Home > The Asylum (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #5)(9)

The Asylum (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #5)(9)
Author: L.J. Smith

I watched as two boys, probably only five or six, tussled violently. Both had bloody scratches and I couldn’t help but wonder whether that was how Damon and I seemed to Cora: brothers so desperate to fight, they didn’t care how childish, counterproductive, or useless it was.

Just then, I heard a commotion behind us. A dark-haired figure ran by us at a speed no human could possibly match. Five officers followed, not caring about the people they knocked down.

I grabbed Cora’s hand. She was looking at me in fear, knowing just as well as I did what this chase meant.

Damon was in the park.



“Stop him!”

Almost unbidden, a word bubbled to my lips as I watched Damon flash across the landscape: Run!


The Ripper!” boomed one officer as he rushed by in panic.

“The Ripper?” A crowd had gathered and I heard someone take up the officer’s cry. Another followed suit, and soon the park was full of voices raised in a cacophony of fear. People were running this way and that, as though they were a flock of sheep who’d discovered a wolf in their midst.

“I see him!” another officer yelled, swinging a club in the air and taking off toward a grove of trees. I watched in horror. Damon was fast, but this was broad daylight. It would only take one person in his path to slow him down long enough to be caught.

To ensure Damon had enough time to escape, I knew I needed to create a distraction. “Help! Police! Help!” I shouted, an idea forming in my mind. I grabbed Cora’s waist and pulled her close to me.

“Pretend you’ve fainted,” I whispered under my breath. “Help!” I called louder.

An officer running by slowed and turned toward us, his eyes flickering with suspicion.

“My sister fainted!” I called, allowing my voice to break a bit for dramatic effect. Playing along, Cora had gone heavy and limp in my arms.

Two more officers halted, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Seconds were paramount, and I was hoping this pause would give Damon time enough to escape. Why had he left the tunnel? He knew he was on the front page of the paper. He knew Jack the Ripper was the name on everyone’s lips. Why was he always tempting fate?

“Boys, keep going. I’ll tend to this,” the first officer ordered, charging at me. The other policemen took off in Damon’s direction, but the ruse should have gained him thirty seconds on them. Time enough to put significant distance between himself and his pursuers.

“Please, come quickly!” I continued, my voice ragged as the officer puffed up the hill toward us. I felt Cora’s sides involuntarily contract and knew she was laughing at my admittedly terribly overacted performance. “Please help!”

The officer leaned over to inspect Cora, and she stilled. “Probably just fright,” he said, prying her eyelids apart with his pudgy fingers. At that moment, Cora righted herself unsteadily.

“What’s happening?” Cora asked, fanning her face with her hand. “I heard the Ripper was here, and I just … why, fear must have overtaken me.” Cora blinked her large eyes up at the officer.

“Yes, ma’am, you fainted,” the officer said sternly as he fished a handkerchief out of his pocket and rubbed it over his sweaty, moon-shaped face. He was in his late forties and looked like he’d rather be chasing the Ripper than dealing with a hysterical young woman. “You shouldn’t be out here, even with your brother. A murderer is on the loose!”

“Oh, thank you for protecting us,” Cora said. “I don’t know how to repay you, except to pray that you catch the Ripper soon, Officer…”

“Officer Evans,” he said gruffly, tipping his black hat at her. “And I don’t want to be rescuing you again!” he called over his shoulder as he jogged down the hill. The rest of the police had disappeared into a patch of trees, and I only hoped Damon had outrun them all.

Cora turned toward me, her blue eyes wide, the flirtatious expression she’d given the officer wiped from her face. She looked deadly serious. “We need to go back to the tunnel and find that idiot brother of yours.”

I nodded, pressing my lips together. If Damon knew what was good for him, that’s where he would hide out until this all blew over.

I grabbed Cora’s hand, acting as if we were just out for a stroll. Cora squeezed it, and together, we made our agonizingly slow way through London’s winding alleys. The streets smelled like sewage and rotting vegetables, and the cobblestones were covered in a thin layer of water. I tuned into my vampire senses, picking up the whoosh of blood coursing through millions of bodies. But nowhere did I hear Damon.

Instead, what I heard was fear. I couldn’t help catching strains of conversations between passersby.

“Said he fled London, but what good does that do? Still means the Ripper’s terrorizing our country.”

“And for the killer to be that well-off? Shows money doesn’t buy common moral decency.”

“My bet is he’s back on the town and will be terrorizing again tonight.”

“I’m telling you, any man who allows his wife out of his house after dark is asking for trouble.”

“What are you doing?” Cora asked curiously.

“Sorry.” I straightened up and shook my head abashedly. Concentrating on the conversations wafting past us had pushed me into full-on hunt mode. My head was cocked, my jaw set, and my eyes were flicking back and forth across the crowd. “People are talking about the Ripper.”

“Of course they are.” Cora set her mouth in a firm line. “All of London wants him dead. I know Damon thinks he can outwit everyone, but he cut it really close. Let’s just hope he learned his lesson today.”

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