To Fear the Dawn: Chapter 23
“Well, it worked!” Pascal said in an excited whisper, dropping to the dry ground beside Vidcund in the hazy light of dusk. He crammed his cellular phone back into a pocket as he did so. “I just heard from Nervous, Vid. He’s back to normal! He said he can’t wait to go home and raid the fridge to get some real food!”
“That’s great, Pas,” Vidcund said, trying to sound excited yet not able to hide the uneasy tremor in his voice as he looked up at the forbidding stone wall in front of them.
The sun had set half an hour ago, and here they were, at Reginald’s house, waiting with the police for they knew not what. Surely the vampire knew they were out here by now. Why hadn’t they heard anything? Why hadn’t anything happened yet? The anticipation was nearly enough to drive Vidcund over the edge of sanity.
“Getting cold out here, isn’t it?” Lazlo commented, “I don’t care what they say... neoprene isn’t all that warm, and this bulletproof vest is uncomfortable as hell.” He looked down at his police-issued SWAT uniform and then sat on the ground with his brothers. “What do you reckon we’re supposed to do now?”
Vidcund sighed. “I have no idea.” He looked toward the briefcase stashed near a police cruiser where fifteen bottles of the vampirism cure… all he had been able to produce… were safely nestled. The formula still did not have an official name, but Vidcund had been half-jokingly calling it ‘Vamprocillin’ in his mind.
It wasn’t an accurate name. The suffix ‘—cillin’ indicated an antibiotic, not an antiviral, drug, and to be even more technical, he supposed it ought to be called ‘Vamprocillin-D’, seeing as how the cure had ended up being their Formula D, but be that as it may. The name had stuck in his mind, and it worked. That was the important thing.
It was in the form of an oral suspension, which was the only thing Vidcund was disappointed with. He had hoped to get it into an injectable form, but there hadn’t been enough time. Oral drugs, he knew, were far more difficult than injectables to administer to possibly unwilling patients. Any vampire who took the cure would need to be doing it of his or her own free will, and Vidcund didn’t know how likely that would be for all of them.
His mind was wandering. Shivering, he looked around him at all the SWAT officers, who were inspecting their crossbows and other weapons specifically designed for this task, kneeling on the ground adjusting surveillance equipment, or whispering quietly among themselves. All of them were clad in similar gear as himself. Lazlo was right, it wasn’t very warm.
A chill wind blew in from the desert and Vidcund huddled down in a more snug position. All they could do now was wait.
For what, he had no idea.
“Charity, come look at this.” Reginald said softly. He was standing beside a window on the second floor of his residence, and he had noticed many dark figures crouching outside the wall, along with several police cruisers. Reginald had lived a long time, and he knew immediately what those figures were and why they were there. He had seen it many times before. True, over the centuries they had worn different clothing and used different weaponry, but the intent was always the same.
To cast him off. Drive him out, like some sort of plague. Reginald sighed sadly. He had been so hoping the outcome would be different this time, but it appeared his kind were just as poorly tolerated here as they had been everywhere else.
It was time to move on. Again.
Yet this time, he had his wife to think about and to protect. His wife and, now, their three young children. Truly he had not ever felt so close to any other progeny in all his lengthy life. The three boys were different, special, as they had been brought to him by his wife. He felt he was finally the same as any other man who had been given the joy of a child from the womb of a woman!
He had so much more to lose, now, and he was terrified.
“What is it, darling?” Charity murmured, coming behind him and encircling his waist with her arms. She leaned against him and looked around his shoulder out the window. “Who are those people down there?”
“Slayers.” Reginald said darkly. “Perhaps that’s not what they call themselves, but that is what they are.” He tried not to let his fear show in his voice. He couldn’t let his wife realize how afraid he was for her. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close. He loved her so much... if anything were to ever happen to her, he had already decided, it would mean the end of his life as well. She, and their children, were all that made his existence worthwhile.
“Charity,” he whispered to his wife, his lips in her hair. “My love, they mean us harm. We must flee.”
“Flee? What do you mean?”
“I mean we must leave this place. We will take our sons and settle elsewhere.”
“But I... ” Charity stammered. “I can’t leave...” Something was tugging at the edges of her mind. Something she loved. Some one she loved... she knew it, she just couldn’t place it.
But I love Reginald, she thought confusedly. Surely where he goes I must also go. Yes, she knew what he was. She had been painfully reminded of that fact many times these past nights by her “son,” Tank Grunt, but she could not stop her heart. She loved her husband still.
Shaking her head to clear it, she looked out the window again. Her vision was much sharper as a vampire than it had ever been as a human, and she could focus on things much farther away than she could have before. She noticed three of the crouching, dark figures were over to the side by themselves, away from the main throng of activity.
Those three don’t really seem to belong, Charity thought, and she looked closer. Two of them were hard to see, due to their dark hair, but the blond head of one captured the moonlight and suddenly Charity gasped in shocked recognition.
Memories poured into her mind as though a floodgate had been opened.
It’s Vidcund, she thought wildly, and her heart filled with a blazing joy. “Vidcund… ” she whispered, remembering the three children, the Curious home, cooking meals… remembering the feelings of friendship, laughter, and love, and also the sunlight on her face and the hot sand of the desert beneath her feet.
…He’s come for me… ”
The expression on Charity's face and the tone of her voice was not lost on Reginald.
“It’s Vidcund!” Charity cried out, turning excitedly from the window. Reginald clutched her wrist tighter in confusion. Charity frantically twisted out of his grip, throwing his hands away from her.
“Let me go, damn you!” she screamed. “It’s Vidcund! I have to go see him! I have to!” The next instant, she transformed into a bat and flew rapidly out of the open window.
Reginald was horrified. “Charity! Charity, no! What are you doing? Charity, don’t go down there! ” He hung out of the window begging her to come back.
He may well have been pleading with the wind.
Down on the ground outside the wall, Vidcund was still waiting with Pascal and Lazlo, on edge, his nerves completely frayed. He stared at his brothers and they stared at him, silent, not knowing what would be worse, the waiting for something to happen or if something actually did.
Suddenly there was a sharp, unfamiliar sound and a figure materialized near them in a cloud of purple smoke.
“Don’t move!” one of the officers yelled. “We are heavily armed... and believe us when we say these weapons will be effective against you!”
Amid the sounds of weapons being readied for action all around him, Vidcund was staring hard through the smoke. Something seemed familiar. He looked closer, and suddenly, he recognized who it was. A vampire, true, but there was no mistaking what his heart was telling him.
It’s Charity...my God, look what he’s done to her, but it’s Charity!
“Don’t shoot!” he yelled, throwing himself in the line of fire.
Lazlo instinctively grabbed him by the shoulder and yanked him back, nearly forcing him to the ground. “Get back here, Vidcund! What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Let me go, damn you!” Vidcund cried out, wrenching himself from Lazlo’s grip and running forward.
To Be Continued