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Authors: Steve Feasey

Changeling: Zombie Dawn (9 page)

BOOK: Changeling: Zombie Dawn
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‘You’ll stay?’ she asked. ‘You’ll stay and witness me perform the ritual? It has not been carried out for millennia, and it will require all of my considerable power and skills.’

Caliban looked at the sorceress. Unlike some of his kind, he had little interest in dark magic. For him it was merely a means to an end, a necessary evil. He would have refused, therefore, had he not sensed that the creature by his side wanted him to observe the feat she was about to perform.

‘Of course,’ he said with a nod of his head. ‘It will be an honour to watch you at work, Helde.’

She’d returned the gesture and then started the mental preparations necessary to carry out the sorcery.

That had been fifteen minutes ago, and now the vampire was beginning to lose patience as he watched her pacing to and fro, muttering under her breath one moment, her voice rising to a maniacal babble the next. He was about to ask her what was taking so long when she abruptly turned on her heel and approached the wall. Reaching up, she placed her hands, fingers splayed wide, on the rock surface.

‘Uzshnek beil gorlok,’ she said in a high, loud voice.

The rock beneath her insect hands began to glow, the light spreading out quickly like two pools of liquid eager to merge and unite. Within seconds the entire wall was ablaze with a dazzling light that made the vampire screw up his eyes and turn his head away.

‘What is that?’he said.

‘The Shield!’ she shouted back. ‘It is the Shield.’

She lowered her head again, and intoned more ancient words. Caliban felt a harsh tugging sensation inside him, and knew that this was a result of the sorceress translocating the tower from Iceland to the new location he’d given her in London. The blinding light still filled the room, and it was as much as the vampire could do to look through the tiniest of eye-slits at the sorceress. More wailing, more shouts and screams.

It was almost too much for him to bear. He was about to leave when there was an impossibly deep, penetrating
THUMP!
and a Shockwave of immense power and energy flew out in all directions, causing him to gasp as it passed through his body. The light from the wall faded and was gone.

Helde slumped forward against the stone, the black-bodied creatures dropping from her in a torrent, and she would have fallen had Caliban not rushed to her side to support her as best he could. She leaned against him, raising her head and managing to give him a brief smile.

‘It is done,’ she whispered and closed her eyes.

He looked at the thing in his arms. She seemed utterly spent, and he remembered what she’d said about how difficult it would be for her to maintain the Shield for any length of time. ‘How long can you keep it in place?’

‘I’m not sure,’ she said. ‘I will regain some strength soon enough, but we should hurry to release the two undead creatures.’

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘I will carry you upstairs ... to my rooms at the top of the tower.’

‘Thank you.’

The vampire nodded down at her. She seemed to have fainted away. He took her in his arms and left the room.

13

Hag sat in the chair opposite Lucien and Tom, her eyes closed, and while she made no sound, her lips moved as she silently mouthed words in an ancient tongue. She paused, frowned and tilted her head a little to one side, as if trying hard to listen for someone or something. Tom couldn’t take his eyes away from the ballpoint pen which had risen into the air as a result of the magic she was conjuring when the sorceress had started her spell. The thing hovered just in front of her, quivering violently as if it might fly off in any direction at a moment’s notice. In addition to the pen, Hag’s thin grey hair, which normally hung in a straggled mess around her face, stood up all over, giving her a comical, cartoon-like appearance.

‘He’s alive,’ she said in a low voice. ‘The boy’s alive, but he’s . . . sick. No, not sick . . . something else.’

‘Something else?’ Tom said. ‘What’s that supposed to mean, for heaven’s sake?’

The old woman’s already wrinkled brow furrowed even more.

‘It’s strange, but everything is mixed up. Maybe it’s drugs.’

‘No way!’ Tom said, shaking his head. ‘Trey’s not the sort of kid to take drugs. You must be—’

‘Quiet, you fool!’ the old woman hissed. ‘How am I supposed to concentrate with you jibber-jabbering all the time?’

Tom somehow managed to hold his tongue, but his face was pinched and set as he fought the anger the sorceress always seemed to ignite within him. He lifted one hand and gesticulated at the old woman with two fingers.

‘I might have my eyes shut, but I know what you’re doing, you foolish oaf. If you do that again I shall have to think of some way to teach you respect for your elders; maybe you’d like to try not
having
fingers for a few days? I can do that, you know.’

‘Stop it, the pair of you,’ Lucien commanded in a low voice. ‘Hag, what more can you tell us? Where is Trey?’

The old woman shook her head, her eyes still firmly closed. ‘I can’t make it out. The signals I’m getting are confused and chaotic.’

Tom was on his feet now. ‘This is pointless,’ he said.

Lucien leaned forward in his chair. When he spoke his voice was low and controlled, but there was no mistaking the urgency in it. ‘Is there some way you can deduce if he’s Changed at any point since he disappeared?’

‘Since he was
taken
,’ Tom said, correcting the vampire. ‘That boy’s in trouble – I can sense it.’

Lucien shot a withering look at his friend.

The sorceress shook her head. ‘I don’t believe he has transformed since we last saw him, no.’

Lucien nodded at Tom. ‘So wherever he is, he doesn’t feel in any danger. Otherwise he would have Changed in order to defend himself.’

‘That’s assuming he was able to. Hag just said that he’s been drugged.’

Lucien rubbed at his eyes with the finger and thumb of one hand, thinking everything through again. ‘Hag, what can you tell me about Trey’s—’

The old woman let out a sudden harsh cry, her body jerking violently as if some galvanizing current had been passed through it. She sat bolt upright and opened her eyes wide, staring straight ahead into those of the vampire.

‘He’s here!’

‘Trey? But I thought you just said—’

The old woman gave an angry hiss and shook her head. ‘Your
brother,
Caliban. He’s here.’

Tom smashed his fist on to the tabletop. ‘I told you he had the boy! Where is he?’

Hag looked up at the Irishman and shook her head. ‘He does not have the lycanthrope.’

She was visibly shaken. ‘The vampire lord has just arrived in this city. He and that abomination, Helde, have brought Leroth right here. I felt it.’

There was a loud knock on the door. One of the demons in Lucien’s employ opened it and stepped in, not waiting for an invitation. The expression on the nether-creature’s face matched that on the sorceress’s. ‘We’ve had reports of a massive disruption in—’

‘We know,’ Lucien said, interrupting. ‘It’s Caliban. He has relocated Leroth. Do we have an exact fix on his position?’

‘We’re double-checking, but we’re fairly certain that we’ve triangulated the signals to a point in West London. On the Fulham Road.’

Lucien frowned.

‘Right opposite the football stadium. One of the humans in the office says that it’s a match day today. The place will be teeming with people going to the game.’

Lucien gave Tom a terrible look as the full meaning of what he’d just been told began to dawn on him.

‘He’s going to release zombies into that crowd.’ He shook his head in disbelief. ‘It’ll be a massacre.’

‘We have to get there and stop him. Right now,’ Tom said, already moving to the door.

‘That’s not going to be as easy as you might think,’ Hag said in a strange voice. ‘Helde has activated the Shield.’

Alexa went straight to the office as soon as she heard the alarm, arriving to find the place swarming with humans and nether-creatures, a chaos of movement and noise as each of them busily went about their tasks, a TV in the background blaring the breaking news. Tom was bawling orders to people across the room one moment and yelling into his communications headset the next.

She scanned the room. Her father was an oasis of calm. He’d assembled a number of nether-creatures, and was talking to them each in turn, no doubt explaining their roles in the forthcoming conflict.

Just the manic sound of the place was enough to set her nerves on edge, and she fought to repress the fear which rose in her every time she dared to consider what might he ahead in the next few hours.

She walked over to her father.

‘. . . beheading is the best method. If that fails, dismemberment of the legs will serve as a temporary solution, but you must remember to go back and finish the job. The zombie will still be alive and a potential danger to any human who steps too near to it.’ The demons around him nodded their heads. ‘Remember, when you enter the cordon provided by this Shield, you are effectively in a place which is neither in the human realm nor in the Netherworld. It’s a kind of limbo between the two. As such, the human disguises that you use to hide yourselves here will be compromised, and any humans will be able to see beyond that facade to what you really are, and they’re going to be as terrified of
you
as they are of the zombies. Please bear that in mind. We can no longer pretend to the human world that the Netherworld does not exist, but we don’t want people running away from us, only to plough straight into a group of undead flesh-eaters, do we? It’ll be chaotic in there, but you must always bear in mind that our primary goal is to save lives and remove the threat. The more people we can stop being
turned,
the less carnage we will leave behind us when this is finished. Remember, even the zombies were innocent human beings not so long ago.’

He looked up and saw Alexa standing there. ‘That’ll be all for now. We’ll meet at the armoury in twenty minutes. As soon as Tom has equipped us all we’ll be setting off.’

He left the demons to talk among themselves, and moved over to Alexa. Without a word, he gently took her by the elbow and steered her towards one of the meeting rooms. Once inside, he closed the door behind him, shielding them both from the worst of the din.

‘So it’s happened,’ Alexa said. ‘Caliban has made his final bid to take over the human world. Nothing will ever be the same again, will it?’

Lucien shook his head gravely.

‘And you’re leaving in the next twenty minutes?’

‘I notice that you didn’t say “we’re leaving”.’

‘No.’

A silence stretched out between them.

‘Look, I know you could use my sorcery skills,’ Alexa continued, ‘but Hag is more skilful and powerful than I’ll ever be.’

‘That may or may not be true. But you’re right, Hag should be capable of getting us inside the Shield. Hopefully.’

‘I’m going to try and find Trey.’

Her father looked at her, the merest touch of a smile forming on his lips before disappearing again. ‘I hoped you would.’

‘But—’

‘That is why I have asked Hag to spend some time with you before we leave to make a few suggestions. She has a theory about how you might be able to locate him, even though she herself has failed.’ He paused for a moment, studying the floor and frowning. ‘I think I have allowed my own fear about what lies ahead to cloud my judgement concerning Trey. I should have realized that he would never have left us simply because he was afraid. He would certainly never have
left you
like that.’

‘Did . . . did I just hear right? Did you say
that you
were frightened?’

He smiled at her fully then, his lips peeling back to show off his fangs to full effect. ‘Yes, Alexa. Even an ancient creature like your father can still feel fear every now and again.’ When he next spoke he was all business. ‘I’m allocating two of our people to go with you when you set off to find Trey. If and when you do, you’re both to come back here and await instructions from me. You’re not to come down to Leroth, do you understand that? You must both ignore everything that I’ve said about Trey and Caliban and destiny. Trey is not ready to face my brother yet. Just get him back here and keep each other safe. Is that clear?’

‘I’ll find him,’ Alexa said.

‘Thank you.’

They stood then, just looking at each other, neither of them wanting to air their thoughts or anxieties.

‘Please be careful,’ her father said eventually.

‘I will,’ she nodded.

Lucien stepped forward and pulled his daughter into his arms. ‘You mean more to me than you could ever possibly know.’

Alexa returned the embrace, wrapping her arms round her father and breathing in the smell of his cologne. She hugged him tight, hoping against hope that this was not the last time she would do so.

14

Trey lay on the floor motionless, and would have appeared dead to anyone looking down on him if it were not for the facial tics and frowns that altered his expression every now and then.

Ella stared at the figure sprawled out on the cold surface. She’d been forced to inject him again, and she guessed he was hallucinating behind those closed eyelids. She was glad she’d covered him with a blanket. It kept him warm, but it also meant she didn’t have to look at the manacles and chains she’d had to use to keep him here.

It’s for his own good,
she told herself again.

She considered what had just happened.

She’d told him a he. A he she thought would help to free him from what he saw as his obligations to the vampire and his cohorts. On reflection it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but he’d refused to listen to her when she explained again how he didn’t belong with them. That
they
were the thing stopping him seeing reason.

So she’d told him that both Lucien and his dhampir daughter were dead, killed in a fight with the vampire’s brother. She’d been taken aback by the reaction. He’d flown into an apoplectic rage the like of which she’d never seen before, throwing himself against his restraints, screaming and wailing at her until she thought he would damage himself or, worse, enforce a Change as she’d seen other lycanthropes do when they became so worked up. She had to admit that the entire episode had shaken her up. She had no idea of the depth of feeling he had for those people. How could she? He’d come to Canada to get away from them, hadn’t he? To find his uncle and start a new life. She’d thought he might damage himself, so she’d quickly tasered him and injected him again.

BOOK: Changeling: Zombie Dawn
10.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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