Remembered Kisses: Chapter 22: Vampires and Zombies
The Day Is Done was quiet that night, and Marcus and Sam ate without incident. As they left and started to head down toward the warehouse district, towards Marcus’s apartment, the fog grew thick again until visibility was restricted to no more than ten feet. The hair on the back of Sam’s neck started to rise, and a chill ran down his spine that had nothing to do with the rapidly falling temperature. “Trouble,” he said.
“We’re walking the streets of New Tamsbridge on a foggy night,” Marcus answered. “Big surprise. Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Sam said, slowly. “Absolutely. Not spiders, though.” He scanned the area. “The feeling is all wrong. It’s familiar. I think…”
A figure sprinted out of the fog toward them. “Sam!” Sofia shouted. “Watch out!”
Shambling shapes staggered out of the fog behind her, shambling shapes, moving far faster than should be possible for their heaving, uneven gait. As the putrid stench of rot rolled over him, Sam he knew what he was facing.
“Zombies,” he muttered. “Again.” He stepped wide to let Sofia pass, noting she was already covered in gore. He reached out to the otherworld night, beyond the fog, finding the moon, and he pulled just like he had done last time he had faced the shambling dead. Pale silvery light suffused the area, focusing around his outstretched hand, and as the lurching figures drew closer he released it in a focused blast that crashed into the one them with the force of a fire-hose and knocked it sprawling backwards. There were more coming behind it, another two or three at least, but Marcus was already stepping up. His wand was out, and flames were dancing along it, and he swished and flicked and the fire came out in a spiraling whip that wrapped around another zombie and engulfed it in blue and orange and red with an intense heat that Sam could feel from where he stood. The spell is more than I would have expected from him, but he’s at his limit. That much backwash means he barely has it under control.
Sam geared up for another spell, but the zombies were already upon them. He barely dodged out of the way of clutching hands. The zombie that missed him wheeled around him, mouth opening in a soundless scream as it bared rotting teeth, but a pair of fine-fingered hands with sparkly blue nails wrapped around its face from behind and hurled it to the street. Sam spun towards another, just in time for jagged fingertips to rake across his face. Blood welled up as pain seared through him, but he caught a hold of the zombie’s throat as it bore him to the ground, reached for the light still at the edge of his grasp, and he channeled the purity of otherworldly moon-glow directly into rotting flesh. The zombie’s whole frame shuddered with power and exploded into a rain of gore and bone.
Marcus’s fire-lash struck again, catching the last zombie as it tried to charge in, and as the smell of burning flesh joined the stench of rot on the shadowed streets the fight was over. The only sound other than the cackling of small embers on zombie corpses was the sound of Sofia punching her fallen opponent over and over again, heavy fists smacking into wet broken flesh. Like hitting a slab of meat, bones breaking with each blow.
“Sofia,” Sam said, pushing back up to his feet and limping over to her. “Leave it. It’s already dead. Um. Re-dead. It’s re-dead, stop it.”
She stopped and looked up at him and he stopped in his tracks. Her usual piercing blue-eyes were blood red and her face was warped into an inhuman snarl. Her fingernails were covered in rotten gore. She blinked, recognizing him, and the look fell away. “Sam,” she said. “You’re all right. I was afraid.”
“Were you?” He asked, still a little shaken. “That wasn’t… where I thought your mind was.”
She looked away. “Ah. The war face. You saw it.”
“You didn’t look like that with the hell hounds,” he replied. “Are you okay?”
“The hell hounds barely a threat,” she said. “I’ve been fighting these things almost all night. They nearly overwhelmed me.”
“Where did you run into them?”
“Near the arsenal. I was checking it out for Quintus. It’s gotten so much worse. There’s frost forming under the door.” She looked. “Oh. Hey Sam?”
“Yeah?” He asked, fighting off a sudden wave of pain. His back hurt from where he had crashed into the pavement. His leg wound was killing him. And his head was throbbing too, post-spell, though not as much as he would have expected.
“There’s a mage next to you aiming a fiery wand at my face. Help?”
Sam turned. Marcus was a half-step behind him, his dark eyes burning with rage as flames played up and down the long ash wand he held leveled at her.
“Vampire,” he hissed.
“Marcus!” Sam snapped. “Stand down! This is Sofia! She’s a friend!”
Marcus’s gaze swiveled toward Sam and Sam almost didn’t recognize him. The mask of hate contorted over his features bore a haunting resemblance to the snarl Sofia had worn just moments ago. The reflected flames of his wand danced in his eyes and his coffee-brown skin shone in the firelight. “Friend? Sam, you can’t be serious.” He looked back at her. “Sofia. Sam I’ve warned you not to trust her. Look at her with your third eye. You can see the serpent hiding underneath her skin plain as daylight.”
“No,” Sam said. “I don’t need to. I know who she is and I know she is and I know that she’s my friend. Now put the wand down.”
Their eyes locked. Their gazes battled. Marcus sighed and looked away, lowering his wand. “I don’t like it,” he said. “But I’ll trust you, Sam. For now. Just don’t be stupid.” He looked at Sofia. “I’ve got my eye on you,” he said. “Betray Sam and there’s no place you’ll be able to hide.”
She said nothing.
Marcus looked at Sam. “I’m going to finish the walk home. I should be good for the rest of it.” He frowned. “Get home safely, professor. And I’ll see you for the thing we’re doing in a few nights.”
“I’ll be in touch,” Sam said, his voice still wary, and watched his apprentice walk into the foggy night.