“We can stay here tonite.” Gus said as they entered the main area of the old warehouse. “It’ll be a bit further drive tommorow ,but the buildings relativley secure. You sure the kids will be okay in there. ? “
Eddie tucked the key to the broom closet in the back room into her bra. “ They’ll be fine, they’re used to close quarters.” She replied. “I just feel safer knowing where they are and that no one can get to them.”
“Is this your place Gus?” Tess asked, looking around .
“I stay here sometimes." He replied.
‘Is that a yes?” Eddie sniped
“Good enough for me. “ Tess sighed and sat on the bed, tossing down her bag “I’m tired, gunna pass out now. Ed...?”
Eddie eased her sore body into the ramshakled sofa chair directly across from the bed.
“Too tired to sleep. “ She said.
Gus removed his shirt and made a flying leap for the bed, narrowly missing Tess.
“Make room for me.” he piped in, grinning. “ Hot girl on girl action? Damn! I’m there!”
Eddie squinted her eyes. “ ....Don’t make me hurt you." She said.
“ Ooh,....Please?” He squeaked, eyebrows raised.
Eddie jumped on him.
Gus opened his eyes. Where had the girls gone? Everything was very bright and he couldn’t move a muscle. He tried to cry out but the only thing that worked were his eyes. And even they were foggy.
Gus tried to scream as Adrian leaned forward, administering the syringe to his vein, and felt its liquid pump into his body like ice, numbing him from the inside out.
Adrian placed the empty needle between them on the pillow and kissed him. Between us, he thought, then looked harder. Sheamus was there, pale as death next to him,eyes half open. Their rapist turned away from him then, lifting the second syringe in concentration and stuck it into a bright blue vein in Sheamus’s skinny white arm, pushing the plunger down. Sheamus groaned at the pain. Gus couldn’t take it anymore.
His hand developed a life of its own as he felt his body surge into action., grabbing the empty weapon . No thought but survival. He jammed it into the mans neck as hard as possible, forcing the air in.
Adrians eyes went dead and he fell forward off of the bed in silence, the syringe still sticking out of his corotid artery. Gus screamed. He screamed so loud he woke himself up.
Eddie put a finger to her lips, and a hand over his mouth.
“ Someones here. “ She hissed. “ A car just pulled up.”
Gus scrambled for a T-shirt as Eddie woke Tess, handing her the key to the closet where the kids were sleeping.
“ We’ll distract them. Get the kids in the car and get away from here as fast as you can. Drive to the compound, maps in the glove box, we’ll meet you there later....Go!” She ordered.
Tess took the key and ran.
“Can you see anything?” She whispered, joining Gus his at a hole in the black out curtains.
“No” He shook his head, adding a bullet to his handgun. “Its too dark, I cant see an...”
“ And,how did I know you’d be here?” Sheamus asked from behind them. They turned to see him step out of the shadow, and into the low light of the room. He began to remove his gloves. Gus lifted the gun and pointed it at his head, now only ten feet away. Sheamus was not even phased. Eddie took that to mean he had company, and she was right. Two of his minions stood not far behind, flanking either side.
“ Nice to see you again so soon, Augustus.”
Gus rolled his eyes. “ Sadly, I cant say the same to you.”
“ Our building burnt down this morning, shortly after you left. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you.? “ a flash of the devious grin, then a horrid scowl. “Cuz I’d hate to think that you’re trying to get rid of me, considering our history and all....”
Gus cocked an eyebrow and Eddie noticed, but wasn’t sure what she was noticing. The puzzle didn’t quite fit yet.
“ Who’s this then , hmm? Is this your little girlfriend ?”
Eddie stifled a snort of laughter, as did Gus.
“If only you knew.” She said.
“We’re just friends. Gus grimaced
Sheamus looked distracted. “....Where are the others.?“
Eddies stiffened. Gus felt a hard knot develop in his throat.
“What, no others? ...the kids? No? Tsk, I was looking forward to a light lunch. “
Eddie seethed, nearly lurching forward, But Gus stopped her with a look. . Sheamus kept talking.
“... Oh yes, we’ve known all about you for over a week, but we were saving you for later. But now that the time is ripe...”
He raised his hand and in a flurry of commotion, his guards stepped forward to attack. Eddie picked up a piece of rebar that lay near her foot as they started to fight. Gus shot the second one in the head, and it fell over , obliterated, then realizing he had no bullets left,flew to help his friend fight the much larger Vamp, jumping on its back.
“Its a shame, really ; I had hoped that things would work out differently, maybe that somehow our mutual friend Gus here would find it in his heart to come back to us, maybe even bring you to join our ranks. But that cant happen now. No, now all that you are to me is food, pathetic morsels for my troupe to devour! “
Eddie punched the big vamp in the face again and again, and looked at Gus who had both his arms choked around the neck. ...” Does this guy ever shut up?” she asked.
“No.” he replied.
Sheamus kept on.” Burn us up! We shall rise from the ashes! Break us down! We shall be reborn form the filth at your feet. Even now our numbers swell!”
The big vamp finally passed out ,and Eddie crouched to catch her breath in exhaustion. Gus , heart pumping with adrenaline and rage, turned to Sheamus and clutched him by the upper arms , lifting him right off the ground.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” He yelled into his face. “.What the Hell do you want?” Sheamus just laughed.
Rayvn and Whippingboy entered from the back room, dragging Tess, knocked out cold between them. Eddie stood, ready for a second fight, but Sheamus motioned for them to be still..
“Gus knows what I want. “ Gus swallowed, and pushed him away roughly.
“Thats not negotiable.” he spat.
“ Oh well....Too bad.” Sheamus sighed, walking over to where Tess lay.. “ Kill her. “ He said, and Ravyn went for Tess’s throat.. “ No!” Eddie and Gus screamed . Sheamus joined the bloodbath , then turned for a moment to shoo them away.
“ Hello?...This is your chance to escape you know. Shes already as good as dead, you might as well skedaddle....”
Eddie knew it was the truth, and grabbed Gus by the arm. “Lets go . “ She said, pulling him along.
Three hard kicks and the closet flew open; the children were silent. She grabbed the youngest over her shoulder and bid the others follow , toward the back door.
She opened the unlocked back hatch of the car and they piled in, never saying a word. Gus stood in shock ,unsure of their next move.
“ Now what?” He said
It was her turn to cock an eyebrow.
“What now?” He flapped his arms in frustration.
Eddie looked at him like he had two heads.
“Whaddya mean now what?”
“What.. .do we ...do now? “ He spoke slowly as if he were trying to clarify the idea to her.
She belted the kids in.
“The suns coming up, that’ ll hold them for a while.. Right now the only thing that matters to me is getting the kids to safety,so our best bet is to head for the Compound,as planned. “ She opened the drivers side door and started to get in.
“ Give your keys .” She demanded. Gus tossed them to her from where he stood on the other of the car .
“....What About Tessa? “ He asked meekly.
Eddies eyes were hard.
“.Tess is gone. ...Now get in the damn car.”
Gus weighed whether to go back or not, frozen where he stood.
“Lets GO! : She yelled at him from inside the vehicle. He got in.
The further they got down the highway, the sicker Eddie felt. They’d been driving for hours. It still hadnt hit her yet, that Tess was gone.
I barely started to let go in the first place with her, now she's been ripped away.
She tried to stay awake and felt herself slipping, the sadness and exhaustion finally getting the better of her. She choked it back trying to concentrate on the road.
Gotta stay strong.
None of the kids asked about Tessa or why she wasn’t there;Eddie assumed they could figure it out for themselves..A dense quiet clung to them all like a fog in her glaring absensce. Even Gus, who was used to the mayhem said nothing, but looked out the window with his hat pulled low to shade his eyes.
"We'll have to stop soon. " Were the first words that had come out of her mouth since they had left. " I'm sure the kids need to pee by now."
Gus nodded, looking weary. ”... Almost there”..
Tess opened her eyes in a dark room. At first she thought she was dead, Then she realized that there was someone in the room with her, something moving about in the dark. This is Hell, she thought, terrified. It was useless to move, her arms and legs were bound. A match was struck and she saw in shadow the pale face of a dark haired man,who might have been beautiful if his mouth hadn’t been so monsterous. His teeth shone pearly and bright as he lit several candles from the one match, always smiling, looking at her there on the high framed bed. The vampire approached, eyes gleaming.
" I don’t think Gus ever uses this room, maybe too much history for him to bear.” The creature said, oozing its sexuality toward her. ” Probably wants to forget all the good times we had here, .....” He began to roll up his sleeve and crouched at the edge of the bed above her. “You my dear," he said with a flourish, exposing his pale wrist , “..You are my trump card." She couldn’t tear her eyes away as he bit into the flesh of his own arm then, barely wincing as it spat forth a river of blood. She knew what was coming.
"No." She gasped as he took her by the nape, forcing her mouth onto the wound. She tried to scream, drowning in disgust. "Take it." He growled, pulling her hair tighter. "Shush, its not so bad. You'll be one of us now."
Finally he pulled his arm away, leaving her with a hot wet mess all over her face and down her neck. She sobbed to herself as he bandaged his arm tight.
"Oh, don’t worry about me love, this will heal in no time. I've had way worse." He smirked.
" My girlfriend is so gunna kick your ass." She slurred, spitting out as much as she could.
"Oh Sweety, " He scolded, straddling her supine form, "They wouldn’t want you now even if they did come back. Which, they wont. "
Tess didn’t believe it and stared him down as he brought his face close, brushing his lips sensuously against hers.
"Do you know what s going to happen now?" He asked in a hoarse whisper. Reluctently, she shook her head no.
" First you'll pass out from the pain; You're heart will slow down and thunder in your chest like its going to explode. The room will spin and you will be so delirious that you may forget your own name. You'll get so thirsty that you'll think you are going to die. Water wont quench it; It has to be blood. Blood is the only thing that will do ,and it will become your life. You , like the rest of us, will be so desperate to drive away that gnawing pain that torments you every second of every day from now on, that in time you ' ll tell us anything we need to know. Even where to find a fresh kill." Tess refused to look at him. "That is the only way to ensure your own survival. Besides..."
He stroked her face gently , unbuttoning her pants.
"Do you really want to be with someone who isn’t even willing to try and save you ?" She closed her eyes trying to pretend he wasn’t there, crying. He flipped her over onto her stomach, and drew his palm along her inner theigh.
"Now relax. This might hurt a little. "
Surrounded by forest on all sides, the enclave jutted from the face of a mountain high in the interior, looking more like an other worldly cement halfdome than a religious encampment, with only the tiny portholes near the top to give clue to as its real purpose. Anyone who didn’t know better would have thought it more likely a strange work of art then domicile as did Eddie when they arrived. A tall red haired man appeared at the top of what she guessed was a cleverly hidden watchtower armed with a high powered rifle. He called for Eddie and Gus to get out of the car with their hands up and they did so . Gus made eye contact with him and grinned..
The gaurd grinned back.
She followed Gus around the side of the building to where a handleless cement door opened inward. The same gaurd she had seen before stood there, straight faced and arms crossed ,dressed in a green t shirt, military pants and boots. She took him in , wondering if they would have to surrender weapons m, and if he was a threat to her family. Gus took on the same demeanor , flipping his goggles down around his neck to reveal his bright green eyes. He rolled his tongue, trying to find the right thing to say.
The man stepped for ward two paces. “...Gus...”
Then both burst into laughter and hugged. Gus turned to Eddie happily.
“Eddie, this is my big brother Marshall. He has a big hand in running things around here. And , he was also supposed to be transferring to the DTS last I heard. Dude,what happened?”
Marshall shook his head, still grinning like a fool. “Change of plan; we got hit by a major flu bug and went into a volentary quarenteen, ended up losing almost half of our population. All of the elders, anyone already sick ,even John....”
Gus looked like he’d been punched in the gut. “ Wow. ...When...?”
“About two weeks ago. But he left some stuff for you... “ Eddie watched his face, knowing they were outsiders here and feeling wary of what was to come. The strange man’s eyes softened when they met hers. He doesn’t seem so bad, She thought.
“I’ll show you around.” He said flashing eyes as green as his little brothers, while opening the door to the inside
“How’s she doing?”
Sheamus assumed Ravyn didn’t really care what state Tess was in, and that her question was meant to be taken as petulance. The look on her face when he had told her to stay with Whippingboy in the main room had been priceless enough.
A little rivalry never hurt anyone, He thought to himself. I mean me; never hurt me....
“She’ll recover.” He smiled. “ I gave her a couple of shots of sherry, after that it didn’t take too long to loosen her up Y you could take a lesson from this. Shes not so bad once you get to know her.....”
The girl vamp flopped on into the sofa chair, pouting. “So i guess you don’t feel much like fucking then?” She played with her hair, curling it in knots around a finger.
“Maybe later.” He admitted. “Its almost time to do that thing I was telling you about....”.
“ .....And This,” Marshall beamed, opening a steel door after a long flight of stairs, “This is the playground.”
The hugely domed room functioned as year round conservatory , filled with trees and a garden with numerous plants. A massive playground stood in the middle of it all. All three children lit up silently and with a nod from their mother , took off to greet the first other children they had met in their entire lives.
“C’mon” He continued.His hand grazed Eddies arm gently and she turned to follow.
Not this again. Gus rolled his eyes. He has less of a chance with her than I do....
That night they lay in the half empty barracks, side by side in a cot. Eddie rested her head on Gus’s arm as a pillow , drifting off to sleep. Gus resisted the urge to stroke her hair, and kept his emotional distance. We’re just friends,he reminded himself, but caught up in the moment felt himself getting pulled along by the tightness in his throat. He was thankful that she seemed so tired as to not notice any change.
“...I think this is the first time I ’ ve felt safe in a long time, Gus. “ She said, eyes half closed.
“Yeah... It feels good to be here with you.” He replied quietly
“Thanks for helping us get here. I wont forget it.”
His hand could not control itself any longer and finally reached for her hair.
.”....No problem, anytime.”
When she rolled out of bed a few hours later, he didn’t move, thinking she had been heading for the bathroom and would shortly return. But now the bed was getting cold and he wondered where she was, and got up to find her. He checked the bathrooms and found them empty and had figured on going back to bed when he heard a laugh; Eddies laugh.
Coming from where he knew Marshall slept, at the end of the hall.
The sound of the door handle alerted him to someone’s departure from the room .
He stepped back into shadow, wishing to not be seen and his naked brother waltzed past in a happy daze,heading for the bathroom and singing under his breath. He peered through a crack in the door and saw , in all her naked glory laying there on her stomach, His Eddie , waiting for her lovers return.
The knot that had been in his throat constricted now to a pit of anger. He turned tail, and went downstairs.
It was only the three of them now, Whipping boy, Sheamus and Ravyn
“Light that candle over there.” Sheamus said pointing to the corner . It was lit quickly along with four others. They formed a circle around the fifth, and he unfolded a dirty piece of paper from his coat pocket, laying it on the floor in front of him.
“I’m so excited.” Ravyn squeaked, unable to contain herself. Sheamus shot her a deathly look , and she went mum.
“Hold hands everyone.”
“It works better with four, but Tess isn’t quite ready to Join us yet. “ Serious nods of agreement followed his chuckle. “ After this, you’ll all be able to go out in the sunlight like me, impervious to its peril.”
Gus was in the Mess hall when she found him that morning, half way through eating his cold raisin oatmeal. She sat herself across from him and began to eat, wolfing her food and grinning wildly.
She doesn’t know I know. He thought, and half smiled back at her.
“Didn’t see you get out of bed this morning.” He started.
“Yeah, couldn’t sleep.” She replied through bites.
Gus downed his coffee to prevent throwing the cup at her head.
“Whats on the agenda today?” She asked.
He relaxed a little. Yay, distraction.
“ Well, the kids will be issued their uniforms and get started with the school here; they do bible study from eight til ten. Then they have some playground time til academics at one.”
Eddie nodded, still cramming her mouth with food. He continued
“ Since you’re more soldier than feminine nurturing type we thought you’d probably be more interested in how the menfolk around here do things, rather than the women folk. “
Eddie blanched. “I’m feminine.” She said with bits of oatmeal falling out of her mouth.
Marshall came up behind her then and she wiped her face. He put a hand on her shoulder as he passed,and she beamed at him as he moved to sit beside her on the bench.
“You guys wanna check out the surveilence room?” He asked, looking directly at Gus.
He looks smug, Gus thought. Marshall smirked ,taking the rest of Eddies toast off her plate and crunching into it .
Asshole . Gus glared, trying to send laser beams of doom from his eyes and into his brothers head.
“Sounds good.” She said.
He kissed her forehead, adjusting the sunglasses to protect her eyes from light. She was still unused to it, and her head really hurt, but much less than before.
Sheamus rested his hand on her hair as she lay, head in his lap in the back of the van. They bumped down the winding road at full speed, with Whipping boy at the wheel. He bounced in his seat like a happy two year old,and popped in his favourite Bauhaus tape singing along. Rayvn joined him from the passengers side and they laughed and sang, all the way up the mountain.
“Bella Legosi’s DEAD! YEAH! I’m dead I’m dead I’m dead.”
A smile cracked Tess’s dry lips.
“ Most of time it all runs like clockwork. We’re pretty far out in the boonies here so we don’t get a whole lotta company. The occasional straggler or what have you, but that’s about it. And,there’s a brothel up the way about two miles , we barter with them a bit but mostly we keep to ourselves. We’re fairly self sufficient .”
Marshall opened the door to the surveilence room and let them in, introducing them to the man at the controls, whose name was Zeke. He waved to them offhandedly , never taking his eyes from the five screens in front of him.
“ There are two cameras out the front, one just inside the main door, and another two ‘round back just in case. If we switch it over to another channel we can see what’s going on on the inside,here,See? The main hallways, barracks , mess hall, the nursery, and the conservatory. Pretty cool , huh?”
Trying to impress her with his toys. Gus crossed his arms. He had seen it all before.
Jerk. Marshall switched it back to the outside cams , and Zeke peered in closer.
“Were you expecting anyone else? “ He said, squinting. On the third screen, they saw a group of four being let in through the main door.
“No .” Marshall said.
“Who’s that then?”
Gus stepped forward,heart racing with fear.
“Sound the alarm.”
“ ....Daniel! Are you there? Hello?” Marshall spat into his handheld, recieving no reply.They rounded the corner and found facedown the bodies, of the two gaurds that had let them in. The room looked as though it had been spray painted in blood.
“They’re already dead.” Gus said, crouching down. How could this have happened?
Marshall struggled to get a sentance out and was visibly shaking. He spoke to Eddie
” Zekes gone to evacuate the women and children... Do you want to go with them?”
“ As long as the kids are safe, I’ll stay.” she replied. “But we’re going to need weapons.”
He doesn’t know her at all, Gus thought.
“We need to find those vamps before they find us. “
They had been prepared for a day like this, knowing it might come sooner or later. The trap door in the nursery lay untouched under the carpet now for years, and creaked when it was opened. Three adult women ushered the children one by one down into the dark hole. Henry , Hannah and Littleman crouched down beside a bed watching it all , completly unaccounted for in the panic.
“Whats going on? “ The girl asked of her older brother.
“Something’s going down ,“ he said. “The badguys must have gotten in again, that’s the only reason we’d have to leave.”
Hannah chewed her lip in thought and grabbed Littleman by the hand.
“What should we do? “ She said, as much to herself as the others.
Henrys’ brow furrowed . “ You take Littleman and go with those ladies. I’ll go and find Mom; she probably needs me to help her.”
“Mom said to stay together.” she objected.
“ Just Go !. “ He said taking off in the opposite direction.
“Mom said .........”
They had reached the armory with no sign of the vamps as she had hoped Eddie prayed that in thier bravado they would wander the compound a few minutes revelling in thier conquest,and thus giving them more time to prepare. What had been touted as an armory was more a mish-mash of very few weapons, many household tools, with a smattering of garden equipment.
No rifle this time, she thought, grabbing a well worn shovel .
I’m gunna bury these fuckers.
It was less a trail of bread crumbs then bodies they followed., through the main hall and into the interior ,near the barracks. There the vamps stood covered in blood, and awaiting thier arrival..
“Three against four.” Marshall said. “I like the odds.”
“You always were one for a challenge.” Gus muttered sarcasticlly.
Marshall knew exactly what he was talking about and let his eyes drape playfully over Eddie, then back, defiantly into his brothers. She gripped her shovel a little tighter.
“Well, Somebody’s gotta step up to the plate.” Marshall quipped back, ignoring Sheamus as he nonchalantly approached. Gus stepped foreward, hissing quietly into his brothers face, in a low tone that even Eddie couldn’t hear.
“ You knew how I felt and you did it anyways, you sonovabitch. Theres one woman I’ve been in love with for five years and you have to go and fuck her? Fuck you. “
,“I didn’t know you loved her, man”he replied
“Can we talk about this later? “ Eddie asked, forcing herself between them and back into reality.. “ We have a slightly more pressing issue right now.”
They nodded, and turned to greet their foes. No one said a word. Eddie looked at Tess, pale and close lipped and wondered if she was dead or alive. Sheamus stared Gus down and in return, Gus met his gaze. Marshall smiled at Whipping boy and Ravyn, in a flirtatous sort of way, “ Can I have those two?” He growled. “Yummy.”
Niether of them could help but smile back.
Eddie was tired of standing around. “ ...Well? “ she said
“Well what?” Gus replied.
“Well,...... now what?”
“What?!” Marshall was annoyed.
“I mean...what now?” She was on the edge of hysteria.
“Oh my GOD, you ‘re worse than me! Can we just get on with it PLEASE?” Sheamus screamed.
And they did.
Sheamus and Gus danced around throwing punches until one eventually got hold of the other and they slammed to the ground. Gus closed his hands around his ex’s neck as Sheamus did the same, and they struggled,rolling from the room . They spat and yelled at one another until both were almost too exhausted to speak or breathe. Both let go and flailed wildly. The brawl continued down the hallway and across the common room. Gus grabbed Sheamus by the arms on both sides and they stopped,dead in their tracks. Sheamus looked up into his face expectantly, eyes gleaming and full of fire.
“I love when you get this passionate.” he growled, breathing hard
Gus smacked him again in disgust . “ ...Fuck you. “ He said.
Marshall tromped ahead with his big boots and picked up little Ravyn by her waist, throwing her over his left shoulder, laughing. She shrieked helplessly and Whippingboy pummelled his chest with his girly fists. It was much like hitting a watermelon repeatedly with a kleenex . Marshall pushed him out of arms reach, by the top of his head,and watched him struggle for a while, then gave up and tossed him over the other shoulder, striding from the room. Tess lunged at Eddie, and she in her morbid disbelief , concentrated more on defending herself from her former lovers attack then actually attempting to land a blow. I’m a fool, she thought. Just kill her like any other.
Then. out of the corner of her eye, there was Henry..Enough of a distraction for Tess to land a blow to her face. It had been so long since she had actually been hit that Eddie was not prepared, and crouched over monentarily. She looked up at Tess through her fingers and bleeding nose. “ Feel any better now?” she asked
“Actually, yeah, “ the young woman said ” I’ll feel a whole lot better in a few minutes though. Once I kill you.” Tess drew out a hunting knife, and held it toward Eddie, looking angry and nervous.
“Right. So, you’re one of them, now, thats it?”
“You didn’t want me anymore.” She scoffed. ”Remember? ....You..... left me for dead.”
Her voice trembled as Eddie stood again, slowly.
“What would you have had me done then?” She asked, shaking the blood from her finger tips and onto the floor, trying to keep Tess occupied. “Should I have died with you there, and left my children to fend for themselves instead? C’ mon Tessa, tell me, what would you have done?”
The long haired girl said nothing, but Eddie knew she would have done the same. Tess panicked as Eddie came closer maintaining eye contact , and grabbed her by the throat as if the knife were not even there. It clattered to the floor and Eddie lifted her roughly up against the wall. She spoke soft and angrily.
“I’m not stupid.” She said. ” I wouldn’t risk my life over someone who was already dead. Sweetheart, the second you fell into their hands, you were nothing more than an opportunity to escape. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. “ Revolted , she dropped her and Tess melted to the floor. Eddie continued.
“It disgusts me that we have to live like this, like animals. That I had to make the choice between you or them, and that my choice has changed everything i could have loved about you. Your humanity is gone and you’ll never get it back, Love,once you sided with them, it changed what could have been between us forever. There’s no turning back.”
“I wasn’t supposed to be an opportunity, I was supposed to be your girlfriend. “ She croaked. “I could have loved you.”.Tears fell down Tess’s face now and Eddie fought her own. Her heart wrenched.
“I know.” she said, crouching to look Tess in the eye. “ I could have loved you too.”
They stared at each other, and for a second Eddie wanted to kiss her. to just reach out and touch her one last time. She knew that Tess would have let herself be kissed.
Eddie stood up. “I don’t have time for romance.” She said in a quiet whisper, grabbing the knife and shovel again. “ I’m so sorry. “ Her tears worked their way out now, and she didn’t hold them back.
“But If I ever see you around my kids again, I will kill you.”
She left her there, alive, but alone.
“She doesn’t want you, you know.” Sheamus said. Gus let go .
“..Doesn’t matter.” He said.
“Tess is with ME now. She told me you had taken an interest in her.”
Gus backed up , relaxing a little. Sheamus continued.
“...She could be with you too, if you wanted.. “
He reached for Gus’s bloodstained shirt, brushing a hand across his lean stomach. Gus swallowed. Sheamus slid his hands around his waist and pulled him close.
Gus did not resist.
The dark eyed young man looked up into Gus’s eyes, searching to find something there.
A spark, yes, there it was, a tiny spark of recognition, of what they had once had.
“I’ll gladly scratch your back, if you‘ll scratch mine........” Sheamus said.
Gus reached down and took Sheamus by the hand.
She headed off in the direction that she had last seen them, curious if either of them were still alive. Where had her son gone? Last she had seem him he had run from the room , undoubtabley to hide somewhere new. They had practiced it plenty of times, hiding. The little boy had long ago learned to keep silent, and still enough to not be found. Why had he not left with the others? She followed her gut, still cautiously quiet as she walked through the abandoned dome. Then there was laughter, the sound of Sheamus’s voice, and she feared the worst. A hand on the half closed door, revealed what could not have been worse. There, through a crack in the door, Gus was kissing Sheamus.
“Oh,” she said to herself. ””Well, I guess that explains it.” Eddie tried to tear her eyes away as the kiss grew longer and their clothing was removed, but her feet would not go. Footsteps from behind; finally she turned, pulling the door slightly more closed.
It was Marshall.
“Look what I found!” He beamed as Henry bounded up beside her, hugging her tight around the waist.
“ Hi Mom. Where’s Uncle Gus? “ He asked.
She didn’t know what to say .
“He’s distracting the Badguys, Sweetie.” Satisfied with that, her son let go of her middle and ran back down the hallway toward the nursery. Marshall knew something was wrong by the look on her face and lead her away.
“ Are you alright? “ He asked.
She shook her head no.
“C’mon,” he said, putting an arm around her shoulder. “ Lets get out of here.”
Nicely done, he thought, fingers still entwined in his lovers thick hair. Gus lay on his back , and Sheamus rested his head on his chest, tracing his ribcage.
“Haven’t been fucked like that for while. “ He admitted. For once Sheamus said nothing, just stayed there, gazing at him. The silence made Gus nervous and he laughed . Can’t back out now, he thought, Gotta stay strong.
“What ?” Sheamus asked. “What’s funny?”
“Nothing, just...” Gus leaned up a bit , balancing on his forearms and Sheamus sat up too. “ Its just...” He reached out and touched the black curtain of hair that he had enjoyed so much at one time, reminiscing. “ ... Now its your turn. “
Sheamus smiled, not the pained sneer of a monster, but an actual smile. He lay back.
The tunnel was long and narrow, and not particularly high. It was made of cement , as was most of the shelter, and Eddie assumed it had been put in first, before the rest of the building ,as an escape route. She was right.
“It comes out not too far from here, ‘bout a mile into the woods, totally hidden. Pretty cool, huh?” Marshall informed them. She appreciated his disarming candor, it had helped keep her going. This must be his way of dealing with the loss of his brother.
They reached the end and opened the door, into the sunlight.
They were greeted by two big women , with even bigger guns.
Where the enclave stood out as a military compound, the commune seemed more like a bustling hippy commune than the highly functioning self contained society it truely was. It was huge, located on the top of a large hill and sprawled over more than an acre,resembling a fortified greenhouse. Rope ladders were dangled and they climbed the mountainside, til they reached the top at two hundred feet.
“Some ‘Brothel’ huh? “ She quirked her eyebrow at Marshall. He grinned sheepishly.a
A well endowed woman, who was carrying a basket of apples overheard , and put down her load on the nearby table.
“Alot of our occupants are sex workers, but the stories told on the outside are highly exaggerated.” She wiped her hands off on her apron and gestured to the many people coming to an fro, all of them doing a different task. “ These women provide a valuable service to travellers in return for a lot of the thins that we need here. Many of them are mothers. And all of them are contributing members of our society. “
Marshall looked much like a pig in shit. “Yep! “ he said nervously, still wearing a sheepish grin.. “A lotta, lotta women.” The well endowed woman, caught his eye with hers and handed him the empty basket.
“I’d be happy to show you around.” She said. He couldn’t help but grin.
“Uh, sure...” He blushed, then followed her doggedly toward the kitchen.
Eddie chuckled to herself and watched them go ,then saw her children dancing in circles with the others , as a lady played Farmer in the Dell on the guitar .They can be happy ,she thought. Why cant I?
“There’s someone here to see you” the woman said. After the kids had gone to bed and the evening chores were all done, Eddie had retired to the outside smoking area. She sat on the steps there, one knee up and a cigarette in hand . It burned away, untouched as she stared ahead.
“Uh... Thanks. “ She said, shaking out of her daze It was Gus.
He sat down next to her , saying nothing. She offered him a cigarette, and he accepted it gladly, putting it to his mouth. She struck a match and he inhaled, staring at her deeply. She watched him exhale, with the same intensity.
“Do they know you’re here?” She asked.
He shook his head no, flicking the ash away. “Probably still all passed out; they don’t even know I’m gone.”
There was an uncomfortable moment of silence between them. Gus spoke first.
“ I saw you with my brother the other night.”
She looked at the steps, playing with her cigarette..” I know.” She said. “But hey , I saw you with that vampire TWAT today, so I guess we’re even.”
Is she hurt? He wondered. Gus pressed on .
“I just don’t understand why you would be with him and not me... You do know that I love you, right?”
Eddie bit her lip, unsure of what to say. “Its like I told you before,” She reasoned. “I’m nowhere near ready to be with someone I could potentially have real feelings for. Being with Marshall was just like, celebration, y’ know? I just wanted to feel something, no strings attached. And after what happened to Tess? Fuck, man.
I’ve been crushed enough”. She stopped to drag on her cigarette, and looked him again in the eye. “What about you and ....?”
Gus was embarrassed. “We were seeing each other a few years back , he wanted it to be more serious than I did...Now.. ? I dunno. I guess you know by now that I’m... affflicted...”
She nodded. “ Marshall told me. “
“Yeah.” he said.
“Wish I’d heard it from you first, though.”
“I wasn’t sure how you’d react.” He replied
“...So if you stop taking those pills? What happens then?” she asked.
“As long as i take them i ’m fine, they’re just extreamly high doses of b vitamins, and iron, combined with some other stuff my friend John was researching. Anyway, that’s why we think they start craving blood, the virus causes such rapid anemia that if you go more than two or three days without any kind of supplement,or any way to replenish those stores ...
“.....You get all sick and zombified.” She said, “Thats so twisted. “
Gus laughed. “Yeah. Life’s a bitch, ain’t it? Of course its more than just a simple iron deficiency, the virus has mutated and that’s what causes the terrible symptoms. I’m not a scientist, so i don’t really understand it all.”
“So its not mystical, its physical.” She continued. “ That’s why they don’t go all dusty when they die.”
“Yep.” He smiled. “ They’re not evil. Just really, really stupid. “
“So then what’s with all this evil, ‘Oh my heart of darkness’ shit your honeys got going on?”
Gus shrugged back , stubbing out his cigarette. “I dunno. Guess he figures its just easier to get what he needs by manipulating people into giving it to him. I can understand the power in that, having people treat you like a god because they’re scared of you or whatever. Then again, Sheamus was never remarkably stable to begin with. The vampirism and undead hero worship certainly doesn’t help.”
“So what’s the deal then, man? Fill me in , cuz I’m drawing a blank.” She punctuated her sentence with the dying ember of her cigarette. “ I still don’t quite get why you’re here and not there right now.”
“Right... Honestly? I don’t know. I’m lonely and It’s complecated, but it feel s like I’m at least doing the right thing, for now. He wants us to prove our loyalty to him by tricking you into telling us where your going next so we can beat you there....He wants Tess to kill you. And after that,he wants me to kill Tess”.
Eddie scratched her head. “Wow. ...What did she say?”
“Shes thinking about it.”
“...And what did you tell him?”
Gus looked up at the sky, now blazing with stars. “I told him I’d think about it.” His voice trailed off.
Gus was serious. “So what do we do now?” He asked.
Sheamus held her arms by the wrists above her head , kissing the curve of Tess’s breast as she lay on the bed. She squirmed wildly under him in the hopes of being bitten.
“That tickles!” She said. Gus appeared in the doorway, hands jammed in his pants pockets, grinning from ear to ear.
“Oh, look who’s back! “ Sheamus teased. “ Did you have fun? What did you find out.?” Gus’s smile widened even more as he took off his shirt and threw it on the floor.
“She said they’re going back to their old place in two days, figured its the safest bet now that the restaurants gone.” He unbuckled his belt and let his jeans slide down, then eyed them together on the bed.
“Got room for one more?” He asked.
Eddie reclosed the childrens’ tiny secret bedroom door; The apartment looked the same as it ever had, but now it seemed so much smaller, compared to where she had just been. Somehow over the course of five years she had forgotten how big the world was. She sighed. Had she made the right choice by coming back? The candle lit long shadows across her face and she lifted it, looking around their old home.
“Goodnight my Darlings.” She said, speaking into the dark as she had done so many times before.
“ I love you.”
It was nearly dawn. They had parked a house and a half away, and sat at the wheel, one arms draped casually along the back of the seat. They had stolen a pickup in order to not be recognized. Don’t want to take any chances, Gus had said. Sheamus had drawn his long black hair into a bun at the back of his head, and Gus marvelled at the long wispy bits that fell out in the front near his face,brushing his cheek. Sheamus looked soft, almost happy, even and clutched the wheel tight with his other hand Gus leaned in and kissed him gently, caressing the younger mans mouth with his own, and was received with complete acceptance. This moment will never happen again, he thought.
Sheamus seemed so close then, his dark lashes framing his brown eyes like a beautiful picture, and Gus was moved. For a while they said nothing, only looked at one another in the hope that it would never end.
“ I love you, you know." Gus said,as his voice faltered. “ I’ve never told you, all that time we were together, but I do . And I’m sorry for the way that I treated you. I guess I was just scared, that’s all.”
“I know.” Sheamus said, deadly calm. “I love you too." He rested his head on Gus’s shoulder then, and together they watched Tess as she walked toward the house.
Her footsteps echoed loud in her ears as she climbed the interior stairs; Tess prayed that they wouldn’t be up yet,and that the bloodshed could be in their sleep.
I cant believe I’m doing this, she thought. Why does it have to be her or me?
She opened the door, gun in hand and stepped in . There was no movement anywhere, but she could just make out a shape on the couch in the dark. She shot twice , firing the gun tightly with two hands, toward the shape, hitting it in rapid sucession. She shot again, three more times, then dropped the gun to the floor, crying.
The door she had come through swung shut , and she heard it click. Tess felt the barrel before she even saw Eddie, face as ashen as a smoky sky , holding a gun to her stomach.
“Bad decision.” She said. Tess closed her eyes.
They heard the shots from outside.
“That’s your cue ” Sheamus said, pulling away. Gus got out of the truck .
He had made it up the front stairs and nearly to the door before he had even seen her, rounding the side of the house with her gun in hand. He figured she was only really good with it at close range, and froze when he saw her approach with a look of grim determination in her grey blue eyes. She had been spattered with blood and it dripped down the side of her face. She didn’t lift a hand to wipe it away, only raised the gun when she saw him and looked him in the eye. He nodded to her, swallowing the lump in his throat, and she nodded back, then pointed the gun at the truck. Jaw clenched, she shot at Sheamus through the windshield six times. He gasped in surprise, then slumped foreward on to the steering wheel.
She sat down on the steps and Gus offered her a cigarette, which she accepted and he lit , sitting beside her. She inhaled , scratched her head, and patted him on the back.
“Thanks for the heads up, Man.”
He lit his own cigarette and put his arm around her shoulder.
“Its alright.” He exhaled, “...That’s what friends are for. “
She laughed. Aside from their night in the barracks, It was the first time she had ever leaned into him like this.
It felt good.
"We have the whole day ahead of us to drive, here." He closed the hood with a thump, then wiped the oil from his hands with a rag as he spoke. "Will you be wanting to stop overnight at my place, or would you rather drive straight through?"
"I dunno.What do you think?" For once she wasnt being sarcastic. Gus knew she wanted to get back to the commune to see the kids as fast as possible,but it was a long drive,and he had way more experience with night driving than she did.He thought about it briefly before answering.
"I'd rather wait the dark out at my place, but concidering we'd be heading through an otherwise desrted area,i dont see why not. My only real concern was the windshield." he pointed to the main delta in an unstable looking crack which took up a majority of the vehicles right side. "If we hit something, or something hits us, heaven help us."
Eddie was silent but nodded in agreement. The bullet holes hadn't helped at all. Sheamus, still slumped facefirst into the steering wheel ,said nothing as well.
"Dirty Fucker." she spat at him as she opened the drivers side door.She then looked to Gus,who was still standing in front of the truck feigning intrest in the windshield and broken headlight. Avoidant, she thought. No reason he should have to do this one. She reached foreward and lifted the surprisingly light corpse into her arms like a child. His head remained slumped foreward, cradling into her neck.It hit her that she had killed this living being.
" ...What should i do with him? " She asked,suddenly becoming unsure.
Gus leaned on the hood, then crossed his arms, thinking.
".... I saw a sheet in the back." he said quietly, gesturing to the flatbed of the pickup. "Lets wrap him up in that."
Gus was waiting for her when she was done,With the tape deck blaring and both hands on the wheel.
" I grabbed some gas from a few of the cars back there while you were -," he told her as she swung the door shut. "Lets hope it works, its been sitting for a while."
"Better than nothing." She said. "C'mon lets get this show on the road. "
" Thats right. Dont forget it, either!." she laughed.It occured to her that they ought to dump the body somewhere. He put on his desert goggles, then started the truck, and they lurched foreward,into gear.
"Did you want to bury him somewhere?" she asked after about ten minutes. "You know. Like somewhere spacific, or where his parents are buried or something?"
"I dont know." He said. "I dont think i'm really ready to talk about that yet."
She watched his profile; he was along singing softley, just under his breath; instinctivly she reached to take his free hand. He cracked a small smile and held hers in return.