Shallow Veins (The Obscured Book 1) (19 page)

BOOK: Shallow Veins (The Obscured Book 1)
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"It needed to be strong enough to replicate.”

“What does that mean?”

“Give birth."

“Give...how do you know all this?”

“It told me days ago,” he says. Her face goes white.

“Why did you still go through with it?”

“Why wouldn't I?”

"So many people in town, all those people, the kids. When does this stop?" She shakes her head and wipes her eyes. “It doesn't matter now, it's too late for that. This is our chance to get out. We have to leave. We can forget everything that happened here. Forget everything.” She glances at the kitchen. “We can change our names, we can cut our hair, I don't care what we do, but we have to leave now, before it comes back.”

Kevin nods. "Of course," he says. “We will. There's just one more thing that has to be done.”

 

 

**

 

 

Back at the station-house, the four officers on night duty are settling into a new pot of coffee. Tonight's debate is who would win in a fight- a vampire or a horde of zombies.

"It's a matter of power," Officer Agani states. "There's no question a vampire is stronger than a bunch of dead people. They're just humans who started to rot."

Monton sips from his mug. "You ever worked crowd control? Sheer numbers can be scary as all get-out. I'll take the zombies myself."

"Numbers don't mean anything when a vampire can fly over their heads."

"Now hold on, this is the flying kind," the much younger Smith asks.

Agani shrugs. "Of course. That's pretty standard vampire stuff."

Monton shakes his head. "Common, maybe, but I wouldn't call it standard. I think before we go any further we have to agree on what version of vampire we're working with. Zombies, too."

"There's only one version of zombies."

Smith says, "Not true, there's fast zombies and there's slow zombies."

"I'm gonna pretend you didn't say that."

"Well there is! Go watch a movie before you think you're an expert."

Agani takes his feet off his desk and leans in. "There's no fast zombies, idiot, there's infected. That's a completely different thing."

"Infected?"

"You know, like rabies. Crazed, violent, spread the virus through their bite."

Smith says, "I don't see the difference."

"Then we're not having this discussion."

"Now hold on," Monton walks over from his desk, "I still want to know what vampire we're dealing with."

"Nothing fancy, nothing glittery. We're talking the classic Bram Stoker."

“In that case he can turn into a bat or mist or whatever he wants and slip away from the crowd,” Smith says.

“That's true,” Monton points.

“Okay, never mind escape, this is a fight to the death.” He pauses. “Undeath.”

“Why would a vampire bother fighting a bunch of zombies,” Smith asks. “It's not like he can feed on them, they have no blood. While we're at it the zombies wouldn't want any of his tainted meat, either.”

“I don't know, maybe it's personal. Maybe the zombies ate his one true love. You know they always have one of those.”

At this everyone nods.

Monton says, “In that case I'm going with the vampire. He'll just start ripping off zombie heads like he's picking blueberries and he won't stop 'til no one's left.”

“Unless halfway through he breaks down and cries. You know how emotional vampires can get.”

“Yeah, they are pretty dramatic.”

“He starts sobbing tears of blood, the zombies close in and finish him off.”

“With what,” Smith asks.

“Pardon?”

“Finish him off with what? To kill a vampire you need a wooden stake or holy water. Last I checked zombies don't use tools or weapons, and if they did they certainly wouldn't know enough to use the right one.”

Everyone's quiet. Then: “Sunlight.” They all turn to Officer Stroud, silent until now. “Their weight could hold him down long enough for the sun to rise.”

“He could push them off,” Agani says.

“If we're going by Bram Stoker's Dracula, he was said to be as strong as twenty men, and hordes of zombies can easily number more than twenty.”

“So he'd burst into flames.”

“Taking the zombies with him. It's a draw.”

“It would burn some of them, not all. Fire doesn't kill zombies.”

“Not unless it destroys the brain,” Stroud says.

“Could it?”

They shrug at each other, no one answering.

“Maybe we should call the fire department.”

The front door bursts open. Franklin Butcher comes through the door in clothes heavy with sweat, his eyes wide and crazed. He barely takes the time to shut the door behind him before he says, "Four of you? Is this all there is?"

"It's the night crew, what do you expect," Officer Monton answers.

"Gear up, I need you all to follow me.

“Where?”

“Back to the Robins house. Right now."

"Aren't you under orders not to go there," Stroud asks as she walks over.

"I'll deal with Sheriff Green later. There's been a homicide. Multiple, actually. Or it could be a kidnapping."

"What are you mumbling about," Officer Agani asks, not getting up from his chair.

“You're not making any sense,” Stroud agrees.

Butcher exhales, trying to catch his breath. "I staked out the Robins place. They were having a party with about a dozen people. I approached the house and heard signs of struggle, so I looked through the window and saw...well I saw all of them..." He tries to find the words for what he witnessed through the glass.

"Are you saying the Robins couple murdered them," Stroud asks.

"No, not them. It was something else."

"Something?"

"A creature. A monster. I don't know what the fuck it was but it was killing them, taking their places like some goddamn copycat. All the workers at that dentist's office are replacements now. They chased me across a field and tried to kill me. Look, we're wasting time here, we have to get over there before they leave!"

A few of the officers exchange glances. Smith says, "Replacements?"

"Don't give me that look, I know how it sounds. I saw it with my own eyes and I barely believe it."

Officer Agani walks up next to Stroud and leans past her shoulder. "Who else's eyes would you see it with," he asks, "your replacement's?"

Butcher lunges at him, tries to grab him by the collar, but Stroud gets between them and holds them apart. The room erupts into shouts as the officers converge on Butcher to hold him back from attacking Agani, and vice versa.

“Knock it off,” Monton yells at Agani.

“He started it!”

“Yeah, and I'm ending it.”

“What, we have to listen to that crazy bull he's spewing about monsters photocopying dentists or whatever?”

“I'm not crazy,” Butcher says.

“Ever hear the expression 'if it quacks like a duck'? Well you're doing a lot of quacking, my friend.”

“I'm not your friend.”

“Thank God for that.”

“I thought we were cops, we're supposed to trust each other.”

Agani leans in. “Quack. Quack. Quack.”

Butcher lunges again, as does Agani, but they're held back by the others. In the middle of the commotion, Smith says, “Jesus, he reeks of booze,” and they all fall quiet.

Monton says, “Did you drive here?”

Butcher looks between their faces. “I had no choice.”

“Christ, Butcher.”

"You can book me later if it makes you feel better, but right now we have to get out there and stop those things before they get too far and do God knows what!"

There's a cold, metallic pressure against his wrist followed by a loud click. "I'm sorry," Stroud says, "you're not going anywhere."

Around his wrist is a locked pair of handcuffs. They're the same he carries on him every day, but suddenly they look very different.

Stroud solemnly leads him down across the station, around the corner and down the hall to the holding cell at the end. It's the most private of the four, unable to be seen from any of the other cells due to a brick wall and a support column.

Butcher doesn't fight her. The others hang back and watch her walk him into the cell, sit him on the bed and remove the cuffs.

"I'm not crazy," he repeats.

"I know," she says, "you're just a drunk."

The words cut him like a shiv to the belly. She shuts the cell door, leaving him to feel the sway of the room as the footsteps drift away.

 

 

 

Chapter Seven: A New Door  

 

 

Butcher's eyes open.

Between the steel bars and through the rectangle of reinforced glass beyond, the sun is low and weak in the sky. It brings with it a dark dread of the day to come; Halloween for the kids, but something more sinister for the rest. His empty stomach is hard at work digesting itself. The acid rises up at the back of his throat like high tide.

Sometime in the night, as he looked up at the cracked ceiling of the holding cell, the shock of the night wore off, and he found the fear in his heart turned into something else, something sharper, more driven, like a spear in his chest.

Something like anger.

Someone walks up to the cell door. Butcher looks up at the upside-down image of Sheriff Green, the man's sun-leathered hands on his hips.

"Morning."

Butcher sits up to face the Sheriff, finding him calmer than expected. Still Butcher tries to explain himself, but Sheriff Green waves him off before he gets more than five words in.

"You did the right thing," the Sheriff says. Butcher's brow raises up on his greasy face. "I trust you're feeling better? A good night's sleep is better than penicillin."

"I wouldn't call it a good night."

"Any night an officer of mine takes the high ground and turns himself in, in my book that's a good night."

Butcher looks down the hallway toward the desks. "What did they tell you?"

"Just that you weren't making much sense, though to be fair you don't make much sense when you're stone sober.” Sheriff Green removes his hands from his hips. “The department offers counseling, you know."

"I'm fine."

"Of course you are. I'm fine, you're fine, she's fine, the world is fine. We can always be a little better, though."

"I'm fine."

"I believe you mentioned that."

Wiping the sleep from his face, Butcher says, "What do you want, Sheriff?"

"I want to make sure you're fit for duty. We may have gotten off to a rocky start, you and I, but I believe somewhere in that screwed up head is a good cop. Or at least a man who's trying to be."

"Well that's awful sweet of you to think so."

"Watch it,” he points. “Luckily for you, you caught me in a good mood this morning."

Butcher studies the man's face. He wonders whether this is even the man he knows, the original Sheriff and not a dime store knock-off. Up until last night, that would have seemed about the craziest thought he could dream up. But today? Today is different.

"What happened," Butcher asks.

"Let's just say I found you the perfect babysitter." He turns to face the footsteps making their way down the hallway, whoever they belong just out of Butcher's sight. They're slow, heavy, deliberate, and when they come to a stop at the mouth of Butcher's cell, their owner wraps a pair of mitts around the bars he thought he'd never see again, except maybe dug up in the Robins' backyard, the fingernails packed with dirt and maggots.

"Hello, partner," Officer Banks smiles. "It's good to see you again."

 

 

**

 

 

The hot water turns off with a hard squeak. Stepping out of the shower and onto the cold, slick tile, Butcher grabs a clean towel and takes a hard look around the locker room. Through the steam he can see Officer Banks sitting on the wooden bench by his locker, exactly where he left him.

"You mind telling me where the Hell you've been all this time," he calls out, wrapping the towel around his waist.

"Sheriff Green already explained it to you in the holding cells," Banks replies. It's his voice alright, but it doesn't sound like him, not by a mile. Drew Banks has never given that straight an answer in his entire life.

"He gave me the short version. I want the full story."

As Butcher dries off, Banks recounts to him the family emergency that called him out of town, a heart attack and a father he's never mentioned before, never cared to discuss. He explains how he left town so quickly he forgot his phone and that's why he didn't get a chance to call the station and let them know he'd be away for a few days. How along the way he was side-swiped by a tractor trailer that ripped off the rear of his truck and pushed him into an embankment, flipping him three times before landing upside-down. How he woke up in a hospital three days later but couldn't remember his name for another two.

BOOK: Shallow Veins (The Obscured Book 1)
8.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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