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Mortal Kiss: Fool's Silver *Chapter 27*
Jeff slept fitfully. He rarely rested properly these days. He didn’t even have a bed, but instead sat in his chair, nursing a glass of whisky until his eyes could no longer stay open. The days were long and empty, full of nothing but the desert dust, the pitiless sun, and Koskay’s endless desire for silver.
Tonight, though, the miner dreamed. At first the images were jumbled, floating in and out of his mind’s eye like moths dodging a flame they could not ignore. He shifted in his chair, the creak of old wood echoing in his sleep. His fingers reached for his whisky glass, but fell instead on the notebook he’d found, dropped in the dust outside the mine. There were words scrawled in it – songs that had somehow struck a chord in the old miner’s heart and echoed in his dreams, like now.
Then he saw her. At first he thought she was just a shadow, flitting through the deepest part of his mind, just as she always did. But then she came closer – so close that he could see her blue eyes.
‘Mercy . . .’ he whispered, and it was more like a prayer than her name.
‘Jeff,’ she said. ‘Jeff . . . are you ready to listen to me?’
He shook his head. This was a dream, wasn’t it? He should be able to wake himself, and yet . . . ‘Go away,’ he said. ‘Haven’t you taken enough from me? All those years that I loved you . . .’
The ghost of his wife reached out, her slender fingers brushing his face. Jeff trembled at the memory of them. ‘I’m sorry,’ she whispered. ‘For all those lost years, I am so sorry. But now I am here to return something to you that you did not know you had lost. Someone. Are you ready? Are you ready to listen? Because he needs your help. He needs . . . his father.’
Jeff blinked, and felt something on his face. Tears. He was crying. ‘Tell me,’ he said. ‘Tell me . . .’
Liz almost slipped as she jumped over a piece of rotten fence and came down hard on a loose stone. Jimmy grabbed her arm, holding her steady, as they raced on towards the mine. They’d been trying to evade the zombies, looping through back streets to put them off the trail, but there were too many of them. At every turn, their way was blocked by hordes of the monstrous creatures. They’d been running for so long, and Liz was exhausted.
She came to a halt, bending over and breathing deeply. Jimmy skidded to a stop next to her, and then tugged at her arm.
‘We can’t stop,’ he said urgently, glancing back at their pursuers. ‘Liz, we’ve got to carry on.’
‘I know,’ she said, through short breaths. ‘But, Jimmy, I’m not as fast as you, or the wolves. I don’t think . . . I don’t think I can do this.’
Jimmy pulled her to him and hugged her hard. ‘You can. We’ve come this far, OK? They need us, remember? Faye and Finn and Lucas. And the pack. They all need us.’
Liz squeezed her eyes shut. ‘I know. I just . . . don’t know what good I’m going to be. I mean, what can I do? I can’t even run very fast!’
Jimmy kissed her forehead. ‘Come on,’ he urged. ‘We’re almost there. You can’t give up now.’
Taking another deep breath, Liz nodded. ‘OK,’ she said, straightening up. ‘Let’s go.’
They took off again, hurrying towards the gates of the mine.
Alexei Koskay turned over in his sleep. He was restless tonight, whereas usually he slept soundly. He did not usually have much to worry about. He had been born with the money to do as he chose, thanks to the oil his father had tapped back when Russia was still in chaos. In any case, here in Silver Cross he was king. Once he had drained Mercy Morrow’s sons of their immortal life-force, he would be invulnerable. No one would be able to stop him.
And yet tonight . . . he worried.
The delay caused by that wretched girl bothered him. Usually Koskay’s plans ran smoothly. No one dared to cross him. But she had defied him. And while, in practical terms, it had played into his hands . . . it irked him. He was to be mortal no more. It annoyed him that the actions of a mere mortal could disrupt his plans, even for a day or so.
Koskay sat up and swung his legs out of bed. Going over to his desk, he grabbed a pen and a pad of paper. He sat down and sketched out a new design. When he was finished, he looked down at his scribbles and smiled. Yes, that would work. Why hadn’t he thought of it before? He had the equipment. With a few modifications, the chair would do. They worked perfectly well for humans, after all – all it needed, really, was an upgrade to make it as powerful as the chamber. He could connect both half-lings to it, and as long as they were immobile, he could bleed them of their souls. And, instead of waiting until the process was complete, Koskay had seen a way of putting himself into the equation.
He could drain the boys’ power straight into himself. What was more, he could do it straight away.
Koskay left his room and headed for the treatment chamber.
Finn felt weak. He knew he hadn’t eaten for a long time, but he didn’t feel hungry. He wondered if it was the silver, finally breaking through the shielded walls. He didn’t much care. He had woken from a dream in which he’d seen Faye’s face. It had taken him a moment to remember what had happened. Then everything came crashing back in on him, and his world ended again.
‘Finn? Are you . . . Are you awake?’
Lucas. Finn turned his head to see his half-brother’s eyes staring at him out of a pale, gaunt face. Finn was grudgingly impressed. Lucas must be getting weaker by the moment, but somehow he’d forced himself to wake up and speak. He hadn’t given up trying to get Finn to take an interest in their problem.
‘Finn,’ Lucas said again, his voice barely a whisper in the empty room. ‘Come on. She wouldn’t want you to give up like this.’
‘She’s dead,’ Finn told him. ‘Nothing else matters, Lucas. Don’t you understand that?’
Lucas fell silent. ‘Are you sure?’ he asked, after a moment. ‘Are you sure she’s dead? I keep having this dream. At least, I think it’s a dream . . . Faye’s there, and she’s trying to tell me something.’
Finn thought about the dream he’d had. How real it had been – as if she’d been there, in this room, kneeling in front of him. He shook his head. ‘Dreams are just dreams,’ he said.
There was a sudden click, followed by a creak. The door opened, and Koskay appeared with two of his zombie minions. He beamed when he saw that they were both awake.
‘Ah – boys, my boys,’ he said, his harsh Russian accent echoing around the cold room. ‘You are awake. How marvellous. We have work to do, you and I.’
Liz, Jimmy and the wolves reached the gates of the mine as Koskay’s hordes grew close enough to smell. They stank of rot and decay, of the sad and lonely end to life. Liz felt Jimmy’s hand on her shoulder, guiding her along in the dim light that filtered down from the silver moon. The gates were standing open as the wolves flitted inside. They headed for the black opening that seemed to plunge straight down into the earth.
Liz hesitated as another image sprang into her mind. They had been popping up more and more, and each time it became easier for her to see them without feeling dizzy. It took a moment before she realized what it was. She stopped dead.
‘Oh my God,’ she said. ‘That’s Faye’s suitcase! The one I gave her before she left!’
Jimmy stopped and turned. ‘What?’
‘Faye’s case – there was a picture of it in my head.’ Liz gasped as another image flashed through her mind. This time the object glinted as bright light hit it. It vanished as quickly as it had come, but Liz kept hold of the image. Silver. It was something silver. ‘Oh! The charm bracelet! That’s Faye’s charm bracelet, the one I gave her last winter! Jimmy – it’s Faye who’s sending the images!’
Jimmy frowned. ‘How can it be?’
Liz shook her head. ‘I don’t know, but she’s trying to tell me something again. The case . . . but I don’t understand the rest. Why send me a picture of her silver bracelet?’
‘I guess she wanted to be sure you know it’s her.’
‘No,’ whispered Liz. ‘I mean, maybe that’s part of it, but—’
She stopped again, trying to concentrate, but Jimmy pulled her onwards. ‘Liz, those creatures are getting closer,’ he said. ‘We’ve got to go.’
‘Wait! Just a second . . .’ The image flashed up again, the bracelet glinting harshly in Liz’s mind. ‘It’s the silver,’ she realized. ‘She’s warning us about the silver. Jimmy – the wolves!’
Jimmy’s eyes widened. They both turned back towards the mine, but the bikers had already vanished into the darkness.
‘Come on,’ he said, grabbing Liz’s hand.
Together, they ran, slipping and sliding over the loose shingle beneath their feet. Liz felt Jimmy flinch immediately.
‘I’m OK,’ he said, though she could tell that his teeth were clenched. ‘Only part wolf, remember? I’m going to choose to believe it’s the part that isn’t bothered by silver!’
That wasn’t true of the rest of the wolves, though. Jimmy and Liz found them clustered together not far inside the mine shaft. They were bent double with the pain of combating the effects of the silver.
‘Hopkins,’ Jimmy asked, ‘are you going to be able to go on? We don’t have time to waste – those things—’
‘I know,’ said the biker hoarsely. ‘We’ll be OK. We just need to—’
‘No, you won’t be.’
Liz spun round at the sound of the voice. It was Jeff – Lucas’s father. He looked different now. He was no longer a bitter, shambling wreck of a man. He was standing straight, his shoulders back, his eyes bright.
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