Thursday, July 28, 2011

Restricted Zone


Content advisory: violence.
This is a short story that ties into the world of the Judgment series.


The few seconds Lyric stood frozen, staring at the struggling young vampire, cost her. He was dying. And her mistake held potential death for her and the year old baby squirming in her arms.

Choking on a sob, she jerked her gaze from the juvenile who still writhed on the sidewalk to the half dozen men who’d butchered him.

Why in God’s name had she left the relative safety of the Open Zone and gone into the Restricted Zone of downtown Seattle? She wasn’t na├»ve and knew the danger, and yet here she stood.

“What’s the problem?” A large redheaded man demanded. He held the dripping murder weapon, a huge knife with a serrated blade.

“Hey,” an accomplice said. “She’s one of them.” He leered at her. “A damn fine looker, too.”

Her heart launched into her throat and climbed upward.

Now they all focused on her.

Behind them the juvenile’s struggles had lessened and he lay crying weakly.

Reality shimmered around Lyric and an odd buzzing filled her ears. She fought the light-headedness that threatened a blackout. Her hold on her daughter tightened involuntarily and the baby sputtered and let out a wail.

The baby’s cry snapped her back to her senses. She spun and fled. The men, whooping and shouting, enjoying themselves, ran after her. She silently cursed the nature of her species where the females only had a fraction of the speed and stamina the males possessed. She didn’t have much more advantage than a human woman.

Throat on fire, her side aching, she powered on to outrun her pursuers. The weight of her daughter, Lyric’s large purse, and the overstuffed, ridiculously heavy diaper bag which bounced against her with each stride were taking a toll. She glanced over her shoulder. Oh, Jesus. They were closing the distance. She ran harder.

She didn’t want to die, but her baby’s life was more important, and these butchers wouldn’t spare a child. Especially when humans considered her kind nothing more than intelligent animals. To them, killing her and her baby would be the equivalent of dispatching unwanted, feral dogs.

She glanced back again. The men were gaining on her. A moan came out of her. She wrapped the baby closer and lurched into the darkness of an unlighted alley and called on the last of her strength.

She made it almost to the far end when her foot landed badly and pain shot through her ankle. With her forward momentum, her balance was thrown. A little shriek tore out of her when she lost the battle with gravity.

Rissa. Somehow she protected the baby’s head with her hand and twisted until she took the brunt of the fall. Her head struck the pavers and everything shimmered.
***
With rage firing through his veins, Mikhal jumped from the fire escape and landed in a graceful crouch, cutting the humans off at the end of the alley. Killing them wasn’t enough. He wanted to make them suffer.

The men stopped and glanced among themselves.

“Well,” Mikhal said and motioned with his hand. “Bring it on, motherfuckers.”
But apparently they only wanted to bring it on when a female or juvenile was involved. They backed up as a group.

“What’s the matter,” Mikhal asked. “Afraid to take on someone capable of defending their self?” He smirked. He would thoroughly enjoy dismantling them.

Mikhal waved them on. “Come on. How about you try knifing me? You seem to like that.”

No one moved.

“Bunch of cowards. Aren’t you?” he snarled.

The men exploded into action.

The first one to reach Mikhal had the knife. His sharp eyes picked out the dark stains on the carved handle. The large man behind the weapon came at him with the blade ready.

Mikhal grabbed the human’s wrist and twisted savagely. The crunch of bone was loud and satisfying. The knife fell and Mikhal kicked it away. He yanked the bastard up close, and with his sharp nails, ripped downward, shredding clothing and flesh.

A shriek tore out of the human. Mikhal slashed his claws across the man’s throat. Blood spurted in an arc, spraying both of them. Mikhal threw him to the pavement.

As the man dropped, a blond avenger took a swing at Mikhal with a metal bar. It connected with his shoulder and he grunted. Snarling, he grabbed and ripped the bar from Blondie’s hand.

The blond, backed away. Mikhal advanced. Another man came forward to aid Blondie. The second man pulled out an electronic vampire control device. Mikhal smirked and went for him first.

The disabling device didn’t even come close to making contact, not that it would have mattered. Mikhal knocked the souped-up vampire tasar from the human’s grasp. Then he grabbed both men and brought them together with skull crushing force. Their heads cracked like over ripe melons. He released them and both dropped like stones.

He grinned at the remaining three men who were busy conferring among themselves.

With a roar he sprang forward. One of the men screeched like a young girl and piss covered the front of his pants. He stood frozen and Mikhal landed on him with a bone breaking impact. The force of his engagement sent them spinning around before they went down onto the pavement.

The other two rushed forward to help their comrade. A blade sank into Mikhal’s back. He barely felt it, and he didn’t falter. As the human withdrew the blade and stabbed again, Mikhal grabbed the downed man’s head with both hands and yanked. The head came free of the body with a wet, grinding sound.

The man who’d stabbed him fell away and dropped the knife. Visibly shaking, he grabbed his remaining companion’s arm and dragged him backward.

Mikhal grinned, showing his fangs. “What’s the matter? Never tangled with one of us who can fight back? Yeah. I know you pieces of shit only prey on females and children. That’s your style.”

The men spun and fled. He let them run. They exited the alley. Then he went after them. They split up. He followed the closest. The bastard looked back then lurched off the sidewalk into the street. Back peddling, he staggered into the path of an oncoming car. Tires squealed. The man missed being clipped by inches. He ran.

Mikhal waited till the human reached the other side and then went after him. Mikhal raced through traffic, ignoring the horns and curses. Ahead of him the man ran with what little he had left. Which was nothing. Mikhal leaped, and landing on the human’s back, took him down. He jumped off the man and turned him over. “I want you looking at me when you die.” He sank his fangs into the bastard’s throat.

A woman screamed. Several people scurried away. Feeding on humans was a capital crime. But then everything he’d done to the men were crimes that carried the death penalty for his kind. Humans could murder them, but they weren’t permitted to fight back. Hate burned through him. Though none of it mattered. Not now.

The man stopped struggling. Then his actions ceased all together. Mikhal had taken enough to do the job. He stood and wiped his mouth, glaring at a few gawkers, daring them to interfere. He had one to go and his work would be done.

He took a long calming breath. His back was wet with cold blood, but his wounds didn’t hurt. He turned and raced back the way he’d come.

He stopped where the men had separated and lifted his head, drawing in a long inhalation, searching for the man’s scent. He picked it up and ran in the direction the human had gone.

 Fifteen minutes later he turned down an alley. The man’s stench hung thick in the air. He tracked the scent unerringly to a metal door. He ripped it open and entered a warehouse. The darkness was thick, but his vision was perfect. The man huddled in the far corner, hunkered down beside a stack of pallets. If he thought he was hidden, he was mistaken.
***
Lark regained consciousness slowly. The first thing that registered was that Rissa was gone. She struggled into a sitting position. For God’s sake, how long had she been out? Thick fog filled the alley, and she couldn’t see more than a dozen feet in front of her.

“Rissa?” Where was Rissa?

A dark figure came through the fog with Rissa tucked in his arms. He lifted his head and light-headedness almost felled her again.

Long dark hair spilled over his massive shoulders. Lyric stared into his beautiful blue-green eyes. Eyes she knew so well. Her mate’s eyes.

 Tears welled and dripped down her cheeks. She was dreaming or hallucinating. Mikhal was not there. He had been murdered six feet from their dilapidated front porch when she was nine months pregnant. He’d died in her arms as she wailed her sorrow and pain.

She had cleaned his broken body and wrapped him and paid another male to bury him. And she had cried for him almost every day since. He was not there. Mikhal was dead. And she was… alone.

“No. I’m here,” he said. He stroked Rissa’s cheek. “She’s so beautiful. She looks like you.” He stopped before her and held out his hand. She took it and he pulled her onto her feet.

“How?” she asked and released his hand. Her mind swam with the impossibility.

His mouth tightened, then he said. “I refused to go on without you. You and the baby were my entire world.”

“So you came back to be with us?” Her heart thudded.

“No. I couldn’t do that.”

So it was just a lie? She was only going to see him for… Minutes? A few hours? “No! You can’t leave me again.”

“I’m not leaving you. I came for you. And our baby.”

Her lip quivered. “I don’t understand.”

“We’ll be together forever now.”

And as Lyric began to comprehend, a dim light cut through the deep fog at the end of the alley.

With Rissa tucked in his arm, he offered his other hand to Lyric. When their hands locked, she said, “Those men?”

“They won’t harm anyone else.”

She nodded.

“Come. It’s time to go,” he said.

“Where?”

He gave her a little smile, the one that had always undone her. “Into the light. Where there are no more Zones. No more restrictions. You’re free, Lyric. You and Rissa. Free forever.” He tugged gently and she followed.


~ Nickie Asher ~



If you missed any of our previous posts and would like to catch up, you can purchase the Digital Digest Volume I anthology as an ebook for only $.99.

Copyright © 2011 Nickie Asher

All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.

2 comments:

  1. Ooooo, please tell me there will be another post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jennifer, yes. I plan several of these tie-ins to the series.

    ReplyDelete