By Kammy Gaffney
Natalie slammed on the brakes, as she reached the parking lot - stared for a moment, jaw agape at the state of the front door. Apparently, the vampire had beaten her here. She stepped inside, and clapped her mouth over her hands. Paul's severed head was lying on the floor, just inside of the door. She couldn't move then, all she could do was stand in the doorway and stare. Rhaegal was in the middle of the room, fangs bared, the sword still dripping blood, clenched in one hand, the other arm and hand hidden behind a half-folded wing. He was effectively surrounded by Phil, Tom, and Andy. Phil had his shotgun ready. Andy had a metal baseball bat, and Tom was sitting perched on the bar, drinking whiskey out of the bottle like it was water. Paul's headless body lay at Rhaegal's feet, and several other bodies lay here and there - Tony, Mitch's older brother, looked as if he'd been cut in two. Guys that she'd known forever, dead, and the rest - ugly, hideous, in her eyes, busy tormenting and taunting the once-proud creature standing in the middle of the room. Rhaegal's eyes were shifting to and fro, warily gauging his opponents' every movement. His one wing remained tightly folded against his back, so as to enable him full motion with his sword arm, the other was raised like a shield. Phil raised his bottle of whiskey in a salute, and then hurled it at Rhaegal's head. Rhaegal sidestepped it with surprising speed, and the bottle smashed against the wall.
"Dammit, Phil, that's the fifth bottle of whiskey I jess wasted - can't you make that demon stand still?"
Phil nodded, and raised the rifle.
Natalie wanted to cry out, but the words were stuck in her throat. Phil fired. Rhaegal attempted to dodge, staggered, and nearly fell, and then straightened. A dark wetness ran down the front of his leg, just above the knee. He swallowed hard, but he refused to cry out. He shifted his weight to the other leg, letting the other just rest on the floor, and raised his sword again.
"That's better." Tom threw another bottle. Rhaegal defiantly smashed it down with his sword, and it shattered in a thousand pieces, glass and alcohol flying everywhere.
"Dammit!" Tom ducked under his arms, Andy scrambled backwards, swinging the bat, and Phil took a step back, but he never lowered his rifle, and his eyes never left the vampire.
"Stop it!" Natalie yelled.
"Whoo hoo! Well looky who finally made it to the party!"
"Shut up, Thomas." She carefully stepped over Paul's head, fighting the urge to gag, and crossed the room. "What the hell do you think you're doing? Why?"
"He's a demon, and he's trying to steal the demon brat we caught. We're gonna get a lot of money for these two. I'll be able to buy me a nice new truck."
"Rhaegal's no demon."
"Oh? Demon's got a name does he? It figures you'd know it Natalie - you little hell-cat, you."
"Heh, she probably knows the name of every demon in hell."
"Very funny, Andy. Now why don't you just let him go, huh?"
"Let him go? Are you nuts, woman? He killed Paul, and Tony, and Mitch!"
"Mitch is dead?"
"Yeah, and that little devil-brat he's holding killed ol' man Patty."
"Old man Patty should've been dead twenty years ago. He was old when I was still in grade school. Did anybody see the kid kill him?"
"Ask Diamond; he's the one who told us the Jersey Devil did it - told us where he was gonna be, too. He even gave us this crazy drink that he said the devil couldn't see us until we got close up to him, and the crazy thing is, that worked too! But the best part is that he's gonna pay us real good when he comes to collect."
"Diamond? Who the hell is Diamond?"
"Feller who came by this morning. You should come in earlier on the weekdays, Nat, you miss some cool stuff sometimes. Well, his name wasn't diamond, exactly, but it was something kinda like that. You should've seen him Nat, he was just your type, the guy smelled like money. He said he'd give us a hundred grand to split any which way if we took down the little demon. I bet he'll give us more for the big one. If not, we'll see if someone else wants to buy him."
"That's ridiculous!" Natalie raised her voice. "What are you gonna do, auction him off on eBay!? What's the matter with you! Have you all lost your minds!?" She looked at the vampire. "Rhaegal, I formally apologize for my idiot neighbors. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive us someday."
"What, Phil? Rhaegal is my friend. So, he's a little different. You was born with a tail - we didn't call you a demon and take you out into the middle of town and shoot you in the leg. C'mon Phil - why don't you drop yer pants and show everybody the scar on your ass?"
Phil's mouth twisted into an ugly snarl. "Somebody get that bitch out of here."
Andy turned and started walking towards her, leering. "So, you gotta thing for demons, do ya? Is it 'cause they're bigger than the average guy? Hung like a Clydesdale, is that it, Natalie? Or maybe he's got three of 'em, or somethin' like that. That's it, isn't it - that demon's got himself a pitchfork in his pants."
"You're disgusting, Andy."
"Oh, please - tell me you didn't fuck 'em, Natalie, after he left here last night, and I'll apologize."
Natalie blushed. "I - I..."
"Yeah, I thought so. Did you enjoy it?"
"Oh Shit!!!" roared Tom. "He's - "
Andy spun around, and charged, waving the bat, as Rhaegal made a break for it. Phil fired shot after shot, and then had to stop to reload, and Rhaegal stumbled, nearly fell, recovered and kept running. He brushed right past Andy, who spun, frantically waving his arms to keep his balance. He opened his other wing, and Natalie could see a small bundle on his arm. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. Rhaegal's head came up, and his eyes met hers. Then he flung the bundle at her as he went down, crashing to the floor. Natalie reached out, and something surprisingly light, warm, and dust-covered tumbled into her arms. Rhaegal's son. She didn't look; she simply hugged him to her chest, turned around and ran. Faerie football, she thought, hysterically, as she bolted out the door.
"Get her! Stop her! No, dammit! No time! He's getting back up!" Rhaegal was struggling to get his feet again, and the sword was in both hands. He snarled, and cut the legs out from under the baseball bat-wielding Andy as if he were made of butter. Andy's legless body fell to the floor, screaming. Still on his knees, Rhaegal turned around, determined to keep the others from following Natalie, and let out a roar of rage as a stinging liquid splashed onto his face, into his eyes. He swung the sword blindly, grunting in pain, as more whiskey rained down upon him. He was losing a great deal of blood, and was weakening fast. The point of his sword was starting to droop. He barely had the strength left in his hands to hold the heavy blade at all. He tried to blink the whiskey from his eyes, so that he could glare at his remaining attackers. "I will not die on my knees." Rhaegal struggled to rise again.
"I don't care how you die, you shit-eating son of a bitch!" hissed Tom. He leaped forward, and smashed the empty bottle over the furious vampire's head. Rhaegal dropped to the floor, shuddering, and then he tried to pull his legs under him again, lying in a puddle of blood and assorted hard liquors. His face was peppered with glass, bleeding, and the whiskey plastered his hair and his shirt to his body. He groaned, and desperately tried to rise to his feet again. If only he could get this bastard of a human to look him in the eye....
"You just don't know when to quit, do you, demon?" Tom muttered under his breath. "Well, then, since our liquor don't do nothin' for ya, how about a little bar-b-que?" He coolly reached in his pocket, and pulled out a matchbook.
Natalie was still struggling with the door of the pickup when she heard an unearthly scream. She spun around, and saw the brilliant orange glow. "Oh god... Oh Rhaegal..." There was a soft whimpering. She looked down at the child in her arms, and nearly dropped him in horror. His eyes were gone.
"I'm sorry, baby... I'm so sorry..." she whispered to the child, as she laid him in the cab of the truck, climbed in over him, started the engine, and drove away.
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
The Drakthos © 2001 by KL Gaffney
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