I was halfway up a steep hillside when they found me. I'd managed to get out of the town, taking shortcuts through alleys and backroads, jumping over car bonnets and dodging around pedestrians like a ninja. A ninja having a major panic attack.
Having cleared the motorway that lead out of the town I'd darted off into the hilly area that lay off to the east of the place, hoping to find somewhere deserted. Flashes of memory came back to me of a similar situation when I'd fled the bus.
Except this time, my hunters were far more dangerous. Their voices rang in my ears as I ran, getting steadily louder until, all in unison, they let out a cry that rang through my head so much it sent me crashin to my knees:
Ash Van Helsing!
Oh damn. Now I was dead.
Scrambling painfully to my feet, I stood up and turned my face westwards. I could see the dark figures streaking across the sky like inky-black comets. A knot tightened in my stomach and I took an involuntary step back.
After all these years of running and hiding, of nightmares filled with screams and pain and of waking up in a cold sweat, it's finally happened. They've finally tracked me down.
I gritted my teeth as the five black figures landed on the slope a few feet in front of me, all gradually turning back into their human form. Well, almost all.
Two of the figures were men and a third a woman. Each was tall and skeletally built, swathed in flowing black clothes that rippled in the light evening breeze. Their skin was pure white and their bones protruding sharply from their faces. And yet, despite their inhuman looks, I could not help but see the similarities. All were black haired, just the same as me, but each of them had a distinctive white streak, a hereditary trait of the Van Helsing line. I was the only one who lacked it. They had a similar face-shape to me too, angular and fine-boned with high cheekbones and a straight Roman nose.
But the thing that really spooked me was their eyes. When I looked at them I felt as if I were looking into a mirror. They were the exact same shade of dark storm-grey as mine, with the same black flecking around the iris. A scary similarity when you looked at our differences in nature.
The woman stepped forward, her skeletal face twisted in a look of sick joy that made me want to gag.
"There you are! Where have you been Ash, we've been worried sick! What did you mean running off like that? Your father and I were so upset, we thought something terrible had happened."
Yeah, like I'd actually tried to stay human rather than change into some moon-crazy maniac.
The woman looked at me reproachfully and held out her arms, as if to hug me. I took a step back, eyes darting from one figure to the next. One of the men, the taller of the two, stepped forward next and put an arm around the woman's shoulders:
"Come now Elektra, the boy's just being difficult. Not even greeting his own mother. Have we taught you nothing Asharyn?"
I narrowed my eyes at the man and spat viciously: "The only thing you ever taught me was what evil looked like. Whatever plans you may have now Judas you can forget them now."
Judas. The name I had vowed I would never speak again, the name of not only the greatest betrayer in history, but also of the most murderous, bloodthirsty man (if you could call him that) that has ever lived.
The name of my father.
Judas glared at me, eyes flashing. I matched his gaze, trying to hide my fear behind a mask of defiance. You could almost see the sparks flying between us until Elektra spoke again, her shrill voice piercing the air like a knife.
"Now now, let's not start fighting now. Ash darling, we only want to talk to you! Lets not fight about the past, not now."
Judas flashed me an evil smile before looking away: "Yes," he said, "I think it's time we caught up with one another. Re-established old bonds. But not here, we need somewhere more... private than this bog."
Then, before I could move, Judas had seized my arm in a vice-grip.
Then all six of us disappeared, leaving no trace of our presence but footprints in the damp hillside grass.