Chapter 7 The Shadow of Death

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A shrill scream came from behind Hank and echoed off the surrounding houses. Although it was distant, Hank recognized the shrieking. It sounded just like the first vampire he’d encountered. He hooked his thumbs in the straps of his backpack, took a deep breath, and ran. He could see nothing but abandoned houses and empty streets. He veered toward the house closest to him. The house had a more modern style than most of the others. What little he could make out of the fading, cracked paint on the outside walls was a very dull gray.

The screeching sounded again, coming without an echo this time. Hank looked back as he ran and saw three dark figures flying above the houses several blocks behind him. He faced forward again just in time to see the far corner of the house right in front of him. He grabbed it and slid down onto the dusty ground beside the structure as if he were sliding into home.

Peeking around the corner of the house, lying on the ground, Hank could see the creatures still coming for him. Sense of smell, you idiot, he thought. Hiding was of no use unless he could hide somewhere that would block his scent. He sat back against the house, scrambling to figure out what to do. He thought about drinking more blood and making a good run for it. But after his recent clash with his surroundings, he decided that would not work.

His next thought also involved drinking more blood but this time using its power to help him fight back against the monsters. But he knew he would have to use the remaining blood he had in order to pull it off. He was sure he couldn’t do that if he wanted to make it the rest of the way out of the city alive.

A loud, piercing scream came from one of the vampires and echoed strangely off of the next house. They were much closer now. The instant the sound hit his ears, he jumped to his feet out of animal instinct. Seeing a solitary reflection of neon glow halfway toward the back of the building, he went directly for it. If he was right, the light reflected off a window. As he came closer, he confirmed it.

The window hung low enough that he might be able to climb in if he could open it. He tried to push up on the window. It wouldn’t budge. He took a few steps back away from the house. Then with a running start, he jumped, shoulder first, and slammed into the glass, hitting it with a thud. He fell backward from the spring of the impact. The window seemed to stare back at him unimpressed.

A shrill rattle pierced through his ears.  He looked up and could barely see the outline of a figure coming into view just above the roof of the house.  Two glassy black eyes from the pale face of the figure were the only things peering out from the darkness.

* * *

When Peter arrived at the top of the tower, he wasn't surprised at all by the less-than-warm welcome he received. As he opened the door leading out to the round balcony of the tower, he found all four of the other vampires waiting eagerly at their table when he knelt timidly before Ishan. This did surprise him. Ishan sat at the head of the table as he always did.

"Where is this convict and why have you not brought him to us?" Ishan asked while motioning for Peter to stand.

"I almost had him. I followed the sound of his heartbeat to an old house and timed it perfectly. But he moved almost as fast as we can," Peter said.

"You expect us to believe this?" Ishan asked.

"Wait. There's more. His strength was like mine as well. That, combined with the blade he carried, gave him the upper hand over me," Peter explained in a rush. The council members not openly pitying Peter showed him obvious contempt. He looked at them pleadingly. Ishan gazed back at him with a dark expression.

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