The Hangman's Noose

Billie Black and her friends are closer than ever before to rescuing their loved ones whom were stolen from them years ago. A journey around the country proves perilous when the coven and their allies come face to face with their greatest enemies.

A band of men hell bent on killing all that is unnatural to them - Witches, Vampires, Werewolves and many other Supernaturals flee from their path or die at their hands.

Billie can't rest till she knows her lost loves are safe but new knowledge shows they are defenseless. Learning all they can about these men they seek a weakness a chink in their chain of command and only one man may show them mercy in spite of his beliefs.

Now Billie must lead them all to safety or perish in the Hangman's Noose...

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12. Two Choices

“Billie!”

 

I heard Riley before I saw him, scrambling over to me on his hands and knees, ducking low to avoid the flames.  He looked pale and worried as I tried to get to my feet.  I heard more screaming, angry shouts, even laughter and growling.  In one corner of the dining room, I could see Leonard biting into someone I didn’t recognise.

“Riley, what happened?  What’s going on?”

“Preachers.” He rasped.

“No, I saw Christian.”

“He must have led them here then.”

“He’s been watching us.  It had to be him.”

“Billie, I’m telling you, there are Preachers here!  Your house is crawling with them.”

“Get everybody out.  Get them to the cars.”

“But you said you’d…”

“I know what I said, Riley.  Get them out.  Leave Christian and the Preachers to me.”

“I’m on it.”

“Leonard!” I shrieked.  “Stop drinking him or you’ll change!  Do you want to become an Eve-Walker again?  You can let him go now!”

The vampire Principal dropped the Preacher’s body as if he weighed nothing.  “Are you having another psychotic lapse?”

“No, I’m quite in my own mind, Billie.” Leonard said, smiling toothily.

“Go, get them out.”

 

My poor house had turned from something warm and welcoming to something made of nightmares.  Bodies lay around me on the floor but thankfully it wasn’t any one of my lot.  Most of the Preachers were besieged as they encountered attacks from my family and friends.  Through a large crack in the back wall of the house I could see the arrival of the Werewolf pack.

 

They tore through the house, tearing through the Preacher’s just as effectively, and brought new meaning to the word terror.  Rowanne changed to wolf form and fought alongside her kin running once to Matilda’s aid as Christian attacked.  The vampire didn’t stand a chance against the young wolf, Laura Cortes’ potion or Torsten’s gun and soon disappeared out of sight.

 

I stood and watched as the pack ushered Rowanne, Matilda, Torsten and Rowanne out the back door and out of sight.  They were gone.

“Laura!  Laura!” Dulcie screamed.  “Billie, did you see where she went?  What happened?”

“DC, she’s safe.  Just get out of here, okay?  Get in a car and go.  We will find you.”

“I’m so sorry about your house, Bill.” Dulcie cried, throwing her arms around me.

“It’s fine, Dulcie.  Just go, run before more of them show up.”

 

Dulcie disappeared out the back door and soon I heard her car starting up.  I watched through the living room window as she tore down the street and followed her through all the windows of the lower ground till she was out of sight.

 

Ruby sped past me, putting out flames everywhere whilst the Smiths led the others out the back door to the waiting cars whilst I searched for Nana amongst the debris.  I didn’t search very long though.  I’m not sure how I didn’t notice them before, I must have walked past them three or four times.  Three Preachers stood near the front door, holding my Nana in place as she stood on a small wooden stool with a noose around her neck.

“No!” I heard myself scream.

 

Even though I had thrown my arms out at them, I was too late.  Even though they flew into the weakened front wall and were crushed beneath it, one of them had already kicked the stool out from under her.  With a flick of my wrist her noose came undone and I caught her as she fell into my arms.

 

Her eyes were still open when I laid her down.  She looked up at me and smiled a little until she became limp in my arms and her eyes glazed over.  My Nana was dead.

“No!  No!  No, no, no!  Nana!  Nana, please.”

 

I cried and shook her but she wouldn’t stir or wake, she was gone.  Outside I could her car doors closing as everyone finally made it out safe.  Well, not everyone.  Something moved outside in the darkening street and I caught sight of a retreating bloody figure.  Christian.

 

Anger coursed through me, through my veins and seeped from my pores.  This time I’d deal with Christian myself.  This time, I’d kill him myself.  As far as I was concerned, Christian was just as responsible for my Nana’s death as the three men I’d just killed.  This time he’d pay.

 

I carried my Nana out of the destruction zone that was her crumbling house.  I laid her near the flowerbeds she and my Pops had planted and picked up a sizeable sharp piece of wood that had once been part of the window frame.

“Billie?” Riley called my name.

 

He sounded panicked as he caught sight of me running after the elusive figure that was Christian Hart.

“Billie, no!  Come back, please!  He’s not worth it, Billie.  Leonard, help!”

“Billie, come back.” Leonard cried.

 

I didn’t listen I just kept running.  But Christian heard my approach and turned round in time to see me launch myself at him.  He looked frightened, at last, which pleased me.

“BILLIE!”

 

The Smiths had caught up with me but I blinked and I was out of their reach.  They would find me soon though.  I was only at the school.  In the very same corridor where Desiree was killed.

“So its revenge you want is it?” I growled throwing Christian into the lockers.  “I have to admit, I’ve got quite a taste for it myself right now.”

“No, don’t… don’t hurt me.”

“I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Good.”

“I’m going to kill you.”

“You can’t kill me, Billie.  I’m stronger than you.”

“Are you sure?  Let’s find out.”

 

The vampire tried to kick me off as I leapt on top of him but I held him down as I raised the stake to strike.  He successfully shook me off and started to sprint towards the gymnasium.  Getting back to my feet I chased after him and took a short cut, hiding round one corner when he came barrelling round and ran into me.  Baring his fangs at me I back handed him and he fell over.

 

The stake fell out of my grasp and skidded across the linoleum floor out of reach and Christian was fighting back with a vengeance but I was faster than him still.  Placing both my hands either side his head I turned it sharply, breaking his neck and my enemy fell still.

 

Slowly I got to my feet and dusted myself down before bending to pick up the fallen stake when I heard a solo round of applause behind me.

“Impressive, very impressive.” Christian crooned.  “But it takes a stake to the heart to kill a Vampire permanently.”

I gasped and started to chant, “In darkness, in light my magic does fight.  The damned and deceased…”

 

Christian was quick, too quick for my spell to take effect.  First he turned my own stake on me, burying it deep in my gut before placing a hand over my mouth, muffling my scream whilst sinking his fangs into me.

“No!” I cried trying to shake him off, “No!”

 

He was taking it all.  Draining me.  There was no one to save me now.  Greedily Christian carried onto gulp down my blood as I failed to kick him off.  But I still had magic on my side.  Just like I did with the Preachers who hung Nana, I threw my arms out one last time and Christian was sent soaring crashing through doors then, at last, a window.  As darkness came for me, only one thought occurred to me.  Pity it isn’t daylight.

 

 

I was lying in tall gold grass and the blazing sun was scorching.  The sound of someone trudging through the thick grass made me jump as I peeked out from my hiding spot to see who was approaching.

 

In the blaze of the sun all I could make out was the silhouette of a man and woman walking close to me but in the distance was that little stone cottage I’d been seeing a lot lately.  The one that wasn’t supposed to exist anymore.

 

As the man and woman drew closer still, they blocked out the blinding sun and at last I could see their faces.  The man dressed in cropped khaki trousers with a crisp white shirt with two or three buttons open at the top.  His chin was stubbly and his dark blonde hair was dishevelled looking.  As if I could forget this man.  This was my Dad.

 

The woman, however, was not my Mom like I almost expected it to be but someone much younger.  Her long bright blonde hair blew freely around her like a golden halo as I looked up into the eyes of my friend.

“Eve?” I almost choked on her name.

“Hey, cutie-pie.” My friend beamed down at me.  Offering me a hand she helped me to my feet.

“Dad?  What’s going on?  How did I get here?”

“What do you remember?” he asked me calmly.

“Um… we were about to leave when…”

“When?”

“When the Preachers attacked!”

“And what happened after that?” asked Eve.

“Christian.”

“Yeah, you never should have chased after him, honey.”

“But wait – does that mean… oh my god, am I dead?”

“Well, see, here’s the thing.  Normally the Reaper’s collect the dead and they’re dead are given a choice.”

“A choice, this sounds familiar.”

“When the Reapers came for me,” Eve started, “they asked if I wanted to go on and join my kin, or if I wanted to be reincarnated.  I asked if I’d ever see Tilly again if I joined my dead kin in the afterlife and they said only if Tilly chose the same when her time came.  So I went on to join my kin.  Then rumour started to spread about your little predicament and the Reapers here got in touch with your Daddy and me.”

“What predicament?”

“She means Liv Rockwell’s prediction.  The prediction of your death.”

“Where I’d be given two choices.  Just like Josephine’s spirit kids said.  So this is it?  Will the Reapers give me those options too?”

“Well, not quite.  You’re special, sweetie.  You play a big part in the coming war.”

“We’re already at war.”

“True, but… you still have a part to play.”

“I don’t understand.  I’m dead, aren’t I?”

“Sweetie, look around you, what do you see?”

“A field and a cottage.”

“Really?  That’s weird.  To me it looks like that Katy Perry gig me, you, Tilly and DC went to see in Manhattan.  Remember?”

“I don’t understand.  How…?”

“It looks different for everyone, Bill.  For your Mom and me it looks like the church where we got married.”

“So what is this place?”

“It’s the In-between.” Said Eve.

“It’s like a sort of gateway for the dead.  You can either go join your kin from here or go back to the world and start afresh.”

“I still don’t see what this has to do with me and my predicament.”

“You need to look closer.  Focus, Billie.  This place will soon fade and you’ll see what your predicament is.”

 

Dad was right.  I watched in disbelief as our surroundings seemed to dissolve till we were standing in Penn Gate High School where my body lay, broken and bloodless.  My eyes were still open but unseeing as Riley and his family all gathered around me and tried to wake me.  Even Willem’s healing powers couldn’t fix me.

“Look.”

 

Dad pointed out Leonard who held his wrist to my mouth pouring his blood into me.  Now I see my predicament.  They’re trying to turn me.

“There is only one way they can save you, but the choice is still yours, Billie.”

“That’s why the Reaper’s sent us here.” Eve explained.  “You’re not quite dead yet so they can’t collect you themselves.”

“You have two choices.  Come back with us or become a Vampire.”

 

The world seemed to fall away from under me but both Dad and Eve held me upright and steady as I kneeled over, forcing myself to breathe in and out, in and out.

“If I go back I can help them.  I can play my part in the war.”

“But you will be a Vampire.”

“Will that change me?  Will I not be a Witch anymore?”

“You will still be a Witch, even more powerful than you are now, I’d wager.  But, you’ll live forever.  You can’t die.  Do you understand?  You’ll never come back here.  Never see us or your mother again.  Even Riley isn’t immortal, Bill.”

“But they need me.  I’m their leader, Dad.”

“But are you willing to sacrifice your humanity for them?”

“They’re my family, I’d do anything for them.  I have to help them, Dad.”

 

Dad and Eve looked upwards at something I couldn’t see, their faces etched with worry.  Something in the distance of the dark corridors shone brightly behind them and they smiled briefly with relief.

“Our times up, honey.  You’re on your own from here.” Dad said, pulling me into a tight hug.  “I’m sure whatever you choose will be the right thing.  You’ve made your Mom and I so proud.  Good luck, kiddo.”

“Dad!”

“If you choose to go back,” Eve said, hugging me in turn, “tell Tilly and DC I miss them, won’t you.”

“I will.  I promise.”

“If not, I’ll see you in a few minutes.  Good luck, Bill.”

 

They both walked towards the bright light and waved to me before vanishing into its bright depths.  The light went out and I was left alone except for the family who were trying to resuscitate me.  Or change me.  Tears were streaming down Riley’s face as he checked again and again for a pulse.

 

My body already looked quite pale, I wished so much one of them would close my eyes.  It was kinda scary looking into those lifeless eyes.  They almost didn’t look like mine.

 

How do you make a decision like this?  I’d be embracing death either way.  One lead to reunion with my parents and grandparents, the other led to the living but with a promise of more death and destruction.

 

How do you make a decision like this?  Digging into the pocket of my jeans I found a coin.  Well, it could be worse, I could ask a Magic 8 Ball after all.

“Heads I become a Vampire or tales I join Dad and Eve.”

 

Flicking the coin high, I watch as it flips over and over, higher and higher before it starts to descend.  I grab it before it falls at my feet and slap it on the back of my left hand.  I’m almost too scared to look but I do.  Well, I peek at least.

I smile, “Oh, goody, just what I was hoping for.”

 

Heads.

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