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Red Blossom

Blood of the Forgotten


Red Paint

"Hutch McLaren. It's about time, isn't it?" Hayden's voice reached him in the dark, but it wasn't right. Her pitch was off. She stretched herself over him, scraping something from the floor above his head. His Glock?

The flashlight on his phone flared to life, casting the living room in an arrangement of ghostly shadows. Hayden loomed over him, her knees planted firmly on the rug on either side of his waist. Her eyebrows jumped, ticking uncontrollably, her lips quivered. Even her shoulders twitched, bobbing to her neck like someone deranged.

This was not Hayden.

"What do you want?" Hutch asked the Forgotten before him. It was a ridiculous question. He knew what Hayden’s demon wanted. Every Forgotten was hungry for death and destruction, but he needed to keep it distracted long enough to formulate a plan. Hayden might not be lost to him yet and killing this Forgotten meant depriving her of the chance to overcome its manipulation.

"Oh, please. I know what you're doing." The imposter stretched over him again, resting Hayden’s forearms on his chest. He was reminded of a lazy cat. "You’re trying to figure out if she might come back. Don’t worry, she is still here with us. Just sleeping.”

The tip of Hayden’s tongue darted out, sweeping slowly across her upper lip. The demon’s grin was sinister, mindful of Hutch’s involuntary shiver. “She won't be very happy to know I've taken her skin for another joy ride."

"That so?" He grunted. Not-Hayden’s elbow dug into his sternum. She dropped her chin onto her fist. A sadistic cat. "How many joy rides are we talking about?"

The face scrunched into a snicker. "Wouldn't you like to know. Secrets, secrets, secrets. We all have them. What are your secrets, Hutch McLaren?"

Clenching his teeth, Hutch glared into Hayden's green irises, now twisted with maleficence. He wondered fleetingly if she would remember any of this when she returned. If she returned.

According to the British research on Forgotten, three subjects succumbed to the phenomenon and never came back to their senses. So far, their files were the shortest among which Hutch had studied. Seven other participants experienced lapses in awareness, but their final analysis showed signs of preventing the transformation altogether.

"I know one of your secrets," Not-Hayden said in a stage-whisper. The demon put all of Hayden’s teeth on display when it smiled, lips convulsing as if the real girl inside was fighting to regain control. Not a girl. At nineteen, Hayden was more of a woman, a fact he was hard-pressed to ignore with her body weighing on his.

"You like her." Not-Hayden pressed a finger into the center of his chin. "I know you do. I can smell it on you." It laughed that terrible laugh. “Wanna know what she thinks about you?”

It was a trap. He needed to change the subject. "You know my name. Care to tell me yours?"

The demon sucked its teeth. "You can call me… Tenebris Angelus."

"But that's not your name," Hutch ventured, catching the pause. When the dark smile widened on Hayden's features, he decided not to press the matter. “What did you mean when you said it was about time?”

The smile morphed into a grimace. “Your name has been circling our community for a while now.” It pushed palms flat against his ribcage, re-settling into a seated position. “The infamous hunter of our kind, but no one knew your face. And what a handsome face. You’ve been a well-kept secret, Hutch McLaren.” Not-Hayden tittered. “Now I know who you are. And he knows, too.” As if in afterthought, it tossed a thumb in the direction of the front door.

Blood of the Forgotten expected October 2024!
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