*The Watcher in the Darkness Series and all characters contained therein are the sole copyright of K.M. Spires. All rights reserved.*
The Watcher in the Darkness series contains adult situations, graphic violence, and lots and lots of bad language. Rated M for Mature, seriously.
Song’s room smelled of rubbing alcohol, which meant she’d recently bathed. Even her tank top was clean, which was a nice switch from the usual. Styrofoam cups stained with cold blood overflowed the trash can in the corner.
Good. Maybe she’d be reasonable, for a change. I took a deep breath then crouched down next to her.
Song’s brow wrinkled in her sleep as I traced the bridge of her nose with my claw. I leaned so close, my lips brushed her ear as I said, “Hey. Mean Bitch. Wake up.”
Song groaned. “What time is it?” she said without opening her eyes.
I checked her beside clock. “It’s a quarter till one. Keep your voice down. I need to ask you some stuff.”
Song peeked through her thick lashes, then her eyes opened fully as her face hardened. An instant later, a rock hard fist cracked against my cheek. It felt as though my jaw unhinged and my right eye turned to mush. Flat on my back, a light, lean weight straddled my torso as a sharp point gouged into the underside of my chin.
“How did you get in here, you psycho fuck-nut?” When Song was feeling lethal, traces of a Norwegian accent peeked through in her voice. I was glad she’d been starving herself; I don’t think I could’ve taken her if she was at full strength.
“Holy shit.” I was amazed that a woman with only one arm and half a leg could get the drop on me so easily.
“Father Cooper told me what you were going to do to us. As a matter of fact, why am I even talking to—”
I caught her wrist before she could jam the knife into my brain. “Jesus Christ, will you calm down?”
Song’s teeth were bared and her expression was fierce like a panther, but I managed to pry the knife from her grasp. I clapped my hand over her mouth as she took a breath to scream. Maimed though she was, it was like trying to wrestle a greased sea lion.
“Song, goddamn it, I’m not going to hurt you.”
Song’s eyes narrowed as she huffed a sarcastic grunt against the palm of my hand.
“Think about it, thundercunt. If I wanted you dead, I could’ve killed you a dozen times while you were sleeping. Cold blood is making you useless.”
“So, what do you want?” she said, her words muffled but understandable.
“You were a Watcher,” I said. My voice was low and everyone else in the Sanctuary was asleep, but Song stiffened as her eyes darted around. This wasn’t information she wanted made public. “You spent your life hunting vampires, werewolves, demons, shit like that, right?” My right pinky and ring claw popped off as though they were cheap press-on nails. Mentally, I cursed Gwen. “Look, what can you tell me about hunting revenants?”
Song took a sharp breath through her nose as she gave me a long, unblinking stare. I carefully removed my hand from her mouth and she made no effort to scream. “What are you saying to me?” she said.
Judging by her reaction, shit just got incredibly real. “Have you ever had to hunt a revenant?” I said as I placed her back in her bed.
Song immediately pulled the sheet around her waist, covering what was left of her legs. “No. I don’t know of any Watcher that has.” She shook her head in wonder. “The glory would’ve been unimaginable. So, that day, when you and the priest were talking about revenants, there’s an actual, real-life revenant in this city? Are you sure it’s not some other form of undead?”
She was a little too eager. It was creepy. “I’m positive.”
What remained of her body shuddered. “Then humans are getting sick.”
I couldn’t quite make eye contact as I nodded.
Song’s face collapsed in misery as she clutched the stump of her right arm. Self-loathing rolled off of her in waves. “Odin,” she said in a wretched voice.
I snapped my fingers in her face. “Stay with me. I need you to focus. You and your Viking buddies dedicated your life to wiping out the undead.”
Song made a face, as though I had offended her. “We were the protectors of humanity,” she said.
“Whatever. My point is that in order to hunt something, you have to study it. Their habits, their strengths and weaknesses, that sort of thing. Correct me if I’m wrong.” She didn’t correct me. “So, what do I need to know in order to hunt a revenant?”
Song’s lips pursed as she thought this over. When she didn’t have her war face on, she was almost approachable. “Like I said, I don’t know of any Watcher in the history of the order that actually fought one.” She pushed the heavy hair out of her face. “Ask me anything about killing a vampire, and I can tell you. What we know about revenants comes to us through folklore, because until now, that’s all we thought they were. Let’s see…
“Father said that a revenant is sort of a cross between a ghoul and a vampire, with a splash of magic-user thrown in just for the hell of it. Normally, they were powerful witches or warlocks in life that were betrayed, to the point that they refuse the comfort of the grave until they know the satisfaction of revenge. Or, they were heroes in life that were reanimated through black magic to do the bidding of an evil mage.”
Justine fit both those criteria, thanks to me. “So, if they get revenge against the person that killed them, will that stop them? Give them their final rest, or whatever?”
“Dude, I have no idea. Everything I know about reanimation is how to destroy it. So…maybe?”
I was only half-listening. I remembered what Justine said to me through Karen that night in the hospital. Justine could not rest, not while I was still part of this world. I didn’t want to die—wow, really?—but it could be the only way to end Justine’s suffering and save the city. “Can you tell me anything else?”
Song scratched her head then shrugged. “I think I remember hearing that they’re supposed to be extra vulnerable during the day, but you’d have to know where their final resting place is.”
I massaged my brow, but the piles of bodies in my memory refused to budge. “I have a few ideas where to start looking. Anything else?”
“Just that they’re super strong and lightning quick. I think I remember something about them not liking fire, even the sound of crackling flames. I thought it was weird at the time, so that’s why I remember it. That’s not really anything unusual, though, most undead don’t like fire.” She rubbed her dry fingertips together with a frown. “Anyway, if it were me, I’d try to catch it in its final resting place at high noon then purify it with fire.” She shrugged again in apology.
Despite everything, the idea sickened me. “What if…what would you Watchers do if you didn’t want to kill whatever it was you were hunting? What if you just wanted to subdue it, or whatever? You know, stop it without killing it?”
Song looked at me as though I’d suddenly started speaking Khoisan. “That’s literally never happened. If the Watchers became involved in a situation, it was because the creature was already a proven threat to the humans in the area. Watchers don’t have prisons or holding cells.” I bowed my head, and her tone became almost sympathetic. “Look, Toby…I get it. I do. I’ve seen people, good people, get turned. People I knew. People I liked, reanimated as ghouls or vampires, infected with lycanthropy, or twisted so badly by possession that they couldn’t survive. When stuff like that happens, there’s only one thing you can do to save them. There are far worse things in life than death.”
I didn’t look at her has I stood. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Song reached out to grab my pant leg. “Hey, what you said earlier about my body healing itself? Were you serious or were you just fucking with me?”
I nodded, every muscle in my body tense. “I was serious.”
“I don’t know the fucking science behind it. I just know that it will.”
My tone made it clear that I was way past ready to get the hell away from her, but she didn’t care. “How long will it take? How long do I have to stay like this?”
“That’s up to you. The longer as you think you’re too good to feed like a normal vampire, the longer you’re going to have to live without most of your body. Cold blood will keep you alive, nothing else.”
Song’s face soured as she looked away.
“Look, I know you’re scared—”
Her eyes flashed with fury. “I’m not afraid of anything.”
“Bullshit. Every newborn vampire goes through what you’re going through right now, but not every vampire gets swept up in bloodlust. Not every human becomes an alcoholic. It’s all about self-control.”
“I have no money and I can’t hunt. How am I supposed to feed?”
Song raised a valid point but compassion isn’t exactly my strong suit. “Cry me a river. I figured it out when I was five years old, and so can you.”
“Well, thank you ever so much. Dick. So, is there a certain blood type that will help with the healing process?”
“No, but if you’re in that big a hurry, then you need to focus on bone marrow. Crack open some femurs and suck out as much as you can.”
Song’s nose wrinkled. “That’s disgusting.”
“Fucking liar. It’s delicious, and it sounds good to you, too. Don’t deny it.”
“I can’t do that to someone. I’ve lost both of my legs, I can’t take anyone else’s.”
“Fine. Then target children. The younger the better.”
Song hissed but I noticed her fangs extend; from hunger or aggravation, I couldn’t tell. “Vampires are despicable. They deserve to be hunted like the monsters they are.”
“We are,” I corrected her, and it felt good.
“When the Watchers rise again—”
“Save it, Miss Priss. Before you get all high-and-mighty, I promise, you’re not going to have a problem finding people that deserve to be your victims.”
I left her with that, stepping out into the hall then closing the door behind me. I did a double-take when I saw Michael standing next to Song’s neighbor’s door. He leaned against the wall, his hands in his pockets, as he watched me with a deadpan expression on his face.
I raised my hands in surrender. “The wards let me through,” I blurted. Wow. Really? I didn’t say I was sorry? I didn’t try to explain? Maybe one of the times my grandfather tried to drown me as a baby left me with permanent brain damage. It sure would explain a lot.
Thank God Michael was used to me. He turned to walk away as he said, “Karen called while you were gone. She told me everything. Come on, all of your stuff is in my office.”