Vampire Dancing, page 21
“And that's the direction they've been coming from.”
Amber shakes her head. “Well maybe they're everywhere now. You saw her. She was covered in blood.”
“What if she's luring us into a trap?”
The window closest explodes to the sound of rifle fire.
Amber lets out a cry and covers her head.
Reacting quickly, Michael pulls Amber through the door Laura and Wendy passed through moments before.
Entering the next car, they're greeted with the same clamor of flying bullets and exploding windows. Laura and Wendy are halfway along the aisle. Laura is shielding Wendy with her body. Glass is raining down all around them.
“This is insane!” Amber cries. “I thought they wanted you alive!”
The window to the left of them shatters under a hail of bullets.
Michael pulls Amber to the floor. “They're not trying to kill me. They're trying to restrict my movement, make me easier to deal with.” He looks across at Laura, and begins to think maybe Amber was right to trust her with the girl.
Amber notices movement through the windows on the door behind. “Someone's coming.”
Michael reacts immediately to Amber's words. Keeping low, he lunges for the end door and throws it open. The man in the process of entering is caught completely by surprise, and it's written all over his face. Rising to his feet, Michael grabs him and spins him around.
One of the men outside the train notices movement in the car and instinctively lets rip with his M4 rifle.
Multiple slugs sink into the Kevlar on the back of the man Michael has just spun. However, one of the projectiles strays a little higher and finds a soft spot on the Unicorn man's neck. The bullet continues its upward momentum, journeying through flesh and bone, and exits just above his left cheekbone, only narrowly missing Michael.
Michael drops the lifeless body to the floor. He turns to look at Amber, but catches sight of another grunt, making his way through the neighboring car.
The man spots Michael and opens fire.
Bullets whiz past Michael's head to the sound of breaking glass. He disregards the threat and sprints for the other end of the aisle.
With Michael in clear view, the men outside the train let rip with their assault weapons.
Wendy slams her hands over her ears and shrieks over the ensuing ballistic cacophony.
Laura feels a bullet sink into her upper left arm. She squeezes shut her eyes and grits her teeth, and holds Wendy close.
Michael sprints past them both.
Bullets puncture the walls of the car and tear to shreds the molded seats. Fragments of metal and plastic flip and spin through the air.
The man in the adjacent car catches Michael's right shoulder with a perfectly aimed shot.
Michael goes down without making a sound.
Amber cries Michael's name and grips onto a handrail. She's poised to do something - anything.
The man talks into his headset - external weapons fire ceases - then cautiously enters the car. He waves his rifle around - “Nobody move!” - then settles it on Michael, who is lying on his back, eyes closed and bleeding. “Get up!”
Michael remains motionless.
“You killed him!” Laura shouts. “And you almost killed me, you idiot!”
“Don't move a muscle!” the man barks. “I'll shoot you, I swear!”
“If you do, there'll be hell to pay, because I'm with you.”
Laura rises to her feet.
With Laura leaving him no room to maneuver, the man speaks urgently into his headset: “Don't fire. I think she's one of ours.”
Laura reaches into her back pocket and pulls out her badge. “This'll confirm who I am.” She throws it to the man, but it falls just outside his grasp and lands on the floor, next to Michael's head.
“Butterfingers.” she says.
The man curses under his breath. It looks like Laura on the badge, but he has to be sure. He lowers the tactical sight over his right eye and taps a button. Now all he has to do is get close enough for the scanner to read the chip. Keeping his rifle trained on Michael, he bends over and looks at the badge.
Michael springs suddenly to life. He knocks the M4 out of the man's hands and pulls him to the floor. The man tries to cry out, but Michael forces a hand over his mouth. “Ssh,” he says, then exerts enough pressure to snap the Unicorn grunt's neck. Immediately, he works to remove the dead man's vest. “Nice bit of acting, ladies.”
“I wasn't acting,” Wendy says. “I thought he'd killed you.”
Michael worries about Wendy. She looks distant – shell-shocked, almost.
“It takes a lot more than that to put me down,” he replies. He looks to Laura. “Try to delay them. I just need a few moments to get Wendy protected.”
Laura briefly thinks of what to do, then walks over to the nearest window. She leans across the shot-up plastic seat and sweeps glass from the ledge, then folds her arms and rests them on it.
There's a large group of Unicorn men outside the car. Every one of them is donned from head to toe in black, and has his weapon trained on Laura ... and is looking at the way her breasts are snuggled together on top of her folded arms.
Laura casts her gaze over the men and says with a playful smile: “Boys and their toys.”
The man at the front of the group tears his gaze from Laura's cleavage and asks: “What's going on in there?”
“On the train?”
“Oh, right. Your man - whatshisname - has confirmed I'm with you guys, and he's in the process of cuffing Rhodes.”
“Why aren't you helping him?”
Laura looks back into the car and sees Michael throw the dead man's armored vest and helmet to Wendy. Turning back to the man addressing her, she says: “He seems to be doing okay by himself. And besides, they don't pay me to lug bodies around.”
Another man points at Laura and says: “You've been shot.”
Laura looks at her wounded arm. “Well, what do you know, it looks like one of you gentlemen shot into me.”
“Isn't it hurting?” the man asks.
“To be honest,” Laura replies, “that kind of penetration hasn't hurt in a long time.”
Someone bursts out laughing.
Having heard enough of Laura's strange talk, the first man speaks into his headset. “Green?” He looks at Laura, his expression clouding over. “Green, talk to me.”
“You know what,” Laura says, “I believe Green's just gone a little gray.” She turns quickly from the window and throws herself to the floor beside Wendy.
Indiscriminate rifle fire fills the car.
“Not again!” Wendy cries, and cowers into a ball.
“Laura!” Amber calls. “Put these on.” She slides the vest and helmet she removed from the body lying next to her, across the floor.
Laura reaches out and clutches the items. She makes eye contact with Amber, but if something is being conveyed - be it gratitude or loathing - Amber can't read it.
The rifle fire stops.
“Laura, how many are we dealing with?” Michael asks.
“They're everywhere,” Laura replies, pulling on the vest. “Like insects.”
“We're going to die,” Wendy sobs. “I can't believe this is happening.”
Laura fastens a helmet to Wendy's head. It looks ridiculously oversized on the girl. “You're not going to die. I promise you.” She picks up the other helmet and puts it on, but doesn't bother to fasten it. She's aware of how silly she must look, but reckons she'd look even sillier lying on the floor, convulsing, with a bullet lodged in her skull.
There’s a sound from the roof of the train.
All four of them look up.
“We need to get to the next car,” Laura says. “They're above us.”
Michael crawls to the end door and peers through one of the windows. “There's more of them in the next car.”
“I told you we're going to die,” Wendy moans.
“Michael!” Amber cries, “what the hell are you doing!”
Bullets pierce the roof of the car and impact the floor mere inches from where Wendy is huddled against Laura.
Laura slaps a hand firmly over Wendy's mouth to prevent her from screaming and giving away their position. That doesn't stop Wendy from trying, however.
“We need to move,” Laura says quietly to the girl. “Just follow me. We'll be okay. We have on protection.”
Keeping low, Laura moves quickly to the door Michael just went through. Wendy crawls after her, but freezes after a projectile from another random burst of rifle fire hits her head. There's a look of alarm on her face.
“It's okay,” Laura says. “It struck the helmet. Hurry up.”
Wendy starts moving again.
Amber hears Unicorn men barking at one another from the car behind. They're starting to lose patience, and that's something which will make them less focused and slightly more vulnerable. Seizing the opportunity, she springs to her feet and makes for the adjoining car.
Laura rests her back against the end door and pulls Wendy close.
Wendy opens her mouth to say something, but, instead, shrieks in response to a deafening shotgun blast which punches a large hole in the roof not far from where she and Laura are sitting. This is followed by two more blasts, each one closer than the last.
She grips Laura tightly.
“Stay here,” Laura says. She motions to get up, but Wendy refuses to let go of her. “Wendy ... I can take care of this. You need to let go.”
Another loud blast rips into the car, and causes Wendy to jerk. Reluctantly, she lets go of Laura.
Maintaining a low profile, Laura takes hold of the nearest full-length handrail. Using two hands, she pulls it free of the sockets securing it in place. The next blast tears a hole in the roof almost directly above her head. She thrusts the metal pole through the crude opening. There's a cry, followed by a thud. Moments later, a man topples past one of the broken windows.
She drops the pole. It lands with a clatter.
At that moment, Wendy cries with alarm.
Laura turns to discover one of the Unicorn men behind the exterior door to the girl's right. Acting quickly, she pulls the helmet from her head then grabs onto the overhead handrail above the nearest window (which has already been shot out). She kicks her feet into the air and swings nimbly through the frame.
The man behind the door catches sight of Laura swinging feet first through the window. He turns with a look of surprise on his face, and, for a moment, doesn't know quite how to respond.
The slight delay in the man's actions is all the time Laura needs. She sprints straight for him. He raises his firearm and prepares to fire, but he's too late. She tears the weapon from his grasp and discards it.
Having lost his rifle, the man pulls a nine inch serrated knife from a sheath attached to his utility belt.
"Don't go waving it around unless you know how to use it," Laura says.
The man lunges at her with the knife, but she grabs his wrist, twists it so the blade is facing towards him, then slams her other hand down on his elbow pit. This drives the knife up into his forehead.
The man falls straight onto his back.
Laura pins the dead man's head to the ground with her foot then leans over and pulls the blade from his skull. She looks around. There's no one in sight. She wonders where all the Unicorn men have went (surely they’re not all on the train), then walks over to the external door and pries it open. Wendy is exactly where she left her, and looking as frightened as ever.
Displaying the knife like a trophy, she says to the girl: “Look what I got. So much nicer than a gun, don't you think?”
The reply comes in the form of a loud shotgun blast.
Wendy lets out a scream.
Laura throws herself to the floor of the car and turns onto her back.
“I'm okay,” she says, getting up. “I don't think I got hit.”
The man with the shotgun appears suddenly in the doorway and fires again at Laura. The force of the blast striking the Kevlar vest knocks the wind from her lungs and sends her reeling against the exterior door behind.
The man turns his firearm on Wendy.
“No!” Wendy cries, and outstretches a hand.
Laura quickly gathers her senses. She flips the knife in her hand and catches the end of the blade between forefinger and thumb. She then propels the weapon through the air before she even has time to question the worth of her aim.
The man drops his shotgun and grasps the handle of the blade sticking out of his neck. He stumbles around, choking on blood, then flops to the ground.
“Oh my God,” Wendy says, “I thought I was going to die.”
Laura walks over to the shotgun man's body and kneels beside it. “We're not the ones dying here tonight.” She pulls the knife out of his neck. The blade is covered in blood. She gathers a sample of it onto the end of her finger and takes a taste.
“These people seriously need to reduce their intake of salt,” she mutters to herself. She looks at Wendy. “I need to maintain my strength and stamina. If this bothers you, look away.”
Wendy wonders if anything could possibly bother her after what she's been through tonight. “That's okay.”
Laura leans over the dead man and draws from the wound on his neck. She hasn't been drinking long when someone crashes through one of the adjacent car's windows. She looks up. Her eyes are red and her mouth is smeared with blood.
Amber must be having fun.
Amber snaps the Unicorn man's wrist and breaks his arm, then drives the palm of her hand up into his nose with so much force the bone splinters and enters his brain.
Shots are fired and a bullet catches her left shoulder. Grimacing, she locks eyes with the man shooting at her.
He stops firing; has to change clip.
Unlucky for some.
Amber launches herself at the man with the rifle. She throws her arms around his neck and interlocks her legs around his waist. Protesting, he drops his firearm and tries to beat her off, but she isn't going anywhere. She opens her mouth wide and plunges her incisors into his right cheek.
The man's protests turn to screams.
Blood fills Amber's mouth and her eyes burn like fire. She tears a large chunk out of her victim's face. Bone is exposed and an abundance of blood spurts from the grisly wound. She spits a mouthful of flesh to one side, then notices movement over the shrieking man's shoulder. It's another armed man, taking aim with his rifle. Acting quickly, she plants her feet on the floor and pushes the man before her into the other man's path. Both men are knocked to the floor. The one pinned at the bottom loses his rifle, but is determined to regain it.
A man Amber has already dealt with comes back for more. He's built like a WWE wrestler, so it's not surprising he's taken above average punishment and is still standing. He's lost his helmet and has deep rake marks down his face. His right arm is broken and swinging loosely. Using his left hand, he plucks the knife from his utility belt and splutters through bloodied lips: “Come on you fuckin' bitch.”
Amber glances briefly at the man pinned to the floor. He's almost within reach of the rifle. She turns back to the man with the knife and says: “Okay, but make it fast.”
The Knife-man explodes with rage and rushes Amber.
Amber side-steps her assailant's clumsy attack. She clasps her hands around his knife grip then drives the blade into his throat. Her peripheral vision catches sight of the man on the floor take aim with the rifle. Thinking fast, she uses the Knife-man as a human shield. He takes numerous high velocity shots to the back. Amber has no idea if his armor is capable of protecting him from that kind of close-range assault, but he's dead anyway. She twists his grip on the knife then rips it out the side of his neck. Blood sprays into the air and he keels over.
The man on the floor is w
“Please,” he begs.
Amber looks coldly at him - “You should've stayed in bed this morning” - then unloads several rounds into his terrified face. She casts the rifle aside then wipes the blood from around her mouth. The fire in her eyes starts to fade.
She knows she should be getting back to the others as quickly as she can, but decides to take a moment to catch her breath. She checks out her shoulder wound. To her satisfaction, her immune system has already rejected the bullet and knitted flesh.
The aisle in front of her is full of mutilated bodies and discarded weaponry. And to think, all she wanted to do tonight was listen to loud music, dance and perhaps get laid – things she actually managed to achieve, now she comes to think of it.
Just then, the small hairs on the back of her neck stand up and she has an overwhelming urge to look over her shoulder.
Standing at the opposite end of the aisle is the disheveled looking woman in the pink top; the one Michael had called Amanda; the one he had claimed 'collapsed'. Judging by the vibe she's getting - and by the looks of those black eyes with the bright yellow elliptical pupils - she's assuming this person – or whatever it is - is not the bringer of fun times and happiness.
The Amanda vessel speaks: “My name is Devinniel.”
Its voice is distinctly female, but the tone is menacing.
Getting straight to the point, Amber says: “What do you want?”
A small red and black spider scuttles out of Devinniel's mouth and vanishes behind its neck. Its eyes burn with malignancy. “I want you to die.”
Unicorn men position themselves at either end of an aisle already littered with twisted and broken bodies. They train their weapons on Michael.
“Don't move!” one of them barks.
Michael stands at the midway point of the aisle. He holds a serrated knife in each hand and is covered in blood. Most of it isn't his own. “You know, if I wasn't standing here, you'd all be pointing those guns at each other.”
“Think you're smart, don't you,” one of the men says. He drops his rifle and pulls the knife out of his belt.