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#2: The Rising - About - Go to Chapter 1

Friday, 27 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 104: Triumphant Return

Skinner could sense something was amiss. The crew had successfully unloaded the bodies from the plane onto the boat, then from the boat into the truck, which was now travelling towards an unknown destination.

But now that the mission was over and everyone was on board the coaches heading back to the lair, Skinner was getting a feeling in the back of his mind. He was an infiltrator, alone in the group, but the thoughts going round in his head were more than just a fear of being discovered.

They know I’m not one of them.

When the boat docked at the pier, he’d told them all that he’d killed Tom. He said that Tom had gone crazy after being a vampire for only a few hours so he had no choice. At the time he wasn’t sure how convincing his story of stabbing him with a silver dagger then dropping the dagger in the water had been. Now he was certain they were all ready to turn on him. Skinner looked round the coach. Even though no one looked at him, he could feel their minds trying to delve into his.

As the coaches passed a sign that told them Blackchapel was just five miles ahead, Skinner saw a car go past at speed in the opposite direction. Tom’s face flashed into his mind. The other passengers on the coach looked at each other and started to whisper between themselves.

Do they know? Did they see the same thing?

Skinner was relieved that Tom was alive. He felt confident that Tom had found his friend Dave and the two of them were driving away to safety. He hoped they had found Emily but couldn’t feel her presence in their car.

As the coaches passed through Blackchapel, the empty lead coach stopped outside the hotel where a crowd had gathered. Skinner sensed the presence of vampires. Dozens of them.

The remaining coach passed through Blackchapel and made its way through the metal gates that secured the entrance to the lair. It stopped in the grassy clearing and the crew disembarked. Finally free of the normal human front they had to put up in the airport and on the plane before take-off, they all ran to the end of the cliff and jumped down into the chasm.

Peter remained in the clearing for a few seconds, just long enough to stare at Skinner, to look deep into his mind. He then held out an arm in the direction of the chasm and said ‘You first.’

Skinner flew down into the chasm and landed on the wooden platform. The main doors to the lair were open and the vampires were all filing into the entrance hall. Roxy had been waiting for them and was congratulating them all one by one.

Peter landed next to Skinner and closed the doors behind him as they walked into the hall. Roxy shook Skinner’s hand and patted him on the shoulder. ‘Good job,’ she said, but her gaze was drawn by Peter behind him. Her eyes narrowed.

Roxy turned to Skinner. The tone of her voice changed. ‘Come with me, Skinner. We need to talk.’


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Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 103: 'You Are Now Leaving Blackchapel'

By the glazed happiness on their faces, I assumed they were the cause of the noise in the bar outside. One by one the vampires moved into the reception area and their expressions changed. Smiles turned to shock, which in turn quickly morphed into anger.

Still brandishing the dagger to keep the two closest vampires at bay, I dragged Dave towards the mob. They all kept their distance but looked at me like they were trying to burn a hole in my head with their stare. With their legs bent and arms out to their sides, any one of them was ready to jump me if they thought they had an opportunity.

I could kill any of them with a single jab from the dagger, but can I take them all on?

My heart was pounding again. Adrenaline was flowing through my body to my brain but I did all I could to maintain a calm front as I edged us closer to the front door. The vampires circled us at just over arm’s length and kept their distance. Thoughts and voices flashed into my mind.

We’re going to kill you.

We’re going to feast on your friend.

You killed our brother. You must die.

He’s one of us.

He killed one of our brothers. He’s one of them.

He’s an infiltrator.

Kill him!

With the last voice, I heard a scream behind me. Keeping hold of Dave’s collar, I spun round and was faced with a vampire leaping towards me. I swung my right arm out, the silver blade pointing at him.

He flew right into me. I stumbled backwards but kept my footing. I heard a familiar noise. It was the faint fizz of a vampire’s body turning to ash. I looked down and saw that the blade had stabbed him square in the chest.

There were more screams around me. I pulled the dagger from his still-dissolving body and my victim fell to the floor screaming. I held out the dagger, swinging for arms that were reaching for me.

‘Come on then!’ I shouted, ‘Who’s having it next? I’ve killed two of you bastards already. It’s too easy!’

Still threatening them with the dagger, I took larger steps towards the door. They all wanted to attack me but none of them wanted to meet with the same fate as their brother, who was now nothing more than a pile of ash and clothes on the floor. The circle broke and I kicked the front door open.

Dragging Dave’s heavy body out of the hotel and down the steps, I kept looking at the vampires that were staring me down from inside. We reached Dave’s car. I stuck my hand in his pocket and breathed a sigh of relief when I found his car key. I opened the back door and threw Dave onto the back seat, then got into the driver’s seat and hit the gas.

As we passed the sign thanking us for passing through Blackchapel, I made a mental note never to return. Or if I did, to bring plenty of silver with me.

Warmth spread all over me as my vampire blood regulated my bodily functions. The fight was over. Keeping my eyes on the road, with one hand I reached back and felt for Dave’s wrist. I found his pulse, just wanting to double check that I hadn’t wasted my time rescuing a dead body.

Every few seconds I shot a glance in the rear view mirror, half expecting to see the sky filled with vampires on our tail, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. They had decided not to give chase and I wasn’t that interested in knowing why. All that mattered was getting back to the city in one piece and finding our old friends.

The road was empty, which I hoped would allow us to make good time. The only traffic I saw was two coaches going in the opposite direction.

Skinner.


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Monday, 23 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 102: Gatecrasher

I didn’t know how Dave had got himself into this situation but one thing was clear as I saw what was happening to him through the window.

They’re going to kill him.

The concierge spun round with a startled look on his face. I smashed through the window and flew across the room towards him, grabbing his neck and pinning him against the wall.

‘Where are you taking him?’ I growled.

‘Who are you?’ the concierge whimpered.

‘Dave’s my friend. Where is he?’

The concierge instinctively glanced towards the door. A vision of a hotel kitchen flashed into my mind.

‘Thanks. That’s all I need.’

I drew the silver-plated dagger from my belt and jabbed it into the concierge’s neck. He tried to scream but the unstoppable reaction now taking over his body had already eaten away his voice box. The ash was still falling from his wound as I left the bedroom with murder on my mind.

I looked up and down the corridor and saw two vampires struggling to drag Dave’s limp body into the elevator. I started to run. The sound of my feet stomping along the corridor alerted them and one of them hit the button to close the doors. I took longer and longer steps until I was almost flying again, but I just failed to reach the elevator before the doors closed in front of me.

With no door leading to a staircase to the left or right, I decided to test my abilities again. I told myself I needed more strength in my arms. In less than a second, warm blood had flowed into my biceps and triceps. I squeezed the tips of my fingers into the gaps between the elevator doors and tried to pull them apart. It was no problem. I was prepared for a struggle but I flung the heavy metal doors apart with ease.

I leaned forward and gazed into the black chasm below. The elevator had just stopped at the ground floor and I heard the doors open. Without a second to spare, I jumped forward and fell down onto the elevator. With power still in my arms, I punched a hole through the roof like it was made from tin foil and tore a strip away, just big enough for me to fit through. I jumped down.

Dave was at my feet. He lay between me and his captors, who were trying to drag him away by his collar. With hatred in their eyes, they stared me down like they were going to jump on me and tear me apart. Then in unison, their gazes clocked the silver dagger in my hand.

They know I’ve killed their friend. They know I want to do the same to them.

The two vampires let go of Dave and his head thumped to the ground, but the impact failed to wake him up. They both took a step back and held their hands in front of them. I leaned over and picked Dave up by his collar. Even though my left arm was full of blood, pumping my muscles larger than they had ever been before, I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry Dave for long.

I’ve got to get the hell out of here.

I held the dagger out and edged out of the elevator, forcing the vampires in front of me to take further steps back into the reception area. Just over their shoulders, I saw something that made my heart sink, something that would make getting out of the hotel very difficult. A mob of at least twenty people walked through the front door to the hotel.

Correction: a mob of at least twenty vampires.


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Friday, 20 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 101: Vampire Hotel

Dave shuddered as terrible feelings of panic and realisation washed over him.

I’ve checked into a vampire hotel.

He lifted a hand to feel his nose. He was sure it wasn’t broken but that didn’t stop the stream of blood trickling from his nostrils. He ignored it and tried to get to his feet, but a kick to the kidneys sent him tumbling back onto the floor. Another hard boot in the back kept him down.

Dave tried to put the growing pain in his body out of his mind, just for a few seconds while he inched his way over to the bedside table where he had left his gun. He lifted his hand to reach for it but a falling boot stamped his hand into the ground and made it stay there. The concierge picked up the gun and removed the clip, examining the regular bullets inside.

‘I’m not sure what you were expecting to do with this, sir.’

‘Fuck you.’

‘Well, that’s not a very nice way to treat a member of staff.’

‘Come on,’ Ali shouted, ‘The hunger’s killing me.’

The concierge kicked Dave in the back to stop him trying to get up again. ‘You’ll have to wait,’ he said, ‘I’ve told you before. We can’t feed in the bedrooms. Do you know how much work it causes the cleaning staff?’

The concierge picked Dave up by his collar and held his head in front of Ali, who took a swing at him with one quick, hard punch to the jaw. The last thing Dave felt was his eyes rolling back in their sockets. He blacked out and his body slumped in the concierge’s arms.

‘Take him down to the kitchen,’ the concierge said, ‘And try not to get his blood on everything.’

Ali and Bill grabbed an arm each and dragged Dave’s heavy body out of the room and down the corridor towards the elevator. The concierge remained in the room and started to gather together Dave’s personal items. All he had with him were his gun and his jacket. The concierge wondered why someone would check into a hotel first thing in the morning without any luggage and spend all day just hanging around.

He said he was waiting for a friend, but no one else has shown up.

The concierge tucked the gun in his belt and threw Dave’s jacket over his arm. He cast his eyes around the room. Something caught his eye in the mirror by the desk. The mirror was pointing at the window. It looked like a man was outside and he was coming closer.


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Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 100: Landing In Blackchapel

I reluctantly touched down on the empty road leading down into Blackchapel.

For the past thirty minutes I had been living a dream. The dream of flying was a dream that never lasted. For the moments I remembered after being jerked awake by the thought of falling out of the sky, I had been as happy as I had been at almost any point in my life. But that feeling was fleeting and impossible to recreate. Only the happiness I felt when Sarah took me back could compare.

Now I could get the feeling whenever I wanted, at any time. The excitement was intoxicating. The fact that I was turning into a vampire and had to feed on human blood to sustain my existence didn’t even cross my mind.

I can fly. I can take to the fucking skies any time I want.

I had circled the mountains and clearings around the vampire lair. I saw no one that looked like they had just escaped. My sixth sense wasn’t strong but I knew there were no humans around. I couldn’t sense any vampires either.

At least until I walked past the sign at the side of the road that read ‘Welcome to Blackchapel’.

I was suddenly hit by the terrible sense of belonging that had been present in my mind all day in the lair, only this time it was stronger. Much stronger.

Other than the kid working in the petrol station, I couldn’t see anyone around. I looked closer at the kid and felt certain he was a vampire. On the opposite side of the road there was a gap in the barrier that was supposed to protect wayward drivers from a sheer drop. I wondered how many drivers had had their veins sucked dry by the kid or his friends and then been dumped over the edge of the cliff into the mists below, never to be found again.

As I kept walking towards a small row of shops, I became aware of the noise coming from a bar at the end. I could hear people shouting and laughing. It was after two in the morning and by the sound of it the party would be going on until sunrise. My gut feelings became stronger as I walked past the bar.

Wall to wall vampires.

I checked my hand where I had cut it during my escape from the plane. It had already healed. Just thirty minutes earlier the glass panel on the emergency door had sliced a deep gash in my hand. I still had blood all over my jacket and shirt to prove it, but now the wound had disappeared, leaving not even the tiniest of scars.

I stopped and looked up at the Cliffside Hotel, a structure so massively out of place that it towered over the rest of Blackchapel. I knew Dave had to be here; his car was still parked outside. The lights were turned off and the curtains closed in every room apart from one.

Something’s wrong.

With the luxury of not having to go through the reception area to see what was going on in the room above me, my feet left the floor and I started my ascent.


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Monday, 16 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 99: Room Service

The TV news had all but stopped reporting on the attack on the police station. Twenty-four hours was a long time in journalism. No new information had come to light about the attack or the missing individuals the police were supposedly looking for so the reporters had been fed various pieces of banal news to pass the time.

Just that second a bright red band flashed across the bottom of the TV screen, along with large white letters that read ‘BREAKING NEWS’. The male reporter said that a plane had gone missing shortly after take-off and was thought to have crashed into the sea.

Dave didn’t hear the report. He was asleep.

Slumped in his chair by the window where he had held his vigil for Tom, Dave had reached the point of no return and given in to the insistence of his eyelids. However, he did hear his phone ring and the piercing sound jerked him awake. Without thinking, he got to his feet and answered the call.

‘Hello?’ he croaked.

There was no answer. The caller hung up almost immediately.

Must be a wrong number. Dave thought nothing of it and hung up the phone. He rubbed his eyes and checked his watch.

What the hell am I doing here? he thought, not for the first time since checking in at the Cliffside Hotel. Tom saw me in the car. He must know I’m here. I’ll stay here as long as it takes to be sure he’s okay.

Dave considered calling his wife again to check how she was but then looked at his watch again and thought better of it. He decided to get his head down and have a few hours’ sleep in his bed. He picked up his mobile and was about to program the alarm function with a time to wake him up when his thoughts were disturbed by another sound.

There was a knock at the door.

Very carefully and as quietly as he could, Dave edged towards the door and put his eye up to the spy hole.

Oh, for Christ’s sake! Not him again.

It was the concierge.

‘Hello?’ Dave said.

‘Hello sir, may I have a word?’

‘It’s past two in the morning. Is this absolutely necessary?’

‘Yes sir, I’m afraid it is. I’m very sorry. I wouldn’t wake you at this time if it wasn’t important.’

‘What is it?’

‘Sir, may I ask you to open the door? I’d rather not wake the other guests by shouting through the door.’

Dave flipped the metal coil over the bolt on the door and opened it slightly. The concierge immediately pushed on the door and it banged against the bolt.

‘Sir, will you please open the door? I’d prefer not to talk through a gap in the door.’

‘Will you tell me what this is about first?’

‘Room service, sir.’

‘But I haven’t ordered any room service.’

The door burst from its hinges and knocked Dave on the head, sending him sprawling backwards onto the floor. He looked up and saw the concierge standing before him, flanked by Ali and Bill from the bar. They all showed their extended canine teeth.

‘No,’ said Ali, ‘But we have.’


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Friday, 13 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 98: Flying Again

I was happy. Not because I’d been on a plane that had crashed into the sea. Not because I had watched a perfectly good man get injected with something that was likely to cause him an eternity of pain, even if the treatment I had given him kept it at bay for a few hours.

I was happy because I was flying again.

Upon leaving the plane, I had heard Peter shout to the vampires that were on board the coastguard boat and they started to shoot at me. I was unsure whether their guns were loaded with regular or silver bullets but that didn’t matter. I had taught myself enough basic manoeuvres in the training hall to avoid their shots.

Somehow I knew that Skinner wasn’t among my brothers on the boat, so I headed in the direction of the wake it had left in the sea. I looked down at the water and saw that it was becoming choppy, with large swells spraying water into the air below me. I could taste the salt spray as I removed my gas mask and threw it into the water.

With my sixth sense I suspected there was only one person standing on the pier ahead of me. As I got closer, I could tell it was a vampire.

Skinner.

I told the blood in my body to flow towards my feet. With equal feelings of fear and awe, I felt the warmth in my arms and upper body that was carrying me through the air start to move down through my waist to my legs. I slowed down and started to drop towards the wooden pier that was getting closer and closer.

My body fell down and it was only as I was about to land that I realised I was falling too quickly. It was too late for me to slow myself down. My legs buckled under me as my feet hit the pier. I thumped into the ground and rolled over, clinging on to the wooden beams and almost fell over the side into the water.

‘Tom, are you okay?’ I heard Skinner ask. I got to my feet and dusted myself down.

‘Just happy to be alive,’ I said and clocked the weapon he was holding, ‘What’s with the knife?’

‘One of the guys from the plane radioed over to me. He told me you’d gone crazy on the plane. He told me to kill you.’

‘And you believed him?’

‘I didn’t know what to think. Especially after…’

‘What? After this morning?’

Skinner nodded. I was going to protest my humanity but I knew he had a point. I was a monster. I was a vampire who drinks the blood of children. But now I was trying to redeem myself.

‘Look, I need you to do something for me. There are two people on board the plane that I tried to help: a man and his daughter. Their names are Jonnie and Poppy. She’s wearing jeans and a pink top. Probably seven or eight years old. You have to keep them apart from the rest.’

‘I’ll do whatever I can. I promise. Now you’d better get out of here. They’re expecting me to kill you so you’d better not be here when they get back. I left Doctor Owen’s wife with instructions of how to get out. Check the outskirts of the lair for her. If she managed to get out, she won’t have gone too far.’

‘She’ll probably head back to Blackchapel. That’s where I last saw Dave. I’ll try and find both of them.’

Skinner handed me the silver-plated knife. ‘Take this. You might need it.’

I thanked him and ran along the pier and jumped off the end, arcing backwards high in the sky and soaring over the trees. I forgot all about the virus coursing round my body. The troubles I’d had with alcohol hadn’t crossed my mind all day long. I no longer wanted to forget where I was. I wanted to stay like this forever.

I was flying. And I loved it.


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Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 97: The View From The Pier

Skinner stood at the end of the pier and watched the coastguard boat heading out into the sea. It was his job to guard the docking point on the coastline.

When they had arrived, a large truck had been waiting for them. Its container was empty, ready and waiting to take their new brothers and sisters away. Where they were being taken, Skinner didn’t know.

They have to survive the landing first, he thought and looked up at the sky to see a set of blinking lights appear overhead, then start to drop very quickly.

The coastguard boat changed direction to where the pilot thought the lights would hit the water ahead of them. Skinner could hear the faint sound of the plane’s engines struggling overhead. In a matter of seconds, the plane splashed down into the sea and the flashing lights were extinguished.

‘They’re down. The plane’s still in one piece. We’ve got to move fast,’ a voice said over Skinner’s crackling radio.

So far, everything’s going according to plan. I hope Tom’s okay.

Skinner’s radio crackled into life again.

‘The door’s open. Hey, where the hell’s he going?’ then in a different, distant voice, someone shouted, ‘Kill him!’ The sound of a short loud burst of gunfire was transmitted over the airwaves and the volume shocked Skinner into almost dropping his radio.

‘Skinner, this is Peter. Come in,’ the radio crackled.

‘This is Skinner.’

‘Tom’s coming towards you. You have to kill him.’

‘What? Why?’

‘He went crazy. He refused to treat any of the passengers and attacked me.’

‘But how can I kill him? I haven’t got any weapons.’

‘There should be something you can use in the front cab of the truck. Something we’ll need in case this lot get too rowdy.’

‘Okay,’ Skinner said, ‘Leave it to me.’

Skinner ran for the truck and flung the driver’s door open. He frantically searched around the seats and found nothing, but opening the glove box revealed a pistol and two silver-plated daggers. He took one of the daggers in his hand and went back onto the pier.

He didn’t know what to think about what he’d heard over the radio. The idea that Tom had refused to inject any of the passengers with vampire blood was heartening. Skinner hoped that he had stood up for the humans and did what he could to stop the vampires, as futile a stand as that may have been.

On the other hand, Skinner had seen him flip out at the outpost that morning and wondered if he might actually have to use the dagger on his new friend.


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Monday, 9 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 96: Crash Landing

Peter and his henchman got to their feet and made a run for their seats. ‘You’re a fucking dead man!’ I heard Peter mumble from beneath his gas mask.

I strapped myself in and held onto the armrests as tightly as I could. The pathetic little seatbelt was hardly designed to keep passengers in their seats as a vampire pilot made a nosedive towards the sea below. I resisted the usual instruction of assuming the brace position, knowing that it’s only designed to break your neck and finish you off quickly. After all, if I could now call myself a vampire then a broken neck would only make my existence more painful in the short term, not end it.

The noise around us became excruciating as the cabin rattled furiously. Louder and louder it shook, with loose objects rolling down the aisle. The engines outside added to the cacophony by struggling with all their might to deal with the unnatural strain that was being put on them.

My insides were rising inside my body, a similar feeling to the drop from the top of a roller coaster, but this was going on and on, far longer than our bodies were designed to cope with. The force of our descent made it difficult for me to even attempt to adjust the seating positions of Poppy and her father, who were violently shaking and flailing in unison with each movement of the plane.

I knew the situation I was in was almost impossible. Even if I survived the impact, I would have to make my escape as soon as we hit the water if I was to stand a chance of surviving the night.

But I had to get in touch with Skinner to make sure Jonnie and Poppy weren’t put in any danger. I hadn’t managed to stop Jonnie being injected with vampire blood but I was relieved that his daughter had been spared. However, I knew her fortune may not last very long if I couldn’t find a way to stop her being used as food for the batch of new vampires she would soon be packed in with and transported to God knows where.

When I thought I couldn’t take any more of our descent, I felt the plane start to level off. The respite from our fall only lasted for a split second before my ears rang with an almighty bang. Everyone on board was thrown forward in their seats, some of which dislocated from the weak bolts that held them onto the floor, flying forward and crashing into the other passengers.

The doors to the overhead lockers flew open and a shower of bags and cases rained down into the aisles. Flying debris hit the unconscious passengers from all angles. I heard the crack of breaking bones all around me.

As soon as the dishevelled contents of the plane started to come to rest, blood rushed to my head and I knew exactly what I had to do. The warmth flowed back down my body, into my arms and legs and I tore myself free of my seatbelt. I pushed the seats in front forward just enough to make room for my escape and made a run for the emergency exit just across the aisle.

As I took three long steps to reach the door, I was already working out how to open it. In one move I smashed the glass panel and pulled on the handle inside, cutting my hand deeply on shards of broken glass.

I thought nothing of it. I heard the shouts of Peter and members of his team but before they could get to me, I threw the door out into the darkness ahead of me and leapt into the cool black night.


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Friday, 6 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 95: Hiding In The Lab

Emily was in shock. When she opened the door and stepped inside, the last person in the world she had expected to meet was Doctor Forrest.

She cast her eyes around the room. The interior was a stark contrast to the d├ęcor of the corridor outside. A large workbench stood in the middle of the room with barely any space visible among the scientific paraphernalia. Emily recognised some of the equipment but she would have been lying if she said she knew what purpose any of it served. However, the burning question was: what the hell is he doing here?

She had met Doctor Forrest a few times in the past, mostly when he had a moment of inspiration in the middle of the night and called round to wake up her husband.

‘Emily, I’m so happy to see you,’ he began, ‘When they told me about the explosion at our lab, I feared the worst. But then they said that Andrew was okay. Do you know where he is?’

‘No, I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to Andrew since the explosion. I’ve just been dragged around the city by everyone looking for him.’

‘How did you get here?’

‘Someone took me away from the police station and I’ve been stuck in a room down the corridor ever since.’

‘But you’re in here now. How did you get out?’

Emily was about to tell him all about Skinner but then she realised something was amiss.

‘What are you doing in here? The door wasn’t locked,’ she asked.

‘I’m doing work for the vampires,’ he said, ‘I have no choice.’

Emily heard more footsteps outside the lab. She turned back to the door, opening it a fraction. It was Roxy. Emily watched as she opened the cell door without even attempting to unlock it and looked inside. Then she turned and headed directly for the lab.

Emily spun round, hoping Doctor Forrest may be able to offer her somewhere to hide but he had quietly moved closer and she bumped into him. When the door opened, she was trapped between the doctor and Roxy, who looked down at her with her dead brown eyes.

‘You were right,’ Doctor Forrest said.

‘It means we’ve got an infiltrator,’ Roxy said, ‘I know who it is. I’ll take care of him.’

Emily looked Doctor Forrest straight in the eye. ‘You bastard! All this time you were one of them! But you were working on a cure with Andrew. Why?’

‘The treatment has been ready for years. I was just making sure The Brotherhood didn’t do anything they shouldn’t. Your husband was part of that work.’

‘Don’t worry,’ Roxy said, ‘You’ll be joining your husband very soon.’


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Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 94: Choking

I took the case of syringes out of the pocket in front of me and rose to my feet, placing a hand on the headrest in front to steady myself. Looking round the cabin I could see that all of my brothers and sisters had done the same. Some of them were already brandishing their blood-filled syringes.

We’ve got five minutes.

I unzipped the case and placed it on my empty seat. I took a syringe in my right hand. With the gas mask obstructing my vision I had to hold it up high to remove the cap. Having watched plenty of hospital TV dramas in the past, I held the syringe upside down, flicked the chamber to pop the air bubbles and pressed the plunger until a small drop of blood squirted out. If I was going to turn these people into vampires, I wanted to at least make sure they didn’t have air bubbles flowing through their veins as well.

I didn’t want to make Poppy my first target so I sidestepped past her and focused on Jonnie. I moved into the aisle and knelt down next to him. I straightened his head in his seat and rolled up his sleeve. Tapping the top of his forearm and trying not to think about the fact that I’d never given anyone an injection before, I tried to find a big fat vein on his muscular arm that would make it easy for me.

I looked at my watch and realised I had already wasted over a minute. Damn it, I’m supposed to do at least five of these every minute.

The cabin shook and Jonnie’s head fell forward. I straightened him up again and looked into his lifeless eyes.

I can’t do it, I thought, I can’t turn him and his daughter into vampires. I can’t do this to anyone on this plane.

I put the cap back on the syringe and placed it in the case, which I then zipped up and sat back down in my seat. Within seconds, the tall figure of Peter was standing in the aisle, the stare of his eyes burning into mine through our gas masks.

‘What the hell are you doing, Tom?’ he demanded in an eerie, muffled voice.

I didn’t offer a response.

‘Shit,’ he exclaimed and shouted on another member of the team, ‘Hey, are you done yet? Tom’s choked! I need you to treat as many of this lot as you can. We’ve only got a couple of minutes!’

Peter leaned over and snatched the case of syringes out of my hands. I tried not to react, knowing that giving the impression that I’d bottled it would be my best chance of getting through the next few minutes and the best chance of survival for the passengers around me. He opened the case and took out a syringe. Without checking for air bubbles, he jabbed it into Jonnie’s arm and pressed the plunger, sending a measure of vampire blood surging into his veins.

Another one of my brothers arrived and picked up a handful of syringes, immediately turning to the passengers seated across the aisle from me. Peter took the cap off a second syringe. He leaned over Jonnie and roughly grabbed one of Poppy’s tiny arms.

I saw red.

In one move, I flicked his gas mask off his head with my left hand and buried my right fist into his jaw. Peter was sent sprawling backwards and fell on the vampire behind him. They both hit the ground. Peter quickly put his gas mask back on before he could breathe in any of the remnants of the gas that still hung in the air.

The vampires got to their feet and turned to look directly at me. I was convinced they were going to tear me limb from limb. But for a moment my life was spared. They had more important things on their minds. At that second, the plane started to dive.


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Monday, 2 February 2009

The Rising - Chapter 93: Take-Off

Fortunately there were plenty of noisy children taking their seats on the flight so no one took any notice of Poppy’s crying as her father brought her back to their seats.

‘You’d better be right,’ Jonnie said under his breath as he sat down with his daughter in his arms. I couldn’t imagine how mad I’d be if a stranger had just talked me into injecting an unknown substance into the veins of my only child, but looking at the expression on his face, I had an idea.

‘I wouldn’t ask you to do it if I wasn’t serious,’ I said.

‘So what happens?’ he whispered.

‘I know the man who’s picking us up. I’ll make sure you’re looked after.’

‘You’d better,’ he said, still with anger in his voice. Even though he was undoubtedly under a lot of pressure, I didn’t like his tone.

‘Look man, it’s not my fault you’re in this situation. I’m trying to help you and your daughter. If my help isn’t appreciated, you can f…’

Poppy turned to look at me.

‘You can find your own way when we land,’ I finished.

Jonnie took in what I said. ‘You’re right. I’m sorry, Tom. Are you sure there’s nothing else you can do?’

‘Positive,’ I said as the plane started to move, ‘Just sit back and try to act natural. I’ll look after you the best I can.’

The plane turned to face the right direction on the runway. My heart was pumping hard in my chest. I knew there was no going back. Every scenario I ran through in my head would mean the death of me and probably everyone on the plane.

It’s better to keep everyone alive as vampires than dead as humans. Isn’t it?

I knew that if I could at least save Poppy and her father for now then it might be some kind of victory. Most of all, I hoped that saving Poppy would make the feelings of guilt that had resurfaced go away again. I hoped that Skinner would be able to get them back to Doctor Owen, or at least find them another supply of the syringes before the effects wore off.

We were thrown back in our seats as the plane accelerated from a standing start to take-off speed. Jonnie held Poppy’s hand as we lifted off the ground. As the back of plane dipped I heard a few ‘oohs’ from fellow passengers as their stomachs jumped upwards.

I checked the time on my watch and made a mental note of the position of the second hand. As we climbed, I watched the time tick by. Four minutes were gone in no time and I leaned forward and fished around below my seat. Just as Roxy had told us, there was no life jacket, but I could feel something heavy. I lifted it out and placed it on my lap. With ten seconds to go, I unzipped the bag, took out the gas mask and placed it over my head.

Poppy looked at me and screamed. My heart broke as I saw the vision of pure innocent fear on her face. Jonnie put one arm round her shoulders and covered her face with his other hand. The seconds ticked by and one by one I saw the passengers drop off into a deep sleep. Poppy’s body slumped forward and Jonnie fell to his side, his head lolling around in the aisle.

The plane levelled off. There was a low ping as the seatbelt lights went out on the panels above us.


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