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Authors: Dean Murray

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BOOK: Trapped
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"I'm
sorry, Kristin. I didn't expect the nightmares to start this
soon or I would have warned you."

We
sat there in silence for a few seconds, me trying not to have a
second cry fest in one night, him apparently lost in thought. I
started to roll away from him but he wrapped his arms tighter around
me and sighed.

"The
answer to your question earlier is yes. I'm speaking from
personal experience. I worked really, really hard to get the
opportunity to be on my own. The first time I ran into something
really dangerous it nearly killed me. I managed to get away and spent
the next two days on the road trying to make sure that it couldn't
catch up to me. At the end of the two days I found myself a motel
like this and tried to get the rest I'd need to keep running. I
ended up crying myself to sleep."

"I'm
sorry. That must have really sucked."

I
could feel Ash nod against my back.

"Yes,
it really, really sucked. In the end you can't change the
world, Kristin. All you can do is change yourself, so that's
what I set out to do. I tried to make sure that I wouldn't ever
be quite so unprepared for all of the craziness out there that wants
to chew me up and spit me out."

 

 

Chapter 7

 

My
dream terrors didn't return that night, but real ones visited
shortly before dawn. My first indication that there was something
wrong came as Ash rolled out of my bed. I opened my mouth, sleepily
intending on asking what was going on, when I heard the key rattle in
our lock.

I
sat up, moving almost as fast as Ash as I realized there was no good
reason for anyone to be trying to get into our room unannounced right
now.

Ash
already had his boots on, knife in the left one, a gun in one hand
while the other stuffed magazines in his jeans pocket. He motioned
for me to be quiet and then handed me his backup pistol before moving
to the center of the room.

The
door came open only a couple of inches before Ash fired his first
shot. The second came only a fraction of a second later, the combined
effect leaving my ears ringing. Ash was moving already, he hit the
door with enough force that it knocked whoever was standing behind it
flying.

I
was moving to follow, conscious mind not really having made any kind
of decision. The next three shots were from slightly further away. I
made it outside and realized that it wasn't raining anymore,
but the rest of my mind was focused on Ash.

Two
men were running away from him but he calmly sighted them in and shot
first one and then the other. Despite the ringing in my ears, I somehow
made out his yell to get our things. I stumbled back into our room
and grabbed both of our suitcases. I wasted a couple of seconds
looking for my shoes before realizing they were already on my feet. I
must have slipped them on somehow before following Ash out the door.

Ash
arrived back at our room as I was walking out. He pulled an
unconscious female out from behind the door and then pulled his knife
out of his boot.

"Get
our things to the car, Kristin. We don't have much time."

I
didn't want to leave him alone with her, but at the same time I
knew that I didn't want to see what he was about to do. I found
myself woodenly turning towards our vehicle. I only made it a few
steps before he caught up to me, pulling me along by one arm.

He
threw both suitcases into the back and then all but picked me up and
set me in the car. Less than three minutes after the first shots were
fired we pulled out of the parking lot. Ash was on his phone a couple
of seconds later, but once again I only caught pieces of what he was
saying. I was pretty sure he'd just called someone and told
them to distract the police with conflicting stories.

We
made it back to the interstate without being pulled over, and I
realized that I was still holding Ash's backup gun. I gingerly
slid it back into the jockey box.

"Are
you alright, Kristin?"

I
shrugged. I wasn't really ready to talk about it yet. My brain
knew that whoever had been about to break into our room hadn't
been planning on anything good, but the speed with which he'd
killed them had my emotions in knots.

"I
know you don't want to talk to me right now, but we need to
talk about what happened back there."

My
normal feistiness suddenly boiled back up and I turned towards him
and let him have it.

"OK,
let's talk. Do you want to start by telling me what the hell
just happened? Or maybe we should skip the unimportant parts like
what happened and instead just focus on the motivations. Did you
really need to slit the throat of an unconscious woman?"

Ash
winced, either at the fury in my voice or at the memory of what he'd
done. It didn't really matter much either way, but I hoped it
was the latter.

"You
can't really separate the two things like that, Kristin."

"Really?
Because I don't see how someone opening the door to our room
justified killing what, four people?"

Ash
was getting mad now. I hadn't even been sure he could get mad.

"Look,
you were the one who wanted a glimpse into my life. You asked for it
and now you've seen what the world looks like when you scratch
away all of the glamour and glitz. People aren't nice, most of
the time they aren't even good. If people are bad, how do you
expect the monsters to be any better?"

The
intensity in his voice made me pause.

"You're
saying those weren't humans?"

"Vampires.
Each and every one of them was a parasite that survives only by
leeching blood from normal people."

Somehow
I hadn't expected that vampires would be real.

"How
did you know?"

"The
smell. I couldn't pick it out earlier. Either they hadn't
been in that room before, or the smell from your gum drowned it out.
As soon as the door opened I could smell them. It's not a smell
you can forget."

I
mentally flailed around, trying to put in words what was bothering
me.

"They…they
were running away, Ash. They weren't a threat."

The
intensity was back in his voice as he responded.

"Vampires
know one thing. They live for the hunt, the feed and the kill. They
were running away because they were overmatched. If I'd let
them get away they would have just waited for the next victim. I
won't have that on my hands."

It
was hard to argue with his logic. We passed the next couple of hours
in silence. I'd felt conflicted before, but this was a new
level of being torn between opposing ideas.

On
the one hand, I really wanted to like Ash. It was hard to believe
someone so thoughtful could be anything but kind. Even setting aside
his raw physical appeal, there was a lot to like. Stacked against
that was the savagery he'd displayed. It had been one thing
when Anton was trying to kidnap me. Then the reaction had been
provoked. This time the reaction had seemed so out of kilter from the
trigger.

I
looked for ways to break the silence, but every time I shifted
positions or cleared my throat his eyes found me instantly, and there
was something there that stopped me from saying any of the things I'd
planned on saying.

It
wasn't hostility, it was more like hurt, but somehow my mind
refused to associate that feeling with Ash. He was too self-contained
for something as small as my good opinion of him to matter in the
slightest.

Ash
picked another motel as the sun started to set. This time I waited in
the car as he checked us in and then scouted out the room.

"It's
clean. Smells like it should."

"So
we're safe?"

"No,
that just means if there's something dangerous around, it's
human enough that you can't pick it out just from its smell."

It
was another sobering thought. Ash disappeared into the bathroom to
take a shower and I was left with nothing but my suitcase. I turned
on the TV, but after randomly surfing the channels for a few minutes
I turned it back off and pulled my notepad back out.

Ash
came out in just his jeans shortly after I started what I was pretty
sure was my fortieth attempt. I watched him pull a shirt on and then
leaned back and took a deep breath.

"What
would you tell my parents? I mean, if you were me and you wanted them
to not worry."

Ash
shrugged, but there was a hesitancy to the motion that made me press.

"Come
on, Ash. I need some help here. My parents are going crazy with worry
and I don't know how to make things better."

"You
can't make things better. At least not all the way, and
definitely not with the truth."

Somehow
I'd never considered lying to them, not about something this
big.

"So
what should I say?"

"You're
the only one who has a hope of crafting a lie that they will believe.
One way or another you need to try and convince them though. You
can't go back, not with Anton out there. You'll never
know but that he's there waiting for you to come back, using
them to lure you back. The best way to guarantee their safety is to
convince them that you're never coming back and then for you to
never return."

Words
failed me once again. I mustered a nod and then escaped into the
bathroom, convinced somehow that he was right. The room was empty
when I got done with my shower and ventured out of the bathroom. I
sensed that Ash hadn't been running away, he'd just been
trying to give me the space I needed to finish my letter.

I
opened my notepad back up and crafted the best lie I'd ever
managed. I hadn't left for a boy or any of the other reasons
that they'd never have believed. Instead I told them that I'd
cracked from the pressure. Pressure I'd put on myself. I'd
left and was too ashamed to come back and face them.

I
took away all hope that I'd ever come back but tried to balance
it with the sense that I'd managed to land on my feet, that I
had a place to stay and a steady job. The emotions continued to surge
higher and higher inside me as I worked on my letter, but I refused
to break down and cry. I knew once I started that there'd be no
turning back, and I needed to finish the letter now, not later.

I
finally entered a state of numbness which let me put the last few
paragraphs down on paper. Once it was done, I stared at it for a few
minutes before folding it up and tucking it back inside my suitcase.

I
turned out my light and curled up under my covers, still unable to
feel anything. Ash came back inside a couple of minutes later, but I
pretended to be asleep already. He quietly got ready for bed and then
turned his light off as well.

I
almost thought I imagined his whispered good night, but the way it
hung in the air was something I couldn't have just conjured up
from nothing. His continued thoughtfulness broke down the barriers
I'd put up and I found myself quietly sobbing into my pillow.

Ash's
hand on my shoulder was the lifeline I'd needed without really
realizing it. I turned towards him and he wrapped his arms around me
and just let me cry without saying anything to try and make it
better. It was the perfect response—there wasn't anything that
could make it better other than time and distance.

 

 

Chapter 8

 

Things
were less tense between Ash and I after that breakdown. Without me
having to ask, he stopped the next morning so I could buy envelopes
and then after I'd addressed it to my parents he stuffed my
letter in another series of envelopes and addressed each of them
somewhere else. It seemed like a reasonable way to me to make sure
that nobody could track us down.

Once
we were back on the road, letter safely deposited in one of the blue
post office pickup boxes, I decided to see if I could get Ash to open
up to me.

"So
where did you learn all of this spy stuff?"

"If
I told you, then I'd have to kill you."

The
line was delivered with such a matter-of-fact tone that I almost
didn't realize he was joking. It wasn't until he looked
over and gave me a small smile that I started breathing again.

"In
truth, that's not far off. Once I left home I knew I needed
training if I was going to survive. I started taking classes. I
signed up with nearly everyone who claimed to have any knowledge, but
I focused mostly on those who claimed to be ex-Special Forces or from
the intelligence community."

"You
mean those kinds of people just hang out a shingle and teach
whoever?"

Ash's
chuckle was a dry thing, but I took it as a good sign.

"No,
those kinds of people don't just teach whoever. Most of the
people I ran into were complete hacks, frauds even. But I kept my
ears open and asked a lot of questions. After they had my money most
of them could be persuaded to recommend other places I should go for
more training. Eventually that chain led up to people who really were
what I was looking for."

"Wow,
what was the training like?"

I
was deciding that Ash's shrugs were a language unto themselves.
This one almost seemed to say he didn't want to brag but he'd
talk if I pressed. I waited and he finally continued.

"It
was tough. They didn't do some of the extreme stuff they'd
gone through because it had just been designed to test loyalty.
They'd satisfied themselves that I wasn't some kind of
psychotic killer, so they mostly just passed on information and
skills. How to evade pursuit, use pistols, knives, unarmed combat,
surveillance, tailing, that kind of thing."

I
once again felt a bit like I'd just stepped into a James Bond
movie.

"So
why did you think you needed all of that training? I mean the other
wolves didn't need it, right?"

"What
makes you think that the other wolves don't get similar
training?"

BOOK: Trapped
3.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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