Just a quick little announcement here. These next few stories are a little more… connected than normal for this series of shorts. So… for the summer… two stories a month.
See you on July 16!
Chelsea limped as fast as she could into the kitchen. The vampire might stop to examine its fallen minion. It might not. Regardless, she needed a place to hide if she was going to save Jackson and Amber.
She forced herself not to look at the recently dead bodies that littered the floor, or to smell the blood
… and the excrement that accompanied the bodies. Instead, she focused on looking for a place to hide.
Under the counter?
Not enough room.
Beside the fridge?
Like a nightling will miss that.
“Henry?” The nightling’s angry voice propelled Chelsea to her hiding place as she white-knuckled her hatchet. There was just enough space for her to stand amid the cans though she couldn’t close the door all the way. A good thing, she wanted to watch the kitchen, anyway.
Her vision reduced to a slim sliver, Chelsea ignored the shelves digging into her back and tried not to breathe loudly. As she stared into the darkness in the kitchen, doubt wormed into her stomach. It was all well and good to hide in here, but what, exactly, was her plan?
Before she could figure that out, something moved in the darkness. Chelsea gripped her ax tighter. She tried to focus on the sense of movement, but the door flew open.
Chelsea barely had a moment to register the tall woman before a fist slammed into her face. Ears ringing and vision blurred, Chelsea’s legs and arms banged the wall as she was dragged through the house. More bruises were added by the stairs as her legs slammed into them again and again.
Eventually the movement stopped. Chelsea’s head cleared somewhat just as she was literally tossed across the floor to crash into the wall. She groaned and rolled over, the pain in her head dulling the pain in the rest of her.
“Now, where were we?” The nightling tossed dark hair over her shoulder. “As, yes, I was about to hurt you.”
Chelsea tensed, but nothing more happened to her. Instead, Jackson began cursing.
The nightling laughed. “I will have to change my plans. Your friend here took out my last minion. I liked Henry. He was very loyal.”
Chelsea’s vision cleared a little more. The pale, beautiful face of nightling was a mere breath from Jackson’s as the nightling ran a hand through his hair. “You have a certain strength. I prefer that in my minions.”
Terror boiled in Chelsea’s stomach. Jackson hadn’t told her how nightlings made minions, only that the human servants had no freewill once it happened. She watched, helpless, as the nightling dragged Jackson from the room. A groan from the other corner caught her attention. Amber lay in a heap, also tied up.
She crawled over to Amber, head still swirling. She shook the larger woman. “Wake up. Jackson needs our help.”
Amber groaned again. “Under the bed. My hatchet is under the bed.”
The bed might have only been a few feet away, but Chelsea nearly puked twice as she shuffled over to it. She collapsed to her knees to look underneath. Amber’s hatchet was almost lost in the darkness.
The next problem in her way was the other woman’s bonds. The zipties bit into her skin, leaving no room for the hatchet’s blade. Dropping the ax, Chelsea swore, before digging her keys out of her pocket. She jammed them under Amber’s bonds and twisted.
Amber hiss and cursed, but eventually the plastic gave way with a pop. Chelsea fell to the floor, her head pounding.
“We should run.” Amber pulled herself up.
Chelsea found a glare for the woman. “Jackson saved my life.”
“Mine, too. More than once.” Amber grimaced. “But you have a concussion, and I have a dislocated shoulder. He’d tell us to run.”
Chelsea snatched the ax and wobbled to her feet. “No chance in hell.”
Amber shook her head. “Goddamn. You two deserve each other.” She pulled herself to her feet. “Give me the ax.”
Is she going to take off?
Her indecision must have been obvious because Amber sighed. “If you’re staying, I’m staying. Let’s go save Jackson.”
Chelsea handed her the ax. Amber hefted the weapon and cracked her neck. “I’ll rush her. You worry about getting Jack out of here.”
Without waiting for a reply, she headed out to the door. Chelsea followed, fighting to stay on her feet.
A woman’s laugh floated down the dark hallway. Amber walked on her toes, carrying her bulk lightly, as she always did. Chelsea fought shivers as the laughter rang out again.
“Yes, please, fight.” The nightling sounded pleased. “That just makes it more fun.”
Amber paused, took a deep breath, let out a roar, and charged into another room. Chelsea froze for a moment before darting after her.
She entered the room in time to see Amber throw herself at the nightling. Chelsea watched for a moment, transfixed.
Amber stood taller than her or Jackson, and Chelsea knew that the woman’s bulk hid an impressive strength. The nightling flung her off as she was no more than a child.
Amber hit the floor with a grunt, and her ax flew out of her hand. It spun across the floor towards Chelsea.
Instinct took over. Her body moved before she could finish the thought: “Secure the weapon.” She stomped a booted foot on the spinning ax.
Thank you Jackson for insisting I buy the thickest, sturdiest boots, no matter how ugly they are.
The nightling straighten, an annoyed look on her face. “I see I should have tied you up.” A smile bloom, dark and toothy.
Unable to shake the image of a cat playing with a mouse, Chelsea hurriedly scooped the ax off the floor, and held it out in front of her.
The nightling put a hand to her mouth, feigning shock. “Do you think that you’re a match for me?”
A wild desire to laugh rose in Chelsea. “Not really.”
Dark eyebrows rose, marring the smooth pale skin of the nightling’s forehead. “Perhaps I’ll make you a minion as well.” She darted to the right, almost too fast to follow.
Chelsea yelped and backed up a few steps, hands and ax quivering once more. The nightling’s eyes grew wide. “Oh dear, this is your first fight, isn’t it?”
For a moment, Chelsea wasn’t in the house. She walked once more beside Dink, moments before he simply vanished from view. Jackson told her later what had happened. A nightling had grabbed Dink from behind and ran off. Chelsea, half a step ahead of him had seen and heard nothing.
And this might be the thing that killed him.
The throbbing in her head pulsed with her pounding heart, and her hands shook worse than before. Chelsea fought for calm, and lost. A roar stormed out of her throat as she rushed the nightling.
The vampire swatted her into the wall. “You’re as much fun as he is.”
Chelsea tried to shake away the white and yellow starbursts. Moving made her want to puke. She forced herself to her feet, aching ribs be damned, and trained her eyes on the blurring figure of the vampire.
The nightling was saying something, but her voice came to Chelsea as static. Chelsea’s eyes kept straying. Which is how she noticed Amber wiggling across the floor. In seeming slow motion, Amber rolled, entangling herself in the nightling’s feet.
The vampire looked down and Chelsea pounced. She rushed over, swinging the ax. The blade cut into the demon ’s neck… and stopped moving. Chelsea tried to pry it free.
A fist like a cannonball sent her crashing across the floor. Chelsea barely felt the blossoming pain, but her sight grew darker. The fuzz that seemed to cover everything grew fuzzier. Chelsea forced herself to her feet. She had no plan, and little capacity to make one. All she wanted was to see this monster dead.
The nightling flailed and screamed as Chelsea came closer. Chelsea took glancing blows to her chest but she gripped the handle of the ax. Wrenching with all her might,
it pulled free. She stumbled with the sudden loss of tension. Moving so suddenly brought on a wave of disorientation that she struggled to ignore.
The vampire roared. It still sounded like static to Chelsea, but loud static. She zeroed in on the sound.
Jackson fought the demon, arms bound behind his back. Through her blurry vision, Chelsea gaped as the demon hunter spun and kicked. He never seemed to stop moving.
Kill that thing!
The thought brought action. Chelsea rushed to cross the room, starting her swing. She aimed for the gash she’d already made, but missed it by inches. The ax stuck again in the vampire’s neck.
It whirled around, one hand clamping on her throat. Chelsea’s vision grew dimmer, so Jackson’s foot seemed to fly out of nowhere. It drove the ax deeper into the the nightling’s neck.
The pressure on Chelsea’s throat grew, and then abruptly stopped. She dropped to the floor with the nightling.
“Chelsea? Chelsea, can you hear me?” For some reason Jackson sounded very scared, even from so far away.
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