Rivers of Blood
“Dreams unfold, nightmares are true.”
A storm was blowing on top of the bridge. The storm which was about to rage was inside Declan. A fire burned deep into his soul as he watched Sanders mock him and drive away into the night with his one and only son, Drake. Declan sucked in A colossal lungful of air as he turned to Gabriel who rose to his knees. He looked over his shoulder as Noelle, Dustin, Kelvin, Sascha, and Maria, along with the other team members, stepped closer. They had his back, and their crossbows were locked and loaded.
“Let hell rain down on these fuckers,” he whispered to Gabriel.
“I'm right there with you, bro. Wolf or not, I'm with you to the end.”
Declan wrapped his arms around the wires and whispered that it’d be on the count of three. The line that parted and stood by his side now readied themselves and took aim.
“On my command,” he boomed.
Officer Jenkins and his squad stood ready. Thumbs hovered over the buttons on their Tasers, and some of the supporting officers drew their firearms.
Declan yanked the Taser prongs from his body and stood. He towered upward with his head bowed. His paws dug hard into the concrete as he lunged forward. Gabriel pulled the two hunting knives from over his shoulders and wielded them like a real ninja. Taser wires whizzed past them as they zigzagged down the slope of the bridge.
“Fire your bolts,” Dustin yelled as the plain crossbow bolts sliced through the early morning sky. Squad car spotlights and headlights exploded in showers of glass and puffs of hydrogen gas. “Reload tranquilizers.”
The teams marched forward, and the noise of stretching bows could be heard across the line of the bridge. Declan reached the front of the squad cars. He stooped and clamped his claws under the first. He grunted as his shoulder muscles stretched his furred skin. He bared his teeth as the car flipped and rolled, smashing the red and blue lights that fizzled in the darkness.
Officer Jenkins ordered his squad to fire at will. The sounds of gunshots and ricocheting bullets rang out across the bridge. Gabriel leaped across the hood, and scissor-cut the two large knives against a vlad. He kicked his foot against its chest as the vlad’s head fell backward and a sickening gargle escaped from its throat. Police officers’ bodies fell as the tranquilizer bolts slammed into their bodies. Gabriel slashed and sliced his way through the slumped bodies. Declan prowled at Officer Jenkins as he backed down the bridge with a posse of vlads guarding him.
“You made this happen.”
Officer Jenkins stared at Declan. A vlad shouldn't have any fear, apart from daylight. But he was shit-scared as the menacing form of Declan began bearing down on him. It was worse than bursting into flames.
“I was following orders,” he replied.
“Who gave the order?” asked Declan. He growled.
“The blind one.”
“Aargh! MEGAN, you hell-whore,” Declan cursed.
Declan looked as Officer Jenkins backed up against the central concrete reservation. His head rocked from side to side as he weighed up the situation. The other officers had guns which wouldn't stop him. He had no urge to be full of holes that would need time to heal. Gabriel made his way to his side.
The bridge fell silent. Declan stared. His wolf senses heard a faint crack followed by a buzzing. It sounded like an angry hornet. A vlad officer spun and fell onto the ground. Declan looked at the hole in his shoulder. His eyes scoured across the distance. He heard a second crack and the faint buzzzzz. A second vlad’s head exploded. Declan stared into the darkness. His eyes cut through it. He spotted a lone figure on top of an apartment block. There he saw a tiny glint of a scope which reflected.
“It appears we have some help,” he whispered to Gabriel.
Declan said it was still too far and too dark. He could see the scope, but that was a trick of the light. He held two fingers in the air. They waited as two vlads crumpled in front of Officer Jenkins.
Declan knew they watched and would follow his command. He looked back at the remaining squad. Officer Jenkins looked scared (and he should be). Declan signaled three. The last three officers had no idea which way to run as they fell, hard, and one after the other. Officer Jenkins was now very-much alone.
Gabriel raised his clenched fist in the air and walked forward. The officer held a pistol. His hand shook. Gabriel grinned and smirked.
“You know that won't stop me, and if it did, do you think you can get away from my pack?” he asked as he gestured to the line of (the now vlad hunters) followers who stood behind him. “You also need to consider the angel of death who is watching your every move. Accept your fate.”
“I guess you're going to rip me to shreds?”
Declan shook his head as he spotted the first bands of gold rise up from the horizon. He smirked as Officer Jenkins turned. His eyes widened as he glared to the sun which twinkled in his eyes. The screams from Officer Jenkins rang out over the bridge as Declan and Gabriel turned. They walked back to Noelle and Maria as Dustin and Kelvin drove over the brow of the bridge in the van. The van drove slowly through the gap and past the overturned squad car that Declan had flipped. Piles of ash started to blow in the breeze as a figure walked from the trees. The hood was pulled tightly over its head, and it stood at the side of the road and waved. The figure removed the rifle from its shoulder and dropped the sweatshirt hood as the van approached.
“Ariana, what are you doing here?” Kelvin asked.
“I thought you might need some assistance,” she replied, now sliding herself onto the passenger seat.
Declan asked about the vlads in the yard. Ariana said they were all trussed up like turkeys on a hunt.
“We’d better head back to the condo and get some rest. Sanders won't be going far in daylight,” Declan said as they left the burning pyre behind them.
“Are we going to head off after them tonight?” Kelvin asked.
“We need to find where he's going. We know it’s Vera Cruz,” Declan added. “But which freaking one?”
* * *
The vehicle approached Fort Myers as Sanders looked over his shoulder to Drake. The young baby who slept between Megan and the maid they’d spirited away from the motel. If she had any family in Miami, it'd just be another missing person case. Sanders made it plainly obvious that she was far more than just a maid. Once they arrived in Mexico, she'd have a better understanding of the language than any of them.
“Why did we cut through the Everglades and come up the coast. It is way slower,” Megan said. She pouted her lips.
Sanders spun in his seat and rested his arm on the black leather. It creaked as he leaned on it. “Why? I'll tell you why. The sun is almost up, and we can't travel much further. If Declan and Dustin get their heads together, they'll set off up the quickest route. I'm sure they could find us during the day; they are way too smart to drive past us. Or in another case, they'd set up a semi-roadblock and watch us drive by.”
Megan adjusted her patch and agreed. This way they'd have no idea what route they’d gone, and they had a fifty percent chance of getting it wrong. The van stopped at the motel. The side door opened and the maid stepped into the early hour’s darkness and glanced up at the sky.
“Senor. El Nino.”
“Yes, yes. I know. The baby, he needs feeding and changing.”
The maid looked at Sanders and screwed up her face. Pinche estupido…
She shook her head and walked toward the canopy. Drake slumped over her shoulder and slept like a log. Juanita rubbed her hand up and down his back and comforted him with much care. Tanya exited the motel reception and handed everyone the keys to their rooms. The truck guy pulled the van out of sight from the main road.
“Ah! At least they've got a king-size bed,” Sander's commented, slipping his long coat off his shoulders. Megan draped it over the chair and proceeded to kick off her boots. Tanya stretched her arms and dropped herself on the edge of the bed.
“It's been a bit of a rush. Declan looked well-pissed. The last time I saw him like that was when Gabriel squared up to him in the basement of the Towers,” Tanya said.
Sanders walked to the TV. “It's that anger that makes him such a threat. I wish he were on our side rather than against us.” Sanders began flicking through the TV channels. “Let’s hope the brat’s blood carries some of his dad's angst. Then we'll be unstoppable.”
“I thought we would be unstoppable, anyway. Isn't that what daywalkers are?” Megan asked.
Sanders tightened his lips and walked over to the bed. He sat next to Tanya and bounced on the soft mattress.
“Unfortunately, all the way through, we've been after the same shaman as Gabriel. It's the thing which can make us unbeatable.”
“It sure as hell is a lot of trouble. If we'd known all this at the start we could be running the whole show and not only during the night,” Megan replied.
Sanders chuckled. “Never a truer word said. Unfortunately, this sort of thing doesn't come with an instruction manual.”
He lay on the bed and stared at the ceiling. Tanya reached across and began opening the buttons on his silk shirt. He pushed her hand away and said he was tired and wanted to think.
Tanya turned her attention to Megan. She refrained from winking because Megan would be pissed if she winked, and then she asked if Megan wished to join her in the shower. It sounded like a good idea, but she wasn't in the mood for frolicking. Tanya said a shower together was more than enough and they could soap each other’s backs. Megan held her hand out and pulled Tanya from the bed. Sanders hitched himself to the head of the bed and rested himself on the large plumped-up pillows.
He closed his eyes and slipped into a dark dream…
“Uncle,” Edmund screamed from the dark.
Sanders looked around and saw he was stood in what appeared to be a sewer. There; water rose above his shoes as rats scurried across pipes above his head and through the support drains around his feet.
“I can't help you; you need to learn how to look aft...” Sanders yelled back.
“This isn't about me. This is about you. You can't win,” Edmund said. His gaunt, paled face pushed slowly from the shadows. There was a hole in his chest where Gabriel had ripped out his heart. Sanders noticed the dark cavernous rift that was once Edmund's chest.
“You're dead, how can you be here?”
Sanders looked up. A second face pushed from the dark shadows above Edmund. The long snout with huge fangs entered into the light. A steely-gaze stared at Sanders. A clawed hand appeared on Edmund's shoulder. Another was seen on the side of his head. The head pushed forward as its snarl turned into a smile. Saliva dripped over Edmund as it pulled his head to the side.
“You! What are you doing here?”
Declan held Edmund's severed head in his hand and tossed it onto the floor in front of Sanders.
“Did I not tell you I would hunt you down? Nowhere is safe, not on earth and not in your damn dreams.”
“You're not real, it's my imagination.”
Declan dropped Edmund's headless body to the floor. He stepped forward. Sanders craned his neck as Declan towered above him. His hand pulled back and lashed at the side of his cheek.
“You’ve got a wicked imagination, let this be a reminder.”
Sanders raised his hand to his cheek. His fingers pulled away and they were covered with a dark crimson coating.
“You've cut me.”
Declan's body stepped backward toward the shadows. “I'll do more than cut you when I get a hold of you,” he replied. “Keep a watch over your shoulder. You’ll never know where I'm coming from.”
Declan vanished back into the shadows. Sanders heard the padding of his paws disappear into the dark and splash into the shallow water of the sewer. A threatening howl filled the dark tunnel.
Sanders sat bolt upright. His hands pushed against his chest and he found that he was soaked in sweat. He glanced toward the bathroom door as Tanya and Megan excited, now both wrapped in towels and bathrobes.
“What's wrong with you?” Tanya asked, sitting on the edge of the bed.
“I was dreaming,” Sanders replied.
“It must've been one hell of a dream, you're sweating like a pig,” Tanya added.
Sanders didn't want to explain what the dream was about. He attempted to push it to the back of his mind. He couldn't. The sound of the jarring rip of sinew as Declan had ripped off Edmund's head reverberated in his mind. It was as if he was pulling gift wrap off a Christmas present. Sanders was worried that if Declan possessed that strength, then maybe, he could’ve also underestimated his power.
“What's that on your shirt?” Megan asked, pointing at the breast pocket. Sanders looked down and spotted the small red streak. “It looks like blood.”
“Where the hell has that come from?” Sanders asked.
Sanders ran his hand over his face and neck checking for scratches. It was clear. It's impossible. Could I bleed from my dream?
Megan commented on how freaky it was to have blood suddenly appear. Tanya quizzed him about his dream, and asked him what had happened. Sanders brushed it off as nothing.
“It was bits of many things, it didn't make any sense,” he replied.
But it made all the sense in the world.
Sanders thought for a moment. Declan said he'd hunt me down. He said I wasn't even safe in my own dreams. Maybe Declan was right…
“Dreams unfold, nightmares are true.”