Ace of Blood

Alice has found a new kind of wonderland. Jamie Cunning is just an ordinary girl. Sort of. Bearing the scars of a thousand painful memories, old an new, she found a strange set of friends in the abandoned and untended headstones of a nearby cemetery. But this girl who prefers the company of the dead to that of the living finds a shocking new life thrust upon her when she is shoved into a world of danger and death. The worst of all: it lurks just around the corner. The paperboy. The school bully. The neighbor. They may all be a part of it. Watch out, because Ace is always watching, and you never know how the cards will fall.

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17. The Monster Within

 He really hated Blake sometimes. His friend could laugh off his own life so easily, and then turn around and talk like that, as if life was precious. Zack knew the words were really meant for him, a reminder that Blake was dying no matter what either of them wanted. It pissed him off.
 Without looking back or hesitating, lest he lose his resolve, Zack walked away. He wasn’t really going anywhere, didn’t really have anything he needed to do, but he couldn’t stand the stillness. The animal in him growled for release, and for once Zack really did want to just let go.
 There was only one way to do that, one thing that could really calm him. He walked into the falling sunset, padding faster and faster until he was sprinting, his lungs about to burst. The house was nearby, only about ten minutes away, but he was winded, panting for breath as he jogged up the driveway. The two cars parked there were more a help than a hindrance as Zack crouched behind one, invisible from the house.
 The animal took over then, calm and cold in the sudden freedom. Two lights, he noted, judging from the placement that one was the living room, the other a bedroom. Perfect.
 Late afternoon on a weeknight. Junior year. Homework. He was in the bedroom. Judging by the subtle shift of the light through the blinds, he was slacking off watching television, but his parents probably expected him to be working. It worked for Zack.
 Entry was a little harder, but not much. The window on the other side was open, letting in fresh air, Zack assumed. The room he stepped into was an office, the walls covered in floor-to-ceiling book shelves. They flashed by, the titles unread, as Zack ghosted to the doorway.
 Well oiled. No noise. Zack was padding down the hall within seconds of entering the house, his footsteps muffled by the thick carpet. It really was nice of rich people to make their homes such easy hunting grounds. No doubt there was a hefty alarm system, but it mattered little when the residents were idiots.
 Light. No one would bother turning on lights in unused rooms when the sun was still up. The door creaked open, startling the occupant, but by then it was too late. The monster was already inside.
 Drew’s head jerked up, a scowl on his face. Zack didn’t give him time to call for help, moving as soon as he was clear of the door. His hand clamped down over Drew’s mouth, the other coming up to grasp his throat.
 “It’s been too long, Andy,” he growled softly. “You never talk to me anymore. Scared I might find out about your little… after-school activities?” Fear filled the boy’s eyes, more by the second, and Zack felt his anger flare up again. It wasn’t as strong as it had been the day he found Blake bleeding in the parking lot, but it was bolstered by his own personal hate, his desperation and pain.
 Anger is not a good thing to feel while inflicting pain. Cold. Rational. Zack breathed deeply, his hands still choking off Drew’s airway and voice. “Who else was there? Who did your dirty work for you?” He released the pressure to let the boy answer, prepared to stop him if he made any move to alert whoever was in the house.
 But Drew only choked and coughed for a moment, the looked up at Zack, his eyes wide with fear. “Peter, Jason, Brad. That’s it, I swear!”
 The knife slid out with a small click, and Zack rammed it into Drew’s stomach, covering the boy’s mouth to stop the inevitable scream. “Thank you for your cooperation.”
 By the time he left the house, Zack’s monster was calm once more, safely locked away in the back of his mind. He regretted it, he really did. The blood dripping off him, staining his clothes and the sidewalk, seemed to accuse him. Then again, he deserved it.
 He’d left a card there, so that everyone would know who killed them. His snake, splashed in blood from the slaughter, pinned to the wall above the bodies by the very knife he’d used to kill them. Zack knew it was his pride that would get him killed one of these days, but he really didn’t care. If he went down, he’d take the world to hell with him.
 “Three more,” he laughed, running back the way he came. Blood dripped from his hair, his hands, his clothes. He felt like he’d bathed in it, like it had washed him clean somehow. Not his body, of course, or even his heart. Clearly not his soul, already stained black by the sins he bore. No, it was his mind that was refreshed.
 The animal within purred happily, remembering the red ruin he’d left of Andrew Powers and his mother. Not that either of them were really recognizable anymore.
 

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