Blogophilia 8.11 – Mary Part 1
It’s time again for Blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog. This week’s prompts are:
This story takes place June 9, 1912 in a little Iowa town I am familiar with. Heh-heh.
Mary slowed her pace to a jog and looked over her shoulder. She could just see the guards in the distance, running to catch up. If they were human, they’d no doubt be huffing and puffing by now. Luckily, they weren’t. They were vampires like she was.
If only they were as fast me.
The Guild called her special ability wind walking, though Madam LaFete had called it Outrunning the Shadows, because even the shadows were too slow to catch you. She remembered in the early days trying to see if that was true, if she really was faster than her shadow, but she’d never come to any conclusions.
Mary slowed her to jog to a walk, and finally stopped altogether. While she waited, she sniffed the summer air, heavy with the threat of rain. The scent of flowers and fresh grass filled her senses. Night dew, and damp earth followed, with subtler tones on their heels. She could smell smoke from the nearby town, the coal and oil of the train yard, and the life, the blood, of the populace.
The guards caught up. Mary tapped her foot impatiently, expectant eyes on Jared. The guard sniffed the air and nodded, his hunter abilities finding the scent that even she couldn’t.
“He’s been here. The trail goes into town.”
Mary tightened her grip on her mace and nodded. They’d been hunting him for ten months, since Utah. They’d been to slow to cover that crime up, but they’d been in time in Colorado Springs. She’d been in charge, traveling with the same set of guards she had tonight. When greeted with the crime scene – six dead people, still in bed, their flesh torn the night before by vampires fangs – she’d first thanked the unknown that no one had discovered the bodies yet. But they would soon. Six people were too many to just disappear without causing a man hunt, so how were they going to cover up the slaughter?
It was Jared who’d suggested a murder scene. That was what had happened, anyway, so it would be less work to hide the evidence. The only thing they needed to do was cover up how they’d died. Deanna found the axe outside, and with great efficiency, hacked up the bodies, obliterating any sign of vampiric teeth marks. As they scoured the houses, double checking that the vampire had left behind no other clues, Jared had covered the corpses up.
Mary remembered glancing over his odd work and asking him why.
He’d frowned. “I don’t know. It seems respectful.”
She could tell by the set of his shoulders that he expected laughter. Instead, she motioned to a mirror. “Then you should cover that as well. They say the souls of the dead can get trapped there.”
In the end they’d left, exiting through a window and leaving the door locked. The puzzle they’d left behind had stumped the human authorities, which was good enough for her.
From there, they’d followed the rampaging vampire to Illinois, then to Kansas, and to Ohio. There they’d almost caught him, but he’d fled before Mary could lay her hands on him – or before he could butcher another family of humans.
A fellow wind walker, he’d been fast; faster than even she was. He was the kind of fast Madam LaFete had meant when she said they could outrun the shadows.
I bet he can.
The chase had gone on, winding around the country, following the rails. Only a few days ago they’d had to clean up after him in Kansas, again. Though they’d used different methods in several of the crimes – including burning the houses down, like in Killington, Vermont – they’d gone back to the axe for that one because there wasn’t time for anything else. They were right on his heels, and to stay longer would risk losing him.
We’re so close!
Though her official orders didn’t say she couldn’t return to the citadel until the rogue was caught, she was determined not to. To do so would lose days, or weeks, to travel and give him even more of an advantage.
It doesn’t matter, she told herself. Because we’re going to catch him tonight.
If their map was correct, it was a fitting location, too, not far from the citadel. They could capture him and be there before the sun rose, their nine month hunt finally over.
She motioned the guards to follow, and headed into the town, letting Jared and his hunter senses lead the way. As she walked, her mind wandered back to the citadel, and her rooms there. She’d left to investigate the scene in Utah, never planning to be away so long. She could only imagine the dust that had gathered on the furniture since, ho stale the linens would be. Had she made the bed, she wondered for the thousandth time. She remembered packing a case, jamming extra shoes and clothes inside, but she couldn’t recall if she’d tidied first, or left it for when she returned.
If only David was still there. He’d have taken care of things while I was gone.
Except, that was the reason he wasn’t there anymore.
She could still see the letter in her memory, the blotted writing, the wrinkled paper. I love you, he’d said. You are my sun, my moon, and all my stars, but how can a man live when that light is forever missing, when your place is forever vacant while you follow orders? In a vacuum of eternal night, I am left to wander alone, with a starless sky and a sunless dawn. I have asked you before to leave the Executioners, to come away with me. I have been patient, I have tried to live this way, but I cannot endure any longer.
Cannot endure. That note was all he’d left behind, set carefully on the sideboard where she’d see it right away. Even now, four years later, the memory of it punched her in the stomach and stole her breath. At the time she’d thought wildly of following him, finding him, giving up her life as an Executioner. But Madam LaFete’s words echoed too strongly inside her.
“You give up a part of yourself for a man, and soon they want another, and another, until there is no piece of you left, and when they look into your face, they see only a reflection of themselves. They may think that makes the happy, but it doesn’t. And when they realize that, child, they will leave you empty and alone, to seek a new pair of eyes to gaze into.”
Besides, David had been there for forty years. That was as long as any human relationship lasted – longer than many. The heart was never made for eternity, for immortality.
And neither is the soul.
She pushed the old thoughts away and concentrated on her surroundings. A quiet town, wrapped in the mantle of sleep. Trees swayed in the cool night and crickets chirped. Heavy clouds obscured the stars, and overworked the gas lights that tried their best to light the streets. In the quiet, without humans and their constant to and fro, the birds and bees and squirrels were free to roam.
A stray cat yowled in the distance, a tom singing for a mate. Mary wondered briefly if he’d land a lady, or if his call would go unanswered. That was the normal way of it. Those who wanted love were left wanting and those that didn’t, who only wanted to use it for their own gain, they found it in shovel fulls.
To think of two men in a span of a moment was too much, and she chided herself. She needed to be on the lookout, alert, if she wanted to catch the rogue, not ruminating on old heartbreak.
Jared drew to a stop and sniffed. His eyes lit, and he motioned them around a corner and down the road. They picked up speed as they went, and as they reached the edge of town, even Mary could smell the rogue.
He’s still here.
She didn’t wait for the others, but lunged ahead, leaving them and the shadows to catch up to her. The dark world flew by, and she skidded to a stop. She’d gone too far. Spinning back, she saw a small white farm house. Dark windows tried to convince her everything was fine within but she knew better. She could smell him, smell the blood.
He’s already killed.
Cellar doors stood open – his entry point? She dropped down the stairs into a small, damp room, but there was no other opening, no connection with the interior of the house. Cursing silently, she popped outside again, slamming the doors shut out of habit.
The sound echoed in the still night and she froze. Had he hear it? He’d have to be deaf not to. And now that he had, a simple sniff would tell him who was outside.
A sound came from inside. A door shutting? Furniture scraping? She wasn’t sure, but it meant motion, movement. She tensed, eyes moving over the doors, the windows, waiting for him to rip his way outdoors and then-
Jared and Deanna appeared, slowing when they noticed her. She motioned to the house, telling them he was inside, but there was no point. They could smell him just as she could.
The pair split up. Deanna went around the back side of the house, while Jared joined Mary. If only one of them was a whisperer, they could have made a silent plan. Without those powers, they were left with hand signals and urgent nodding to get the point across.
There were three doors, one in the back and two on the front porch. Mary hoped Deanna was watching the back and motioned Jared to the porch with her. As long as the rogue didn’t go for a window, there was no way he could escape.
You’re mine this time.
to be finished next week
- bouquet 2. spring flowers 3. May flowers 4. token of affection 5. fresh 6. spring blossoms 7. How does your garden grow 8. blooming 9. blooms 10. maybe now that it’s stopped snowing we can get some of these.