With a lurch Beck awoke, the frantic knocking at his door jolting him from deep, dark dreams of snow-blanketed wilderness spotted with the coal-black stains of accusation. He stumbled over to the door and opened it to the panicked face of Meili, her skin as pale as the full moon hanging in the sky behind her. “Meili…?” he slurred. A tall man moved in behind her, Beck’s eyes darted back and forth as he felt a sudden, and entirely surprising, pang of jealousy.
Before he had time to wonder where such an emotion had come from, Meili, between sobs, blurted out “Doctor Beck, please! It’s Xan, she’s missing!”
The night, though chilly, was free from fog and the wharves of Shanghai shone with the torches of Jager patrols as Beck grabbed his lantern followed Meili and her male companion into the moon-lit streets of Shamian. As they ran towards the family home, Meili told how she had returned from work to find her sister-in-law gone and, fearing the worst, had gone to fetch Beck.
“Hold on,” Beck gasped, exhausted from the run, “we need help. Let me go and alert the Jagers. You go home and see if Xan has returned…” Meili began to argue, but her companion intervened in Mandarin. Whatever he said worked as Meili nodded sharply once and agreed. “I’ll come to your house as soon as I hear anything, and if Xan does return then we can let the Jager captain know. I’m sure she will be alright, Meili, I promise.” As soon as the fatuous words left his mouth he hated himself for saying them. How could he promise such a thing? He wanted Meili off the streets and out of harm’s way and the fact he’d promise her anything to keep her safe squirmed evilly inside him. He watched her go before setting off towards the wharves facing the moon tower.
As he strode through the night, footsteps echoed down the dark, twisting walkways of the slums and more than once he found he was holding his breath in fearful expectation until he broke free and came out onto the open stone docks. There were no Jagers in sight and he peered out across the bay looking for signs of a patrol on the far side. As he did so, he saw something in the water that turned his blood cold.
Her hair floated around her head as if it were wheat waving in the wind and as he gazed at her corpse, the black void inside him crept out further from his gut, numbing and smothering him from the inside out. He had no idea how long he stood by the water’s edge watching her lifeless form rise and fall with the swell of the bay, but as his senses slowly returned he began to call out for help. He shouted for the Jager guard, for anyone to come. He would not let her stay out there. He would not leave another person out in the water, in the cold, deep ocean, all alone, abandoned. He would not…
The wet slap on the stones behind him was barely audible yet it stopped his thoughts in their tracks. Slowly he turned, the sounds of the Jagers sounding their alarms fading away to nothing as looked up into the terrible eyes of the creature known as Steal Head…
To be continued…
Links to other blogs and stories:
1) All Dr Beck’s Journal Entries can be read here.
2) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.
3) The latest “Steal Head” Story So Far recap can be found here.
4) All my “Mutations” posts can be read here.