WARNING: Contains violence.
Charlotte becomes the hunted.
London – 1841
I leapt off the roof, over the street, hit the next rooftop, rolled and dived behind a chimney.
‘I smell you, girl, you can’t hide from me,’ the vampire called from the other roof.
There was a sickness spreading through this part of the city, I hadn’t thought anything of it, people were always getting sick from bad water, bad food, or a bad life. It would spread through the tenements, engulfing entire sections of the city and raged, sometimes for months, until everyone susceptible was dead. This one wasn’t a sickness, it was vampire and I’d walked straight into his path.
Footsteps beat unperturbed down the slate and stopped at the edge of the roof. ‘I’d forgotten the excitement of the hunt. Are you going to keep running? It’s more fun than hiding.’
I was good but I could outrun a vampire, I couldn’t hide from him either, he could smell my sweat and hear my heartbeat.
There was a light tap of shoes on stone a few feet behind me. I hadn’t heard him jump.
‘You’re not afraid,’ he said closer. ‘Silly child.’
I scrambled over the arch of the roof and skidded down the other side off the edge. I grabbed a window ledge, swung across the alley and slid down the nearest drainpipe. The impact jarred my knees.
A cart of corpses rattled by the end of the alley, headed to the paupers’ grave. Busy vampire.
He landed crouched in front of me and straightened as if he’d been crouched all along. He smoothed down his waistcoat. ‘You’re trapped, girl.’
I glanced back at the wall blocking the other end of the alley. I could run and he could chase.
I ran at him. He grabbed for me. I went down, slid between his legs and stabbed him.
He snarled. ‘Bitch.’
I rolled to my feet and took off running. I’d missed what I was aiming for and only got his leg.
He pulled my knife out of his leg and threw it aside, it clattered across the cobbles. He grabbed me by the shoulders and swung me towards the wall. Two steps up I twisted onto his back. He stopped my knife short of his neck and smashed my back against the wall behind us. Once. Twice. My legs loosened on his waist. He flipped me over onto the cobbles.
I lay dazed for a moment. Stone never got less painful.
He brought his foot down on my chest. ‘Like a wriggly little mouse.’
I wrapped my legs around his, pulled the knife from my boot and stabbed it into his knee. He toppled and smacked his head against the wall. I punched him in the balls, down he went. My knife slipped out his knee. I jumped on his back and drove the blade into his neck. It rasped between bone. I sliced.
He collapsed and exploded into ash and embers that left tiny burns in their wake. I flopped down and put my back to the wall, the bruises punch their way to the surface, determined that I should acknowledge every one of them.
I was no vampire expert; I knew a vampire could drain a person dry but I also knew they didn’t need to nor did they need to feed every day. There were half-a-dozen bodies in that cart, it seemed a lot for one vampire. Maybe there was a sickness spreading through the tenements or maybe it was something else. Maybe there was more than one vampire.
I wedged my fingers into a gap where the mortar had broken away and pulled myself to my feet. Sometimes I regretted my lack of padding but it would restrict my movement.
I was going to need Bran’s help to find out whatever was going on. He knew vampires. The only problem would be convincing him he could do it.
Part of Jesse’s Studio’s Fiction Frenzy there will be a new episode of Victorian Mistress everyday until 24th June 2017.