Halfway to the Grave

Page 74

A black-haired vampire had the presence of mind to go for my mother. Launching myself airborne, I practically flew across the room to land on his back. Silver swished and buried into his heart just as his hands almost touched her. One cruel twirl of the knife finished him, and then I was knocked off my feet by a punishing blow and pitched forward. Instead of fighting it, I let my body curl under, and the attacker arced over my head instead of stumbling me. None of them were prepared for my speed. He was skewered to the wall behind him before he had time to pounce again, staring stupidly at the silver handle jutting from his chest.

With one of my throwing knives I slit the rope that bound my mother.

"Get outside now, go!"

I shoved her out of the way of another series of assaults and sprang straight up into the air to come down behind two charging vampires. Unleashing my expanded strength, I slammed their heads together hard enough to splinter apart their skulls, and then stabbed both of them through the back with a blade in each fist. The force of my blows sent my hands all the way through them. With a cruel growl, I turned and used their shriveling bodies as shields. Fangs that were meant for my neck tore into dead flesh instead. I smashed my bloody knife into the next fiend until my forearm was past the rib cage of the vampire still dangling from it. Before the next bunch of nosferatu descended, I threw the body on my other arm at them, slowing them enough to wrench free of the corpse and hurl more silver blades with hellish accuracy. One stuck straight into the eye of an advancing vampire, and terrible shrieks came from his mouth before another landed between his fangs.

It seemed I was jerking silver out of bodies just to throw more again in a morbid juggling act. Failing that, even though it was more dangerous, full-body combat was in order. I experienced the furious ecstasy of twisting someone's head around so roughly it snapped off. Then I threw it like a bowling ball across the room to beam the back of a vamp closing in on Bones. There was still iron clamped around one wrist and he swung it so rapidly it was only a blur of gray.

A man tried to climb past the wreckage of the car to circle me, and without pause I threw a knife into his skull. Something about the sudden scream and then silence let me know I'd just killed a human. Vampires didn't go down that easy. Curiously I felt not the slightest twinge of guilt. If they were after me then they were evil, heartbeat or no heartbeat.

Sirens blared in the distance, coming closer. Obviously Mansfield had gotten the message. Through the crumbling wall of the home's exterior I saw the flash of red and blue lights, many of them. A small army was descending. The vampires left standing saw them also and began to scatter. This was what we'd hoped for. They were so much more convenient to kill when they faced away from us. More silver found flesh when they sprang through the remnants of the house.

Unholy exultation filled me, and a howl of victorious slaughter erupted from my throat. It shook the remains of the glass in the windows as I prowled swiftly through the bodies to find another one to destroy. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Bones, grinning evilly and tearing apart a vamp unlucky enough to be in front of him. An arm sailed across the carnage to land in the pile of body parts, followed by a head.

"Police! Drop your...!"

The voice on the bullhorn abruptly choked off when their spotlight lit upon the scene. Only about six vampires remained and three of them were pierced with multiple blades. Shots began to ring out from the officers' guns as they fired wildly at everything that moved, not knowing what in the world they were shooting at. This caused the surviving vamps to turn on the police. I stayed down, bullets being much more harmful to me. From this low vantage point I saw Hennessey and Switch, those slime bags, crawling around the ruins of the car. They were almost at the opening in the wall, and from there they could run for the nearby woods.

A seething hatred burst inside me, and I had only one distinct, crystallized thought. Over my dead body. They weren't going anywhere unless I was cold on the ground.

"Hennessey!" I snarled. "I'm coming for you!"

Hennessey turned his head with a look of disbelief. Switch didn't. He started to crawl faster. His throat had healed from my earlier run-in with him, and from the way he hustled, he didn't want a rematch.

I only had one knife left, but it was a big one. My hand closed around it with the grip of the damned. I crouched, channeling all my energy, and sprang at them with complete disregard for the raining bullets. Switch was smaller and he used that to his advantage, ducking under the twisted frame of the car. Hennessey was a large man. A perfect target, and I landed on him with all my rage propelling me. Both of us slammed into the side of the house.

More plaster came down. Hennessey went for my neck, but I shoved him back at the same time. His teeth landed in my collarbone instead. Pain sliced into me at his fangs tearing my flesh. Because we were wedged between the car and the crumbling wall, I couldn't throw him off. Hennessey shook his head like a shark, opening the wound wider, while one arm was uselessly trapped underneath me. I kicked him brutally, but he didn't let go. This was the worst position for me to be in with a vampire, which was why I'd trained so hard with my knives to kill at a distance. Oddly enough, Spade's words rang in my head. That beating pulse in your neck is your greatest weakness... Hennessey and I both knew that all he had to do was hang on and I'd be finished. Each shake of his mouth brought him closer to my throat.

In a split second, I made my decision. I might go down, but I'm taking you with me. My free arm I'd been holding him back with I used to wrap around him instead. Hennessey lifted his head enough to grin, blood dripping from his jaws, and then he brought his mouth to my unprotected neck.

Even as his fangs pushed against my skin, I rammed the silver knife through his back. His whole body stiffened, but I didn't pause to see if it was enough. I kept twisting and digging the blade deeper into him, feeling him jerk spasmodically with each plunge, until he stopped moving altogether. The mouth at my throat lost its menace, became slack, and when I pushed him off, he was literally and figuratively dead weight.

There was no time to celebrate. Gunfire concentrated away from the house caused me to whip my head up just in time to see Switch disappearing into the trees. He'd gotten through the police line and was running for his freedom.

I jumped up to chase him, but a bullet whizzing too close for comfort made me duck back down again.

"Bones!" I shrieked. "Switch is getting away! He's going for the trees!"

Bones punched through the neck of the vampire closest to him, his hand proceeding out the other side. Four bullets landed on him in quick succession, but he barely glanced at the wounds. His face contorted with indecision. If he went for Switch he'd have to leave me behind, because the goal had been to exit before the full cavalry arrived. We hadn't anticipated the numbers inside. Failing that, Bones would've used his body as a shield as we ran. Neither of these options would work now, however. Not if he intended to catch Switch.

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