Part of the Echoes & Illusions Anthology with Melange Books.
Leaned up against the massive tree trunk before him, Michael inhaled the crisp, cool air in a series of rapid breaths. Sweat dripped off his forehead and his muscles spasmed as he took a momentary break. When he left work early that afternoon he already knew he would never return. When his bosses found out in the morning that he was gone, and so was the biological serum, a red alert would immediately be issued. His lab, and all his years of research would be confiscated and his name would be in the same sentence as thief, a traitor and who knew what else.
Working as a scientist for the government the past four years, he left a remainder of his things in a special storage station in Texas. When he was 18 years old, circumstances forced him to change his name. At first he had worried someone would know what he was, who he was, but nothing came up to indicate his true identity. He kept his life neatly tucked away, with no paper trail in a deeply hidden facility. Now that he was once again Michael Trelawney, the things he took great pains to hide could freely come out.
As a man on the run, he only took those things important with him. He stopped by his home, packed up as much as he could, picked up his dog Hunter and continued heading west. Though his secondary vehicle was located at the storage station in Texas, he would miss his Grand Cherokee Jeep, but he had to make sure no one knew how to reach him. He carried his laptop with his entire research, all the money from his now-closed bank account and a few other provisions.
None of this would have happened if he never made up that biological agent. If he wasn’t so dead set in making that serum, and spent more time researching just what it was for, he would have been able to see the clues. All along, he knew the government was interested in his special gene location research, but was too naïve to think it could be used against him. Two weeks before he was to present the agent, trickling news about his newly designed experimental serum swept through the office gossips. The serum was never going to be used to as a gene locator. It was to be used as a gene pin-pointer. It was to be used to located and seek out the Draleigh Coven and anyone associate with them. Everything was settled at that moment, he had to run, and take the serum with him.
By morning he would be branded a traitor by his employers, fellow coworkers. By , mercenaries would be after him, if they weren’t already. It wouldn’t be long before the government themselves tried to reproduce the serum, change some of its properties, and maybe even make it deadlier than before.
He needed to get to the Coven and speak to Selene. He needed to reach the Enforcers and the Coven before it was too late. Only then could he explain the full weight of the horror that was to be unleashed. He needed to reach the one person who could help him. True it had been years since they had spoken to each other. She would listen though; Selene understood things that even he could not understand.
That was the plan, until the mercenaries caught up to him faster than he wished. At a gas station as he fueled up, Hunter barked without end. Thinking his black Labrador only needed to relieve himself in the nearby forest, Michael opened the passenger door. He had expected Hunter to take off running to the trees but he never did. Hunter stood at alert by his side, growled and poised for attack as moved his snout towards the undercarriage of the Grand Cherokee. That was the only clue Michael needed and without hesitation, he grabbed his bag pack with his laptop and money and ran from the spot. Hunter followed devotedly behind him. At about five-hundred feet away, a loud explosion sent shockwaves through the forest and confirmed his fears. They found him.
Increasing his pace, he ran through the forest as he ducked and dodged the heavy brush as it slapped against his face, and scraped his skin. He was going to wait until he arrived in Texas, picked up his reserve vehicle before seeing the Coven. Now, he had no choice. He needed to find them. He needed refuge.
The main center for the Draleigh was nearby, he remembered. He had only lived a few hundred miles or so from them, but never kept his location up to date. He did not want to be kept under the supervision of the Enforcers twenty-four/seven as they were known to do. Stopping at massive tree trunk, he took a few moments to rest and checked on Hunter. The lab whined quietly but nudged his leg. I know boy, I need to keep going. He mentally said to his canine. Looking up the massive trees, he took another deep breath as long ago memories swamped his mind. How long had it been since he’d seen another like himself? Fourteen years.
“Ow.” A sting brought him out of his thoughts as he rubbed the site that felt like a mosquito stung him. Shit, he blinked his eyes slowly, when did mosquito bites pack a punch? Reaching to scratch the bite mark, a soft dart stood out from his arm. They found me. He thought as he searched his parameter. Closing his eyes for a brief moment, Michael scanned his internal body for the composition of the dart. He could already see it settling deep within the wall of his artery. The serum released a small amount of liquid and he watched as the liquid traveled through his blood stream. Why does this look so familiar? It attacks one red blood cell and changes its composition. Kills the cell and changes it to ash. His opened eyes widened as the revelation came to him. No!