Deep Red, Chapter Two
January 14, 1701: I am finally planning to travel East to join the Counsel. I must wait for the snows to melt before I can safely make the journey … April 12, 1701: I did not want to leave her behind, but Blacksoul is lost to me. It pains me to acknowledge that the woman I loved vanished the moment she embraced this world’s magic and allowed the dark spirits to consumer her. I have never known a kindred to relinquish her soul. I know not where it has gone. To another kindred, perhaps? Or one waiting to be born? … May 11, 1701: The fate of my wife’s spirit has made me wonder if the others out East have had luck with procreation. Blacksoul and I failed to conceive a single child during the three years we were together in this reality … June 2, 1701: I lament my limitations in this world. If I shift into my wolf form on a new, waxing or waning moon, my abilities are greatly diminished, though they are still far superior to my gifts in the Otherworld. Another trial is that, since the loss of my wife, I have been unable to find a capable companion to help me carry my goods so that I may travel faster. I am anxious to find my kin and be once more in the fold … July 9, 1701: My choice to bring this novice witch with me across the country was a mistake. She is slow and does not have the powers of Blacksoul. The thought of embracing her as I once did my wife also repulses me, for more reasons than grief. But she is loyal and keeps my books safe and dry while I hunt … September 7, 1701: The more I wander and the longer I am in the company of this Resident woman, the more I long for the company of my own kind. If nothing else, a changeling or volemic companion could keep pace, and would not need to eat so much, nor so often … October 6, 1701: With each new step into the wilderness, which grows more fecund with each day, I see more beauty and dangers in this world. I should have gone with my brothers and sisters when I had the chance, especially since my wife would still be with me, would still be whole. Now I must seek my brothers and sisters without her and trust to the spirits of the witch for food and shelter … December 5, 1701: In the Otherworld, I was often afraid for my life, but now that I am faced with mere survival, I appreciate the comforts I abandoned for freedom. I am ashamed to say that I long for them. I long for my chains….
excerpts from The Diary of Walker Shinab, 1701, trans. by Jonah Shinab, 1849
Four years prior to her capture. . . .
Marlo’s ragged breaths came out in frozen puffs, and she hugged herself to keep from shaking. The human’s scent clung to her. His clothes provided both warmth and a cover for his drying, sticky blood underneath. As she left the barracks, the guard at the CQ station paid as little attention to her exit as he did her arrival. If he had done his duty by her in the first place, she thought, this would have never happened. If you hadn’t taken that drink, this never would have happened, a voice inside her head replied. It had arrived a half an hour earlier when she awoke in the barracks. As troubled as she was by its presence, she knew it was right. Two years of sobriety had evaporated in a single moment, leading to her present situation.
As she stood outside the building, wet snow drifted onto her eyelashes, turning to red droplets. She wanted to wipe them away but couldn’t bring herself to move. We can’t stay here. She looked out into the darkness of the parking lot, knowing it was only a matter of time before They figured out what she had done. Before the hunt began. She could already sense something near.
Just start running. Now! She understood the urgency, but hesitated to blindly follow the disembodied voice instructing her. She felt she ought to be the more logical of the two voices in her head.
Besides, she thought, it’s three in goddamned morning, and I have no idea where I am or where to run.
Marlo had not been on Fort Carson in years, and she smashed her phone in the human’s room to avoid electronic tracking, so she couldn’t call her grandmother or anyone else for help. Going home was not an option but neither was running, not for the long-term. No matter where she went, They would eventually find her.
Marlo felt sick again. Before she could stop herself, a stream of blood spewed from her mouth. As she bent over the curb, headlights came on beside her. They found us. You should’ve run. When Marlo glanced sideways, she could see a white glare, the outline of a car, and a shadow moving inside. Her stomach dropped, an all-too familiar feeling, but it was more intense than ever, as if she was experiencing the plunge of a steep roller coaster.
She walked casually over to the bank of cars on her left. She heard the car door open behind her but kept her pace. Run! Both instinct and the voice screamed for her to flee, but she knew better. Running attracted attention. You have no idea how fast you can be.
Shut up! she yelled back at it. Tell me something useful, or go fuck yourself!
But when the shadow called out her name, she broke into a run.
“Marlo, stop!” the shadow yelled, making her run even faster.
I told you. She shook her head and tried to ignore the burn in her legs and lungs as her distant high school track prowess failed her. Within moments, her foot twisted on a patch of ice. The pain spindled up to her knee and her leg collapsed. She put out her forearms to break her fall, and her elbows connected with the pavement. Better than your head. She wished her insanity had a volume button.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” the shadow said as he approached, though the silence of his movement indicated otherwise.
She rolled over and looked up at him. He held out his hands to her, but she ignored them and pried herself off the ground. Her ankle still hurt but felt stronger than moments before. She began to back away.
He looked vaguely familiar and his aura appeared volemic. By his features, she guessed he was well over two hundred years old, though he could be older. Either way, his probable age and species made fighting him, and running, futile.
As the two stood in some sort of Mexican standoff, she tried to place his face. Except for his eyes, he was utterly forgettable and average looking, despite the general beauty of his species. At approximately five eleven, he stood barely an inch taller than her. The wet snow matted his thick, dirty blonde hair to his tall forehead. His nose had been broken at least once without healing properly, so she knew he had been in the Otherworld at some point. But his eyes . . . she lost herself in their intensity. His warm hand on her wrist brought her back to reality.
“We have to go,” he said. “You aren’t safe here.”
She felt another surge of irrational bravado and yanked her hand away. “I’m not going anywhere with you,” she said, but before she could react, he caught her neck in a chokehold. Within seconds, her world went black.