With the next sun darkening and vampire rising, everyone felt at peace. Everything was perfect. The farm functioned smoothly, and everyone felt a harmony they'd not known was possible.|
Only good things come to peaceful people, or so they'd thought. They had about one week of honeymoon like bliss, then the first signs of trouble brewing happened.
Goldie began having nightmares. He'd wake up trembling, sweating, and terrified. Sebby held him. Both Sebby and Michael slept with him, nestling him in the middle, hoping he'd feel safe. He still woke up trembling. One nightmare seemed more vivid than the previous ones, and Golden announced his findings, ''I feel like my blood is trying to warn me of something. I feel a buzzing all over, like an alarm is being sounded. In my dream, I received a name, but I can't remember it now, S-S-S-- , it's just not coming to me.'' Both Michael and Seb held him while he trembled.
''What can it mean?'' Livia asked when they held a family conference. Golden was a sensitive sort, easily troubled, but all had a sense this went beyond any personal concern of his. Each of them did their best to comfort him. If he felt truly secure, he might be able to remember his dreams better.
But nothing any clearer was to be known. Then each of them began feeling a nagging sense of foreboding. They got used to this feeling of dis-ease, and things progressed as always. Then one evening, Michael learned the first real clues about their premonitions.
Michael was just finishing some last minute tasks in the barn when he heard an odd rustling out near the cows. He used the best of his vampiric sneaking abilities and was quite surprised when he came upon the cause of the noise.
A young punk he'd never seen before was standing on a step stool, and his mouth was fastened to the neck of one of Michael's cows, feeding. Michael stood there a minute or so, waiting to see if the clueless cad would pick up on anything. Finally, Michael reached out with a straight arm and grabbed the punk by the nap of his neck, raising him off and away from the stool's platform, a foot and a half off the ground. His feet dangled back and forth. The boy, probably only sixteen or seventeen, began begging, ''Ow-w-w! I'm sorry, mister. You ain't gonna do anything to me, are you?''
Michael just held him up high for a while, not saying a word, while he still floundered. Then he uttered, ''Not the brightest punk in the valley, are we?'' The kid whined, ''Maybe . . .'' Still holding him up high, Michael grilled him, ''Now tell me, what FOOL thought YOU were worthy of immortal life? What is the name of your maker?''
This wasn't the sort of question the boy expected. Not at all, ''Huh?'' Michael, growing impatient, demanded, ''Come on, out with it! You DO know the fool's name, don't you?'' The boy stuttered, looking rather frightened by now, ''Uh, uh, uh, SARDOK . . .''
With that answer, Michael set him down hard and grabbed his shoulder hard, to prevent him running away. ''Okay, I have a name. Can you tell anything else about him? How old is he?'' Michael looked deep into the boy's eyes, while he stuttered, ''I dunno how old, he didn't tell me. I dunno that much about him.''
Sinking his fingers in harder, Michael demanded, ''So WHY are you in MY cow farm, stealing MY cow's blood?'' The boy's nose grew snotty, ''Sardok don't feed me too well. He keeps promising virgins, but I never see 'em. I'm starving, mister. Starving!''
Michael grew horrified, ''Virgins! He does not keep to the evildoer, then? Starving, you may be, and you are fortunate to have one before you who does understand that torment. BUT THESE ARE MY COWS, AND THEY FEED MY FAMILY! There isn't enough to feed some stray hoodlum! So don't you come back here, or I'll put you out for the sun. Don't think I won't!''
With that, Michael revealed his fangs, in case the boy didn't take him seriously. ''Sardok threatens me with that all the time . . .'', he whined. Micheal continued ''Tell me, just why did you take the immortal's path? Just what did Sardok entice you with?'' The boy was bug-eyed by now, ''He said I'd have better highs than I ever did on drugs, he did. He just had this way about him, I just went along with him 'cause it was easy.''
The fine hairs of Michael's back pricked up in alarm. Something awful was going on. ''So what does Sardok want you to do for him, in exchange for your immortal life?'' The boy's nose snotted up more, ''He wants me to steal stuff and kill people, but it ain't easy . . . Oh, I shouldn't be sayin' that. He don't want me talkin' to nobody. But you're a vamp, too, ain't you . . ?''
Be that as it may . . . How many people are in your, your BROOD?'' Michael wasn't sure what to call it, really, it was more like a regular human GANG, with the vampiric twist. ''I ain't talkin' no more, mister. Are you gonna let me go? I promise I won't be tryin' to eat on your cows, I promise!''
With that, Michael picked him up again and walked to the main gate, where he threw him over it. ''See that you don't!''
Michael just knew this was going to be the beginning of trouble. The very thought of 'Sardok' made his stomach crawl.