Barbara appeared in Ambrose’s dream.
She was just a pencil sketch with imperfect lines and eraser marks. Her lines became stronger and well-defined. Colors filled her in, like paint inside a mason jar. Her lines became curves.
She became real.
And, inside his dream, she told him her heart.
“Barbara.” He reached for her.
The dream ended.
Ambrose opened his eyes.
Barbara wasn’t there, but he wasn’t sad.
The pain, the retching, the hunger, the day’s fatigue…They were all gone. Words and thoughts and images and memories flowed through his mind like unrestricted water.
And he knew.
He knew that he had made it to the other side of his savage hunger.
Ambrose pulled out the small black box and opened it. He removed the solitary diamond ring and held it above his face.
Last time I proposed to a woman, it came out all wrong. What’s the right way to go about it? I suppose the traditional down on one knee approach. But I want to do something more. I want to surprise her. I want…
His smile grew.
A horse-drawn carriage.
And I’ll be the driver.
It’s been a long time, but maybe it’s a bicycle thing. Maybe I’ll hold the reins in my hands and it will all come back to me.
Ambrose returned the ring to its black box home sweet home and stood. Or maybe I should take lessons. I don’t want to accidently kill her.
He put it back into his slacks pocket.
“It’s time for me to go home.”
“I’m sorry, Master. I’m sorry. I disregarded everything you taught me. I…” His voice failed him.
“If you wish to defeat Smith the vampire, you cannot let your emotions own you. You cannot let him be in your thoughts. You must fight him without thought, without passion.”
“I know, Master.”
“You know, but you fail to apply knowledge. You will take test again, Mayhew, and again until you learn.”
“Return to your room. I will send for you when I am ready.”
“No think, Mayhew.”
“Fight only. Think later.”
Hildreth dropped into bed.
Even if he wanted to think, he couldn’t. He could only fall sound asleep.
As Ambrose walked through the woods to get back to the train tracks, he licked the tip of his thumb claw.
This doesn’t taste familiar.
He extended his full set of claws. A volley of unfamiliar scents struck him. Along with traces of unfamiliar bloodstains.
He sniffed them carefully, searching for a memory. Any memory.
The scents were just there.
The bloodstains were just there with no rhyme or reason or explanation.
What did I do?
And who did I do it to?