Okay, that out of the way, I'm going to post this last chapter of the up-coming (4th) book of the Sabrina Strong series, Vampire Caprice. I've worked on it since a beta reader seemed to think it needed more of something with the moment when she faces her dreaded foe once again.
So, be forewarned, this reveals the ending, if you don't want to read it:
THIS IS A SPOILER ALERT!!
Set up: Sabrina has come home after being away in Colorado, where Tremayne *vampire* has tricked her in order to mate with her. The reasons and so forth are within the novel, of course. While there she had been hunted by an "undead" vampire called "The Albino" who wants to feed on her soul. He's already tried and failed to kill her in a cave-in. She is now home, and knows that the Albino is still out there--as are demons who want to attack her, but the Albino is her biggest problem for now.
The next morning the sun rose in a brilliant blue sky. I had to flip my calendar over to the next month. It was the eighth of December. It had snowed over night. I hadn't thought of getting out the snow shovel because when I last was home there had been a rainstorm.
I pulled on my snow boots, and winter coat and stepped out into a crisp new day. A thrill of excitement went through me. Christmas was around the corner. I was already thinking about where to put a tree, and the gifts I'd buy for my nieces. And this time I'd throw something in for Constance and Randy, because I could finally afford something nice to give them.
I had to stomp through six inches of snow to get to the snow shovel, which was in my dad's old garden shed next to the garage. I was happy to see my Jeep was parked inside the garage. My brother, who I'd called to let him know I was fine, had told me he had brought my Jeep back to my house, and I thanked him for that. I'd nearly forgotten that I'd left my Jeep at his house over Thanksgiving. That seemed like so long ago.
My mind busy with plans for the season, I hummed a Christmas tune—Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer—and strode between the garage and my father's shop, to the tool shed where all the tools were kept. It was a nice tool shed, in the shape of a barn, only in miniature. I unlocked the hasp, and threw open the door, knowing I'd encounter a few spider webs. Fortunately, it was too cold for a spider to live out here now.
The garden tools hung to one side, like the hoe, spade, and rakes. A wheel barrel stood on end and leaned against the back wall. I'd last used it to haul weeds I'd pulled from the garden. My harvest of squash, onions, tomatoes and beets were stored, or canned. I loved pickled beets. Constance knew how to make them the best.
Mind phasing out from what I originally had come in here for, I stood inside staring at all the implements. My gaze fell across the weed eater, and the tiller—two things I definitely didn't need now. Up above it were more tools hung where my father had placed them, and I rarely touched. One was a scythe. It was old and rather large and heavy, and the blade was made of iron. I remembered my father using it to attack some particularly aggressive weeds one year. I pictured him in the heat of summer, he stood in the ninety-degree sun, his shirt off, tanned skin glistening as he hacked and chopped. The weeds never grew back, as I recall. The memory filled me. A terrible depression came on. I'd lost so many people this past year it suddenly caught up to me.
I leaned against the door, wanting to dispel my gloomy mood. It was too easy to allow myself more self-pity. Stop it, Brie.
My Knowing skittered through me and I saw myself holding that scythe and swinging...
The air twanged and pulled me to the now. The aroma of pine needles and leather filled me.
“Dante?” I said, looking around.
Tingling sensations went through me, and that definite feel of a Being occupying me, taking over, shocked me.
Don't be alarmed. I'm here. I'm inside you, Sabrina. He is coming.
My heart hammered. A strength I didn't know I now surged inside me—Dante.
Sabrina. You need this, the voice inside my head said. Automatically, I reached up. My fingers going around the handle of the scythe. I brought it down, off the hook and held it. I waited.
My Knowing prickled again with the sense of some other Being with me there, but invisible. Like Dante, only not. The familiar, and very evil feel of him, along with a terrible stench of death overwhelmed me. I steadied myself and took a few empowering breaths. If I were a guy my 'nads would have crawled up inside me to play pinochle with my pancreas. As it was my girl parts were reacting oddly. My nips had become hard. Funny how terror and passion worked on me the same way. I don't know how anyone else's body might react, but that was just me.
I slowly turned around with the scythe behind my back to find myself staring into the Albino's pink-red eyes. A dark cloud had overtaken the brilliant sun, putting us in near-darkness. The Albino wouldn't like sunlight, I was sure of it.
He smirked. “I see you're all alone,” he said, blinking, his pink eyes slanted. I had a feeling that daylight wasn't his regular hours. But he knew my vampire husband was a creature of the night, and would not be around during the mid-day sun.
“That makes two of us,” I said, making my voice strong, hiding the fact that he'd caught me by surprise. Well, not really. I knew he would come. I just didn't know when. My gloved hands might have been shaking, as were my knees, but I put on a brave face, nevertheless.
“Too bad,” he said. “I'd rather like the challenge.”
“That's totally up to you,” I said and looked up into the sky. The sun's rays slanted through openings of the sky. “It's a beautiful day.”
He pursed his lips and made a disparaging sound. “A beautiful day to die, perhaps?”
“Yes. I think so,” I agreed, amazed at the sound of my voice, finding it was so calm. Perhaps Dante's presence had something to do with it.
He sighed as if bored. “But this is so mundane and boring. No. This won't do at all. I want to see you die terribly,” he said. “I want to see you beg for mercy, I want to feel your pain and drink it into myself.” He smirked again. “Perhaps I might someday blow out the flame in your furnace, or in your oven perhaps. And then, when the gas has fills the house, light a match!” He laughed, head tilting back, pink eyes going up and off of me.
His arrogance made my anger boil up. Then the memory of how Bill had died in that cave-in, and how all of us came so close to dying because of him, I simply lost it. The one part of me—my hands and arms—which were taken over by Dante was the only part of me that wasn't shaking. Using both hands like a baseball bat, I brought the scythe around in a slicing arc in a wicked and lightning fast swing. I had a mean batting arm, my father had once said when I hit a home run out into the field one summer. And, because I'm psychic, I knew exactly where the ball would be when I swung. In this case Dante had mostly taken over, but I could have done it myself. I'm pretty sure, now.
The white head flew off the shoulders cleanly. No blood—I was sort of relieved about that. The cleave so clean, I had given him a hair cut as well—at least on one side of his head. White hair fell to the snow, his body fell next, only backward. He landed almost exactly as if he were about to make a snow angle. While I examined my handy work, the sun popped out of the black cloud. I looked up at the brilliant rays and smiled.
“That's for Bill, and for my father, you son of a bitch!” I said in a low voice and wiped the tears from my eyes with the heal of my hand.
Good job, my lady. Peace be with you, many blessings. Dante's voice in my head said.
“Thanks,” I said, and then wondered how much of me was in that swing. Maybe we went 50/50 in this decapitation of the Astral Vampire known as The Albino. Dante's essence seeped from me, and I knew he was gone. I did feel a peace surround me as his presence pulled away from me. He had not come to me since the cave incident. He had been vigilant, of course, watching for the Albino. He'd told me he knew he would be coming for me. When was the question. The relief I felt that I'd been able to kill him on a first try pulled through me as the adrenaline rush crashed and my whole body was jittery.
An odd sizzling made me look down at the Undead's body. The hair went up first, looking something like those snakes on 4th of July. Then portions of the body, clothing, all of it went up in weird red flames that shot up so high, so quickly, I stumbled back from the heat and explosion. The head was last. I watched it burn to a black lump. Hollowed out eyes burned with red coals, and then, all of it went up in smoke and ash. It may have been five minutes I stood there watching this ancient creature die at my hands.
Calmly I turned, replaced the scythe. I grabbed the snow shovel below it. The steps needed shoveling, and I walked toward the house. The sound of a voice caught me completely off guard again. But this was a kindly woman's voice.
“Hello! Sabrina!” The tiny form trudged through the crystalline snow up my driveway looking like an elf wrapped in blue wool. She had a magnificent looking coat on. It was as blue as the sky above with silver buttons. Her knitted hat matched perfectly, handmade no doubt by her old, gnarled hands.
“Hi, Mrs. Bench!” I said, my heart at first light, drop out of my chest. I had bad news to tell her.
“I've brought some rum cake!” She said, waving a large chunk of something wrapped in tin foil. “I thought we could have coffee and eat my cake and talk.”
I nodded, making my way back to the house, meeting her at the steps. “Sure! I'll make some coffee. We need to talk.” I then realized I didn't need to tell her about Bill's death. She, being a witch and psychic herself, would know already. But she would want to know the details, that's what we would be talking about.
And the other things I wasn't too sure to bring up.
I smiled at her. She stopped and looked long into my backyard.
“You have some trouble?” she asked. Our eyes met. Hers were a deep cerulean blue. She knew.
“Only a little matter that needed tending to. But I got rid of it. It won't bother me anymore.” Or anyone else, for that matter. I guess I was getting the hang of being the sibyl. Finally.
“Good. I was wondering when you'd take him out.” She then chuckled. I chuckled too, but out of relief.
“I'm looking forward to your rum cake,” I said.
“Bill always liked it.”
“I'm sure he liked everything you baked,” I said, taking her elbow, leading her up the steps. I set down my shovel, and opened my door, we entered the warmth of my house.
As we did, I suddenly knew where I would put the tree. I'd place it in the living room, in front of the picture window. I'd have someone move the TV. Vasyl wouldn't mind doing that for me.
It was going to be a wonderful Christmas. At least I hoped so.