To Fear the Dawn: Chapter 25
“So, all we need to do is just drink this stuff?” Tank Grunt held up the bottle of purple liquid and peered at it questioningly. “Does it hurt?”
“You might feel some slight discomfort,” Vidcund said, giving a bottle of Vamprocillin to Tank’s brother Ripp, and then, finally, he gave one to little Buck. “If you felt anything when you were first Turned, I imagine the sensation is similar.”
“Oh,” Tank said. “Well, that wasn’t so bad....”
At Charity’s insistence, the Grunt boys were being given the cure first. Charity and Reginald were standing to the side, watching; Charity with a hopeful, excited expression on her face, and Reginald appearing as though he were witnessing an execution.
Why, Charity? Vidcund wondered for what seemed like the millionth time that night. Why do you want him to drink the cure? Why do you want to stay with him? Vidcund couldn’t understand it at all, except it appeared that Pascal had been right all along.
Damn it all, anyway.
“Come on, you two,” Tank Grunt said to his brothers. “We’ll all drink it at once,”
“No,” Ripp said. “You go first. I want to see what it does.”
“Fine. I’ll go first, but you will drink it, do you hear me?”
“Maybe I will and maybe I won’t!”
“God, Ripp! Do you have to turn everything into an argument?”
They were interrupted by their youngest brother gulping down the cure, gagging slightly. “Buck!” Tank cried, rushing to his side. “Are you...”
Buck bent over double, holding his stomach and groaning, but then, as his brothers, Charity, Reginald, the police, and the Curious brothers all watched with bated breath, a change washed over him from head to foot.
Buck stood up slowly, rubbing his forehead, and a cheer erupted from the crowd. He was normal again! He was human!
Vidcund realized this was the first time he had seen the cure work on something other than a rat. He assumed it did work, as Nervous had taken it earlier in the evening and, according to Pascal, had been successfully restored, but Vidcund had not yet seen it with his own eyes. He rushed over and stood in front of the child, gently checking him over from top to bottom. Everything appeared perfect!
“How do you feel?” Vidcund asked the little boy.
“Hungry.” Buck replied with a shaky smile. “I really want a hamburger...”
Vidcund laughed with relief. “Well, I’m sure one of these police officers can help you get one. Why don’t you go talk to Officer Mace over there?” He steered the little boy in the right direction and sat back on his heels with a feeling of satisfaction. In spite of anything else that happens tonight, he thought, that makes it all worth it, really...
Tank Grunt, seeing his little brother’s success, had immediately downed his own bottle of cure, and, with a slight groan, also returned to normal.
He felt his teeth, looked at his arms and hands, and smiled broadly. “Yes!” he cheered, then he walked over to where Charity still stood with the Grand Vampire. Ignoring Reginald, Tank hugged Charity and she laughed.
“Look at you!” Charity enthused when he let her go. “You’re back to being that handsome young man I first met!”
“Charity, I’m, you know... sorry for all that stuff I said to you,” Tank said with a hint of embarrassment. “I know it wasn’t your fault.” He glared at Reginald, who returned his gaze with a sorrowful, hopeless look. Tank really wanted to say something more to the vampire, but, seeing the expression on Reginald’s face, thought better of it and left well enough alone.
Ripp Grunt, obviously human again as well, walked up to Charity then, trailed by his little brother. Both of them wanted to see her before they left. All three Grunt boys were going to be taken by a policeman to get something to eat, and then they would be brought back to their own home after an official medical examination.
“You’ll still come to visit us, right?” Ripp said to Charity and gave her a hug.
“Of course, I will!” Charity replied, hugging him back. “You just try to cool it with your brother, okay?” She gave him a stern look and Ripp smiled sheepishly.
Buck appeared on the verge of tears. Charity knelt down and hugged him.
“Don’t cry, Buck! We’ll still always be close. Do you know what? If one good thing came out of all of this, it’s that I got to know all of you!” Buck sniffed and, wiping his eyes, tried to smile. Then, unexpectedly, he reached up and hugged Reginald.
Startled, Reginald returned the embrace, his eyes shut tight. “Take care, my son.” he whispered to Buck. “I will miss all of you very much.”
“You can come to see us, too!” Buck insisted. “Once you drink the cure, you can even come over during the day!”
“True.” Reginald said thoughtfully. “I would like that.”
The three boys were ushered into a police cruiser, which bore them rapidly away.
Charity took her husband’s hand.
“I guess it’s our turn now, Reginald.”
“So it would seem.”
“Vid, I think they’re ready for you.” Lazlo said to his brother, nodding toward Charity and Reginald. “Vid?”
“I heard you.” Vidcund said quietly, digging two doses of his cure out of the briefcase and holding the bottles in his hands.
Damn it all! It’s not fair!
Vidcund had thought this moment was going to be wonderful.
Imagining this moment was what had kept him going all those days at the lab without sleep and food, working tirelessly around the clock. All the toil and sacrifice had been worth it to him, because he had kept playing and replaying this moment in his mind... this moment! The moment he administered the cure and restored the woman he loved!
He had imagined this to be when Charity returned to him, when he would have her safely in his arms forever, and now that wasn’t going to happen. Instead, he was going to be giving the cure… his cure… to her vampire lover, and she was choosing to stay with him.
However, they had not, and now he, Vidcund, was expected to give the cure to a creature he loathed more than words could even express.
“Do you want me to do it?” Lazlo asked. Lazlo had been watching him, and he had a fairly good idea as to what was going through his brother’s mind. He understood how cheated his brother must feel! He’d worked so hard, and now the reward he had strived for was not going to happen.
“No, I can do it.” Vidcund replied, sighing.
He brought the vampires the cure and gave both bottles to Charity. “One for you,” he said in a dejected voice, “and one for… him.”
“Thank you, Vidcund.” Charity said, taking the medication. “Vidcund? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Vidcund replied, looking her in the eyes, willing her to feel, to know... “Drink it fast, now...I guess it doesn’t taste that great.”
“Okay,” Charity said. “Cheers!” she said, winking at Vidcund as she drank.
“Oh, God, you’re right.” she managed, before she began to writhe, clearly in some discomfort as the change raced through her body. Yet she soon stood straight once more, and she was herself again! She looked at her hands, and felt her teeth, finding everything back to normal. She laughed and spun around in a circle joyfully.
"You did it, Vidcund!” she cheered. “I can’t believe it, but you did it! How in the world…?”
“I did it for you,” Vidcund said simply. There was no use trying to hide the truth.
“From the moment you left us, I never stopped trying to get you back,” Vidcund told her in a quiet voice. “Once we realized this was what had happened to you, I worked day and night to develop a cure. Charity, I... I... ” He wanted so badly to say how he felt, but he couldn’t. Not with her husband standing by her side.
“I’m glad you did it,” Charity said, hugging him. “I’m so glad… ”
Vidcund held her, again willing her to feel what he could not say out loud. He noticed the Grand Vampire looking at him with an expression full of suspicion and hate but he found he didn’t care. Go ahead, he thought recklessly. Kill me. You’ve already taken the one thing that made my life worth living, anyway...
Charity let go of Vidcund and turned to her husband. “Well, Reginald.” she whispered. “It’s time. Drink the cure.”
All the remaining policemen, along with Pascal and Lazlo, had gathered around them. Vidcund walked abruptly away and stood with his brothers. Charity turned to Reginald and traced her fingers softly beneath his chin, encouraging him. “Now, darling. Go on.”
Reginald looked into his wife’s eyes, again the beautiful silvery color he remembered from when they married. Briefly he wondered, What will I be like as a human? What color will my eyes become? He realized he didn’t know. He had no way to tell.
He thought about all the centuries he had lived, and how terribly lonely he always was. He remembered all the hate and ostracism he had encountered wherever he went, and he remembered all the vampiric offspring he had created over the years to try and fill the emptiness inside him.
Now, he realized, that void was no more, because of his wife.
He loved, and was loved. His existence was finally worth something, to himself and to someone else, and he found he no longer wanted it to be tainted by the lust for blood.
Lifting the vial to his lips, he drank it in one drought. Like the Grunt boys and Charity, he felt a burning pain, and he bent over, clutching his midsection and groaning. The pain eased, and he slowly stood upright.
He certainly felt different… altered somehow… yet when he looked at his hands, he found, to his distress, the ashen color of his skin was unchanged! He felt his teeth, and found no difference there, either! Still, he had the monstrous teeth of a demon!
Charity was staring at him in horror.
How could this be? He had felt the potion acting on him! Why was he not human?
“No, dear Gods, no!” Charity cried in anguish. “It didn’t work!”
To Be Continued...