Weekly Feature…Vampire Fiction Serial (Click to read week 29)
Tonight’s Daywalkers is part two of the finale. If you have enjoyed this series, please leave comments below and based on the response, I will hurry to start “season 2” of the Daywalker Chronicles…The Blood of the First.
“Victoria! Elizabeth!” Father’s voice echoed through the field.
Like a mouse in the path of a hungry cat, I froze…my heart beating wildly in my chest.
“He’s back!” I grabbed Lizzie’s arm, dragging her away from the carriage and the shiny coffin inside. “He knows. Oh, Lizzie, we must hurry, listen to his voice…he knows!”
Lizzie’s blue eyes went wide. “Run for the barn. Run as fast as you can…don’t look back…I’ll be right behind you.”
The barn loomed large in the distance as I propelled myself forward, stealing glances at Lizzie, slipping further and further behind me. Her fiery hair had formed a tangled mane around her face as she struggled to keep up.
Knotted vines and underbrush twisted around my ankles and I tripped, crashing to the ground.
“Elizabeth…Victoria…I know you’re out here. Answer me!” Father’s angry cries lashed at the wind, driving me to scramble to my feet again, and to keep moving despite the fear and pain.
“Hurry…Oh, try to keep up, Lizzie. He’s coming,” I murmured to her, but I could barely hear my own voice over the thrashing of tall grass as it whipped against my skirt…and my heart thundering in my ears.
I couldn’t bear to think of him reaching Lizzie first.
There was no explanation for what I was about to do. It was sheer instinct, I suspect. I peeked back at my sister as she sprinted through the grass, and I turned toward the sound of my father’s voice…breaking into a mad run in his direction.
“Victoria…there you are,” my father boomed up the stairs as I started my descent.
“Good evening, Father,” I forced a smile as I reached the bottom and he wrapped his arms around me for a crushing embrace. “You’re looking quite like the cat staring at the canary.”
His loud laughter shook the walls. “My beautiful birds.” He patted my head then turned to Lizzie. “It’s so lovely to see my two youngest daughters reunited after such a long time.”
“It’s a regular family reunion around here,” Claude mumbled as he reappeared at the top of the stairs.
“Ah, monsieur Boucher…do join us,” Father opened his arms toward Claude and waited while he made his way down the stairs. “Now that our dear Sebastian has made sure everyone has received a dose of the daywalker elixir, I think it’s time we settle up. I believe you have something that belongs to me.”
Claude stopped on the bottom step. “No…I don’t think I do.”
The smile slid from Father’s lips. “I have been exceedingly patient with you…but my patience has worn thin. The horizon is already glowing with the promise of morning, and I would like the amulet, if you please.”
Claude shook his head lightly. “I’m afraid I’m not big on pleasing others.”
“Victoria,” Father turned to me with a stiff smile. “Do explain to your friend here, what happens when I don’t get what I desire.”
“Father, please. Claude doesn’t have the amulet.” I laid a hand on his arm and he shook it off to point a finger at Sebastian.
“I warned you…and you will soon pay the price for crossing me.”
“I think I can live with that price.” Claude grinned widely, sliding his eyes in Sebastian’s direction. I sensed something pass between them in that instant. “In fact, I think I would pay to see that.”
“Lizzie come here, and bring my bag, dear.” Father pointed to a worn canvas bag slung over the arm of a chair.
Lizzie retrieved the bag and turned to step away, but Father held fast to her arm.
“Stay,” he demanded. “I need your assistance.”
“Certainly Father,” Lizzie said with a faint smile. “How can I be of help to you?”
Father cupped her cheek in his palm, gently pressing his lips to her forehead. “You can remind your sister of the truly important things in this life.” He took her hand in his, stroking the back with his thumb as he spoke. “From the moment I first discovered the amulet and what it could do, I knew I had stumbled onto a treasure beyond comprehension. You girls remember the winter you discovered the casket in the clearing. Dear Anne was desperate for a guardian, and I for knowledge. It was a perfect arrangement. She told me the story of the Empress Theodora, and the mystical powers of the amulet. But in the course of her travels, she had come across far more information than had been previously known. She knew the amulet alone wasn’t enough. The wearer must also have the power to walk in the sun. Only when used together could a vampire attain true immortality.”
Father cupped Lizzie’s cheek again. “You my dear have become my greatest asset…and for that I will always be in your debt. But alas, I will never be able to repay you.”
Father turned his eyes to me. “I have never forgiven myself for having taken your mother’s life. It was a horribly unforeseen accident…one I will soon rectify.” Father reached into the bag and pulled out a twisted branch. The end had been carved to a sharp point. “The amulet along with the blood of the first will allow me to bring your mother back…this has been my only quest since the day the last drop of life slipped from her.”
Lizzie screamed as Father slid his hand into her hair, seizing a handful and yanking her head back at the same time he pressed the point of the branch against her sternum.
My body rippled with tension, every muscle coiled like a spring, ready to snap if the moment presented itself.
“My dearest Victoria…I have seen you come to your sister’s aid, time and time again, at the expense of your own safety and wellbeing. I have no doubt you will, again, rise to the occasion.”
Lizzie’s eyes bore into mine. I didn’t need to hear the words, I knew what she wanted me to do. She would rather die than allow Father to have the amulet.
I hesitated, only for an instant, then reached into my boot and carefully withdrew the amulet.
“No! Don’t let him have it. Victoria, please. I would sooner see it destroyed…and myself along with it…than to allow him to bring her back. Not like that.”
“Your sister doesn’t understand what she’s saying. She’s always been the more inquisitive of the two of you…but not the smartest. Would you truly let her die? And Sebastian, as well?” Father pressed the stake into Lizzie, drawing a bead of blood where it broke the skin.
My shoulders slumped as I moved to hand him the necklace I never wanted. The piece of jewelry I wished never existed. The tool that would destroy whatever peace I’d ever known in this life.
“No…place it around my neck. Carefully,” he cautioned, as I reached my hands up to place the heavy chain over his head.
Once the stone hung against his chest, Father dragged Lizzie toward the door. “Come…watch. I’ve been told it is a wonder to behold.”
The three of us…myself, Claude and Sebastian…followed my father out the door in a sullen procession.
“Look at it,” Father said, pointing at the ball of flame inching its way up the horizon. “It’s beautiful.”
He was fixated as the sun began to rise, much as I had been not so long ago. How easily the simple things are forgotten.
As the daylight climbed higher into sky, amulet glistened…then as the direct light of the sun reached the black stone, it was as if a thousand beams of light shot out in all directions.
“What is this?” Father said, and I was so mesmerized by the glow, I almost missed the first spark against his skin. “Why is this…” his voice came out strangled as another spark ignited his white shirt.
Lizzie screamed as the flame shot out from his arm, catching her hand on fire.
“What have you done?” Father roared, and his skin bubbled up and blackened along his cheek.
“Let Lizzie go, Father. She’s burning.” I begged, reaching for her in vain.
Father yanked at her hair, pulling her tighter against him as flames licked at his skin, and through him, hers as well. I couldn’t tell if her hair was on fire or if the flames had just blended in with the fiery color.
I was paralyzed as I watched her struggle against him…scream after scream ripping from her throat like a wild beast.
“The amulet, Victoria,” she shrieked, clawing at his throat like a cat.
My coiled muscles jerked as I lunged at him, wrenching Lizzie from his grasp, and wrapped my fingers around the exploding light of the amulet as it burned along with his skin.
“Let it go, Victoria. Don’t hold on to it. Let it go!” Someone screamed behind me. I couldn’t tell who over the rushing in my ears and the searing pain shooting up my arm. I had burned before. I had felt the heat of the sun blister my flesh until I begged to die. That was nothing compared to this.
A primal scream ripped out of me as the burning spread through my entire body. My eyes…my lips…my tongue…every sense alert and on fire. And my father’s eyes, boring into mine as he burned alongside of me.
“Hurry, Lizzie…the stake,” the voice pleaded and I wasn’t sure if I was hearing one of them, or my own subconscious.
And then my father whispered out of my grasp like a withered leaf crumbling in my hand, as a bright, magnificent light exploded outward in a star pattern from the amulet clasped in my palm.
“Victoria!” the voice screamed. “Put it on…oh hurry…put it on before it’s too late.”
But they didn’t understand. It was far too hot…and far too heavy…and I was far too tired to lift it.
“She’s dying…oh, please help her!”
It’s ok…I wanted to tell them. I’m not afraid to die.
Until the next time…I’ll be announcing the winners of the contest next week!