Read Blood Cruel (Gods of Blood and Shadow Book 1) Online
Authors: Simon Cantan
Tags: #Urban Fantasy
The coffin was where he’d left it; resting on a solid oak trestle table he’d bought in a charity shop and had delivered. It had been a nightmare to get through the door. With a shot of irritation, he saw a pile of earth on the floor near the coffin. His father had been up in the daytime again. He always stayed up far too early, then couldn’t wake up on time.
Jaden grabbed a dustpan and brush from near the door and moved to the coffin, sweeping the dirt away and putting it in a nearby bucket. He replaced the dustpan and brush, and knocked on the wooden lid of the coffin. “Dad, time to wake up.”
The lid eased open and his father, Rans Beck, sat up at the waist. He had his hands resting across his chest and his fangs extended, the same way he always slept. His long brown hair had dirt clinging to it, and his brown shirt was stained. He turned his head to look at Jaden. “What time is it?”
“Almost ten,” Jaden said. “You were meant to be up hours ago.”
“Damn it.” Rans climbed out of the coffin, spilling more dirt onto the floor in the process. “Why didn’t you wake me earlier? You know there’ll only be drunks around soon.”
Rans screwed his face up in disgust. Jaden knew his father couldn’t abide blood with alcohol in it. It was part of the reason Jaden never woke him early if he could help it. There was less chance of children being out so late, and if people were out drinking, at least they’d had a good time before they were killed.
“I need to make something to eat,” Jaden said. “After that, I’m heading to bed.”
Rans stretched. “You should come with me. It’s not too long until your birthday; I can show you a few things.”
Jaden shook his head, turning to walk to the kitchen. He didn’t like the reminder. When he turned eighteen, he’d need to hunt like his father, go out and kill innocent people to keep his own existence going.
He opened the bag of potatoes and peeled them, his thoughts running over and over. He’d known from early childhood he was going to be a vampire. His father had never tried to hide it. As a pureborn, Jaden wouldn’t be turned; he’d change into a vampire when he became an adult. Then the thirst would start. Food wouldn’t sustain him anymore. Instead, he’d need fresh blood.
From the way his father described it, Jaden knew it was impossible to resist. The thirst could only be delayed. Eventually, it got so bad he would fall on the next person he saw.
A few more weeks until his birthday, then no more school. No more normal life, no more sports. Most of all, no more Katie. He winced as he thought about her. When she’d kissed his face on Friday, it had felt electric. He’d been longing for it for so long, he’d almost kissed her back right then and ruined her life. Falling in love with a vampire was great in the movies, where the vampire could resist his urges. If Katie fell in love with him, she’d end up a meal. She’d be the small antelope the lion takes care of while it’s not hungry. Right up until dinnertime rolls around and the antelope finds out why the lion was being so nice.
His finger stung, and he realised he’d cut it while he wasn’t paying attention. He put his finger in his mouth, feeling the coppery taste run over his tongue. Could he really eat blood? It didn’t seem like it would be enough to sustain him.
He took his finger from his mouth and went back to cutting the potatoes.
“It gets better,” Rans said from the doorway. “In a few weeks, it’ll taste better than the steak you’re preparing.”
“Aren’t you late?” Jaden asked.
Rans nodded, disappearing back out. Jaden heard the front door close and breathed a sigh of relief. Rans was a constant reminder of what was happening to him.
He tried to imagine someone out there, unaware their life was about to come to an end. One person a month, for the two centuries his father had been alive. Jaden paused for a moment, trying to calculate it in his head. He gave up when he realised it was more than two thousand. Was continuing his own existence worth ending two thousand other peoples’?
He didn’t want to die, but he couldn’t imagine killing people to keep himself going.
aden is a vampire?” Katie turned to look at the air where Loki’s voice came from. “That’s not possible. He goes to school. He’s out in the daytime. We had spaghetti with garlic bread for lunch on Wednesday. He’s even gone to church.”
“You’re babbling,” Loki said. “Try to whisper, we’re still in a dangerous spot here. Move back to the tree we started at.”
She followed his orders numbly, returning to the tree and slipping into its shadow. “Is Jaden a vampire?”
“No.” Loki appeared beside her. “Not yet. He’s pureborn.”
She shot him an annoyed glance. Why was he being so cryptic?
“He was born a vampire,” Loki explained. “His mother was pregnant when she turned, so he was already a vampire by the time she gave birth to him. He’s just been growing toward it, like you have as a Godchosen. When he hits eighteen, he’ll turn. He’s already turning a little, so it can’t be long.”
“Three weeks. His birthday is just after mine.”
Loki nodded. “There’s only a single vampire in there, I’m guessing one of his parents. In three weeks, there’ll be two of them.”
Katie leaned against the tree, her mind reeling. She’d known there was something wrong at Jaden’s house, but she’d never seriously thought it could be anything like this.
“Hide,” Loki hissed, going invisible again.
She slipped behind the tree as the door to the house opened. A man walked out and closed the door, turning to survey the night. Then he skipped to the front gate, moving quicker than anyone she’d ever seen before. He disappeared down the path in moments.
His movements looked familiar, but she couldn’t figure out where she’d seen them before. “What was that? Why did he move like that?”
“It’s his strength. You’re the space girl, you’ve seen men walk on the moon. Gravity isn’t strong enough to hold him down like it does you. So skipping is the fastest way to move. From his speed, he’s centuries old.”
“He can’t just walk?”
“It’s difficult to gauge for them. The smallest changes can make the difference between closing a door and ripping it off. Control becomes a problem.”
Katie thought about the bruises Jaden had. His father could try to pat Jaden on the head and give him a concussion.
“You should go home,” Loki said. “Where it’s safe. Keep my symbol close, in case we run into him again.”
She nodded and hurried away down the path. Her heart hammered and she couldn’t stop glancing around her. The people she passed stared at her, but she ignored them.
Only when she was out of the estate did she allow herself to slow. “Tell me more about them. They can’t go out in the daytime?”
“That’s right,” Loki said. “Surprisingly, fiction got it mostly right. You’ve seen vampire movies, tell me the rules.”
“No daylight, no garlic, and they have no reflection.”
Loki snorted. “I did say mostly right. Daylight is a no-no for them. But they don’t mind garlic, as your friend’s lunch shows. He’s part vampire already, he’ll get more sensitive to all the vampire things soon.”
“What about needing an invitation to enter?”
Loki nodded. “They do need an invitation to enter a home, but anyone can give one. Sometimes they have a slave to invite them in.”
“A human shell they’ve reduced to serving them. The slave can go out in the daylight, act normally, but if they’re in a house, they can invite their master in at night. Then all bets are off.”
“How can we kill them, then?”
“Good. I’m glad you’re coming around to the idea. We cut off their heads and burn the bodies. Forget everything you’ve read about stakes. I’ve never seen it work.”
“Cut off its head?” She couldn’t imagine decapitating a person, let alone burning the body. Her thoughts went to the goat at the demon church and tried to project that to a human. She shuddered.
“Don’t worry,” Loki said. “We’ll begin training tomorrow and I’ll show you how.”
With a start, she realised they were already home. It hadn’t been far to walk. A vampire was living a short distance from her house and she’d never known. More importantly, Jaden had been there for years.
Could her best friend really be a vampire too? It didn’t seem possible. She couldn’t imagine Jaden ever killing anyone.
hen Katie woke the next morning, the soles of her feet felt hot. She wasn’t surprised, considering how much walking she done the day before. It must have been twenty kilometres or more.
She pushed her blankets aside and sat up. As she did so, she found Loki sitting in the chair beside her desk. Some part of her had hoped the events of the day before were imagined, but seeing Loki confirmed they were true.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” Loki said.
She groaned, already knowing what was coming.
“We need to get started with your training,” Loki said. “If we don’t, you’re never going to be able to face vampires.”
“I need to study today, I didn’t get anything done yesterday. If I don’t hit the books, I’ll fail all my classes.”
“Fine, then the next time Rans hunts, some innocent person’s soul will be on your conscience.”
“That’s not fair. I’m not killing them.”
“You’re the only one who knows about him.”
“Let’s call the police and let them deal with it.”
“Fine, if you want to see a lot of dead policemen.”
“Surely they’ll be better able to deal with it than I will be.”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” Loki said. “At least give me a few weeks to train you. If either of us don’t feel comfortable at the end of those weeks, we’ll call the police.”
She sat for a moment on the edge of her bed, thinking. If she didn’t agree, he’d never leave her alone. After all, he was with her 24 hours a day. She needed to keep him happy, but she knew she would never be ready to fight a vampire. “Okay, fine, three weeks.”
“Good,” Loki said. “Now get dressed, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Her thoughts went to her grades, as she grabbed a towel and headed for the bathroom. They weren’t great to begin with, but without studying at all for the next few weeks, she might fail. But at least she had one more year to go. Without Sonneillon and once the vampire was dealt with, she could concentrate on catching up.
Thankfully Loki didn’t materialise while she took a shower. She tried not to think of him hovering in the air somewhere, being invisible. Once she’d dried herself and got dressed, she headed downstairs.
Her father wasn’t at the breakfast table when she got there. It was Sunday, so she knew he’d be out worshipping Klondike. His god was simple enough to worship, only requiring a shot of bourbon poured into a nearby river. At least his god didn’t have him hunting vampires.
For a moment, she wondered whether she should tell him about Loki. It felt wrong to deceive him like that, but if she told him he’d worry about her. It wasn’t as if he could do anything about it. As Loki kept saying, she couldn’t exorcise a god.
She fetched her cereal and ate without tasting it. When her spoon scraped the bottom of the bowl, Loki appeared, sitting in the chair opposite.
“What?” Katie asked. “Can’t I have five minutes peace?”
“Not a morning person, eh?” Loki said. “Too bad. You need to work on your equipment first. We’ll need a weapon capable of killing a vampire. Is there a weapon store near here?”
“A weapon store?” She shook her head. “And with what money? I’m broke, in case you don’t remember. And nothing’s open on a Sunday.”
Loki smiled. “Don’t worry about that. Things open, if you know how to ask. You need to head to a bank first.”
“A bank?” The last bank had left Fredrikstad years before. And she didn’t want to travel all the way to Oslo again. Then it was her turn to smile. “You said you haven’t had a host for years. Have you heard of the Internet?”
“Internet?” Loki said. “The thing with the free porn?”
“It does more than that.”
She led the way upstairs, back to her room, and switched on her computer. It whirred, running through its boot up.
“Are you looking for some kind of game?” Loki asked, leaning on the desk nearby. “Because games don’t prepare you for the real thing.”
“No, no games,” Katie said, opening a browser. “The banks are on here now. Along with everything else.”
Loki moved behind her and squinted at the screen. “What’s a Google?”
“It’s how we’re going to find the bank you wanted,” Katie said.
“You should ask Jeeves. I think I remember him being the best.”
“What’s the name of your bank?”
“Swiss First Accredited.”
She typed the name into the search bar and hit enter. The bank was the first link. A web page appeared, dominated by a solid-looking building.
“That’s the one,” Loki said. “But it’s in Geneva. Can you talk to it from here?”
Katie searched the page and found the login. “Sure, but I need an account number and password.”