They sat in the dark of the moving carriage. Close together and yet so far apart.
After much gentle coercion, Mina had reluctantly revealed the gruesome details of her nightmare. And Alexander had been appalled by her revelations though he had tried to keep his horror contained. Aside from the terrible things he had said in the dream, the notion that he would ever brutalize his Mina by forcing his curse upon her was sickening.
Of course he had heard of such things long ago from Josef. The almost erotic physical ecstasy of blood exchange. The intimacy of exchanged emotions, thoughts, and memories. It was apparently a singular sensation to experience.
Alexander himself in all his loneliness and desolation had never been able to bring himself partake in the ritual. He saw vampirism only as a curse, a punishment. It was one thing to turn persons for use as allies. Or to punish those deserving of a sentence of undead banishment.
But to twist that into carnal pleasure was an abomination to him. It was something he doubted he could have even done to Lady Jayne Weatherby after discovering her monstrous torture chamber in the underground alcoves of her mansion.
He looked now at Mina, sitting opposite him, her current thoughts a veiled mystery. Her lovely face seemed closed and distant. Her thick, luxuriant hair tied back in preparation for the midnight excursion. She was lovely even in her strain. Strain caused by her associations with him.
As for Mina herself, she felt a renewed sense of urgency to actively commence the serum project. Intellectually, she knew the dream was a reflection of her damaged psyche caused by Alexander's unfortunate condition. And emotionally she knew that, left unchecked, it would destroy them both. And as much as she loved Alexander, she was not willing to submissively sit by and allow her life to crumble to ash.
Renfield had insisted a short while before, quite adamantly, that the time had come to discover the fate of the solar machine. She had concurred both with reluctance to his still weakened condition and relief to move forward with their plans. Together they had decided they would journey onward with or without Alexander's help. Though she was quite glad he had chosen to accompany them after all.
The carriage slowed further and stopped. Almost against his will, Alexander subtly nudged her foot with his own, breaking through the solitude of her inner machinations. She blinked and then offered him a lovely, brave smile though it struggled to completely reach her eyes. He returned her gaze though he did not feel entirely worth of it.
After a moment, Renfield opened the door.
"We can ride no further, sir. We must continue on foot."
Alexander nodded stiffly to Mina.
He exited the interior of the carriage and turning, assisted his lady out as well. Renfield closed the door firmly behind them.
The night sky was dark and vast above them. As always, Mina looked up, ever hopeful for a glimpse of the beautiful, glistening stars. Instead, she was beheld a much more rare sight.
A full, glowing moon hung above them in the clouded sky. It appeared to be tinged with red.
"Oh, look, Alexander! Look at the moon!"
Her awe took her away from her dark cares for a brief moment. She simply believed in beauty and wonder and possibility.
He looked upon her open face and started to smile at her almost childish marvel. It faded even as it began. For as he looked up Mina's upturned face, a suddenly terrible image flitted through his mind. The full moon, pregnant and bloated, dripping splatters of crimson down onto her exquisite, upturned face.
Renfield broke through the ghastly moment after a brief glance at the silent, observing orb.
"It's truly lovely, miss. Time is of the essence, however. We should continue on please."
And so they did.
They were still near a block away from the building that had once housed the promising Resonator project. Though crews of men had been working to clear the rubble away during the week since the explosion, much remained to be move.
They advanced carefully, purposefully through the wreckage. Renfield managed to maintain a stoic countenance but his attending physician could tell he was experiencing increasing discomfort. She chastised herself for allowing him to come along and then wondered how she could have possibly stopped him.
Alexander's entire being grew heavier with each passing step. Here. Where all his labors and promise had come to an explosive fiery end. All those people hurt, those helpless pawns. The senselessness of it all.
And of course Lady Jayne Weatherby. He had harbored murderous intentions toward her after discovering her vampire captive deep below her bed chambers. He had crept to her with salty, bitter tears upon his skin, fully intending to dispatch her as painfully as possible. Perhaps put her below to suffer even more agony from her female prisoner. And to reveal to her upon her dying breath the reason for her pain.
But at the crucial moment, as he hovered above her like a stalking panther poised to pounce, pragmatism had won out over vengeance. To kill her before the opportune moment would have only complicated the precarious situation further.
Upon the death of Lady Jayne, the Order would surely send a new hunter after him. Most likely, a male. He did not relish the thought of garnering the trust of a new male hunter, much less seducing one.
And so she had lived as long as he could allow her. But when she found him after the Resonator explosion, her end had finally come. A violent end, of that there was no doubt. But he was sure that was the way she would have preferred to die. Bathed in blood.
They arrived at the decimated building that dead-ended the cobble stoned street. Lighting the lanterns they had brought with them, they entered the dark ruins of the once proud structure.
And the blood moon watched over them, full and red and ominous in the night sky.