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Authors: Ashlei D. Hawley

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The New Night Novels (Book 2): Revelations (A New Night Novella)

BOOK: The New Night Novels (Book 2): Revelations (A New Night Novella)
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REVELATIONS: A NEW NIGHT NOVELLA

(The New Night Novels Volume Two)

FIRST EDITION

This book is a work of fiction. Any characters, places, or events are taken from the author’s imagination and represent no actual individuals, locations, or happenings. Any similarity to persons living or dead is completely coincidental and unintentional.

These works are the copyrighted property of Ashlei Daylen Hawley, not to be redistributed, copied, or pirated in any fashion by any personal or commercial entity without the permission of the author.

 

Dedication: For the ladies of BayouBama. You are friends, you are inspirers, you are coworkers, you are family. Much love and many thanks. As always, for my readers and supporters. The other writers, weird ones, dreamers, and doers. Keep on, keep weird, keep reading! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revelations: A New Night Novella

Ashlei D. Hawley

 

CHAPTER ONE

     Once, the night was ours. We were the shadows in the dark, the myths that fascinated humankind with our otherworldly allure. Our legacy was blood, our lineage ancient. 
     I’ve been a vampire longer than the United States has been a country. When I think about it in that context, I wish I’d never been around to see the development of this nation. Without the United States, there would have been no Grissom virus. The night would still be ours.
     Derek Grissom was an Army general who delivered a supplement designed to create super fighters to his troops. Code named “Rippers,” these men and women were supposed to inherent super strength, speed, metabolism, and enhanced ability to operate at night. Though he wasn’t the only distributor in the early days, he was the first and most carefully observed. The virus became his legacy, and the name has stuck even a decade later.
     The night is coming. I know I have to move, but until the sun sets entirely, I’m trapped. Though the Rippers have taken the night, the deadly effects of the sun on creatures such as me have not been lessened. The Rippers can survive in the sun, but it dulls their senses, makes them weak. It hurts them, but it doesn’t destroy them.
     If even a glimmer of sunlight exists above the horizon, I’ll burst into flames. It doesn’t seem fair to me.
     My radio squawks. The noise is jarring and I jump. I’ve been waiting so intently to feel the threat of the sun pass that the unexpected noise hits me like a bullet.
     “Sreya, do you copy?” Even through the distortion of the radio, his voice reminds me of a cool wind over desert sand.
     “Here, Pharaoh.”
     The radio line is open. I don’t call him Seth as I would in private. Everyone I know calls him Pharaoh and I stick to that when anyone else can hear. 
     “You’re in the thirteenth, right?”
     We have our city split into eighty-four sectors that are a mile long and a mile across. A vampire can cross a sector in under thirty seconds. The biggest deterrent to crossing quickly is Rippers. Pharaoh’s tone is already a precursor to bad news. It’s a talent of mine to read voices, and his has always been easier than most.
     “Thirteenth, yes,” I respond. The sun is so close to setting I can feel the weight of darkness on my skin like silk. Darkness in the day is different than the darkness of night and I long for the feel of evening shadows.
     I catch the tail end of Pharaoh’s sigh when he depresses the button to transmit again. He’s inspiring all sorts of confidence. 
     “Sreya, you have two companies closing in. One’s already in your sector and the other is coming in from the tenth.”
     The tenth is what I’d pass through to get back to base. The first through the seventh sectors are all devoted to our safe zone. I need to get through the tenth to slip inside one of the guard towers on the thirty-foot high metal wall that surrounds our compound. 
     Two companies means roughly four hundred Rippers. They may have once been human, but no vampire alone stands a chance of outrunning such a large group. Fighting through them would be guaranteed suicide. 
     “I’ll loop around to the eleventh from the fourteenth and hit the guard tower in the sixth,” I say as I plot the route in my head. There are towers in the first, third, fifth, and sixth sectors. Chancing the sixth is a gamble. We can’t see the eighth from any of the guard towers and having eyes on the ground is too risky. A commercial area, the eighth has groups of strip malls and large stores, perfect for massive groups of Rippers to wait out the day in. I could find myself running right into a battalion or worse. The number of Rippers inside those huge enclosures could easily get into the thousands.
     “I expect you back here in less than twenty,” Pharaoh tells me. “Stick to the shadows. Enacting radio silence.”
     The click that follows his statement sounds quite final. I pocket my radio after turning the volume all the way down, just in case. After visual stimuli, sounds are what most attract Rippers. 
     ‘Stick to the shadows’ is code, encouragement, motto, lifeline. It doesn’t just mean, “Be careful.” The mantra applies to our safest movement, and reminds us of our deepest selves. We are the shadows in the night. Just because there are more of them doesn’t mean we’ve lost our place.
     Rippers may do better in the dark than the humans they started out as, but prey moving through deep shadows still eludes them. I hate to think of myself as prey, but that’s what a Ripper will always see me as. I’m no different than any small, dark-haired, hazel-eyed human in the eyes of those turned by the Grissom virus.
     I slip out the door of the pharmacy I’ve been holed up in all day. Dr. Geisel has given me unusual requests before, and this one didn’t seem any stranger than the others that have come previously. He wants me to procure treatments the humans gave each other in the first wave. When the Grissom virus was first thought to be treatable, preventable, or even reversible. Dr. Geisel hopes to identify where the virus came from, what caused it to spread the way it did. Any lab-created antidotes or treatments could help him piece together clues of origin and mutation. He hopes to do what the humans couldn’t: find a cure.
     I’ve commandeered one of the few blue cases of medication left in the pharmacy to be used by survivors. It’s small, thick plastic, and fits in my coat pocket. The virus spread so quickly, I’m not surprised they were untouched. By the end of the first year, uninfected looters would have known the crap was useless, anyway.
     Almost at once, I spot the first company. At least a hundred strong. Probably closer to a hundred and fifty. Their clothes
(
,
what few remain
)
,
hang off of them in ragged strips. Each
of them
lurch about in various states of decay, though none are as progressed as they should be. Even those ten years old, from the first wave of infection, have the look of a corpse only gone from life for a week at most. Though almost all of them display wounds, some defensive, some the result of tearing or teeth, I can smell no blood. Thanks to the G-virus, bodily fluids dry up in the veins of the afflicted and leak out like brick-colored sand when their skin is opened up. I may not feel they are above me in the food chain, but the sight of such a large group does make me shiver.
     Time to go.

 

CHAPTER TWO
     I begin to run, and the sweet scent of night has me lifting my face to the clean breeze. Regardless of the horde at my back, the night feels invigorating. 
     I press myself for more speed, but I’m about the slowest vampire out there. I can fight, and I can move when need be, but I’m never running the races in the vampire Olympics. Will we ever have those? I wonder about it as I skirt the far edge of the tenth. I can see the second company cresting a small hill in what used to be a popular park and event center. No human or vampire fair-goers duck under the Pirate Ship or lope around the ferris wheel. The carnival is open only for Rippers.
     Come on, Sreya, I tell myself. Move it, move it. The Rippers closest to me have noticed food on the move. I veer right, but it doesn’t matter much. The Rippers all seem connected to their group, no matter how big or small. What one knows or sees, the others do
,
as well
. And
, and
they all react.
     Howls and snarls erupt from the parched throats of more than a hundred shambling, flesh-tearing ghouls. Goose bumps chase each other around my skin and I actually start to pant. Even though I suck at it, no vampire gets winded from running. I’m gasping in legitimate terror. I do not want to die by Rippers.
     The first one flings an arm out at me. Rage contorts the sagging gray face. A shriek of furious hunger makes all the hair on my body stand at attention, especially when the call is answered and echoed by the multitude behind him. 
     I duck
. We’
ve
, we’ve
trained in evasion so often and with such tenacity the movements are better than instinct. My first attacker loses sight of me before he’s finished his swing.  
     I leap to a rooftop, using the commercial-sized green trashcan situated beside the back door as leverage for my jump. Beneath my thick leather gloves, the metal siding on the roof squeals
its
in
protest of my weight. Below me, several Rippers scramble up on top of the trashcan and swipe at my feet. I pull myself up
. The
, the
muscles in my upper arms bulge against my tight black coat. The material of one sleeve catches on the roof and tears.
     “Damn it,” I curse. I don’t stop to mourn the damaged fabric. It can be fixed if I ever make it back to base. I sprint across the rooftop. My well-worn, thick-soled black boots slam on the metal. It sounds like the banging of the dinner gong to me. The noises send the Rippers below into a screaming frenzy. 
     The edge of the roof comes up faster than I expect. Behind me, several of the Rippers have hoisted themselves onto the roof to continue the chase.
     I lunge off the edge and prime for a roll. The hill on the other side of the building won’t soften the fall much, but it’s not going to kill me. 
     I hit the ground hard and roll forward, never losing my momentum as I power to my feet. The Rippers who didn’t follow me up have continued pursuit around the side of the building. I hate that the crazy bastards still have reasoning ability. You’d think with a brain that only says, “Sun bad. Ripping, tearing, blood good!” they wouldn’t have great deductive ability. But me vanishing from their sight didn’t deter them from the chase. 
     I’m getting closer to the tower with every step, but there are more of them than I thought. Maybe the lookouts missed a group. I’m going to be surrounded soon if I can’t figure something out.
     I intend to barrel through their ranks where they seem the thinnest. If more than ten of them get their hands on me, I’m probably screwed. 
     Two buildings-an antique emporium and a tire shop-split up the group that stands between me and the sector where I can enter via the tower. I head that way, toward the clearer area between the two buildings. One of the Rippers almost grabs hold of me, but I spin away before it can manage. 
     Another Ripper in my way drops to the ground before I reach it. Its head rolls away from its body as I pass. I grab the tool of execution, an expertly forged and sharpened axe, from the ground without breaking stride. My pistol is still nestled in its holster on my hip and my own axe, which is larger, heavier, and not designed for throwing, is strapped to my back.
     Without slowing, I slip the throwing axe in my boot. Another Ripper meets its end the same way. I collect that axe, as well. 
     I burst from between the buildings. I look for my unexpected ally, but can’t see anyone. It has to be another vampire. Using axes like that requires more than human strength.
     I’m in the sector I need to gain entrance to the safe zone, but about thirty Rippers stand in my way. An off-shoot of the other group, this platoon huddles closely together. I growl at them and my fangs descend. 
     I’m pissed off now. I got through the two large companies, with a little help from my unknown friend, of course. I don’t intend to let this unplanned barrier prevent me from getting back home. 
     I grip the handle of the axe I just liberated from the second Ripper’s body and pull my own from behind my back. I don't intend to run around or through this platoon. I want to fight.
     “Getting into trouble, Sreya?” 
     My surge of aggressive energy falters. Surprise overtakes the other feelings of determination, frustration, and a yearning for violence. 
     I recognize that voice.
     He moves from the shadows like he owns them, like they’re a part of him he slides away to reveal his impressive presence.

BOOK: The New Night Novels (Book 2): Revelations (A New Night Novella)
12.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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