and unworthy.

“We’re not waiting until morning,” he said. “We’re leaving tonight.”

The others didn’t argue. Their two vans were already loaded and gassed up. As soon as they cleaned up the mess, they locked up the house and left, telling no one where they were going.

 

#

 

An hour later, a SWAT team stormed the house. After a short time, the team leader emerged and approached the FBI agent in charge.

“It’s clear,” he reported. “Looks like they packed up and left. Other than a god-awful smell, there’s nothing here.”

Callendar nodded. He sensed that they had just missed the vampires. Secretly, he was relieved. This raid hadn’t been his idea.

After Crescent City, he’d been put on leave. Orders had come in for him to be FBI liaison to the Canadian government across the border from the oil fracking fields of North Dakota. He’d laughed when he’d read that. North Dakota! They couldn’t have found a more isolated spot for him to be exiled.

He didn’t care anymore. He only had two years left until he’d put in his thirty years, and he didn’t care where he spent them.

Then, unexpectedly, he’d been called to Washington, to find himself, along with his partner, Jeffers, in the office of the director of the FBI. Jeffers hadn’t been in charge at Crescent City, and Callendar had been glad that he’d avoided most of the blame. They’d given each other a big hug, something they had never done before in front of other people.

Director Landry didn’t greet them, didn’t even look up from his desk. Instead, he started reading something off his computer.

“‘Fear not the hunter, for if thou art innocent of spilling the red blood, thou shalt be absolved of all crime. Drink thou of the Blood of Gold and thou shalt live in peace alongside mankind until the end of thy days.’”

Landry looked up, frowning. “What do you know about this?”

“I have read
The
Testament of Michael
,” Callendar said. “That’s all I know.”

“But what is this ‘blood of gold?’”

“Did you read our report?” Callendar asked, and the director nodded. “Then you know that Terrill and his followers walk in sunlight. Nor did I see them kill any human. I think I believe what the book is saying, sir.”

“‘Fear not the hunter,’” Landry intoned. “I’m not sure we want that to be the message people hear. It’s been decided to take this Terrill and as many of his followers as we can find and bring them under our… protection. We want them alive, if possible.”

“If possible?” Jeffers asked.

“I mean that,” Landry nodded. “That isn’t some code to take them down. We need to find out what this Terrill is about. We need a sample of that blood of gold. So do everything you can to keep at least one of these new-type vampires alive. If possible, Terrill himself. Understood?”

“Yes, sir,” Callendar and Jeffers said.

“We have word that they’re holed up in Bend, Oregon. You’re flying out tonight along with our crack SWAT unit. Bring them back, agents. Bring back the blood of gold.”

 

#

 

Now, as Callendar stood in the darkness outside the small house where Sylvie lived, he was halfway glad. He didn’t think it was up to the FBI to decide what happened to Terrill and his followers.

No, that was up to God… and the Shadow that opposed Him.

 

 

 

Chapter 7

 

“I want to go home,” Laura said. Behind her back, Patty rolled her eyes with an exaggerated shake of her head.


We’re
your family now,” Simone said. “We’re your sisters.” And, as with any sisters, there was tension and rivalry. Laura apparently didn’t remember that she’d spent several years in foster care or camped out on couches at friends’ houses. No one had even reported her missing.

“I want to go
home
,” Laura repeated.

Simone realized with a shudder that she was talking about the prison they’d just escaped from. “We can’t do that,” she said gently.

Laura stamped her foot and left the living room. The abandoned house nestled in the thick grove of trees had been empty for a long time. There was a thick layer of dust on everything. Patty had found a battered broom in one of the closets and set about busily sweeping. There was a single bed in one of the bedrooms, and Patty had immediately declared dibs. Simone had stared at the soiled mattress dubiously and agreed. Laura didn’t seem to care. They found a few rickety chairs and tables spread through the three-bedroom house and gathered them all into the living room. But no matter how Simone tried to decorate the room with flowers and prints out of moldy books, it still felt like a prison.

The first night, Simone had gone out foraging, ransacking storage sheds for a few pieces of furniture and some bedding she doubted the neighbors would miss. They had released their captive, Rod, from the closet that night, with the warning that he would be tracked down and hurt if he tried to escape.

Surprisingly, he offered to help them. “I could hook up the electricity to the neighbors’; they won’t notice until they get next month’s bill, if then. With electricity, I can hook you up to the well and you’ll have running water.”

Patty cheered up at the offer. “I’ll guard him,” she said.

As they headed out, she said, “I’m warning you, Rod, I’ll rip your head off if you try anything. I’m feeling pretty hungry.”

Rod didn’t say anything, but he didn’t look frightened, for some reason.

By the next morning, they were a functioning household. Simone insisted they seal up all the windows so no light would escape. They didn’t really need to have lights on, but it seemed to comfort them somehow, as if they were living a normal life again.

That satisfaction had lasted about two more days.

“Laura’s right, you know,” Patty said now. “We can’t stay here.”

“Why not? We’ve got everything we need,” Simone argued.

“We don’t have food,” Patty said. “I keep looking at Rod like he’s a pork chop or something. I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.”

“That will be true no matter where we go,” Simone said. “At least here, we’re safe. We’ll find some animals somewhere, eat them.”

Patty shook her head. “You always were a townie. You don’t understand these country folk. They all know each other; they all know what’s going on in the neighborhood. We won’t be hidden for long, especially if we start stealing their precious livestock.”

“We’ll go farther afield,” Simone insisted.

“You have a bigger problem on your hands,” Patty said. “I’m not sure I care whether I feed on a human. I never did like people much, and I like them even less now. We’re vampires, Simone. We aren’t
them
.”

It’s wrong!
Simone wanted to shout. But she, too, had been getting the urge to taste human blood. It only seemed wrong when she thought about it. If she just went with her emotions, she found she really didn’t care anymore, either.

No,
she thought.
I won’t do it.

It was becoming more and more obvious that she was going to have trouble restraining her “sisters.” She would be loyal to them first, no matter what. Rod seemed like a nice enough guy, but what did she really owe him? He was human, and Simone woke up every night feeling less and less like a mortal.

A coldness had settled over her, a calculating hunger she’d never felt before. Of the three of them, she was the only one who had had a solid home life, who had ever subscribed to the moral values imbued in them by school and family. Her two sisters had never had that luxury. For them, life had always been a dog-eat-dog existence. It wasn’t much of a stretch to a vampire-eat-human existence.

It wasn’t the fault of all humans that the Monster had imprisoned them. He’d been a monster even before he was Turned, but not everyone was like that. Still, Simone found that her anger didn’t distinguish as much between “good guys” and “bad guys” as it used to. Humans were a different species now. They were prey. Food.

She shook her head. They hadn’t yet crossed that boundary into the forbidden. Simone sensed that once they did, they were lost. They would be forever hungry and forever damned. So far, Laura and Patty, in spite of her bravado, were too frightened to wander far from their refuge, too scared to hunt, but that wouldn’t last much longer. The hunger was building.

Simone went into the kitchen, then down the hallway. Where was Laura? With mounting panic, she checked the three bedrooms.

She was hurrying back to the living room to tell Patty that Laura was nowhere to be found when she heard voices coming from Rod’s closet. She opened the door. Rod was sitting cross-legged in the corner. Curled up next to him was Laura, in the same posture that Simone remembered from night after night of lying on the cold cement floor of their prison: on her side, wrapped in as small a ball as she could make of herself.

Rod looked up. “She’s all right. She just wanted to escape for awhile.” He seemed genuinely concerned about Laura’s welfare.

Simone didn’t answer him. She crouched over Laura and pressed her until she got to her knees. From there, she managed to get the girl to her feet. Rod started to follow them out. “Stay!” she ordered, then mumbled, “Thank you.”

More than ever, she was determined to save this man. Rod had thought he was being kind. He hadn’t seen what Simone had seen upon opening the door. Laura’s head had been only inches away from the man’s legs, and her fangs had been extended and glistening.

Simone had found Laura just in time.

 

#

 

Kelton walked out into the sunlight, never doubting. He could feel the cold, damp soul of his Maker settling into his bones. He was like a passenger in his own body, nominally in charge of his movements, but knowing that someone else was really making the decisions.

The sunlight poured down on him, but it seemed to stop a few inches away. It wasn’t so much that he could now survive in daytime; instead, it was as if the sunlight never reached him, as if the darkness that filled him repelled all light and he was a concentrated patch of night gliding through the hours.

BOOK: Blood of Gold
11.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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