Chapter eight, part two – Fate
Yes, This is a different wordpress theme. Yes, this is the sixth I’m trying out today. But I think I’ll leave it at this one xD
All four men in my squad had reacted to the news from the researchers exactly like I had expected them to react: with shock and disgust.
‘That is just so messed up,’ Yurick said, shaking his head in disbelief. Hao nodded.
‘I thought they did that just to feed on us. You know, like in the stories. What the hell is up with them absorbing our blood?’
‘You could actually make a pretty good horror story about that,’ Tybalt said. ‘Just imagine. They’re monsters crawling out of the pits of hell, right into our world. And now they’re changing a bit with every mortal they feed on, slowly becoming more and more human…’
‘They won’t ever be human,’ Yurick spat. ‘No matter what they do. They’re monsters and they need to be exterminated like the vermin they are.’
The men had nodded and mumbled among themselves, and the next day we all headed out in the direction of Moonlight Falls.
Before the first day had ended, we found out that organizing a search while you had no idea what you were searching for, wasn’t very productive. Our first search came up empty, and so did all of the other squads’. Frankly, we just didn’t know where to start.
‘Maybe it’s like a nuclear weapon,’ Tybalt suggested that evening. The sun had just started to set, and we could see the shadows of the trees getting bigger every second. Soon it would be completely dark.
‘You know, they could have hidden it in a secret basement somewhere.’
‘No way. They’re not smart enough to build something like that. Not yet, at least.’
‘There could be a monster army hiding somewhere,’ Hao guessed.
‘In a tiny town like Moonlight Falls? I don’t think so,’ Derek reacted, shaking his head.
‘Hey, it’s not that tiny,’ Yurick cut in. ‘There’s not that many houses over here, but the forest goes on for quite a while. Who says there’s not a secret base of operations somewhere?’
‘Because they’re not smart enough for that!’ Derek answered, a bit annoyed. ‘Even if they are changing over time. There’s just no way they can do something like that.’
I listened to their conversation quietly. We’d set up camp at the outskirts of the city, partly not to disturb the citizens and partly to keep us from attracting too much attention. With the tents put up and even a small campfire in the middle of the lot, it looked just like we were out on a camping trip. I’d never gone camping before, not even with my family.
Maybe it was because of the lack of liquor to keep my mind from wandering. But the way the four of them were arguing like that… it reminded me of them. Of my siblings. Their arguing had been such an everyday thing to me, back then. Would they have kept arguing after they’d all grown up?
I’d never know.
It wasn’t fair.
I was rudely shaken out of my thoughts by Tybalt’s voice. The sun had disappeared behind the nearest hilltop, and with it, the warmth from just a few minutes ago disappeared. Thin, misty clouds began to gather above the village. It was incredible how fast this place could change in terms of weather.
‘M’am, look,’ Hao said, gazing up at the sky. I followed his gaze and turned around: a strange, white beam of light was shining through the treetops, into the dark sky. It was an ominous light, and I knew straight away that, whatever was its source, it couldn’t be something good. The glow slowly became weaker, until it had faded completely and there was nothing to see anymore but trees.
That definitely qualified as something suspicious.
‘Get your weapons,’ I ordered my squad. ‘We’re going to check it out.’
Cautiously, we left our temporary camp and followed the direction of the strange light. It was roughly in the direction of the Van Gould mansion, I realized. The memory of red-haired vampire briefly appeared in my mind, but I pushed it away and kept going. I couldn’t think about that. Not now. I had to stay focused. Focused on our current mission.
But… for what purpose? We were literally chasing after ghosts. We’d probably find nothing. And even if we found something, then what? What would I do afterwards? Just dive into the next mission, the next thing to keep my mind off my current situation?
Was there even a point in doing that?
For the second time in one evening, one of my squad members pulled me back out of my thoughts. Hao had turned around and was looking at me with a worried expression on his face, his eyes lit up by the pale shine of the moon.
‘Are you all right?’
‘I’m fine,’ I said quickly. ‘What is it?’
As a response, he pointed to the area behind him. We’d arrived at the edge of the forest, and while the previous beam of light was nowhere in sight, there was something else. Hidden between the trees and bushes, we could see something that appeared to be some kind of shrine. A small, stone stairway led upwards to a stone platform of the exact same color. Multiple pillars were placed in a circle around the edges of the platform and supported a roof, keeping the contents of the shrine dry from the rain.
I slowly walked up to the stone structure, stepping on a few dry branches in the process. They snapped underneath my feet with loud noises, but I barely noticed it.
‘What in the name of plumbob…?’
In the middle of the structure, there stood a single, stone doorway. It was made of the same material as the rest of the building, but its color was slightly lighter. There was no actual door, just the stone envelopment.
I’d never seen a shrine like this before. But… It felt… slightly familiar.. I frowned as I walked up the stone stairs and towards the strange doorway. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it. My whole body was pulled towards the thing, being forced to come closer. It was almost as if it was calling me. Calling every fiber of my being.
‘This is… not supposed to be here…’
It took a few seconds for me to realize those words had been spoken by myself. And yet, as I came to that realization, I also knew that it was true. This gate, or whatever it symbolized, was not supposed to be here. In this world. It wasn’t natural.
‘What the fudge is this?’ Derek said, suddenly standing next to me. ‘Are they worshipping doorways in these parts, or something?’
He brought his arm forward to touch the gate. I could see his outstretched fingers reach for the cold, strange stone, and suddenly felt very uneasy.
‘Don’t touch it!’
He pulled his hand back, looking at me with a confused expression on his face.
‘What gives, boss? It’s just a gate.’
He looked at the stone structure again, a small frown appearing on his face.
‘Or do you know something I don’t?’
‘Just stay away from it,’ I responded, an ominous feeling coming over me whenever I looked at the gate. ‘It can’t be good.’
‘Guys,’ Hao mumbled, his gaze downwards. ‘Look at the ground.’
The entire platform was made out of the same stone material. But from the front of the gate to the cold steps downwards, there were large gashes in the floor. They started shallow, but then plunged deeply into the stone, almost like-
‘Are those… scratch marks?’ Tybalt asked. His voice was a pitch higher than normal.
‘Dude… they better not be. What kind of monster makes scratch marks like this?’
‘They’re on the stairs, too. Look.’
I followed Yurick’s outstretched arm. He was right. The markings quickly left the shrine and made their way down to the forest grounds, overturning the earth and even ripping straight through a thick tree root. It looked like something had violently clawed its way out of the shrine. As if it had no choice but to dig into the stone floor, as if it was being pulled back by something. And so strongly that it had to rip its claws into the stone and dirt, clawing its way out to keep from… what?
‘Chief. This isn’t good.’
Yurick pointed again, this time in the direction of the first row of houses in Moonlight Falls. The scratch marks soon disappeared from the ground, and instead were etched into the bark of the trees. Moss had already grown over some of the marks, which meant that they were old, maybe a few years already. Slowly, we followed the trail. The gashes gradually became less deep, until finally they vanished completely. The last scratch was on a small oak, right in the backyard of one of the houses.
‘Tybalt,’ I whispered. ‘Contact intel. Ask them if anyone lives on this lot.’
I watched as he quickly grabbed his phone out of his pocket and speed-dialled the number, speaking on a hushed tone with the person on the other side of the line.
‘It’s vacant, m’am.’
‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ Hao muttered softly. I gave a short nod.
We’d found ourselves a second vampire hideout.
‘Put on your nightvision goggles. We’re going in.’
Within a few seconds, we’d covered the distance between us and the house and had snuck up on the porch. Hao and Derek positioned themselves on opposite sides of the door, guns ready, as I lifted my foot from the ground. A single, powerful kick, and the door broke out of its pins. With a loud, wooden clatter, it fell on the ground. Derek reacted immediately; he jumped over the door and stormed inside. Hao, was right behind him, with Yurick, Tybalt and me following.
‘Spread out!’ I ordered. My squad members nodded and fanned out as they had been trained for, each going to a different part of the room, a different door.
‘Clear!’ I soon heard from what was probably the kitchen. Derek and Tybalt moved on to the hallway. I quickly followed them, keeping my own weapon in shooting position.
There were two sets of stairs- one going upwards, and one going down into what had to be the basement. I silently nodded to the stairs going upwards, ordering the men to go that way. They obeyed, stomping upstairs loudly while whipping up lots of dust that was lying on the wood.
I turned to the basement entry instead. Pointing my gun downwards, I cautiously descended the stairway. There was no door at the base of it. Instead, I walked straight into the large, messy basement-
And came upon a sight that would never erase itself from my memory again.
In the corner of the basement, there were two children, obviously trying to hide from sight. But they were no ordinary children. Their skin color, the glow of their eyes- there could be no mistake.
Those two were vampires.