Pain shot through Gareth’s face. He screamed, turned to the side, and covered his cheek.
“You really have been pounding the bottle hard,” he heard someone above him say. He heard some slurping. “I could probably get drunk on your blood.”
Gareth pulled his hand away. In the moonlight, he saw blood cover his palm. He turned around, looked up, and saw a muscular figure wearing a sleeveless undershirt and jeans standing over him, licking his nail.
“That’s my sweatshirt you’re wearing,” the figure said, leaning forward. “Mind giving it back before we begin?”
Gareth growled. “Begin what? Making out?”
The figure punched Gareth in the face, making his head bounce against the gondola. Gareth caught the second blow, and pushed him back. He tried to stand up, but the trains movement made him stumble back down onto his backpack.
“Never mind,” the figure said, brushing his hand through his buzz cut, “it’s just a sweatshirt. You can wear it in your grave.”
Gareth felt his hand brush the neck of his whiskey bottle. He grabbed it, and threw it at the figure.
“Pathetic,” the figure said as he swatted the bottle away. “I’m starting to think I got the wrong guy.”
The figure noticed that Gareth was no longer in front of him. He looked down the gondola and sw Gareth tying on his mask.
“Nope, it’s you.” The figure hummed. “Wait, don’t you have…”
Gareth’s hair turned gray, and his claws grew, as he transformed.
“Yep, my assassins weren’t imagining things.”
“WHAT ARE YOU BABBLING ABOUT?!” Godan yelled, getting into a battle stance. “WHO ARE YOU?!”
“Take a good look, dog,” the figure said, crossing his arms. “You spent all that time in my house—surely you saw a picture or two of me hanging about.”
Godan glared. “What house?”
“Come on, really?” He suddenly glared at Godan and bared his teeth, revealing fangs. “The one you just burnt down, asshole!”
Godan’s eyes widened. His thoughts immediately went to the portrait he first saw in the hallway of the house when he broke into it, which featured a man wearing a suit and a woman in a lab coat wearing some sort of crown.
“You’re him,” Godan stiffened, “You’re Dia’s lover— ”
“See? I knew you were just playing dumb.”
“You’re that Lord Ruthven guy!
He rolled his eyes. “It’s just ‘Lord Ruthven’, okay?”
Godan took a deep breath. “How did you find me?”
“That was easy enough.” Lord Ruthven tapped his temple. “Just as my assassins were mentally linked to one another, I’m connected to them as well. I saw everything they saw—what you did to them, what Dia did—”
Godan’s anger grew. “So, you’re here for revenge?!”
“Revenge? Yes, I…wait, what do you think I’m here for?”
Godan raised an eyebrow. “Because I was fucking Dia while you weren’t around, then she up and died?”
“Jesus, Christ,” Lord Ruthven mumbled as he face palmed himself. “No, I don’t give a fuck about that werewolf freak!”
“Okay, then why are you here. I’m stumped.”
“Like I said,” Lord Ruthven took his hand away and balled it into a fist, “ you burnt down MY. FUCKING. HOUSE!”
Godan stared at him.
Lord Ruthven’s anger grew. “What are you staring at?”
“You’re coming after me for burning down your house?”
“Yes, you stupid canine! Just how thick is your goddamn skull?!”
Godan shook with rage. “FUCK YOU!” he yelled, pointing at the vampire. “FUCK YOUR HOUSE, FUCK DIA…”
Lord Ruthven began to turn into mist.
“FUCK TRAVERSE CITY, AND AGAIN, FUCK…”
Godan watched as Lord Ruthven disappeared.
“You…” Godan trailed off. He looked around rapidly. Where he go, he thought, getting back into a battle stance.
Lord Ruthven materialized behind Godan and put him in a headlock. “Before I pop your head off, I’ll tell you how I found you, since I kind of just went ahead and change the subject there,” Lord Ruthven squeezed Godan’s neck as he leaned into his ear. “I followed my noise—which was an easy way to track you, since you stink!”
Godan swung his neck to the side, and flung it back, bashing Lord Ruthven in the face. The vampire released him. Godan jumped back, then rushed at him, smashing Lord Ruthven in the chest with his elbow, ramming him against the wall.
“Exposing your neck like that,” Lord Ruthven coughed, “pretty ballsy move to do in the clutches of a vampire!”
“If those weirdo ‘assassins’ of yours are any indication, then I don’t have anything to worry about.”
Lord Ruthven noticed the scratch he made on Godan’s cheek closing up.
“Nice healing factor,” he said, grabbing Godan’s arm. “Let’s see how well it fares against a true king of the undead!”
Godan swiped at his face. Lord Ruthven instantly turned into mist. Godan’s claws went through the air, spinning him around. He looked around for and saw Lord Ruthven on the other side of the gondola.
“DAMMIT!” Godan yelled.
Lord Ruthven held his hand out and grunted. Godan felt something wrap around his body, and he was propelled forward. Before he could break free, he fell into Lord Ruthven’s arms, and was put into a bear hug.
“Too easy!” the vampire said, biting into his neck.
Godan gritted his teeth. He tried pulling his head away. Lord Ruthven tightened his embrace and sucked harder. Godan screamed as he tried to head butt with no luck.
Godan stopped struggling. It worked once, he thought. Godan opened his mouth, threw his head down, and bit into Lord Ruthven’s shoulder.
“SHIT!” Lord Ruthven yelled, releasing Godan and pushing him to the ground. “YOU FILTHY ANIMAL!”
“Just like your ‘assassins’,” Godan spit Lord Ruthven’s blood out of his mouth. “You can dish it out, but you can’t take it!”
“Oh yeah, you did bite one of them,” Lord Ruthven put his hand up again. This time, Godan felt a force smash into him, sending him flying across the train. “Absolutely disgusting!”
Godan stood up. He noticed Lord Ruthven’s arm begin to bulge.
“Remember this, wolf boy?!” Lord Ruthven yelled as his palm opened. Bats burst forth and went straight towards the Gray Wolf.
Godan charged at the bats. He slashed at them rapidly, making his way towards Lord Ruthven.
Well, damn, Lord Ruthven thought, he’s actually deflecting them. He concentrated his power, shooting more bats at a higher velocity.
Godan slashed faster. Seeing Lord Ruthven’s smiling face between the bats filled him with rage. He launched himself forward. The bats sunk their teeth and claws into his skin. He grabbed Lord Ruthven’s hand and pinned it against the wall.
“Your slave tried that already!” Godan yelled. “It didn’t work.”
Lord Ruthven laughed. “Oh, dog,” he said, shaking his head. He used his other hand to flick off a bat that was chomping on Godan’s shoulder, “ Dia’s memory says differently.”
Godan threw a punch. Lord Ruthven turned into mist and reappeared behind him. Godan tried kicking him. Lord Ruthven hopped back.
“What, did Dia keep you updated on how her brainwashing of me was going?!” Godan asked, ripping the other bats off of himself.
Lord Ruthven put his hands on his hips. “I extracted the entire adventure you two had when I was draining her corpse. Her psychic abilities come from me, so of course I could search her mind like I could my assassins.”
Godan tore off the last bat. “She would have been just as rotten without your ‘powers’.”
“Agreed. She thought of me only as her ticket out of the woods—”
“Well, you’re right about that.” Godan crushed the last bat.
Lord Ruthven sighed. “Indeed. But I learned after taking her in—the first time sleeping together, in fact—that you can’t take the beast out of the forest.” Lord Ruthven grinned. “By the way, how was your visit to Alpena? Was it a nice homecoming, hick?
Godan threw the bat at Lord Ruthven, who swatted it away, and leapt at him. Lord Ruthven once again turned to mist as Godan slashed through him.
Vanilla, Godan thought, picking up the scent as he turned around. He continued trying to attack Lord Ruthven, who kept turning into mist. It’s the same smell that was in the air when I first met Dia!
Godan stopped, closed his eyes, and concentrated on the scent. He caught it directly above him. He opened his eyes, and launched himself upward.
Lord Ruthven reformed himself. He looked down and saw Godan’s knuckles. Godan uppercuted him. WHAT?!, he thought as his head snapped back.
He fell onto the tracks. Godan landed and grabbed his leg before he could react. He spun Lord Ruthven around, and threw him towards the woods.
Godan heard a large tree fall. He slid down the track and ran towards the continued cracking sounds. He looked saw a leg and arm of Lord Ruthven’s sticking out from under a tree. He walked up and kicked his foot. Lord Ruthven did not move.
“Asshole,” Godan muttered, spitting on Lord Ruthven’s hand. He ran up onto the track and sped back towards the train.
The spit ran down Lord Ruthven’s hand. Suddenly, it became clenched, and shook until blood began to drip.
“CANINE BASTARD!” Lord Ruthven yelled. He closed his eyes. No more holding back, he thought.
Wings shot out of his back. They grew in size as Lord Ruthven’s muscles began to bulge. His nails extended, and he grunted as he became taller.
“FUCKING MUTT!” Lord Ruthven shouted. A blast of fire erupted, destroying the tree that was on top of him and scorching the area around him.
Lord Ruthven stood up. Horns grew out of his forehead. He let out an howl, and took flight.
Godan sat down on one of the mounds. He stretched. Doing so revealed the damage he took during the battle. It dawned on him that, despite the pain he was in, he did not care to heal himself.
He went over the fight in his head, and thought about how Lord Ruthven gave off a vanilla scent when he turned to mist. He remembered that Dia had the same scent, and began tearing up.
“Goddammit,” he said, wiping his eyes as a heaviness expanded in his chest.
He heard a howl. No, Godan thought, standing up. He heard the howl again, closer this time. He got into a battle stance.
Lord Ruthven landed in the gondola . He stretched himself out, and roared at the Gray Wolf.
He looks like the second assassin, Godan thought, recalling his battle with the vampire assassin in the Grand Traverse Mall, who also transformed.
They stared at each other. Godan growled, and Lord Ruthven did the same. They inched closer to each other.
“So, are you going to try frying me, or what?” Godan asked, breaking the silence.
Fire engulfed Lord Ruthven’s fists. Godan braced himself. The fires then disappeared.
“No,” Lord Ruthven said, his voice considerably deeper. “Beating you to death will be more rewarding!”
Godan charged at Lord Ruthven, his fist cocked back. Lord Ruthven did the same. They threw their punches, their fists connecting, Godan flew back into the wall.
“Wow, he got stuck,” Lord Ruthven said as he watched Godan struggle to free himself from the indentation his body made in the wall.
The train halted. Lord Ruthven tripped, slamming his face into a mound. The train began moving again. Godan popped out of the wall.
“ENOUGH OF THIS!” Lord Ruthven yelled, leaping at him. Godan dodged the vampires claws, and slashed at his shoulder. Lord Ruthven grunted, and shot into the air. Godan jumped after him.
“YOU KNOW YOU CAN’T TAKE ME IN THE AIR!” Lord Ruthven yelled, extending his palm.
Godan knew that a fire ball was coming. When he was at level with Lord Ruthven’s chest, he threw a punch at it.
Lord Ruthven recoiled, spitting up blood that splashed onto Godan’s face. The Gray Wolf shook his head, grabbed a hold of his shoulder, and threw another punch at his chest. This time, Godan’s fist went through.
They fell back into the gondola, which was starting to slow down. Godan pulled his arm out and backed off. Lord Ruthven held his chest, wailing and twisting about.
The train stopped. Godan grabbed his backpack and jumped over the wall. He landed on the tracks, put his backpack on, and ran down the street. He noticed a sign that said ‘Kalamazoo Transportation Center’.
“HEY, YOU!” a cop yelled, running towards Godan, drawing his taser
“Shit,” Godan muttered, raising his hands.
“ON THE GROUND—NOW!”
A loud roar came from the train. The civilians around the area froze. Lord Ruthven rose above the gondola. Blood flowed freely from the hole in his chest, dripping down onto the street. His hands erupted into flames. He roared again, and flew towards Godan.
Godan prepared himself. Lord Ruthven put both of his arms in front of him. The flames became thicker, concealing his face from view.
“WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!” the cop yelled while backing away. He took out his gun and tried to draw a bead on the vampire.
Godan ran towards Lord Ruthven. Before they could collide, Godan slid underneath him and grabbed him by the leg. Using all his strength as he was dragged along the concrete, Godan whipped Lord Ruthven to the side. The vampire flew across the station and smashed into a bus. Godan jumped on top of him as he hit the ground.
“BLAST HIM!” Godan yelled, holding Lord Ruthven’s arms down, hoping that his weight would restrain him.
The cop came up, violently shaking. Godan yelled at him again to shoot the vampire. The cop asked what it was. Lord Ruthven’s hands started to become enflamed again.
“JUST SHOOT HIM THE HEAD, ASSHOLE!” Godan shouted.
The cop put the gun to the top of Lord Ruthven’s head and fired until he was empty. Flames ceased to form on Lord Ruthven’s hands, and he became still.
“Took you long enough,” Godan said, letting go of Lord Ruthven’s arms. “I thought you pigs were supposed to instantly kill anything you deemed a threat?”
The cop called in for backup. Godan got up, flipped the him off, and sprinted down the street. He head the cop yell at him as he made his way towards downtown.
Bio: Garret Schuelke is the author of the GODAN series (2018-present, Bakunin Incorporated) WHUP JAMBOREE: STORIES (2017, Elmblad Media Group), ANAMAKEE (2016, Riot Forge), and three poetry ebooks. He is also the host of The Garret Schuelke Podcast. He can be reached at his official website, garretschuelke.tumblr.com , or through Twitter @garretschuelke