The lights in the stairwell flickered between incandescent yellow and burned out brown. They settled on brown for a bit before going out altogether.
Raven’s pupils widened as he ran up the stairs. And, for him, the darkness lightened into sharp gray.
Push the panic down.
Crush the fear.
Do not break.
Do not crumble.
Do not yield.
He reached the second floor.
The whole area was dark and empty of life.
Raven raised his head and scented the air.
Mostly faded scents.
Nothing that smelled like Missy.
Missy. If you can hear me, let me know. Call back to me. I’m here.
He walked down the dark hallway.
Past receptionist desks.
Past the elevator.
Past the right corner.
Past the nurse’s station.
To the drinking fountain.
To the closed door across the hall.
He laid his gloved hands on the door.
Missy. I’m here.
He laid his head on top of his hands.
I’m right here. Talk to me. Let me know you’re there. Just one word. That is all I ask for. Is that too much? Should I ask for anything at all?
I abandoned her.
He pushed that bubble of negative thoughts down and far away.
“I am here now.”
He took hold of the doorknob.
“I will not abandon her again.”
He tried to turn the doorknob.
It was locked.
As Robin walked around the darkened hall, he scanned the walls in search of any hidden cameras.
He smiled as he found his first one.
He walked up to it. “Hello, baby. It’s destruction time.”
Antioch sat in the control room.
He had shut off the monitors for Henspence and Jackson, leaving on only the ones for Pinkerlee.
His gaze moved from monitor to monitor.
They will come again.
I know they will.
He smiled a gentle-hearted smile as the two vampires burst onto the scene.
And here they are now.
He focused on Raven.
You’re the one she loves.
Maybe I should rephrase that.
I should use past tense.
She loved you, vampire.
He startled out of his thoughts as the first floor monitors blinked out one at a time.
Robin ran up to the next camera and looked straight at it.
Antioch frowned as the vampire plucked the camera as easily as if it were a daisy. He focused his thoughts and attention on Robin.
He completely missed the spectacle of Raven tearing Missy’s door down.
Raven entered the room and turned on the light. “Missy?”
She wasn’t on the bed.
She was all huddled up in the corner with downcast eyes.
“Missy.” He tripped and stumbled his way over to her. His legs just didn’t want to work right. “Miss…Missy.” He knelt beside her.
She didn’t acknowledge him.
“Missy. Look at me. Please.”
She looked up at him.
It was like she slapped him, but that would have been kinder.
Her eyes were cold and empty.
Missy wasn’t there.
He sat back on his feet and spread his hands on the floor.
What can I do?
What can I say?
Her skin glowed a faint orange, but she did not transform.
“What did he do to you?” The hurt he felt roughed up his voice. “How can I make you right again? How can I save you, Missy?”
Am I all too late?
Raven stood and walked to the destructed door. He stopped and looked back at her. I can’t leave.
I cannot leave her.
I will not leave her here.
Her expression hardened.
He stood his ground. “Missy.”
She paced around him. Her fiery tail swished in dangerous swerves.
He didn’t move.
Her ears pinned.
“Missy.” Must I take my shirt off again? “Listen to me. I am not a threat.”
Yet, here I am. Towering high over her.
He knelt and bowed his head. Missy. I love you.
This is my fault.
This is my fault.
I failed her.
I failed to protect her.
I failed to rescue her.
I abandoned her.
“If you wish to burn me, by all means, burn me alive. If you wish to destroy me, go on. Destroy me. Crack me. Scorch me. Make my skin blister and peel. I will do nothing to stop you. Missy, I am helpless and defenseless at your feet.”
She stopped in front of him.
He raised his head. “I surrender.”