The Rhodes Less Traveled: Chapter 5
I woke to odd sounds and sensations. The strongest feeling was a deep longing—an urgency that I couldn’t put my finger on. I opened my eyes and saw Quinn’s face. “What happened?”
“There was an explosion. The hotel was bombed.” I didn’t even give him time to finish answering me before I jumped to my feet. I suddenly realized that the odd urgency I was feeling was Eric’s call. He was calling me. I ran towards the door with Quinn right behind me. We were in the basement of some unfamiliar building and it had become a makeshift hospital for vampires. I passed rows and rows of gurneys with injured vampires on them. The uninjured were tending to the more severely wounded and burned vampires. The stench of blood and burned flesh was overwhelming.
We found the exit and emerged onto the sidewalk above us. I turned in the direction of the call and took off. I ran as fast as I could for a few blocks and then suddenly the pull disappeared. I stopped and tried to feel for it, but it was gone. I tried not to panic and began moving again. Quinn caught up to me and I explained to him what had happened. As we continued on our way, he told me how he had found me during the day inside a bathtub under a pile of debris. The lower half of my body had been exposed to the sun, but was safely covered by a blanket. Quinn pulled me out of the wreckage and took me to the infirmary in The Thorne Building where vampires were being treated and stayed with me until I had awakened. It occurred to me to ask him if he had suffered any injuries, but he seemed perfectly fine to me. I thanked him for saving me and swore my fealty to him and then asked him to help me find Eric. He stopped me and turned me to face him as he spoke, both of his big hands gripping my shoulders. “Sookie, if you ever wanted to be free of your maker, this is your chance. That’s all I’m saying. It’s a pretty rare opportunity. Do you want a minute to think about it?”
I’m sure that my mouth was open and my eyes were as wide as saucers. I composed myself and leveled my stare at him. I tried my best to control my anger but I was gritting my teeth when I replied. “I’m going to find Eric. You can help me or not, but take your hands off of me.”
Quinn let go and held his hands up in surrender and gave me a nod in understanding. “I’m sorry. Let’s go then.” And we took off again. I remembered the awful fight Eric and I had had the night before about Quinn, but none of that mattered now. I had to find Eric. Nothing else mattered.
As we rounded the corner and the hotel came into view, I was shocked at the site before me. Instead of the beautiful pyramid, I saw a huge pile of smoldering rubble surrounded with fire trucks and ambulances. Both humans and vampires were crawling all over it searching for victims. I was hit with hundreds of thoughts of people calling for help. I tried to narrow the voices down to only those closest to me and grabbed a policeman and started pointing. Quinn explained to him that I was a telepath and soon we had a small group of men pulling people out from pockets of debris. I left the group to their task and continued my search for Eric. I saw Barry, Stan Davis’ human telepath, helping a group of firemen just like I had. I closed my eyes and focused and soon felt a group of vampire voids and began moving in their direction. I saw several vampires climbing out of the debris on their own and directed them down to the emergency personnel. I warned Quinn, still by my side, to watch out for injured and hungry vampires. He had borrowed a flashlight from a policeman as he didn’t have the night vision I had.
I was searching for the injured, moving large pieces of debris to free some vampires when I felt the call again. This time it was just a flash of feeling and was gone as quickly as it came, but it was enough of a pull to turn me in the right direction. I began moving pieces of furniture, chunks of wall, tangles of pipe and electrical wires, tunneling my way to where I believed Eric was. Quinn was beside me. He was strong as well, but not as strong as I was, and so I left the smaller pieces for him. We continued in this manner for probably over an hour and were finally rewarded with a vampire. I found the feet first and we carefully uncovered the body of a woman in a flannel nightgown. I brushed the blood-soaked hair from her face and saw that it was Pam. I felt bloody tears of relief stain my face as I held her to me. She was obviously injured and unconscious, but her body remained intact and so I knew that she would heal. I carefully handed her to Quinn and watched him gingerly pick his way out of the tunnel we had created with Pam over one shoulder.
I returned to my task, pulling debris out of my way as I searched for voids with my mind. Soon I sensed two more voids and began tunneling faster. I removed chunks of concrete that seemed to be blocking some sort of doorway and beyond it I found a small cavern within the wreckage. The first vampire I came to was conscious but obviously severely injured. He was lying on his stomach, slowly crawling forward. His back legs were crushed and no longer functioned, but he was able to pull himself along with his arms. He seemed to have a definite intended path in his tedious and painful journey. I began crawling towards him from behind and as I got closer, I recognized the small frame and blond hair although it was dulled by a covering of dust and debris. My stomach turned as I realized that it was Andre. Of all the vampires I knew, he was the last on my list of those that I wanted to save. I thought of how he had wanted to own me and then conspired with Bill to kill Eric. He was an evil little toad and I truly hated him, but I was here to rescue injured people and he was obviously one. And so I continued my crawl towards him. As I got closer, I saw that he had a large wood splinter in his right hand and it alarmed me. That could obviously be used as a stake and warning bells went off inside my vampire mind.
If he heard me behind him, he certainly gave no indication. He kept crawling forward with dogged determination. I saw that he was looking ahead of him and followed his line of sight and right there in front of us about ten feet away was a messy blond head sticking out of a pile of debris. Eric. I realized in a flash that Andre was on an assassin’s mission and his target was Eric. I felt my vision began to cloud and fought with all my might to raise my shields. I didn’t want my temper to render Andre helpless. As soon as I felt my vision return, I lunged forward, surprising Andre as I snatched the splinter from his hand. He rolled onto his back and faced me with shock in his eyes. He managed to say my name but that was all he got out before I buried the primitive stake in his chest. He was still disintegrating when I crawled away towards Eric.
Under the debris covering Eric’s body was a huge slab of concrete. I was unable to move it. I began searching for something to use for leverage and found a long length of rebar. I positioned it under a corner of the slab and pushed with all my might. As the slab shifted, I tried to kick Eric’s body to move him. As I felt my strength failing, I lowered the slab back as gently as possible. I repeated this for over an hour and had managed to free one of Eric’s legs, but my method was slow. As I was repositioning my rebar I heard with my mind a faint calling of my name. It was muffled and tangled—were. I called out as loudly as I could for Quinn and within a few minutes he was back by my side. “I couldn’t find you, Sookie. I was worried that you’d be buried in here as well and I wouldn’t be able to get you out.”
I showed him my procedure to free Eric, only this time, as I lifted the slab, Quinn pulled Eric’s body and made much more significant progress. It only took us another few minutes to free Eric. I examined his body as best I could. He was intact and would survive. I thanked Quinn as my voice cracked with emotion and we began our task of removing Eric from the rubble and getting him to safety. I laughed to myself through my tears as I thought I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel in more ways than one. I wanted nothing more than to be free of the Pyramid of Gizeh.