Colin is beside me in seconds, holding the creature and yanking it away from me. Unfortunately the thing also took some of my hair. I cry out as the pain lances through my scalp.
“Shit,” Colin yelps. “Sorry, Bitsy.”
I wave a hand and turn to face the rest of the others. I notice almost immediately that the scent of them has become sweeter, more like roasted sugar. My fangs lengthen.
“Your head is bleeding,” Colin says.
I look at the other he is holding and note that it seems to be grasping half my hair and a portion of skin. I love my hair. I think it is my best feature and somehow seeing my locks in that thing’s hand sends me into a rage. Colin is about to hand the other to Max when I roar and jump onto it. Colin is knocked to the ground and pinned beneath me and the other. I don’t care.
Inches from Colin’s face I lunge in to attack the jugular. He says nothing but watches me as I drink my fill. Behind me I can hear a scuffle as Max attacks one as well. Finally I hear Colin calling my name.
I look up, releasing my grip on the other.
“I need to get up.”
I come to as if I’ve been asleep. I remember pouncing and the feel of the sweet blood flowing down my throat, but nothing more. I stand and drag the other off him. He jumps to his feet.
There are two others but they have just stopped in the middle of the hanger. It’s as if they don’t know what we are. They seem to recognise that they are facing something other than humans, but they don’t seem to know what to do. I would have thought that it was obvious they ought to run, yet they mill around looking at us and snapping their teeth together.
Max drops the one he was drinking from.
“Do you need another?” I ask.
He nods and starts toward one of the others. “They don’t smell as delicious but I’m still hungry.”
“You will be until you are fixed,” I say.
Colin reaches out and runs a hand through my hair. “I can see.”
“It’s grown back?” I ask.
“Yes.” He has a look of astonishment on his face.
Max has moved to the other and is reaching for him when it clumsily twists out of the way.
“They are learning,” Colin says.
Max simply moves fast and grabs it. The other gives a mewling cry and tries to escape. The final other looks at this struggle and then begins to half stumble, half run back to the office. Colin starts after him. I don’t stop him.
Max finishes and leans his head back, his face slack with relaxation.
“In the warehouse you asked if they had given me human blood.” He looks at me and lets the other drop to the floor. “Why?”
I don’t answer for a moment. In the corner of my eye I see Colin snap the neck of the last other and start to walk over.
“I think she was hoping for a thanks,” he says. “I know I was.”
Max darts an annoyed glance at him. “Thank you.”
Then he goes back to looking at me. He wants an answer.
“Ricky said something…”
“Ricky? You do know him,” he says. I can see anger just below the surface.
“Yes, we used to be engaged.”
He takes a step toward me and I take one back.
“Do you still love him?” he asks.
“No,” I say. “Not since he faked his own death.”
That makes him pause. “What?”
So I tell him. I tell him about the pain and the abandonment. In the end he walks to me and enfolds me in his arms. I sink into his smell and the strength of his arms. This is what I wanted.
“I’m sorry,” he says.
I don’t answer. I’m mad that he could think that there was anything between us.
“He suggested that you were in on it.”
“In on what?” I ask, pulling back.
“The whole virus release.”
“Ricky is part of it?” I ask. I had thought that he might be but I was hoping that he had more common sense than that.
Max nods. “He said that I stopped listening to the transmission just before the word went out to not use the vaccine. That people died…” He looked from me to Colin.
“I feel fine,” Colin says.
“He mentioned human blood,” I say.
Max gives me a sharp look.
“It may be poison to us,” Colin says.
“Maybe,” I echo.
Max looks thoughtful. I lean back against his chest and he strokes my back in a soothing circular motion. I glance at Colin but he is watching us with hooded eyes and I can’t see if he is jealous or not.
I don’t want Colin to be jealous.
“You okay?” I ask.
Max releases me and pulls Colin into a ‘man-hug’. It is all about reassurance and I don’t feel concerned. While they are patting each other on the back I head toward the office.
“Bitsy?” Max calls out.
“Just making sure everything is clear.”
I hear the guys following me. We have been pretty silly. We’ve taken out the others that had shown themselves but there could be more, or even a few humans. I berate myself. This isn’t the safe environment that I’m used to. I wonder if I’ll ever feel safe.
Reaching the office I go in. There, on the floor, is another mechanic. Only this one has not changed. He’s dead, he has to be with the amount of damage he’s sustained. I turn away, feeling sick.
“Wait outside,” Max says as they walk into the office.
I do. I know I should help with the clean-up, but I can’t. I sit with my back to the office wall and my legs on the bare concrete. I ought to go to the roof and keep a look-out, but I’m just so tired…