Memories From the Flames
Aside from the roof almost being gone, the house was nearly as it was over nineteen years ago. The paint was charred and the beams of the second floor were now on the first but it was there. It was completely unlivable but I could see where we would stick the small fake pine tree for a tradition that I hated now, Christmas, a gift-giving holiday that seemed ridiculous in every way.
My boots crunched over the burnt wood of the floor until we landed in the former kitchen. The counters were barely standing, the wood of the cabinets were basically gone. Had the tops of them not been marble, they too would be gone. Some of it was cracked and knocked over onto the floor of the old kitchen.
I listened to Howl’s big thumping paws walk through the house she hasn’t been in since she was the size of a golden retriever. Now, at the size of an adolescent bear, she could jump up the second floor without the use of the stairs. If there was a second floor.
I pushed my boot into a few pieces of broken roof as I entered the former dining room. I could see broken plates and for a second it took me back to the moment we heard the alarm ring.
We had been making dinner, my mother was in the dining room setting the table while a few other kids ran around making as much noise as they could. I can remember hearing the timer on the oven go off telling one of the other mothers that lived in the house that it was ready to be used. I sat at the counter in the middle of the kitchen and scribbled numbers down on a piece of math homework.
I can’t quite remember the problem but that’s not important.
The sound of the frying pans and clinks of the pots being pulled out of the lower drawers made me draw my attention away from the papers under my pen. I watched Quinn down on her knees trying to find something in the back of the drawer when a plate behind me crashed on the floor making me jump in surprise.
I turned on the stool to see my mother standing by the dining room table with one hand pressed against the side of her head and the other empty of the plate that fell at her feet.
“Mom?” I remember shouting right before stepping off the stool and running to her aid.
“It’s nothing, just a headache. Finish your work and then we’ll eat. After dinner, Comfrey, Jason and you will meet me in the backyard at seven sharp. We have some training to do.” I can remember my mother waving my help off and picking up the pieces of the broken plate and ignoring me altogether.
I loved my mother, everyone loved my mother. She always had my safety and needs on her mind but there was something missing from our relationship. Something I didn’t know about until a few years back. Now all I do is think about what we could have been if the house wasn’t attacked only minutes after that memory.
Even as I stood in the middle of the old dining room I could hear the alarm going off. The blare of the siren telling us vampires were on the property. The sound of crashing glass windows as small metal balls were thrown through. I can barely remember what happened after that, but the metal balls made things around the room catch fire. Anything soft it touched fire lit in its path. There was nearly no escaping it.
It wasn’t until my mother grabbed me from the smoke that was surrounding my entire body that I had a chance of escaping. She threw my body out to the front porch and commanded me to run to the side of the building. I could see Comfrey running through the burning grass and I couldn’t remember what he did after that but it didn’t matter. As I walked through the house trying to remember my path that day, I found myself at the side of the house where the last place I saw my mother still stood.
I could see out into the tall grass. That night I faced the house and waited with bated breath for my mother to show her face again. The moment she did I was shouted at. Forced to run for my life as she stayed behind.
When the soft fur of Howl’s head brushed my elbow I lifted it for her so she could walk through the doorway and out to the tall grass.
I watched as she sniffed the grass and the ground below her. For a second I forgot about the dome and our dwindling numbers and instead I thought about what would happen if my dream actually came true. If they all died. Somehow, in some way, and we took the Earth back. It seemed far-fetched, even for me.
My eyes darted from the trees trying to grow back around the house and looked at Howl who had her nose pointed to the wind. Just before her telltale howl was shouted to the sky I turned to the sound of the creaking wood floor just behind me. The vampire didn’t get the chance to take me by surprise. I quickly turned and pinned it against the wall in barely two moves.
I stared into the greying eyes of the vampire and waited for them to tell me what the hell is going on. Usually, it only took the threat of a silver knife to their neck for them to confess everything. This one didn’t seem like it needed that much of a push though.
“Are you going to start talking, or am I going to get my knife?” I asked her slowly as if he didn’t have a brain. Which, in my opinion, she didn’t.
“You’re on his land, I don’t have to tell you a damn thing.” She spat at me.
“If you want to keep your head attached and your heart in your chest you’ll tell me whatever I want.” I couldn’t ignore the slight pulse of her eyes when I threatened her.
“I was just looking for food. We’re starving being this far away from his kingdom.” I rolled my eyes, hard, I hate when they referred to his lair as a kingdom. It was ridiculous and stupid but I shouldn’t bring that up now.
“Why would you be hungry? Doesn’t your “king” keep you well fed? I mean that’s what he promised when he took these lands after all.” I kept my eyes on her, any small move and I would stab her straight in the heart with the dagger I had in my other hand by my side.
“He keeps the ones in his grasp fed and taken care of. You do one wrong thing, like say something against his queen, and you’re out of the grounds forever.” It was her turn to roll her eyes at her own words.
“Who is this queen you speak of? I know he keeps consorts but I’ve never heard of anything about him actually taking a wife.” Color me surprised and slightly interested, I needed to know who this queen is.
“Like I would tell the slayer anything. Just let me go so I can do some hunting.” She complained. I must say, she’s one of the more docile vampires I’ve come across. But just like the others, she wouldn’t be leaving my presence in one piece.
“I’m sorry, I just can’t let you do that.” I shook my head as if I was disappointed that he wanted to leave so soon. When she realized what I meant by my words he began to struggle against my arm that still had her pinned to the wall. Listening to Howl’s paws pad over to us from outside I took in a deep breath and tried to hold my lungs back from the poison that was seeping into them. I only had a few more hours before I would have to use the breather in my bag I left just outside.
“Please, I can help you! I hate living under that horrible man’s rule.” He complained again and the dagger in my hand grew heavy and my hand itched for me to use it. “Having buyer’s remorse? It’s a little late for that. Now hold still while I dig this silver blade into your heart.” Quicker than she could plead for her own life I brought the dagger up and to her chest but just before it pierced her horribly grey skin under the ratted clothes she was wearing her hand broke loose from my hold and blocked my attack.
“Please, I’m begging you. I can help you! I know you hate us, but I can help you! I know more about Ba’al than you do.” She stated and pled for her life and for some reason I wanted to listen to her. I want to know more about Ba’al before I took him up on the letter’s offer and visited him. But working with one of them? Hell no.
I brought my dagger holding hand back as if I was going to let her go but before she could sigh in relief I took the dagger and buried it deep in her heart. The sound of her blood sizzling was music to my ears. I pulled the dagger out of her chest and watched her fall to the floor with her eyes wide open. Rule number one: Never trust a vampire.