We had managed to make a fire mainly due to Maria’s magic. The fire wasn’t lightning with just matches and the lighter didn’t work either. There was a pot over the fire and canned stew was cooking. All of us huddled together around the fire except for Gunnor and Alex. Neither of them seemed to get cold. Alex stood at one end of the camp facing out watching for any signs of danger and Gunnor sat on a large rock on the other side of camp after having brushed the snow off it.
The woods around us were quiet as the sky began to darken. We were quiet as we waited for the stew. Molly was quiet as she slept across Arthur’s feet. Occasionally her eyes would open to look at the pot over the fire. She’d lick her lips and then go back to sleep.
Gunnor suddenly stood up. His body was rigid. His face was filled with concern as he looked through the trees. Alex immediately tensed. His fingernails began to elongate more vampire-like than werewolf. He watched Gunnor intently, but didn’t move.
“What’s wrong?” Grace asked. She stood up next to me and reached for her bow. We all stood and reached for our weapons. Even little Marcos brought out his knife.
“Jin,” Gunnor muttered. My first thought went to my sister. My heart dropped. I reached out and squeezed Mackenzie’s gloved hand while my other hand tightened around my bat.
“What’s wrong?” Grace asked again. She took a step towards Gunnor. Victory quickly stepped in beside her.
“Alvina,” Gunnor muttered. His fingernails elongated. When he turned to us, his red eyes glowed against the darkening sky. His canines had elongated like when he drank.
“What is happening, Gunnor?” I asked. “What about my sister? Is she alright?”
“And my brother?” Victory asked.
“And my Darren,” Mrs. Smith added.
Gunnor looked away from us and into the woods. His hands tightened into fists. Blood slowly dripped from his closed fists as his elongated fingernails dug into his flesh. “My connection with Jin is broken,” Gunnor said calmly belaying the fact that his body was anything but calm. “The last I saw was Alvina biting into his neck.”
My hands shook as I held onto my youngest sister in one hand and my bat in the other. There was silence as all of us waited for him to say more, but he was quiet as he stood there rigid.
Finally, Alex asked quietly. “Is he dead?”
If Jin was dead, what did that mean for my sister, Hunter and Darren? I turned to Grace. Silent tears streaked down her cheeks.
I swallowed the hard lump that formed in my throat before I said, “We’ll go get them.”
“No,” Mackenzie said and tugged on my hand. I looked at my sister. She sniffed as tears flowed down her cheeks. She let go of my hand to wrap both of her arms around my arm. She buried her head in my arm. “Don’t leave me,” she cried. “Don’t go.”
I pulled her into a hug and held her close to me. I patted the back of her coat.
“I don’t know if he is dead,” Gunnor said. His voice was not as calm as it had been. “I don’t know if your family members are dead. But I do know if Alvina chose to kill them, we don’t stand any chance of helping them.” He turned to face us. “It’s not just her. She has an entire brood of vampires. Even with me and Alex helping you, she’d easily kill all of us if we tried to help them. If she chose to kill them, they are dead.”
Mackenzie collapsed to the snow covered ground as wracking sobs over took her. I knelt next to her and held her close to me. Victory and Grace held each other as they cried. Mrs. Anderson held Mrs. Smith who had collapsed in tears by the fire.
Tears streamed down Richard’s face. He tried to hide them, but he couldn’t stop them. Monica hugged him and then he didn’t even bother to hide his tears. All three boys were crying. Dr. Patel and Dr. Higgins tried to console them. My sister’s best friend, Maria, was crying too, but no one was beside her to console her. I was too busy holding my little sister to be able to help her.
Alex moved to stand next to Gunnor. Monica finally noticed Maria. She waved her over. Maria rushed over to Richard and Monica and the three of them hugged each other. Molly stayed close to Arthur. He hugged her and she tried to lick the tears from his cheeks.
“Is there no chance they are still alive?” Alex asked Gunnor.
Gunnor didn’t answer right away. He unclenched his fists. The wounds in the palms of his hands quickly healed. “I don’t know,” he said. “Alvina bit Jin before he could explain. She drained him quickly enough to make me lose my connection with him. I don’t think he is conscious now even if he is alive. He did have a plan for your family members to get away if something went wrong, but some of the vampires in Alvina’s brood are really powerful and I don’t know if it’s possible for them to get away.”
“We should have never sent them there,” Mrs. Smith wailed. “This was a big mistake. I can’t lose my baby. I can’t. He is all I have left.” Mrs. Anderson held her tighter.
There was a groan off to the distance. We all froze. The groan lifted again in the silence.
“Go check it out,” Gunnor told Alex. “If it is only one zombie, take it out. Don’t get bitten again. I think the process of becoming a vampire/werewolf hybrid is complete, but don’t take chances.”
Alex nodded. His form was just a blur as he moved towards where the groan had come from.
“I don’t think they are dead,” Victory said through her sniffles. “At least not Hunter. I think we would feel it if he was dead,” but she didn’t sound too sure.
“So what do we do now?” Dr. Patel asked. “Do we just wait?”
“There is nothing else we can do,” Gunnor said. “Your stew is boiling.”
Mrs. Anderson automatically broke away from Mrs. Smith to remove the pot from over the fire. One by one we went back to sit around the fire. The stew was passed around. Mackenzie refused to eat anything when the pot came to her. I forced myself to take a few bites before I passed it on to Grace. Alex returned.
“There was only one zombie,” he told Gunnor. “I took care of it.” Gunnor’s simple nod was the only acknowledgement. Alex joined us around the fire and ate the stew. Molly happily finished up the rest of the stew before she went and put her head on Arthur’s legs as if to comfort him. He absently patted the top of her head as he stared at nothing.
The longer Gunnor remained silent, the more I worried about my sister. Victory was the only one who spoke. She kept reassuring us that Hunter was alive. Grace didn’t dispute her words, but she also didn’t show any comfort from those words. And I began to think it might be more dangerous for my sister to be alive and in the hands of vampires than to be dead. They would drink from her and she couldn’t be charmed so it would hurt every time. And there could be worse things they were doing to her. I didn’t realize my leg was shaking until Grace put her hand firmly on my knee and squeezed it.
Night had completely come on. Clouds covered the moon and stars. I tried to occupy my mind with things other than Lily so I wouldn’t go crazy, but no matter what I tried to think of, no matter what my eyes looked at, it always came back to Lily.
I startled when Gunnor and Alex suddenly moved to stand in front of the rest of us. Alex at first stood by Gunnor’s side, but Gunnor subtly pushed him behind him. Alex obeyed. Then Grace and Victory were on their feet. Victory smiled. “Hunter,” she said and started forward, but Grace wrapped her arms around Victory’s waist and held her back. “What?” Victory asked and struggled to be free, but Grace wouldn’t let her go. “Hunter is getting closer,” Victory protested as she tried to get free of her sister’s arms.
And then there were several blurs in front of us before everything went still. Jin was there. He held an unconscious Hunter. He wasn’t alone, however. There were dozens of vampires in the woods in front of us. There was a male vampire next to Jin who held Darren. Darren’s eyes were closed.
In the forefront of all of them was a female vampire whose aura sent dreaded chills down my spine and froze my limbs. In her arms she held my unmoving sister.