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Monday, 3 November 2008

The Rising - Chapter 54: Virex

‘How long will it take to get there?’ I asked.

Jackson looked in his rear view mirror at me. ‘A little while, so make yourself comfortable.’

I checked the backs of my hands. They had turned a strong shade of pink in the short time it had taken us to run to the car, but my skin was now back to normal. I couldn’t imagine how the incredible healing power of the vampire virus would ever cease to amaze me.

I looked out of the window and watched the city rush past me and turn into countryside. The events that were unfolding were not what we were expecting when Skinner had the idea of officially registering me as a vampire. We had thought it would help my safe passage should we run into any bloodsuckers, but now we were being taken to their home. As it turned out, carrying the head of Commander North around with us had worked – we were about to find out so much more about what was going on. But at what cost?

I had many concerns going round in my head. The biggest worry of all was what the vampires knew about us without asking any questions. The vampire driving the car had worked out the whole situation at the outpost just a matter of seconds after he had arrived. Without saying a word, he had known who we were and whether we posed a threat to him or not.

Can he read our minds? Can he tell what I’m thinking now?

‘What’s going to happen to those men we left back there?’ I asked.

‘Don’t worry about them,’ Jackson said, ‘You’re not the first rebirth to go crazy after your first taste of blood. You won’t be the last, either. You only broke their bones. Their bodies will heal in time. If you had removed their limbs, it would have taken a lot longer to repair the damage. It’s their job to look after guys like you so I’m sure they won’t hold a grudge.’

‘Wow, us vampires are a friendly bunch, aren’t we?’ I quipped, trying to figure him out.

His stony face cracked a tiny smile. ‘Up to a point, new boy. Up to a point.’

He shot another glance at me in the mirror. ‘How was your first taste of blood?’

I wondered if he knew how I felt. Does he know how sick I feel after drinking the blood of a child, no matter how sweet it tasted and how much it quenched my uncontrollable thirst?

‘I can’t remember,’ I lied.

‘Do you remember why you went crazy?’

‘I would have preferred my first feed to be a little older.’

‘I understand. Get used to it though, new boy. When you have to feed, you don’t have a choice. Boy, girl or some old dear doddering along the street, they’re all the same to you now.’

I looked out of the window again and let his words ring in my ears. When you have to feed, you don’t have a choice.

As the hours went by, I was beginning to think there was no way back for me. Even if the doctor could finish work on the treatment, was I too far gone to turn back? I had already tasted the blood of two people and slaughtered more. As time ticked by, I was becoming less and less human.

The box containing Commander North’s head sat on the back seat next to me. Our ticket into the underworld. I knew The Brotherhood would be looking for us and I thought of Jane and Doctor Owen, hoping they were safe. In a perverse way I was happier to be with the vampires than on our own. I knew that at least if The Brotherhood found us, we would have a better chance of surviving their attack. Safety in numbers.

Jackson asked Skinner about what had happened the previous day at The Brotherhood’s regional headquarters. I took Jackson’s advice and sat back in my seat to get comfortable. As I tried to stretch my legs out, my feet hit something under the seat in front. I looked down and saw a small plastic box. Intrigued, I gripped the box between my feet and slowly drew it out into my foot well.

I was surprised at what I saw. The box was full of individually wrapped syringes, each filled with a yellow liquid. The plastic packaging around the syringes was printed with the word ‘Virex’. The yellow liquid looked exactly the same as the treatment Doctor Owen had given me. I was confused. This was too much of a coincidence.

If this is the same treatment I received, what is it doing in the back of a vampire’s car? And why is it packaged with a brand name?

I knew I had to get a sample of this back to the doctor. He would certainly want to check this out for himself. With Jackson still talking to Skinner, as quietly as I could I bent over and lifted two syringes out of the box and slipped them into my sock.

My actions had been quick enough not to warrant another glance in the mirror from Jackson. I sat back and watched the countryside go by, trying to work out the significance of my discovery.

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