Darkness falls, p.8
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       Darkness Falls, p.8

         Part #1 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 8

 

  She glances up, raindrops drizzling down her face. Bernard curses under his breath. I shield my eyes from the rain and glance from left to right, checking that everything’s safe, when I hear a soft thud.

  Everyone tenses. Breaths falter. All except mine.

  I’m as calm as I always am, ready for anything. My knife snaps out, preparing for battle. Another thump. Another crash.

  “Kayla,” Maci whispers. “They’re coming. ”

  I get to my feet, my boots clunking against the mud as I creep over to a splinter of space between two rocks. At first I’m only blinded by splatters of rain, until I blink. Then I see them. They’re everywhere, dragging their feet through the mud and puddles. I tell myself we’re okay, just as long as they remain on the other side of the rock. But an eye appears on the other side and all hopes of being okay wash away with the sand. The eye trickles blood as it burns a lifeless gaze at me. I duck, telling myself it didn’t see me. But the shriek that stabs through the air tells me it did.

  I have to do something. And fast.

  I grab Maci and tuck her in a cubby in the bottom rock. “Stay here. And, whatever happens, don’t make a sound. ”

  She nods and I turn to Bernard. “I need your help. ”

  His eyes are wide as he hugs himself and stares blankly at the rain.

  “Bernard. ” I snap my fingers in front of his face, but no reaction. I shake him by the shoulders, but its like he’s slipped into a comatose state. I guess I’m on my own. I move to a narrow gap in the rocks and quietly slip head first inside. I take a deep breath. “You’ve done this before,” I whisper to myself. “You can do it again. ”

  With my knife in my hand, I don’t look back as I glide myself into their world. I land in the mud head first, but I’m on my feet without missing a beat. I’ve actually startled them and for a moment, they look lost, like they’re not quite sure what to do with someone who offers themselves up so easily.

  But the blood in their eyes washes the look away and they all swarm for me, the gaping holes in their skin getting filled with mud and rain.

  I run, letting my legs be the weapon and they rise to the challenge, chasing after me. Vampires are fast. The very first time I went out on a raid, I was warned about this, but I didn’t realize how fast until the first time I was chased. But I also realized just how inhumanly fast I was.

  My legs carry me through the mud and puddles, the rain refusing to let up. Every now and then I glance behind my shoulder, making sure they’re still following me. Like the hungry beasts they are, they seek blood. And I’ve got a body full of it.

  Their fangs snap out as we move deeper into the sand hills. I launch myself over a rock, but fall back when I spot a mob of vampires down at the bottom.

  “Dammit. ” I swing to my right, only to spot more—they seem to be multiplying. I try my left, but it’s blocked. And theyre all moving for me, fangs trembling to eat me alive. One nips at my ankles and I jump, barely missing getting bit. I think of how the two left me, but I guess my luck has finally worn off.

  They pile toward me and I turn in a circle, searching for an escape, but their bodies scatter the land even farther than I can see.

  I have no choice. There’s nowhere to go and I refuse to become infected and turn into one of them. I raise my knife for my chest and shut my eyes. “Goodbye,” I whisper in the wind.

  But my voice is overlapped by a, “No!”

  And then the sound echoes with a hundred more. The sound of a stampede encloses me and I dare a peek. They’re all running away, into the night. I stand motionless, watching them disappear into the blackness, realizing I might be the one and only person the vampires don’t want to touch.

  But why?

  After they all clear, I step down from the rock. Rain still pours from the sky and violently nicks at my eyes and cheeks. I shield my hand in front of my face as I climb up the hill and slide down into the trench. Mud soaks my jeans and leaks into my boots. Every part of my body feels strange. And maybe that’s why I don’t hear it until it’s too late.

  The rush of water as it rips through the trench, knocking my feet out from under me. I smack my head on a rock and my ears ring as I fight to stay afloat. The water’s cold and mixed with sand and dirt, making it heavy and suffocating as I try to paddle my way to the side. My feet finally find ground and I push myself through the water, slipping and loosing balance again. Water bursts against my legs as the water steals my body. But someone catches my arm.

  “Give me your hand,” Bernard says and I latch onto him. He heaves me out and I crumple to the ground.

  “Where did you come from?” I cough up water. “And where’s Maci?”

  Bernard sinks in the sand, running his hands through his soaked hair. “Maci’s still in her hiding spot. She said something about you drowning if I didn’t come rescue you. ” He pauses. “You know she’s getting pretty creepy too. ”

  I roll over, pushing myself to my feet. “Well, I’m glad she is, because I’m pretty sure I’d be dead by now. ”

  We start up the hill, sliding in the mud.

  “What were you thinking, running out like that?” Bernard finally asks, not being rude like he was earlier, just curious.

  “I was thinking it was better me than you two,” I say simply. “Besides, I’m the experienced one. ”

  “Yeah, but it didn’t do any good. The vampires decided to leave on their own. ” He gestures around at the empty land. “If you would’ve just waited a little longer. ”

  I nod, not bothering to tell him what really happened. And I’m not sure I’ll ever tell anyone. Who knows what people would do if they found out I was the one and only person who can walk with the vampires and remain untouched.

  Because people fear those who are different. And fear can make people do stupid things.

  Chapter 12

  We make it through the rest of the night without any more vampire incidents, like every one of them has vanished into thin air, never to return. But I’m sure the silence is misleading. I know without a doubt that I’ll see a vampire again.

  When the sky starts to grey with morning, I can finally breathe. My clothes are caked in a thick layer of dirt that I work to chip off with my knife.

  “You need a shower,” Bernard remarks, scrapping some dirt off his sleeve.

  I pull a chunk of mud out of my hair. “Yeah, I’ll get right on it. ”

  Maci’s fast asleep, curled up in the cubby of the rock. I owe the kid my life and vow to keep her as safe as I can from now on.

  After I’ve gotten most of the dirt off my clothes and face, I get to my feet and stretch my hands above my head, blinking the morning from my eyes.

  “You’re alive. ” Maci crawls out, her hands and hair covered with a red layer of dust from the rock. “I’m so glad you made it. ”

  “Well, I wouldn’t have,” I say, “if you hadn’t sent Bernard to help me. ” I wipe the blade of my knife and tuck it away. “How did you know I was going to drown?”

  She smiles. “Because I can see things in my head sometimes—before they’re gonna happen. ”

  “I’d say she was crazy,” Bernard says stepping beside me. “But after what happened last night …”

  “How long have you been able to see things?” I ask curiously.

  “Since I came out from behind the red door,” she replies.

  I smile, but a shudder crawls through my body as I remember the red door and how it sent a surge of fear through me, one so strong it kept me from opening it.

  “We should get going. ” I pick up my jacket I had left draped over the rock so it could dry out. The fabric is crusty and stiff and I ball it up, deciding to carry it, and then start over the rocks.

  “Go where?” Bernard follows after me, gracefully climbing over the rock. His clumsiness has seemed to shift over night, but I’m glad. “I mean, where the heck are we supposed to go? There’s nothing around. ”

/>   “I know that. ” I give Maci a hand getting down. “But we need to go somewhere—find some food and water so we don’t starve to death. ”

  “There are puddles everywhere. ” Bernard points to the ground. “We could drink from them. ”

  “But they’re gross. ” Maci makes a face. “And there’s bugs in them. ”

  “It might be our only choice. ” I kneel down beside a puddle, picking out a fly floating in it. Then I scoop a handful and holding my breath, take a sip.

  “Ew,” Maci whispers.

  “How’s it taste?” Bernard asks derisively.

  “Not that bad,” I lie and take another sip, trying not to gag. Survival is survival and humans need water to survive. “You should all drink up before it evaporates. ”

  “No thanks,” Bernard says. “I’m good. ”

  Maci looks disgusted, but leans down and cups a handful of dirty water. Then she takes a sip, a sour expression twisting on her face, but she doesn’t complain.

  I drink a few more handfuls, but Bernard refuses. “You’re going to get dehydrated,” I warn.

  He shrugs, brushing his hair out of his eyes. “Then I guess I’ll get dehydrated. ”

  His moodiness is starting to wear on my nerves. I take him by the arm and pull him aside. “Look, I understand how hard this is, but being a jerk isn’t going to help. So can you just drink some water so I don’t have to worry about you dying from dehydration?”

  He smirks. “Nah, I’d rather not. ” He gives me a mocking pat on the back. “Oh yeah, and you’re welcome for me saving you last night. ” He lowers his voice. “I could have easily just let the water take you away, and then I would have been the one calling all the shots. ”

  What concerns me more than his words is that he’s not afraid anymore. The once erratic and terrified boy has suddenly vanished.

  We head across the desert, whereabouts and destination unknown. Bellies grumble, lips crack, bodies ache. Even through the smoke and clouds, the sun’s heat manages to gleam down.

  “I’m tired,” Maci says after a while. “I need a break. ”

  Bernard’s got the hood of his jacket tugged over his head, his hands up in his sleeves.

  “Aren’t you hot?” I ask. “And thirsty. ”

  He shakes his head. “Nope. ”

  But I am and so is Maci. The puddles are becoming scarcer and I decide it’s time to take a break. We move into the shadows of the rocks, concealing ourselves in the shade, and drink from the puddles. All except Bernard.

  I wipe the water from my chin. “Do you have a death wish?”

  He only smiles through his hood. “Death doesn’t seem so bad, really. ” He turns his back on me, hikes off to a cluster of rocks, and sits down.

  “Don’t worry, Kayla,” Maci whispers, wiping the water dripping from her lips. “He won’t die without water ‘cause he’s already dead. ”

  My hands slip apart and water spills to the ground. “Bernard’s going to die … did you see that?”