Chapter 5 – The Invasion
Adversity is the first path to truth. ~ Lord Byron
February 23, 2006, Bartholomew Manor, Pacific City, Oregon
The stairway from the beach to the house consisted of an abrupt climb up one hundred and forty-seven wooden stairs and switchbacks constructed up the side of a rocky cliff. Did I mention I was a bit obsessive compulsive? Stephan and I were ten or so steps from reaching the top landing when he held out his hand blocking my body; a signal to wait; followed by a muted “shush.”
“What’s wrong?” I whispered. He whispered so it seemed fitting I whisper as well. Only I had not idea why we were whispering. Hushed again – the audacity. Being hushed was in my opinion a childish equivalent of being told to shut up. I loathed being treated in such a way, by anyone. Yet so many times I found myself in such situations. Why? Who knows. So much for the heightened sensory intellect of earlier, ironically I could detect nothing.
“What is it?” I impatiently questioned again.
Stephan glared down toward me. From the downcast expression it was obvious he detected trouble. I was waiting for another hush, but instead was give instructions. Did he really need to be bossy. Argh.
“Lexi, I need for you to climb back down the stairs and wait in the hiding place I showed you earlier under the stairwell. Do you understand?” he explained with urgency.
“What is going on?”
“Lexi, go! Run, now!” He barked as he swiftly gave me a little shove down the stairs. I nearly lost my footing as my hand latched hold of the handrail preventing a fall. I glowered in my attempt not to fall backwards and shouted. “Stephan!” Not to loud, or he would have likely hushed me again.
I glanced up the stairs, my hands held fast to the railing. He had vanished. I of course did not listen to his demands. Rather, I hoisted myself with the rail to my feet and slowly crept up the stairs. When I reached the landing my eyes carefully darted in both directions. No one. I zipped toward the back of the house hands held by my side and slithered along the back to the house, quietly along the wall. I cased the perimeter cautious, barely breathing and silent. I approached the back door. From inside, I heard a crash followed by a loud bang. Hidden from sight by the oversized arborvitae, I gingerly piqued my head around the greenery.
Instinctively, I scampered toward the door and slowly peered into the window of the kitchen. No one. The kitchen was empty. I gently turned the knob and opened door, which to my chagrin creaked loud enough for a deaf person to hear, followed by a squeak. My presence announced. My heart skipped a beat then another before it launched itself into race speed inside my chest. I held my chest, as if someone might hear it and I could make it quiet. Stupid, I know. I was the only one around and could hear its rapid thumps. My place in check, my eyes scanned the room. As rapid as my heart trembled, it suddenly flopped like when you hear bad news. My eyes peered upon Cook. Her body lay in a pool of her blood, savaged in pieces on the hardwood floor surrounded. I gasped then covered my mouth as if that would silence the yelp, which already penetrated from my lips. Thankfully, know-one heard my arrival. Her blood smelled different, not human. As if I knew the difference. Not giving it another thought, I moved forward.
Crouching, I gingerly tiptoed around the kitchen island and peaked my head around the corner. Voices and screams emanated from somewhere upstairs. Elaina I presumed. Still squatting behind the island, my eyes flew toward the living room as a thunderous crash exploded from within. I raised my head from behind the island as a body sailed over my head and crashed to the floor behind me. I jumped with fright. The body lay nearly at my heels. In momentary terror, the adrenalin gushed through my body like a dam bursting. My eyes adhered to the floor and the body. I could not panic.
I cocked my head. The body was a boy. He couldn’t have been more than sixteen wearing dried blood stained green camouflage fatigues torn to shreds and which were now covered in a fresh layer of blood. The scent clouded the air with a peculiar sweetness mixed with sulfur and death. Filthy the boy hair was dirty blonde and cut short, entwined with mats of fresh blood. I curled my nose at the stench that seemed to emanate from his pores. His face Goth-like pale and contorted. Motionless, he lay, yet I was uncertain if he was dead or alive.
My senses conveyed mixed signals: thumps like heartbeats then silence. It was the silence that disturbed me the most. I could not tell whether it was his heart that had stopped or mine. As I stared upon the fallen intruder an omnipresent stillness encapsulated the room. In minutes, the entire house swallowed in silence. I panicked. Was it because no life remained but my own? As my brief thought faded, noise recommenced with a vengeance. A multitude of heartbeats pounded along with ear-piercing reverberation. More intruders? I bent over the grotesque body of the boy to assess whether he was among the living or dead – a regrettable mistake. His arm moved from nowhere and swiftly grabbed hold of my ankle. I embarrassingly squealed like a pig, I mean, girl, as I tried kicking him with my free foot. He was strong despite his frail stature. With one swift yank on my leg my body was flung to the floor as if I were a feather.
My head smacked on the hardwood floor, more like a rock than a feather.
He rose to his feet in a rapid leap, and attempted to grab my legs again.
“Oh, no you don’t!” I snarled. “Not this time!”
I bounced to my feet like a karate champ, before his cold acidic hands could touch me. I bit my lip with my newly formed incisors, yelled “Ouch.”
“I really must get use to having fangs,” I declared before I lunged at my attacker. I threw a hard punch with my right, and his face retracted. He smacked my left cheek with his fist, which knocked me backward on the floor. The wind escaped from my lungs. Breathless, I felt I could hack up a lung. I lay on the floor gasping, as he kicked with his black army boot which made direct contact with my ribs, followed by several loud cracks as a number broke. I gasped in pain. I thought I might hack up my other lung. Another kick to my lower back and my kidneys, felt like each met my throat. I was certain at least one collapsed lung, as I painfully wheezed for air.
I crawled on my haunches. Stretching for his leg, I grabbed hold of his boot. With a sudden boost of energy, which I swear magically appeared from nowhere; I flung myself to my feet like a pro wrestler. I knocked him down to the ground with one blow of my fist. His foot caught mine as he fell backward and our bodies joined on the floor. We rolled like a log across the hardwood floor and slammed into the wall.
With immense exertion I managed to wrestle my body on top of his. My chest wheezed for air, it seared in pain. The pain was not about to control me. I had to hold him at all costs. My thighs squeezed his frame tightly as I forced my body upward on his stomach. I slugged his face with a right fist, then a left. As if by instinct, my face unexpectedly dove into his neck and my fangs ripped apart the flesh from his throat. Repulsed by the tang in his putrid blood, I coughed and spit out the taint. His body lay motionless. I listened. No heartbeat. Certain I had won the battle, I climbed off him. I wiped the acrid blood from my face with my sleeve; and as a last resort to make sure he was dead I kicked him a couple of time in the ribs for good measures.
“That is for breaking my ribs.” Followed by another kick. “Take that you, you, you vampire freak from hell!”
I stood over the boy vampire, my heart singed with pain but not for him, for what he had done to Cook. The boy’s neck gashed, his blood intertwined with Cooks who lay mere feet away. “That will teach you to mess with me and for killing Cook!” I shouted. Subsequently, I sauntered victorious into the living room brushing my hands together.
Stephan was in mid battle with another, older vampire. His gazed flashed mine. “I thought I told you to go back to the beach.” He yelled angrily.
“Well, yes, but as you can see I didn’t listen. I heard a loud crash and ran into the kitchen to find Cook on the floor; she’s dead.” I stated painfully. “And then this guy literally flew into the kitchen, and well.” I batted my chocolate-colored eyes. “The best part is I killed him. My first kill!” I exuberantly explained, proudly. “I told you I could take care of myself.”
“Lexi he was a mere child. This one, like the others are older and much more powerful. You do not have the capabilities to compete with them.” He scolded.
“Oh.” Such a buzz kill.
“Did you rip out his heart?” he asked.
“Did I do what? I killed him. What more was I suppose to do?” The layer of blood and dirt masked my face in concert with confusion.
“You must rip out a blood drinker’s heart or they will not die!” He shouted.
As if I knew that minor detail. Disheartened, I was the cliché of the dog with his tail between his legs. Before I could say anything in my defense, the boy whom I thought lay dead in the kitchen appeared like magic and knocked me senseless on the floor. And if that was not painful enough he proceeded to sink his dagger like teeth deep into my neck. Pain inoculated my body like molten lava. I screamed out in agony.
“Damn vamp! That hurt!” I screamed. Not before seizing his arm and slamming his frame on the floor. His body skated across the hardwood like ice before crashing into the crystalline wall. He might be a vampire, but his body more like a scrawny teenager, who had yet reached puberty.
“Lexi we must retreat, and quickly. The house is surrounded.” Stephan hollered.
As usual he was right as my eyes captured the room. Shadows emerged outside the windows. “Yah think!” While I quickly procured his side, we were soon surrounded. First a teen vampire approached my flank. Mental note to self – why are their teenage vampires? My companion shoved me from arms length with one hand while his other thrust completely through the teen’s chest. As his hand retreated, the teen’s heart clutched tightly in his grasp. Instantly the boy fell to the floor. My eyes nearly popped from my head. He’s dead this time, right?”
“We must find our way to the basement. Follow me, and stay close. Do you understand?”
“Yes.” I again felt like a reprimanded child, my pseudo-tail between my legs as I tagged along.
We barely reached the entrance to the basement. Two assailants waited. Hideous creatures, with fiery red eyes that glowed ominously in the dimly lit room and their mouths held the largest set of fangs imaginable. They were practically drooling in anticipation. I looked around. Trapped.
“I will take the male.” Stephan informed me.
I had to fight the female – how cliché.
The female lunged through the air like a panther and pounced on me as if I were weightless, knocking me off my feet. Her blood-red eyes stared defiantly into my cobalt eyes. Her erect fangs clamped my arm like I was a piece of meat, drawing blood at first bite.
“You ruined my favorite shirt, you bitch.” I screamed. “At least the boy didn’t rip my clothes when he fought.” I screamed again.
“You should think yourself fortunate that it was only your blouse which was torn. The next time it twill be your throat.” She vehemently spat.
“I wouldn’t be so sure!” I retorted as I swiftly backhanded her slight frame soared across the room. Her head slammed on the coffee table shattering the piece in two. Shards of glass and wood catapulted like spears through the room. I ran toward Stephan ducking, my eyes raking over my shoulder. She was quick and leapt on me in a flash. “Geeze you don’t give up do you?” I screeched.
“Bitch, you have no idea!” she sadistically retorted.
She punched me hard in the chest with her fist. She packed a mighty punch I soon discovered as my body winced in pain. Like a mop my body dusted the floor as I skid down the hallway. “You are really starting to piss me off.” I yelled back as I hit the doorway.
“Perfect!” she replied.
My companion was faring better than I. He viciously thrashed open his attacker’s neck with his fangs, then ripped out his heart with his bare hands. He held the heart out before him like a prize before squeezing the life’s blood from its beating organ until its flesh exploded in the air in a bloody show.
Stephan stood briefly as his eyes froze on the last act; catching sight of me in his periphery, he rushed to my aid. With a swift grasp, he thrust the female across the room. Her body flailed as it crashed through the living room window, transporting shattered glass behind her and a piece of wooden frame through her heart.
“She is dead right? Stake through the heart?”
His head shook from side to side. You have seen too many movies he replied as he grabbed hold of my arm rather convincingly and ushered me down the basement stairs. Apparently she wasn’t dead. We reached the base of the stair. “What a dead-end?” I shrieked.
We stood before a massive wall constructed of stones. At roughly right center was an odd-shaped stone. Stephan placed his left hand on the stone. A greenish light emanated from underneath the palm of his hand, activating a movable wall. The wall retreated revealing a hidden living area. He unnecessarily yanked me inside. I was all too eager to follow, this time. The wall couldn’t close fast enough for my liking as my eyes refused to budge until the wall sealed shut. No one had pursued us. My heart sank in relief as the door locked behind us in place. We were finally safe.
“We will be secure.” He offered.
I was taken by surprise to see an entirely new house on the other side of the wall, which oddly bared a remarkable likeness to the main manor.
“You will find a bedroom down the hall on your left. There is a bathroom for you to shower, and I believe Elaina placed some clothes in the closet for you as well.”
“You think of everything don’t you?”
“You should rest. We will leave the first thing in the morning. I need to make new arrangements. They will be searching for us now.”