Archive | October, 2013

Writing tip Number three: curing the dreaded writer’s block!

20 Oct

Now lately this is something I have been having trouble with. Thanks to writers block I’m stuck on writing Chapter Twenty Four of Ryder’s Story, which is now a week late :S While the post might be called curing the dreaded writer’s block, there really isn’t an actual cure for it, so instead I’m going to tell you a few things I do to help when I’m completely stuck. I make no promises these tips will work but they do help me (sometimes) so I thought I would share them.

 

Skip ahead.

Now this only works if you are writing something you can skip ahead in. For example I recently completed the final chapter of Ryder’s story even though it’s still a long way out on the real thing. Doing something like this keeps you in the mindset of the character but removes the obstacle that is stopping you from going further with the part you are up to. Doing something like this can be helpful not only to cure writers block but for later on because when you reach that point it’s already written and will only need re writing to make sure it fits with the changes you may have made to the storyline since writing it.

 

Create a different idea.

What I mean by this is think of something, anything and put the character that you are having trouble with into that situation. It doesn’t even have to be related to the storyline that you are having trouble with. Set the idea years into the future, in the past, it doesn’t matter. Something that might help if you are having trouble thinking of a scenario, think about what you have done in the last week. Pick an event that was unusual, be it a single conversation, swap yourself for your character and there you go instant scene. Sure it might not be exciting but the best way to break writer’s block is to write through it.

 

Push through.

So you have a deadline, sometimes deadlines don’t wait for writer’s block to go away. Sometimes you have to push through it. Grab some coffee, park yourself in front of that computer, notepad, typewriter whatever you use and just write. Even if you only get out a few sentences that is more than you had a minute ago. Once it stops flowing take a break, go for a little walk, watch some TV, read a chapter of a book, but make sure you go back to it. Make your breaks short and make sure you stick with it. It will suck, it will be frustrating but it will click eventually.

 

Talk it out.

This is another method I use a lot. Grab a friend, your mum, your dad, family member, even a pet and tell them what you want to happen in the part you are having trouble with. Tell them what has happened and what you want to happen, in as much detail as you can without writing it down in words. Then ask them (assuming it wasn’t you pet) what they think and if they have any ideas. If they say no, then try someone else. Sometimes just having a discussion about it will help get the creative juices flowing and just think they might give you an idea that you would have never dreamed of on your own.

 

Just give up.

Now I don’t mean drag that file to the trash and never look back. I mean give up trying so hard, take a break. Assuming you don’t have a deadline to meet, leave it for a day or a week. Sometimes you need a break. Leaving it for a little while and coming back at a later time can help.

 

Don’t pressure yourself.

Pressure is writers block’s best friend. If possible don’t set a deadline for yourself, doing that makes it feel like work, rather than something you love to do. If nothing helps don’t worry about it, it won’t last forever. Sometimes the harder you try the worse it gets.

 

I’m a firm believer in the wisdom that only writing will cure writers block. So whatever you do keep on writing. Do a journal instead. Write something different for a little while, hell just set your fingers to a keyboard and keep writing just to see what will come out. I really hope these tips help people and to all that read Ryder’s Story I am sorry he will be back when I can push through my own case!

Ryder’s story:Chapter Twenty Three

9 Oct

Chapter Twenty Three

There was a great deal of cursing, insults and downright offensive language coming from the house after I informed Nathaniel, that Jeremiah and Edward had gone off to hold up a train. So, Ryan, Christina and I  were the only other ‘hunters’ left on the property and Nathaniel supposed that since the three of us had the most experience with this kind of thing, that we would have to do, for now. He vowed to send the other two when they returned, to aid us. Nathaniel was like that, though physically I was a few years older than most of my companions, he still thought of the three of us as little more than inexperienced children; simply because we were not born and bred in their country. American’s! We set off, just as soon as I could drag Ryan from that pesky lab of his. Apparently, I was interrupting his research, I promised him as much of my blood as he could collect when we returned, so he could finish his current project.

We travelled first by train, then wagon; there was no use trying to ride such a vast distance. At the time I had looked into the motorised carriages that everyone was talking about but dismissed them as a passing fancy, I could not have been more wrong. It took us very little time to find the area of Mississippi that was under siege; all we had to do was follow the trail of stories. Many parts of the south were still recovering from the civil war; this was the last thing they needed right now. The final leg of our journey was travelled on foot, since I had not been able to bring Charlie and the chances of finding a mount, who did not instantly want to kill me, was unlikely. The Peterson’s didn’t seem to mind and even Mutt bounced along happily by my feet. It wasn’t until the dog flattened his ears and the fur along the ridge of his back stood up, that I knew we had more than likely found what they were searching for. Moaning, a sick and twisted sound filled the air, along with the hum of magic. As it hit me, I tensed, switching instantly into battle mode. Ryan and Christine followed suit, even though I knew they could not sense what Mutt and I were feeling. Mutt growled and dropped his body into an attack position as well. I scanned the area, it seemed empty, but I knew otherwise. Slowly bodies emerged and part of me couldn’t believe my eyes. I had heard tales of such creatures and seen many things in my time; but this was something else.

Rotting corpses shambled toward us, only a few at first but more and more joined them, until we were outnumbered, ten to one. Ryan cursed; drawing his six shooter, as the three of us slowly stepped away from the gathering horde. Dead eyes stared at us, as rotting jaws gnashed. Flesh hung from bones and limbs dragged. Many wore uniforms; red coats, confederates, union soldiers and others were in little more than rags. Not all of the creatures surrounding us were rotted, some appeared fresh and if it wasn’t for their milky eyes I would have assumed they were human. Some looked as though they had been torn to shreds, then had just gotten up and started walking around again. It was clear what it was these creatures ate and it was also clear we were not going to win this one. I drew my sword as the creatures quickened their pace. The wall of bodies charged toward us, we had no hope in hell. I knew that unless they tore me limb from limb there was a good chance I would survive the attack, I would heal eventually, but my companions would not. The sound of gunfire exploded behind us and two of the creatures went down, their skulls obliterated. Foolishly we all turned to look behind us, to see a man and a woman both holding rifles. They were staring at us; the woman pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose.

“Well, don’t just stand there like fools run!” she yelled. We did, as soon as we started running so did the creatures, closing the space between us faster than Christine and Ryan could move. The man and the woman jumped a barricade and fired, but the creatures were too fast. Well, at least the majority of them were. I whistled, pointing at the barricade and Mutt took off ahead. I looked first to Ryan, then to Christine and before I could change my mind I moved, grabbing them, tucking one under each arm and ran like only a vampire could. I vaulted over the barricade, far ahead of the creatures and was met with the muzzles of the two rifles.  Releasing the struggling hunters, I raised my hands. The creatures pounded against the barricade, as they encountered it; moaning and clawing, trying to break through.  Ryan stepped in front of me and cleared his throat.

“Now let’s all be civil. I’m sure there are much better uses for those bullets.” The man, who appeared younger than Ryan, eye’s flashed. They were such a deep blue that it almost made Ryan and Christine’s look dull in comparison. His skin was tanned and his hair was a deep red, like blood fresh from the vein. At first I didn’t catch the fiery scent in his blood, it was masked by the rot and the already present smell of magic but sure enough there it was, as strong as in any of the other true ‘hunters’ I’d met.

“Explain!” He snapped, never once taking his gaze, or aim for that matter, off me. Ryan reached out to push down the barrels of the guns. For such a smart man, he did some rather foolish things sometimes.

“He’s harmless, trust us. Besides you have bigger problems. So before you go and shoot a gift horse in the mouth, know that we were sent to help, him included.”  I kept my gaze locked with the other man’s; somehow knowing that it was unwise to look away. He turned his gaze to Ryan and I finally glanced to the woman. She was older than the boy. Mid-twenties, maybe even close to Ryan’s 25 years. She was pretty, though in a subtle way. Her black hair was tied up, out of the way and the clothes she wore were not fancy.  Her eyes were calculating and there was the same air of intelligence that Ryan carried. She was clearly a very smart woman and evidently knew her way around a shotgun. Her hazel eyes flicked to me and she held my gaze for only the briefest of moments, but they lit up with curiosity before her focus switched to Ryan. I felt a hand grasp one of mine and I looked down to see Christine’s fingers twined with mine. It was a small gesture but Christine was as stoic as any man I’d met, so I was surprised that she had shown even this small measure of affection when there was danger. Ryan had evidently talked the younger man down, though I had not heard a word of the conversation, not until the woman spoke. Her voice was deep for a woman and strangely detached, almost like Ryan’s sometimes was. If he was not so opposed to the whole social contact with other humans idea, then I figured he might have even liked this girl.

“Dwight, they must be the hunters Alexander spoke of. The ones his father said he’d send.”  The man, Dwight, looked between us. His expression said he didn’t trust that for a second, but he fully lowered his weapon.

“You are truly here to help?” he asked. Though his gaze was on Ryan, it was me that answered.

“Yes. We are,” all eyes shot to me and the woman spoke.

“It’s ok Dwight. You go tell the others, I will help these strangers. They can stay with me for the time being.” She looked to me, then to the hand grasping my mine. Instinctively, I pulled Christine closer so I could shield her with my body. There was something I didn’t trust in her calculating gaze. Finally her eyes settled on Ryan “Follow me; there is much to tell you.”

She led us to a doctor’s office and down into the basement. It smelled strongly of decay and the further we walked the worse the smell got, until we entered a dimly lit room, only to find one of those creatures tied down to a gurney. The thing seemed to come alive as we entered the room thrashing about and gnashing it mangled jaws. It groaned and growled but it was clear it could not get lose. I looked at the creature, now I could see one up close and I knew it was nothing more than magic. Its cold dead eyes were soulless; its only purpose was to kill and feed. We were obviously dealing with a necromancer and that was not a good thing.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” Muttered Christine, as we all stepped forward. The woman nodded and stood right by the bed motioning us closer still.

“This is what we are dealing with. It started on the last full moon; the dead just dug their way out of the ground and started eating people. As far as we can tell, anyone that dies becomes one. Their bite poison’s the blood and is usually fatal.  They can be stopped by destroying the brain, that’s seems the only way to stop one. I trust you folks know more than I do about these kinds of things but that is all I’ve been able to gather. Though I will of course, continue to study them.” We all nodded our understanding.

“Fascinating, how long have you kept this one for?” asked Ryan his eyes alight with all the possibilities.

“Only a day, my brother traps them for me to research,” Ryan looked up dumb founded, I could tell that he did not truly believe that she was capable of such a thing but he was smart enough not to say anything.

“Curious, can I see your notes” he held out his hand expectantly, although framed as a question, Ryan seldom asked for anything. No, he clearly expected her to hand over her notes. She passed him a note pad and he flipped through it. He motioned to me with one hand, my cue to add any information I felt was relevant.

“I doubt you will find anything of significance through research. This is necromancy and cannot be explained away by science.” Both Ryan and the woman looked up from the notes; wearing identical expressions of disbelief. When they spoke it was together.

“That’s absurd,” their voices were in perfect unison and they looked up meeting each other’s eyes. Ryan’s cheeks reddened and he cleared his throat before looking away. I think both mine and Christine’s jaws hit the floor.  As far as Ryan was concerned that was about as close to a proclamation of love as he would ever get; that would be of course if he didn’t find the emotion to be irrational. Christine tugged on my hand and I gave her a small smile.

“How exactly do we deal with necromancy?” asked Christine, her tone concerned.

“Either, we need to determine out what kind of magic is being used and we might be able to counteract it, or we find the sorcerer and kill them.” I explained.

“I think option two seems fitting, don’t you?” she asked and the woman nodded.

“Very well, either way it seems that we must find the person responsible. I will get my people on it straight away, someone must know something. Do you have any advice until then?” I smiled

“Yes indeed I do, we kill as many of those creatures as we can” Christine returned my smile and nodded, like it was the best idea she had ever heard. God I loved her.

“Will that help?” asked the woman, as Ryan sighed and took a seat. He knew the answer to that and it was clear that he would not be joining us for some carnage. I knew it was one of those times where lying might have served me better than the truth, I had just never been good at judging it.

“In the grand scheme of things? No. But killing things is what I do and I am very good at it.” I held out my hand to Christine and nodded toward the door, she took it without hesitation, the other woman opened her mouth to speak, as I dragged her toward the door.

“Let them go, to them it’s like foreplay,” said Ryan’s voice as we exited the room. I heard he response when we hit the stairs.

“Curious. I’m not quite sure I understand that,”

I pulled the gun from my hip and shoved the barrel under the jaw, of one of the creatures that the locals were calling Zombies. I could not care less what they were called, because in all honesty, they were fun to kill. Challenging, but not truly a danger, well not to me at least. I pulled the trigger splattering myself and pretty much everything around me with gore. I watched as Christine pulled a knife from her boot and drove it down through the head of the one she was fighting. She yanked it back out. The two of us looked almost as bad as the zombies did but it was fun. By that point we had dealt with most of the pack, just the two of us. First by narrowing the playing field with well-placed head shots, then by getting down and dirty.  When we’d jumped the barricade and rushed into the mix, people screamed and yelled for us to return, well they had at first. Now most of the small town’s inhabitants stood either on or just beyond of the barricade, watching us fight. I shot another, kicked out at a second and whirled on a third. My back hit something hard and I turned only to be chest to chest with Christine. She smiled up at me and I quickly wrapped an arm around her waist and kissed her. We broke apart instantly and spat on the ground. The two of us were both far to gore covered not to taste it.  Quickly I drew my other gun and the two of us cleared the space around us, buying a few more seconds in each other’s’ arms.

“That was disgusting,” I said, she smiled brightly and leant up, only to repeat the process. She spat, then winked at me her smile never faltering.

“Uh huh,” she agreed and spun away to engage with a small group that was heading to her right. I went left, pulled my blade from its sheath and went for another. There had been only been about forty in total, even so it had taken us a good part of the last two hours to take them down. When Christine decapitated the last standing zombie I walked toward her, crushed the skull under my boot and wrapped an arm around her waist. I did not risk kissing her this time, as it was I had already ingested enough rancid dead blood, just through fighting, to make me feel ill and I knew I was not in for a good night.

“Are you alright?’ I asked, as we made our way back to the barricade. I gave her a quick once over, it was as much for my benefit as it was for hers. Sadly she knew it and smirked at me. “No bites?” I asked doing a bad job at covering my tracks. Even though neither of us liked to admit it, there was something strangely erotic about fight alongside the person you love.

“Not that I can feel,” I returned the smirk, as someone patted me on the shoulder offering us a small congratulations, as they passed to deal with the mess we’d made.

“Not good enough I will have to search you, after I get you cleaned up,” with a quick move, I took her legs from under her and scooped her into my arms. She laughed and batted at me playfully; I couldn’t help but notice she had not objected. I dropped her to her feet as soon as we reached the barricade. We both looked up at Ryan’s disapproving gaze. He was standing atop the crude barrier, arms crossed over his chest with Mutt sitting at his side.

“You two enjoy yourself?” he asked and I had to stop myself from rolling my eyes. Ryan could be such a hard arse sometimes. After I pulled myself up I clapped him on the shoulder, leaving a gory hand print. He frowned at it and my smile widened.

“Immensely my friend, ‘twas utterly thrilling,” I jumped down and caught Christine as she did the same. I could feel his eyes on my back as we walked away and part of me wondered what his problem was. We had been sent here to deal with the monsters and we had, for now. Sure more would probably come but at least those particular revenants would not kill more innocent people. We walked through the swamp, to the mouth of a bayou.  We had been provided with soap and told to watch out for gators and leaches. Neither worried us much. I could easily kill an alligator if one attacked and as for leaches, they tended to steer clear of their fellow blood suckers. I sat on the bank, watching as Christine peeled off her torn and gory clothes. My eyes followed the line of her back down, as she reached up to let out her braid. Her skin was pale and even gore covered it was very lovely. I stood removing my own shirt, as she slipped down her pants and stepped out of them. My breath caught and my gaze continued its journey, as I stripped out of my own clothes. She smiled at me over her shoulder and walked forward. She didn’t get far before I caught up with her, wrapped my arms around her again and laid my head in the crook of her neck. She turned her face to kiss me, as I pulled her flush against me and she let out a little gasp as I pressed against her. With a giggle she twisted out of my grasp and dove under the water, shaking out her hair when she surfaced. Grabbing the soap we had been given, I dove in as well.  She waded out until the water was level with her navel and turned to face me, running her fingers through her hair. I lathered up my hand and gave her a coy smile.

“Let me wash you,” I said, taking a few steps closer. She gave an exasperated sigh and turned her back on me.

“If you must,” she replied in a bored voice but we both knew it was just an act; I could smell her excitement. I grabbed her again, pulling her back flush against my chest and dropped the soap into her hand. I rubbed my hands in slow circles across her shoulders, careful to be gentle, moving down across her collar bone, then to her breasts. I was extra thorough on that particular part of her body; she laid her head back against my chest and smiled up at me. Reluctantly I moved on, down the plane of her stomach, the curve of her hips, under the water line, lower. She gasped and moaned wiggling that tight little derriere against me. The movement drove me insane and I spun her around. Our lips met and her arms came up around my neck, her nails biting into the skin of my shoulder. I didn’t care that we were less than a five minute walk from the town, or for that fact, that anyone could wander down and discover us at any time. I held her close and took her, without a care in the world.  By the time we finally got to the getting clean part of our excursion, the skin on our fingers had started to wrinkle. She lathered the soap through her hair and tossed it to me to I could do the same. As I tried to wash the blood and traces of brains from my hair, I had the fleeting thought that it was getting rather long. When dry the waves almost touched my shoulders. I tousled the top, thinking I’d take my blade to it when we got back to camp. It hardly mattered anyways, since I usually wore a hat. I dove under to rinse the suds, wiped the water from my eyes when I emerged and saw a woman standing on the bank. Our eyes locked and I felt the pull of an all too familiar magic and I knew that it meant trouble.

“Christine run. Run!” I yelled, before the magic hit me. She spun around, her eyes narrowed; her long hair mostly covering her breasts. My fangs shot into my mouth against my will. I cursed as I looked back to the woman. She was dark skinned and I knew merely by the way she was dressed that she’d once been a slave. Her dark eyes, mirroring the power I could feel and her shirt hair curled tightly around her skull.

“Vampire,” she growled, her voice was deep and thickly accented. English was clearly not her first language. Christine started to run toward the shore, going for her weapons and before I could stop myself, I gave chase.  Everything in me fought for control but it seemed that my body was no longer my own. We had found our necromancer and here I was, without my pendant. I growled, fangs bared as I advanced, the sound stopped Christine in her tracks. I continued to struggle, trying to break the hold but it made no difference.

“Do. Not. Run” I managed to force the words out, before I snarled again.

“Child,” the woman said. She was not old, maybe in her mid-thirties, if she wasn’t a necromancer or a witch, I might have said she was attractive. Christine swiftly covered herself and glared at the woman. My stance didn’t falter so Christine wasn’t going anywhere. I could feel it in my core. If she ran, I would attack her and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was powerless and I hated it. My energy was draining, the harder I fought the faster it waned, by the time this was over the only thing that would be keeping me upright was this woman’s magic. “Why are you not scared my child, do you not see what your friend is?” Christine’s eyes met mine briefly, then she turned to face the woman.

“Ryder would never hurt me,” she stated, the woman shook her head. Without wanting to I took a few steps forward, my lips curling back off my fangs, with a snarl. Christine took a cautious step back. There was no way in hell I would allow this woman to force me to attack her, but she was smart not to trust me. Because as much as it would kill me if I hurt her, I had little say in the matter.

“You know what he is and yet you do not fear him. Look at him, this is his true nature. We have others of his kind here, they are beasts, uncontrollable.” Every muscle in my body felt as though it weighed a hundred pounds. Every second I stood against Christine, I got weaker, unfortunately that only made me easier to control. I hoped, maybe, if we could keep her occupied, my body would give out making it easier for Christine to finish me if I did attack.

“Of course I know what he is! He is my boyfriend. He hides nothing from me. Ryder is dangerous, but he has more control over himself than most humans do. Tell me witch how is it you control him? Do you consider yourself a beast, for forcing him to do things against his will?” if I had any control over my body, I would have smiled at that. It was the first time in two years that she had called me her boyfriend. I think I liked it.

“He, child is a monster…”

“No, he is the man I love! Ryder has more heart, more pride and more nobility than any human man I have ever met. He may be a vampire, witch, but you would not find a better human. Do what you will, I will not fight him, but god help me if I get to you, you will wish he had turned on you, because I know not his mercy.”  Suddenly, the weight of the world crashed down on me and my legs crumpled from under me. The water cushioned my fall but before my head had even breached the surface I was out cold.

Evidently I had been dragged from the bayou at some point because I awoke on a cot. My vision took it’s time returning and I felt as though I had been drained of my very life.  I had no idea of the time and my throat was dry, burning. A weight stirred at the end of my bed, moving closer; heavy paws stepping over me. Mutt curled into my side, laying his head next to mine. He whined as he stared at me, almost as if asking if I was ok. I reached up and petted his head softly. The effort was almost more than I could handle. I let my hand drop and rolled onto my back. I closed my eyes because the effort of keeping them open was too draining. I hate necromancers.

“You and that dog have an unhealthy relationship,” resigned, I opened my eyes looking toward Ryan, as he entered the room. Mutt growled a warning, as Ryan walked toward me and I laughed.

“I don’t think he appreciates your assumption,” I said, knowing full well the animal was just protecting me.

“It’s ok Mutt. I’m not going to hurt him,” said Ryan as he froze, I calmed and reassured the dog. He fell quiet, still watching Ryan carefully.

“I’ve been keeping an eye on you but your friend there wouldn’t let anyone near you.” He held out a glass bottle and I knew just by his appearance that it was full of his blood. He was pale and looked like he could barely stand himself.  I shook my head, I could not care less if it would ruin his experiment, I was not going to kill him.

“Ryan, I…” he cut me off with a roll of his eyes.

“Come on, it’s not like I can put it back now, one of us may as well be at full strength,” he held out the bottle and I took it setting it on a nearby table. He sat down in the chair that was across from the cot. Aside from the chair and the small table there was little else in the small room. If it had had a solid door or bars, I would have called it a cell. “Christ,” he muttered putting his head in his hands. I forced myself into an upright position and looked at him. Ryan was always hard to read. At the rare times he showed strong emotions it was obvious what was wrong but the most other times? Not so much.

“What is wrong brother?” I asked out of reflex. He removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes, not looking up.

“It’s nothing. I’m just tired that’s all, so damned tired,” I gave a dry laugh, picked up the bottle took a drink and feeling instantly better for it. I reached out and gave his shoulder a firm squeeze. I knew better than all of them, the toll this kind of life took. Ryan, though very smart and extremely good at what he did, was not cut out for it and I’d know that for a long while. I finished the bottle, the strength he just couldn’t seem to find, returned to me slowly. In a way I should be grateful to the witch, thanks to her influence I had been saved hours of agony from ingesting dead blood. I had most likely slept through the worst of it. After what felt like an eternity of trying and failing, I managed to partially drag myself from the bed. Ryan who had been sitting, silent for so long finally spoke. His voice actually startled me a little. I don’t think I was ever going to get used to how absolutely silent these hunters could be at times.

“She knows,” he muttered, the weariness evident in his shoulders, was thick in his voice. “I did what I had to, you’re practically family, she was a risk… god, I had to,” alarm coiled through me and though I barely had the strength to stand, I forced an alert stance. I had never seen the other man act this way before, he stood staring off into space his expression pained.

“Ryan, what have you done?” I asked softly, I was not sure where Ryan was right now. In a mind like his, there were plenty of places to hide. I couldn’t risk tipping him over the edge that he was clearly balanced on.

“I had to Ryder. She knew,” he muttered as if he hadn’t even hurt me. I walked toward him and knelt in from of him. His glasses hung from his hand and his head was still down. Though it was merely a few steps, I just about collapsed but thankfully recovered quickly.

“Ryan?” I kept my voice soft, my tone even. I knew whatever he had done, he truly believed it had been necessary but it was obviously killing him inside. If I only knew what was wrong, I would fix it, I could not stand to see him like this. “Who knew?”

“Cassadee,” his voice was flat, defeated. I wasn’t sure who Cassadee was or what he had done but I feared the worst. There was something about him, something I had never sensed before, something dark. It worried me.

“What have you done?” I asked again, unsure I really wanted to know.

“Somehow she worked it out, I don’t know how, but she had. She told me she wanted to understand, she wasn’t sure if it was safe to accept your help. She would have told the others. So, I….” he trailed off, his voice breaking as if he couldn’t even bring himself to continue. “I loosened the restraints on the creature she had captive. It broke free and it bit her. They took it down but Cassadee, she…. she’s dying Ryder, as sure as if I killed her myself, she’s dying,” I cursed out loud and started pacing. Anger and panic giving me the strength I did not feel I had. I tried not to be mad at him, in his own way, Ryan was trying to protect me, but that isn’t what I wanted. I didn’t matter, he should have hung me out to dry, hell it would’ve probably been better for everyone if he had.

“Where is she?” I asked but he didn’t answer me. I paced a few more steps before my temper snapped. “Where Ryan?!”

“The old gaol,” moving quickly, I took the stairs and emerged in the lab she had taken us to earlier. There were other doors, likely leading to more rooms like the one I had just left, but I didn’t stop, that was until I saw Christine and who she was with. My hand flew to my belt, seeking the dagger the fairy prince had given me and the amulet that was its pommel. But I didn’t have it on me. In fact I had nothing more than the shirt on my back. Hoping to take the witch by surprise, I used all the strength I could muster and charged at her. I grabbed her by the throat and lifted her from the chair; she choked, gasping for air and my body stayed firmly under my own control. Looks like she couldn’t summon the cursed magic like this, well good.

“Witch,” I snarled, bringing her face close to mine as I snarled, bearing my fangs as she had forced me to earlier. “I do not believe we have been properly acquainted,” Christine’s hand found my shoulder and I glanced back at her, as the witch struggled and choked in my grasp.

“Let her go Ryder. It was a misunderstanding.” She said softly and an involuntary growl escaped my lips.

“She was going to have me kill you, love. How could I have possibly misunderstood that?” Christine’s grip tightened and I knew she was planning something.

“Just let her go Ryder” I turned my gaze back to the witch, she was on the verge of passing out.

“Can you use that accursed magic of yours for healing?” I growled and she made a little choked sound. “I would nod if you wish to live,” she nodded and I released her. She crumpled to the ground, gasping for breath. Even with her dark skin I could see the marks on her neck from my hand. “Can.You. Heal?” every word was a growl. I knew that I was proving her right by acting this way but I needed to save that woman, Cassadee. Ryan would not be able to live with that on his conscious. He’d thought he had to do it for me, so I would do this for him. As she gasped still trying to regain her breath, she nodded again. Her thickly accented voice was little more than a croak.

“Yes,”

“Good,” I reached down and hauled her to her feet, dragging her from the room. As soon as she had healed Cassadee, I would find out if it was her that had started this mess and if she was not the one responsible she could help us stop whoever was.

Ryder’s Story: Chapter Twenty Two

2 Oct

Chapter Twenty Two

Two Years Later

The pup, whom I eloquently decided to name Mutt, proved very useful. He, as most animals did, had a knack for sensing supernaturals, but unlike the others he was not afraid of them. My canine friend could lead us to the den of any creature we sought, by scent alone; with the exception of vampires. It was my fault, I knew the dog did not see my kind as a threat and he was so accustomed to my scent that he had trouble tracking other vamps when asked. Nathaniel and Jeremiah couldn’t understand why and questioned it a number of times. Ryan soon ‘determined’ that it was because vampires were essentially ‘changed’ humans so their scent was tainted and confused the poor dumb animal; though my Mutt could hardly be called a dumb. When I had come to the decision that I would keep the pup and train him to help hunt, the rest of the wayward group I’d allied myself with laughed. They claimed it was out of character, which showed how little they truly knew me, I had always liked animals, but after my change they just hadn’t returned the feeling.  Against my better judgment I chose to stay with the group of bounty hunters, who simply referred to themselves as hunters for short. The Peterson’s also stayed on, despite their initial aversion to Jeremiah and by extension Nathaniel. The ‘hunters’ were particularly skilled at killing and thievery which proved to be a useful way to fund all of Ryan’s experiments. They were also responsible for the development of the sliver plated, holy water filled bullet that revolutionised modern hunting. This was due solely to their reluctance to learn how to fight properly and their general lack of skill in the department.  Almost two years had passed since I’d joined the groups and a small part of me had started to consider them family. From time to time I found myself checking on the gate to hell but from what I could tell it remained sealed.

Christine shot me a wink as I passed and I felt myself smile before averting my gaze. I could not say what we had between us had improved much in the time I known her. While it had never been stated out right by either of us, the general opinion of the group was that the two of us were together.  She didn’t deny the fact so nor did I. It wasn’t that it was a false statement, we shared whatever served as a bed most nights and were prone to the odd public display of affection every once in a while. I cared for her deeply and would do anything she desired to ensure she was happy. I was almost certain that she cared for me just as much, neither of us were the type to lay it all out on the table, so I was never one hundred percent sure of the depth of her feelings. So it just never got said. When I was human I’d been the type to wear my emotions on my sleeve, I had seen where that led and I’d learnt my lesson.

I gave a low whistle as I kept walking and Mutt came barrelling down the road, returning from an adventure somewhere on the ranch. He panted at my side and I bent to pat his ears without halting my stride. I entered the stables to find Charlie saddled up and ready to go. In return for free board we helped out around the ranch, when were we actually there, that is. Jeremiah was leaning against the barn wall, near the hitching post. I nodded a greeting and he dropped the piece of straw he’d been chewing on.

“Ready?” he asked, as I reached around him to untie Charlie. His horse became unsettled at my nearness and Jeremiah frowned. “I swear Mutt and Charlie are the only animals that don’t run at the sight of you,” it wasn’t the first time he had said something along those lines but I brushed it off as I usually did.

“Maybe they are the only ones with a lick of intelligence?” I said coolly before glancing down to the dog at my feet. “Up,” he leaped, landing on the saddle and settling himself at the front. I hoisted myself up behind him and fixed the harness I’d made him over his head and clipped it to my belt and the pommel. Jeremiah merely smiled in response, he wasn’t stupid he knew there was more to it, but didn’t pry, that was what I liked about Jeremiah. In his short time as a hunter he’d become sinfully skilled at it, he had a knack for hunting that the rest of us just didn’t seem to have. He was good with lore, good at getting the intel he needed and very resourceful; the result of his life as an outlaw but it worked better than any of us could have expected as a hunter. He became somewhat of a leader to the group. He never backed down, even when in way over his head and on occasion he put us seasoned hunters to shame. Though the man’s fighting skills left much to be desired, he seemed to rely solely on guns. He had no experience with other weapons or hand to hand combat, well, nothing beyond what he would need to win a bar fight but he had brute strength and that usually evened the playing field. Despite Christine’s insistence that the man was a cold hearted killer, I had always gotten on well with him; maybe I recognised a kindred spirit. Ironically he hated vampires with a vengeance. He had mastered the art of decapitation; it was as though he’d been born to make heads roll. It was potentially problematic to allow someone like Jerry to get too close but I figured that it wouldn’t be an issue so long as I kept my true nature hidden. It was a challenge but then I always had Ryan and Christine to help me.

Edward Flynn trotted up to us, he looked hot in his heavy leather duster; he was sweaty and covered in dirt.  He had ridden ahead a few days earlier to check in with the few ranch hands that were actually paid to work. Edward was another gang member, he had stumbled across Jerry and I hog tying a werewolf one full moon and we’d been forced to spill the beans; he’d taken it well and had even stayed around to help. He was an okay sort, not all that bright, but he could move. The boy had reflexes that seemed to rival even mine. Jeremiah called him ‘shootout’ on account of he had fastest draw any of us had ever seen. His blood carried that fiery scent, a scent that I was beginning to associate with strong hunting ability, so far I had only found it to be carried by four families.

“Shootout, we were meant to meet you out there?” Edward just shook his head.

“It’s not good Jer, rustlers. Nath’s cowboys are all dead, the herd’s gone,” he dismounted his puffing horse.

“Damn it!” Jeremiah snapped and threw down his hat. “That’s the second herd this year! Any chance we can catch ‘em?”

“None Jer the bodies have been there for a few days, they could have those things rebranded and on a boat by now” Jeremiah cursed.

“We need those damn animals; the sale is in two days!”  Jeremiah paced and I unclipped Mutt motioning for him to jump down. Jeremiah pulled the bandanna that was tied around his neck up around his mouth and looked to Edward. “Shootout, how many guys can you get me on short notice?”

“I got three in town boss?” he said and though I could no longer see Jeremiah’s mouth, I knew his was smiling. His eyes lit up with it. He mounted his horse.

“Good. Come on Eddy we have a train to catch!” Edward beamed and the two tore off. My blood ran cold; I had a bad feeling about that. I untacked Charlie and led him back to the corral, leaving him to run with the other ranch horses. They all seemed to shun him as though sensing his association with me. He trotted back to the gate, where I leant and nudged me with his nose.

“I’m sorry old friend. I would change it if I could” the sound of footsteps moving toward me caught my attention. I knew straight away it was Kelly, because in truth she was the only one who didn’t move with an almost supernatural stealth.

“I thought you were going out with Jerry?” she spoke softly; I turned and leant against the fence, my back to the rails. I watched the woman as she approached me. She was so very beautiful and her walk, though it was not quiet was graceful, the very way she carried herself was alluring. Her stature made her seem almost angelic but once you got past that she was tough as nails. She had a sharp tongue and a mean glare, all products of her former profession. She was dressed in a sun dress that showed a little too much skin to be considered decent and was still a too tight on her. She still carried some left over baby weight from her and Jeremiah’s first born. She had been training with Christine every morning and I hadn’t the heart to tell her that it was all for nothing, because number two was on the way. They would work it out soon enough; it would have been impossible to explain exactly how it was that I knew before they even did.

“I was” I agreed as she came to a stop. I willed my eyes not to wander and met her hazel stare. Both she and Jeremiah liked to tease me over the fact that I had once nearly paid for her services. I do not think they would find it nearly as entertaining, if they had known my true intentions.  Though I still occasionally had lingering thoughts of how soft her skin had been, when my lips had been on it, but squashed them as soon as they appeared. I was not the type of man to court another’s wife, not intentionally at least. “We were rustled again, they are gone” she swore, as Jeremiah had, in a very un lady like fashion. I laughed, shaking my head slowly and she blushed a bright crimson.

“I’m sorry that wasn’t very lady like at all,” she narrowed her eyes when she caught my smile and waited for the retort she knew was coming.

“Do not worry Kelly if I see a lady I’ll make sure you mind your tongue in her presence.” No sooner had it left my mouth; she balled her fist and punched my arm, hard. It hadn’t hurt but I flinched and rubbed the spot never the less. I’m sure had I been human it would have. She had quite the arm on her.

“I am a lady. Damn it! and you may be pretty Ryder, but as if a man like you would ever be allowed in the polite company of a real lady,” I laughed again, I had always thought that myself, even after I had married one. Part of me wondered what she would think if she knew I was, no, that I had been both a knight and a lord. I do not think it would change her opinion of me, because she knew the kind of man I was. She had grown up with men like me.

“My apologies m’lady” I replied deepening my accent and sweeping into the kind of bow I hadn’t done in such long, she smiled at that.

“I shall forgive you kind sir, if you tell me where Jerry has gone off to,” I bristled not wanting to tell her. I’d heard Jeremiah swear his outlaw days were over, yet, whenever we found ourselves in a bind, he would take Edward and they would go do something crazy. I knew it annoyed Kelly, because we all knew it was only a matter of time before the law caught up with them.

“They went after the rustlers,” I lied and she narrowed her eyes.

“And you stayed behind?” she wasn’t buying that for a second.

“Someone had to protect the women folk and children” I replied coolly, her gaze narrowed again and I swallowed. Damn it.  Thankfully at that moment Ryan came to a stop next to me. He was breathless and he braced his hands on his knees as he hung his head. I was glad for the interruption and put a hand on his shoulders, feigning concern. In truth I felt no pity for the man, maybe if he stopped smoking that god awful tobacco he would be able to breathe better.

“Ryder you must hurry, please come quickly,” he said between gasps.  I started to worry at the panic in his voice. Seeing he had been in what passed for his lab prior to this interruption I wasn’t sure I could help, but I would try.

“Yes of course,” I replied, as he straightened up. We took off at a brisk pace, toward the small building that served as our make shift doctor’s office, aka Ryan’s quarters. His pace slowed and he pulled a hand rolled from his pocked and put it to his lips. His breathing returned to normal instantly. “What is it?” Ryan smiled as he struck a match and lit his cigarette.

“I need a blood sample,” he said and my steps nearly faltered.

“You came rushing over for that,” he gave a small shrug and nodded before blowing out a lungful of smoke.

“That and Kelly looked like she was about to skin you alive. So I thought I would protect you, while you covered for Jerry,” I nodded, I was sure she just might have if I’d continued lying to her, which I was intending to. He pushed open the door; admittedly his set up was kind of terrifying.  He sat in front of a microscope and pulled forward another stool with his foot. I sat down knowing the drill. I held out my arm and he placed a small glass dish under it. I clenched my fist. He reached under the table and pulled out a book with ‘vampires’ printed on the cover. I had never seen this book before, he flipped through it and from the glimpses I caught it was all written in his hand.

“What is that?” I queried, he looked up from the pages and gave a small smile.

“It’s everything I’ve learnt from studying you and your blood,” I will admit I was surprised that he had learnt so much, sure, at first his test were gruelling, invasive and painful but lately they had been few and were mostly just blood samples. He flipped back a few pages and showed me a diagram. It was labelled ‘blood’ so I guess that’s what it was. He pointed out a few things, that he felt were significant but the truth was, I would have had no idea what it was if he hadn’t labelled everything. “I have been working on the mutation, it’s carried in your blood Ryder, I’ve also noticed it in the venom like substance your fangs secrete, as well as saliva. From what I can tell it’s similar to a virus.  At first it’s parasitic but eventually it lives symbiotically with its host. I’ve never seen a virus act that way, it is truly remarkable.”

“Uh huh” I said he’d lost me as soon as he started to speak. He closed the book and sighed.

“Anyway drink this” he held out a glass bottle filled with blood. He popped the cork and the scent of it filled the room. I recoiled, nearly falling off the chair. It was not that I didn’t want it, because my aching fangs and burning throat told me otherwise, but I was just surprised. The blood in that container was human and it was Ryan’s. The scent of him was so strong. I knew it well just as I knew everyone else’s.  I shook my head. I would not be able to trust myself if I drank that. The risk of blood lust was low, since I’d fed only a day ago but there was always a possibility. What if I decided I liked it and next time I was feeling peckish hunted him. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d tracked a human I’d fed from the next time I got hungry. Besides friends don’t let friends drink their blood.

“I can’t” my voice was slightly lisped because of my fangs, damned things. He rolled his eyes and swirled the bottle.

“It’s getting oxygenated,” he said in a sing song voice. As if that even really mattered. He sighed again and placed it on the table before me. “Look we’ve being doing this for a long time and I’ve taken hundreds of blood samples from you. Never once Ryder has yours been the same. You’ve changed blood types countless times and I’ve seen anomalies one week only to have them disappear the next. I’ve studied my own blood, I know it and I know yours. I need you to be on a controlled substance. So from now on, you will only drink my blood.” I stared at him like he had gone insane; in fact I was entirely sure he had.  There was no way he could sustain me. It would kill him, I was sure of it. “For science Ryder?” I shook my head again. There was no way I was agreeing to this, no way. “There may be a cure,” my eyes locked with his, wondering if I had heard correctly.

“A cure?” my tone was incredulous.

“Maybe, I can’t know unless you do this,” defeated I grabbed the small bottle, if there was a chance to find a cure, the risk would be worth it. I had not expected his blood to taste as it did; the fire I could smell was in the taste, almost a smoky aftertaste, like a good whiskey. Though it was still clearly human, it was just different somehow. His proposal still made me uncomfortable. He would donate a small amount each day, not enough to harm him but still enough to keep me from flipping out with blood lust. From his point of view it was a win, win; I still thought it was crazy. We waited the twenty minutes it usually took for my body to circulate the new blood, so I’d bleed, then I sliced my wrist with a sliver knife.

I watched the wound stitching back together, as I walked back toward the house. I quickly dropped my arm as Nathaniel walked toward me. He looked worried and I knew it would not be another false alarm. He looked around as if he was trying to make sure I was really alone. Aside from Mutt panting at my feet I would have thought that it’d be obvious. He looked me up and down and ran a hand over his face.

“The rest of us look like we took a stroll through hell and you look downright perky,” he grumbled, as though my wellbeing offended him. I gave a small shrug before I responded.

“I have been doing this longer, I’ve learnt to adapt.” I lied, Nathaniel started to mutter about me being a kid and then something about me being a pompous red coat bastard but I ignored the jab. Despite that fact I had indeed been a ‘red coat’ fighting under Sir William Howe in the war. There was no way he could have known; he wouldn’t have even been alive, in fact seeing as he considered me a human, neither would I. After he was done with his muttering he looked back to me.

“I got a telegram from my son down south. He says the dead are walking,” I stared at him blankly.

“As in vampires?” I asked, confused.

“Nope. As in corpses and they’re waking up hungry. I think you boys need to head down there and make sure the dead stay just that,”