Blood Hunting is available in 3 formats. The following extract is from the interactive e-book edition, which allows readers to switch between characters at designated points in the story. A standard e-book, following Ethan’s story, is also available. Clara’s story is contained in the paperback.

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Blood Hunting

The car had crashed. Whether or not the driver had been killed didn’t matter; if not already dead, he would be by the time any paramedic reached the scene. Whether the blood flowed freely or oozed in thick-set slime from his skull to the steering wheel was irrelevant; there was no-one to tend to the wound. By the time he was found, the blood would have clotted, congealed and coalesced into dried black scabs on the upholstery.

Had he come off the road doing thirty, he might have walked away unharmed. At fifty, he’d surely be injured but there would still have been a chance of survival. Having lost control of the wheel somewhere between eighty and a hundred, his number was up the moment his tyres lost their grip on the tarmac.

Even in the breaking daylight, the driver would have had no idea of the steepness of the ditch until he came off the road. By then it was too late for him, his car and any passengers he might have been carrying. Freewheeling down the sharp slope, the car stopped only when it collided with one of the grand oak trees whose branches formed a natural curtain to shield the accident from sight.

The force of impact left the bonnet crushed, concertinaed and compacted, with the car’s headlights hugging either side of the tree trunk. Even the most skilled mechanic would have no chance of rescuing its mangled chassis from write-off. Unseen from the road, only the unceasing blast from the horn would alert anyone to the wreckage.

There had been a witness, though. Someone had seen it all. On the far side of the road, one man had been there when the car sped down the deserted carriageway. He could tell the driver was going faster than he could handle. Given the altercation inside the car, an accident was almost inevitable.

Moments before the driver lost control, a side door had opened, and a young woman leapt out to hit the tarmac. While the car she abandoned ploughed into the ditch, she’d rolled across the ground for several hundred metres before she too came to a stop.

By all rights she should also be dead, her body strewn across the roadside like errant roadkill. Remaining on the lane, the man watched her lying motionless. Anyone else would’ve thought she was dead. He, however, knew she was not. After a few seconds’ delay, she began to stir and pushed herself cautiously onto all fours.

Her shoulder blades had taken the brunt of impact and her back was covered with angry red marks. Radiating with friction burns, her exposed skin was clotted with debris from the road. No doubt there were broken bones in there too, but nothing that wouldn’t heal.

Slowly she rose up from her hands and knees. At first she was unsteady on her feet, a damaged porcelain doll swaying from side to side as she tried to walk. After a few faltering steps, she found her footing then broke into a limping run.

He watched her hobble away, heading in the direction of the sea and the cliffs. Wearing torn clothes and bloodied by her injuries, it was hard to say what age she was, but he was sure she could be no older than her mid-twenties.

He waited until she was out of sight before stepping from the road. Camouflaged within the forestry, he set off in the same direction the girl had gone. Some would say it was a miracle she had survived. Others might put it down to fate or simple good fortune.

He knew there was another reason entirely.

God helps those who help themselves.

Chuckling mirthlessly at this fallacy, the man cast his eyes to the sky. It was clear, but the sky was an unreliable master. He could sense blood. Reaching down, he rubbed his left wrist to alleviate the spasmodic contraction between muscle and skin. Working with just enough force to make its presence felt, it was a burning pain he’d known all his existence.

His work here was almost done.

Continuing deeper into the woodlands, he disappeared back into the shadows from which he first stepped. He would give his witness statement later and, when he did, it would not be to the authorities.

A police car sped past on the dry tarmacadam as he walked through the trees. The piercing wail of its siren masked the sound of the crashed car’s horn as wholly as the vast foliage obscured the wreckage in the ditch. Oblivious, the vehicle continued around the bend and into the trees, giving chase to a suspect who was already lost.