“Their surname?”

“Written on the mailbox,” I hissed.

“You make it sound so easy,” he said, not for one moment taking his eyes off me. “But it’s not, is it Kiera?”

“Anyone would have seen that stuff,” I told him.

“Sure they would have seen it,” he said, “but you absorbed all of that information in seconds and connected it into a coherent train of thought – building it into a picture of the family who lived on that farm. That is some gift, Kiera.”

“No, not really,” I muttered. “It was easy.”

“And it’s easy for me to know that girl wasn’t Kayla,” he said.

“But how?” I asked, rage and confusion still simmering inside of me. “You didn’t even get a good look at her.”

“I didn’t have to,” Isidor said. “She smelt all wrong.”

“What do you mean?” I said, staring at him.

“You know I can smell things – that’s my gift – if you can call it that,” he half-smiled, “and she didn’t smell like us, Kiera.”


“What are you talking about?” I seethed, wondering if he wasn’t just trying to fill my head with a load of crap.

“The Vampyrus have a certain kind of smell,” he explained. “Humans have a different kind of smell and half-breeds – us – have a very unique smell. A mixture of both of those species.”

“I can’t smell anything,” I snapped.

“And you wouldn’t,” he said. “Just like I can’t see things the way you do, you can’t smell things like I do. Just imagine that your sense of smell is the size of a postage stamp – well mine is the size of a football pitch. I smell everything and it can drive me kinda nuts sometimes – it’s almost like I’m suffocating under a wave of odors.”

“So what does Kayla smell like?” I said, glancing back over my shoulder at her spread across the bed.

“If that had been Kayla, she would’ve had the same scent as you and me. But she,” and he nodded in the direction of the body, “didn’t smell of anything. She had no smell, Kiera; it was like she wasn’t even there – like she didn’t exist.”

“But that’s impossible…” I started.

“Exactly,” Isidor said, “and that’s how I knew it wasn’t Kayla. Whatever that thing is, it isn’t Kayla. It’s been created, manufactured from DNA taken from Kayla.”

Then remembering how Doctor Ravenwood had told me how the Vampyrus wanted to breed an army of half-breeds because of our unique abilities, part of me began to wonder if Isidor wasn’t, in fact, telling me the truth.

“So why have you got that crossbow trained on me?” I asked.

“I could smell your fear and anger, Kiera,” he said, his face looking grim and forlorn. “I knew you wanted to kill me, so I had to hold you back until I’d had the chance to explain -”

“Kill you!” I said over him.

Then looking in my eyes, he said, “I saw what you did to that vampire in the tunnel. How you forced him back. I don’t know if you realise, Kiera, as you did it so fast, but your hand went straight through that vampire.”

I thought back to how my hand had been covered in blood, and without even realising what I was doing, I started to wipe my hand against my thigh, as if wiping that vampire’s blood away all over again.

“You might not want to accept it, Kiera,” Isidor said, slowly lowering his crossbow, “but you are changing and it won’t be long before you are like Kayla and me.”

“But I don’t want to change,” I told him.

“I didn’t either,” he said, his voice softening. “It scared the shit outta me. But you don’t have to go through it alone. I’ll help you, Kiera.”

“But how do I know I can trust you?” I said, looking at him. “How do I know what you’ve just told me about Kayla is true?”

Then striding past me, he went to the bed. “Does this look like your friend?” he said, pointing at the girl.

I looked at her skeletal-like form, her bald head with the tuffs of hair sticking out of it. With tears running silently down my cheeks again, I stroked her face. I thought of Kayla, how beautiful she was, her auburn hair cascading down her back and onto her shoulders. With my heart aching, I whispered, “No, she looks nothing like my friend Kayla. But did you have to kill her?”

“It was suffering, Kiera,” he said, coming to stand next to me, taking my hand. “It was in pain – scared.”

“Why do you keep calling her it?” I asked, trying to keep it together.

“Because that’s what it was,” he said. Although what he said sounded harsh, his voice was gentle. “It was created here, in some laboratory. It was a mutant – a freak.”

“Some would say the same about us,” I said, looking at him.

“Kiera, whatever we are, we were born,” he said. “We weren’t conjured up out of someone’s twisted experiment. We aren’t a product of someone’s sick desire to make a super race that will help them destroy the human race. We have a right to exist.”

“So you play God then?” I said. “You decide who lives and dies?”

Letting go of my hand and stepping away from me, he said, “Kiera, I’m not going to get into some theological debate with you. These things have been made for one reason and one reason only and that is to kill. I didn’t ask for these,” he moaned, lifting the monk’s disguise and showing me the wings that hung from beneath his arms. “Don’t you think I’d rather be at college like normal kids my age? Don’t you think I’d rather be making out with girls and playing football with my friends, instead of being hunted down like some wild animal, tearing around the place harpooning Christ-knows-what?”

Seeing the hurt in his face and hearing it in his voice, I said, “I’m sorry Isidor, I didn’t mean to judge you.”

Throwing his coat closed, he said, “Whatever you do Kiera, don’t take pity on these things, because they won’t show any to you.”

“So where is Kayla then?” I asked him.

“Shrugging his shoulders, he said, “I don’t know the answer to that, but one thing I do know is that she isn’t here – I would be able to smell her.”

“But Murphy was given information that Kayla was here,” I reminded him.

“Whoever told him that was wrong,” Isidor said.

Then, a shadow fell across the open doorway. Looking up, I saw Potter. Seeing him there, all I wanted to do was run to him, to be held by him, but I quickly buried those feelings deep inside.

“Well?” he said, looking at me and Isidor then glancing at the dead girl on the bed. I could see that he was covered in blood. There was so much of the stuff, I couldn’t tell if he was injured or whether the blood had come from the Vampyrus he had slaughtered.

“What’s that?” Potter said pointing at the girl.

“What’s what?” Isidor said.

“The dead girl, Sherlock,” Potter growled.

“It isn’t Kayla,” I said, looking at Isidor.

“But it looks like her…” Potter started.

Then looking at him, I said, “Whoever told Murphy that Kayla was here was mistaken…or -”

“Or, what?” Potter snapped at me.

“Or they lied,” I said, brushing past him and back out into the corridor.

Chapter Eighteen

We headed down the candlelit corridor and back the way we had come. There was a bend in the corridor ahead and as we neared it two monks came tearing around it, racing straight for us.

Pushing Isidor and me aside, Potter said, “Leave them to me, I have everything under control.”

Within moments they were upon us, leaping through the air, hoods falling back revealing their contorted bat-like faces. Their eyes burnt red like molten lava, fangs spraying drool up the walls in thick lumps. The first reached out and grabbed Potter by the throat and the second grabbed hold of my arm so tightly, I thought it was going to be ripped out of its socket. Pushing me back against the wall, it lunged at my face and its breath stank of rotten flesh. I clawed at its eyes with my fingernails. I raked them down its face, dragging its eyeballs down his bristly cheeks. The Vampyrus’ eyes felt hot and gloopey under my fingers and it screeched in agony. Releasing me, the Vampyrus threw its hands to his face, and staggered away. The sounds that came from its throat were like a cat in the middle of a fight.

Over the hideous screams, I could hear Potter begin to cough and sputter. The second Vampyrus had lifted him off his feet and had his claws buried in Potter’s throat. He kicked and clawed at the Vampyrus, but with each passing second his efforts became weaker as the life was squeezed from him. He glanced over at me, then at Isidor who stood further down the corridor in the shadows. I could see that Potter’s eyes were bloodshot and bulging from their sockets as the Vampyrus throttled him.

“Crossbow,” he wheezed at Isidor.

“I thought you said you had everything under control,” Isidor said calmly, loading his crossbow.

“Isidor, this isn’t the -” I started.

“I just want him to be nice to me for once,” he said, slowly raising the crossbow.

I glanced back at Potter and his lips had started to turn blue. He tried to say something, but whatever it was, it came out as two short breathless gasps.

“Isidor!” I screamed.

Then the Vampyrus was flying back down the corridor and away from Potter with two wooden stakes protruding from its chest. Potter slumped down the wall and onto the floor. Rushing over to him, I took his face in my hands. His eyes were closed and his lips were still.

“Potter!” I shouted, hating the panic in my voice. “Potter!”

Then opening one eye, he looked up at me and said something, but it was just a whisper.

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