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Kieran was woken by Joby's distant wails of anguish. As he shifted restlessly into consciousness he felt the hard shingle beneath his body, and he heard the sea relentlessly scrape at the land a few feet below him.
"So, we're back", Adam glared with resentment at the Grey Sea.
"It could've lasted longer than one focking night!" Kieran scrambled to his feet and yelled at the distant horizon.
The Skirra Fludd lighthouse had remained dark.
Joby hollered at the pair as they trudged, disillusioned, back to the Loud House. He was standing in a corridor that overlooked the entrance to the shore. He had woken up in bed, in the same room in which he had so peacefully fallen asleep. Only this time the sheets were rough blankets, the deep rugs had vanished from the floor, and the only other item in the room had been an extinguished candle stuck in a saucer on the floor.
In confusion and panic Joby had pulled his coat on over his naked body, and ran out into the corridor. It was lit by windows on both sides. One looked out onto the sea, the other onto the ruined courtyard, where globules of fog continued to swirl around the cracked pillars. There was no sunshine, no grass, no trees. Nothing to induce a pleasing thrill of anticipation at the day ahead, only the deadening hand of fear.
He yelled his despair and disbelief over and over, thumping his head against the windowframe as he did so. In his hands he twisted the silk stocking. All that now remained of the idyll.
"I found him like it", Joby said later, as he showed Adam and Kieran into a small room at the top of a turret staircase. Angel lay on a small truckle bed. He was unconscious, but shaking convulsively. His mouth twitched violently, as though he was making a frustrated effort to snarl.
"He was acting strange last night", said Kieran.
"Strang-er", Joby corrected him.
"Have you tried waking him?" asked Adam.
"I didn't want to. He was making such weird noises, I thought he might bite me hand off or summat".
Adam leaned over the boy and clapped loudly a couple of times over the boy's face. It didn't register with Angel.
"I've never noticed his hands before", said Kieran.
Angel's hands were crossed on his chest, in a shroudlike position. The hands were small and deceptively gentle-looking, but the fingers tapered into grotesque nails that were so long and yellow they were more like talons.
"Like little claws", Kieran continued.
"I think we're in for a bumpy ride with this boy", said Adam "He was hyped up last night, and now this. I don't like it. Makes me fear what might come next".
"He hasn't attacked any of us yet", said Joby.
"I don't suppose he's been this desperate until now", Adam explained "He must have got hold of something at Green Ways, but I ... none of it makes sense! If it is the d.t's I would've expected him to get them before now".
"We've only known him a few days", Joby pointed out "Seems longer I know".
"That's true", Adam reached over and raised one of the boy's eyelids to reveal a white orb beneath "But I still think he's got hold of something at Green Ways which is setting him off. I should have read his notes in more detail at the prison. They might've said how they coped with him".
"How the fock do you cope with a vampire who's got the d.t's?" said Kieran.
"Same as any addiction I expect", Adam replied, glancing up at him "You sweat it out and hope for the best. One of us should sit with him all the time. Take it in turns".
"Shouldn't we strap him down or something?" said Joby "In case he gets violent".
"Do me a favour!" Adam exclaimed "He's even more weak and feeble than we are. We'll manage. I'll take the first watch if you're worried. Why don't you two try and get some provisions sorted out. In case we're stuck here for a while".
"I think we should be making an effort to leave".
"Joby, we haven't a hope of getting out of here at the moment", said Adam "Just about everything is against us. Until we get Angel sorted out we can't get the buggy started. There is no way we'll manage to walk any great distance back the way we came. I seriously doubt if we could find cover before nightfall. Our only hope is if we can find a boat stored somewhere, but it's a longshot".
"So we're stuck here?"
"Unless there's another time-slip. If that happens ..."
"Fat chance, the lunar eclipse has gone", said Kieran.
"It doesn't depend on that. There was no lunar eclipse at the prison and yet they all disappeared".
"But we didn't", said Joby.
"Let's not go into all that again. Now listen, if there is another slip, we take full advantage of it. We move as fast as we can away from this area, not hang around enjoying ourselves like we did last night. But we certainly can't do it as things stand, the environment's too hostile".
"The environment's too hostile!" Joby sneered "He talks like some fucking official fact-finding report".
"I refuse to believe we're stuck here", Kieran was a few steps below him, on their way down the atrium staircase "There must be a way out".
"Yea well, let's get the provisions sorted out, and then we can go and look for a boat. Although I think the idea of bouncing up and down on that Grey Sea appeals even less than staying here".
They entered the courtyard through a side door. This mist had got denser, and swirled around the stones and pillars, blurring shapes and outlines.
"There's a well of some kind in the corner. I'll see if there's any water in it", said Joby.
"O.K, I'll go and have a look inside some of the other doors here", Kieran replied.
"Don't go too far. This place is like a sodding maze".
Joby prised the rotted wooden lid from the top of the well, and swung the bucket down on its rusty chain. There was a satisfying splash as it hit the bottom, and with a slight lifting of morale Joby raised it up again. The bucket was full of clean water. Unable to believe his luck, Joby dipped his hands in and ran the cold, clear liquid over his face. The water was incredibly refreshing. He gulped it in and felt momentarily revived. He raised his face, closed his eyes and felt the water caress his skin.
When he peered in the bucket again he saw another reflection, as well as his own. There was someone standing directly behind him, distinguishable only by a haze of white. Joby's first and only thought was that it was HER, the vision of the night before. As she leaned closer he could see the outline of her cheekbones, and the coiled mass of her dark hair.
He swung round excitedly, but there was no one there. he blinked and stared, but she had gone, had stepped back into the fog.
"Please", he whispered, quietly "Please come back ..."
Kieran stepped down from the courtyard, and moved round to the side of the house. This part was where the Green Way's kitchen had been. It was now a large heap of rubble. Kieran cautiously stepped over the boulders towards the cellar door, which now faced the outside world head-on.
The door had a large wooden bar across it. He eased it from its holders, and tugged open the door. The steps wound down into the darkness. He gulped nervously and took a step forward. Then he stopped and froze with terror.
There was a movement at the bottom of the steps, and a shadow fell across his face. The eyes stared up at him, piercing and malevolent. The demon, ogre, whatever the hell it was, was large and muscular, with a naked body topped by a hairless head. Its skin was the colour of mustard, but what struck Kieran most about it were its eyes. Black and slanting. They were the eyes of a million terrors and nightmares.
He screamed and shook himself out of his state of shock. He slammed the door, and with fumbling fingers rammed the bar into place. Joby approached through the gloom, carrying a bucket of water.
"Did I hear you just then?" he said.
"There's a thing in the cellar", Kieran stammered "Horrible. Like a giant reptile, only it was human. It's eyes ...!"
"C'mon, let's get indoors", Joby glanced around him at the fog and shivered "I was gonna suggest having a look at the buggy, but now I don't want to stay out here. Too fucking spooky".
"Two bags of rice from our own stores, and a bucket of water from the well", said Kieran, breathlessly placing the bucket on the floor next to Angel's bed "Sum total of our stocks".
"Well you didn't try too hard to look for supplies", Adam snapped.
"Oh get focking stuffed. You look yourself if you're so damn clever. But I warn you it's creepy out there. Both me and Joby saw things".
"It was the fog playing tricks with your eyes. Why didn't you try the cellar?"
"I did, and don't ask me to do it again! There's something in there".
"Can it get out?" Adam said, taking note of the fright in Kieran's voice.
"I bloody hope not!"
"I suggest we make sure none of us is alone at any time. You mind Angel now, and I'll go and see what Joby's up to".
Kieran, once alone with the boy, shuddered at the sight of Angel's nails. He also noted that he had a curious bloated look to him. His flesh was pinker, and his cheeks were swollen, like a hamster's.
Gingerly, Kieran pulled open the boy's jaws. A trickle of blood ran out, and cascaded down Angel's chin. Kieran reached in and pulled out a lump of chewed flesh. He dropped it on the floor, overwhelmed by nausea.
"You filthy little shit!" he exclaimed, to the unconscious boy "Where did you get it, and what is it?"
"Is he awake then?" Joby said, as he came into the room "I heard you talking to him".
"No", Kieran got to his feet, and pointed angrily at the comatose boy "He has not got the d.t's Joby! He is resting between fixes, that's what he's doing. He's been scavenging somewhere".
"Just what we need", there was a noticeable tremble in Joby's voice, which made Kieran stare hard at him.
"Jobe? What's wrong?"
"We're trapped here. Prisoners".
For the first time ever Kieran saw Joby cry. Not even during their incarceration in Beane's cave had Joby broken down. It was almost as terrifying a sight as seeing the strange creature in the cellar.
"We've been in tighter spots than this", Kieran reached out to touch his arm, and the other man flinched.
"No we haven't", Joby protested "This is worse. I've never felt so alone, and she keeps tormenting me".
"The woman. She appears sometimes. I get a glimpse, and then she's gone again. It's not fair. And I'm not imagining it!"
"I never said you were. It's no more unreal than my fiend in the cellar. Look, we will get out of here Joby. And you're no more alone than you were in Beane's cave".
"Fat lot of use you are!" Joby cried "He's bleeding you dry, Adam Jensen is, and you can't see it".
"It's just sex ..."
"Does he know that?"
"You can't do my worrying for me", Kieran looked away.
"He thinks he's got you. Completely. You'll never shake him off now. He's a leach ..."
"A vampire?" Kieran laughed, quietly "I know what I'm doing".
"No you don't!" Joby cuffed him round the ear "That's just the trouble, you never do".
Angel groaned in his sleep and turned onto his side. The room had got even darker, and felt heavy and intense in the gloom.
"It's no fucking good talking to you", Joby hissed "Whatever I say you'll twist to your advantage. Probably try and make out I'm jealous or something".
"I know better than that", Kieran rubbed his ear "He must realise there's no future in it. Even if me and Amy are finished ..."
"Oh stop looking so innocent! How can me and her go back to how it was? Too many bridges need building, and I haven't got the energy or the inclination anymore. You're welcome, so I'd stop sweating about Adam if I was you. He's probably doing you a favour".
"You can't give up on her just like that!"
"Just like that!" Kieran exploded "In the brief time me and her have been married, she's had an affair with me best friend, I've been screwing the boss, and I've also been missing from hearth and home for the past three months! What do we do for an encore?"
"I just didn't think you'd give up so easily that's all", said Joby, in disgust.
"It's pointless speculating about the future of my marriage at this moment".
"The only future you should be speculating on is how we get away from here", said Adam, as he entered the room "There you are Joby, I've been looking for you all over the place".
"What do you want?"
"To repeat what I said to Patsy, that I don't think any of us should wander off alone if we can avoid it. We're certainly not the only ones here".
"Have you seen something?" asked Kieran.
"Not exactly SEEN. I had got to the top of the stairs just now, when I could swear I felt somebody walk past me. There was a chill, and a whisper of a breeze, a cobweb lifted as though someone had blown on it. It was as if they'd just gone past. Very Henry James I must say. I didn't like it one bit".
"It's no good", Adam had cupped Kieran's jaw in his hands, but then let it go reluctantly "I don't seem to have you tonight".
Kieran stared back at him in blank weariness and utter incomprehension. They had left Joby to watch over Angel, and Adam had followed Kieran into what had been the Woman's Bedroom. Kieran had assumed that the older man would want to snatch some rest as well, and was dismayed that carnal pleasures seemed to be uppermost in his mind.
"I want it to be like last night", Adam continued "We were close then".
"How the fock can it be like last night?" Kieran cried, his head bursting with tiredness "We're in a place that's slowly crumbling to bits, taking it in turns to nurse a sick vampire, whilst bloody peculiar things mooch around us, and you expect me to feel randy!"
"No, I just want to know that you care".
"I've said I have, haven't I?" Kieran wailed in despair.
"I want you to mean it".
"I'll mean it as much as I ever will".
"What do you mean by that?" Adam bridled.
"Jesus Christ! I have never met anyone as sodding difficult as you. You want more than I can give at this moment Adam, for the simple reason that you want my mind and soul, and I'm too lost and tired at the moment to cope with that. I don't know who's the bigger vampire around here. The kid or you!"
"That's not fair".
"I've had many women in my life, and one man ... you. And I can honestly say that you're more bloody trouble than all of the fair sex put together. You demand reassurance morning, noon and night. I can't be mates with Joby 'cos you don't like it, and where sex is concerned you treat me like a bloody machine!"
Adam smashed his fist into Kieran's eye and sent the younger man reeling. Kieran felt a searing pain burn itself into his right eye and shoot onwards into his skull. He tried to pull himself upright, and found himself being hauled roughly to his feet.
"You can't do that to me", Adam spat, punctuating each word with a hefty punch into Kieran's rib-cage.
Kieran struggled for breath, which was no easy task with the other man's grip on his throat. Eventually he managed to let out a shrill scream, which was so terrified and unearthly that it managed to bring Adam out of his violent spasm. Kieran took advantage of the brief lull to escape from the room.
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