When they arrived back at the farmhouse, they could see that the front door had been all but torn from its hinges. Edward cursed, drew a gun, and leaped out of the car and started to run toward the house. Gabriella was quicker and was through the door before him.
Inside embers still glowed in the fireplace and a lamp was still shimmering. The dining room was filled with blood and gore. Gabriella bared her fangs and hissed. But she could also look all around and see who was dead.
Then, with an effort of will, she emerged from the house where the rest of them were waiting. “Claude, Julian, and the grandmere.” She shook her head. Yvette screamed and buried her head in De Brouchard’s chest.
“And Jennifer?” Edward asked.
Gabriella shook her head, “She’s not there.”
Edward ran past her into the farm house. A minute later he emerged with his hand over his mouth, his face pale in the moon light. Then he bent over and retched loudly.
After he was finished he looked up, took out a handkerchief, and wiped his mouth. “It was another vampire. Or maybe something else.”
De Brouchard handed Yvette over to Edward. As she continued to sob into the American’s chest, the French wizard went into the farm house. Gabriella followed him. They stood in the soft light among what had once been three human beings. De Brouchard held up his hand and it began to glow.
Gabriella saw a vision, outlined in ghostly light, of what had happened perhaps an hour before. Claude, Julian, Jennifer and Eloise were sitting around the table, laughing and drinking wine. Then they stopped and starred. A shadow appeared over them. Then a new figure, with a familiar face, proceeded to tear the French people apart, ripping open their throats, then casting them aside like rag dolls.
Jennifer backed away to one wall, drew a gun, and fired and fired as the shadow approached her. The shadow raised his hand and Jennifer collapsed. The shadowy figure picked her up and carried her out of the horror that was now the kitchen of the farm house.
Gabriella stared at what she just saw. Finally she managed, “Hesselman? It’s not possible!”
“Gabriella,” De Brouchard said calmly. “What did you do?”
Gabriella started awake in the barn. She could see that the light was still seeping through the gaps in the wood planking next where she had made her resting place. She longed for the close, dark comfort of a coffin, even though such as not practical at the moment.
She sensed a footfall and was on her feet in a twinkling. But it was just De Brouchard, dressed now in a black suit. “I just came from the church service for our late friends,” he said.
“I’m sorry I could not have attended.”
“Those who know you understand.”
“I had no idea that he would rise before they put him in the ground.”
“He may have been in the ground. Remember he has powers similar to mine. Combined with the strength of a vampire-“
“God forgive me.”
“We can be comforted by the fact that he has not killed or molested Miss Powell.”
“Can you be sure of that?”
“If he wanted to kill her we would have buried her as well. He is keeping her alive for some purpose.”
“He wants to use her to get at us. To get at me.”
Gabriella fell silent for a moment. Then she asked, “How is Mr. Young?”
“Beside himself. He would go out right now to go in search of Miss. Powell if I let him. Fortunately I was able to distract him with having him keep an eye on Mademoiselle Yvette.”
“I should see her as well. But, about searching for Hesselman…”
“That would be time consuming. Besides, I think we will contact us in short order.”
Edward sat in the parlor of the farmhouse with Yvette. The house had been cleaned up by some people from the village, but the aura of death still prevailed. The young French woman had to keep from shaking. Edward was at a lost as to what to say. Despite being in his mid twenties and being at war for the past two years he had not seen death before. It had carved out a hollow in his soul and he found it difficult not to feel anything but sorrow and dread.
Suddenly Yvette asked, “Edward, tell me about your life in America.”
“I want to hear about something other than war and death. Please, it would help me.”
“Well,” Edward said, “I was born and raised in Boston, in Massachusetts. My dad is a professor of history at Harvard University. He always encouraged me and my siblings to a life of the mind. He would encourage us to read a book every week and then would quiz us about it afterwards.”
“What kind of books?”
“Sometimes history and philosophy. But I also liked stuff like Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Welles, Jules Verne-” Yvette flashed a half smile when hearing of the French writer, “and the Tom Swift books.”
“Anyway, I guess I was destined to be an academic, like Dad. For me that came from an interest in languages. I could speak three languages besides my own, Spanish, French, and German, fluently before I was 15. So I wanted to study how people communicate, how they form words and how they relate to one another.”
“And how did you come to be here, in the war?”
“Sometimes I wondered what it would have been like to be like my great grandfather, William Young. He was a naval officer before and during the American Civil War, went to Japan with Perry’s fleet and then captained a river boat along the Mississippi. Anyway I became a Rhodes Scholar in 1939 and wound up in England right when the war began.
“My two semesters at Oxford were great, at first. I studied under this wonderful professor named J.R.R. Tolkien.”
“I remember you and Jennifer telling me about him.”
“He’s an odd sort of fellow, playing with his own made up languages. It’s one of his that we’re using as a code language. Anyway, my dad said that I should stay in England and not risk getting torpedoed trying to cross the Atlantic during the summer. Then Denmark, Norway, France and the Low Countries fell and the Blitz started. That was when I decided that I would lend my services to MI6.”
“Is that where you met Jennifer?”
“Yes. At the time she was a clerk working for the section I was in.”
“Were you lovers in England?”
Edward actually smiled at the impertinent question, “Only once, back in 1941. There was a particularly bad bombing raid which we spent in a shelter avoiding. When the all clear sirens sounded, we came up to the surface to find the block where our office was thoroughly devastated. There were bodies in the streets and emergency people trying to help the wounded. Some of the buildings were still on fire. I walked her to the flat she was staying in about a mile away, to make sure she’d make it home safely. At her door, when I was about to say good night, she suddenly came into my arms. The rest, well, isn’t any of your business.”
Now Yvette smiled just a little. “She was wanted to experience a little of life and joy in all that horror. Believe me, I understand that.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Edward paused for a second. “What about you?”
“My life? It has been nowhere near as exciting as yours, except for the war. Aside from a single holiday to Paris, I have barely been outside the village.”
“Is there no one for you?”
“There was one young man. But he went into the army and he has been missing ever since. I’d like to imagine he might still be alive, in a German cage somewhere. There has been no one since. You may have noticed that there has been a shortage of young men here in France. My brothers are the only ones I know and they were protective of me.”
“Maybe he’ll come back. Someone like you would find someone.”
“A handsome American, perhaps?”
Edward smiled, understanding her meaning. “Pretty soon, I think, there are going to be a lot of Americans in this country. But I’d be careful of them if I were you. A lot of them have heard stories about French women that may be exaggerated.”
“Maybe in Paris. But I’m a well brought up country girl. Any man who wants me had better be prepared to marry me.”
“I’ve thought that I’d like to marry Jennifer when all of this is over. Now-“
A voice came from the doorway that had suddenly become open. “Why, Ned, I’m greatly flattered. Let’s keep that under advisement, shall we?”
Edward and Yvette turned and saw Jennifer standing in the doorway, as hale and as comfortable as she might have been just coming home from the market. In an eye blink, Edward was on his feet and in her arms. “I thought I’d lost you, girl!”
“Well, you’ll not be getting rid of me that easily. Anyway, we need to talk. Something has happened.”
Back to Dark Invasion — Chapter Seven
Forward to Dark Invasion — Chapter Nine
Gabriella’s previous World War Two adventure was recounted in Dark Sanction
Gabriella fights in the War in Terror in Dark Hunt