THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 7.6 - ROLODEX

“I do not know what you mean,” Cole said, looking at Becky, his eyes hot and fierce. “But you two need to get out of here. Now!” He made a lunge for Riley who shrank back against the wall, away from the watcher.

Becky was staring intently at Cole. A look of deep concentration creased her brow as if she was thumbing through a Rolodex of memories. “I’ve seen you! But - I - I thought you were... dead!”

“I am very much alive,” Cole declared, agitated. He grabbed Riley again, this time taking hold of his elbow. Riley flinched, trying to loosen the watcher’s grip. “I do not mean you harm,” Cole said, his tone austere.

“Sure, you don’t!” Riley argued, duly alarmed.

Becky still seemed a little zoned-out as she continued staring at Cole, oblivious her friend was struggling against him. “Your face -” she gasped, her eyes raking over the watcher’s features.

“Listen!” Cole’s frustration was rising. He glared at Becky. “Whatever you’re thinking, now is not the time for discussion. I want both of you to get the hell out of here. Take the stairwell. The exit door is broken; you will be able to escape.”

Riley looked between the two of them. “I don’t understand. Are you letting us escape? This is a trap, isn’t it?”

Cole, irked even more, dragged his fingers through his hair, pulling it away from his face.

An almost inaudible gasp escaped Becky, her eyes wide as the watcher looked at her straight on. “I know you,” she whispered, though she sounded as if she was desperately trying to convince herself.

Riley with concern and confusion evident on his face clasped Becky’s hand. He clearly did not know what had her so unsettled.

“Look!” Cole began. “I do not have time for this. You must leave. Cain is here, isn’t he?” He pointed the question at Becky. She nodded. “Then I reckon this is going to turn into a major bloodbath - no pun intended!” He stepped back towards the door and reached for the handle.

“Are you going to try to kill him?” Becky asked Cole. Her voice was trembling, and her free hand wringing the tail of her shirt, nervous, flummoxed.

The watcher paused - his breathing, heavy, controlled through extreme effort. His mind was reeling, trying to swat specific thoughts away, lock them down, remain concealed. It was proving harder each day; even more so now.

Some hair worked free from behind his ears and fell forward, shielding his face. Piercing eyes stared at Becky from between the dark curls. His voice was ragged. “I can’t - ”

“Can’t what?” Becky pleaded, stepping forward.

Riley blurted in, pointing at Cole. “You’re all the same, you vampires - killers, pestilence! What a fucking idiot I was to want to be part of this - this nightmare! "

“You’ve got the idiot part right anyway,” Cole grunted, annoyed.

Undeterred, Riley continued. “You will try to kill him, just like the others, I know you will; you do not fool me. You all want this power you think he possesses. And Becky - ” Riley turned to face her. “This Cain needs to die as well!”

Becky stared at him, momentarily speechless. “Well, you’re suddenly courageous, are you not?”

Riley flinched and looked at her, astonished. “I thought you would understand - you are slave to a vampire too, albeit for different reasons.”

"What?” Her voice became a shrill hiss. “You do not have the first clue about me or Cain. I bet you don’t even know who he really is!”

Subconsciously, Riley rubbed his throat where Cain’s talons had bit into his skin. “Oh, yes, I do!” Riley indicated Cole. “He and his cohorts spoke about him - the biblical shit and all that. I don’t believe he is who they say- ”

"No? Well, it’s true, all of it! And here we are, in a den of vampires, including Cain, yes, from the pages of Genesis; all about to do battle. You know nothing, Riley!”

She snatched her hand away from him. He blanched, taken by surprise at the reprimand.

Becky faced the watcher who observed the altercation with subdued interest.

“And as for you-” She swallowed before continuing. “I’ve seen some weird shit these past months so nothing seems impossible to me now. I’m pretty sure I know who you are! So, hear this; Cain suffers like no man or creature does on this earth. He was cajoled, deceived, tricked into a crime he would not have even dreamed of committing. His regrets have plagued him for umpteen millennia, and time has not lessened his pain. Memories rip and tear his soul every... single... day! He walks this planet trying to do good, to pay for his sin. But, I know absolution will never be granted. At least, not from his God.”

Cole looked away. It pained him to hear this woman vindicating Cain with such incredible passion. Her account of the Father of Vampires sounded plausible, sincere and heartfelt. But time was running out, he could not afford to ponder; Becky and Riley needed to leave the premises before Hell literally broke loose. He grabbed the handle, opened the door and checked the coast was clear.

Satisfied no-one was around he turned back to the two humans. Glancing between them both, he took a deep breath before he spoke again, his voice firm, resolute. “I do not want his power, I am not deserving. There is something, however, I want to give him, and it is long overdue! Now go!”

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