“Just do it!” I shouted again. Then turning on the rest of them, I shouted, “All of you!”
Without question, Murphy, Potter, Luke, and Isidor, began to strip to the waist. As their coats and shirts fluttered to the floor, their giant black wings unfurled from the backs of their pale bodies.
Then I heard Potter say, “I don’t think she meant you, dude.”
Following Potter’s stare, I turned around to see that Kenner was unbuttoning his shirt too, his oversized belly spilling into his lap like a pile of white dough.
“What are you getting undressed for?” I asked him, shaking my head from side to side.
“You said we all had to take our shirts off,” Kenner replied, his lower lip trembling. “You’re not all…you know…kinky, are you?”
“Kinky!” Potter barked as if he had just been deeply insulted. “Who are you calling kinky? I’m not kinky!”
“Oh please!” I groaned. “I wasn’t talking to you, Mr. Kenner. And they’re not kinky, as you like to put it, they are Vampyrus.”
“Vampyrus?” Kenner asked, buttoning up his shirt and looking past me at my friends who now stood before him. “What’s Vampyrus?” Then, seeing them standing there with their long black wings trailing behind them, and Isidor’s wings hanging between his arms like the webbing between a ducks toes, he started to scream all over again.
“Now look what you’ve gone and done,” Potter snapped at me.
“I just wanted to show him that you were monsters – but good monsters if you understand that,” I said, hoping that I hadn’t hurt their feelings.
“You’re a monster too,” Isidor said pulling his shirt and coat back on. “Don’t forget that, Kiera.”
How could I? I thought to myself. Then turning on Kenner, who sat quivering in the armchair, I said, “Well?”
“Well, what?” he mumbled.
“As you can see, these guys here are…different from you…but they never killed those people on the London Underground,” I told him. “and they’re not going to kill you.”
“But how can I believe you?” Kenner whimpered, unable to take his eyes off them.
“If they were going to kill you, wouldn’t they have done so by now?” I said. “They’ve had plenty of time and reason, what with you waving that shotgun around. And let’s face it – you’re pretty remote all the way out here – I mean who’s going to hear you scream?’”
“Can you see now that we are not the enemy?” Luke asked, standing by the fire. The light from it made the scars on his chest and face glow. Flapping his wings gently, as if to show Kenner that they were real and not some party-trick, he came forward and said, “Kiera is right, we are different…monsters, if you like, but that doesn’t mean we are killers. We are in as much danger as you and your family are.”
“Danger?” Kenner asked his eyes wide.
“We don’t have time to explain now, but leave this place,” Luke told him, pulling his coat back on. “Go to your wife and child and get as far away from here as possible…and don’t come back.”
“Look,” Murphy said, buttoning his shirt, “Your race is in danger and we are the only ones, at this moment in time, who can help you. It’s those who you see and hear calling us killers who are the real enemy. We don’t intend on harming any human. We just want to leave here and continue with our mission. So do we have your word that as soon as we are out of the door, you won’t go calling…?”
“It’s too late for that,” Kenner said sheepishly. “I called the police as soon as I saw that you had broken into my home!”
And no sooner had those words left his mouth, we heard the sound of sirens and the thunder of helicopters as they approached in the distance.
“I’m sorry,” he said.“Yeah, so am I,” Potter said, heading straight to the window, where he twitched back the curtain and peered out into the night and across the fields.
“We’ve got company and lots of it,” Potter said without the slightest trace of fear in his voice. He closed the curtain and looked at Murphy, who in turn looked at Luke, Isidor, and me.
“Get your stuff, we’re getting out of here,” he said, his voice full of urgency.
Isidor slung his backpack over his shoulders, and I looked up at the ceiling as the sounds of several helicopters screamed overhead.
Leaping from the armchair, Kenner shouted, “Follow me!”
He raced into the hallway and flung open a door which sat beneath the staircase. “Get down there. You’ll find a tunnel which runs for a couple of miles underground. It leads to a disused well. My grandparents used it during the war.”
We piled in and hurried down a set of rickety old stairs. At the bottom, I glanced back and could see Tom Kenner standing in the doorway.
“Good luck!” he hollered and waved.
Then I heard the sound of breaking glass from above. Kenner slammed the door shut and I heard him shout at someone.
“You’re too late! They left about five minutes ago…they headed east across the fields!”
There were more sounds of smashing and crashing from above. Then I heard him shouting again. “Get back! Get back or I’ll shoot!” Then the night seemed to explode with the sound of his shotgun firing. The air was immediately filled with the ear-piercing screams of those vampire-cops shrieking and gnashing their razor-sharp teeth together. This was followed by the sound of bones snapping and breaking, and the hideous noise of slurping and sucking. My mind swam with pictures of those vampire-cops feeding on Kenner and I knew what he would soon become.
“This way, Kiera. This way!” someone shouted at me. Breaking my trance, I turned to see Luke yanking me towards the entrance of the tunnel, which led into a well of darkness.
From over my shoulder, I heard the door above us explode inwards in a shower of rough splinters as those cops appeared at the top of the steps.
“Run!” I screamed, darting into the tunnel behind the others.
Murphy took the lead and illuminated the tunnel ahead with the Zippo lighter he used to light his pipe. We raced down the tunnel as several of those cops poured in behind us.
“Faster!” I screamed, almost tearing my throat raw. “They’re right behind us!”
Looking back over my shoulder, I could see them racing towards us. Shoving me behind him, Isidor aimed his crossbow, and with lightning, speed fired off a volley of shots into the dark. Through the blackness, I watched several of those finely-sharpened stakes slice into the chests of some of the cops who raced after us. They flew backwards, clutching their chests as they went slamming into the walls of the tunnel and exploding into a spray of white ash. Again Isidor fired, shot after shot with such speed and agility that his arms were just a blur in the darkness as he reloaded the crossbow. Again those cops flew backwards into the dark, screaming, hissing, and spitting as they went. One of their heads made a sickening thud as it bounced off the stone wall, then disintegrated. The vampire-cop collapsed to the floor and the others charged over him as if he wasn’t there.
Racing forward again, I followed the light from Murphy’s lighter, even though I didn’t need it to help me see in the dark.
“This way!” Murphy kept shouting back over his shoulder at us.
The sound of the vampire-cops breathing grew ever louder from within the darkness as they made up ground and got closer to us. Glancing back over my shoulder again, I was horrified to see that they were now only feet away. Isidor fired off another volley of shots, sending the cops in a shower of dust back down the tunnel.
Then one of them saw the wooden stakes slicing through the air at him and he leapt against the wall of the tunnel. To my amazement, it gripped hold of the wall and scurried along it like a huge spider. He crawled up the wall and came at me along the ceiling of the tunnel. Its face looked wizened as if contorted through pain. Its eyes burnt red as it lunged at me. Then, I felt an arm snake around my waist and drag me backwards. Looking back, I could see that it was Potter who had taken hold of me, and he pressed me against him. Images of what had happened between us in the gatehouse at the Hallowed Manor flashed across my mind. Before I’d had the chance to shove those memories of him away, Luke flew over my head and clattered into the vampire-cop that had lunged at me.
“Get off me,” I hissed at Potter as he held me close, and I could feel his unshaven face against mine. In the darkness, I could see his eyes and they were staring at me. Their intensity was almost frightening – but in his arms the fear didn’t last long and my feelings began to soften.
“This isn’t the time,” I said, looking back into his eyes. “Please, just let me go.”
And he did. There were no wisecracks. He just let go of me and that just confused me even more, and I think he knew that. Breaking our gaze, I looked away, to see Luke clawing and biting away at the cop, who only moments before, had nearly been upon me. Then I saw Isidor go down in a flurry of beating arms and legs, as he was swamped by a mass of vampire-cops.
Without looking at Potter, I said, “Help him!”
But instead of flying forward in defence of Isidor, Potter hesitated. Turning to face him again, I said, “Please, Potter. I know you don’t really like him, but do it for me!”
Then he was gone, and he moved so fast it was almost as if he had just disappeared before my eyes. Spinning around, I saw him dive through the air, slicing through the approaching cops as easily as if they were made from paper. I’d seen Potter lose his temper before, but today he seemed almost savage as he hacked, bit, and ripped at the approaching cops with his claws and fangs. Luke showed as much ferocity, but he moved with more precision as he hacked and bit, as if his anger, unlike Potter’s, was controlled.
Another vampire-cop broke free and scurried above me, throwing itself through the air. I ducked and it shot over my head clattering into the floor of the tunnel. Jumping over him, I raced towards Luke who was lunging down at one of the vampire-cop’s upturned faces. The tunnel was filled with the sound of screaming and it hurt my ears. Another sprung at Luke and I saw him topple over. With my heart racing, he looked back and I saw his eyes wide and green staring at me from out of the darkness. I reached for him and as I did, I could feel the burning sensation of hot breath against the back of my neck. Looking back again, I saw a hand reach out of the darkness and grab hold of my shoulder. I screamed and pushed out at the vampire with both of my hands. Then it was gone, flying backwards down the tunnel. At first, I wasn’t sure of what had happened and I half-expected to see Murphy standing in the place where the vampire had stood. But he wasn’t there. Then, I felt something warm and hot sliding through my fingers. I looked down to see that my right hand was covered in blood. I shook my hand and the vampire’s blood splattered against the tunnel wall.