The rain was coming down hard and flooding the streets. It had been threatening to storm all week but the clouds always seemed to dissipate at the last second; but not today. Today the clouds opened up and punished the city with a heavy downpour.
Brad entered into an abandoned warehouse to try and escape the pelting water bombs. The foul odor of urine and rotting wood permeated the decaying building.
The sad creaks and groans of a foundation long forgotten cried at him with every step he took on the weakened floorboards. The windows were all boarded up and spots of moonlight peeked through the cracks of the wood, the only light visible inside the dimly lit structure.
He was on the run from his own friends. He had no one. There was no way he could stand to be near humans without wanting to eat them and he’d vowed to kill any vampire that ever crossed his path; being one of them did not change his view. He was quickly becoming public enemy #1. He walked further into the building. There were broken chairs, filthy mattresses and couches lining the back wall.
He made his way over to them. He just needed a few hours to rest and then he could get back to his mission. There was a makeshift table sitting on cinderblocks in front of a worn and torn sofa. On top of it were remnants of some old bums’ last meal; opened and eaten cans of beans strewn carelessly everywhere.
There were candles burned down to the surface of the weathered wooden frame and trash cans overturned by the door leading to the next hall. How can anyone live like this? He thought as he took a seat on the couch. The springs whined under his weight and rattled with each additional move he made. Just as he was prepared to lay his head for sleep, he heard the distinct sound of empty tin cans clinking together.
He jumped up from his spot and peeked down the hall, there was movement. He waited for his eyes to adjust and finally was able to make out two bums standing over a trashcan fire trying to warm themselves and another lying on yet another moldy, torn and decomposing mattress.
“This place is occupado, Pal! Keep moving!” he heard a grating voice speak behind him. He turned to face a fourth derelict; his appearance was ragged and dirty. There were bits of dried food sitting in his unkempt beard, saliva stains on the corners of his mouth and a lit cigarette between his chapped lips.
“Are you deaf? I said get out of here!” the man yelled at Brad, but he stood his ground glaring defiantly at the vagrant. He could hear his heart beating, he could read his thoughts. He could even smell his fear, though the pungent smell of old urine, which the man seemed soaked in, had a much stronger stink.
“I have a better idea!” Brad’s fangs glistened in the pale glow of the moonlight as he sank his teeth into the transient’s neck.
The old man screamed, his eyes popped open and the pain and fear etched noticeably across his face. Brad pulled his mouth from his throat, “Shut up!” he barked. The man instantly stopped yelling and Brad went back to feeding. They may have taken my blood but that’s a much more useful tool, he thought as he noticed the immediate result of compulsion.
The blood was satisfying but very metallic in taste. He watched the eyes of the hobo dim until that last breath was taken. He was now officially one of them. He’d taken a life purely to feed. And this was one thing he despised most about the evil, soulless monsters.
“Hey!” one of the men from the back yelled. “Boys! He’s hurting Jim!”
Brad hissed at him, blood smeared over his face from his meal. The other two guys ran from the back at him. “He looks all hopped up on that crack cocaine!” one of them yelled. “He’s crazy!”
They began making an advance and Brad turned and ran out the door he’d entered through. He was afraid of hurting more of them; afraid of drinking the contents of their veins as well. His stomach churned with guilt and an unquenched thirst.
Drenched and scared, Brad found the entrance to a sewer tunnel and sat near the drain. The foul stench of crap filled the tiny enclosed area. He sat watching the rats scurry around him. “This is what I’m reduced to? Living in shit with vermin?” His stomach again growled at him, letting him know that small appetizer did not satisfy the beast within.
“And does this hunger never end?!” he yelled to no one in particular. Suddenly the shit covered vermin weren’t looking so bad.
“I have to get to Sarah,” Drake spoke finally. “Those men from the other night were looking for her and she hasn’t returned my calls in the past few days.”
I nodded. “Hurry to her, Drake. I don’t want anything to happen to her at the hands of those Hunters again.”
“I’ll be fine. ‘Jr.’ has been a really good boy lately. I haven’t felt much pain at all these past weeks.” I rubbed my belly and felt “him” shift inside of me.
Drake smiled tenderly. He loved the fact that I was getting used to the idea of a male heir. “Keep your phone on. I’m leaving the birds again. They’ll get to me if anything happens and they won’t let anyone into the house.”
“Of course Sweetie, not to worry. If all else fails, I always have my magic.”
“In which case I’ll hurry. I don’t want you to have to result to that, not while…”
“Carrying your child. I know, you’ve told me a million times. That’s Dr. Steele confining his wife to bed for their first born. It’s been a pretty uneventful pregnancy and I’m sure I have you to thank for that.”
He smiled and kissed me before running to his car.
I pulled out my cell phone and dialed Maggie again. We’d been sticking to our promise and communicating regularly. She’d made plans to come out and see me but everything was so crazy with work she had to cancel.
…“How’s my nephew doing…?” she asked entertaining Drake’s wishes. She thought it was funny he’d not even considered a daughter.
“He’s fine; sleeping finally. My rib cage was being danced on only an hour earlier though. So has he asked yet?” She kept hinting to me that she felt sure Daniel was going to propose soon. I already knew the answer since Drake had discovered his outing to buy a ring.
…“Not yet. He may be waiting for my birthday, in which case, it’s soon! I tell ya, I really hope I’m not getting my hopes up with this thing. He could just be helping more around the house because he’s a loving person. Zoe, you don’t think I’d be rushing it if I were to accept do you…?”
“Of course not, Mags! You two have been dating for quite a while now. I mean I don’t really know too much about him but if he makes you happy, he makes me happy. Besides we can always cast a spell on him if need be! Which reminds me…”
…“Not yet…” she answered before I could ask if he knows yet about our heritage.
…“Depends on if he proposes…”
“But what if he does and takes it back from fear of the whole magic thing?”
…“ZOE! Don’t say things like that…!”
“Just be upfront Mags. If he really loves you, he’ll accept you.”
Drake got to Sarah’s apartment within twenty minutes. The lights were all on and he could smell smoke from inside the elevator before it came to her floor.
He rushed to the door and felt it. The heat was overpowering. He kicked it in and ran forward looking for her. “Sarah?! Sarah where are you?”
He saw the empty crib near the window and was a little relieved, but he was still unsure if that meant the two were safe and sound.
“SARAH! Answer me if you’re in here damnit!” he yelled running through the apartment.
“Drake?” he heard her finally speak.
“Sarah? Sarah where are you?” he ran through the hall trying to find her.
“On the ledge outside the bedroom window.”
He rushed into the room and peered outside. “What the hell are you doing?”
“The fire was too much I was about to jump with Vanessa but I was afraid of dropping her so I’m kind of stuck!”
“Hand her to me and get back inside.”
Drake grabbed Vanessa and Sarah and he quickly exited through the front door. Vanessa wouldn’t stop crying until they were out by the street.
“The smoke must have burned her eyes. How did that start?”
“I had just put Ness down for a nap and there was a man at the door. He kept screaming something about Brad but I refused to open. The next thing I know there was lighter fluid being sprayed under the frame and he set it on fire! I went out the window with Ness because I didn’t know if they were waiting out in the hall for us or not.”
“That’s what I was afraid of. A few days ago, I had a visit from three mind controlled Vampires looking for you. Why haven’t you returned any of my calls?”
“I lost my phone and didn’t have your new number.”
“Let’s get you some place safe. These hunters really have it out for you.”
“It’s because of Brad. They were really close to hurting Vanessa today! Do you have any idea how scary that is?”
“Don’t worry Sarah; I’ll keep you both safe. Whatever they are planning next, they’ll have to go through me first.” He pulled away from the curb and headed home.
As he pulled into the yard he noticed Vincent’s car parked near the garage and rushed inside.
“What are you doing here?” he demanded throwing him against the wall.
“I came to check on Zo and the baby.”
“Drake let him go,” I said pulling his arm away from Vincent’s throat. “He got a message that someone was coming after me and he came over to help.” I handed Drake the letter that was written in blood.
“Whose blood is that?” he asked smelling the note.
“It’s vampire, but I don’t know them,” Vincent replied. “What the hell have you been doing since you got back? How do you incite a war fresh from your grave?”
They stood glaring at one another again.
“It wasn’t his fault Vincent. It was…” Sarah started.
“Yours.” Vincent reminded her. “Why do you smell like smoke?” He took Vanessa into his arms and smelled her as well. “Answer me! What did you get my child into now?”
“Back the fuck off, Vincent.” Drake said stepping in front of Sarah.
Vincent walked Ness over to the couch and sat her near the table.
“So what did happen, Drake?” I asked curiously.
“One or more of the hunters found Sarah and they set her apartment on fire.”
“Son of a bitch!” Vincent shouted at the top of his lungs. “I’m killing every last one of those fuckers.”
“Well get in line,” Drake agreed.
“The line starts here.”
“Sarah get to the computer and see what else you can find out about the offices they have nearby, call me with anything you find. Zoe, take Vanessa up to the extra room and get her situated in the crib and I want you and Sarah to stay inside and close to her and the phone. Vincent, you and I are going hunting. We need to find Brad and get him to talk about this toxic water operation and anything else we can…”
“Beat out of him? I’m game!”
“So you’re just going to leave the girls here alone?”
“They aren’t alone. They’ll be protected.”
“Vincent, did you forget also, I am a witch?”
“Never that, Zo,” he smiled.
The two exited the house together and took off in Drake’s car.
Vincent and Drake arrived to Brad’s apartment. Since the tenant was now dead, they were able to enter without invitation. They searched his studio from top to bottom, being as careless with his things as possible.
Paper, glass, pillows and wall art was now scattered around the floor of his home but no sign of him or any inkling as to what he and his band of assassins were up to.
“Did you get his scent?” Drake asked. Vincent nodded and they quickly exited to the street in search of the missing ex Hunter turned vampire.
They came across a sewage drain with multiple dead rats lying everywhere but still no Brad. They continued following his scent until finally they came to an abandoned warehouse.
They entered inside and the doors immediately closed and locked behind them.
“And here I was beginning to think you’d never find us,” Korbin said from the balcony above them. “You sure took your precious time getting here!”
“Had we known you were so eager to die, we’d have been a little quicker,” Drake remarked.
Korbin laughed. “So arrogant, your kind learns nothing.”
The hunters opened the garage door and seven vampires hissing and foaming at the mouth made their way into the warehouse. “I hope you gentlemen are prepared…this will be a night you’ll never forget!” Korbin’s voice rang out from above them.
“You ready for this old friend?” Vincent asked taking position to Drake’s right.
“I’ve been waiting to get my hands dirty,” he replied.
Vincent smiled to himself as he remembered the old Drake and his bloodlust; the one that enjoyed the hunt and the thrill of the kill. The one that would feast on the fear of his victims and toy with them as he pretended he had no idea where they were hiding. It seemed as though that Drake, that primal monster of a man, had made his return.
Drake and Vincent prepared to charge in when suddenly another door opened. Inside of this one were seven more vampires all ready to kill any and everything that moved.
Before a word was spoken two more doors opened up behind them that revealed the same number of bloodsuckers each, they were surrounded on all sides.
“Is it me or is this room getting a bit crowded?” Vincent asked.
“What are you thinking, Vincent? You take the two doors on the right and the back; I take the left and the front?”
“And we meet in the middle? Uh…no. There’s about 30 things in this room that need death. There is no way the two of us can handle this alone.”
“But it’s worth a shot. How else do you propose we get out? Best way to go down is to go down fighting.”
“I can’t argue with that. I’m with you, Drake. Let’s do this.”
They crouched and prepared themselves for battle.
There was a loud crash from the roof. The ceiling came crashing down into the center of the room and glass and debris fell and shattered on the ground near the duo.
Four bats appeared through the opened rooftop.
They landed at Drake’s feet and switched to form. There appeared the vampires Drake had met in Riverview.
“We’re not late for the party are we?” the leader spoke.
“I’d say you’re just in time. Nice to see you heed my warning,” Drake said.
“I can’t say the same for a few others unfortunately. I’m Kevin by the way. This is Gina, Tomas and you remember Jeremy.”
“Drake,” he said extending his hand. “This is Vincent.”
“I hate to interrupt such a touching reunion but…” Vincent said redirecting their attention to the task at hand.
The vampires from the doors still refused to move. Getting impatient, Vincent decided to make the first move. He rushed towards a vampire at the right door as per Drake’s earlier instructions.
As he neared the door, he realized that what he was seeing was on a TV screen. The vampires were not actually in the room.
“This is a setup!” he yelled.
“What?” Drake asked not understanding.
“They aren’t here; this is a movie being played on a loop.”
The screen turned off behind Vincent.
“But why would they…?” Drake thought out loud.
“THE GIRLS!” Vincent yelled.
Quickly the group all switched to flight form and flew to Drake’s. The lights were off inside and out as they rushed into the living room.
“Sarah? Zo?” Vincent yelled searching downstairs as Drake went up.
“ZOE? ZOE?! SARAH?” Drake yelled searching up and down the hall and every room. “ZOEE!?”
He ran back down the stairs and heard the faint caw of a crow in the dining room and rushed over to him. He had been tossed to the ground and stomped on repeatedly. “FUCK!” he screamed.
“We have to find them NOW! If they thought this would make us less likely to attack them, they’re about to learn just how big of a mistake that was!” His eyes changed to crimson to match his fury and his hands sparked with flames as he summoned two massive balls of fire.
He let out a guttural growl allowing the fireballs to grow in intensity.
“Whoa!” Kevin said looking on.
Vincent watched his friend ignite into a blaze. “Drake? What the hell has gotten into you?” he asked.
“Exactly,” Drake growled as he made his way out the door.
Vincent grabbed Drake’s shoulder and immediately withdrew as the heat from his body caused his hand to burn. “Fuck! Drake we have no idea where they are going how are we going to find them?”
“I can help,” a familiar voice echoed near the gate. Drake and Vincent turned to see Brad entering into the yard.
Drake grabbed him and immediately sent his fist into his chin. He heard the distinct pop of his jaw as it snapped out of place.
Brad hit the ground with a loud thud. He scurried backwards as Drake approached him again.
“Wait! I can help you! I know where they are going!” Brad begged.
“Why would you want to help us?” Drake sneered. “You’re the reason they are here in the first place. You’re the reason they have my wife and my child.”
Vincent glared in Drake’s direction but didn’t speak.
“We need him Drake. We have no idea where those hunters took them, think about this. If anything happens to my children…”
“Child, Vincent only one of them is yours. Misspeak like that again and I’ll kill you now.”
“Look, I’m sorry,” Brad chimed in. “I didn’t expect this. I didn’t intend for this to go this far. It was never my desire to use the residents of these towns as Korbin has. Please you gotta believe me. I want to help, I need to save her.”
Drake backed down…a little. He summoned a massive fireball and let it hover just above his hand deciding what soft part of Brad’s body he wanted to toss it. “WHERE ARE THEY?”
“They’re at the Marina! They setup a small HQ there because they know Vampires can’t smell with all the salt water around.”
“Let’s go,” he said walking to Vincent’s car.
“Wait!” Brad warned. “They’ll be ready for you! There are security cameras lining the entire property, guard dogs, attack vampires and trip wires.”
“Do you have schematics? Where would they be holding the girls?”
“There’s a room just in the back of the stairs inside. It’s pretty deep in the center of the place; you’d have to know your way around to get to it. They have snipers on the roof for bats and nets above the doors and windows. The place is a fortress.”
“They sound well guarded. We’re going to need cover to get in,” Vincent said.
“We could use Brad as bait,” Drake suggested.
“Bait? They want me dead!” he exclaimed.
“Do I look like I give a shit? They have my wife and child! They went after Sarah because of you! You’ll die by their hands or mine.”
Brad turned his head. “I want to help Sarah. What do you need me to do?”
Brad, Drake, Vincent and the Riverview quartet all made their way to the shoreline. These hunters were in for a war they’ll prove ill-equipped for.