THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 2.2 - YOU ARE NOT ALONE

As they opened the door, a whorl of dust rose, dancing in the sunset’s rays before settling again onto the old floorboards. The fading light washed the cabin’s rustic interior with warm orange and gold, creating pockets of shadow where the dwindling rays could not quite reach.

To compensate the onslaught of the evening’s shroud, however, Nick and Craig had sourced a small supply of candles and 2 oil lamps. The Fallen were nowhere to be seen, but Cain could hear them rummaging about in another room.

A couple of old leather sofas, arranged in an L-shape, sat in front of an old wood-burning stove, its glass front still intact, but blackened. Moth-eaten throws draped over the seating, their checkered patterns, once bright, vibrant, were now greyed by years of neglect. A low coffee-table was host to a solitary mug and one or two magazines strewn across the surface.

The windows, some whole, were dirty, latticed with cobwebs and dust. Simple drapes hung, forlorn, like tears, from their wooden poles.

On a table beside one of the windows facing the dried-up stream, a plate, smeared with remnants of an old meal lay with a fork crossing its centre. Bark beetles scurried across the table and plate, stopping momentarily in their search for a nibble before continuing their foraging to the window ledge. There, they joined the parade of insects entering and exiting through a large crack in the sill.

One could easily be of the opinion the cabin, in its heyday, would have been quite a warm and welcoming little house; a haven to escape the rat-race. A place of quiet contemplation, somewhere to unwind. Now it was just sad and unused, neglected, forgotten, the only residents being the fauna and insects of the forest.

“How quaint,” Becky commented, a hint of the familiar melancholy lacing her voice.

Cain huffed. “Your eyes and romantic imaginings deceive you.” He gestured over the threshold then quietly closed the door behind them. He caught her questioning look as he turned to face her. “This is a crime scene,” came his stolid response.

Her mouth twitched, a little nervous as she shifted from one foot to the other. “R-recent?”

“About 2-3 weeks ago, I guess. I was too late.” His voice was full of regret.

“Then the police! We shouldn’t be here...”

“I don’t think they even know about it. This is too far out in the middle of nowhere and whoever the victim was, perhaps no-one deemed them worthy enough to report as missing.”

She nodded, duly alarmed but trying to maintain a composed exterior. “So you are stalking the place. That’s why you are in the middle of nowhere, sleeping under the floor, isn’t it?”

Cain acquiesced with a grunt.

“So - what happened?” Becky swallowed.

He knew it was a question formed from a human’s morbid curiosity, but one, he felt, was best left unanswered. For all he had not arrived in time to stop it or dispense justice on the perpetrator, his senses had picked up on the brutality inflicted. He would spare Becky the details. “There is no need to concern yourself. I now sense the culprit will not return. I think he used this place for a while, but has moved on.”

His eyes drifted to the floor, a frown creasing his brow. The dark stain on the wood was not concealed by the dimming light; it betrayed the heinous crime which had been committed within these walls.

Becky inhaled deeply. A small gag threatened, but regaining composure she forced a nervous laugh. “You have extraordinary abilities, Cain, but that does not make you Sherlock Holmes. If the criminal is not about to return then you can stay at the villa with us instead of slumbering in that stink-hole below.”

The vampire heaved a sigh. “I may well take you up on that offer, Becky. My vigil here is proving fruitless.”

“Well, thank goodness for that, but you could have said before we tried to make this place respectable!” Nick voiced from their left.

Cain and Becky turned as the two Fallen strode across the room, dusting down their attire.

“Apologies,” Cain said, his lips twitching with a smirk. “Quite why you bothered trying to clean up here though, I cannot even hazard a guess.”

“Because you are stubborn, Cain. You have an annoying habit of favouring such filthy sleeping quarters instead of enjoying a little luxury.” Craig replied, candidly.

“I was not born a man of means,” the vampire retorted.

“No, you weren’t,” Becky injected. “But, you are not a simple man any more and neither do you have to consider yourself undeserving of comfort. You are, after all, providing a service to your...deity.”

Cain closed his eyes momentarily, allowing Becky’s dismissive reference to God wash over him. He knew she did not share his faith, tenuous though it was now, but, occasionally, her disrespect irked him. His annoyance was never long-lasting, however, for he understood how difficult it was for her to believe. It was a regular debate they engaged in.

Nick drew their attention with a polite cough. Both vampire and the human focused on the Fallen. “As, no doubt, Becky has informed you, we have no leads on your father.”

Cain flinched. Although he could not deny the biological fact, he nevertheless hated Samael being referred to as his progenitor. It was Adam who had raised him, not the vengeful fallen angel. Again, he had to curb his emotions and stared, expectantly at Nick.

“We do have other news though, which does reflect what Samael and his troop told you. We have located other vampires. You are not alone, Cain. Although regrettably, they do not seem to possess your sense of purpose.”

The vampire drew himself to his full height. He had sought to determine if others truly walked among the humans. They had seemed, at best, elusive if not simply non-existent, for how was it he could have roamed the earth all these millennia without crossing one’s path? Disappointment simmered. He had hoped, if they were out there, that they too, were driven to oust the corrupted. It seemed that was now a false hope.

“You’ve located them? I had the impression it was merely a rumour.” Becky voiced, instinctively reaching for Cain’s hand. He did not object.

The Fallen exchanged a look before Craig concluded. “As did we - a few days ago. But, since then, there has been - predatory activity - shall we say.” His tone was wary, dark, measured. He fixed his eyes on Cain.

Becky turned to Cain, tugging his hand, trying to sound encouraging. “You have been searching for this...”

He cut her off, his voice guttural. “I take it they do not discern between the innocent and the guilty, then?”

Craig shook his head. “No. Their only motive is hunger. They are sloppy in their execution and seem more like - rabid animals.”

“No,” Becky whined, disappointment clear in her voice. Her fingers tightened around Cain’s hand but he shirked away, ignoring her gasp of protest and moved deeper into the room.

The last of the day’s sunlight had slipped far into the Western Hemisphere, night had settled over the vast forest. And with it, the air in the cabin was suddenly tense.

Cain paced back and forth, his movements causing the candles to flicker in his wake. Low, threatening grumbles were all he issued. The other three occupants of the room remained silent, waiting, wondering what Cain would say or do next. When finally he addressed them, his eyes were obsidian, cold and fathomless and his voice was low, dark. “They all breed?”

The question seemed to take Becky by surprise, another small gasp escaping her lips. But, the Fallen were unperturbed, as if expecting it to be one of the vampire’s considerations. Craig offered the answer. “Only one is responsible for this...” He hesitated, momentarily lost as to how to proceed.

"Contagion,” Cain snarled. “If they do not apply themselves to rid this world of the foulest creatures, then that is exactly what they are! Similar to some your own kind, Kokabiel, they pay heed only to their own trivial needs and wants and are blind to the greater cause.”

Being called by his proper name, Craig’s form shimmered, his angelic persona coming to the fore. Nick quickly followed suit.

Cain was next, his clothing giving way to the raven-like wings of his Nephilim state and furling around his muscular frame.

“Now what?” Becky asked, her face betraying a sense of inadequacy among the 3 preternatural beings.

Cain’s eyes softened slightly and he moved to her side. “We go to your villa. There you will sleep while we discuss what needs to be done.”

“How on earth am I supposed to sleep now, knowing that...” Her sentence hung in the air, unfinished, as Cain entranced her. He gave a satisfied snort. Some of his abilities were indeed a blessing. He picked up the unconscious Becky and moved to the door, speaking over his shoulder to the other two.

“I want details on the one who is turning them. And I will quash this clutch of parasites.”

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