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?”
“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!”
“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.”
“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)