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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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