Rik's Blog Story

Rik's writings - novel excerpts, short stories and suchlike

Instance 40

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 15:08

The air around me is warmer tonight than it has been at any time since my most recent arrival in the Lonely City. From the lumenescent threads of silver outlining cloud edges I can tell that the moon must be close to its fullest phase. The lack of wind and only the slightest hint of dampness in the air makes the walk almost pleasant.

I've suggested to Sam that he should head towards the abandoned church where we had last met Mada. He was wary of the idea at first – the place has a bad reputation in the early hours – but he can sense my worry. He's taking his time as he walks, keeping a wary lookout for others sharing the night air with us and choosing to stride along well-lit side streets rather than the more direct, busier main roads.

I remember Boude's warning note: we're being followed. Now I wish she had taken a few more seconds to explain who she thought was following her and Mada.

The last thing she had told me was that they were planning to revisit London Bridge station, hoping to find Mada's long-lost aquaintance – what was his name?

Herrow. Herrow from Tintuun.

Something must have gone badly wrong, I realise. Neither of the women were planning to render home, not at this moment. Boude had wanted to, I remember, but she had managed to overcome her fears: Boude would not willingly desert a team-mate in need of help. As for Mada, she seemed to be enjoying herself too much to want to go home – in any case, she had no real love for Fuebe. She much preferred to live in the outer world.

A hand slaps across my face, covering my mouth ...

"Don't struggle, boss!"

The arms that clasp me are long, strong. Sam's a well-built lad in good condition, but this man is stronger.

I recognise his smell. 'Do as he says,' I silently suggest to Sam.

And Sam is gone! Without warning, I feel myself being thrust forward, forced to take full control of Sam's flesh. The speed of the act shivers my whole body.

"Be still!"

It takes me a moment, but I manage to relax before turning my head slightly to make eye contact with my assailant. I blink my eyes slowly to let him know that I've heard him, that I'm ready to comply.

"Ohh ... kay. We need to talk. Not here, though!"

Again, I blink my eyes.

"There's people hunting me. We need to be quiet, yes? We'll talk in a moment, but you must follow me now. Mouse quiet!"

I feel the tension in the hand against my mouth ease, the long arms release me. The man is already crouched against the wall by the time I turn my head to look at him. He nods, smiles, points towards an alleyway a few metres away. Quickly I move towards it, suddenly keen to be away from the glare of the street lights.

He follows me into the unlit passage. When I stop and turn, he waves me forward with his broad hand – I have no choice except to do as he wants.

The alleyway is paved, though not well maintained I realise as I stumble on the edge of one of the rectangular blocks. It leads me along the edge of a modern block of apartments; the designers were probably wise not to have windows overlooking the path, though I curse their decision: each step leads into a thicker darkness, and I have no idea what obstacles – or people – may be waiting to trip me up.

"Here's fine, boss."

"I can't see you!" I whisper.

"I can see you good, boss."

The man's a psychic vampire, I remind myself.

"Are you okay?" It's not the question I need to ask.

"I'm tired, man. Tired to my bones!"

Suddenly I'm falling, tripping over what I can only assume is a bag of rubbish. The adrenaline hits my head at the same time as my hands hit the concrete. Within the shock I taste a sour spike – quick, like the flick of a chameleon's tongue – rub the length of my spine.

So that's what it feels like to be the source of a vampire's snack. The thought brings a smile to my face as I scrabble back to my feet.

"This is not a good place - I need to see you. Can we go further?"

"No problem, boss. Walk some more steps and you'll find some trees on the right – we can hidey there and talk, 'kay?"

Once more I move forward through the dark, no longer smiling.
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Instance 41

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 15:12

"You people are wierd, you know that? I mean, I thought I was on the edges, but your friends, they in a boat and way out to sea compared to me!"

I say nothing. Instead, I pull out Sam's cigarettes and finger one from the box before offering the pack to the vampire.

Three of the four lamp posts studding the playground area are bust; the dim light from the furthest one is sufficient to let me see the man's shape by my side. He has no difficulty locating the carton.

"Gave up these sticks two years ago. But I won't say no, boss, not tonight."

"You have a name?"

"You can call me Marton." I get the feeling this is not his real name, but I let the matter pass.

"Where's my friends, Marton?"

"I don't know."

I take a moment to light my cigarette.

"You'd best tell me what's happened, then."

Marton stays silent for a while, drawing the length of the white stick through the tips of his fingers rather than setting fire to its end.

"One of them's dead, yes?"

"He jerks his head to face me: "How you know that, man?"

"I can guess ..."

"The old biddy, she collapsed. So to speak."

Hearing the news confirmed doesn't spark any feeling of relief in me.

"So she found what she was looking for?

I see him nodding his head, slowly.

"So tell me what happened."

Finally the vampire puts the cigarette to his lips and lights it to life.

"She knocked me up early yesterday – I ain't gonna ask how she knew where I live. She and the girl tell me they need my help."

"And you just went along with them?"

"Why not? They say they going to London Bridge – there's good energies in that space, man, and maybe I was a bit low and needing the juice. So I went along."

"Did they tell you what they were looking for?"

Now he's shaking his head: "The old biddy, she like her mysteries."

"Her name's Mada."

"Is it? Well Mada, she tell me to keep my mind sniffing and snuffling. She say she was looking for a particular gentleman, but she didn't know what he look like. I tell her that's stupid, but she just shrug and say he may be disguising himself."

"I take it you found him."

"Them. We found them."

I keep my voice steady. "At the station?"

"Yes boss. We got there early, as I tell you, and wander round for an hour or so – you have to keep moving in these places, yes? Look busy, keep an eye for the bluesuits with them spangly buttons and stripes."

"Security guards," I guess.

"That's them. Bundles of joy, each and every one!"

"Boude – the girl – was with you still?"

"Yes and no – every now and again she go wandering her own way, then back, then off again. She's got a dirty mouth on her, that one!"

"Just tell me what happened."

"Well, that's the thing, boss. I don't rightly know. One moment I'm sniffing the air and checking out some cute ladies sitting in a coffee shop and next moment the old woman, she running. I mean really running – no biddy should be able to quickstep like that! For a moment I think she being chased, but no - she was chasing some other people. They must have grab the girl, yes? And she sees it and goes big strides after them. She don't say nothing to me but I start running too, through the station and out into the streets. But they was gone in a car, girl and all, by the time we two are outside!"

Boude was kidnapped?

"What did Mada do?"

"Well that's it," says Marton. "She just shrug her shoulders and ask me if I want breakfast! 'Breakfast?' I say, 'the little one's gone took away in a car!' But she just look at me and say no point to chase a moving target – she can't keep up with them wheels so might as well wait till the fellas have stopped somewhere and track them down then."

"And you're wondering how she managed it, yes? How she found Mada?" I can feel a couple of spots of rain fall on my head; I choose to ignore it.

"What sort of person go and steal herself some food after watching her friend get dragged into a car?"

"Mada's not a very nice person," I tell the vampire. "Practical, yes. Nice, no."

"I don't get her. She has the know of me, yet let me lick her energies – when I ask, of course. How did she know where the girl would be?"

"She knows a lot of tricks like that. Old women are dangerous, yes?"

"Wierd, man!" He, too, notices that it's starting to rain, pulls up his sweatshirt hood in response.

"So you had breakfast – in your different ways, of course - and then you went looking. What happened next?"

"We walk to Southwark. I'm asking some questions, but she just tell me to be quiet. We had an argument, I tell you. Still don't know why I didn't walk away!"

"How long were you searching?"

The vampire shrugs. "A few hours, boss. She just ambled up some streets and down some streets, cussing and mumbling ..."

"Like she does ..."

"The office rats were heading back to work when she stop walking. 'She's in there,' she told me, pointing at this old warehouse at the back of a corner pub. 'Go get her!' As if I'm some sort of criminal! I told her, too, but she has a way of pursuading people, that one."

I'm nodding as I hear the words. "Boude was fine, I take it?"

He gives me a hard stare. I shake a fresh cigarette from the carton.

"You would have told me already if something had happened to her."

"You freaking me out, man, like you reading my mind!"

"I'm sorry. I'm just guessing."

He takes the carton out of my hand and liberates the last stick.

"Yeah, she was fine. Waiting for us to turn up, she was. I was itching to get away but they just stood there and chat, like women gutting fish when the boat come home."

"What did they say?"

"I wasn't listening, man! I was on lookout!"

Shit! I could do with knowing now what Boude had found out.

"But you all left together, yes?"

"No. The girl, she stay in the warehouse – she tell me to tell you where she is. She tell me to tell you to keep a sharp eye for – what she say? 'Strategy marks', that's what she called them. Scribbles on walls in case the people come back and move her."

"Okay," I say. "But before you tell me where she is, tell me what happened to Mada."

I watch him cup over his hands to pull some smoke from his cigarette. I copy his action, not realising that I haven't yet lit mine.

"She still after her man ..."

"I thought Herrow was the one who kidnapped Boude ..."

"Hero? Who the hero?"

"Heh-row. That's the name of the man Mada was looking for."

"Ahh," says Marton. "I was wondering why them two keep whispering about heroes. You people have strange names for each other – what's your name, boss?"

"Sam," I lie.

"You don't look like a Sam to me."

I'm tempted to push him further on this assertion, but the rain is beginning to fall harder. I offer the vampire a stare in response.

He shrugs. "We head back for the station in time to watch the office rats run home. But we don't find him: he found us!"

"He found you?"

"Yes, boss. Walked right up to us, he did, and told her to leave him be! He was scared of her, too! They had a big fight right in the middle of the station ..."

"He hit her?"

"She hit him! But mostly just words and shouting and stuff. Like they married or something and she catch him with his fancy woman!"

Without knowing how, I find myself cradling my face in my hands.

"Are you telling me the truth here, Marton?"

"You think I try to lie to you people? You freak me out, I told you straight up! Like a bunch of witch doctors from the Old Country: lie to you and you'll probably steal my dick!"

The thought makes me smile in my fingers. Which reminds me to check on Sam: he's still hiding, and apparently not listening either.

"This was at – what, five? Six o'clock last night?" Mada didn't render until after four o'clock this morning.

"Maybe then. Maybe a little later. I was getting tired by then, even with a sip of the energies here and there."

"What happened after the argument?"

"He left, your hero man. Walked away and caught a train ..."

"Where to?"

"I don't know! Woolwich, maybe? Or Croydon? All I know is he go away leaving her in a snit!"

I'm worried. Something happened in that station and I don't understand it: when Mada had first spotted Herrow her first instinct had been to get to me, tell me to hide. She had an argument with the man? It just doesn't make sense!

"It's not important," I say after a short while. "Go on."

"Well that's about it. The biddy told me to go home, get some rest. I tell you man, I was aching for my bed and I was happy to be told on that score!"

"You left her at the station ..."

"Yes, boss. But she turned up again this morning, knocking like a demon on my door! 'Run!' she told me. 'They know your face and they'll be coming for you!' I said: 'what you talking about, woman?' and she look at me and say: 'You go tell the lad what Boude said in the warehouse, and tell him I'm sorry, too. Then get on a train or a bus and get out of this city!'"


"Then the next thing I know is she climbing up the stairs up to the roof of my flats, yes, and she throws herself off! Fuck me, brother, but what the fuck ...? Soon enough there's flashing lights and buzz all over. Neighbours are pointing at me and saying they heard shouting at my door – so I got no choice. That bitch go kill herself like that so I have to run!"
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