(An Affliction Novel #3)
by Deb Apodaca
Expected Publication: Summer 2013
(This prologue hasn't been edited yet, the author sends her apologies for that)
As the clear liquid cascaded down from the angry roaring sky, Crystal gripped the blood bags against her chest, as if they were an infant being protected against any harm. The glossy black pavement beneath her feet splashed with every footfall as she ran as fast as she could to the entrance of The Space Cavern. Crystal burst through the entrance with tears pouring down her face, her hair, body, and clothes were soaked from the night’s rampage. A blood bag wiggled out of her arms and darted towards the dangerous ground beneath her. Crystal gasped and leaped for the bag, saving it before it crashed into the threatening hardwood surface.
"Crystal!" Shane’s voice faintly echoed throughout the cave.
Crystal tucked the blood bag safely against her chest and clenched it tightly along with the very few others. She looked down at the ground and whimpered at the sight of blood trailing in the direction of her destination. She flew down the stairs and picked up her feet through the cold
underground. Her feet crashed against the stone ground, sending echoes throughout the empty space.
Mindy’s screaming broke through the echoes. The cries of excruciating pain gave Crystal chills and an ugly sensation in her gut. Mindy had slayer blood in her…and it was slowly killing her.
Nathan came running out from behind the boulder that concealed the entrance to their hidden home, he noticed Crystal coming and kept it open as she quickly approached.
"How is it going? Is she doing better?" Crystal asked.
"No. I have to get more blood." Nathan shook his head.
"More?!" Crystal gasped. "But this was all I could find! Humans aren’t out this late."
"Then what do I do?" asked Nathan.
"Crystal!" yelled Shane.
"I gotta go!" Crystal cried out as she rushed inside.
"But what do I do?" asked Nathan in a panic.
Crystal turned and ran backwards down the hall. "I don’t know!" she replied with a
shrug of her shoulders, then disappeared into Darcel’s conference room.
Mindy’s body lay stretched across the heavy hard wood conference table. Rope, spackled with blood, was wrapped around her forearm and wrists, down to the sturdy leg of the table. Her legs were also securely strapped to the other end of the table and tightened with every tug Mindy gave as she struggled against the hold. Her entire skin was bubbling as if she were boiling alive and she screamed in agony.
"Kill me now! PLEASE!" Mindy cried out. Tears and blood streamed down her cheek bones and onto the table as she stared at Shane. "Please!"
Shane cocked her a smile, a fake smile, and leaned closer to her. "You’ll be alright. I’m going to make sure of it." He assured her with a determination that almost was believable.
Buckets of blood sat on the ground below each of Mindy’s wrists. Shane’s shirt was soaked in crimson and his skin was stained with blotches of Mindy’s blood. He stood by Mindy and held her hand tightly as she continued to scream for the pain to stop. Shane looked at the small amount of blood in
Crystal’s arms and the panic in his face increased.
"That’s not enough." Shane said sadly.
"I couldn’t find more. I can go back out and see if I can find a human this time. The clubs closed hours ago, so the town is dead." Crystal said.
"No, I’ll need your help here. Nathan, Jennifer, and Titus are out searching. One of them has to come back with something." Shane said.
"How are we going to help her?" Crystal asked.
"I’ve been feeding her human blood so she could heal, but the slayer blood keeps taking over. I’m thinking, we need to drain her completely and then fill her back up with human blood." Shane continued, "I need to hang her upside down to really get it all out."
"But-" Crystal protested.
Shane laid his hand on Crystal’s shoulder as a form to ease her. "Don’t worry, I don’t think draining her will kill her."
"Will it hurt her more?" Crystal asked.
"It will." Shane said while turning back to Mindy. She was yanking her arms, trying to pull them out of the chains around them.
"If we unchain her, there’s no telling what she’ll do." Crystal pointed out.
"Any suggestions?" Shane asked.
"We could flip the table over so she’s upside down." Crystal said.
"Good idea. Ok…let’s do this." Shane said. He kicked the chairs out of the way and turned the table to face an empty wall. "Ready?" he asked Crystal.
Mindy continued screaming.
Crystal’s eyes began to water again as her close friend suffered. "Yes." Crystal said while positioning herself on one end of the table, trying not to look directly at Mindy.
The table was about 8 feet long and would have plenty of room to lean against the wall without touching the cave’s high ceiling. Shane and Crystal lifted the end of the table where Mindy’s feet were tied and raised it to a vertical angle. Mindy’s hair cascaded down and pooled on the floor like a mess of silky drapes.
Jennifer came in the room, dragging a man dressed in tattered clothing. "I found a homeless guy."
"Perfect." Shane said then he dragged the two buckets from across the room and placed one under each hanging wrist. He looked up at
Crystal. "You don’t have any cuts or scrapes right?"
"No." Crystal blankly replied.
"Good. I don’t want any of her blood getting in you system." Shane said.
"Are we really doing this?" Crystal’s voice trembled.
Shane turned away from her with extreme worry on his face and stared at Mindy. "I don’t know what else to do."
Mindy’s screams began to weaken and her struggling slowed. "Dean." She whimpered softly, almost too soft to hear.
On reflex, Shane stiffened at the sound of Dean’s name. It didn’t matter anymore weather she remembered him or not. Dean was dead, an eliminated issue that Shane was happy about.
Shane shook it off and focused on the task at hand. More than anything, Shane wanted to save Mindy. He pulled a pocket knife from his pants and took in a breath, then began the process of draining her. In the back of his mind, he knew that if that didn’t work, Mindy was as good as dead.