Chapter 3 - Dawn

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It was really strange, Max knew the instant it was dawn. There were no windows, no clocks, but he knew anyway. Yulia had run her tests and they had talked. Max shied away from giving his captors any details about himself, and everything had been going fine until suddenly Max found it incredibly difficult to keep his eyes open. It felt as if the energy was draining out of him.

Yulia was off in the corner looking at something or other, chatting away to him in Russian. Max was so tired that all he could do was lie down. He wasn't even really aware when he drifted off to sleep, but it had to have happened, because his dreams inevitably took him back to the alley.

The fear that was gripping his heart felt like a vice and the pain of those fangs in his throat mixed with the pleasure this time, creeping through his body. He could feel it in every cell. It called to him, dragging him down with the mixture of heaven and hell.

Even as he relived what had happened he was also strangely aware it was a memory. It was as if he was partially outside himself, observing. The thing that was biting him was nothing to what was inside his own body, trying to consume him from within. He could see the corruption spreading. Nothing was more terrifying. He woke up breathing hard, almost sobbing as he tried to fight it off.

He was lying on his side in the harsh light of the tiled room and he was not alone, but his companion was not Yulia.

"Hello," Zhanna said, giving him a worried once over, "are you alright?"

Max was pretty sure he was further from alright then he had ever been, but that wasn't really what Zhanna was asking. He ached and he felt as if there was something alive under his skin, but he had a feeling that was a lot better than it could have been. Anton had said he would be dead by dawn and it was past that already.

"I'll be okay," is what he decided to say, sitting up slowly and carefully.

The chains rattled and made him feel rather self-conscious, but there wasn't anything he could do about it.

"Yulia is impressed with your progress," Zhanna said and smiled at him; "you are doing very well."

"Not dead yet," he said, feeling in a rather black mood.

"Which is remarkable," Zhanna told him with typical Russian sincerity; it made it hard not to believe. "Yulia is difficult to impress. Peter, the vampire who took you, was one of the old ones, we have been trying to destroy him for years. You must have intoxicated him for us to finally be able to get close enough to do it. His bloodline is very strong, that you did not turn before dawn is incredible. There is real hope for you now."

He was quite glad he had just fallen asleep earlier; it meant he hadn't had longer to worry.

"What time is it?" he asked.

"About two in the afternoon," Zhanna told him. "You have been sleeping all morning."

He wasn't really sure he wanted to be awake yet, something inside telling him it was too early, but it was better than dreaming. It was like those mornings where he didn't have time to grab a coffee, but it was bearable.

"There's really a chance?" he asked, because he had to know.

Zhanna nodded and gave him a smile to back it up.

Making a conscious choice, he made his thoughts stop their downward spiral. Both Yulia and Zhanna had told him his mind was his greatest weapon, sinking into depression would not help him. He was strong; he'd fought back from the injury that had ended his gymnastics career, he could fight back from this.

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