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Soulbound ‡ waif

by Wes Leigh

Chapter 7

We surmise that the vampire is most formidable in battle, owing primarily to three things: his great strength, his quick reflexes, and his ability to move quickly, seemingly moving from one place to another in the blink of an eye. Not surprisingly, this combination of dark powers makes a vampire difficult—nay, almost impossible—to defeat.

-- From Conclusions on the Nature of Creatures of the Night by Fr. Ignatius Benedictus

There is a reason why all things are as they are.

-- From Dracula by Bram Stoker


"What is it, Reg?"

"I think Jacko caught Zavy's chill."

Mum looked up from the cereal she was stirring over the cooking range. Reggie was leaning over the other two boys as they slept, Zavy resting comfortably, Jack shivering and shaking.

Mum shook her head and sighed. She'd been worried that might happen, but there was nothing she could do about it. "Cover him up good with extra blankets. We haven't the coal to burn for heating the room, so you two will have to keep him as comfortable as you can. Doesn't look like they hurt Zavy none. He got over 'em just fine, so Jack should as well. How are you feeling, Reggie? Any chills?"

Reggie shook his head. He felt fine. He'd slept well all night, falling asleep quickly after being sucked by Jack, not waking up once, even though the other two were buggering each other right next to him. Reggie had fallen asleep thinking about the pale lady and wishing it hadn't been necessary to kill her, but what else could you do when a vampire was living in your neighborhood?

"No chills for me, Mum, so I suppose I ought to look for work this morning."

Mum shook her head. "It's still raining and I might need you here to help me with your sick brothers while I care for the others."

"Crawley won't like it."

"Crawley can bugger himself," Mum said, taking the cereal off the range to cool.

Reggie giggled. "When'd you start talking like that, Mum?"

Mum turned her head slightly and grinned. "I ain't always been a dainty lady, me lad. I had a rough and tumble childhood like you boys, so I know a thing or two about buggering and what have you."

Reggie blushed but decided not to reply. Obviously, Mum knew more than she let on, but she'd never said a word before and had always been the best mum the boys could ever have wanted. He tucked the blankets around Jack and Zavy, which caused Zavy to stir and open his eyes.

"What? Where?" Zavy mumbled.

Reggie shushed his cousin. "Jack's caught your chills. Mum wants us to keep him as warm as we can."

Zavy blinked his eyes, then turned to stare at Jack, who was shivering slightly next to him. Zavy moaned as his memory of the night before came rushing into his mind. He carefully pulled the blanket down and saw the puncture wounds in Jack's neck.

Reggie saw the holes too and gasped. "What the bloody hell?" he hissed. Then he lowered his voice so Mum wouldn't hear and asked, "A vampire bite him too?"

Zavy could only nod his head, anguished at what he'd done.

"When did that happen?" Reggie whispered.

"Last night," Zavy replied.

"But … how? Did he go out and find another vampire roaming the streets?"

Zavy felt tears pooling in his eyes. He turned to his cousin and sniffed. "Not on the streets, Reg."

"Then where?"

Zavy gulped. "Right here. In our bed."

Reggie frowned, confused. "You ain't making sense, Zavy."

Zavy sighed and opened his mouth. Without trying, his fangs extended. He concentrated for a moment and felt the room turning red around him, bringing a crimson glow to his eyes.

"Oh, damn it all, Zavy," Reggie whispered. "What the hell have you gone and done?"

Jack's chills lasted only a few hours. He awoke with a slight ache all over his body and a deep hunger, but otherwise felt absolutely fine. He felt well enough, in fact, to suggest that all three of them get dressed and head out for some fresh air that afternoon when the weather cleared slightly.

Crawley glared at them as they headed out the door.

Zavy rolled his eyes and said, "We'll look for a bit of work while we're out. It's late in the day, so there's likely nothing needing doing, but we'll look."

Crawley grunted, looking down, refusing to meet Zavy's eyes.

When the three of them reached the streets, the sun had indeed broken through the clouds, making it a rare sunny day in Whitechapel.

Zavy shielded his eyes from the intense glare. "It's bloody bright out, ain't it?"

Jack was also blinking rapidly and covering his eyes. "Too right, Zavy!"

Reggie studied the other two, confused. "It's no brighter than normal."

Jack frowned. "How can you say that, Reg? I can barely see! The bloody sun is glaring off the wet cobblestones."

Reggie snorted. "Maybe that's why the pale lady wore those eyeshades."

Jack shook his head, but chuckled. "You're probably right. Maybe the sun is too bright for a vampire's eyes."

Zavy blushed. "You seem to be accepting that awfully quick, chuckaboo."

Jack shrugged. "What's the point of moaning about it, Zavy? It happened. We're both vampires now, whatever that means."

Reggie began laughing.

"What's so funny, cousin?" Zavy asked.

Reggie looked at Jack, laughed again, and bit his lip.

Jack grabbed the taller boy by the shoulders and shook him. "Tell us what you're going on about, Reggie."

Reggie choked on his next laugh, then said, "Guess you lads are the ones with the bad blood now. Better keep an eye on your pegos. They might fall off!"

Jack looked around, and seeing no one watching them, reached down and grabbed Reggie's cock and balls through his pants. Squeezing gently, Jack made Reggie jump and pull away. "If me pego falls off," Jack said with a glare, "I'm biting yours off the next time I suck it."

"Then maybe I'll only let Zavy blow me bagpipe from now on," Reggie said with a laugh, walking backward down the street. "Come on lads. Days a'wasting. Let's see what mischief we can find."

With the rains finally ended, the streets were crowded with folks wandering about, children laughing and playing, and street vendors hawking their wares. To avoid the press of people, the three boys cut through the nearest alley, walking slowly through the narrow, dark lane between buildings and houses.

They slowed and stopped outside the back gate that led to the house where the pale lady had lived. Peeking inside the garden, they saw nothing unusual. All was quiet. Zavy urged them to hurry past, uncomfortable with the gnawing ache he was beginning to feel in his gut.

They exited the alley at High Street and headed south for Wentworth, keeping an eye out for Worthies who might be lurking about. Seeing none of their rivals, they walked down to McCoy's stables and found him hard at work, cleaning out stalls.

He looked up from his work and shouted, "Oy, me lads. Where have ya' been?"

"Shut in by the rain," Zavy replied.

McCoy leaned on the pitchfork and wiped sweat from his brow. "Could've used the lot of you. Work's been stacking up. A few lads helped out one day, but they were bloody useless and I sent them on their way. You lads want to help out this afternoon?"

In answer, the three ran forward and grabbed pitchforks and brooms, helping McCoy to muck the stalls that had yet to be done.

With four pence apiece in their pockets, they thanked McCoy and promised to be back bright and early the next day.

"Rain or shine," he said with a laugh.

"Wouldn't mind a bit less shine," Zavy said, shielding his eyes. For some reason, the sun made him feel more drained than the hard work in the stables.

McCoy gave him a puzzled look, then nodded. "I'll see you lads in the morning."

"We need to get you boys some of them tinted eyeglasses," Reggie said.

Jack nodded. "We got to do something. I'm getting a bloody headache from all this sun."

Reggie threw his arms around the other two and said, "Close your eyes and I'll lead the both of ya' home, where you can hide under the blankets until the nasty sun goes down."

Zavy chuckled and said, "Let's stop at the Dancing Fool and pick up some pork pies for supper. Mum will like that."

Jack wasn't laughing. Instead, he was looking behind them nervously. "Lads, we have company."

The other two turned and looked. Three Worthies were walking slowly down the street a few yards behind them. They were making no effort to catch up to the three Hanbury boys, simply keeping pace and following them.

"What do we do now?" Reggie asked.

Zavy took a deep breath. "We stay on the main streets. Stay out of the alleys. They won't try anything with all the people out today." Zavy pulled the other two forward and began walking toward the next corner. As they turned onto High Street, they saw Flanders and two other Worthies waiting for them.

They stopped and waited. Flanders didn't move, but he smiled evilly.

"Now what, Zavy?" Jack asked.

Zavy looked back. The three Worthies were still there, waiting. In front of them, cutting off their route, was Flanders with two more. The only way to avoid a fight was the alley behind Halifax. "Follow my lead, lads. And run like your life depends on it."

Zavy suddenly dashed for the alley, with Reggie and Jack hard on his heels. Halfway down the alley, Zavy skidded to a stop, causing Reggie and Jack to collide with his back.

"Oy, mate. Why'd you stop?" Jack complained, rubbing his nose where he'd crashed into Zavy's shoulder.

"Somethings wrong," Zavy whispered, squinting and looking around the dark alley ahead. His eyes began to glow red as he struggled to see into the shady corners.

Reggie looked back and saw Flanders with the other Worthies walking up slowly behind them. They seemed to be in no hurry, as if …

"It's a trap," Reggie whispered.

Zavy nodded. Somehow, he could sense the presence of other lads just ahead. Confirming what his heightened senses had been telling him, four more Worthies came out of their hiding places and blocked the alley ahead.

Jack spat on the ground and yelled, "You're a bunch of fucking cowards, you Worthies. Ten lads on three. Can't take us one on one? Fucking cowards!"

Flanders' lips curled into a vicious snarl. He motioned with his hands for Jack to come forward. "You can have me. One on one. If that's what you want, you bloody quim."

Jack started to move forward, but Zavy pulled him back and stepped in front of the smaller boy. Flanders was still bigger and stronger than Zavy, but it was a closer match.

Flanders laughed. "Hell. I'll take ya' both on at the same time. All three of ya'. Skinny little quims. Think ya' can wander onto our street whenever you bloody well please."

Zavy didn't reply but crouched down slightly and began moving toward Flanders.

Flanders grinned maliciously. "I'll tear your bloody head off and stuff it up your own arse," Flanders said as he took a step toward Zavy.

Zavy curled his hands into fists and waited silently.

"What?" Flanders said, snorting. "Nothing to say. Sucking cock must make you hoarse!"

The other Worthies laughed, but Zavy didn't say a word, moving another step closer.

Flanders caught the eye of the Worthies standing behind Reggie and Jack and nodded his head curtly. They immediately jumped forward to grab Reggie and Jack.

Turning his head, Zavy saw his brothers were going to get jumped. One moment he was crouched in front of Flanders, the next he was between his brothers and the Worthies. He didn't know how he'd gotten there so fast, but he didn't waste any time thinking about it. He swung his fist into the face of one, into the stomach of another. Both went down, the first knocked cold with a badly broken jaw, the second retching and spewing all over the ground, gasping for breath. Zavy spun and kicked the last Worthie in the groin. The force of the kick sent the lad crashing back into a wall, mercifully unconscious and unable to react to his crushed balls.

Flanders stared, momentarily stunned. Zavy had seemed to disappear from in front of him and then reappear instantly on the far side of the alley. And now Zavy was moving quickly and taking out his gang. But they still had the numbers, so he waved at his other mates to join him and charged forward.

Jack saw one of the bigger lads rushing forward, his arms stretched out before him. Jack gritted his teeth and swung his fist. The taller youth held up an arm to block Jack's swing, but Jack's fist crashed into his forearm, snapping it with a sharp crack and continuing unabated to strike the youth on the cheek, spinning his head so hard the vertebrae in his spine popped and he fell to the ground like a discarded rag.

Flanders grabbed Jack from behind, attempting to wrap the boy up and hold him. Jack snarled and his eyes glowed red. He grabbed Flanders' arms where they were wrapped around his chest and pulled with all his might, launching Flanders over his back and sending him flying through the air into a nearby wall, where he fell with a heavy thud, knocked out cold.

A shape hurtled past Jack on the other side. It was one of the bigger Worthie lads, flying through the air to crash into three others and send them all tumbling backward in a heap.

Reggie stood with his fists clinched, looking for an opponent to slug. But there was no one. In the blink of an eye, Jack and Zavy had destroyed ten lads, all much bigger and stronger. Every Worthie lay on the ground, rolling and groaning, except for the first lad who'd attacked Jack, who could only blink his eyes in amazement at a body that no longer responded to his commands.

"Bloody hell," Reggie mumbled.

Zavy grabbed Reggie's arm and tugged on it. "Come on lads. We'd best get out of here."

Jack leaned over Flanders and spit in his face. "That's for me arm and ankle." He kicked Flanders in the side. "And that's for me brother's eye." He pulled his foot back to kick the unresponsive Flanders one more time, but Zavy and Reggie pulled him away.

"Leave it, Jack," Zavy hissed. "He's done. We gotta get out of here, before the constables show up. Come on."

They ran stumbling down the alley, laughing and shaking their fists in the air.

"Hanbury!" Reggie shouted.

Walking into their apartment with pork pies, a quart of beer, and a bottle of wine, the three boys triumphantly set their purchases on the table. Mum glanced at them and noticed Jack's shirt had a fresh tear, but the boys didn't have bloody noses or blackened eyes, so she decided to let it go.

Crawley slunk out of the bedroom, saw what the boys had brought in, and nodded at Mum. "I'll eat in here." He turned and went back into the bedroom, expecting Mum to bring him his food and beer before she served the rest of the family.

Mum smiled and said, "Fix food for the little ones and get them eating while I take care of Crawley." She began filling a plate with pork pie, waving at all the family to come to the table. Then she carried the bucket of beer and the plate of food into the bedroom.

Reggie watched her go and leaned over to whisper in Zavy's ear. "He's timid as a mouse round you now, Zavy."

Jack chortled. "You should make him get a job his own bloody self! Use your powers on him."

"You think you could, Zavy?" Reggie asked.

"Damfino," Zavy replied. "Only had these powers for a few days."

"Well, if you don't want to try, you should bite me next," Reggie said with a grin. "I'll make Crawley strip naked and dance in the streets! Then I'll go pick a fight with the Worthies. That was bloody amazing!"

Zavy shook his head. "Don't even joke about that, Reg. I didn't mean to bite Jack, and I feel like shit for doing it."

Reggie stopped Zavy, pulling him around by the arm to face him. "Don't ya' be feeling bad about that now, Zavy. You saved me life and got bit yourself. I'm the one who feels like shit for bringing this on you lads. I'm the one who should be a vampire right now. Not you. Not Jack."

"I don't think she was gonna make you a vampire," Jack mumbled. "She looked like she was just gonna suck your blood and leave you dead on the ground." Jack reached up and put his hands on each side of Zavy's face, staring intently into Zavy's eyes. "I don't give a bloody fuck that I'm a vampire now too. And it did come in handy, facing those Worthies this afternoon. I think it's a bloody good idea to make Reggie one too. We're brothers, Zavy. We do everything together."

Zavy sighed. "But this? Me lads …"

"Even this," Jack replied, nodding his head. Jack turned to Reggie, seeking his support.

Reggie wrapped his arms around the other two and hugged them. "Yes, Zavy. Even this. Especially this. I want you to bite me tonight. Make me a vampire."

Zavy snorted. "I don't know what to do, Reg. I didn't know what I was doing when I bit Jacko."

Reggie smiled wickedly. "I know what you were doing at the time, so we'll just have to do all the same stuff."

Zavy finally grinned. "You're gonna let me bugger you?"

Reggie shrugged. "Twas gonna happen sooner or later. Couldn't let you lads have all the fun."

The police constable watched as two men loaded the Wentworth youth's limp body onto a stretcher. The lad was weeping now, unable to feel anything below his neck, realizing how grave his situation was.

Shaking his head, the constable grunted and said, "Maybe now things will settle down around here."

A bearded man wearing a black overcoat and dark eyeshades turned to look at the constable. He tilted his head sideways and asked, "You aren't going to look for the attackers?"

The constable shook his head. "Wasn't anything more than a street brawl gone bad. Stupid lads think they can bust each other up and come back again the next day and do it some more. Constantly causing trouble. Disrupting the peace. Well, this time, one of 'em learned the hard way. Maybe now the rest will listen."

The bearded man leaned over and carefully examined the weeping boy's neck before he could be carried away on the stretcher. There were no puncture wounds, fresh or well healed. "Where are the others?" he asked.

The constable nodded at the alley exit, where several lads sat, leaning against the wall, clutching themselves and groaning.

The man approached the other lads and looked them over carefully. They were also free of bite marks, but in sorry shape otherwise.

He approached one and asked, "What happened back there?"

The teen looked up and snarled, "We got our bloody arses handed to us, didn't we?"

"How?" the man asked.

The lad snapped, "None of your fucking concern."

The man nodded and removed his eyeshades. His eyes began to glow red. "How did it happen?"

The young man blinked and his eyes lost focus. "Them Hanbury quims. Somehow, they did it. Moving bloody fast and knocking us about like we was little girls."

The man's eyes stopped glowing. He replaced his eyeshades, turned, and walked quickly away.

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