Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for violence.
“Gabriel?” Ezra slammed open Gabriel’s bedroom door to find the room empty. Just like the rest of the house. After Gabriel’s phone continued to ring out, Ezra had run up and down the high street looking for him before heading home in hopes he’d gone back.
“Where the fuck are you?” Ezra hissed, his hands turning to fists by his sides. His anger was a coating. A papier-mâché suit of armour over his gut-wrenching grief. With every step he took, he could feel that empty space inside him where his bond to Lillian had been. It tore open wider and wider like an open wound as time continued to tick on. Lillian had been his only progeny. She had been the only one he had Turned since Silas had commanded him to kill his other progeny back in 1926. Back then, Ezra had been a bad teacher and she’d gone rogue.
Ezra’s nails dug into her palms. Losing Lillian to the hands of someone else didn’t make it hurt any less. Mostly because he knew deep down that, it may have been the crazy vampire that had punched her heart out of her chest, but Ezra was to blame for Lillian’s death. If he hadn’t commanded her to stop, she wouldn’t have been defenceless to the attack.
Ezra’s whole body lurched as a broken sob escaped him. He crouched down, his head in his hands, and wept. Lillian’s bloody goop still covered him from head to toe, making him look like the murderer he was.
Gabriel, where are you? You can’t be gone.
You just can’t.
He rubbed his eyes and slapped his bloody tears away before straightening. His gaze hit the broken table leg he had propped up in the corner of the room. After what had happened to Lillian, it seemed only logical to not go running about the village unarmed.
He picked up the table leg and felt the weight of it. His insides cringed at the memory of the sound of it tearing through the strange, crazy vampire. So, he hadn’t been the only one. At the time, Ezra had put the legs around the house as a precaution. A ‘just in case’. He hadn’t actually thought he would feel the need to protect himself in the quaint, lazy village of Hicklesbury.
But times had changed. And he was still trying to figure out what had actually changed.
As he headed down the street, the table leg swinging loosely in his grip, he made a mental list of where Gabriel could be then whacked his forehead with his palm with sudden realisation. Becca’s. Of course, he’s gone to see Becca.
But he was wrong. Having never been invited into the house, all Ezra could do was hope someone answered. But after frantically knocking several times, he paused and tuned into his senses. He searched the house with his nose. There was no trace of humanity in the house. He was sure of it. For the last month, his ability to sniff out human blood had somehow become enhanced.
The last month.
It was their diet that had changed.
They were no longer drinking human blood so their desire for it had only grown stronger.
Their hunger had somehow mutated.
Mutated into something uncontrollable.
It had taken over Lillian first because she was young. But Ezra had felt the effects. He had been drinking a lot more than usual. And the fizziness behind his eyes? That was new. Or, at least, it was happening way too often for his liking.
So, if Lillian had been consumed by it, and Ezra was feeling the change, what did that mean for Gabriel? He was younger than Ezra.
The need to find Gabriel had just become a lot more urgent.
Ezra turned on his heel and headed back down the path. He caught sight of twitching curtains in the windows of the neighbouring houses.
He hadn’t been able to figure out why Gabriel would run away after Lillian’s death. It was so out of character. He wouldn’t have left Ezra to grieve alone. He would be by his side like a silent, comforting statue.
But that was the point. Gabriel was acting out of character. Because Gabriel wasn’t Gabriel anymore.
It was the early hours of the morning when Ezra finally found Gabriel. But the sight of him wasn’t pretty.
He was in a precinct- a small, pedestrianised area just on the outskirts of a council estate. His dark, glistening shape was huddled over a body of a man sprawled out across the flagged stones. The horrific sucking and tearing sound of blood and flesh attacked Ezra’s ears and he cringed, falling back behind the wall to a nearby grocery shop.
The light of the streetlamp reflected off the huge black puddle of blood. The stench of it was thick, like a blanket cast over the horror scene.
Three other butchered bodies littered the flagstones. Each of them dismembered and violated in their own special way.
Gabriel’s hands dug and scrounged – pulling open the body at his feet and ripping out entrails. He was covered head to toe in blood. His face, a mask of red.
Ezra swallowed hard, wondering what the hell to do.
This was his friend.
This was his best friend.
He had to save him.
He just didn’t have any fucking idea how to.
Luckily, there seemed to be no one else around. It turned out the curfew had been necessary after all. Ezra’s gut twisted. Stay inside. Stay away from the monsters lurking in the dark.
But Ezra couldn’t stay away, because this was no monster to him. Gabriel was still in there somewhere. He had to believe that. He’d already lost Lillian; he couldn’t lose Gabriel, too.
Fighting back his better judgment to run away,Ezra stepped out into the open. He automatically went to raise his hands to show that he wasn’t there to harm him, but then remembered the weapon he was wielding. He looked down at the table leg and his insides grew cold as he tightened his grip.
He vampire-sprinted across the precinct, weapon raised and ready to strike Gabriel over the head. But Gabriel reacted impossibly fast. He spun to his feet and slammed his whole weight into Ezra. Ezra flew through the air. He collided against the metal shutters of a shop and dropped to the ground. If he had been human, he’d have definitely suffered with broken bones and internal bleeding.
Ezra rolled onto his side, his chest aching and head spinning. But he had no time to nurse his wounds because Gabriel was gaining on him. This was the first time he gotten a good look at him, and the sight made him falter.
Gabriel’s eyes were feral and black. The veins under them coiled like angry, purple snakes. His hands were by his sides, fingers outstretching and curled like talons as blood dripped from the tips.
He was almost unrecognisable. So much so that tears pressed against the backs of Ezra’s eyes as he stumbled to his feet.
Then he realised he was unarmed. The table leg had flown from his grip. Frantically, he searched the area as Gabriel kept marching towards him. Not vampire-sprinting. No, he was studying Ezra as he closed the distance between them. As if he was toying with him. Wanting this fight to be drawn out and bloody.
The table leg was by a bin on the opposite side of the precinct. Ezra vampire-sprinted over and collected it in a blur but as soon as it was back in his hands, he was knocked to the ground once more with a backhand across the face. He felt his lips split and jaw break as he slammed onto the concrete. His body convulsed and he spat up blood.
Over him, Gabriel hissed and snarled. The same feral sounds Lillian had made.
“Please,” Ezra managed to croak. He found Gabriel’s eyes and openly sobbed. They were so black and evil and wrong. Tears ran down Ezra’s cheeks and blurred his vision. “Please, Gabriel. It’s me. It’s Ezra. I’m your friend.”
Gabriel stomped on his chest and Ezra heard his ribs crack. Pain bloomed, making his vision blacken around the edges. He threw up more blood and with every jerk of his broken body, he felt his ribs rake against his insides like shrapnel.
Then Gabriel was on him, knees either side of his chest. He grabbed Ezra’s hair and yanked his head to the side, exposing his throat. Blood dripped from his face and fangs and splattered onto Ezra’s face and neck. It landed on his busted lip and trickled down his throat.
Ezra’s fangs sprang free as his caged hunger stirred. The tingle behind his eyes cracked like electricity. He suddenly felt revived. Gabriel’s fangs sank into his neck and Ezra cried out with pain and fury as he rammed the broken table leg into Gabriel’s gut.
His friend juddered above him and careened backwards, his fangs tearing from Ezra’s throat. Ezra kept his bloodied grip on the table leg, flew to his feet and swung it like a baseball bat, connecting with Gabriel’s skull. His friend dropped to the ground and Ezra struck him again for good measure as he bled out onto the flagstones.
Ezra lay in the dimness of his kitchen, his dying friend strewn across his lap. He stroked Gabriel’s hair idly while staring up at the ceiling, willing his tears to drip back into his skull. He had slung Gabriel’s body over his shoulder and vampire-sprinted his way back home –all while his own bones were still knitting themselves back together.
Gabriel was still unconscious, but he wouldn’t be for long. Ezra had staked him again and kept the table leg wedged in this time. It ran straight through his middle and poked out his back. It tapped against the kitchen counter when he moved. Ezra had stripped him of his jacket in a childlike attempt to make him more comfortable. The table leg was most likely just scraping against his heart by the way he had angled it. It had been enough to subdue him and get him home. That’s all Ezra had thought of. Just get him home. He couldn’t think beyond that. Couldn’t plan beyond that. Because he had no idea what to do.
Ezra inspected the ugly wound around the table leg. Gabriel’s partly exposed torso was completely red with the mix of human and vampire blood. It felt tacky to the touch. The scent was cloying. Ezra’s fangs remained unsheathed. He couldn’t even try to pop them back into his gums. His hunger wouldn’t let him. It was baiting him. It wanted him to run out of the house and start tearing people apart. But he wouldn’t let it take control. He needed to focus. He needed to save Gabriel. Somehow.
Gabriel stirred on his lap. His head dropped back against Ezra’s shoulder. His eyes flickered open and the blackness shrank away to reveal his soft brown irises the colour of autumn leaves. He blinked up at Ezra, confusion pinching his features. He tried to get up but groaned, fangs clamping on his lower lip. He looked down at the stake poking out of his torn up, bloody t-shirt.
“Ezra…” he hissed. He was mad. “What the fuck?”
“I had to. Lillian’s already dead.” Ezra’s tears finally fell. “I’m not losing you to.”
“You stabbed me?”
“I had to. You were out of control.”
It was then that Gabriel seemed to notice the blood on his hands and under his nails. Shock loosened his features. He ran his tongue over his bloody fangs.
“What’s going on…” his voice trailed off. He suddenly sounded so small, “Lillian.” He tried to push himself off Ezra but slipped and whacked his elbow against the kitchen tiles. “I remember… She was different. She was… she attacked me.”
“And you attacked me.”
He blinked up at Ezra. The confusion and stark horror shining in his eyes made Ezra feel sick.
Gabriel looked down at his hands. They were shaking. “I hurt someone, didn’t I?”
Ezra’s jaw clenched. “You were out of control,” he repeated.
“Is Becca okay?” There was a fragility in Gabriel’s voice. A wetness to it.
“I don’t know. I went to her house and she was gone. Her housemate, too.”
Gabriel brought his shaking hands to his mouth. Ezra thought maybe he was smelling the blood to check if it was Becca’s. But then he wrapped both hands around the protruding table leg. “Help me get this fucking thing out.”
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”
“Then, what the hell am I supposed to do? Lie here with this thing in me for the rest of my life?” he snapped.
He had a point. Usually Ezra was the smart one. He was the one who always took charge. He was the one who always knew the right thing to do, even if it did tend to land on deaf ears. But this? He was making things up as he went along.
Ezra grabbed the table leg, his hands over Gabriel’s, and they both pulled. Gabriel cried out in pain. It was a guttural sound that came from the deep recesses of his being. Then he started to pant like a wild dog. Ezra heard his teeth gnash and his insides turned to ice when he felt Gabriel’s body start to vibrate. And then there were the noises again. The noises he was making back at the precinct. Hissing. Snarling.
Gabriel started thrashing in his hold, swinging them both from side to side wildly on the floor. Ezra could no longer see his face but he was sure his eyes had turned black again.
He jerked his head to the side and sank his fangs into Ezra’s bicep, the bite so deep Ezra felt the scrape of fangs against his bone.
“Gabriel, no,” Ezra begged in a rushed whisper, now thrashing against Gabriel to tear himself free.
The table leg was halfway out. It was tearing through his insides with a sickeningly wet sucking sound. As Gabriel fought, twisting and turning, the wound was getting bigger and messier. Blood poured down his chest and over Ezra’s lap. But the pain wasn’t stopping him. No. The pain was making him angrier. It was making him feral.
Gabriel ripped his fangs free only to sink them back into Ezra’s arm at a lower point. Tears welled in Ezra’s eyes at the state of his mangled flesh. Gabriel tore at him, whipping and jerking his head like a dog with a toy.
Ezra’s fangs sank into his lower lip with the strain of trying to contain him. But it was no use. Once he got free, he was going to kill again.
Ezra had to stop him.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. There’s other way.
A cry of agony peeled out of Ezra as he repositioned the tip of the table leg still inside Gabriel and thrusted it upwards towards his heart. A small yelp escaped his friend before the bloody explosion hit Ezra like a freight train, the force slamming his head back against the kitchen cabinet. Ezra was, yet again, painted by the remains of one of the few people he held dear.
Ezra’s body wilted and he coughed up bits from his mouth. The bloody mess of Gabriel’s death covered him entirely. Thick, warm, stew-like clumps sat on his lap and piled between his thighs. In amongst the mess of pulpy insides were the tattered leftovers of Gabriel’s clothes. Ezra pulled out a strip of his t-shirt and wrapped the slick, dark material around his shaking hand.
He was in a daze. So overcome with emotions that they all seemed to cancel each other out, leaving him numb and cold. He felt as if there was a protective film around his mind as he sat there, his eyes scanning over the massacre.