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Monday, 8 December 2008

The Rising - Chapter 69: Walking In The Dark

We left the entrance hall and made our way down a corridor lit only by burning torches mounted on the walls. The ceiling was a lot lower than in the entrance hall but a draft blowing towards us made it feel colder. We stopped at a door on our right.

Skinner, take our new brother on ahead to the training room,’ Roxy said, ‘then come back and meet me. Marcus will want to speak to both of us.’

Skinner started to walk away but Roxy stopped him.

The box, leave it here.’

He set the box down on the stone floor and led me down the corridor, further and further into the darkness. We passed many doors. I tried to listen out for goings-on inside but couldn’t hear a thing apart from our loud footsteps and the occasional drip of water through the walls.

You’ve been here before, haven’t you?’ I asked.

Yes,’ Skinner replied, ‘I spent my first few months as a vampire here. I expect they want to put you through the same training they gave me.’

What kind of training?’

Different things really. Not just combat. I learned the best ways to remain inconspicuous in the human world, the best ways to operate in daylight, that kind of thing. I’d say you’ve almost got the hang of flying already.’ He smiled.

I thought that son of a bitch was trying to kill me. I bet he does that to everyone.’

You’re probably right. But I do know that if you hadn’t stopped falling, you wouldn’t have been the first new vampire to spend their first few weeks here in the recovery room.’

I was still finding it difficult to comprehend the fact that falling down a massive chasm and hitting the jagged stone floor wouldn’t kill me. Okay, it would take a long time for my body to heal but eventually it would heal and I would be back to normal. I wondered if the vampires I attacked at the outpost had fully recovered yet. Either way, I wasn’t interested in seeing them ever again.

It doesn’t sound like I’ll be training for long though,’ I said, ‘What did she mean when she said I’ll be needed at midnight?’

They must be planning an attack. I’ll do what I can to find out what’s going to happen. There must be some way of getting a message out to Jane and the doctor from in here.’

And Dave. I saw his car in the town we passed through just before we got here.’

Is that what all the throwing up was about?’

Yes. I had to be sure it was him.’

We continued walking down the seemingly endless corridor, further into the heart of the lair.

Can you read their minds? That’s what the guy who picked us up was doing, wasn’t it?’

No, Tom. It’s very difficult to control. Some have the gift but most haven’t. I’ve never managed to develop that ability. Have you noticed any voices or images popping into your head?’

One or two,’ I said, without offering any further detail.

It’s very difficult to harness the power and focus it all on the mind of one person. Only very old and experienced vampires have a complete grasp of it. Even then, they also have to block their mind out from being read by other people.’

I crossed reading the minds of other vampires off my personal to-do list. I wasn’t planning on remaining a vampire long enough to learn how to do the difficult stuff, although something told me we’d be hanging around the lair a lot longer than we’d planned to stay at the outpost.

You know,’ I said, ‘We’re going to have to get out of here and get back to Jane and the doc. We can’t stay here forever.’

I know. Once they’ve gathered all the samples together and met with Doctor Forrest, they’ll have to disappear. We might not be able to find them if we can’t get out of here soon.’

We reached the door at the end of the corridor. ‘You’ve got other things to worry about right now,’ Skinner said.

Like what?’

Skinner flung the door open to reveal a huge hall carved out of the rock. A small number of vampires, maybe ten, were dotted around. Some were sparring with wooden replica swords, some flying from one side of the hall to the other. I stood in the doorway and stared up at the vampires above me as they moved through the air in formation.

Like meeting your new classmates. See you later, Tom.’

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