Part 4 of Cam Dang’s bloodthirsty serial story.
I open my eyes to the most beautiful thing in the world.
My little boy’s face.
“Mummy! I’m so sorry I’m so sorry!” Tears drip down the tip of his nose as he holds my arm to his chest. I pull him in and kiss his forehead, and notice the bruises on his head.
“What happened?” I sit up and study the cuts and bumps. “Did I….?”
“No.” He wipes his eyes.
“Then who did this?” Blood starts drumming in my ears. “Did your uncle hurt you?”
He shakes his head and looks down. “I did.”
Victor’s face contorts as tears bubble from his eyes and burst down his cheeks. “I’m so sorry I hurt you, mummy. I don’t know what came over me. I wiped you and wiped you but there was so much blood. I hate myself so much I should just kill mys-“
I yank him towards me and bury his head into my neck. I tell him that hurting ourselves is never a solution, that what happened was out of his control, and that nothing in this world matters to me more than him.
“I’m sorry I listened to uncle. He told me how people hurt him and how my other uncle died.”
“And you trusted him because nobody has ever told you this kind of secret before.”
He nods. I lean my forehead against his. Words are useless right now.
But speaking of Toby reminds me of the mouths of strangers on my skin. The thought makes me whip my head around, expecting to see men and women charging towards me and screaming for my blood. Only then I realise we are no longer on the farm. The Spice Girls poster on the wall gives it away.
I’m back to where it all started.
I’m in my room at my parents’ house.
And someone is approaching.
The door opens, and behind it is an old man with thinning white hair, hollow cheeks, and bones protruding from the collar of his faded T-Shirt.
“Grandpa!” Victor greets gleefully.
I spring to my feet. In silence, we hug. Memories race across my mind. I blame him for Richard’s death and for the way Toby’s turned out, but I still love my father because I know now how tormented he must be. I’ve understood, really understood this since the day I became a mother and gave life to a human being who redefined everything I thought I knew.
“Toby brought you home to me, saying he did it only because you’ve got nowhere else to go,” he says, teary. “You’ve been gone for so long.”
“Daddy, I… You…” I touch his face, words stuck in my throat.
“Toby left after briefing me on what happened. He wouldn’t look at me.” A dreadful cough follows. My father is unwell. He’s been aging faster than most since the day Richard died, Toby ran away, our mother remarried. In this house that was once a home, my father is being left to age alone, die alone.
“What did he say?”
He tells me that my blood did not save Toby’s followers.
It killed them.
He tells me that Toby’s angry – furious – and out there looking for new followers. I’ll have to stop him somehow, some way.
Looking at me with eyes of a man who has endured too much, my father tells me that he’s sorry for all the pain he caused, that he wishes parenting came with a manual, and that as much as he wants us to stay, he’s not about to lock us up again just so that he can feel safe.
“Go, stop your brother,” he says. “Do what’s necessary. Don’t let my grandson watch me die.”
We leave on an autumn morning. Golden leaves line the sides of the street. Victor picks up a handful and tosses them in the air, giggling as they shower down on him. His young heart is yet to comprehend the ups and downs the days ahead bring. His little feet will tire by noon – I refused to take my father’s car, his only mean to get around. I’ll find a way to get our own vehicle while slowly train Victor to safely transform into and out of the beast within. When he’s ready, we’ll travel at night and tear through darkness on paws and claws, hunting down those who have succumbed to my brother’s power, to his plan of dominating this world.
But for now, together, we’ll walk.