Chapter 13 – The Final Steps

I couldn’t sleep that night. I got up around 1:30 and tried to watch some TV, but my heart wasn’t in it, and I eventually just turned it off and wound up staring at my guns. I was going to be carrying my new Benelli M3 and my new Kimber Warrior into the fight tomorrow. I found myself wondering whether or not our efforts would turn out to all have been in vain. Would we be able to kill this demon or would it simply result in our deaths?

At 3, I left the house, my guns in the trunk of my car. I met the rest of the guys at Dunkin Donuts, where we bought a few dozen and transferred all our guns and gear to Phil’s truck. We then moved our cars to the next-door Walmart parking lot, where they would stay for the rest of the day.

After this, we headed to Josh’s cabin, arriving there around first light. We headed straight in, where Tony began pointing out boxes of ammunition. Shoeboxes of it were stacked in the living room. He’d been busy.

“They’re labeled by caliber,” he said, already loading his new Kimber, “Go ahead and load up. You’ve all got your new magazines right?”

We all did. A few Wilson Combat mags complemented my new Kimber, and I loaded up my shotgun with 8 rounds of alternating slugs and buck and shoved an extra round into the chamber. I looked around and watched everyone else suiting up.

Tony was wearing a custom battle vest with four drum magazines for his AK tied to it, and several of the ubiquitous stick style. His rifle was loaded with another drum. In a tactical holster on his thigh, he had his new Kimber, and he had four more attached to his belt.

“How many rounds of 7.62 did you make, man?” I asked him curiously, “You’ve got to have about 600 rounds on you.”

“About 700 rounds total, I think,” he responded, chambering a round on his AK, “I call this baby Vera, whaddya think?”

“Mm. Can you even move with all that stuff?”

“Uh, barely. But I’m not really planning to be doing much running away.”

I grimaced and turned to check on Ryan. He had his crossbow in his hands and a FAL topped with night-vision scope slung across his back, with extra magazines in pouches on his vest. For a sidearm, he had his G19. Phil had his G3 in his hands and one of the flamethrowers on his back. On his hip he was carrying a Glock 17. He was planning to keep the other flamethrower near him, so if he ran out, he could just switch over.

I rechecked my shotgun. “Let’s go, guys,” I said. We headed out to the truck and piled in the back. Phil took the wheel and we headed to the same field where Tony and I had heard the fusillade of shots on the day that Josh had died. We all piled out and started to set up in the early morning sunlight. We stacked our heavy weaponry by the truck and dragged out a deer stand a multitude of shapeless canvas bags. Tony took charge again.

“Here, take these to the creek down that way and fill them,” he said, thrusting the bags at Phil, “Then stack them up for barricades.” Phil headed off as Tony turned to Ryan and ordered him up a nearby oak tree to set up the deer stand. He then turned to me.

“Todd, can you give him a hand up there? Oh, and set up the music in the truck, will you?” I threw him a mock salute and opened the truck door. Phil’s iPod was dangling from the radio.

“Put it on ‘Angry White Boy,’” Phil hollered from halfway up the tree. With some trepidation, I selected the appropriate playlist and swore loudly as what seemed to be a foul mixture of Linkin Park and Ozzy Osborne exploded from the speakers at stun volume. I sighed and headed towards the tree, now digging in my pocket for earplugs.

We worked like dogs all day, only stopping for a short break at lunch. By about five, we were almost all set. We had the deer stand secured ten feet above the ground in a tree and four U-shaped sandbag barriers arranged in a semicircle around it. The barriers weren’t intended to halt the vampire, but instead to keep us safe from stray bullets.

“How do we get the vamp to walk right into a trap?” Ryan asked. I knew the answer to this question, but I didn’t like it one bit.

“Blood. Ours.”

“Huh?!”

“The MCB guys told us the one we killed was a baby, right? I figure it was hungry; would eat anything. This one’s a bit more advanced. Older and smarter, too. If we each cut ourselves a little, and drip the blood on leaves and stuff, we can get this thing to walk straight into us.”

There was silence for a moment. Tony finally broke it. “Well, if you’ll let me get my black eyeliner, I’ll do it,” he laughed nervously. We all chuckled uneasily and moved off into the woods in front of the deer stand. We used our knives and made a cut on our forearms, dribbling the blood onto leaves, grass, trees, and smearing it on fallen branches. It was a grisly task, and we were all quite glad when we were done. With the blood trail in place and the shelters up, all we had to do was wait. We retreated to our places and did just that.

Ryan clambered up into the deer stand, his FAL out and the crossbow dangling off the stand on a strap. Tony, Ryan, and I all got behind one of the sandbag barriers.

The wind blew in trees as the sun sank closer and closer to the hills. The autumn leaves seemed to amplify every tiny move we made, and eventually we ceased moving all together, thinking we would give away our position.

Finally, the sun disappeared behind the hill opposite us, and the tension skyrocketed. I flipped down my monocular and began scanning the surrounding area. I noted that all the other guys were doing the same, except for Ryan, who was looking through his scope as well.

“Be cool, guys,” I whispered, “This thing will only now start moving around.” They all nodded silently.

What seemed like hours passed. A coyote howled in the distance. Another replied. Clouds scudded across the sky, eventually obscuring the moon. Soon, a rain began to fall. The cold drizzle made the woods seem alive with noise, and we all were getting very nervous.

More time passed. The drizzle turned into a downpour, but then abated. The wind picked up again, though, but suddenly died, and the woods became unnaturally still.

I froze. I then slowly reached for my shotgun and nestled it against my shoulder, staring out over the field through my monocular. A hiss from above made me jump, and I looked around to see Ryan waving frantically and pointing out into the field. Suddenly feeling very frightened, I turned slowly to survey the damp expanse, and felt a sick lurch of fear as I saw a man striding confidently across the field.

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