Immortal Coil: A Novel (Immortal Trilogy Book 1), page 1
Copyright © 2016 James McNally
Cover art by ©shalunx13 www.depositphotos.com/
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
This book is dedicated to Beatrice Moffat who said it was not a book she would normally read but she would read my book. I would have held her to it, too.
We miss you Bea.
Part One: Antony
Part Two: David
Part Three: Maggie
Part Four: Dylan
Excerpt from Immortal Clash.
The white-eyed woman walked beside the shadowed figure as though she could see. In fact, though blinded long ago, she could see. Not with her eyes but with a second sight, a…preternatural vision that played inside her head. For her, it was like walking through a fog, where objects first appeared as ethereal shapes, and then began to take form as they grew closer to her. Using this ability meant she did not need the use of canes, or the helpful arm of a stranger.
The shadowed figure, and the woman, walked side by side through the darkened streets without regard to anyone around them. Other pedestrians gave them a wide berth, mostly without realizing they were doing it. Some people simply stepped aside as they approached, and still others crossed the street to avoid the pair. Perhaps, it was because when this woman looked at you with those milky, damaged eyes, you knew she was seeing you—really seeing you. And it was an unnerving feeling, to be looked upon by this woman.
The moon was the only light visible in the night sky; the stars were drowned out by the street lamps and the glare of headlights on passing cars. But the city people hardly noticed the lack of starlight. They were as oblivious to the lackluster sky as they were to the danger that lurked around them.
The pair turned a corner and strode purposefully down the new street, causing more people to rethink their route. They travelled another few blocks and turned once again. This time they made no more turns until they reached their final street. This was Lansdowne Drive. The street was almost completely deserted, except for the random person who came upon the two, thought better of their course and found a more suitable street elsewhere.
A Rav4 sped by them, and drove up the hill. The vehicle stopped at a Victorian mansion near the crest. The travelers stopped at the bottom of the hill and looked up at the Rav4 sitting in the light of a streetlamp. The young man in the driver’s seat climbed out of the car and headed toward the house. From the shadows, they watched as the young man suddenly changed direction and returned to the car. He grabbed something from the front seat, tucked it under his arm and started back toward the house. Once he was safely in the house and out of sight, the man and the woman climbed the hill. They stopped when they reached the house and stood just out of the lamplight.
They stared at the house.
“I believe we have found them,” the woman said. She turned to her companion and studied his expression through the haze of her second sight.
“It’s been a long time. I wonder if he will remember me.” The shadowy man laughed. The woman did not. They watched the house for a moment longer then turned back the way they had come.
There would come a time when they would make their presence known.
Part One: Antony
The sun had set nearly a half hour ago and darkness shrouded the neighborhood. The only light came from the streetlamp at the top of the hill. The blond boy climbed out of the car and headed toward the house, but stopped halfway up the walk. He had forgotten the newspaper in the car and returned for it. He tucked the paper under his arm and strolled up the walkway to the three story Victorian style house, whistling. Located in North Western Philadelphia, on Lansdowne Drive, the house was nearly at the top of the hill, with very few houses around it. At the front of the house, where the boy approached, there was a clear view of the city lights below, and at the back of the house, past the sloping yard, a wooded area provided full seclusion that stretched all the way to the Schuylkill River. The mysterious dwelling was perfectly suited for the two inhabitants living within its walls.
The boy used his key and opened the front door. More out of habit than for security, he glanced around the street to see if anyone was watching. He saw no one. Satisfied of his privacy, he opened the door. The porch’s floorboards creaked slightly under his feet, but as he stepped through the door, into the dark interior, a change occurred. He stopped whistling and closed the door behind him without a sound. Without turning on any lights, he soundlessly moved through the house, exhibiting a talent normally associated with the blind. The boy avoided creaking floorboards with long strides or small, gentle steps when needed. He required no light as he spun to avoid a chair, and then hopped over something low, landing toe to heel without even so much as a squeak of rubber on the hardwood floor. Spinning and gliding as though possessed by Fred Astaire’s ghost, the boy danced his way through the house. After seven years of practice walking quietly through this house in complete darkness, he was exceptionally good at it.
He ignored the unconscious man tied with plastic zip ties lying on the ten-foot long dining table in the room beyond the stairs. He ascended the stairs two at a time, sneakered feet as silent as silk slippers. Sprinting lithely to the room at the end of the hall, he stopped and opened the door. He entered the room and closed the door behind him making no sound, not even the telltale click of the latch falling into place.
Lit only by his imagination, the boy looked around the room. Memory told him that two paces forward and two to the left put him at the foot of the oak bed. From there, it was another four paces to the wall at the far end of the room. To the left, set into the wall, was a window with the glass removed and replaced by bricks, preventing any light from passing through. To the right of the window was the only other piece of furniture in the room: an antique roll-top desk made from the same oak as the bed. Moving seven paces from the edge of the desk put him in front of the bathroom door. Side-stepping to the right two paces was the closet, and its French-style double doors, which were also made of oak. Stepping back two paces and again to the right another two put him back where he started. Of course, he had never really moved, except in his head. The only other object was the Persian rug, placed perfectly centered in the middle of the room.
The boy stood perfectly still, listening. When he heard the rustle of bedding sliding over bare skin, and the muffled yawn, he made his first soun
From the bed came a sleep-strained, crackling whisper. “Please, turn on the light David.”
The boy was David Jervis. He was the caretaker of the house. The man in the bed—and the owner of the house—was Antony Grayson, David’s friend and mentor.
David reached out and clicked on the light, dousing the room in a dull yellow glow. It was a weak light, 40 watts or so, but after the utter darkness, even this seemed blinding.
The man in the bed pushed back the sheets and threw his bare legs over the side until his feet touched the floor. Antony wore only a pair of black boxer-briefs. He stood, stretched and walked to the bathroom. He closed the door behind him and, after a moment, the shower started up.
David walked across the room and set the paper down on the desk. When Antony returned from the bathroom he was fully dressed in a pair of Levi jeans and an eggplant colored Chambray shirt with the long sleeves rolled up to the elbows. He slipped sockless feet into a pair of loafers, and turned to David flashing gleaming white teeth, with long, sharp fangs. Antony was a vampire, and although he looked no older than thirty, he had become a vampire in Scotland centuries ago, though any trace of an accent had been lost through the years.
Antony’s eyes flashed red, eager to begin his nightly hunt.
“I was declared legally dead today,” David said with his head held high, and a broad smile on his face. “It’s in that paper on your desk if you want to read it.”
“I do,” Antony said. “But maybe later.” The vampire licked his lips. “Who is on the menu tonight?”
Antony exited the bedroom and walked down the stairs, turning on lights as he went. “I see you still move without lights while I sleep.”
David chuckled. “Yeah. When I first came to live with you, I thought I had to move with stealth so as not to wake you.”
Antony stopped walking and turned to face David. “But you now know I cannot be awakened from death sleep.”
David shrugged. “It’s a habit.”
Antony and David continued on their way.
“I figured you wouldn’t want to travel tonight, so I brought the meals to you. The rapist is on the dining room table. The other two are in the panic room.”
Antony and David descended the stairs to the first floor. They moved down the hall, past the dining room to the stairs leading down into the basement.
The panic room was a stainless steel room that had been meant to be a safe haven for the homeowners during a home invasion, but Antony had no need of any such protection; so he altered the room to lock from the outside. The only panicking going on in this room came from the people kept inside.
David waited by the foot of the stairs as Antony approached the panic room.
Antony opened the thick steel door and peered in. Two men—bound and gagged—stared at him, shivering and bleary-eyed. Stepping into the room, which looked like a giant hot tub from the inside, Antony sat down next to one of the men. He pulled off the gag and let it dangle around the man’s neck.
“Please, mister.” The man’s lips quivered. “Please don’t…”
“What? Hurt you?” Antony’s eyes had gone crimson with the blood hunger.
The man moaned.
Antony used his preternaturally sharp fingernails to cut the zip ties binding the man’s hands and feet. The man hesitated then took off running.
Antony looked at the remaining captor. He smiled, showing fangs, then vanished in a crackling gush of wind. He reappeared seconds later with the escaping man in a choke hold. While the other man watched, Antony tore into his prey’s neck, drank the body dry and tossed the corpse out the door. Antony wiped his arm across his mouth and turned to the remaining man.
The man did not cry; he did not plead when Antony removed his gag, nor did not try to run when Antony cut his bindings. Antony peered into the man’s eyes and saw all the evil deeds the man had committed. He killed the man without much flair. He decapitated the body David had already disposed of the first victim. They placed both corpses in the incinerator. David followed Antony up to the ground floor.
Antony moved through the parlor to the dining room. A man with a well-trimmed beard and expensive clothes lay prone and unconscious across the ten-foot-long oak dining table.”
“You have done well, as always.” Antony climbed up onto the table and straddled the man.
“Thank you.” David’s smile beamed.
“Wake him, I am hungry.” Antony’s eyes had already clouded over with the red haze of hunger.
David woke the man with ammonia under the nose. The rapist opened his eyes in a confused state of shock and Antony peered into his soul.
“What--?” The man started to speak but Antony shushed him.
“You are a serial rapist.”
“Do not deny it. I can see who and what you are.”
“Who are you?” The man’s fear seemed to ease off.
Antony glanced over at David with the slightest hint of a smile. He turned back to the man under him. “I am your therapist.” Antony barely finished speaking before ripping open the man’s carotid and gulping down the hot fluid gushing from the wound. He savored the blood, tasting the vile acts the man had committed. He heard the screams of the man’s victims. In the blood was the sweet taste of vindication. When the man was dead, Antony flung a leg over the bloodless body and dropped into a chair.
“Oh, I almost forgot.” David ran up to the second floor and returned with the paper. “I wanted you to read the article. It’s not long, but it’s sweet. Dear old mother remarried.”
David handed the paper to Antony and let him read the article.
“Very interesting.” Antony set the paper aside.
“I think we should revisit the old argument.” David sat in a chair opposite Antony, and looked at him across the body still lying on the table in front of them. “When are you going to give me the gift?”
Antony glared at him. “Why would you want it?”
“I want to live forever, too.” David smiled. “Why should you be the only one?”
Antony sighed. “Perhaps it is time I told you why I will not turn you—why I will never turn you. Maybe once you have heard my full story you will stop asking.”
“I doubt that, but go ahead.”
Antony started by telling David of his early years when he was not picky in his choice of victims…
“I took the innocent and the vile in equal measure. When it was time to take my victims, I simply plucked them off the street like ripe fruit from the vine. However, I soon started to feel the weight of the memories in the blood. Taking the murderous did not seem to bother me, as I relished in the destruction of them, but the innocent blood was a different story. Now, I must explain something that defies explanation. Vampires can—for lack of a better word—taste memories in the blood. When I started feeling haunted by the memories of my victims, I knew I was not going to last if I did not stop killing innocent people. There were too many memories of people making plans for a future that I had ended. I began to wonder if I was the only vampire who felt this high amount of grief over their own actions, or if this was my own personal curse for being what I was. When I chose to stop killing innocent victims, my mind cleared of the grief I felt, and I started to feel the power that comes with the vindication of killing people with evil hearts and bloody souls.
“In the year 1350 I was passing through a small English town known as Huntsworth. It seemed like a ghost town. Many houses were sealed up with boards nailed across their windows and doors. One door had a fading sign which read: QUARRENTINED.
“At this house, a curtain shifted in the window and I stepped closer to see who, if anyone, was there. An old woman in a nightgown and slippers staggered out of the house. She dropped at my feet, tired and weak. I could see something was seriously wrong with her; she had black sores on her lips and fingers. These sores are called acral necrosis, a common occurrence for someone suffering from the Black Death.<
“‘Ah seen you coming, ah did,” the woman said in her cockney accent. “Please, won’t you help me? Ah am suffering so.”
“I tried to push her away as gently as I could, but she clung to my legs.
“‘Ah got the Pestilence, ah ‘ave. Ah so need your ‘elp.’ There were tears of desperation glistening in her eyes. I stopped trying to pull her off me and looked at her. She had a fever that I could see as heat rising off her in waves. There were lumps on her body in locations were her lymph nodes were swollen. She was in pain.
“‘I cannot help you. I have no cure.’ I said. I shook her off my leg and continued on my way.
“‘It ain’t no cure ah seeks. It’s death.’
“‘Kill yourself, then.’
“‘Ah can’t. Don’t ‘ave the strength. But you do, kind sir. You can drain ma blood. You won’t get sick an’ you will end ma pain.’
“I stopped and turned back to face her.
“In a cold voice she said, ‘Ah know what ya are.’ The word ‘are’ came out ‘awe’.
“I walked back the couple of paces to stand in front of her. ‘What do you know, old woman?’ I asked. I still had a Scottish accent back then and when I was upset it was very thick.
“As I stood over her she bared her neck to me. ‘Ah seen ya in ma dreams, ah ‘ave. An ah knows wha’chu can do. Please help a dying lady with her last request. Ah’m a beggin’ ya.’ She threw herself into the dirt at my feet and cried.
“I didn’t deny her claim. What would be the point? ‘I took an oath not to harm the innocent.’ I said. ‘I’m sorry for your suffering, but to take your life would put me on a path I am not willing to travel. You must understand the consequences taking your life will have.’
“‘Harm? It’s not harming me to end ma suffering.’ The word suffering came out suffrin.
“She didn’t have the strength to pull herself out of the dirt. She just laid there crying and waiting to die. I sighed and lifted her into my arms. She weighed nothing. She felt like sticks wrapped in rags. I carried her back into her house and laid her on the bed. She looked up at me with tears glistening in her eyes. She knew the suffering would soon be over and she was at peace with that. Her smile reflected her happiness. I drained her and in her blood I tasted her relief; there was no misery for me in the flavor of her blood. I knew I had done a good thing. I decapitated her with a knife from the kitchen and left her wrapped in a sheet on the front porch. The corpse collectors would carry her remains to the mass gravesite just outside of town.