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Authors: Duncan McGeary

Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Dark Fantasy, #Horror, #Gothic, #Vampires

Blood of Gold (3 page)

BOOK: Blood of Gold
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“Now what?” he heard Clarkson say. He turned to the former Council of Vampires member. She had been an unexpected ally, and another in the line of vampires that Michael had tried to create. She had accepted the golden blood without harm.

Terrill shook his head. It still wasn’t clear what he and those who had tasted the golden blood had become, or what the ramifications were.

“Damned if I know,” he said.

 

#

 

Across town, the answers to Terrill’s questions about his future were, at that moment, being formulated.

Marc had returned to the thrift store. It had been looted even before the Wildering surge had occurred. Ordinarily, Marc would have been dispirited. After all, he’d spend most of his adult life trying to help the homeless and the dispossessed, and it was disappointing that they were probably the ones who had raided the unguarded store.

But Marc barely noticed the disarray. He went to his office in the back and swept his arm across the desk, clearing it. His laptop was gone, but it didn’t matter. What he wanted to write––what he was impelled by a higher force to write––seemed as though it should properly be written by hand. Because it came from God, not man, that seemed more respectful somehow.

He had watched helplessly while Fitzsimmons, the leader of the Council of Vampires, had killed Michael. The white-haired vampire, the oldest of his kind, had not resisted his death. Instead, he had turned to Marc and said simply, “Remember this, son. Tell the story.”

Marc found a fresh pen and began to write.

“The Ancient One, Michael, gave his life that we might live.”

He stopped and stared into the distance.
How do I know all this?
he wondered.
Where is it coming from?

It was as if he’d always known, and that he had been Turned so that he might understand and record the vast changes that were taking place in the world. Knowledge had come to him that there was no way he could have possessed, as if it had been passed down through the blood of Michael himself.

He knew that his true test was still in the future. Someday, he himself would have to take the Sacrament of the Holy Golden Blood, as all vampires would. Then he would find out if he was truly worthy of the understanding that had been granted him.

He began to write once more.

“From the Blue Blood of the last true vampire, Michael, came the Golden Blood of Terrill, that the vampire race might be redeemed from evil and join God’s creatures in the light of his wisdom.

“The vampire race need no longer hide in darkness, for they have been given the choice: join in the love of God, become Golden, and renounce your evil ways. If you refuse Michael’s sacrifice, if you do not partake of the Blood of the Chosen, you shall be damned forever and ever, no longer vampire, but a lower order of beast, one of the ravening horde, the Wilderings, who have no soul, no salvation.

“Come to the light, and ask humbly that Terrill give of himself, that you might be forever redeemed. Turn away from the darkness and your thirst for blood and become one with God.

“If you do not, if you refuse this offering, you shall be hunted down and destroyed, and your soul shall melt into the ground and become of the earth, and be forever lost. Your kind shall be doomed to eternal darkness and emptiness. You shall be exterminated and you shall exist no longer.

“But join us, and you shall have everlasting life, in harmony with mankind and with God, and with all the peace of the world. Become Golden and walk in the Heaven on Earth that shall be eternally your right of Making. Turn, as you were Turned, and become Holy. Join Michael and his Maker, God above.”

Marc wrote feverishly into the night, and in the morning, as a ray of sunlight landed on his exposed hand and burned him, he looked down and realized he had filled up all the loose paper in his desk and several notebooks as well.

He slept. When darkness fell and his vampire senses woke him, he returned to his desk and wrote through the night again, and again into the next night, writing until his eyes blurred and his fingers couldn’t grasp the pen.

Finally, it was complete. He hadn’t written it: God had. It had flowed through him, already formed and complete. It was the word of God. He was merely the conduit, the holy vessel.

Marc wandered out into the dark, found an ATM and removed all the money in his meager savings account. The next morning was dark and cloudy, and he dared to venture to the local Best Buy, where he purchased the cheapest laptop he could find.

A few nights of typing and the manuscript was complete. He uploaded the entire thing onto the Internet, with the simple title
The Testament of Michael
.

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

The trapdoor at the top of the basement stairs was locked, but Simone pushed hard against it and the lock gave way. It wasn’t so much that the lock was flimsy as that she was very strong.

“Hello?” she called out softly. “Master? Are you here?”

It was silent. Her heart lifted and she climbed out onto the first floor. The house was completely boarded up, but Simone could see daylight leaking through the cracks between the plywood panels. It was so dark inside the house that she shouldn’t have been able to see much, but it was as clear as day to her. It was as if everything was bathed in some strange form of illumination. Every nook and cranny, everywhere it was dark, stood out sharply, but when her eyes passed over areas where there was normal light, her vision shimmered uncertainly.

Simone went to the kitchen, grabbed the big wrench from beneath the sink and sat on the floor, where she pounded at the links of chain nearest her wrists until one of them split enough for her to pry the chain off. Then she got to her feet and went to the drawer she knew held a big steak knife. She took it out and, holding it, felt safer. She had decided she wouldn’t let the Monster take her alive again. She’d die first.

Simone knew they had to hurry, and yet… she was famished. She opened the refrigerator, and a foul odor washed over her. Apparently it hadn’t been plugged in, because everything inside had rotted. She started to slam the door, but held back at the last moment. There was a rotting, Saran-wrapped steak sitting on the top shelf that still had a little red blood on it.

Before she knew it, she had removed the meat and was gnawing into it. Her brain wanted to reject the food, but she was already swallowing, and her body was accepting it. In fact, it tasted better than anything she had ever eaten.

I may regret this
, Simone thought as she ate the whole thing.
I’ll probably get sick.

But it didn’t feel that way. Eating the tainted flesh felt entirely right.

Shaking her head in puzzlement, Simone moved to the back door. It was not only locked, but also blocked by heavy furniture that would take time to move. She trotted back down the hallway toward the front door, her bare feet slapping on the wooden floor. She suddenly remembered that she was wearing only a flimsy nightgown.

She turned into the nearest bedroom and went to the closet, where he kept the coats they were allowed to wear when they went outside. She put on a long coat and ran her fingers through her tangled hair, then proceeded to the bathroom to check out how she looked in the small mirror there. She dared to flick on the light.

What she saw––or rather, what she
didn’t
see––didn’t make sense.
Is the mirror gone?
she wondered at first. But no, there it was, reflecting the view all the way back into the dim hallway. In the mirror, the bathroom looked as it had always looked, but there was no one in it. She was standing right there, in front of the mirror, but there was no image of her.

Simone closed her eyes and swayed on her feet, feeling the blood drain from her face. She fell forward and caught herself on the edge of the sink. As her hands hit the porcelain, the knife in her grasp slipped and nicked her right forefinger.

She saw the blood oozing, though she felt little pain. The blood was blue. Somehow, in the shadows of the bathroom and the dim light, the color was off. She shook her head at the sight and opened the cabinet to look for a bandage. The cabinet was empty except for a rusty razor and a squeezed-out tube of toothpaste.

It was the sight of these simple toiletry items that finally brought tears to Simone’s eyes. It was such a small thing… but she hadn’t brushed her teeth except with her own fingers for years, or put on deodorant, or shampooed her hair. Once a month, the Monster allowed the girls a quick shower––for his sake, she thought, more than theirs. She suspected that they were so inured to how they smelled that they didn’t notice it anymore.

She looked down at her finger and saw that the strange blue blood had stopped flowing. When she ran water from the faucet over her finger, she couldn’t even see the cut.

How strange.
Simone reached for the tube of toothpaste, lifted it to her lips and managed to get a small bit of it on her tongue. It tasted sharp and sweet.

I don’t have time for this
, she thought. The Monster could return at any moment while she mourned for a toothbrush.
Get out! Get out now!

She hurried to the front door and examined it. There was no doorknob.

She almost despaired, but then she caught sight of scratch marks on the small, square piece of metal that would have held the doorknob. She might not have noticed it if her dark-vision wasn’t so clear. There was a pair of pliers on the windowsill next to the door, just under the curtains, and it was obvious to her that that was how he opened the door.

She reached for the pliers, and her fingers brushed aside the curtain and extended into the daylight.

Her hand started to hurt; then, before her disbelieving eyes, flames started to curl up from her blackening fingers. She pulled her hand back, the pliers landing with a thump on the floor.

Simone held her breath and lifted her fingers before her face. Even as she watched, the blackened skin was repairing itself. There was no time to think about it. She picked up the pliers again and fumbled to open the door. She gripped the handles strongly and turned the little square extension. The handles almost bent, she was clamping down so hard, and it occurred to her that only a few weeks ago, before this transformation––whatever it was––she probably wouldn’t have been strong enough to accomplish this.

The door opened and sunlight flooded in. Simone jumped back just in time. As she wondered what to do, the sunlight blinked out. She peeked around the door and saw that heavy black clouds were rolling in. She could stand the dimmer light, though it hurt her eyes and made her skin ache.

Simone saw a windowless panel van parked on the street outside. “Parker Plumbing,” it said on the side.

She ran back down the hallway to get her fellow prisoners.

 

#

 

Laura and Patty watched her silently as she came down the stairs. She went over to the metal bar she knew was hidden under the trash heap, trying not to look at the maggots that heaved over the pile. She took the bar over to Patty and pried apart the links of her chain.

“We shouldn’t do this,” Patty said uneasily.

It was equally simple to get Laura free, and Laura was just as uncertain about her freedom. “What if he comes back?” she whimpered.

Now that it was done, Simone was surprised how easy it had been to get loose. In her heart, she had always known it wasn’t the chains and locks that kept them imprisoned, but their own minds. She wasn’t certain she ever would have summoned the courage to escape if the strange transformation hadn’t come over her. For the first time since the early days of her captivity, she felt strong and certain, and willing to fight for her freedom.

It wasn’t easy to convince either of her fellow captives to leave. Finally, she grabbed Laura by the arm and said forcefully, “You’re coming with me.”

Laura gave in and followed her meekly up the stairs. When they reached the top, they stopped and looked down at Patty, who was staring up at them, her stubborn expression turning to one of indecision.

“Do you want to get out of here or not?” Simone asked her.

Patty seemed confused for a moment. Then she muttered, “Of course I want to get out of here.” She followed them up the stairs.

Simone held the other girls back when she saw daylight coming through the open door again. When the light dimmed, she urged them forward.

“There’s a van across the street!” she said. “Get in the back.”

She watched them run across the road and saw Patty reach for the handle on the van’s rear door. They slipped inside and closed the door behind them.

Simone stood in the doorway.
Why am I hesitating?
she wondered
. I don’t have anyone to give me orders. I only have myself.

Then the clouds parted, and she couldn’t leave the house. She stood back from the doorway and waited for another wave of shadows.

What would life be like outside? How would they be treated? What kind of world were they entering? In the distance, Simone could see smoke, and there was a steady cacophony of sirens of different tones and textures, police and fire and other emergency vehicles, all with their own unique sonic signatures.

She didn’t know anything more than a frightened thirteen-year-old girl, she suddenly realized. At least a decade had passed outside, and she didn’t know anything about it. Even the cars parked on the street looked strange. Who was the president? What kinds of inventions and devices had been created while she was gone?

She almost felt like turning around, going downstairs and putting the chains back on again. At least she knew that world.

A heavy black cloud passed overhead and she sprinted for the van, even as she saw a man emerging from the house on the opposite side of the street. She slipped into the darkened van before he could turn around and see her.

Only a few moments later, the young man got into the driver’s seat with a sigh. Slender but athletic-looking, sporting a crew cut, he didn’t look old enough to own his own business. In fact, he looked like he was barely out of high school. “Idiots,” he muttered. “All they had to do was turn on the water.”

BOOK: Blood of Gold
5.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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