It wasn’t the time to start bitching about my name, so I stayed quiet. Her broken fingernail felt like an ice-cold razor as she curled it around my chin and over my Adam’s apple.
“Don’t pity us,” she whispered, her face next to mine. “We have known such pleasure and now it is time to share it with you.”
Before I’d had the chance to say anything, it was night and I was standing in the rain. There was a streetlamp overhead, and the rain glistened in its orange glow. My long, black coat flapped around me, and at first I thought my wings were open.
“Hey!” someone hissed, and I turned around to see Isidor pointing his crossbow at me.
“Put that down before you kill someone,”
I snapped, my throat no longer feeling raw.
“I didn’t realise it was you,” Isidor said, lowering his crossbow.
“Who else did you think it would be?” I hissed. “You often see people suddenly appear out of thin air?”
“I guess not...” Isidor started.
“Don’t you mean Uriel?” Isidor asked me.
“What are you talking about?” I barked, “And I thought you had problems before you died.”
“That’s what the Elders called me,” Kayla said, appearing from beneath the dashboard of a nearby parked car.
Then, remembering how the Elders had called me Gabriel, I glanced at Isidor and said, “And what did they call you? It couldn’t be any worse than...”
“Maliki,” Isidor said proudly.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I spat.
“And what about you?” Isidor asked me, the rain dribbling through his black hair and running down the length of his face.
“Potter,” I said.
“Don’t tell lies, Gabriel,” Kayla called out as she lay wedged beneath the dashboard of the car. “They told me that was going to be your new name.”
“You must have heard wrong,” I snapped.
“Yeah, maybe it was Gabriella,” Isidor said, staring at me. I couldn’t tell if he was being thick or just taking the piss.
Ignoring him, I turned to look at Kayla’s butt sticking out of the car and said, “What are you doing?”
Then, before she’d had a chance to say anything, the car rumbled into life. Kayla climbed from the car, and looking at me she said, “Stealing a car, of course. How else are we going to make our escape?”
“Escape from where?” I asked her.
“There,” she said, pointing in the direction of a nearby building.
I looked through the driving rain to see a grey brick building on the other side of a small car park. Written on a sign that was attached to the side of the building were the words: County Mortuary “Kiera,” I breathed, heading towards the building, knowing that she was lying somewhere inside on a cold slab.
“You wait with the car,” Isidor said, raising his arm as if to block me.
“And who put you in charge?” I asked, eyeing him up and down.
“We’ve been here longer than you, Gabriel,” Kayla smiled, and I caught her wink at Isidor. “We’ve had a chance to check out the place. Kiera is being worked on in a room on the other side of that door,” she added, pointing to a large double door which was big enough to reverse a hearse into. “Wait with the vehicle.”
“I think I should...” I started.
But before I’d had the chance to finish what I was about to say, Kayla and Isidor were racing across the car park towards the door set into the side of the building.
I took a pack of cigarettes from my coat pocket, and cupping my hand around the tip of it so it didn’t burn out in the rain, I lit it. Leaning against the boot of the car, I watched Isidor and Kayla reach the door. It seemed that they both had everything figured out and well planned, and I wondered if being murdered and brought back from the dead hadn’t made them both grow up a bit. Then, watching Isidor raise his boot and smash the door in, I guessed that dying hadn’t changed them at all.
As I circled around and around, the sky grew darker. Night had begun to draw in. I still had no idea how I was going to find out what had caused the world to be pushed, and what other changes had taken place, other than my favourite band changing names. But I knew that I wasn’t ready to go back to Hallowed Manor just yet.
Kiera seemed to have her plans and I needed to formulate some of my own. I wasn’t intending to set myself up in practise as some private investigator, just on the off chance that a mystery might come along that could lead us to finding out what had happened to the world while we had been away. I loved Kiera, but the whole thing sounded too much like an episode of Scooby-Doo to me.
But with Murphy gone and my only true friends enclosed behind the walls of Hallowed Manor, who else did I have to help me? Who else did I know in this world that could tell me what had happened while we had been away? Then, as I looped in the air, I thought of the only other person who had ever meant anything to me: Sophie. But the last time I’d ever seen her she had been peering back at me over the top of her bed sheet. I remembered the fear, revulsion, and hatred for me in her eyes.
“Get away from me!” she’d screamed, kicking out with her feet. “You freak – you animal! Get out!”
“I love -” I’d begged.
So, jumping from her bed, where only moments before we had been making love, I went to the windows. Throwing them open, I climbed onto the ledge. I looked at her, two perfect green eyes staring back at me, and to see such fear in them had broken my heart.
“I’m sorry,” I’d growled.
Then, leaping from the window, I spread my wings and shot into the night sky. I hadn’t looked back, not once. It would have hurt too much to do so.
But that was then, I told myself. Things were different now – the world was different.
Would she even recognise me? Had that part of her life – the life that she had shared with me as a Vampyrus - been wiped away, just as the Elders had wiped away all the Vampyrus who had lived in secret amongst the humans? There was only one way to find out.
With my wings pointed outwards, I back flipped in the air, then raced towards the Earth.
I hadn’t been a pathologist for very long, but even so, I had never seen a corpse sit up in the lab and go stumbling out into the night. The police officer had been taken into the main hospital building, screaming. His face had been the colour of ash, eyes bulging from their sockets as he begged the medical staff for pain relief.
“Fix my legs! Please somebody do something! Fix my legs!” he had cried, as he was bundled onto a stretcher and taken away. The lab assistant, although not physically injured, had been taken away by the police officers who had arrived. They wanted to undertake an interview but I guessed by the state of him that he wouldn’t have made much sense at all.
“She came back to life! She came back to life!” The lab assistant had kept mumbling to himself over and over again. “She just got up and walked right outta here!”
“What about you?” one of the officers had asked me.
“What about me?” I’d asked right back.
“Are you okay?”
Scraping my hair behind my ears and re-knotting my ponytail, I simply nodded and said, “I guess so.”
“What happened here?” the officer asked.
“I’m not sure,” I said.
“Look, whatever took place, we’re going to need to speak to you,” the officer said, pulling his notepad from his shirt pocket.
“Can’t it wait?” I had asked, yanking the latex gloves from my hands, rolling them into a ball, and throwing them into a nearby bin. “I need to tidy this place up and get my thoughts together.”
“You can get your thoughts together, but not here. This place needs to be locked down. It’s a crime scene now,” the officer informed me.
“A crime scene?” I asked, bewildered and not thinking straight.
“Whatever took place here tonight, several things are clear: We have a suspected murder victim missing, a lab assistant jabbering on about a walking-talking corpse, my skipper has two broken legs, and frankly, you don’t look too good yourself. So taking everything into account, and until we have a clearer picture of what’s gone on, this place is being shut down. Okay?”
Nodding, I looked about the lab. The metal mortuary table stood lopsided against the wall and for the first time, I noticed the tiles were cracked and broken behind it. The cracks in the wall ran vertically and I realised that was where the police sergeant had been standing when the corpse had rammed the table against him.
Had she really pushed the table so hard against that officer’s legs that the sheer force had smashed the tiles in the wall behind him?
I couldn’t believe it. That would’ve been impossible. Wouldn’t it?
She would’ve had to have had the strength of…
It was then that I noticed the corpse’s blood samples that I had requested for DNA and blood group analysis. The blood looked black, like undiluted blackcurrant squash, bottled in a thin plastic tube. Without thinking, I moved towards the counter on the opposite side of the lab where it sat.
“Where do you think you’re going?” the officer asked me.
I had forgotten that he was there.
Snapping my head around, I looked back at the officer.
“I’m getting my coat, is that okay?”
“Sure, no worries,” the officer said. “Just don’t touch anything.”
Turning, I moved across the room, my eyes fixed on the vial of blood that had been siphoned from the corpse.
I need to get that blood tested. It might be the key…the code… to that woman who seemed to be able to grow her fingers and face back.
Conscious that the police officer was scrutinising my every move, I made my way to my office which was next to the counter that contained the blood. Entering the office, I removed my white lab coat and placed it on my desk. I took my own coat off the hook on the back of the door and hung it over my arm. Back in the lab, I looked at the officer who continued to watch me.