Mikey and Kat get put on the menu.
“It’s cold.” I shiver into my wire.
“Well just think,” Bob replies into my ear piece, “soon you’ll be tucked up nice and warm in a metal bed.”
“Thanks, that’s so comforting.” I reply sarcastically. “Any news from Mikey?”
“No. He’s been quiet since he got set up. Unlike you.”
“Well sorry, it’s cold and I’m lonely.” I complain. It was also extremely uncomfortable trying to sleep in a shop doorway wrapped up in a mixture of sleeping bag and cardboard boxes. I’d only been here for 3 hours and I’d already gotten cramp 7 times.
“Remember to dispose of this when Ray comes to get you and put the smaller one in.”
“Yes Bob.” I smile. He’s said that 5 times already. Damn life on the streets is repetitive. “Oh my God.” I whisper suddenly.
“I think I just saw Gerard walk past.”
“Yeah but I mean I’m not sure… he was walking pretty fast.”
“Did he see you?”
“No… but what would it matter if he did?”
“He may recognise you.”
“I highly doubt it. What am I to him?”
“Your right, probably nothing. Let’s play eye spy.”
“Bob,” I laugh, “it wouldn’t work, I can’t see what’s around you.”
“I’m just trying to keep your mind occupied.”
“Well thanks but I don’t think eye spy is going to improve my physical performance in the field”
“No but you would be able to name numerous objects that are lying around me right now.”
I laugh then take a sharp in take of breath. My head had been hurting a lot lately. Stress I guess. “Kat? Kat are you Ok?”
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine. Just cramp again.” I don’t know why I’m keeping it from Bob that my heads been hurting. I suppose it’s because I’m scared he’ll take me off the mission if he finds out. As sensible as that may be I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t go in on this one.
“I’m going to go for a bit now Bob. Let me know if anything goes down?”
“Sure will. Good night.”
“Yeah. Night.” I reply and shut my eyes against the bright glow of streets lamps, hoping that I’ll be able to get at least a couple of hours sleep before morning.
“Kat? Kat can you hear me?”
“Ummpht what is it?” I ask, waking up slowly from the first proper sleep I’d managed to fall into in the last 4 days.
“Mikey’s been collected. They’re on the way to the warehouse now. It’s going to be about 3 days until you’re picked up. You Ok with that?”
“Sure. I’ve got to be.” I point out.
“I know that it can’t be very enjoyable…”
“But it’s worth it.” I interrupt. “When we stake them. When we rescue all those girls and runaways, it’ll all be worth it.”
“Couldn’t have said it better myself.” Bob agrees from my head set.
“Good. Now go away, a hero needs sleep.”
“Wake up sleeping beauty.” I snap awake suddenly. The orange street lights illuminate Ray’s figure fully as he bends over me, pulling me to my feet.
“What time is it?”
“2 am, we’re late. Hurry up.”
“What have you been doing?”
“Trying to get myself that job.” He grins at me.
“How did it go?” I ask, although by his crazed smile I can already guess what the outcome was.
“I got in.”
“Great, so you know what you have to do when you’re in there?”
“Yes. Bob has repeated the instructions more times than I’ve drank blood.”
“Oh, nice.” I cringe. I’d struck up a mutual friendship with Ray. He was loyal and honest and hard working. He was also risking his life and his family’s honour for us and our cause, something that I appreciate. I just keep forgetting he’s one of them.
“We’re getting close. Make sure you take out that ear piece and put the smaller stuff in. I don’t want to get found out straight away. They’d kill me and serve me as a starter.”
“It’s fine Ray. I know how to do my job. Did you give Mikey this kind of hassle?”
“No but well...” He trails off, blushing as much as a vampire can and looks away.
“He’s a guy so you can trust him to do the job well?”
“Yes. Look just remember I’m over a hundred years old. It’s hard to keep up with your times and get the old beliefs out of my head. I’m trying. I know that you’re amazing at what you do. I just forget sometimes.”
“I know. Don’t worry. You’re doing a great job too. Bob was talking about hiring you on.”
“Oh, I don’t know if I could do that…” He says, suddenly sounding panic stricken.
“When this goes down you can talk to Bob about it. No ones expecting you to make such a life changing choice now.”
“Oh right good.”
“Of course there would be a lot in it for you. You’d have our protection and you’d get to bring down all the twats who wronged you.”
“Now that is a pleasant thought.” He smiles.
We turn into a darkened alley way and continue walking side by side until we’re nearly at the mouth of it. In the distance I can see the illuminated shape of the warehouse. We stop. I take a deep intake of breath and try to appreciate the last few moments of freedom. “I should probably tie you up now.”
“Yeah. Good idea.” I agree and hold my arms out to him. He wraps a thick rope tightly around the wrists then hesitates. “Go on. Knock me out.” I prompt him.
“I don’t want to.” He sighs and looks down at the dirty floor.
“You have to. Come on Ray you can do this. Make it up to me by saving my life later.”
“Are you sure?”
“I forgive you.” I reply as he brings something heavy down on my left temple. I vaguely feel him pick me up before the outside world disappears from around me and everything goes black.
“Urgh. Mikey?” I ask. Trying to clear my buzzing head. If I thought the headaches before had been bad I’d been wrong. This was a hundred times worse. It was as though a thousand tiny men wielding chisels had been injected up my nose and were now trying to escape through my skull.
“Are you Ok?” Mikey’s familiar voice asks me from what I think is my left.
“Yeah. He doesn’t mess around does he?”
“No. I know why he apologised in advance now.” I scowl and try to open my eyes. Thankfully the lights are out and the only light seeping into the room is through the now fixed window. Other than the window being mended the room is exactly as it had been the last time we’d been here. The only other difference being that the beds are now full of drugged up people. Some are sat up on the beds looking around them in a daze. Others are lying down staring blankly at the ceiling. Most around me are passed out cold.
I sit myself up slowly and face Mikey who’s also sat up in his bed. His shackles, unlike everyone elses, are lying vacant at his sides. “I don’t suppose you feel like being a gentleman and coming over here to find my pick?” I ask.
“Sure. As it took me nearly two whole days to get mine by myself.” He agrees and I smile. He was obviously glad of the company and this had made him mellow out a bit towards me.
“Cheers.” I thank him as he removes my faithful wire from were I’d hidden it in the hem of my shirt and helps me to remove the shackles. “Ray got in.” I inform him as he settles back down on his bed and we sit facing each other.
“Thank God for that! I’m starving. I was starting to think my transmitter wasn’t working and Bob hadn’t been able to get the message to me.”
“What’s the reception like down here?” I ask. The problem with the smaller sets was that the reception wasn’t as good and the sound quality was basically shit, especially when you’re shut up under ground. But they were our only link to the outside and I was thankful of them.
“Not too great but I’m sure there’s been worse.”
“You spotted any strong ones?” I ask looking around once more at the sea of beds. Hopeful that he will have scoped them out for potential fighters in case we need help.
“Yes. There’s a well built guy over there sat up on the bed. He came around two hours after Ray bought him in here and the drugs don’t seem to be affecting him that much.” I nod. That was helpful. He was strong, able to leap back to fitness quickly, and if the drugs they were using were failing on him then he won’t be sluggish. “Then there’s that athletic looking guy over there, same sort of story but he’s only been eating one in every three meals, that’s why he’s been unaffected. Then there’s that group of 3 over there, the fact they were bought in together has helped pull them through and then there’s a girl over there. She reminds me of you.”
He smiles hesitantly at me. “Sounds good.” I smile back and go to get off the bed.
“Whoa where are you going?” He asks me. “I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure it’s not the day of the blood fest yet.”
“You’re right, it’s not for another week, but we need to train these ones up if we’re going to get everyone out of here alive.”
I walk over to the group of three men. They all look to be around 20. They were all obviously homeless until Ray bought them here. As I approach they throw quizzical looks first at me, then at each other. I obviously wasn’t one of the vampires, but I wasn’t like them either.
“Hi I’m Kat.” I introduce myself and sit on the middle bed.
“Erm, hi.” One of them answers.
“Do you have names?”
“Tom.” The one in the middle answers, “Rick,” He motions to the boy on his right, “and Pete.”
“Hey. Now me and my friend Mikey over there are going to try and get everyone out but we might need your help. Are you up for that?” As I thought they would they just look scared, petrified in fact. “I can explain what’s going on here but I need to know I can count on you, if not you’re better off not knowing.”
I catch Mikey’s eye and motion for him to come over to us. He rises and walks over slowly and stands behind me. “This is Rick, Tom and Pete. I think they may help us but they haven’t made up their minds yet. Why don’t you show them what you can do, what we might be able to teach them if they’re willing?” I ask all of this without looking in his direction once. Instead I keep my eyes focussed on the three boys.
Mikey walks a little distance away from us and looks me in the eye. Then he lowers himself down into a crouch and places his hand on his utility belt. Without any prior warning he jumps up into the air and does a backwards somersault, landing soundlessly at the head of a nearby bed, his wooden dagger at the unconscious occupiers throat.
“Wow.” Is all I hear. I smile to myself. That was easier than I thought it would be.
“So you in?” Mikey asks as he walks back over to us, obviously pleased at having amazed the three men like that.
“Yeah. We’re in.” Pete breaths out, still awestruck.
“Ok then, this is what we need you to do….”
In the next few days we enrol many others in a similar way until there is a group of about 20 ordinary humans ready to battle an unknown enemy just because they want to be able to do a backwards somersault.
Ray comes into the room every night bringing new hostages with him. He always smiles guiltily at us as he passes. Sometimes pausing to make sure we’re Ok and that everything is going well. Sometimes bringing us extra food or water. One night we stopped him and handed him a map of the bed layout. Some of the beds were marked with small crosses. These were the people he wasn’t allowed to drug. They were our army. One of the only tools we had.
We thought we had done well. We thought there was no way we couldn’t win with the recruits making such progress already, with such a small amount of time and resources to work with.
We didn’t plan on things going wrong from word go.