Chapter # 1 - Ella
Ella & Vlad at the End
By R.A.Lancaster 2019
Eluding pursuers Ella races hard through a vacated industrial area. Ahead a wide, water filled ditch divides a diminished city from farm fields. Crossing that would force any one chasing to hold, turn back or give up.
Accelerating the last dozen strides to the ditch she gains great momentum.
Leaping high vaults her self, forepaws stretching out for ground.
Across the ditch, her large paws briefly touch soil gracefully keeps moving.
Striding across the field incoming breezes carry to her the scent of men, diseased men.
Glancing far left and right she spots a depression in the landscape to the right. Veering right anticipates adequate height to hide her hide.
A bullet whizzes past her head and a few more pass close by, before the actual shots can be heard ringing out, ”Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang!” The gunman’s so far away Ella is barely recognizable to him.
Realizing how close those bullets were to her rear amplifies speed.
Into a natural drainage rut between fields she enters a vegetative veil. Concealed she has to stay on her pads dodging various obstacles racing along.
Perpetually studying the path ahead she thinks, ”damn that was close. Hate to get taken out by the diseased. Used to be regular folk just kill us. Now these starving fools are willing to eat us. Just a big ol’wolf to them I’m sure. If they knew what I really am, would they?”
Reaching an overgrown intersection she listens and smells the air.
Easily heard, several men are making their way towards the ditch used.
Able to exploit the connecting ditch for cover she continues on at a slower pace, “they’ll be too slow to catch up. Keep those sick bastards to my back. Hopefully won’t see them again today.”
Further distancing the men and thirsty she takes in a whiff of the ditch water. Pausing for a better scent she only detects petroleum as a deterrent.
Having drunken worse over the centuries Ella stops to lap some up.
To her the last twenty years are proving to be the most risky for traveling in the daytime. Disparaged by her ventures Vlad prefers she stay close to the farm. Today it may have merit locating a curious scent on the north side of the city. Ella picked up the scent last month and spent the last few weeks tracking them. She’s certain in that city there are four normal, healthy, human beings.
Getting moving Ella can’t wait to let Vlad know despite being apprehensive to his reply. Stubborn and solemn in his ways, its’ his complacency, that’s most frustrating to her. Their extended lives endangered due to contaminated blood. They’d been wandering mid North America searching for any large animals uncontaminated by the virus.
A simple flu virus went super when combined with a trial vaccine. Half of the world’s population dies from the super-virus by the third year. After a few more years there’s not enough manpower for societies and systems to function.
Carried within bugs, birds and vermin the disease further spread. Animals once abundant upon the world are now rarely seen. Discerning to Ella not a single Blue-jay or Cardinal seen in several seasons.
This year the surviving world’s human population is under a million. In North America the remaining mixed races make up just over a hundred thousand people scattered from Mexico to Nunavut.
Halting before a highway Ella remains hidden evaluating the area. Many times in the last dozen years she’s come close to getting shot in similar surroundings. Starving people conserve energy by waiting along open stretches to shoot at easier targets.
The highway’s barren, not a vehicle in sight and nothing ominous sensed. With a final check over the shoulder she detects no concerns. Assured all is agreeable Ella dashes for the other side.
Reaching a woodlot unhindered she slows the pace in the cooler cover, “if I’m lucky I won’t see anyone else. Got about another hour until the sunsets. Better keep hustling my fine hairy ass back.”
Ella’s affliction erupts with the sunrise and settles when it sets. Only a full moon keeps them in animal form at least twenty-four hours. That moon is a few days away.
Both cursed with the same affliction just from different creatures. Trekking the countryside Vlad was bitten while sleeping outdoors by a vampire bat. Days later Vlad arrived in time to save Ella from an afflicted wolf.
At the heart of their lycanthropy, a microscopic, alien organism. Hibernating frozen within rock it drifted across the universe for centuries.
In their youth both Ella and Vlad saw that meteorite streak across the night sky. Watching it’s green tail both made a silly wish and wondered where it eventually landed. The hot rock hit the cool of the Black sea causing the rock to split open releasing the organism.
Consumed by oblivious animals they became carriers for the organisms. Carriers were used to pursue higher life forms as more suitable hosts. Each time the organism changes beings it procures desired genes.
If bit and latched onto by an afflicted animal the organisms can relocate. Combining all desired DNA to mutate the host to suit location and need. Oxygenated blood cells are a necessity for the organisms. If the host’s blood system is insufficient fresh must be found. Employing the animal and its’ primal urges, subdues logic to ensure the need can be met. In exchange the organisms endow longevity, rapid healing and certain strengths.
Over the centuries Ella and Vlad were amused by the normal ideas of vampires and werewolves. When those ideas became Hollywoodized with romantic ideas it was only good or bad entertainment to them. Vlad stopped watching movies with wolves or were monsters while Ella is around in wolf form. She ends up attacking the screen and busting the set. Oddly Ella cringes and winces watching movies with scary canines and creatures.
At the other edge of the woodlot Ella slows sniffing the incoming air. Able to faintly smell the distant farm they are sequestered on.
Feeling safe enough to proceed, she slips across a wide, weed ridden, field.
Mentally relaxing she ponders, “I hope Vlad replied to my query. He can be so stubborn. So easy these days just type it out. No need for a quill, ink and paper. We have to make a choice soon or we could be in for a suffering death. As a regular person we could at least exist on dirt and water.”
Catching the scent of critter slows her up to scan the area, “there’s a muskrat nearby.”
Standing still she smells the air to localize the source.
Starring towards the source she watches the vegetation for movement.
A couple tall weeds move.
Seeing it Ella hops up high enough to glimpse the critter.
Spotting her too the muskrat bolts in fear of its’ existence.
Getting a better scent of it she can tell its’ disease free so she gives chase.
Scurrying quickly the critter tries to take cover in the next ditch. Ella is racing up behind studying its’ movement.
A field drain line ahead the muskrat tries a dash for life.
Almost over shooting the pipe the muskrat hits the edge of it.
As it scrambles to get inside the pipe, Ella gets in a quicker chomp biting into the muskrats’ hind legs.
Squealing out the muskrat tries to escape her teeth. As the muskrat attempts to bite Ella’s face, she violently thrashes the muskrat. Its’ head connects with pipe then harder with a rock knocking it out.
With a warm meal in mouth Ella tears in keeping the bloodlust in check.
Tearing the guts out of the critter she hears a truck.
Laying low she spots a 4x4 truck with a couple men in its’ bed.
Seeking any food the men make it seem they are searching for her.
Getting closer she recognizes one from earlier that day. Having snuck past the man twice today is about to make a third.
Letting them carry on she waits before finishing the meal.
Ella and Vlad spent several years seeking out a quiet farm with livestock. They try to only consume those animals when necessary. A point the animal DNA is about to completely take over the mind.
With the bloodlust appeased and her natural appetite fulfilled the truck returns. Staying low like road-kill in the ditch she waits for them to pass.
Down the way one of the men in the bed gets the driver to stop.
The man in the truck bed is handed binoculars. Immediately she considers escape routes to take. Keep to the ditches or run like the wind for the nearest woodlot.
As the second male and driver are looking about it feels as if the one with binoculars is staring right at her.
The man lowers the binoculars pointing her way speaking to the driver.
The truck rolls backwards to take the side-road she’s laying beside.
Not about to lead them to the farm Ella bolts back for the woodlot she came out of.
Seeing her race into the field five men begin excitedly shouting.
Placing the truck in peril the driver plows through the ditch and onto the field.
On the field, out the passenger window one man starts blasting a military rifle.
Barely holding on the guys in the bed of the truck grab for their weapons.
With the tree-line at the end of tunnel vision, Ella moves faster across that field than the truck will ever get up too.
Astonished how fast their prey is moving the men yell at the driver to speed up. Bouncing too much he really can’t and it’s causing their bullets to fly all over.
Into the trees Ella races deep before checking to see where the men are.
Nearing the woodlot they stop shooting.
As the driver curtly stops the truck four armed men jump out.
Spreading out from each other the men begin entering the woodlot.
Noting the truck drive towards the other rural road Ella has a plan. Making sure to leave good tracks she goes back to the highway.
On the highway pavement unnoticed Ella races back towards the farm. Glancing occasionally towards the woodlot making sure she’s unseen.
Farther than the woodlot she gets off the highway.
Working the ditches for cover the sky darkens with clouds. Looking back Ella can see the truck slowly circling the woodlot, “stupid bastards you’ll never catch me.”
Chapter # 1 – Ella complete