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Monday, 19 January 2009

The Rising - Chapter 87: Leaving The Lair

I spent the next hour doing what I had been learning to do for most of the day: soaring like an eagle from one side of the training hall to the other.

Well, probably more like a baby eagle. I was alone again but it gave me the chance to teach myself to change direction and move up and down in mid-air. Even though I was growing in confidence with my new skills, I hoped to God that I didn’t have to use them as the night moved on.

The feelings of my brothers and sisters were becoming stronger and stronger. I didn’t know if that was because I was venturing further down the path to the point of no return or if it was because everyone’s feelings were so strong. I could tell they were all growing in confidence. The idea of leading the Rising against the humans was giving everyone an increased sense of optimism and self-importance.

Over here everyone!’ Peter shouted from far below, ‘We’re moving out!’

For the last hour I had been hoping Skinner would walk back through the door and tell Peter I was being excused from the night’s operation. As the minutes ticked by, this pipe dream failed to become a reality and I realised that I would have to come to terms with the fact that I was going to be on that flight. I had no choice but to go through with their plan.

I weighed up the options in my head. If I made a break for freedom when we got outside, either I’d be caught or they’d turn on Skinner. Ditto if I made a run for it at the airport, which would be even more dangerous for me if there were indeed men on the inside looking out for us. If I tried to stop the operation while we were on the plane, I would almost certainly be overpowered and killed by everyone else on the team. If I tried to cause a scene on the plane, I would put the passengers in even more danger.

It didn’t matter which way I looked at it, there was no way I could stop them infecting a large number of innocent people.

I resigned myself to the fact that I had no choice and dedicated my thoughts to keeping in mind the possibility of following the operation as far as I could. Roxy hadn’t told us where the bodies were being taken following the crash. There was a plan for the bodies when we had finished with them and I had to find out what it was and where they were being taken.

I let go of the wall and glided down to the ground, touching down with a thump but still managing to stay on my feet. I joined my brothers and sisters and Peter led us out of the training hall.

I followed the single-file line as we marched up the corridor and turned down another corridor to the right before we reached the entrance hall. After another twenty or so paces we reached a tight spiral staircase carved into the rock. One by one we stomped up the stairs that seemed to go on forever and ever. Flaming torches were built into recesses in the walls but they were few and far between and light was low all the way to the top. Unable to see clearly, I stubbed my toe on the next step a few times.

I tapped my brother in front of me on the shoulder.

Hey, why do we have to walk up these stairs? Why can’t we just fly up to the top like normal?’

They do this to get us used to walking around like humans,’ he said, ‘It’s supposed to get us out of the habit of flying and start acting like normal people.’

With each step I remembered how far I had fallen into the chasm. My legs started to ache but before they started to burn with the build-up of lactic acid, I felt the warmth of my blood flow from my upper body down to my thighs and calves. I felt a little light-headed but from that moment on the pain in my legs disappeared. Suddenly I felt like I could have run up and down those steps all day long.

My blood spread out around the rest of my body when we reached the top. Another small corridor lay ahead with a wooden door at the end. Peter marched us through the door, round a patch of trees and bushes that concealed the entrance, and out onto a familiar clearing.

Even though I knew we had spent a long time in the vampires’ lair, I was still surprised to see that darkness had fallen outside. Clouds above obscured our view of the stars and the only light came from the headlights of the vehicles in front of us, which cast long shadows of my new brothers and sisters across the grass. I spotted the car Jackson had picked us up in, along with two large coaches.

Roxy was waiting for us and walked up to Peter. ‘Pick two of our brothers to join the recovery team.’

Peter turned round and pointed at me and the vampire I had followed up the stairs. ‘Him and him.’

Not him,’ Roxy said, looking right at me. Peter picked out another member of our squad and the two chosen ones walked over to her.

Now I was really worried. It was clear that she wanted to keep me and Skinner apart.

Is it me or Skinner she doesn’t trust? Or does she know exactly what’s going on?

Good luck to all of you,’ she said to us and turned to the other two vampires, ‘You two, come with me.’

Right then,’ said Peter, ‘Let’s do it.’

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