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Chapter 7.1 - HELL AND BACK

Extremely agitated though he was, Cain knew Craig was not to blame for Becky’s irresponsible behaviour. Yes, the angel had failed in his assignment to ensure she was safely on a plane back home, but Becky had been wily, sneaky. And there was no arguing she was her ‘own’ woman - delightful, creative yes, but also stubborn and persistent. Her latest badge, though, was a lot less flattering - ‘Stupid’!

“I’m sorry,” Craig voiced for about the umpteenth time.

“Stop apologising,” Cain said, shrugging his arms into his shirt sleeves while simultaneously trying to slip into a pair of Nike Revolution 4s. “I have to find her, and I’ve got a feeling I know where she’ll be. She overheard us the other night; she must have picked up on the location.”

Craig shrugged. “Do you honestly think she’d brave it alone though?”

Cain straightened and stared at the Fallen, a sardonic look in his eyes. “Seriously? You are asking that about a woman who traipses after me; a monster? ”

“Perhaps she has a fetish for doctors of death with great dentistry?” Nick threw in with a suppressed grin. Neither of the other two laughed. He shrugged. “No accounting for taste, I guess.”

Again Cain stared, his expression hardening. “Hardly the time for your comedic interlude,” he sneered at the angel.

Facing the vampire straight on, Nick glowered back. “My point - albeit inarticulate - is that knowing Becky, even if she is bricking it, she will still follow through.”

A huff from Cain indicated he agreed. “That’s what worries me. And to what aim? What can she possibly do? Is she planning to stake them all? Go all Van Helsing? They’ll rip her to shreds!”

Nick rolled his eyes, and with a glance at Craig, he threw in his pounds-worth. “And you say my stand-up is bad timing? Fuck you’re dumb!”

"What?” Cain thumped the dresser closed after retrieving a zip-up hoodie. “What am I missing, then? What is it you understand about her behaviour that I don’t?”

“That she would go to Hell and back if she knew you were going to be there,” Nick retorted judiciously, and somewhat irritated.

The silence in the room was deafening after Nick’s little insightful exposure. No-one knew what to say next. Craig pulled on his coat, silent, awkward. Nick continued to stare at the vampire, daring him to respond.

Cain zipped up the hoodie, his mood, dark, troubled. Without looking at either of the Fallen, he moved towards the door. “Once we erase this pestilence, I want you to torch the place.”

“What? Is that it?” Nick challenged. ”Nothing else?”

Cain halted with his fingers on the door handle. He turned and faced the angels. His eyes had transformed, infinite black with treacherous flecks of blood floating within. He snapped his hood up. “Then just leave me alone.” He slammed the door on the way out.

Resisting the temptation to adopt his Nephilim form and scream through the skies from a balcony, Cain headed for the lifts. To his dismay, four other people were waiting. Still, he needed to calm down, and the best way for him to do that was to walk among the talking monkeys, forcing his unnatural traits into remission. He would ignore any hints of depravity in the main populace, for now; he was focusing on the vampires.

And Becky.

Damn! Why was she so - persistent? Why did he care so much? He dug his hands in his pockets, sullen, conflicted, afraid. He knew fine why she persevered and why he cared; it was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. If he tried to maintain his anger at her, then perhaps the truth would fade, recede, disappear? Even so, he could not allow her to put herself at risk. It did, however, add an unnecessary complication.

Casually peering from under the hood he noted his reflection in the lift’s mirrored walls. Quietly, he sighed with relief, his features were back to normal. The doors slid open, and Cain stepped out into the foyer. Looking straight ahead, the vampire passed through the reception area unhindered by other guests or hotel staff. When he reached the entrance, the doorman opened the way for him.

“Good evening, Sir,” the uniformed man said, friendly but respectful.

“Evening,” Cain replied with a nod but kept walking. He paused when he stood in front of the three large planters near the kerb. He looked up and down the street. Traffic continued in a never-ending stream; head and tail-lights creating a red and white serpent winding through the maze of streets.

Pedestrians bustled by, some at the end of another busy day, their phones glued to their ears and satchels swinging over shoulders. Others stopped to look in brightly-lit shop windows, all festooned with modern-clad mannequins promoting new products to lure in the gullible “must-haves”.

Others still, strode, skipped and meandered with their besties, stopping momentarily, posing, taking selfies, then taking off giggling to the nearest pizzeria or wine bar.

As any city really, Cain thought with a shrug. No doubt many a Chicagoan would disagree, arguing that their city was unique, the best, nowhere like it — same old, same old.

One thing which set it apart, perhaps, was the den of bloodsuckers who owned the Nitelife over on State Street. By all accounts, they were in the minority who ‘survived’ the transition from human to vampire. From what Cain had read and heard, the nosferatu was indeed a rare species - most ‘altered’ talking monkeys went mad once they realised the ‘pros’ quickly turned out to be ‘cons’.

They had ended up devouring each other or resorting to bizarre forms of suicide. There had even been global reports of human vigilante-type squads - deluded monster hunters. Armed with crucifixes, stakes, holy water and the likes, they brought an end to allegedly ‘rabid’ individuals sighted in caves or deserted buildings.

Of course, the zealots’ targets were not always what they sought. Some were just down-and-out people, infected only by the hopelessness of their circumstances. They were nameless, faceless casualties of society, subjected to further torture by extremist hate groups.

Only sensationalism or obscure rags had picked up those little scandals, of course. Man or Monster? The lines were fuzzy at best.

He started towards the north-west. Time to check out the nightclub, get his bearings and assess exactly what he was up against - numbers, potential abilities (if any), and try to understand why one of them had come forward in the first place.

He was also confident he would come across the defiant one - Becky.

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