Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.
See also: http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart
My name: Brian Martin
Jack quickly sized up the situation. “They must have gone over the fence,” he said. “Come on.”
Miranda scampered over the fence in a hurry; it took Jack a little longer. As he struggled over the top, he had time to wonder how a wounded vampire could have made the leap. When he jumped to the tall grass on the other side, Miranda was waiting for him with her hand held out. In her palm, she held an ankh and a whistle.
“All she has left is her stake,” Miranda said, sounding worried. Jack knew why: a stake was of value only at close range, and if the vampire got that close to Brenda, she was going to be in a lot of trouble.
“Check for tracks,” Jack said, as they started up the bumpy hill. At the top, bathed in moonlight, stood the laboratory supplies building.
A few seconds later, Miranda said, “Here’s one!” She was pointing to a roundish impression in the grass. Jack, who had been about to call out himself, simply pointed to a similar impression by his right foot. “Here’s another,” he said.
Now it all made sense.
“We’ve been set up,” Jack said. “They’re working together.”
Jack stomped on the impression with his shoe. Another mistake, he thought, ashamed at having underestimated the vampires yet again.
“Hurry,” he said, starting to run.
Brenda couldn’t see a thing. The only light in the warehouse came from the window she’d broken to get inside (all the other windows were too dirty to let in any light), and it wasn’t much, just a hazy glow from the moon that didn’t illuminate more than a few feet around the window itself. She’d seen the vampires leaping over the ledge, only to watch them disappear into the cave-like blackness further inside.
At first, she hadn’t been worried. But things had changed. Now she was terrified.
At first, she’d congratulated herself on how clever she was to choose the warehouse to hide in. It was huge and rectangular. She’d gone in a window at the southern end, which gave her the entire length of the place to find somewhere to hunker down and wait for Jack and Miranda. Feeling about with her hands, she’d developed a mental image of a wide, empty floor surrounded by mazes of shelves lining the walls. In the dark, she thought, it would be easy to get lost in the shelves. Even when the vampires split up to cover more ground, she wasn’t concerned. After all, they kept croaking things to each other and giving away their positions. All she had to do was keep moving away from the sounds. After a minute or two, though, Brenda wasn’t feeling so confident. It seemed that no matter where she went, they always seemed to be closing in. It dawned on her then that they could smell her. Her next thought--the one that really scared her--was that they smelled her blood.
Her hand shook slightly as she lifted a jar off a wooden shelf against the front wall of the warehouse. She couldn’t see what it contained, but it sloshed in her hand, which meant it was some kind of chemical--and right now that was good enough for Brenda. Hoping it wasn’t poison, she pushed the jar alongside another, similar jar inside her coat pocket.
The frog croaked nearby. An answering croak from the toad told her the vampires had almost zeroed in on her position. Brenda groped her way back to the end of the shelf and put her back against it. She knew she was now facing the open floor in the direction of the northern end of the warehouse.
She reached a hand in her pocket and pulled out first one then the other jar. She didn’t know if her plan was going to work, but she was certain she was out of options. She took a couple of deep breaths.
Then she started running.
After finding the large delivery door at the northern end of the warehouse locked, Jack and Miranda walked the length of the building in search of Brenda’s point of entry, at last discovering the broken window at the other end. Once inside, they heard the vampires croaking to each other on the other side of the warehouse. Figuring Brenda would try to keep as much distance between herself and the vampires as possible, they started slowly searching their side of the warehouse, by touch alone, for some sign of Brenda, but couldn’t find any. Back near the delivery door, Jack found his way blocked by a large box-like obstruction. He’d just figured out that it was a large supply wagon when he heard Brenda’s footsteps pounding the concrete floor, along with the hard slaps of the vampires’ bodies as they hopped after her.
“Come on,” Miranda whispered, leading the way across the floor toward the sound of the steps. They both jumped when first one, then another glass jar shattered on the concrete, sending something splashing in all directions. A moment later, their nostrils were attacked by an unpleasant chemical odor.
Up ahead, Brenda’s footsteps stopped abruptly. The vampires hadn’t stopped, but now they seemed to be hopping about wildly. Underneath these sounds, they picked up another one: the sound of Brenda’s hard breathing. They approached her quietly. Miranda put out a hand and touched Brenda’s shoulder. She almost screamed.
“Shhh!” Miranda said. “It’s us.”
Brenda stuck her hands out and felt both Jack and Miranda in front of her.
“What did you do?” Jack asked. “That stinks.”
Brenda grinned in relief, and took a whiff. Whatever chemicals she had released were gloriously odiferous.
“They can track by smell,” Brenda said. “But I don’t think they like that one.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Jack said. “We can unlock the delivery door and get out that way.”
By the time they’d lifted the heavy latch from the delivery doors, the vampires had calmed down. Their frenzied hopping had taken them past the worst of the chemical odor and Brenda could hear them advancing again. She leaned in close to Jack and said, “They’re coming.”
“Look,” Jack said. “I’ve got an idea. Get in.”
“What?” Jack took hold of one of Brenda’s hands and put it on the side of the delivery cart. Brenda climbed in.
Jack took Miranda’s arm and led her to the back of the cart. “When I open the door, start pushing.”
Miranda placed both palms on the cart while Jack hurried back to the door. He grabbed the handle with both hands and pulled as hard as he could. The door creaked, but began to slide open. He pulled harder, aware that the vampires would have started directly toward them at the first creak of the door. When the opening was wide enough, Miranda started to push. The cart rolled forward. When it started to pass Jack, he latched onto the side and pulled himself up and over.
Miranda kept pushing. Outside, the driveway snaked around the north side of the building, but Miranda drove the cart across the driveway instead of along it. Just past the driveway, the land began to slope down toward the fence and the alley. Brenda and Jack saw both the vampires leap out the delivery door just as the cart started to tip down the hill.
“Get in!” they shouted to Miranda.
The frog lashed out with his tongue and caught Miranda on her calf. Miranda let out a little yelp and the next time she stepped on that foot, she nearly fell over. Jack and Miranda each grabbed one of Miranda’s arms and hauled her over the side into the cart.
The toad’s tongue hit the back of the cart with a loud thwack! Seeing that the cart was picking up speed, both vampires leaped for it.