In The Blood. Short Story.

“it’s in the blood.”

“You keep saying that.”
“Because it’s true.”
“Yeah, well we’re not doing a very good job of finding it, are we?”
“It’s hidden, but don’t worry. We will know it when we find it.”
“You’re not the one out looking all the time, you’re not the one whose ass is on the line if we’re caught.”
“I’m taking all the risk here. You worry about petty things like getting caught, if I try and fail, if something goes wrong, I will suffer the worst fates imaginable. Don’t pretend to be doing this for anything other than selfish reasons. If you’re that concerned I can always find someone else, someone who I’m sure will be much better and more than happy to take on the so called risks. Someone who won’t bitch and moan if things aren’t happening immediately.”
Todd hung his head, “I-I’m sorry. You’re right. I wasn’t thinking.”
“No. You weren’t.”
Todd slunk out of the room, closing the door gently behind him. Bobby turned back to his books, reading over everything again. They were missing something, he could feel it. Some sign so they would know.

“Shut up!” Bobby kicked at the cage, the woman let out a little shriek, but then she clasped her hands over her mouth, she was shivering and trying not to cry. They had taken her three days ago. They gave her food and water, even cleaned her off with a hose, but they wouldn’t let her out. At first the gag was only removed so she could eat or drink at designated times, on the second day they promised to take it out and leave it out if she was good. She had readily agreed, her jaw ached from the pressure of the gag, it felt like she couldn’t breathe, like she was choking on it. They hadn’t told her what they planned to do with her. The big one, Bobby, he had pricked her finger and tasted the blood. He had swished it around his mouth, carefully licking and tasting, like some wine connoisseur. After fifteen minutes he decreed that she wasn’t the one. She didn’t know what the one was, but she had thought that it meant they would let her go. She was wrong.

Bobby put down his book and sighed, he was sure this would go much faster if he could go out and look himself, but he knew that it would recognise him immediately. He had taught Todd the basics of hunting for it, but Todd was still new at all this, and prone to make mistakes. He couldn’t be too angry at the boy, truth was he was probably the only one who would be willing to help him. Those who used to follow his teachings had mostly fallen away, taken by illness, or tricked into the lies that everyone followed these days. Everyone wanted the benefits, but they were unwilling to do the work. They didn’t want to get themselves dirty, they were too afraid to fully commit. Not Todd though. Todd was a true believer through and through. Bobby wasn’t too concerned though, he might not be getting the right one, but the ones Todd brought back were good for other things too. Everything had its uses.

Todd wandered through the streets, he had been told it was better that way, it was more likely he’d spot it if he wasn’t actively looking. Well, walking around wasn’t really looking, he had spotted the others like this and though they weren’t the right ones, it was close. He was getting better at it. He knew he was wrong and Bobby was right, he shouldn’t complain, when it was all over he’d have almost everything he wanted and that was worth the small amount of risk. Besides, he was good at this, he had taken the other three and gotten away with it, no evidence left over, no signs. The Powers really were looking out for him, he just needed to remember that.

Bobby looked at the woman, sizing her up. He had a few rituals to perform, but he wanted to be careful where he put the power, if it wasn’t in the right place the entire ritual could just collapse in on itself and then he’d have wasted his time and possibly angered a few of the wrong beings. After a minute he heaved himself out of his chair and went over to her, he’d take things slow with this one. The others hadn’t lasted very long, but he wouldn’t make that mistake. He’d do it piece by piece this time. First things first, he needed a bit of her blood.
“Stick your arm through the gap please.”
Hesitantly, she stuck her arm out.
“Good. Now, I will do my best to make sure this doesn’t hurt, but I need a blood sample from you. It might sting a little, but that is all. Ok?”
She nodded. Good. It was best to keep them calm for as long as possible.
He swabbed down her arm and carefully found the vein. It took him only a few seconds to get the sample. He filled two tubes and put a plaster over the wound.
“There that wasn’t so bad, was it?”
She shook her head.
“Please, can, can I go now?”
Bobby kicked the cage again, “I told you not to talk to me.”
She was huddled in the corner, her arm held protectively to her chest.

Todd returned, he hadn’t seen anyone today, but that was ok, he’d find it. Besides Bobby didn’t need anyone, he already had that woman. Todd entered quietly, he didn’t want to disturb Bobby if he was concentrating.
“Ah, good, you’re just in time.”
Bobby was sitting on the floor, around him were complicated designs and circles.
“I need you to watch carefully, this is a small ritual, perfectly safe, but still, no harm in you seeing it done. Now, sit on that chair and don’t move, stay quiet.” He shot at glare at the woman, “You too. If you make a noise I will cut out your tongue. Got it?”
She nodded.
Bobby started muttering words that Todd couldn’t quite make out, they didn’t sound English, but he didn’t recognise the language. As he muttered Bobby dabbed blood onto his forehead, cheeks and at several points on the design. He continued to mutter at the same speed as he dipped his fingers into the blood and drew them across several circles, swiftly breaking them, when that was done he clapped his hands together once, and sat in silence, breathing deeply. After a few seconds he opened his eyes and stood up, smiling. “Good. Everything went perfectly. Did you feel it, at the end? The release of energy?” Todd nodded enthusiastically, he had felt it, only a little but he had felt it.
“Good. You’ll see, you’re going to start feeling stronger, faster, better. I have asked them to bless you, bless us both. They will, but this was just the start. Over the next few days there will be more rituals, you’ll be helping me with those. When we’re done we’ll be powerful. We’ll be more than ready for when we find it.”
Todd nodded enthusiastically, he didn’t want to speak yet, Bobby didn’t appreciate interruptions.
“Well? Go on, you’re done here. Go back out. You don’t want to miss it because you were lazing around here.”
Todd stood up and left the room, Bobby was right. Bobby was always right.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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