Vampires, harken the blood hunt’s call. The hounds have been released.
Edith’s doorbell rang and she stiffened. Every time she had risen from her couch, she had returned to it minutes later after slamming the door on the nose of another journalist. She was halfway through her DVD collection as she didn’t dare to step outside yet and avoided TV for fear of hearing more details about the body she found.
The doorbell rang again.
With a heartfelt grunt, Edith dropped her bowl of barely touched salad on the coffee table and fought her way out of the couch. If only people stopped reminding her of that morning on the beach, maybe the nightmares would finally cease.
On her front porch, a smartly dressed man stood, unabashed by the weight of summer’s heat. The night hardly brought any freshness. Edith began closing the door as soon as she saw the notepad in his hand.
He stuck his foot in the doorframe. “Pardon my intrusion, Miss Brooks -”
“- Hell no!” she snapped, reopening the door so she could look the disrespectful journalist in the eye while she gave him a piece of her mind. “You invasive cockroaches don’t deserve pardon.” She wanted to yell “Leave me alone!” but something in the visitor’s eyes locked the words deep in her throat.
“Now now,” he murmured, “that is no way to address a visitor.”
Edith shook her head no. A strand of hair escaped her loose bun and fell in her eyes. For a moment, her mind seemed to push through the fog.
Almost tenderly, the man reached and pushed the hair back behind her ear. His hand was way too cold for the weather. Edith’s heartbeat sped, panic kindled her survival instinct. It pounded against her skull, each thump echoing with the same imperative: run.
But she couldn’t move. Couldn’t shout.
When the journalist took a step forward, she took a step back. He closed the door behind him with his foot, never breaking eye contact. Edith kept looking at his pupils, oscillating left and right almost too quickly for the eye to follow.
“I have a few questions for you,” was the last thing Edith heard before the hypnotic movement of the intruder’s eyes lay its leaden weight on her shoulders.
She wasn’t scared anymore.
He smiled – a half grin, crooked on the right – and flipped his pad open.
Per tradition, members of the community must assist in any way they can. Failure to do so is punishable by starvation. Aiding the hunted, punishable by the ultimate bite.
“Darling?” Mr. Brooks shook his daughter gently until she came to. “Are you okay? Maybe I should come back some other time?”
Edith blinked a few times fast until dizziness stopped blurring her father’s wrinkles. She took in the lettuce littering her lap and the couch. She had been so tired.
“What a klutz!” She smiled – a half grin, crooked on the right. “Sleep finally caught up with me.”
Mr. Brooks’ wrinkles deepened, swallowing his traits in the abyss of worry. “I’m so sorry you saw that.”
“You can’t protect me from everything.” Edith grabbed her bowl and collected her ruined salad. She never fell asleep so suddenly before.
“Right!” Mr. Brooks shifted his weight. “I can help it go down!”
He pointed the bottle of wine on the dinner table. His daughter nodded. Mr. Brooks pushed himself off the couch and grabbed his cane hooked on the arm rest. As he limped toward the kitchen, he reached in the small pouch tied to his belt. Edith’s smile straightened and deepened. When she was little, the pouch always had a reserve of lollipops in it, next to her father’s wallet and house keys. Over the years, candies turned into medicine, the wallet and keys changed but one element remained untouched; the corkscrew.
Edith took the decanter and two wine glasses out of the China cabinet; her father couldn’t reach that high.
“And a glass for my teeth, please,” he said. He hated it when denture glue altered the wine.
If the culprit is a vampire trying to disguise his or her kills, he or she could be anywhere by now. Restrain any suspect and bring him or her to your local Elder Assembly for smell comparison.
If it’s a sick human playing pretend, bleed him or her dry after you’ve confirmed culpability under compulsion.
Find the sucker!
Mr. Brooks left his daughter’s house a little bit after midnight. She offered to drive him back home but he refused. It wasn’t safe for her to drive, all tired and half drunk. Mr. Brooks told her he intended to walk as much as possible while he still could. And he loved taking the SkyTrain at night.
The station was thoroughly lit and perfectly empty when Mr. Brooks found a bench to settle on. So the entrance of a woman in a yellow uniform t-shirt drew his attention instantaneously – nothing to do with the curves and pouty lips that would have eclipsed the intellect of any younger man.
The woman sat at the other end of Mr. Brooks’ bench and pulled a twisted metal stick out of her bun. Her black hair cascaded down her back. She ran her fingers through them while absentmindedly twirling the stick between the fingers of her other hand.
The station filled with the smell of pizza.
Coming next Friday: The Elder – Part Three >>