Snow Blood: Episode 2 ~ Discovery
“My God, it’s a devil hound!”
The intruders in the wine cellar turned to run, but I sprang. A claw to the hamstring of the smaller man knocked him down. I almost felt guilty to knock down what would be considered the “runt of the litter” in dog terms.
The alpha of the two-man pack turned to defend his littermate. Shielding the smaller one, he reached for a long wooden stake, swung it with all his might, and slammed the blunt end against my back. Flipping it in his hand, he then stabbed at me with the sharp end repeatedly. Slow human. I simply outran the weapon, then leaped over him.
I came to a skidding stop on the cold concrete floor of the wine storage room, crouched again and growled.
The fallen man cried out, “Jake, look at its eyes. It’s a demon! Run!” Hurriedly, he lunged up the steps, taking three at a time in his frantic haste to escape.
The bigger man approached, again stabbing at me unsuccessfully with the sharp end of the stake. Next, he grabbed a bottle of wine from one of the overhead racks and swung it in my general direction. He must have thought he was the brains of the operation! No matter, I managed to duck each of his feeble efforts to injure me with his makeshift weapon.
I could hear his heart pumping blood through his body. Human blood. I suddenly wanted his blood above all else. The desire to kill him for it consumed me. The beast inside took control. I backed up, almost an inch away from a wall full of bottled wine, to draw him closer, and then I leaped onto his chest and took him down to the floor. He dropped the sharp stake, and the wine bottle shattered on the hard floor. He screamed as my teeth sank into his throat releasing the sweet nectar of the gods into my mouth. It ignited a fire within me and sent me into a frenzy to drain every drop of it. My victim’s screams echoed throughout the cellar. His efforts to beat me with his hands atop my head had little effect. I sank my fangs deeper into his throat, sucking at his throbbing artery until Brogio’s voice slammed into my brain.
“Snow Blood, no! Let him go!”
I could feel his will pulling at me. The more nectar I gulped down, the more painful the pull. The pain stripped my will, and I obeyed. I released my prey. The blood running down his neck teased me cruelly.
Brogio snatched the bleeding man, gripping his bloody throat and hanging him high in the air with one hand. The witless victim kicked to be free. Brogio dropped him to the concrete floor. “Who sent you here? Tell me now!” Brogio loomed over the cowering thief like a vulture ready to rip apart its prey.
The man began to speak. “It … it was …” His shrill scream engulfed the air. Foam bubbled from his mouth. His body twisted and contorted into great spasms, then silence.
“What the...” Brogio bent over the man. “He’s dead. How can that be? You didn’t drain him.”
I circled the dead man, sniffing. He smelled of death like the animals I had discovered in the forest during my nightly patrol at home. Their remains were the leavings of the predators who had preyed upon them. I wanted to finish devouring his blood, but the smell of him repulsed me. At the same time, guilt spread over me like a heavy blanket. I had never killer another before. I hadn’t meant to kill him. I was only trying to protect Brogio. Something within me overpowered my ability to reason. I whined and walked to a corner and sat down. My body changed, until, without trying, I felt normal again.
“Damn it,” Brogio clenched his fists.
He was here to stake you. He wanted to rob you of your wine and kill you as you slept.
“Yes, I figured as much. So my stalker hasn’t given up.” He sat down next to me and leaned back against a wooden column. “How did you intercept him so quickly?”
Still etched with guilt, I stretched out beside him. The euphoria of feeding on human blood spread through me, washing away my guilt. The way they talked, someone sent them for you. One got away. He ran up the stairs and fled.
“Another accompanied him?” Brogio leapt to his feet, then vanished before my eyes, his racing footsteps sounding against the steps of the cellar.
Repulsed by the reek of death, and eager to help catch the other intruder, I sprinted up the cellar stairs and out the door, across the front lawn.
When I finally caught up to Brogio’s scent at the opening of the forest, he had already split the man’s neck open with his razor fangs and helped himself to dinner. I slunk behind him as he carried the half-dead thief back to the wine cellar. I followed him down the stairs as he dragged the man to the corner of the room, then threw him down on the cold concrete floor next to the lifeless, shriveled hulk of his accomplice.
What happened? I asked in my mind.
“He didn’t know who hired them.” Brogio pointed to my victim. “Yellow shirt had the contact and got hired. He brought the smaller one along to help him.”
I watched the slowing pulse of Brogio’s victim, could feel myself changing into the demon who had attacked the intruders.
“Yes, I know. You are still hungry for blood. I fed off him but left you enough to quench your thirst.” Brogio pointed to the open wound on the man’s neck.
Sheer terror engulfed the runt’s eyes as I morphed into the raging beast. I fell on him and sank my fangs into the soft, wet flesh of his vulnerable neck. Blood! I drew deeply. He pounded me with his fists to no avail. As my jaws locked, he screamed like a demented soul, foam dripping from his mouth, shudders racking his body. He began to convulse. I reluctantly backed away, and Brogio and I both watched him try to rise and then collapse in the corner.
Brogio walked back to our victim, lifted his wrist, and felt his pulse, then turned to me with eyebrows raised. “He’s dead. That’s the second one in a row that you haven’t drained that died. How peculiar.”
I transformed back into my normal body then cocked my head at him. I only bit him and drank a little of his blood. Same as the other.
“And yet they both died instantly.” He sat down next to a wine cask and withdrew into thought.
I stretched out on the cool concrete floor and yielded to the euphoria. My victims’ blood surged through every part of me. How could so little blood have such a profound effect on me?
Brogio invaded my thoughts. “It’s almost as if they had rabies. I’ve seen humans die with rabies before...very similar.” He stood, walked over to me and knelt. “Bizarre. That must be one of your detriments.” He stood and mumbled something about getting rid of the bodies. “Go to the house and wait.”
I sat in the den next to the fireplace and wished I could feel its warmth. I couldn’t get the other ghostly voice out of my head. The one that earlier encouraged me to run through the sunlight. It felt like oil sliding on water, soft but everywhere. The words sent shivers through me. Repay the favor? I hadn’t asked for anything. So why did I owe for it?
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