Spring was perhaps the dark angel’s favourite time of year. There were plenty of young animals in the fields to provide easy succulent meals for her. If she was careful, she could disguise her lamb kills as dog attacks, easily diverting attention towards any number of local pets who were allowed to roam off their leads. While the fresh lamb’s blood was a delicacy, it didn’t satiate her hunger the way that human blood did.
Meals since the Winter Solstice had been lean. She had risked only one human kill. During a January gale, she had snatched an unsuspecting passenger from the deck of the ferry that traversed the river every hour. Now, after months of rabbits, deer and, more recently, lambs, she was truly ravenous.
At this time of year, she preferred to seek young blood to rejuvenate her. It had crossed her mind many times over the years to snatch a child but, even in her transformed state, that was a moral step too far. When she had been reborn over two hundred years earlier, her creator had laid down three basic rules to survival.
1 Never kill a child prior to it reaching sexual maturity
2 Never kill an expectant mother
3 Never drink from the bloodline of your creator.
The first rule remained the only one unbroken.
She ran her tongue over her broken fang and allowed her thoughts to linger on the runner. Oh, what she’d give to be able to savour that exotic, rich, ferrous blood of his! If she closed her eyes, she could see him in her mind’s eye and still taste him. Forbidden fruit indeed but what was she to do with him?
After a large family dinner to celebrate Easter and several stolen pieces of his children’s chocolate Easter eggs, he knew he needed to set off for a long run to burn off the calories. Time was marching on. Easter already! ..and he was acutely aware that he hadn’t been following his desired training schedule. The Bank Holiday Monday offered the ideal opportunity to set out for a longer run. Not wanting to miss out on too much quality family time, he’d set his alarm early, leaving the house just before seven as the sun rose over the horizon.
With open countryside surrounding him and his favourite playlist playing in his ears, he ran at a respectable pace towards the local reservoirs. At such an early hour, he passed no one. Everywhere was still. The birds were singing in the hedgerows and trees. The water of the reservoirs was glassy still. It was an idyllic setting for his morning run.
After a few miles, something off to the left in one of the fields caught his eye. Several crows were gathered round it and, as he slowed his pace to focus his vision on it, he realised that it was two dead lambs, their throats freshly ripped out. Initially, he thought that they must have met their deaths at the fangs of a dog but, as he ran on, he wondered……
Subconsciously his hand went to his neck, touching the very spot where those deadly fangs had pierced his skin. He hadn’t allowed himself to think about the dark angel for a while. In fact, he’d gone out of his way to avoid her and avoided even driving through the village, opting instead whenever possible to take the narrow country road out onto the main dual carriageway. She fascinated him but terrified him at the same time. The thought that she still wanted to talk with him made his blood run cold. “Forbidden fruit,” she had said to him the last time their paths had crossed. He knew she intended to talk to him at some point but he wasn’t convinced it was a conversation he wanted to be party to.
Warm spring sunshine was bathing the still graveyard but the angel sat in the cool of the shadows, picking pieces of sinew from between her teeth with her long, pointed fingernails. Lamb for breakfast had been fine but she still craved human blood.
A familiar scent on the air caught her attention before she heard the rhythmic thud, thud, thud of the runner’s feet as he ran hard up the steep hill past the church. Soundlessly, she got to her feet, crossed the small cemetery and stepped out into the road at precisely the same moment that the runner reached the rusty gates at the entrance.
“Good morning, son of Perran,” she said with a smile.
“Hey,” he gasped breathlessly.
“Come,” she instructed, beckoning him to follow her into the cemetery. “Time to talk.”
“I don’t have much time,” he replied, desperately trying to think of something to stall her.
“You have sufficient time. Come!”
Obediently, he followed her up the stone steps then left along the gravel path towards a bench that remained in the shade.
“Sit,” she commanded bluntly as she herself sat carefully on the wooden bench, mindful of her majestic wings.
Choosing a spot as far along the seat from her as possible, he sat down.
“I need to tell you a story,” she began quietly. “No need to look so scared. You’re perfectly safe from me….well… for now.”
“Yes. We share the same bloodline,” revealed the angel, gazing into his dark eyes as if searching for his very soul. “If I were to try to drink from you, I’d die within a few hours. One of the golden rules. Never drink from the bloodline of your creator or his descendants. You, son of Perran, are a descendant of the man who made me who I am.”
The dark angel nodded, “The wound I inflicted on your neck proved that. Those few delicious drops of blood poisoned me. Were nearly enough to end it all but, as you can see, I am quite recovered. Well almost.”
She bared her fangs to him. Immediately, he noted the broken tip of one of them.
“The tip is embedded in your neck,” explained the angel, reaching out to touch the spot.
His neck had begun to throb as soon as he had approached the church and the toothache had returned when the stone walls of the cemetery had come into sight. Now, for the first time in weeks, he felt warm, fresh blood trickling down his neck.
“How? Because I attempted to drink from you. Those few poisonous drops were divine,” she replied, savouring the bittersweet memory. “Why? That’s what I am trying to figure out. Minor injuries like a broken tooth usually regenerate and heal within a day or so. This has been over nine months and there is nothing I can do to heal it.”
“The place on my neck won’t heal either,” he acknowledged, reaching up to wipe away the fresh blood.
“In over two hundred years, I’ve never experienced this,” she stated looking almost insulted. “However, it means we are connected by more than bloodline. So, I’m going to offer you a choice.”
“A choice?” he echoed a little anxiously, edging forward on the seat ready to escape if need be.
“Yes. A choice,” she repeated, her green eyes boring into him. “The choice to either become like me or the choice to kill me.”
Smiling at his puzzled expression, the angel said, “To kill me would end the loneliness, the suffering, save the lives of the innocent. To become like me, then…. well, who knows what our futures would hold, son of Perran.”
“Why would I want to live a life like yours?”
“You wouldn’t have to live as I choose to,” she countered calmly. “There can be a partial transformation first. You can live your life as normal, watch your family grow up and grow old. You, however, will age at a far slower rate. You will remain fit and healthy. Able to run for more years than you would otherwise. Then, once your family are gone, together we can seek answers to why we’ve been bound together like this.”
He stared at her, struggling to comprehend what she was saying.
Effortlessly, the angel got to her feet, spread her wings and prepared to depart.
“So, I wouldn’t need the wings if I can live my normal life?” Once spoken the question sounded ridiculous and he flushed in embarrassment.
“Reach a decision first, son of Perran, then we can discuss the finer points,” she suggested with a mischievous smile. “Its not a decision to be taken lightly. Not one to be rushed.”
He looked up but the mid-morning sun was shining straight into his eyes. He blinked and looked again.
The angel was gone.
A single black, purple tipped feather lay on the ground at his feet.