Bridget's Nights Ch. 09bypatricia51©
Mike's deep voice smothered everyone else's hurried questions. "What is it Bridget?"
"Vampires feed from blood. But Thorfinn has been taking an enormous amount, more than he needs, more actually than he can drink. He's accumulating the blood, and the power it gives him, for a sacrifice. For a summoning."
"Summoning what?" Sue inquired.
"I don't know for sure, but you can bet its not going to anything we are going to like." I thought about it for a moment. "Probably one of the Norse gods, or at least the demons that appeared to them as gods. I need to call Robert and some other contacts. Can someone run me to the precinct?"
"Call from here," Linda said crisply. "Its okay, I have a department line installed here."
I called Robert and rapidly filled him in on my assumptions. "I'm betting that he's going to be headed someplace with some connection to the Viking presence in America. He would want to feel a link to the past." I hung up. "Robert's going to get right on it. He tells me most places with that history are going to be in Canada, since Newfoundland is the most likely site of Vinland, as the Viking explorers called America."
Linda picked up the phone and punched a series of numbers. Covering the receiver, she spoke to me. "I don't know how fast you can get what you want from your sources, but I bet I can get it faster." She turned her attention back to the phone. "Josh Crane, please." Looking back at me she continued, "This young man is THE wiz at finding things via computer."
She tapped her foot impatiently. "Josh! Its Linda. I need a big favor and I need it now." She explained some of what was going on. "Our friend here has FBI contacts that will locate the likely places. What I need from you is the UNlikely places. Thanks. Call me back at home. I know you probably already have the number."
I paced. I worried. I knew that Thorfinn was done with his hunt and proceeding to the next stage. How did I know that? No clue. But I did.
The first call back was from Robert. He had made arrangements with a special branch of the RCMP that covered cases like this. A joint US/Canadian task force was blanketing any area with the slightest connection to Viking legends or myths. HRT was standing by and Delta Force had deployed to a central location. He assured me all the bases were covered.
I could relax. The hell I could relax. Thorfinn was a psychotic asshole but he wasn't stupid. You don't manage to exist for a thousand years by being easy to anticipate.
Linda's friend and protege Josh called back about an hour later. Linda scribbled notes furiously. "Okay, Josh. Keep a search engine open for any strange reports from that area. Call me here and I'll pass the information to Bridget. How's Samantha? Well the first trimester is the worst. Give her a kiss from all of us." She hung up. "Can you get aerial transportation?," she asked me.
"Yes." I replied confidently. "To where?" came out a lot more uncertain.
Okay, now I was very uncertain. "Huh? There's no evidence there of Norse visitation." I corrected myself, "Rather any that does exist has been held to be forgeries."
"Yes, but two things come to mind. First, what if some of that evidence isn't falsified? And second, what if it is fake , but Thorfinn believes it? Its where no one else is looking. What better place?"
I nodded. I called my standby transportation number and was told I could be picked up in an hour. Mike and Pat left to make arrangements for the chopper to land at the Sheriff's Office. When they had left I sat heavily down on the couch. My mind was sharp but my body slumped.
Linda took my face in her hands. "Bridget," she said quietly, when did you feed last?"
"I'm okay," I promised.
She rolled up her sleeve. "No you're not. Bridget, you need to be on top of your game here." Sue knelt on the other side of me, her arm held out also. "Shhhhhh," Linda soothed me as I tried to protest. "We trust you completely." Both women's arms were steady, as steady as the gaze they leveled at me.
Taking Linda's arm, I bent my head. The pulse just below her elbow called to me. As gently as I had ever done anything in my life, I bit her. Even so, I winced as I heard her gasp. Then the warm blood was flowing into me. I drank just a bit and made to raise my head. Linda's hand firmly settled on my neck.
"More. Take a pint." I could feel her smile. "Just consider it my monthly donation. Right to the user rather than the blood bank."
Five minutes later I was in the bathroom washing my face. When I came out, Sue and Linda were both sporting colorful band aids on their arms. I felt tears in my eyes.
"Its okay," Sue hastened to reassure me. "You didn't hurt us. In fact," she chuckled, you have a much smoother touch than the nurse who usually comes to the department."
"Its not that," I sniffled. "Its just, its just I get so tired sometimes. Being what I am I mean."
They both hugged me. Sue spoke first. "What you are is a friend. I'm sure that you are very lonely at times. But come back here. You will always be welcome."
They drove me to the landing pad. Pat and Mike were there. Pat hugged me and kissed me. "Be careful damnit." Mike handed me a heavy cooler.
"That should keep you going." At my startled reaction he continued. "We just had a hasty blood drive for a Federal Officer who needed a transfusion." He hugged me and stepped back. I vowed I would not start crying again and jumped into the chopper. I strapped myself in and waved as we took off. I wave as long as I thought I could even imagine seeing the ground.
The chopper sped through the night. Before long we landed at a military field and I transferred to a small jet, one with pull down shades on the windows. We stopped once somewhere for refueling and took back off on our trek north. I paced and worried and tried to rest.
Midway through the flight my cell phone rang.
"Bridget this is Josh." He rattled off a location. "There's a report of a family missing from that area. Mother, father, three children. According to the State Police the house looks like it was , and I quote 'destroyed by a madman' unquote."
"Okay, thanks Josh. Say, how did you get this number?"
"Child's play," he assured me. I guess it was to him. Me, I used electronics, but my comprehension had stopped at moveable type.
We arrived at another military airfield. I jumped into the government issue SUV that was waiting and scratched off. I knew I only had a couple hours before daylight. I didn't know if Thorfinn would act tonight, but I had to assume he would.
I was shown to the house by a deputy who had none of the charm of the ones I had just left. I understood that he thought I was wasting his time. The search grid had expanded over the hours and now stretched far beyond the immediate area. The house itself had been sealed after the Crime Scene people had been through it but my interest was outside anyway. He waited impatiently while I prowled around the house searching for some sign of where they went.
"Think Bridget," I told myself. The vehicles belonging to the family were still here. There was no sign of strange tire tracks. How did he get here then? He must have parked nearby in some hidden location. That meant he would have had to carry the family back to his lair on foot. It would have taken more than one trip.
"One question," I asked the deputy. "Did you try tracking dogs?"
He looked uncomfortable. "We did, but," he hesitated.
He looked embarrassed. "They wouldn't track. They circled the house and just quit. They scratched at the doors to the canine unit until we let them in and refused to come back out."
I nodded. Then my nostrils caught a faint scent. A blood scent. It was not however human. Speaking of dogs...
I rushed to the deputy as he climbed back into his unit. "Wait! The family here. Did they have a dog of their own?"
"Why yes they did. Look, I gotta go." He slammed the door and left.
I walked around the house, sniffing the air. I knew why the dogs had refused to track. After all, Thorfinn, and me too in fact, was dead. Dogs know when something unnatural is around.
There, the scent was strongest in one direction. I started to follow it and then stopped. I walked quickly back to the vehicle and opened the cooler Mike had given to me. If I was going to stand any chance in the fight I was sure was coming I would have to be as strong as I could be. One after another I drained the bags. Somehow I felt that this blood, given instead of taken, would prove to be the edge
I took off. I felt a slightly beaten pathway under my feet and followed it. Tree branches slapped my body and my face but I plowed on. The scent grew stronger. I was running now. Suddenly my foot caught something yielding and I heard a faint whimper.
I fell to my knees. I had dropped my flashlight somewhere, but the full moon showed I had stumbled over a dog. I gathered him into my arms. He was hurt, hurt very badly. How he had managed to crawl this far after his people I couldn't imagine, but his bravery and love of his family had given me the chance to save them. Because in front of us was an almost hidden cave opening. Had I not followed his trail, I very well might have gone right past it.
"Good boy," I crooned to him and stroked his head. I knew he couldn't last much longer. He made one feeble attempt to lick my hand and then he was gone. I carefully set him down and took one moment to ask God to look out for him. Now I was really pissed.
I slipped carefully along the cavern walls. Light flickered ahead as I rounded a curve. I strained my ears and heard Thorfinn's voice rumbling somewhere ahead. I caught my foot on an outcropping of rock and smothered a curse. Why the hell did Thorfinn have to go with torches that barely lit the damn place? I know they were period pieces from his youth but this is the 20th Century after all. What would have been wrong with electric lights?
Somehow I managed to make it silently down the rock strewn trail without dislodging anything or making a sound. Thorfinn's exultant voice had faded by the time I peeked around the corner into the torch lit room.
There was the missing family. The father was straining desperately against the ropes holding him down. I also saw the mother and the two older children. A sinking feeling came over me as I realized that the youngest child was missing. I had a terrible feeling I knew where she was.
Now speed was more important than anything else. I rushed into the room. Imploring eyes met mine. I raced to the father. Cautioning him to be quiet, I cut his bonds. He ripped the gag from his mouth even as I set about freeing the rest of the family.
"He took Lori," the father managed to whisper. "He broke into our house. I tried to stop him but he overpowered me. My god, what is he? And what is he doing with my daughter?" He stifled a groan and flexed painfully as the circulation became to return to his limbs. I saw all of them were having trouble moving. Undoubtedly they had been bound for hours.
"Which way did they go?" I demanded. "Show me." He led me through an archway on the other side of the room. I took the lead until I saw the passage open out into a much bigger cavern. As we felt our way through the semi-darkness I could hear Thorfinn's booming voice begin to chant.
Looking from the shadows, I saw the young girl bound over a stone. I recalled what Pat and Mike had told me about the attempted sacrifice they had interrupted and knew I was seeing another. Thorfinn stood with his back to her about 20 feet away. His arms were outstretched and he was chanting towards a rude altar of rock. A figurine I did not recognize immediately was atop the stones.
"Oh GOD," whispered the father. "What is he doing?"
"He's trying to raise his ancient god, Odin." The man looked at me in disbelief. "I know and you know Odin is not a god. But he is a demon lord who was worshipped as one once." I shook my head. "We don't have time." I pressed my knife into his hand. "When I jump him, you cut your daughter loose. Take her and the rest of your family back the way you saw me come in." I handed him the keys to my SUV and my cell phone. "Follow the pathway back to your house. As soon as you're at my vehicle, press the first memory button. It will contact you with the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team. Give them the location here as best as you can and then get the hell out of there."
"What are you going to do?"
"Slow him down and make sure he doesn't catch you."
"You can't do that," he said.
"You're not going to be moving very fast, and he could overtake you before you got a third of the way."
"Let me fight him for God's sake. You're a woman and he's not even human."
"No he isn't human." I let my face slip for an instant and he turned white. "But then, neither am I."
I poised myself to charge Thorfinn and then felt a hand on my arm. The father looked steadily at me. "Whatever and whoever you are, God be with you."
I crossed myself and took off. I gambled that Thorfinn's attention would be inward instead of on his surroundings. Running as hard as I ever had in my life, I launched myself into a flying kick and slammed into the other vampire. We both fell to the cavern floor. I rolled over and faced him.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the man cut his daughter loose. Scooping her into his arms he hobbled out of sight back towards his family. I paused for one second and prayed as hard as I ever had in my existence, living or undead, that I could find the strength to hold back Thorfinn until they were safe. I had no illusions that I could defeat him.
We both came up swinging. I had the advantage of surprise but it faded fast. I got two good shots in while he was getting up but then he landed a blind swing that almost took my head off. By the time I could see clearly again he was braced, ready and grinning at me. Technically a handsome male, that grin made him as ugly as anyone I had ever crossed paths with over the centuries. But then, after all, that's what he was, ugly.
"Well, well, well," he mocked me. "If it isn't the little spitfire Bridget. I warned you more than once to stay out of my way. This time you're dust." His gaze went passed me to the empty place where the little girl had been. "You BITCH."
"That's me, asshole," I livened the conversation by trying to kick him in the balls. Unfortunately my aim was off and I only got the inside of his thigh. Still, it brought his attention back to me.
Oh great. He snarled and reached behind him. From a hidden cleft in the rock he produced a shinning double bitted axe. He laughed and angled the blade to flash light in my eyes. "As I dealt with your peasant ancestors you Irish bitch, I'll deal with you."
He took an enormous cut at me. I rolled under the blow of the axe and back to my feet.
"I think I'll just cut your arms and legs off," he grunted as he feinted a blow at my legs and then swung at my head. "Ooops, that would kill you. And I don't want you dead. I want you to watch as I gut the precious humans you tried to help and offer their blood to Odin Allfather."
I managed to dodge another blow of the axe. I knew I couldn't do that much longer. Sooner or later a stroke of that axe would catch me. But in my mind's eye I could see the family still stumbling up the path towards the open air. I kept circling Thorfinn.
"Well, I tell you what. That's the most heroic thing I've ever seen."
Astonished, both Thorfinn and I backed away from each other enough to look to the side. I was floored. An elderly man limped towards us. He leaned heavily on a cane of gnarled wood.
"What did you say, old man?" snarled Thorfinn.
"Just what you thought, bub. You're a foot taller than her. You're, what a 150 pounds heavier than her. You're a man, she's a woman. You have a huge axe. She has her bare hands. Yep mister, you're some kind of Norse warrior alright." The old man turned his back on Thorfinn and looked at me. "Damn. I'm some kinda proud of you, little lady. I can't interfere directly here, but I can make things even. Catch!"
He lofted his cane through the air to me and I caught it by the knob. To my amazement, it wasn't a cane anymore. It was a sword of gleaming white steel. I whipped it in a gleaming figure eight.
"Well now Thorfinn." Let's see if you do better than your chain-mailed Vikings did against my 'peasant ancestors" when they broke your rule at Clontarf. I screamed the ancient war cry of the O'Briens, "Lamhlaidir a n-Uachtar!", lunged for his heart and the fight was on.
Back and forth we battled across the floor. I matched my speed and agility against his size and strength. The sword rang against his axe head. His visage darkened and he redoubled his blows, becoming again the berserker he had once been. I didn't flinch. Woman or not, the ancient Irish lust for battle surged up in me and I launched as many attacks as he did.
The clanging of the sword blade and the axe became deafening. A ripple ran down from the point of my sword as we fought and then the blade caught fire. Flames raced up and down its length. When I thrust, Thorfinn covered his face from the fire, but it left blisters on his cheek. To me, the flames were cool, to him they burned.
I drove him to the wall, his back against his altar. His blows were becoming weaker as the strength he had gathered poured out of half a dozen small wounds that would not heal. He flailed almost aimlessly at me, his free arm up to protect his face.
With a roar that shook the torches in their holders he gathered himself and delivered a mighty swing that would have cleaved me right down the middle had it struck home. I rolled forward, thrusting the sword into his chest. He screamed at the fire. His axe broke against the stone floor. As I pulled the sword free he bent forward helplessly. I whirled the sword over my head and brought it down on his neck.
His head spun from his body. The remainder of the power he had accumulated exploded from his body in a flash of devouring darkness. The sword in my hand brightened to an unbelievable intensity, beating back the darkness. The forces were too much even for my body and mind. I fell to the ground unconscious.
(To Be Concluded)
(Note. For the battle cry of the O'Briens of ancient Ireland, which translates into English as "Strong Hand Uppermost", I am indebted to Traynor's Web Page and its mountains of information about the Irish of old.)