What i’ve been working on, working title Midnight
Two weeks, three bodies, pale, cold, with wounds on their necks. I looked up from the files that were given to me.
“You’re kidding me right? This isn’t…”
New York City Police Detective Martin Baker shrugged. “Hell if I know, why do you think I’m talking to you about it?”
I arched an eyebrow. “So you aren’t here for my charm, dashing good looks, and world class coffee?”
“Maxwell House is alright, but I prefer Folgers.” He sipped his instant coffee from a chipped mug. “And you’re pretty Daniel, but not my type. I like my men a little burlier.”
“Right.” I grumbled. I spread out the crime scene photos on my kitchen table, making sure they said ordered by incident date. “So you think its vampires?”
“No, I do not think it is vampires, that would be crazy Daniel.” He spoke in a very even toned voice, as if it wasn’t the first time he’d had to say that. “The current working theory is that it is a serial killer who stabs his victims in the neck with something two pronged, hangs them upside to bleed them out, and collects the blood. He then dumps the body and takes the blood with him as a souvenir or something.”
“Mhm.” I looked at him.
“It’s a working theory.”
“No it’s not. It’s not working at all.”
“It’s better than the Count or Edward had dinner in a few different alleys downtown.” He mined a Transylvanian accent. “One victim, two victim, ah ah ah.”
I chuckled. “And so you’re here why? My stock with the NYPD just went up from wack job who might be a mass murder out to solve his own crimes to ace profiler?”
“No Mike, still a wack job, but a wack I trust.” He drained his mug and set it down, squaring his jaw. “So what do you think?”
“I think you’ve got a vampire on your hands, one who is running out of control.” I watched him. I haven’t worked with him for very long, I hadn’t been work with the police in general for very long. He seemed to take what I was saying, logging it in his mind for some later purpose. Something about that made me think better of him. The last person I worked with wasn’t so open. An open mind saves lives, a closed one doesn’t, and didn’t.
“Ok, so, how do you know that it is losing it?”
“Vampires in control do not leave bodies, not in the street for people find, not with bite marks on their necks. They don’t work like this, this is snotty, sloppy.” My voice trailed off, lost in thought.
“Alright, say I believe this. Say I think that there is a Dracula somewhere out there in Manhattan gnawing on the necks of two NYU students and a night watchman. What do I do? What can I do about this?”
There was no fear in his voice, no more than there would have been if it was indeed a serial killer, but there was in his eyes. I knew why. He could understand if it was a serial killer, someone insane but mortal he could handle, but this was out of his league, and he knew it. That’s why he is here, reaching out to me for the first time, instead of the other way around. I got up, and walked him into a small room off of my bedroom. The walls were lined with bookshelves, the books older than I am. I pulled a few down.
“First thing first, Dracula was a person yes, but not all vampires are like him, he was old, old in terms of a vampire is a very different thing than it is with us. Whatever we’re dealing with, Dracula it is not. Sunlight weakens them, but doesn’t kill them; they don’t go puff into ash or combust in the light of day. Garlic as well, nada, unless they don’t like it, at best it might make you the last person they kill out of the group. Holy water does work, and crosses, but not just them. Any article of faith, wielded by a believer, would work against a vampire. This is all assuming that we’re dealing with a true vampire at all.”
Baker blinked at me. “True vampire.”
“Yeah, this could be any number of the things that go bump. Many monsters enjoy a little vampirism on the side, some for food, some to gain power, some just for shits and giggles. This could be something like that, maybe.”
“Maybe.” Baker had taken out his notepad and was jotting things down, in some kind of short hand to be following the speed in which I was talking.
“More details cut down the things that it could have been.” I looked over the files. “The watchman was found behind the iron gates of the building, so no faeries, which is a lot of it. Seeing as there are only three bodies and not forty, demons are probably out. This being North America and not Central America, Asia, or Equatorial Africa, there are a whole lot of other things we can cut off the list.”
“So, what is on the list?”
“Including vampires, about six things, and to tell them, I have to go talk to someone.” I didn’t look up from my books, trying to remember everything I could before I left.
Vampires like nightclubs. I don’t know why. I don’t like nightclubs, not really, they’ve never really been my scene. I stepped down the cellar opening to the club. As far as I knew, it didn’t have a name, which was apparently cool. Whatever gets these people through the night. The bouncer gave a dirty look, which I returned, to shying away from eye contact like most would have. There was the briefest of moments in the exchange where I knew he wasn’t human, at least not completely. I didn’t want to find out what precisely he was, but he broke the contact and lowered his eyes first, stepping aside to let me pass.
There was very little lighting inside of the club, whatever lights were there dim and some colored with shades of red that accented the black leather covered seating and tables, the black stained wood of the bar and some of the wall fixtures, and the silver and gold glinting from various piercings of the patrons within. I didn’t make myself own, but those who would care that I was there knew it anyway, and stayed clear.
Many of the people in the dancing, gyrating crowds part for me, cold black eyes watching me closely. Those who don’t move I shoulder past, ignoring their dirty looks as I head to the back of the club, where a very large and pale man stand before a door. I head towards him, his gaze that was scanning the back of the group focusing in on me. I know the man, as he is now, and as he was before he was turned into a vampire.
I stand a couple of feet away from him, looking into his eyes. This is something be in the preternatural community, as holding eye contact with someone is very dangerous, if you aren’t clever. He nodded to me and spoke in his deep baritone.
“Boss is busy, you want a drink while you wait? On the house.”
“Nah man, I need to see him now, important stuff and all.”
He scowled, or, more aptly, deepened his scowl, as he wasn’t ever not scowling really. I didn’t react; we’ve danced this dance before.
“He ain’t gonna be happy Danny.”
“Is he ever?”
“So what’s the difference?”
“Normal boss is fine, unhappy boss gets staby.”
“I’ll handle it. Want me to hit you? Make it look like I forced my way in?”
This made him laugh, he shook head sharply, knocking thrice on the door behind him before moving out of the way. The door opened outwards, and I step through, traveling down a short hallway before another door. I think a second, and then decide on the kind of entrance I was going to do. The door opened inward, not as secure as the first.
I kicked in it. Inside was the person I was coming here for, on a bed with two women, one pale and one not, all naked. The man and woman had been biting the living woman, the woman on her inner thigh, the man on one of her breasts, who was writing in some kind of masochistic pleasure. I know what a vampire bite feels like, and it isn’t pleasurable. All of this ended when I kicked in the door, the two vampires moving a lot faster than the woman, off of her and up at me in about the time it took me to raise my fist and think about a sunny summer day.
A flash of sunlight erupted from my fist, throwing the two vampires back against the back wall where they crumpled against the headboard. The woman had barely moved in the time that all that happened, blood weeping from the multiple bite wounds, she cried and terror and almost fell off the bed trying to get away from me. I could tell that she used to be stunning, but had been the play things of vampires for far too long. Her skin, though not the deathly pale of the undead, was sickly pallid, and her hair fell thin around her. I didn’t take my eyes off the vampires as I spoke to her.
“I’m here for James, you two get your clothes and go, now.” With the last word my fist glowed again, and the woman and female vampire both gathered what little clothing they had and left.
“Had to spoil my fun didn’t you?” Said James, rising from the bed still naked, walked across the room to a cushioned armchair and a carafe of red wine. He poured himself a glass and sipped slowly before thankfully crossing his pale legs.
“Totally. It’s rude to play with your food.”
He smiled, this teeth stained red, either from the wine or the woman’s blood. I was thinking it was sort of both. “What is it that you want Danny? Besides telling me that I need to replace my guard.”
“I like Gerard, you shouldn’t can him because of little old me. You know I could have blasted him if I wanted to.”
“Maybe. So, again, what is it?”
“There is someone out there killing people, drinking them dry in the streets and leaving their bodies in the open for the police to find. Who have, and who have come to talk to me about it.” James hissed, setting the glass down harder than he had to. He rose, halting at my fist again. “Whoa, slow down twilight.”
His eyebrow rose. “Right, if you want to talk shop, I would like to do it with pants on, unless you’d rather not.” He stared at me for a moment, and then grinned. “I didn’t think so.” A cold finger pushed my fist out of his face, gathering his black suit pants and shirt, which he wore, unbuttoned with his pallid skin exposed. He sat again, and beckoned me to join him. I sat, but didn’t move to take any wine from him. I’ve worked a few times with him before, but I didn’t thrust him as far I my magic could toss him.
“Right, so there’s a drinker out there painting the town red with no thoughts towards discretion at all. And what makes you think it’s one of us?”
“What else could it be? I know you know the cases as well as I do, so quit the ‘it’s not vamps’ bull. Who is it?”
His smile faded. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“I don’t. We don’t allow for things like that, we handle people who can’t control their thirst, and we handle it swiftly. We dispose of our waste. This isn’t us.”
He had a point. There was a reason why vampires where still the stuff of fiction and nightmares, and why the pitchfork and torches haven’t been drawn yet. Vampires, creatures of hedonism and indulgence that they are, always tidy up after their meals. Whoever this monster is, he isn’t with the most of the vampire nation. That made things harder, a vampire outside of the nation doesn’t follow the rules, obviously, and the nation won’t move to stop him if he isn’t threatening their exposure.
“Ok, if not a vampire you know, maybe it’s a freelancer, somebody turned someone else by mistake and now it’s rampaging through Manhattan like it’s an all you can drink buffet. Could that be possible?”
He thought for a moment, looking off into a dark corner of the room. “Maybe, but our laws for that are almost the same as if the sire had gone off on his or her own. A vampire that does not control their get until they can get a handle on the thirst, if they can, or put them down if they cannot, are put down themselves. It’s very hard to turn someone without wanting to.”
“But it can happen.”
“Yes, but not really since the times in old Europe where the vampire nobilities would have orgies of death and blood and revel in their lust and thirst would they be in the condition to turn a mortal and not notice it.”
“So it could happen, and probably did. We have a new vampire out there, hungry and mindless, making New York City his or her person hunting grounds.” I said, sitting on the bed, my head swimming with the possibilities, and just how much more difficult this just got.
“How fun!” James said, cheerfully.