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Authors: Steve Feasey

Changeling: Zombie Dawn (10 page)

BOOK: Changeling: Zombie Dawn
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She hadn’t expected this much trouble from him. She’d thought that once she’d explained to him the error of his ways he’d understand she was right – that as a werewolf, he belonged with her and others like her. That he was the perfect Alpha male partner for her.

She guessed he would be different when he woke up this time. His reaction had been to the shock of the news. He’d soon see that she was right.

She put her hand in her pocket and fingered the links of the silver chain she’d removed from his neck. Pulling her hand out, she looked down at the jumble of tiny metal hoops with the small silver fist amulet that gave Trey so much control over his lycanthrope powers. She’d felt the magic that existed in the thing when she’d momentarily held it in the woods in Canada, and Trey’s Uncle Frank had told her it was a precious object to her kind: an amulet rumoured to have been created by Theiss – an ancient werewolf charged with protecting humankind from the creatures of the Netherworld. He had been burned at the stake, but his talisman had survived and been passed down the centuries to those of his bloodline.

If she’d had such a thing when she’d returned home from Canada, maybe her parents would not—

She hissed at herself, shaking her head to dislodge the unbidden memory.

No, she would destroy the amulet. That too was a bond to the vampire, Lucien, designed to keep Trey under his influence and control. Why else would the vampire have given it to him? She would break that bond by dismantling it. Later. She curled her fingers round the chain and returned it to her pocket.

The hallucinations were as terrifying this time as they had been before – nightmarish scenes of evil, filled with nether-creatures all out to destroy him and those he cared about. They were everywhere – hissing, snarling, roaring and gibbering at him. He saw his dead friends among them, especially Alexa. A glimpse of her through a gap in the hideous faces, looking back at him beseechingly. He would charge in her direction, only to be pushed back by the laughing, mocking horde. Then the gap would close and she’d be gone. Trey opened his mouth and tried to scream, and as he did so there was an abrupt silence; the demonic creatures that made up the nightmare host looked around in alarm, trying to find the source of power they could suddenly sense all about them.

Trey felt it too, but whereas the nether-creatures were filled with fear at this new authority, Trey felt a calmness and relief. He too looked about him for what it might be.

It was a man. An old man with a beard, dressed in a robe. Even in his delirium, Trey could not help but wish his subconscious had come up with something less . . . biblical. The old man strode through the throngs of demons and djinn, and as he did so the flames that covered his body from head to toe set them on fire, causing them to screech and wail in agony. The flames spread, jumping from creature to creature until the horde was consumed by them and eventually disappeared from sight.

The man stood before Trey, his eyes narrowed as he considered the boy. He seemed not to notice the conflagration that consumed him, and Trey could feel no heat from the blaze, despite the ferocity with which it burned.

‘Theiss,’ Trey said, knowing without a doubt who it was.

‘You must break free, young lycanthrope,’ the figure said. ‘You must escape this place. The final fight is coming, and you must be there.’

‘I can’t. I’m chained up. I’m somewhere on a garage floor, pumped full of drugs that are making me hallucinate things like
you
!’

‘You will not escape?’

‘I CAN’T!’

The old man studied him, his brows still beetled as he stared at the youngster.

‘You are of my blood, Trey Laporte. You are of a long line of lycanthropes who were charged with defending the earth against those who would enslave it. Do not tell me that you cannot escape.’

‘ She’s taken the amulet!’ Trey said. Part of him wondered why he was continuing this conversation with this spectre of his mind. ‘For all I know, she’s thrown it off abridge into the river.’

The old man contemplated this before continuing. ‘Do you still think that a son of Theiss needs such a thing? That a true-blood lycanthrope who is directly descended from the thing’s creator has any need of such a . . . trinket?’

Trey realized that although they seemed to be talking – his mouth shaping the words and moving in the normal way – no sound actually came from either of them in this place.

‘If I don’t wear the amulet I can’t Change at will on my own. And even if I could, it would not be into the type of werewolf I have been up until now! I’d become a... terrible thing. I’d have no control over my urges. I’d become a killer!’

‘And how do you know this? How do you know what you would become and what you would do?’

‘What does it matter anyway? They’re dead! Alexa’s dead and neither you nor I nor that amulet is ever going to bring her back. I wasn’t there to help her! I wasn’t there to stop Caliban.’

‘You are of my blood, Trey Laporte. You are—’

Trey shook his head. ‘I’m not listening to you! You’re not real. NONE OF THIS IS REAL! IT’S ALL JUST ANOTHER TRICK!’

‘You don’t have to listen to me, lycanthrope. You need to listen to yourself.’

Trey watched as the old man’s face changed, his features becoming smoother and less wrinkled. His long chin became squarer and stronger and his eyes, as they changed from grey to brown, took on an altogether different look. The flames still consumed the face, but Trey recognized his father immediately.

Daniel Laporte never spoke. He looked down at his son, his eyes full of sadness as if he were sharing the pain that his child was going through. But there was something else in the look he gave Trey: there was hope. As if sensing the boy had picked up on this, he smiled and nodded. But even the appearance of his father could not lift Trey out of the despair he felt, and as he watched, his father began to fade. Trey tried to move only to find he was cemented in place. He called out to his dad, but to no avail. Daniel Laporte disappeared and was replaced by a darkness that fell upon Trey and carried him away with it. Just before it did, the thought occurred to him that this blackness was not unlike death. He might even be dead. And he realized that he didn’t care any longer.

15

With forty minutes to go until the start of the match, the streets around Stamford Bridge football ground were packed with the supporters of both sides, all clad in their team’s colours, jostling and pressing up against each other as they made their way towards the stadium under the watchful eye of the police. The air was thick with the smells of fast food coming from the numerous mobile cabins lining the way, and the bright sunshine ensured that a festival-like atmosphere was beginning to develop, despite the fierce rivalry between the two teams’ supporters. It was a London derby: Chelsea, the home side, were taking on north London opposition Arsenal, and the match was a sell-out. A high police presence was everywhere, and as the fans got nearer to the stadium they were segregated by the uniformed officers and funnelled into the ground separately to avoid the possibility of any trouble.

Loud and raucous songs rang out from various factions as they caught sight of a rival element, and these were answered with chants from the opposition, decrying the other team and its players. A general feeling of suppressed menace was in the air, but there was no sign that this might spill over into violence.

Robert Holt and his young son, Jake, were waiting in the queue at a burger van. The father kept a hand on the boy’s shoulder to ensure that the youngster couldn’t get separated from him. The crowds were bigger than they’d experienced during their previous two trips to the football, but Jake had recently fallen in love with the game, and Robert promised he’d get them tickets for the weekend of the boy’s birthday.

Robert had just put his order in for their cheeseburgers when he heard a loud roaring sound away to his right. He winced with the pain the noise created inside his ears, and he glanced down to see that Jake had clamped his hands against the side of his head to muffle the worst of the racket.

It was like the sound of a huge jet engine – a wall of noise that shook everything around it. He glanced about him and saw that other people were equally disturbed by the din, their faces screwed up in discomfort as they sought the source of the noise. Robert pulled his son towards him, bending forwards so that he could nod at the boy, silently asking if he was OK.

‘IT’S VERY LOUD!’ Jake shouted back at his father. ‘WHAT IS IT?’

Robert gave a shrug and shook his head. He frowned, watching as his son’s facial expression turned from one of discomfort to a wide-eyed look of fear and disbelief at whatever he’d seen over his dad’s shoulder. Robert turned to see what it was the boy had witnessed. That was when he saw the source of the tumult for the first time. There, in the middle of the Fulham Road, was a black tower that had no place in this world. It had materialized out of nowhere, the inky dark rocks that made up the base of the thing replacing the painted brickwork of the houses and shops that had once stood there. Where those buildings, or the people might have been inside them, had gone was unclear. He let his eyes travel up the ghastly citadel, his panic rising as he did so. It was a vision which would haunt Robert Holt’s dreams for evermore.

Now everyone in the street had turned to face the monolith, a look of utter incredulity on each and every face as they took in its gothic grandeur. It towered up into the heavens, a black stiletto blade that dwarfed the other buildings around it and resonated with a dark force that struck terror into those that looked upon it.

Robert Holt could feel the fear pouring off his son; it matched his own. He hugged the boy to him, murmuring comforting words, knowing that he could not let his son sense the horror, bafflement and despair he truly felt. Because Robert was sure of one thing: whatever that dark tower was, it spelled danger for everyone who had seen it.

Father and son both flinched as a loud boom came from the tower. Looking up again, they saw a wave radiating from the structure, the air shimmering and appearing to
bend
as the invisible force spread ever outward. Screams and shouts of panic could be heard from all sides, and people began to run in every direction, hoping to escape the malevolent force.

Robert grabbed his son’s hand and tried to pull him around the back of the burger van, but the boy was frozen to the spot. When the wave passed through them they cried out in unison. They had been touched by evil, of that they were certain, and the wrenching of their insides as the wave penetrated them was nothing compared to the feeling of doom they were left with on its passing.

There was a moment of stillness then. A perfect stop. Until suddenly the sky turned a dark and terrible purple, the air itself taking on a strange aspect, so that looking through it was like peering through the bottom of a glass bottle. At the same time, the air was filled with a putrid stench of something rotten and foul and fetid that made everyone gag and cover their mouths and noses with their hands.

The Shield had been activated. It produced an impenetrable dome-like perimeter around the central point of the tower, extending the estate of Leroth by 500 metres in all directions and bringing the Netherworld to the area confined within it. Everything and everyone inside was trapped. There was no way in or out. There was no communication with the outside world. There was no hope of escape.

16

Alexa sat alone in the living room. The apartment hadn’t been this quiet in weeks, and the silence was more than a little unnerving. She shifted her weight, the soft white leather beneath her sighing in response.

She began to prepare herself for what lay ahead, going through the mental processes that Hag had described to her before she had left with her father and the others. Performing any kind of sorcery was never easy, but trying to combine two separate and very different spells was going to require all her effort and skills.

Although under a great deal of stress and pressure herself, Hag had found the time to take the teenager into one of the meeting rooms and explain her theory on how Alexa could locate the whereabouts of Trey.

‘You must try to amalgamate the locating spell I used earlier in front of your father and Tom with the thought transfer spell that you are already very adept at. I believe that the special bond you share with the young lycanthrope will allow you to communicate with him in this manner. Sadly, I could not, and the signals that I was picking up were jumbled and chaotic.’

‘But it’s not possible to use the thought transfer spell over any great distance – a few hundred metres is about the most I’ve ever managed.’

‘That’s why you’re merging that spell with the location one – piggybacking one on the other, if you like.’ The old woman paused and thought for a moment. ‘It will be difficult,
very
difficult, but I believe you can do it.’ She looked at the girl and nodded encouragingly. ‘You are more powerful than I was at your age, Alexa, and you’re going to be a great sorceress one day.’

‘Thank you, but—’

‘You’ll need to be careful about the side effects of the sorcery. The thought transfer spell creates thermal energy as a by-product and the location magic generates kinetic energy. What the result of combining them will be is anyone’s guess.’

Tom and Lucien appeared in the doorway.

Alexa looked up at her father and managed a brave smile.

‘All set to go?’ Hag asked.

‘Yes, we’re ready.’ Lucien looked at his daughter. ‘Have the two of you discussed the best way to find Trey?’

‘Yes,’ the old woman said, getting to her feet and shuffling towards the two men. ‘She’ll be fine. We should go. Now. Let’s not all stand around getting mushy – it’ll serve none of us any good.’ She laid a hand on Alexa’s arm as she passed, and in a low voice meant only for the girl’s ears added, ‘You find that boy, and when you do, you make it up with him. You two need each other.’

It was the only vaguely sentimental thing that Alexa had ever heard from the ancient sorceress.

BOOK: Changeling: Zombie Dawn
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