Talulla Rising Page 82

‘He only appears in close-up clearly on the first two films. After that it could be anyone.’

The first two films. They’d seen the footage Mia told us about. The Breakfast Club: vampires who walked in daylight. Which meant they knew the Disciples were here. Which meant almost certainly we were still on the island. Which meant which meant which meant?

Nothing, if I couldn’t get out of here.

Pain. Left wrist, left ankle. The cuffs had cut into the flesh. For a moment I had two fiery bracelets. Then the ankle-cuff burst. Sweet relief, though the wound immediately blurted blood.

‘It’s fine,’ Murdoch said. ‘They were just for the woman.’

The wrist-cuff went. Another little blossom of eased pain. Wulf wriggled up through my shins, detonated in my knees and elbows simultaneously, with a sound of ice snapping dragged my jaws and nose into the muzzle and snout – at which the last of the human seal on smell ruptured and the gloriously stinking world spoke fully and freely again: String Vest’s adrenalin binge and cooling sweat; the cigar’s rich toxins; the trailer’s odour of murder and greased steel; the two living bodies’ rhythmic reek of thrilled flesh and blood.

I threw myself at the cage door. No give. The bolts were solid and the bars were a finality. Neither man flinched. I closed my eyes and saw moist turf passing under me, felt my daughter’s weight on my back. Farm fields dark and undulant, a moon-silvered stream. Opened them. Suffered the still-warm corpse’s pull. Closed them again and saw different ground, dust and shed pine needles racing under me at incredible speed, felt a heartbeat in my own and an ignored sixth sense in Murdoch hammering so loudly I couldn’t believe he just stood there holding the camera as the head I was inside lifted to see the back of a trailered truck flanked by cedar trees and lit by the risen moon and a lone guard in Hunt fatigues peeing into the shadows, rifle shouldered, and our mouths opened with joy as he I we leaped and felt the tiny rogue details of the air rushing past the hairs on our ears before the sweet impact and the cry my timed howl drowned out, and the night’s first taste of blood from the torn-out throat before his giant hands flung the door open and Walker, transformed, stood framed by the moonlit forest.


Listen. I wasn—

Listen. I wasn’t going to tell you, but I bit him. I know why you couldn’t. I get it. But it doesn’t matter if he ends up hating me, does it? It’s what he wanted. And don’t fret. It was just a bite. No hanky-panky. Like I said, you need all the help you can get, and since I’m on fucking babysitting duty...


Murdoch was on his way for it when Walker sprang. I saw Murdoch’s face. All his boredom vanished like a grace God had suddenly withdrawn, and there, left behind, was the desperate and wholly generic desire not to die. He’d thought he’d come to the end of himself years ago, through violence and the vast mathematical silence. Imminent death made a nonsense of the idea. He might as well have been eight years old.

Reflexes are terrible things. Confronted with the loose werewolf, reflexes pushed Sir back two paces closer to the caged one.

Two paces were enough.

If his hand hadn’t been going into his jacket (for a gun) I might have ended up with just the jacket. As it was he couldn’t get the arm back quickly enough, though I was impressed that the manoeuvre occurred to him. Instead I hoiked him by his collar off his feet to join me at the bars, where the back of his head struck with such a crack I was amazed he didn’t pass out. Panic fast-tracked him to the truth: he was going to die. I got a second of his psyche’s race through its heaped contents in the desperate hope there was something, something, something there that could save him. But of course there wasn’t. There never is. I sank all five blade-nailed fingers of my right hand into his throat, closed quickly, made a slippery fistful of his trachea, oesophagus, larynx, pharynx and thyroid veins, squeezed – and ripped them out.

Walker, meanwhile, had got to Murdoch before Murdoch had got to his piece. Murdoch was on his back, minus the arm that had been going for it. Now the shoulder ended in ragged flesh around the yawning joint, severed veins pumping out blood as if in a hurry to be rid of it, as if they’d been dying to do it for years. The weapon itself lay within my reach. I squeezed the last of the life out of Sir (there was a baroque feast, a life full of casual extremes and indulged deviance, but if I started I’d lose myself in it), let him fall then grabbed it. Not easy to pop a clip out with blood-slick werewolf hands – and the silver buzzed in my nerves – but at the third attempt I managed it.


For all you want to do. Please. We have to go.

Murdoch had already spent what attention his system allowed on the lost arm, though the socket still feebly spat blood, now an image of futile ejaculation. His system had the big picture in view. The big picture was death. His face had changed. The bald-eagle glare was still there, but with an appalling tremor. The mouth had gone infantile. Walker, I knew, wanted two things. He wanted Murdoch to recognise him, and he wanted Murdoch to suffer for a very long time before he died.


Anti-climax. The moment of revenge always is. It’s only the hunger for revenge that enlivens us. Murdoch not knowing it was him was like a bereavement.

Suddenly Walker lunged, bit and doggishly shook the remaining arm at the shoulder, pulled with concentrated fury. Murdoch’s mouth downturned, eyelids fluttering like a coquette’s. After a queer, silent, quivering pause – Murdoch trying to disbelieve what he knew was happening – the arm left its socket with an emphatic wet crunch. Murdoch screamed.


But it wasn’t enough. Of course it wasn’t enough. Everything Murdoch had done to him (or had had done to him, to show it was minor, delegatable) was back with Walker, in his skin, his blood, his bones, demanding he find an equation of violence to erase it. No such equation existed. Nothing would be enough. He tore down Murdoch’s pants and underwear. Murdoch, armless, wriggled and whined. The last lights of his consciousness sputtered. With what looked bizarrely like tenderness Walker put his hand behind Murdoch’s head and lifted him, just the way you would a sick man to help him sip a glass of water. Walker’s other hand settled around Murdoch’s genitals. Murdoch, shivering, wide-eyed, scattered, suddenly focused.

‘You?’ he whispered.

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