William ran. Through twisting corridors of the land of the dead, he charged tirelessly now that he no longer had muscles that needed to be fed. The madman was behind him, unbelievably. If only he knew how to call Dullahan.
Yesterday, the dead man's spirit had erupted from his body, tearing itself free like an enraged demon. It was unbound now. Just as the madman had always wished, he was now faceless.
It hadn't come for William immediately. He spent a long time watching his daughter, first. Eventually it either came to terms with the fact that she was in the past, or it just finally felt comfortable with waiting. Then the stalking had begun. William was miles away, but he felt its malicious intent from across town. Over the course of the day into the evening it closed the distance, and now it was on his heels.
William flew past the haunted graveyard and took a left. He was in the home stretch for Countess Borsala's now, but someone was in his path ahead. William couldn't afford to slow, but as he drew nearer it became clear that the person was a creature of some kind. His knees were folded back like a goat's. His small horns and tiny beard were made him think of the animal as well.
In his right hand was a pitchfork.
William skidded to a halt in front of him. “Oh, no,” he said.
“Why, what an innocent looking young ghost,” said Old Scratch.
“You!” The boy responded.
The mad spirit was gaining from behind. It drew Scratch's attention. “You!” the old man said.
Even this crazed creature was stopped by Old Scratch's appearance.
“Such a perfect specimen for the Abyss,” Scratch said. “And yet, you do such good work on Earth. I may have to release from time to time.”
Before William could react, Scratch lunged with the pitchfork and plunged the tines into the madman's torso. Despite the apparent size of the madman, he was raised into the air on the old tool. Scratch admired his capture for a moment, then jerked the pitchfork forward once again, and the madman was gone from sight.
William resumed running. He didn't want to hear another word Scratch had to say. He felt completely surrounded by horror. If only it had been a dream all those nights ago when he woke up at home. Maybe it wouldn't have even been so bad to be trapped on the farm after all. There was death and chaos all around him, and nowhere safe to go.
This became even more apparent as he reached Countess Borsala's. A strange car was pulled up onto the lawn, and shouting was coming from inside.
He had no choice but to go inside.
Countess Borsala was within. She was standing on the balcony with her arms crossed. Below her was an intruder. She had a gun and it was pointed at the countess. She held it in a right-handed shooter's stance, and in her left, stabilizing, hand was a wooden stake.
“I got your man,” the woman was saying. Her voice was familiar to William.
“I do not have a man,” Borsala responded. “I find romantic relationships tiring. If you're speaking of my servant, Mr. Uzor, I ask that you leave him be. He has committed no crimes that you could know of.”
“You know damn well who I mean. Matthew Navarro. Your tool. I know you're behind this all. Him, your wolf man, and the 13 bodies we have down in the county morgue. You think just because you're dead you don't leave fingerprints?”
“We didn't used to have to worry about such things. Still, you are mistaken. None are employed by me, save for Mr. Uzor.”
“Whatever, I'm here to stop you.”
“Better than you have failed.”
William crept along the wall to where he had a good view of both of them. He recognized the woman now. She was out of uniform, but she was clearly the police officer that had shot the madman. Was that who she was calling Matthew? It looked like she had a hit list, and she was moving through all of the scarecrow's other friends. William wondered if she knew how to stop Jack.
A second vehicle could be heard outside. This one sounded like a truck.
“Dawn!” a man yelled from outside.
“Keep your distance!” she yelled, never taking her eyes off the countess.
A man rushed in through the door wearing the soft blue of an EMT. William couldn't believe it.
“Dawn, wait, I went to check, like you said.”
“Michael, I have her.”
“They're gone, Dawn. I stopped by the morgue. They're--”
“Mine!” Countess Borsala responded. “That you were right about, young one. They have all been made my children, and they have risen to feed on your heartless town.”
Dawn fired once, but the countess was gone before her eyes. A bat circled the ceiling once, then dive bombed toward the two invaders. Michael dodged out of the way and hit the floor, then the countess appeared behind Dawn.
“You think you would be my destroyer?” She had Dawn by the shoulders, yanking her back against her chest. “Then you know nothing of the creatures of the night!” Her fangs tore into Dawn's neck, and the police woman screamed in pain.
The bite wasn't meant to feed, but rather to kill, and the wounding was over in a moment. The countess discarded the dying body to the floor as blood gushed from the torn artery in her neck. Then she moved over to Michael and began to reach down.
William couldn't wait any more to pick a side. As the scarecrow had said about his body, family was also a bond created at birth. As the vampire bent over his estranged father, William screamed out, “NOOO!”
Of course, Michael could hear nothing from this dead creature which he had been searching for tirelessly since that night at the asylum. However, the sound struck Countess Borsala full on, and she was distracted momentarily by his cry of anguish. Michael grabbed the stake from Dawn's limp hand and shoved it upward into Borsala's chest. It was a difficult angle, and for a moment he could feel the tip grinding against rib bone. Then he put his shoulder into it, and the thin round wood found a gap and slid home to her heart.
Borsala stumbled backward, screaming, blood running down from the corners of her mouth. Her back slammed against the closed doors to the dining room. The stake had not passed fully through her heart, and with the remaining blood being pumped to her limbs, the countess was weakly trying to pull it out.
Michael knew that in only moments she might succeed, and he would never escape her after this transgression. He still had the pistol he'd taken during the chaos at the asylum. He had made a perfect shot on instinct that night. Adrenalin, fear and shock fed his reaction time, but made his aim unsteady. He pulled the gun from the back of his pants and didn't bother to look down the sites. His quivering hand would make that pointless. He trusted that he would make the shot, solely because it had to be done.
He pulled the trigger, and the bullet struck the base of the stake just north of center. The wood split half way to Borsala's chest, but the stake held together, plunging through her back and nailing her to the dining room door. The vampire's hands fell away from it, and her eyes closed.
Michael dropped to Dawn's side. He didn't have time to put on a pair of gloves. Quickly, he reached into her open wound with his right hand and pinched the gushing artery shut. Her eyelids fluttered. He doubted she could be at all conscious, but just in case, he let her know, “We got it done, Dawn.”
He couldn't move her and risk taking his hand off the wound site. With his left hand, he fished out his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed 911.