The train station was still busy even at this hour, but the park itself was dark and quiet as they ran in from the west. They came to a stop at the fountain. Chris sat on the side to catch his breath. According to the old clock high above the train station, they were late. Chris shook his head.
“They should be here by now.”
“Give them some time,” Zeke said. His voice was tight and he was looking wildly in all directions. “It’s not like they ran out for some milk.”
Chris stood up and started walking around the fountain to see if they were coming from the other side.
Allis was in front of him. Smiling.
Chris screamed. He backpedaled fast and came inches from falling onto the ground before Enid grabbed him and pulled him back and up.
They all stepped into the thin light of the lamps above the fountain. Allis. Arcadia. Dalia. Juan. The vampires they had failed to kill so far. The vampires they were supposed to be going after now.
“You know who I want.”
With those words from Allis the other three came at them. Zeke tried to push Chris away, tried to tell him to run, but they were on him too fast. He swung blindly, hoping to connect with anyone. Someone shoved him hard. His forehead connected with the edge of the fountain on the way down. Pain poured in and his sight poured out but he forced himself to get up immediately, because otherwise he might not be able to do it at all. Immediately he was hit again. He raised an arm, against what or who, he didn’t know. Was it the hit or the surprise of them showing up that had made him so terribly confused?
Chris got three steps around the fountain before he was grabbed by the back of his shirt and thrown onto the grass. The ground underneath was hard and the sting radiated out from where the back of his head and bounced. Arcadia stood over him, the look on his face as blank as ever.
“Where are you going, darling?” Her voice was clear and easy, coming from behind him. With a glance up he could see her, behind him, over his head. Without thinking about it he found himself trying to get up and move away. Arcadia’s foot swung out into his ribs. Air left him noiselessly.
“Arcadia, no,” she said. “Bad. Don’t be mean.”
Chris tried again to rise. This time it was Allis’s foot that found his stomach.
“That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay down,” she said, her voice losing nothing of its pillowy sweetness. Allis knelt down next to him on the pavement.
“Do you know something, Chris? If I were to grow bored of my game and just drop you and forget you right now, even after all I’ve taken, you could still get it all back. Maybe not in this city. Maybe not for a while. But move to some other place with museums and schools and give it some time, and eventually, you’d get a new job, a new wife, a new life. Two years, three, five…eventually, it would be long enough ago that people would forget it.”
She had moved in a flash, no longer sitting next to him but on top of him, weighing down his guts. Her face was only inches from his. They were in front of the busiest train station on the coast. Where were the people? Were there really no people at this hour?
Allis’s hand caressed his cheek.
“A new life, with everything you want. Those new people would take one look at that handsome face of yours and they would just have to give you a new chance.”
She sat up again, examining him with a contemplative look. A small sigh escaped her.
“That handsome face.”
The world split in two.
Zeke had never heard a scream like Chris’s before. It was big, and loud, and made entirely out of pain and fear. Looking back, it was the thing that saved him. One more punch to the face, like the one Dalia was lining up at that exact moment, would have done him in. His nose was already broken, his lip fat, his eyes swollen. Most of what he could see was dotted with stars, and spinning faster and faster. One more hit and he’d be KO.
And then Chris screamed. Dalia got distracted. And something in Zeke’s brain finally clicked back into place.
He was in a fight. And if Zeke knew how to do anything, it was fight.
He took the half a second of Dalia’s distraction and hit her hard in the mouth. Before she had time to do anything else the stake from his jacket was in his hand and her heart. She faded away with a scream. Zeke got two steps towards Chris before Juan was on his back and a car horn was honking and honking, getting closer. Using what energy he had left, Zeke pushed Juan backwards, forcing him to land in front of the fountain.
Juan had only stood up when the car came screaming over the curb, across the grass, and directly at him. The brakes screeched, but the car went headfirst into the fountain, pinning Juan to the concrete and crushing his head against the edge. The sound of crushing metal filled the air. Zeke could see the airbags pop inside. Seconds later the airbag from the steering wheel was being beaten down and ripped out. The car switched gears and roared to life, pulling backwards from the fountain, revealing the half of Juan that had been left behind. It halted, switched gears again, and pulled up next to Zeke.
“Get in the car!”
Mindy was driving, looking just as destroyed as Zeke felt. In two swift movements Zeke flung open the door and flung himself inside
Before the door was even shut she gunned the engine and did a donut, missing Arcadia by inches. Zeke understood what she was doing and left the door open. Mindy slammed on the brakes so they were next to where Chris was still on the ground. Allis was already gone. Zeke pulled him up by his shoulders and Mindy gunned it again.
“Are they coming?” Zeke asked, closing the door.
“No,” Mindy said. She could see Allis and Arcadia standing next to the fountain, watching them drive off.
“Why the hell not?”
“Does it look like I know?”
“Well, it’s not really a good thing, is it?”
“No, it’s not…What the hell did they do to him?”
Zeke looked down at Chris, sitting on the car floor with his head on the seat between him and Mindy. His hands were covering up his face. Blood was seeping through his fingers. His shoulders were hitching in silent sobs.
“She cut him up. I can’t tell how bad it is. We need to get to the house.”
“We can’t, they’ll-”
“Chris needs stitches, I can tell that much,” Zeke said. “We can’t take him to a hospital. Caleb has that first aid kit in the kitchen. We get to the house. They might know where we live, but they won’t be able to get in.”
Mindy cut the corner at the next light hard and pointed the car in the direction of the house.
“How did this happen?”
“I don’t know.”