|Photo courtesy of Peter Griffin|
Lawson gazed into her pale face, running his fingers through her long, dark hair. “Endolyn?” he whispered, but she did not stir. He kissed her forehead, and walked out of the room, leaving the door ajar.
He sat down at his workbench, and turned the lantern clock over. Opening its back, he gazed inside, and noticed a brass gear slightly bent to one side. He reached in, and fished it out, setting it on the table. Banging down with his riveting hammer, he straightened the metal disc, and eased it back in place. Lawson turned the clock upright, and watched the pendulum begin to swing.
As the clock chimed, Lawson spotted his wife across the room. “My love, what is it?” He jumped off the stool. “You should be resting. Come, have a seat.” He led her to the table.
Endolyn sat down, gaping at her odd surroundings. As he took her hand, the skin darkened and bruised over. She whimpered, and placed her head on the wooden table.
“Hang in there, dear.” Lawson patted her softly. “The doctor will be here by morning.”
She beat down her fist, over and over until it bled.
“Endolyn, stop. What’s wrong?” He grabbed her arm.
She tossed him over the table as keen, ivory fangs knifed out her gums. The vampire hurled the table aside, smashing the miniature clock. As the clockmaker stood, Endolyn grabbed him by the neck, and pressed him against the wall. She wrenched his head back, exposing his jugular.
“Mommy?” Elena opened her door, and rubbed her eyes. “Is everything all right?” She brushed aside her silky, black mane.
“Yes, dear.” Endolyn smiled, exposing her new fangs. “Everything’s exquisite.” She tossed her husband aside.
“Elena, run,” Lawson choked.
“You’ll do no such thing.” Endolyn stepped forward. “Do you love your mother?”
Elena nodded, tears running down her cheeks.
“Good girl.” She opened her mouth wide.
“No!” Lawson struck Endolyn with his hammer, blood spraying over Elena’s face. The girl cowered, crumbling against the wall.
The vampire turned, catching Lawson’s wrist as he struck down again. “I will kill you delicately, while you watch me feed.” She snapped his arm.
Lawson screamed as she twisted his broken arm. “But she’s your daughter.” Tears streamed out his eyes.
“Sweet is the blood of the innocent, and the familiar.” She licked the essence pouring from her forehead. “Come, join me.”
Sparkling like a diamond, light shot out Endolyn’s skin. Thorny brambles spun around her, shedding the guise. “Let us feed together.” The crystalline’s smooth facade split open, unveiling rows and rows of wicked teeth.
“Feed on this,” Lawson uttered. The front of his crossbow snapped open, revealing half a dozen arrows. The hunter thrust the bow into her mouth and fired.
Six arrows shot as one, humbling the crystalline. The tangle gem shattered, blood and fire erupting from the brambles. Blossoms wilted, incinerated by the blast. Charred thorns scattered over the valley, no longer edging forward.
The hunter gagged, and ripped the blackened vines from his neck. He screamed as he got to his feet, snapping tangles from his arms and legs, and tearing off his tattered coat.
As he stumbled out the smoky crater, the last blossom spit out its tongue. Talmot sprang forward, skewering it with Essinger’s blade.
“Allah blesses you, my brother.” The Muslim nodded.
Lawson looked over the crowd assembled in the valley as dawn broke across Vissorouy. Smoke uncurled from the rooftops; the town still in good favor. Mortals and vampires alike stood by, the enlightened bundled in dark, loose robes.
The hunter staggered, lacerations covering his body and face. As Laurent came to his aid, Lawson pushed him aside. “The time for diplomacy is over.” He hobbled forward. “Today Vissorouy strikes back.”