by ‘Teresa Devereux’
I awoke to find seven of the Annubi lying around my room, in various stages of wakefulness. I looked over to the Spaniard, who now seemed back to normal, yet still shackled. I proceeded into the bathroom to freshen up. By the time I came out dressed, everyone had made their way back upstairs, so I walked up. As I looked around the room at them all, I noticed some of the furniture in the main living room had been pushed about during the previous night’s onslaught. There seemed to be a large silver tray missing from one of the display cabinets. Whether it had simply fallen behind the cabinet, or had been pilfered, I wasn’t sure. After seeing Jan’s wraith last night, I thought better than to question him about it’s whereabouts.
Jan walked up to me and said “There’s been another werewolf sighting. Get ready, we leave in an hour.” Although I really should have said nothing, I had to make my position clear to him. I was amiable enough last night to offer them all somewhere to stay (even if I hadn’t much of a choice) yet I failed to see why I had to go fight some mystical werewolf with them! I said gently “Why do I have to go? It’s hardly got anything to do with me...” I noticed the rabble had all stopped what they were doing, and were now looking at me in stunned disbelief. The girl from last night was leaning against a wall nearby, her arms crossed in front of her, and banging her head lightly against the wall behind her. It made an annoying “dock, dock, dock” sound, like a death knoll.
Jan looked at me, made an exaggerated sighing, and said in a quietly threatening manner “do I have go back over what I told you last night?” Realising how close I was to getting him upset, I shook my bowed head and said “no.” Jan walked away, leaving me standing there rather deflated. The girl now pushed herself off the wall, and walked over to me. She said quietly “I think we need to go downstairs and have a talk. Now” It was more an order than anything, so I started down the stairs, with her following me. Perhaps she would be gentler on me than Jan, and I could have some questions answered at last.
As I reached the bottom stair, she suddenly grabbed the back of my neck, and pushed me headfirst onto the bed! Holding me there, she said “You should be grateful Jan has taken you in, it’s the only reason you are still alive. You will now come with us, and don’t ever question what Jan says again! Got it?” With my face pushed into the mattress, I muttered “yes” at which she released me and I sat up. Then she added “and if you want to continue to live, if anyone asks, you tell them your Jan’s. OK?” I didn’t understand why I would do that. I was sired by Gordon, and I was proud of that fact. I had never felt as strongly about anyone, as I did towards Gordon. I said “no, I can’t lie, I’m not his!” Before I had even registered what was going on, I was flying across the room, and smashed into my cupboard doors! The slats fell in a heap of broken wood around me. I had only just landed, yet she was now directly in front of me, her face just inches from my own. She said “Wrong answer! You tell everyone you belong to Jan, or you will die! Got it!” In a murmur I said “but my father is Gordon, and I love him?” She punched me! I couldn’t believe she did it, but she punched me in the face! I heard a crack, and couldn’t move my jaw at all. She said “You are never to say his name again! His name means death, understand!” I nodded now, not wanting to endure any further onslaught. She looked at my misshapen face, and said “now heal yourself with some blood.”
I looked at her with distress, not knowing what she meant. She said rather dumbfounded “you really don’t know anything, do you?” She grabbed hold of my hands and said “Look at me, and concentrate. Use your willpower, and move your jaw back into place.” I did as she asked, and heard a loud click, as my jaw moved back into position. She pulled me up, and took me to the mirror. Looking at my reflection, I could see a red blush around my jaw slowly receding. She said “use blood to heal your injuries. And by the way, vampires sweat blood, so if you are doing anything strenuous, be aware of it. Wear dark clothes, so it’s harder to notice. Otherwise you’ll break the Masquerade and kill us all.” Feeling somewhat more compliant, and said “I have a black suit I could wear instead?” She replied “good. Put it on and meet us upstairs.” With that she left me alone. Thinking about what had happened, I realised (a little late), that sympathy is obviously not a strong point in any of the groups members!
As I reached the top of the stairs I noticed the Spaniard had smears of blood all over his shirt. It seemed to be some archaic initiation rite, where the others had smeared their own blood from cuts in their hands onto him. I could see some of the rabble healing their own hands as they milled around. Jan saw me and said to everyone “Let’s roll”. As they all headed outside, the girl thrust a silver bladed knife at me, “here, you’ll need this”. I held it tentatively between my thumb and forefinger, not really wanting to touch it at all. She grabbed it back from me, wrapped my fist around the handle, and said “No, like this. You have to be careful, because the handle becomes slippery when blood gets on it.” She then guided my hand in a stabbing motion saying “a quick in, then out. Like this. That's the most effective way. Got it?” I nodded, and she strode out purposefully. Not really knowing what to do with it, I put the knife into an internal jacket pocket out of sight. Dutifully I went outside and got into the truck, not knowing where we were headed, or what we would encounter.
We pulled up outside a large abandoned unit complex. It seemed to be around 12 storeys high, and very run down. The buildings around it were in similar states of disrepair, and many had the windows boarded up. Jan paired everyone up, and I was partnered with the Spaniard. (I had overheard the others call him both “Christos, and “Lemar’, which I took to be his last name.) Jan directed us to go around the back of the building, via an alleyway beside it. He added “and be quiet”. I found that statement ironic, since he kicked in the front doors to the building with a loud crash. The others bustled inside, weapons drawn.
Thankful I wasn’t heading inside with them, I looked over to Christos. He nodded to me, and we walked around the side and down the dark alley. I looked around me at the oppressiveness of the buildings. As I glanced up, I was sure I noticed a shadow of something, as it jumped between the two buildings high above. Given the distance between them, it seemed improbable, and I continued on nervously. Christos was walking several paces ahead, when the window we were passing by exploded. A young girl no more than twelve years old had jumped through the boarded up window from the inside. I saw she was wearing rags for clothing, and looked quite feral. She landed in the alley a few metres away from us, pieces of broken wood falling around her. Turning and looking at us, her face and body began to transform, taking on odd animal features. She grew in height, her ears elongated into points like a dog, and she grew a light covering of fur over her flesh. It dawned on me that this was what they had been talking about. This was in fact a werewolf. Not an outdated horror character as I had thought, but a reality. In terror of my revelation, I turned and ran, all the while looking over my shoulder at her.
She was now chasing me, advancing at a terrific rate. I turned again, and saw her leap at me, her claws reaching out, and teeth bared in a snarl. Somehow through sheer reflex, I dived off to the side, rolling and spinning into a crouched position. (relieved I had learnt something out of the years I studied gymnastics at boarding school) Turning to face her, I saw her fall near where I had only just been. She looked up at me, wilder than before, and I broke out into a run towards where Christos was still standing. He had a gun in his hand, and he let off two shots in rapid succession. By the look on his face, I could tell he had hit his mark. I stopped beside him, and turned. The girl had now reverted back into her human form, and was laying lifeless. I could see part of her head was missing, the result of the gunshot wound.
In stunned silence, we looked at each other, and resumed our way to the rear of the building. As we rounded the corner, a rear door opened slowly. One of the Annubi I’d overheard being called Jack was standing slumped in the doorway. He looked like he had been attacked by a pack of wild animals, sporting deep scratches all over him. As he held the lantern in his right hand, the light fell onto what remained of his left arm. Below the elbow was now tattered flesh hanging from a bloody stump. Despite this, he didn’t seem to be in pain, as he shuffled back inside, gesturing us to follow. The previous lack of light within the darkened building seemed oddly irrelevant, as I found I could now see quite clearly. I started to follow Jack inside, when I heard Christos complain that he couldn’t see where he was going. I turned to face him, and could tell he was blind to all but my eyes. I recalled my eyes being red last night, when I had found my way home from Gordon’s place. This gift of night vision I possessed must automatically begin when I am in unlit areas, as I had not consciously thought about it. I grabbed Christos by the shirt, and told him to follow me.
We entered a room off the corridor where two female Annubi were standing, their eyes glowing red in our direction. They looked worse for wear as well, one missing almost all of one ear, and had deep gouges on the side of her face. As I watched them, they faced each other, and gripped each other’s hands. In deep concentration, I watched the woman’s ear slowly grow back, and the gashes knit themselves together.
Jack now started up the stairwell, so we followed, figuring he would be taking us to Jan. After a few levels, Jack stopped in front of a door. He seemed to fear opening it, and that was when I heard why. From within the room, I could hear what sounded like a wet towel being slapped onto tiles, followed by the howling of an animal in pain. I also heard the distinctive ‘thud ching’ that I recognised as belonging to Jan.
The door opened , and Jack stepped back to reveal the young Annubi girl. She had her heard lowered, and without looking up, muttered “this is the part I hate.” She closed the door behind her, and walked to the end of the corridor. She pulled a piece of wood from the boarded up window and looked onto the street below. I looked over to Jack, who slowly slid down the wall behind him, and sat on the floor. He clenched his fist in concentration, and as I had witnessed occurring downstairs, he too began to heal his severed arm. The skin closed over the stump, and covered the exposed bone. It began to elongate creating a new arm. I was distracted again by the slapping and howling from the room. As curious as I was, I realised that if these hardened warriors feared whatever was within, I probably didn’t want to see it for myself.
I looked back over to the girl, who now seemed to be crying. Although she had been overly rough with me earlier, I felt obliged to try and comfort her in some small way. I quietly walked up behind her, not wanting to startle her. I stood right behind her and said softly in her ear “are you OK?” She said threateningly “don’t ever sneak up on me again!” It was then I felt the cold metal of her gun barrel positioned at my throat. Having no doubt in my mind she may just use it, I stammered nervously “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you...” She looked at me, bloody tears streaming down her youthful face , and muttered something about “the streets of hell are paved with good intentions.” She turned back to the window, and looking out muttered something to the effect of how “they have no idea about the world. We’ll all go to hell for what we have done.”
I glanced over her shoulder to the street below, and of the normal people walking along. There was a young couple that she seemed to be looking at standing under a light pole. As they leant up against the side of a car, they were kissing and holding each other, as lovers do. She then said “they have no idea, none at all...” I began to understand what she meant now. While these Annubi were trying to protect the innocent out there, they could never experience the joys that were taken for granted, such as love and tenderness, by most people in the ignorant world outside. It was constantly out of reach to them. They could watch, but never participate. Ignorance truly is bliss, but she didn’t have that luxury anymore. I felt sorry for her now, taken from her innocence so young, and thrust into this dark world filled with nothing but pain.
I noticed the howling had now stopped, and the door to the room opened. Two Annubi, visibly shaken, stepped out into the corridor, followed by Jan. He looked as though he was covered in glitter, silver sparkling in the dull light of the lantern. He said “he knows nothing”, and walked wearily away. Jack stood up and shuddered, and he and Christos looked into the room. They started down the stairs after the men. The girl walked in their direction, wiping away her tears as she went. As we passed the room, I looked in. Lying in a crumpled heap on the floor was the lifeless body of a boy of about sixteen. There was a bloody smear on the wall behind him, and the same silvery glitter covered the floor around him. Thinking back to what I had been told about werewolves, I surmised it was actual powdered silver they had used to torture him. I shuddered as well, and hastened my step.
The rabble were all very subdued sitting in the hummer as we drove away. Everyone seemed consumed by their thoughts, and not willing to share them with anyone. A mobile phone rang. The young girl answered it, looked at Jan, then handed me the phone. “Here. It’s for you.” I was rather bewildered by this. Who would be ringing me, in particular on Jan’s phone? I took the phone, and said in a baffled tone “hello?” The voice on the other end said “Teresa. It’s Louis here. Tell Jan the prince wishes to see you at the hotel immediately. .... And bring Christos with you.” I handed the phone back to the girl, and told them what Louis had said. Jan tensed, and through clenched teeth, said “well, we can hardly keep the Prince waiting, now can we.” He swung the hummer around a corner so hard, I could swear it nearly rose onto two wheels. Jan was not impressed at all. I noticed as he pulled the steering wheel, that the back of his hand had bones poking through the skin, and it was black with bruising. He didn’t seem in the least concerned about it, or in any pain, as he sped towards the hotel.
After pulling up at the hotel, we got out of the hummer, and Jan drove off. Christos and I were left standing in front of a limousine parked behind us. Out of the limo stepped Louis and the Sheriff, and the man I had met last night, Mr. Van Myers. The Sheriff grabbed him roughly by the shirt collar, and hurled him onto the pavement. Van Myers seemed unconcerned, and simply stood and dusted himself off. The Sheriff eying him off like a school yard bully all the while. Louis called to us, and escorted us inside to an elevator. He turned a key in the elevator, and pressed the top floor. As we patiently waiting, I could see the Sheriff staring menacingly into the back of Van Myers neck.
As the elevator doors opened, I found myself looking into a large penthouse suite. The decor was ‘late Victorian meets Cyber punk’. An odd combination, but strikingly effective. It had clearly been decorated by someone with a striking vision and creativity. The Prince had his back to us as he talked on a phone. In front of him was an antique roll top desk, with an array of papers upon it, and a laptop busily scanning the Internet on some specified search program. The power he possessed was apparent, even without meeting his intense gaze. He placed the phone down, walked over to a liquor stand, and poured himself a cognac. Inhaling the aroma from the large brandy snifter, he turned to face us. "Come in"
He walked into the living area, and motioned to the sunken lounge. He set himself opposite, and swirled his glass thoughtfully. "You have been brought here because in one way or another you owe me a favour. I now intend to collect" He looked at Van Myers and continued. "The business between you and I will be conducted later. I am aware of you and that is all that matters" turning to Christos, he said "as for you, I care not for your situation. All that will concern you now is that you will perform this task for me in exchange for your unlife." Finally his eyes fell on me, his gaze consuming me. "As for you, that you still exist is on my whim alone. After this task you may find some answers. Of course, I don't promise that you will want them"
The Prince then paused to light a Cuban. He stared into the flame of his lighter, and considered his next words carefully. Blowing smoke into the glass, he smiled, amused at the swirling smoke struggled to escape the confines of the glass. He reached to his left, picked up a newspaper, and threw in on the table between us.
He said "This is tomorrows newspaper". The headlines stretched across the page, ‘VAMPIRE KILLER STRIKES AGAIN.’ “Earlier this evening at a diner on the outskirts of town, seven people were found drained of blood - completely drained. They were then positioned in the such away that they looked as though they were still alive. Seated to eat, cooks propped up over the grill. Food was on the plates, and the grill was still cooking the shrivelled remains of burger meat" he paused to inhale the cognac again. "I can ill afford this sort of activity in my city. You will investigate this situation and either bring the perpetrator to me, or if this is unavoidable, destroy them.”
“I am unable to send any of my lieutenants to investigate this, and since you are unknown to the, shall we say, others, in the city, you may be able to succeed. I am only able to provide you with a little assistance" he motioned to Louis, who pressed the elevator button, "I suggest you begin immediately." The meeting was clearly at an end.
The Prince walked to the phone and raising the receiver, about to make a call. Christos and I headed towards the elevator. Van Myers walked up to the Prince, and in a hushed voice I couldn’t hear, spoke to him. The Prince didn’t respond, and continued to dial. Disgruntled, Van Myers walked back over to us waiting in the elevator. As we descended, Van Myers asked Louis casually “what about my car and driver? Do I get them back?” Louis said “yes, of course. And your driver is safe and well, tied up in the trunk.”
As we neared the limo, Louis produced a business card which he handed to Van Myers, and said “This is only to be used in the case of a dire emergency”. They nodded to each other, and Louis and the Sheriff left.
I had brought the newspaper with me, and I looked down at it, scanning the front page. I was looking for something, anything, that might help me try and figure out how to complete our ‘mission.’ I noticed the journalist’s name from the story was Jennifer Bennett. Her name seemed vaguely familiar, and I thought perhaps my friend from the library, Jane Grimble, would know her. Looking up, I said to my new allies “I’m not really sure if this will help, but I have a friend that may be able to introduce us to the reporter from this story?” They didn’t seem to have any ideas of their own to share, and simply nodded in silent agreement.
Van Myers looked at the back of the limo, and seemed to decide against releasing his driver immediately. I imagine extracting a person from the trunk of a vehicle in a the street would draw unwanted attention to us. He said “well, I guess I’m driving then!” We got into the limo, and I advised him that we could probably find Jane at one of her usual socialite parties. I recalled her telling me that she had to attend the Boston City Museum tonight for the opening of an Egyptian display.
Van Myers suggested that we should stop at his mansion on the way, to change our clothes into something more appropriate. Looking at Christos, I had to agree! His shirt still bore the bloody streaks on it from the Annubi.
Inside Van Myers mansion, I admired his taste in decor. As he and Christos left to change clothing, he told me unfortunately he didn’t normally stock women’s clothing, and would have to make do with a quick brushing of my suit. I would have preferred to change, but under the circumstances, it would have to do. Christos looked quite smart in his borrowed attire. Perhaps he wasn’t as rough as I had first assumed. While still leery of him, I was beginning to warm to him, especially since he had saved me earlier from the werewolf girl. Dressed and ready, we headed for the museum.
As we entered the museum foyer, it was apparent that the party as a fancy dress theme. Everyone was dressed in Egyptian dress, with several Cleopatra and Tutenkarman look-alikes dispersed throughout the crowd. I spotted Jane on the opposite side of the room. She was with a group of men, laughing outrageously at whatever had been whispered in her ear by one of them. Walking over to greet her, she saw me approach and said “Teresa, daaaaahling! Whatever brings you here?” She looked me up and down with a slight grimace on her face and whispered “you look terrible..... Wherever have you been this past week?” I realised that nobody knew what had transpired the past week. I said quickly “I have had a personal.... matter I’ve had to attend to, and as a consequence, will be resigning from the library.” Wanting to change the subject, I leant towards Jane and said quietly “Do you think we could have a quiet word, somewhere more private?” Eying me suspiciously, trying to figure out if there was something seriously wrong, she said “of course darling. Let’s go over here.” We walked over to the side of the room, away from the throng of party goers. I said “I’m sorry to bother you like this, but I need a bit of help with something I am looking into. Do you happen to know a journalist for the ‘Boston Chronicle’, by the name of Jennifer Bennett?” Looking relieved, she said “you’re never a bother dear! Yes, of I course I can help you out. In fact, I’m sure I saw Jennifer here tonight....” She scanned the room full of faces for a moment, then continued “There she is over by the bar. Come, and I’ll introduce you.” She seized me by the arm, and let me towards the front of the foyer.
We neared an attractive young lady at the bar, being chatted up by a sleazy looking barman. Jane shooed him away with a few witty retorts, and turned to the lady. “Jennifer, daaaaahling. I’d like you to meet a dear friend of mine, Teresa Devereux.” She nodded politely, and downed her glass of champagne thirstily. Reaching over for another glass on the bar, I said to her “it’s a pleasure to meet you. I asked Jane to introduce us, so I could have a word to you about a story you have done.” Jane took her cue to leave, and wafted off, waving to someone eagerly, while saying in her familiar drawl “daaaahling!” Jennifer eyed me suspiciously, and said “and what story would that be?” I watched her down yet another champagne, and replied “a story about the cafe murders that occurred tonight.” Shocked, she said “how did you know about that? It hasn’t even hit the streets yet!” Needing to cover, I said “let’s just say I have my connections. I was wondering if perhaps we could..... go for a drive..... and have a chat about it?” She seemed in bit of a dilemma. Resolving it, she said “yeah, sure. This place is dull anyway. Let’s get out of here” I caught Van Myers eye, as he looked over to us. He and Christos strode over, and we walked out of the museum.
I introduced the two men to Jennifer, who seemed nonplussed. Her eyebrows raised when she saw the limo, looking suitably impressed. Christos took the drivers seat, as Van Myers sat across from Jennifer and I in the back. Her first words were “does this have a mini bar?” Van Myers seemed to turn on the charm, and pointing to the small fridge, said “yes, of course. Have whatever you like.” She grabbed a bottle of bourbon, twisted the cap off, and began to swig from the bottle. It seemed she was adamant to get drunk, as quickly as possible. Van Myers seemed to grow weary of her actions, and leaned forward in his seat towards her. He said “we believe you went to the cafe where the murders took place. Is there, anything.... you want to tell us... about what occurred?” She seemed to have a glazed look on her face, and she mentioned about how we weren’t the first people to ask her, but that she had no idea who the other men were. She was hesitant to say too much, and was taking frequent sips of her drink nervously. Van Myers looked into her eyes again, and said “you can... tell us everything you know...” She went on and mentioned information we were already aware of, but then added an interesting fact. Apparently the newspaper was tipped off about the murders by an anonymous call made to the editor, Justin Muller, and that was how she managed to get to the scene so quickly. She didn’t know anything more, and Van Myers seemed satisfied, offering to drive her home.
Pulling up outside her house, he said to her “give me your keys, and we’ll check it’s safe for you first.” She seemed hesitant at first, but complied. Van Myers and Christos went inside, and returned a few minutes later. Van Myers reached in to assist Jennifer out of the car, and said matter-of-factly “it’s safe. And call your mother, she’s worried about you. Oh, and your boyfriend has dumped you.” Shocked she said “how do you know that?” He looked at her and said dryly “I checked your answering machine.” She seemed upset, but was now drunk enough not to be overly worried by it. Van Myers handed her his card, and looking at her intently again, said “you will let us know if you hear anything more.” It was more of a statement, rather than a question, which she nodded slowly in agreement to, then walked up her front stairs.
I recognised now she had the same dazed expression that Rhiannon had on her face when I told her to “go outside” at Gordon's house. It seemed to me that all ‘vampires’ had this ability to somehow mesmerise people to consent to their wishes. Intrigued, I have decided it is something I can try and develop myself. I am still coming to grips with the entire concept of my new life, and the abilities I have been ‘reborn’ with. I will take any advantage I can, to survive this vicious existence I have found myself in.
As we drove away, Van Myers made a phone call to someone called ‘Eastwood’. I assumed he was a police officer of some sort, as Van Myers told him to bring any photos and files he could relating to the murders, as soon as possible. Hanging up the phone, we discussed where to head to next. We decided the newspaper editor might have additional information about the phone call, and proceeded to the newspaper office. We found he had left for the evening, and wouldn’t be back until morning, so we headed on to the crime scene at the cafe.
The cafe was situated on the outskirts of town, and stood alone on the side of the bleak highway. There was a patrol car parked out front, with two officers guarding the area. We tried to look around, but the officers moved us on. Not wanting to create a scene, and not gleaning any new information, we left in the limo. It was getting late, and Christos asked Van Myers where to next. I considered going back to my place, but the chances the Annubi crowd were going to be there was off-putting. Van Myers suggested we spend the night at his mansion, and given the plushness, I would hardly be one to argue.
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