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Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The Rising - Chapter 16: Introductions

Everyone said their introductions and Dave invited us inside his cabin. It was exactly how I thought it would be. The entire structure was made from wood and a log fire was crackling in the corner. It was a small, functional place but probably as close to the dictionary definition of cosy as you could get, with the orange glow from the fire and our exhaustion making it the most inviting place I had seen in a long time.

We set the heavy boxes down and Dave told us all to sit down by the fire. We didn’t need a second invitation. Even though the days had been very hot, the night air was cold, especially if you were hiking through the hills in a shirt that had been ripped open by someone who wanted to tear your guts out.

I saw Dave open a suitcase that was lying under the stairs. He walked over with a polo shirt in his hand and threw it to me.

Here you go, partner,’ he said, ‘Can’t have you wandering around like that.’

Thanks Dave,’ I said, a little touched that I didn’t even need to ask him for a new shirt.

Yeah, no problem. I’m putting the kettle on. Who wants coffee?’

We all accepted the offer and as Dave made the coffees at the kitchen worktop, we recounted our story so far. We told him everything, from the bomb that was planted at Mantek to stop Doctor Owen’s research, to the attack on the freeway, our escape from Hartley House and the discoveries we made about vampire anatomy at The Brotherhood’s base just hours earlier. Of course, this included me getting bitten by a vampire.

What the hell?’ Dave exclaimed when I told him about my condition, ‘If anyone else had told me that I would have told them they were full of shit and sent them on their way. So aren’t you supposed to try and drink my blood or something?’

It doesn’t quite work like that,’ I said, ‘I’ve been taking the treatment Doctor Owen has been developing. It’s not a permanent cure but it keeps the hunger at bay for a few hours at a time.’

He stood in silence for a moment, taking everything in. ‘Well, Tom, this is the last time I go on holiday and leave you to take a case on by yourself.’

We both laughed at the unbelievable situation. I heard Doctor Owen and Skinner laugh as well, and saw a smile break on Jane’s face. Dave handed out the cups of coffee. I took a sip and realised it had been a long time since I’d eaten anything. I wondered whether my body was running purely on the blood I drank from Captain Stein’s neck or if it was just our situation keeping me going. I asked Dave if he had anything to eat and he popped some bread in the toaster.

This is a lot to take in,’ Dave said, thinking aloud, ‘so what do we do now? I take it this Brotherhood are going to be looking for you?’

That’s right,’ said Jane, ‘We have to assume they were tracking our helicopter so that doesn’t give us long before they find us here. We have to keep moving.’

Doctor Owen piped up. ‘Last night I received a call from Doctor Forrest, my boss and research partner. He’s gone missing and wouldn’t tell me where he was but he did tell me I have to recover some samples that we have stored in different facilities around the city, then we can meet up with him. He said he has a plan for moving our work forward.’

So we need to find this guy, don’t we?’ Dave asked.

Yes, but I don’t think that requires all of us,’ said Jane.

I agree,’ I said, trying to find common ground with her, ‘we need to direct our efforts.’

Good idea, Tom,’ she said, and the tone of her voice turned darker, ‘You can work out what the hell we’re supposed to do with the severed head you brought with us.’

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