Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for violence.
Ezra woke to Lillian still cuddled close against him. He lay there for a moment, her arm a lead weight across his chest. She looked so peaceful in the deadened state of vampire slumber. He almost wished she didn’t have to wake up and face her emotions. But she was still a new-born, which meant she still had a few blissful hours of sleep before her body and mind became active again.
A twinge in his stomach and a pressure in his gums had him finally crawling out of bed and plodding down the stairs. To his surprise, Gabriel was sat at the table reading a dog-eared novel, so worn that the front cover was practically dust. Ezra sent him a curious look before opening the fridge and noticing that there was only one bottle of blood left. He took it out and poured around a third of it into a saucepan.
“I think it’s been a decade since I last saw you reading,” Ezra commented.
Behind him, Gabriel grunted. “Trust me, it’s not ideal. But our living room is ruined so it’s not like I can relax on the sofa and enjoy the telly.”
Ezra turned on the hob. “You do have a TV in your room.”
“I’m not hiding away in my room. Sucks enough being stuck in the house.”
“Hey, we went on a drive last night.”
“Yes, to bury a body.”
Ezra frowned, stirring the heating blood. “Well, looks like we need to take a trip to the butchers anyway.”
“But we’ve only got Lillian’s coupons left. She’ll have to go.”
“I’ll go with her.” Ezra turned. The novel was now closed on the table. “Wanna join?”
“Another family outing?”
Ezra smiled. “Despite the circumstances, it’s nice having us all finally on the same page. Solidarity, you know?”
“What? Now that our only forms of escaping this trio are either dead or scared of us?”
Ezra turned back to the hob. “Like I said, not ideal circumstances.” Circumstances we could have avoided if you had both just listened to me. Ezra’s jaw clenched. His fangs unsheathed and sliced through his tongue. His own blood exploded in his mouth, the taste mixing in with the smell of the heating animal blood. The world tilted and he lost his footing. A familiar fuzzy feeling scratched the backs of his eyes. The sensation that spiked right before his eyes turned black. He steadied himself, shook his head and sheathed his fangs. The feeling lingered then faded away. He casted a look over his shoulder but Gabriel was too busy picking at the ruined spine of his novel to pay him any attention.
Ezra cleared his throat and poured his blood into a mug. “Have you drunk tonight?”
“Yeah, a little. But as soon as Lillian wakes, we should head out. Feel like I’m gonna need more to get through the night.”
Ezra sank down into the chair opposite Gabriel and looked down at his mug of blood. There was still enough in the saucepan for another mugful but it definitely wasn’t enough.
After finishing his mug and refilling it, Ezra stood at the threshold of their living room and casted his eyes across the mess that was still left behind. Black blood filled the grooves of their wooden floor and he knew it was still sticky to the touch. Pink swirls stained the paintwork on the walls and had stained the wallpaper. The destroyed coffee table had been thrown into the basement, but the legs were scattered about the house – makeshift weapons for them to easily grab in case their break-in wasn’t a one-time thing. Ezra smirked, remembering the meme that Mitch had showed him depicting that very scenario.
Gabriel appeared at his side, gazing at the blotchy, sticky sofas longingly. He had another mug of blood in his hand. They both sipped at their drinks.
“We’ll be able to properly clean them, right?” asked Gabriel.
“They’ll need a deep clean. And you know no company will set foot in our house. It’d probably be best to just throw them out.” Ezra looked to their boarded-up window. “Let’s just shut the door and pretend this room doesn’t exist for the time being.”
Ezra woke Lillian reluctantly. He had wanted to leave her alone, but the butchers would have been shut by the time she had woken up naturally. She didn’t particularly seem pleased when Ezra told her they had to take a trip to get more blood, noticeably wincing at the mention of leaving the house.
Her movements were sluggish as she left his room to get dressed. Ezra made his way back downstairs and heated the remainder of the blood so he was able to pass it to her as soon as she entered the kitchen. She smiled appreciatively but there was a lack of warmth in it.
She wandered back out of the room in search for her coat and boots.
“How’s she doing?” Gabriel asked lowly.
“Not great,” Ezra sighed. “She stayed in my room last night. She’s seemed to stop crying but she feels so… lost. I reach out to her and it’s like she’s been ripped full of holes.”
Gabriel frowned. “I can’t imagine what she’s going through. If I hadn’t stopped myself with Becca. If I’d…” He shook his head and folded his arms across his chest. “Just doesn’t bare thinking about.”
The streets were empty up until they reached the high street and even then, Ezra only noticed a few gangs of youths lingering outside a convenience store, and a woman walking her dog.
The shutters of the butchers was halfway down like last time he had visited but the three of them paused when they crossed the road and got a better look. There were dents in the metal, like someone had gone at it with a hammer.
Ezra entered first, followed closely by Gabriel and Lillian.
The shop was a mess. Ezra pressed Lillian close to his back protectively as he scanned the scene. Steaks, sausages, burgers and all other sorts of meat were strewn about the counter and the tiled floor like someone had dived over the display.
“What happened?” asked Gabriel.
Ezra felt Lillian’s fingers dig into his sides through his hoodie. A fearful whimpering sound brought his attention to the back room. He followed the sound, keeping Gabriel and Lillian at his back. More whimpering sounded when he pulled back the heavy plastic sheet curtain and entered the back room. Stainless steel worktops ran along the walls. It looked like the shop had only been half cleaned. There were still lumps of offal in the sinks, and blood smeared the worktop. Blood droplets marred the floor tiles.
Ezra dabbed his finger into a tiny puddle of blood and lifted it to his nose. His fangs sprang free at the scent.
He sent a look to the other two and Gabriel read it perfectly. He took hold of Lillian’s coat sleeve and pulled her towards him. Fear flashed in her eyes as she lost contact with Ezra. But Gabriel held her close and took a step back towards the doorway just as Ezra had mentally instructed.
Ezra closed his eyes and tuned his hearing. He listened out for the whimpering and caught a muffled voice.
“Oh, God, please. Please, save me. Please.”
It was coming from the walk-in fridge.
He crossed the room and paused, his hand on the handle, before throwing open the door.
A terrified shriek caught him off guard. Behind him, he heard Lillian echo the terror.
Lyle the butcher was crouched in the corner of the fridge, a bloody cleaver clutched in both hands. He stabbed the air, his face scrunched up in anger and fear. The fizzling feeling hit the back of Ezra’s eyes again. He clenched his jaw to hide his fangs.
“Come to finish me off, eh?” he bawled.
There was a messy wound on Lyle’s bicep. The blood was glistening. Fresh and oozing.
Ezra lifted his palms. “We just came for the animal blood.”
Lyle sneered. “They only told me about you three. Didn’t tell me there were more of you. Barging in here trying to tear me to pieces. I ain’t going down without a fight, I can promise you that!”
He shakily got to his feet, not taking his hands off his cleaver. He jabbed it towards Ezra some more. “C’mon then.”
Ezra saw himself lunge. Saw himself tear open the man’s trachea. Saw his own face red with blood.
He shook away the invading images. His hands turned into fists by his sides as his gums throbbed and jaw ached. That wasn’t him. He could control himself.
“I’m not here to hurt you. Another vampire did this to you?” he asked, trying to stay calm but his hunger climbed up his throat and added a strain in his voice.
Lyle charged, a battle cry ripping from deep within as he swung the cleaver. Ezra jumped back, narrowly dodging a clean slice across his middle. He sensed commotion behind him then Lillian was at his side. Her eyes trained on Lyle’s wound and the whites in them clouded over with inky black. Her fangs unsheathed. Lyle cried out again and took a swipe at her. Lillian swerved and knocked him to the ground. She went to straddle him but Ezra grabbed the hood of her coat and tore her away, throwing her into Gabriel.
“Get her outside!” Ezra cried and Gabriel obeyed, the two of them becoming a blur as they sped out of the shop.
Lyle was rolling on the floor, crying into the tiles. The cleaver had been knocked from his hands.
Ezra shook his head. The butcher wasn’t his problem. He had an out of control progeny to take care of.
He turned and paused. A cold shiver ran up his spine as Silas’ voice whispered through his mind.
Take care of her. You know what you have to do.
Ezra sheathed his fangs. No. Not Lillian.
Outside, Gabriel had Lillian pinned against him with her back to his chest. She writhed in his hold, clawing at his arms to try and rip herself free. Her eyes were still black, hollow pits; the veins beneath them thick and pulsating.
She spotted Ezra and lashed out, fangs gnashing together like a rabid animal. Ezra froze. He’d never seen her like this before. Her mannerisms. The way she seemed to have taken a backseat in his own body and let something else, something feral and savage, take the wheel. She was acting exactly like the stranger vampire who had attacked him.
Ezra held his palms up, trying to show her he didn’t wish her any harm. She still thrashed against Gabriel. Gabriel’s teeth were bared as he struggled to contain her, his fangs glinting in the light of the streetlamp.
“Lillian, it’s me. It’s Ezra. Your Maker.” He stepped closer and she snarled, saliva dripping from her fangs.
He reached for their bond and winced at what he found. Their tie. It felt… tainted. Slick with something wrong. He tried to grab hold and slipped. And on the other end he could sense her. The holes he’d found before had filled with something foul, like an infection in a wound.
Something black flashed in the corner of Ezra’s eye and then Gabriel and Lillian were on the ground. Somebody was on top of Gabriel, a knee pressed hard against his ribs. Lillian crawled free and sprung to her feet.
The attacker growled and sneered and snarled as it grabbed at Gabriel’s jacket. It was another vampire. This one female with cropped black hair. Gabriel grabbed her head, hands on either side and pushed back as her fangs inched closer and closer to his throat.
A garbled cry ripped from his mouth as he pressed his thumbs into her eyes. Lillian grabbed her from behind and tore her off, throwing her against the wall of the butchers.
Everything was happening so fast. With their vampire speed, the fight was just a mess of dark, blurry shapes.
Ezra tried to focus. Tried to organise his priorities.
Lillian. Get Lillian to safety.
Ezra wrapped his arms around his progeny from behind. He could feel all her muscles, heavy and solid like concrete. She managed to tear herself free and lunged at the stranger. And then Gabriel joined in the fray. The three vampires punched and kicked and clawed at one another. Ezra could tell Gabriel was trying to grab Lillian to pull her away but Lillian was responding with fury. The stranger, between the two, bit and clawed at whatever came her way.
It was time. He had to. There was no other way.
Ezra gulped hard. An icy sensation spread across his heart as he opened his mouth and commanded, “Lillian, stop.”
Lillian suddenly froze, like a toy with a dead battery. Her arms dropped to her sides and she turned to her Maker obediently, black eyes wide and expectant.
A scream ripped from the stranger. She spun from Gabriel and plunged her fist straight through Lillian’s chest. Deep inside, Ezra felt their bond snap like and elastic band -a plug ripped from its socket- as Lillian exploded.
Blood and gore splattered so violently that Ezra was knocked into the road. He lost his footing and fell. The back of his head cracked against the asphalt and everything went black for a moment.
When he came to, he opened his eyes to blurry redness. He groaned, swiping thick, lumpy blood from his eyes. There was a hollowness in him, so stark it made him gasp and wretch.
He pushed himself up onto his elbows, the back of his head still throbbing, and tried to focus on his surroundings.
The pavement looked like the butchers sink.
A sob lodged in the back of his throat at the sight of Lillian’s coat in the centre of the gore. He turned to find Gabriel but he was gone, along with the stranger.
Ezra got to his feet and spun in a slow circle.
The street was empty.
He was alone.
And Lillian was dead.