The Iron in Blood (Chapter 4, page 1 of 14)

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Chapter 4


I dreamed that someone had poured flame over me, and that I was trying to run away from the unseen attacker, but I couldn't seem to move my legs. I watched in horror as my feet melted into the ground, pulling me down. I struggled to pull free, but I was dog-tired, and my limbs became heavier with each convulsive tug. A shrill sound buzzed in my ears; I recognised the doorbell, but I couldn't get up, so it went unanswered, and I surrendered again into the clutches of my nightmare.


Fergus phoned at eight in the morning to tell me that the house was ready for occupation, and that he'd even taken the liberty of furnishing it. Fergus loved stuff like that; the more organising something required the better. I told him that I'd met Rebecca Harding, and he wanted to know what she was like. I thought about that for a few seconds.

"I'm not really sure, Fergus," I tried to explain. "She seems to be quite rational and fairly normal, except for the fact that she's definitely one of us. This could go either way, I guess."

"What are you going to do?" he asked.

"I don't know yet. Is Marcus there?"

"Hey, Angus," Marcus' voice was suddenly audible. Speakerphone, obviously.

"Marcus, you were right. She's been raised a vegetarian. Loads of tea and fibre too." Tea and fibre tended to sequester any available iron before it was even absorbed from the gut. Her whole lifestyle seemed to be conspiring against her. Good for normal people, maybe, but not for a vampire. I noticed that I was becoming more comfortable with that word now that I knew there were others out there.

"She needs iron, Angus. But not too much, or she could lose control." I remembered the heady, barely controllable rush that followed a massive dose of iron, and shuddered. I sometimes struggled to control it, and I'd had five decades of practice. What chance would Rebecca have?

"How much, Marcus?" Marcus had managed to calculate our daily iron requirements. One gram per day for almost normal activity levels, two grams for massively enhanced strength and speed and sensory ability. Three grams was pushing it a bit, rendering us barely conscious in a vortex of power and vibrant intensity, and in my case, barely controllable rage. It was intriguing to see how differently we responded to our drug. Marcus would get this feverish glitter in his eyes, the pupils massively dilated so that his eyes looked black, and he would start scrawling gibberish (to me) over all available surfaces, muttering away to himself. Fergus flitted faster than ever, his hands skittering across his many computer keyboards, reams of code reflecting spookily in his black eyes. Me, I liked to break things and, before I learned to control my urges, people too.

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