Read Blood Cruel (Gods of Blood and Shadow Book 1) Online
Authors: Simon Cantan
Tags: #Urban Fantasy
First published September 2016
This Edition published September 2016
Copyright © 2016 Simon Cantan
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
The moral right of Simon Cantan to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988.
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents are either products of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously.
Published by Simon Cantan
Vampires aren’t the only ones in the shadows
Katie is a Godchosen. At eighteen, she gets her own personal god. Someone to help her achieve her dreams; guide her in times of trouble; keep her safe.
Or any god but Loki might have done that. He wants her to be a vampire hunter, the very opposite of keeping her safe.
Katie’s about to discover the world that lives in the shadows around her. The one regular humans never even see.
Find out just how cruel those shadows can be inside.
atie could hear the front door burst open from her bedroom. The crash sounded like glass breaking, as if someone had opened the door hard enough to shatter the pretty stained glass in it. Feet thundered up the stairs, and she turned toward her bedroom door, her heart in her throat. The drawing pencil in her fingers hung, forgotten.
The door flew open and hit the wall, making Katie jump. Her father, Aidan, stood there with wide eyes and a face red from running. Sweat ran from his grey-peppered hair down into his beard.
“Grab your things, Katie, we need to go.”
She stood and looked around her room in confusion. “What things? Where are we meant to go?”
“Clothes, anything you need. We have to leave right now.”
Her father paused, his eyes growing distant for a moment, but then it was gone. “Never mind that. I’ll tell you later. Get your things. We’re leaving in ten minutes.”
Aidan rushed from the room, leaving Katie alone. She stared after him for a moment, confused. Her parents had secrets, she knew that, but why was he so panicked? Where was her mother?
From her parents’ bedroom, she heard something unzip and walked to the doorway. Aidan was throwing things into a suitcase on the bed. She watched him for a moment. Whatever it was, he was serious.
She hurried back to her room and found her backpack, pulling her schoolbooks out of it. She put in her cards and collectibles, then found her favourite clothes. The bag filled up quickly, so she fetched the duffel bag she used for sports from under her bed. Once she had enough clothes for a few days, she went to her dresser mirror and peeled off the photos she’d stuck there. Her father’s panic made her doubt they’d be back.
The last one she took was a birthday card her mother had drawn for her. She ran her finger around the number on the front, made of flowers and dragons. The dragons didn’t look angry, chasing one another around the loop of the nine.
“Ready?” Aidan asked from the doorway.
“Where are we going?” Katie asked, pulling on her backpack and putting the birthday card in the duffel bag.
“Norway?” Katie frowned. Wasn’t that the capital of Sweden? Or was that Reykjavik? “What about the polar bears?”
Aidan ignored her, coming into the room and taking her hand, pulling her with him. The duffel bag banged against Katie’s leg as they hurried down the stairs and out of the house. Their car was waiting, the engine still running. Thick, black smoke billowed from the exhaust of the battered red Volkswagen.
Inside, it was warm. She buckled herself into the back seat while her father threw their luggage into the boot. Then he got into the front seat and sped away. Katie couldn’t help staring at the passenger seat where her mother should have been. “Where’s Mum?”
“Later, Katie. I have to concentrate.”
She couldn’t do anything but stare out of the window as they drove. He was so scared of something, but she didn’t know what. Was he kidnapping her? Was her mother back at the house, frantic in Katie’s absence? She shook her head. That was ridiculous. Her parents loved each other. Even if they’d had a fight, her father wouldn’t take her away in revenge.
Once, when they’d had mice in the house, he’d been too kind-hearted to put down mousetraps. He’d insisted on catching them in humane traps and releasing them in the forest. Her daddy wasn’t the kind to kidnap small girls and take them from their mothers.
Outside, the houses and people rushed by, faster than usual.
atie’s legs dangled over the edge of a plastic bench, almost long enough to reach the ground. The ferry rolled back and forth, and her father was turning a light shade of green. He sat opposite her, on a plastic seat with a small table between them. Despite the cold winds blowing around the deck, he’d insisted they sit outside. Everyone else was inside, in the warmth.
“Where’s Mum?” Katie asked.
Aidan’s eyes got the far-away look again and tears welled in his eyes. She’d never seen her father cry before. Not even when he walloped his thumb with a hammer trying to put up a shelf. He’d sworn a lot, but there hadn’t been a single tear.
“She’s gone, monkey,” Aidan said. “Your mother died.”
Katie stared at him, not understanding. She’d seen her at breakfast, earlier that day. Her mother couldn’t be dead. “That’s not true. You’re lying.”
Aidan shook his head, sending the tears tumbling down his cheeks. She couldn’t stand to look at him anymore. She got to her feet and ran off, around the front of the ship until she couldn’t see him. Her mother couldn’t be dead. That was something that happened to old people, not to her.
The air around her felt awkward, as if it didn’t want to fit inside her lungs. Her eyes burnt, but she forced the tears back. There was no reason to cry if no one had died.
She ran until she came to a chain with a sign blocking the way. Stairs behind the chain led up, but Katie didn’t take them. She sat on the bottom step and stared out at the sea, the dark, grey waves rolling and spitting into the air.
Inside her, she felt numb. It wasn’t happening to her, but to someone else. It couldn’t be real. There would have been a funeral, if it were real. She’d never been to one, but she knew they held funerals for people who died.
She wasn’t sure how long it was before Aidan appeared around the corner, approaching cautiously. When he got close, she moved over on the step to give him space. He sat, his knees bunched around his chest, and put his arm around her shoulders.
Katie leaned into him and cried.
he roads in Norway were weird. The signs were the wrong colour. Other drivers flashed their lights at Aidan until he had turned his own on, even though it was daytime.
“I’ve got something else to talk to you about,” Aidan said. “About who you’ll become as an adult.”
Katie blinked. Was it really the time? “If it’s about sperm and eggs, I already know.”
Aidan coughed and glanced back at her in his mirror. “Where did you hear about that?”
“In school. When a boy kisses you, sperm comes out, and if you swallow it, you can get pregnant.”
“No, it’s not about that,” Aidan said, off-balance from the new topic of conversation. “That’s not how it works, but we’ll talk about that some other time. This is to do with you growing up.”
“Hair and stuff,” Katie said, ready to launch into her thoughts on the process.
“No,” Aidan said. “I want to talk to you about who you are. You’re a Godchosen.”
“A Godchosen? What’s that?” Katie frowned. She and her father had never gone to church. She didn’t think he believed in any gods.
“It’s a special kind of person. It’s why we had to leave Dublin.”
“To Norway, where we’ll get eaten by polar bears.”
“Dublin isn’t safe for us. There are people who’ve heard about us. They want to hurt us.”
“Is that what happened to Mum?” Katie asked.
Aidan fell silent, then set his indicator light on and turned off the motorway, finding a service station and pulling into a parking spot. He switched the car off and got out, opening Katie’s door. “We should talk face to face.”
He led the way to a picnic bench and sat.
“Have you joined a cult?” Katie asked. “This Godchosen cult? Did they kill Mum?”
“No, it’s not a cult.” Aidan looked out at the cars going by on the motorway. “I’m explaining this so badly. I wish your mother was here to help.”
“Me too. She wouldn’t make me join a cult.”
The thought of her mother made tears well in Katie’s eyes again.
“She was Godchosen too, monkey. Hang on and I’ll show you. Klondike, she won’t believe otherwise.”
Katie stared at her father, wondering what was happening. The way he was talking scared her. On the table, a matchbox flew off and fell to the ground.
“You see?” Aidan said. “Did you see that?”
“The matchbox blew down. So?”
“That was Klondike. He moved it, so you’d know he exists. Klondike is my god.”
“Your god is called Klondike? I’ve never heard of him.”
Aidan shrugged. “He’s kind of new. Prospectors made him in the gold rush in America.”
“So you want me to worship this Klondike?”
“No,” Aidan said. “I need to go back to the start. You’re a Godchosen, Katie.”
“You said that.”
“Every Godchosen gets their own personal god when they’re eighteen. When I turned eighteen, I got Klondike.”
“The god who can move matchboxes?” Katie said.
“He can move other things,” Aidan said. “Small things. And only a few times a day. But you’re going to get a better god. I’m going to save up so you can.”
Aidan ran his hands through his hair and rubbed his beard. He frowned in thought, seeming to strain to come up with a way to explain to her.
Katie wanted to help him, but it felt like a joke or a trick. She got up and walked over to pick up the matchbox, putting it back on the table. “Do it again. Do it while I’m watching.”
With a flip, the matchbox jumped off the table and fell to the ground. She picked it up again. There was nothing but cardboard inside. She couldn’t see the spring. Then she checked the table, running her hand over it. She couldn’t find anything but smooth wood.