Everything changed in that split second. Reuben’s hand moved from the back of my neck to around my throat, pinning me to him and Gabriel charged towards the figure in the corner. There was a scuffle and a grunt, before one of them got knocked to the floor.
‘Let go of her Reuben,’ the person stepped over the body on the floor and as the dim morning light shone on his face I gasped aloud.
Reuben’s hand tightened around my throat. Luke’s expression grew dark and he started making his way over to me, when Gabriel’s hand darted out and grabbed him round the ankle, pulling him to the floor. In a flash, Gabriel had Luke pinned beneath his knee which was digging into his back.
‘You know you’re not stronger than me,’ Gabriel chuckled softly. ‘Face it, you were too late to save her.’ Luke struggled beneath Gabriel, but Gabriel didn’t budge. A terrible feeling began to creep up on me now that I knew I couldn’t be saved.. I was going to be killed. I tried to kick Reuben in the shin or stamp on his foot, but he swiftly moved out of the way. I was truly done for.
‘Tara, I’m sorry,’ Luke looked up at me. ‘I’m so sorry…’
‘How touching,’ Reuben sighed. I heard a terrible snarling sound escape from his mouth and then felt a tremendous amount of pain at my neck. I screamed out loud but Reuben covered my mouth with his hand. He was biting me!
‘NO!’ Luke yelled. I couldn’t focus on anything but the searing, intense pain that seemed to slowly take over my body. Every part of me was on fire, but I couldn’t escape from it. Things began to spin around me, my vision began to blur and everything became distant and quiet. I could no longer hear Luke shouting my name, Gabriel’s soft, sadistic laughter or the sick, gulping noises Reuben was making. Then darkness covered me, like a thick, comfortable blanket.
I was back in the field again, but things had changed. The sun was no longer shining brightly and I could no longer hear child’s laughter. The clouds had darkened noticeably and the wind had a cold, cruel edge to it. My hair blew around my face and something trickled down the side of my mouth. I touched a finger to my lips and when I brought it away, I saw it was covered in red liquid. Bright red, alluring, warm liquid. Why did I find this so…appealing?
‘Help….me,’ someone croaked. It was then that I realised I was standing over someone lying, bleeding on the ground. With a jolt I realised it was the little girl from earlier! Blood was seeping out of a wound in her neck and soaked through her clothes and into her hair.
‘Oh my god!’ I yelled, crouching down beside her. She looked up at me through glazed eyes and as she got her focus, her face became a mask of sheer terror. ‘Please!’ she started crying.
‘Hey, I’m not going to hurt you,’ I comforted. I tore off my jacket and crumpled it up and applied it to her wound to try and stop the bleeding. The blood was coming out fast though and I could see she wasn’t going to live long if I didn’t get help. My eyes scanned the field, a place I once thought was a haven, but I couldn’t see anybody. I didn’t have my phone on me either.
‘Okay, I’m going to carry you, but I promise you’re safe with me,’ I kept my voice steady and calm. Slipping my arms under the girls body I lifted her easily and carried her close to me. She groaned with each step.
‘Don’t…hurt…me,’ she whimpered.
‘I’m not going to hurt you,’ I tried a shaky smile and carried on walking.
‘You…did…’ she was fading fast. I was losing her. No, I can save her. I quickened my pace, through the field, ignoring the harsh wind forcing me back and the rain that had started to fall. We weren’t going anywhere though. The vast green was endless, it was all I could see for miles. I came to a halt and turned in a full circle, trying to make out some change to this never ending field of nightmares.
The girl’s body fell limp in my arms.
‘No!’ I yelled. I set her down gently on the floor and put my ear close to her mouth, trying to indicate if she was breathing or not. I could hear nothing.
‘Come on!’ I urged. I felt for her heartbeat, but there was nothing there, just an eerie quietness. It was then I realised in those short, few seconds that there was nothing I could to help. She had already gone.
My vision was blurred. The room was dark. My head was throbbing brutally. I let out a groan and clutched my head between my hands.
Someone came rushing to my side and grabbed my wrists. Before I could speak, they spoke in a hurried, concerned tone: ‘Tara? Tara! Are you okay?!’
I couldn’t say anything, my throat was so dry. It felt like someone had shoved cotton wool down my throat while slicing my head open.
‘Please be okay,’ they seemed to whisper. I tried swallowing even though it was like swallowing sandpaper.
‘I’m…okay…’ I managed to croak. I heard their relieved sigh and tried opening my eyes wider. The figure was still blurred, but I could make out light hair and blue eyes.
‘Here,’ the figure held a glass to my lips and I sipped gratefully at the refreshing, ice cold water. It soothed my dry throat and calmed the pounding in my head every so slightly. As I started to regain my vision, I recognised the person sitting on the edge of my bed.
‘Luke?’ I supported myself on my elbows and really looked at him. He looked exhausted; there were dark circles under his eyes and his face had taken on a chalky complexion.
‘You look dreadful.’ I tried to grin but it hurt too much.
He just looked at me with a serious expression.
‘Do you remember what happened?’ he murmured.
‘Yes, unfortunately.’ I pulled a face. ‘You got your ass kicked by Gabriel and Reuben bit me. Why is that by the way? Is he a vampire or something?’
Luke’s eyes widened perceptibly and his mouth hung open. It was slightly comical.
‘How…?!’ he spluttered.
‘How what?’ I asked. ‘How did I know about the existence of vampires? Come on Luke, even I’m not that stupid. I first noticed it that night you kidnapped me for the first time. You were really strong, and I’m not talking obsessive body builder strong, I’m talking supernatural strong. I guessed you were unnaturally fast too, that’s why I panicked so much about attempting escape. I have to admit, it surprised me when you didn’t come after me.’ I paused. Luke didn’t say anything so I continued. ‘I mulled it over for a while, I literally thought of nothing else during that year. I became obsessed. People were worrying about me, telling me I needed to, in the kindest way possible, “get over it”, but I couldn’t. I did a lot of research and eventually stumbled upon the word ‘supernatural’. That’s when it hit me. It’s surprising really, I didn’t have much trouble believing that it was possible you weren’t human, I guess a part of me has always believed that not everyone on Earth was “normal”.
Then that night outside the cinema when you grabbed Rose. You couldn’t possibly have gotten over to us that fast. It didn’t really register at the time because I was panicked. Then when Gabriel took me, I knew something was up with him straight away mostly because of the way he acted; like he was trying to hypnotise me or something…’
‘He can do that,’ Luke simply murmured.
‘Well I’m not too sure if it worked or not. I mean, I did go with him but I half knew what was going on and a part of me did hesitate and notice how dangerous he could be. Then he told me that he didn’t care about me or protecting me and then it became obvious. I tried to get away, but he was way too fast. Enter Reuben and this whole drama happened.’
Luke was silent for a very long time. His face was a mix or horror and thoughtfulness. I honestly don’t know why the existence of vampires didn’t bother me as much as it should. I guess a part of me was always willing to accept that perhaps there were such things as ‘vampires’ and they didn’t belong in books or movies, but in the real world, among human beings.
‘Okay,’ he finally began, but stopped again. I waited patiently. ‘Right, let’s get this straight okay. The existence of vampires doesn’t bother you?’ I shrugged my shoulders. ‘When it obviously should…’ He pursed his lips. ‘Don’t you think you should be bothered? Even a little bit? Any sane person would be freaked out. Imagine going through your whole life thinking that something isn’t true, only for someone to turn around, or for something to be demonstrated, proving the complete opposite. Everything you’ve ever known would be changed, it’d be flipped upside down. You’d spend the rest of life in curiosity and fear. Doesn’t that phase you?’
‘I know I should feel bothered. I really do, but I just…don’t,’ I sighed. ‘It’s hard to explain but it’s like there’s this little voice in my head telling me that things aren’t going to change, everything’s still going to be completely normal and it’s not a dramatic change anyway is it really? Plus, I know it sounds silly but I guess a part of me also feels like my life is going to be more…interesting.’
Luke just blinked at me. I sighed again in frustration. He didn’t understand.
‘I do still have some questions though. First off, how did you know where to find me?’
‘Taryn told me.’
‘Taryn?’ I questioned.
‘The blonde one at the house. Do you remember her?’
‘Oh! Yes I remember now. She seemed to be the most worried about kidnapping me. Is she a vampire?’ I enquired curiously.
‘Yes she is, but no where near as powerful as Gabriel or Reuben. She has quite a sad back story really but I don’t think it’s my place to tell you, you’ll have to get her to tell you sometime. The gist of it was that she never ever wanted this life and she’s spent most of it trying to do good. That’s part of why she felt so guilty about stealing you. She’s trying to redeem herself as she believes that as she’s a vampire she’s automatically considered evil.
Anyway, she’d overheard a conversation between Gabriel and Reuben and she’d passed that message on to me as soon as she realised they were about to betray us all.’
‘Hmm,’ I pressed my lips together and pondered over that. ‘Do they know that?’
‘I presume so,’ Luke sighed. ‘They’re extremely powerful Tara. Virtually nothing can stop them, so I’m guessing they know about Taryn’s little ‘betrayal’ towards them.’
‘Where are they?’
‘I don’t actually know. As soon as Reuben had finished with you, Gabriel let go of me and I’d tried to attack him, but he knocked me clean out without flinching. When I came to, they were gone.’
‘How am I alive?’ I frowned. ‘I was on the brink of death.’
Luke looked a little sheepish. ‘Well, I’m not a vampire myself, but I know about these things. I just gave you some of my blood and it seemed to heal you pretty well.’
‘No, no,’ I protested. ‘When I say I was on the brink of death, I mean I was literally seconds away; I could feel it. A little human blood wouldn’t cure me without killing you.’
‘Maybe…’ Luke looked down and fiddled with the edge of the blanket. ‘I’m not entirely….human.’
‘Wait… you told me you weren’t a vampire? If you’re not a vampire and you’re not human, what…are you?’ I narrowed my eyes.
He sighed long and deep.
‘I don’t want to freak you out.’
‘Tell me,’ I urged him.
‘I’m….’ he blew out a long breath, before looking me directly in the eyes. ‘I’m an angel.’