Vampire Boys Of Summer
75: Out Of The Frying Pan
“Your dad? I thought your parents were traveling.”
Haru nodded. “I guess they stopped.”
“I don’t understand. The person you were looking for when you showed up here was your dad?”
“We had been looking for him, yes. We didn’t know he was here, though. We came here to follow up on the news article about your father. We thought mine was close, but I didn’t know they were connected. The tall man your dad saw in the grocery store? Talking with the clerk your dad thought was a vampire? We suspect that was my father.”
“We weren’t sure,” Luhan said, asserting himself into the conversation. “I sent Ryo and Haru to talk to the clerk and he told them what our fears already knew.”
I turned to Haru, a hurt look on my face. “You told me the clerk’s mind was wiped clean. You told me Bram couldn’t tell you any information. You lied to me, Haru.”
Haru tried looking at me, but my eyes revealed my hurt and anger a little too much. “How many times are you going to lie to me? First, you hid the reason of your arrival in Chelsea Valley, and now this.”
“I’m sorry, Nora. I…”
A grating sound echoed up the tunnel. We all turned. It was the sound of steel against rock. The gate behind us was opening. We could barely see into the darkness that disappeared back into the roofed section of the labyrinth. But we heard it. A loud shuffling that sounded like dozens of dragged feet, tired and wore out, yet advancing nonetheless. My disappointment in Haru was temporarily displaced. The vampires who had chased us into the labyrinth had now caught up. We may have lost them on the roof, but now we were back down on their level. And they’d grown more agitated, desperate, thirsting for their first tastes of blood. Some had been unable to contain their thirst and were attempting to get it from themselves or each other. This was evident as they came into view. Two of them were dragging another, drinking from his arms as they pulled him along. Another appeared drained and half dead, while a girl of about sixteen eyed him, following behind like a vulture waiting for the carrion to drop in front of her. But the rest were very aware that to drink from each other would not sustain them like human blood. And here was human blood right in front of them. Me.
Haru grabbed my arm. “We need to go. We’ll worry about our trust problems later, ok?”
I nodded silently, not looking at him. It wasn’t that I was furious at him, but rather at the sight of all these bloodthirsty creatures eyeing me as I were a chicken leg or a bowl of potato stew. I turned and looked at the three paths in front of us, each leading in a different direction through the maze.
“Pick one already,” Chi said.
Haru started for the one that ran straight ahead of us. It looked like a straight shot, but my own instincts said it looked too easy. I ran to the left path, hobbling on my bad leg, as everybody told me to stop. I didn’t listen. I hurtled headlong to my destiny, and soon I heard them following suit behind.
“I hope you’re right, Luhan,” Chi said. “That all these are the same.”
“They want us to find the exit,” he replied.
This worried me quite a bit. If this was a trap , how do you fight back against that? A trap is not devised easily. It takes planning to ensure you get the outcome you want. Part of me just wanted to plop down where I was and make them come into the maze and get me.
“Please let me carry you, “ Haru said, coming up alongside me. I was prepared to protest, but he didn’t wait for an answer. He stopped in front of me and hunched down, presenting his back to me. “Hop on.”
My ankle was killing me, so I had to choose pride or pain. Pride won out and climbed on his back , wrapping my arms around his neck. I allowed him to pull my legs up around his waist and I locked them by crossing my ankles. It still hurt a little bit, but now we were running, and despite my added weight, Haru carried me as if he were running alone.
The roofless corridor took us through several twists and turns, but there were no dead ends or false ways. We seemed to be running a continuous path, making me believe that Luhan was right. This was designed to tire us out or slow us down. This made me wonder how long it had been since any of my companions had fed. Haru had once told me they didn’t need to feed every day, but I still remembered our hospital visit when he started getting weak and I had to race us home. If that happened now, Ryo wasn’t here to nurse him back, and though I liked Chi I certainly didn’t want him feeding from her chest. If I was jealous of him and Ryo, he and Chi would send me over the stars.
Chi was further ahead of us, as was Luhan, so I hoped they didn’t pick up on my thoughts. Haru turned his head and looked at me. He scowled. “I have never fed from Chi like that,” he said.
Being the girl I am, I noticed he didn’t say he had never fed from her at all. He just said he hadn’t fed from her like that. Big difference.
We stayed ahead of the shambling vampires easily. It made me wonder if they were really all that spent, or rather they were just there to herd us in a certain direction. After all, they were all behaving like extras from The Walking Dead rather than new vampires with uncontrollable bloodlust. They acted like they were very controllable, but by someone else. I wondered how the whole master thing worked. Did that master vampire control all those in his clan via telepathy? Was there a mental connection between them all? And if we did manage to kill the master, Haru’s father, what happened to all the vampires under his power? Was he their power source? And what would happen to Haru? Was there something about the father and son connection, something deeper and more binding than vampirism?
If I was hoping the answers would jump into my head like a light turning on, I was mistaken. The only light I saw was at the end of the maze and… wait a minute, there was indeed a light at the end of the current corridor. We had made it. Up ahead was the exit. I looked behind us. The enemy vampires were no longer sluggish. They had picked up the pace and were nudging us towards the end of the maze. This was the moment of truth on how hopeless our situation truly was. I looked to my companions for strength and courage. Luhan and Chi exemplified those things, no problem. But Haru looked worn down and worried.
We emerged from the labyrinth into a huge open chamber. The cavern walls had niches carved into them, in which sat lit candles. In addition, electric lights had been strung from the ceiling, powered by a gas generator. As a result, it was easy to see everything in the room. Dozens upon dozens of vampires filled the cavern. Some were people I knew from Chelsea Valley: fellow students, married couples, entire families. But now they seemed changed. Now they were all looking at me in a way that was uncomfortable. Half adoration for their would be queen, half hunger for human blood.
Along either side of each wall were a line of more students from my school. Boys and girls not yet vampires, but from the looks of it were marked to be changed. They were moving at a crawling pace towards a constructed stage, where two older vampires appeared to be biting their necks, giving them the kiss of life of the undead. It reminded me of my dreams and visions courtesy of the jigsaw man: girls being ushered to the stage in our school auditorium to be bitten by either Haru or Ryo.
The two older vampires were neither Haru or Ryo of course, and they seemed to be enjoying their job a little too much. Blood had dripped down the front of their once white shirts, as if they didn’t care if they got it all or not. They reminded me of alcoholics craving a drink after being on the wagon for too long. I tried to discern who they were, or who they may have once been, but they didn’t look familiar.
A person just a few feet away from them did. It was a girl being held up by two other females I did not know. It was easy to see she couldn’t stand well on her own, and when she lifted her head, I saw her lips were bleeding bright crimson red. No, not bleeding. They were painted. Bright red lipstick smeared on her mouth in a haphazard, almost mocking fashion. Her clothes were a mess. Torn, disheveled, dotted with sprays of blood. Her eyes met mine and implored me to do something. And though her hair had now been cropped short and uneven, and had turned from blond to silver, I recognized my bestie. We had found Angela at last.
To Be Continued…
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2018 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.