It’s a large room with brick walls, empty save for some rusting machinery and 4 long, narrow boiler piles at the other end. And resting on one of those piles is a figure. Lying on its back, I can tell straight away that it is one of them. He’s bald-headed, his skin is white, tinged with blue, his eyes are sunken and his face is like a pale porcelain mask.
I shine my torch around the place, but there are no other creatures in here. He’s alone. I creep closer. My heart feels like it’s about to burst now. I’m in a cold sweat, and fear is clawing up my back. I’m fighting it, knowing that the creature isn’t likely to wake up. Not now, not in the height of day time. Even if he did, he would be at its weakest and I would have a good chance against him.
Now I’m close enough to see his face. I don’t recognise him. This isn’t one I’ve come up against before.
So Jamie’s not here. Now that I know this, I feel empty and crushed, but the disappointment is tinged with relief. There’s no time to dwell on it though, and my trip isn’t wasted. I pull off my backpack and take out one of my wooden stakes and a mallet. I place my fingers on the creature’s hand. It’s ice cold. I gently lift it off his chest. Then the other hand. There’s no flicker of wakening in his face.
He is wearing a dark overcoat, which is buttoned up to the top. I can scarcely breathe as I finger the top few buttons through their holes. One by one, I move down, constantly checking his eyes. Finally I unbutton the shirt underneath, exposing his bare chest.
I grip the stake hard. I tuck the tip right between the ribs, just above the heart. Only now, as I’m raising my mallet to strike, does the face move.
The eyes open. Eyes that are searing, venomous, spewing with fire like the gates of hell itself.