July 23, 2010

Artwork by Denver Robbins

Nothing put Anna in a bad mood quite like the premeditation of murder. Especially given her want of suitable weaponry.

Then again, straightforward, bare fisted brutality did carry with it a certain sense of conviction in regard to one's perspective on a situation.

If it were her, she would wait until everyone fell asleep, slit their throats, then set the entire place a ablaze. Unfortunately, if she were going to get ahead of the game, she would have to strike before the ideal time. It was a risky proposition to kill five people on the sly and hope that her offering would bide her enough time to explain herself.

She kept a folding knife in her knapsack. It wasn't as sharp as she would have liked it to be, but it would do the job.

Kevin would be the easiest to kill, as he wouldn't be surprised to see her in his tent, nor would anyone else. As soon as it started to get dark, she would sneak over there.

She'd take Thomas right after Kevin, who would undoubtedly have his pillow pressed firmly over his head so as not to hear her and Kevin.

By the looks of Johan in the tent earlier, he was planning on drinking himself to sleep. He was her most flexible target. Anytime after he went to bed would be convenient.

Dr. Greenbaum was likely to be celebrating their find by pleasuring herself, followed by a lengthy write in her journal. She never allowed anyone in her tent, but perhaps if Anna cried, or used the excuse of needing a feminine napkin she might be able to gain enough access into Greenbaum's tent to take her out and not raise too much suspicion.

Houser was going to be the problematic one as he was almost certainly hiding the amulet at that very moment, and he would be expecting the possibility of thievery, and might be armed. If it were a gun it, it might be worth it to take him out first. Then again, guns weren't exactly quiet and while four running targets weren't exactly insurmountable, it didn't give her the best odds.

"Anna?" Kevin said softly, from the doorway of her tent.

Anna sighed. He came to her instead. She really didn't want to kill Kevin, or anyone else for that matter. Gus's death had soured her taste for it. But there he was and so he would be first. "Come in," Anna said as she reached for her knapsack.

"I've made a mistake," Kevin said as he sat down on the small wood crate across from her cot. "But I think we can help each other."

Anna's knapsack sat in her lap. She had one hand inside it, gripped firmly around her knife. "What are you talking about?"

"I saw the look on your face when you left that tent." Kevin shook his head. "I had you all wrong. You care. I don't know why you care. But I think it's safe to assume that since you're still here, and you've got a knife in your hand that you're hiding in your knapsack, means you want to set things right."

Anna brought her knife out and clicked it open, as she tossed the knapsack aside. "Explain yourself."

Kevin kept his cool. "You wear the token of a known enemy." Kevin motioned to her necklace. "Your presence here is known. My mistress sent me to keep an eye on you. These lands belonged to her family once."

"And mine." Anna said.

"Then I'm sure my mistress will be happy to meet you." Kevin said. "Anna, I haven't told my mistress what you are yet, but I know."

"Do you?"

"I'm too much for most women," Kevin shrugged. "But not her, and not you. I've also been healing about a hundred times faster than normal."

"Fucking spies." Anna took off her necklace and held it in her hand. "If this is the token of a known enemy, then your mistress must live outside the dominion of Argus."

"We do not say his name." Kevin said.

"Fair enough, but if your mistress truly lives outside his laws, then why are you still mortal?"

"We have to earn it," Kevin said.

"Alright," Anna nodded then put her locket in her knapsack. "Then lets earn it."

Greenbaum went off without a hitch. Anna snapped her neck from behind, lowered her onto her cot, thanked her for the box of tampons and left.

Kevin was tasked with taking out either Johan or Thomas but when Anna left Greebaum's tent, Kevin and Thomas were standing near the fire watching Johan stagger around while he slurred tales of the undead.

Kevin shrugged then shook his head at Anna, looking shamefaced. Anna offered him a consoling smile, and shook her head back at him.

"Vampires!" Johan shouted. "The walking dead!"

"You're going to wake the dead if you don't keep it down." Anna said coming up from behind him. "Kevin why don't you help Johan to bed before he trips and falls into the fire. I've heard vampires prefer their meat raw."

Johan spun to look at her, his face troubled and shocked and then he burst into a fit of laughter.

Kevin looked nervous, but came around the fire to assist Johan anyway.

"You're not going to throw up are you Johan?" Anna asked.

Johan responded with a belched, "maybe."

"You didn't eat the spaghetti did you?" she asked.

Johan laughed again then became very serious. "You can't fool me," he whispered loudly to her. "I know that face," he pointed at Kevin. "I know what you two are up to." He held up three fingers and waggled them at her. "One plus one plus fun equals three!" He snickered.

"He'll be fine," she said to Kevin. "Just... help him to bed," she said trying to sound reassuring.

Kevin nodded, looking no less relieved, he wrapped his arm around Johan and steered him toward his tent.

"I don't think I've ever seen him so drunk." Thomas said.

"I think his stories get better the more he drinks." Anna said coming to stand near Thomas.

Thomas nodded.

"Can I ask you a question about that girl Melissa who looks just like me?" Anna asked.

Thomas shrugged. "Yeah."

"Did she seem happy?"

"Yeah. Why?" Thomas turned toward her but took a step away from her as he asked.

Anna sighed. "It's been such a long time since I've seen her. Not since I killed her boyfriend."

Thomas stared at her, his eyes growing ever wider, and then, "Ha Ha," he said scowling at her. "Very funny."

"I wasn't kidding." Anna flashed her reflective eyes at him.

Thomas gasped and punched her hard across the jaw.

She hadn't expected that reaction. "And now you run," she moaned, clutching her jaw.

She sprinted after him, once safely in the shadows, she leapt on his back pulled his head back and slit his throat in one broad sweep. He fell forward onto the ground dead and bloody. She reared back and caught the ground with her feet. She let go of his head, and wiped the blood off her hand and knife using the back of his shirt.

Kevin was standing next to Johan's tent when she returned. "He's out cold." Kevin said of Johan.

"Good." Anna said, rubbing her jaw. "That makes things easier."

"Are you okay?" Kevin asked.

"I think he might have broken my jaw," Anna said. "Good for him. I honestly didn't think he had it in him."

"I'm sorry," Kevin said. "I thought I could but..."

"Don't apologize for not being a monster, Kevin. Now come on, we're running out of time. Johan can wait; we need to take care of Houser. I'll need you to create a distraction. A loud noise ought to do it. I'll give a yell. Okay?"

Kevin nodded.

"Good boy." Anna patted his arm and started off.

"Anna?" Kevin called after her.

Anna turned.

"Eyes." Kevin said

"Oh. Thanks." Anna said, forcing her eyes back to her mortal vision.

Houser was standing at the table at the far end of the excavation tent, taking notes.

"Evening Dr. Houser." Anna said as she entered.

Houser turned to face her, a gun in his hand. "What do you want?"

"So you do carry a weapon." Anna said.

Houser straightened his arm. "And I'm prepared to use it."

"I just thought there was something about that amulet, that you might want to know."

Dr. Houser scoffed. "I've been doing this for a while now little girl. There's nothing you can tall me that I don't already know."

"Then you know it acts like a beacon," Anna said. "Of course you do, it's written right on it, but I doubt you would be able to understand that from the moment you dug it out of the earth it's been sending out a signal."

"Don't insult my intelligence, Miss Dearing. I'm not fool enough to believe in Johan's wild tales of vampires, or yours."

"Vampires," Anna said, considering the horrid possibility of vampirism having been the fate of the two missing corpses. "I hope not. For their sake anyway."

"I think it's time you run along now, Dearing."

"I'm sorry Dr. Houser," Anna loosed her vision and allowed her teeth to descend. "I'm afraid I can't do that."

Houser shook his head, and blinked hard, as if his eyes were playing tricks on him.

There was a loud crash outside the tent, Kevin's diversion. Houser turned and Anna lunged toward Houser. He fired his gun but missed. Anna grabbed the gun and rammed it into Houser's forehead. He lost his balance and fell back against the table.

Anna cast her eyes about looking for the tell tale blue glow, but saw nothing. "Where's the amulet?" she growled, turning the gun on him.

Houser gripped his forehead and moaned.

A second later, the sharp stab of a blade penetrated her lower back on the right side. She screamed. Houser pushed against her with all his might and she lost her grip on the gun.

Anna caught herself as she stumbled and turned to face her attacker. It was Johan... and he was running toward her with a makeshift stake made from a tent pole looking surprisingly sober and screaming, "Murderer!"

Anna spun and kicked her leg out straight as she deflected the post. Her right foot met Johan's chest at full run, knocking them both to the ground.

Houser had recovered his gun, and was making a run for it.

Anna reached behind her and pulled the knife from her back Tainted with her blood it was a useless weapon now, unless she wasn't planning on killing anyone. She tossed it away from them.

"She's killed them all Ollie!" Johan breathed, grabbing Houser by the leg. "Shoot her."

"Sorry, Johan." Houser said, kicking his leg free from Johan's grip.

As soon as Houser left the tent Kevin met him with a chair to his face. The chair knocked Houser backward and Anna saw Kevin lunge at him through the open doorway, tackling him to the ground.

Johan sat up and offered Anna a solid punch to her side. Anna retaliated with an uppercut to Johan's chin.

The gun fired.

"No!" Anna screamed.

She scrambled to her feet and started out of the tent but Johan grabbed her leg and tripped her. He leapt to his feet and pulled her across the dirt floor in the direction she'd tossed the knife. "Vampire!" he screamed, indignant.

The gun fired again.

Anna put her hands out and grabbed hold of the post then she twisted her body and hit Johan in the arm with the pole causing him to lose his grip on her. She continued her roll, stood and ran, or more accurately, limped quickly out of the tent.

Kevin had Houser pinned on his back, his hands pinned above him, slamming Houser's hand with the gun into the ground repeatedly.

Anna went for the gun. Houser fired again, the bullet whizzed within inches of Anna. Kevin brought his knee up hard into Houser's groin and he let go of the gun.

As Anna went to retrieve it, Johan flung himself at her tackling her to the ground and into a stack of canned food, sending the gun skittering away.

Johan gripped her neck and began choking her.

Kevin somersaulted over Houser, scrambling for the gun.

Anna got her hands around a can of spaghetti and slammed it against Johan's head. It knocked him off balance and Anna managed to get on top of him, but he didn't let go of her neck.

"Let her go!" Kevin shouted.

"Vampire!" Johan retorted.

Anna brought the can of spaghetti down on Johan's face; he turned his head, taking the blow on his temple.

"Die!" he screamed.

Anna brought the can down again as hard as she could. After five or six hits, Johan peed himself and his arms went slack. His face was a mangled mess of blood and swollen tissue but amazingly he was still alive. "I. Am. Not. A vampire!" Anna choked out the words as she lifted his head and broke his neck.

Kevin had found the gun and was pointing it at Houser, who had gotten up to run away.

"Wait," Anna said, hoarse. "Don't kill him, he's the only one who knows where the Amulet is."

Kevin adjusted his aim and shot Houser in the leg.

Houser screamed and fell to the ground.

Just then a stack of canned foods fell near Anna. The lid popped off one of the cans, a bright blue glow shone out through the noodles and sauce.

"Oh. Never mind," Anna said as she reached for the amulet.

Kevin emptied the gun into Houser's back.

"Are you okay?" he asked Anna, offering her his hand.

Anna nodded, and took hold of his hand as he helped her to her feet. "Are you okay?" she asked.

Kevin tilted his head in a half nod and shrugged.

"You did good," Anna said.

"You too," Kevin nodded.

"I could use a steak," Anna said.

"Me too," Kevin said.

Anna eyed him.

"And a drink," Kevin shrugged. "But a steak would be nice too. I haven't eaten since lunch, I'm wiped out."

"A kiss for your health then," Anna pulled him close and kissed him as her features returned to their mortal form


Chapter 30 - Premeditation

(c) copyright 2010-2016 Lauren T. Hart