For hours or seconds, she ran. Her feet led her away, away from the freeway. Away from Garrison. Away from death.
She didn’t know what she ran towards. Home. Safety. The police, if she were lucky enough to stumble across a station. She was lost in a city she didn’t know Away was all she had.
So, she ran. Ran as her lungs burned. Ran as her legs ached, then screamed, then turned to jelly. Ran until sweat obscured her vision and she couldn’t catch her breath and her legs refused to move.
Then, she fell.
She pushed herself up to all fours. Stayed there, panting for air. A breeze wafted over her, making her shiver. Sweat ran down her face, under her shirt, between her breasts. It plastered her hair to her neck and face. Irritated, she sat back on her feet and pulled her hair into a ponytail, trying to get some air against her skin.
“Hey. You okay?”
She jumped to her feet, ready to run.
A man stood a few feet away from her. He had a cigarette in hand and was leaning against the outside of a bar. When she looked at him, his eyes went wide.
“What happened to you?” He dropped the cigarette and came to her, reaching a hand out.
She flinched away. “I was kidnapped. He tied me up. I… I jumped out of his car. I’m hurt… I need the police. Please.” Tears spilled out of her eyes.
“Yeah, of course.” He reached for her again, but put his hands up at his chest when she flinched again. “Sorry. Come on in. You’ll be safe here. We’ll call the police.” He moved backwards to the building and opened the door. “I’m Adam. I own the bar. What’s your name?”
“Kali.” Her teeth chattered as she began to shiver. “Kali Johnson.”
“Come in, Kali. I promise, you’ll be fine.”
She nodded and followed him inside. She was too young and too young-looking to have any experience with bars, but this one seemed decent. It was dimly lit, but clean. There were two rooms she could see, the main one she was in and one in the back with a pool table, juke box, and a dart board. The main room had what looked to be a dance floor off to one side, some scattered tables, and a long wooden bar with stools.
It wasn’t crowded. There were maybe about twenty people inside milling about. A man stood directly across from the front door, leaning against the partition that separated the two rooms. He was blond and very pale. His eyes were half closed, but even from across the room, Kali could see the glint of blue underneath long golden lashes.
She stopped moving and looked at him. She knew him. Somehow, she’d seen him before. Not just seen him. She knew him.
He opened his eyes. Shock washed over his face when he saw her.
“Hey, Joe, call the cops!” Adam said. “This girl needs help.” He touched Kali’s arm with the back of his hand. “My office is upstairs. This way.”
She tore her gaze from the blond man and followed Adam. She could still feel his eyes on her.
“Oh, fuck,” she swore as she took the first two stairs. In the short time since she’d stopped running, her muscles had turned to stone. It hurt to even breathe.
“You okay?” He took her by the elbow.
“Fine. Just sore,” she gritted out, teeth clenched. She took another step; it was somewhat easier than the last.
It took forever, but they finally made it to the top of the stairs. Adam opened the door to the office and led her inside.
“Is there a bathroom?” she asked. Her stomach twisted, head pounded.
“Yeah. Right through that door.”
Kali rushed to it. She barely made it before she threw up. Her head exploded into to hot-white pain. Tears flooded her eyes.
She heaved against. One of her hands held her hair in a bunch from her face, the other gripped the side of the toilet. She felt like she was going to die.
“You okay?” She heard tentative steps on the tiled floor. Then, the man’s thumbs brushed against her neck as he held her hair back for her, managing to get every last curl in the bunch.
Kali sat back on her heels. She squeezed her eyes shut until she’d flushed the toilet. “Yeah,” she said after a moment. She wiped her hand over her sweat-slicked face. “Everything hurts.”
“It looks like everything hurts.” He helped her stand. “He really did a number on you.”
“Yeah well, I didn’t go with him easily.” She rubbed her eyes. “Can I be alone?”
“Sure. I’ll wait for the cops downstairs. And maybe see if there’s anything to help settle your stomach.”
“Thank you. I really appreciate it.”
“It’s no problem.” He turned and left, closing the door behind him.
Her hands trembled as she turned on the faucet and stuck her hands under the water. She washed her hands and face, turning the water red with her blood. Her arms were scraped from where she fell, pieces of dirt and asphalt ground in. Her legs were the same, the right knee of her pants torn open exposing the skin beneath.
She looked around for a medicine cabinet and finally found some bandages and alcohol under the sink. She cleaned off the scrapes on her arms before bandaging the worst of the scrapes. Then, she sat on the closed toilet, toed off her shoes and pulled off her pants. Her legs were a mess, dirty and bruised. Her ankle and knee had sickly, purple-green bruises around them. Angry red scrapes hid behind ground-in dirt and pieces of glass.
She grit her teeth and began working on cleaning them.
Someone knocked on the bathroom door.
“Hang on!” she said, swallowing back her startled scream. She pulled her pants back on. They felt stiff and dirty and rubbed against her injuries uncomfortably.
There was another knock. Harder this time.
“I’m coming. Give me a second.” She limped to the sink and rinsed out her mouth. When she opened the door, she expected to see the police or Adam on the other side.
It was the blond man from downstairs.
“Um, hi,” she said warily.
His eyes lit up. He looked over her slowly, delight on his face. “It is you,” he whispered. “I thought… I knew it had to be. I felt you when you walked in, all over. I just… I came back to life, like it used to be. And I saw you, and… I knew you looked exactly the same, I’ve seen you, pictures at least, but, my God. It’s a miracle.
She stepped back and tightened her grip on the door. “Who are you?”
“I am Gabriel, my lady.” He bowed. When he lifted his head again, the force of his haze made her heart stutter.
Gabriel. She’d gone to school with a kid named Gabriel when she was seven. But he’d been from Mexico. And there’d been a Gabe in one of the group homes, but he’d had bright red hair and a face full of freckles.
“You’re the senator’s boy,” whispered a memory. “Gabriel.”
She shook her head. “Do you work here?”
“No. I don’t.”
“Then you should probably be downstairs. This is a private office.” She licked her lips nervously. “Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I want to be alone. You need to leave.”
He looked over her, a crease wrinkling the skin between his eyes. “I can’t leave you, Kali. You’ll be safe with me. But we need to go.”
Goosebumps broke out over her skin. “I’m not going anywhere with you. Go away.” She stepped back and tried to slam the door.
He caught it. Wood splintered under his grip. “Humans can’t protect you, my lady,” he said urgently. “Garrison won’t stop until you’re dead.”
“Garrison? You know Garrison? How?”
Gabriel seemed at a loss for words. “He was… He was my teacher, my lady. Father Pike. Don’t you… Do you remember me?”
The senator’s boy. Gabriel. Gabriel. My Gabriel.
“I just met you!” she cried. When he wouldn’t let go of the door, she kicked him.
Her toes cracked against the hard bone of his shin. Kali gasped and swore under her breath.
He dropped to his knees in front of her. “I mean you no harm, Lady Kali, I swear.” He looked up at her through his lashes and tentatively took her hands in his. “I could never hurt you. You are my creator.” He rested his forehead against the back of her hands.
Her stomach dropped. He had to be working with Garrison. They had to be playing with her, screwing with her head.
She pulled her hands away. “I’ve never created another human being in my life. So just… just go downstairs and leave me before the police come. Got it?”
He stayed where he was, but lifted his head. With that simple movement, her perception suddenly changed. For a brief instant, Gabriel’s image was replaced by another. No. No, it was still him, only… different. Different clothes, different expressions, different… just different.
“I,” she found herself saying. “Maybe I… You are familiar.”
“You knew me once. Before Garrison killed you. The first time, I mean.” He stood, keeping one of her hands in his. “If we stay, he’ll kill you again.”
“Because he thinks I’m a vampire.”
“Because he knows you used to be a vampire.”
She shook her head. “How do you know this?”
“I know you, Kali. I’ve known you since I was fifteen year old, a slave to a powerful Roman senator. You rescued me from him and took me in. When I grew ill, you cared for me. When I was dying, you made me yours forever.”
She put her hand to her head. “This is insane,” she said. “I couldn’t have… You can’t mean…”
“I’m a vampire.”
She laughed. The laugh was a weak as she felt.
“I need to sit.” She stumbled back and sat hard on the toilet. “Vampires don’t exist. It’s not real. There are people who… What are you doing?”
Gabriel had her hand in his and was peeling a bandage away. “The modern world is so strange.” His pale fingers rubbed at one of the scrapes, drawing blood from it. “You are religious and believe in miracles, or you say you do, but you have ceased to truly believe in anything else.”
“I believe in the devil.”
He snorted. “Not really. Even I don’t believe in the Catholic Satan any more. I’ve seen too much evil without him, but never him.” He raised Kali’s arm and fastened his mouth around the bleeding wound.
She shrieked and pulled her arm from him. “What the hell are you…. Holy shit.”
The scrape at healed over leaving smooth, unblemished skin behind.
Gabriel smiled at her. On anyone else, it would have been a smug smile. On him, it was beatific. “One of gifts of the goddess.”
“Oh my God.” She reached with a shaking hand to his mouth and scraped her finger on his pointy-sharp incisor.
It retracted under her touch.
“They do that.” He opened his mouth. His eye-teeth extended almost to his lower lip. “Easier to eat when they’re long,” he lisped. “Not so easy to talk.”
A gunshot went off downstairs.
“What was that?” She leapt to her feet and rushed past Gabriel, the pain in her head and knee forgotten.
“Tell me where she is!” she heard as she opened the door.
Gabriel was behind her. “He found you. We have to go.” He took her by the wrist. “Come on.”
“Wait!” She struggled against him as he dragged her away from the door.
The gun went off again. People screamed.
Both Gabriel and Kali froze.
Feet pounded on the stairs.
“He’s coming.” She broke away from Gabriel and slammed the door. “Help me move the desk!” She ran over to it and pulled.
It didn’t budge.
“There’s no time.” Gabriel pulled her away and swept her into his arms. Then, he leapt out the window.
Kali screamed as glass shattered around them. Shards sliced into his face. She pressed it against Gabriel’s neck.
They hit the ground with a jarring thud. Gabriel set her on her feet. “Come on. My car is close.”
The was hard against her socked feet. She took a few stumbling steps, but her legs protested. She fell.
“Gabriel!” Garrison shouted.
She looked up. He was leaning out the open window, shotgun in his hand.
“You can’t save her! Giver her up now.”
“I won’t let you take her again, Father Pike!” Gabriel picked Kali up again and ran.
“Where are we going?” she gasped.
“The parking structure!” He rounded a corner and pointed. Even running and carrying her, he didn’t sound winded.
“Here.” He stopped in front of the parking structure, looking up. “I’m on the fourth level.”
“Stairs.” She pointed to the end of the building.
He looked at her and smiled. “I don’t need stairs. Hold on.”
He put her down and turned to present his back. “Hold on.” He took her hands and wrapped them around his neck. Then he left halfway up the side of the building.
“God!” Kali squeaked.
He was gripping the concrete with his nails as he climbed up the sides like he was a cat. They scrambled to an opening on the fourth level, where Gabriel heaved himself over the ledge and planted his feet on solid ground once more.
Kali let go of him and took a few shaky steps away. “How did you do that?” Her legs threatened to give out. She leaned against a car and took a few deep breaths.
“I’m a vampire. We can do things like that.”
Of course. He could heal cuts with his blood, he had retracting teeth, why couldn’t he climb up walls? “How did Garrison find me?”
“He used magic. Probably a tracing spell using your blood.”
He nodded. “I just don’t understand how he got past your guards. He broke through all the protections we had around you, which should have been impossible. But…”
“You’re our queen,” he said, looking at her with simple and complete adoration. “Our creator. Our goddess. Even though you’re human, we do what we can to protect you.”
She snorted and thought of the myriad of foster homes and relatives’ houses she’d been in and out of her whole life. She thought of hungry nights and days and times when she was too cold or too hot or too tired because the adults around her couldn’t take care of her properly. Thought of the abuse and the fear and the all too few moments of peace.
“Yeah, well, you’ve done a bang up job.”
His face reflected guilt and anxiety. With a hesitance that made her want to cry, he stepped forward and took her hand. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. His hand was so cold. “I always thought we should do more, but was voted down. I have a history of making a mess of things. Morgan thought it best we allow you to live a normal life without us interfering.” He kissed the palm of her hand, eyes falling shut. “We kept our kind from hurting you, kept Garrison from taking you. We tried to protect you, but obviously something happened.” He opened his eye again. “Forgive us?”
“Gabriel, I don’t know anything about you. I don’t know if I can even trust you. Aren’t vampires evil?”
He never got to answer. Just as he opened his mouth to speak, a van tore around the corner.
“Run!” He shoved her away from him.
Kali flew across the structure. She landed hard on the concrete floor.
“Take my car!” Gabriel threw the keys at her.
The van rammed him. Tires squealed. Gabriel was plowed into another car with the horrific sound of crunching metal.
“Oh no. No, no, no.”
Smoke rose from the van’s hood. Everything was silent. Gabriel lay still, trapped between the cars, skin completely white.
Then, the van door opened. Garrison climbed out.
Kali move. She scrambled for the keys that had landed inches from her. Hit the alarm the moment she had them.
A blue BMW down the row started wailing.
She ran to it.
She never saw Garrison move. One minutes, she was running, the next, she was on the ground, black dots flying at her face.
“Stay.” Garrison bent down and took the keys from her numb fingers.
“Garrison,” Gabriel moaned. Metal screeched against metal. He groaned.
“Gabriel, don’t move.” Garrison sounded almost… fond. “You can’t save her. You will only cause yourself pain if you try. Let her go.”
Kali struggled to sit up. Her head pounded. Holy God in heaven, she probably had the worst concussion by now. She’d be lucky if she survived without brain damage.
Garrison went to Gabriel. There was a crowbar in one hand, gun in the other.
Gabriel pushed the van off him and stumbled forward. There was a determined look on his too-young face. His eyes were impossibly blue against his marble white skin.
“No! Don’t you understand? She’s returned, just like she said she would. Just as she promised. Kali is stronger than you and your church and…”
Garrison fired. The gunshot echoed loudly in the cavernous structure.
Gabriel took a step back.
“I won’t…” he said through clenched teeth.
Garrison fired again and again until the gun clicked, out of bullets. Gabriel fell to his knees, still conscious. His chest rose and fell with a strange sucking sound. Blood bubbled at his lips.
“Please,” he exhaled. More blood trickled from his mouth when he spoke.
Garrison dropped the empty clip on the ground. He knelt in front of Gabriel and touched his cheek. “I’m sorry, my son. If not for her, you might have been saved. But she never gave your soul a chance.”
Garrison stood. He swung the crowbar at Gabriel’s face.
Kali’s hand flew to her eyes. She couldn’t watch. But she had to. She opened her fingers and peeked through them.
Gabriel was unconscious. His chest wasn’t moving anymore. Even the blood had stopped flowing.
Garrison hit him again.
Gabriel’s beautiful nose broke, marring his perfect face.
“Stop it!” Kali leapt to her feet and stumbled to Garrison. “Stop it!” She grabbed his arm and yanked Garrison away from the man who would have been her savior. “He’s dead! Leave him alone!”
Garrison rounded on her, face a mask of fury. “That boy has survived hundreds of years past his time because I cannot bring myself to kill him. And even now…” He stopped abruptly and gave a sharp shake of his head. Grabbing Kali by the arm, he pulled her to Gabriel’s car. “Come. We need to go.”
“No!” She fought him, kicking and clawing, trying to get away.
“Kali…” His grip loosened.
“Let me go!”
“Damn it!” He grabbed her arm and swung her.
Kali tried to brace herself, to stop her movement, but she had no control. The last thing she saw before blackness took her was the back of Garrison’s van rushing her.
Then there was pain.And then…
- WIP Wednesday: Dark Goddess, Ch. 2 (totallytrueadventure.wordpress.com)
- WIP Wednesday (totallytrueadventure.wordpress.com)