They were almost at the mouth of the tunnel, the weak halogen lights of the station platform filtering lazily through the smog, when a sharp gasp stopped the group in its tracks.
“What?” Raven glanced over his shoulder blinking against the bright lights of Gabriel’s suit.
“Shit, shit, shit!” Jared cursed
“Oh my God, oh my God!” Thistle was breathing fast and shallow.
And then Raven saw what the problem was. Jared’s suit was flickering, growing dimmer. “Move!” he lunged past Gabriel, grabbed Jared’s arm and dragged him into the middle of the group. “Stay together, move fast. We can make it!”
They began to jog, Jared cocooned in their midst, his light quickly fading.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I thought I checked, I mean, I did check the suit. I must have…shit! I must have picked up the wrong one!”
“It’s okay, it’ll be okay.” Thistle soothed.
Raven’s blood pounded in his ears, they were almost out of the tunnel. Once on the platform they could high-tail it up the stairs. They all had daggers and knives, Thistle had her crossbow strapped to her back and Gabriel had managed to dig up a sword from council storage. Not for the first time, he wished they had been given guns. Not that he was sure they would help against these creatures, the only thing that seemed to kill them was total dismemberment, anything else and they just got up and kept coming, even magic only seemed to provide a small reprieve from attack. Okay, he could see the end of the tunnel. Just a few more steps and they would make it, they would-
Jared’s light went out. He stumbled, knocking Thistle aside. Gabriel reached to steady Thistle and bumped into Kris who reached out to grab Raven to stop himself falling, and the cocoon was suddenly wide open.
Raven latched onto Kris, arresting his fall and in the same motion swivelled his torso to reach for Jared. Jared’s eyes were impossibly wide, his whites gleaming in the light from Raven’s suit. He reached for Raven, their fingers only an inch apart and then his torso was suddenly covered in thick inky tendrils. Damon lunged, grabbing hold of Jared’s arm and pulled. The darkness pulled back.
“Get it off me!” Jared screamed.
Raven grabbed Jared’s other arm and the darkness seemed to loosen its grip, shying away from the light.
“Okay, we got you, its letting go.”
“Please.” Jared pleaded.
Gabriel and Kris moved to grab Jared’s legs but, as if sensing their plan, the darkness acted first and Jared’s legs were whipped out from under him. It happened so fast, the pull so sudden and strong that Jared was ripped from their grasp.
“Heeeelllppp meeee!” He vanished into the darkness.
They followed running back into the tunnel, Jared’s screams echoing in their ears. Then there was sudden silence.
Raven came to an abrupt stop, his heart beating wildly against his rib cage.
“No.” Thistle shook her head in denial. “No, he can’t be…” She pushed past Raven plunging deeper into the tunnel. Gabriel threw Raven a bleak look before jogging after Thistle, his light quickly obscured by the darkness. Raven clenched his jaw, steeling himself against what they were to find. “Let’s get this over with.” The rest of the group followed.
Jared was gone, Raven knew this, but he understood Thistle’s need to see for herself, he also understood the unknown territory they were stepping into. The thing that had taken Jared…they had never seen the likes of it before, it was something…new.
“Careful, there could be more,” he cautioned.
They heard Gabriel up ahead. “Thistle, wait up.” Then. “Dammit!”
A wail of anguish echoed back through the tunnel.
“Looks like she found him,” Damon sighed. “I bloody hate this part.” Gabriel and Thistle were visible up ahead. He ducked his head and headed toward them.
“Please.” Thistle turned a tear stained face to Gabriel. “Kill him…please.” Thistle stood in the middle of the tunnel, her arm extended toward the wall opposite, her face a mask of grief and disgust.
“What’s she talking about?” Kris asked perplexed.
Raven scanned the wall Thistle was pointing at. Its surface was coated in a tar-like substance, thick and lumpy, and that’s when he saw it. Jared’s face peered out at them, his mouth open in a silent scream of agony, his eyes blood shot and pleading. Choked sounds escaped from his mouth but these were almost drowned out by the hungry slurping sounds emanating from the inky substance that bound him to the tunnel wall.
The sounds of feeding.
It was eating him alive. Dissolving him slowly.
“Fucking KILL HIM!” Thistle screamed at no one and everyone.
Raven nodded stepped forward and unsheathed his dagger. “May you have peace my friend.” He looked into Jared’s eyes as he made the first and only swipe required to end the vampire’s life. Jared head hit the ground, his eyes blissfully empty.