The sound of helicopters thundered above us, their engines screaming into the night like angry wasps. We fled the carcasses of the two Vampyrus that had been sent to hunt us. Murphy, Potter, and Luke had needed to feed; the last of Lot 13 had run out two nights ago. Isidor and I kept lookout at the mouth of the alley while the others had killed the hunters. With my eyes now being able to see through the dark, I looked away as they fed. The sound of gnawing and tearing was enough. I looked at Isidor, and he had a hand placed over his nose and mouth as he tried to block out the smell of ripe innards and intestines.
Torchlight arced into the night sky illuminating the sheets of cold October rain that swept in all around Kendal, the small town in the north of England that we had fled to. Above the noise of the helicopter’s rotary blades, I could hear the sounds of police officers yelling frantically out into the night and the crackling of static from their walkie-talkies.
“Over here!” one of the voices shouted.
“This way!” hollered another.
The sound of feet trampling over broken beer bottles, upturned trashcans and litter could be heard. The five of us hid in the shadows of a shop doorway and waited for the sounds of their booted feet to pass and disappear in the direction of the mutilated bodies that my friends had left behind.
Once they had gone, Murphy whispered from within the gloom, “Go now. But keep low and in the shadows.”
“I’m sick of all this sneaking about,” Potter hissed back, and through the darkness I could see a piece of flesh caught between his fang and front tooth.
Why did I have to see so much more now? I wondered as my stomach leapt in disgust.
“Let’s just get out of town,” Luke said back in his usual calm tone. Taking my hand in his, he added, “Things will seem clearer once we’ve rested.”
Stepping from the shadows, we followed Murphy out into the rain, which bounced up off the road and ran down the curb, sloshing into the nearest storm drain. Across the street, there was a children’s park and beyond, a small cluster of trees that lurched back and forth in the wind. Reaching the park, Murphy motioned for us to get down. Crouching, we made ourselves as small as possible against the slide and roundabout. The swings swayed to and fro as if they were being played on by the ghosts of dead children.
“There are cars heading this way,” Isidor said, sniffing at the air like an animal. His pierced eyebrow glinting in the light of the moon that shone through the passing clouds.
“There are no cars coming,” Potter snapped. “Police cars – two of them,” he said, ignoring Potter and looking over his shoulder at me. “I can smell the diesel.” “There’d be lights and sirens…” Potter cut in. “Not if they were coming on silent approach,” Luke told him. “Now why would they want to go and do a thing like that?” Murphy whispered to himself. “So they don’t spook us off,” Isidor whispered. “I’m so glad that we have you here to explain this stuff to us,” Potter said, giving Isidor an unfriendly stare.
“Leave the kid alone,” Murphy told Potter, watching as a marked police car parked on the road about twenty feet away from where we were hiding. Just as Isidor had said, the emergency lights were out.
Peering into the darkness, I watched a police officer climb from the car, and as she pulled the collar of her coat up against the driving rain, I realised again how much I missed being a police officer. I know it sounds crazy, right? Why would I miss going out on patrol on a cold wet night? Because, each time you went out on patrol, you and your partner would never know what lay hidden around the next corner. And I liked the idea of that.
I could see by the silver chevrons on the officer’s shoulders that she was a sergeant. The helicopters that had been circling above like a swarm of angry bees swept away, and I heard Isidor whistle a sigh of relief through his teeth. Now that they had gone, I could hear the police sergeant talking into her radio.
“I’m going to contain the area, but I don’t have enough officers to put in a cordon.”
“Alpha-Zulu-three-seven from control, we do have more officers assigned. They have an ETA of two-zero, that’s two-zero minutes,” a female voice crackled back via her radio.
The police sergeant sighed and pushed her cap to the back of her head, and I understood her frustration. I could remember in training, the nights fighting with the drunks outside the clubs and pubs in Havensfield as I waited for backup.
Hooking her radio back onto her fluorescent coat, she lent against the police car, folding her arms over her chest, as if conditioned to the idea that she would be waiting a while for reinforcements. Then, quicker than I think she’d expected, headlights of approaching vehicles glistened off the rain streaming down the centre of the road.
“Keep down,” Murphy warned us from beneath the darkness of the slide.
I watched the police sergeant step away from her vehicle and shield her eyes against the glare of the oncoming lights. From my hiding place, I couldn’t see the vehicles, but I could hear them slow to a halt. Several car doors were swung open, then slammed shut. The sound of footfalls on wet tarmac came closer, until four more police officers came into view. But their uniforms were different – they looked more like military, and if it hadn’t have been for the luminous ‘POLICE’ logos on the back of their uniforms, I would have thought them to be soldiers. They stopped abruptly in front of the sergeant.
“Who are you?” she asked them. Obviously they weren’t known to her.
They were dressed all in black. They wore padded coveralls, which were tucked into sturdy looking boots. Their hands were covered in thick black gloves, which gripped MP5 machine guns.
“We’re the S.T.U. officers that you requested,” one of the officers said to her.
“S.T.U.?” the sergeant asked bemused.