Armitage - Chapter 11 - One Step Too Far (Part 1 of 2)
Madeline sat in silence as she was driven back to Armitage City Police Station, the cold metal of the handcuffs around her wrists a grim reminder of the terrible events she was caught up in. Her arresting officer cast occasional looks at her from the rear view mirror but said nothing. As they pulled into the station car park Madeline wondered morosely about what was going to happen to her. Was she going to be convicted of a crime she didn’t commit but could well have caused? Was Mason going to get to her before any of that happened? These were the questions that were filling her grief addled mind as the officer escorted her to the holding cell area at the far end of the station.
‘Stand there, please,’ said the officer, indicating a line on the floor. Madeline looked blankly into the camera as her mug shots were taken and stared helplessly at the ceiling while her DNA swabs were taken from the inside of her cheek. She was then led to a desk where her fingerprints were taken, and all the while a strange feeling like none of it was really happening washed over her. It was all so horrible, things had gone so wrong so quickly that it didn’t feel like reality anymore. It was only when a seated female police officer asked for her name that her attention was brought back.
‘Oh, Madeline Jameson,’ she replied numbly.
‘Date of birth?’
‘30th of April, 1982.’
‘Turn out your pockets.’ The officer standing next to Madeline took off her handcuffs but held them ready to reapply.
‘I…I don’t have anything in my pockets,’ said Madeline.
‘Sergeant Tate?’ The seated officer indicated the man who had removed Madeline’s handcuffs.
‘Please spread your legs, Ma’am.’ Madeline did as she was told and was briefly searched before the sergeant took his place at the side of the desk once again. ‘She’s clean.’
‘You don’t have any personal items on you, Ma’am?’ asked the seated officer.
‘They were all in my bag,’ said Madeline slowly, as the realisation dawned on her that she didn’t have it, which meant that she didn’t have the compound.
‘And where’s your bag?’ asked the officer.
‘It was in the squad car.’
‘I searched Sergeant Thomas’ vehicle and didn’t find any bag,’ said Sergeant Tate, further cementing in Madeline the fact that she had lost the compound, the one thing Sebastian said could finally kill Mason.
‘Right, we’re done here,’ said the female officer.
‘Come with me, Ma’am.’ Madeline was led to an empty cell and as the door closed fast the tears began to well up once more in her eyes. Seeing no possible way out, Madeline sat heavily down on her hard bed and started to cry.
* * *
The rest of the day wore on painfully slowly for Madeline, as she paced her tiny cell, intermittently crying over the tragedy of Zeb’s and Sergeant Thomas’ deaths. She had lost the compound and left Sebastian stranded so all hope of stopping Mason had evaporated into the air. Her thoughts also kept returning to the possibility of being convicted for arson and double murder, crimes that carried penalties too severe to think about, and as the afternoon became evening Madeline was overcome with extreme physical exhaustion. She flopped down on to her bed and almost instantly fell into fitful and restless sleep, her body clearly needing to recharge but her mind too full of fear and doubt to power down.
Madeline wasn’t sure how long she had been asleep when a persistent noise roused her from her distressing dreams, but they were unpleasant enough that she was almost glad to be awake, until she remembered where she was and why she was there.
‘Madeline,’ came a whispered voice from somewhere behind her head. Turning sleepily on to her side she could just make out in the gloom a familiar shape standing at the bars of her cell.
‘Sebastian?’ she said groggily.
‘Yes, it’s me. I am sorry I could not get here sooner but I had to stop and pick up this.’ Madeline sat up and approached the bars, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes as she did so. When she could focus again she could see that Sebastian was holding a syringe.
‘What’s that for?’ she asked.
‘This,’ said Sebastian, holding up the glass vial that contained his compound.
‘Where did you…?’
‘Your bag was dragged to the street along with me, and I was relieved to find the compound inside. Now, quickly, roll up your sleeve.’
‘What, now? Someone might see.’
‘Just expose your arm for me, they won’t see me.’
‘Because they don’t expect to.’ Madeline leant towards the bars and looked down the corridor to see if anyone was coming, and as Sebastian began to draw the compound into the syringe a thought struck her.
‘Hey, wait a minute. You’ve tried this on vampires, right?’
‘How many humans have you tried it on?’ Sebastian said nothing as Madeline looked at him questioningly. ‘You’ve never tried it on a human before, have you?’
‘Not as such, no,’ he replied honestly.
‘So how do you know that stuff’s not going to kill me?’
‘I doubt it will.’
‘You doubt it will? You don’t know?’
‘You are, I regret, the first fully alive person I have administered this to.’
‘But what if it doesn’t work?’
‘It has to.’ Madeline weighed up her options for a moment, and, realising they were pretty slim, decided she had nothing to lose.
‘Okay, do it,’ she said, extending her arm. She winced slightly at the scratch of the needle before continuing. ‘We still have the problem of me being in here though. How am I supposed to get to Mason?’
‘He’ll come for you,’ said Sebastian, replacing the stopper on the glass vial.
‘He will? When?’ The sound of a door opening at the far end of the corridor distracted Madeline briefly and when she turned back Sebastian was gone.
‘Sebastian?’ she hissed to no reply. She quickly rolled her sleeve back down as one of the officers working the graveyard shift approached her cell.
‘We’ve just got a call from your brother, Miss Jameson, he’s on his way to see you.’
‘He is?’ The officer didn’t say anything in reply, but Madeline was more concerned with what she was going to say to Chris. How could she tell him all that had happened to her and have him believe it? She began pacing her cell once again and the time seemed to stretch out before her, but as soon as the door opened to the cell area she rushed to the bars to greet Chris.
‘Hello my dear.’ Madeline recoiled in horror as before her stood Mason, large as life and smiling in the nauseatingly calm way that sent a chill to her spine.
‘Officer, this isn’t my brother, he’s a maniac!’
‘Oh come now,’ said Mason in an oily smooth tone. ‘The stories you tell, next thing you know you’ll be telling them I was Jack the Ripper.’ Madeline looked from Mason to the officer standing behind him and wondered why he had accepted Mason’s obvious lie about being her brother, but as she stared at the officer’s vacant expression and back into Mason’s cold, hard eyes she realised that he would believe anything Mason told him.
‘You are free to go,’ said the officer in a somewhat robotic voice as he unlocked the door to her cell and slid it open. ‘We are sorry for inconveniencing you.’
‘No, don’t send me with him, he’ll kill me!’ protested Madeline, as she backed away as far as she could.
‘Now now, this simply won’t do,’ said Mason silkily as he walked into the cell and took Madeline by the arm. ‘These nice officers clearly have you confused with someone else and I was kind enough to point out their mistake. Now let’s hear no more about it and just go home.’
‘Have a nice day,’ said the officer blandly.
‘Why thank you,’ said Mason brightly. ‘You too.’ As they walked through the station Madeline looked about to see if there was anyone else who might come to her aid but everywhere she looked she found the same blank expressions on all the officers.
‘I know what you’re doing,’ she said.
‘Well done,’ smiled Mason. ‘Maybe now you realise the futility of causing me further grievances.’
‘You were Jack the Ripper, weren’t you?’
‘Yes, I was, although I never did care for the name. Now please do not try anything foolish, I have gone to far too much trouble to simply kill you right here and now. Besides, there is something you simply must see.’
‘Patience my dear, patience.’
* * *
As they exited the police station Mason placed a firm hand on Madeline’s shoulder to prevent her from running, and waiting patiently by his sleek Mercedes was Andreas, who shot an uncharacteristically dark look at Madeline, contrasting with his usual stony demeanour. His feelings about her aside, Andreas still opened the car door for her and Mason.
‘Thank you, Andreas. Take us home.’
‘Yes sir.’ As the car pulled out of the car park Mason sat back and looked Madeline over with his piercing, malicious eyes.
‘You know, many vampires would by now have regretted choosing such a feisty young thing as a trophy but I must say Madeline you have provided some excellent sport.’ The light of the car’s interior illuminated Mason’s face in such a grotesque fashion that Madeline could barely stand to look at him, and she remained silent, not wanting to let Mason bait her further.
‘You actually remind me of Annie Chapman,’ he said, continuing despite Madeline’s silence.
‘Oh remember your research, girl. Annie Chapman, my second victim during my time as Gentleman Jack.’
‘Oh,’ said Madeline numbly, who didn’t feel as if she had the capacity to be brought any lower.
‘Yes she had a fire about her, much like you, it was almost a shame to kill her.’
‘I bet,’ said Madeline bitterly.
‘Almost, but not quite.’ Mason smiled so sickeningly that Madeline had to look away, and the rest of the journey was spent in silence, her captor satisfied for the moment. After a while the smoothness of the asphalt was replaced by the crisp crunch of Mason’s gravel drive and the car soon glided to a halt. Andreas once again opened the door for them and Madeline was escorted into the house flanked by both men.
‘Welcome to my humble abode, this way.’ Madeline was forced to follow as they walked through elegantly appointed corridors and past equally elegant rooms, until they came at last to a door that resembled a bank vault.
‘After you,’ he said smarmily. Madeline made her way through the heavy looking door and down a flight of stone steps until they came to a set of larger, heavier looking metal doors. She realised as she went along that this was eerily similar to what happened to Sebastian all those years ago, and as she passed through the double doors she prayed she wouldn’t be met by the same sight that greeted Sebastian the night he was sired.
Her prayers went unfortunately unanswered, as what she saw when she entered the room through the double doors was exactly what Sebastian had himself witnessed; lines of stinking cages all containing freshly sired vampires, all naked and bestial. Madeline put her hand to her mouth both out of horror and because of the putrid smell that filled the air, all the while Mason eyed her with a sense of cruel amusement.
‘Say hello to my babies,’ he said proudly. No matter how disgusting and abhorrent Sebastian made this sight feel in his book it could not compare to actually seeing it, and feeling a wave of nausea grip her Madeline sank to her knees and vomited on the cold stone floor.