This is Part 1 of a serial story.
A blue tarp is a terrible shroud. Not that she'd be buried in the tarp, but I knew her, and I wanted more dignity for her remains that this. I also wanted to get the hell out of there before the vampire that got Belinda got me.
With anxious fingers I wrapped chord around Belinda's tarped body and tied it down, the best that I could, in the bed of the truck. Something moved behind me, a dark shadow against the wind. The vampire was out there, watching.
I vaulted out of the truck bed and yanked open the driver's side door. I quickly slammed the door shut behind me and locked it. Purse...where's my purse? Crap. My hands hopped around the dark cab like frightened bunnies, desperate for shelter. I touched the water bottle in the cup holder, considered it, and rejected it to search for the purse. I felt the purse strap with my fingertips just as the vampire threw its weight against the passenger's side door. The truck rocked and trembled.
Forget the purse. Just get the truck started. I wrestled the keys from the pocket of my jeans, found the truck key by rote and started the truck. The vampire slammed against the driver's side door. I took the truck out of park and floored it.
A nice thing about driving in wide open spaces in a beat up truck is not having to concentrate on steering. I jammed one knee against the steering wheel, keeping the truck on a steady course. I pulled the purse into my lap and unzipped it, searching frantically. Ah-ha! I felt the chain!
I pulled the silver chain with the cross pendant out of my purse and slammed on the brakes of the truck. There was a great thud in the truck bed. I grimaced, not sure if I had heard the vampire or Belinda's corpse. I quickly clasped the chain around my neck and undid two buttons on my shirt, so that the cross showed against my skin. The blood mark of vampire House Inceput near my left shoulder tingled with loathing. I gritted my teeth against the paradox I created.
Trepidatious but determined, I turned my head and peered out the rear window. The vampire stood in the center of the truck bed. I saw it from the waist down, a dark silhouette against the blacker night. Craning my neck didn't help me see the face. I would have to get out of the truck.
The prudent thing to do was drive on. I'm frequently disinclined to follow the prudent path.
I got out of the truck, being sure to take the keys and the water bottle with me. The instant my feet hit the ground the vampire sprang out of the truck bed and disappeared. I ran to the front of the truck and stood between the headlamps.
“I'm not going to chase you,” I shouted. “If you want to end this thing, you're going to have to face me here.”
A shadow moved into the slice of light from the headlamps. I still couldn't see the thing's face. If only I'd turned on the high beams. Still, it could be worse. I could see it, but with the lights shining in the vampire's direction it would have a hell of a time seeing me.
“What's the matter, face to ugly to share?” I taunted. I popped the lid off the water bottle and prepared to throw it.
The thing didn't move forward. It lifted an arm and pointed at me.
“S***,” I said. There was no flesh on that hand. The light reflected off white, smooth bones. I'd seen hands like those before, on Vildru sorcerers.
I threw the water bottle at the Vildru and ran back to the truck cab. I didn't know if holy water had any effect on sorcerers, but it was the only weapon I had. I gotta start carrying more guns, or...
“Flares!” I shouted. Vildru are vulnerable to fire. I wrenched open the door and and dug under the seat, where I knew Roger kept emergency supplies. Two flares and a fire extinguisher. I grabbed a flare, broke off the cap, and struck the rough topside against the exposed surface.
A bony hand cracked down on my shoulder. I whirled around and stabbed the lit flare into the Vildru's stomach. Instantly, the sorcerer burst into flame.
Embers flew off the burning and screaming sorcerer. A patch of grass nearby lit up. Dang it, that was all I needed – start a wildfire that burns down a thousand acres because I took it into my head to light up a Vildru. I grabbed the fire extinguisher and put out the grass. Hating the circumstances that forced me to do it, I put out the Vildru too. He collapsed on the ground and exuded shivers of steam.
I jumped into the truck and shut the door. The scent of burned hair and flesh clung to me as I sped away.
Here's hoping I still have eyebrows.
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