Night Children: Dark Changes
Chapter Five, A Peace Forever Shattered
Eliza saw it first. The out of place shape caused her to stop her bat form short. Lying in the middle of the main road, where anyone could stumble across it, was the body of a dead man.
“Who’s that?” She asked.
“I don’t... wait. He looks familiar.” Annabelle glided down to the ground. Eliza followed. They were in their human shapes when Eliza knelt down to examine the cadaver.
It was a young man in his early twenties. His skin pale as a sheet, two small holes scared his neck. “It’s Jonathan Jorgan.” Annabelle said. “He’s one of Henry’s friends. His grandfather settled the town.”
The sound of many horses thundered through her ears. Fear caused Annabelle’s legs to freeze in place. Several angry men arrived in wagons and on horseback. Henry Dunston, enraged like never before, leaped out of the first wagon and ran to his friend. The men yelled and jeered as they surrounded the vampires.
Annabelle grabbed Eliza’s arm for safety. She was scared out of her wits. She chanced a look towards the forest behind the men. Annabelle could not believe the hate and fear in their eyes.
“Henry? Why are you--”
He cut her off. “They did this!” Henry jumped to his feet and pointed at Annabelle and Eliza. Spit flew from his red face as he shouted, “That’s Eliza Pratchet. She’s a vampire.”
The men gasped. Every nerve in Annabelle’s body demanded escape, but the shock of Henry’s betrayal rooted her to the spot.
Eliza’s strong look spoke volumes. She wanted Annabelle to flee to safety. Annabelle returned her look and squeezed her hand. She’d never leave her adoptive mother.
Henry continued, “Remember those Foresight children that were killed by wolves years ago? She turned them into vampires. That’s one of them.” Angry shouts echoed through the night, running a shiver up Annabelle’s spine. “She killed my brother Thomas and tricked me into keeping quiet.” He pointed at Annabelle.
“No, Servo killed Tom. I saved him by turning...” It was the worse thing she could say. The ever growing crowd jeered her. “Henry, please. You promised.”
“You tricked me. You corrupted Thomas.” Henry turned back towards the angry mob. “She spent her first night as a vampire planning ways to change by brother and sister. They snuck into our room and put a spell on Polly and Thomas.”
“That’s a lie.” Annabelle shouted it out as tears clouded her vision.
“She mesmerized my brother, made him want to be... that.” He gestured at them like they were diseased creatures. “I don’t know how Polly and I escaped her notice, but she killed him.”
Furious jeers erupted from the crowd. Eliza pulled at Annabelle’s arm but she held her ground. There must be some way to convince them he was wrong. She had to know why Henry was doing this.
“Now he’s a monster, just like them.”
“It’s not true,” she blinked away the tears. “Tom wanted to be like us.”
“She admits it,” Henry roared and the mob shouted. The deafening sound hurt her ears. “Now look what they have done.”
“No, we didn’t do this. We don’t know who--”
“Don’t listen to her lies. Now they’ve killed Johnny. This has to stop,” Henry roared from the top of his lungs as he grabbed tightly to her left arm. “Get them. Don’t let them escape.”
By this time, the crowd had filled the street. They moved as one, crushing into Eliza and Annabelle. They pulled at the girls’ hair, bruised their bodies, kicked and hit them.
Savage pain raked her body from all sides at once. Instinctively, she scratched and hit back and some men fell to the ground. Others screamed as her sharp nails dug into their flesh. It barely made a difference because more attackers replaced the fallen.