Nicole Grey (foenix) wrote,
Nicole Grey
foenix

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Black River: Day 33

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I'm sure some would argue with me, but this chapter feels like my weakest yet.  There's a lot I like, but this one needs some editing and rewriting.  Maybe even splitting it up with other things.  There's a lot to like, but it feels unfocused.  I need to smooth out the rough spots of the bad guy's plan, clearly.

Blah blah blah, here you go.

Chapter Twelve - System is a Vampire

        The house across the street seemed so quiet.  There was nothing there that interested him yet.  Yes, inside there was one, and she would have made a tasty morsel, but she was off limits.  For now.
        There, walking up to the house.  Another girl.  Maybe that one?  No, he recognised her as well.  She too had her role to play, but he looked forward to meeting her someday.
        The creature stuck to the trees, watching the house.  What fools these mortals be, opening their doors to anything that might just stray up their walkways.  It would be so easy to kill every last family on this street.  A simple greeting of, "Trick or treat!" and he could make this road run red.
        He hungered for it, longed to drown the town in blood.  But not tonight.  Tonight was about a message.  He had waited for weeks until that first one had become a memory in the fleeting minds of these humans.  Had he truly been one of them, oh so long ago?  He supposed he must have, but that was many lifetimes past.
        What better night was there to strike again?  This was a night for mischief, a night for horrors.  Many had forgotten that, but oh, he would remind them, teach them a lesson they would not soon forget.
        The hunter arrives now.  The slayer.  The boogieman of the boogiemen.  How he longed to sink his teeth into that one most of all.  Too many had been turned to ash by that one.  But Darien Montrose was most off the dinner menu tonight.  This night was for his benefit almost more than anyone else.
        If someone didn't come by soon that he could chew on, he thought that a quick snack from one of these nearby homes would not be a bad idea.
        The boy, the one that the hunter was training, could he be eaten?  Maybe.  He had watched them fighting in the woods, where he had killed the other bag of meat.  It was almost laughable to watch.  They would all soon be dead, none left after the Great Flood.
        No, there was his target.  Little Red Riding Hood.  She looked just right, and she was not to be spared.  She was perfect.  Poor thing, he thought.  If someone had beaten her to the ever-growing party, or if she had been running just a little late, he might have spied, she might be spared.  But now she was in his sights.
        First come, first served, they say.
        With his chosen victim now decided, he stopped paying attention to the comings and goings to the party.  He had no interest in such mortal affairs beyond the possibility for a slaughterhouse.  Or maybe this was more like an all you can eat buffet.
        The wait was interminable, even for an immortal creature such as he.  He had never been good with patience.  For now he could only lurk and wait.  The girl would present herself eventually.
        Boredom overtook the watcher, and he took the chance of nearing the house.  None of the people wandering the streets like fools would pay him any notice.  They were guarding their younglings, or so they thought.  He could swoop in on any group he saw and have his way with the appetizers before the main courses had a chance to even react.  Protection was worthless if you didn't know what to protect against.  Still, his kind survived at the top of the food chain by being careful.  A body here, a bloodstain there, and nothing could be done about it.  If a sudden massacre broke out, someone might take notice, someone might piece it together.  Someone more than the band of troublemakers that dogged his kind.  They couldn't have that.  The humans were weak, but they had just enough advantages to be a problem if they ever chose to be one.
        If he cared for sardines, they would have been his first thought when looking in upon the house and the people crammed inside it.  So many tasty morsels.  But not tonight, tonight was all about the one, the message.  Time enough for fun later.
        He watched his prey as she wandered through the rooms, unaware of what fate awaited her.  He watched as she was attacked by the hunter.  He was good, he may in fact be a challenge someday.  He longed to find out.
        He kept watching, hidden in darkness where none could see.  How close they all were to their end.  Their deaths were always close, but now death was breathing down their necks.  He watched as the children continued to play.  Many lifetimes ago, his own children had played like that, laughing without a care in the world, not knowing what waited for them out in the world.  He would do these children a favour by ending them, so they would never know such disappointment as he had faced.
        Thoughts of the past were pushed from his mind, as he felt the eyes of the hunter in training drift towards him.  No, not at him, but the leaves around him.  He had moved a branch, and it had caught the eye of one of his opponents.  Brendan's gaze soon moved elsewhere, but he took the hint, and once it was safe, once those who might notice him were occupied elsewhere, he returned to his vantage point across the street.
        He much preferred to just snatch a target and feed.  This plotting and planning was never his style.  He hated to wait, he hated to lurk.  He just wanted to see some tasty snack, and have his way with them, and be gone once he was done.  He felt too exposed, and the longer he remained, it became more possible that someone might notice him.
        Where was she?  He hoped she'd come out before leaving for the night.  These parties could go on forever.  All he needed to do was see her alone on the porch, and he could have her drained before anyone passed by.
        Maybe he should have brought a deck of cards.  If nothing else, he could have started using them to slice random people as they walked by for amusement.  Or solitaire.  Solitaire was good too.
        Just as the tree beside him was beginning to become more pulp than bark while he clawed away at the surface out of boredom, at last his prayers were answered.  Or whatever passed for a monster such as he.  There she was, at last alone and on the front porch.  He had begun to think he had chosen poorly, and he would have to improvise, but the fates were with him, as she stumbled out into the orange light of the porch.
        He grimaced as he saw her unsteady gait.  He hated to have a drink after they had.  The alcohol tainted the bloodstream, and gave it a flavour he did not care for.  Still, this was not a meal, this was a message.
        The girl was too consumed by her own reality to be paying attention to much of anything aside from where her feet were planted on the ground, and if the ground would choose to continue to hold on to her.  She didn't notice the person exiting the small copse of trees opposite the house.
        He came right up to the small picket fence, and acted like he had just walked down the street, and was looking around, lost and confused.
        "You, I say you up there!" he called out, in a thick Southern accent.  The girl didn't respond at first, still too absorbed in her own world to care about anyone else.  This one almost begged to be eaten.
        "Miss!" he tried again.  "I say, miss!  Pardon me?"
        She at last lifted her gaze up from the boards beneath her feet and looked across the sea of emerald waves of grass.
        "Me?" she asked, still confused.
        He crept ever closer, taking slow steps along the walkway.  Black shoes scuffing along the stones as the distance between them shrank.  He moved naturally, decreasing the space between them so slow that she wouldn't even think anything of it until it was too late.  Not that he thought he needed the caution with the way this girl smelled, but better safe than sorry.
        "Why of course you, darlin'."  He flashed a toothy grin that was equal parts comforting and terrifying.  Crystal couldn't say why, but something about it chilled her, even as she thought nothing of this harmless looking man, with the kind voice.
        "I seem to have gotten myself a mite lost, you see?  I ain't from around these parts, and I am all kinds of turned around, looking for a friend's place."
        "Looking for a party?"
        "That is just exactly right, miss.  I am indeed looking for a party.  Do you happen to know where I might be able to find Pleasant Street?"
        His first foot fell upon the stairs.  Thump.
        "Oh sure, um, you're way off, but not that far off."  Another foot on another step.  Thump.
        "You just need to go back to the main street.  Then it's the next street over, almost parallelel to this one."
        He climbed up onto the porch.  Thump thump.
        "Why thank you miss.  I would have spent all night wandering these streets and never would have gone that way."
        He was standing right in front of her now.
        "It's a good thing you asked for help then.  There's rumours of someone, a killer, wandering the town.  He's only killed one person so far, but he's out there somewhere, I can feel him."
        "Oh dear, can you now?"  He place a hand on her shoulder, and she saw how pale this man's skin was.  "I don't know how I could ever repay your kindness miss.  You've saved me from such a horrible fate, of running into whatever it is out there that's done and killed two of you townsfolk."
        Even in her slight state of inebriation, Crystal caught the slip.  "I said there was only one death."
        "Oh my, you are correct.  Please allow me to correct my mistake."
        Crystal was about to say there was no need, but no words escaped her throat.  Two sharp, piercing pains shot into it instead, cutting off anything she might have said as blood spurted into the monster's mouth.
        Her body went limp almost in an instant, faster than most.  She must have fainted from the shock.  Such a shame, he thought, as he enjoyed savouring their fear.
        He continued to drain her dry, enjoying every last drop as much as he could with the taint of...of gin, he thought.  He definitely detected the slightest hint of gin.  He savoured ever last drop he could get.  He was there on a mission, but that was no reason to not enjoy his meal.
        If he had been any more engrossed in draining the girl, or if she had not been drinking, he might not have sense the other.  But he was unable to get too into his work, so as he tried to finish off Crystal, a scent caught his nose.  It was hard to smell vampires, but if they were approaching, or you were looking for them, you could just catch a whiff of something not quite right.
        And something not quite right was very near.
        The traitor.
        Montrose's sister.
        It had been too long since he had seen her, but now was not the time for her to see him.  Not yet.  Soon.
        He tore his teeth out of the girl's neck, and enough life yet pulsed through her to send sprays of blood into the air, covering the girl, the porch, and himself.  A curse in a long unheard tongue escaped his mouth.  This was not how he wanted to leave the girl, but he had no time.  The traitor was close.
        He extracted himself from the dying embrace of his victim, and unceremoniously dropped her to the porch.  He hissed and cursed some more, and knew he could not just leave her like that.  There was no drama to it, no theatrics.  He grabbed the limp form, grateful that he had chosen a light meal, and sat her up against the wall, her shocked, empty gaze staring off into the trees where he had waited all night long.  No one would notice, but the devil is in the details.
        Satisfied that the girl looked somewhat less dead than she was, the man departed as quick as he could.  He still remained though, lurking and watching, wanting to see events unfold.  Not dumb enough to pick the same spot where he had been before, he found a new spot to watch from, and even passed by Alyson herself.  He knew he shouldn't, but the risk was just too tempting to take.  She was so young, and so new, that she never even sensed what he was, and didn't even smell him.  So new to her senses, and she couldn't even use them properly.  Even splattered with blood as he was, she just dismissed it as a costume, as others dismissed her open display of her fangs.
        Amateurs.  The whole lot of them.
        He revelled in watching as the newcomer discovered his little present.  It could not have gone any better if he had planned it.  Her discovering the body, the door opening upon her discovery.  If he didn't want to be discovered yet, he would have howled with laughter at the foul perfection.  He may yet.
        The screams, the looks, the blood.  It was like watching the pieces of a puzzle fall into place.  He hated to leave such a mess, but he could not argue with the results.  The scene would not have played out so deliciously if he had drained her proper, and left only an empty husk.  Happy accidents.
        Still, perfection only went so far.  They were letting the vampire go, and she was on the run.  Not how he hoped things would go.  Having her revealed to one and all, now that would have been fun.  Not part of the plan, he was supposed to taunt them with more bodies first, but accelerating the timetables would have been amusing.  He couldn't deny that.
        So she was on the run, and there would be more chances for more bodies on more days.  Everything was going according to plan.  Or close enough.
        With his work completed, he stepped out of the new shadows he had found himself in.  He had no further interest in how things turned out from here.  All he was supposed to do was leave a new gift for his friends, and that was done.
        The smile upon his face was reversed when a sharp pain shot through his chest.  He looked down and saw a large, jagged tree branch jutting out like a third arm.
        He turned around, and saw Alyson standing there with another branch in her hand.  His false face had fallen away to the truth of the fangs.  "Ow," was all he said, as casual as one might say hello.
        "What are you doing here?" she growled through her own fangs.
        The man glanced down at the branch that now took up over half of his chest.  "Apparently, bleeding all over my new suit.  You do realise this doesn't kill us, right?"
        She hefted the other branch like a baseball bat, and used it as a club against the branch embedded inside him, forcing it back the way it had came through his chest, but not all the way out.
        "Stop that!" he shouted so loud to almost shake the trees themselves.
        "It doesn't kill us, but it hurts like a son of a bitch, doesn't it?"
        "Yes, it dyyaaargh!"  The foul traitorous child grabbed a broken piece of the branch still exposed from his chest, and pulled it back towards her again.  He could feel the bark scraping against his insides, like he had swallowed a handful of nails and razor blades.
        It wouldn't kill him, but his entire body was on fire from the pain.  It was undescribable.  No living creature could ever have survived as long as he did to experience such levels of sensation.  His hands trembled, and he grabbed the branch.  It was so thick around that his fingers couldn't touch.  He clasped it as tight as he could, and took a step forward, forcing himself along the shaft of wood penetrating through him.
        Alyson had seen the trick in at least half a dozen movies, but to see someone do it while standing in front of you was another experience in itself.  Not to mention the usual method of impalement was a small sword, and not half a tree.
        The man could feel his body trying to heal itself, that familiar surge of energy, that fire burning deep within himself.  It was almost drowned out by the other fire caused by the weapon itself and the pain he was now causing himself, but still he persevered.  His body would keep trying to weave new threads of flesh, and bone, and muscle, until he removed the foreign object, and the sensations would only serve to distract him more.
        He continued onward, walking along the wodden intrusion, until he had nothing left to grasp.  Nothing except for Alyson's own arm.  Something which he found more than acceptable.  His hands grasped her wrists, sealing them in an iron grip stronger than any handcuffs.  He knew, he'd been sealed in enough of those, and snapped them like twigs.  He held both her hands tight with just one of his.  His age, against her youth, and with his body flush with human blood, even if most of it was pooled at their feet, was more than enough to secure her.
        With his free hand, he created a fist, and used it to force the branch out of his chest the rest of the way.  As soon as the wood clattered to the cold, grey pavement, it was forgotten save for the damage it left behind.  He breathed a heavy sigh of relief, as much as he could without most of his lungs, at least.
        Alyson stared through his chest, watching the blood and bile and bits and pieces dripping inside him.  She could already see the hole growing smaller with each passing moment as their shared curse did its work.
        "I say, this was very much not how I wanted to meet again, child."  For someone who had just had a branchectomy, he seemed quite calm and collected.
        Alyson feared what he meant by that, refusing to accept it.  She had to know, "We've met?"
        "Oh yes, but you don't remember it.  You wouldn't.  But I have so been looking forward to meeting my daughter."
        The girl spit in his face, which was the least of what she wanted to do to this monster.  "My father is Peter Montrose, a good man.  You were just the foul abomination I met one night."
        He jerked the black-clad girl closer, and yanked her into the air, holding her aloft with ease.  "And how's that working out for you, hmm?  I'm more of a father to you now, than that waste of meat.  You are one of us, a nightwalker, a blooddrinker, a vampire.  Yet you shun what you are, hide it, and act like one of those...those single-lifetime mortals."  He spat the word out like it was the worst curse he could ever hurl at someone.
        "But this does put quite the wrench into my plans, a little," he said.  "We weren't supposed to see each other so soon, daughter.  And with the police on their way, we should go someplace more private."
        "I'm not going anywhere with you," she said with defiance.
        He pulled her closer, their monstrous faces almost touching.  "You will, or I'll hand you over to the police myself, and see how well that goes over.  And if you let out even one little old scream, I'll go back and kill every person in that house.  Every.  Last.  One."
        Alyson's boots kicked at the air, trying to connected with her captor, not that it would do anything more than make her feel better.  "You wouldn't, you can't.  My brother..."
        "Your brother will be the first to die!" he interupted.  "And then where will the rest of those fine folk be without the mighty hunter to protect them, child?  The other boy?  Maybe, but I doubt it."
        "There's too many of them!"
        He laughed out, which only served to remind him of the gaping, dripping hole in his chest.  He coughed and cleared his throat, ignoring the pain all the jostling had caused him.  "You've gone and ignored your heritage so much, you do not even understand what we're capable of, you hear?  Those people in there?  Dead with a thought, if I so decided it.  Now be a good girl, and keep your fool tongue from wagging."
        "Never," she smiled, ever defiant.
        "Such a willfull child.  Back in my day, we never would have put up with such things.  Ain't it lovely to know the old ways are returning?"
        He kicked the other, smaller branch Alyson had used as a cudgel into the air, and caught it with his free hand.  Alyson saw the branch for just a second before it connected with her head and knocked her out.
        Her assailant took her limp form and draped her over his shoulder, carrying her off into the woods.  There were too many people gathering nearby, too many police on the way.  He would have to wait some more, until the commotion died down.  He was tired of lurking in the shadows, sticking to the dark places where humans didn't look.  Soon, he would hide no more.
        Alyson's unconcious form was dropped to the ground, laying in a heap of limbs that went in every direction.  Her captor took a seat on a stump and sat, waiting for the flashing lights to fade away, and the people to thin out once more.  At least while he lay in wait, his wound healed itself almost closed.  All that remained by the time he could leave the safety of his hiding place was little more than a scratch, and raw red flesh.  His chest looked like it had gotten a sunburn, and was just as tender to touch.
        Before leaving, he returned to the house where his last victim had fallen.  Alyson was placed back over his shoulder, and to one such as he, she was even less of a burden than a sack of potatoes.
        Anyone else would never have come so close to the house again.  But a vampire was just a touch arrogant, and this one knew he'd go unnoticed, if he desired.  Now that he had their only real tracker, it was even more assured.
        He could hear the two men talking through the door.  With his senses, it was like there was no door, no walls, and all that stood between them was empty air, and they were shouting at the top of their lungs.
        With the change in plans now assured with how events had played out, he decided to have some fun.  Things were still within acceptable parameters, and the inevitable conclusion was drawing closer.  Might as well toy with his prey some.
        He listened to Darien's words, and a wide grin appeared on his face, made all the more vile by the fangs protruding.  He grabbed at Alyson's leg and sliced into it with one of his long, black talons.  He found a discarded piece of mail that had escaped the mailbox nailed beside the door, and used the blood to scrawl a message upon it in Alyson's one blood.  He didn't care that his own blood was smeared on it as well, or that his caked hands left prints and smears of his own hands.  No mark of his was in any human database, and it would do them no good.  Not that he thought they would ever bring their concerns to a real authority.
        As he used a tack already in one of the columns, left behind by some previous decoration, he heard Darien come close and felt the turn of the knob.  By the time the door opened, the only trace of the creature and his captive was nothing more than a gust of wind as he ran away too fast for any human to see.
        He kept at his pace, any foot traffic long gone from the time of night and the scare of another murder.  There was almost no obstructions to slow him down, and even fewer still that might see a blur zoom past them and report something to somebody, no matter how crazy it sounded.
        It was a bit of a risk to traverse down main street, but it was the shortest way to his destination.  He soon was ensconced in a black, cavernous room, and had Alyson shackled to a heavy, iron ring set into the concrete floor.
        He had the girl secured just in time, as she began to stir just as the thick metal rings clinked shut around her tiny wrists.
        "Well, I thought you were just going to sleep the whole night away, missy.  Welcome back."
        Alyson looked around her dungeon, still groggy and fuzzy from the blow to the head.  They were buried in darkness, and anyone else would have only seen hints of orange light peak through high windows that were almost out of sight.  The two things in the building though, didn't even need that.
        The girl could see she was surrounded by thick, metal i-beams used for posts, stretching out 50 to 100 feet in either direction before heavy sheets of metal used for walls sealed them in.  She had been taken to some kind of warehouse.  Wooden palletes lay off in a far corner, boxes in another, but aside from that and the two vampires, the building was empty.
        She struggled to hear anything beyond the walls, but even the sounds of the town were distant even to someone with her hearing.  It wasn't quite the middle of nowhere, but close enough for horseshoes.
        "Screaming?"
        "Oh, now we both know that ain't gonna do you a lick of good out here.  But feel free if it will make you feel better."
        Alyson saw the futility of it, and just gave a resigned sigh.  She wasn't giving up, just biding her time.
        "Why are you doing this?" she asked, in lieu of screaming.
        The monster, she refused to think of this thing as a man no matter how similar they had become, took off the tattered shreds of its jacket and shirt, revealing a well-toned, almost muscular frame hidden underneath the well-tailored materials.  A scar of red tissue could still be seen where she had impaled him, but the colour was fading fast.  It still stood out on his very pale skin.  In an hour or two, it would be like Alyson had never even touched him, and that was just how she felt, shackled to the ground of the warehouse.
        "Oh, come on now.  Do you really think I'm gonna stand here and lay out all the dirty little details of my master plan to you?  Does this look like a Bond movie to you?"
        "I was kinda hoping, yeah," she replied.  "Still, that speech is pretty cliche itself."
        The vampire considered this as he walked over to a small storage area he had appropriated as a closet.  Signs of his living were scattered all over.  Newspapers discarded in piles nearby.  Wrappers from candy bars, empty cans, discarded bags from fast food places, pizza boxes.  Alyson wasn't sure how much of the detritus of living was this creature's, and how much preceded his residence in the warehouse.  Surely other vagrants had made this place their home before him.  Had he found this place abandoned, or had he disposed of them in that way that vampires did?  Not that it mattered to Alyson.  For Marcus's murder alone, he would pay.  More bodies just meant more to pay for.
        He returned, buttoning up a clean, white cotton shirt, that matched the pressed white slacks.  The only hints of colour were his black belt and shining black shoes.  The ones he had been wearing before had been dyed read with human innards, so he must have changed them as well while Alyson was lost in thought.
        As he drew closer, he scooped up a white fedora from a giant spool used to hold wire, now long empty.  The creature's lair was almost as well-furnished as a college dorm room.  He placed the fedora down upon his head, not that his bald pate had anything to cover, and not that a vampire would feel any cold, but the style did harken back to a mobster from the 1920s, which lent a certain air of menace to him, even as he talked in the calmest and softest manner possible.
        He crouched next to Alyson, his hands clapsed between his knees.  His face had shifted back to his human features, hiding his true visage.  If not for the things he had done, Alyson might have thought of him as being quite handsome or distinguished.  Instead all she could think of was to envision this thing drinking Marcus and Crystal dry.
        "So, if I spill my guts to you, in a more figurative way this time, and not so literal like you wanted, I'm a cliche.  But acknowledging it is still pretty cliche, you're right.  I guess there's no harm in giving you a few answers, maybe watch the light of my brilliance dawn upon your face."
        Alyson knew his smartest move would be to kill her right away, but he seemed to have other ideas.  So she was more than willing to keep him talking.  Darien would find her, sooner or later.  Or so she told herself.
        "Who are you?" Alyson said, trying again to get answers.
        "I'm your creator, but most call me Mr. Beadle."
        Alyson smirked.  "Really?  Did you know John Lennon?"
        "Not that kind of Beatle, child.  And I despise their music.  Filthy hippies one and all, and music just got worse after them.  What you children listen to know...pfah."  He spat on the cold stone floor to punctuate his point.  "I had another name, long ago.  So long ago, that even I've forgotten it.  It belonged to another life, another man, that I no longer am.  Once that man died, Mr. Beadle stood in his place.  Just like you are no longer Alyson Montrose."
        "You don't know anything about who I am," Alyson hissed at him.
        "I know more than you think.  I know you are now so much more than that mortal girl ever was, and ever could be.  I know you are here for a reason.  I know you have..."
        "A destiny?  Yeah, the ferryman already sold me that bill of goods."
        A true look of surprise swept across Beadle's face.  He was so shocked that his human disguise slipped for the briefest of moments before he regained his composure.  "You have seen the taker of souls?  But no one has ever seen it and lived to tell the tale."
        "Well, I guess his track record is safe, since I'm already dead."
        The white-clad vampire stood and straightened out his suit.  "No, Alyson Montrose is dead.  The creature you are now is alive, in its way.  You are beyond her mortal existence now."
        "Blah blah blah.  Fine.  Why are you here?"
        "Well now, that's a right complicated question, isn't it?  Why are any of us here?  I believe it was Mark Twain himself who said..."
        Alyson shouted, "Stop!" and it echoed through the empty metal cavern they were locked up in.  "Please, no existential meandering from the immortal demon.  I really can't take that bullshit."
        "My, what a mouth you have.  But fair enough," he said.  "I'm here to kill.  Is that short and to the point enough for you?"
        Alyson watched him, watched his movements.  He was very careful.  He never came close enough for her to reach.  Not that she had much of a reach anyways, but she couldn't even have swept his legs.  Beadle wasn't going to make it easy for her.  She had to keep him talking.
        "Maybe a little bit more elaboration would be nice on that point?" she asked as she sweet as she could, but mocking at the same time.
        "Killing you was only the first part of your birth.  You have denied your heritage for too long, my daughter.  You must sever ties with your old life, and join your true family.  You must cast aside childish things.  Once we dispose of Alyson's family together, we shall join the rest of our kind."
        Alyson almost wanted to laugh, it sounded so absurd.  "You're kidding, right?  This was all about trying to make me join you?  If you ever wanted me to stand at your side, a good start would have been to NOT KILL MY FRIENDS!"
        "I killed Alyson's friends, not yours."
        "I AM ALYSON you sick, twisted bastard!  I always will be!  The more people you hurt, the less I want anything to do with being a vampire!  I will always fight your kind.  I'd rather cut my own head off before joining you."
        In her anger, Alyson had stood up, and tugged at her shackles, drawing the heavy iron chains so taught that they ceased making noise.  Any normal human would have been hard pressed to move from the weight pulling down their arms, but Alyson was fueled by anger and adrenaline.  Not to mention supernatural strength.
        "I was like you once, embracing my humanity," Beadle explained with a gentle, understanding voice.  He sounded like a condescending teacher explaining how the world works to a child.  "But humanity is so brief.  They will all be gone; Brendan, Rachel, even your brother.  Gone before you have even begun to live.  Someday you will embrace us, be one of us.  Better to leave it all behind now, than fight it, and hang on to those last few years you have with them."
        Alyson took deep breaths, forcing the seething rage down into her toes.  "I will embrace my humanity for as long as they're alive.  I will live every day with them.  And when they do meet their inevitable ends, I will find new ways, new people to embrace my humanity with.  The only good this curse does for me is to live longer and kill more of you bastards with before I finally die myself."
        "Such a shame that one so young is filled with so much self-hate."
        "I don't hate myself, I hate you.  I hate your kind.  I hate what I've become.  I'm a freak, a monster.  You killed me, you destroyed my family, you murdered my friends.  I will never EVER stand at your side, so you may as well just kill me now, because I am Alyson Montrose.  I was born on April 23rd, 1992.  17 years ago.  You're no father, you're an accident that destroyed everything good about me."
        Mr. Beadle turned his back on the young vampire, and grabbed a white suit jacket off a half broken chair beside the wire spool, and pulled it on.  "You'll come around," he said with his back to her.  "We always do.  But I need to feed.  Some ungrateful child decided to imaple her father on a tree."
        No further words were spoken as the man in white faded into the darkness around them, until he was but a speck in the distance.  Alyson heard him slide open a large metal door, maybe on a loading dock of some sort, then close it as he departed the building.  She was left alone to her thoughts.
        Alyson spent a good hour struggling against her bonds.  She thought she might have managed to pull them free of their mooring given enough time, but the bolts were sunk deep, and secured well into the concrete she sat upon.
        Left alone with nothing else to do but sit and stare, Mr. Beadle's words rattled around in her head.  She couldn't deny there was some truth to them.  Everyone she knew would someday be gone.  She was cursed to an existence of watching everyone she cared about slipping away from her, over and over again, until she died herself.
        Maybe it would be best to sever all ties with her past, and lead a solitary existence.  Not in the way that monster intended, but just leave town, if she ever left this warehouse, that is.
        Alyson cried out into the empty warehouse, a scream of rage, and sadness, and pity.  She refused to accept that fate.  She would live her life, the life of Alyson Montrose, until her dying day.  She would not let the words of some homicidal animal sway her otherwise.
        All she had to do was get out of the warehouse and do just that.  Embrace life, not embrace death.
        Exhausted from her struggles, Alyson collapsed on the cold floor, and soon managed to drift off to sleep.  She couldn't have stayed awake if she had tried.  She was exhausted both emotionally and physically.  It had been a long night, the longest she could remember.
        She didn't know for how long she slept for, but when she awoke, sunlight was streaming through the lofty windows dotting the walls of the warehouse.  It was like she was back in the forest, with the light playing hide and seek with steel beams and glass instead of leaves and branches.
        The light creeping in did not illuminate anything new of significance in her surroundings.  All it did was to show just how run down the warehouse was.  The walls looked as if they may once have been painted a sick shade of pastel green, but had given way to the orange shades of rust eating away at the iron, brought on by the elements, creeping along like a growing infection.
        Alyson still seemed to be alone in the warehouse.  How late had they been talking last night?  How late in the streets?  She had lost all sense of time, and even all sense of what day it was.  Alyson had a good idea that it was still November first, doubting that she could have slept any longer than a few hours, but she had no way of being sure.
        She felt something against her leg, even through the leather of her boots, and she shifted to glance down at herself.  A brown rat was sniffing at her calf, pawing at the strange material.  It was at least as long as the foot it was sniffing at, tail not included.  Alyson kicked at the creature, and sent it scurrying away, squeaking all the while.
        Laying flat on her back, she stared into the high rafters, as uncomfortable as it was to lay on the hard floor.  She tried to find patterns in the rust spots, designs, people, anything to pass the time and take her mind off the situation.
        The morning air was cold, and the warehouse offered no warmth or protection from the elements.  Not that it was a problem to her vampiric state, but it could still be an annoyance.  It was more a reminder of her not being in her nice, warm bed than anything else.
        Alyson heard the screech of metal against metal, wheels sliding in their tracks, and then the sound reversed.  Her captor had returned from his sojourn into the world of man.
        "Did you bring me anything good?" she called out into the vast space of the warehouse.
        No answer was forthcoming, so she sat up and watched the pale form of Mr. Beadle stay at the far end of the warehouse, where she could see several doors the perfect size for  trucks to back up into to unload their cargo.  He paid his captive no mind, as he walked through a small door and into a tiny office with a boarded up window that must have once been the office of the manager or night watchman.
        Alyson made an annoyed grunt, and flopped back onto the ground, minding to not crack her skull on the concrete.
        No sound came from the office, and Alyson believed that Beadle had decided to get some sleep before continuing their talk.  Or whatever he had planned for her, since she had rejected his most kind offer of killing everyone she loved.
        After an hour of silence, Alyson had begun to mark time as best she could by following the shadows cast from the windows, she could no longer take the silence.  Not wanting to disturb her jailer, more to keep him away from her than any courtesy to his sleeping habits, Alyson began to sing to herself in hushed tones.
        "99 bottles of blood on the wall, 99 bottles of blood..."
        She continued her song, the noise almost inaudible in the silence of the warehouse.
        "Take one down, pass it around, 47 bottles of blood on the wall..."
        "You are one morbid girl, you know that?"  Alyson was startled at the unexpected voice behind her.
        The vampire stopped before beginning her next verse, and spun around as best she could while chained to the floor.
        Poking her head with care around one of the support girders was a familiar brunette cheerleader, dressed in jeans and a baggy purple sweater.
        Kelly smiled at Alyson's surprise.  "Did someone call for the cavalry?"
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