“But as I searched the crime scene, Luke wandered off in search of some tracks that had been left behind, leaving me alone. It was then that it happened,” she said.

“What happened?” I asked her.

“I was snatched by Phillips and Taylor,” she said. “At first I resisted, believe me Kiera I fought them. They took me to the crypt beneath St. Mary’s church and they introduced me to Roland and Rom. For months they held me prisoner, and I grew weaker and weaker until I was near death.”

“But why keep you prisoner?” I asked her.

“Believe it or not Kiera, they were helping me,” my mum said.

“Helping you?” I gasped. “Helping you with what?”

“Helping me to understand how I was to fulfill my true potential as a Vampyrus. The longer I was kept prisoner in the dark beneath the church, the more I realised that was how I’d been spending most of my life – how the Vampyrus race had been spending their lives. We were all trapped away below ground, living beneath the feet of humans, while they trampled all over us. Was there any difference to what Phillips and Taylor were doing to me?” She asked, looking me in the eyes.

“Of course it’s different,” I said. “The Vampyrus can come above ground and live amongst the humans…”

“You just don’t get it, do you?” She snarled and the sudden look of anger on her face made me flinch away from her. “Sneaking from below ground and trying to eek out a life amongst the humans isn’t living – it’s a lie! Why should we live in secret? Don’t we have as much right to live on Earth as they do?”

“So why don’t the Vampyrus just reveal themselves to the humans -” I started, but before I’d a chance to finish she had started to laugh.

“Oh Kiera, don’t be so naive,” she mocked. “Do you really think that the human race would welcome us with open arms? Do you really believe that humans would let us live amongst them as equals? How could they ever accept us when they hate themselves?”


“So invading their homes, towns, cities and annihilating them is the answer?” I snapped back at her.

“Don’t you think they would do exactly the same to us if they knew of our existence?” she said.

“They couldn’t do any worse than what Phillips and Co have been getting up to,” I said. “They’ve been turning humans into vampires! And what about dad – he was human – you were married to one of them!”

“That was before I took the blood,” she said.

“Blood?” I asked, but in my heart I knew what she was talking about.

“Human blood,” she smiled as if admitting to a dirty secret. “The first was a parishioner from St. Mary’s Church. Father Taylor brought her down into the crypt to hear her confession – she’d been fooling around behind her husband’s back – so I didn’t feel so bad about her. But once I’d taken one, I needed another and another. For nearly three years, I fed off the residents from The Ragged Cove, and then you showed-up and discovered the boy, Henry Blake. He was much sweeter than he looked!”

I thought of her hairs in his tiny dead hand, as he lay mutilated beneath the trees on the edge of Farmer Moore’s field back in The Ragged Cove.

“It was you who killed that child!” I screeched at her, and before I knew what was happening, I was upon her, my hands tight about her throat. But when I looked at my hands squeezing at her neck I was shocked to see that they were no longer my manicured fingernails but ivory-looking claws. Slowly, I removed them from about her throat.

She smiled at me with her lifeless black eyes and said, “Well, well, well! Maybe I was wrong about you! Perhaps you’re got more Vampyrus in you than I first thought!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I hissed at her.

“Let’s say that you are a late developer,” she said. “Unlike Kayla and Isidor, you have been somewhat slow in changing – but I can see now that you are. And that is good!”

“So you can use the three of us to develop more half-breeds like us?” I said.

“Yes,” she smiled. “It’s been difficult – but now we have the three of you, we should be able to correct the mistakes we’ve made.”

“By mistakes, I guess you’re talking about that poor girl back at the monastery?” I said.

“Yes, that was rather unfortunate,” my mum said without any true compassion in her voice. “But still there is one last thing that we need before we can go ahead.”

“And what’s that?” I asked, dreading her answer.

“The three of you will need to drink human blood,” she told me.

“I won’t do it!” I screamed.

“Oh Kiera,” she almost seemed to sigh. “It’s not as bad as you think.”

“Luke told me that even one drop makes you an addict to the stuff,” I shouted. “The need for it drives you insane. Once tasted you have to have more and more. He told me that the cravings for human blood will never go away!”

“Do you see me crawling around on the floor, Kiera?” she asked me. “Do I look like an addict?”

“But don’t you see the flaw in your plan?” I said. “You kill all the humans, how will you feed your addiction?”

“Don’t concern yourself, Kiera,” she smiled. “Have you never heard of the humans using factory farms to produce their food? We will keep enough alive to breed and give us an endless supply of blood.”

The thought of row upon row of people, caged like farm animals, just kept alive to feed the Vampyrus was disturbing and created haunting images inside my mind. Then, staring into her soulless eyes, I said, “You were right, you’re not my mother anymore – she died the moment you gave in beneath the crypt and drank Henry Blake’s blood. You called it a baptism, but that means the start of a new life – for you it was the beginning of your death.”

“Kiera, if only you knew how amazing the blood makes you feel,” she said. “It’s not death that you feel – it makes you feel alive for the very first time. It will make you more powerful than you could ever imagine.”

Then looking into her eyes, I said, “But that’s where you and I are different. I don’t want to be powerful – I just want to be me – Kiera Hudson.”

Without saying anything, my mum took her hands from behind her back, and I stumbled backwards. Just like in my nightmare, her hands were dripping red with blood from the pieces of flesh that she held in them. Then smiling, she offered it to me.

“Go on, Kiera,’ she urged, bringing the flesh closer. “Just a little bite.”

Although I shook my head in disgust, I couldn’t help but think the smell of the flesh was inviting. I could feel the inside of my mouth start to water and it felt so good. Maybe she was right, just one little bite wouldn’t hurt.

But another part of me, the human part was screaming No at me. Don’t touch it Kiera, not even one little drop! You won’t ever be able to go back! Your hunger and thirst won’t be sedated – it will grow worse!

“Go on, Kiera,” she coaxed me. “Would I ever give you something that was bad – something that would hurt you?”

I looked away from the flesh that she held before me, and up into her eyes. She smiled at me, and I felt warm tears spill onto my cheeks.

“I love you, Kiera,” she smiled.

However much I needed to hear her say those words, I pushed her hands away and said, “Never! You’ll never get me to drink human blood!”

With her dead-black eyes fixed on me she said, “If you won’t drink it for me then perhaps someone else can persuade you!”

“Who?” I asked, my heart racing.

Without answering me, she looked towards the cell door and said, “Bring him in.”

I looked up as Phillips and Sparky entered, dragging someone or something between them.

“Look who we pulled out of the lake,” Phillips said, as he and Sparky dropped Luke onto the floor of the cell.

“Luke!” I gasped, rushing over to him.

I rolled him over and almost screamed. His face looked beaten and bruised beyond recognition. His neck, arms and chest were covered in so many bite marks, tears, and scratches that it was hard to see a piece of his flesh that wasn’t in some way injured.

Cradling him against me, I whispered, “Luke, its Kiera.”

Without opening his eyes, he stirred in my arms and cried out in pain.

“What have you done to him, you animals!” I screeched at my mother, Phillips, and Sparky.

“If you think he looks bad now,” my mother smiled, “You couldn’t even begin to imagine what my friends here will do to him unless you eat this,” and she held out her bloodied hands again.

I looked at the lump of flesh that dripped between her fingers and back at Luke again. Half opening his eyes, he looked at me and whispered, “Don’t eat it Kiera…whatever they do to me…don’t…”

But before he had finished, Phillips had lashed out with one of his feet and kicked Luke in his bloodied chest. Screaming in pain, Luke slipped from my arms and back onto the floor.

“Leave him, please!” I begged my mother.

“Then have some of this!” she screamed – her patience wearing thin.

“Please, mum,” I cried, looking into her eyes and hoping that she might still have some feelings for me – that her addiction to human blood hadn’t totally taken her soul.

“I’m growing tired of this!” she roared, shoving the flesh beneath my nose. I grimaced and turned my head away. Seeing this, she said, “Kill him!”

At once, Sparky and Phillips set about Luke. They kicked and punched him, smashing his already disfigured face into the rocks that covered the cell floor. Luke screamed out in pain and I covered my ears with my hands and closed my eyes. But I could still hear his agonising screams.

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