Available Darkness: Chapter 32
(Serial and Milk: Available Darkness is a serialized horror thriller co-written by David Wright and Sean Platt. A new chapter appears here each Friday. If you missed previous chapters, you can read them here.)
The black van rolled along the highway beneath the bruised tangerine sky of early dawn. Larry looked in the rear-view for the third time in two minutes, searching for cops, feds or more gunmen, then stepped down harder on the gas pedal.
They were heading towards one of the many secret spots he kept scattered throughout the region. No doubt an entire team of feds was currently turning over the motel, scouring through every hair and fiber as they sorted through what was easily the biggest mass murder the area had seen in decades. Since most of the bodies were burnt to a crisp, the murders would be tied to John, intensifying an already white hot manhunt. Larry wasn’t too concerned about what was left behind. The motel and van (and even the van’s tag) were bought through an assumed name and neither his DNA or fingerprints were in any database, so it was doubtful that he left much of a trail.
While circumstance had forced Larry to abandon his surveillance equipment, which would no doubt raise a battery of questions as to who was living there and what in the raging fires of hell they were doing, he’d managed to retrieve the bank of hard drives where he kept nearly all his research. Of course, he had also grabbed the plastic totes from his van, which were essentially his portable survival kits, loaded with weapons, cash and a few other items of contraband he didn’t dare leave behind.
Though the motel looked like homeless people were squatting there, Larry was always organized and prepared to leave the second that the shit hit the fan.
Larry now had two main concerns—switching the van he was in for another, and hoping he’d eliminated enough of the bastards to prevent them from regrouping too quickly. He was certain they were living on borrowed time. Sure as shit, the van he was driving probably had a half dozen tracking systems enabled, with red dots blinking on a monitor or ten somewhere. Fortunately, they were only a mile away from a chop shop where he placed an emergency order the minute they left the hotel.
Sometimes it paid to keep the right company.
In the darkened rear of the van, Abigail’s breath rose and fell, her body curled against John. No windows meant the heat John was feeling through the indented panels was mostly in his imagination. He was safe from the sun, and thankfully, Abigail was safe from his parasitic touch.
John had become so used to avoiding unintentional human contact that he flinched when Abigail had first leaned so lovingly against him. However, as she relaxed, then passed out almost immediately, he wrapped an arm around her, receiving as much comfort as he was providing. John’s sad eyes, swollen with salt, lost a tear to the top of Abigail’s head.
Her gunshot had stitched together entirely, the skin where the bullet had torn through her flesh was no less smooth than that of her cheek. A part of John was glad that Abigail had remained groggy; not yet lucid enough to receive an explanation of how he had managed to save her.
Larry had grabbed two fistfuls of pillows and a pile of blankets to make their accommodations a bit more comfortable, but John was too distracted, or perhaps too scared, to close his eyes. He didn’t mind turning over the recent events in his mind. It was necessary to try and pull order from the chaos, but closing his eyes seemed to give the images teeth.
From the bits of memories John had managed to extract from the agents, he knew the gunmen were part of a unit called Harbinger. Harbinger of what, though? The agents were as in the dark about their end game as John was, though crystal clear on how much their boss Jacob had paid them to kill enemies, silence opposition and unearth various artifacts with mythical properties.
Artifacts from Otherworld.
Why they wanted him, though, John wasn’t certain. At least not beyond anything outside the bristle of instinct. Perhaps he was the ultimate artifact, a man who once walked on another world’s soil.
John looked down at Abigail and felt a fierce need to protect her. Like a paternal drive, he imagined, to inoculate her from all danger. However, that aching need embittered the palette of his thought, tainted with wave after wave of unforgiving guilt. He had delivered his curse unto her, even if it had saved her life. He turned her into a vampire.
What would that mean for her? Would she also need to feast in order to survive? Had he turned an innocent child into an eager killer? Was she now immortal? Would her soul grow old as she remained fixed behind the mask of a child forever?
An endless underpass of questions tortured his insides as Abigail’s cool skin soothed his outer shell.
The only person with any answers was sitting up front, punishing the drivetrain of the cargo van. The only thing John knew with certainty was that there was nothing in the world he wouldn’t do to ensure Abigail’s safety.
Soon as Larry killed the engine, John would find out everything he knew, whether Larry wanted to tell him or not.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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