[Thank you everyone for your support and comments this week. I'm starting to feel like the ol' site is really going somewhere. Next week, I'll post the cover for "Blood Skies". By the time that happens, I will *hopefully* have the author's proof on the way, just in time for the early June release I've been dreaming of. Cheers!]
Tales of a Blood Earth is a serial flash fiction series that chronicles tales of the new world. While these pieces are set in the “Blood Skies” universe, they won’t actually have any direct connection to the novels. (Or will they…?)
The air was as dark as oil. The bitter smell of mold clung to the air, so thick it gagged the prisoners.
There were only eight of them now. Four of the others had been taken away after they’d finished excavating the dark field, and they hadn’t been brought back. Those prisoners who remained had been bound hand and foot with steel wire, and forced into kneeling positions. They were like trembling mounds on the soil; some lay with their faces in the mud, while others, like Rooke, sat up stalwartly, and stared into the thick night.
Sweat ran down Rooke’s face. Her blonde hair was pasted to her face with mud and sweat. Her knees ached where they pressed against loose stones beneath the soil, and her legs were almost numb.
It was the middle of the night, some hours after they’d finished their work. They’d spent most of the day digging.
The field of bodies was just over the rise. They’d unearthed body after body from the grim soil.
It was a field of vampires.
The unearthed creatures moved now as if in trance. They wandered like sleepwalkers, their eyes only partly open. Thick ebon claws like sinuous knives hung limply by their sides. The undead were naked. Their pale bodies were still covered in earth grime and bloody water.
The vampires were utterly silent. There were at least ten that Rooke had seen. They wandered up from the field where they’d been buried, shuffling along by as if drawn by something, but they only looked blankly at the prisoners. They seemed not to understand where they were, or what had happened.
The Revengers looked upon the scene with their guns ready. The vampires seemed not to notice the jailors. They were left free to wander among the bound prisoners, oblivious to the airship parked a hundred feet away, or the mounted machineguns and flamethrowers that trailed their every movement.
Rooke’s stomach twisted in on itself every time one of the foul-smelling creatures drew close. She felt like she was collapsing.
“How much longer do you need?” the Revenger captain, Korva, asked the warlock. Korva pulled her dark hair back into a pony-tail, and her assault rifle dangled from her shoulder by a strap. She and the warlock, Gath Crezlock, were two of the only Revengers who’d stayed down there on the ground with the prisoners.
Crezlock was a short man with crimson tattoos on his face, arms and neck. He wore no armor but had on a thick brown cloak, the hood of which had been thrown back to reveal a head of short black hair. He looked young, maybe twenty.
“Have they pulled any more out of the soil?” he asked.
He stood near a vampire constrained in a cage of fire. Thick blades of orange flame bent over one another in molten beams. The cage was several yards away from her, but Rooke still felt the heat that issued from the incendiary prison. It was like having her face next to an oven. The cage illuminated the air like a bonfire.
“No,” Korva answered. ”This should be all of them.”
“Then we can begin,” Crezlock said. He had that edge to his voice that Rooke’s father used to speak with, that tone that said his time was being wasted. ”Again.”
“Will you get it right this time?”
“Will you?” Crezlock snarled. “We should have brought more prisoners with us. These have been digging all day. They’re exhausted. We need healthy bodies.”
“We’ll make do with what we have.”
The vampire in the cage wasn’t like the others. His eyes were wide open, and filled with black hate. His fangs were far too large for his square jaw, and they dripped a fluid like sugared milk. His pale and ugly flesh was addled with runes and scars, and his heavy claws gripped the ground. His skin bore no sweat, but Rooke saw burn blisters and scorch marks where he’d tested the cage.
His eyes were like holes, and they engulfed her. Every time she looked at him, something inside of her froze.
Rooke glanced at Korva. Korva was looking right at her.
“Gath,” Korva said with a mischievous smile. “This young lady is healthy, and she seems to have taken a liking to your pet. Start with her…”
(to be continued…)
Copyright © 2011 Steven Montano