Marston came awake with a gasp, his body drenched in sweat and his heart feeling as it was trying to come out of his chest, his eyes wild as they swung around the room.
There was no doubt about it, there was definitely a sense of his not being alone, though he could see nothing and no one in the room to give him that feeling.
Marston sat up then ran his hands over his face, and realized they were trembling. Damn those dreams, they had begun to come every time he fed.
But what was really odd was that that was the ONLY time they came.
Sitting there he realized that he needed something stronger to drink than the sodas and juices he had gotten at that last stop.
He stood and grabbed his jacket from the back of the chair, then got the gun and his good knife and put them in the duffel bag, after which he headed out to the car.
He never, ever left that duffel bag behind.
He drove around the little town for a while, searching for a bar, but there didn’t appear to be any, so since he was now wide awake, he decided to just get on the main thoroughfare and drive out beyond the town limits.
After all, a lot of towns did have bars…just not in their city limits for the sake of all the “upstanding” folk.
He had been driving for about an hour when he saw a car on the side of the road with its emergency lights flashing.
Pulling up behind it he discovered that it was a couple of teenagers, a boy and a girl, evidently out on a jaunt.
The kids told him their radiator had blown up and that they had been stranded there for over three hours.
Marston, as he stood listening to the two kids explain how they had come to be out that late, felt the hunger begin to stir.
For the past four months the hunger had begun to come more and more frequently…and insistently.
And Marston knew all too well what happened when he tried to ignore it or fight it.
Oh yes, Marston knew what happened when he tried to fight the hunger…it hurt like hell.
He knew because it had happened just recently when he had to walk away from potential prey two states back when a group of the intended victim’s friends had shown up just as he had begun to walk away with them towards his pickup.
He had met up with the kid at what had appeared to be a town festival of some kind. The kid had literally almost run him down with his bicycle.
When the kid had swerved at the last minute he had turned right into a curb and his bike had flipped, throwing him right over the handlebars to land hard on one shoulder.
Marston had just been wandering around, searching for a possible target, for the hunger had started the previous afternoon.
When Marston had seen what had happened, and he had acted without thinking. Walking up, he had helped the kid to his feet and then offered to take him to the closest medical facility.
The kid had been pretty shaken up and his shoulder had been at an unnatural angle, clearly indicating that he had either thrown it out of joint or broken it.
Whatever the case, it had been plain as day that the kid had been in a lot of pain, and he had not even hesitated in accepting Marston’s offer.
They had just started to walk towards the area where Marston had his truck parked when four or five other kids had ridden up on their bikes, calling the injured boys name and giving suspicious glances at Marston.
The kids had taken the injured boy aside and began what had all too plainly been a serious ass grilling for trusting strangers.
The boy had hung his head and then after looking at his friends and nodding he had walked over and gotten his bike and then rejoined the other kids.
And Marston had been left standing there, seething in fury, as they had ridden away without a backward glance.
Damn the little meddlers to hell and back! He had been so close!
He had discovered that the younger the victim was, the greater energy surge he got from their fear and terror.
It had taken Marston two days after he lost his chance with the boy to find another victim, and by then he was nearly mad with the hunger.
And that time had taught him very well what could happen if he did not feed when the craving first struck, for by the time he finished with the transient he had lured into an abandoned warehouse with the promise of booze, the guy had barely resembled a human being at all.
And what had shook Marston up was that he had not remembered even one moment past when he had chained the guy to the pipe deep in the bowels of that building.
He had literally cut the guy to pieces a chunk at a time, leaving nothing but a carcass that looked like a badly put together nightmare of exposed muscles and bone.
He had placed the guys body in one of the furnaces in the basement, then cleaned up in a restroom and left, but all the way back to the motel, he had been dwelling on what had happened.
And he knew that he must never, ever again let him go that long without feeding, for if he did, he was sure to get caught.