The shortest day had been anything but, he thought, as he pulled the laces of his well-worn trainers tight. Work had been frustratingly busy with missing paperwork only adding to his misery. A manic two hours after work of ferrying kids to and from various Christmas parties had not improved his mood or his stress levels. Despite the icy chill and the lateness of the hour, he needed out, needed to run to clear his mind.
“I’ll be back in a bit,” he muttered as he left the house.
Stars twinkled in the clear night sky overhead and already he could see the pavement starting to glisten as frost settled in for the night.
With a deep breath, he set off, iPod playing a new playlist he’d set up the week before. A fast run out to the lighthouse and back should be enough to recharge his mental batteries.
Perched on top of the church roof, the dark angel drew her wings around her, gazed up at the night sky and sighed. It had taken almost four long months but her strength was more or less restored. One frustration remained…the tip of her fang refused to regenerate. As her energy had increased, she had flown further to hunt, seeking the best livestock. Shortly after All Hallows Eve, she had risked a human kill, selecting one of the country park rangers who was on the cusp of retirement. His blood had helped but again it had been tainted with prescription medication, rendering it thin and watery for her tastes.
A distinct rhythmic thud, thud, thud caught her attention and she turned her gaze to the pavement below her. With a twisted smile, she watched the runner flow past; with a grimace of pain she felt her broken fang throb anew. As she ran her tongue over it’s broken tip, she watched the runner reach for his neck then look down at his fingertips. She could smell the fresh blood on them.
Deep within her, the desire to sink her fangs into his neck and drain him dry stirred. Over the months, her lust for him had turned to hatred. She longed for nothing more than to have him as her own but knew, if she drank from his ripe veins, it would be her last meal.
The runner was the only being on earth potentially who was capable of killing her.
Angrily, he wiped the blood from his fingers across his shirt, cursing under his breath, then winced as the now familiar pain shot through his tooth into his cheek. He’d surrendered and gone to the doctor with the wound on his neck, been given some antibiotic cream and a tetanus injection along with assurances that it would heal in its own good time; he’d gone to the dentist who had found no issues with either his teeth or their roots. Still, four months later, both issues continued to plague him.
In his own mind, he knew the two things were somehow connected. Over the weeks, he’d tried to work out what triggered the throbbing feeling in his neck just before the wound began to bleed and tried to rationalise the toothache. Nothing added up. He couldn’t see a connection. In desperation, he’d tried Google but that search had proved to be a waste of time too.
As he crossed the main road, leaving the village behind him, the toothache vanished.
A thought struck him….. his tooth felt worse when he was passing through the village near the church and the graveyard. It was sore when he drove past as well as when he ran past so it wasn’t connected to his running. Now that he thought about it, his neck usually throbbed then too but seldom bled if he was in the car, unless he took the narrow single-track graveyard road.
Falling into an easy running rhythm, he made a mental note to watch out for the symptoms returning on his way back up the hill.
As he disappeared out of sight, the angel spread her majestic wings, and was ready to follow him when she had a change of heart. Instead, she flew back into the trees and returned to the mausoleum to think for a bit. Once inside, she snapped her fingers and the candles in the sconces flared with light, casting flickering shadows across the arched ceiling. Carefully, the angel slid one of the marble slabs of the bench away from the wall to reveal a wooden chest underneath.
The aged hinges squealed in protest as she eased open the lid. Inside lay an odd assortment of effects- a well worn child’s cloth doll, a length of worn, pink ribbon, a small, silver hand mirror, a leather, drawstring purse full of gold and silver coins and a small, cloth bag, tied with a leather cord.
It was the small, cloth bag that the angel withdrew from the chest but not before she had gently fingered the doll, the only remaining item from her human childhood.
The cord slid easily from the neck of the bag. Tipping the small bag upside down, the dark angel allowed its contents to fall into her open palm. The bag contained a silver signet ring, a gent’s silver signet ring with a detailed crest on it. The crest showed a family coat of arms that incorporated a bear, a unicorn and a two-headed black bird. It was the crest of the family of her creator.
She allowed her mind to wander back to the fateful night, more than two hundred years before, when she’d met him on her way home. If she closed her eyes, she could still hear the waves crashing against the cliffs below, could feel the wind tearing at her hair, smell the strong odour of the dark haired, male, winged creature, who had her pinned to the wall of an abandoned miner’s cottage. He’d promised her eternity and that was exactly what he’d given her. Her creator had told her that the only being whose blood could kill her was his. Yes, there were other ways that she could be killed but, if she were to drink from her creator or from his bloodline, death was certain.
Fire had killed her creator less than ten years later. It had been a tragic fire that had engulfed the entire building that they had been living in in London. All of the occupants, apart from her, had perished. She’d grown tired of her creator’s company, tired of his constant moaning and whining. It had been all too easy to allow the hem of his coat to catch light when the burning ember fell from the fire while he slept; it would have been easy to stamp it out too but she hadn’t. All she had taken from him was his coin purse and his signet ring as she’d fled into the night.
Now, as she held the ring in her hand, she realised a certain truth. The physical similarity had eluded her till now. The runner had to be a descendant of her creator’s.
The distinctive thud, thud, thud of footsteps on the road jolted her back to the present.
Since he’d run down the hill less than an hour before, a layer of black ice had formed across the road and pavements. Common sense told him he’d be safer taking the shorter route up past the graveyard. If nothing else, the road surface was rougher and less liable to have iced over. As he drew level with the church, he felt his neck throb and the familiar stab of toothache. Within a few strides of turning into the narrow dark road, the throbbing was incessant and he could feel fresh blood trickling down his neck.
Digging deep, he upped the pace, keen to be clear of the dark, creepy stretch of road. He had just passed the boundary wall of the cemetery, at the point where the road veered slightly to the right and became a little steeper, when he saw something moving in the shadows off to his left.
The moonlight caught her alabaster skin. He halted dead in his tracks as the dark angel emerged from the trees. Breathing heavily, he watched as she circled him. It was the same female creature that he’d encountered at Halloween the year before; the same creature that he’d encountered on mid-summer’s night when he’d come across the two, dead dear. Her wings rustled as she walked round to stand in front of him. Her green eyes locked onto his gaze and she smiled.
“We meet again,” she observed, her voice surprisingly soft.
Silently, he stared as she reached one gloved hand up to touch the wound at his neck. Her fingertips came away coated in fresh blood.
“Pity,” she commented, glancing down at her blood covered, gloved fingertips. “I’d hoped you would taste divine.”
Slowly, she smeared the blood across his cheek. He noticed that she wore a ring on the outside of the black leather glove.
“Forbidden fruit,” she smirked. “But what to do with you, son of Perran?”
The sound of a car approaching broke the spell of the moment.
“We need to talk,” stated the angel. “And soon.”
There was a rush of air as she spread her impressive black wings. Unable to resist a last touch, the dark angel ran her gloved hand down his cheek and along his stubbled jawline almost tenderly. With one beat of her wings, she was gone.
The headlights of the oncoming car came into view dazzling the runner, and he only just made it to the safety of the side of the road before it sped past him.
Slowly, he began to walk up the narrow, dark road, glancing around expecting the angel to reappear at any moment. As he reached the junction at the top and saw the welcome sight of street lights and houses, a thought struck him.
He’d seen the crest on the angel’s ring before. In fact, he saw it every day. The ring bore the same coat of arms as were on the keyring with his car key.