CAST OF PART 4:
Story, Setting and All Other Characters: Aron Head
Casey Gavin: Me
Gerard Houseman: Terry Mixon
The knot tightened in Casey’s stomach. ‘Your name has come up at court’…she didn’t like the sound of that at all.
Falco leaned forward. “You’ve nothing to fear, Casey. You’re under my protection. Whatever the scenario, you’ll be alright. I promise.”
“Under your protection,” she echoed faintly. “It almost sounds like you have some kind of…relationship…with these…” She couldn’t bring herself to actually say the word ‘vampires’ aloud. “…these people.”
“Relationship?” He smiled, “I don’t think that’s a word I’d use to describe it. Experience, rather. I’ve had a lot of experience with ‘these people’ through the years. They are drawn to the cities… So, one’s bound to bump into one or two.” He grinned at something. “We frequent the same circles.”
She thought that over. It was beginning to seem like the world–or Austin, at least–was a more complicated place than she’d ever imagined. Slowly she agreed, “I’ll call my boss in the morning, tell him I need to take a night or two off. Is it…is it safe for me to go home?”
He shook his head. “No. You’ll be staying with me.”
She gave him a quick, startled look.
He raised a hand to quell any protests. “I’ve a big place. Lots of room. You’ll have all the privacy you want. Really,” he reassured her, “My interest in you is not romantic. You’ll find I am a gentleman.”
She smiled at that, then looked slightly abashed. “I haven’t even thanked you for coming to my rescue tonight. You probably saved my life. Drunk or not, those guys looked like they meant business.”
“I was in their heads, Casey. They had nothing pleasant in store for you.”
Another shiver ran through her. If Falco hadn’t shown up when he did, her education in the big city would have come to a quick end that night. “Well, thank you,” she said quietly. “I guess I forgot to say that earlier.”
He smiled at her. It was a warm, sincere thing. “You’re welcome.”
She was silent for a few minutes, contemplating the unexpected hazards of life in Austin. “But I do want to learn.” She grinned, beginning to relax a little. “I’ll just need a little sleep every few days, just to stay sharp.”
“There will be ample time for rest, Casey. It’s important after all. Your brain still has much growing to do. It will require much rest.”
She nodded. “I’ve noticed that, actually. The harder I work on my telepathy, the better I sleep. Sorta wears me out when I overdo it.”
“Like any other muscle, you have to work it, rest it, and work it some more.”
She smiled a little. “I think I’m going to like having a teacher that knows all about this stuff. I’ve been kind of stumbling along in the dark, trying to find out what I can do.”
“Good. I hope you feel that way after the examinations.” He tossed a playful grin.
“There’s going to be a test?” she groaned in mock protest.
“Guess I’d better start studying.”
“Yes,” he agreed, “but right now… you’re on a field trip.”
They were downtown amidst tall office buildings. He gestured to a side street, “Back in there, face the front of the truck to this street here. Keep us in neutral. Be prepared to gun it.”
She followed his instructions to the letter, curiosity and a certain sense of adventure keeping her mild apprehension at bay.
He paused, “Casey… I’m going to need to be in your head when… when this starts happening. It’ll only be for a moment.”
Her smile faded a bit. The apprehension gained a little ground. “Um. Alright.” Her voice didn’t give the impression that it was completely alright…more like she’d accepted the uselessness of trying to resist his stronger skills.
He smiled at her. It was reassuring… and curiously confidence boosting. She felt set at ease… at least, more calm. She took slow, even breaths, attempting to prepare herself for whatever was about to ‘start happening.’
A few moments passed, and then…
All at once, Falco was there in her head. While it was frightening to lose control of herself, his presence was powerful… yet gentle.
Casey’s foot slammed on the accelerator as she shifted into gear. The tires smoked, the truck roared forward. Leaping out of the alley and across the street, Casey steered her truck down a drive leading to a giant skyscraper and CRASHED through a barricade into an underground garage!
She couldn’t believe what she was seeing!
A large man, clad in a suit and armed with a pistol was firing on a man in tattered business clothes, while two men struggled on the floor with another man who was completely engulfed in flames…!
Casey steered into the man with the gun, crushing him beneath her truck. The part of her not in Falco’s control made a panicky and utterly futile attempt to swerve away from the hapless gunman, but with an incredulous sense of horror she felt the truck tires thump over his body.
…Falco left her mind, returning full control to her as he leaped from the vehicle.
She instantly slammed on the brakes, bringing the truck to screeching halt. Her eyes were wide as saucers as she looked around the garage, trying to take in the situation.
Falco gestured in the direction of the flaming man.
“AIGH!” Spence cried out as the flames were immediately snuffed. The ghoul fell to the pavement.
Falco stepped purposefully to Houseman, kneeling beside him. “You’ve seen better days, my friend,” he said softly in his clipped, crisp voice. “I told you before, the time for safety has passed. It is now time for action.”
Casey rolled the driver’s side window down a few inches to hear what Falco is saying.
A bloodied hand smashed through the window, clutching for her…!
“What the–!?” She threw up a hand to shield her face from the flying glass, and scooted over to the passenger side of the truck cab. In the absence of her foot on the brake, the truck rolled forward.
”I thought I was,” Gerard replied to the newcomer. “You look shorter in person.”
“I see you’re in good humor,” Falco said as he hoisted Gerard up to his feet, “Though I must say I cannot see why.”
The suit-wearing fellow Casey had run over earlier popped up beside the driver’s side of the truck… and though he looked a bit rumpled and disheveled, he didn’t look like a truck had just run him over.
Casey stared at him in disbelief for a moment or two, but the night’s events had considerably raised her tolerance for dealing with the impossible. She regained her balance quickly this time, and reached under the truck bench for the tire iron she kept there for emergencies. Pulling it out, she glared through the shattered window at the man who should have been dead, and prepared to defend herself.
With unexpected speed he lunged, wriggling his way half through the window. His hand clamped down on hers holding the iron, drawing her to him.
She tried desperately to pull her hand out of his grasp, but this seemed to be her night for running into unnaturally strong assailants. No joy. His grip was iron!
His mouth gaped wide, full of vicious, feral teeth…! “…Biiiiiiiiitch…”
Another one! Remembering how effortlessly Falco had turned aside the last two “vampires,” Casey closed her eyes and focused all of her fury and psionic power, such as it was, into one intense wordless shout of angry opposition, aimed straight into the mind of her attacker.
His head snapped back as if dealt a powerful punch to the nose. He dropped back out of the window and rolled to the garage floor.
Before she had an opportunity to congratulate herself, the truck THUMPED to a stop against an elevator door. Her awkward sideways position on the pickup’s bench seat provided no leverage or balance and Casey was thrown against the dashboard, taking the blow on her upper right arm. She had no attention to spare for that, though–a mix of alarm and exhilaration was making her heart pound wildly. She’d knocked him down!
Gerard felt…drawn to the scent of the healthy, strong blood flowing through Falco. He resisted and bent to grab his sword and resheath it. “Bravado,” he replied to Falco’s last comment. “I almost died the final death but I will not be broken in spirit. Spence! Arian! Our ride is here.”
No answer from Arian.
Spence was on all fours, blackened and charred. He gasped and choked.
“I’ll help your man,” Gerard’s rescuer intoned, “But let me get you to…” He turned and watched as the truck rolled forward, thumping against the elevator doors. “…the truck?” He watched the exchange between Casey and the suited vampire. He seemed… happy? Or at least pleased about it.
Adrenaline raced through Casey’s veins as she looked cautiously through the shattered window to find her would-be killer. If he was getting up to attack again, she wanted to stop him *outside* the truck this time, before he could get his hands on her.
He was up and stomping in her direction…with a nasty nosebleed.
She suddenly found herself wishing she had a nice sharp blade handy. Those beheadings were starting to look more acceptable by the minute. She watched him approach, and felt a touch of something like despair. She’d *felt* her truck tires crush his body, but he’d gotten up and come after her. She’d thrown every ounce of her telepathic powers at him, but that hadn’t stopped him for long either. She knew without even trying that her telekinetic skills weren’t strong enough yet to stop him. She was running out of ideas. She slid back to the passenger side as he reached the truck door. Sending a quick plea for assistance–**Mr. Falco…? You were right, I can’t handle them. I could use some help**–she stared wide-eyed through the broken window at the bloodied features of her attacker.
He tore the door off the driver’s side. “YOU BROKE BY DOSE, BITCH!” His face was disfigured with raging fury.