Home > Reign of Blood (Reign of Blood #1)(10)

Reign of Blood (Reign of Blood #1)(10)
Author: Alexia Purdy

I glanced down into the now empty hole below me. The debris had had smashed a path down to the basement and the drop had to be more than thirty feet. I gulped, wondering if I would make it if I cut the sheet. I held onto the wrap with my left arm, feeling a raw ache on the side of my head where a warm wetness dripped down from it. The vampire bite in my arm seared from the pressure against it.

Damn! I was sure to have a seeping cut where my head had hit the side of the floor when I descended. Grunting, I wiggled like a caterpillar in a chrysalis, trying to break free of the restraints the sheets had become. Failing miserably, I stopped struggling and glanced around and above to see what I could do. Fortunately I was near the edge of the floor and wasn’t too far from being able to grip it. Grabbing the blanket, I pulled up on it, hoping to loosen its grip on me just enough to pull my other arm free. It worked and I shook the sheet loose from my arm. Now free to pull my body up with both hands, I started the tedious task of dragging my weight up with my arms. I now thanked myself for busting my own butt to work out and even though I had been slacking lately, my efforts were still noticeable.

The cloud of dust swirled away from me, clearing up the air as I grunted and worked my way up. Once I was an arm’s length away from the edge of what was left of the third floor, I reached up, grasping the ragged cement edge. It cut into my fingers with the sharp points of rebar and hard, rough concrete that crumbled a bit in my grasp. I gritted my teeth as I pulled myself further up the rope of sheets.

As my I lifted my head up to look back onto the third floor, I realized the sheets were on fire. Flames licked at the other end of it, which dangled above as the fire slowly crawled toward me. I tried to grip both hands onto the ledge but the burning flames had eaten into the material so badly that my last tug made it unravel, sending me sliding back down. I dangled from the ledge by one hand, my arm burning as I held on for dear life. The part of the sheet that had been wrapped around me had loosened up enough for me to kick it off, sending it spiraling into the black abyss below like a rippling ribbon of fire.

Chapter Twelve

My fingers grew numb as the slight grip I had managed began to slip slowly from the edge of the jagged remains of the third floor. I couldn’t reach the platform with my right arm, even though it was now untangled from the sheet’s straight jacket embrace that had held me but a moment ago. I swung it up to hopefully catch on to the edge, only to immediately slip back off. I wondered if, or when, I did fall, just how many bones I would break. I was sure that it wouldn’t really be an issue; I probably wouldn’t survive the impact.

Shaking the morbid thoughts out of my head, I grunted as I tried one more time to reach the platform with my right hand. I was just inches away and the strain made me grit my teeth in pain and frustration. I couldn’t reach it. No matter how hard and long I stretched, it seemed my left arm was somehow longer than my right. It seemed to have stretched an infinite length from holding my weight. I was sure I wouldn’t be able to hold on much longer. Glancing down, I stared at the black depths below; the light from the windows was blocked by debris, leaving the place grey and dark. If I fell, I was pretty sure whatever ferals had survived the blast would be happy to finish me off for dinner. I whispered a small prayer to not live through the fall.

The fingers on my left hand reached the jagged edge and slipped off. The jolt of gravity and the feel of weightlessness made my body feel almost unreal at that point. For a moment, time stood still and the building hovered in my vision as I waited for my fate to come in that moment that seemed to last forever. When a hand gripped my wrist, the hovering feeling faded and the push of gravity embraced me again. My left arm was searing from the shock of being yanked upward as I was beginning to fall. I was sure I had dislocated my shoulder for the agony that followed made me fight to not lose consciousness. Turning to look up at my rescuer, I caught sight of flashing yellow and grey-brown eyes and long, chestnut brown hair. The woman grunted at the effort, pulling at my arm to bring me closer to the edge.

“Give me your other hand, you aren’t that light!” She yelled out to me. I swung my right arm up, gripping her other arm. I held on for dear life and relished feeling the ground under my chest when I could finally pull my legs onto the hard, sturdy ground. Glancing up at my savior, who was now dusting off her black jeans and shirt, I wondered who she could be. My arms were numb and I rubbed them, attempting to regain the feeling back in them. I cradled my left arm as I stared up at the decimated ceiling above us. Standing up slowly, I came face to face with the first human I had seen in a long time, besides my family. Or so I thought she might be human. The pain in my left shoulder didn’t help me focus.

“Thank you, I don’t know what I would’ve done if…” I started, but she interrupted me almost immediately.

“Stop, don’t thank me. You made a massive mess and you really ought to think these things through.” The woman shook her head and rolled her shining eyes at me. I felt my face flush scarlet, wanting to give her a piece of my mind. She studied my arm and took hold of it with one hand and placed her other on my shoulder. Her sympathetic eyes found mine as she continued. “This might hurt a bit.”

“I was just saying thanks,” my voice was raspy and quiet but I was cut off when she jerked my arm, somehow getting it back into position with a strength I didn’t know she had. I let out a choked scream, wanting to black out so I didn’t have to feel the pain. I hated how small I suddenly felt; being at the mercy of anyone was not something I was used to.

“Forget it, I have to go,” she spat out, more annoyed than anything. I gasped at the flash of fangs in her mouth, suddenly full of confusion.

“You’re one of them, aren’t you?” I asked, staring hard back at her, readying to grab one of the weapons remaining on my belt loop before she could retaliate.

The woman stopped in her tracks, having already turned to go. She pivoted slowly back, looking at me with her eyes, sizing me up. She didn’t reach for a weapon but remained perfectly still, not saying anything, just watching me in a peculiar way. I stared right back, challenging her with my own eyes as I wondered why she would even save me. It suddenly dawned on me who she was and my skin peppered with gooseflesh as fear crept across me.

She was a vampire, didn’t she need blood? Why would she leave me alive if I was her prey?

“We don’t drink human blood,” she cocked her head to the side, her beady gold-rimmed, grey-brown eyes reflecting the small fires flickering behind me; it clung to the wallpaper on the other side of the room. Pressing my lips into a tight line, I was suddenly at a loss of what to do.

This vampire had saved my life. She wasn’t feral–she was another kind of breed, like the girl back home in the mountains by my van. Her face was now completely in my view and the streams of light that came down from the opened roof lit it up enough for me to see her more clearly. She was the watcher in the woods, the very same woman. The surprise must have been apparent for she did not seem angry, but began laughing at me.

“You really need to get to know how things really are, April,” she said, watching my reaction to her knowing my name.

“How do you know my name, who are you?” I hissed, my voice acidic. I felt toyed with, like I was missing a piece of a great big puzzle that I thought I knew how to put together. But I didn’t know how to put anything together anymore. The reality of it all was cascading down on me like a bucket of ice water, making me suck in my breath while I drowned in all my fear.

“I know everything about you,” the vampire explained. “I know you hunt for your mother and brother, I know you are quite a warrior and deadly too. I’m not the enemy–you have no idea who is and that is going to get you killed.” She huffed and turned as she started to walk away with a confidence about her that made me want to shake more information out of her.

“Who are you then?” I yelled at her back, enraged that she was ignoring me and feeling suddenly more vulnerable than ever before in my life. She beckoned for me to follow. I didn’t want to go with her but as I stood in the ruin of the ballroom, I knew I had to. She might have the answers I needed to find my family. She was my one chance to learn what I didn’t know. Everything was so fuzzy and confusing and only she could make it clear again. Reluctantly, I followed this vampire.

Reluctantly was an understatement.

Chapter Thirteen

I followed her to the stairway, where the now-dying flames had smothered the steps in soot and licked the last of the gasoline that I had laid down. I felt relief flood through me as we stepped through and descended down the stairs. My left arm was still aching something fierce and I rubbed it as best I could to ease the pain. As we reached the first floor landing, I grabbed my hatchet and readied to pummel whatever would fly through the door. Never did I even realize that my companion would take them out before I even had a chance to get to them.

Rain had begun to drizzle down in uneven sheets while I had been inside tearing the place up. It had begun to drip down from the holes in the roof; huge droplets plopped down on the mess that was now the first floor. Some of it had collapsed down into the basement. A few ferals turned as we entered but instead of attacking they seemed to cower and hiss as we made our way past them. They stood glaring at us in the shadows as if we were not welcome.

That was when it hit me. My companion was walking through the beams of sunlight that flashed in and out between the clouds above and had remained unscathed. She was a vampire and they cowered away from her but she was immune to the sun’s light. I gripped the handle of my hatchet, more for security than anything else. It comforted me in some strange way. I would have preferred to have my machetes to hack into the drooling, sinister faces that surrounded me but the fight was not in me anymore. It seemed to have melted out of me from almost falling to my death and meeting this stranger. My rage had slipped to the floor like the fat plops of water dripping from above.

Before we left, one feral dared to lurch towards us only to end up in the woman’s grip. Her fangs flashed as she hissed right back at the squirming feral in her grasp. Without warning, she clamped down on its neck and sucked on its blood. I paled, feeling suddenly small in a room full of predators. Disgusted, I ran past her and out into the drenched streets. I hunched over as my stomach lurched. Of course they didn’t drink human blood, they drank other vampires’ blood!

“Not very sturdy are you?” Her voice bounced out from behind me. I turned, still bent over, trying to swallow the heavy knot that had formed in my stomach that was trying to lurch up and out. I shook my head, taking in deep breaths as my hair dripped with water from the downpour above me. The street was already soaked and rivers of rainwater were rushing down the sides of the road, running into the holes of the storm drains at the ends of the sidewalks. My clothes were slick and clung to my skin.

I watched my new companion as she studied me; her honey brown hair clung to her face, framing it in long, slithering strands. She seemed to somehow understand that we were kindred spirits in a sick sort of way. I still didn’t know what to think about her, My hesitation swirled in my head like a hurricane, scrambling up my senses.

We eyed one another for a moment, sizing each other up in the rain. Pushing my hair away from my face, I waited for her to speak. I was still too shocked to absorb what had just happened; nothing had taken away from the fact that this here was a vampire. No matter which way I looked at it, she could very well be responsible for my family’s disappearance.

“Who are you?” my voice finally sounded as my fingers fidgeted over the handle of my hatchet. Nervous was not what I would say I was. Paranoid, with a dose of disbelief, would be more like it. I wondered how hard I had hit my head. Reaching back, I felt the raw patch of skin under my tangle of hair. My fingers came back with blood, swirling in the droplets and running like watercolors in the rain. The sudden ache to my head made me groan, accompanied by a slight lurch in my stomach. I hated being so fragile but my main concern was the vampire in front of me, staring hungrily at the blood dripping down my arm.

I held the hatchet ready, waiting for her answer.

“You don’t have to be afraid of me, I told you, I don’t drink human blood.” She huffed back at me. I shook my head, not believing a word that slithered from her mouth.

“Look, I know you have a ton of questions so ask away, though I do suggest you return with me to our hideout. The sun will be gone in an hour and I’m sure not even you, miss vampire hunter, can take out the whole town after dark.” The woman, if you could call her that, since she looked to be barely older than I was, wiped away the crimson drops that ran down her chin from her feed.

“Why should I trust you? You’re one of them, an animal.” The thick cold in my voice surprised me. Long gone was the gentile, laughing girl that had once been in my heart. I felt as cold as I sounded too, hardened and numb.

“Look, I’m not the animal here. I am a person, like you. My name is Miranda, I’m nineteen years old and I used to live here with my family too, you know.” Miranda paused, almost choking on her words as she took a deep breath before continuing. “I am not a monster. I have just been watching you, seeing what it is you seek. You are the only full human left here that I know of and I was sent to investigate you. I want to help you find your family. I am also hoping that you can help save my family, too.” She stared back at me, her eyes never wavering.

Now with her standing so close to me, I realized how her eyes had two distinct circles of color, one outer ring of gold and an inner ring of grey-brown. The sheets of rain made us both blink faster to keep the water out our eyes. I wondered if hidden in the streams pouring down her cheeks were also tears, just like mine.

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