Throwing my head back, a last desperate hope that I might be able to force my nose and mouth above the surface and take in some air, I saw the fleeting shadow of a winged creature soar overhead. But beneath the murky surface, I couldn’t tell which one of my friends it was, and I wasn’t even sure if they even knew I was slowly drowning beneath them.
The last of the air burst from my lungs in a flurry of bubbles and God did I feel sleepy. I just wanted to close my eyes – so I did and I could feel myself being pulled slowly downwards. But I felt strangely calm now, somehow at peace. Then, as if being launched like the NASA Space Shuttle, I was suddenly being propelled at what seemed like lightning speed up through the water and into the night sky. Air rushed past me, causing my clothes to ripple and dragging the flesh back across my face under the force of being propelled upwards.
Sucking in lungfuls of air, I looked down and could see the lake below me. I was so high that the capsized boat looked like a toy that a sullen child had kicked over. Guessing that one of my friends had saved me, I looked up, but to my surprise, no one had hold of me – I was soaring up into the night on my own. Looking left, then right, I screamed as I saw two raven black wings protruding from either side of me.
Seeing the wings fluttering on either side of me, I panicked, and they curled away. The sensation made me shiver as I felt them almost shrink back inside of me. It felt like ice-cold fingernails were being raked across my back. It felt as if something similar to a snake was wrapping itself around my spine and squeezing through the gaps between my ribs. It didn’t hurt exactly; it felt as if I was shrinking in on myself – being turned inside out.
Suddenly, I was plummeting like a stone back towards the lake. Without my wings, I was freefalling down and I didn’t know how to get them back. Did I have to will them out – think about them? No, I didn’t want to do that, whatever was going to happen to me – I didn’t want to think about those wings that were inside of me. Spinning over and over, the rush of the air crushed my chest and numbed my face. Looking down as I spiraled out of control, I saw the surface of the lake shining back at me like a colossal mirror. And with every second it grew bigger – like a hole in the earth. With the spray of the lake spattering my skin, I was snatched away and sped back towards the shore where the giant pine trees stretched up into the night like skyscrapers. But this time it wasn’t my wings that gave me flight, it was Isidor, plucking me from the surface of the lake and whisking me to safety.
Landing on the shore, Isidor looked at me and asked, “What happened?”
Then, staring out across the lake, I could see fleeting glimpse of Murphy and Potter as they rocketed back and forth across the sky, beheading vampires as they went. But I couldn’t see Luke. With my heart climbing up into my throat, I looked wide-eyed at Isidor and said, “Luke! Where’s Luke?”
“Erm…I’m not…” Isidor started as he glanced back over his shoulder.
Gripping him by his broad shoulders, I said, “I saw him get dragged under…the vampires had him…”
“Where?” Isidor pressed, seeing the fear in my eyes.
“They dragged him to the bottom of the lake,” I yelled, frantically looking over his shoulder for any sign of Luke.
Without saying another word, Isidor sprang into the air. Then, pinning his arms to his sides, he dived into the water and disappeared from view.
“Potter!” I hollered, waving my arms in the air to try and draw his attention. “Potter!”
But he was too busy slaying any vampire that dared to get close to him. I looked for Murphy, and he was spinning through the air, ripping at the throat of a vampire he was struggling with.
Realising that they wouldn’t be of any help, I raced to the water’s edge and stared into the water. But even with my new-found sight, I couldn’t see to the bottom of its murky depths.
“Luke!” I screamed again, as panic began to take a firm grip of me. “Please!”
Isidor flew from the water, and spreading his arms and wings so as to hover, he looked at me and yelled, “Kiera, I can’t see him!”
“Please, Isidor,” I almost begged. “Please look again!”Taking a deep breath, Isidor span around as if to get momentum, then shot beneath the water again. Running up and down the waters edge, I called out to Murphy and Potter again, but they appeared deaf to my cries as they fought with the vampires.
As I watched the ripples fade from where Isidor had disappeared in search of Luke, I thought I heard the sound of thunder come from deep within the forest. Spinning around, I stared into the slices of darkness that separated the trees. The rumbling sound came again, and this time the ground began to tremor beneath my feet. I looked over at where I’d left my boots and they were sliding across the sand beneath the vibrations of the thunder, so I put them on. Looking back over my shoulder, I saw Potter and Murphy pause mid-flight as the approaching sound caught their attention.
“What’s that noise?” I yelled, covering my hands with my ears as the booming sound became almost deafening.
Looking past me into the forest, then at each other, Murphy and Potter tossed aside the vampires they had been busily tearing to shreds and came swooping towards the shore. Although the sound was terrifying, it seemed to work in our favour, as hearing it, the last of the vampires dived back into the lake and disappeared beneath its black surface as if they knew that some terror was coming.
Swooping down on either side of me, Murphy and Potter appeared to brace themselves as they stared ahead into the darkness of the forest. Then from behind me, there was a splash as Isidor sprang from beneath the water again. Circling around in the air above us, he shouted, “I’m sorry Kiera, but I can’t find Luke -”
“Luke!” Murphy barked at me. “Where’s Luke?”
But before I’d had the chance to explain anything, that deafening sound of thunder was upon us as four giant wolves bounded from the forest. Shrinking back in fear, I looked at the wolves that now stood before us on the shore. Unlike any other wolves I had seen, these were as large as bears. They turned their massive heads and their long snouts towards us. One of them lept forward and roared with such force that even from several feet away I could feel its hot breath against my face and my hair bellowed out behind me.
Potter sprang forward, his wings arched upward in a display of anger. He stood defiantly before the wolf and stared into its blazing, yellow eyes. The other three monstrous wolves howled as they bounded towards Potter, but he didn’t shrink back or flinch with fear. In a stream of black shadows, Murphy was at his side, as was Isidor. Both of them, like Potter, had there wings fully splayed along with their claws and fangs.
The dominant wolf roared, sending stringy waves of saliva from its jaws. Its sleek, black fur glistened in the moonlight, and its claws kicked up a shower of sand as if to ward off my Vampyrus friends. The other wolves circled us, a deep, angry rumble coming from within their throats. Turning on the spot, I followed them with my eyes. They almost seemed to tower over us, their flanks flexing in and out with muscle. Their yellow eyes fixed on us, as if waiting for the command to charge. They sniffed the air, and their long fleshy tongues hung from the corners of their dripping jaws. Unlike the black-coated wolf, the other’s coats were brown, grey, and white. But each of them had the same yellow, piercing stare and I looked away from them, as I remembered Potter telling me how the Lycanthrope could place you in a trance with just one look.
Even though I feared these enormous wolves, my greatest fear was what had happened to Luke. Had those vampires savaged him at the bottom of the lake or had he managed to escape, clawed his way up the shore and now lay injured and bleeding in the forest?
As if reading my mind, Murphy said to the wolf with the black bristling hair, “Jack Seth, we don’t have time for this macho shit-head display of aggression – I’ve lost one of my men and I need to find him.”
Rolling back its fleshy lips, the wolf growled at Murphy.
“I’m sorry,” Potter said, “What was that you said? I don’t speak dog!”
Within an instant, the giant wolf was standing on its back legs and looming over Potter, his jaws wide open and brandishing a set of teeth that glistened like a set of knives.
Smirking and looking over at Murphy, Potter said, “Aww, I think the little poodle wants me to stroke its tummy!”
With one earsplitting roar, the werewolf had swiped at Potter with one of its giant paws and sent him spinning back through the air and into the lake. Hitting the water, Potter sprang into the air and then came racing back towards the shore. Seeing him, the werewolf launched himself forward, and in a blur, and twisting out of shape, the wolf took the form of a man. Landing on his feet, he towered over Potter. Not outside of a freak show had I seen such a tall man. Jack Seth must have stood seven feet tall at least. The way his shadow was cast across the sand, I knew that he was the man that Murphy had secretly met in the derelict farmhouse. Seth stared down at Potter, who took to the air again, so they met eye to eye.
Seeing this, the other three werewolves bounded forward in a series of giant leaps and were yapping and barking at Potter.
“Enough already!” Murphy roared. “These pathetic schoolboy antics aren’t going to help us save Luke!”
With neither one of them wanting to back down, I took a deep breath and raced towards Potter. As I darted between the wolves, they snapped at me with their mighty jaws, but Isidor was already hovering above them, and taking aim with his crossbow.
“Up here!” he hollered down at them. “Now why don’t you be good doggies and play nice!”
Seeing him, they lept and bounded into the air, swiping at him with their massive paws. But each time they came within touching distance of him, Isidor would swoop away with a grin on his lips.
Knowing that we had very little time left, if any to rescue Luke, I stared up at Potter and cried, “Don’t you realise that your friend could be lying at the bottom of that lake and all you’re worried about is trying to prove a point with this…this…”