“Won’t this be shameful,” the girl laughed, and it sounded as guttural as her snarls through her fangs. “To admit that you were beaten by me.”
She had driven me back against one of the chamber walls, pinning me with a skeletal white hand round my throat. The claws were millimetres away - if I moved, they would be there ready to slice into my neck like razor wire.
Then with a very deliberate smile, she pressed her thumb down on the gauze over the vampire bite. I couldn’t help but scream and jerk away, and her nails slashed into the other side of my neck. My blood spurted across the walls, just short of the door. If it had fallen onto it, it might have opened and given me another chance of escape.
Then, something strange happened. Even as I put my hand up to the fresh wounds, the blood flow stopped and I felt the skin close over. Miss Stake’s eyes grew even larger and rounder and spittle flew from her mouth unattractively as she screamed, “Damn it!”
Then I remembered those books, the ones Willow had shown to me just days ago in the woods. I was Infettare, or infected, and the books had said…
During this phase, the victim’s potential will be at its fullest - both magic and strength and intelligence at their most powerful.
I laughed. Even to me, the sound in this situation was almost chilling. I stepped forward towards her, and she regarded me with angry eyes, twin flames dancing on the water.
“You forgot, didn’t you?” I whispered mockingly. “A hundred years of being a vampire made you forget what it was like to become one.”
I swung out my fist and it connected with her jaw, snapping her head back and making her stumble on her too-high shoes. Though a punch like that would have broken my knuckles, it didn’t even hurt.
“You,” she hissed, stabbing at the air with her claws, “are going to pay for that.”
“So come and make me,” I said, and I was the one who was smiling now. I stood and waited, and then she rushed me as I had known she would. My arm was ready, swinging around and knocking her aside. The room was too small for any elaborate fighting moves, though I dearly would have loved to try. I had to settle for one more blow, which winded her and knocked her back. I didn’t realise until she screamed that I had knocked her into the door.
She was impaled in a hundred different places on those needle-sharp silver spikes. I winced involuntarily at the thought of feeling the pain and anguish I could see in her black shark’s eyes.
“You,” she tried to say, but to my horror blood bubbled out of her mouth.
That made me wonder suddenly. She was a vampire. If a bullet couldn’t kill Charlotte, then why could those spikes hurt Miss Stake? And why was she bleeding?
“I need to learn more about vampire biology,” I mused, as her eyes filled with loathing watched me. She suddenly shrugged forward, screaming as the spikes shredded through more of her flesh as she pulled herself off them. She fell forward, and her body twitched for a minute and then was still. I didn’t go to check on her, suspecting a trick, and I didn’t want to get near those bloody oozing holes torn through the back of her cape and dress.
When I looked back at the door, I noticed the letters the dripping blood had formed on the stone floor slab. I remembered from the last time what I should do.
The door opened.