DISCLAIMER: Everything to do with Angel belongs to Warner Bros and the almighty Joss Whedon. I'm just borrowing the characters for a while – no harm done, promise!!
"...and yet, somehow, I just can't seem to care."
The doors swung shut and I distinctly remember hearing the chink of the metal bolt as he locked us in, despite the din that had erupted amongst Holland's pleading with the vampires, begging for negotiation. I have to give it to him – he was a true lawyer right until the end. Darla grabbed him by the collar and pulled him, smiling and evil, towards her laughing mouth. Even the more 'emotionally challenged' lawyers screamed as she plunged her teeth into our boss' neck. It was, it seemed, only myself and Lindsey that did not shout or scream in horror – only us that heard a childlike voice whisper, barely audible above the racket: "Daddy's home."
Lilah Morgan, I reminded myself, does not scream. I bit my bottom lip hard as Darla dropped Holland's carcass to the ground; his eyes were still wide, fearful, glazed over and shining brightly despite the subdued light of the cellar. They stared blankly, helplessly at me, but I didn't even flinch. To tell you the truth, I really didn't give a shit. I suppose it was true that he had brought it on himself – then again, we all had – and if either of Angel's 'girls' hadn't got there first, I had a feeling that Angel might have dropped the whole 'champion' act and killed him eventually. In fact, that would have been better for the firm, given the fact that really we wanted Angelus, not Angel. Still, it wasn't about either of them at that moment, my priority was the same as always – survive. Somehow.
Drusilla, whooping with joy, danced gaily over to the man on my right – Richard Stanley, a guy who was a couple of rungs below me on the corporate ladder, a bloodthirsty man desperate for promotion. Wife and two kids. She sang a sweet, low lullaby into his ear as he quivered with fright, nipping at his earlobe as she did so, but she soon bored of him. Her yellow eyes glittered malevolently as a strange seriousness overcame her features. She glanced at me out of the corner of her eye, and I looked away immediately, scared to look fully into that demonic, insane stare, fearful of attracting unwanted attention. I didn't see when she ripped into his throat, but I heard it. I heard the scream, the crack of his neck as she pushed it roughly to one side, and the sickening growls as she drained him dry. My stomach somersaulted.
The room had by now descended into complete chaos. Husbands, wives, girlfriends and boyfriends clutched onto each other fretfully, howling with confusion and terror as the bloodbath raged on. Antique rugs were stained crimson, sticky with spilled blood (Drusilla had remarked that it was a "terrible pity") whilst tables and chairs lay in splinters across the floor. Those who had tried to fight were idiots. I only wished they'd hurry up and finish Lindsey off – Darla, preferably. I think I would have really, really appreciated the irony of it, if only to lighten the mood.
Amidst the madness I searched for somewhere to hide, but found a whole lot of nothing. The room was about as open as you could possibly not want in that situation, and I guess they knew it. It must have been for them like picking fruit from a tree, ripe and ready for eating, with the door locked and nowhere for us to run. My insides were squirming; I felt sick and completely terrified at the thought of either of them at my throat, draining me, or something much, much worse. I could hear cracking bones and horrifying screams everywhere now, and it occurred to me that they weren't just looking to kill everyone quickly, or even to actually drain everyone here at all. Vampires like to be creative with their destruction. I guess that's what makes them unique...
Shit, shit shit; my eyes flicked restlessly about the room in desperation, though I dared not move. Not yet. Oh God, I thought, they'd be done soon. I'd probably be dessert. I spun the large, empty wine glass between shaking hands and tried to think logically. There was no way out; Angel – or was it Angelus now? - had seen to that. I had two options: I could a) try to talk them out of killing me or b) make sure they didn't notice me. After all, sitting in a chair looking nervous, considering that most of the others looked pretty dead, was bound to get me noticed at some point. The only thing I could think of was to hide amongst the dead bodies, but how convincing that would be considering my give-away heartbeat would have to be seen – still, it seemed better than plan A.
Ensuring both vampires were pre-occupied, I slipped away from behind Lindsey, who seemed to have been watching the whole event with a mixture of indifference and a strange sort of bemusement, and lay face-down next to a couple of bodies. I didn't know the people by name but, even if I had, it wouldn't have made any difference. I breathed slowly and quietly into the carpet fibres resting against my face and lips, which grew hotter and hotter as I continued to breathe, ever careful not to cough or inhale too suddenly. A glimmer of hope filled me as I began to truly feel unnoticeable. Not my style usually, but you know what they say about desperate times...
"Lindsey," breathed a strong, yet slightly girlish voice from somewhere else in the room. Darla's voice. You wouldn't believe how much I wanted to see what I expected to happen next; I was almost contemplating standing up, if only to watch the whole thing. I didn't, as it happens, but it did seem like an exciting proposition at the time. She must have whispered something to him, because I couldn't hear much except Drusilla's inane murmurings after that – the other lawyers must have been taken care of, a suspicion that filled me with the sort of dread I had only ever felt before at the firm's career review meetings. Trust me, being deemed a failure at one of those meetings would probably have ended worse than some quality time with Darla, Drusilla and a pack of lions. Anyway, the next thing I heard was a huge crash as he was, I presumed, thrown against the wall.
And then there was silence. Unrelenting, unnerving, horrific silence.
I focused on breathing ever more slowly, resisting the urge to move as strong chemical scents from the recently cleaned carpet filled my nostrils with each intake of breath as the tiniest of the fluffy, flower-scented carpet fibres reached into my throat and lungs, rough against my windpipe and ticklish on the back of my throat. I knew what was to come, though I begged for it not to happen. Not now, I thought, please, not now – but it was just no good. The movement came from my diaphragm as my lower back lurched upwards. I coughed, loudly, spluttering bits of phlegm onto the burgundy carpets, not only giving myself away but practically holding a neon sign saying "Eat me."
I wondered if Lindsey was still alive. I hoped not, and waited, hoping they had not heard – which was completely ridiculous of course. A human with normal hearing would have been startled at that racket; but you'd be surprised what goes through your mind when you're potentially the only survivor of a well-orchestrated massacre.
"Grandmum," Drusilla chirped excitedly. "There's more. Those tricky lawyers think they can hide from us..."
"I know. There were two of them left – the girl, and Lindsey. She's still here."
At that point, I panicked. My heart was beating ten to the dozen, my skin crawled and shivered uncomfortably but I still lay there, immobile, my cheek pressed hard against the soft floor.
"We shall play hide and seek, and I shall find her," Drusilla rasped feverishly. "1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – "
I held my breath, stupidly, thinking it would help. It wouldn't have killed me any quicker.
"– 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 –"
I was still racking my brains to find a way out, half-hoping they'd just give up and half-hoping that someone would come down here and find us; that Angel would realise he'd made a terrible mistake and come galloping in on his white horse to save us, to play the champion again. Unlikely. I knew one thing at that moment, and one thing only – I really, really didn't want things to end this way.
"– 9 – 10. Ready or not," she growled. "Here I come!"
At that moment, I grasped at straws, terrified by the quiet footsteps I could hear coming towards me, when I noticed something that had been lying beside me all that time – a sharp, splintered piece of wood, presumably once part of the furniture, lay close to my knee. I grabbed it, feeling a surge of courage as I gripped the lacquered wood fiercely, and decided to make a break for it. I got to my knees slowly, still not visible behind the couch, and deduced that Drusilla's maddening chanting was coming from the right side of the room, leaving the left side completely open – hopefully, anyway. Without giving them warning, I jumped out from behind the couch and sprinted towards the locked door, hoping that if I threw myself against it with enough momentum I could break the lock and get the hell away. I didn't even look around to see where they were, I just ran for the door, my makeshift stake clutched in my trembling hand, and threw myself at it. The door wobbled a little, uncertain, but wouldn't open. I yanked at the doorknob desperately, rattling it like a madwoman as they both laughed behind me, Drusilla giggling uncontrollably.
"Lilah, Lilah," Darla sighed – a fake, mocking sigh you really don't want to hear when you're the last one standing when you're locked in a room with two vampires. Good things never usually follow that sort of tone. I turned around to face her, still trembling and close to a complete collapse as I felt the hard wooden door on my back. Her bloodstained lips curved into a wide, horrifying smile as her tongue ran swiftly over her demonic fangs. "You didn't really think you could get out, did you?"
I walked a couple of steps away from the door and raised the stake. I must have looked ridiculous to them, as Darla's smile grew ever wider. They both knew it wouldn't even touch them.
"I – I tried," I watched her come towards me, the smile now fading into something even more menacing. "What are you going to do with me?" I whispered – a real moment of weakness, of nauseating fear eating away at me. Please, God, I begged, not like this. Not like this.
"That would be telling."
It seemed like only half a second later that she was there, right in front of me, her yellow eyes staring at me intently, boring straight through me. I swallowed dryly and said nothing, looking right back at her but trying with all my might not to see her, the monster that would surely kill me.
"No last words then? I always figured you were a talker, Lilah. I have to say I'm quite disappointed."
"I don't see the point. Talking isn't going to get me out of this."
"Smart girl," she smiled. "Smarter than a lot of your colleagues here, I imagine. I admit that, as far as humans go, you are somewhat impressive – you're a high flier in a career dominated by men. I suppose you're better at their job than they are." Surprisingly, there was nothing at all mocking in the way she said this – it was more like a strange curiosity, which almost had me confused.
"I guess that's something you and I have in common," I replied, feeling the edge of fear knotted into my chest recede ever so slightly. I'm still not sure why I felt that way; maybe it was because I'd accepted my fate, or because I thought that I'd be spared because of what she said. Either way, it both perplexed and reassured me at the same time, and I noticed that Darla's smile had not faded at all. I think I was just happy that I hadn't pissed her off any more than I already had done. I let the stake drop by my side; there was no point in fighting a losing battle, not this kind of battle anyway. Sometimes you really can't fight the inevitable.
"I do have a talent for this sort of thing," she replied.
We both fell silent at that – I stood perfectly still, not daring to move as, with the slightest stroke along my collarbone as she did so, she moved to my side, barely visible in my peripheral vision. I gulped again, feeling that unnatural dryness at the back of the throat when you just know that something terrible is about to happen, and felt her hand move over my shoulder, then to the nape of my neck; another slipped noiselessly around my shivering waist.
Then it came. My skin burned hot against her cold, strong mouth as she pushed me against her, and I cried out in agony as those vicious fangs burrowed into my skin. Gradually, the room began to sway as the pain eased a little; being drained was a peculiar, alien sensation. I felt as though I was drifting away, pulled by something invisible and compelling towards a world of nothingness, a place where I would drown forever in emptiness, until I felt shock run through my body when I hit the floor. I remember, quite clearly, that trickle of warm blood run down my neck as I looked up to see her watching me curiously through the blur, eyes glittering with satisfaction, fangs stained a deep, crimson red with my blood. I was alive, I felt my heart thud in my chest, but I didn't know for how long. I couldn't think, could hardly breathe and felt myself drift away completely, caught up in that empty tide. After that, darkness; but a darkness perforated with nightmarish visions of screams and cries of pain, of endless, churning rivers of blood and of the smiling, soulless monster that drained me in that crushing embrace, over and over again.
I woke then in darkness of a different sort, and felt the weight and pressure of something strangely heavy draped on top of me – something solid, but malleable and soft. It took a few minutes for my head to clear when I finally realised it was a dead body, and the smell of the guy's cologne sickened me. I heard talking and, at first instinct, held my breath, only to hear what must have been a couple of paramedics talking about what had happened. The voices came closer to me – I tried to shout out, but my voice just cracked without forming any intelligible sound. Nevertheless, the body that had been lying on top of me was moved, and the cool air hit me like a tonic, finally bringing me back to the real world. I gasped and tried to stand up despite an incredible pain I felt in my arm, as if it had been completely shattered; I couldn't move it at all.
The paramedic called over to one of his colleagues: "Hey, we got a live one here!"
A familiar voice sounded from the opposite side of the room, clearly disappointed. "We do?"