She'd found Him.
Lincoln was everywhere now. Unavoidable. Bullet-proof. Dangerously lovely and flawless and deadly all at the same time. She opened her mouth to scream. But the sound wouldn't come out. Her relentless terror barred even the air from reaching her lungs. Lincoln was everywhere...everywhere...EVERYWHERE!
She cried out His name, surely He'd come to her aid. She yelled it to the wind again and again and again and again...until her voice vanished, surrendered to the never-ending expanse of scarlet sand. Her heart must have shredded in two at that moment.
He wasn't coming. She was on her own.
On her own...
Her eyes scanned the empty plains, absorbing the morbid beauty of this very moment: heaven compared to the black abyss of death that waited serenely for her to give in. To give in...to give- She gulped sharply, generating a stab of absolute agony deep in her failing lungs. There, behind Lincoln...He stood! There were unshed tears in His eyes at the sight of her...torn-up, bleeding and stretched out on the sand. His perfect mouth opened to say something...He screamed it to the gale, which snatched it away just before she could grasp it. He held out a trembling hand for Al, but He was so distant, it made no difference.
Something appeared in His eyes: old recognition. He murmured her name before shaking Himself and screaming it to the wind. Al felt it too, some ancient connection, driving deeper and harder into her chest like a stake made of ice. Her heart melted it upon contact, burning overpoweringly with the elation of no longer being on her own in this horrible, torturous prison.
She'd found Him.
Al sat at the window, quietly cartooning in the mist generated by her warm breath. The glacial chill radiated off the glass, causing her to pull her shirt closer around herself and shiver. The entire house was quiet and empty; with Mum at university, Dad going for beers at his friend's house, and Kelly and Katie scattered all over town at sleepover's and parties. Al had been left to fend for herself, which she would have normally loved, but [when given the opportunity of boredom and silence] her thoughts would gnaw into her sanity, making her want to weep like a defenceless child. And Flick still hadn't called her.
She dialled her number with anaesthetized thumb like she had thirteen times earlier that night. The phone rang and rang...and rang...repeating its message of loneliness and rejection into the silent house. Why did it remind her so much of a flat-line? Flick's chirpy voice flooded Al's ear, followed closely by a loud, piecing beep. Some friend you are... Al thought to herself, before saying in her specially-tuned phone voice, "Ahoyhoy, Flick! Look, I'm just wondering why you're not calling me! It's cool if something's come up...if you could just send me a te-" She fell still. Goosebumps rose on pale-ish skin. A premonition. Al slammed the phone shut and opened the door, scrutinizing the mundane, lacklustre neighbourhood. A dog barked, divorced parents rowed while their children screamed and the party a few doors up continued its rowdiness and drunken slurring. Nothing out of the ordinary. Relatively normal, in fact.
"It was normal before September 11, too, Alison..." warned the smaller part of her brain. But, as the usual, it was too hushed to be heard by her consciousness.
Her ears prickled. She glanced out the window just in time to see a pair of expensive-looking headlights beaming onto her melted bitumen road. The engine was so quiet that she wouldn't have noticed it had she not left the front door open. Her heartbeat quickened and the rest of her body watched on in melted confusion. Her finger traced the passenger window and the familiar silhouette behind it. The adrenaline ran amuck in her lower stomach, which was performing its own trapeze-artist routine on her intestines. She nearly punched the window through with the last mist-stroke to her window-skull and pushed the pane slightly ajar, to hear the conversation taking place outside. The tenseness in her body made her ears sensitive even to the brush of moth's wings on the lamp outside. Tuning it out, her pulse grew harder yet as she heard the disturbing exchange. Bright green eyes enlarged behind her black side-fringe.
Her apprehension gave way to terror: they had found her.
Lincoln turned to Frank, pulling out a knife from his jacket. It glinted ominously in the moonlight pouring through the curved and tinted window. He played it on the tip of his finger, testing its sharpness. When a tiny droplet of purplish blood forced itself from a nick in his skin, he grinned in satisfaction and wiped it on his shirt. Opening the car door, he got out with his normal majestic manner and crooked a finger for Frank to follow. Hesitating only slightly, the edgy boy followed. Finally, he would unearth this 'Alison', this girl who'd danced and twirled through his nightmares like a tantalisingly masqueraded artiste.
Presuming They lived after this.
They slowly opened the gauze door that protected the entrance and still Al sat there, glancing at them out of the corner of her eye, careful not to alert Lincoln. He could hear her heart beat in a slightly limping rhythm and make out her quickened breath, creating huge clouds of mist on the pane. Al flipped her head to remove a strand of hair from her captivating face, and looked at him with a fleeting, but focused, glance. It hit him like a note from a heavy, Asian gong. The first connection. The immediate understanding. Perfect. Clear. A sudden, stumbling grasp on the sheer cliff of comprehension. Ever so slowly, she titled her head in the direction of Lincoln.
"Beware." Al mouthed faintly, so that it looked like a sigh. Her heart went into overdrive, and it resounded firmly in his cranium. Thump-Thump, Thump-Thump, Thump-Thump! The empty silence between each beat was close to devastating for Frank, wondering whether the Thump would return. Harsh, quick pounding against her cavernous chest. Thump-Thump! Pumping her luscious blood around her limbs and torso, and to her lungs that were gulping in quick, shallow breaths. Thump-Thump! She was petrified; her clenched fists at her sides went white with pressure. Thump-ity-Thump-Thump!
Lincoln put his head to the door, jiggling around a few cords of twisted metal inside the lock. His face scrunched up in deliberation and then released into a quick, relieved grin. A tiny click echoed through the suddenly hushed street, sounding like a gunshot to Frank's edgy ears. Lincoln turned the knob and offered the first step to Frank, like a hangman leading his victim to the guillotine. Frank's thoughts twisted and whirled and screamed at him to run the opposite direction, but something stronger forced his leaden arms to gently nudge his enemy into the doorway. Lincoln shrugged. "You must not intervene." He ordered, taking advantage of Frank's inability to disobey orders. Lincoln's strong, firm arm pushed the piece of wood back so far that it dinted into the plaster, creating a small puff of dust. There was no scream. There was no shout. Not even the faintest gasp of surprise. From the entrance, Frank watched as Lincoln's expression changed from triumph to uncertainty. He stepped onto the carpet and the death-stink of the little girl poured into the entrance.
Al stumbled to her feet hastily for her morbid visitors, terror reflected in her green eyes. She must have heard Lincoln's order. Her knuckles grew an azure grey from gripping something slightly curved. It caught the light coming in from the window. The girl unveiled it from behind her back. A long, sharp-looking blade that, despite her youth, looked perfect and good and right in her hands. She wielded it smoothly, like a sniper who pushed his bullets through someone else's head. Her trembling lips parted and she spoke. "Lincoln." Her voice sounded strangely authoritative despite her fear, like it was shouted into a megaphone by some high-ranking army officer. Slowly, she turned her head to see Frank more, her necklace glinting slightly, casting a red glow of ruby death over the room. Lincoln inhaled, captivated by the jewel, The Blooded Heart [after so long!], and then raised his head to meet her eyes. Al swivelled her irises to the frightened, powerless boy in the corner. "Frank."
Frank let out a strangled cry as Lincoln crouched...and without warning, launched himself at Al, teeth bared and snarling like a monster. She stepped aside without really knowing what she was doing, sending him slamming deep into the plaster and smashing a family portrait from nine years ago. The glass before Alison's likeness's head was the first to shatter, covering them both with glittering shards. She pulled a particularly large knife of transparent pain out of her leg, leaving a yawning laceration in her already spoilt flesh. Lincoln hauled himself out of the wall and leaned back onto the lounge, grinning malevolently and panting. "Clever little fucker, aren't you?" he said, spitting out a few teeth and chunks of plaster.
Al's heart thumped with the thrill of the battle. She loosened herself, surrendered to the instincts that enveloped her body like some breathtaking drug. Her mind, protesting horribly, was pushed aside, while the adrenaline took over. She'd make him hurt. She'd make him bleed. She'd slay him and he'd scream for mercy with his final lungful of air. He'd die in pain and in hurt and in scared for what he did to Frank. Al raised her blade before her body like a challenge. Catch me if you can, Lincoln! Lincoln accepted and rose abruptly to thrust out his leg. Al spun; the element of surprise now lost on her, and raced her blade down. It bit into his leg, his rock-like white vampire flesh preventing it from going any deeper into his tissue. A trickle of blood oozed from the edge and onto her blade. Al heaved it out and looked at her weapon, now broken beyond restoration, and certainly useless. Her mind hauled itself into its rightful authority, scolding her for her foolishness. Lincoln chuckled. "Got no defence, little girl?" he grinned, revealing white, pointed teeth. "Let's see how lithe you are now!"
Al's eyes widened and she flung the blade at Lincoln; it clattered to the carpet, sitting there ineffectually. Now what was she going to do? He brought out his knife and slashed up, down, across, left and lifted it into the vulnerable skin under her chin. It all happened so quickly that it was like a blur of metallic punishment. Lincoln grabbed her arm, raising the short knife and pressed it to her chest. It carved it about a two centimetre gash down her white skin and red blood trickled out. He lowered his head and clamped his mouth hard over the cut. And gulped down her life-force. A burning sensation trickled through her body and a disease of grey spread over her skin. Her arms wouldn't obey her orders. Helplessness. Trapped in immobile agony. Frozen and paralysed by something she didn't understand. Al was going to die. This ache shot deep into her icy chest, reigniting the flame of panic and she shrieked. Lincoln raised a hand and covered her jaws. Al ordered her limbs to kick and hit and bite, but to no avail. She shot a pleading glimpse at Frank. But he was twisting around like a puppet that's master was in a tumble-dryer. His entire body was convulsing and jerking with the torture of battling with his orders.
Not Him, Not Him. Please not Him.
Another twist. A flip of His neck. A tiny twitch and a groan. He seized his head and yelled and screamed at the ammunition pumping through his veins; a mÃªlÃ©e between his will and his instructions. Like a priest of a church of death, his chloroform-soaked mind chanted incessantly...Save Her...Save Her...Save...Her... Save.../Pain and bleed and pain and hurt...and pain and screech and gasp and die./ He pictured Al's bleeding corpse in the place of the girl's, stretched out like a slab of meat, beautiful eyes wide and vacant. He imagined it was Al, who was deep in the ground, slowly rotting away. It was Al...who was dead. He couldn't let that happen. His eyes shot open, and, as soon as the image burst onto his retinas, he snatched Al's weapon from the ground.
Anger spread like perfect wildfire, flicker soft, through his pulse and into his hands. Ah, yes. Perfect and fresh and bloodthirsty. Ready to tear and break and exterminate. He couldn't hurt Lincoln with this, but if he distracted him...Frank twirled the chunk of metal around his fist and heaved it at the feasting parasite. It hit his alabaster skin with a soft chink and rebounded off without doing any damage. Lincoln stopped immediately and pulled his head out of Al's flesh. Al winced as he dropped her to the floor. Lincoln looked confused. "Frankie Boy? What are you doing?" Frank scowled at his master darkly. "I'm not going to let you just kill Her."
Lincoln opened his mouth to speak, but Frank never found out what he was going to say. At that exact moment, with some unknown, immeasurable strength that came from Frank's jeopardy, Al brought down her fist on Lincoln's skull with a blow that make a sickening crunch. And knocked him out cold. He crumpled onto the carpet, twitching feebly. Al looked at Frank over Lincoln's body. Frank reached out a hand and touched her face, expecting her to evaporate like a daydream. She didn't, but ran an arctic, perpetually un-dead fingertip [that was most certainly warm and alive a few minutes ago] delicately down his wrist, examining the beautiful marble-like artwork of his veins. They crisscrossed and twirled like an eternal river. She lifted it to her nose and inhaled the scent that it radiated. A smile curved up the ends of her lips, which had turned a pale pink with the absence of her steady pulse.
"I found you." Al breathed into his palm.
And her breath fogged, unnaturally cold and inhuman...vampiric, even...onto Frank's flesh.