Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Snippet Day!

Oops, I forgot to post a snippet last week! In truth, I didn't get an awful lot written last week because of the old chronic pain issue, so never mind. Back to work this week!

It was raining by the time they reached the cemetery, the kind of thin, light drizzle that almost made you want a real storm. Almost. Lola still couldn't stop thinking about open graves turned into squelching swamps.

“So are you going to tell us why we're here now?” Scherer asked her as they got out of his car.

“I'd rather show you.” Lola wasn't sure she could handle his derision if she said the word “vampire.” Showing them the open graves would at least convince them this was no run-of-the-mill murder. If there even was such a thing.

He threw his hands up and looked at Hardy. “We still doing things your way?”

“We've come this far,” Hardy said with grim humour. “Lead on, MacDuff.”

Lola guided them through the cemetery, trying to remember the way she and Tristesse had gone last night. In the grey light of day, Crown Hill felt no less sinister. She hoped the myth about vampires burning up in daylight was true. She wasn't ready to run into Isaiah and his pack again.

Almost as bad was the idea that she’d find the graves undisturbed, with no trace of last night’s horror. What then? She’d lose any credibility she had with Hardy and Scherer for starters. She bit her lip and ploughed on, hoping she wasn’t about to make herself look insane. And then she laughed silently at the idea that she needed those graves to be open and empty.

It was a strange relief to find the graves, and strangely vindicating to hear Hardy gasp and Scherer curse. There were five of them, lined up between a marble angel and a Celtic cross. It had seemed like so many more last night – all ripped open, the earth heaped all around the gaping mouths of the graves. The casket lids were splinters, as if Isaiah had reached in and dragged the dead out. Fog curled over the ruined graves and Lola shivered, feeling dark intentions lingering in the fog. Maybe that was just her imagination, but she didn’t dare check the aura of the place. She already knew it would be tar-black and rife with evil.

What the fuck?” Scherer hurried forward, past Lola to stand the edge of the closest grave. “What the fuck is this? Grave robbing?”

You knew about this?” Hardy asked Lola, face thunderous. “Is this some kind of game?”

No! I mean, yes, I did know. But it’s not that simple,” Lola added quickly when Hardy looked like she might implode.

You need to talk fast,” Hardy started.

She didn’t get any further.

A mud-stained man dived out from behind the Celtic cross, shrieking like a banshee. He launched himself at Scherer and the two tumbled into the open grave, a mess of flailing limbs and wild screams. Hardy leapt straight to her partner’s defence, pulling her gun from her shoulder holster and rounding on his attacker. “Back up! Get off him or I’ll shoot!”

No!” Lola rushed to her. If this was one of Isaiah’s pets, he might not even notice a bullet. Panic fired through her as she scrambled to think of something to do.

Down in the grave, the two men slid around in wet dirt and the wreckage of the casket. Scherer gripped his attacker’s shoulders, trying to push him back. The man snapped and gnashed at Scherer, clearing straining for his neck. Hardy seemed hesitant to shoot – no clear shot, Lola guessed – but if they didn’t do something, Scherer was going to be overpowered. She racked her brain, dozens of useless spells flashing before her mind’s eye.

Impulsively, she shoved past Hardy, dragging her nails across her wrist as she did. A recent scar opened and her blood welled to the surface of her skin. “Hey!” she called, waving her bleeding arm over the grave. She felt like an idiot, but it worked. The man – vampire – lost interest in Scherer immediately. He lurched up, hands hooking into the earth to drag himself out of the hole. Lola’s heart shot into her mouth. She hurriedly backed up as he reached for her, trying to keep herself both out of reach but close enough to stay tempting. He was fast, though, and she was certain any second he’d have her pinned to the earth while he gnawed on her wrist.

Fear gave her speed, but trying to run backwards made her clumsy. She tripped and went down hard, jarring her knee and her spine. And just as she’d feared, he was on her, hissing as he yanked her arm up towards his mouth. She screamed, a combination of horror and pain, and punched him with her free hand. Her rings smashed into his cheek, carrying magical energy as well as physical power, and she saw sparks fly. His cheek burned and he released her, his own cries of pain joining hers.

Lola pushed to her knees, wincing at the spike of pain in her left leg as she did. The vampire clawed at his face, keening pitifully. The sound made Lola's ears ring and she wanted it to stop – wanted him to stop – but before she could even start to think of a plan, Hardy stepped up behind him. Her gun went off twice, loud, staccato bangs that deafened Lola for a split second. The man fell forward, his head bouncing off Lola's knee. She screamed and kicked out instinctively. His body rolled to the side, limp and unresisting. Most of the back of his skull was gone.

Lola was suddenly cold and clammy, then burning hot. She stared up at Hardy. The other woman looked remarkably calm. “Scherer, you okay?” she called.

Scherer hauled himself out of the grave. He was covered in mud and had a set of violent scratches down one cheek, but otherwise seemed unharmed. “What the fuck? What the fuck?” He staggered over to the dead body and nudged it with his shoe. “PCP?”

“Maybe. The lab can decide.” Hardy offered Lola a hand up, but Lola couldn't accept. She couldn't seem to move. The dead man was right in front of her. She could see his brain. She could see blood. And a tiny part of her wondered what power you'd find in a vampire's blood.

Self-disgust swamped out everything else. Lola rolled onto her side, struggling not to throw up. Hardy crouched down beside her, laying her hand on Lola's shoulder.

“You need to get your shit together,” she said, not unkindly. “We're going to have a few questions for you, understand?”

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