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#1: Rebirth - About - Go to Chapter 1

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

Saturday 30 August 2008

Review: Basic Instinct (Blu-ray)

My sleazy review of the sleazy Basic Instinct is also available at DVDActive.

Review: So I Married An Axe Murderer (Blu-ray)

My review of So I Married An Axe Murderer, one of my favourite movies from the early 90s, is now online at DVDActive.

Friday 29 August 2008

The Rising - Chapter 26: The Box Under The Bed

For the second time in under an hour, Detective Dave Thomas found himself standing in front of a building surrounded by crime scene tape. This time he was alone.

At one-two-four Castle Crescent there were no photographers or dumbstruck police officers getting in his way. Tom had told him about the attack on this house. He had even heard about the ensuing helicopter attack on the tactical aid unit on the radio as he drove his then-happy family up to the lake. All they had said on the radio was that the traffic was grid locked due to a ‘possible terrorist incident’. He had half-expected to receive a call telling him to get back to work but the more time that passed without his phone ringing, the more those thoughts faded and turned to his wife and kids.

But that happiness had been all too brief. Dave cast his eyes over the surroundings. The pleasant leafy drive was lit only by street lights and he couldn’t see anyone around. All the excitement in the suburbs had happened more than twenty-four hours earlier and with all the commotion at the police station, the city’s hacks had a much juicier story to get their teeth into.

He knew the early risers would soon start to make their way out of bed and into their cars to beat the rush hour traffic.

If something was going to happen here, it’s best to get it out of the way when there’s no audience to see me screw up.

He walked up the path to the front door and pushed it open. It had been broken from its latch and now that the evidence had been gathered from the scene, securing the building wasn’t a priority for the city’s over-worked police department. Dave ducked under the crime scene tape and made his way inside, shutting the door behind him.

So this is where it all started.

Dave thought about the details of the story Tom had told him. This is where he first came up against a vampire and The Brotherhood at the same time. The smashed window in the door was testament to that, as were the rank aromas of burnt flesh and tear gas residue that hung in the air.

Dave started to look round the rooms, searching for anything that might lead him to the mysterious man who grabbed Doctor Owen’s wife. He passed through the living room, kitchen and dining room. Nothing looked out of place to him. Other than the front door hanging from its hinges, the downstairs could have belonged to any upper-middle class home.

Dave returned to the entrance and slowly made his way up the stairs. The contrast between the scene in front of him and the one downstairs couldn’t have been starker. At the top of the stairs he stopped and stared at the remnants of the demise of the vampire and Officer Myers. There was a wide red patch of blood dried into the carpet where the policeman had fallen, right next to a pile of ash and long burns streaking up the wall.

Trying not to imagine the sticky end that both victims had met, Dave moved into the main bedroom. He scanned the room and was about to move on when he noticed a small plastic box under the end of the bed. He bent down and picked up the box. It was filled with syringes, each packaged in plastic branded with the word ‘Virex’. The syringes were all filled with equal measures of yellow liquid.

The silence was broken by the sound of the front door creaking open. Footsteps made their way inside the house.

Panic washed over Dave and he quickly placed the box back under the bed, then made his way into the en suite bathroom. He moved with footsteps as light as he could manage, trying to keep out of view while leaving a crack in the door to check out the intruder. He knelt down and popped the clip off his holster and drew his gun, knowing that if he was spotted, there would be no escape from the dead-end he was hiding in.

The footsteps made their way up the stairs. Dave clicked the safety catch on his pistol just before the sound of footsteps moved into the bedroom. A tall man with a pale face and dressed in black combat gear cast his piercing eyes around the room. He was tall, at least six foot four and he was stacked. If it came to a one-on-one, Dave knew he wouldn’t have a hope in hell of overpowering this man mountain.

The man’s eyes focused on the box under the bed. He bent down and picked it up, then made his way out of the bedroom and down the stairs. When Dave heard the front door close behind the stranger, he left the bathroom and ran down the stairs. Through the smashed window in the front door, he saw the man get into his car that was parked in front of the house and quietly drive away. With no other sounds outside on the road, it was as if he had never been there.

Dave got his keys out of his pocket, threw open the front door and made a run for his car.

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Wednesday 27 August 2008

The Rising - Chapter 25: 'Where Are You Taking Us?'

I had no idea what I was getting into. As a detective, I had never really done any undercover work, certainly not for any significant amount of time. Now I found myself stepping into a world I never thought existed just forty-eight hours earlier, when I was sitting in my car with Dave staking out a suspect.

Skinner took the lead and opened the back door of the car for me. We got in and were immediately hit with the pungent smell of the dog that was sitting in the passenger seat. The car was grimy and the interior was in a serious state of disrepair, like it had been permanently on the road ever since it rolled off the production line. The seams of the upholstery were tattered and fraying and all exposed surfaces held a thick layer of dust.

I put my hand down on the leather seat and immediately pulled it away when I felt it stick. A shiver shot down my spine as I imagined the blood that had probably been spilled on the back seat of this car. I thought this man who had picked us up was not a lot different from Travis Bickle; transporting the questionable types of people who only come out at night from one side of the city to the other.

This here’s Goldie,’ said Matthew, patting his companion, ‘Without him I might not have found you. That’s why he gets to ride up front. What are your names?’

I’m Skinner and this is Tom.’

I take it he’s a rebirth?’ Matthew said, looking me up and down and trying to look into my mind to find out my story without asking.

Yes. I had to feed. Couldn’t help myself. I’ve been looking after him ever since.’

Matthew turned to me.

How do you feel about that, son?’

I ignored him and looked out of the window. It was a rude gesture but I figured this guy must have come up against a lot of attitude from people who had just found out about their new vampire life and I was happy to let Skinner be the talker. This guy must have dealt with reborn vampires all the time so I was probably well behaved, especially if the state of the car’s interior was anything to go by.

Fair enough,’ Matthew said in response to my silence and started the engine.

Where are you taking us?’ Skinner asked.

I would normally take you back to the clan but the sun will be rising in a little while and I’d rather stay out of view. There’s an outpost not too far from here that can put you up until the sun goes down.’

Great. We’ve got to spend all day with this guy and his four-legged friend.

We’ll get your friend here registered and they’ll have something for you to eat.’

I didn’t like the sound of that. My first thought was that they’d lay on some breakfast but then it hit me that whoever was at the outpost was probably expecting a certain numbers of new vampires every day and they would have fresh meat available for their new brothers and sisters to feed on.

Very occasionally I have a habit of immediately making situations worse in my head before I’ve begun to deal with them, especially when I don’t have any facts available. As a detective I’m compelled to remain impartial, analysing only the facts but at that moment I was imagining an initiation ceremony where I’d have to feast upon human flesh and blood from a living body while other vampires cheered me on. I began to hope the outpost was a small place where everyone was sleeping and they would leave us alone all day, kind of like a bed and breakfast for bloodsuckers.

What’s in the case?’ Matthew asked.

Skinner paused for a second. ‘I’d better not show you here. It’s best to wait until we get to the outpost.’

Very cryptic,’ Matthew said and hit the accelerator, taking us deeper into the derelict outskirts of the city.

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Monday 25 August 2008

The Rising - Chapter 24: Replay Of The Attack

Dave didn’t know what to expect as Sergeant Crawford led him into the police station. Murder was a regular occurrence in his life and he had been witness to countless scenes of carnage down the years but he had never seen anything like this at a police station.

The off-white walls were sprayed with blood and pools of the dark red liquid had gathered on the uneven floor. Empty bullet casings lay on the floor, scattered around the taped outlines of where the victims of the attack had fallen. Police photographers were tiptoeing around the evidence, getting snapshots that their superiors would analyse when they finally got their act together and responded to this crisis.

I take it all the bodies have been removed?’ Dave asked.

That’s right, detective,’ said Sergeant Crawford, ‘They’re being taken to the hospital for further investigation. Captain Nash and Officer Slater did not sustain any gunshot wounds.’

What happened to them?’ Dave asked as they reached the empty cell where Emily Owen had been held.

Broken necks.’

Broken necks? Is this where Captain Nash was killed?’ Dave asked, pointing at an outline on the floor.

Yes sir.’

Did they still have their guns at their side?’

Yes sir, I believe they did.’

But they didn’t have time to draw them?’

No sir.’

Did you have any other prisoners?’

Yes, but only the woman was touched. Whoever did this wasn’t interested in the other prisoners. They’ve all been moved to another station outside the city.’

They both looked up and down the corridor that led to the holding cells. It was long and narrow. Nash would have been able to see and hear the beginning of an attack. If he didn’t have time to draw his gun, the attacker must have worked very quickly.

Dave cast his eyes around the cell but there was nothing of interest. Just a small sweaty room where Emily had been held all day.

Have you reviewed the security tapes yet?’ Dave asked.

Not yet.’

That’s one of the first things I’d think to check, Dave thought.

Okay, I’m going to look at them now.’

Sergeant Crawford led Dave to the front desk, where they had to wait until the photographers and forensic team had finished. The police station wasn’t exactly a high-tech operation but Dave wanted to thank whoever installed the security system. The feeds from the cameras were saved to a hard drive in a server that was locked away in the basement so unless the attacker had known where it was held or destroyed the whole building, the record of what had happened would be safe.

Dave sat down and loaded up the security system software, which would let him view footage from the past seven days from up to four different cameras at once.

What time did we get the call?’ Dave asked.

About ten o’clock,’ Sergeant Crawford replied.

Dave entered 21:55:00 into the time selection field in the security system and the video feeds flicked to a more ordinary situation than the one he had been thrown into. One image showed a completely still car park, with headlights on the main road in front jerking past at half-second intervals. The other images showed the main entrance area from two different angles and the corridor that led to the holding cells.

He watched as the calm scene before him changed. A pair of headlights moved into the car park and stopped right outside the front door. A tall man got out of the car and entered the police station, where a handful of police officers were going about their business. He was wearing a long black coat and Dave just made out a long sheathed sword strapped to his side.

By the time the man had moved to within the field of vision of the cameras in the entrance area, he had already drawn his pistol and shot one man, who dropped to the floor. Dave watched the silent images as the invader wiped out everyone before him. He holstered his weapon and moved towards the holding cells. As he did, another policeman approached him and was immediately grabbed with one hand and thrown head first into the wall. Captain Nash started to run down the corridor from Emily Owen’s cell and met with the same fate.

The man bent down and picked a set of keys off the floor where Nash had fallen. He walked up to Emily’s cell and unlocked the door. In a flash, he grabbed her and pulled her out by her collar. Dave followed the images as Emily was dragged out of the police station by her captor and thrown into the back seat of his car. He removed the sword he hadn’t had call to use from his belt and got into the driver’s seat then drove away.

As the car turned around in the car park, Dave paused the video. With the mouse pointer, he clicked on the image before him and dragged a rectangle around the car’s licence plate. The cropped image stretched out to fill the screen and the quality slowly improved, block by block, to reveal a licence plate number.

Sergeant Crawford,’ Dave said and turned round to look at the man behind him who was dumbstruck.

Sergeant?’ Dave repeated and he snapped out of it, ‘I need you to do a search on this plate: Whisky Seven Four Seven Bravo X-ray Charlie.’

I’m on it,’ the sergeant replied and sat down at another computer in the entrance area.

Dave stood up and went over to a small metal case that was mounted on the wall. He opened the case to reveal a selection of keys to the police vehicles that were parked outside the station. He picked out a set of keys for an unmarked car and put them in his pocket.

Sergeant Crawford had finished searching for the car. He stood up and shouted over to Dave. ‘The car’s registered address is one-two-four Castle Crescent. The owner is a Doctor Forrest.’

Doctor Forrest? Tom mentioned that name before. I must be on the right track.

Thanks, Sergeant,’ Dave said, ‘I’m taking a car. I’ll call if I need backup. Tell the chief to call me if he needs me.’

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Friday 22 August 2008

The Rising - Chapter 23: Hanging Around

Thirty minutes had passed since we were dropped off and we had barely seen anyone go past us at all, never mind the vampire taxi Skinner was expecting. I sat down on the metal box containing Commander North’s head.

Are you sure this is going to work?’ I asked.

It worked for me,’ said Skinner, ‘I was told to wait on a quiet corner in the early hours and someone would pick me up. There’s always someone out there looking for new vampires so they’re bound to come round this way eventually.’

Well, they’d better hurry up or we’re both going to need a shit load of sunscreen.’

You especially,’ said Skinner, ‘I was amazed how quickly you burned when we left the base. We’ve got to be careful with you. How do you feel now?’

I’m expecting the hunger to kick in at any minute. It’s been a few hours since I woke up from the treatment. I don’t feel too bad but after seeing that vampire’s guts yesterday, I’m worried about what the virus is doing to my insides.’

I know what you mean. For what it’s worth, my body still works like it should when I need it to.’

But you can still do all the vampire magic tricks?’

When you flew last night, did you feel the blood flowing round your body?’

Yes. Whenever I did anything physical, I could feel something happening in my body. It was like a warmth spreading to the part of my body I was using.’

That’s your blood moving around your body. Blood moves to your muscles quicker, which means you can punch and kick harder than you ever could before.’

I thought of the organs we ripped out of the vampire’s body. Doctor Owen had been surprised to find that they were filled with blood, almost soaking it up like a sponge.

It comes at a price, though,’ Skinner said, ‘You saw that guy’s body yesterday. The virus breaks down the tissue in your organs.’

I know. I’m trying not to think about it. If that’s what happens to all of us, how can we ever be cured? Surely our organs can’t recover from that, even if the virus is removed from our bodies?’

A silence hung in the air as I contemplated what might happen to our bodies if non-infected blood tried to work its way through my sieve-like circulatory system. What Skinner was saying made perfect sense. Doctor Owen had struggled for many years to come up with a treatment and when he did, it only worked for a matter of hours. Even if the virus was destroyed, our bodies would almost certainly collapse from the damage done to our organs.

We were distracted by the sound of a car turning the corner at the end of the road. As the car approached us, it began to look familiar. It was a blue Toyota and there was a dog’s head hanging out of the passenger window, barking at us. I spotted a bullet hole in the door, but the rear windscreen had been repaired.

This is the car that picked up Officer Myers last night. If I hadn’t chased after this car, I wouldn’t be turning into a vampire now.

The car drew to a halt next to us. A tall, pale man got out of the driver’s door and looked at us.

Good morning, my brothers. My name is Matthew Duffy. I’m here to help you.’

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Wednesday 20 August 2008

The Rising - Chapter 22: Chaos At The Police Station

Dave stepped out of the car and looked across the street at the police station. The building was bathed in blue and red flashing lights but the vehicles from news networks surrounding the compound seemed to outnumber the police cars two to one.

Reporters were buzzing around, trying to talk to anyone and everyone they saw. Dave knew he’d have to run the gauntlet to get through the rabble ahead of him but unlike most of these situations, he wouldn’t have to lie.

I really don’t know anything this time, he thought.

Jane got out of the passenger side and walked round the car to take the driver’s seat.

I’ll try and take care of the car,’ she said.

Dave smiled. ‘Well, if it’s life or death situation, I’ll understand if you save yourself first.’

You’ve got our number, haven’t you?’ she asked.

Yeah, I’ve got it. I’ll give you a call if I find anything out. If you call me, don’t take offence if I don’t answer it. I might not be in a position to talk to you if I’m with other cops.’

We just need any relevant information, no matter how small,’ Doctor Owen said as he leaned over from the passenger seat, ‘Please find my wife.’

The doctor’s face painted the picture of someone who was concerned, even scared for his wife’s well-being but also one hundred percent aware of his responsibilities. He knew the job he and Jane had to do in the same way Dave knew what he had to do.

I’ll do whatever I can,’ said Dave, ‘If it was a smash-and-grab then whoever has your wife couldn’t have covered their tracks completely. If they’ve left a clue behind, I’ll find it.’

Doctor Owen nodded in appreciation and Jane wished Dave good luck as she closed the door. The car headed down the street and disappeared round the corner, leaving the detective to contemplate the chaos he was faced with.

Taking a deep breath, he crossed the street. As soon as one reporter saw him walking towards them, they all turned round and ran into the road, oblivious to the approaching drivers who screeched to a halt and honked their horns in disapproval.

As he expected, they talked with machine-gun speed, loaded with the usual questions asking him what happened, who it happened to and who the police were looking for. His only response was ‘No comment’. Dave battled his way through the crowd and under the crime scene tape that surrounded the station. He cast his eyes around the scene and saw the familiar face of Sergeant Crawford, who was doing a bad job of looking like he was in charge.

Ambulances were trying to get out of the car park but Crawford was being sidetracked by talking to the press who were standing on the exit ramp. Dave ran over to Sergeant Crawford.

I need to talk to you,’ he said in a forceful tone.

Detective Thomas…’

Dave didn’t let him finish and marched him out of the way, waving the ambulances past. The driver in front gave him a thumbs up.

I think you’re done talking to the press, sergeant,’ Dave said, ‘Where’s the relief captain? Where’s the chief?’

The chief’s on his way down here. We were on a skeleton staff this week so there’s no one to stand in.’

Right, I’m taking charge until the chief gets down here. All I know is what I saw on the news but I don’t want to talk with all these reporters out here. Take me inside.’

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Monday 18 August 2008

Review: Stargate (Blu-ray)

My review of Stargate (not so) Special Edition is now online at DVDActive.

Stargate has its flaws, but it is a fun movie that throws a few historical points of interest into the action. The movie looks and sounds good on this Blu-ray release, but as with the other discs in the recent batch from Optimum, it offers nothing in the way of exclusive extras. It's almost as if the disc producers spent so long tarting up the movie that they forgot to do anything about the extras until the night before its release.

The Rising - Chapter 21: No Bodies

Captain Sayers stood on the edge of the lake, looking across the rippling silvery surface. Have they really dumped a huge gunship in here?

The water was disturbed by a froth of bubbles and two masked heads emerged. General Graham walked over and joined Captain Sayers at the edge of the water to meet the divers as they made their way out of the lake. The divers removed their masks and the one in front spoke before the officers could ask the obvious questions.

The helicopter’s down there, sir.’

Any sign of the doctor and the others?’ asked Captain Sayers.

No, sir. No bodies.’

Good work, men,’ said the captain, checking his watch, ‘They can’t have gone far. Go and get out of your suits. They’ll need shelter and transport so we’ll start our search at the cabins by the lake.’

But there’s dozens, maybe hundreds of cabins, sir. We can’t search every one.’

Leave that to me,’ Captain Sayers said. The soldiers ran back to their helicopter, preparing to dry off and change into their combat gear as quickly as possible. Sayers was already asserting his authority, doing whatever he could to show that he was in change. He was the one who would succeed where others had failed.

Thoughts of failure made his attention turn to Captain Stein. General Graham instinctively knew what Sayers was thinking.

You’d better keep your sniffer dog on a short leash.’

Are you leaving us, sir?’ Captain Sayers asked.

Yes I am. I’m going to leave you in charge here, Captain Sayers. I will join the others at Hartley House and await your call. If you need any intel, contact Private Hindle. He should be at Hartley House already.’

Thank you, sir. I will not disappoint you.’

Good. It is absolutely imperative that you recover the doctor. As long as he remains in the outside world, our work will be in jeopardy. Everything we have worked for over the last five hundred years depends on finding him.’

You can depend on me, sir,’ Captain Sayers said as he looked at Captain Stein, ‘We’ll find him.’

General Graham left Captain Sayers to round up his men and marched to his helicopter. He was confident that this was the best man to lead the search for the doctor and his small band of fugitives but wasn’t as confident that they would be found.

Sayers shouted to his men. ‘Get Stein in a set of boots. He’s coming with us.’

As his helicopter lifted off, General Graham’s thoughts turned to the day ahead. Before long, his hands would be tied and he would be forced to call off the search. The chances of finding the doctor and getting him to a facility where he could complete the work on the primary treatment by the end of the day were so remote as to be unworthy of consideration.

He almost had to laugh at the situation. They were on the run because they believed in developing a treatment to relieve the symptoms of the vampire virus, which in turn would allow the species to co-exist. But if they knew what he knew, they would almost certainly be compelled to work together.

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Saturday 16 August 2008

The Rising now available in print from Amazon,

For those who can't wait to read the whole thing online...

I'm pleased to announce that the distribution version of The Rising is now available from online retailers like Amazon and There are lots of places to choose from (just click the links below) but might be the best one to go for since they don't charge for postage.

Buy Rebirth and The Rising in print

Amazon: $16.95

Amazon: $19.95

Amazon: £7.99
Play: £7.99

Amazon: £9.50
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Friday 15 August 2008

The Rising - Chapter 20: Head In A Box

The five of us crammed into Dave’s car and we headed away from the lake, towards the city. It was a long, uncomfortable journey, both physically and emotionally. We had all been thrown together by circumstance and while we had managed to come up with a plan, it didn’t feel like we really knew what we were doing.

Dave was going to check out the police station to see if we could get any leads on the disappearance of Doctor Owen’s wife. We listened to the radio for the whole journey but the newsreaders didn’t offer up any new information. The uncertainty wasn’t doing anything for Doctor Owen’s nerves and he kept asking Jane to change the radio over to different stations in case one news team had more information than another. Jane told him to calm down and focus on the job at hand. After all, how could we believe anything they reported on the news?

Jane and the doctor were going to scour the streets of the city looking for the samples and documents that Doctor Forrest had told us to pick up. This also made me feel uneasy. We’d agreed to this after one phone call and we had no idea how we were supposed to get the samples to him or what we would do with them once we had them.

And then there was the work Skinner and I had to do. To register me as a vampire so we don’t run into any identity problems should we be faced with a team of vampires in the future.

That’s where the Commander’s severed head will come in handy.

I had finally remembered why I had brutally decapitated the Commander at The Brotherhood’s base in the mountains. In the time when I lost my mind, I was being driven by uncontrollable primal urges that were foreign to me. Just as I had seen glimpses of the future when Doctor Owens’ treatment took hold of my body the first time, an image had flashed before my eyes when I was holding Commander North by the collar.

I saw a picture of me presenting his head to a pale-looking woman dressed in black.

I knew this meant I would come face-to-face with a vampire of influence. It seemed to me that the only way I could find out what was happening to me would be to infiltrate the vampire community. I had to get on the inside.

I looked at my watch and noted that it had been a few hours since I had woken up after Doctor Owen gave me the treatment again. The effects hadn’t been as severe as the first time. I hoped this meant the virus was working its way out of my system. Thinking realistically, I suspected the exact opposite was true; that the virus was taking over my system and fighting the treatment more vigorously.

I tried to remember how long it had been between waking up and getting the hunger. I knew it wouldn’t be long until I started getting that horrendous feeling in my stomach again. I hoped I would be able to control myself this time.

The car drew to a halt. ‘We’ll let you out here,’ Dave said.

Skinner opened the door and we both got out. We found ourselves standing on a street on the edge of the city. I knew this place. The towering apartment blocks and convenience stores were familiar to me. I had been called to more than a few homicides in this area. I wondered how many of them had been committed by vampires, and how many vampires I had put in prison, unaware of who they really were.

I went round to the back of the car and opened the boot. Inside was the metal case containing the commander’s head that I hoped would give us the leverage we needed to get on the inside. Dave and Doctor Owen got out of the car, but Jane remained in the front passenger seat.

Good luck, partner,’ said Dave, ‘The sun will be rising in a couple of hours so if you’re still here in an hour, give me a call and I’ll come back and pick you up.’

Thanks,’ I said and lowered my voice, turning to Doctor Owen, ‘Any chance you can keep an eye on Jane? She’s on my case, Doc.’

The doctor smiled. ‘I’ll do what I can, Tom, but to be fair, she’s had a lot to take in with what’s happened to you.’

We said our goodbyes and Dave’s car disappeared into the city, leaving us standing on a street corner with a severed head in a box. I immediately questioned whether this was the best possible use of our time.

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Wednesday 13 August 2008

The Rising - Chapter 19: Arrival At The Lake

One helicopter was already on the ground as the second gunship glided over the hills. It set down next to a small lake just over the hills from Lake Arcadia. There were just two men on board the well-armed and well-stocked helicopter: the pilot and Captain Sayers.

Sayers had been relishing the chance to take on this mission since he received the call from General Graham. A call directly from the general meant two things. One: he had handpicked Captain Luke Sayers for this mission because he knew about his successes in the past. Two: the previous captain must have really screwed up.

Stepping out of his helicopter, Sayers marched across the grass towards the earlier arrivals. He counted five soldiers scattered around the hills, including two in diving gear who were making their way towards the edge of the water. General Graham was already walking towards him and they saluted each other as they met.

We’re in some pretty shit, Sayers. I hope your men are ready to go,’ said the general.

Yes sir. Thank you for this opportunity. Where are we at the moment?’

This is the approximate position where we lost the signal from the tracking device on the helicopter the targets stole. We’ve checked the surrounding area and there’s no sign so I’ve sent divers into the lake.’

How could they dump a helicopter into a lake without anyone getting hurt?’

Think about it. What if one of them were a vampire?’

Captain Sayers raised his eyebrows involuntarily, immediately realising how serious this mission was. ‘How many of them are there?’

Four. Doctor Owen, who I’m sure you’ve heard of, Jane Simpson, an agent of the World Health Organisation, Tom Ryder, a cop from the city and Private Skinner, a member of our force. At least one of them, the cop, is a vampire. They also took Commander North’s head.’

What? He’s dead? He was my commanding officer when I was a private. Why would they take his head?’

Who the hell knows. We discovered his decapitated body at the base and couldn’t find his head so I assume they have it with them. Anyway you cut it, this situation is a real fuck-up.’

What about the captain who was in charge?’

Captain Stein? Just wait till you see what happened to him.’

General Graham led Captain Sayers over to the second helicopter, but put a hand on his shoulder to stop him getting inside. They were faced with Captain Stein’s white figure and cold, dead eyes staring out at them. What was left of his legs was wrapped in bandages that had long since soaked through with his own blood.

Jesus Christ,’ Captain Sayers exclaimed as his hand went to his pistol, ‘He’s one of them. Why haven’t you killed him?’

We still need him. You still need him.’

What? Why?’

They can smell their own. You’re looking for a vampire. The best way to find the cop is to use Stein to sniff him out.’

Captain Sayers took the general to one side, out of Stein’s direct line of sight, and whispered to him.

This is very irregular, sir. We can’t keep him like this forever. We have to dispose of him. He’s a threat to every man here and everyone out there in the real world.’

Look, we’ve got to get the doctor back. I don’t care if you have to use every vampire out there to do it. The doctor must finish his work.’

But surely if we let them go, they’ll let their guard down in a few days’ time and we’ll scoop them up.’

No. Time is critical. I suspect we may only have a few hours until I’m given the order to cease all operations. Don’t ask me why. Just find the doctor. Once you have, you can do whatever you want with the captain.’

Out of sight of the conspiring pair outside the helicopter, Captain Stein sat quietly inside wondering how he could hear everything they were saying, and if there were any other new talents he hadn’t yet discovered.

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Monday 11 August 2008

The Rising - Chapter 18: Breaking News

The atmosphere in the room was almost tangible. Jane had it in for me, probably with good reason, and she wasn’t afraid to show it. Dave broke the silence that had hung in the air since her last comment to me.

Let’s see if there’s anything about all this on the news,’ he said, and turned on the television. He flicked over to a news channel and I was taken aback by the image in front of us. I looked at Dave, who was staring at the television, open-mouthed in astonishment.

A news reporter was standing in front of a police station that had crime scene tape all around it. Our police station. The red banner headline across the bottom of the screen said ‘BREAKING NEWS: BRUTAL ATTACK ON POLICE STATION. 6 DEAD, 1 MISSING.’

We are getting reports that just a few hours ago, an armed man entered the police station by force and killed almost everyone inside. Apart from the prisoners in the holding cells, the only survivor, a female who cannot be named at this time, appears to have been taken from the cell where she was being held.’

I looked over at Doctor Owen, who turned to me with a look on his face that was a mixture of shock and anger.

It’s Emily, isn’t it?’ he said, ‘They’ve taken my wife, haven’t they?’

But who took her?’ Jane said, ‘We don’t know if it was the vampires or The Brotherhood. We need to get someone over there and find out.’

I’ll do it,’ said Dave.

Are you sure?’ I asked, ‘You’ve already helped us out by putting us up here. You don’t have to get involved.’

My holiday’s pretty much over now anyway. I’m supposed to go back to work the day after tomorrow, but it looks like there’s not much of a job to go back to. I’ll do my best to get in on this investigation. You need someone on the inside with the police and with the state you’re in at the moment, you’re not exactly up to the job.’

Good,’ Jane said assertively, ‘it sounds like we’re starting to come up with a plan. While Dave is checking out the police station, Doctor Owen and I will recover the samples and documents we need. I take it you know where they’re all held?’

Doctor Owen nodded.

Don’t worry,’ Jane continued, ‘We’ll get her back. Remember, we found you, didn’t we?’

What about me and Skinner?’ I asked.

Skinner spoke before Jane could jump down my throat.

I’ll take him to get registered,’ he said.

What do you mean?’ I asked.

We need to register you as a vampire. The vampires have scouts trawling the city looking for new vampires. When they pick them up, they take them to a secure location and put them on the books. They’re very particular about tracking the size of their population. It means we won’t run into any trouble in the future if they’ve got you on their records.’

I’m not sure about that,’ I said, feeling very wary of offering myself up to the vampires.

If nothing else, it’ll be somewhere to hide out until the end of the day. We need to stay out of the sun and you know we can’t stay here for long.’

Sounds like we’ve got a plan then, people,’ Jane said, ‘We’ll head into the city and split up.’

As Jane spoke, I was still weighing up Skinner’s plan in my head. Then it hit me. I knew why I’d removed Commander North’s head and brought it with us.

Give me the head,’ I said to Jane, looking her in the eye, ‘I know what to do with it.’

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Friday 8 August 2008

The Rising - Chapter 17: Neutralising The Base

General Graham picked up the microphone for the public address system. His voice echoed all over the base. There was nowhere his men couldn’t hear him.

This is General Graham. Prepare for evacuation. We will be leaving in ten minutes. Neutralise all infected areas and destroy all remaining samples. Upload all data from local computers to the global servers. Repeat: we will be leaving in ten minutes. If you’re not top-side by then, you’re walking home.’

With that announcement, everyone doubled their efforts. Deep inside the base, the soldiers who were sorting through the remnants of the regional headquarters stood aside as their squad mates fired up their flame throwers. One by one, huge bursts of fire engulfed the laboratories, the morgue and every corner where blood had been spilled.

The bodies of the victims had all been removed but there were still pieces of flesh and limbs dotted around the base, which started to crackle and fill the corridors with the stench of burning meat as they were roasted by the retreating soldiers.

The men inside the operations room were hastily removing all data from the local systems and transferring it to the global servers, where it could be accessed by anyone within The Brotherhood or the World Health Organisation. As they finished and left their stations, a soldier with a flame thrower arrived to neutralise the places that Captain Stein’s bloody and disfigured body had come into contact with.

Meanwhile, Captain Stein was being carried out of the base on a stretcher and guarded by a large group of soldiers, all ready to fill him with silver bullets if he made a wrong move.

Put him in the lead chopper. He’s coming with me,’ the general shouted to his men.

Stein lay still, complying with the wishes of his aggressors but that didn’t stop them jabbing him in the back with their rifles as they loaded him into the helicopter, just to make sure he knew who was in charge.

All equipment that had been sitting on the tarmac above them was being moved back inside the base. One day The Brotherhood may need to use this facility again and it was necessary to keep any evidence of their tactical capability from this location out of reach of satellite surveillance. There wasn’t enough time to arrange the equipment neatly so the soldiers outside the base dumped the crates inside the main doors as quickly as they could.

General Graham looked at his watch. ‘Ten minutes are up, people. Let’s go,’ he shouted to the soldiers still inside. He hit the button to lock down the base. The siren sounded and the main doors began to close. Everyone still inside ran up the ramp and through the doors before they closed with a loud metallic clang, sealing the scene of one of The Brotherhood’s greatest failures. It was their second in as many days.

The pile of bodies at the end of the tarmac was burning furiously, sending a huge cloud of black smoke into the heavens above. General Graham picked up the radio as he boarded the lead helicopter.

Good work, everyone. All other choppers head for Hartley House. Make that your base of operations. We need to stay close to the city in the coming days.’

He put down the radio and turned to the pilot. ‘We’re heading for Lake Arcadia.’

Yes sir,’ the pilot said and fired the engine into life. The sound of the rotating blades grew louder and louder until the heavy gunship lifted off the ground and headed in the opposite direction to the other helicopters.

General Graham turned round and looked Captain Stein in the eye. ‘Keep a close watch over him,’ he said to his men.

I’m not exactly in a fit state to run away from you,’ Stein said.

Maybe not, but you’d better help us find the doctor, and fast. The sun will be coming up in a few hours so you haven’t got much time.’

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