Yes, I fully appreciate how it's that chapter that ends up being unwiedly.
Kelly made a spinning hand motion in the air, indicating the guys should get in the car on the other side. Brendan went around behind the car, and Darien went by the front. While the two moved around the car, Kelly slide over the goodies.
Brendan opened the door and bent the unoccupied half of the front seat forward, and climbed in back. Darien pushed the seat back and slid in next to Kelly and the coffee.
Darien closed the door, and the trio watched through the window as the man faded off in the distance.
"We're not going to be able to watch him from here much longer," noticed Brendan.
Kelly agreed, "Yeah, we're going to have to follow him some more."
Before she put her car in reverse to resume the chase, Kelly reached into the group of coffee cups, and handed one back to Brendan. Darien looked expectantly at Kelly, and she handed him one as well.
Darien sniffed at the cup as he opened the lid. A smile slid across his face, a look of momentary bliss, as all other thoughts were wrapped up in the scent of fresh brewed coffee.
His grin fell though as he looked into the murky depths of the cup. "I hope there's a lot of sugar in this."
"Lots. And just a pinch of cream."
The pleased smile returned to Darien's face, as he took a big gulping sip from the cup. "Mmm, just the way I like it. How did you know?"
"Alyson told me," Kelly replied, which wasn't quite a lie, yet not the whole truth either. She saw no need to tell him it was a dream form of Alyson. "Everybody set?"
The guys gave their oks, and Kelly backed up and headed back down the hill the same way she had come in, rolling slow down the road watching for traffic.
While Kelly drove and Darien watched, Brendan reached over the seat and rescued a doughnut from the prison it was trapped inside. He was starving. He hadn't had a good meal since late yesterday, and beer and candy did not make for a happy stomach. Brendan couldn't say the cakey, sugary coated confection was much better, but it was at least food.
Kelly turned down the road the man in white had taken, and they could not see him right away. They could see the road bent a little a ways ahead, following the curve of the trees between the road and the park. Sitting by the soccer field had been a perfect spot to watch him from.
The car bounced along the ill-kept road that soon became dirt and rocks rather than pavement. The road wasn't that rough, but it could have standed some attention from the town, and the aging shocks on Kelly's car didn't help smooth things out any.
They drove slow along the dirt road, not wanting to spin around the bends of the road and come right up upon the man they were pursuing. When Kelly started speeding up, Darien urged her to lay off the gas. He knew there was an equal risk to driving so slow and suspicious along a road, but the car was so quiet he didn't think it would matter. The tires kicking up dirt and rocks as it passed made more noise than the car itself.
Each and every person in that vehicle wanted to hit the gas and speed ahead to catch the man in white, but they knew he was on the road somewhere, so there was no need for haste. Kelly knew there weren't many turn offs anywhere nearby, and they had a good mile before he might turn off somewhere. He could always take a shortcut through the woods, but why not do that earlier? It was almost as if he was taking his time to enjoy the scenery, and his own coffee.
The road continued to go deeper into the forests on the western edge of Kraftsbury, and the incline increased as they moved closer to the mountain.
They finally came to a fork in the road. One way would take them back towards the town, or at least the main road on the way out of Kraftsbury. The other road went higher into the mountain and around to its backside.
Off in the distance, travelling the mountain road, was the now familiar site of the white suited man, casually strolling along, and it still seemed like he didn't see them.
Darien had enough sense to think this was all too easy, but they had no other leads. If this led into a trap, it just as likely also led to his sister. He figured they could deal with any traps as a family.
No one wanted to say anything as they approached the fork in the road. Darien just pointed to the right, to head back to town. Kelly looked unsure, but followed his directions. The car skipped along the road towards town, until Darien gestured for her to stop.
"He would have noticed a lone car following him, and if we drove by him, he definitely would have seen us. Even if he doesn't recognise us, he might just protect himself and try to kill us anyways," Darien explained before anyone could ask.
"So what do we do now?" asled Brendan. "Besides eat doughnuts."
"I'm thinking we wait," answered Darien.
The other occupants of the car were rather surprised. Brendan gave voice to their surprise, "This, coming from mister "I'm going to run down the streets shouting my sister's name until she comes running out" that we had to deal with last night?"
"Yeah, sorry about that. I'm not really the think first kinda person."
"So, this is cooler heads prevailing?"
"Something like that.
Kelly squirmed with impatience. "We're waiting, ok. Good. But then what?"
"We resume following him."
"You're not exactly the come up with a brilliant plan sort of person either, are you?"
Darien shook his head. "I'm thinking wherever he's holding Alyson can't be too much further away. We're already pretty remote. He wouldn't want her to be able to call for help, or be anywhere recognisable if she escaped. But he also doesn't want to be too far from the Kraftsbury buffet. If it was much farther away, I think he would have poured on the speed by now."
"So we wait here a bit, then continue on? These access roads don't exactly have a lot of branches. If we come upon him again, we could be screwed, D," said Brendan.
"If this takes too much longer, he's going to notice us one way or another. I'm just hoping we find Alyson before he finds us. You either bet big, or go home, my dad always says."
Brendan leaned forward, resting his arms against the back of the front seat. "And how good of a gambler is your dad?"
"Pretty damned terrible, in all honesty.
"So we ARE screwed, is what you're saying? Lovely. I knew I should have kissed my girlfriend goodbye this morning before we went off to commit suicide by vampire."
Kelly's fingers drummed on the steering wheel, her impatience growing. "How did you guys get out of the house without her?"
"Still sleeping. Rough night," was the extent of Darien's response.
"Can we go now?" begged Kelly.
"Why are you so eager to dive into this?" Darien wanted to know.
"If I sit here and think about it for too long, the insanity of it all is going to creep into my brain and I'll likely run out of the car screaming like a madwoman. I'm trying not to freak out."
It surprised Kelly how gentle Darien's grip was on her shoulder. "Then freak out no more, miss. We can go now."
"Totally arbitrary when we go?"
Kelly took her time backing up the road. It had taken a steep downward grade as it angled back towards town and down the mountain. She had driven further down it than she had needed to, but she figured it was better safe than sorry.
Once back at the fork, she took the road not travelled, and crept along the dirt pathway that was growing thinner and thinner with each branch they had taken. If another vehicle happened to be coming the other way, they were both screwed, as there was nowhere for either car to move over to the side.
It didn't take them long to catch up to the suspected vampire. They could either choose to continue creeping up behind him and hope he didn't see or hear them, or turn around. Or, they could drive by and hope for the best.
Kelly continued to slow down, not wanting to stop and not wanting to get any closer. She looked frantic and nervous, as she glanced over to Darien for guidance. The look on Darien's face told her that he had just about as much of a clue about what to do as she did.
The car's momentun hovered somewhere between slowing and stopping. If the man they were trailing happened to turn around, and that was becoming an increasing likelihood, he would have to know something suspicious was going on.
Brendan was thinking it was do or die time, and he hated how literal that was sounding in his head.
Darien took a deep breath to try and pull some ethereal calmness out of the air. When that failed, he finished off his coffee, like a man with a flask full of spirits taking a nip of courage.
"Keep driving," he said.
Kelly looked from the man to Darien and back again. "Are you sure?"
"I have never been less sure of anything in my life."
"That's encouraging," muttered Brendan, still leaning against the back of the front seat. "We could just run him down."
"Trust me, that would probably just piss him off. He'd walk away, and we'd be lucky if we did the same. Just keep going, Kelly."
Kelly gulped and stepped on the gas pedal. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends..."
The man in white turned off the road and entered a short driveway just as they were coming upon him. It had been almost hidden by the trees lining the road, even with all their leaves falling away.
The girl behind the wheel was so surprised at seeing him almost disappear from the road, she almost stopped the car. Darien felt the car start to pause, and he gestured his hand to keep going.
As they passed the driveway, Darien ducked out of the line of sight through the windows, and made Brendan do the same. Kelly looked straight ahead and didn't even try to glance down the side lane while she drove by it. She caught a flicker of motion, but fought to keep looking forward like she knew where she was going, and that she belonged there. She was positive that their quarry had at last noticed the car. There was no way he didn't see it. They would know in moments if he took notice of them and decided to do away with them.
Once the car was out of sight, Darien repeated his previous instructions, while remaining with his head down atop the box of doughnuts. The smell of them was driving him mad, and he was more aware of how hungry he was than he'd been all morning.
Kelly kept driving for another mile before Darien dared to even move. He leaned up a bit and glanced out the rear window before sitting up all the way.
Brendan's head poked up over the seat like Killroy. Just ahead, Darien saw a spot to pull off. He pointed ahead and Kelly stopped the car in the small, dirt covered expanse of land. From the tire treads, it looked like this was a place where the mountain stored some sort of construction vehicles, but none of them were around at the moment.
"Did you see where he was going?" Darien asked as the car came to a stop with a skrishing noise of gravel and dirt under the tires.
"Hell no!" replied Kelly. "I was afraid if it looked like I was checking out the place, and he saw me, he might tear my throat out. Sorry."
Darien was consoling to her, "It's ok. You did the right thing. If you had slowed down, or taken a look, I think he would've done just that. We know where he is now. That wasn't a road, that was a turn off to a house, or something. We can investigate in a bit."
"Why did I have to duck down?" Brendan inquired.
"We're pretty sure this guy knows Alyson, and is the thing that killed her. So he almost certainly knows me. I'd be surprised if he didn't. He must have been watching us at least some of this time, and I'd be willing to bet he saw us together at some point. I was hoping that he doesn't know Kelly. If he does, it's hopefully as nothing more than one of the kids we go to school with, since we just gave her the whole briefing last night."
"So far so good, then."
"Yeah," Darien chewed on his lip. "I'm not so sure."
Kelly finished her cocoa and tossed the empty cup aside. "Why's that?" she asked.
"This has been the definition of too easy. Every part of my instincts are screaming that this is a trap. We could be very, stupidly lucky, but this is just begging for us to end up dead. I don't like it."
"So what are we gonna do?"
Darien drummed his fingers on the dashboard of Kelly's car, deep in thought. "Well, we found out what we wantded, right? We know where the guy who took Alyson is. It may be a trap, but both sides wanted to have us here. The only thing is how much trouble we get into after how much damage we can cause."
Brendan grabbed Darien's shoulder and gripped it tight as he implored his friend, "Please, please tell me you have a plan."
"Surprisingly, I have the start of one, yes." He pointed out the side window towards the hip high grass that became forest after a few feet. It would soon be as dead as the falling leaves, but for now it remained green.
"If I've got my directions right, with the turning of the road, the place where that bastard walked off is somewhere in there, and it shouldn't be as far as it took us to drive here. We're on the far side from where we were, or near it. Once we take a little hike, we can check out the place, see if Alyson's inside, and take stock of what we're up against, and come up with a plan from there."
"You're right, that is surprising. Not a bad start, D." Brendan let his friend's shoulder go. "But you do realise the only weapons we have right now are plastic cup lids?"
"You'd be amazed just how much damage you can cause with one of those," Darien said in such a deadpan way that Brendan and Kelly weren't sure just how serious he was about it. "I've got that...well, not exactly covered, but there I do have a plan."
"Do tell, oh fearless leader."
Darien winced at being called that. He was used to acting alone, or at the worst with a vampiric sister at his side. Brendan was amazing in his skills, but still untrained. And Kelly...well, she could see auras and do cheers. This was not the squad that Darien wanted to lead, if he ever had to. And he had little to no interest in leading people, especially to their almost certain doom.
"While I go in and investigate, you two are going to go back to my place and gather up some weapons. I'd go myself, but I'm not leaving my sister alone in there any longer."
Brendan dug in his heels in protest. "You can't go in there alone! There's no way you can take this guy on alone and unarmed!"
"You can't come with me, Kelly doesn't know where the weapons are stashed. I need you to go get them, and I told you, I'm not leaving. Don't worry, I won't go in without you." He was lying, and hoped they couldn't see it on his face. With his lack of emotions, he was confident that his true intent was hidden. He couldn't risk losing more friends, so it was best if he sent them away.
"You're right, I don't know where that stuff is," said Kelly.
"See? I'm right."
"But so is Brendan. You're not going in alone," Kelly smiled as she tossed her keys to Brendan over the seat between them.
"You can't come with me, it's too dangerous!" Darien protested.
"How bad can it be? You said you're not going in. I can keep you company, and Brendan can get the stuff on his own."
"Why would you want to stay? That's crazy."
Kelly shook her head and was very stern with Darien. "Crazy is going anywhere near that place alone. I may be new to this, but I'm better than no backup at all. I'm going with you, and Brendan's getting your things. End of discussion. I have spoken, so shall it be."
Darien was cursing inside his head, using words he had never even heard before to describe his internal frustration. But he knew that look, he had seen it plenty of times from his sister, so he threw up his hands and said, "Fine. But don't come crying to me when you're dead."
In his world, such things were more than possible, Kelly thought, so the statement was more than just a joking taunt. Darien may have been more serious about it than one might think at face value.
The two in the front seat got out, and Brendan switched into the front, taking Kelly's place. The girl leaned against her car and rested an arm along the roof while she leaned over and spoke into the still open door. "Be careful with her, ok."
Brendan gave a thumbs up. "I'll do my best to not be too long. Remember, don't let him go storming in there alone."
Kelly gave a sidelong glance to Darien's back as he stared into the woods. Somehow she wouldn't be surprised if he was looking straight at Alyson, wherever she was. "I don't think I could stop him if I tried, but I'll do my best."
While Darien stared into the woods, Kelly watched her car rumle down the road. They all figured it would be quicker to keep taking the road until it came back to the main roads, rather than turning around and backtracking. It would also raise less suspicions if the vampire they were after happened to see the car drive by again with a different person behind the wheel. They didn't think they could fool him and expect him to think the driver had changed genders when he wasn't looking.
"Ready?" Darien asked.
"Not in the slightest."
The mismatched pair of the tall, serious, brooding young man, and the short, somehow always smiling cheerleader started to trudge through the thick grass towards the woods.
Kelly yelped after travelling only a few feet. "The grass is all wet with dew! Ewww! My pants are getting soaked!"
Her travelling companion whimpered, beginning to dread rolling over with such ease and allowing the bubbly girl to join him on hie trek.
"Get used to it," he said. "We've got a ways to go. It's going to be wet, dirty, and there's a chance of blood before this is over with. Glad you came now?"
"Hey, Alyson is my friend too. I wasn't going to let you bench me on this one."
They made it past the grass and entered into the forest proper, surrounded by large trees that had probably not seen a human presence in many years.
"But she's my sister. And I've already watched her die once. Don't get in my way."
"I won't, geeze."
Darien stopped and looked at the girl, anger boiling beneath the surface of his grey eyes. It wasn't directed at her, but she was there, and a convenient target for him to vent, even though he knew he would regret it later. If there was a later, that is.
"What exactly do you think you can do, anyways? You have one skill, and we're going after the two people that it doesn't apply to. So just what do you hope to contribute?"
"Hey, you don't know me! All you know is the auras, and the cheering! That's only a side of me. Or two sides! Whatever."
Darien leaned in, getting right in her face. "And do you have a side that just happens to be able to destroy vampires with a pompom?"
"I...well no! Of course not, but..."
"My point exactly." Darien turned his back on her and stomped off through the forest, not caring if she was following him or not.
After a half hour of walking through dead leaves and broken branches, the forest broke away into a large clearing. To one side they could see the tiny entryway that they had passed earlier. On the other side was a much larger, and paved driveway, perfect for trucks to come up. In between the two was a large warehouse that had seen better days. Many of the windows were broken, but the walls all seemed to be intact. There was no sign of vehicles, not that the vampire needed one. Nor was there any indication that a vehicle had been in there in some time.
Half of the clearing was paved, and the rest was covered in dirt. Grass had reclaimed some of the dirt, and had even begun to take back pieces of the pavement as well, reaching up through the cracks as the blades struggled to grasp at sunlight.
The warehouse was about fifty feet from the edge of the woods. There was plenty of room for trucks to pull in, drive around, and park until they could unload their supplies in the storage facility.
Darien crouched beside a tree and just watched the place for some time. Kelly leaned against another tree nearby. There was still enough trees and brush between them and the grounds that they were obscured from most anyone who might look that way, but there were no windows this close to the ground on the walls, so anyone looking for them would be outside and easy to spot first.
The side of the warehouse closest to them had one loading dock, and a pair of stairs leading up to a smaller, regular door beside it. The first thing Darien noticed was the missing doorknob.
"Any attempts to go in there," he said pointing to the small door, and the loading dock door beside it, "would be heard pretty quick. The door would have to be busted down, and the truck door would make a hell of a noise sliding up. I'm going to check around the rest of the building. You stay here and work on your cheers."
"Oh, bite me, Montrose." Kelly screwed up her face in annoyance and anger. Darien had seen that look a few times too, and he thought it would be best to back down. Not that he ever listened when his inner voice told him that, but maybe just for the moment.
"Before you go playing in the trees some more, look over there." Kelly pointed to somewhere on the far side of the building from the loading bay. There was a thick, corrugated metal panel that had been bent back. She wouldn't be surprised if it had been done by kids who came across the place and wanted to explore.
"Yeah, I saw the hole, but it's too small for me to get through, Brendan too. We need a better way in."
Kelly cleared her throat.
The girl gestured at herself with the flair of someone on a gameshow showing off the prizes.
"You might fit, but I can't let you go in there."
"Do you really have a choice? You can go ahead and look at all the other ways you can't get in, and decided to let me try then, or you can let me try now, and scout around from the inside."
"It's too dangerous." Darien wasn't going to give up that quick.
"Look, I'll just duck in and take a quick look around, find a door I can open from the inside. I'll be in and out in ten minutes, fifteen tops. How long do you think it will take you to case out the whole joint? Shouldn't we get this done as fast as possible, for when Brendan returns? The faster we have more intel, the better we'll be, the quicker we'll have a plan, and we'll have your sister back all that much sooner."
Darien dug a fist into the ground beneath him. He couldn't deny that the girl was right, again. That was becoming a frequent habit of hers.
"Fine," even saying it felt like a defeat, but he knew it was no use fighting her, not the least reason being she was right. "But if you see anything, or anything happens, you scream. Scream your fool head off, because at that point it doesn't matter how much noise I make busting down a door, they'll know we're here."
Kelly hid any signs of how glad she was at being triumphant over the pig-headed Darien. "If you're not back in fifteen minutes, I'm coming after you."
"Good to know." She stopped and looked back at Darien with a small grin. "I still don't like you."
He didn't know why, but he smiled back at the brunette who was risking so much for him and his sister. "And you still creep me out, Aura Girl."
With that, Kelly took a quick look to each side as if she was about to cross the street. What she was looking out for was much more than a passing motorist though. Seeing the way was clear, in fact it was empty save for Darien and herself, she sprinted across the gap between the woods and the building.
Darien watched as she ran, surprised at how quick she was, even knowing she was athletic.
She hugged the side of the building and slid along it, being sure to not move too fast, in case someone should happen to look. From where, she didn't know, and it would have been hard to hide even the dark shade of purple she wore, but she was being cautious.
Kelly reached the gap in the wall, and thanks to the concrete foundations of the warehouse, it started it just about chin level. Years of gymnastics and cheering made it easy for her to lift herself up and slide through the small gap. She appeared inside the warehouse, surrounded by pallettes of junk that had long been forgotten.
Her eyes took time to adjust to the darkness she found herself in. The boxes all around blocked out most of the sunlight that made its way through the lights. She didn't want to stumble around blind, for fear of knocking things over, but she couldn't wait forever for her eyes to adjust.
Once she was comfortable enough with how well she could see, she found a path through the boxes with ease. Someone had set this up some time ago, by the dust covering everything. They didn't want their entrance to be spotted. It must have been some kids playing at being spies, or some homeless guy who would sneak in when the place was being used. Either way, Kelly was grateful.
Her improvised hallway of boxes soon ended, and she was careful as she poked her head out into the open warehouse. The corner she was in was shrouded in darkness for the most part, which helped. On the other side of the warehouse she could see what she assumed to be the manager's office, and only a few dozen feet from her, Kelly could see Alyson chained to the floor.
Kelly knew better. She knew she should stay where she was, or do what she came to do, but she never expected Alyson to just be sitting there when she came inside.
She took anothe look around and saw no sign of anything white, save for a pile of discard clothes that were more brown than white. Was that dried blood, she wondered?
The girl took a deep breath and leaned agasinst the boxes, steeling her nerves. She didn't see anyone besides Alyson, but she knew what she was about to do was pretty high on the stupid scale.
She crept out of her secluded spot of safety, and snuck up on Alyson, who was surprised and grateful to see her. When Kelly spoke, Alyson shot a glance back to the manager's office, expecting Mr. Beadle to come out of the door at any moment.
"Darien?" she inquired with a whisper.
Kelly replied, just as quiet as a mouse, "Outside. Brendan's on his way."
"You have to get out of here. The man who grabbed me, he's a vampire." Alyson had no idea how they had found her, nor did she care. All she cared about was keeping them safe. She would sacrifice herself with ease if it kept everyone else from being hurt.
"Didn't you hear me? We're here to rescue you." Kelly grabbed the chains and gave them a pull, trying not to make too much noise with them. Alyson wanted her to leave, but there was no way she was going to let this chance pass by. She gave the chains a pull with the other girl, in the hope that maybe the two of them could get them loose.
Kelly knew her fifteen minutes were almost up, and it would take the rest of her time just to get back to the hole in the wall. She released the chains after their attempts had done nothing they could see.
"Darien's expecting me, I have to go."
Alyson was just in the middle of nodding her head, when they were interupted by a familiar Southern accent.
"Oh, but children! Y'all can't be leaving just yet! The party, I say the party is just starting!"
The two girls turned towards the voice. Alyson saw her captor, and Kelly saw the man they had been following all morning long. His face was different from the few times she had caught a glimpse of it, and she could see the strange angular features, red eyes, and fangs of a vampire for the first time.
That was far from the thing that caught her eyes, though. Slung over his shoulder was a black-coated form, one which she dreaded to see the identity of.
Mr. Beadle tossed the body onto the ground in front of Alyson, and their worst fears were realised when they saw it was indeed Darien laying there, unconcious and not dead, the only saving grace.
It was sinking in just how screwed Kelly was. She turned away from Darien's limp body and stared right into the face of a monster, the face that had been behind so much suffering. He had some reason to have kept Alyson alive all this time, but what about her? Kelly didn't think there was any such reason that would spare her.
She had thought Darien being captured was her worst fear, but that was only the tip of the iceberg when she was staring at something that saw her as little more than a snack.
Kelly's brain wanted to run, or back away, or anything, but her trained, athletic body betrayed her by standing frozen like a statue, unable to move out of fear.
Her fears were justified when she saw the vampire reach into his suit jacket and pull out a shining black gun and pointed it right at Kelly's chest.
"You really should have kept right on driving, darlin'."
The weapon echoed around the chamber of the warehouse, making it sound like several shots had been fired. Kelly tried to cry out as the shot hit her chest. She wanted to scream, like Darien had told her, to call for his help. But he was already there, laying on the ground. Darien wouldn't be coming to the rescue.
Kelly gasped out one last pitiful attempt to scream, as she fell to her knees and everything went black.