Then, with a final croak, it was falling and with a snarl on his lean face, Tate was launching himself at the next nearest alien, the big creature reaching for the wiry Risen with oversized hands.  And in that instant I knew now what I had only suspected before, and why the lich had feared him so. 

He was indeed a vampire; a vampire that didn't use fangs to suck blood from his victims but energy tendrils instead to drain their life force.  To a Risen whose very existence depended on borrowed goa from Mother Earth, to see a life force vampire was to glimpse the possibility of final death.  And that was something to be feared indeed!  I couldn't help the chill that filled my own broken and ruined body at the sight.

Yet, in that same instant, I couldn't take my eyes off the cadaverous Risen as he continued decimating the alien landing party that had attacked his vehicle.  The stolen life force allowed great strength and incredible speed, healing his injuries in the instant they happened, and gave him an agility that made him more than formidable.  He was devastatingly deadly.  A fact underscored by the third alien body hitting the ground as the fourth and last of the landing party, which Tate had a strangle hold on after ripping off its helmet, began to scream in what was rapidly becoming the familiar death keening.

Before I could see the last creature fall, however, my injuries finally took their toll.  Overwhelmed, I faded into the blessed darkness of unconsciousness.  Yet, I didn't become insensate.

Instead of blessed oblivion, I found myself in a treed park, birds chirping merrily in the branches over my head as I walked along a grassy path, an early afternoon sun shining down with midsummer strength from a clear blue sky.  What?  Where, . . where was I?  I looked frantically around, confusion missing with fear.  Wasn't I just on the ground, holes ripped through my Risen body and agony searing my flesh with dante's brand?  Where were Tate and the aliens?

"Max!"  A woman's voice cried out with a note of pleased surprise.  Not just any woman's voice; that was my Abby's voice.  I quickly spun around, eyes wide.

"A-Abby??"  I stammered, not wanting to believe my eyes.

Yet, there she was, her long brunette hair tumbling to her shoulders in fragrant waves, her flashing green and copper eyes dancing as they did when she was happy, her lovely heart-shaped face glowing with the smile she aimed at me.  She appeared as she always had to me, in the bloom of beauty after we had been married for about five years.  A simple summer frock danced about her athletic frame as she ran towards me, joy suffusing her features.

Then she was in my arms and my heart sang.

"Oh Abby!"  I husked, my voice cracking as I buried my face in her sun-warmed hair. 

"How I have missed you!"

"And I've missed you, my sweet, sweet Max."  She whispered hoarsely into my ear, her arms wrapped tightly around my body.  "I love you so, so much.  But you shouldn't be here."

I was so stunned by the blunt statement, I took a half step back so I could look at her.

"W-what?"  My eyes flew wide in shock to see her look of joy had transformed into one of sorrow.  "I don't understand, Abby.  What do you mean, I shouldn't be here?"

Her hand came up to lovingly caress my face, her sorrow deepening.

"It's not yet your time, my love."  She said in her delightful voice, which I had dreamed of hearing again just one more time.  Yet it was heavy with regret.

"As much as I want you here with me forever, you need to go back."

"Back?"  My voice dropped to a mere whisper as she took a step away from me, her hands slipping down into mine.

RisenWhere stories live. Discover now