** I set out to write about an elderly man sitting in a park, watching his city change, and somehow ended up with this. :) **
"Arm the damn thing, we have to go."
"I'm working as fast as I can, " Jaime Cutter says, glaring at her brother, stabbing codes into the keypad.
A few moments later, she closes and locks the keypad panel, "I've set the timer for 30 minutes. This is beast Schon, we need to be far away when it detonates."
"So let's move." Schon Cutter says opening the roof access door. He checks each stairwell as they descend to the last step and enter the abandoned hotel lobby. The décor is aged and dusty. Scattered corpses lay about long since decayed.
This is Demora, once called vampire central, one of the most infested cities on the continent, now nothing but a wasteland. After the witches bound the gates with runes, it became a prison for those left behind, human and vampire alike. When the vampires exhausted the human food supplies, it left them with only rats and stray animals to eat. The tainted blood drove them mad and then feral.
"Are you sure we can make the gate in the dark? Maybe we could find a basement or a bunker?" Jaime asks.
"If we stay they will find us, that bomb will kill everything on the surface, but I don't know what else is hiding underground and I don't want to find out. Can you cast any protection spells?" Schon whispers.
"I don't know, magic is dampened here, once we get closer to the runes, maybe."
The two make their way out into the street, the burned husks of cars and overgrown brush reflect the primal state of the city. This had been a violent vampire conquest, but that was years ago.
"Stay close," Schon whispers, as he runs from sidewalk to sidewalk, "if I can smell them, they know we are here as well."
The two dart between buildings staying in the shadows, they stop at the edge of a city park.
"Schon, Mom used to bring us here, remember?" Jamie says, "There was an ice cream vendor ..."
"Shhhh" Schon replies
Moans rise in the distance, the feral ones have emerged from their dark places to start the blood hunt.
Schon removes a flask from his coat pocket and takes a drink. He winces in pain, leaning over he holds back the vomit until it subsides.
"Here, drink some, we'll be harder to track with this in our blood." he hands the flask to his sister.
"I thought the priest blessed you?" Jaime says, 'Why does the water still burn?"
"I'm cursed, I don't know if that can ever be fixed."
A sliver of dying sun sits on the edge of the horizon. The streets lay in the shadows of the downtown towers. There is movement everywhere.
"Time to go." Schon whispers and the two follow the treelined edge of the park, the sun finally gives way to night, even the stars hide from this place.
"We have 8 minutes before detonation, and I can't see anything in this oppressive dark, can you still see the runes?" Jaime says
"Yeah, we just need to cross the field, the tall grass will help, stay close."
The two proceed across the grounds, through the tall grass. This is the home stretch.
"Schon," Jaime whispers, "I think something cut my arm."
"Me as well, the vamps mixed in sword grass out here, probably to keep humans inside the city and we just stepped into the middle of it," Schon stops, his pants and jacket already cut open "they will smell the blood, like sharks in the water, keep moving, we have no choice, we have to press on to the runes." The grass cuts at their clothing, catching their skin, blood drips like a crumb trail behind them.
"They're here, I can hear them," Jaime says as several feral vampires rush from the street into the tall grass, the blades cut them open, their blood runs black, infected. It doesn't slow them. Schon fires several shots, the ultraviolet rounds leave a trail of vibrant blue as they zip past Jaime and drop the feral in the grass.
"Jaime, get in front of me, keep moving," Schon says calmly.
The two retreat trying to not touch the sharp blades when the pungent odor of death fills the air, more feral vampires enter the grass, their eyes fixed on the intoxicating source of so much fresh blood.
"Don't stop, the runes are close" Schon says. he turns to focus on the horde behind them, he fires, again, and again but three more enter the field and even more rush from the city.
A spiral of grass and dirt lifts around him; slowly at first but becomes more intense, the feral stop advancing.
"Jaime, is this your doing?" Schon screams, but he can't see her, the torrent intensifies until he blacks out.
Schon coughs hard, his throat feels like sandpaper. Opening his eyes, he can see he and Jaime are back on the hotel roof next to the bomb.
The timer flashes 3:00 minutes.
"What just happened?" Schon says trying to stand, his head still spinning. Jaime is down, dizzy and confused.
"What is this device?" a voice says from the shadows.
"Go to hell," Schon says, instinctively reaching for his gun he fires until the trigger clicks empty.
"Still using gunpowder and shards of metal? Such an archaic invention. This, however, is something altogether different." The man steps in the moonlight, his red eyes fixed on the bomb. He is slender, his grey skin matches his long hair, his clothing has a Victorian flair, layered and ornate with gold trim. He is one of the beautiful ones, at least he was. Time has taken its toll.
The timer flashes 2:00 minutes.
"What dirty hole have you been hiding in? I thought all the vamps would be feral by now," Schon says, watching the man glide toward the bomb.
"I am Sabastian DeGaul, I am the herald," he says, sliding his long, yellowed fingernails over the bomb's metal exterior.
"The herald of what?" Schon says, trying to keep him talking, distracted, looking for some advantage he can use.
"The end of everything," Sebastian says coldly. "and the rise of the ancient gods."
The timer flashes 1:00 minute.
Jaime stands, she is mumbling something, staring at the bomb.
Sebastian stops abruptly and glares at her.
"You're a witch." he says, "but your father was a vampire, I can smell that much on you. Your brother, it appears, got the lion's share of your father's blood, but your mother set protections around you."
"He was not our father, he was a filthy vamp, just like you." Schon spits
"Oh, and what are you? Filthy as well?" Sebastian says with a glimmer "Still some human in you, but your mother didn't think to spare you did she?" he says.
"Schon." Jamie's voice is tense "The timer. I tried to stop it, but my magic is useless here."
"Sebastian, I don't know what time period you crawled out of but that device you are caressing has enough power to crush this building and send a sonic shock that will kill everyone in the city. We are going to be dust.
"Ah, how delicious," Sebastian says, "let's watch, shall we?"
"Are you crazy? You are going to be obliterated." Schon screams.
The timer hits 0:00.
The flash is so intense that the entire world turns a blinding white; the heat is hell, but only for a moment.
They say death is a calm, surreal experience. You float away into the light, but yet I'm standing at the edge of the city park, and my head is pounding.
"Schon, Mom used to bring us here, remember?" Jamie says, "There was an ice cream vendor ..."
This already happened.
"We need to go a different way," Schon says.
"But it is a straight shot to the runes, I can see them, we can make it." Jamie responds.
"No, they littered the grounds with sword grass, our blood will bring every vamp in the city running this way" Schon responds "We need to find a different approach".
"How do you know?" Jaime asks
"Because we've done this already," Schon says, "at least 10 times that I can remember. We are in a time envelope, it wasn't until the last go-round that I figured out why. Every time we looped I could get us a little closer to the gate, but we would run out of time and be right back setting the bomb on the hotel roof again."
"Why can't I remember any of this?" Jaime asks
"I suspect this is old vampire magic, probably why you don't keep the memories. The effects are less on me it seems." Schon says "The last loop was different though, a vamp showed up, not a feral one, this one called himself the herald and touted something about the rise of the gods."
"There has to be a resting place of some powerful vamps below the city somewhere." Schon continues, "The only reason they are not feral or even still alive is because of the time loop. Every night they feed and kill, and the loop restores the food supply the next night."
"Schon, the humans they have trapped have been living that same horror over and over for years."
"I know but we have to stay on mission, and we are about to loop again," Schon says.
"You won't remember any of this, but hopefully you will follow my lead"
"I always do, big brother," Jaime says
"Schon, where is the bomb?" Jaime says standing on the hotel roof, "I got the coordinates right, it should be here ready to arm."
The loop begins.
"I know where it is, we need to move now," Schon says, running down the stairwell, through the hotel lobby, and out into the street, Jaime follows closely behind until they reach the edge of the park.
Jaime stops to catch her breath.
"What the hell is going on?" she says.
"Here drink this, all of it." Schon says handing her the flask from his coat pocket. "We need to get across the field, there is sword grass, so keep your arms up, our pants can take a few cuts."
"This is crazy, what is happening, where is the bomb?"
"I don't have time to explain, you just have to trust me, " Schon says, "we need to keep moving." They continue to sprint across the field, as several feral vamps sniff the air turn, and run towards the park.
"The runes are close, if we can get there the feral will stay their distance," Schon says as the last light disappears from the horizon.
Then they see it, the bomb sitting next to the gate, just inside the runes.
"Oh my God, how did that get here? At this range, it will take out the runes and the gate." Jaime says.
"Sebastian, I know you are here," Schon says "I'm guessing even with all your magic you can't figure out how to set that thing. You also know that shortly Jaime and I will time shift again and this will all start over. You'll never get that gate open without our help."
"What do you want, vampire's son?" Sebastian says appearing from the shadows.
"My sister stays safe forever, she goes unharmed"
"The brother that was left unprotected by his own mother sacrifices himself for the sister who she clearly loved more, the irony is rich." Sebastian says with glee, "But I know she controls this device, not you."
"You're weak, your perceptions are deceiving you," Schon says.
"I control the device," Jaime says without hesitation.
"Jaime, what are you doing?"
"I will set it for you but you have to remove the time shift spell or the weapon will reset as well, you know this."
"And what do you get out of this, my dear?" Sebastian asks.
"You remove my brother's curse."
"And make him human? What a waste. He has so much untapped potential, there are things even he doesn't know, but I can agree to that" Sebastian says and he utters the words "Circulo Mortis"
The night sky clears to display a trillion stars, the full moon brings light to the city.
"Now my dear,"
"What about my brother?" Jaime says "Our deal."
"I tire of this," Sebastian says and instantly appears behind Jaime, biting down on her neck sucking blood
It all happens so fast that Schon can barely react as Sebastian drops her to the ground, smiling and licking his teeth and lips.
"Mmmmm, it has been so long," he says.
"Jaime!" Schon screams, running to his sister's limp body.
"Now I have the knowledge of the weapon and the witch magic to step beyond the runes," Sebastian says.
"Sebastian?" Schon replies, "Do you remember what holy water does to the damned? You're about to find out. Her blood is full of it."
Sebastian's face contorts, clusters of red sores break out and burn holes, he cries out scratching at his eyes and neck, as his blood leaks out the open wounds and pools below him, he writhes in agony until flame engulfs his withering body.
"How are you doing?" Schon says as Jaime opens her eyes
"I feel like a bus hit me." She responds, "How did you know all of this was going to happen?"
"It is a long story from an endless night." Schon smiles, "I know that there are some powerful vamps about to wake up without food. We need to go back through the gate and warn the department heads."
"Where is the trigger to that bomb?" Schon asks.
"Inside the keypad panel" Jaime responds.
Schon walks over to the bomb, tapping into his vampire side as he tears the entire panel off the bomb and crushes it.
"I guess there are some advantages to this curse," he says as the two walk beyond the runes toward the gate.