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31 August 2016 @ 03:30 pm
But the Horror of the Shade: Chapter Seven  


Chapter Seven

George watched Tom disappear up the stairs and he tried to wrap his head around what he’d just heard. The idea that George Sands would be a werewolf was…well, it was normal now. He’d accepted it, he’d even grown to somewhat like it. He and his wolf were now in complete agreement on most things. It’s not like he had conversations with it or anything, they were the same, after all. Yet, somehow, he felt like there was this connection, this understanding. It was, when under careful control, an incredibly effective way to release stress and anger. George had found himself to be able to be a lot more patient and caring the rest of the month simply because he knew he could explode at least once and there wouldn’t be any repercussions. That was what he and his wolf agreed on.

If George did what Tom suggested and became…whatever Tom was now, well, how would that agreement change? Would there still be that level of kinship there or would the wolf take over every aspect of George’s life? Maybe he wouldn’t be able to control it, maybe the wolf would resent being controlled as it had when George had tried doping it, maybe it would all go horribly, horribly wrong.

“Glad you told him that,” said George, wrapping an arm around Nina’s shoulders.

“He’s not wrong though,” said Nina.

“Excuse me?” asked George in disbelief.

Nina had always been so against being a werewolf and the supernatural world and now she wanted to be a monster more often?

“This…this happened to us, George,” Nina said, turning to face him. “We didn’t have any say in the matter. It’s brought misery and pain and death.”

“Right, let’s have more of it all the time then,” said George sarcastically.

“It’s not about that,” said Nina. “It’s about being able to control it. I hate not knowing what could happen when I transform. Every time it paralyzes me. This way, I could be the one in control.”

“But you don’t even know if it will happen that way, you said it yourself,” argued George.

“Right,” said Nina, shrugging. “Obviously I’m not about to run upstairs and ask Eve to bite me; don’t be stupid. There are important things at stake here. If I do it, I’ll wait until I see what happens next full moon with Tom and if he has any more side effects or anything else.”

“This isn’t a science experiment,” said George. “It’s monsters and prophecy, there aren’t measurable rules.”

“Maybe not,” said Nina. “I’m not saying I want to do this, George, I’m just saying it might be the way I can live with my wolf.”

“There’s nothing wrong with your wolf,” said George. “She’s actually quite pretty,” he added weakly.

Nina smiled at him and leaned her head against his chest.

“No doubt that was meant to be comforting, but all it does is show case how different we are.”

“What do you mean?” asked George, not liking the idea of them being different, not about this.

“We both ran from our wolves for a long time,” said Nina, looking down and playing with the hem of her shirt. “We were afraid, felt cursed, we were alone. When I got pregnant and everything happened with Herrick, something changed for both of us. We were able to reconcile ourselves to the wolf, but it happened because of different things.”

“What things?”

“I had Eve,” said Nina. “She was inside me, she saved me, you know that. It felt good, being so connected to her. Being a wolf wasn’t so bad.”

“But not now?” he asked.

“See, you managed to learn to like your wolf,” said Nina. “It’s weird, but not bad. Me, I couldn’t do that. I lost that when Eve was born. I love her and you and our life and our family, but there’s always a part of me that yearns to be free of all this.”

“There are times I don’t like this much either,” said George. “The blinding pain parts aren’t exactly a holiday.”

“No, they’re not,” agreed Nina. “It’s not that though, not the normal hatred of being a werewolf. It’s the constant moral ambiguity.”

“Ah,” said George, because that definitely sounded like Nina. “Right, but I don’t see how being more of a werewolf will help.”

“It will help knowing I have some kind of choice,” she said, looking at him. “It will help knowing I’m fighting for something and that I can fight how and when I want to.”

George didn’t know what to say to that. He still thought the dangers far outweighed any benefits. He also knew it wasn’t their main issue right now. George would not be able to fully understand Nina on the subject, it seemed. Even though they had both gone through the same ordeal, it had affected them very differently and now George was his wolf and even though he didn’t have control of it while he was transformed, he was fairly cognizant of what happened while he was and he felt like his wolf made the choices George himself would have made. It was fairly metaphysical and impossible, but then, so was being a werewolf to begin with.

Nina had just never achieved that or thought she had but it was really Eve.

“Why don’t we talk about this more often?” he asked.

Nina gave him a half smile.

“Probably should. It’s just something I don’t like to dwell on. It’s okay, George, the life we live. I would even say it’s wonderful. A little fatalistic depression seems a fair exchange.”

“But you’re not alone, Nina,” said George.

“Nope,” she said, hugging him. “Not even when I want to be.”

“You can talk to me any time,” he whispered into her hair. “After all, you were starting to sound Mitchell-esque.”

“You take that back,” she said, laughing.

“I’m afraid it’s out there forever now,” said George. “It’s all your fault, as well.”

“Maybe, but I’m not the person who brought Mitchell into my life,” said Nina. “Now, come on, you’re probably hungry and we’ve got a siege to withstand.”

“Oh yeah, fun day!” said George, letting her lead him up the stairs.

It was in fact the kind of day to give George nightmares, but he didn’t have time to fall apart. Vampires were so inconsiderate and George ought to know, he’d lived with one for the past eight years.

***

It was a rather long rest of the day and Nina focused her attention on entertaining Eve who was starting to become quite restless and annoyed at the change in her routine. She’d had three meltdowns so far and Nina was running out of things to distract her. She would have tried to have someone else take over, but Eve was also being extremely clingy. Apart from the obvious fact there were strangers outside of her house and her family was all acting weird, Nina thought it seemed like Eve could sense someone was trying to take her away and she was sticking as close as she could. Maybe it wasn’t that and Eve was just having a strange day, but if so, she was simply joining the club.

After they had all had something to eat and Mitchell was awake and researching again, Nina sat with Eve on her lap while Annie played a game with her. George and Tom were taking catnaps on the floor.

Tom was a bit festooned with weapons for Nina’s liking, but she couldn’t really blame him. In fact she currently had a stake shoved into the lining of her pants and it was fairly uncomfortable when she forgot and leaned back.

George kept jerking awake and anxiously patrolling the house but Nina thought he was probably going to get some rest, which was good because she knew she’d have to go to bed with Eve at her normal time, provided tonight was the same as last night.

“What the hell?” Mitchell suddenly yelled, turning a page and leaping up. “George, George!”

Eve was startled and squeaked in surprise. Nina sent Mitchell a glare, but he was too excited to notice.

“Not my da-” George yelled, lurching upright. “What? What?”

“Read this, read this,” said Mitchell, practically hauling George across the room to his books. “Does it say what I think it says?”

George peered carefully, adjusting his glasses on his nose. Nina and Annie watched in anticipation of his response.

“No,” said George, deflating. “It’s more of the same, though I do think it means that if a werewolf is bitten by the War Child they will only be able to bite others and transmit the werewolf curse/improvements…” George used his fingers for air quotes around the word improvements and Nina rolled her eyes, “…when they are in the wolf form.”

“That’s something,” said Annie.

“But we don’t know what they really want with her,” said Mitchell, slamming his palm down on the table. “This part about the deliverance of the dead to life is driving me up the bloody wall!”

“Hush,” said Nina severely.

Eve was gripping Nina’s leg so hard Nina was sure she’d have a bruise in the morning. Mitchell looked and bowed his head.

“Sorry, Nina.” He came over, knelt down, and stuck his head sideways so he could look at Eve cuddling into Nina’s side. “And, Miss Eve, I’m sorry. You all right, sweetheart?”

Eve shook her head and reached out her hand and put it in Mitchell’s hair. For whatever reason Eve had loved playing with Mitchell’s hair from day one and he had often joked that it was good he was immortal or he’d go bald. What that really had to do with it, Nina didn’t know.

Mitchell opened his arms and, after a moment’s hesitation, Eve went into them and clung to his shoulder so she could play with his hair.

“I think,” Nina said quietly, “that we need to focus more on how to avoid our current situation rather than what it is the War Child does.”

“You might be right,” said Mitchell. “I think it might be time to retreat on the Annie Express and regroup while they look to find us.”

There was a knock on the door and everyone froze. Tom got to his feet in a smooth motion and grasped a stake, heading for the door. He peeped through the hole and then whipped back fast.

“One man,” he mouthed. “Vampire.”

“More parlay?” asked Annie hopefully.

“Final ultimatum,” said Mitchell in a fatalistic voice.

“Mummy, Mummy,” Eve began to whimper.

Mitchell kissed her head and placed her back in Nina’s arms where she immediately burrowed as far as she could go into Nina’s neck.

Nina felt one moment of frozen fear before she cast that aside for determination. They would pry Eve away from her only if they did it from her dead arms. A likely ending to the story, yes, but still the only failure Nina would accept.

“What do you want?” asked Mitchell, speaking loudly.

Nina felt like asking him if he really didn’t know, but she knew what he was doing so she kept silent.

“This is the final warning, John,” came a man’s voice. “Give us the War Child or I will kill every single person in that room, man, woman, child, wolf, vampire, and ghost.”

“That’d be impressive,” said Annie quietly.

“You have five minutes,” said the man.

“They’re gathering,” said Tom from a window.

“What do we do, Mitchell?” asked George, like he was going to panic. “What the hell do we do?”

Mitchell didn’t seem to have an answer and neither did Nina.

***

George panicked for a bit, it was true. It was his automatic fall back plan, but he’d learned a lot about how to put others first since Eve came into his life and he wasn’t going to let his own failings ruin something for her.

“We fight,” said Tom as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, which George supposed it was at this point.

The door shuddered under blows and the sound of glass breaking came from upstairs.

“That was never five minutes just now,” said Annie, as if horrified the vampires weren’t keeping their word.

“Focus, Annie,” snapped Nina. “You’re not fighting, you’re taking Eve and you’re leaving.”

Annie looked like she wanted to argue, but how could she argue with that? George’s only amendment would have been for Annie to take Nina as well, but he wasn’t going to try and make up her mind for her. They’d faced death together often enough for George to know when she’d made up her mind.

The door shuddered again.

“I will,” said Annie. “I will, but I’ll be right back for the rest of you.”

Her voice trembled and she held out her hands for Eve. Nina kissed Eve’s head and tried to pass her over, but Eve put up a fuss, obviously scared.

“No! No!” she screamed.

“Baby, it’s okay,” said George.

There was a vast hole in the door now and George could hear the sound of boots on the stairs.

“No!” screamed Eve again.

“Just come with us,” said Annie finally.

Nina nodded and turned to George. He gave her his best smile. There wasn’t much else he could do. There weren’t words in a final moment like this that said anything but what should have been said every day for as long as he’d known her. He’d failed many days, but he’d passed enough of them that she knew. He knew she knew.

Annie put her hands out to touch Eve and Nina and then suddenly fell to the floor screaming.

“Annie!” Mitchell yelled, abandoning his watch on the front door as it caved in and four men bounded through.

George was vastly confused, what was happening? What could possibly hurt Annie who was so scarily powerful she frightened George on a daily basis? He looked closer and he could see faded human-like forms hovering over her, attacking her.

Someone at the door shouted something and then vampires came in through the door as well. Somewhere in George’s brain he was confused about how they’d gotten inside when they hadn’t been invited, but there was too much going on for him to stay on that particular problem.

“Get to the basement,” Tom yelled to Nina and shoved George that direction as well.

Tom bent underneath the blow of the first man and drove a stake through the heart on his way back up.

Annie was still screaming and Mitchell was on his knees next to her, clearly trying to figure out why.

George looked both ways, Nina was already halfway to the stairs and three more people were coming in from the kitchen and the upstairs hallway.

George backed towards the basement, his heart breaking in two to leave Mitchell and Annie, and Tom. But if he was going to be anywhere, it was going to be with Nina and Eve.

Two of the vampires headed straight for Eve and Nina and George tackled one as it went past, grabbing for the stake Tom had equipped him with.

The second vampire laid a hand on Nina’s arm, hauling her short. She fumbled for her stake, but her arms were full with Eve. Suddenly the vampire yelled and brought his hand back from where Eve had just bitten him. Everyone in the room stopped for a moment, except Annie on the floor, her screams much more quiet now. The bitten vampire stood still and then began to shake. A dark cloud began to stream from his eyes and mouth and he shook more violently. He fell to his knees and the cloud began to dissipate. His eyes rolled back in his head and he fell to the floor.

There was a strange shared moment of shock before reality crashed in again and George remembered he had just tackled a vampire. He stabbed wildly wherever he could reach and blood splattered his face while the vampire howled in pain and slammed an elbow into George’s nose.

A blinding white light filled George’s eyes and he felt like he couldn’t breathe. He dropped to the ground and with his last bit of strength stabbed his stake again. There was a popping sound and a strange gurgling and he looked up, his sight coming back again.

The vampire he was grappling with was fountaining blood from the chest region and one of his boots had just finished kicking George in the chest.

Tom was fighting two vampires by the front door. The sound of cracking bones filled the air and before long Tom as a wolf was tearing into the vampires and humans surrounding him.

Annie was rising to her feet while Mitchell fended off two men approaching her. Annie’s eyes began to glow and a wind picked up around her.

“Not in my house,” she yelled and there was a cold flash through the air.

George looked frantically for Nina and Eve, but he couldn’t see them. He scrambled to his feet and then almost fell over again at the rush of pain to his head. He couldn’t think straight but he had to find Nina.

“George!” yelled Mitchell from behind him and George turned, barely ducking a punch thrown at him.

He felt sick and wanted nothing more than to fall to the ground and lie there quietly. Instead he used that desire for gravity to launch himself into the woman who’d just attempted to knock him down. She was tiny and, though he wasn’t a good fighter, he was large and she stumbled back, smacking her head against the wall.

George went to his knees and thought he’d never get back up again. Black spots were in his vision.

He pressed on and lurched toward the basement doorway. Eve and Nina weren’t there, he could see all the way down into the cell and they weren’t there. Fear bubbled in his gut, mixing with the pain, and he turned, searching.

The wolf Tom howled and George felt even sicker at the body parts flying around.

It was cold, way colder than he should have felt, and he blamed Annie for that. Mitchell loomed out of nowhere and took George’s weight just before he fell. Mitchell was gushing blood from his forehead.

“You okay, mate?” Mitchell asked.

“Where’s Nina?” George croaked out. Mitchell got that look on his face that said he really didn’t want to tell George something and George didn’t like that one bit. “Where’s my daughter?” he said, louder, but it was incredibly hard to talk.

“We are away,” said a loud voice from the kitchen, it sounded like that horrible Snow vampire.

Instantly the vampires broke off and ran fast from the house, the humans were slower to follow and there were more injuries among them. Tom chased them and then swung back around, coming toward Mitchell and George, growling.

“Uh, Tom,” said Mitchell nervously. “Tom, it’s us. We’re mates, not food.”

Tom didn’t back off, his snarling just as real.

“Annie,” said Mitchell. “Help, luv.”

Annie turned toward them, her whole form wrapped in an iridescent glow.

“Shh,” she said, and swung her arm towards her left. The windows shattered and the wolf jumped back, surprised. He paused and watched with George and Mitchell as Annie’s light flickered and faded. The wolf sat back and laid his head on his paws, an apology whimper if there ever was one in its mouth. “There’s Tom,” said Annie.

She swayed slightly and Mitchell moved forward, but George started to topple so he stopped his movement.

“You okay, love?” Mitchell asked.

“Fine,” said Annie, her voice bitter. “Those two-bit vampires decided to raise an army of ghosts to attack me. I almost feel sorry for them. Not a decent one in the bunch, but more than I’ve ever seen at one time. It took me a moment to find my bearings. Are you two okay? George, your nose.”

“Broken to pieces, I’m sure,” George attempted to say, but it came out garbled and bloody.

Tom the wolf ran behind the sofa and then there came the sounds of transformation.

“They got them, didn’t they?” Annie whispered and rent-a-ghosted out and then back quickly. “They’re not here, Nina and Eve. It’s my fault.”

“Annie, they planned for you,” said Mitchell. “We’ll get them back.”

“I’m sorry,” said Tom as he stood up, thankfully mostly covered by a tall chair. “The heat of battle like. It just was hard to-”

“We know,” growled George, unable to really focus on anything other than the fact that his wife and daughter were now in the hands of sadistic vampires.

“Okay, we’ll go get them,” said Annie. “Where do we start?”

“I know where to start,” said Mitchell and, after depositing George onto the couch while Annie looked at his nose, made his way over to the one remaining enemy in the room that wasn’t clearly dead or torn apart.

“Is he alive?” asked Tom.

Mitchell bent over him and then started back, swearing in shock.

“He’s actually alive,” Mitchell said.

“What you mean?” asked Tom, wrapping a blanket off the couch around himself and walking over.

Mitchell turned and faced George and Annie.

“Eve’s bite turned him human.”