I hate to be one of "those" authors that posts something that isn't necessarily an update, but this is a real honor for me. The Walkers was nominated for the "Top Ten Completed Fics in September." I'd really appreciate if you guys could hop over and nominate The Walkers. I'll include the link in my profile.
So you're not left unrewarded, I've attached something that I've been writing. I'm hoping that this will be the start of the The Walkers: The Return, which was the title I had intended for the sequel. The response that I've gotten for TW is beyond anything I had ever expected. You guys are awesome. Again, this is something I merely started jotting down. I have no idea if it would be included in with the sequel or not.
Thanks again guys!
I breathed in a steady in and out pattern, making sure to keep it rhythmic, so as not to give away my position. My body was flush against the rough concrete of the rooftop, as I slunk along silently. The rigid texture did nothing to my perfect skin, but the dirty water, which had come from the most recent downpour, clung mercilessly to my clothing. Regardless, I kept my concentration affixed to what I was after. My kill. My prey. Ever so slowly, I pulled myself atop an overhang outcrop, which overlooked a tightly packed alleyway below. I peered over the side, and I smiled wickedly.
There were two of them. Each was bent over a limp, human body, a tiny pool of blood collecting at the base of the collapsed forms, and they were growling softly. As I watched, one of the bloodsuckers pulled the lifeless corpse into his arms, and I heard a harrowing crunch as the bones snapped under the pressure of the vampire's grip.
"Shhh!" The other leech stopped drinking long enough to scold the other. "Keep it down. We're not supposed to be doing this."
"No one's seen those hunters in months," his companion responded with a biting hiss. He shoved the corpse away, now devoid of blood. "They've probably moved on. You're being paranoid."
I rolled over the edge, twisting silently through the air, and I landed in between them. Each one let out a shocked snarl, but I was not afraid. My right foot came out and caught the taller of the two in the cheek, sending his spiraling into a brick wall. I then shifted to the next, who was rushing toward me. I fell to my knees, and he sailed over my head. Seizing the opportunity, I clawed at his exposed stomach and was rewarded by a loud series of pained howls.
I rose to my feet and approached the leech, who was bent over at the waist, cradling his wounds. My hands seized his cheeks, and with a quick turn, I pulled his head from his shoulders. Just as the neck separated from the shoulders, I felt a massive weight knock me off balance. The second vampire's hands found my neck, and I cried out when his nails dug into the flesh there.
"All alone, are we?" He sneered, pulling me off the ground and bringing my face close to his. "No one to help you?"
"What makes you think I need help?" I snarled and kicked his stomach with both my feet. He whirled back, and I was on him instantly. My teeth sank into his jugular, and despite his struggling appendages, I held on. The icy liquid poured into my mouth, and I greedily gulped it down, the satisfaction overwhelming me. I wasn't fully sated until I had drained both vampires completely.
I stood back and watched as I tossed a match on their decimated remains. The bright red flames destroyed them, rendering them into a pile of ash. The entire encounter had taken around two minutes. I found that I was actually disappointed with that time. Usually, I could behead a vampire and finish it off in less than a minute. As soon as the embers had cooled and wisped off into the night air, I jumped up and found myself on the closest rooftop, the one I had been hiding on prior to the hunt. Rather than scurry off and see what else I could find, I gave myself a moment's reprieve. I reclined against the rough surface and gazed up at the black sky above me, inhaling and exhaling the pollution-filled oxygen.
Jacksonville. Not just any Jacksonville, though. Jacksonville, Florida after a heavy rainstorm. A very distinct, arid musk filled the world after it rained in this coastal city. Every ounce of depravity seemed to rise up after the sky had cleared. At least, that's how it was for me. It had been almost four months to the day since I had charged across the shipyards and sacrificed my life for Shiloh's. Four months since she had pulled me back from the brink and turned me into a Walker—a vampire hunter. Since then, life as I had known it had changed drastically. Instead of waking up early to go to school, I spent my days and evenings combing through the city streets for errant vampires. I had assumed that I would lament the time I used to spend, hunched over books, but that was far from the truth.
I loved my life as a Walker. Although I spent the majority amount of my time learning new things about the Walkers' world, there were plenty of times when I was given leave to do as I pleased. After we had returned from the Swedish Colony, I had been put through some of the hardest trials and tests I had ever experienced. Shiloh had changed from a sympathetic friend to a hard-edged commander. She accepted nothing less than perfection, and although the first few days had me second guessing my decision, I found myself growing stronger, my senses becoming more enhanced than they already were.
A slight tap-tap-tap forced my eyes open, and I smiled as the rain began to fall again. My body heat prevented my skin from remaining wet for any long periods of time. After swimming in the ocean, I had discovered that my body was completely dry a few minutes later.
"Don't we look cozy?" Tobin's voice called, and I sat up to find him staring at me from the next building. He shook his head and laughed. With what appeared to be a small hop, he closed the distance between us. He took a seat beside me. "Your eyes are glowing. Did you feed?"
I nodded and gestured to the alley. "A pair of leeches I found."
His eyebrows rose. "And you didn't think to share?"
With a sideways smirk, I shrugged and said, "You weren't here."
He leaned toward me and bumped his shoulder against mine. We fell into an easy conversation about the group of vampires he had been hunting for the past few hours. He had lost them when they had entered the under passage, much to his chagrin. Tobin hated losing, but he also knew better than to chase a large group of bloodsuckers into the underground. That was suicide.
"There's news on your boyfriend," Tobin teased lightly, a hint of genuine interest in his voice. I rolled my eyes, knowing that he was talking about Collin. As soon as we had returned from Sweden, the joking had commenced. Rather than protest every single comment, I had simply let it go. "He'll be coming back tomorrow."
"Oh." I tried to feign disinterest, but there was no fooling Tobin. Especially since he had been with me when Collin had left. "That's nice."
To be honest, I wasn't sure why Collin had been sent away. Shiloh and Dex had refused to tell me anything, and the rest of the Walkers were just as confused as I was. I had a feeling that the recent change in his demeanor had something to do with it. After two months of being with Shiloh and the others, Collin had changed. He was no longer the jovial, somewhat sardonic person that I loved to be around. He brooded to himself, had impressive, often explosive arguments with Shiloh and Dex, and when he wasn't following me everywhere, he was staring at me. It had really started to disturb me. I secretly hoped that his return meant the return of him old self.
"I'm right there with you," Tobin remarked, almost as though he had read my thoughts. I turned quizzically to him. "You were wondering if he's still going to be the same, you know, before he left."
My brow furrowed as I frowned, and I cast a wary look at the ground. "Yeah."
Tobin rested his hand on my shoulder. "Don't worry. Shiloh wouldn't have acquiesced to his return if he was still … different."
I sighed and looked out across the city skyline. The sun was starting to rise in the distance. "I really hope you're right."
We sat there in silence, watching the golden orb climb higher and higher in the sky. This was one of the reasons I preferred his company. Tobin didn't require an endless amount of conversation. He was just as comfortable as I was with remaining quiet and still.
Being a supernatural creature was still new to me. It was strange that I could focus on the beauty of the rising sun, while also pondering what Collin's return could mean for me. I considered several unthinkable scenarios simultaneously, which only succeeded in irritating me. A flock of birds flew overhead, and as I watched them float and dance through the air, I sighed, feeling confused. That was usually how things with Collin always ended up, with me confused.
"We should go," Tobin said suddenly. He turned to me, smiling ruefully. "If Collin is returning, then Shiloh will want to see us. All of us."
"Yeah," I responded somewhat despondently. "I'm right behind you."
"Are you all right?" He implored, significantly concerned. When I didn't answer right away, he took a few steps toward me. "This isn't just about Collin, is it? You've been withdrawn recently. What's the matter?"
I shrugged, lowering my eyes. "Last Wednesday was my father's birthday."
"All right." The look he gave me told me that he didn't understand why that bit of information was so upsetting.
"It was just … I don't know," I muttered, feeling self-conscious over my own sadness. "I guess it's just a reminder that he'll be dead one day, and I won't be able to grieve."
"Who said you will be denied your grief, Bella?" He frowned. When I babbled my reasoning, which was based around Shiloh's insistence that I sever, he chuckled. "It is wise to lose your connections to the human world, but Shiloh knows better than to assume you would dismiss those close to you completely. We're allowed to attend the funerals of our loved ones. To my knowledge, none of us have. I had no family left, Una had no desire to return to her former life, and I'm fairly certain the same goes for Collin. We all had rather poor hands dealt to us by life."
I shook my head. "I don't know if I could do it. Go to the funeral, I mean. I've never been very good at goodbyes."
"Bella?" Tobin gave me a very pointed look. "Please don't say that again."
I was taken aback. "What?"
"You sound like a brooding adolescent child when you say things like that." He took in my injured expression, and he smiled sadly. "In addition, it infuriates me when you disparage your character. Need I remind you that the person of which you speak, yourself, is someone of great importance to me. She is my sister in every way that matters, and I do not appreciate her being spoken of unkindly."
I smiled warmly and opened my mouth, possibly to thank him for all the kindness he had shown me in the past four months, but I was cut off. A loud, single-note shout could be heard in the distance. It sounded almost like a wolf's howl, but it was much too human. Tobin and I both turned toward the noise, and without hesitation, we leapt off the top of the building together. The streets, the light drizzle, and the people that were making their way around downtown, were nothing but blurry objects to me and Tobin. They didn't see us, and even if they did, they hardly acknowledged us.
It didn't take much time to reach the underground burrow where we lived. On our way there, as we deftly maneuvered through the trees, Una materialized beside us. Her light blonde hair danced in the air, and her fine features made her look both beautifully angelic and terrifying at the same time.
The three of us approached the under dwelling, and as we did so, we could see Shiloh, Dex, and Rix standing there. I could almost feel the tension roiling off Una at the sight of her leannán. Since the visit to Sweden, Rix had been more active in regards to learning how to become a successful ceannaire. Unfortunately that meant that Una had been figuratively left out in the cold. She tried to put up a brave face, but the lack of time spent with Rix was starting to affect her. She was grouchy, quick to anger, and sometimes, she was rude. We tolerated it as much as we could, but, if I was being honest, there had been many, many fights, and not all of them were verbal. I ran a hand over my wrist, which was sporting a large, black scar. This was just one of many.
Like Shiloh, I was the proud owner of a large, disfiguring scar. When Constantine had slashed my back, and the wound had been deep and severe. There was no way it would have healed on its own, so Una had been forced to patch me up the only way she knew how. As a result, there was a large, black scar that cut its way up my back. I was somewhat repulsed by it the first time I had seen it, but now, I was proud of it. It was a trophy. It meant that I had survived.
We stopped running, and each of us bowed gracefully to Shiloh. She responded with her own bow, and as soon as our formalities were observed, the meeting began.
"Is it true?" Una asked before Shiloh could speak. "Is Collin coming back?"
Three pairs of curious, hopeful eyes found Shiloh. Despite the confusion and irritation he caused inside me, I missed him terribly. He was as close as family to me. Whenever I was away from any of the Walkers for an extended period of time, I felt pained. They had become an extension of myself, if that even made sense.
Shiloh smiled slightly. "Collin will be returning tomorrow evening. I have the assurances of the Colony that he has their confidence to return."
"You mean, he isn't going to attack us," Tobin remarked sarcastically, pointing out the obvious, "simply by being around Bella?"
"This doesn't have anything to do with me," I scoffed, but as no one joined in my laughter, I frowned. "Does it?"
"The reasoning behind Collin's departure is between Shiloh and Collin, until he grants her leave to share it," Dex interjected firmly. His eyes focused on me, and I could have sworn he grew angrier. "It is not to be discussed when he returns, is that clear?"
As soon as we all agreed, we were promptly dismissed. Rather than join the others, I hung around. The idea that Collin's new behavior had something to do with me bothered me. Surely it couldn't be true. Of course it couldn't.