Read Bloodfire (Empire of Fangs) Online

Authors: Andrew Domonkos

Bloodfire (Empire of Fangs) (13 page)

23.

 
 

The propane tank looked like Paul Bunyan’s discarded ibuprofen bottle.
 
It wasn’t bolted to the ground; it simply rested on a slab of concrete on four stubby metal legs.
 
Twig had backed the truck up to it, got out, and stood far back.

 

“Oh that’s reassuring,” Zara said.

 

“Hey, I’m the one who is
gonna
have to drive it up some bumpy dirty road.”

 

Zara squatted down and, with both hands on the tank, thrust upward.
 
The tank went upright, wobbled a bit as Zara tried to correct it, and slipped from her grip and slammed against the tail gate.
 
Zara flinched and Twig took another step back.
 

 

Zara lifted the end still on the ground, and the tank lay flat, halfway into the bed.
 
With another good shove, it went flush into the bed, and only hung a foot off the tailgate.
 

 

Twig found a rope behind the seat and had began to secure the tank.
 
He weaved it under the tank, through the upright metal legs that
maade
the tank look like something that had died, and tied it off through a pair of rusty holes.
 
When he was done, he gave his web a satisfied look.
 
“That should hold her steady.”

 

“One day we’re going to have to ask a psychiatrist why you consider every large inanimate object a female.”

 

Twig furrowed his brow for a minute, and almost went to touch the area over his lip where his
stache
had once been.
 
“Maybe it’s an Italian thing.”

 

He started coughing and pulling his ridiculous howling wolf shirt over his mouth.
 
The smoke had thickened in the air, and was beginning to sting his eyes.

 

“Look,” Zara said, pointing over the general store towards the dark wooded area that rose up into the mountains.
 
Up on the ridge the red glow was growing stronger.
  
Twig stood beside Zara and watched it.
 
“It’s moving fast.
 
It’s this damn wind.”

 

Little red sparks began to drift down from the mountaintop, like fireflies.
 
“You better go,” Zara said.
 

 

Twig touched her hand while she stared up at the blaze.
 
“Hey.
 
Ya
know, in case this ends badly, I just want you to know—”

 

Zara squeezed his hand and put her arm over his shoulder and she closed her eyes and kissed him.
 
Drifting embers were swirling all around and one landed on the back of Twig’s neck and he yelped.
 

 

Twig wiped a tear from her eye with his thumb, and the two laughed for a minute.
  

 

Without saying a word he hugged her once more, tightly, kissed her on her forehead and went to the truck.
 

 

He took out the old metal machete and brought it over to her.
 
“Here, you might need it.”
 
She took it, and he got back in the truck and drove cautiously and slowly away up the road.
 

 

Zara walked out into the center of the road and looked eastward, where they would come from.
 

 

“Come and get me,” she muttered through her gritted teeth.
 

 

She dragged the machete slowly against her arm, cutting herself just deep enough for blood to start dripping.
 
She began to walk down through town, towards the trail behind the Alistair, letting the drops fall from her and soak into the earth.
 

 

24.

 
 

Mark went back to cursing when he woke up bound and gagged. He had a throbbing headache.
 
His skull felt as if it was vibrating.
 

 

“Look who’s up,” a young voice said.
 
Mark rolled over and could see two neat rows of soldiers, sitting on two opposite benches.
 
He was in a vehicle of some sort, and it was bouncing noisily wherever it was going.
 
He couldn’t remember much except that he was late for work.
 
The soldiers were all young, in boots and fatigues, yet their haircuts and piercings and glowing necklaces looked very unmilitary.
 
A red bulb on the ceiling cast a light down on them, and all their faces looked stoic and confident, if not just a bit devilish.
 

 

The soldier nearest to him gave him a little kick, and Mark squirmed in his bindings and grunted.
 
Tape covered his mouth, and his wrists and ankles were bound tightly together.
 

 

“You make a noise at the checkpoint, I tear out your voice box,” the kid said, and the others chuckled.
 

 

Mark lay still.
 
He started to wonder if this was over Zara’s apparent terrorism.
 
Was he being shipped off to some torture camp in the mountains?
 
Didn’t someone mention something about a fire?
 
His head was swimming with questions, each more unanswerable than the last.

 

In a few minutes the truck came to a stop and Mark could hear gruff military jargon being exchanged, then the sound of someone slapping their hand against metal.
 
He heard a familiar voice say “Good luck sir.”

 

And then the truck jerked forward and he slid a bit on the floor.
 
Someone kicked him again and he rolled away, back to where he had been placed, his face tucked under his shoulder against the hard metal floor.
 
The soldiers began to discuss their plans.
 
He dared not look at them, and he could only make out some of what they said over the rattle of the vehicle.

 

“You guys got
nightvision
too?”

 

“Yeah it’s the bomb.
 
Straight up
Call of Duty
Black Ops
up in here.”

 

The soldiers laughed.

 


Gonna
be the first to get that bitch.”

 

“Yeah right Jay, you couldn’t catch an STD in Tijuana.
 
And if that ghost fool catches you, you’re
gonna
get owned son.”

 

“What about the blood?
 
Ain’t
we supposed to like, drink that stuff? That’s how Dracula rolls.”

 

“What do you think you were in those last shots at the after party?
 
Kool
-aid?
 
That was like some instant vampire juice.”

 

“Would you retards shut-up? Didn’t you hear what Drake said?
 
These three are like, super vampires or some shit.”

 

“Yeah, so what, there’s ten of us up in here.”

 

“Twelve moron.”

 

“Don’t make me bite your ass.”

 

“Bite me fool.
 
I’m already a damn vampire what the hell do you think biting me is
gonna
do?”

 

“You see that dude’s face? It’s straight up jacked.”

 

A voice boomed from the front of the truck: “Shut the hell up or I swear I’ll come back there and chop every one of your heads off and kick them into a lake!”

 

“Sorry Drake man, we’ll chill,” someone said.

 

Mark’s headache now beat like a war drum.
 
Before he passed out, he thought,
whatever happens, please don’t let me turn into whatever these things are.

 

25.

 
 
 
 

Drake touched the ground, twisting his finger into a brownish drop of blood and raising his finger up to his nose.
 
“It’s her alright. And she’s wounded.”

 

Abby watched on a few feet behind him, intent on learning these many skills of the hunt, with the twelve club kids behind her, who were looking dumbly around at the old town and muttering under their breaths about what cars they planned on acquiring with their new powers.
 

 

Drake stood up and addressed the club kids, who fell into line, more or less, when they heard his voice.
 
“Alright listen up,” Drake shouted, “I know you’re probably confused and haven’t had much time to adjust, but there is only one thing you need to know as of now.
 
That we have three targets and little time to find them.
 
Since they are the only ones stupid enough to remain in this town, your instructions are to kill anyone you see.”

 

The club kids grinned and nodded nervously.
 
A slightly overweight guy with pink and blue hair held up his hand sheepishly.

 

“Yes, what?”

 

“Just wondering, I have diabetes, so is that like, cured or what?”

 

Drake sighed and ignored the question entirely.
 
“You’re faster now, and stronger.
 
You will find killing will come natural now, as long as you don’t resist your nature.
 
Don’t be stupid and don’t linger or lag behind, this wildfire that’s coming can destroy you. We are resistant but not impervious.
 
Hence the need to do this quick.”
 

 

The club kids snickered. “Epic question fail,” one whispered.
 

 

Drake nodded at Abby and she unrolled a green tarp, unveiling rows of machetes and stakes inside.
 
“Bullets are no good.
 
You
gotta
take the head off or stake them in the heart.
 
The
Sollero
kid you can dispatch in any way you see fit, just don’t bite the little bastard, his blood is poisonous.
 
This is the proving grounds kids.
 
You want to earn my respect you earn it with blood.”

 

The club kids all took their weapons up, shoving and pushing each other, and once they had their weapons in hand they began to take some practice swings and stabs into the air.

 

Abby frowned and leaned in close to Drake.
 
“They are pitiful,” she whispered.

 

“You’ve only gotten your fangs wet and you’re an expert now?
 
You’ve taken out one half-asleep trucker leaving the john, that’s hardly elevated you to an authority on combat.”
   

 

Abby rolled her eyes and went over to the tarp and picked up a stake.
 

 

Drake retrieved
Klaue
from the cab of the truck, hooked the scabbard to his belt and sheathed the sword.
 
He heard one of the club kids murmur under his breath: “He gets a damn Aladdin sword and we get this crap.”

 

Drake ignored the comment, there was no time to berate and beat sense into this lot.
 
Besides, half of them would probably accidentally stake themselves tripping over some shrubs before the hunt was over.
 
“Alright, stay with me, and someone grab that worm in the back.
 
He’s our insurance.”

 

Two of the club kids ran to the back of the truck and got Mark out of it.
 
One threw him over his shoulder.

 

“Damn, I’m like, He-Man strong,” he bragged.
 
“When this is over I’m joining the UFC.”
 

 

Drake lifted
Klaue
slightly, thinking it might be wise to make an example of someone, a quick kill to instill some obedience in them, but decided he needed all the fodder he could get.
 
If he had ever led a more sorry group surely he had forgotten them wherever their bones lay.
 
He marched them forward, double-time, following the scent of the doomed.
 

 

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