Sunday Serial – Maybe VI

Maybe by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook . Sometimes we walk the edges of realty…

The sounds continued, slither and scrape and tapping claws, as the creature passed the bottom of the old roller coaster. Annis could feel the vibrations through her feet. On the bed, Jessica’s eyes were suddenly wide and her mouth opened into a silent gasp as she felt the presence of the Old One for the first time. Annis put a finger on her own lips and Jessica pressed her  hand over her mouth, as if to stop a cry escaping, as the blood eater slowly passed.
They sat in silence until the sounds had faded back into the quiet of the night and, slowly, sounds of the small creatures could be heard again. One of the cats on the bed, stretched and licked the head of the other who started purring gently. 
Once the Old One was gone she became aware of another entity. Also hunting. 
“Silent,” she hissed. “Vampire. It follow you…”
Jessica’s face was a study in terror, but she held herself together even when a masculine voice filled the air.
“Jessica. Jessica. I know you are here somewhere. Come to me.”
Annis saw the other woman shiver and pushed the cats closer before putting more wood on the fire and throwing a handful of herbs onto the flames. The fire burned blue and Annis smiled thinly. A few moments later the hunting vampire began to cough and sneeze and the sense of its presence receded.
“Not gone. You stay.” 
Hoping that the female would have sense enough to stay put, Annis called the two mongrel cats to her side and slipped silently from the cabin. She made her way along the tops of the piles of twisted metal until she reached a vantage point from which she could watch the drunken lads around their bonfire. They appeared to be drinking themselves into a state of complete oblivion and she wondered where they had got that much booze. She didn’t have to wonder for long, as a tall figure strolled into the firelight.
“Evening lads” he said genially.
The youngsters looked incuriously at their visitor, who rolled a log into the firelight and sat down.
“Any of you boys seen a woman tonight?”
“There was one, but she kicked Robbo in the nuts and run away,” the speaker laughed coarsely. “You lost one?”
“You could say that. Which way’d she go?”
“Out of the park. Maybe. We think she run up the road.”
“Right. Thanks.”
The vampire uncurled himself and ambled off carefully slowly and with seeming unconcern. Once he was out of earshot the loudest and most obnoxious of the drinkers laughed inanely.
“If you can’t keep your woman under control you needn’t expect me to tell you where she’s gone,” he slurred then fell into a drunken stupor.
For whatever reason it had happened, Annis was grateful that the vampire had been misdirected. With any luck he would spend the rest of the night searching the verges of the road for Jessica. As she turned to head back home, she noticed a small pile of stuff in a dark corner. A rucksack and a soft bag. Jessica’s stuff, she would bet. Could she get it?
She sat on her perch for a long time, thinking and watching as all but one of the young males fell asleep. One who was easily incapacitated with a smooth round pebble accurately placed from a slingshot. 
Even then it took her many minutes to creep down the pile of distorted ironwork until she and the cats could sneak from shadow to shadow to a spot from which she could pick up the bags and ghost away with them.
Returning home encumbered by the luggage took her some while, so that when she slipped into the room the atmosphere was one of great strain. Jessica sat up and stared as she dropped the bags on the sleeping platform.
“Drunken males have. We take…”
Annis grinned a feral grin and was surprised to see her enjoyment reflected in Jessica’s eyes.
“Will you tell me who you are, and what is happening?”
“Will try. Eat first.”
Annis put the soup kettle on the hot plate atop the fire, then went to the food store drawer and took out flat breads and a lump of hard cheese. She grated cheese onto a wooden board and bent to retrieve bowls and spoons from another drawer.
Jessica spoke. “I’m a vegetarian.”
Annis looked at her in genuine puzzlement.
“You say?”
“I don’t eat meat.”
“Me not too. Soup potato and onions. Come eat.”

Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook

Part 7 of Maybe will be here next week…

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