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ACCEPTING THE INEVITABLE by Rebecca Besser

ACCEPTING THE INEVITABLE
By
Rebecca Besser

 

Lindsey Melbourne glanced at the clock in her car’s dash as she drove, and groaned when she noticed the digital display change to 12:00. She’d hoped to be home before midnight, but that hadn’t happened thanks to the congested highway. She hated traveling alone, and the repeated long periods of time she’d had to sit and wait on road construction had made the already dreaded trip even worse. But all of her traveling woes faded into the background as she entered her hometown of South Coffeyville, Oklahoma.

The lights of the small town were few and far between at the late hour and Lindsey figured everyone was tucked into bed and asleep; she yawned, wishing she was too.

As she traveled through the quiet streets, heading toward her little house, the wind picked up suddenly and violently, shaking her car.

“Great,” she muttered. “I’ve gotten home just in time for a storm.”

With a deep sigh, she hoped she wouldn’t have to sleep in the narrow cot in her musty basement. Tornadoes were a common occurrence that she didn’t love, but was always prepared for.

Finally arriving at her house, she pulled into the driveway, shut off her car’s engine, and opened the driver’s door. She sat there for a few moments, listening to the howling of the wind as it swirled and moved around standing objects. The lamenting wail was a sound she was very familiar with, and though it posed an ominous threat, it was still the sound of home.

Her house stood before her, shrouded in shadows and darkness. The windows glittered as the street lights shone on them while they rattled, buffering away the frigid air to keep the inside warm and safe. She couldn’t wait to get inside to take a hot shower and curl up in her bed for the first time in a week. Closing her eyes, she practically groaned, thinking of her comfortable sweats that she’d be free to walk around in after being dressed for “business” almost nonstop for six days; the only time she’d been free to be comfortable were the precious few hours she’d been in her hotel room to sleep between meetings. The life of a law partner with a prestigious client in the city was taking its toll on her, and she’d only had the status for a month.

Opening her eyes and turning slightly toward the passenger’s seat, she picked up her purse. When she moved the small leather bag, snack wrappers fell to the floor and she bent to pick them up with an aggravated sigh.

When she sat back up, something bright outside the passenger’s door window caught her eye and made her breath catch in her throat. Just beyond the glass was a mini-tornado that swept across her yard, toward her car. These were usually common in the dry season, when the wind speeds accelerated in gusts across the flat landscape. What was different about this one, though, was that something was glowing in the center of it.

The small, whirling cloud moved toward Lindsey and her car at a tremendous rate of speed, and she expected it to disperse when it hit the solid doors and windows of her vehicle, but it didn’t. A harsh grinding sound filled the interior and sparks flew into the air as the mini-tornado tore into the metal panels, shocking her into momentary immobility. But, when the inside molding of the vehicle started to show signs of damage, she knew it was time to get the hell out of there.

Clutching her purse to her chest, she scrambled from the car and slammed the door behind her before heading up her driveway and around her porch at a dead run.

Another of the glowing cyclones came down a small alley between her house and the next, and as if sensing her, gave chase.

Lindsey kicked off her high-heeled shoes and ran faster, rushing up the wood steps of her porch, fueled by fear and panic.

The new mini-tornado took a more direct route and started grinding into the wooden supports of the porch, intent on reaching her.

“Oh, God!” she squealed as the air filled with smoke from the friction of the mini-tornado spinning against the wood. She dug out the keys to her front door as the acidic smell of the smoke burned her nostrils, making it hard for her to breathe. “Yes!” she screamed in triumph, finally wrangling her keys from her purse as she dropped it to the boards beneath her to rid her hands of its bulky burden.

Seeming to hear her—even over all the noise of the porch demolition—the first destructive whirlwind stopped attacking the car and headed for the porch…and Lindsey.

She chanced a glance around her after she jammed the key into the deadbolt of the door, and turned it while her eyes shifted elsewhere. To her heightened horror, she saw that the entire neighborhood had the strange cyclones attacking their houses. One of her neighbors—an elderly woman by the name of Paula Louise—opened her front door to see what all the noise was outside her front door, which was almost ground through.

Lindsey opened her mouth to warn the woman, but it was too late.

She watched as mini-tornado on Paula’s cement front steps stopped spinning, and from it stood a thin, tall, beige-colored creature with a white glowing orb in the center of its chest; the creature’s eyes glowed as well. She realized for the first time that the whirlwinds were actually beings and not bits of dust and dirt spinning in the wind as she’d assumed.

Paula stared up into those glowing eyes and Lindsey witnessed a content, peaceful smile spread across the older woman’s wrinkled face. She stood and stared up at the creature and actually leaned into it when it spread sheer tan wings and wrapped them around her. The monster opened its large mouth—exposing twisted black teeth that jutting from it in wavy rows—and bit her neck, spraying blood on the doorjamb and door.

Paula went limp in the creature’s bloody embrace.

Scared almost to the point of going into shock, Lindsey managed to get the door of her house open and herself inside, right before there was a loud groan and her porch caved in on itself. She slammed the door closed and relocked the deadbolt with shaking hands while the horrific scene from next-door played over and over again in her mind; it seemed like Paula had just accepted her fate—the inevitable fact that she was going to die. Fear had twisted the old woman’s features for a moment before her eyes had met the eyes of the creature, and Lindsey couldn’t help but wonder what the other woman had seen there that had brought on the peace and calm she’d witnessed, even in the face of death and pain.

Shaking her head to dispel what she couldn’t understand, she went into action and grabbed the handset of the phone off a small round table sitting in her living room and dialed 9-1-1; her call was answered instantly.

“9-1-1 dispatch—what’s your emergency?” she heard a woman say in her ear.

Lindsey fought her chattering teeth and tried to answer, but all that came out was a pitiful squeak.

“Hello? I’m sending an officer to your residence right now! If you can hear me, help is on the way!”

“Th…th…thanks,” Lindsey finally managed.

“Can you speak?” the dispatcher asked urgently. “My name’s Rose, and I’ll stay on the phone with you until help arrives. Can you tell me the nature of your emergency, so I can make sure to send the assistance you need?”

“Tornadoes…little ones!” Lindsey cried out in a hoarse voice. “Monsters!”

There was a brief silence on the other end of the line.

“Ma’am, did you say monsters?” the dispatcher finally asked. “Are you on any prescription medications?”

“No!” Lindsey screamed. “I’m not crazy! There are mini-tornadoes outside that are actually monsters! One of them killed Paula—I saw it!” Fleetingly the image of Paula and the expression on her face flashed through her mind. She thought about telling the dispatcher about it, but didn’t see how it would be relevant. Paula was dead and that’s all the woman needed to know.

There was another brief pause.

“Someone has been attacked and was killed?” the dispatcher asked.

“Yes!” Lindsey screamed and jumped when a loud bang sounded from outside her house, close to the front door. “Hurry! They’re after me!”

The dispatcher started speaking again, but Lindsey didn’t catch what she said because the line went dead.

“Hello?” she cried into the handset, shaking it and smacking it off her other hand like her futile efforts would bring it back to life. “My cell…” She paused and looked around, dropping the handset onto the floor; it landed with a resounding thud.

Another bang sounded outside the house, shaking the wall and rattling the windows.

Lindsey whimpered as she realized her cell phone was still in her purse, and it was outside on the broken down porch…with them.

In the distance, she heard sirens. She headed to the closest window to check it out, hoping the police had come to her rescue. Pulling back the curtain with a shaking hand, her mouth fell open at the view beyond the thin pane of glass—the neighborhood was in shambles.

Glancing high on the wall to her left, she read the clock that hung there; its hands indicated that the time was 12:32. To her it seemed like everything was happening in a flash, but in reality, time was ticking away as it always had—steady, without changing.

Looking back out the window, Lindsey whimpered again as she witnessed all of the mini-tornadoes on her street—thirty or so—converge on the police officer as he exited his vehicle.

They stopped spinning and stood to their full height, which she guessed to be around eight feet tall, considering the height of the officer in comparison.

The beings stood and watched the man they’d surrounded, and everything went silent for a moment. The officer moved to draw his sidearm, but paused when his eyes made contact with one of the creatures’. A smile of pure joy spread across his face and he opened his arms wide, as if to hug as many of the creatures as he possibly could.

Without warning the beings leaped into the air with a howl and became one, swallowing the man between them, as if the circle of their bodies had been the teeth of a giant open mouth. Blood spewed through the air in a gory display of slaughter as the officer’s body exploded.

Lindsey covered her mouth and turned away from the window, falling to her knees. She looked around at her home and knew there was nothing she could do to ward off the group of creatures intent on her death—and the death of everyone else, it seemed.

An extremely loud noise rent the night, sounding like a jet engine had just started up beyond the walls of her house; the howls in the street also intensified, since the beings were now one. Echoing calls answered the massive monster outside, sounding eerily similar.

Lindsey was scared to turn back to the window again…and look outside, but she had to know what was out there, what was coming for her.

Standing slowly on shaky legs, she braced herself with a couple of deep breathes before she gripped the curtain once again, and peered out into the darkness.

The huge combined being was standing in the middle of the street, staring off toward the edge of town, panting. Five others of the same size had joined the one who’d killed the officer, and they were all facing the same direction.

Frowning, Lindsey turned and shuffled over to another window, one facing the direction of the creatures’ gaze. Out in the middle of the field, half a mile away, was an enormous tornado-creature with a glowing center. Since this one was larger, she could see what was going on inside it, despite the distance.

While she watched in awe, the huge creature stopped and its body melted back together to form the hideous, black toothed monstrosity that it was. Giant wings with pulsing veins spread out wide behind it and shuddered with every breath it took, and its torso throbbed as the glowing force of energy centered there expanded and grew as it once again spun and became transparent.

A large, black hole was behind the spinning, tan, glowing cyclone, hovering a few feet above the waving grain in the field. The monster’s energy and motion shot out bright bolts of static electricity, which appeared to keep the hole open as the edges sucked it in and sent it back, creating a conductive, symbiotic bond. Within the hole were green stars above a purple, barren, mountainous landscape. Skulls and oddly shaped bones of creatures she couldn’t identify floated in the atmosphere and were strewn about on the ground, leading her to believe they’d devoured everything in their world and had come to do the same to hers.

She focused on the landscape and her breath caught in her throat when she saw hundreds, thousands, millions of the creatures beyond, waiting to come through what she assumed to be a portal open to a different dimension. She’d never really believed there were different dimensions until now. All the movies she’d seen and the science fiction books she’d read over her lifetime didn’t even come close to helping her accept the reality of something this huge…this real. Instantly Lindsey knew there would be no hope for humanity. There was nowhere for them to run, to hide—no way for them to defend themselves against an invasion of this size and magnitude. The human race was doomed, and from what she’d witnessed earlier, they would accept it with a smile and go quietly and willingly. There would be no epic battle in the vain hope of saving the world. Death would be the crib in which the souls of humanity slept peacefully after being torn from their bodies through a sadistic trick.

Right before her eyes, the creatures in the purple world began to spin, and as they shot themselves through the portal, the large spinning creature who held it open flung them through the air, raining them down upon the Earth.

Lindsey was so intent on watching the display of power being unleashed on mankind that she didn’t notice the floor under her feet was trembling. Her attention didn’t come back to her immediate surroundings until a loud creaking and crashing from above shook her house and made her lose her footing; she fell to floor, sprawling in her cream-colored silk blouse, sleek navy blue skirt, and ruined stockings. She stared up in wide-eyed fright as one of the mass beings from the street pulled off the top of her house like it was wax paper, and looked down at her.

She screamed, half-sat up, and crab-walked backwards in a vain attempt to get away.

Thick, slimy, bloody slobber dripped from the creatures’ mouth and landed on the hardwood floor with a sickening plop, and the light from its eyes and chest lit the dark interior of her home. Forcibly she kept her eyes averted from the monster’s, knowing that if she looked into their depths she would become a mindless, delirious slave to its will.

Glancing everywhere except at the creature looming above her, Lindsey struggled to her feet and darted from the living room, heading down the hall to the basement door.

The being roared angrily as it reached for her and just missed her as she turned the corner into the hallway.

She fought the urge to cover her ears and protect them from the loud sound, and instead put them to better use, opening the basement door. She stepped down into the darkness and closed the door behind herself.

The house shook again and the foundation shivered, causing dust and dirt to fall from the ceiling. Lindsey assumed the roof had been ripped all the way off and now the creature was destroying the internal walls to get to her; loud crashes and thuds above her confirmed this to be true.

Panting and scared, she reached out in the dark and flipped the light switch at the top of the stairs to the “on” position—nothing happened. With a sigh, swiping at the dust and cobwebs tickling her nose, she headed down the narrow stairs leading into the depths of the basement. Before she knew it, her feet reached the cold cement floor. She felt her way along to her destination, passing objects by throwing her hands out in front of and around her to locate them.

Above her more crashing and roaring could be heard, and soon another of the monsters joined the first in its attempt to get to her; she knew this to be true when she heard grunts, growls, and roars overlapping and joining in with the first.

Finally she reached the small back room she used for a tornado shelter; it was in the far right corner of the basement and held a small bed and her emergency food stores. But, the best features were that the door to the room was made of metal and could take a beating, and the right corner of the basement was completely underground, where the left side of the basement was half-exposed above ground and had a small door leading out into the backyard. Fleetingly she considered heading outside, but she knew what awaited her out there and figured her best bet would be to hide and hope they thought she’d gotten away and leave her alone.

Slamming the heavy metal door shut behind herself, she latched it and stumbled her way over to the narrow cot. She sat down, leaned against the cold cement block wall, drew her knees up to her chest, wrapped her arms around them, and began to pray in incoherent babbles.

The sound of destruction beyond the walls of her safe haven grew louder, and Lindsey could see lines of glowing white light around the door.

They were coming, and they were coming fast.

“Please, God! Please, God!” she whispered over and over again, rocking herself and squeezing her eyes shut.

The light from around the door made her eyelids glow red and she wanted to open them to see how bright the room was, knowing it would be shining like the sun.

A loud boom, boom, boom sounded from the door, before a harsh clang signified the metal had finally given in to the abuse.

Lindsey cried out, still holding her eyes tightly shut. She could feel the beings’ eyes on her and could hear their ragged breathing. Fear held her paralyzed and she just wanted it all to be over—she wanted peace, she wanted calm. A single thought filled her brain, scrolling through like a marque: Open your eyes and end it—accept the inevitable like the others and die in peace.

Taking in a deep, shuddering breath she reassured herself there was nothing else she could do; letting out the breath, she opened her eyes and turned her head toward the creatures above her, just beyond the doorway. She was half-shocked to see that they’d also torn out most of the ceiling when they’d taken out the door, allowing her the ability to make eye contact.

Picking one of them, she gazed directly into its glowing eyes.

Lindsey lost herself in those eyes, feeling peace, feeling like she was being welcomed by the universe; it beckoned to cradle her in its arms.

Without realizing what was happening, she was scooped up by a wart covered, raspy clawed hand, and drawn toward the creature’s mouth. As it opened to eat her, the glow intensified and she felt calm and free…finally.

 

Copyright © Rebecca Besser, 2011 & 2018

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Blind Date a Book – Book #11

-Novella
-Horror
-SciFi

A man come face-to-face with the horror and carnage of what’s left of his family when the world erupts with a chaos no one can place or name.

He meets up with other survivors to try and to continue their lives in any way possible…in hiding.

~*~

Beings from another dimension have wreaked havoc on society and humanity, using their nightmare beast pets to inforce their will.

They kill many, but capture some alive. The living are giving a chance—a roll of dice—to see if they’ll die, or be released back into the wild to die another day.

 

Click here to Blind Date this Book!

 

Copyright © Rebecca Besser, 2019. All rights reserved.

 

A Vampire Story — MONSTER DETECTIVES: THE NEXT CASE By Rebecca Besser

Hello, I’m Vincent Ortega, but am more commonly known as Vinnie, the vampire third of the Monster Detectives. The other two ‘parts’ of the team are Frank N. Stein, but we call him Frankie. He’s a huge, green mammoth of a creature with bolts sticking out of his neck–quite clumsy, but he gets the job done. Then there’s Zack . . . He’s a zombie–nothing more than a walking, decaying, eating piece of undead flesh. But, hey, we all have our purpose.
I suppose you’re wondering what we do. Together we investigate occurrences involving anything of a supernatural or mythical origin. Monsters investigating wrong doing by other monsters, you might say. The last case we were on involved werewolves. It was a mess! Frankie thought it was just one werewolf, but there had turned out to be five! Maybe next time we’ll look before we leap. Hell, we didn’t even get paid for that little fiasco, because we went charging in before we had a client. But Frankie says in doing so we protected ourselves. Maybe him and Zack, but as for me, I’ve been around thousands of years and have remained invisible.

    Bang! Bang! Bang!
“Vinnie, are you awake?”
With a heavy sigh I unlatched the lid of my coffin and peeked out, just to make sure the sun wasn’t still shining in. Sometimes Zack would forget about my aversion to sunlight and wake me up too soon. I don’t know how many times I’ve lost fingers and suffered burns because of his carelessness.
It was Frankie, standing there looking anxious.
“What?” I asked.
“Turn on the news and you’ll see,” he said urgently.
Pushing the coffin lid all the way open, I turned on my built-in TV.
“What station?” I asked.
“Doesn’t matter. It’s on all of them.”
I was about to ask ‘what is’ when I heard it from the TV anchor.
“. . . Human remains have been found in the woods close to Overlook Point. Among the remains are said to be Senator Gregory Hastel and his secretary Joyce Willis. Speculation is that they were involved in some kind of ritualistic slaughter and burned. There were three other DNA samples found at the scene, but they have yet to be identified . . .”
“Damn,” I said, glancing at Frankie.
“No shit!” he barked, gripping the side of my coffin so tightly I could hear the wood cracking.
“Easy, you’re breaking my bed,” I said, turning my attention back to the TV.
“Sorry,” he muttered, loosening his grip.
“. . . In national news, thirty-nine bodies, with more expected, have been found in Appalachia, more specifically West Virginia. No one knows the cause of the deaths at this time. Our sources tell us the bodies are dried out shells. No blood, no wounds, just dry husks. We’ll keep you updated as information comes in . . .”
They cut to a quick video someone had managed to get of federal agents carrying bodies out and laying them in a line to be taken to the morgue. It showed what the anchor had said. Human raisins, all dried up and wrinkly–merely shells of what they had once been.
“Shit,” I sighed, sat up, and dragged my claw tipped fingers through my hair.
“Yeah, who would have thought those werewolves were prominent citizens,” Frankie said. “What are the chances?”
I closed my eyes for a moment and willed some patience. Frankie’s mind was still on the last case and I was already on the next. Typical. It was hard to work with the guy sometimes when I’ve had years and years of experience he didn’t. Not only was my body faster, but my brain was faster as well.
“Don’t know,” I said, jumping sleekly out of my coffin to stand next to Frankie. “But that’s the least of our worries right now.”
Frankie turned his head with a barely audible creak. No one except for me could hear all the creaks and moans when he moved. No one else had my acute hearing, at least not anyone close by. My eyes flicked briefly to the TV screen. The news was over and they were moving on to something else.
“What’s wrong now?” Frankie asked. “What could be more important than us killing a Senator and who knows who else?! This is serious. It could attract more attention than we need. This could end us!”
In his frustration and fury, Frankie slammed his fist down, shattering the side of my coffin in an explosion of splintering wood.
He looked down at what he’d done, his eyes growing wide. “I’m sorry, Vinnie. I’ll have someone in here to fix that right away. It’ll be good as new by morning.”
I just glared at him–this, after breaking three of my ribs last week. Taking a deep breath, even though I didn’t need air, I counted to ten as I let it out slowly. I still found some human rituals could serve a purpose in my life. This was one of them.
“Where’s Zack?” I asked and started walking toward the door.
“I really am sorry, Vinnie,” Frankie said, thumping after me. Each step he took shook the floor.
“I know you’re sorry,” I hissed, spinning back toward him. “We have other stuff to worry about right now. Where is Zack?
Frankie pulled up short, in mid step, and just stared at me. It’s no wonder. He’d never seen me like this before. Hell, I hadn’t been this way in more than four centuries, but he didn’t know that, because he hadn’t known me then.
“I think he’s in his office,” Frankie said, frowning.
I turned back to the doorway and marched out into the hall. Zack’s office was three doors down, to the left. I followed the passage, knocked briefly, and then steeled myself to enter. I hated going into Zack’s office. Not only was I fast and had acute hearing, my sense of smell was stronger. Being around Zack in an enclosed space filled me with revulsion. I know he did his best to keep his rotting stench under control with Lysol, but all it did was burn my nasal passages even more. I tried not to fall back into my past ‘human’ actions when I was around him. I didn’t need to breathe, but it was hard not doing it sometimes.
Don’t breathe! Don’t breathe! I chanted in my head before twisting the knobbing and stepping inside.
Zack was sitting behind his desk chewing on a human calf like most people would chew on a fried chicken leg. Blood was shooting from the flesh with each chop of his jaw. It sprayed the ceiling and the walls, with a few drops landing on my face. I hissed and wiped it away.
“Sorry,” Zack said around a mouthful of raw meat.
I nodded and walked in. Frankie followed almost two full minutes later.
“What’s the rush?” he asked, still frowning.
“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t know I was moving so fast.”
“You were in here so fast,” Zack said, taking another bite, “that I’d just opened my mouth to take a bite and you walked in before I could close my jaw! Which explains why you got sprayed.”
Instead of sitting down, I paced back and forth so quickly that Frankie and Zack didn’t even know I was moving. I suppose to them I just looked like I was going blurry.
“What’s going on, Vinnie?” Frankie barked, getting tense now. “Just spit it out! You’re making us all nervous.”
“It was the news,” I said, coming to a halt. “The bodies, the ones in West Virginia, I know what, or I should say who, is responsible for them.”
“Really?” Zack asked, swallowing what was in his mouth. “Who? Is this going to be our next case?”
“I have a feeling it is,” Frankie said, still looking at me. “Are you going to tell us what’s going on? Or do we have to beg for information?”
I took a deep breath to calm myself and regretted it instantly. The smell of Zack and his meal burned my throat and lungs.
“It’s hard,” I said. “I’m not supposed to tell anyone. I’ll get in serious trouble if I do.”
“What do you mean?” Frankie asked. “Why can’t you tell us? We’re your partners for crying out loud, not to mention your friends!”
I thought about it for a moment. Trying to figure out how to break this to them without sounding like I didn’t trust them. I did trust them. I just wasn’t allowed to tell. They would hunt me down . . . They would kill me.
Sitting heavily on the couch Zack had against the wall, I tried to ignore the squishing noise it made.
“Great!” Zack yelled, wiggling and wobbling to get up, out of his chair. “You found it.”
I was scared to ask what I’d found, but didn’t have to as he pulled up the edge of the cushion I was sitting on and extracted a quarter of a brain from beneath it.
“I’ve been looking for this for weeks,” Zack said, taking a delicate bite and chewing slowly like he was savoring the flavor.
This time, I remembered not to breathe.
“I’ll tell you what I can,” I said, staring Frankie in the eye. “But the less you know the safer you’ll be. You’re going to have to trust me about the rest.”
Frankie folded his arms and nodded, never dropping eye contact.
“The deaths, they’re vampire related,” I said slowly, “and I know which vampire is responsible. But I can’t tell you.”
Frankie raised his eyebrow and I inwardly cringed at the high-pitched squeal that little movement made. I wanted to cover my ears and scream for him to be quiet.
“It’s a long story,” I said, holding my hands up. “Again, one that I can’t share. All I can tell you is we’re dealing with a vampire older than me, and that she’s very strong and dangerous. And if she’s made others like herself . . . Then they could be . . . I can’t even imagine how bad this might end up.”
“She?” Frankie asked. “A female vampire?”
I almost laughed. “Yes, there are female vampires.”
Zack sucked the last bit of brain into his mouth noisily. “You know, for some strange reason, I always thought you were the only one. You know, like Frankie is the only one of him, and I’m the only one of me that we know of.”
I did laugh at that. “There are many vampires. We’re an ancient race, going almost all the way back to the origins of humanity.”
“Why do I have a feeling there’s way more to this than you’re letting on?” Frankie asked.
“Because there is,” I said.
“What are we supposed to do? Just jump in blind and trust what you aren’t telling us won’t get us killed?” Frankie asked.
I sat silently for a moment, thinking. “Either that or let me go and handle this on my own.”
“Not a chance,” Frankie and Zack said at the same time.
While I feared for their lives, knowing they didn’t understand what they were up against, it also made me feel good to know I wasn’t alone.
“Thanks,” I said. “I guess we should head out to WV and see if it is her who’s doing this, or if I’m letting my nightmares run away with me. I’ll have to see one of the bodies or catch her scent at the crime scene to be sure.”
“I don’t like how that sounds,” Frankie said softly, as he and Zack followed me out.

    *   *   *

After getting the supplies I knew we would need, Frankie, Zack, and I climbed aboard our helicopter. It was a good thing I’d taken lessons years ago or we might have been hard pressed to find a pilot who only flew at night and didn’t ask a lot of questions. We’d used it as our mobile camp for three years. It has a spare coffin for me, a cooler for Zack, and some kind of portable office looking thing for Frankie. He seemed happiest when he was working, and I have to admit, the nights he’s spent surfing the internet doing research has saved our asses a few times.
“We should be there in an hour,” I said into the microphone attached to my headphones.
Frankie nodded and tried not to look nervous as we flew high above solid ground–his favorite place to be. Zack didn’t seem to care. If I turned my head, I could see him sucking marrow out of bone fragments that he’d brought along for a snack. I didn’t even want to think about what was in the cooler in the back.
My mind kept going back to the glimpse of the bodies I’d seen on the news. With the image came memories of a past that haunted me. I’d thought I’d buried it deep and would never have to face it again. But I’d been wrong. Here it was, staring me in the face.
I kept hoping we’d get there and her scent wouldn’t be on the bodies, and I wouldn’t find the little mark I knew to be hers that the humans hadn’t found yet–may not ever find. But when I arrived at the scene shortly after landing, her scent was everywhere–taunting me, teasing me, making me remember.
I stood beside the old wooden church tucked into the side of the mountain. Towering trees stood around it, as if they were sentinels of protection, with a cross visible over their green tops. Frankie and Zack had stayed behind to set up internet and communication links. There hadn’t been anywhere close by where I could land the chopper, so it was faster and easier for me to scout out alone. They couldn’t help with the trail anyhow. Their sense of smell wasn’t good enough to detect what I was after.
There was no scent of blood. I hadn’t expected there to be. She’d always been meticulous about that. Her sweet voice echoed to me through the glade, but I knew it was only be in my mind: A drop fallen is a drop wasted.
Slowly, I walked around the church, looking for any signs of entry. I sniffed at all the windows and doors before going inside and sniffing the floorboards. She hadn’t been alone. I could smell at least two more, and they were both like her. She’d made herself a few children–a family.
When I knew that I’d uncovered all there was to be found, I leapt to the tree tops and made my way back to base. The cool air helped clear my head. I had to be able to think clearly if I was going to make it out alive, if we were going to make it out alive.
I landed in the small clearing and noted the satellite dishes were in place and Frankie’s face was illuminated by the artificial glow of his laptop screen. Zack was off to the side, sorting and tying up some wires, popping eyeballs into his mouth like they were cherries. He didn’t seem to notice that the juices were dripping from his chin, coating all of the wires he was handling.
I went straight to my coffin and opened a small compartment at the foot, extracting a chilled pouch of blood. Without warming it like I normally do, I bit into the bag and sucked it dry. My nerves were stirring the need to feed. Usually I could go a week or more without a meal, but right now I was going through two gallons of blood a day.
Frankie glanced at me. “How did it go? Did you find what you were looking for?”
“It was her,” I said, tossing the empty plastic bag into the trash bin, “and a couple of others.”
“So, it’s worst case scenario?”
I nodded. “I would say so.”
“I found where the bodies are being kept,” Frankie said, pointing to the screen. “The county morgue. This little burg doesn’t have much to offer, which makes it easy for us.”
“I don’t need to see them,” I said quietly, hopping up and laying on top of my coffin. “I know it’s her.”
“Are you ever going to tell us her name?” Frankie asked, sounding agitated.
“I can’t,” I said, looking in his direction. “If I do, she’ll hear me.”
Frankie turned his head slowly toward me. The groan of it filled the interior of the chopper. Glancing at Zack, I thought it must be blissful not to hear it.
“Aren’t you being a little paranoid?”
I shook my head no. “She’s in a cave close by. I found it on my way back. She won’t pay attention to us unless we get in her way or she accidentally comes across us; we aren’t food. But, if I say her name, she’ll know we know she’s here and come and find us. We don’t want that to happen. We want to surprise her, not the other way around.”
“I wish you weren’t so cryptic,” Frankie muttered and turned back to his laptop, slamming on the keys. The little plastic pieces broke apart, ruining the computer as they shot down in and blew pieces off the motherboard. He screamed, picked it up, and threw it out the door. The wires detached mid air, like Zack had designed them to.
Opening a drawer, Frankie pulled out another laptop and yanked the wires back over to where he could reach them, pulling Zack with them. He fell hard against the ramp they’d set up to get in and out of base. I heard a sickening crunch and some grinding of bone as his shoulder dislocated and his torso gave way, almost twisting the middle of his body all the way around.
“Damnit!” Zack yelled as his bowl of eyes dumped onto the ground. “Be careful, you big bastard!”
“Sorry,” Frankie muttered, stood, and stomped outside. He stormed all the way to the tree line before he stopped and just stood watching the forest.
With a deep sigh, I got up, helped Zack semi-right himself so he could pick up his eyeballs and went after Frankie.
“What’s wrong?” I asked as if I didn’t know.
“I feel helpless on this one,” Frankie said. “I’m supposed to be the leader, and right now I’m feeling like a newbie going out for the first time. I don’t know how to proceed. You won’t tell me! Don’t you understand . . . You two are my responsibility. If something goes wrong, if something bad happens, it’s my fault.”
“It would be my fault,” I said. “I shouldn’t have let you come with me.”
He turned toward me and I noticed his movements were quieter out in the open.
“We wouldn’t let you come alone,” Frankie said with a half-grin. “Even if you hadn’t let us come, we would have found a way and would be here anyway.”
I nodded. “I was thinking maybe we should make this quick–get it over with tonight. It would be faster and easier. I don’t like taking the chance that they’ll find us. Would that take a load off your mind? Just getting it done and over with, and going home?”
Frankie frowned. “Yes, but we only have a couple hours of darkness left. You’ll have to get in your coffin.”
I grinned. “I’ve been working on something for just this type of occasion. I don’t know if it will work, but it’s one of those now or never times.”
Frankie grinned. “I take it you have a plan. What did you have in mind?”
I laughed, and together we walked over to Zack, who’d finished picking up his food and was eating again, so we could all discuss it together.

    *   *   *

Moving through the forest at such a high rate of speed I knew no one and nothing could see me, I headed for the cave that I’d tracked the vampires to on my way back to base earlier. It hadn’t been hard. I was guessing that one of the ‘children’ was still relatively young, because their scent was easy to follow. But, then again, they probably didn’t figure on anyone coming after them. Knowing her like I do, I could bet she didn’t feel threatened by anyone, thinking she would always be safe.
When I was in position, I gave the signal, which was nothing more than me pushing a button on a one way remote. It would signal Frankie and Zack, but I couldn’t receive anything back from them. I didn’t want them giving away my position. That could get us all killed.
Darting swiftly to the mouth of the cave, I paused to listen. At first I couldn’t hear anything, but after waiting a full minute I heard what sounded like voices within the deep, dark depths. Checking swiftly over the concealing, black body suit I was wearing, I made sure everything was ready.
Slinking through the darkness, which I could see fine in, I traversed toward the innermost depths of the damp cavern. Sounds would carry easily, so I had to be incredibly careful not to make any noise whatsoever. It took me longer than I thought it would to reach the den of the coven.
Her scent overwhelmed me as I circled around them. There were five of them altogether–more than I’d counted on, but still manageable. They were all lying down in a square, head to head, foot to foot, with her in the center by herself. I knew they were still awake, the sun wasn’t up and the feeling of lethargy hadn’t set in. It was as if all vampires had an internal clock, telling them when it was time to sleep by making them extremely tired.
There was one tense moment when my foot scrapped against some loose stones along the edge of the chamber. A young female sat up and looked in my direction. I froze. When she didn’t see anything, she laid back down, and I knew my suit was working.
Once I was in position behind the vampires, knowing they could easily get out of the cave, I waited until I started feeling tired–it wasn’t very long. I hit the signal again, letting Frankie and Zack know that I was ready.
Just then she shot up from her position on the floor, flew across the small space, and slammed into me full force, knocking me off my feet. She hissed in my ear as I tried to push her off of me, but she was too strong. Her clawed hands clamped down on either side of my head and she was about to rip it off of my shoulders when she stopped.
By this time all of her children were alerted to my presence and they’d circled around us.
She bent forward, pressing her face into my neck, breathing deeply.
“Vincent?” she whispered in shock, her body going limp.
Quickly, I pushed her off and stood. The others hissed and growled at me, still having a hard time seeing me.
“Vincent? Is that really you?”
“You know it is,” I said roughly. “It has been a long time, Penchant.”
She laughed. “Yes, it has.”
Her children hushed, listening to their maker talk to me with interest.
Thinking fast, I jumped to the ceiling and then to the wall, positioning myself behind the group once more. Swiftly, I lit the UV lights I’d attached to my suit. The vampires around me hissed in pain and tried to hide. I knew the strength of the lights wouldn’t kill them, but it would burn like hell.
“Why are you doing this, Vincent?” Penchant cried, backing away. “Why?”
“Need you ask?” I asked bitterly. “I would think you would have a better memory.”
I walked forward, forcing them to move back toward the mouth of the cave. They withered and whined, crawling along the ground in agony. One of the young ones was brave. He jumped up, bounced off the wall, and hurtled himself at me. I didn’t expect such a show of heroics. He caught me in the chest, knocking me down and breaking three of the six lights. His face sizzled inches from mine as he hissed, clawing at my throat. But I was older and stronger, easily holding him back. The others were turning back, ready to help their brother. I heard Penchant laughing softly.
“I remember quite well, Vincent,” she purred as she watched me fight off her children. “You always were foolhardy. It was one of the things that caused me to fall in love with you.”
I clawed and bit and fought against the group of young vampires. Decapitating one with a twist and a yank–blood went spraying through the air. I could tell they’d recently fed by how much they bled. Quickly spinning and kicking, I knocked another off of me and dragged the other two with me as I got to my feet. The young female who’d almost spotted me earlier tried to rip off my arm. Luckily it was the one with the broken lights. Thinking fast, I lifted my other arm and held the light that still shown across her eyes, burning her eyeballs to a crisp in her skull. Her howls and wails as she fell away were almost deafening.
The one I’d knocked off started to get up and I knew I had to get out of here fast. If they managed to rip my suit, I wouldn’t be able to leave the cave.
Penchant heard my panicked heart beat faster. “What’s wrong, Vincent? Are you rusty? You used to spar with me and it didn’t bother you near this much.”
Angrily I ripped the young male off my back and threw him into the one who’d just regained his footing. They fell in a mass of limbs onto a stalagmite. It penetrated one through the torso and the other through the head. They withered in pain, crying out as they tried to free themselves, but couldn’t.
I roared, shaking the cave with the loudness of my fury. I could hear Penchant laughing over the screams of the fallen, but I couldn’t see her anywhere. I knew my time was up and it angered me. Everything had almost gone according to plan. Turning, I ran quickly to the mouth of the cave and swallowed hard as I stepped out into the sunlight. Thankfully, Zack and Frankie were there with my coffin because there were multiple slashes in my suit and the sun was burning me alive.

    *   *   *

When I woke up, it was night once more. I opened my coffin and peeked out. No one could be seen. It was just as we’d arranged. I climbed out and shed the skin tight black suit I’d worn in the cave and threw it into the trash bin with the rest of the garbage. Retrieving a bag of blood I sucked it down quickly.
“You know, years ago, the sight of you standing naked sucking on blood got me excited,” Penchant purred from the darkness beyond the helicopter. “And I have to admit, I still feel some of that excitement when I look at you now.”
I turned to see Penchant standing at the top of the ramp. Her long brunette hair hung free around her shoulders, being tousled by the night’s breeze. Her soft red lips were slightly parted and she was panting eagerly, like she was thinking of pinning my down and mounting me like she’d done many times in the past. Her bright red pupils betrayed her though. They weren’t filled with lust like they used to be, they were filled with anger and hate.
“And once, I liked that,” I said, “but not anymore. You tried to kill me. Hell, you betrayed the entire coven. That’s why you were exiled, and why I left. After standing up for you–when you lied to me–I couldn’t stay there any longer either. Now you’re breaking the laws again, and this time I’m not going to protect you.”
She laughed, her head falling back in amusement. “You’re such a cute child. Do you think you can honestly defeat me?”
I grinned and winked at her, lifting my foot off of a trigger that Zack had set in the floor. Ropes soaked in holy water whipped around Penchant. She tried to leap back, but they still managed to tangle around her lower half.
I pounced on her and shoved a clove of raw garlic into her mouth while she was screaming in fury. It wasn’t enough to seriously hurt her, but it would knock her out for a while and make her sick when she woke up. After her eyes drifted shut, I put on heavy work gloves and untied her before the ropes burned completely through her body. After that was done, I dressed and made a couple of calls. One to let Frankie and Zack know our plan had worked, and one to the ‘authorities’ to come and take care of Penchant. This time she wouldn’t be exiled. This time, she would be terminated.
Thanks to Frankie and Zack’s slowness, the equivalent of the vampire police showed up and took Penchant before they returned, saying they would also take care of her children as well. While I had peace knowing that I’d done everything I could, I still felt a deep sadness. She’d been my first love after all, and who wanted to be part of their first love’s death.
“Where is she?” Frankie asked, lumbering up the ramp. “Did she get away?”
“No,” I said with a secret smile. “They came and took her. Our work is done.”
Zack followed Frankie, eating a human heart like it was an apple. “What? We don’t even get to see her? What a crock!”
“Sorry, guys,” I said. “But that’s how it has to be.”
Frankie frowned, and then grinned. “You know, I think this case has been ‘Vin-Dic-ated’! Thanks to Vinnie, the best vampire Dic around!”
We all laughed. Everything was back to normal. Things were taken care of, and we’d done it as a team, even if I was the only one put in the path of danger.

If you would like to read the other two episodes of The Monster Detectives (this was episode two – one and three are also in the book), they can be found in: Monster Party (cover art by Justin T. Coons)!

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2010. All rights reserved.