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July 15, 2024

Heading Towards the End of the Trail 6

By Lydia Manx

Leon worried about his son's expression. He hadn't even thought when he was shaken awake who'd be doing the shaking. All he had done was born of decades of instincts and skills. If it had been Nate waking him he could have quite easily slit his throat. As it was seeing his son cleaning up the puncture to his chest was painful enough. Thank God he hadn't completed the motion and driven the knife into the chest all the way. Still he had harmed his own flesh and blood. His rest hadn't restored him but just fed his fears and past experiences with monsters.

But still that was no excuse for nearly killing his son.

"We need to kill the female first." Leon decreed. He knew from watching them that they weren't master and vampire fledgling but some other combination kept them together. He didn't care but knew they had to kill her first.

"How?" Daniel asked while pulling out a knife and checking the sharpness of the blade. Finding it sharp enough he pulled out the sheath and belted it around his waist. Leon found his actions disturbing on a level he couldn't identify at first; when it came to him, his son was grown up and he couldn't keep him safe anymore.

Musing about everything and not answering Daniel's question, Leon continued to pull items from the bag and store them in various pockets in his coat. The duster was black and had been lined with more compartments than the average coat. Daniel watched his father strap on a gun. He couldn't remember the last time his father even held a weapon other than to pass it to him or to shift in the wagon. The fast way he snapped the revolver open and check the chambers for bullets showed a familiarity that hadn't been lost with time. His father had always been more comfortable with knives, which was the only reason he was still alive. Any other man would have pushed the shaft home without stopping, while Leon still retained that skill that made him think fast before striking a killing blow.

"Quickly." Leon finally answered while tossing a silver flask filled with holy water to Daniel. Nodding, he smiled at the familiar container from his early lessons. The water then had been plain well water and only when in times of battle would it be the ritual blessed water. Slowly he put the water in his outside pocket. Somehow the flask seemed heavier, as if the power had weight. Together they walked back towards town.

"What about Ben and Nate?" Leon thought to ask. That was one thing that Daniel had thought to take care of and he quickly explained the plan.

"Mrs. Grainger from next wagon over said she'd keep an eye out for them and if we weren't back yet when they got home, she'd keep them at her place. She's been wanting to get her hands on Nate's hair for some time now and I told her that she could cut his hair if I wasn't back. That made her quite happy." Daniel grinned, and Leon laughed knowing Mrs. Grainger was a well-meaning woman and poor old Nate would be lucky to have a hair on his head if she got a hold of him.

Leon had scouted out the area before coming back, so he passed on his plan as they walked. Daniel was getting nervous as they got closer to town but knew that his father was right. They had to get to the vampires immediately and eliminate their threat to humanity.

The various stores were open, doing brisk business, Leon noticed as they walked through the main street of the town. The saloon Molly was working at was nearly on the outside of town. They passed quite a few bars and gambling establishments while heading towards the Horseshoe. That was the name of the saloon that Daniel had been in, and that his father confirmed was where Molly was sleeping.

"Where does she sleep that's safe?" He asked before they hit the entrance.

"Don't know. I figure somewhere in back where there aren't any windows. It won't be hard to find. I have this," Leon pulled out a crystal suspended on a string. Daniel remembered seeing his father chanting and doing something with it before they headed out. Some of the older books weren't given to him to read and that was where Leon had found whatever ritual he used. The light yellow crystal was pointing directly towards the bar.

They casually walked into the half-filled bar. The bartender caught their eye and Daniel took a minute to walk over and order two drinks. Leon found a table close to where the stairs led up to the whores. The crystal was beneath the table and to Daniel's amazement pointing straight up. The dancing stone was lit from something inside and he thought he saw shadows mar the facets as the gem pointed upwards. He had somehow expected the crystal to lead them to a root cellar or something under the saloon.

"How are we going to get upstairs?" Daniel said while putting the drinks on the rough-hewn table.

"Quickly," Leon grinned. He knew that wasn't what Daniel wanted to hear.

Even in the middle of the day there were whores wandering through the saloon and plying their trade. They weren't the prettiest or the youngest but the ones that were willing to spend as much time on their backs as possible to get money. To Daniel's stunned eyes his father motioned for two of the girls to come over to their table.

Daniel wasn't sure that they were actually girls, but more along the lines of well-aged women. But not in a good way, but rather in an old worn and tired path to whatever years they owned up to when asked. One was showing nearly all of her meager cleavage while smiling and winking. She shouldn't have smiled because the gap in her smile made him shudder. Leon smiled back and she edged towards him, leaving Daniel the other woman. She was frail and hollow eyed. Her dark hair was pulled up and a hat perched rakishly on top of her head but her curved shoulders and slight pout defeated that hat while her heavily applied mascara made him notice her light caramel colored eyes. A tremble along her body was surely nerves or fear. Either way Daniel was stunned. Leon was negotiating business as if it was something they did together often.

Once he was done, Leon nodded to Daniel and they all headed up the stairs with the shadow-eyed woman touching Daniel quite familiarly. If the situation hadn't been so tense Daniel would have definitely reacted. As it was he was pretty sure they wouldn't be enjoying the finer pleasures of the dayshift at the saloon.

Leon still had the gradually spinning crystal out unnoticed by the women in their eagerness to ply their bodies and move onto the next event. Daniel nearly jumped a mile as his whore reached back and grabbed him very firmly in a not so firm spot. There was nothing appealing to him about the woman and she worked her hand over the outside of his trousers with a less than maidenly skill.

The rooms they both were being guided to were in the middle of the saloon and the darkening crystal was holding true in the direction they were heading. As they neared the two side-by-side doorways for the ladies it spun over ten degrees to the next doorway just beyond them in the hallway. The light yellow color was nearly gone as the stone was smoky and dirty looking now from the taint of the vampire's nearness. Leon nodded to Daniel. The plan was for him to go into Molly's room first and Leon would be right behind him. Leon hadn't counted on the whores when telling his son of the plan.

But then Leon had been doing his monster chasing far longer than the women had been plying their bodies. He nodded to his son to follow his gal into the room and indicated with a finger that he'd only be a minute. To Daniel's amazement his father was behind him before his girl finished telling him the rules and getting flat on her back. Before she could fully protest, Leon flung something in her face and she automatically sucked in a breath. Her eyes rolled back and she slumped down in place. Leon flung some money onto the nightstand and pulled Daniel close to his face.

"We have to act fast. We have less than ten minutes before someone comes to check on them. I don't see any spy holes but I could be wrong." Leon shoved Daniel towards the doorway in the room while tossing a sheet over the whore's sprawled form.

Daniel concentrated on the ritual his father had told him to use to gain entrance but first automatically tried the doorknob. To his shock it opened right up. Leon mumbled, "She doesn't expect folks to wander in since the whores don't leave customers alone. Besides who in their right mind would interrupt a sleeping vampire?"

Audibly gulping Daniel briskly nodded and headed in with his blade extended. Leon was a step behind. That was the only thing that saved Leon.

For some reason Daniel had been expecting Molly to be hidden under the bed or in a closet out of the sunlight. From everything in the ancient texts that he'd read the vampires stayed hidden during the day for fear of being taken for dead and buried alive -- as it were. He was happy to see her slumbering on the bed wearing little more than a red corset and garter belt. Her body was sprawled casually on the pillows and sheets, as if she didn't have a care in the world. Long slender white limbs with shadows of veins gave lie to her being made of porcelain ? for she had the appearance of a delicate doll. She didn't look like she was moving in any manner and Daniel found her strangely compelling. Maybe she was already dead?

That thought was deceiving and he went closer to see if she was breathing. His body stirred in unexpected way to her beauty. The woman was soft and white and lovely to look at, he reflected as he went even closer. A scent of roses surrounded him and he felt something stirring inside his heart.

He went to see if she was breathing. Looking at Molly he knew his father was mistaken. He, too, must have seen something else. There was no way this woman was anything but human. Her chest slowly rose and his eyes, naturally, were drawn to the pinpoint tips of her breasts lifting closer to him. His mouth watered with desire and he quickly moved to see if she needed him. His wife, Leah, never looked as soft and touchable as Molly did.

His father's gasp made him look back; he was angry that Leon was disturbing this beautiful woman. She needed her sleep. He wanted to curl into her arms and stroke her. Molly wasn't a vampire. She was a beautiful young woman who needed saving from the harsh world.

"Daniel," Leon hissed. "Stop! She's bewitching you. Use the holy water!"

Shaking his head, Daniel ignored his father and edged even closer. She was breathing in and out. Her lips parted revealing that crooked smile. He wanted to lave them and protect her. Why would he use holy water on her?

Leon was making a sound in his throat that Daniel hadn't ever heard before but Molly was opening her eyes. They were stunning and he drew towards her mouth. A kiss, that's all he wanted. His brain was screaming and his heart racing. Yet he wanted to taste those lips. Wanted nothing more than a kiss, he needed to taste her. Even as his mind was frantically trying to make him step back and run from the bed his feet were ignoring it all and he moved to Molly's side. She smiled even wider. It was then that he saw her teeth were no longer cutely crossed but disturbingly longer.

"Son, run!" Leon's voice came to him as if in the distance.

Daniel wanted to move but something called him. He licked his lips and tasted salt. Why was he crying? His brain seemed paralyzed while his hands were reaching to trace her veins and his body ached for her touch. Why was he supposed to run?

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-10-29
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