Chapter 14 Withdrawals

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Hank's arms slipped again as he put more strength into regaining his position on Boris's back. His legs had long ago turned to jelly from the effort of keeping them wrapped around his escort's waist. He longed for a seatbelt on this crazy roller coaster of a vampire. He didn't know which was more dizzying: the incredible speed they were moving at or the blurring sight of motion all around him. The street lights stretched into streams of different colors. He closed his eyes, trying to steady his stomach. He tried to picture Toby's face but found he couldn't bring it clearly into focus. He was angry with himself for that.

But the more he tried, the more a different face came into focus. Peter's face filled his mental screen with a dark expression. It was so vivid Hank had to open his eyes again to make it go away. His head was cocked to the right leaning against the back of Boris's thick neck. He opened his eyes just in time to see something strange. A flash of movement didn't fit the pattern he’d watched repeat itself with each revolution of vampires. It was too fast for Hank to understand, but the result was not surprising. Something seemed to block the spinning circle of vampires like a stick in the spokes of a bike wheel. In an instant, Hank found himself and his vampire steed blasted off course and headed for a large tan, brick building covered in epic graffiti. He looked around to see the other vampires flying away in random directions like bowling pins in the midst of a strike.

Just six feet from the building, Hank's stomach dropped as everything went into a streaming blur and then Boris came to a graceful yet devastating landing on his feet. Hank could feel the bricks barely graze against the bottoms of his shoes. Then Boris threw Hank's arms and legs off of him, turned, and picked him up, holding him like a baby. He ran, carrying his little bundle of joy with him to the other side of the building. Then he put Hank down on his feet, motioned for him to keep his mouth shut, and get down low. Hank did so without argument. Facing away from him, Boris crouched down into a strange position that seemed more cat-like than anything else. This was made all the more strange by Boris's bulk. He was far too huge to look so feline.

An explosion erupted somewhere on the other side of the building bringing Hank back to the reality of his situation. At the sound, Boris ran to the far side of the building to look around the corner. Hank couldn't help feeling completely vulnerable. A moment later, he heard another explosion. This one sounded much closer. In between the reverberations of the blast and realizing what it was, Boris was back in position in front of Hank, waiting for anyone to come along and dare to confront him. He heard movement to his right and saw Rachel coming swiftly around the corner, a large slash across her cheek and several other battle scars on her skin and clothes. She looked at Boris with indecision.

"It's Luciano. I think he's alone, but there is no way to be sure yet. I barely got away from him. Where are the others?" she asked, desperately circling and looking around.

"Don't know," Boris said in his thick Russian accent. She glanced at him with that same unsure expression. But before she seemed to come to a conclusion, Rodney and Yavo came running from the other side of the building. Neither of them appeared to even have a scratch on them.

"Carlos is dead," Rodney shouted. Hank recognized a deep mourning in Rodney's voice as he gave them the news. "He was drained completely."

"It was Luciano. He almost got me, too," Rachel said. "But I turned the tables on him and then he got away from me," she added. Then her expression became one of worry. "I don't think we can risk any more high-speed flanks. We had better walk mortal the rest of the way," she said. It took Hank a moment to understand this statement. "Boris, you continue to stay with Mr. Evans. Yavo, Rodney, you two and I will flank still but over a much larger radius at a mortal pace. That way, we can keep on the lookout for more distant intruders and have the advantage when they arrive," she said.

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