Nicole Grey (foenix) wrote,
Nicole Grey
foenix

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Black River: Day 45

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Here we go with the penultimate chapter.  Things get tied up, things get answered, and I partake of the most annoying time rewind to start a chapter after how I ended the last one. ;)


Chapter 14 - Out of the Past

        Mr. Beadle had been around for a very long time.  He had seen much, he had learned much.  Many had fallen beneath his fist, and beneath his fang.
        Even before he had been reborn into his new existence, he had laid many a people at his feet.  Not that he remembered any of these people, they were just a footnote to his far longer life as a vampire.
        He used to wonder why he couldn't remember his previous life, his mortality, but the question faded as quick as it came to his mind.  He had more important concerns than what his life had been like centuries ago, for the tiniest fraction of his entire lifespan.
        Still, it was a question he had, when there was nothing better to do.  Was it because he had just lived for so damned long, that the earliest memories were crushed under the weight from centuries of experiences pressing into his mind?  Did he conciously repress his own lifetime so he could be a better vampire, and have no regrets rooted in the morass of human morality?  He even entertained thoughts that maybe someone had done this to him, and he was yet another victim.  The latter option seemed absurd to Beadle, but he had been around for too long, and seen too many true conspiracies to banish the thoughts in their entirety.
        The earliest memory that Mr. Beadle could claim as his own was awakening in darkness and pain.  A woman stood over him.  How could he tell?  There was no light to see by, and yet she was clear as day beside him in the room of stone and earth.
        He would come to learn that they were in a crypt, his crypt, the one his people had buried him in after he had died under mysterious circumstances.  That wasn't uncommon back in his days, but his cirumstances were extra mysterious, as he had been healthy in his prime one day, and stone dead the next.  Of course, he had died at the hands of the woman that now kept him company as he awoke for the first time from a long slumber of mortality.
        Beadle didn't remember much after that, as it was as much a blur as his prevampire existence.  He remembered being taught, trained in his new life and abilities, and being groomed for his new position.
        He didn't remember where his new name came from, but he suspected it was from his true creator.  He remembered her calling him 'her beadle', and somewhere along the passage of years, it must have stuck.  It evolved overtime until he became known as Mr. Beadle.
        On occasion, flashes from those earlier times, brief memories or senses would hit him, but they had no emotional connection to the creature he had become since those days.  It was like watching someone else on television do those things.  The most frequent memories that came to him were of his children, but they were no longer his, they were someone else's, someone whose name had been lost to the mists of time and the fog of memory.  His children were dead and dust as much as his memories, making him relate even less to his old life.
        They only made him wish for children of his own, although that was now denied him forever.  The one cost of immortality, was losing the ability to achieve it via their descendants.  Instead, Beadle had taken to thinking of anyone he had turned into his child.  He created them, he would raise them and teach them, as he had been taught.  He had been a good father to all his children, or as good as one can be when they murder a person to give birth to them.
        Beadle travelled the world at his mistress's behest, doing her bidding, and acting as her functionary and representative where she could not.  He lived to serve her, and her agenda had become his agenda.  Where she ended and he began, he was no longer certain.  And if he was being honest with himself, he did not really care all that much.  He enjoyed what he did, lurking in the shadows, being a creature of legend, a story to scare other children.  He revelled in it, and his missions were always more of a joy than a chore.
        Like the day 18 months ago when he had awoken and knew he had to be in Denver, Colorado as soon as possible.  He severed all ties, and several throats in a small town in Tennessee, and took only what he needed.  When the call came down, he answered immediately and without hesitation.  She was the thought, and he the deed.  She was the brain, and he was her right arm.
        He didn't know why he had to be in Colorado.  He didn't know why he had been in Tenessee, or Rome, or Spain, or California, or anywhere else.  All he knew was where to go, and who to kill.  The whys were for other people to worry about, as long as he got to raise some chaos.
        Instead of seeking answers, he found a nice secluded place to set up his base of operations.  Nothing special, a small unused apartment that was big enough for him, and was also connected to a side office where he could do his business.  He always needed a few minions when in a city the size of Denver.  People to deal with the police, the local gangs, and set up relationships with blood suppliers.  He preferred fresh, but sometimes there just wasn't time, or a need to keep a low profile.
        He spent the next few months establishing his web of contacts, sitting in the center of it all.  In a short time, the city was effectively his.  Not in any sense of rulership, but he knew everything of importance that went on.  He let it go about whatever business it wanted, as long as nothing interfered with his own business.
        Then came a day when he knew why he was there.  It had been years since he had seen his mistress.  Years that slipped into decades, and centuries, and beyond.  Her face was lost in the sea of his thoughts, but never her voice.  Her voice was all he had left of her.  Her voice spoke, and he did as she commanded.  Mr. Beadle was loyal, if nothing else.
        He awoke and sat up straight in bed, and made his way to make himself ready.  Beadle grabbed a white suit from his closet.  All his suits were white.  He hated thinking about what to wear.  It was a detail he had no time for, so he simplified the process as much as he could.  Why had he chosen white?  Just another thing he could no longer remember.  It didn't matter, anyways, he liked white.  That must have been why.  And if he was stripping away as much as possible, why not strip away colour as well?  The worst part was trying to keep up with the fashions enough so he only stood out as much as he liked to.
        Once he was ready, he ventured out into the warm, late Summer air of the mountains.  Even in the midst of the city, there was still a refreshing crispness.  He made his way for a home on the outskirts of town, and waited.
        Beadle hated waiting.  That was the worst part of an eternal existence.  The long stretches of nothingness.  But he was told to wait, and so he waited.
        His patience was rewarded when he saw two young children walking up the sidewalk.  It was late, and they couldn't see him lurking in the shadows of their own porch.  The light was off, leaving hings even darker than normal.  He could see them though.  Two crimson haired young children, so much like his own...
        His own?  Had he had children?  So many memories, so hard to remember...
        The girl stayed outside, and the smiling young lad hugged her tight.  She wanted to see the stars and the moon, and he needed a bite to eat.  Perfect.  It was the girl they wanted.
        She leaned against the rough wodden railing of her porch, enjoying the darkness and the stars above, pinned to the firmament.  The gift Mr. Beadle had to give her would be precious indeed, she would have an eternity of nights to enjoy after this.
        Beadle had no trouble sneaking up on the girl and grabbing her.  She had other things on her mind.  All those things disappeared when a pair of hands clasped around her mouth and waist, pulling her tight against something behind her.
        Alyson thought Darien was playing a joke on her, he was such the prankster back in those days, but the hands were all wrong.
        Her first thought wasn't to scream.  Instead, she wanted to make him scream.  She raised a heeled foot and brought the thick point down upon her attacker's own foot.
        Beadle's grip loosened just enough for Alyson to cry out, "Darien!" before she was clasped all the harder.  So hard, she began to black out.
        Beadle growled as he dragged the child deeper into the darkness of the porch.  She fought back!  He couldn't bring himself to believe it.  Since when did girls fight back?  It was inconceivable, and another reminder of how this modern world was not his own.
        If he wasn't already here to sink his teeth into her flesh, he would have done it on principle just for her audacity alone.
        He held her close and buried his teeth into her neck, tasting that sweet nectar of life he enjoyed so much.  Every time was like the first time, and he never grew tired of it.
        While he fed, once she was almost drained and no longer able to fight back, he slit his own wrist and held it up to her mouth.  The willful child still had fight left in her, and she refused to accept his gift.  Beadle forced his blood into her mouth, and waited until she swallowed on reflex.
        It wasn't necessary by that time, but Mr. Beadle was not one to waste anything.  He sucked the girl dry, down to the last drop.  As he took his last sip, the brother burst out of the door, a scant few moments having passed since she had screamed.
        The time for heroics had passed, and as the girl's twin rushed her attacker in the darkness, Beadle was already gone, racing across the porch and jumping over the railing.
        Beadle waited for them to have their funeral, so he could wait for the girl to arise and bring her into the new world as he had been brought into it.  He checked the papers, he watched the churches, he surveyed the house.  Nothing came.
        The family was full of defiant ones.  How dare they deny him an almost sacred rite of vampirism?  As he was investigating late one night, he saw that they she had already arisen, and they were going about life as they always had.
        Beadle was furious.  He had not experienced such rage in his lifetime, and that was saying quite a bit.  If not for the voices in his head, he would have barged right through the door and killed her for good, killed them all.
        But not, that was not to be.  He was ordered to stay his hand and leave them.  As much as he wanted to, he would not harm them further, at least not yet.
        The worst part of it all was that he was being denied his child, his creation.  But that was his command from on high, and so he obeyed, ever faithful.
        He remained in Denver.  Watching his child, becoming more enraged at how they were polluting her mind, and keeping her from achieving her true potential.  She wasn't even feeding on humans, what a disgrace to the vampire line.
        After almost a year had passed since he had brought Alyson into the world, he followed her into a bookstore.  While she was gathering up some of the dusty tomes to do research on, he bumped into her in the most casual manner.  He apologised and disappeared into the stacks.  He knew where the book would land.  Beadle had gained some slight magical abilities across the aeons, and he made sure of it.  It was time for the family to move to Kraftsbury, Vermont.
        Since he was alone, and already knew where they were going, Beadle was long gone and well settled into Kraftsbury long before the Montroses had made their decision to move.  He knew they would come though, it was their destiny.  It was all part of the goddess's divine plan.
        Beadle was the catastrophic cog in her grand design.  He would be her agent of change upon this world.  She assured him that their centuries of work, their lifetimes of waiting were drawing to a close, and soon they would have everything they had ever dreamed of and more.
        But Mr. Beadle wasn't at all sure what he wanted anymore.  Had he ever desired?  It had been so long, and he had spent so many years fulfilling his mistress's desires, that he had lost sight of his own.
        Such was the way of things, though.  His memories had gone, but he remembered he had always been a servant, so why not in his post-life existence?  It wasn't like he had no choice in the matter.  Nor did he lead a poor existence.  He couldn't think of anything he was lacking in his unlife.  So why not serve, if it filled the time, and he enjoyed doing it?  There was nothing wrong with serving if one found it fulfilling.
        All he ever wanted was his children, and he had those in abundance.  Although many of them had fallen to sword and flame.  He was alone now.  He had brought a new child into the world, but she was being denied him from his maker.
        For the first time in Beadle's long, long existence, he was finding himself conflicted with his place in the universe.  She had never denied him anything before, had she?  And now this, the one thing he wanted, and she said no.  She even dangled Alyson in front of him as if to taunt him.  At least he would still be in a position to watch over her, and try to guide her from the shadows.  It was not the same, however.
        He laid in wait for two months waiting for them to arrive in Kraftsbury.  They were slower than he had hoped.  Soon, he heard of their arrival through the grapevine, and he began their master plan.  He lurked around the school his child attended.  Foolish mortal schools, not teaching her anything she would need to know.  She needed to learn about her dark goddess, his creator, and her's by extension.  Alyson didn't need things like science and math, she needed to be taught obedience and servitude, like any child of his.  She should be raised in the old ways, the proper ways.
        Beadle rankled at the thought of a daughter of his suffering through all this free thinking they were imbuing her with, and it just made him all the more angry that she was not where she belonged.
        The vampire expected that it would take days for pieces to start falling into place, but his dark creator's plans were indeed moving faster than he had expected.  Already Alyson was going to the circle of stones by the river.  Already she was being drawn to the nexus.  He shouldn't have been surprised, it had alluring power, even to those who were not in tune with that side of the universal rules.  Alyson's eyes had been opened to see through that veil and into the other world.
        So when she approached the obelisk before having been near it for less than a day, Beadle should not have been surprised.  He was, though.  He was not ready yet.  He rushed through the woods as silent as his years of experience allowed him to.
        He knew that he had been told to kill the first person she went to the obelisk with, and if he didn't see who that person was, then his job would be all the more difficult.
        Beadle's good fortune shone through, as he made it there in time to see her with a young man.  Should he take him now?  Make her watch?  Make her feel the suffering of losing a friend?
        No, that inner voice urged him.  Not yet.  Wait.
        So he did.
        He was told to stay at the river until he was told otherwise, and that is just what he did.  He waited in the late summer afternoon, all alone save for the birds and the fish.
        The child he was a second father to returned as the sun was beginning its descent back towards the horizon, and she brought even more friends.  What was he supposed to do with those?  All he had been told was to kill the first one she brought with her.  Was he allowed to kill the lot of them, or did he have to let the rest go?
        While he wrestled with his uncertainty, the group began to disperse, solving his dilema for him.  Soon it was only Alyson and the boy left behind.
        Kill, came the whispered thought in his mind.
        Do it now.
        No, not yet.  He had to wait.
        Kill.
        Not yet, soon!
        Kill!  Kill him now!
        Beadle kept watching from the trees (Kill) and waiting (Drink) while the two of them talked (The time is now) alone in the woods.
        The voice (Drink) grew stronger (Kill) and more insistent (Now!) with every passing moment.  Despite the cries of his maker in his head to (Kill!) he forced them away.  She had denied him his Alyson, he would deny her, just this once.
        Alyson walked off, leaving the boy alone, save for the creature watching the pair.  He had seen Alyson kiss this mortal fool (Bleed him) and that only fueled his anger.  That one of his kind (Destroy) would consort with such a lowly creature (Kill!) sickened him.
        (NOW!)
        "Now," he whispered.
        He advanced on the boy.  (Yes.)  He didn't even know his name, nor did he care.  (Yes!)  He had touched his daughter and now had to pay the price.  (Do it!)
        His hand reached out, but Beadle felt strange.  The hand grabbing the youth was his hand, and yet not his hand.  He could feel his lips moving, and words coming out, but they were not his words, not words he would ever say.  Nor was it his voice, yet it was, somehow.
        Beadle tried to taste the sweet, coppery flavour of the child's blood, but it was dulled, muted by whatever force was riding him.  It was like his mouth was lined with cotton.  The taste got through, but there was interference, as if his own self was pushed to the background while whatever was in the driver's seat did its thing.  Not that he minded, his job was still being done, but the loss of control was disconcerting, to say the least.
        He felt in control again, but the moment had passed.  He barely remembered killing the boy, let alone finishing him off.  He scooped up the almost lifeless body from the forest floor, and carried him like some horrible version of a groom carrying a bride across the threshold on their wedding night.
        Rather than a doorway, he passed over the Black River to the far bank, and walked into the woods with him.  Beadle looked down at the child, seeing the light in his eyes fading away with each tick of the clock.
        Beadle considered turning the boy, but just as soon as he had the thought, his head was wracked with pain.
        (NO!)
        He grabbed his head, dropping the child onto the ground, forgotten and uncared for.  Beadle stumbled off into the woods, no longer having any thougts in his head about the boy.
        Beadle had no idea how long he wandered the forest, fighting the pain.  When next his head was clear, and free of searing knives being driven into his mind, it was already daylight again.  He took stock of his surroundings, which were more trees.  Nothing looked familiar, which was unsurprising.  He was new to the area, and had yet to explore the town.  Even if he had, this would still have been an unknown to him, he had little need of mapping the forests in most of the places he went.
        The vampire had never been much of an outdoorsman during any stage of his life and afterlife.  It would be all but impossible for him to die out here.  The elements were no threat, the sun would just serve to make him all the more enraged, and unless he came across a still burning campfire or a sword fell from the sky and cut off his head, Beadle had a literal eternity to find his way back to civilisation.
        Sure, there were bears and wolves to contend with, but he had taken on enough of those in his earlier days when they were far more numerous than now.  He may fall to one of them, but it would likely be no more than a minor inconvenience.  He was surprised to find he was almost craving a little fresh bear meat, now that he thought of the possibility of running into one.
        With little else in the way of ideas, Beadle picked a random direction and just started walking.  He soon came to the realisation he had picked the wrong direction.  Beadle was sure he had not been stumbling through the woods for any more than a night, and he was not coming across anything in the way of civilisation after a number of hours.
        Still, he had nothing but time, so he trudged onwards in as straight a line as he could.  Better to continue onwards and someday hit something, than to turn in another direction and end up circling and following himself forever.
        It was another day until he came across a road.  Small, dirt, and from the look of things, it hadn't been used in some time.  That was fine by Beadle's standards.  A road was a road, and it had to lead somewhere.  And the less he had to explain to people about why this bedraggled man was stumbling out of the forest, the better.
        Although there was something to be said for people.  Beadle could go for a bite to eat.  His last meal had been the boy, two days ago.  And that wasn't even a meal he could enjoy, thanks to whatever had happened to him.
        He pushed the thoughts from his mind, and walked alone along the dirt road in the middle of the mountainy forest.  He much preferred Denver, which had its mountains but kept them far away.  He didn't like mountains this much.
        After walking so long, Mr. Beadle had long since cared about the passage of time.  A minute to him was such a small piece of his existence that it was almost inconsequential, and yet for an immortal the empty time dragged on forever.
        Just as he was ready to give up and take a break, maybe wait until someone drove by so he could get a ride and a snack, he found another road leading off the one he was on.
        No, not a road, it was an entry to a lot, a large lot free of trees where the cloudy sky could be seen above.  Beadle was thankful it was overcast at least.  Rain would not be an unwelcome guest either.
        In the middle of the lot, almost 100 feet away with plenty of space for cars to park, trucks to manuever, and people to go about their business, was a lone warehouse.
        Not one to ignore good fortune, Beadle thought he should investigate.
        The entry had been sealed with a large gate, and chained up to keep people out.  Whomever had come up with the idea had failed to notice how easy it would be to just walk around the gate, but he supposed it kept out vehicles, so was better than nothing.
        Not by much, however, as the chain and lock were torn off by the vampire as if they were little more than brittle candy.
        The pieces fell to the ground forgotten, and Beadle pushed open the rusty gate with a loud screech.  He could have jumped over the gate with just as much ease, but that would be tiresome if he decided to return here.  And he wasn't walking around the gate, since that meant a brief return to walking through leaves and brush and branches.  It was only a few feet to get around the metal posts, but that was more than he wanted to do.
        He listened to his footfalls change from the heavy, empty thud they had been making upon the bare ground, and shited into the skritching, shuffling sound of his once-polished shoes on the gravel and pavement now beaneath his feet.  It was in need of serious repairs, but he didn't need a perfect parking lot.
        Mr. Beadle walked all around the building until he found a door.  He found several doors in fact, but one of them looked to be the main door, as it was situated underneath a sign that had once borne the name of this facility.  The letters had long since been lost to the ravages of weather and time.
        He twisted the knob until he heard a loud crack, from a mixture of the doorframe breaking, and the knob itself bending to his will.  The door opened on a hallway, and the first thing he saw was a lightswitch.  He wasn't foolish enough to try it, this place would have been as long abandoned by the power company as it had been its former employeess.
        The hall opened up onto several large rooms.  A bathroom, a metting room, what looked like a waiting room, and an office.  Typical facilities in a warehouse, he supposed.  At the very end of the hall, was the main door from the warehouse front into the large, cavernous hall.
        Beadle opened up the door, and what little light came in from behind him, and the windows near the roof, were more than enough for him to see by.  Near the center of the room, he could see a number of oil drums, one of which had been filled with stuff and set on fire.
        Standing around the crackling flames were two men who looked even worse than Beadle did at that moment.
        Homeless.
        Vagrants.
        A light lunch, for Mr. Beadle.
        One of the men saw him first, this stranger creeping up out of the shadows.  Most humans wouldn't have even noticed the vampire, but these two spent so much time in the darkness that their eyes were more accustomed to it than most.
        "Hey, uh hey!" the vagrant called out, almost as if he was unused to speaking.  The sudden noise caught the attention of his companion, who looked up from the fire.  Which may have been fortunate for him, as it looked like his long, unwashed hair was about to catch fire any second the way it wa dangling over the open canister.
        "You ain't supposed to be here, mister."
        "I say, it would seem that you're not in any position to say who is and who isn't supposed to be here, my fine fellow."
        If anyone was supposed to be there, it wasn't the other two.  Beadle could have bought this building if he was so inclined.  And maybe he would do just that.  This place could come in handy in the days to come.
        "We was here first!" the other vagrant protested.
        Beadle's face twitched at the butchering of the language.  Eating them would almost be too good for them.
        "A salient argument," he said, in his gentle Southern drawl.  "But I do believe a better one would be that might makes right."
        The two homeless people who had sought out nothing more than a little warmth shared a confused look between them.  One of them was about to ask what the intruder meant, although not in so many words; however, the moment of hesitation and confusion was all Mr. Beadle needed to swoop in and already have his teeth sunk into the first of the men.
        The smell alone made Beadle want to gag, and was almost enough to drive him back before his teeth had pierced flesh.  He pressed onwards though, and the taste of the flesh under his mouth was no better than the stench.  This was not what he had in mind for a refreshing meal, but it is what was available.
        Beggars can't be choosers, Beadle thought to himself.  If the universe chose to present him with a new building and a few people as a housewarming gift, who was he to say no?
        With the first man drained and dropped to the cement floor like a sack of potatoes, Beadle turned his attention to the other homeless man.  He had vacated his spot by the fire, and was limping towards the door.  Beadle could tell by the way he walked that his leg must have been broken at some point and not had a chance to heal back up right.  The man's foot was almost useless, save to prop him up.
        Beadle almost felt bad about chasing him.  A normal human, at the top of his form would have never gotten away from him, but this?  This was a wounded animal.  There was no sport in killing him.
        Not that such thoughts would do more than to give Beadle just a moment's pause.  He watched the man trying to make an escape, dragging one foot behind the rest of his body, and a hand on his hip, fighting against the agony it caused the homeless man.
        "Oh, now this is just getting pathetic," Beadle groused as he watched the display.
        Beadle decided it was time to bring this farce to an end, and didn't even use any of his enhanced speed to catch the man.  Why bother?  It would have been such a waste.
        Instead, the vampire strolled up behind the man making a mockery of escapes.  Once he was behind him, close enough to smell the thing standing there, Beadle decided rather than eat him, he would just grab the poor bastard's head and twist.  He let the head go and let the body fall to the ground like his companion.
        Mr. Beadle reached down and grabbed the man by his lengthy hair, and was regretting it after his fist closed.  The unwashed strands were slippery and disgusting in his hand, but he dragged the man along anyways.  Once the dead man was by the oil drum, Beadle picked him up with as little contact as possible, and threw his victim head first into the can.
        He found a large, thick stick covered in ash that the pair had used to stir the fires, and he used it for much the same purpose, and more.  Beadle poked and prodded the body, pushing it deeper into the fire every so often as more and more of it burned.
        The stench of roasting flesh burned away the smell stuck in his nostrils from the two dead men.  To a vampire, or at least to Mr. Beadle, it was one of the sweetest smells in the world.
        He listened to the sizzle and pop of the roasting human, breathing deep the smoke, no matter to how toxic it might be from the clothes he wore.  Such concerns were beyond a vampire's realm.
        With one body down, he tossed the other in, but left it unattended.  Instead he explored the new building.  Not that there was much to explore, but he wanted to remove any other tennants before they became problematic.  He found no one else in the echoing expanse of the building.
        He was alone.  Not even the sound of any other voices in his head to trouble him for the past day or so.  This was more alone than Beadle had been in some time.  He almost always had the voice of his creator, or underlings nearby to do his bidding.  He found the silence inside and out almost refreshing.
        Beadle tidied up the new place, and went back outside, and followed the other road, the one that was still paved, and found his way back to Kraftsbury.  The whole town was abuzz with news of the boy's death.  For the first time, he heard the child's name, but he was quick to forget it.  He had served his pirpose, and his name no longer mattered.
        He went back to his small apartment he had aquired, and cleaned up; he wanted to wash away the stench of the past few days as much as he did the two men he had just incinerated.
        The following day, while the town was still reeling, Beadle began the process to aquire the building, much to the surprise of the agents who held it.  He explained he wanted it more for the land itself than the property on it, which seemed to be an acceptable excuse.  Humans would believe almost anything if you said it with enough conviction, Beadle had noticed.
        He spent the next few weeks cleaning up his new warehouse, and getting what he wanted there.  The most important thing was securing a pair of heavy shackles to the ground.  He tested them on himself to make sure a vampire couldn't pull themselves free without a considerable amount of effort.  If a vampire of his age and power couldn't do it, they would work even better to hold his child.
        On occasion, Beadle would check in on the girl, and her friends wherever he found them.  He was never noticed.  He had gotten good at being invisible when he needed to be, even from other vampires.  Beadle may as well have been a ghost for how often he was noticed by his prey.
        Still, his voices did not return, and so he could only watch and wait.  With no further instructions, what more could be do than that?
        Soon, as they always did, the voice returned, the sweet dulcet tones echoing within his head like it was a warehouse unto itself.    He smiled in relief as his mistress came back to him.  It was Beadle's drug, and everything was right with the world now that she was back.
        It was early October, and he had more to do.  People to kill, places to sanctify.
        He found more people his mistress wanted dead, and added them to the list, but they largely went unnoticed and unattributed to his efforts with the boy.  One of them was even though to just be a simple heart attack.
        Beadle didn't need the credit, and he was just as happy to go under the radar, but part of him did take pride in his work, and for it to be noticed.  It had been so long since he had raised a good killing spree in the name of the goddess.  Ah, the headlines his last one had caused.  Those were the days.
        As Halloween drew near, he decided they needed something a bit more high profile, and a bit more personal to his child.  There would be no mistaking this message.
        Beadle was not commanded to kill Crystal, but he was not stopped either.  If anything he did was ever in violation of the grand design, he was sure he would have been stopped.
        Still, things felt like they were spinning too fast and out of his control as he secured his child to the floor of his lair.  Things were on a dangerous path, and they could tip one way or the other too soon for him to course correct.  Was this really all going to plan?  He prayed for guidance, but he was back on his own.  At least Alyson was at last where she belonged; with family.
        Their first conversation had not gone as well as he had hoped, but that was to be expected.  She would be trained, she would be taught, and she would learn her place.  She would be obedient, she would keep her mouth shut unless spoken to, and she would respect her elders.  And she would stop wearing such trashy clothes.  No daughter of his would be caught undead in those garments.
        He decided to leave her be for awhile, and let her think about her new place in life, as Alyson Beadle.  Maybe she should be given a new first name as well, a clean break with her old existence.  Yes, that might be best.
        With her secured fast to the ground, he left and went into town, to see any further news of his latest foray into the world of serial killing.  The news was beginning to trickle out, but the papers here were so slow, it would be another day before they had it.  He so enjoyed seeing his handiwork on the front page.  Hearing it over the radio or television just did not have the same impact.  Who did he have to kill around here to get a decent front page story?
        His body felt cold, and he could feel his cravings surfacing at the back of his throat.  Beadle decided to take care of them as he usually did, with some coffee.  It was the next best thing to blood, for him.  Well, maybe after a stout beer, but it was a close race.
        While he was getting his fix for something far more acceptable than what he truly craved, he was surprise to find a familiar face.  One of the children that Alyson played with, the seer.
        Beadle couldn't remember her name, but he could sense that she had the Sight.  She could be dangerous, if she knew how to harness her abilities.  He would have to stay away from her after this, and try to go unnoticed for the moment.
        (No.)
        The vampire hissed under his breath.  Of all the times to find that he was going against the will of the universe made manifest.  Every instinct in his body told him to flee before the seer could tell what he was.
        (No.)
        But it was apparent that there were other plans for him.  Still, it was hard to fight instinct, and he made his exit from the store with coffee in hand, and did it without being seen.
        (No!)
        Not wanting to disobey again and find himself in the middle of the woods as a result, Beadle stood in the parking lot and enjoyed his first sip of coffee.  The stirrings in the back of his head subsided, and the thoughts that everyone around him was little more than a cow faded to the bare minimum.
        It wasn't uncommon for a person to pause and enjoy a drink, but he could not wait forever.  How long was he expected to stand there like a fool?  He'd draw unwanted attention just for blocking cars trying to pull in or out soon enough.
        (Go.)
        Grateful that he could escape, he made his way down the sidewalk at a brisk pace.  He didn't want to leave Alyson alone any longer than he had to.  He had been a negligent father for far too long.
        As soon as Kelly began following him, Beadle knew she was there.  It was a sense that vampires had, not unlike how a fly could move before someone swatted them, yet without the compound eyes.  They were so in tune to the world around them, and could process so much information coming in, that he knew the car was there, lurking, without even having to turn around.
        In fairness, she did not do a horrible job of following him.  Mr. Beadle had to give credit where credit was due.  He had been tracked and followed more than once in all his days, and for a teenager, she was rather skilled at it.  If he hadn't been a vampire, she might have even surprised him.
        The most frustrating thing for Mr. Beadle was making these humans think that he had not noticed them.  Every instinct in his body told him to run once he was out of the town centre, and making his way through the side streets.  It would have been the easiest thing in the world to lose them, but every time he tried, his voices commanded otherwise.
        Instead, he continued to limit himself to mortal speeds, and trying to enjoy his coffee.  That much at least he could manage, as the little shop in town made a cup of surprising quality.  He couldn't remember the last time he had a cup so good.  Was it back in that little place in Louisiana?  Or maybe it was Seattle?
        Beadle watched his pursuer as she ducked into the nearby park.  She was a clever girl.  That's just what he would have done, gone into somewhere public, and made it seem like that was always his destination.  Maybe when all this was over with, he might see fit to create another child.  Alyson could use a sister.
        Once again his desires were overridden as more pain shot through his head.  He wanted to cry out, and grab his throbbing temples and fall to his knees.  Beadle fought through the pain though.  He couldn't allow the hunters to see their prey so weak.
        He kept leading them all the way up Mount Herbert, until he reached his warehouse, which truly was his by that day in November.  Beadle wondered what his pursuers would do once he reached this point.  They had been most cautious up until then.
        Much to his surprise, they chose to drive by the road where they saw him turn off.  He caught that the other two that had joined up with the girl at the park were smart enough to stay out of sight.  He knew all of them, better than they knew themselves, but they didn't know that, and they had every reason to think he didn't know the seer.  They were children, but it would seem he must not underestimate them.
        While he awaited their arrival, he returned to the inside of the warehouse, with little more than a passing glance at his captive.    Beadle retired to his office.  Everything was moving far too fast for his liking.  He was an immortal.  He was used to things taking years, if not centuries.  More than once he had seen everything change in an instant.  All that time spent moving pieces into place, and then gone.  Triumph or tragedy, all decided in a blink of an eye.
        What would today be, he wondered?
        Was this all part of the grand design?  What if, and Beadle could not believe he was even entertaining the thought, what if his mistress was wrong?  What if he was on a fool's errand, and all this was for naught, that she had used him all this time?
        Mr. Beadle tossed his now empty coffee cup into a nearby trashcan left behind by the warehouse's previous occupants.  He was tired of sitting around and waiting.  He was going to take action, and do things his way for a change.
        He left the office, and went down the hall and outside.  The thing Beadle liked most about this warehouse, aside from the remotest of locations, was that the front of the business operations were so secluded, in their own tiny section of the building, and it only looked like the office itself was connected to the warehouse from the inside.  Alyson had no idea of the hallway access to the outside, and only ever saw Beadle leave from doors in the warehouse that led straight to the outdoors.  It was a cheap ruse, to be sure, but if it made her think he was always in the office, then that was all the better for him.
        Looking up and down the smaller, less used road that had access to the lot, Beadle did not see that damnable blue car lurking anywhere nearby.  Based on where they had driven though, he was pretty sure where they must have stopped.
        He ran down to the holding area where the mountain kept a number of construction vehicles for various projects, and found nothing.  He did see fresh tracks however, that did not look like a tank had just driven through.  Sniffing at the air, he confirmed that there had been people here not that long ago.  So much easier to track the humans.  He couldn't be sure it was the children, but it was a safe bet, as he picked up three distinct scents, two of which went off into the woods, straight in the direction of where he should be.
        Following their trail was simple enough.  Even a regular mortal could have followed the pathway of trampled grass and broken branches.  It was as if they had created a whole new path with just the two of them, and it stuck out like a sore thumb.  They may as well have planted sign posts and street lights to mark their way.
        He came upon them just in time to see the seer climb into a hole in the side of the wall.
        "Huh," he foolishly let slip.  Mr. Beadle had not known that was there.  He had not explored every inch of the warehouse, and would not be surprised to find there was more than one such entrance to his lair.  He was fortunate that Darien had not heard his exclamation, even though they were almost sitting next to each other.  How amusing it was to Beadle that the creature this young man was so desperate to find was so close, even closer than the boy suspected.
        Before Darien could discover his new companion in the woods, Beadle had come up right behind Darien, and bashed his head against the tree he was leaning against.
        The boy only had time to let out an echo of Beadle's own exclamation as his head connected with the hard, rough bark of the tree.
        Beadle grabbed Darien before he collapsed to the ground, and carried him by grabbing fistfulls of his shirt, and hefting him along like a giant duffle bag or suitcase.  Once he reached the office door, he hefted the youth up and over his shoulder, since Beadle needed at least one hand free to open the door.
        He crept through the dark hallway.  There was still no electricity up here, and that was just fine by the vampire.  He closed the door behind him and plunged himself into even deeper darkness, until he reached the end of the hall and cracked open the door to spy on his child and her friend.
        He watched them talk, and tug at the chains.  Foolish girls, he had made sure to sink those bolts deep into the foundations.  They wouldn't be coming loose any time soon, least of all by them.
        The vampire made his grand entrance and dropped his cargo in a most unceremonious way onto the ground in front of him.  He could see the look of dread in the seer's face as she saw his true visage for the first time.
        In that moment, in that mere fraction of time, Mr. Beadle came to a decision.  It surprised even him at even the tiniest thought of it as it bubbled forth from the recesses of his mind.  Maybe that was why he got away with it, he thought.
        He was tired of being denied.  Denied a life, denied an existence outside of service, denied his child Alyson, denied the boy, and denied this girl.
        Well, he figured if he couldn't have the girl, no one will.  Not even his creator and whatever her plans were for the seer.
        His hand wrapped around the gun's grip sticking out of his belt before he even remembered it was there.  Many of his kind frowned upon the usage of firearms as a good way to waste food, but he had seen their place.  Sometimes a bullet was easier to explain than bite marks, sometimes it was just more expedient.  And sometimes, it just plain old felt better.
        The instant the gun came out of his coat, his brain screamed, like it had been doused in gasoline and set ablaze.  He was glad he had spoken before the gun was out, because now he was struggling just to stop his knees from buckling or his head from exploding.  Still, he was able to pull the trigger.
        Once the bang shot out into the air, it felt like he had shot himself in the head.  He couldn't even take a moment to enjoy his handiwork as he fell to his knees, right along with Kelly.
        The gun clattered to the floor, and he clutched his head, screaming, howling in pain.
        Alyson watched all this in shock, and could not decide what to be more surprised about.  Her brother lay unconcious at her feet, her friend lay shot beside him, and the man responsible for...for everything had just screamed the worst scream she had ever heard and curled up into the fetal position right alongside them.
        Somehow, she thought, her being the last one standing was not how some people expected this day to go.
        Alyson regained some of her wits as her eyes spied the gun not far from where she was chained.  But just far enough away, as she tried to reach it, but the chains were not long enough, even if she tried to reach out with her legs.
        A groan filled the once again silent warehouse.  Alyson turned her attention away from the gun, and to the source of the noise, and saw Kelly beginning to stir.
        Her voice was weak, as her life was flowing out of her and onto the cold pavement beneath her.  "Am I alive?  Why am I alive?  I must be, it hurts to much to be dead.  Oww."
        Alyson rushed to Kelly's side.  She knelt down as best she could with what the chains would allow.  Kelly was closer than the gun, but not by much, and she had to let the chains run through her legs and back behind her.
        "Don't say anything.  It looks like you got lucky.  Whatever hit Beadle, it threw off his aim, and he got you in the shoulder.  It could've been a lot worse."
        "Yeah, even in the shoulder, it's still pretty bad from my point of view."  Kelly tried to move, but Alyson was just close enough to hold her down, with just one hand.
        Kelly was too out of it to notice the vampiric feat of strength, such as it was.  Her mind was much more focused elsewhere.  She stopped moving the second she realised she was unable to do so though, and that was what Alyson wanted.
        "I can save you," Alyson said.
        "Oh?" replied Kelly.  Her voice sounded distant, dreamlike.  "Are you a surgeon now, too?  I've been hearing some wow stories about you lately, Aly.  Wow this hurts."
        "I know it does.  The stories you've been hearing are true, Kelly.  And that's how I can save you.  You just need to drink a little of my blood..."
        Kelly grew much more lucid at the suggestion, and much more focused.  "Your what?  No, Alyson, I can't."
        "If you don't, you might die.  I can save you."
        "Not like that, it's not right.  I can't, not that.  Please?"
        Alyson bit her lip, and grabbed one of her friend's hands, pressing it down against the gunshot wound, drenching both of their hands in crimson.  "Ok, ok, just...keep pressure on the wound, ok?  I'll get you help as soon as I can."
        "Oh, now really," Mr. Beadle was returning to his feet.  He was slow, and unsteady, and it looked like his brains were about to come pouring out of his ears, but it looked like he was not out of this fight just yet.  "I don't think anyone is in any position to be helping anybody, don't you?"
        "You monster," Alyson spat out as she stood.
        "Oh please, I have been called far worse things, and far less accurate ones.  Might as well just call me a biped, or a man.  They're just as true.  If you'd accept your heritage, you'd see that, and be at peace with the monster within."
        "I'd rather keep the monster within and be more of a man, more of a human than you will ever be again."
        "Blah blah.  BLAH.  I am getting sick and tired of your righteous pontificating and moral clarity.  These humans have corrupted you, and I'm beginning to see there may be no hope for you at all.  I should just end you all now and wipe my hands of this whole filthy, puny village.  You all stopped being worth the trouble long ago."
        He approached Alyson, and was right up in her face.  She could have bitten his nose off, and she was more than a little tempted to try.
        "First I will finish off your friend there.  Then I'll snap your brother's neck, and then I will tear...nngh.  I will tear your head off and watch...  Watch you turn to ash, you filthy girl.  I will be glad to end you...Nnngh!  No!  Stop!"  He grabbed his head once more.  "Saraaaah!  Stop!!"
        With every threat he made, each of Alyson's hands wrapped around the chain they were attached to tighter and tighter, and she began to pull with all her strength.  The strain in her face, Beadle saw only as defiance.  He was too wrapped up in his own quest for blood, and now in his own throes of pain, to notice what she was doing.
        She pulled with every ounce of strength on those chains.  She blew past her reserves of human strength, and was soon reaching the limits of her vampiric abilities as well.  Alyson knew they should never have given way, yet she tried.  And true to their form, the chains did not break.  But still it felt as if they were moving, nonetheless.
        Whether it was false hope, or the chains were beginning to give, Alyson didn't care.  It just made her pull all the harder, until she thought her arms themselves would tear from their sockets before the chains budged.
        She heard a noise, like stone being dragged against stone, a creaking, grinding noise that shook through her very teeth.  Alyson thought her arms had come loose as she shot backwards and landed on the ground.  The fire burning in her muscles only served to confirm her thoughts that her arms were gone.
        It was quite the surprise to bring her hands up into view, still attached and functioning, yet also with the heavy steel shackles wrapped tight around each wrist.
        Alyson stood up, and the chains hung straight down her legs, which they should have done, if she had fallen backwards.  The chains should have been taught against their mooring hook in the ground.
        She looked down and saw the heavy, metal plate the chains were attached to was there between her boots.  From each corner sprung a long, almost a foot, bolt, with chunks of concrete still clinging to the treads.  Her gaze followed along the floor to where she had been standing, and she saw the hole left behind when she had somehow torn the base plate and a fair chunk of rock out of the foundation themselves.
        All Alyson could bring herself to do was smile.  The smile was so big that it threatened to split her head in two.  Her fangs grew out and her face changed, making that smile seem all the more terrifying.  Her hands wrapped around each chain once more, and she dragged the plate along the floor, the metal scraping and screeching against the concrete.  The noise would have been painful to any other vampire, but to Alyson it was the sweetest sound in the world; the sound of freedom.
        Mr. Beadle was just recovering from his mental attack, and he spied his child, grinning like a madwoman as she approached him.  He only had a moment of confusion before his head broke out in pain once more.  He thought his mistress was once again striking him down, but he had not even thought about doing Alyson any further harm.  Why was his mistress attacking him now?
        The metal plate swung through the air once more, connecting with the other side of Mr. Beadle's face, causing an almost twin cut to the one the first blow had created on the opposite side.
        With the second shot to the head, Beadle knew what was going on.  At least enough that he knew it wasn't his creator doing it, but rather his creation.  He was beset upon from all sides by the women in his unlife.
        Alyson continued to wail upon her captor with the steel plate and chains, thrilling with each sound of metal against bone.  Feeling the joy with each black river of blood erupting from his skin.  Revelling with each step back he took.
        Soon, Mr. Beadle could take no more, and tripped over his black shoes, and fell onto his back.  Alyson was quick to leap atop him and stradle his chest.  She pinned his shoulders down with her knees as best she could.
        Alyson dragged the plate over to where the two vampires sat, and grabbed it in her hands.  She pressed one of the flat metal edges against Beadle's throat.  Alyson longed for something with a thinner edge, a blade, a razor, anything, but this would do in a pinch.
        The vampire on his back choked for air, tried to speak.  Anything he had to say, Alyson had little to no interest in.  She pushed the plate harder against his windpipe, and she heard something crack.
        "This is for all the pain you've caused," she growled around her fangs.  "This is for my parents, this is for my brother, this is for Kelly.  For all the untold masses of people I can't even conceive of that you've killed over the years.  Crystal.  Marcus."
        Alyson forced her rage under control, forced her face to return to normal.  She would not take this act as the beast inside her.  She would do this with a clear head, and with what she considered her true face; the face of Alyson Montrose.
        "And most importantly, this?  This is for me.  You die, and I remain the daughter of Peter and Barbara Montrose."  It felt like his neck just gave way, and the next thing Alyson knew was that the steel plate was clanking against the pavement beneath her.
        She watched as Beadle's severed head rolled away, marking its path in blood across the stone floor.  The last thought to go through his head was that Alyson was truly a child of both worlds, and that it was still up for grabs where her true loyalties would fall in the end.
        Alyson climbed off the body and backed away.  She watched as the body convulsed and rippled before it burst into flames that burned out before they had even gotten started, leaving behind only traces of ash where Beadle had lay.
        Darien had begun to stir, but just enough to see what Alyson had done.  Kelly had watched the entire thing, although how much of it made sense through the haze of her gunshot wound, Alyson couldn't say.  The two of them would have to have a long talk in the days to come, she suspected.
        She collapsed onto the ground almost in the same spot where she had been chained up.  Her shackles clattered to the ground.  At least she had a chance to catch her breath.
        Darien was still on the floor, but he had propped himself up on his elbows, and was staring at where Beadle had gone up in flames.  "It's over?"
        "Yeah," Alyson said, relieved.  "It's not every day a person gets to avenge her own death.  It's finally over."
        Or so she thought, when the nearest door burst open, and a figure walked through it, only a silhouette against the sunlight outside.
        Alyson prepared to use her improvised flail once more, if she could just get to her feet.  The figure rushed forward, yelling out a battle cry as it approached.
        As it neared them, they could see it was Brendan, carrying a number of weapons strapped to his back, and weilding the katana he had brought as part of his costume to the party the night before.  Had it been just last night?  It felt like so long ago to each of them.
        Brendan paused when he saw the pile of ash, and the three bloody teens sitting in a heap nearby.
        "I missed everything, didn't I?"
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