Riddled with Holes, Episode 2
There I stood, frozen, and not merely because the icy air was seeping into my bones. A shiver ran through me as the crimson eyes in the bush shifted position. Was that thing moving closer? I couldn’t tell.
A belated idea hit me. I stepped back and reached my arm through the doorway into the kitchen, my hand fumbling along the wall until I found the panel of light switches. I flicked random switches up and down until I found the one for the outdoor light. The light fell over Puff and me, but its radiance failed to reach even as far as the edge of the patio, let alone the bushes where the red-eyed creature hid.
A low growl rumbled in Puff’s chest. I placed my hand on his head. Feeling suddenly bold, I called out, “Hey! Who’s out there?”
There was a rustling in the bushes, another shifting of those red eyes. But there was no verbal reply. Not that I had actually expected one.
I allowed my attention to be drawn away from the bushes when I glimpsed movement to my left. There, another shape moved within the shadows. Something was approaching the patio. I tensed, as did Puff, and a woman came out of the darkness and into the light. I blinked, once, twice, three times. She had long dark hair, a milky complexion, and wore a silken blouse of royal blue. Despite the chilling situation at hand, my mind still possessed enough clarity to realize that she was the most gorgeous woman I had ever seen. She stepped directly beneath one of the lights on the patio, and I saw that she had the bluest of blue eyes, and in the patio light they gleaned. And so did the knife in her hand.
“Whoa,” I said, taking a step back, holding my hands out in front of me in a defensive gesture. “Who are you? What’s up with the knife?”
”It’s not meant for you,” she told me, her voice low and smooth. Then she waved her knife-wielding hand toward the bushes, where I was pretty sure the red-eyed whatever-it-was had drawn closer. “It’s for that.” Then she turned back to me, looking me up and down, and asked, “Don’t you have a knife? A sword? Anything?”
I cocked my eyebrows at that notion. I couldn’t help but say, “Not on me. I must have left them in my other boxers.”
She looked at me strangely, with an expression that I read to mean, I think you’re joking but I’m not entirely sure. “Aren’t you Cody Jones? You meet the description.” She examined me once again with those blue eyes, top to bottom.
“Cody Jones. Yeah,” I replied slowly, “that’s me.”
“And you have no weaponry? At all?”
“No. But in my defense, it’s not like I came out here expecting to need any. All I wanted was to let my dog inside. And then to go back to bed. To sleep. Where it’s warm.”
Puff suddenly shifted and bark-woof-growled. Turning, I barely even registered the rustling sound of the bushes before I saw that thing bolting toward us. In the split second it took for it to cross from the back of the yard to the patio, I noted that not only did it have red eyes, but also fangs. Really long and really sharp fangs. It was pale and gangly, and I noted how it looked human, or at least humanoid, but not really.
The woman with the knife shoved me aside and offered the non-human humanoid an uppercut to the chin. It growled as it was knocked to the side. But then it righted itself, all too quickly, and it came back with a vengeance. With her knife, the woman slashed at it, and I could see blood glisten on its gangly arm, but it still managed to elbow the pretty lady aside.
And then it ran at me. I did the first thing I could think of, and kicked my foot up between its legs. The monstrosity—which now had a long strand of drool dripping from one fang—stopped, but it looked more confused than pained. Yet the momentary pause lasted just long enough for the mysterious woman with the knife—the exceptionally large knife, I just realized—to dart back into the scene. With one hand she grabbed the snarling creature by its long greasy hair, and with the knife in her other hand she made a single slicing motion. The monster’s body slumped to the ground, hitting the pavement with a thump. The beastie’s head remained in the woman’s hand. Looking at it, she grimaced and even snarled, and then she tossed it aside. I watched her do this, then watched the head fall to the ground, next to the decapitated body, all with a strange detachment that both surprised and disturbed me. I guess I should blame that on too many videogames? Or too many horror movies, maybe?
“That,” the woman said, snapping me back to reality, whatever reality was anymore, “is why you must always remain armed. Do you understand that now?”
I opened my mouth, but not to answer her question. Instead, I asked one of my own: “What is that thing?” I pointed a hand down at the slain creature.
She looked at me, eyebrows raised, as if that was the absolute stupidest question. Finally, she uttered, “A werevamp,” as if that was the most obvious answer in the world.
“Werevamp. You know, a werewolf-vampire cross. A hybrid.”
“No. No, I don’t know. How would I know that? Werevamp? Those exist?”
“Well, obviously.” She looked away and pinched the bridge of her nose, hid her stunning blue eyes behind tightly shut eyelids, as if collecting her thoughts. She eventually mumbled, “Good grief. I can’t believe you’re it.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
She gave me a hard stare. “No offense—well, I guess no offense—but so far you’re proving immensely underwhelming.”
“You sure you’re Cody Jones?”
“Pretty sure.” I scratched at my scalp, even though it didn’t itch. “What’s this all about, anyway? What did you mean, I’m it. And what am I so underwhelming for?”
“They said you would be some great warrior. But...” she trailed off, looking me up and down.
“They said? Who’s they?”
“The oracles. The scrolls.”
“What?” I spluttered. “Who are you? Maybe that’s the better question. You know, I usually trust the pretty ladies, and you really are plenty easy on the eyes, and, for what it’s worth, you are in really good shape.” I realized my eyes were wandering, as was my mind. I forced myself to snap out of it. After all, there were more pressing matters at hand than her looks, no matter how distracting I found them. Again, I asked, “Who are you?”
“The name’s Avadoralinea. Ava, for short.” She almost smiled, but it was strained.
“Ava,” I repeated. I felt bad how uncomfortable she looked, trying to give me a smile that was only obligatory at best. ”That’s a pretty name.”
Suddenly, a strange howl-squeal rang out in the distance. Ava looked over her shoulder, up at the moon, then at me. “That one,” she said, pointing at the cadaver at our feet, “was just the first. More will come. We need to get out of here.”
“What? What’s going on?”
“They’re after you. They know we’ve found you. They want to kill you, before you can fulfill your destiny.”
That sounded all-around terrifying. But I could find no words to express that sentiment of mine. Had she really just said that someone—they, whoever that was in this case—wanted to kill me? And what was that about my destiny?
After yet another howl-squeal filled the night, Ava said, “We definitely need to leave. Now. Does your house have a closet?”
“Uh, yeah. Tons of them. Why?”
“Tons of them?” Ava gaped at me, eyes as wide as saucers.
“Well, not really tons, but a lot of them. I don’t know, maybe seven of them.”
“Well, hopefully one of them will work.”
“Work? How does a closet work, exactly?”
She looked at me, her brow furrowed, pretty face set firm around the edges. “We don’t have time for this right now,” she finally declared. She spoke none too soon, because there was suddenly another screeching howl, much closer this time. “Inside. Now. Take me to the nearest closet.”
“Not until you tell me why.”