Chapter 22 Fixing Forever
Coming back to the hotel, my panic set in. No response, Cassie still slept, if that was what it was. She wasn't dead. Her body was still warm, though getting colder. Her pupils still responded to light, though there was no pulse to check, no breath to feel. I carried her discretely up the stairs to our room, laid her on the bed and began to pace. I rang Violet, not sure what else to do. The phone rang as Myria joined me and sat in a chair, alternating her stares between Cassie and the open window.
Elias appeared at the window without warning and Myria jumped in her seat, surprised.
My eyes met Elias' inquisitive gaze and he saw the panic.
Violet answered in her usual soft drawl. "Hey there, beginning to wonder if you are coming back at all. Are we happy, did everything work, or was it all an urban tale after all?"
I didn't know how to start, but I didn't need to. The silence on the end of the line was enough.
"What's gone wrong? What happened?"
"Russell is dead.... Something is wrong with Cassie, I can't get her to open her eyes. Cam's alive, but burying Russell, and Myria is...here."
"Oh my God. What the hell happened?"
"That's a long story. I don't know what to do next Violet. I don't know where to start." Elias looked up sharply.
"Who did this?" Violet asked at the other end of the line.
"It has to be Michael." Elias offered. "We need to find Michael."
"It is Michael. He planned this" I ran through the rationale. "The envelope of dirt, from the cave where he was captured by Belil. "Amy, the girl he fed off after the fire, that broke through the roof letting them in. She is the one that scratched Cass. It has to be him. Amy was trying to protect him by saying it wasn't. It's him."
"Lets go find him." Elias chimed in.
"Violet. I have to go to Greece. I'm going to send Myria, Cassie and Camille back to you. Take care of them until I get there." with that I hung up.
"How are we going to get her home on a plane?"
"Same way we'd get any body from one country to another. In a coffin. Myria..."
Without hesitation she responded "I'll make sure the paperwork passes inspection. As far as anyone is concerned, everything will look legit."
Camille wandered in looking wild and angered. Streaked with dirt she looked at me.
"Cam. Elias and I are going to find Michael. Violet is at home. Take Cassie back for me?" She nodded and looked over at Myria quietly. Myria diverted her line of sight away.
With that, Elias and I headed out. This was it. The solution. It had taken it's sweet time, but finally, I was going to finish up what Michael had started. I was going to get the answers I needed, then kill him. No more excuses. No more escapes. This was the end of the mayhem.
Arriving just before dawn, Elias and I reached Athens. We headed to a port town at the seaside that was Elias' last tip regarding Michael’s whereabouts. I only hoped he hadn't moved on yet. It was less than a week, but a week is a long time when you can move like one of us.
On the cusp of sunrise, Elias started looking for somewhere safe to sleep. He found a hostel, and we parted ways until nightfall.
"I'll try and catch up with you as soon as I can” Elias assured me. He might not yet have been able to function in the daylight, but I could keep searching, though not before I fed again. We separated, and I went to search the town for a meal, and then for Michael.
I walked the stone cobbled main streets, and then found myself heading down the dirt backstreets. I might be able to keep awake during the day, but I still needed to keep to the shadows to stop from burning. Before I had been changed, I would have soaked up the rays and run for the nearest beach. The town was in a perfect idyllic setting, crystal waters, whitewash houses, fishing boats and nets draped along the coast. But that wasn't what I was looking for. She saw me before I spotted her. A young woman hovered between buildings and gave a knowing look and nod of her head when I caught sight of her. I knew what to look for because I had looked for it so many times over the last years. I followed her lead to a small house, with a room in which all there was, was a bed. She stayed close, her dark red linen dress floating in the breeze.
Holding out her hand, I gave her money and she bent to stuff it under the mattress. As she stood, I came in behind her, moving her dark hair to the other side of her neck. I kissed her shoulder and she rolled her head back. As softly as I could, I slid my fangs in to her neck. She winced slightly, but I could tell from the lack of panic she hadn't realized what I was doing. I drank, and she groaned, but twisted, trying to turn towards me. I moved my arm around to hold her still when the necklace she wore around her neck touched my skin. The gold chain and cross burned my arm and I exclaimed, drawing back my arm protectively. When she saw what had happened she screamed, and I placed my hand on her mouth to quiet her.
That was when I unexpectedly was knocked on the back of my head, blood gushed though it didn't hurt me, and I swung around to see an older woman in her 40 s wielding a plank of wood with nails in it.
She glared at me as she spoke in broken English. "Not again, you go away like the other one... We know what you are." The woman swung again, but I caught it, tossing it out the window. It clattered on the street.
"What other one - Where?" I barked. The woman backed against the wall holding her arm up in defense. I moved to stand over her.
The younger woman behind me spoke sharply, fear in her voice. "Don't hurt her she is sick." I looked at the woman. She had shadows under her eyes, her skin was pallid and she was gasping to breathe properly. She shared similar features to the younger woman.
"I won't hurt her" I held out my arm to lift the woman to her feet, but as I leaned forward a couple of drops of my blood fell on her mouth. She spat, wiping at her mouth with a look of disgust across her features. Clutching her chest, the woman doubled over. I took a step back not sure what to expect. The younger woman rushed to her side, kneeling beside her on the floor. She muttered something in Greek I couldn't understand, and then the older woman stopped gasping. She extended her head to look up at me, and I saw she looked much better. Circles fading, colour returning, even her hair and nails looked healthy.
The young one drew in a breath in surprise, crossed herself and smiled. She grabbed my hand.
"Epharisto" she kissed my hand. "Epharisto"
I drew my hand away. "You're welcome" I said. Interesting development. The woman was helped to her feet, and flexed her arms, touched her chest smiling. I used the opportunity to ask for their help.
"I am looking for someone....I think the other one like me."
The older woman spat on the ground. "He is no good. He tries to kill, but we knew what he was. We sent him away."
"That's why I am trying to find him." I tried to re-assure. “To stop him”
The younger one beckoned me outside and I followed. Disappearing into the next room, she emerged with a well used book of maps. She pointed out the town we were in. “We are here.” She clarified and traced along the road to two towns south. It was larger than this one. Probably a better place to hide. “This is where he stays. One month now.”
The older woman grabbed by arm. "Outside the city. There is an old house. Be careful." I thanked them and left them standing staring at the doorway.
I approached the town where I hoped to find Michael with the feeling I was finally where I needed. I had also discovered something about myself. My blood could heal -humans at least. I wondered if it was permanent, and if this was maybe the answer for Cassie was as simple as that, but I wasn't going to give up this lead either. It was also time to finish this thing between Michael and I. Quickly too, as the sun was setting.
I found Michael where the woman had told me. It was a structure outside of the city, made of sandstone, but plain in appearance. I braced myself on entering, not sure what to expect. The rooms were sparse, largely empty, but with heavy drapes. The ceiling was dome shaped and I paced alon
“No need to sneak around in here” I heard Michael’s voice filter through the night air. I moved towards the sound and saw him sitting on the ledge. The ledge overlooked the sea, though in the pitch black, if it were not for the stars you could barely tell the sky from the sea. Michael was perched with his feet next to him, so that his body half faced me, and half faced the sea. He made no effort to move as I approached. I moved to lean against the wall in front of him. He was different. Quiet, not at all with the arrogance or violence I had become used to.
“You’ve given up running” I commented.
“Why run? The world is small and full of limits. We are both timeless now. Seems there is little point to running away doesn’t it?” He brought out a match and started turning it in between his fingers. Looking up he looked out over the ocean and breathed the air in deeply.
“Doesn’t the salt hurt you, living so close for so long? It burns me after just a day.” I asked. He looked back at me before replying and caught me off guard with a smile.
“Sure does, but it smells great just the same. Reminds me of holidays when I was young. Do you remember when we used to double up at that holiday place… where was it again?” he became lost in thought.
“The Cabana” I clarified for him.
“Yes that’s right” he mumbled.
“What’s happened to you Michael?” I asked openly. I wanted to know where I stood because this wasn’t the man who tried to kill me, destroyed my family and I expected had caused Cassie to be wasting away. This was more like the old Michael, the real one, I remembered from our human lives. The one I had called my brother.
Michael brought the match up to stare at it. “You know,” he started, “I used to be able to ignite this just by looking at it. Just by thinking it, willing it. And now…” He struck the match against the wall and it lit. Watching it burn to the quick, he eventually flicked it out to the sea. It clicked in to place for me.
“Ah” I said cynically. “So when you stopped feeding from the Old Ones you lost your strength, your skill. You have to spend time learning everything at the proper pace so you are feeling sorry for yourself. Is that it?”
“That’s about it” Michael replied. “So taking me out won’t be much of a problem for you now.”
“Hate to break it to you, but it wasn’t going to be much of a problem anyhow. Even with the extra help, I was always stronger than you.”
Michael laughed “Look at you, all cock and confidence. I remember when you wouldn’t say boo without me standing behind you. Not even able to stand up for yourself in a fight.”
“That they do.” He mused and I thought I saw sadness flash across his face. This was nothing like what I expected. Michael was changed after all, just Michael again. Undead, sure, but was it him, with a truckload of guilt on his shoulders no doubt. Even if it was the old Michael I didn’t see how I could ever forgive him?
“So what, no magik to fall back on either?” I asked wanting answers.
“Seems not without talismans, amulets or something else. Nothing more than the basics anyway – nothing useful to me now.” He regarded me with conviction. “So shall we get on with it?”
I looked at him curiously and screwed up my brow.
“What will it be then, stake to the heart, rip off my head or both?” Was his answer to my silent question. He mistook my pause of surprise for hesitation. “Don’t worry, I understand, I’d kill me for the things I’ve done Matt.”
“You know I deserve it, I do. What I have done, not just to your family, to mine, to other people. I don’t want it on my conscience. I don’t even know how much was me – how much was them….” He had a far off look in his eyes, but then became still, silent again. That was it then. I couldn’t do it. Unless he was playing me.
“Right now I just want to find out about Cassie. That’s what I am here for.” I wanted time to think. I came here to kill him after getting the answers I needed but now, I wasn’t so sure.
“What about Cassie?”
“Something is wrong with her. I can’t wake her, she’s beginning to waste away.” Michael turned one side of his mouth into a smile.
“Ah. So he did it after all.” Michael came back with acknowledgment.
“Who did it, did what?” I started to urgently ask, when he hopped off the ledge.
“If you give her blood, that might stave off death for a while, maybe hook up a drip, feed her by mouth I suppose, but that might be messy” He was thinking out loud but nothing gave me answers.
“What is it, how do I fix it?”
“It’s magik Matthias…. What else would it be… The only one who can really fix it is the one who did it.
“Michael. Who did this. No games.”
Elias arrived just then, crossbow on his back. Michael regarded him stoically. I looked over my shoulder at Elias and saw hatred burning in him. He had never forgiven Michael for the pain and humiliation he had caused when Michael strung him up and tortured him in his warehouse.
Michael continued talking. “You try and bring them up you know, but kids nowdays…..” He trailed off smirking.
“Enough messing around” I yelled, angry again now. I grabbed him by his shirt and wrenched him up. A stake shot past me, straight in to his heart. My stomach sank.
“No, No – I needed him” I looked behind me to see Elias standing there, crossbow no longer at his side. “Elias…..why did you do that, I needed him.” I repeated letting Michael’s body slump on the ground.
“After the time he tortured me….He owed me” came the reply. I couldn’t help it, I got so angry. I ran at him, slamming Elias against the wall. He pushed off me and I let him. He straightened his collar and rotated his neck. “So now you are going to fight me.”
I was horrified, Michael had been the only one who I knew had known exactly what had happened, who had done this. Now there was nothing. No way to find out what had happened, what could be done to fix the problem. Cassie was going to be stuck like that, asleep for as long as I could keep her alive. I dropped to the ground trying to think of what I could do. Nothing. There was nothing left.
Elias came back over to me. “Look I’m sorry, I lost my patience. There will be another way. We will find it. We'll get back, and find it. Myria has probably already come up with an answer.”
Staying perfectly still, I paused to reflect. What was I to do- what could I do next?
Matthias by Ariana Kenny / Fantasy have rating 3.2 out of 5 / Based on19 votes