Blood Covenant

The world has been overrun. Vampires are the new dominant race. Julia Hanover's little brother has been severely injured and there is only one thing that will save him: vampire blood.

Talk about a compromising situation.

Julia's little brother is the only family she has left and she will do anything to save him, even if it means making a deal with one of the very same ungodly creatures that killed her parents and ruined her life.

But when things don't go according to plan, will Julia make it back to her brother alive?

*Chapter One of this story is an entry for The 'Coldest Girl in Coldtown' competition*

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1. Dealings With The Devil

You may already be aware of this, but vampires suck.

 

Ever since the outbreak a couple of months ago they’ve been pretty much unstoppable, but after six months of avoiding dark alleys, keeping to myself and generally living the dullest, most limited life I could possibly imagine, my fear had dulled to nothing more than raw agitation. I was tired of this - tired of the running, the hiding, the sacrifices and more than anything the all-consuming terror these vampires had somehow managed to inspire across the world. Sure, society had pretty much collapsed, but we could handle it. As long as you kept yourself to yourself and didn’t get too involved in their business vampires were pretty much harmless. Truth be told, I was bored. I was frustrated with the human race for being so easily scared and frustrated with vampires for being the cause of that fear. The vampire apocalypse was old news, and every time I came across a quivering young woman balled up the corner of some abandoned warehouse muttering about how they were apparently coming for all of us I had to fight down the temptation to roar in her face, “It’s been six months! Move on with your life!”

 

Put simply: I really hated vampires.

 

However, that being said , they did have their uses. My little brother had injured his leg a couple of days back when he’d tripped fleeing a horde of cannibals. I’d been hoping that the deep scarlet gash on his leg would heal up nice and quickly on its own but so far that didn’t appear to be happening. I knew if I waited too much longer infection was going to set in and my little brother was going to lose a leg but there wasn't much left I could do. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and in a moment of weakness I had called upon Luther, the medical vampire. Yes, I know, that sounds absolutely ridiculous, and that’s because it is. Luther Cartwright had been a very successful doctor before he was turned, and now that the world’s supply of medical resources had more or less been run dry he liked to do his bit by dealing vampire blood to sick and injured mortals. Don’t get me wrong, Luther Cartwright is not a good guy, but he may have been my brother’s only hope and I was sort of out of options. He didn’t like to kill or attack humans, so instead he would trade: vampire blood for human blood. The reason vampires were able to live for so long was because their blood had special magical healing qualities that allowed them to repair themselves. It would do the same for mortals if only you could manage to get your hands on the stuff. I hated that I needed his help, and the situation certainly wasn’t doing my ego any good, but what else was I supposed to do? I’d always had a serious pride problem and it was times like these when it really came back to bite me in the bum.

 

I’d arranged to meet Luther at Waterloo Train Station around seven o’clock. Contacting him hadn’t been easy - Luther isn’t exactly popular amongst other vampires so he’s always moving around. In order to find him I’d had to follow a seemingly endless trail of clues and signs that had finally led me to a rather pessimistic, grumpy, middle-aged man named Arthur. Arthur had taken my message and given it to Luther, and by some miracle managed to find me again early this morning in order to provide the time and location of our meeting. I stopped just outside the threshold before entering the station. I’d expected some form of fear or at the very least anticipation to flare up within me at the last minute, driving me away and dooming my brother to a legless fate, but it never came. I just really wanted this over and done with.

 

For some unknown reason Waterloo Station was completely empty. I’d expected it to be crawling with refugees, families huddled together desperately trying to conserve heat, mad old men screaming about God’s punishment and how we should all be repenting. It wouldn’t have been anything new. However Waterloo Train Station was completely empty, a fact that probably should have bothered me, but for whatever reason I cast it aside – I had no idea that my complacency could well have cost me my life that day.

 

The station – or what used to be a station – looked ghastly, but in a really cool gothic horror type way that reminded me of Friday nights back in the old days, watching horror movies round Lisa’s until our lungs were so sore and dry from screaming we couldn’t take it any more. About seventy percent of the glass from the once rustic and elegant ceiling was gone – smashed out from above by power-crazed vampires out on murderous rampages. The thick stone walls were streaked with blood, and with a grimace I imagined how many people must have been brutally drained and murdered in this very building. I was surprised there was any blood left to coat the walls. One sight that did inspire a smile from me however was the long chain of takeaways and coffee shops still lining the left hand side of the station – most of them shelled out and destroyed but some of them with neon signs still flickering and cushioned chairs still standing. I yearned with hunger at the sight of Burger King, when was the last time I’d eaten a proper cooked meal? Before my parents were killed at least, perhaps even before that. I pushed the thought aside, no need to think about my parents.

 

Shivering in the cold of the late evening, I began to make my way towards the rows of train tracks on the opposite side of the building. Only one carriage remained in the station, isolated and rather desolate looking – I knew that was where I had to go. Stepping around some old, discarded pieces of furniture and deftly leaping the old turnstiles, I approached the lone carriage without so much as backwards glance. Bad move. All the doors remained closed, forcing me to settle for rather gracelessly clambering through a broken window, hissing in pain as shards of glass clawed at my bare skin, tearing it open. Luckily no serious damage was done or I was going to need more blood. Jumping down from the window frame, I quickly surveyed the carriage. It was in relatively good condition - I suppose no one else had thought to come in the window – except for the horrific rotting smell that coated the air, so thick and pungent I found myself struggling to breathe through it. Pulling my long sleeve down over my hand and using it to cover my mouth, I scanned the carriage in search of my… associate. At the opposite the end of carriage, sprawled across the seats, lay a body. I suppose that explained the smell – either that or my vampire friend had some serious flatulence issues. It struck me for a moment how strange and wrong it was that the sight of dead bodies lying in uncomfortable positions in the strangest of places didn’t even strike me as slightly unusual. The sight had become commonplace. An everyday occurrence. I approached the body with reverence, not entirely sure what to do with it. It became clear as I approached that it was in fact a young woman, already pale and cold despite the wet blood still dripping from her neck. A shiver went down my spine –if this woman’s blood still ran then she must have been killed recently, if so, then where was the killer? Taking a deep breath to control my breathing, I reached out with my free hand to dip my fingers in the shallow stream of red that ran down her collarbone. Cold, but still wet, there was only one possible conclusion: this woman had been a vampire. “Miss Hanover, I presume?” A velvety voice whispered from behind me. So close, and yet I could not feel his breath, hear his heartbeat, sense his proximity. Dropping both hands to my side, I spun to face the voice, unsurprised to find the sickly pale face of a vampire staring back at me, his gaze dripping with superiority and power. I gulped before speaking; perhaps these things did still have the ability to unsettle me. “Luther. It’s nice to finally meet you.” I replied, my voice as empty and devoid of life as the old Starbucks just outside. I couldn’t afford to show weakness, especially since it appeared my only possible escape route would be the broken through which I’d entered. Luther smiled as though the simple action were a strain on his patience. “Now now, do you really feel such pleasantries are necessary?” The vampire’s skin seemed pulled tight across his face, thin red veins showing up in stark contrast to his marble-like skin and snow-white hair. His eyes were what struck me the most: deep, vibrant red, the colour of… well, blood. I shrugged in response, trying my best to keep my cool in the presence of such an ungodly creature. “If you say so, then I guess not. In that case you’re a sick twisted bastard of a murderer and I can’t wait until the day you die so that the devil can drag you back to whatever deep pit of hell you came from.” I kept my tone calm and casual as I insulted him, smiling sweetly, speaking the same way I would were I updating him on the weather or telling him about my day. I needed to show that I wasn’t afraid, and that meant pushing him to very edge without showing the slightest hint of anxiety. I was half-expecting my sudden rush of insults to send him into some kind of mad rage – I’d seen it happen enough times before – but despite my rudeness the vampire managed to maintain his calm demeanor. I actually felt an ounce of respect for him, I could never have implemented the same level of self-control had I been insulted in that way. “Well you are entitled to your opinion Miss Hanover.” I curtsied; still mocking him and his pretentious, fancy language. “Please, call me Julia.” Still the monster showed no response, simply gesturing towards the row of seats opposite the dead vampire girl, meaning for me to sit. I did as I was told (an unusual occurrence) and Luther soon followed. Something about seeing such a calm, composed, well-groomed man in a suit sitting in an abandoned train carriage opposite a dead body seemed rather strange to me, almost amusing even. Should I bring it up? I thought. Nice little icebreaker? Nah, probably not. Luther spoke first. “I apologize for the unpleasant scent, however I will comfort you with the knowledge that as a vampire I have a heightened sense of smell and therefore am suffering far worse from this foul aroma.” I nodded awkwardly, “Right.”

“We both know why you’re here. Your little brother has been injured and you need help, I would like to offer my services.”

“Um… gee, thanks?”

“You should feel grateful Miss Hanover, very few candidates are selected for my services.”

“I’ll make sure to write you a card.” Apparently that was the end of our brief conversation because without even responding to my smart remark, Luther stood up and soundlessly approached the dead body, drawing a small knife the size of a letter opener from his pocket. Without so much as a brief hesitation the old vampire carefully ran the sharp blade of the knife across his victim’s wrist, so slowly and with so much precision you’d think it was an incredibly complicated task for him. I’d learnt long ago to stop cringing at the sight of blood, it did you no good in a world like ours, and I couldn’t help but feel the urgent need to hurry him along. With great difficulty I suppressed my urges and forced myself to remain seated and calm. This would all be over soon. “You don’t seem surprised that I am not drawing my own blood,” Luther asked, removing a delicate glass vial from his inside pocket and holding it beneath the gaping wound, “Most do not understand why I would ever want to kill my own kind. You see, I am a deeply selfish man, and knowledge of vampire biology is very limited. I have no beating heart, so if I lose blood how will I regain it?” Was he trying to make casual conversation? Because it seemed that way, and it was weird. For what seemed like the millionth time, I shrugged – it was the only way I could think of to appear calm. “I suppose I didn’t really know what to expect.”

“Well you are a very brave girl.” He replied, and I thanked the Lord he hadn’t managed to see through my façade as of yet. I didn’t fear vampires was because I knew as long as you kept your distance and didn’t bother them they would leave you alone - this situation was completely out of my comfort zone. I thought I’d be fine, that my fearlessness would prevail and this deal would be over and done with in a matter of minutes, but imagining such a meeting and experiencing it in reality are too very different things. You never know how brave you really are until you are faced with fear itself. It is then that your strength will be tested. Shaking off my nerves, I replied, “It’s been a tough few months, I’ve learnt to cope.”

“I’m sure you have, and you’ve done well to survive this long.” He turned to face me as he spoke this last sentence, staring me down with an unmistakably menacing look in his eye. What did he mean, ‘this long’? How much longer did he plan on me being alive? Holding out the vial, he spoke in a voice as cold as ice and as smooth as silk, “Here, you have a couple of scratches, why not test a little to make sure all is well.” I raised my eyebrows skeptically; unsure of where he was going with this. “Why? Does it not work sometimes?”

“Oh no, it always works, but with your brother in such a fatal condition it’s best just to be sure.” A sly smile crept across his face, unsettling me more than any scowl ever could. “I really don’t think…”
“Do you not want your brother to be safe?”

“Well yes of course, but I wouldn’t want to waste…”
“Drink my dear,” He demanded, pushing the vial into my shaking fingers, “Drink, for your brother’s sake.” For the first time since meeting him I saw the natural hunger and bloodlust of a vampire in his eyes. If I’d thought he was monstrous before, he was beastly now. However something in those eyes warned me not to cross him, to do what he said, and so I did. Never taking my eyes off him lest he make a move, I hesitantly pressed the vial to my lips and began to drink. The vampire blood tasted horrible, like rot and death and all things dark mixed up in a blender and drowned in red food die. I gagged as it went down and went to pull the vial away from my face, but a pale, thin hand pushing against its bottom stopped me. “That’s right my dear, drink up, every last drop.” I gasped for clean air once the vial had been drained, but there was only the rotting stench of death and the taste of undead blood, and for a few seconds it seemed as if the torture would never end. Coughing, I did my best to dispel the taste, failing miserably. “Do tell me my dear,” Luther began, still the absolute image of composure despite my being hunched over, coughing my guts up before him, “Where did you hear of me?” I still couldn’t bring myself to stand straight. This was wrong. Why had he made me drink the blood? Looking up at him from where I stood doubled over in revulsion I replied, “Word on the street. Whispers around campfires. That sort of thing.” Luther chuckled. He chuckled. “Yes, it is funny how word spreads, although I suppose that has worked in my favour the past few months. Tell me now, how did you hear of the healing properties of vampire blood?” I thought for a moment. I genuinely didn’t know the answer to his question. It was common knowledge I suppose, a universally acknowledged truth. I’d never thought to question it. Unable to reply, I simply stared up at him, awaiting his explanation. “Of course, you don’t know, do you? Well of course you wouldn’t, I started that rumor long ago, along with the one about my practice here.” For the next few sentences he knelt down, putting himself at my level. Frozen in fear, it was all I could do to keep myself from collapsing, and I only just about managed that. “You see, the truth is my dear that vampire blood does not heal at all, in fact it weakens you. Not all vampires are strong enough to hunt for themselves, not in the first few weeks after the change, and so they come to me. I draw out the desperate and the needy with rumours and lies and then I weaken them, bring them to their knees at my alter of death. You my dear, just volunteered yourself for the fledgling vampire feeding program, and we are so glad to have you.” I wanted to scream, to cry out in fear, but Luther was right, I was weak. Grinning cruelly, the vampire watched with great pleasure as my body shook with sobs. I could barely move, barely see, my vision had become blurry around the edges. I could sense the ravenous young vampires swooping in from all sides; hear their laughter, their twisted giggles of sick glee. “That’s right little girl, no need to be brave any more.” Stroking my cheek he whispered in my ear as tears ran down my face, “Sleep now.”

 

And so I did.

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