tales of the daywalkers (week 23 BONUS)
Weekly Feature…Vampire Fiction Serial (Click to read week 22)
Special Bonus Daywalkers episode from Claude’s point of view.
At ten years old, I watched my father die.
From the safety of a nearby closet, too young to stop him as he positioned himself between the woman he loved and the blind rage of her husband, I witnessed his selfless act of bravery. As Sebastian savaged my father’s throat, I sat paralyzed in fear, unable to look away from the bloody scene before me. Even in death, my father showed the utmost dignity. Not once did he ask to be spared…or turned. My father’s last words were not to beg for his own life, but to plead for mine.
Almost thirty years later, I realized what his bravery cost him. What a complete fool he was to risk his life for love.
Like father like son.
“You’re thinking of your father again.” It wasn’t a question. Victoria just knew somehow.
One side of my mouth curled up in a half smile as I nodded.
“He would have been proud of you…staying beside me all these years. Very literally sticking your neck out to protect me,” she giggled.
“He should have told me to run,” I said.
The place between her brows pulled together in a faint frown and I ran a finger over the spot.
“I would have stayed anyway.” I gave her what I knew was a dismal excuse for a smile and she mirrored the gesture.
“We need to go back to Elton’s apartment and get the amulet,” Victoria whispered. “It’s dark…maybe he won’t notice I haven’t changed. I know he’ll give it to me.”
“Not tonight,” was all I could manage. “I need to think.”
Her dark head bobbed once.
“Are you hungry?” I brushed a piece of hair from her face, reveling in the way her skin responded to my touch even in such dire circumstances.
“Not really,” she lied.
The pained look on her face told me how hungry she was. I popped an eyebrow up. “Really?”
“Ok, maybe a little.”
I tipped my face up to the dark sky and closed my eyes, drawing in a slow, deep breath.
“I smell it too,” Victoria said. “Just off to the north…through the park.”
We locked hands and set off toward the delicious fragrance in the wind. Even at a metered pace, it didn’t take us more than a minute to reach the outer edge of the park where it bordered the highway.
“We need to be careful. We’re too close to the public areas.” Victoria took the lead, keeping my hand grasped in hers as she carefully crossed into the open.
Victoria had something in her sights, I wasn’t sure what. A shadow moved behind a tree. The smell was strong, but my eyes had yet to discover what she tracked.
“Hello,” Victoria purred in the darkness. “You’re out very late on this not so nice evening.”
The vibration of the response drew my attention to the boy she spoke to. He was a mere child. No older than I was when we first met.
“What’s your name?” Victoria reached her hand cautiously toward the boy, wiggling her fingers to draw him closer.
The boy squeaked out, “Justin.”
“Well, Justin. What are you doing in the park so late…and all alone? Hasn’t your mummy warned you of all the dangerous creatures lurking about at night?” Victoria purred.
Victoria had inched us close enough to taste the boy’s fear. His heart beat like a rabbit, racing in his tiny chest, making my fangs slide out at the ready.
“Victoria?” I breathed.
“Hmmm?” Victoria glanced back at me with a little smile that told me she was fully engaged in the hunt. Her fangs protruded enough for me to see them, and in just a moment she would have the boy close enough where he would see them too.
But as hungry as I was, I wasn’t prepared to feed on this boy.
I tugged against her hand and spoke more firmly. “Victoria.”
“Don’t interrupt us, Claude. Justin and I are just getting acquainted over here. Aren’t we Justin?” The faint glow of the park light glinted off her teeth and the boy froze.
“Enough,” she roared, her shallow strides finally bringing her close enough to grasp the boy’s hand. “If you would rather leave, by all means, go,” she said sweetly. Too sweetly.
“I have the amulet,” I blurted out, drawing her rapt attention from the boy to me.
Her eyes seared through me. “What?”
“I have the amulet…at the house. It’s hidden where no one will find it. Let the boy go and I’ll take you to it.” I said.
Victoria turned her attention to the boy. “Go. Run. Stay out of the park at night,” she growled.
The boy was still frozen, trembling against the tree.
“Run!” I shouted, and the boy snapped out of the hypnosis Victoria had him under. He bolted for the wash of lights, running as fast as his tiny legs would take him.
Victoria regarded me with her head tipped to one side. “You lied to me?”
“I didn’t want Sebastian to have it. Elton told me something about the amulet…something he discovered while it was in his possession. I wanted to know more first.”
“You lied to me.” She repeated, her tone turning from sad to angry.
“I lied to you.” I admitted. “But I would have told you the truth eventually. I always do.” I flashed a cheeky grin at her.
She slowly shook her head at me and the grin slid from my face.
“You lied to me!” Victoria’s voice thundered through the trees chasing an owl from its perch.
My mouth opened to say something, but I never got the chance. Victoria lunged at me, her fangs sinking into my throat until she hit bone.
My veins cried out as she extracted every drop. I struggled against her assault until the weakness overcame me. My limbs folded beneath me, the darkness swallowing me up, pulling me under until I knew I could not possibly survive.
As I lay on the cold ground, dampness soaking into my clothes, I felt rather than saw Victoria hovering over me, her shadow blocking what little light touched the sky.
“I should have killed you,” she whispered.
I coughed to test my voice.
“I thought you did,” I croaked.
Victoria’s hollow laugh filled the air around me. “We’re not that easy to kill. Besides, I’m not stupid! You haven’t told me what Elton discovered about the amulet yet.”
Until the next time…I’ll be working on the next episode of Tales of the Daywalkers!