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NOT ENOUGH by Tara Fox Hall
The halfway house in my town of Carson Falls use to be a place people helped each other.
In the last month, it instead had become a feeding station where my partner and I inserted intravenous “sip tabs” right into the carotid arteries of drugged victims. Each of the “vamps” would get an unresisting victim when they awakened at dusk, then go off somewhere to feed quietly. I didn’t know what they did with the leftover bodies, only that some of those bitten rose, while others didn’t.
“We need more.” Old Man Lon’s eyes were luminescent white in the pre-dawn light. “It’s not enough. Unlock the door to the infirmary tonight.”
I nodded once, then opened the curtains, so he retreated to the shadows. The first generation was immune to sunlight. All those that had followed were not. But their strength and fangs were the same: deadly.
That didn’t matter anymore. Tonight was the last night for us all.
With winter’s afternoon sun high above, I began evacuating the infirmary.
First was Lon’s wife, Jess. “I don’t feel right leaving you,” she said, easing into the driver’s seat.
“I’m a retired nurse. Your brother said you needed help.”
Because he wanted to feed on you. “We’ll manage. Here’s the keys.”
I’d leaned on Paul’s shoulder more than once in the decade we’d been friends. With his leg broken, it was my turn. It took us over an hour to reach the hidden car.
“Come with us,” he rasped, clutching at my shoulder.
I pushed him inside, then went back for Hunter, all of four years old.
“Where’s my sister?” he demanded.
Drained. “Come with me and be very quiet—”
“I want my mom!”
I clamped a hand tightly over his mouth, praying none of the vampires had heard. “Shh.”
I carried him struggling out through the backyard, then handed him to Paul. “Go!”
“Mom!” Hunter screamed.
Jess floored the pedal, the Chevy’s tires spewing dust over me in a cloud. I ran back inside. Dusk was already falling.
I took the front stairs two at time to the second floor, where the lab was. Two bodies I’d prepped with tabs were there. But a third was missing. “Where’s Lee?”
“That one I just took wasn’t out,” a shuffling woman complained, trudging up with Lee, his neck lolling brokenly under the coating of drying blood. “He struggled a bit—”
Sorry. God I’m sorry, Lee. ”I’ll try better with the next ones, Mary.”
“I want my youngest,” she growled back. “Open the infirmary, Doc.”
Mary had been Hunter’s mom once. Now she was just another parasite.
“I brought in two more from school,” her son Alex called, as he strolled up the stairs with a teen unconscious under each arm. “Where do you want them?”
Forgive me. “In here.” I shot both teens up with sedative, then installed sip tabs into each.
“Lon said to tell you he’s bringing in more.” Alex cradled the nearest unconscious teen’s body to him, drinking down blood in long pulls.
There was a sudden pounding at the front door. I hurried downstairs and threw it open. “What is it, Sherriff Haber?”
“Something’s going on,” he accused. “Your brother has been seen around town, rounding up people. I want answers.”
You’re too late. “There’s no reason to get upset—”
“I say that there is.” Haber’s hand drifted to his gun, hovering.
“You just hold on there.” Lon slid up to my left. “Get in your car and go, while you still can.”
“You’re out of your league,” Alex said, taking position at my right. With a deft movement, he flipped open his butterfly knife. “Try it, pig.”
Haber drew his gun. “I’m not going anywhere until I get answers—”
Alex rushed Haber, snarling, his expression suddenly surprised as he flew backward, his T-shirt blossoming redly. Haber died with a gurgle, Lon tearing at the soft flesh of his throat, blood rippling out of the severed vessels in a bright wave.
I slowly shut the door and slipped back upstairs to finish dosing the two half-dead victims Lon had just brought in. The remaining two vamps, Lon and Mary, sucked them dry an hour later, then died themselves. The rat poison I’d injected had worked, killing the would-be victims along with the vampires who had drunk from them. That left only my brother and whatever prey he’d gone after.
This had never been magical evil that an ash stake had the power to stop. It had been medically induced vampirism from a man desperate to save his brother. My brother, the kind and gentle priest Simon Baker, who was dying of blood lymphoma.
Everyone said yes when a priest asked for help. I had been no exception.
I had done my best to save him. It hadn’t been enough.
Simon came home shortly after dark, carrying the sheriff’s unconscious crippled sister in his arms, murmuring that he would heal her. As he went by me into the house, I stuck him with the syringe of poison, depressing the plunger. He looked at me in surprise, then dropped like a stone, twitching.
There would be no fight to the death for us, no last stand. My brother deserved peace.
Stupidly, I thought it was over then. I underestimated Haber, and his will to live. He began to awaken near midnight, attacking me as I desperately plunged the poison into his chest, tearing out my life with his new fangs as I flooded his system with death.
I felt myself dying, and didn’t fight. It was time to die, to be punished for my sins, having purged the town of my evil creations.
I awoke with fangs an hour before dawn. Now I’m waiting for day, chained to the front steps with the sheriff’s handcuffs.
I’m sorry. May those left in Carson Falls forgive me…
The sheriff’s sister stirs, moaning.
My stomach clenches with a sharp, undeniable hunger.
The handcuff chain parts with a metallic snap.
Shadow Man (Lash Series Book #2)
Blurb: When a renegade vampire begins amassing followers, threatening America’s vampire hierarchy, weresnake Lash partners with old enemies and new allies to annihilate them. Betrayed and left for dead, Lash reemerges the victor, catching the eye of the sultry nightclub singer Cassandra Nile, even as enemies close in from every side.
About Tara Fox Hall: Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, action-adventure, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventure Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.
You can contact Tara at the following places:
Tara also runs a monthly contest on her website where one lucky winner will win any of her latest release in eBook form. To take part email her to join her mailing list.