Life in the Fast Lane
By RavenKat & Trapper
Screaming through the night sky, it carries them to the East, toward the rising sun. Each has their own reason to be there and each endures a pain all their own.
A Roman General and his Egyptian Goddess perform a dance as old as time itself. They swirl and dip, together and apart, as they hurtle to an uncertain future. The man is accustomed to being obeyed and the woman, to taking care of herself.
The Egyptian, brother to the goddess, searches for his bittersweet love. Will she welcome him as he hopes; or will he be forced into the embrace of combat, from which only one can emerge?
The Watcher, a man of books, who has dedicated his life to overcoming a world of evil, battles darkness within himself. He fears knowing his enemy too well; Passion is a weakness, and in his case, an inevitability.
The brother and sister are an enigma, their motives unknown, perhaps even to them. He is an Enforcer, and will do whatever is necessary to maintain the delicate balance of the Masquerade. She checks her makeup for the fourth time; convinced she should have worn a different shade of lipstick to entice the Scotsman who sits so tantalizingly close.
A young woman, the Chosen One, tries to ignore the past as it tears at her heart. A destiny forced upon her molds the world in its own image, leaving no room for choices. She focuses on the task at hand out of self‑preservation.
The second One sees no choices. She is her job incarnate. Where the other will falter, she will not.
A Scotsman, along for the ride, denies that one day he will have to kill his friends to save the world. There can be only one.
Another Watcher, a Viet Nam vet, struggles against his vows. Devoted to the Code, he none‑the‑less risks it all for friendship.
Two friends, each harboring a secret love, work as one to defeat a destructive force. Using their strengths of knowledge and loyalty, they will follow the Chosen One until the end.
A beautiful girl, possessing nothing of value, wonders when they will arrive at their destination…her skirt is starting to wrinkle.
The sudden light dazzled their eyes as they walked into the huge suite. Schanke stared everywhere and whistled in appreciation. “Wow, Nick! This is really something!” He turned to Nick and gestured broadly, raising his eyebrows. “Now, there’s no way you could afford this on a cop’s salary.”
Nick smiled as he followed his partner into the receiving room.
“Well, am I right, or am I right?” Don fell into the voluptuous depths of a velvet‑covered recliner and waited for an answer.
“You’re right, as always, Schanke.” Nick set his bags down. “There’s a foundation that’s paying for all of this.” Schanke continued looking at Nick, waiting for the rest of the explanation. “I just happen to administer the assets of the foundation,” he said casually, as he opened the refrigerator in the full‑service kitchenette. He pulled out a bottle of “Clover” and a beer for Schanke before making his way to the couch.
Trapper stood by the window, asking room service for a large carafe of very strong lattes.
Evie emerged from one of the several rooms attached to the suite. “You are not going to believe it! There’s a hot tub the size of a Volkswagen in there! There’s marble everywhere,” she continued, walking to the fridge for a dark beer.
Trapper hung up the phone and gazed out the window at the silent street. She imagined it, as it must have been a few weeks ago, bustling with activity all through the night. Now it was virtually deserted; only lights betrayed the presence of others.
They had driven into the parking garage under the hotel at about 2:30. Trapper noticed the mint Nomad as they drove past. ‘Hmm. Kat must’ve beaten us here,’ she thought. As they got out of the Caddy, she saw a sport truck parked in a far corner. A flicker of movement from the vehicle caught her eye, but she dismissed it as someone sleeping it off in their car.
The concierge of the Elysian Fields Hotel was almost obsequious, he was so very anxious to please. Business must have dropped off dramatically after the massacre.
“Oh, yes, Mr. Knight.” The short, dark‑haired man came from behind the front desk to greet them. “The Louis XIV Suite is quite ready for you. Shall I call for the bellman to see to your luggage?”
Nick waved him off. “No, that won’t be necessary, Jerome. We can handle it. I assume the suite is properly supplied?”
“But, of course, sir. Completely to your specifications.”
They staggered to the elevators.
Trapper was roused from her reverie by a knock at the door. She opened it to find a rather timid looking waiter holding a tray with, as ordered, an enormous silver carafe and one perfect porcelain cup. In the blink of an eye, she relieved him of it, pressed a generous tip into his hand and shut the door.
“Well, I think that’s everything,” she said brightly as she poured her second cup and joined the rest of them.
“Now what?” Evie asked from where she lounged.
“We see who’s arrived. And then,” Nick looked out the window into the blackness beyond, awe go exploring.”
The plane touched down with a few hours until dawn. At the airport a fleet of sleek dark cars waited to pick up the passengers.
“You will be riding with me,” LaCroix suggested as Angelique gathered her Leopard’s from the back room.
“Yes, Lucien,” She sighed, she was tired and very hungry, his possessiveness was wearing thin on her. She snuck a quick look at Giles. He met her stare, heat flared in his hazel eyes before he broke her gaze. Hunger was making the want sharper, more insistent.
Ricze hurrumphed. “I do hope you are trying to be subtle.” He grinned as he watched Angelique start and glare.
“It’s none of your concern,” she snapped as she moved toward the stairs.
“It is if his slayer pupil stakes you when you put the bite on him.”
“I am not going to use him as a snack.” She hissed as she followed LaCroix out of the plane.
Ricze threw back his head and laughed.
Once everyone has deplaned, Ricze took over.
“Okay car assignments are thus, Buffy, you and your friends get the first one. MacLeod you and Micah and your friends get car 2. Kay, Sukh you get car three with Missy and I for company. LaCroix and Angelique can have car four all to themselves.”
“Cozy.” Angelique muttered as LaCroix took her arm.
Ricze turned to his pilot. “Great job, Scott.” He nodded to the fifth car. “This one’s for you and the crew. Enjoy New Salem.”
The cars loaded up and sped toward the highway and the dark adventure already unfolding.
No Good Deed
“Room service,” she announced, her voice loud in the empty hallway. While she waited, Sharon nervously adjusted the “meal” on Billy’s cart: a bottle of something called Absinthe and two bottles of their most expensive red wine ‑ warm. She grimaced, these folks were gonna have a serious hangover if they didn’t order some real fool and soon.
The door swung open and she looked up, expecting to see the red‑headed manager chick that had checked in earlier. Instead, a dark and beautiful man stood there, barely wrapped in a towel. Wordlessly she pointed at the tray.
Was he bleeding?
As he stepped into the light, Sharon saw only shadows of what might have been bruises…all over his body.
Well, no wonder they don’t want food, she thought, they’re junkies. She should have guessed that when she saw how pale and thin Sister Kat was. Lux was right to distrust her. Who wanted a heroin addict in charge of your career? Not to mention, one that spent all of your money on 5‑star hotels and vintage wines.
The guy reached out, put one bottle under his arm and grabbed the other two with one hand. Winking, he backed into the darkened room and shut the door with his foot. Sharon thought she heard an animal growling before the door was completely closed. Weird.
She just about ran the short distance to Lux’s suite. He had told her to stay in the garage but she figured a little first hand observation would be better. Slipping into his room, she started to curl up on his couch; She didn’t want to disturb him. Just as she closed her eyes, Sharon was dragged up by her hair.
Lux was seething as he undid his belt.
Midnight at the Oasis
Jerome Battles looked out across the elegant lobby, sighed and checked his watch again. That was the problem with the truly wealthy clients, he thought to himself. They live by their own timetables . . . especially if they are vampires. He flicked an imaginary speck of dust from the marble‑topped counter. The classical music played softly in the background, creating the ambiance that he always strove for.
The peaceful moment was shattered the moment that the doors from outside slid open. A tall, elegant Egyptian woman breezed in with two very large cats. Jerome thought to himself that the leashes looked terribly inadequate. She stopped in the center of the room and looked back impatiently. LaCroix sauntered to the counter and placed his hands on it.
“Good evening, Jerome,” he said in his silky voice. “I trust you still have our reservations, and that we have not inconvenienced you unduly.”
Jerome recovered instantly. It was, after all, his job to expect the unexpected. “Of course, Mr. LaCroix. I have several suites set aside for your company.” He checked the register. “I have two different suites of an . . . Egyptian flavor. I have the Middle Kingdom Suite and the Ptolemaic Suite.”
Micah approached the check in. “You may give La Croix and my sister the Ptolemaic Suite. I think it will suit them better. I’ll take the other.”
Jerome looked to La Croix who confirmed the selection.
La Croix went to Angelique’s side and took her by the elbow. “Come along, Dark Goddess. I think it’s time we retired.”
Angelique glared, pulling her arm “Way from his grip as she stalked to the elevator. LaCroix followed, smirking.
Ricze and Missy came to Jerome next. He looked up. “The usual for you and your sister, sir?”
Ricze smiled ingratiatingly and took the offered keys. He handed one to the crew, voiced his thanks and herded Missy to the elevator, oblivious to her loud protests.
“But I want my own room!” she pouted as they got in the elevator.
“I know,” he replied as the doors snicked shut.
Duncan and Joe shook their heads at each other as the doors shut. “Now that one,” Joe began.
“I don’t want to hear it,” Duncan said, laughing. He received the key to the Scottish Suite and they both went off to find their room and, hopefully, a bottle of single‑malt Scotch.
Kay and Sukh bounced in next. “Wow!” Sukh said, gazing around at the opulent furnishings. “Now THIS is a hotel!”
Jerome smiled to himself and made a mental note. “Ladies,” he called them over. “Here’s your key.” He handed them an old‑fashioned, ornate key on a red velvet ribbon. “I couldn’t help but hear your comment,” he said to Sukh. “So, I’ve taken the liberty of giving you one of the Tower Suites. This one is the Collinwood Suite. I trust you’ll find it to your satisfaction.”
They thanked him and walked to the elevator, eyes wide as they thought about what the rooms might be like.
Giles and his party of teenagers were the last to straggle in. Jerome looked at them all. “Mr. Giles?”
“Um, yes. I believe we have a suite as well?”
“But of course,” Jerome handed over a key. “The British Museum Suite was requested for you, sir.”
“Thank you. That’s very kind.” He gathered up his party. “All right, now. Let’s go to our rooms, shall we?”
Buffy raised her eyebrows at Giles on their way to the elevator. “The British Museum Suite? Giles! It sounds so, so . . . ”
Xander piped up. “Not cool?”
“Well, it can’t be helped now, can it?” They all sighed off to the elevator, trailing after Giles.
Cordelia’s voice could still be heard as the doors closed. “I just hope I have my own bathroom, and bedroom, and television. Oh, and a fridge of Diet Coke would be nice. What am I doing here, anyway?”
Jerome rolled his eyes. This was going to be an interesting stay, he could tell.
The Ptolemaic Suite
Angelique glared at LaCroix as the elevator slid closed. She growled a rude Latin word at him when he tried to take her arm.
He looked at her then smiled. “There’s no need to insult by long dead parents, Angelique, I just thought you might be more comfortable in this room.” His eyes heated. ” I was assured there were special features you would enjoy in this room.”
“Do you think I will enjoy being in a room that reminds me of the defeat of my home? By you Romans no less?”
“Perhaps a lesson you may want to remember.” LaCroix’s voice took on a rough edge. Cleo growled and crouched in front of her mistress as he reached for her again.
“I would suggest that you not touch me until you can be less jealous.”
LaCroix quirked an amused eyebrow. “I have no need to be jealous. You are mine.” His eyes flashed yellow‑gold. “And you will always be.” Cleo hissed again, and he hissed back as he moved closer to Angelique. “Perhaps I should explain it in another way.” He fingers a lock of Angelique’s dark hair, taking it up to his mouth and pressing it to his lips.
The doors slid open. Angelique bolted for the open door, slipping out of LaCroix’s grasp and into the freedom of the hall. LaCroix followed, amused and lead her down a hall. An elderly cleaning woman was scrubbing what smelled like blood out of the hall carpet. She stopped and nodded at LaCroix as he passed. LaCroix acknowledged her with a curt nod back.
At he door of the suite, LaCroix paused at the Latin inscribed brass plate. Then he used the credit card key to open the door.
It was like being home, after 2000 years.
as dawn is coming
Angelique looked around at the sumptuous room, a mix of Egyptian and Roman styles. Egyptian gods and Goddesses, in Roman styles, relaxed and more human then the stylized art of her ancestors.
It all reeked of August. She could feel the betrayal still. Of that bitch using the knowledge of her mistress to sell her into slavery to that twisted Roman Magister Militum. The man had starved her as he had taken her to Rome in her crypt, letting her out after dark, ravenous. She had been forced to feed off the broken boys the General had used as tossed to her. The pain of the boys had nearly driven her mad.
In Rome she had finally gone over the edge and killed her master. She had hidden there, glutting herself off the pain of the brutal, drinking in the savage splendor of Imperial Rome.
Then she had come across a young confidant of Nero, a young soldier of Pompeii. She had watched as he moved up in the military, playing power games with the finesse of a much older man, finding favor with the succession of emperors until he was decorated a Magister Militum himself. She had waited for him to return for Gaul, making herself useful in Pompeii. Then Divia, the most disturbed of them all had ruined her plans to have Lucius for herself.
In the end though, he did come to her, and stay with her for centuries.
Perhaps her anger was unjustified. She watched as he went around the room looking at the various things, touching the sumptuous fabrics, a small smile playing on his full lips.
“Yes, sweet?” He looked at her, his pale eyes wary.
She motioned for the cats to go to an adjoining room and stepped close to him. “Perhaps I have been a little harsh on you this evening.” She put her arms around his neck.
“Really?” He put his arms around her, cradling her to him. “How?”
“I was angry, and I shouldn’t be. I can’t pretend I’m not attracted to Giles, but I won’t desert you for a mortal.”
“Hush,” He brushed one hand through her hair and smiled. “I overreacted. Perhaps I can make it up to you?” he nuzzled her neck. “Hmm, My dark Venus?”
“I could use a bath.”
He smiled and took her hand. “Let me.” He led her to a door. Behind the door was a Roman bath in half scale. The sunken pool had Egyptian lily shaped candles floating on the surface and a chilled bottle of special vintage “Waited.
He smiled at her gasp of delight, then turned her to face him. “Shall I?” he started to unbutton her shirt, lingering on the skin he was exposing. “How long has it been since you have had someone bathe you?”
“Sounds delightful.” She sighed, accepting his wordless apology.
He cupped her face and kissed her, tasting and claiming her for himself. She melted into his lips, savoring the unique taste of him, the light crawl of his power over her skin as he plundered her mouth.
“I will pamper you as you deserve. Your every wish is mine to fill,” his lips brushed hers again. “This time Egypt will conquer Rome.” He slipped her sleeveless blouse off her and slid his hands down her sides in a slow heated caress.
“Yes, Mea Amorta, let me be the victor and enjoy the spoils of Rome,” she tugged at his shirt, pulling off his buttons in a dark shower. She eyes had a gold sheen to them.
He laughed and divested her of her slacks, shredding her lace panties in the process. Once they were both naked he swung her up into his arms and stepped into the pool. In cool embrace of the water, he slid her to down his body to touch the tiled bottom.
She gasped at the sensual rub of his flesh against hers, savoring the marble hardness of his body. He was like one of Rome’s finest sculptures, all pale planes and rigid surfaces. She trailed her hands across his wide chest, tugging at the golden hair sprinkled over his alabaster skin. Light and dark, she mused as her dark fingers searched out a nipple and pinched.
He gasped, then looked at her with gold‑yellow eyes. “Wicked woman,” he turned her, pressing up behind her cupping her breasts with his pale hands. “You feel like the thinnest silk, supple, and slick.” One hand trailed over her stomach. “Where else are you slick, Dark Goddess?” His fangs brushed her shoulder, moving up to her neck, he nipped her lightly as he slid his questing hand between her legs.
She arched back into him as he teased her with his mouth and hands, her body trembling with the anticipation of his teeth in her neck. The voluptuous sensations rose, heating her blood, his power leaking through her pores, energizing her.
She turned and with vampiric speed pinned him to the side of the pool. “My turn,” she hissed as she trailed as series of scorching nips down his torso, then she pressed against him and straddled his hips. “I want you inside me,” she growled as she pressed his rigid phallus inside her slick depths. She threw her head back at shuddered at his welcome invasion.
Then he pierced her neck and the world exploded into whirls of color and fiery sensation.
It would turn out to be a glorious morning.
Knight in White Satin, part 1
“Hey, partner!” Schanke knocked on the closed bedroom door. It looked like it was going to be a sunny, warm day; a perfect day for him and Evie to get a feel for this burg. But, he needed wheels. “C’mon, Nick, wake up! I’ve gotta ask you something!”
A muffled “Mmmm?” came from the other side of the door.
“Yeah. Evie and I are going to check out the town. We want to get a handle on it, y’know?” Evie stepped out of her bathroom and adjusted her shades.
“So, we’ll be back later, ok?” Schanke began to sidle toward the door of the suite.
“And, uh,” he grabbed the car keys from the coffee table, “we’re taking the Caddy, ok?”
The door swung open suddenly. Schanke and Evie made good their escape. As the door closed, Schanke’s voice could be heard drifting back into the room. “Thanks a million, Nick. We’ll be back before dark.”
Trapper opened her eyes as the door shut. “Nick?” she asked the pillow across from her.
She raised the corner of the pillow to look into two bleary blue eyes. “You do realize that you just loaned Schanke the Caddy, don’t you?”
“Mm,” he began. His eyes snapped open as it sank in. “What?!” He winced and pulled the pillow back over his head. “Oh, no,” he moaned. “Schanke and my Cadillac; a match made in hell.”
Trapper slid a questing hand under the satin sheets. “I could probably make you forget all about the Caddy for “While.”
“Mmmm!” As quickly as the thought was voiced, answering hands dragged Trapper under the sheets and out of sight.
Kiss it Make it Better
The Elysian Fields
Between Knight I and II
“Come here,” he sighed.
Sharon was curled up in the corner, rocking and repeating one phrase over and over in a tiny voice. “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry…”
Lux was tired of listening to her whine, but was exhilarated by all the physical activity. With his handlers around he hadn’t been able to let loose like that for over a year. He felt great!
“I told you to stay in the car,” he explained for the thousandth time, “you could have blown the whole thing.” He strode over to the girl and brushed a lock of hair from her forehead. She flinched.
After a moment’s consideration he added, “I’m sorry.”
When he saw her gaze shift from the floor to him, he continued. “It’s that bitch Sister Kat – she’s driving me nuts!” He sat on the floor beside her and gently rubbed her arm. “I’ve been following her for days, I haven’t slept…” he said, he voice beginning to crack. Sharon didn’t move. Silently Lux got up and went to the window.
“What have I done?” he moaned.
That’s exactly what Sharon wanted to know. Getting up, she had the irresistible urge to cough. With the couch as a support, she let herself. She winced in agony as a fine crimson spray rained down onto her hand.
“I’m gonna go home now,” she whispered, afraid to shatter his calm. Unable to stand up completely, she stumbled toward the door.
“Oh, you’re fine,” Lux said, approaching her. She froze when he pulled her chin up to inspect her. “Not a mark on you,” he admired. “C’mon, you just need to lie down.”
His grip tightened, leading Sharon to the bedroom by her face. Once there, Lux let go and waved his hand over the bed in invitation. When she hesitated, he stepped behind her and gave her a swift kick in the ass.
Knights in White Satin II
Evie giggled as she and Don Schanke rode the elevator down from the Louis XIV Suite. “That was a pretty slick getaway, if I do say so myself.” She slid her arm through his and spoke in a conspiratorial tone. “I think we’ll stand a much better chance of getting good information doing our scouting in the daylight. You know… without vampire interference.”
Schanke glanced at the short, dark haired woman. He gently unwound her arm from his and patted her hand. “Let’s keep our mind on the task at hand, shall we?”
“Sure thing, Donny.” Evie grinned and jammed her hands in her pockets, whistling innocently. “Where do we start?”
Well… I figure we should check out that vampire club, the Vogue or whatever.” Don stepped aside to let Evie leave the elevator.
“What, we can’t talk about it?”
“No, no,” Evie laughed. “The club is called the Taboo. Or was, rather.” she corrected herself. “I understand it burned. Do you remember where we parked?”
“‘Course not,” Schanke replied. “I wasn’t driving.”
They made their way through the parking garage, past the Nomad which Trapper had identified as Kat’s. “Gotta remember to leave her a note at the desk,” Evie muttered under her breath. “Thar she blows,” she added, pointing to the Caddy.
“Boy, I thought Nick would never let me drive this baby again,” Schanke chuckled. “Not after what happened that one time.” His face grew perplexed as he rummaged through his pockets, but failed to produce the keys. “Hey! I know I picked them up…”
“Looking for these?” Evie smiled sweetly as she unlocked the doors.
“Nice trick,” Schanke admitted, trying his best to look stern. “But I’ll drive, if you don’t mind.”
They cruised through town, and quickly discovered there wasn’t much of it. “Brrr,” Evie remarked as they passed a multi‑story glass‑walled building.
“What?” Schanke asked, distracted.
“That place doesn’t vibe right,” Evie replied. “But then, what here does?”
“You really believe in that psychic stuff?” Schanke snorted.
“You believe in vampires?” Evie asked politely.
“That’s different,” Don insisted.
“Schanke! Turn here!” Evie shouted, surprising both of them.
“Sheesh! You trying to give me a heart attack?”
“This is the street the Taboo is on,” she said. “It should be just a block or two at most.”
It turned out to be impossible to miss. They parked the car and got out, so they could walk the site.
“It’s odd, isn’t it,” Evie remarked as they tramped the vacant lot, examining the ground, “how these warehouses are still standing when the club burned to the ground.”
“No coincidence,” Schanke agreed. He pushed a loose rock with one toe. “This place is clean. Any trace might have been here is long gone.”
“You knew that,” she said, puzzled. “Why did you want to come here?”
“I don’t know.” Schanke sighed and turned back toward the car, Evie following. “I guess I wanted to see it.”
“No, I have instincts,” Don insisted. “Policeman’s instincts, honed to a razor sharp accuracy.”
“So what are your razor‑sharp instincts telling you?” Evie followed Schanke back to the car.
He rubbed his face. “That we have some more investigating to do.” Don sat gripping the wheel for a moment.
“What say we get some lunch?” Evie suggested. “I saw a Denny’s back there.”
“Yeah, ok,” Schanke agreed. “I think better on a full stomach.”
They got a table with no trouble, despite the hour. “The lunch rush here is nothing,” Evie remarked after the waitress left with their orders.
“Yeah, well I get the idea this town has been pretty seriously depopulated,” Schanke replied.
“I’ve been thinking,” she said, after a long pause. “And no smart remarks,” she added, as he opened his mouth, then shut it again. “We should see if we can find any of Hanna’s old friends. Jonas is gone, but there’s still Freidrick, John and Marcus. Any of them might have come back here, after Toronto. The question is ‑ how to find them?”
“And the answer, Missy, is Excellence in Police Procedure,” Schanke said, leaning back in his seat and lacing his fingers behind his head. “All part of Standard Schanke Procedure. And I will share my secrets with you, my lucky trainee.”
“After lunch, then,” Evie agreed.
The Elysian Fields
Approx. 11:30am (shortly after Kiss It Make It Better)
Had anyone walked into the master bedroom of the Louis XIV Suite, they would have thought they’d stumbled into a crime scene. The room was dark, with clothes scattered all over the floor where they had been tossed. The detritus of dinner (empty wine bottles, glasses, and assorted espresso paraphernalia) traced a path from the coffee table to the bed. The bed was a shambles, with blood-stained white satin sheets that did nothing to hide the tangle of two bodies that occupied it. What made this scene different from any one of a number of potential homicide investigations was that one of the bodies was purring.
Trapper made a deeply contented rumble in her throat as she snuggled up closer to Nick. They both drifted luxuriantly in the aftermath of passion. A sudden breathy scream shattered the peace of the moment for Trapper. She winced with annoyance as it was followed by a loud thump.
“That’s it,” she snarled as she rose from the bed. “We ignored it most of the morning, but this is getting ridiculous.” Trapper grabbed her robe and flung it on. Pausing to pull the sheet up around the comatose detective, she stuffed her room key into a pocket and stalked from the room.
Sharon twisted on the bed and attempted to shield her body with her bruised arms. Lux sneered at her as he lifted her by the ragged remains of her shirt. “What’s the matter, bitch? Don’t want to play anymore?” he flung her back onto the bed. “You wanted me bad enough downstairs!”
Her lungs felt as if they were on fire as she coughed. Dimly, she thought that Jerome would kill her if she stained the sheets with blood. Lux grabbed her shoulder, ready to start in again, when a loud knock on the door stopped him.
He straightened up. “You’ve got a reprieve. I’ll be back in a minute, sweetheart.” He slapped her across the face, drawing fresh blood from her nose. “Don’t pass out on me now. I’ve got a lot more planned for you.”
His heart pounded with adrenaline as he walked to the door of the suite. Maybe it was Sister Kat, come to join in! He gave his fantasy full rein as he opened the door.
It wasn’t the red-haired Sister Kat who straight-armed him back into the room. Lux tried to regain his reality, not to mention composure, as a blonde fury confronted him. She pushed at him until he fell into the couch, and stood over him, hands on hips. “What is your problem, you idiot? Don’t you have the slightest idea of manners in a hotel?”
He sat and stared up at her dumbly, mouth agape, taking her in. She was easily as pale as Sister Kat, with a wild, blonde mane of hair hanging to her waist. The black silk robe had been tied in a hurry, and the strategically embroidered dragons left nothing to the imagination. Her eyes were wide and black with rage, and a hint of blood still lingered on her lips. He thought to himself that maybe this could be fun. Obviously his adrenaline had clouded not only his good sense, but also his instinct for self-preservation. He tried a smile on her as he tried to sit up. “Hey, babe,” he began.
“Shut up!” she snarled at him. Trapper’s eyes narrowed as she looked at him. “Aren’t you that Lux Interior person?”
“Well, yes, babe,” he tried the ingratiating approach. He stopped, realizing that she was looking as if he were a particularly disgusting bug.
“Don’t think it’s going to be a compliment,” she glared. “Your music sucks.” A cough from the next room brought her head around. Her nostrils flared as she smelled fresh blood. She looked at him questioningly and turned to investigate. Lux rose to follow. No way was she getting off that easy.
The scent of blood filled the trashed bedroom. There were splashes and drips everywhere. She felt her hunger growing until she saw what lay on the bed. Her hunger turned to nausea as she gently turned the girl over. Sharon was bruised and bloody from many lacerations. Trapper could sense the internal damage from the blood. She brushed the wet hair “Way from the girl’s forehead, noticing that her hand had come away red. “It’s OK. I’ll get you some help.” Sharon struggled to speak. “No, shhh. Don’t talk.”
Lux grabbed a fistful of Trapper’s hair and yanked roughly. “C’mere, bitch. We’re not done.” She didn’t move. He punched her shoulder hard. “Didn’t you hear me?!” He heard a low growl and smiled to himself. Oh, yeah! This was going to be fun. Trapper turned and all thoughts of fun evaporated.
She rose from her crouch beside the bed and faced him, her eyes blazing yellow. Her teeth were bared, revealing impossibly long fangs. He gibbered in terror, a small whimper rising from his throat. Trapper punched him into the wall, and before he could recover, she had wrapped her fist in his shirt and hauled him back to his feet. “You bastard!” she hissed. “What have you done?” She flung him across the room, into the night stand. He tried to crawl “Way, but she was on him again, pulling his head up by his hair. She dug fingernails under his chin and pulled his face to hers. “Would you like to know what it feels like to die, slowly?” Trapper let his head go, and it thumped to the floor before he could stop it. She picked up first one hand, and then the other, methodically crushing the fingers in each hand as he shrieked. Then she kicked him in the chest, smiling grimly as she felt ribs give way under her foot. He lay on the floor, gasping and coughing. Trapper stepped over him on her way to the phone.
“Front desk? Yes, I need an ambulance. There’s an injury in the West Wind Suite.” She looked down at what was left of Lux. “Oh,, and could you send someone to take care of garbage disposal as well? Thank you.” She bent down to Lux on last time, and yanked his head around to face her. “Next time,” she said softly into his battered ear, “I’ll kill you.” She dropped him and wiped her hands on the bed sheets with distaste. “It’s people like you that give us musicians a bad name,” she said over her shoulder as she left the room.
Nick had barely moved while she’d been gone. Trapper shed her robe and slid back under the sheets.
“Problems?” Nick asked groggily.
“No.” Trapper snuggled back up to him. “Just an annoying insect. I dealt with it.” She bit his earlobe. “Now, where were we?”
The Center of the Universe
He hummed to himself as he sat on the corner in front of the stop sign. One of the few in the city, it was funny to him that it happened to be near the restaurant. Nice way to draw business, he thought.
Of course, he really didn’t want to think. He didn’t want to think about the bodies burning in the streets, or nightclubs going up in flames with people inside, or women from libraries being ripped into pieces. He’d seen all those things, and more, in the past few weeks. And he was sick of it.
People that passed him by on the sidewalk held their noses and looked “Way. He was covered in old, rotted blood from a few weeks ago, and he never bothered to get clean. The few policemen that thought to question him…thought better of it after they got a whiff.
He laughed to himself as the landboat of a car drove by him. “Nice Caddy!” he called out, not caring if they heard.
“Gotta have pie,” she said.
“That’s not pie,” he replied. “Pie isn’t green.”
Evie sighed contentedly as the waitress set down the plate. “Whatever,” she said agreeably. She picked up the fork and paused a moment, as if in prayer.
Schanke rolled his eyes. “I still say pie shouldn’t be green.”
“Key Lime,” was the response. She closed her eyes as the fork emerged from her mouth, clean. Slowly, she chewed and swallowed. She opened her eyes.
“So.” Schanke picked up his doughnut and took a good‑sized bite. “How is it?”
“Terrific.” She picked up the fork again.
Finishing the pie, she set it aside and took a sip of coffee, then opened the newspaper.
“A little late for the morning news, aren’t you?” Schanke asked.
“Look at this!” Evie poked excitedly at the paper. “I knew it! Yesterday was an official Day From Hell!”
Schanke gave his lunch partner a look that clearly indicated what he thought of her mental state at the moment.
“No, really! Look!” She spun the paper in front of him, pointing to a small story toward the back of the first section.
“Lottery results?” Schanke frowned.
“Look at the winning number in the daily game!”
Don glanced over the report and started to laugh. “See what I mean,” Evie continued. “How much stranger can it get than that? I mean,” she continued as Schanke turned to the first page of the paper, “You know it’s not your day when the Daily Game pick number is 666. And it’s so bizarre ‑ that the number of the beast is good luck to someone. Someone got rich picking those numbers. That’s really sick. Schanke?” She paused for breath.
“You weren’t listening.”
“Did you see this?” Schanke set the paper aside and got to his feet. “We’ve got to get going.” He reached over the table for the ticket but Evie beat him to it.
“No way. You paid last time. It’s my turn.” She picked up the bill and pulled a twenty a twenty out of her pocket. Leaving both at the counter she joined Schanke at the door. “See what?”
Schanke made a beeline for the Caddy. “You got the keys again?” he called over his shoulder. “Not this time,” she called back. He fished through his pockets until he came up with the keys.
Evie let herself in ‑ no point locking doors here, she thought ‑ and glanced toward the street. “Man,” she muttered. “I guess even small town America has its homeless.”
“Nothing. Where are we going?”
“Where does anyone go to do research?” Schanke started the car. “The library.”
It was a beautiful old building. The Platonic Ideal of Libraries, Evie thought as they climbed the steps leading the ivy‑draped brick walls. It even smelled good ‑ that old book smell that she remembered from the Special Collections section of the Suzzallo Library back home. “Explain to me again, why we’re here?”
“The caves. Remember that newspaper story?” Schanke, caught up in oratory, failed to modulate his voice as they stepped into the building. The librarian glared at them until Schanke dropped to a whisper. “That kidnapping? That guy took the kid to some caves in the area. We need to find where they are.”
Evie smiled. “Ok, then. Topographical maps?” Schanke nodded absently, searching for the area he wanted.
“While you do that, I think I’ll pay a visit to the morgue.”
“The newspaper morgue. Where all the newspapers go when they die.”
Schanke nodded again and they parted ways.
An hour later Evie found Schanke photocopying maps. “Hey,” she said. “How’s it going?”
“Good,” he replied. “I found a couple of places to start looking.” He scrubbed his face with both hands. Evie patted his shoulder comfortingly. “We should get some sleep before we do any more investigation,” she suggested.
“Yeah, I guess so.” Schanke seemed reluctant but allowed himself to be pulled from the library back to the caddy. Evie slid behind the wheel. “I think it’s my turn.”
“Oh, man, I think I’m into next week’s adrenaline supply,” Schanke closed his eyes and leaned his head back. “Whoa. You are tired,” she commented as he willingly handed over the keys.
Twenty minutes they stumbled out of the elevator. “Ok,” Evie admitted, rubbing her eyes. “I’m tired now.” Schanke fumbled with his keys and let them into the suite. “No sign of life from the Vampire Rooms,” Evie quipped weakly, pushing her hair back from her eyes. Schanke swayed slightly, and she put a steadying hand on his arm. A look passed between them, and he pulled back slightly. “Oh, hey,” he patted her arm. “Don’t get me wrong…”
Evie laughed warmly. “Oh, jeez, Schanke.” Impulsively, she hugged him. “Don’t get me wrong either. You’re a great guy and all that but… well… you’re a guy. And I do have a girlfriend back home.”
Schanke stared groggily at the woman. “A girlfriend?”
“Yup. I’m gay. Sleep well!” Evie shrugged and slipped into her room.
Schanke shook his head and moved toward his own room. “Thank goodness. I thought for a minute there I’d lost the old Don Schanke charm.” Falling face first on his bed, he was asleep and snoring in seconds.
New Jerusalem, near Denny’s
Bernard took another bite of his hoagie and checked the volume on the radio again.
“Look, Bern’, I already told you that the radio’s fine. It’s just quiet today.” Sonny pulled his baseball cap back down over his eyes. “And, if you ask me, that’s just OK.”
Bernard thought about it while he finished lunch. A couple of weeks ago, it had been like being back in ‘Nam, smack in the middle of a firefight. There had been bodies and blood everywhere, and no keeping up. He’d had flashbacks for days afterwards. Now, it was back to peace and quiet, but it felt weird.
“Whoa! Hey, Bernie! Would you look at that?!”
Bernard looked up as the mint Caddy rolled by. “Nice one,” he said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
Sonny opened his mouth for a snappy comeback, but was drowned out as the radio came to life.
Bernard grabbed the handset. “Yeah, this is seventeen. Go ahead, dispatch.”
The voice crackled through the speaker. “Got an injury at Elysian Fields, and it sounds bad.”
“We’re on it.” Sonny thumbed the lights and siren as they whipped around the corner to the hotel.
A trembling maid let them into the suite, and pointed the way to the bedroom. They could have found their way by the trail of blood.
The paramedics quickly took in the scene. Bernard checked the girl lying on the bloody bed. “Hey, Sonny! It’s Sharon Lensher!”
Sonny looked down at the sniveling wreck that had been Lux Interior. “And this must be the scumbag that beat her up.” He poked at Lux with his foot. “Hey, buddy? Am I right? Are you the trash that smacked the kid around?” A groan was the only reply.
“Leave him alone and help me get her on the gurney. I think she’ll be all right, but we need to get her in to the hospital.”
They gently got her onto the gurney and started to the exit. Sonny stopped at the doorway. “What about him? We just gonna leave him?”
Bernard looked at Sonny blankly. “Leave who? I don’t see anyone else in here.” As they left the suite, he continued, “But they really need to call in a good exterminator to deal with the rodent problem.”
Be in Me
New Salem, Caves
“Oooh, aren’t you a pretty toy.” Dru circled Nat, smiling her unbalanced smile. “I want to play a game.”
Nat’s eyes widened in terror as the vampire stroked her hair and touched her head.
“Yes,” Dru sighed and swayed a bit. “Yes that’s it. Tell me your secrets.”
She stopped and bent over to eye level with Nat.
“Hey Luv.” Spike stopped his wheel chair near the entrance of the cave. “Who’s the bird?”
“Angel brought her as a gift.” Dru looked at Spike and smiled that eerie smile again. “Isn’t she pretty?” Dru fingered a lock of Nat’s hair. “Just like one of my dolls.”
“Yes luv, she is. Does she have a name?”
“Natalie.” Dru looked back to her present. “We’re going to play a game.”
“Can I watch?” Angelus strode in, giving Spike a smack in the back of the head as he passed by. “I need info on the other vampires she knows.”
“Sure.” She raised her scarlet and silver fingers to Nat’s face. “Look at me, dearie.” She caught Nat’s eyes. Nat fought for a moment, then watched Dru’s nails weaving in front of her face like a deadly cobra. “Be in me, my pretty Natalie, be in me.”
Nat glazed totally entranced as Dru drew a hand over her eyes. “Tell us about your Nicholas, Dearie. See Nicholas.”
Nat looked into Nick’s face. “Nick?” She smiled at Nick. “Nick get me out of here.”
“Don’t worry Nat, I’ll get you out of here. First things first.” Nick looked at Nat. “What did you find out about August?”
“That her friends are as maladjusted as she is.”
Nick smiled at that. “True. What about LaCroix and the rest of us?”
“Nick, if August’s allies find out about the cure, they will kill you.”
Spike looked at Angelus. They both smiled. Dru was the master.
“You found the cure?” Nick looked so hopeful.
“Well, no, but I think it’s in New Salem somewhere.” Nat started to reach out to Nick, she grabbed his arm. “But if those demons find out you aren’t drinking human blood you are in big danger.”
Spike and Angelus grinned again at each other. This was very interesting.
“Because the Bessy diet weakens you.”
Angelus made a silent mooing noise.
Nat tilted her head and scrunched her nose. “Your age is good though. I mean 800 years is much stronger. And Angelique has her Egyptian magic, as well as Ricze’s Druid stuff.”
Spike raised his brow at the mention of Magic.
“See Nat, we can do this.” Nick’s face faded and Dru stood before her. “Thank you dearie, for all the information.” Dru walked over and nipped at Angelus’s neck. “We needed that.”
Angelus walked over and looked at Nat. “You are pretty.” He fingered a lock of her hair. “Too bad the pretty ones always die.” He yanked the hair out by the roots. Nat screamed, then struggled to get out of the rope binding her.
“You know,” Spike spoke up as he wheeled closer. “She is worth more alive than dead, mate.”
Angelus looked at Spike, still holding Nat’s hair. “You’re right, my gimp friend. She is good leverage against Detective Knight and his gang.” He stroked Nat’s cheek. She pulled “Way and shot him a look of pure Nat hatred. He laughed. “You’re going to be fun. Now I’ll give you back to Dru.” Dru stepped up behind Angelus. “You two can do some female bonding.”
He whistled as he walked out of the cave to the sound of Nat screaming.
Key to the City
Marc sank down into his librarian’s stool, trying hard not to move his upper body. His ribs creaked within him. He knew they really didn’t, but they sure felt like it. When he got his claws into that vampire…
His plans for Billy‑Idol‑he‑wishes were interrupted suddenly. He looked up and immediately thought, “Cop.” Though, as he watched his eyes, he thought grimly that the man had gone through too many recent shocks.
“Can I help you, Sir?” he asked politely.
“Yeah. My friend and I are looking for some city maps.”
“Maps? Of which city?” The hair on his neck was standing on end as he casually sniffed the air. He didn’t know why, but the man before him smelled a great deal like the little girl he had saved from the leech.
“What city?” he turned to look at his companion. She grimaced slightly, then rolled her eyes. “Uh, hello? This city, of course.”
“Sorry, Sir. You can never be too sure. Any particular type of city map, or did you just want a Thomas Guide?”
The woman stepped forward. “Let me do this, Schank. Look, we’re trying to find a map that might have any references to the caves that are located in the woods.”
Marc looked from the woman to “Schank.” Why was he afraid that’s what they would be asking for? “Hmm. I don’t think there is anything really. If you come this way, I can show you the city maps, and maybe there might be something.”
He slid, very slowly, off his stool, and walked over to them. It set their teeth on edge that he went so slow, but they waited patiently.
“This way.” He led them quietly to the “special” section of the library, in a large group of rooms that seemed to be constructed of metal.
“What? Metal rooms?” “Schank” commented as they walked through the very thick metal door. “Afraid of a nuclear war or something?”
“Something like that,” Marc answered, trying not to grimace at the thought of last month’s slaughter. Had any of the murdered vampires been in the library at the time of their deaths, all these priceless books would have been destroyed.
They passed rows and rows of ancient looking, and smelling, books. Quite a few of them were in locked, glass cases. They went down a flight of stairs into the basement and as he unlocked the door, he said, “This is it.”
He smirked. “All right. Sorry. We’re just in a hurry.”
Marc glanced at the both of them, then turned back to the room. If they were searching for the girl, he wasn’t about to delay them.
He opened one of the drawers. “This is every map of New Jerusalem, except for the ones that were destroyed at the Taboo.”
Schanke turned to his companion, though neither said a word, Marc knew there was an understanding that passed between them. They know! he thought to himself. Who sent them here!?
He stood off to the side as they looked through the various maps. Some of them were encased in plastic, since they were so old. Of course, he didn’t tell them that those would be the only ones that showed the caves. They figured that out on their own.
“Look, these caves were probably around from the start of the city. Which was in…” She thought for a moment, then, “about 1800.”
“1797, to be precise,” Marc added, just to be helpful.
She glanced at him, then back to the maps. “Let’s start from there.”
They looked through the maps again, and then Schanke exclaimed, “There they are!”
They pulled out two of the older maps. The caves were very clearly marked out on the old maps.
Schanke smiled for the first time, “Soon.”
The woman nodded and, as she looked at the maps, started to frown. “Schank, according to these maps, the caves would be were the airport is.”
“The airport? If you can call it that!”
“It serves us pretty good,” Marc commented for no particular reason.
“Oh, I bet it does,” Schanke retorted, still smiling.
Marc raised any eyebrow, but said nothing.
“Okay, so the caves are near the airport?”
“No,” she answered, almost in a whisper. “According to these, they would be ‘in’ the airport.”
The smile fell “Way from Schanke’s face. “So close.”
“It’s still worth a shot, Schanke. Maybe there’s another entrance in the woods or something. We won’t give up, I promise.” The last she said as she put a hand on his shoulder in comfort.
“All right.” He sighed, then turned to Marc. “We’ll need to make photocopies of these, okay?”
It wasn’t until Evie unrolled the copies for the first time, back in Nick and Trapper’s hotel room, that she noticed the tiny writing in the corner of one of the maps.
“Don’t venture into the forest without me. They will not welcome your presence. I can help, especially to find the girl. Come back to the library at midnight.”
Just Another Day in the Trenches
Ms. Drago tapped her pen on the marble top of the front desk and put the novel down that she’d been trying to read. The day had been much too exciting, as far as she was concerned. After the dreadful business a couple of weeks ago, she had hoped things would calm down. She smiled to herself. ‘That’s what I get for working in The Twilight Zone.’
An insistent chime demanded her attention. Jerome had programmed all of the lobby telephones to make the sound. He said that a normal phone ringing was too jarring for the patrons. Amelia Drago sighed and answered the line.
“Front desk, Ms. Drago speaking.” She picked up her pen and scribbled furiously. “Of course. Oh, no, I’ll be happy to take care of that, too. You’re welcome.” Amelia hung the phone up and finished her notes, while she checked the register. She pushed the button for the Aztec Suite, to let the occupants know that they had a message waiting for them, and then touched the “playback” button to make sure that it had recorded properly.
“Hi, Kat! This is Trapper. We’re all in the Louis XIV Suite, so call when you come to, and we’ll get together.”
That done, Amelia called Room Service and ordered two bottles of Chateau “Bessie” and a large carafe of very strong lattes to be sent up to the suite. As she picked up her book, she found herself wondering why vampires were staying in the hotel again. She thought they’d been pretty much wiped out. ‘As long as they’ve got this kind of money, who cares?’
The phone chimed again. Once more, she put down her book to take the call. When she hung up, she was visibly annoyed. It was that dreadful man in the West Wind Suite, wanting food and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Jerome had practically ordered her to call a doctor to see to his injuries, and have the room cleaned up. If she’d been in charge, she’d have thrown him out on his ass. But, no, not Mr. Battles.
“The customer is always right, Ms. Drago. Remember that, and deal with it,” he’d said, and hung up. Well, fine. She would deal with it. That was her job. But she didn’t have to like it.
Food And Lodging
Fraser, Deif and the two Rays looked at the Day manager. “A Suite?”
Ms. Drago sighed, then smiled at the handsome man with the dog. “Yes, a Mr. Micah Ra has reserved you the Yukon Suite. He says you are to be allowed to bring your dog.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Half wolf actually. He saved my life once…” He broke off as Ray nudged him in the ribs.
“Yes, Ray?” Fraser watched the bellboy as he took the spare key and the men’s luggage.
“Shut up.” Ray turned to Ms. Drago and smiled. “Where do we sign?”
She pulled out the paperwork and handed a note to Fraser. “Mr.Ra wanted you to get this.” She handed him three keys and punched something into the computer.
Benton accepted it and read it. “Very good.”
Stanley took his offered extra key and walked with the bellboy. “Can we get some sodas up in the room?”
Ms. Drago nodded. “Right “Way.”
“I need to be notified when Mr. Ra and his group arrive, if you please.” Benton smiled as he handed back the signed papers.
“Thank you kindly.” He tipped his hat at her and headed to the elevators.
Shop till you Drop, then Crawl
day, late afternoon
“Oh, God, I need a shower!” Kay groaned as she sat up in the luxurious bed.
“Mmfffhh.” Sukh cracked an eye, then pulled a pillow over her head. “Need. More. Rest. Goway.”
Kay stood and frowned at the black sweats that Buffy had loaned her. “Man we need clothes.” She groaned as her panties started to slid over her hips and down her legs. She yanked the pillow off Sukh’s face and pulled the sheets off her friend. “Get up.”
“No.” Sukh sounded just like a vampire exposed to sunlight as she groped for the warm sheets. “Sleep.”
“I’m hungry.” Kay grabbed Sukh’s arm and started to drag her off the bed.
“All right, sheesh!” Sukh crawled off the bed and ran a hand through her hair. “Damn!” Her panties slid off and puddled on the floor. “We do need new clothes, ” She looked at the sweats and the Toronto metro T‑shirt that Traps had found in Nick’s loft for her.
“I’m hitting the shower. What time is it?” Kay called from the other room.
“3:30.” Sukh searched for the small bag of toiletries she had been given by Angelique and looked at the phone. The red light was blinking.
She pressed the message button.
“My dear devotees, I have a treat for you at the front desk. Please do try not to max it on the first day.” LaCroix’s mesmerizing voice teased her.
“Please call the Yukon suite as soon as possible.” Yukon suite?
“Hey Sukh, I hope that’s you name. I need to go shopping and I was wondering if you want to go too. Call the British suite. I can’t believe how dark it is in here, uggh.” Cordelia. After the Yukon suite.
She called the Yukon suite.
“Umm, my names Sukh and I was left a message to call?”
“Just a sec,” He called to someone.
“Can you meed us in the lobby in 45 minutes?”
“Umm, sure. How will I recognize you?”
“Red serge.” The phone clicked in her ear.
Next Cordelia. They arranged to meet at 5, before sunset, and go to a local mall.
In the Lobby‑
“I’m hungry,” Kay suggested as she looked hopefully at the door of the restaurant in the hotel.
“Later.” Sukh was scanning the lobby as they walked to the front counter.
“Hello. We were told we had something at the desk for us.”
The day person nodded as smiled as she handed Sukh a gold card. “Complements of your Uncle.”
“Uncle?” Kay looked a Sukh and frowned.
Then the light dawned and they both grinned. “Uncle!”
Sukh caught a flash of scarlet in the lobby, near the elevator. “Babe alert.”
Kay whipped around. “Where?”
Sukh’s eyes got as big as saucers. ‘Oh my, oh my.” She sat hard on a nearby chair.
Kay groaned as the Mountie approached. She hoped Sukh remained conscious this time.
The Aztec Suite
Her maker must be near, she thought groggily. Rolling over, Kat immediately sank back into the dreams that had restarted last month after years of peace – dreams that she had come to associate with LaCroix.
Barefoot and bloodstained, she stumbled out of the burial chamber. She leaned in the doorway, staring wildly at her gore-covered hands. Had she dirtied them in self-defense? She couldn’t remember, but doubt gnawed viciously at her. When she caught herself licking her fingers, she groaned in dismay. What was happening?
Fear propelled her “Way from the remains of Pere Christophe and the two brothers…and out of the monastery, all together. Although the day before had signaled an early arrival of Spring, snow was now blanketing the Parisian countryside. With no regard to the cold, she effortlessly ran the rugged trail to her haven in the woods. Once there, she didn’t need to see the bloody ground to know where she had been attacked; The air fairly hummed with the memory of her screams.
In her dream state, Kat saw the clearing with new eyes. For centuries the actual events of her death had been a mystery, but in Toronto her dreams had begun to reveal more and more of the truth. She knew now that a vampire had ambushed her here, killed her and left her to be reborn alone. As usual, the sequence of the dream continued along the lines of what had truly happened; She crawled into the hollow she had used to store her secular belongings and hid in fear until the hunger grew too strong to bear.
Kat woke suddenly – her eyes glowing and her fangs out. It took a moment to remember where she was. The dream-induced blood thirst slowly ebbed “Way and she decided to get up.
“Forget this,” she said aloud, any attempt at sleep now a futility.
She eased out of bed so as not to disturb Vachon and descended to the hotel floor. The designers of this particular suite had spared nothing in their homage to pre-Columbian Mexico. Stucco walls, hand-woven fabrics and le piece de resistance – a bed atop a truncated and stepped pyramid made of stone. Luckily they stopped the recreation after only 2 steps, she thought smiling, or they would have had to raise the ceiling.
The Aztec Suite was one large open room, again true to history, thus combining the sitting and sleeping areas. A doorway, with no door, led to the spacious bathroom which was tiled and displayed a mural of the moon goddess on one wall. After listening to the message left by Trapper, Kat filled the stone tub with steaming water, got in and relaxed. She needed to prepare herself, both physically and mentally, for whatever New Jerusalem might bring.
Here Comes the Night
The sunset streamed in the windows of the suite’s reception room, turning everything to blood and rubies. Trapper lounged on the settee, gazing at the beginnings of twilight. She raised her latte to her lips in a silent salute to the evening as the door to Evie’s room opened.
Evie staggered into the room, not quite “Wake yet. She took in the scene and her eyes widened as she saw Trapper. “My God, woman! You’ve got color!” She came closer to the couch to get a better look. “Are you OK?”
Trapper turned with a smirk. “Ho, ho. So, did you sleep all right?”
“Yeah,” Evie said wearily, “just not long enough.” She gestured at the latte as she fell into one of the overstuffed chairs. “Got another one of those?”
Trapper rose and grabbed another cup. “Yep. What’ll it be? We’ve got regular and high‑test.”
“Oh, the stronger the better.”
“How did I know you’d say that?” Trapper handed her partner the cup and sat back down, cradling her own. “So? How did the fact finding expedition go?”
Evie took a sip of her coffee before she answered. “Good, I think. The town’s pretty tight‑lipped, but I think that’s kind of an east coast thing. Schanke had the bright idea of getting topographical maps from the library. I guess there are some caves just outside of town that he wants to check out.”
Trapper looked at the stack of photocopies on the coffee table. “Good. At least that gives us somewhere to start.”
Evie drained her cup and decided on seconds. “Hey,” she said as she went to get the carafe. “Did you see the day manager? I would not want to be on her bad side.”
“Why?” Trapper held out her cup in a silent request.
Evie obliged, emptying the remains into Trapper’s cup. “Well, I don’t know what was going on, but she was not a happy camper when we came back to the hotel.” She sat back down. “I was wondering if it had anything to do with the sirens we heard from Denny’s.”
Trapper looked intently into her cup, a slight smile playing about her lips. “Could be.”
Evie leaned forward. “You know something! Well, what happened?”
“Nick and I were…resting,” Trapper began as Evie snorted in response. “I heard screaming and got pissed. It had been going on all morning. I mean, fun’s fun, but this didn’t sound like fun.” She kept herself under control with an effort as she related the rest of the tale.
“Lux Interior? You mean that Jim Morrison wannabee that wishes he had talent?”
“The same.” Trapper looked intently at the dark haired woman. “And you know what’s really weird? He had pictures of Kat scattered around everywhere. It looks like a serious obsession.”
“Do you think he followed her here?”
“I think its too much of a coincidence to have any other answer. I’m guessing that she doesn’t know yet, so I’ll tell her when she calls. I left a message at the desk.”
Evie gave Trapper a wry smile. “It doesn’t sound like you left enough of him to cause her any trouble.”
“I hope not, but it never hurts to be cautious.”
Nick and Schanke simultaneously tottered out of their rooms as the phone began to ring.
Don’t Believe Everything You See
The Elysian Fields
Javier woke to furtive giggling.
She was trying to be quiet, she really was, but this was just too damn funny. By the time Kat had progressed to the occasional snort, Vachon was standing behind her. Frowning in sleepy confusion, he circled around and plopped down next to her on the couch.
“What is this?” he inquired squinting at the television.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, calming down a little. Kat took his hand and squeezed it. “It’s MTV.”
Before long, what had amused her returned to the screen. A young man in a top hat and tails stylishly opened his cape letting hundreds of bats fly out. Kat started roaring again. Javier smiled, too, but more from her contagious mood than from what he saw in the music video. The next scene involved a guy with half of his face covered in green scales; Kat wasn’t laughing so hard at that. But as soon as the Hip Hop Dracula reappeared, she started up again.
Swiping the blood tears “Way with the heel of one hand, Kat reached for the remote with the other and turned off the tv. She leaned back and looked at the ceiling. A replica of an Aztec sun calendar was overhead, but she wasn’t seeing it; She had other things on her mind.
‘Trapper called,” she informed him, “they’re in the hotel.”
“Cool,” he replied and got up to head for the bathroom. While he washed and dressed, Kat ordered a simple “Stuart” from the room service menu. She poured their dinner into jade goblets and brought one to Vachon. Between sips they began to kiss.
As they finished their first glass, there came a knock on the door. Groaning in disappointment, Kat said, “You call the others and I’ll get this.” The young Conquistador grabbed one last kiss before going to the phone. She pulled open the door just as she heard Vachon say, “hello.” In front of her stood Ira Herzoff – drunk and battered.
Angelique drifted in her sleep, curled into LaCroix’s arms.
Then it happened.
A woman’s voice drifted to her.
“Help me,” her plaintive cry made her flinch.
“How?” Angelique answered as the woman walked out of the mist. She had dark hair and eyes and wore a rose quartz pendant.
“I need to get back.”
“Back to where?” Angelique saw two shadowy figures standing behind her. One male held a crook and flail and the female opened her winged arms.
Isis and Osiris.
“Life. I need to help Giles.” The woman turned and motioned to the figures. “They told me to come to you.” Behind her Isis nodded.
The goddess had spoken. Angelique woke as the sun faded from the sky. She sat up, and LaCroix looked at her, groggy from his day sleep.
“Angelique?” He ran his hand over her shoulder. ” What bothers you?”
“Isis.” Angelique stood and pulled on her red silk robe. “She came to me in a dream.”
“And what did she tell you?” LaCroix sat up and put and arm on his knee, watching Angelique open a bottle of blood wine. She brought him a glass as she tried to decide what to wear for the evening.
“Actually it was someone else who told me to help them. Jenny Calendar.”
“And she is?” LaCroix sipped at the wine, and watched her pad around the room in a provocative lace ensemble.
“Giles’s dead love.”
LaCroix frowned at that. “I guess if Isis wishes it, it must be done.”
“Yes, The Goddess’s will be done.” She spilt a bit of wine as she took a drought of the wine. It trailed down her chin and to her neck as she growled in dismay.
“My, my so messy,” He smiled and held out a hand. “Let me help,”
Giles woke in a cold sweat. He had been dreaming again. Dreaming that Jenny was alive and trapped somewhere, struggling to get back to him.
“Hey! Cordelia quit hogging the bathroom!”
“Great.” Another round of fun with four teens that were in far to close quarters. Giles got up to put on his corduroy pants to find they had been exchanged for a pair of black jeans.
“Buffy!” he charged out of his room, in his boxers and unbuttoned shirt, the jeans clutched in his fist. “Where are my pants?”
“In your hand?” Buffy stared at him wide eyed.
“No, my usual pants.”
Cordelia’s voice was muffled by the bathroom door. “I switched them. You need to loosen up, Mr. Giles.”
“Next time, a little warning might be appreciated.” He retreated back into his room and donned his pants.
“Nice legs,” Buffy’s voice floated back to him.
He blushed as he fastened the button fly.
I Love You to Death
The Elysian Fields
“Can I talk to you?” he asked miserably. “Alone?”
Kat was speechless. She looked down the hall in both directions, almost hoping to see August or Horton or even Tracy – anybody that would make more sense right now than the lead singer of Daisy Chainsaw. Not wanting to disturb Vachon on the phone, Kat stepped out into passageway and pulled the door shut behind her. Keeping her voice low she said, “I don’t know what you are doing here, but you need to leave.”
Lux, bandaged and bruised, looked like he might cry.
“It’s not safe here in New Jerusalem,” she insisted, as she led him “Way from her doorway. Something was about to happen, she could feel it.
“Sister Kat, I want you to give me eternal life.”
She froze momentarily. “You’re drunk,” she chided her whiskey-soaked companion and continued to pull him onward. The redhead hoped they were headed toward his room.
“I want you to give me what you gave Morrison…” His voice sped up with excitement, “I love you as much as he did!”
Kat spoke slowly and clearly as if to a child, “Honey, I didn’t give anything to Morrison. He’s dead.”
“No, I know you have the power,” he slurred, “I read it in his diary!” Lux slowed to argue his point better. “Jim Morrison isn’t buried in France – he’s alive and you had something to do with it.”
She let go of him but continued forward a few steps. Without turning around, she said, “Well, let me take you to your room, we can discuss it there.” Kat scanned the hallway for the danger she felt creeping up on them.
Suddenly her legs gave out and she found herself kneeling in front of the Louis XIV Suite. Lux hissed loudly into her ear, “Don’t lie to me bitch.” Kat’s body jerked and the grinning musician presented her a bloodied stiletto in one bandaged hand. Kat grabbed for his leg, but he was behind her and strangely she couldn’t move well. He drove the spike into her back several more times before running down the hallway and out of sight.
Shop til you Drop, then Crawl (2/2)
Lobby of the hotel
Sukh picked at her Tiramasiu as she listened to the Mountie talk. Things were not looking up to go find new clothes. “I guess shopping is out of the question.”
“I would suggest that you not go out without an escort.”
“A group is okay?”
“Marginally. There are vampires everywhere and many of them don’t show much restraint.”
“Ahh. We are meals on wheels here.”
“Of a sort yes.”
“Does your friend have a problem with her speech?”
They watched as Sukh tried to form a coherent sentence and failed. She sighed, looked at Fraser and wiped her chin.
“It’s the uniform.”
Ray chuckled, then tapped his watch. “Benny, we got a phone call to get upstairs. Pay for dinner and let’s get up to the room.”
Stanley nodded and stood. “Thanks Fras for a great meal.”
“Remember, don’t go out after dark,”
A half hour later, it was getting dark when Cordelia finally showed.
“Wait.” Kay looked at the dark sky and frowned. “Fraser said it was dangerous after dark.”
“Then we can take a limo. I’m having one sent around.” Cordelia shrugged. “I’m not wearing this skank dress another day.”
“We need new stuff, underwear on up.”
At the mall all was quiet. Kay and Sukh managed to find a few underthings and were looking for pants when the carnage started.
After all they could remember was the screaming.
They stumbled to the Limo, and crawled into the package-laden backseat, unaware that Cordelia wasn’t with them. They stared at each other, shell shocked and gore covered for the ride to the hotel.
Vampires had never been monsters until that moment when the Sabbat had invaded the mall.
It was a shattering realization for both of them.
She Twists the Knife Again
Just after Sunset (9ish)
“I’ll get it,” Trapper called out and flopped to the other end of the couch to take the call. Nick continued to the fridge to get “breakfast”, while Schanke poured himself a cup of regular coffee from the remaining carafe.
“Javier!” Trapper pulled herself upright. A furrow creased her brow as she listened. “We’ll be right over.” She put the phone down and stood.
“Something up?” Evie got out of her chair.
“Yeah. There’s something happening at their suite. I’m going down there.” She paused to grab her motorcycle jacket and kissed Nick on her way to the door. “Follow me as soon as you can. They’re in the Aztec Suite, just down the hall.”
Trapper flung open the door and almost tripped over Kat. She was lying on the floor, struggling to rise from a widening pool of blood. Her attacker was running off down the hall, his insane laughter glancing off the walls.
“Nick!” Trapper screamed. “Quick! I need help!” She bent over to help the dazed and bleeding woman.
Nick scooped Kat up and carried her into the suite. Trapper leaned in the door.
“Evie, call Vachon. I think I can still catch the guy who did this.”
Evie jumped for the phone as Trapper dashed off.
Trapper found herself wondering who’d had the balls to stab Kat as she flew down the hall. She could smell the spilled blood in the air like a signal flare, leading her on. She spotted him at the far end of the hall, near the fire exit. He’d stopped to catch his breath and leaned against the wall, clutching his ribs and gasping. Trapper alighted in front of him, her eyes ablaze.
“You again!?” she fairly roared at him.
Lux cringed and threw his bandaged, bloody hands up over his face. The stiletto dropped to the floor. He stank of stale whiskey and fear. Trapper bent over and pulled his head back. She leaned into his face, close enough to see the reflection of her yellow eyes in his rheumy, frightened ones.
“I warned you,” she hissed quietly.
“No, no, no,” he whimpered. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I just wanted to be like Jim Morrison.”
“And so you will,” she spoke so quietly – he could hardly hear her. He could smell the sweetened espresso on her breath, and something else, something metallic.
“Jim’s dead.” She spoke the words with deadly intent. She dragged him to his feet with one hand, picking up his blade with the other. “But, far be it from me to do the honors alone.” She began to haul him back to the suite as she spoke. “I think we’ll let Kat and Vachon decide what to do with you.”
He shrieked with pain and terror as Trapper pulled him roughly along. He pleaded with the closed doors as they passed. “Please! Somebody help me!”
But the doors remain shut and silent.
Thicker than Water
The Elysian Fields
Time slowed to a crawl. One embarrassing moment she was underestimating a mortal psychopath and the next she was being carried by a medieval crusader.
(“You’re going to be fine,” Nick assured her, rushing to the couch.)
His hair was longer, wilder and his skin was tanned. Kat could smell the horse on him. The rough fabric of his chemise rubbed against her cheek and she looked up into his deep, blue eyes. She was drowning.
(“Schanke, get a towel. She’s still bleeding!”)
Reaching up feebly, Kat touched her savior’s face. He was warm. Kat began to smile; He was speaking the old french of her childhood.
(“Holy water, maybe?”)
The knight pulled up his sleeve and bit into his wrist. Mesmerized by the ruby blood on his lips, Kat slowly opened her mouth to receive the blessed sacrament. It burned her throat and filled her stomach with fire.
FLASH! ….she heard a feral growl and was hit from behind with a force that knocked her, face first, into the ground.
Kat drank greedily.
FLASH! She was kicking and twisting but the creature was large and held her down with its weight.
FLASH! LaCroix pulled his hand “Way bloodied. “You’re first solo kill was a fighter, I see.”
FLASH! With her final strength she brought her hand with the razor up to her attacker and began to slash at him.
FLASH! “A fighter….”
Nick began to swoon.
FLASH! As her life ebbed “Way she could taste his blood, as well as hers, on her lips for they were both bathed in it.
Thicker, part II
The Elysian Fields
When Kat came to her senses she still couldn’t move her legs, but some of the deeper wounds had closed. Nicholas de Brabant sat at the other end of the couch, while Trapper held Lux Interior by the scruff of his neck, over by the door. Lux, realizing the danger he was in, was amazingly quiet.
“Ce n’est pas possible,” Nick murmured. He looked at Katherine as if for the first time.
“I can barely remember…” he thought aloud, frowning. “I killed him…you.”
Kat was exhausted and in shock. Almost eight hundred years of anger began to drift “Way ‑ taking all of her strength with it.
“You didn’t know,” she said emotionlessly. Not abandoned, not a mistake but an accident! It was too simple to be anything but the truth.
Days of Future Past
9:30 p.m., right after Thicker, part II
Javier Vachon tore down the hall, his heart in his throat. The call from Evie had been short and serious.
“Kat’s hurt.” The words sounded over and over in his ears like a death knell. He saw light streaming into the hall from the open door. There was a large pool of shadow in the middle of the carpet. Javier didn’t need his eyes to tell him that it was Kat’s blood spilled so carelessly.
He burst into the room. “How bad?!” He almost shouted. She lay on the couch, so very pale. He dropped to his knee beside the couch and took her face in his hands. “Kat? Kat?”
She opened her eyes and smiled weakly at him. “Hey.” She reached up to brush a bloody tear track from his face. “You weren’t worried about me, were you?”
He grinned back at her in relief. “Yeah. I was afraid I’d have to drink this all by myself.” He held up the bottle of “Stuart” that he’d brought along.
They continued their quiet banter, temporarily oblivious to the rest of the room.
Nick sat at the end of the couch, lost in thought. Evie came over to Trapper and looked down at the cringing, stinking maniac at her feet. “This is him, I take it?”
Trapper nodded absently as she looked over at Nick. “What’s up?”
Evie followed Trapper’s eyes to Nick. “Apparently they’re not sibs after all.”
Trapper raised her eyebrows. “Oh?”
Her dark‑haired friend shook her head. “Nope. I gather she was his first kill. But, I guess that the kill part didn’t stick, and he never knew.”
“Ouch.” Trapper winced in sympathy. She wanted to go to Nick and offer comfort, but there was the little matter of Lux.
Evie guessed her thought before she spoke it. “Would you like me to take this off your hands for a few?”
Trapper turned grateful eyes on Evie. “Thanks. I owe you one.”
Evie grabbed Lux and dragged him across the room. “Come with me, scumboy. I’ll introduce you to some real music.” She picked up her Diskman from the side table.
Trapper knelt next to Nick and laid a hand on his shoulder. He looked up with eyes full of agony, and wordlessly fell into her arms. She stroked his head and held him as he poured out his pain.
“I didn’t know,” he said quietly against her shoulder. “I thought she was dead.” He stared into the past as he spoke. “It was my first solo kill. That’s what LaCroix called it. He’d starved me for days.” He snorted derisively. “Said it would heighten my hunting skills. I was crazy with hunger, no more than a mad animal by the time I found her.”
“But you didn’t know.”
“I know now. All the pain and confusion she went through, all of the rage she felt.” He shook his head, unable to go on for a moment. “No, I didn’t know.” His voice held an edge of steel as he came to a sudden realization. He looked at Trapper and his eyes narrowed. “But LaCroix did.” He glanced over his shoulder to Kat and Vachon. She was sitting up now, leaning against Javier and listening to every word Nick spoke. “He did, didn’t he?”
She shrugged. “He must’ve. He’s the one that contacted me about coming to Toronto in the first place.”
Nick clenched his hands and hit the arm of the couch. “That bastard! What was he playing at? He had no right to leave you there!”
“You’re right,” Kat agreed, and took another mouthful of blood.
Vachon looked at both of them and blinked. “Maybe it’s time to ask him?”
Trapper spoke up. “I think that’s an excellent idea. He should have to answer for this. But first,” she looked across the room, awe still have something to take care of.”
They all turned to look at Lux, who was unconscious on the floor. Evie smiled unpleasantly. “He’s no fun, he fell right over.” She took the headphones off him. “What a wuss. Turn the volume up just a little and…” She left the sentence unfinished.
Out of Sight
The Elysian Fields
After Days of Future Past
“I think I can move now,” she said, gingerly swinging her legs over the edge. Vachon held his hand out for support and she took it gratefully. Standing, she gave the worried conquistador a knowing look then let go.
Wobbling more for effect than anything else, Kat circled the now blood‑soaked Louis XIV divan. She touched Nick tenderly on the shoulder as she passed. Just as she reached the second Detective she stumbled.
“Oh hey! Easy now,” Schanke said reaching out. He caught her before she fell and held onto her tightly.
“Detective Schanke?” Kat asked, doe‑eyed. “Could you do me a favor?”
“Anything,” he replied, his fatherly instincts kicking in. He gestured to a nearby chair and Kat meekly nodded in agreement. Leading her to it, he helped her sit.
“Can you go to my room and get me a clean top? This one’s…” her voice trailed off as she pulled the stiffening shirt “Way from her body.
“Absolutely,” Don responded. He looked to Vachon who quickly said, “The Aztec, three doors down, it’s unlocked.”
The door closed behind Schanke with a soft click, a few moments passed then Kat stood up. It was difficult but getting easier by the minute. She approached the comatose stalker and stared down at him.
“My heart just isn’t in this right now,” she said to no one in particular. But before anyone could step up to exact her revenge in her stead, Kat took his head in both hands and snapped his neck. Lux Interior passed from unconscious to dead and never even knew it.
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
After Out of Sight
Evie nodded at Kat’s expertise. “Nicely done.” She looked down at the mortal remains of one Lux Interior. “But, now what? A body’s much more difficult to get rid of than a live human.”
Kat staggered back to the couch with Javier’s help and collapsed on it. “Sorry. I just wanted him gone.”
Javier rested his hand on her shoulder. “You were much kinder than I would have been,” he said softly. He walked back to where the body was and looked down at it. “Hmm,” he pondered, turning to the window. Trapper, seeing the direction he was headed in, opened the window and looked out.
“There’s a dumpster right below us,” she said, pulling her head back in. She looked at Vachon. “Time to dump the garbage?”
“I was thinking just that,” he replied as he scooped up what was left of Lux. He walked to the open window and tossed his burden. “Happy landings,” he said with a certain amount of irony.
Nick looked to Kat. “Thanks for getting Schanke out of here. He didn’t need to see that.”
Kat nodded and smiled. “I really do need a new shirt.”
As if on cue, Schanke blew back into the room with a handful of tee‑shirts. “I wasn’t sure which one you’d want. Myra and Jenny can spend hours trying on something to wear, so I just brought a bunch.” He placed them next to the couch and looked around, puzzled. “So, where’s the crazy?”
“We tossed him.”
“OK. I would’ve called the local cops, but I guess it would be hard to explain.” Schanke shrugged. “It’s probably better that you just let him go.” Schanke dropped into the nearest chair and put his feet up. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but that was about as much excitement as Donnie boy wants to see for a little while.”
They all nodded in agreement, willing to leave it at that. Maybe now things could get back to what passed for normal these days. This hope was to be short‑lived.
Touched By an Angel
By Trapper (with input from Sukh)
Elysian Fields, Louis XIV Suite
Around 10:30pm, After Dirty Deeds
“Hey, what a cozy little scene.” The room looked up to see Angel lounging casually in the doorway. “The door was open,” he said as he sauntered in, “so I thought I’d see what you were all up to. ” Besides, we’re all family here, aren’t we?” He walked toward Kat. “Hey, cuz’.” He opened his arms wide. “How about a kiss?”
Kat levered herself up into a sitting position and stared at the arrogant vampire. “We are not family,” she spat. “We are nothing alike!”
“What? You’re a vampire. I’m a vampire. You suck blood. I suck blood. Sounds pretty alike to me.”
Trapper folded her arms and stared at him. “I don’t think so. We may be vampires, but you’re a demon. Big difference.”
Angel clutched his chest mockingly. “I’m crushed.” He turned back to Kat. “Does this mean no hug?”
Vachon rose from the couch in one fluid motion to face Angel. There was no mistaking the threat in his voice. “Just what do you want, cabron?”
Evie walked up to stand behind Vachon. “Yeah, deadboy, spit it out and leave.”
“You wound me,” Angel said. “I’m just delivering a message.” He turned to Nick and Trapper. “Actually, it’s for you, Knight.” He tossed something at Nick. “Nat says hi.”
Nick caught the toss and looked at it. It was a long, bloody lock of Natalie’s hair. He clutched it in his fist and glared at Angel. “If you’ve harmed her…”
“No. Not yet, anyway. Dru, Spike and I are just having some fun with her.” He stepped past them to the open window. “For now.”
Before anyone could react, he’d blown them a kiss and vanished out the window.
“What are we going to do, Nick?” It was Schanke who spoke up.
Nick continued to stare at the tress in his hand. “We’re going to find Benton Fraser. He needs to know about this.” He looked up. “He and Nat have gotten rather close recently.” He looked directly at Schanke. “We haven’t really spoken much since Casa Loma.”
Schanke nodded as he dug for his cellphone. “Yeah. She said something about going your separate ways last time we talked. I’m going to call Toronto, and make sure she’s really missing.”
“Good idea, Schanke. I’ll see what I can do about finding Benton. Then, we’re going to find her,” he paused for a moment, “and Jenny.”
The alley outside The Elysian Fields
Right after Touched By an Angel
blink…night sky and a million stars…blink…the unmistakable smell of rotting food…blink…a strange sensation by his left hand.
Lux Interior slowly turned his head to see. Man, it felt like he was coming off of a three week bender. His head felt like a throbbing balloon. He blinked again to bring the world into focus, and found himself staring into a pair of beady black eyes.
“Y”AAH!” He leaped backwards. The rat, far more frightened than he was, vanished over the side of the dumpster. Lux checked out his surroundings. Yes, he was indeed in the dumpster outside in the alley. He craned his neck, wincing at the pain. “Owww! What happened to me? And what am I doing down here?” he asked no one in particular. He struggled to remember what had put him here. He remembered stabbing Sister Kat. Then he took off down the hall; that harpy from Hell grabbing him. What did they call her? Trapper? Then, back to the room, and the bitch with that Chieftains’ CD turned up full blast, and then, nothing. No, wait, that wasn’t quite right. There was a loud snap, and then darkness, floating, and then here. He stood up. Nothing seemed to be damaged. Hey, maybe Sister Kat had done what he wanted! No way he could’ve survived a fall from up there!
He was still checking himself out when Angel landed next to the dumpster. “Well, what have we here?” He leaned over the rim and sniffed. “Smells like an aromatic specimen of a baby immortal to me.”
“Who the fuck are you?” Lux snarled. His head still hurt, and this black‑clad punk was making jokes.
“Oh, temper my friend. My name’s Angel, and I think I can help you out.”
You’re in the Army Now
“Well, unless you’re a record producer, I seriously doubt it,” the long-haired rockstar retorted snidely. Lux clambered out of the well-used dumpster and attempted to brush himself off.
“Small dreams are for small men,” Angel remarked casually, leaning against the large metal box. Something fluttered to the ground and the vampire snatched it up. Lux feigned disinterest but Angel knew better. It was a worn black and white photo of the red-headed vampire upstairs.
“I’d want to get her back if I were you…” he said and pointedly looked up to the second story window above them.
Lux stuck his hand out for his picture of Sister Kat. “For your information, I got exactly what I came for.”
Angel held the well-worn object out but refused to let go once Lux had a hold of it. “Did you?” he asked plainly, “did you really?”
When the Lux couldn’t answer, Angelus wrapped his free arm around the new Immortal, grimaced form the odor, and said, “Come on, I’ve got some friends I’d like you to meet.”
Twist of Fate
New Salem Mall
Gina checked herself out in the mirror. ‘Hot,’ she thought. She turned to see the little red dress move across her hips. ‘Definitely hot.’ Her parents would hate it. They were SO old fashioned. She looked at herself again. She needed a second opinion.
Stretching to peek over the half door of the dressing room, she called out, “Louise? Are you out there?”
A blonde head appeared over an identical door across the hall. “What’s up?”
“Could you look at this?”
“Just a sec.” The head vanished back behind the door. “I’ve gotta get this buttoned.”
Both doors swung open about a minute later. Out of each dressing room stepped every boy’s wet dream.
Louise was blonde, pale and petite. She was a vision straight from the 70s in her bell‑bottomed hip huggers and midriff top. Gina, on the other hand, was brunette, tall and almost reed thin. She wore a tiny red dress, hardly bigger than the price tag attached to it. They looked at each other, said, “Ooooh, rad!” simultaneously, and dissolved in hysterical giggles.
The salesgirl walked in, amused. “You both look great. Can I ring you up?”
They walked out into the mall proper, feeling quite the fashion statement. As they neared the fountain, where most of the ‘mall rats’ hung out, they heard the noise. It shook the floor, and the screams were a horrific counterpoint to the deadly melody. They turned to see the horsemen at the other end of the mall.
Gina grabbed her friend’s hand and dived for cover behind a large cement planter. It seemed like she crouched there for hours, while the bizarre bloodbath raged around her.
Sometime later, the noise stopped. All that could be heard were distant moans of the wounded and dying. Gina noticed that she was splattered with gore, like the rest of the mall. She cautiously looked around, but saw no more of the strange horsemen.
“Louise,” she whispered. “It’s OK. You can come out. I think they’re gone. Louise?” She turned and everything became slow motion. Her friend lay on the ground behind her, gasping, bleeding from several wounds, all of which looked mortal.
Gina took Louise’s hand. What should she do? Her best friend in the world was lying in front of her, dying. At this moment, she wanted her parent’s advice. She frowned. No, she already knew what they’d say. She remembered when her kitten, Oscar was dying after being mauled by a large dog. She hadn’t asked her parents about it then. She smiled in spite of herself. Now she had a 90 year old kitten that delighted in terrorizing strays. She shrugged and leaned over Louise.
“Louise? Nod if you can hear me.” Louise focused with some difficulty and nodded. “That’s good. No, don’t talk, just listen.” She took a deep breath and plunged in, before she changed her mind. “Ok, now. You’re dying. No, no. It’s all right. I can fix it, but, well, you’ll be a vampire if I do. Y’know, kind of like all the ones that got killed a couple of weeks ago?” She leaned closer. “If you don’t want to do it, I’ll understand. If you do, just nod.”
Louise raised her head and breathed, “Do it.”
It was all the invitation Gina needed. Her fangs appeared and she buried them in her best friend’s neck. Then she pulled back enough to gash open her wrist and hold it over Louise’s mouth. The drops fell in so slowly. Louise blinked once, twice, grabbed Gina’s wrist and began to feed.
Gina took her hand “Way and grinned. “Enough already. You’ll live.” She looked around. “Now, I’ve just got to get you out of here.” She stood up and looked around at the blood‑soaked mall. About halfway down, she saw a couple of girls pulling themselves up and staggering for the door. She could hear one of them talking in a high, shrill voice, on the edge of hysteria.
“Ewww! Just look at my dress!” Cordelia wailed almost loud enough to wake the dead that lay all around.
“Tourists,” Gina muttered. She bent to pick up Louise and carried her toward the door. How was she going to explain this to her parents? Worse yet, how was she going to explain this to Louise’s mom?!
Six Characters in Search of an Answer
Although Schanke had stepped into his room to phone Toronto, they could hear his side of the conversation quite clearly. It usually worked that way when someone was shouting. “What do you mean, you can’t find her? When did she disappear? Look, I’m bustin’ my chops out in this burg, and I can’t be two places at once!” The sound faded as he paced “Way from the doorway.
Across the reception room, Nick was on the phone trying to find Fraser. “Yes, Sybilla, I realize you’re new. I also realize that you’re just filling in for Sharon. However, I need to know if he’s checked into the hotel.” Nick went on talking, trying to be patient.
Vachon was helping Kat put on a fresh shirt. “Well?” she asked, with her arms in the air.
“It’s almost healed.” Javier pulled her shirt gently down over her back and rested his chin on her shoulder. “But, I’d be careful.”
“Mmm,” she purred as she leaned into him. “Maybe what I need is a nice hot soak.”
“With hot oil,” he offered.
Evie stared at Trapper over the coffee table. “Meanwhile, back at the ranch.”
Trapper looked across from the couch where she sat. “We were still trying to find Jenny.”
Evie unfolded the maps across the table. “Let’s see where we’re at in relation to these caves.” She frowned and looked closer at the corner. “Hey, what’s this?”
“What’s what?” Trapper sat up for a better look. Vachon and Kat turned to see what was happening.
“The librarian must’ve scribbled this before we left.” Evie pointed out the message.
It read: “Don’t venture into the forest without me. They will not welcome your presence. I can help, especially to find the girl. Come back to the library at midnight.”
“Does this sound, I don’t know, a little WEIRD, maybe?” Evie said.
“So, what’s with the librarian? And who are ‘they’?”
“Search me. But it says midnight.” Evie checked her watch. “It’s ten to eleven.” She rose from her spot on the floor. “Who wants to play hide and seek at the library tonight, kids?”
Here Comes the Night
The New Salem Mall was much like any other mall in the country. A place full of shops selling pointless nothings while teenagers browsed the “meat market,” looking to score. About the only thing that made the place different was the fact that it stayed open until midnight.
Though it was still a school night, the mall was full of teenagers, as well as actual patrons and shop owners. Most of the activity centered around the food court, though there was a large group that was still hanging around the cinema.
The noise, when it started, almost resembled a thunderstorm. And then it grew louder. The crowds grew quiet, fear being the only thing capable of silencing teenagers.
And then the screams started.
At first, it was only a few down at one end of the mall. And then, almost like the Doppler Effect, the screams grew louder as they got closer, and there were more of them.
The group of teens at the cinema was startled by the sight of hundreds of people running every which way, most of them in their direction.
And then they saw them.
One of the more religious minded teenagers would have sworn it was the Four Horsemen, only there were enough of them to constitute a polo team. Grown men, all mounted on horses, with guns, machetes, and all manner of weapons, riding through the crowd in a stampede. They hacked this way or that, shot at whomever crossed their path. And in their wake was a long line of dead and mangled.
The men on horses plowed into the teenagers, killing a few in the first seconds, maiming others. One of the horsemen broke free, rode up to the wall, touched it and shouted, “I won!”
His companions all swore. One of them grinned suddenly, “I’ll race you to the other end!”
And so it started again, all the way back down to the other end of the mall, where the food court was situated. Which they all found appropriate, and fed heavily on the victims in the food court. Full with blood, and tired from their sport, they rode out of the mall, shooting what few bullets they had left, and laughing all the way . . .
Into the Breach
Kat and Vachon had left after agreeing to meet in the lobby at 11:30. Kat had risen and ruffled her short, red, bloodstained hair. “Hmm. I think I’d better grab a shower before we do this.”
Javier turned to follow, stopping only for the bottle next to the couch. He could be heard as he walked out the door. “I think I should grab . . . a shower, too.” There was a sudden giggle and then silence.
Evie walked out of her room, carrying her small duffel. “I think I have everything.”
Trapper peered into the bag. “Katana, gun, silver bullets?” she gave her friend a puzzled look.
“You never know what we could run into,” she said with a shrug.
“Right.” Trapper bent over the bag again. “Holy water, instant coffee,” it was almost a snicker. “Wait a minute. What’s this?” She pulled out a wicked looking bundle of stakes and brandished it in front of Evie.
“Insurance?” Evie snatched them back and buried them in the bag before she zipped it up.
“Ho,” Trapper began, but was interrupted from continuing by the simultaneous return of Schanke and Nick from their tasks.
“Well, that’s that,” Schanke said as he put his cell phone back in its belt holster. “Nat’s definitely gone, and no one’s heard anything. Nada. Zip.” He straightened his collar and pulled on his jacket. “I’m ready for this little expedition any time.” He looked at his watch. “I think I’ll meet you in the lobby. The snack bar’s still open, and I could use a nosh.”
Nick put the phone down and thoughtfully watched his partner as he walked out the door. “I have to wonder how he manages to deal with this.” He sighed and turned to the two women. “I’ve left an appropriate message for Benton, and a request that he meet us at the library. It wouldn’t hurt to have help.” He shrugged on his leather jacket and stood between Evie and Trapper, his hands on their shoulders. “Shall we, ladies?”
Trapper looked up at him and smiled. “You’d think we were all going out to a dance.”
“Instead of off into the unknown,” Evie said, finishing the sentence as they headed for the door.
At 11:50, the band stood in front of the library.
“Nice,” Vachon said quietly. He noticed the questioning eyes around him. “It’s got character,” he explained. “It’s not my church, but it’s ok.”
As they walked up the stairs, they could hear music from a car stereo a few blocks “Way. The radio was playing “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting.” They really hoped this was not an omen.
Beat the Clock
The Elysian Fields
Outside the Louis XIV Suite, the hallway carpet was tacky with blood. Kat and Vachon stepped around it; Neither was laughing anymore.
Kat stared at the impossibly large stain but saw, instead, Nicholas de Brabant. In one strange evening he had become her murderer, as well as, her hero. Not only that, Trapper was now her ‘sister.’ She sighed loudly.
Putting his hand on her waist, Vachon pulled gently at her. “C’mon,” he urged respectfully.
She let herself be led away. Still lost in thought, she smiled sadly and said, “Too weird.”
Her companion didn’t know if she was referring to the stabbing or the revelations it brought ‑ it didn’t matter, really. Taking her hand, they went back to their suite in silence.
Knowing they only had a few minutes, Kat opted for a quick shower. The steaming water pounded onto her cold flesh, washing all remnants of the attack down the drain. With one hand she turned off the water and the other she reached through the curtain for a towel. Between her and the towel rack stood Javier Vachon.
He scooped her up, carried her across the room and up the steps to the bed. Kat teased him about the water dripping everywhere, she joked about the time frame, but the Spaniard only smiled. He lay her gently on the bed then pulled off his soggy T‑shirt. Crouching over her, he began to slowly lick each and every water droplet off of her skin. Kat couldn’t move even if she had wanted to; She was entranced. By the time his beautiful, wavy brown hair had tickled every inch of her body and was beginning to touch her thighs, Kat wanted to faint.
Vachon never did make it to her toes.
Trying to regain some sort of composure, Kat attempted to get dressed. She had apparently left her T‑shirts in the other suite, so she got out a black body stocking, ragged jeans shorts and a pair of motorcycle boots. In the side of her boot she slid her 16th Century parrying dagger into it’s sheath.
They ran to the lobby of the hotel with absolutely no time to spare.
Loose Ends continued
“Come on Fraser, this is nuts,” the real Ray tried to talk Benton out of leaving the hotel room. “Knight is a vampire detective for Toronto, Canada?”
“Yes, Ray he is.” Fraser was buttoning his flannel shirt and looking around for his leather jacket.
Stanley looked up from his snack. ” Why aren’t you wearing your dress reds?”
“The detective asked me not to. He said red was not a good color around so many vampires.” He snatched his hat off the couch. “Come on Deif.”
“All this white is beginning to hurt my eyes.” Ray sat on the white couch and sifted through the empty wrappers that Stanley had left in the coffee table. He found an unopened candy bar, stood and grabbed his jacket. “I’m ready to roll.”
Stanley slipped on his glasses. “Right behind you.”
Benton, paused at the open door of the suite and looked at his two partners. “Are you sure?”
“Hold on a second,” Kat said, pausing mid‑step. “Maybe we shouldn’t all go in there?” The library seemed safe enough, but if she had learned anything tonight, it was to expect the worst.
Schanke stopped too. “You’re right.” Turning to face his comrades, he said, “He’ll be expecting me and Evie. Nick, you in?”
“Of course,” he said. He turned to Trapper who nodded and smiled. Nick kissed her quickly on the mouth then joined the two mortals near the door.
Trapper, Kat and Vachon quietly slipped around the corner of the Library and into the darkness.
Spies Like Us
New Salem Library
11:58pm, right after Partners
“Be careful,” Trapper whispered to Nick as she vanished around the corner to follow Kat and Vachon.
The streets were silent around the library, and the alley down the side of the building was a tunnel of darkness. Of course, darkness was no problem for the three vampires. A scruffy, black alley cat looked at them with glowing yellow eyes as they passed silently by. Deciding they were no threat, he went back to sleep on his garbage can lid.
The back of the library was identical to most buildings of the time period. It was brick, with a zigzagging fire escape crawling up it like a drunken dragon. Kat, Vachon and Trapper ignored it and rose through the air to the first floor landing. Vachon checked out the surrounding area as Trapper and Kat peered in the dusty windows.
“There’s nothing and no one around,” he stated, raising his face to sniff at the breeze. He turned. “We’re fine out here.”
Kat finished picking the ancient lock on the window and tested the heft of the frame. It moved easily. She spoke quietly. “Good. Let’s just make sure it’s the same inside.” She wound her fingers into Vachon’s dark ringlets and kissed him hard and deep. His eyes widened. Kat smiled. “Keep the home fires burning while we’re gone.” She looked at Trapper. “With me?”
Trapper nodded. ‘Lead on, MacDuff.”
Kat bent to the window. Vachon grabbed her arm and leaned close to her. “Watch your backs,” he whispered.
“Always,” Kat’s reply was muffled as she continued through the window and into the library above the stacks. Trapper followed close behind. “Now to find the foyer.”
“I can hear them ahead of us,” Trapper whispered.
Kat nodded and led the way along the top of the shelves until they found their vantage point. Then she froze. ‘Smell that?”
Trapper sniffed the air, her eyes wide with surprise. The thought rang through their minds simultaneously as Kat spoke. “Werewolf!”
Rearing the Ugly Head
by Devin Saceur
New ‘Salem Library
He deftly made his way across the overhead bar joists that spanned the ceiling. He’d never been the strongest of individuals, even with his vampiric gifts, but his grace was such that even the finest mortal figure skaters and acrobats appeared somewhat sloppy by comparison. It took less than a second for him, with his preternatural speed and uncanny dexterity, to position himself comfortably between the rafters.
Obfuscating his appearance to near invisibility, Devin nestled his Heckler and Koch sniper rifle into position at his shoulder and waited . . .
But how had they detected him in the first place? His presence had not been noticed during a surveillance run in nearly fifty years. Perhaps he was becoming old and sloppy. He smirked at the thought and decided that it made little difference. Whatever the reason for his detection . . . these two would die.
As the werewolves made their way into the room, their noses upturned and hair standing near straight on their backs, Devin tweaked the scope on his rifle to the infrared filter mode. He wanted a clean shot, at least on the first one.
It was then that he picked up the slight sound of a window opening somewhere across the room. He pulled his eye “Way from the scope for just long enough to see two women moving into the room along the tops of the shelves. They didn’t seem to notice him, so he kept the rifle aimed at his original targets, assuming that the women were a mere coincidence and would be exiting promptly once the shooting began.
One of them stopped, though . . . and suddenly said “werewolf!”
Apparently, the wolves had heard their entrance also, for one of them had already moved across the room “Way from him. He saw his shot open up just then, as the one that remained on his side of the room stopped beneath him and looked up into the rafters.
Smiling as he looked down at his opponent, Devin flicked on the rifle’s hi‑intensity laser sight and flashed it directly into the beast’s eye. It roared as the beam tore into the retina, leaving only blindness and pain. It turned “Way quickly and jumped into the rafters at him, but Devin had already squeezed the trigger three times.
The silenced rounds ripped holes in the skull of the werewolf, shredding cranial tissue and bone as they went. No sound followed . . . no continued howls of pain . . . no further outbursts of rage.
The beast died before it hit the ground.
The women across the room saw the three flashes, but all they heard for many seconds thereafter was an enraged howl coming from below them.
“Benny, are you sure this is the place?” Ray frowned as he looked at the hours. “This place is closed.”
“This is right.” Fraser tried a door. It swung open at his tug.
Deif growled and the trio froze.
“What now?” Stanley watched as Deif’s hackles rose.
“Oh dear.” Fraser slowly leaned down to Deif’s level. “What is it Deif?”
He gave a short angry bark and lowered his head.
Three heads swung to look at the library entrance as shots rang out.
Stanley and Ray looked at each other and whipped out guns, then charged through the doors of the building.
Fraser tore out after them, nearly running into them as they skidded to a halt at some stairs.
Deif was growling and stalking stiff legged toward the down stairs.
“I suggest we follow Deif.”
They did, very slowly, guns drawn, covering each other at the turns.