Very busy day today. No time to write much. So here’s a snippet from one of my WIPs (one that should be released soon, if all goes well):
Special Agent Reid, FBI, stood up. He removed his phone from his pocket and turned it on.
“We captured one of those…things…a little over a week ago. He ignored being tazed. Being shot didn’t even slow him down. In fact, when we examined him later, we found no evidence of bullet wounds.”
“I thought you feds were better shots than that?” Tanner interjected.
Reid ignored the interruption. “We ended up piling bodies on him to subdue him. In the process he killed two officers, including my partner, and put three others in the hospital. He broke the first pair of handcuffs we put on him, leading to two more officers hospitalized before we restrained him with three pairs of handcuffs.”
Reid paused for a moment before continuing. “We’ve got him in a basement cell. He goes comatose every dawn. No attempt to wake him between the hours of sunrise and sunset has any effect. No deliberate attempt, I should say. The first day, we tried to remove him to the hospital wing. The instant the attendants wheeled his stretcher into a room with a window, he woke. He broke the restraints on the stretcher and knocked his attendants out of the way as he ran back into the elevator. His attendants only suffered minor injuries. He was more interested in getting past them than in hurting them. Security footage shows that he collapsed on the closing of the doors.”
“Dani?” Ware said.
I nodded. “Legend and fiction have a mix of truth and falsehoods about vampires. Early stories did not claim any particular aversion to sunlight. The ‘burst into flames’ thing came with the movie Nosferatu. Real vampires don’t. Sunlight does hurt them and enough exposure will kill them, but it’s not a quick process. It’s slow and agonizing. Vampires do sleep during they day. Young vampires drop with the first light of the rising sun only to awaken with the last ray of the setting one. Old ones can remain awake for a couple hours of daylight, but no more.”
I nodded to Reid. “But as Agent Reid has seen, any vampire, when at immediate risk of sunlight exposure, will wake up long enough to evade that exposure and seek shelter.” I looked Reid in the eye. “You’re lucky that Gerald, or the thing that was Gerald, is as young as he is. As you noted, his instinct was only to seek shelter. He didn’t stop to kill along the way.”
“Thank you, Ms. Herzeg,” Reid ground out then turned to Ware. “Don’t interrupt me again.”
“Cram it,” Ware said. “This is my case. You’re here as a courtesy. You don’t want me to pick up a phone to your supervisor back in Seattle, do you?”
“Is that a threat, Detective?”
“You bet your ass, Special Agent.”
“Please,” I said softly. “Can we save it for the vampires?”
Ware turned to me then back to Reid. “If you would continue, Special Agent.”
“There’s not much more,” Reid said. “Except that about every three days someone in his vicinity would go nuts and try to free him.”
He stopped. The room went silent for a moment. After a few seconds, Ware said, “Thank you, Special Agent Reid. Dani?”
“Vampires can…Push at people’s minds. They’re limited in how often they can do it, how far they can reach, and how much they can Push a person into things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. Most things don’t change for a vampire as they get older. They don’t get physically stronger or faster. Older vampires do get better, and stronger, at Push. For a new vampire like that one, reaching people he can’t see, and forcing them to free him, once in three days is about right.”
Ware nodded. “Can you tell us a bit more about what we’re up against?”
“There has been fiction about vampires, before that, legends. Forget most of what you’ve read. It’s wrong, stuff the writer created to tell a good story. Vampires are not pale, romantic creatures of the night. Instead of being lean and sallow, they tend to puffiness as though bloated, and dark ruddy complexions. They are bloodthirsty. Well, Antisocial Personality Disorder is as close as you’ll get in human terms. They are utterly self centered and utterly arrogant. They are stronger and faster than humans. Most weapons have no effect on them. Shoot them with a lead bullet, and it’s like shooting smoke. Cut them with steel, and there isn’t even a wound.”
“How about a stake through the heart?” Blake asked, his first words since saying he didn’t believe in vampires.
“Immobilizes them,” I said. “Doesn’t kill them. Remove the stake and they return…as the people at your morgue found out to their cost.”
“How do we kill them, then?” Tanner asked.
“Two ways are reliable. One is to behead them, stuff their mouths with garlic or communion wafers–don’t ask me why communion wafers work because I don’t know–and sew their mouths shut. With the rising of the sun, they are true dead and cannot be brought back. The other way is to burn their bodies to ash.” I pulled my lips back, more a baring of teeth than a smile. “I like to do both. Just to be sure.”
“Anything else, Ms. Herzeg?” Ware asked.
I nodded. “I’ve seen vampires fight. Their fangs, even their hands and feet, create wounds that heal only slowly. They can even kill one another true dead that way. Something to think of if we can get them to turn on each other.”
I shrugged then continued. “For all their strengths, vampires have weaknesses too. They’re vulnerable to sunlight. You can’t rely on it to kill them, but they have to seek shelter quickly or they will die. Most of the daylight hours, they’re immobile and insensate. And they tend to be few in numbers. And while they can sometimes find humans willing to work for them, such servants never last long in the care of psychopaths who see them as food. ‘Happy Meals with legs’ as one writer put it. Historically vampires used two strategies to overcome their weaknesses. One was to operate in secret. They strike in the darkness from stealth, leaving no witnesses, or at the very least none that anyone important would believe. If no one believes in vampires, no one hunts them, and the vampires can hunt with impunity.” I stopped and licked my lips.
“You said there were two ways?” Ware gestured for me to continue.
I nodded. “The other way is terror. They keep people so terrified, so off balance, that they can’t coordinate, use their greater numbers and ability to operate in daylight to hunt and destroy the vampires.”
“And that appears to be what’s happening here,” Ware said. “The government has become aware of the existence of vampires.” Ware’s eyes flicked to Reid.
Reid slapped a hand on the table. “Are you saying this is our fault?”
Ware looked at Reid for several seconds. “No, Special Agent. By the very rules the vampires operated from, it was the vampire who put himself in a position to not only be identified but captured. It’s not about blame. It’s about what to do now.”
“So what do we do now?” Tanner’s voice was surprisingly calm given the series of revelations at this table.
“You work your sources,” Ware said. “You know what we’re looking for now, so keep an eye out. And don’t try to take them on alone. Ms. Herzeg thinks we have at least thirteen working together in the city. We need to fight them on ground of our choosing, when we have the advantage. Don’t let what they are, and what they’re doing, drive you into anything rash. We find out where they are, and then we take them down when we have the advantage.”
Tanner drummed her fingers on the table for a moment then looked up at Ware. “By ‘take them down’ you don’t mean arrest them, I take it?”
“You saw Riley, and IUPUI.” Ware shook his head and sighed in obvious frustration. “Can you imagine one of those things in holding or in general pop at State? Scum and villainy they may be, but they don’t deserve to be massacred by vampires.”
“So we find them,” I said. “We find them and we kill them.” I looked Tanner in the eye. “Can you do that?”
“I helped sort bodies at Riley,” Tanner said. “Oh, yeah. I can do that.”
Blake nodded. “I’m in.”
“Reid?” Ware turned a hand up to the agent.
Reid sighed. “Dammit, this is supposed to be my case.”
“The powers that be made it mine,” Ware said. “But the truth is, I’m a rookie. You’re a rookie. Everyone here is a rookie. Everyone except Ms. Herzeg. She’s the one with experience hunting and killing vampires. If she says ‘jump’ you don’t even ask ‘how high’, you just bounce off the ceiling.”
“That’s the best deal you’re going to get, Special Agent, so take it now or you can walk out of here.”
“I can go to your Lieutenant,” Reid said.
Ware grinned. “You sure you want to do that? I mean, all things considered?”
“Your call, Reid. Your call.”
“All right, I’m in.”