tales of the daywalkers (week 16)
Weekly Feature…Vampire Fiction Serial (Click to read week 15)
Claude disappeared around the corner into an alley as I slammed the car door. I didn’t get in. Of course, he didn’t know that. Why would he? He had other things on his mind. I had no idea what, but I was certain he was up to something. After all, I wasn’t turned yesterday.
I’d had quite enough of the histrionics between Claude and Sebastian. Swapping formulas, competing for my attention, testosterone-induced fangfests. And whatever mischief Claude may be up to tonight.
My eyes closed and I put my face to the sky. After two-hundred years of darkness, I now walked freely in the day. It isn’t possible…and yet here I am. I almost wanted to thank Sebastian…something that went against the grain. Even as a heavy blanket of shade covered most of the alley, I still felt the warmth of daylight glance across my skin.
And I smelled something burning.
A sizzling flash of fear had me fleeing for the darkest shadows. Instinct told me my skin had ignited in the sun…Sebastian’s daywalker tonic had failed me.
I swallowed a scream and ran my hands over my arms, inspecting for blisters or other signs of scorched flesh, and waited for the agonizing pain to overtake me. Nothing happened. Rational thought quickly returned and I realized the scent in the air was off. I had smelled my own flesh searing in the sun before. Oh, yes I had. There would never be anything as horrible. What I smelled now was altogether different…and somehow, ancient.
My nose led me around the corner, following the same path Claude took.
I found him standing in a shaft of light as it sliced through the gap between two buildings. Light glistened off his dark hair. A bright flame danced around his hands.
At first I feared Claude was burning. But then I noticed he held something between his fingers. It looked like a piece of stiff fabric, or a page torn from an old book. The flame held his rapt attention as he watched it burn…the orange glow hungrily licking its way across the page…black ash dancing through the air.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
Slowly, he turned to face me, recognition dawning in his eyes. “Victoria. I thought I asked you to stay in the car.”
“You did.” I said flatly.
“And yet, here you are.” The paper continued to burn in his hand.
“I never agreed.” I nodded toward the mini-inferno. “So that’s what you had tucked in your hand?”
A slow smile tilted his lips. “The very same.”
A few long strides put me close enough to reach out and touch him. Instead, I peered down at his hands. “What exactly are you burning, Claude?”
Claude chuckled, turning just enough to keep the words out of my view. “Oh, just a little bridge to nowhere. Nothing for you to worry about.”
A light gust of November air swirled around us, feeding the tiny flame until only the corner pinched between Claude’s fingers remained.
I extended my hand with a sideways smile. “Let me see it.”
Claude’s face turned to stone. “No.”
“No, really. Hand it over.” I waggled my outstretched palm at him.
Claude shook the bit of paper until the residual fire went out. “It’s really nothing.” He lied.
If it had been merely nothing, he wouldn’t have so fiercely protected it.
Claude pressed the paper fragment into my palm. It was still warm. I turned it over in my hand trying to make out any remaining words on the page.
“What does this…?” The shadow of grandiose lettering ghosted behind the charred edges. I could almost make out a word or two.
My eyes went wide. I couldn’t be reading it right. “1783?”
“What?” Claude asked.
“Right here…” I pointed to the bottom corner. I could barely make out the date, but there it was. “1783…this paper was dated 1783.”
“I don’t think you can be sure…”
I looked from the paper to Claude’s guilty expression. “Where did you get this?”
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Until the next time…I’ll be writing next week’s Daywalkers!