Authors: Nicola Rhodes
Tags: #Science Fiction, #Fantasy - Contemporary
He was having so much fun that he had not noticed that, although it was only noon, outside the sky was pitch black.
He still had not noticed an hour later, when he decided it was time to go and find Tamar. He thought he might as well road test his new powers, besides he owed her and she might be in trouble.
‘Oh God,’ he thought, ‘what am I
? I have to go.’ He brought out a map and stabbed a finger at it. ‘Might as well land in the right place,’ concentrated and the man-sized tornado picked him up.
He landed in a (fortunately) deserted street laughing.
My God that was fun.
‘Auntie Em,’ he hooted. ‘Auntie Em – you know what Toto? I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.’
This thought sobered him up.
It occurred to him that the new powers he had acquired were going to his head; he was getting giddy; this was a problem.
‘It’s not the powers that are important,’ he told himself sternly, ‘it’s what you can do with them; they are only important as a means to an end – get a grip on yourself.’
He blinked and looked around, where the hell, he wondered, were all the people? He looked at his watch, one forty-five. And why was it so dark?
~ Chapter Thirteen ~
kay, ready? Jump.’ They were poised on the windowsill; smoke was curling under the door.
‘Pretty much a rock and a hard place,’
thought Stiles ruefully. He hesitated.
‘It’ll be okay,’ Kitty said. ‘Hold my hand; I’ll break your fall. I’m pretty strong.’
Stiles nodded; this was true.
, on three?’
She caught his hand, scowled, and jumped dragging him with her. They landed in a snowdrift and rolled to a halt against a tree, unhurt.
There were people milling around, coughing and crying. A dishevelled woman came running out of the blazing Inn; flames were shooting out of the windows
She was screaming. ‘My baby – my baby! She’s inside. Help me.’
Stiles did not miss a beat; he ran back into the building before Kitty could stop him. ‘Jack – no!’
He reappeared after a few minutes coughing and covered in soot and ash, carrying a small bundle – which was wailing with immense vigour.
Kitty clasped her hands together proudly. ‘Oh Jack!’ she said under her breath. She seemed to have developed a proprietary feeling about him ever since she had saved his life.
Stiles handed the baby to the distraught woman, who gave him a look of pure hero worship.
Stiles was in charge now. He organised the bystanders into a bucket chain, using the nearby river, which had almost burst its banks due to all the melting snow. After they had put the fire out, he herded them into a nearby barn.
By the time they were all settled, he had picked up a few more admirers. Several of the women were making “sheep’s eyes” at him. Kitty was amused. ‘I could have him,’ she thought, ‘like that!’
She snapped her fingers.
She sat on a rock outside; Stiles came out to look for her. ‘Aren’t you coming in?’ he asked.
‘No, I’m waiting out here for them.’ She looked at him. ‘I’ve had enough of this; I want to find out what the hell is going on.’ She waved a hand at the charred building. ‘Why would they go so far?’ she asked the air.
‘You think the
set the fire?’ Stiles was stunned.
they did. So much malice, it defies understanding.’
‘How do you expect to find anything out?’
‘I’m going to take a leaf out of your book,’ she told him. ‘We keep one of them alive and question him – do you carry handcuffs? It doesn’t matter I think I’ve got some manacles.’
Stiles did not even ask.
The vampire, who was currently tied to a tree, grinned nervously. ‘’Ere, what’s going on? Just stake me already.’
‘Not yet,’ said Stiles. He turned to Kitty. ‘What are you doing?’
She was rummaging again. ‘Aha!’ She emerged with a small knife, a bottle and an evil smile. The vampire gaped. ‘’Ere, I know you.’
‘Shut up,’ she said.
Stiles was alert.
‘You’re her!’ said the vampire, ‘aren’t you? You’re Tamar Black.’
Stiles shot her a glance; she looked sheepish. ‘Okay,’ she sighed, ‘I suppose it doesn’t really matter now.’ She turned to the vampire. ‘Now,’ she said. ‘We’d like you to answer a few questions.’
‘And then you’ll let me go?’
‘Maybe’s not good enough. I want a guarantee.’
‘Okay, you tell us what we want to know, and I
I won’t do this again,’ she said, slicing off his little finger in an unconcerned manner.
The vampire howled. Stiles turned away.
Tamar shook her head. ‘Just remember, he’s not human, he only looks like one.’
She turned back to the vampire. ‘Let’s start simple,’ she said grinning slyly at Stiles. ‘Name!’ She barked.
Tamar rolled her eyes.
‘Paul?’ said Stiles. ‘That’s a bit ordinary isn’t it?’
‘I think he spells it P-A-L-L,’ said Tamar.
‘Okay, Pall, who sent you?’
Pall shook his head. Tamar took his hand, almost gently, and held up the knife.
Pall shook his head frantically. ‘I don’t know,
‘I don’t believe him,’ she said to Stiles. ‘Do you?’
‘No, take it off.’
‘Or,’ she said opening the bottle, dipping a finger in it, and smearing the contents on Pall’s forehead.
He shrieked as the flesh burned away.
‘Holy water?’ asked Stiles.
‘Holy water,’ agreed Tamar. ‘And it’s nothing compared to the pain he’ll suffer if I leave him tied up here until the sun rises,’ she added threateningly. ‘That was just a taster.’
Pall grinned evilly. ‘There will be no dawn,’ he said in a sinister voice.
Tamar barely faltered. ‘Not here perhaps, but somewhere in the world the sun
be coming up. I can do it; you
‘Who sent you?’ reiterated Stiles. ‘Just tell us.’
‘I don’t … aaagh!’ Tamar had poured the contents of the bottle over his hand. It burst briefly into flames and crumbled away.
‘He has to die!’ shrieked Pall, pointing at Stiles. ‘Ran-Kur has decreed it.’
Stiles and Tamar smiled and nodded to each other.
‘And who is Ran-Kur?’ she asked.
‘No.’ Said Pall, stubbornly. ‘It is forbidden to speak of him to mortals.’
‘Well, I’m not exactly mortal,’ said Tamar, ‘no?’ She raised the knife.
Stiles stopped her. ‘Let me.’ He reached into her backpack and drew out an axe. ‘How about the whole arm this time?’ he suggested.
Pall squirmed but remained stubborn. ‘Do it,’ he said. ‘I’m not saying anything else.’
Tamar sneered. ‘Yes you will. You know you will, in the end.’ She smeared some more holy water on his face.
‘Okay, okay, I’ll tell you if you promise to let me go.’
‘No deal,’ said Tamar. ‘You know I can’t. But I’ll tell you what, you tell us, and I’ll stake you, nice and quick. If you
tell us, I’ll let you burn slowly in the Bahamas somewhere.’
‘Tick tock,’ she said. ‘What’s it going to be? Staked or parboiled at dawn.’
‘Bitch!’ muttered Pall. ‘All right you mad harpy, Ran-Kur is our god, the creator of our kind; He ordered his death. That’s all I know.’
‘Vampires have a
?’ said Stiles, incredulously. ‘Now I’ve heard everything.’
But Tamar had gone white. She walked away silently. Stiles followed her.
‘’Ere, what about me?’ yelled Pall indignantly.
They both ignored him.
‘What’s wrong?’ Stiles asked her. ‘What is it?’
She did not answer; she sat with her head in her hands, silently rocking back and forth.
‘Oh περιττώματα!’ she said eventually. ‘Oh God, oh God, Oh God!’ She forced herself to calm down. ‘Well,’ she continued, ‘it certainly explains a few things, I’ve seen the way people act around gods; they’re terrified.’ She glanced at him sombrely. ‘They do whatever they’re told to. And they’ll just keep coming; they’ll never stop. And there’s nothing I can do about it. Gods can’t be killed. This is a foe that’s beyond me.’
Stiles patted her awkwardly on the shoulder. Pall was still yelling.
‘Er, what about him?’ He indicated the enraged vampire.
‘What? Oh yes.’ She handed him a stake and went back to her gloom.
* * *
Denny was dreaming. He had given up his search for now and gone home to get some rest. He had been to the CID offices and had eventually found Finchley, who had told him what little he knew. Stiles was gone, and the young woman had gone after him, but he had no idea where. He had been unconscious, he had explained with some embarrassment, when she had gone, and before he could even ask her who she was. He rubbed his jaw reminiscently and Denny could not help but smile. That was Tamar all right. He sympathised; he had a strong urge to punch this idiot out himself. Thanks to him, Tamar and Stiles were God knew where.
So, he decided to get some sleep, he had not slept, he realised, in more than forty-eight hours, unless you counted the sleepwalking.
It was not the usual dream, this time. Tamar was there, and some strange things happened, involving a large animal of some kind and a medal, then the darkness broke. It was all highly allegorical, just an ordinary dream really. And when Denny woke, he forgot all about it. All he remembered was that for the first night in a long time, he had not had the nightmare.
~ Chapter Fourteen ~
guess you want some answers,’ said Tamar as they trudged along to where, she had assured him, would be a main road. It was officially eight in the morning, but the sky was still pitch black.
Stiles looked awkward. ‘I may
answers,’ he said, ‘but it’s really up to you whether or not I get them.’ He held up his hands. ‘I’ve learned my lesson. I will tell you this though – I’ve heard your name before.’
‘I know, I’ve been watching you – remember?’
‘Yes, I had an arrest warrant for you. I’m guessing the complainant was one of these guys.’
‘I’d say that’s a fair assumption.’
‘So, I guess that’s why you didn’t want to tell me your real name when we first met?’
‘That’s part of it.’
‘What’s the rest? No never mind. It seems you’re pretty well known in ghoul town.’
‘Oh yes, a legend in my own lunchtime,’ she said dully.
‘Why don’t you just kill me?’ he asked.
‘Or I could kill myself, I suppose; only I don’t really want to, but since it’s all so hopeless and we’re just giving up …’
She gaped at him.
‘After all,’ he continued. ‘I might as well just get it over with; it’s all over anyway, isn’t it.
given up, so I may as well.’
‘Nice pep talk,’ she said sourly. ‘But I don’t need it. I
give up; if I did I’d still be trapped in a bottle.’
‘Oh, nothing, another time – just get moving.’
‘There is one thing you could explain to me – if you can.’
She sighed. ‘Yes?’
‘What did he mean, a god?’
‘A deity – you know. Like Zeus or Thor.’
‘Not anymore, but they were once, until people stopped believing in them.’
‘I guess the vampires still believe in
‘I didn’t even know they had one. But it makes sense; everybody has to believe in something and supernatural beings tend to cling to the past. Hecaté is still around too; the witches believe in her.’
‘There are witches too? Of course there are – why did I ask? I guess vampires can’t – you know, believe in the big guy.’ He pointed upwards. ‘You know God, God.’
‘Well no, they
from Hell. I suppose if I’d thought about it, I’d have thought they’d follow Satan.’
‘I don’t believe in Hell, unless you count the one we’re all living in.’
‘You don’t believe in Hell? But you
believe in God?’
Stiles changed the subject. ‘So, all the old gods are gone?’
‘So, what killed
? You said …’
‘They lost all their believers, I just explained all that.’
‘And that’s the
way to kill a god?’
‘The only way that I know of; they’re not like Kings you know. You can’t just chop off their heads.’
Stiles was thoughtful. ‘What about Ragnoroc?’
‘The Norse Twilight of the Gods, what about it?’
‘Well, what you said about Kings. They’re human, right? And if one human can kill another, then …’
‘Then perhaps one god can be killed by another. That’s brilliant.’ She subsided. ‘Except I don’t know any gods.’
‘What about Heck – Heckle …?’
‘If you say so.’
‘Hmm, the witches might know how to summon her. Or wait – Denny! He’s got books about that stuff, I don’t know why.’
‘Oh, he’s – I live with him.’
‘Is he a superhero too?’
‘No, just a regular hero. He’s a nice guy; you’d like him.’
‘I doubt it,’ muttered Stiles.
‘What was that?’
‘Oh, nothing important.’
‘He’s a lot like you, you know. He respects me, my unusual abilities I mean. He’s not – he doesn’t get all intimidated by it, all macho and stupid, you know? He lets me do what I do without getting in my way. You’re the same; I appreciate it; it makes it easier for me. I hate it when some macho fool jumps in and puts himself in danger because he can’t stand the thought of being saved by a woman.’
‘Sounds like he means a lot to you.’
Tamar smiled. ‘He saved me.’