Chapter Seven: Humans and Monsters
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Alice had herself, Sara, Penny, and Betty move the bookcase back in front of the open doorframe.  They then moved a heavy hope chest in front of it, putting a heavy safe on top of that.  The bookcase by the window would be harder to get through than an open doorframe, but Alice still had them move a table in front of the bookcase so it would be harder to knock over.  They also stacked a few chairs on top of that just to add as much weight as possible.

            Finally, they moved the gunrack to the corner where Uncle Paul lay prone so that they’d have more loaded guns at arm's reach.  As he lay there, his neck still bruised, Uncle Paul grunted, holding out his hand palm up.  Alice understood and took a pistol from the rack, giving it to him.  He grasped it in his hand, nodded to her, and Alice nodded back.

            Finally, they planted themselves in the corner, guns at the ready.  Alice and Penny held their rifles while the three elders had pistols, and all of them kept their eyes on the barricaded window and door.  Alice could practically sense the fear written on everyone’s faces.  She kept it hidden, but she was as afraid as everyone else.  Ryan’s dead body lying in the far corner of the room didn’t help matters much, and Alice tried not to look at it.

            At that moment, Alice heard glass breaking throughout the house.

            “They’re coming,” said Penny, her breathing strained.

            “Stay calm,” said Alice. “They aren’t here to kill us.  That gives us an advantage.”

            Someone broke the window behind the bookcase, making Penny jump.

            “Steady,” said Alice.

            Something knocked hard against the bookcase by the window, shaking it.  A minute later, something slammed against the other bookcase.  All five of the Hayes's family members gripped their guns tightly as the intruders tried to break in.  The bookcase by the window moved slightly, showing a narrow view of a sledgehammer smashing into it.  The hammer was pulled back, and then it struck the bookcase again.

            On the other side of the room, the bookcase in front of the doorframe also moved slightly.  It was darker there, but Alice could just barely see people moving behind the bookcase.  Judging by the sound, they were also using a sledgehammer.

            Finally, the bookcase by the window opened up just enough for a man to climb in.  Alice didn’t even take a moment to look at him as she fired.  The man screamed and fell back, but another one took his place immediately.  Alice’s mother shot this time, but now the bookcase by the door showed someone trying to slip in.  Penny shot that man, and they all kept shooting anyone they could see.  When Alice ran out of ammo, she just dropped the gun, grabbed another loaded rifle from the rack, and kept firing.  When the others ran out, they shouted, “I’m out,” and Alice passed them one.  Alice just kept an eye on her Uncle, and they all had to get a new gun at least once.

             This went on for a few minutes, men trying to climb in only to be shot by the Hayes family.  It was unnerving seeing these men jump recklessly into the room, heedless of their own safety, but Alice kept her focus on the task at hand.  For a moment, it seemed like they’d be able to hold them off, but then the intruders did something that made Alice’s blood freeze.  Men came into the room carrying someone else over them.  Alice realized they were using men they’d shot previously as shields.  She and her family kept shooting, and while some of the bullets got all the way through, it now took four or five shots to take one of them down.  This meant that the men both got farther into the room, and more of them got inside at once.

            “Alice,” said Penny, worried.

            “Aim for the legs!” Alice shouted.

            On a certain level, Alice knew it was a desperate move.  Shooting the leg wasn’t as easy as one would think.  Not only were they thinner targets than a torso, but they were also constantly moving.  Just as Alice feared, it still took multiple shots from each of them before they could hit the men's legs as they advanced, two at best but sometimes as much as five.  Even when they hit someone’s legs, the men just fell to the floor screaming, and they had to fire another shot to put them down for good.  It just took too long to do this, and Alice was running out of rifles.

            Soon there were about five men in the room, and they were almost on top of them.  Alice realized they needed a different approach.  It was desperate, but when Alice ran out of ammo in her current rifle, she pulled a pair of pistols instead.  They were better for close combat.

            “Cover me,” she said.

            “Alice!” said Sara.

            Alice ran forward, reaching around a dead body to shoot the man with a pistol.  He cried out and fell as Alice ran to the next man.  This one tried to reach out and grab her arm, but he couldn’t move quickly while carrying a corpse, so Alice was able to move out of reach easily and shoot him down.  The three other men in the room turned to her but exposed themselves to the Hayes family in the corner, who shot them down.

            Unfortunately, more men had entered the room by them.  Alice shot a few more of them like this, reaching around the corpses to shoot them.  However, it was then that both bookcases were knocked down completely, crashing to the floor and letting even more people inside.  Several went for Alice while the others went, all of them using corpses as shields. Again, Alice did her best, shooting men around the corpses with her pistols.  The other Hayes family members shot the legs of anyone that got close, but more and more men entered the room.

To make matters worse, as Alice kept darting around and shooting, both of her pistols clicked on empty.

            “No,” Alice cried in frustration, throwing the pistols and grabbing the wooden stake at her belt.  She was able to stab one of the men and quickly turned to stab another, but at that moment, another man reached out and grabbed her arm.  Alice felt a few hands grab her as men ditched the dead bodies they carried.  As Alice struggled, she saw other men grab the guns from the others.  There were just too many of them.

            “Get your hands off…” Alice started, but then her head spun as something hit her in the back of the head.

Her vision went blurry as she fell, the wooden stake falling from her hand and clattering away, the tip still covered in blood.  Down there, Alice saw men grabbing her family by the neck and dragging them away.  Even her uncle, his neck bruised, was grabbed by his arms and legs and carried off.  Moments later, hands grabbed Alice and lifted her.

            Alice found herself supported under her shoulders by two men as her feet dragged across the floor.  She tried to get her bearings, but he had trouble thinking through her throbbing head.  She vaguely realized they were taking her to the front door and tried to struggle, but her efforts were weak.  Someone walking next to her also cleaned off the remnants of garlic powder still clinging to Alice’s wrists.

            Soon she was out the front door as the men put her on her knees in the grass.  They lined up all the Hayes family next to her with Penny and Aunt Betty on her left with Paul and Alice’s mother on her right.  Each of them had men holding their arms and keeping hands on their shoulders so they couldn’t move.

            And as Alice lifted her head, her vision just beginning to clear, she saw a vampire standing before her, his dark grey skin wrinkling as he bared his fangs.  To her left and right, Alice saw a vampire standing before each member of her family.  All of them had their fangs bared as their red eyes gleamed hungrily.

            “No,” said Alice, struggling to no avail. “No.  Get away from us.  Let us go!”

            Alice, along with all members of the Hayes family that could still speak, shouted and screamed as they tried to get away.  Only Uncle Paul barely moved, still weak from his inability to breathe.  It was pointless.  None of them could break free from the men holding them down.  As one, the vampires moved towards the Hayes family.

            “No!” Alice cried, struggling. “No!”

            As one the Vampires knelt before the Hayes Family, grabbed their hair to keep their heads from moving, and ripped at their shirts, revealing their necks.  Alice’s blouse was already torn, and when the vampire before her saw the cross around her neck, he hissed.  Alice, her eyes wide with fear, watched him rip the cross from her neck and toss it away. Then, out of the corner of her eyes, she could see the other vampires sinking their fangs into her family’s necks.

            “No,” she said, her voice a whimper.

The vampire bit into her neck, and Alice cried out in pain as the fangs sunk into her flesh.  She struggled in vain to pull herself away, but the men held her in a vicelike grip.  She could feel the blood flowing from the wound in her neck but was helpless to stop it.

            And then Alice felt something strange, a sort of pressure on her mind pushing her to stop struggling.  It whispered to be still, be calm, to relax, even as the sharp pain in her shoulder remained.  Soon she went limp, her eyes glassy as the men holding her arms suddenly let go of her.  She vaguely knew that nothing was stopping her from running now, and yet she felt like weights were tied to her limbs, making it impossible to move.

            Finally, the vampire pulled away, blood staining his lips.  All five vampires hid their true forms now, looking like the impossibly beautiful people from before.  The vampire in front of Alice showed a handsome young man with blonde hair and broad shoulders who looked no older than eighteen wearing a jacket and jeans.  The only imperfection Alice noted was the blood on his lips, but that didn’t last long.  The vampire’s long, inhuman tongue came out and circled his mouth, cleaning every drop of blood in one swipe.  The tongue disappeared, and the impossibly handsome man put his hand under Alice’s chin to raise her eyes to his.  Now his eyes were a bright, vibrant blue that threatened to draw Alice into them.

            It took every ounce of willpower for Alice just to look away.

            The vampire laughed, “Still some fight in you.  That’s cute.   Follow me.”

            The vampire turned and walked away, and Alice felt herself get up and walk without meaning to.  She felt like a puppet on strings, some outward force compelling her to obey the Vampire’s words.  Feeling dazed, Alice noticed that the others were following the vampires that had bitten them as well, all except for Alice’s mother and Uncle.  Both Sara Hayes and Uncle Paul seemed to have passed out, and two vampires carried them in their arms.  Alice tried to muster up the will to do something other than follow this monster but found herself unable to do so as her head swam.

            The entire group walked away from the house, following the gravel driveway.  In contrast to the vampires and their henchmen who walked steadily, each member of the Hayes family that was still conscious walked forward unsteadily, their faces slack and their eyes glazed over.  In the darkness ahead, Alice could just barely make out a line of black cars surrounded by more figures.  As they got closer, Alice realized that they were more vampires, their skin pristine and their eyes sparkling even in the darkness.

            The vampire in front of Alice stopped for a moment and said, “Walk beside me.”

            Against her will, Alice walked next to the vampire, who put his arm around her shoulders.  Alice tensed up but was helpless to run away.  The vampire leaned down and sniffed her neck, making Alice cringe.  The vampire just shushed her.

            “Relax,” he said.

            It took everything Alice had just to stay tense. Of course, it was practically nothing, but Alice would take any sense of control right now.

            They got close to the cars and the vampires next to them.  These vampires wore fancy clothing such as suits and dresses in contrast to the more casual clothing of the vampires that capture the Hayes family.  Each one had an ordinary human next to them, standing still and keeping their heads down. One of these new vampires walked forward, crossed his arms, and slanted his eyebrows.  The human behind him also wore a suit, an ordinary man with dark hair and brown eyes.

            “You were supposed to wait for us, John,” said this new vampire to the one leading Alice.

            “What’s the matter, Sebastian?” said John, smirking. “Mad I stole your thunder?”

            “Oh, I’m angry,” said Sebastian. “But only at your incompetence.”

            “Excuse me?  We got what we came for.  It was easy.”

            “Oh really?” said Sebastian.  “Where’s Veronica?”

            John snarled.

            “So she’d dead then.  So that’s one of our own killed, scores of our thralls dead, and you gave the prey time to call for help.  Sounds like a loose definition of the word easy if you ask me.”

            “I didn’t ask you.  The bottom line is we have our prize.  Let’s get out of here before the Night Hunters show up.”

            “If you were worried about the night hunters, you should have worked more quickly.”

            Sebastian was clearly agitated, his eyes fierce, his fangs showing, and his chest heaving.  Then Alice noticed vapor rising from his right eye as his vampiric disguise fell away a little.  Within moments, the vapor revealed his red eye and leathery skin, a circle of mist widening as it rose from his face.

            “Master,” said the human behind him. “Please, don’t stress yourself.  Here.”

             He pulled back the collar of his suit to reveal his neck.  The angry vampire turned to him and came close, biting into his servant’s neck.  The human didn’t even cry out in pain but smiled contentedly, and moments later, the vampire pulled away, licking his lips clean as his eye returned to normal.

            “Thank you, Charles,” said the vampire. “I needed that.”

            The Human, Charles, seemed delighted that his master was pleased.  The sight filled Alice with unyielding disgust.  As she tried to back away, the vampire John stopped her, his hand clenching her arm.

            “I know what you’re thinking,” he said, whispering into her ear. “You’re wondering if that’s going to be you.  You’re asking if you’ll soon be begging one of us to drink your blood.  The answer is yes, Alice.  That will soon be you.”

            Alice felt herself trembling, even as she walked forward as if by invisible strings.  A tear fell down her face at the thought of Alice and her family becoming this.  The vampire started walking her towards one of the cars, where a human opened the door.  Somehow Alice knew that once she entered that car, it was over.  She’d be lost forever, and there was nothing she could do to stop it.  She started to breathe heavily, struggling to break away even as her own body betrayed her.

            “Don’t fret, Alice,” said the Vampire. “You’ll learn to like it.  You’ll see.”

            “For darkness’ sake,” said Sebastian. “Stop playing with your food and get in the car.   We’re running out of...”

            A loud series of sounds rang in Alice’s ears, and Alice abruptly felt the vampire’s arm leave her shoulder as he covered his ears and shrieked.  Almost every vampire there began shrieking in pain.  Those that didn’t, including the vampire in a suit before Alice, stood stock still.  That vampire convulsed for a moment before mist fell away from his entire body, revealing the vampiric monster underneath wearing a tattered suit.  As he fell forward, he started turning back into a human.  He hit the ground face first, now fully human.  As he lay there, Alice could see a hole in the back of his suit.  He was followed by several other vampires falling to the ground, each with a hole in their back that started leaking blood.  Alice had barely recognized that sound in her daze, but now she remembered.

            Gunshots.

Before Alice could process this, John threw them both to the ground as more gunshots rang out.  The Vampires that hadn’t been shot ducked for cover, taking the Hayes family with them.  The humans that served the vampires also ducked for cover, and Alice noticed some of the cars’ tires going flat as bullets tore them to shreds.  After a few moments, the gunfire stopped.  Alice could hear the faint, unintelligible sound of someone shouting orders, and then a new sound rang out.  It was a shrill whine, like from an alarm.  Alice, lying on the grass, found it mildly uncomfortable, but the Vampires held their ears in pain.

            The vampire next to Alice, John turned to the human Charles and shouted, “Take the rest of the men and attack.”

            “Yes, sir,” said Charles, nodding as he stood.  The vampire servant then shouted, “Attack!”

            Every human not related to Alice stood and rushed to where the sound came from, screaming in defiance.  More gunfire rang out, but the vampires, bracing themselves from the pain of the sounds, stood up.  Alice felt herself being lifted as the vampire John carried her in his arms.  Alice could vaguely make out the other members of her family in the arms of other vampires.  With the humans attacking the gunmen, fewer bullets flew in their direction.  Taking advantage of this, the vampires turned and ran.  Alice saw the world move past her faster than she thought possible as the vampires carried them away, heading towards the field of crops in the distance.  Alice looked back to where the gunfire came from.  She reached back, hoping, begging, and praying for them to help her, to help all of them, even as the sound of that alarm and the gunfire began to fade.

            They reached the rows of crops and disappeared into them, stalks of corn moving past Alice’s vision in a blur.  They ran for a time.  Alice couldn’t tell how long.  Suddenly, however, the vampire’s stopped and looked around.

            “A plane,” said one of them. “And parachutes.”

            “Yes,” said another. “We should…”

            They heard another sound, a long, drawn out howl.  More howls quickly joined this howl, a pack of wolves singing to the moon.  The vampires hissed angrily.

            “That’s all we need,” said John as he held Alice in his arms. “Keep going, and split up.  Some of us should get away.”

            The vampires split up, and to Alice’s horror, each member of the Hayes family was carried in different directions, scattering through the corn.

            “No,” Alice moaned helplessly.

            Once again, Alice found herself moving quickly through the crops as her family disappeared.  In addition to the vampire carrying her, three vampires surrounded them.  They ran further into the field, gunshots firing in the distance and more howls sounding in the night.  Alice feared they would get away and still found it hard to think through the haze over her mind.

            And then something large started moving towards them, rustling the corn violently.  The vampires changed direction as something burst through, moving in a blur.  It grabbed one of the vampires, which shrieked as they vanished into the corn.  Whatever it was, it had been as big as a horse.
            That left two vampires in front of Alice as they ran as fast as they could.  They changed direction again as something rustled in the corn in front of them.  Several things seemed to be converging on their position, and the vampires pushed their speed to the limit.  Alice could see the far end of the cornfield in her vision, and the vampires sped towards it.

            Until something stepped out in front of them, swinging something that flashed in the moonlight.  Whatever this was, it moved as fast as the vampires and sliced the two before her in half.  Their two halves tumbled to the ground, spilling blood on the ground as the mist lifted from their bodies.

            Then John stopped and Alice got a look at this newcomer, though many of his features were hidden in the shadow of the crops.  He was tall with broad shoulders, and his arms were bare, revealing strong muscles.  He wore a bulletproof vest that even protected his neck and military style black pants.  His hair appeared to be either cut very short or shaved completely.  In his hand, he carried a gleaming cruciform sword, like something a medieval knight would wield.  Even through the pressure on her mind Alice had just enough clarity to find that strange.  Why was he using a sword?

            “Stand,” hissed John.

            The vampire let her down, and Alice found herself standing straight up as the vampire stood behind her and put his hand around her neck.  He squeezed tightly, threatening to break it.  Alice wanted to move more than ever but still felt an irresistible hold on her mind preventing her from disobeying the vampire’s word.

            “Let us go,” said the vampire. “Or I’ll kill her.”

            Three things burst from behind Alice and the vampire, three big things, but the stranger with a sword whistled, and whatever they were stopped in their tracks.  Even though the three things remained motionless, Alice could faintly hear the sound of growling.  Alice prayed silently, begging not to be taken by this creature and for her family to be saved.

            “Yes,” said John. “That’s it.  Call of your little pets and let us pass.”

            “So,” said the stranger in a deep, powerful voice. “You wish to die slowly then?”

            The vampire didn’t respond at first.  Alice stood there, keenly aware of the strong grip at her throat as she wondered what the stranger was doing.

            “Do you think I’m bluffing?” asked John.

            “Do you think I am?” asked the stranger. “What? Didn’t vampires warn you about me? I knew vampires were cruel, but I didn't know they were that cruel."

            “I know who you are,” said John. “And what you are.”

            “Then you should know what I do to cowards that hide behind human shields."

            “You won’t kill me," said John, glee dripping from his voice. "Not for the sake of this one.”

            “Won’t I?” asked the stranger. “If I let you go, this woman may live for a little while longer, but after feasting on her blood and warping her mind, you’ll either kill her anyway or turn her into a vampire.  Killing her now would be kinder.  Besides, even if I could guarantee that she’d live by letting you go, you would just take more victims.  One life for the countless lives you’ll take in the future is hardly a fair trade, now is it?”

           Mist rose from the vampire’s hand, revealing his leathery skin, and Alice feared what that meant.

            “No,” said John, shaking his head. “You won’t risk this one.  This one’s different.”

            “Maybe she is different for whatever reason,” said the stranger.  “I wouldn’t know, but it doesn’t matter.  I can’t let you escape.  That being said, I would prefer she live rather than die, so I’ll offer you the same choice I offer every other parasite who tries this.  Release her to fight me fairly, and your death will be quick.  Kill her, and I kill you as slowly and as painfully as possible, your pleas for mercy and screams of agony falling on deaf ears.  That’s what I do to cowards like you.  So fast or slow, it’s your choice.  Either way, you’re not leaving this place alive.”

            And then the stranger walked forward, slowly and deliberately, his sword gleaming in the moonlight even as his face remained shadowed.  Alice felt the vampire’s grip start to shake.  The vampire was trembling.  Alice asked herself if this was really it.  Would the vampire toss her away to save itself, or was she really about to die?

            “No,” hissed the vampire. “This one is different.  I’m telling you!  Don’t you recognize her?!  Don’t you recognize your own sister?!”

            Alice’s blood froze as her eyes grew wide in shock.  It couldn’t be.

            “A…Arthur?” she asked weakly.

            The other man didn’t even break his stride.

            “I gave you your choice, vampire,” said the stranger. “Now make it.”

            Closer and closer, the stranger came, and the vampire kept trembling as his grip tightened.  Alice’s mind was swimming with confusion.  Was this really Arthur?  Tears fell down her face, though whether or not they were from hope or terror, Alice herself didn’t know.

            Finally, the vampire hissed and threw Alice to the ground, pulling a long hunting knife from inside his tattered jacket.  Alice hit the ground as the vampire rushed forward, attacking the stranger in a blur.  As she lay there, Alice watched the vampire fight with his true form revealed, hissing and shrieking in rage.  Sparks flew in the night as the stranger’s sword collided with the knife.  They traded blows, moving faster than Alice could track.

            It was over in seconds, the stranger ramming his sword through the vampire’s heart.  The vampire convulsed, shrieking, his red eyes rolling into the back of his head as the stranger kicked him off the sword.  The vampire fell back as he turned back into a human.  He hit the ground, and his screaming ceased, the man going still.

            Alice felt herself slipping away as she lay on her side, her consciousness fading as the stranger turned to look her over.  Alice faintly heard more rustling in the cornfield as soldiers came up in black military uniforms, flashlights mounted on their rifles.  In the light of the flashlights, Alice finally got a look at the stranger’s face.

            The first thing she noticed was the tattoos.  This man had crosses tattooed all over his face, his shaved head, and his bare arms.  He had a strong jawline and an intense, cold stare.  As she looked into those cold, calculating eyes, Alice looked for any sign of her brother. If this really was Arthur, he was completely unrecognizable to her.

            “Arthur,” she whispered before everything went dark.

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