That was the only warning I got before icy cold water smacked me in the face, snapping me awake. I gagged and spluttered, my arms flailing around as I sat upright, coughing hard to clear my throat.
My eyes snapped open and met Fletcher's. He stood to the side of the make-shift bed I was on, a bucket hanging from one hand. I coughed again, the pain of it wheezing through my chest.
Once my coughing fit subsided, I lunged at him, only to find myself hitting the hard floor. While he laughed, I realized a couple of things.
One, that I was still alive and two, I could...could...move.
While I lay kissing the cold cement, another pair of feet seemed to glide right into my view. I looked up saw Archie standing over me with a tray in his hands. I pushed myself up into a sitting position, still unable to comprehend that I can actually do so. Fletcher offered his hand which I ignored. There's no way I'm accepting anything from him. It took me a bit but I managed to get to the edge of the bed, sinking gratefully onto it.
Archie set the tray on the little fold-up table, handing me a rather large coffee mug,
"Drink. This will help."
The chocolately aroma seized my guts and twisted them painfully. Hunger, sharp in its intensity, roared through me, making my hand tremble as I took it from him. I took a tentative sip, letting the thick liquid sit on my tongue before swallowing.
I drank it down, my intestines uncoiling with relief. The tingling spread, warming me all the way through to the point where I couldn't feel the dampness of my shirt.
Suddenly drowsy, I leaned back, barely registering the fact that Fletch and Archie were in an intense argument, their voices low and heated. I missed most of it, since I was too busy trying to stay awake. They got louder, Fletch gesturing with the bucket.
"You promised!" He hissed. "That was the deal."
"The deal?" Archie snorted. "You fucked that up when you brought them here."
"The plan was to put you down!" Fletcher was shouting now. I frowned as he tossed the bucket to the side. The clanging sound, when it hit the floor, jarred my back teeth. I felt loggy, heavy, my body refusing to respond to my demands to move. All I could do was watch them go at it.
Archie was calm, his hands at his sides while Fletch ranted.
"I hate when people lie to me!"
"Lie? What're you talking about?" Archie shook his head in amazement. "After all the shit that went down, what the fuck do you want from me?"
Fletch jabbed a finger at me,
"Do him or I will."
Any warmth I felt instantly evaporated. I shivered, wondering what the hell happened. When I glanced at Archie again, the look on his face told me all that I needed to know.
Quick as a flash, he had Fletch by the neck, lifting him clear off the floor. His fangs had broke through his gums in a second, his eyes lazer hot, so hot that I felt it down to my bone marrow. Archie voice was gutteral, snarling as he told Fletch that he was "sick to death of his shit."
Uh oh...that's never a good thing in my book.
Fletch gagged and scratched at the hand at his throat. His face was turning several degrees darker by the second. Archie growled, his fangs so long he looked like a damn saber-toothed tiger.
Any screaming I could have done was trapped inside me. All I could do was watch, tears streaming from the corners of my eyes as Archie took his other hand, gripped Fletch's hair and ripped his head from his body. Fletcher's shriek died instantly, his horrified expression frozen. Blood hit the walls in strips of red. Archie went to work on him, tossing the head, throwing limbs around, smearing his face with gore. His rage came off of him in waves. I rolled my eyes, following the severed head as it tumbled in the air, almost in slow motion. It hit the floor with a moist thump, rolling a bit before coming to a stop.
It was too much for me.
Blackness took over and I went blissfully.
It was two days later...two days later...before I came to again. My mind boggled. Archie refused to answer any of my questions until we got outside. After a couple of hot chocolates, I felt strong enough to get up. I followed him through a maze of hallways, each one lit with a long fluorescent light. There were several closed doors but we didn't stop. When we got to the tomb, I looked around. There were no signs of the mayhem that happened before.
As if sensing my thoughts, Archie smiled.
"Don't worry. There won't be a repeat of that."
He cut me off,
"Outside, buried." He sighed, "All of them."
"What about that woman?"
He waved me off,
I didn't even want to ask what he meant by that.
I didn't even want to ask what he meant by that.
We got outside and I breathed in the night air. The moon was full, the air had a slight chill to it. We walked away from the cemetery and followed the river as far as I could go. Archie took his time, careful to match his steps to mine. When I tired, we settled against a tree.
I needed some answers and now was as good a time as any.
"What did you promise him?"
"What do you think?" he said, keeping his eyes straight ahead.
"Eternal life in exchange for what?"
"He told me that he was going to bring my executioners to me." Archie sighed. "When he said it was you guys, I really didn't believe him. I thought it would just be Roberts or some other cop."
Images of Fletch stabbing the sheriff flashed across my mind. It was like it was nothing to him. I firmly pushed it away.
"None of us wanted to do it." I said quietly. "Fletch came up with the whole idea and we sort of fell in with him."
"No, you don't know." I cut him off. "Everyone wanted your head on a pike. The cops would've made sure of it. We didn't want that for you. That was our reasoning." My fingers closed over a pebble and hurled it towards the water, "Hell, we thought we were doing the right thing."
"Like I said," He smiled, "I know."
I found another rock and hurled it.
Tilly and Mark's faces swam before me. My heart hurt. Fletch's betrayal hurt but in light of the fact that he was more than willing to do me in, I was quite positive that I'd quickly get over his death.
I looked at Archie, startled to find him watching me.
I swallowed the sudden lump of fear.
"So what happens now?"
He took his time answering. I held my breath. If he was going to kill me, I'd rather he do it out here than down in the crypt. He faced the river again, his voice so low I had to strain to hear him.
"I was hoping you'd go with me."
I jerked in surprise.
"Go with you?" I blinked. "Go with you where?"
"Away from here." He spread his hands, "Away from everybody."
"Where would we go?" I was totally confused.
"Anywhere." He got excited."Europe, Australia, wherever."
Oh yeah, I can just see us now. Archie the killer vamp and Jake, his lap dog. No can do.
I shook my head.
"Nope, not doing it."
"Why?" He frowned. "If its a money thing, don't worry about it. I cleared out everything a long time ago."
"Dude, listen to yourself." I was getting pissed. "I'm not traipsing around the planet and shit. I'm not gonna be a lookout for you, hoping like hell we don't get caught the next time you need to feed," I bent my fingers to emphasize the word, "on someone."
He waited a beat before laughing. He fell back against the grass, holding his stomach, his laugh ringing out into the darkness.
I got majorly annoyed.
"What the hell is so funny?
He caught his breath,
"You're so stupid."
"Look, goofball," He sat up, "There are willing donors. I've been in the forums and there's a whole new world out there. You think I want to kill anyone?"
"I dunno, Arch." I shook my head."All those people that went missing, the bodies that turned up, I mean, even Fletch. What the fuck, dude?"
"Look, Fletch had it coming. I'm not going to apologize for that." He got serious. "I'm just sorry ya'll got mixed up in this. I can't change what happened. I would if I could but I can't. I'm looking to start fresh and I want my best friend by my side."
"All of us were best friends." I pointed out. "Even...Fletch."
"Yeah, I know." He looked troubled."But the fact of the matter is, you're here. I want you to come with me." He held up a hand, "and not as a lookout."
"Well, what the-"
We didn't say anything for a bit. I let the silence drag on for another twenty minutes or so before getting another thing off my chest.
"I need to know something." I told him.
He waited. I stretched out my legs, clamping my hands on my thighs. Not too long ago, I was a crumpled mess, more than ready to die. I looked him dead in the eye, demanding the truth.
"Did you give me your blood?"
"Yes." He answered. "You would've died if I hadn't."
"And the chocolate? Your blood's in that, too?"
He didn't answer but then again, I didn't need him to.
I thought about my grandpa, my parents and everyone I would miss. I couldn't stay here, either, knowing what I know now. I shook off the sadness and faced him fully.
"You have to change me, right?"
"Yes." He said this with sadness.
I felt better knowing that he would do so with remorse. I dragged in a great lungful of air, and exhaled. I thought about the sun and how I would miss its warmth. I would miss Christmas dinners, the festivals in the big city and all of the other things that I, for years, took for granted.
Could I do this, really and truly do this?
I met his eyes again. The truth is, my world had already changed and I was slow to adapt. It was time for me to move forward and let my old life go. I clamped down on the sudden rush of anticipation, mentally berating myself for being so eager.
But the child in me couldn't resist asking:
"Is it going to hurt?"
He inched closer, a feral gleam igniting his pupils,
"Just a little." His fangs flashed as he whispered. "I'll be gentle."
And with that, I braced myself and closed my eyes.
© copyright 2011 by Ren Thompson August 25, 2011
3 Word Wednesday: Glide, Lie and Adapt