Friday, May 1, 2009

Roads Not Taken: Chapter 4

“Come with me, we can be together forever.”

“That’s not you.”

“Of course it’s me.”

“No. I wouldn’t kill you.”

It was dusk, and Cole was nervous. The training had gone well. Michael had been a much better student than Cole had been. Still, Cole was not certain about the training paying off. He had told Michael that the training would let him be in control once the moon came up. What he had not told him that there was a very good chance that it would not work. He had considered restraining Michael or telling him to just take off for the night and get away from the situation. That would have shaken Michael’s confidence, and confidence was what he needed. If his will faltered then the day’s work would have been for nothing. Then Cole would have not only keep those wanting to take Michael away at bay, but also try to save the man’s family from him.

Cole sat on the steps to Michael Bralter’s house and waited. His clothes were loose fitting despite his large frame. His jacket was heavy as he had it stocked with things he knew he would need soon. Cole was not sure what he had told his wife about his presence on the stairs. She had not said anything to Cole’s knowledge about it, and he was thankful not to have to deal with that inconvenience.

It was a pleasant enough evening in the quiet suburb. People had returned from their commutes to work. Lights were on in the houses as they settled in with their families. The air was crisp and cool. The sun had just set, but the moon had not risen yet.

Cole pondered the situation as he looked at one of the houses. His keen eyesight could clearly make out a young couple playing with their toddler in the living room. There was a time when that was all he wanted. A part of him still wanted it, but he knew it wasn’t in the cards for him.

His daydreaming came to halt when he spotted their scents on the evening breeze. He looked around and saw a fine haze down the street. It would have been over looked by anyone not familiar with what to look for. It was a mist, the same kind the visitors the previous evening had vanished into.

“Cute.” Cole looked away from the haze for see a man lunging at him. The man was thin and pale with brown hair. He was wearing a black buttoned and trousers. The man snarled as he lunged revealing a set of fangs. “Too bad I’m not stupid.” Cole sprang from the steps and grabbed at his assailant. He caught hold of the vampire’s arm and pulled him forward and down. Cole had successfully sidestepped his attacker and grabbing the now off-balance vampire, drove him face first into the cement steps.

“UK!” The creature stammered as Cole jerked him back up to standing. Blood covered its face and Cole noticed it was now missing several teeth, including one of its fangs. It was flailing wildly in pain and did not even notice Cole pulling a wooden stake from the interior of his jacket. With a grunt Cole impaled the vampire, piercing its heart. The creature went limp in his arms. Whether it was truly dead or just in a state of shock Cole did not now. What he did know is that this was one down. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of the ones from the previous evening.

“Let him go.” Cole turned. The mist was gone. In its place was the blond vampire from before and he had three others with him. Cole recognized two of them from before.

“Kiss my ass.” Cole replied with a smirk. He tossed the body of the impaled vampire over his shoulder and broke for the woods. The weight of his undead hostage did not slow Cole down much. Cole had already triggered the change. His skin felt like it was burned and his muscles screamed in protest as they spasmed and convulsed, yet were still made to run.

Cole was familiar with his path. It was the same one he used when he confronted the vampires the first time. He glanced over his shoulder, and saw them in pursuit. One of them had taken the form of a wolf. Cole grimaced, not from the pain, but in the knowledge that these four would not be as easy to dispatch as the first one. The first one obviously was the rookie of the pack and had not yet turned how to transform himself.

Cole made it to the woods in a matter of seconds. Whether or not anyone saw the chase, he did not know nor care. His shoes were feeling loose around his transformed feet and he slipped out of them as he ran. The transformation was complete, and with that, Cole came to a halt. He turned and saw the four vampires. They had stopped too and were moving to surround him. The gray wolf that the one vampire had become stalked between the trees looking to try to get behind him.

Cole rose up to his full height and held the limp body of the staked vampire by its shirt in his outstretched claw. His dark brown fur blended in with the dark woods, but the vampires had not trouble seeing him.

“Give up, wolf. We’re going to take our friend back one way or another.” The blond vampire said calmly. The others hissed at Cole, ready to pounce on him. Vampires were tough to actually kill. Sunlight was out of the question. He did not have the means to burn them either. That left decapitation or completely destroying their hearts. The stake may have done the job, but then again it might not have. There was only one way to be sure.

Cole released his hostage and struck with his other clawed hand. He was a blur of motion. The body had barely begun to fall before its head was taken off. Cole heard the pine straw on the ground rustle softly and knew the wolf was making his move. He heard the leader curse as he caught sight of the wolf in mid-leap towards him. He backhanded the wolf, sending it flying into a tree. It slumped to the ground, but quickly got it’s feet back under him.

Cole turned and roared at the blond vampire. “You’re not getting him!” He shouted in a guttural inhuman voice. He quickly noticed that he saw only two vampires. The leader was smiling and one of his henchmen from last night flanked him. Cole did not have time to look for the third before he felt its hands on him. It was materializing out of mist and clutching for Cole’s throat. It hissed as Cole attempted to throw him off. The vampire’s strength was nearly equal to Cole’s and the last thing the massive werewolf wanted to do was get into a wrestling match with it.

He heard the pine straw rustle again. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the gray wolf leaping at him again. Its jaws were open and poised to tear Cole’s throat out. Cole got his arm up and the wolf’s teeth sunk into it. The pain shot up Cole’s arm. The vampire grabbing Cole stomped down on the back of Cole’s knee, driving him down.

Cole felt the fur on his head getting grabbed roughly and jerked back. The blond vampire was walking over to him with his other minion right behind him. Cole struggled to break the grips of those holding him, but they redoubled their efforts and kept him on his knees.

“Idiot.” The blond vampire sneered. “What did you think was going to happen here? Did you think you were going to kill us and then somehow stop Bralter from killing his entire family?” He laughed cruelly as Cole continued to struggle. “The moon is up, wolf. I wonder if his wife and daughter screamed when they saw him change. Do you suppose they begged him not to hurt them? “

“Go to hell.” Cole snarled. He stopped struggling when he smelled it. There was a new scent in the air.

“I suppose we’ll get to find out soon enough.” The blond smiled. He smelled it too. He turned back to the suburb and saw it skulking through the woods towards them. It was another werewolf. This one was a lighter brown than Cole and not as massive. It was wearing a pair of now stretched, Navy blue sweat pants. It quietly made its way towards them.

They all knew it was Michael Bralter.

About the artist:Erick Barroso was born in San Sebastian, Spain. He majored in visual arts though specialized in photography. Nowadays he works as a designer. He likes music, he likes it a lot. Probably that's his foremost hobby and everything he does he does thinking in a song. He likes soccer, though maybe he's most interested in the visuals of soccer than in anything else, more exactly, he loves soccer jerseys, they're the best. Oh... and he likes colors. A lot.

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