“It happened again, Sir.”
Back to the door, I glance up from the computer screen to stare at my chief of security. “How many?”
“Just the doctor.”
Another doctor. I nod. “Where is Miles now?”
“We haven’t been able to get into the room, Sir.”
Course. I take a deep breath, careful to keep the disappointment from touching my features. These people have to trust me. They have to believe I have a plan. They can’t know I’m drowning in this predicament just as much as they are.
“Give me a moment. I’ll be right out to deal with him.”
He shuts the door, closing me in with my thoughts. I kick the extension cord under my desk. Another doctor. Dammit.
We’re past the stage of throwing things around the room to blow off steam, so I carefully lean back in my chair and stand, leaving my keyboards and papers alone. This was supposed to be easy. It’s the next step up the ladder to power, but I can’t get there without Miles by my side.
My father is doing everything he can to take power from the world. He’s ready to bloody swords and let his men fall in the face of older, wiser creatures, the kind of beasts that have ruled this world since the beginning of time and aren’t prepared to pull their claws out of its crust. That’ll change soon, though. When I’m ready to step onto the throne, they will hand it to me.
I step out from behind the desk, buttoning my jacket back in place. Calm thoughts, Matt. A sunrise across the ocean tides. Pine cones with a fine dusting of snow across the forest floor. Miles. Just him. Dressed in sweats and doing something completely domestic in our kitchen. He’d smile or make a joke and the rest of the world wouldn’t matter.
I have to fix him.
Out of my office, I walk through the familiar halls of my hotel. My shoes don’t make a noise across the patterned blue tiles. Gold paint covers the baseboards and leads up to light grey walls. It’s a color pattern designed to keep my customers at ease.
It doesn’t work on Miles. Nothing seems to work on him once the virus takes hold.
I stab a finger into the elevator button and step inside. Level thirteen is locked for all guests and staff who aren’t scanned into the biometric system. I lay my thumb on the pad and watch the lights flicker.
I’m on my way, Miles.
The elevator slides to a stop on his level. Chaos meets me when the doors open. Two women in lab coats pace the space in front of me, their hands full of charts and their mouths full of questions. I raise a hand up, silencing them. Not now. I don’t want to talk about this just yet. We’ve had a failure, a setback, just the like the several dozen before now and I can’t waste a moment on talking about it.
Miles needs me.
Breezing by the several security members who already have guns in their hands, I put my thumb on the door scanner. “Nobody enter after me. Do you understand?”
There’s a general murmur of agreement. Nobody actually wants the title of supernatural wrangler. They all would prefer I deal with him myself.
The tension in the room behind me is nothing compared to the scene in the all white office I made for Miles’ appointments. The carpet in the center of the room is red. Not dyed. Stained. It has soaked up the life essence of the last doctor.
Pity. That one seemed competent.
The door clicks shut behind me. We’re locked in. No help is coming.
I don’t see Miles at first. Instead, I take a few steps inside and survey the scene. There’s the body. It’s splayed between the couch and the chair. Clearly, the man was standing when my husband attacked. I don’t doubt that he acted in self-defense. The virus is hyper-sensitive, far more trigger happy than the parasite entwined with my own DNA. Someone wanted to make improvements on the vampire virus of the twentieth century and now several doctors are dead. Perhaps science and genetic modification isn’t always the answer.
Miles is in the corner. Head in his hands, I can see that his claws are still out. He doesn’t show conscious control over the obsidian blades attached to each finger.
I unbutton my jacket and shrug it off, folding it in half and depositing it on the one couch cushions not sprayed with the doctor’s blood. May Jupiter smile down on my courage today. New vampires are stronger and faster than older breeds. It’s always a risk that I’ll lose a fight if he’s triggered in my presence.
One step closer. My shoe sinks into the carpet. I’ll have to take them off before I leave this room if I don’t want to trail forensic evidence through the hotel. Miles’ head snaps up. He immediately points one curved claw to the pad of paper by his feet.
I didn’t mean for it to happen.
I keep my hands at my sides even as my chest tightens. “I know, darling. It’s okay. It was an accident.”
His pupils are too large. I can’t tell if they’re dilated from fear or the virus. I watch him as he stares at me through his curtain of black hair. I don’t know what the right words are now.
I love you doesn’t seem right.
I’m going to fix this seems too forward.
“I’m here to help you,” I settle on.
He can’t quite close his mouth around the needle-sharp fangs poking into his bottom lip. Carefully grabbing his pencil, he stabs it onto the blood speckled paper to scrawl a single word. Why
“Because I promised to take care of you,” I answer carefully, slowly bending down into a crouch in front of him.
I watch him pull his shoulders further back into the corner, shrinking from my close proximity. His hand is moving again. Who are you?
Three words. That’s all it is. Words.
I take a shuddering breath around the sharp pain in my chest. “I’m Matt, Miles. Your husband.”
He shakes his head, vehemently denying my statement.
I close my fists and open them slowly. Slow and steady. I can’t move too fast or I’ll set him off.
Someone else was in here. It wasn’t anyone on my staff. They’re all too scared of Miles. They wouldn’t want to be the next casualty.
No. This is something else. Something insidious and political.
Straightening, I take a step back from him. “What’s the last thing you remember, Miles?”
He doesn’t have to write anything down. Instead, he flings a hand towards the body in the middle of the room.
Good point. Death is memorable.
“Do you remember anyone else coming in here?”
A tear leaks down his left cheek as he shakes his head again. Nothing. They’ve scrambled his memory. He was getting better. It’s been weeks since we had an incident. He and I were sharing our apartment again. Things were looking slightly better.
Which is bad for anybody against our cause.
Miles is one of only two new vampires. The second is a girl that has been missing for almost two decades. If he got better, he and I could petition to join the world’s council. We would join the group of powerful couples who control the fate of the world. Old vampires have been fighting the genetically modified groups for decades now. Should Miles control his virus and learn to manage his powers, he would change the world and they couldn’t ignore us any longer.
Which can’t happen. I know who was here. Someone came in here and altered his mind, undid the years of training and passion I’ve put into his project, and left as quietly as a shadow.
It seems the princess is trying to regain her parents’ favor.
I didn’t know Erisa Nabil had stepped into my territory. I hope she had her fun because she’s going to regret it.
One question answered, I have another problem to deal with now. Miles is still curled up into the corner. He doesn’t know me. There’s blood all over his shirt and hands and smeared on his cheeks, his neck, his forearms. I have to get him out of here.
I move my attention to the security camera in the corner and wave my hands to get their attention. “Clear the floor. I’m taking him out of here.”
This room is soundproofed, but I know chaos has broken out on the rest of the level. With only the one elevator, people are going to grab their belongings and shove inside. A few desperate individuals will push out into the stairwell to scramble to safety.
Vampires are dangerous. Especially new ones. Especially Miles.
I don’t blame them for their reactions. Too many of them have seen him lose control. Too many have been instructed in cleaning up the messes in here. I watch Miles sink his face into his hands again, his body shaking with a silent sob. This can’t keep happening.
“I’ll be right back,” I tell him, not looking for a reaction or an answer as I back up towards the door and let myself out of the room.
I can fix this. I have to help him.
White sheets of paper spill onto the floor from several of the desks situated throughout this room. Pens are scattered among the mess. A few purses were completely abandoned. The staff understood the danger in my request and fled. Excellent. Perhaps they deserve a raise.
With the floor clear, I carefully open the door again. “Miles, let’s go home.”
He doesn’t budge from his position in the corner, preferring to stay curled in on himself like a nervous hedgehog. It’s a good thing none of his extra properties have developed as invisibility. I’d probably never find him again.
Okay. I’m going to have to move him myself. I can’t just leave him in here.
Easing my way back into the room, I cross the floor and crouch down in front of him once more. “Hey, Miles. We should get you up in your room to take a shower. How does that sound?”
He doesn’t answer. Obviously. He can’t answer.
I don’t want to reach out to touch him. I’m not in the mood to ruin a perfectly good outfit by having him claw at me.
“I’ll get in the shower with you. We have that cherry blossom soap you like and, after, we can sit in bed and eat chocolate ice cream.”
His head snaps up from his arms. I have only a split second to register that his eyes are an unnatural shade of burgundy. This isn’t Miles. It’s the monster.
No words can save me. I scramble back, falling on my ass into the wet carpet. Blood and fibers stick to my left hand as I hold my right up to fend him away.
He lunges. I move. It’s a reflex more than a conscious defense. Miles crashes into the couch, shoving the thick piece of furniture several feet away.
“I’m sorry, Miles. Please, you have to fight this. You have to be okay. I don’t know what they did to you, but we can fix it.”
There’s no rational creature in his head. He can’t hear my words. He doesn’t care.
Red fills his gaze. Fangs dangle from his upper jaw.
I’m going to fix him.
I promised to fix him.
But it won’t be today.
Fight or flee. Those are my options now. I don’t want to hurt him anymore than I already have, so I push to my feet before his dazed, emotionless eyes can focus on me again.
“I’ll be back,” I call over my shoulder.
The door slams shut behind me, muffling the unnatural roar that follows me from the room.
This is a complimentary piece to the high school prompt a few weeks ago. Miles is my main character with memory problems, but I wanted to give a fresh look on his condition. The vampires in this series are incredibly complicated and versatile, their specific ailments differing wildly between characters, so be sure to keep checking in to see which character I highlight each week as we slowly put together this complex world of flawed and stubborn people.
As always, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to view this piece and be sure to check in with Anna and Bridgette as well!
Anna’s story: https://loscotoff.com/week25-the-factory/
Bridgette’s story: https://bridgettetales.com/2022/06/26/challenge-week25/