26: Carwick Castle

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Past the outskirts of Fosswell, the canopy of trees over the road grew denser along our route to Abertreath. I didn’t dare think about my destination. Memories of previous visits to the coastal town were happy ones. Our family used to take caravan holidays there, back when dad was alive and we had a bit of spare cash. Something told me my future memories would be rather more depressing.

I watched the pale evening light flicker through gaps in the branches, until it faded into darkness and a moonless night descended.

I lost track of time. I didn’t care what happened to me, anymore. All I could think about was Connor, and how he’d been there for me, again. And now he was gone. It was all my fault.

Above me, the trees thinned, and interlocking fingers of cloud parted to reveal a glaring full moon, making the silhouettes of twisted tree branches look like the shadow monsters of my childhood.

The car slowed. I guessed we’d arrived.

The smell of the ocean wafted on the breeze. Huge, iron gates creaked open, and the sight of a large, stone-pillared gateway passed by.

Carwick Castle dominated the cliffs at the north end of Abertreath. It was dark and foreboding. The high, stone walls had stood for centuries and had seen many battles. The whole building could have been a film set for a fang-banging, horror movie. Indeed, I remember it being the setting, on more than one occasion, for a campfire ghost story. It was a steep, winding climb to the entrance before the car stopped.

Tyron yanked from the footwell and threw me at the waiting men. The circle closed around me, and they bared their teeth in anticipation of a tasty meal.

“Straight to the dungeon with her. Touch her and I’ll kill you,” Tyron ordered.

Their disappointment was clear. One of the men picked me up and threw me over his shoulder, then a second later, I was brutally discarded into a waiting cell. The barred door slammed shut, and I turned to see my jailer securing the lock with a smug smile of satisfaction. “I’ll look forward to tasting you later,” he said, licking his lips. A moaning sound, followed by whispered pleas of mercy, came from somewhere to his left. I wasn’t the only occupant in these confining walls. “Quiet in there or today will be your last. There’re plenty more where you came from,” the vamp barked, before he vanished in a swirl of mist up the facing stone stairway.

“Hello? Hello? Who’s there?” I called. I peered over to the cell diagonally opposite mine, sure that the sound had come from there. A faint rustling noise increased in volume, and a wretched looking girl emerged from the shadows.

“They…g-got…you…t-too?” she sobbed.

Her clothes were torn and dirty and her long, blond hair was matted in clumps. I squinted in the dim light of the dying fire torch, and only then did I notice the marks, bite marks, all in varying degrees of healing, covering her skin.

“How long have you been here?” I asked.

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