Tag Archives: #darkangel

Silently Watching at the Bone Moon- Beyond the Door…..

dark-angel
As the large oak door swung open, his heart was pounding in his chest. Beyond it, he could see a dimly lit room dominated by a large alter-like table.
“Go on,” whispered Trine anxiously. “Don’t keep them waiting.”
Pulling himself up to his full height, he took a deep breath and stepped inside.

The room was circular, suggesting it formed part of a castle tower and was much larger than he’d anticipated. Behind the large table sat three male vampires. There was an empty seat to their right.
“Welcome, Son of Perran,” greeted the gentleman seated in the centre. “Come closer. We don’t bite.”
The vampire’s dark humour caused his companions to laugh.
“My name is Stefan. I am the head of the Court of Elders. To my left is Michael and to my right, Alessandro. We’re delighted you could join us at such short notice.”
All the runner could do was nod silently. His palms were clammy, and he could feel a trickle of sweat running down his back between his wings. Facing the three large male vampires was intimidating but, more worryingly, where was his mother? Trine had assured him that she was one of them.
“She’s not here,” said Alessandro, his accent revealing Italian roots. “We agreed it would be easier to talk if she weren’t here.”
Again, the runner nodded.
“My daughter has told us a little of your history,” continued Stefan. “The Court owes you an apology. Our errant sister should never have brought you into our ways. I am sincerely sorry she has damned you to this life without your full consent.”
“Apology accepted.”
“Most gracious of you. Thank you,” said Stefan with a slight bow of his blonde head. “Please tell us your story, Son of Perran. Start at the beginning. Start with your very first meeting with our wayward sister.”
Fighting to keep his voice steady, he told the Court of Elders about his first sight of the dark angel all those years ago on All Hallows Eve, about the bite and the broken fang on mid-summer’s night then the offer of a partial transformation. He could feel himself becoming emotional as he relayed the tale of how the partial transformation failed, about his Rabbia Sanguigna then the dark angel’s trip to Spain to acquire some of his mother’s blood. As he told how that too had failed, he grew angry and, by the time he was telling the Elders of his final meeting with the dark angel, he could feel his Rabbia Sanguigna rising.
Stefan raised a hand to pause him, poured something from a pewter jug on the table into a goblet and passed it across to him.
“Please, drink,” he instructed softly. “It’ll still that anger, son.
Without protest, the runner accepted the glass and drank deeply, tasting a strong, gamey blood mixed with alcohol.
“And then my daughter found you,” prompted Stefan calmly.
The runner nodded.
“And how do you feel about your vampire existence now, Son of Perran?” enquired Michael. It was the first time he had spoken, and the runner was mildly surprised to hear he was an American.
“I hate it,” he replied honestly. “Don’t get me wrong, the flying’s kind of cool but I don’t enjoy this life. It’s cost me everything I love.”
“That we can understand,” sympathised Stefan with a wistful smile. “You were tricked into it by that woman’s selfish obsession with you and her total disregard for our code of conduct and our rules.”
“She’s been a thorn in our sides for nigh on two centuries,” revealed Alessandro. “We tried to work with her, but she too was ill-conceived. Her creator was a fool. A drunken womanising fool. She’s always been head strong, self-centred and obsessive in her desires.”
“We welcomed her here,” interrupted Michael. “Tried to integrate her into the wider family but she wasn’t interested. She’s been a loose cannon for too long.”
“Trine said you want me to kill her for you,” he said, fixing his gaze on Stefan, brown eyes locked on blue. “Is this true?”
“Sometimes my daughter says too much,” sighed Stefan, a hint of exasperation to his tone. “She is, however, quite correct. We hope to enlist your help in ridding the world of this evil creature once and for all.”
“Why should I help you?” he challenged, suddenly finding a level of confidence he rarely felt.
“You can name your price, Son of Perran. Put simply, if we could kill her ourselves, we would but we can’t. You, however, have a distinct advantage over our centuries of experience. She’s bound to you. That gives you the upper hand here.”
“And I can name anything as my price?”
“Within reason, yes.”
Silence hung in the air between them as the runner considered his options. Pushing any last doubts to one side, he said simply, “I’ll do it on one condition.”
“And that is?”
“Once she’s dead, you kill me.”
The head of the Court of Elders looked to his two companions, who both gave a small nod of consent.
“Agreed,” said Stefan simply.

From the shadows behind the table there was a small barely audible gasp of “No!”

Silently Watching at the Bone Moon

dark-angel

Gazing out at the snow-covered hills across the river, he reflected on the barren winter he’d endured so far in his isolated beach hut. It had been almost two months since he had moved into his new home; it had been two months since he had seen the Ice Maiden.

“Sit. We need to talk,” she had said.

Doing as instructed, he had taken a seat on the bench beside her. For several minutes she had studied him intently then, much to his surprise, she had bowed her head and wept. Her emotional reaction caught him off guard and, tentatively, he had reached out to put a comforting arm around her cloaked shoulders. Even through the thick blue velvet of her cloak, he could tell there were wings folded beneath it.

“Son of Perran,” she had begun, once her sobs subsided. “We have failed you. We should have prevented this from going so far. We should have stopped her. I am truly sorry.”

Somewhat confused, he had asked, “Who is this “we”? Who are you and how do you know me? How did you even know I was here?”

“You must have so many questions,” she had acknowledged as she dried her eyes with the soft edge of her cloak. “So many questions.”

“I do,” he had replied bluntly. “And I’m hoping for some answers.”

“My name is Trine,” she had introduced. “For nigh on a century I’ve been tracking her, trying to stop her, but she’s clever and she’s strong. I almost caught her about a quarter of a century ago. She was returning from Europe. She was weak. I almost had her, but I was summoned back.”

“I’m confused.”

“Oh, there’s so much she hasn’t told you,” Trine had sighed as he felt her probing into his mind.

“Stop that! Get out of my head!”

“You sensed that?”

“Yes, I did, and I never gave you permission to go poking around in my memories,” he had retorted sharply. After taking a calming deep breath, he had suggested, “Now, how about you start at the beginning and answer some of my questions.”

Trine had nodded, “I have been sent by the Court of Elders. We are all, well they are almost all, pure blood vampires. I was tasked with tracking and capturing the dark angel who created you. Over the centuries, she has broken so many of the rules so many times. Like you, she should never have come into being. She’s been a rogue vampire for too many years. She’s out of control. Impulsive as she is, the Elders never suspected that she would be so selfish nor so foolish as to create another. The Court of Elders had no idea that you even existed. I stumbled across you by chance, Son of Perran, about five years ago. Just a fleeting glimpse but I recognised what I saw. I just didn’t know who I had seen.”

“Where? When?”

“You were running. You thought you were alone. It was late at night. You were running through the forest behind the village near here. It was the unnatural speed that caught my attention. No human could have run so swiftly nor so soundlessly nor so gracefully in the dark on a moonless night,” Trine had explained slowly. “I lost sight of you in the trees. I’ve been searching for you ever since. I spotted you earlier tonight as you passed the graveyard near the village church.”

He remembered the night Trine had just described vividly. It had been the night his wife had died. The pain of his grief had almost driven him insane and, needing to escape, he had waited until his children were asleep then gone for a run in the wee small hours. The trails had been pitch black but he had raced them sure-footedly at full pace, stopping when his emotions had overwhelmed him, dropping him to his knees in tears. He had knelt on the rough muddy path and wept until he thought his lungs would burst and his heart would break then he had collected himself and run home, arriving just as the sun rose over the horizon.

“Son of Perran,” Trine had begun, her voice soft and calming. “The Court of Elders want to meet with you. They need your help with an urgent matter.”

“Who are these Elders? Why should I help them?” His angered had been blooming and he remembered the fire of his Rabbia Sanguigna simmering.

Sensing it, Trine had said simply, “Rabbia Sanguigna.”

“That’s what she called it too. Gave me a potion to try to control it.”

“I had guessed as much. A potion that contained the blood of your mother.”

“How did you…….”

“Your mother is a member of the Court of Elders,” Trine had revealed, hoping that she hadn’t revealed too much too soon.

“My mother vanished years ago,” he had stated. “Are you telling me she’s still alive?”

“Yes. Very much alive.”

“Fuck!” he had roared into the darkness, hardly believing what he was hearing from the Ice Maiden.

“Son of Perran,” Trine had spoken in soothing tones. “You need time to adjust to this new phase of your life. I need to leave soon. I need to report back that I have found you, but I need you to make me a promise first.”

“Why should I?” he had spat angrily. “I am sick of this! I hate this life. I hate what she’s made me. Why should I promise you anything?”

“Fair question,” Trine had agreed. “I need you to promise to do something that only you can do. The Court of Elders will be eternally grateful.”

“What?”

“I need you to…the Court of Elders needs you to kill your dark angel.”

“Kill her? And just how am I meant to do that, pray tell?”

“I have no idea,” she had sighed wearily. “I’m sorry. I’ve asked too much of you.”

He had simply stared back at her.

The Ice Maiden had left a few minutes later promising to return in two full moons for his answer. When she had risen to leave, the runner had been surprised by her height. He had gasped aloud as she had spread her pale blue wings and disappeared into the night.

 

Now, it was the day of the second full moon since Trine’s visit. He had used the intervening weeks to think, to reflect on everything the dark angel had ever done or explained. The breathing space had given him time to become accustomed to his winged state and to learn to fly.

Much to his surprise and, despite his initial hatred of his wings, he swiftly fell in love with flying. It had taken him a few days to figure it out. There had been more than a few bumpy landings but, once he had mastered it, he had savoured the freedom it gave him. Seeing the world from above, enjoying a bird’s eye view, was breathtaking.

As the weeks had passed, he grew more comfortable in his own skin and had grown in confidence.

Over the winter, he had fallen into the habit of sleeping for most of the day, rising in time to watch the sun set over the hills. There were improvements he wanted to make to his new home but most of those needed to wait until Spring. Time had passed easily though. There were logs to gather for his stove. He had to hunt regularly but pickings were slim during the first few weeks of the year. He’d enjoyed many long late-night flights over the area, exploring the hills on the north side of the river. He’d passed some of his time reading. He’d spent countless hours sitting on the bench beside his hut, gazing out across the river lost in thought.

He had Trine’s answer ready for her.

 

The last rays of light were stretching across the sky when he felt a subtle shift in the air behind him. He was standing down on the beach in front of his house watching the waves.

“Son of Perran.”

Turning at the sound of her voice, he smiled, genuinely glad to see her, “Hey.”

Returning his smile, she walked daintily across the rocks and pebbles to stand beside him. It didn’t escape his attention that the Ice Maiden stood taller than him.

“So peaceful,” she commented, her voice barely more than a whisper. “So quiet. If I lived here, I’d never leave.”

“It’s nice,” he agreed, tossing a pebble into the water.

“We need to talk,” began Trine, sounding a little anxious.

Silently, he nodded and gestured towards the hut.

“Let’s go indoors,” he suggested. “There are usually dog walkers about at this time of day. I’m guessing this isn’t a conversation you want to risk being overheard.”

“No, it’s not.”

 

The hut was warm and cosy, two antique oil lamps illuminating the small space. Picking up two logs, the runner added them to the wood burning stove, watching the spray of sparks.

“I’ve been sent to fetch you,” said Trine simply

“Fetch me?”

Trine nodded, “The Court of Elders are demanding that I bring you back with me immediately.”

“And if I don’t want to go?”

“That’s simply not an option.”

“Didn’t think it would be,” he sighed.

“Have you considered your answer?”

“Yes, and I have an answer for you.”

“Don’t tell me,” interrupted Trine, her tone sharp. “Save that for the Elders.”

“Are you one of them?”

“Not exactly,” she revealed, her gaze landing on the framed family photograph that sat beside his bed. “My father sits on the council. I’ve not earned my place yet.”

“Ah, so I’m your way onto the council?” he surmised with a smile.

“Yes,” confessed the Ice Maiden. “That’s why I need your co-operation as much as the Court of Elders does.”

“If I agree to come and to help them, will they listen to a request from me?”

“Perhaps.”

Noticing that she was still staring at the photograph, he reached over, lifted the picture and handed it to her. “My wife and kids. That was taken on our last holiday together.”

“They look so happy.”

“Good times,” he said wistfully, replacing the frame on the shelf. “But your dark angel friend has cost me all of that.”

A cold silence hung in the air.

“I’ll come.”

“Thank you,” breather Trine, her relief obvious.

“How do we get there?”

“I’ll take you.”

“Where exactly are we going?”

“I can’t tell you that. It’s forbidden.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

“Sorry. The Court’s rules are strict. Very strict. Are you ready to leave?”

“How long will I be gone for?”

“As long as it takes.”

“Fine,” he muttered, knowing it was pointless to even attempt to continue the conversation.

As he felt her pale blue wings envelop him, he prayed that the Elders would agree to his terms.

 

The world around him went black.

 

When the world came back into focus, he was standing in an icy cold stone corridor. Flickering flaming sconces lit the passageway, their shadows dancing on the walls and vaulted ceiling. There was a large studded oak door at the end of the corridor. It was closed.

Suddenly, he was overcome by nerves but, taking several deep breaths, he followed Trine along the corridor without complaint.

She paused outside the door and turned to face him.

“Ready, Son of Perran?”

“As I’ll ever be.”

 

The door slowly swung open.

 

Silently Watching at the Long Night’s Moon

 

dark-angel

It was one of those rare crystal-clear sunny December days and the air around him was crisp, the cold biting on his cheeks. There wasn’t a living soul to be seen for miles. Eyes fixed on the road ahead, he ran. Mile after mile, he ran hard and fast, grateful for once to be free to run at his true pace, instead of running at a pace fitting of his physical age. He was angry. He was frustrated. He was scared… no, not scared… uncertain about what the future held for him.

Over the quarter of a century that he’d followed the monthly ritual to the letter, there had been many changes in his life. He’d watched his children grow up, leave school, graduate from university then venture out into the world on their own. Each of them had left home before they graduated in their chosen field; each of them had emigrated and were now scattered to the corners of the globe. Without them, the family home grew quiet. Fate dealt him a cruel blow when a short illness claimed his beloved wife. In the five years since her sudden death, the family home had grown empty, void of life. Now that he had finally retired from his job, his never-ending future stretched as endlessly in front of him as the road he was running along.

Life was lonely.

In all that time, he hadn’t aged a day. By the time he reached his late forties, he’d had to “fake” ageing to prevent questions being asked. Adding grey to his hair had been easy. Explaining the lack of wrinkles had been harder but he’d dismissed it as “good genes” to curious friends and colleagues. Hiding his physical abilities had been frustrating, to say the least.

Hiding his vampire urges had become a way of life. Initially, he’d used the excuse of “checking out a new trail” as a convenient cover story to travel further afield to hunt. He’d even resorted to creating fictitious non-local running buddies to allow him more freedom to seek out fresh blood. Now that he lived alone, he could come and go as he pleased. In his heart though, he missed the days of “lying” to his family about his excursions. Over time he had grown adept at covering his tracks, choosing his victims with great care.

Reaching the cattle grid, his chosen turning point, he turned for home, the sun now behind him as it sank lower in the sky. Pounding out the miles, he tried to ignore the two pain points on his back. Gradually over the weeks, the sites of his wing buds had grown hard and tender. Over the past few days, he had become aware of the skin stretching and tightening to the point of being painful. Now, as he pounded his way up the final steep section of his route, he felt the taut skin split and tear. He howled in pain across the empty landscape.

His wings had begun to emerge……….

 

Perched on the church roof, the dark angel sat watching the sun set. Over the years she had tried to nurture her fledging and ensure his safety but he had proved to be more strong-willed than she’d anticipated. In the early years, he had been an attentive student, proving to be a quick learner, but, once he mastered feeding himself, their paths had rarely crossed. With a heavy heart, she had been forced to watch from afar. Occasionally, she still followed him at a discrete distance purely for the pleasure of watching him hunt. There was a gracefulness to his movements that she had come to envy.

In her heart, the dark angel knew that she had broken many of the rules laid down by the Court of Elders when she had created him but she had gone to great lengths to keep her tracks well-hidden. To the best of her knowledge, they remained blissfully unaware of the runner’s existence.

And, for both their sakes, it had to remain that way.

A steady pounding rhythm echoed through her and she turned to gaze up the hill towards the railway bridge. Smiling, she sensed his return as he ran up the street towards his home.

Blood stained the back of his running top when he twisted to look in the bathroom mirror. He hadn’t really needed that reflection to tell him his shoulders were oozing blood. Carefully, he peeled the sweat-soaked t-shirt over his head, wincing as the soft material grazed the broken skin. As he stepped under the jet of hot water in the shower, he cried out in agony. He could almost feel the wings growing and bursting through. Could they really be developing so fast?

He hated to admit it but he needed to see her. Needed to see the dark angel.

Next morning, after an uncomfortable and largely sleepless night, he walked down the hill towards the graveyard. He’d picked up a small white pebble from a plant pot beside his front door and was turning it over and over in his hand as he walked.

It had been almost three years since he’d last summoned her……

When he reached the cemetery, he bounded up the steps then walked purposefully towards the bench, placing the pebble in the centre of the slatted seat.

Without a backwards glance, he headed home to wait.

Late afternoon, as he enjoyed a cigarette in the garden, he watched the sky redden as the sun set. As the yellows turned to gold then red, he wondered how long it would take the dark angel to respond to his signal.

Sensing a subtle movement in the air behind him, he spun around.

“Son of Perran,” greeted the angel warmly. “It’s been a long time.”

Glancing round, he checked that there were no lights on in any of the neighbouring houses and that none of his neighbours were in their gardens.

“Relax,” she purred. “The shadow’s hiding my presence from prying eyes.”

“Come inside,” he invited, indicating the open back door.

“No, thank you,” she declined politely. “I prefer to remain outside. Now, you summoned me?”

He nodded.

“Are you going to tell me why or am I going to have to guess?”

“Come inside and I’ll show you.”

“If I must,” she muttered, reluctantly following the runner into the house.

With a small smile, he watched as the dark angel wandered around his kitchen, a curious look on her face. She ran her slender hand over his granite countertops almost marvelling at their smoothness.

“Not what I expected,” she murmured before turning to face her fledging. “Now, what did you need to show me? I’m sure it wasn’t your kitchen.”

“This,” he said as he pulled his loose hooded sweatshirt over his head.

Slowly, he turned around and stood with his back to her.

“Oh,” she said, taking a step towards him.

From the two designated spots in the Celtic tattoo that spanned his shoulders, two small wings were forming. Having burst through the skin twenty-four hours earlier, his wings were now growing rapidly. Already the first feathers were clearly visible.

“Well, are you going to magic me up a potion to reverse this fuckup?” he growled as he felt her run her cool hand over his blossoming wings.

“No.”

“No?” he echoed sharply. “What do you mean no?”

“Son of Perran, I told you twenty-five years ago that there was nothing else I could do,” she explained.

“So, what am I meant to do?”

“Let them grow. Let them flourish,” she said casually before adding, “Then learn to fly.”

“Fly?” he yelled. “Fly? You think I want to fucking learn to fly? How am I meant to live with wings? Please tell me that.”

“Enough, child!” she snapped, her patience finally worn thin. “The time has come to accept who and what you are! For over a quarter of a century, I’ve watched over you. I’ve taught you. Some lessons you learned better than others. Now though, you are on your own. I can’t protect you anymore.”

Pulling her own majestic wings around her, the dark angel moved towards the open door.

“Wait!” he called out.

She paused.

Taking a deep breath to calm his anger before his Rabbia Sanguigna surfaced, he said, “I appreciate that you’ve tried to help me after this transformation went wrong. I do. I know I broke some of the rules but they were rules you never told me about until it was too late. So, humour me a few moments more, please.”

With her green eyes blazing with ager, the dark angel nodded.

“How long will these things take to grow?”

“About a week.”

“How easy is it to use them?”

“You’re athletic. It’ll come easily to you.”

“Is there anything else you should have told me or taught me before now?”

His last question hung in the air. For a moment or two, he wondered if she was going to answer him then she bowed her head.

“Son of Perran, I have failed you,” she spoke slowly. “I broke many rules when I created you. A price will need to be paid in time. For now, my final piece of advice to you is to leave. Go into hiding. Avoid large gatherings. Avoid cities.”

Before he could reply, she slipped out of the door.

When he went to look for her, she was gone.

Closing the door, he realised that the time had come and that he needed to move on. The time had come to close up the family home indefinitely and move into his private “bolthole.”

Several years before he had seized a rare property opportunity and purchased one of the fisherman’s huts on the shoreline. Over time, he had renovated the semi-derelict building, ensuring that it was water-tight, warm and furnished then he had left it empty.

The time had finally come to take up residence.

Over the course of a week, he put his affairs in order, circulated a rumour that he was going travelling now that he had retired then began to sort through his belongings. He kept it simple – keep, leave or trash. There had been numerous trips to the local recycling centre as he disposed of his old life box by box. Under the cover of darkness, he carried the boxes of belongings to be kept down the narrow, overgrown path from the main road to the hut.

As the days passed, it felt to him that the more of his old life he eliminated, the more his wings flourished.

By the following Thursday, under the watchful eye of the Long Night’s full moon, he left the family home for the final time with a heavy heart but without a backwards glance.

It was almost midnight by the time he had walked from the village to the hut. He had sold his car earlier in the day, handing the keys over with a wrench of pain rattling through his soul. It had seemed the more sensible option to travel along the longer, darker coastal path, feeling secure in the knowledge that most of the journey could pass unnoticed in the shelter of the forest.

Under the cover of the trees, he didn’t need to hide his wings. Despite his initial disgust at their growth, he had to concede that, now fully formed, they were majestic, rivalling the dark angel’s. Much to his amazement, the feathers had grown in varying shades of russet, brown and gold, their tips a bright emerald green. In a twist of fate, their colouring reflected the colours of nature that he loved among the trails that he ran so relentlessly.

He breathed a sigh of relief when the low hut finally came into view. Luck had been on his side and he hadn’t seen another living soul since leaving his former home behind him. As he unlocked the door, he glanced out across the still river, marvelling at the full moon’s perfect reflection on its glassy surface. A familiar warmth welcomed him into his new home.

Using only the light of the moon, he busied himself unpacking the last box of personal effects that he had brought from the family home. The last item to be lifted from the box was a framed photo of his wife and children. It had been taken on their last family holiday. Precious memories of those two weeks in the sun made him smile as he set the frame on the shelf beside the bed.

An unfamiliar noise outside spooked him. Every sense was suddenly on alert. He glanced out of the small side window across the enclosed courtyard adjacent to the hut. Beyond the boundary wall, there was a bench that sat on the grassy verge facing the river.

A hooded figure sat there alone.

With his heart pounding in his chest, he stepped outside to investigate.

If the midnight visitor heard him approach, they gave no outward sign until he was two strides away from the bench then they looked up. Even in the pale moonlight, he could tell the cloaked figure was a beautiful blonde woman. She was staring at him with piercing glacier blue eyes.

“Son of Perran?” she asked, her voice soft but almost void of any discernible accent.

Slowly, he nodded.

“Sit. We need to talk.”

 

(imaged sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

Silently Watching One Week After The Buck Moon

dark-angel

One week later the air was heavy and muggy, a thunderstorm gathering overhead. As he jogged up the hill towards the graveyard, it matched his own mood. The first drops of rain fell as he climbed the steps into the cemetery. As he approached the tree, a bright flash of lightning lit up the dark sky, revealing the dark angel herself who was standing in the shadows.

“Well met, Son of Perran,” she greeted him formally as she stepped forward.

“Hey,” he replied forcing a smile. “Looks like we’re about to get wet.”

“Not at all,” she said stepping forward. “We’re leaving.”

Before he could protest, she swept her wings around him. The world went black and everything felt still.

When the world cam back into focus, he wasn’t surprised to find himself in the dark angel’s mausoleum home.

“Is this the way I’m going to have to exist?” he asked as he sat up and looked round. “This place feels different. Smells different.”

“It’s the oils,” replied the angel calmly.

“Oils?”

“Lavender and geranium,” replied the angel lifting a large box from a previously unnoticed niche by the door. “Take your shirt off.”

“Pardon?”

“Remove your shirt,” she said slowly and deliberately.

Without argument, he removed his running top, tossing it onto the stone bench. As he stood in the middle of the tomb, stripped to the waist, he was acutely aware of the angel’s gaze on his lean toned body.

“Enjoying the view?” he teased as she walked behind him.

Her green eyes dark and intense, she stared at him, the gaze boring into his soul. She moved round to stand directly behind him. She studied his back for a few moments then ran her cool hand over his shoulder blades. Tiny sparks of electricity pulsed through him as her cold fingers caressed his warm skin. He felt her pause and run her thumbs over the tips of his shoulder blades.

 

Taking a step back, the angel studied his smooth skin, tanned from the summer sun. At first, she couldn’t be sure and she thought for a moment that his luck had held then she noticed a slight circular discolouration. There were two patches of skin about two centimetres across that were a darker shade than the rest of the runner’s bronzed back.

“The buds are there,” she said quietly as moved round to face him.

“Buds?” He looked at her with a face filled with confusion.

“Your wing buds are forming.”

“Ah!”

“I have worked out a way to slow their development but you’re going to have to work out a way to administer the treatment on your own,” she explained, her tone serious. “How are you with pain?”

“I’m tough. I can take it,” he replied, sounding calmer than he felt.

“Each of the phials in that box contains an oil that you are going to have to use once a month. I can only stall the development for so long. This treatment had to be prepared in a single batch. I cannot make any more. There are three hundred phials in the box for you. Do not break any. Do not drop any. These are the only ones in existence.”

Glancing into the cardboard box, he saw that it was filled with slender phials containing a dark liquid.

“I’ll administer the first dose,” the dark angel explained pointing to a larger phial that lay on a black velvet cloth on the bench alongside her ornate knife. “I need to ensure that I treat the centre of the buds. I’ll make the first cuts. You will then use the same holes each month.”

“Holes?”

The angel nodded, the white streak of her hair almost shimmering in the candlelight.

“Wait a minute,” he stalled sounding anxious. “What’s the plan here?”

“The phials contain an infusion of horse chestnut bark, lavender oil, geranium oil and thyme plus a few other items. The oil needs to be poured into the centre of each bud once a month and the wounds covered with the moss that’s at the bottom of the box. The moss has been treated with the infusion. You’ll only use a couple of strands at a time.”

“And how a I going to explain two holes covered in moss on my back to my wife?” he demanded sharply.

“You like to decorate your body. You’ll get another tattoo across your upper back. The holes will be lost in the design,” explained the angel calmly.

“Oh, will I?” he retorted. “And I assume you’ve picked the design for me too?”

“I’ve designed it for you,” she replied calmly. “The design is part of the enchantment. It needs to be identical to the drawing inside the box.”

Before he could protest further, the angel reached into the box and pulled out a single sheet of paper with a Celtic design expertly drawn on it. Looking at the detail in it, he wasn’t averse to having it inked across his back. There were two points in the design where there was an obvious cross over and he deduced that those would mark the spots that matched the holes.

“Fine,” he said. “I’ll get it done. I’ll get someone at work to recommend a place. That won’t be cheap to get that inked.”

“There’s money in the box to cover the cost.”

“Thought of everything, haven’t you?”

Lifting the knife, the angel said, “I hope so.”

With the knife poised over his smooth skin, the angel asked, “Are you ready?”

“Go for it.”

“This is going to hurt.”

“Just do it.”

As the sharp tip of the blade bit into his skin, he flinched but never utters a sound. When she pierced the second hole, he was ready for it.

“This will burn,” she said as she picked up the large phial. “Really burn.”

“How am I meant to get tattooed if the skin is burnt?” he asked.

“The skin won’t be burnt. This will burn inside you. It will feel like fire.”

He gritted his teeth and clenched his fists as the angel poured the liquid into the two open wounds on his back. Pain ricocheted through him as the liquid worked its way around the nubs of his wings.

“Christ!” he yelled as the heat intensified.

“Almost finished,” promised the angel rubbing some strands of the pale green moss into the wounds. Instantly the pain stopped spreading and began to ease. “Done.”

“Whew!” he said rolling his shoulders stiffly.

“Well done. You handled that well,” she praised with a smile. “Guard that box with your life. One phial is enough for both buds. One phial once a month. When the phials run out then we have to last nature take its course.”

Pulling his running vest back on, he nodded.

“These should last you about twenty-five years if you don’t smash any.”

“I’ll be an old man by then,” he joked lifting the box.

“No, you won’t, Son of Perran,” she countered. “You’ll look exactly the same as you do just now. You’ve not aged one day since your transformation. Time will be kind to you.”

“Ok so how do I pour that stuff in on my own?”

“You’ll find a way. Pierce the holes open first then pour in the infusion.”

“Not quite the DIY I had planned but I’ll figure something out,” he muttered. “And I’ll get that ink done.”

“Get it done this weekend. It should then be healed before the next full moon if you can.”

“Fine,” he agreed bluntly. “Any more orders?”

The angel smiled and shook her head. “You can find your own way home from here.”

She pushed open the door of the mausoleum to reveal the dark stormy night outside. “Follow the path to the right.”

“Till next time,” he said as he headed for the door.

“Soon, Son of Perran. Soon.”

 

Over the years the box had sat on the second top shelf at the back of the garage. Its contents steadily dwindling as the months and years passed. In the box, wrapped in an old t-shirt, was apiece of wood with two nails driven straight through it, their tips sticking out proudly. Those tips had been filed until they were needle sharp and had been sterilised until they now shone silvery in the light of the garage.

Carefully he hung the piece of wood on the nail on the garage wall, making sure it was level. He unbuttoned his short and laid it on the bonnet of his car then lifted the last glass phial out of the box.

With well-practiced ease, he stepped back and leaned his full weight against the piece of wood, feeling the nails piercing their target for the final time.

 

(Image sourced via Google- credits to the owner)

 

 

 

Silently Watching At The Buck Moon

dark-angel

Blind fury surged through his veins as he pounded out some long, angry miles along the trails behind his village home. He could feel the blood burning through his lean body. By running hard and fast, he was trying to distract himself from the cries of the Rabbia Sanguigna. His changeling soul was screaming for blood.

It had been an infuriating day from the moment he’d opened his eyes. Breakfast has been beyond chaotic as the kids had been fractious, each squabbling with their siblings over nothing. The family cat depositing a live bird in the middle of the kitchen hadn’t helped matters. He’d left with his daughter’s shrieks of hysteria echoing through his mind.

A white pebble had sat on the wiper blade of the car when he’d left to go to work. He was being summoned. His intention was to end his evening run with a visit to the graveyard.

A long hot day in the office hadn’t helped. There were new members in his team and his boss had buddied him up with one of them. The guy was a “know-it-all” who knew nothing and talked crap all day. Despite his best efforts to calmly walk him through the correct processes, his colleague knew a better way to do everything. After lunch, he’d adopted his “fuck it” approach and left the guy to it. He’d emailed his boss to express his concerns over the less experienced team member’s attitude to following documented processes and his understanding of the importance of complying to regulation then left for the day.

Over the months, he’d noticed that it proved more challenging to control the urges associated with the Rabbia Sanguigna around the time of the full moon. For four or five days his already heightened senses were on edge and the least little thing sparked the urge for blood. The dark angel had tried to teach him how to control the desires and how to prepare for them to lessen the effects but, four months down the line, the blood from his mother had long since worn off and none of the techniques were working.

Up ahead, at the side of the road, he spotted a cyclist standing beside his bike studying the front wheel. His sensitised nasal passages caught a whiff of blood in the air.

“Hey, everything alright?” he asked as he approached. It looked as though the cyclist had crashed. Blood was trickling from cuts on his arm and thigh and he was holding his arm protectively over his ribs.

“Car clipped me,” explained the cyclist through gritted teeth. “Think I’ve broken my collar bone and some ribs. Bike’s wrecked. Wheel’s twisted.”

Glancing round, the runner noted there was no one in sight. His blossoming vampire urges seized control. In a split second, before either of them had had time to think, he stepped towards the injured cyclist, reached out as if to help him then sunk his teeth into the ripe throbbing vein in his neck.

The clean vibrant human blood flowed into his veins tasting divine. He drank deeply.

It hadn’t been his intention to drain him dry but, before he realised what he was doing, the cyclist crumpled at his feet. His eyes were open and glazed.

He’d killed him.

He’d made his first human kill.

His satiated blood ran cold. What had he done?

 

 

A crimson sunset was lighting up the sky as he ran up the steps into the quiet cemetery. His earlier blind fury had been replaced by blind panic and he prayed the angel was waiting by the tree.

“Care to explain yourself, Son of Perran!” she hissed in his ear as he walked towards their usual meeting point.

“Jesus!” he yelped. He hadn’t heard or felt her approach.

“Careless! Messy! Sloppy!” she berated him angrily. “Have you learned nothing from me? What were you thinking about? You never even attempted to cover your tracks!”

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled staring down at his feet.

“Too late for sorry!”

“I lost control. My blood’s been burning all day. I hunted last night but I was so thirsty. He was bleeding…” he faltered. “I didn’t mean to kill him. I meant to stop like you explained. Leave him alive.”

“But you didn’t!” raged the angel, her green eyes blazing with fury. “Fortunately for you I was nearby and smelled the blood. I’ve covered your track this time. Heed me well, Son of Perran, this is the only time!”

“I’m sorry,” he repeated quietly, feeling like a child being chastised by its mother.

“You will be,” she muttered, her voice a little calmer. “Think! Was the moon visible while you drank from him?”

“No idea.”

“Oh,” sighed the angel, her voice ringing with exasperation. “What have you started?”

“How’d you mean?”

“There is no going back for you now.”

“No going back where?”

“You may have just made your first human kill under the rising of the full moon. The Buck Moon at that, you fool!”

His dark brown eyes suddenly filled with fear, the runner stared at her.

“Sit,” instructed the angel, indicating their usual bench beside the tree.

Without complaint, he sat down and watched as she took a seat beside him, angling herself in such as a way as to prevent there being any damage to her majestic wings.

“The full moon always acts as a catalyst. It strengthens the effect of things. It speeds up the changes. It enhances the desires. It heightens the senses,” she began calmly. “Some full moons have different effects. That’s why I wanted to speak to you. To warn you about the dangers of tonight’s full moon. I knew you’d hunted last night. I thought there was time….”

“Time for what? What dangers?” he interrupted.

“The Buck Moon is powerful, Son of Perran. Have you drunk your mugwort today?”

A realisation dawned on the runner. He hadn’t taken his mugwort tea for three days.

“No,” he confessed. “And I might have missed a day or two.”

“Missed a day or two?” echoed the angel sharply. “Golden rule, Son of Perran. That was one of your golden rules!”

“Sorry.”

“Stop apologising,” she snapped. “It’s too late for apologies. If there’s been damage done, it’s too late to stop it.”

“Stop what?” His tone was sharper and more demanding than he’d intended.

Taking a deep breath to calm herself, the angel said, “By making your first human kill under the light of a full moon, you have increased your body’s need and desire for human blood. Animal blood may no longer satiate your thirsts. You, Son of Perran, have made yourself a killer.”

With his head in his hands, the runner sat trembling. What had he done?

“That’s only part of it,” continued the angel. “The Buck Moon is so named as it’s the moon that marks the time when young male deer start to develop their antlers. For our kind, it’s the moon when wings are most likely to bud. I had been going to warn you to double up on the mugwort for the next few days but it’s too late for that now.”

“Fuck,” he muttered.

All of his worst nightmares were gathering in front of him and becoming a cold harsh reality.

“Now what do I do?” he asked when he was finally able to speak.

“For a start, double up on the mugwort for a week. If your wings are going to bud, you’ll feel it by the end of the week.”

“I can’t grow fucking wings!” he growled. “How will I explain them?”

“There may be a way to slow their growth,” she said slowly, “If they bud.”

“Great! More hocus pocus!”

“Quiet,” she cautioned sternly. “How you feed is now a more pressing issue.”

“Why?”

“Have you listened to a thing I’ve said?”

Gazing at him with almost motherly concern, the angel wanted to reach out to reassure her fledgling at the same time as she wanted to scream and yell at him for his stupidity. Her own anger was rising and she knew if she didn’t hunt soon, she’d lose her temper with him.

“Son of Perran, I’ll be blunt. Your impetuous meal tonight has ensured that you’ll need human blood at least once a week to survive. You might want to work out a plan on how you are going to find the source of your sustenance!”

“Once a week? I’ll need to kill once a week?”

“Not necessarily kill if you can master the art of restraint,” she said.

“I’ve really fucked this up, haven’t I?”

“Succinctly put,” she said getting to her feet. “Go home. Drink your mugwort then drink some more. Keep your temper in check. Meet me here one week from tonight.”

Before he could reply, she’d spread her majestic wings and vanished from sight.

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

 

 

Silently Watching at the Storm Moon

dark-angel

Finally, the pungent aroma of decaying flesh became too much to bear. Grimacing at the pain it caused her, the dark angel dragged herself up into a sitting position. After the warmth of the animal furs and the velvet blanket that she had been shrouded in, the air of her mausoleum home felt icy cold. Reaching out a withered hand, she pulled herself onto her knees and then finally, her balance unsteady, she stood naked in the middle of the floor. Her weeks of enforced dormancy had left her severely weakened and somewhat vulnerable. Unnourished, even vampires wither and age.

Blood!

She needed blood and she needed it urgently. But, did she have any strength left to hunt? She was going to have to try then she needed to check on her fledgling. Had the blood from his mother tamed the Rabbia Sanguigna?

Dressing sapped more of her limited strength but, eventually, just as the sun rose over the horizon, she was ready to venture out into the world again. Drawing her cloak around her for warmth, she set out in search of much needed sustenance.

 

A lone commuter stood on the platform at the station, engrossed in a news article on his phone. Her fangs found his jugular vein before he even realised that he was no longer alone. As his warm blood flowed smoothly down her throat, the dark angel felt life seep back into her ravaged body. With the businessman’s body drained dry, she pushed him off the platform onto the tracks, kicking his bag and phone after him.

If she could feed again before the sun set, she might just recover before the full moon.

A glance at the newspaper the man had dropped informed her it was 20th March   confirming she had been dormant too long.

 

Eleven long weeks and two full moons had passed with no sign of her. Eleven long weeks since she had delivered the two flasks of blood with her gentle kiss. It had been a rare show of tenderness and that kiss was imprinted on his memory.

Every Friday night he had checked the tree for his expected blood ration only to find the hollow empty.

He had been left with no choice but to hunt for himself. The blood from the flasks had sustained him for almost a week before he felt the now familiar hunger start to grow. Before she had vanished, the dark angel had promised that he’d “know” if the blood from his mother had calmed the rage of his Rabbia Sanguigna. Within twenty-four hours he’d noticed a change in himself – a subtle change. He had still craved blood as badly as before but he felt more in control of his desires. Over the next few weeks he learned if he stayed calm and relaxed, the desire melted into the background; as soon as he became angry or frustrated, the urge returned instantly and the desire to taste the warm ferrous nectar from a live creature pulsed more overwhelmingly than ever.  Once, when he’d almost lost his temper while driving, he’d felt a sudden craving for human blood. That thought had chilled him to the bone.

Calm……how could he stay calm when the angel had abandoned him and vanished without a trace?

Hunting during the months of winter had proved challenging. He had taken to hunting on his way home from work, feeding from the livestock in the fields behind the village. There had been plenty of sheep to choose from but the blood of the expectant ewes soured his stomach, leaving him nauseous. After a third day of vomiting rings round himself, he decided that sheep were off the menu. At the back of his mind, he recalled the angel’s warning about drinking from expectant mothers and deduced that this must hold true for expectant ovine mothers too.

Cows’ and horses’ blood sustained him. Deer, despite tasting divine, proved too quick for him. A feast of deer blood was a rare treat obtained through sheer dumb luck rather than hunting prowess.

The day before March’s full moon fell on his scheduled day off from work. With the kids at school and nursery and his wife out running errands, he decided to treat himself to a long run along his beloved forestry trails.

It was a clear crisp Spring day, perfect for a long run. He’d hunted on the way home the evening before and, with his music playing through his iPod, was content just to allow the ground to pass under his feet without the need to watch for a possible victim. Deciding to deviate from his usual route, he set off in search of a small remote reservoir far up in the hills behind the village. His plan was to circle the small loch then head east along the trail to the larger reservoir that served the area before doubling back and returning home via the remote B class road that led into the back of the village.

When he reached the trail that led down to the small reservoir, he found that it had been washed out in a storm and was unpassable. Changing his plan, he stayed on the trail he’d been following. The reservoir was about fifty yards off to his right. A movement caught his attention and he paused to gaze over at the shaded expanse of water. For a split second he thought he’d seen someone bathing in the icy water. He could have sworn it was her.

Deciding that his mind was playing tricks on him, he returned his focus to his run and set off again, upping his pace.

 

Breaking through the surface of the cold water, the angel came up gasping for breath. That has been close! Thank God for that infernal noise he chose to listen to. If she hadn’t heard it, she would never have known he was close. That thought triggered a fresh concern for her. He might be oblivious to it but her fledgling had developed a new vampire talent – silent footfall.

As the water stilled around her, she glanced down at her reflection. Her skin had rehydrated after her breakfast of human blood. There were still dark shadows under her eyes with deep wrinkles around them. A wide white streak had appeared in her raven black hair.

Her trip to Spain had certainly left its mark on her.

There was no time to dwell on things beyond her control. She had neglected her fledgling for too long. It was time to resume his education.

 

Next morning dawned wild and wet, a strong gusting wind sending wheelie bins flying across the roads. When he left the house, running late for work, he almost missed the sign that had been left on his windscreen A white pebble had been balanced on the wiper blade and a small black feather with a purple tip was tucked under it.

She was alive!

He let out a long, relieved sigh, releasing weeks of tension that he hadn’t realised had built up.

But where and when was he to meet her?

First things first, he had to get to work.

 

It was growing dark when he finally logged off his pc and gathered up his belongings. His last conference call of the day at four o’clock had over run, ending with an action for him to revise a paper he had prepared before the end of the day. He’d managed to pull the figures together in record time and hoped they met with the approval of those further up the food chain. It had been a long day and it was now an hour and half past the end of his shift. Pausing to wish the security guard goodnight, he left the building and headed across the car park towards his car.

As he unlocked the car, he felt the air move beside him.

“Son of Perran,” whispered a familiar voice. “You ignored my sign.”

“I didn’t ignore it,” he replied as he spun round to find himself face to face with the angel. “I didn’t understand it.  I needed to get to work. I was planning to look for you in the cemetery on my way home.”

Staring deep into his soul, her green eyes locked with his brown ones. Unable to look away, he felt her probing into his mind uninvited.

“Praise be” she sighed. “It worked.”

“Eh?”

“Your Rabbia Sanguigna is under control.”

“If you’d asked, I could’ve told you it was” he snapped, his hand clenching tight around his car key. “Don’t enter my mind uninvited again!”

“My apologies. That was unforgiveable,” she said, bowing her head. “I needed to see for myself. Needed to know for sure.”

“Yeah and I’ve needed you. Where have you been for the past eleven weeks?”

“Indisposed,” replied the angel softly.

Looking at her properly for the first time, he saw that she had aged. Without thinking, he reached out to touch the white streak at the front of her hair. “What happened?”

“My trip to find your mother took its toll,” she replied evasively. “I drank tainted blood on the way home. That and the effort of keeping the blood warm for so long almost ended me.”

“You ok?”

“I’ll recover,” assured the angel forcing a smile. “And you, Son of Perran, are you well?”

“I think so,” he replied sounding a little unsure.

“Is the blood rage really under control?”

He nodded, “As long as nothing winds me up. If I get frustrated or pissed off at something, I can feel it rising. I’ve not reacted to it…. yet.”

“Well done,” she praised. “You’ve shown maturity.”

“You didn’t leave me much choice!”

“True,” she conceded.

“Look, I need to get home. I’m late,” he began awkwardly. “Can we talk later?”

“I need to hunt later.”

“Get in,” said the runner impulsively as he opened the passenger side door. “We can talk on the way.”

“I can’t sit in there,” answered the angel, rustling her wings gently.

“Shit! Forgot about those,” he muttered slamming door shut then not to be thwarted said, “Get in the back. You can lie along the back seat.”

“How undignified,” complained the angel as she slid into the backseat of the car.

“Sorry. It’s the best I can do,” he apologised as he climbed into the driver’s seat.

As he exited the car park, he could feel her eyes boring into him. She watched him in silence for a few minutes before saying softly, “I saw you yesterday.”

“So, it was you I saw at the reservoir?”

“Yes,” she replied. “If it hadn’t been for that awful noise you listen to, I wouldn’t have heard you approaching.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You run soundlessly, son of Perran.”

“Pardon?”

“You’ve developed some new vampire traits while I’ve been absent,” she observed. “Some full blood traits.”

“I still don’t understand.”

“I’ll make this easy for you to understand, fledgling,” began the angel sounding irritated. “Your partial transformation has failed.”

“Failed?”

“Yes, and I am truly sorry about that,” she apologised sincerely.

“So, what does that mean?” he demanded as he stopped the car at a red light.

“From what I saw in your mind, the blood from your mother calmed the Rabbia Sanguigna but it also disturbed the delicate balance of your transformation. Your full blood faculties are developing. You run and walk without making a sound. You could already read minds. You had perfect vision. Now, you also have perfect hearing over long distances, if you choose to listen.”

“I don’t get it,” he said as the traffic lights turned to green.

“Visualise your home, son of Perran,” she instructed. “And listen.”

He did as she asked then felt a chill run through him as he heard his wife talking to the kids as clearly as if he was standing beside her.

“How?” he spluttered, not fully comprehending what was going on. “Why?”

“It had to the blood from your mother. She must be more of a full blood then I detected.”

“Christ, I don’t believe this is happening!” he growled, slamming his hand onto the steering wheel. “So, now what? Am I going to grow a set of wings and go around killing people to survive?”

“In time, most likely.”

“You have to be kidding me? This is not what I agreed to……. You promised me!”

“I know,” she interrupted him. “And you have no idea how dreadful I feel about all that has happened. Maybe if you spoke to your mother. Found out about her history.”

“No way!” he declared loudly. “Besides, she’s disappeared.  I’ve not heard from her since Christmas. She’s not been home since her trip to Spain.”

“Disappeared?”

“Yeah,” he muttered sourly. “She’ll turn up. She always does.”

“Has she vanished before?” quizzed the angel sharply.

“Many times, but, sadly, she always turns up.”

“Where does she go?”

“No idea. She never says and I don’t care enough to ask.”

In the rear-view mirror, he could see the dark angel looking thoughtful and he wondered if his mother’s vanishing acts were somehow important.

They drove on in silence for several minutes and, as he indicated to turn off the dual carriageway to take the back-road home, the angel said, “Stop when we are out of sight of the farm.”

“Sure,” he said as large drops of rain began to hit the windscreen.

A loud peel of thunder rattled over head and the rain instantly grew heavier. As he pulled off to the side of the road, the sky lit up with a flash of fork lightning.

“Do you want to wait here till that storm blows through?” he asked as he killed the engine.

For a moment the angel hesitated then said, “No. I need to feed and the storm will afford me some cover. People die easily during thunder storms. Unexpected unexplained accidents.”

A chill rattled through him as he realised that she intended to dine on human blood when she left his car.

“What’s the plan here then?” he asked, still struggling to process the information she’d given him

“We need to resume your education,” she answered simply. “You need to learn our old ways, how to feed properly and how to live unseen and undetected in the human world.”

“How long will that take?”

“Years, I hope,” said the angel quietly. “The partial transformation enchantment should slow your maturity. We can work together to slow the changes. Double your mugwort. That should be strong enough to prevent your wings from budding.” She paused for a second then added, “You need to continue to hunt for yourself. Hone those skills. Not too often. Vary your targets. Choose different locations. You’ll learn in time what your body needs most.”

He ran his hand through his hair and yelled, “This is all a fucking nightmare! And it’s all your fault!”

“Yes, it is,” she agreed reaching through to touch his slender shoulder. “This storm will pass though. You’re young. You’re strong. You’ve matured since the start of the year. With a bit of luck, your life can continue as normal for many years yet.”

The touch of her cool hand was comforting. While it rested on his shoulder, he felt an energy from her easing into his blood. With each breath, he felt his anger abate.

“When will I see you again?”

“Soon,” she replied evasively. “If I leave a pebble for you, meet me that night at dusk by the tree.”

“And if I can’t make it?”

“I’ll come for you,” she said bluntly. “Regardless of where you are. Now, I need to depart.”

 

Next morning, the area was littered with storm debris. Wheelie bins and tree limbs were scattered around the village and surrounding areas. As he was preparing to leave for work, his wife asked if he would drop the kids off at school first.

“Right, you two, out to the car,” he called as he drained the last of his coffee. “We’re leaving now.”

With the kids safely buckled in, he started the engine and pulled away from the kerb.

“Dad,” said his daughter. “Where did this feather come from? It’s pretty. Can I have it?”

Glancing in the rear view mirror, he saw that his little girl had one of the dark angel’s long wing feathers in her hand.

 

 

image sourced via Google- credits to the owner

 

 

Silently Watching At The End Of The Year

dark angel

The year was rapidly coming to an end …. only five hours left. Part of him was going to be glad to see the back of it; part of him was looking forward to a fresh start, a new year. It was never an occasion that they celebrated much as a family but this year was going to be different. They’d been invited to see the new year in at a neighbour’s house.
While his family were getting ready upstairs, he had seized the opportunity to slip out to the garage for his daily dose of mugwort tea. Running his tongue over his teeth, he reasoned that his “fangs” hadn’t developed any further and were still fairly unnoticeable. After his son’s innocent observation, he had tried to curb his hunting instincts and had stuck to the regime laid down by the dark angel. It hadn’t been easy but, on the whole, his will power had held strong.
As he drank the daily measure of mugwort, he wondered where she was. Five weeks and one day had passed since she had left.
He’d spoken to his mother on Christmas Day. He’d almost been relieved to speak to her. She hadn’t mentioned anything out of the ordinary other than an infected bug bite on her wrist that refused to heal. As ever, their conversation had been brief as she had cut the call short to dash off to join her friends for Christmas lunch.
Part of him wondered if the “bug bite” was the angel’s doing…….

Travelling didn’t agree with the dark angel. It took her ten days to reach the Mediterranean coastline of Spain. As a rogue vampire, she chose to avoid flying too close to London and Paris en route for fear of attracting any undue attention from the vampire elders who resided there. Avoiding Barcelona had proved to be more of a challenge as she searched for the runner’s mother in the unfamiliar territory. One young Spanish vampire had crossed her path but, after an exchange, they had reached an accord, with him promising to keep her presence in the area quiet.
It took her until mid-December to locate the woman she was seeking. From a distance, she observed her for a few days to establish her routine and to try to determine her vampire strengths before working out a plan.
Deciding to keep it simple, she opted to obtain the blood while the woman took a nap on her balcony in the afternoon. It was unusual for vampires to sleep outdoors and even more so for them to sleep during the day, causing the angel to wonder if her transformation had also been a partial one. For three days she watched the runner’s mother take a swim after lunch then retire to her shaded balcony for a siesta. On the fourth day, she made her move. Rather than biting her, the angel decided to use a sharpened thumb pick. Almost as an afterthought, she smeared a sedative and some of her own blood onto the point to numb the “pricking” sensation. With next to no knowledge of the woman’s powers, she wanted to be as discrete as possible.
Reaching the balcony unseen posed a further problem and the dark angel had no choice other than to risk exposing herself to direct sunlight during her rooftop approach. Stealthily, she slipped onto the shady balcony from above, pricked the inside of the woman’s wrist, acquired the two flasks of blood then retreated to the shadows.
Drained and slightly burned by the Spanish sun, the dark angel sought refuge in a nearby church until dark.
Keeping the blood at human body temperature was her next challenge. With no other option open to her, the angel used an ancient incantation to raise the temperature of the flasks themselves. By heating the metal, it would keep the contents warm. She just had to be mindful of where she stowed the flasks in case she burned herself. Sustaining the heat spell however sapped her energy.
On the return journey, she had to stop to feed three times. Her first two victims were elderly residents in remote mountain villages. Fortunately, both of them had been in good health despite their advanced years and their blood of a surprisingly high standard. She selected her third victim at one of the French channel ports. In her hurry, she chose poorly. Her victim had been high on opiates and their blood contaminated by a cocktail of drugs. The effects hit the angel hard as she drained the last drop of blood from the now lifeless body. Instantly, her stomach began to cramp and her vision blurred. It took all of her energy to crawl into a safe hiding place in an empty container in the freight yard. With the last of her strength, she reinforced the heat spell then lapsed into unconsciousness. She remained that way until Boxing Day, awakening to find herself ravenous but severely weakened.
The first thing that she checked was the blood. It was still warm. With a sigh, she sank back onto the floor of the container and tried to figure out her next move. As dusk fell, she fed on several large rats that she caught running between the containers. Their blood helped to revive her but she needed to make a fourth human kill to get enough blood for the last leg of the journey home.
Soundlessly, she prowled the ferry port in search of a suitable meal. As she slipped through the rows of trucks and lorries that were waiting for the early morning ferry, she identified one truck driver who was going to Manchester with a load of furniture. If she could hide in his trailer, she reasoned, it would get her closer to home quicker than she could fly in her current weakened state.
The last lorry in line was being driven by a woman in her forties. Her trailer was full of clothes destined for the high-end fashion boutiques of London. Carelessly she had left her cab unlocked when she had retired to her bunk for the night. The angel bided her time then struck shortly before dawn.
Her hunger satiated, she had returned to the furniture lorry and slipped into its trailer to stowaway for the trip back to England.

By late afternoon on New Year’s Eve, she as within reach of home …. and, by some miracle, both flasks of blood were still warm.
She prayed that her fledgling had managed to stick to the plan and fretted that she had been gone so long. Leaving him to fend for himself at such a young vampire age had been a high-risk strategy but she had had no choice. His Rabbia Sanguigna needed to be calmed as a matter of urgency before he became a danger to his friends and family and himself.
The church roof came into sight and she sighed.
“Home sweet home,” she muttered to herself as her feet touched the soft ground outside her mausoleum.
Exhausted, the angel reinforced the incantation one more time then settled down to rest for a few hours.

As New Year’s Eve parties went, it had been a good one. There had been plenty of food and alcohol, the kids had had fun with their friends and he had got on well with most of the neighbours. There had been worse ways to end a year.
Shortly after one, he led his tired family across the street and home to bed. While his wife put the kids to bed, he stayed downstairs, hoping to grab a few moments for a first cigarette of the year. When he entered the kitchen, he filled the kettle to make a cup of tea then stepped outside for a smoke while it boiled.
He had just lit the cigarette when he felt the air stir beside him and heard the familiar rustle of feathers.
“Son of Perran,” she said softly, her voice barely above a whisper.
“What are you doing here?” he hissed, horrified that she would visit his home.
“Sh,” said the angel. “Two minutes. Less. That’s all I need. I’m exhausted. I need to hunt then rest.”
Before he could comment, she brought the two flasks out from the inner folds of her cloak.
“Drink,” she said calmly. “Both of them.”
“But,” he began anxiously.
“Just drink, son of Perran,” snapped the angel, “My patience is worn thin. Time is short.”
Hearing the kettle come to the boil, he drained the first flask then opened the second. As the kettle clicked off, he drained the second flask dry then handed them both back to her. The blood had tasted sweet and somehow familiar.
“Now what?” he asked.
“You go back indoors and make your cup of tea and I go and hunt before going home to rest.”
“How will I know if this has worked?”
“You’ll know,” she replied cryptically.
She turned to leave then paused. Gracefully, she stepped forward and brushed a kiss on his cheek, “Happy New Year, son of Perran.”
She spread her wings then soared off into the night.