Exactly one week later, he entered the graveyard as the sun began to set and took a seat on the bench. He had feigned a headache as the excuse to go for a walk and now felt slightly guilty for lying to his unsuspecting wife.
Subconsciously, his hand went to his jeans pocket and fingered the green velvet bag containing the three crystals. He had slipped easily into the habit of handling them whenever he felt something was “different”.
The dark angel had been right about one thing. He had slept soundly and dreamlessly the night following his transformation. In fact, he had slept right through his alarm and had almost been late for work. That morning he had noticed the first change in himself. Having had a hurried shower, he had gone to put his contact lenses in before getting dressed. Following his usual routine, he had settled the squishy discs into place. Immediately the world about him went fuzzy. Assuming that he had put them in the wrong eyes, he switched them over and the bathroom blurred even further out of focus. Somewhat confused, he had removed them and put them back in their plastic case. The world around him came back into focus. For the first time in many years, he had 20/20 vision.
Over the next couple of days, he spotted a couple of subtle changes. At work, instead of reaching for the calculator for the necessary arithmetic calculations his role required, he was doing them mentally with ease. He also realised, during a meeting with his boss, that he could read her mind. Despite what she had written on the appraisal document lying on the desk between them, he “heard” her true thoughts and had to bite his tongue to stop himself from commenting to her. The same thing had happened with two colleagues later the same day. At home that evening, he did discover that this new skill had its advantages as his young daughter tried to plead her innocence as to how the TV remote had been broken.
Mid-week, he had gone for a run to try to clear his mind and make sense of it all. As he ran, he found a new turn of both speed and stamina, not dissimilar to how he had felt after the angel had attempted to bite him. Another definite plus point to his new-found self.
One thing that scared him was the thought of sprouting wings. He became almost paranoid about taking the small measure of the mugwort tincture. Fearing that his family would discover it, he had stashed it behind a loose brick in the garage then used the excuse of stepping outside for a smoke to slip into the garage to take the daily dose. He had brought the small jar with him. After seven days, it was almost empty and his paranoia about wings sprouting overnight was growing rapidly.
To the best of his knowledge, his nearest and dearest hadn’t detected any changes in him and for that he was thankful.
A subtle movement in the air behind where he sat caught his attention. Turning round, he wasn’t surprised to see the angel standing in the shadows.
Another thought immediately struck him – no pain in his tooth and no throbbing at his neck. Putting his fingers on the spot on his neck, he smiled when they came away clean. No blood.
“Good evening,” said the angel as she came to sit beside him on the wooden bench. “You are well?”
“Yeah. I’m fine. Good actually,” he replied. “You?”
“Restored,” she said cryptically before smiling and revealing both her sharp fangs.
“It grew back,” commented the runner.
“It did. The moment your transformation took place. Have you noticed any changes?”
“No toothache or blood running down my neck when you arrived,” he said with a grin.
“And apart from that?”
“A few subtle changes. Not as much as I had worried about,” he answered then added, “And food still tastes the same. I’m not craving raw meat!”
The dark angel laughed, “You’ve watched too many vampire films. It’s not all about a craving for blood and meat, son of Perran. Some experience cravings for different things.”
Eyes wide, he almost choked before looking away to hide his embarrassment.
“Your transformation was only partial,” she continued. “So, you might not experience any unusual desires for years or even centuries.”
“I’ll bear it in mind,” he mumbled, conscious that his cheeks had flushed scarlet.
“Before I forget,” said the angel, reaching into the inside pocket of her cloak. “Your mugwort tea.”
She handed him another glass jar, a slightly larger one, and a piece of paper.
“This is the instructions for how to prepare it and on where to find the mugwort. You’ll spot it easily. You run past several patches of it on your trails.”
“You do,” she echoed with a hint of exasperation. “I’ve drawn a picture of the plant. There is a large patch of it ten paces east of the oak tree at the end of your trail.”
“I’ll find it,” he promised as he read over the instructions. Her handwriting was beautiful, he noted, and closely resembled Gothic script.
“And you need to drink this,” she ordered as she handed him a slender pewter hip flask. “I will leave this once a week on this day in the hollow of the tree to our left.”
“What is it?” he asked, already pretty sure of the answer.
“Does it matter?” she quizzed. “You need it to thrive, son of Perran. Drink!”
Without argument, he drank the flask dry, surprised to find the blood was still warm but with a tangy taste to it this time round.
“Once a week. Don’t forget,” she cautioned as he handed the flask back to her.
“And if I miss a week or am late?”
“Don’t,” she stated. “The desire to kill will mount quickly. You may not be able to control it.”
Slowly, he nodded, recalling her previous warning about the possibility that he could harm his children.
“Do you have any questions for me before we part?”
“I don’t know,” he confessed quietly. “It all feels a bit different. It all feels good. A bit different. Nothing major. I guess it’s too soon to say.”
The dark angel nodded, understanding and remembering the “newness” of those early post transformation days.
“Let’s keep this simple. Live your life. Enjoy your life. Drink your mugwort. Drink your blood ration. If you need me, use the white pebble code we agreed on and I’ll find you. Otherwise, I’ll leave you be for now.”
“When will I see you again?” he asked, realising she was about to leave.
Getting to her feet, the angel said, “When the time is right.”
“Are we talking days? Weeks? Months?”
“When the time is right,” she repeated.
In the blink of an eye, she was gone. All that remained was a small black feather with a bright purple tip. On impulse, he picked it up and slipped it into the green velvet bag with the gemstones.