- 11 -
Alex didn’t turn any light on in the quiet, dark house, and went straight to her room. It felt good, getting rid of blades and stuff, of blood-stained clothes, to get in the shower. She rubbed her body vigorously to wash away all the traces of the fight, and lingered under the warm rain to let it ease the tension stiffening her neck and shoulders.
Yet, she still felt dirty. It didn’t matter the water swirling around her feet had no traces of blood anymore. Violence was a more subtle kind of filth. One no soap could cleanse.
She thought music might help her sleep. Pearl Jam filled her room as she moved around, wrapped in her favorite towel. She thought of Claire. Compared to what they’d just been through, the Campbells looked like a picnic.
Alex got in bed and turned off her nightstand lamp.
Maybe now Claire would understand what being a hunter really meant. And that she didn’t cut it. Maybe she was up to a little mystery and some action, but she’d never be able to deal with the violent side of hunting, when an evil creature broke into human communities to have its way and it had to be stopped.
Maybe now Claire would agree it was better to leave Old Bootter’s legacy to dust up in his workshop at the deserted family farm.
She rested an arm across her face, covering her eyes. The ertes were dead. Would she be able to feel Claire was safe? At least as much as anyone else could be.
She knew the girl would come back home in a couple of days. She would slowly be able to look at Alex without seeing her covered in dark blood with two dead bodies at her feet. It’d take time, but eventually things would go back to normal. The love between them would heal the wounds left by the anniversary and restore their bond.
At the same time that Alex’s light went off, a light went on in Ollie’s room. He’d claimed his home’s attic back in high school, and the large space right under the gable roof, crossed by the thick old beams, was his unchallenged territory. The soft golden glow fell on the movie posters on the walls and the bookcase with literally hundreds of comics.
The headboard of the queen size bed brushed the wall when Claire rolled over, turning her back on Ollie as she pressed a hand to her mouth. Her muffled groan didn’t wake him up, but he followed her move in his sleep, and his arm came to rest around her waist.
Claire forced herself to breathe deep, ignoring the tears overflowing her eyes yet again. The pills Dr. Jackson had given her to help her sleep didn’t seem to work at all. As soon as she closed her eyes, she would see it all over again. And what was way worse: she felt it all again. The ertes’ muddy cloud of twisted instincts, and Alex’s…
The girl bit her lip to keep from groaning out loud.
How come she’d never caught even a hint about such a terrible dark side to her aunt? How come Alex had managed to keep it hidden from her empathy? Yeah, maybe Ollie was right. The ertes weren’t only the killers of their family: they were about to butcher the person Alex loved the most in the whole world. To Ollie, it was only natural she’d gone berserk homicidal in order to save Claire’s life. He was even grateful for it.
“I would’ve too, had I been there,” he’d said.
Claire hadn’t bother to argue. She would never be able to explain even a slight part of what she’d sensed.
However, she knew Alex enough to understand Ollie was right. Her aunt wouldn’t have been like that if it were somebody else’s life at stake. Which only added guilt to the horror. Because she felt responsible for triggering such a violent bloodlust in her aunt.
“You should watch some TV,” Ollie murmured behind her, eyes closed. “I don’t mind the noise.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
His lips brushed her shoulder. “It’s okay, baby.”
The loud barking woke Alex up before dawn. She needed a moment to identify the sound. Tricia’s dog next door. Damn beast. It sure barked at some random cat strolling around a mile away. Sometimes she wished she and Tricia hadn’t met at high school, so she could tell her neighbor to keep her awful pet quiet at night or else.
The barks became a long howl that seemed to pierce her ears.
“Shit!” she snarled.
She got up and looked out her window. Nothing, obviously. She heard Tricia scolding the dog to shut the hell up. Good. At least she hadn’t been the only one the spoiled beast had waken up. She went back to bed, feeling her bones had turned to stone. She was asleep again a minute later.