Inside it was dark and smelled of ozone. I took my glasses off and flicked the little torch on. I was in a huge open plan office with broken furniture throwing shadows on the windowless walls. I ran the torch around the ceiling and found it was a long way up and that the unit had a mezzanine floor. Scarlet and burnt orange mingled sickeningly telling their own tale of what had taken up residence in this godforsaken part of the city. Where the hell were twins?
“Ruby. Rufus,” I called. Whatever was here knew of my presence so it wouldn’t have mattered if I’d crept in or marched up and down with a brass band. I motioned to the vampires to follow me over the threshold but they would not obey. All three had returned to there natural form, stubby wings beating hard on bony bodies like heavy fists on flesh. They were on all fours, massive hind quarters and strong forelimbs giving me an inkling that they were built for more than speed. I was betting they could run like dogs although a hell of lot faster. One of them started a growling sound at the back of its throat and the other two took up the refrain. It rose in pitch as though warning of imminent attack and the hackles on the back of my neck rose.
“Come with me,” I said again.
They fell silent and glared at me with slitted red eyes. The sudden silence was shocking after the little siren song I’d just been treated to.
“Stick then,” I said moving back outside and to fasten the collars around each throat. I secured them to a metal grille next to the door and locked them with the key as though they were mere mutts and not the carnivorous monsters that they were. “But if you misbehave I’ll kill you myself.”
It was pathetic move more for the symbolism of sit stay than anything else and I was under no illusions that they could not escape with contemptuous ease but I was running on empty so it would have to do. They’d either go along with me for whatever twisted fucked up reasoning such creatures used, or they wouldn’t.
One of the monsters was trying to say something around all those teeth. I didn’t catch it at first but eventually I made it out each gasping word:
“You. Will. Die. They. Burn. Down. There. They. All. Burn.”
I snorted in disgust and went back inside to whatever waited and the unpleasant smell of sulphur. The spectral colours I saw without my glasses, the residue of unhappiness, violence and pain were familiar to me, but the concentration was not. It was as though someone had thrown luminous paint in those shades over the walls, the floor, the fabric of the building. Whatever haunted this place, it was not a simple thing and it would not go easily. I was also getting the distinct impression that it not just one presence, but legion.
The Dead-Lights raced ahead, lighting the way in more ways than one. They raced along the ceiling, along the walls, into corners and crevices, swept the building and the ground underneath. And that was when the first ball of fire streaked down from the mezzanine and exploded into the wall inches from me. It burned hot and bright but it was no ordinary fire.
I was beginning to understand why the vampires had not wanted to enter the place. Why three flesh eating freaks had the luxury of a choice denied to me was something I’d deal with later. If I survived….