Authors: Rosette Bolter
He could smell her perfume on the
pillow beside him. It was faint, but it was still there. She herself wasn’t
there. He knew that much. Even with his eyes closed and under the blankets just
as though it was any other night, he still knew he was alone in the bed. Until
of course he realized, he was alone forever and always.
down Jason’s cheeks. He had seen them. Piled on top of each other. The bodies.
The blood. Someone had ripped their throats right out. They’d been eaten into.
Like meat for a wild animal.
He opened his
Stared up the
How long had
he been out for – How long and how –
gasped. “Hello, somebody?”
around blindly in the dark for his walking stick. It wasn’t here. Had Amelia
put it in the drawer again? Because if she had, then he must remember to tell
“Oh no, no,
no, no, NO!” Jason shouted slapping his forehead.
The cane had
chasing someone. Someone who had been inside his home and –
fuck?” he whispered. “What the fuck am I doing up here?”
himself out of bed and stepped out into the floor. There was no balance
anymore. Only pain.
He broke his
fall, resting his palms on the edge of the bed.
Now, he needed
something. Something for support.
He got down
onto his belly and dragged himself out of the room. After a minute or so of
grueling intensity he reached out to the handle above him and pulled open the
cupboard door. Inside he began pulling apart the vacuum cleaner. Once finding
the extending pole, he used it to prop himself upright. Unfortunately, the pole
was rather small. Hunched over, he used it to make his way down the stairs.
lights were off. He hadn’t left it that way when he’d come in. Who had turned
around through the hallway, he could see the dark outlines of his wife and
daughter’s bodies in the lounge room. He looked away from them putting his hand
to the front door. There were people talking outside.
Once the door
was open, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
There was at
least seven or eight people standing by the edge of the road.
said angrily, as he approached them. “Hey – you there!”
bobbed up from the crowd. “You’re awake.”
“What gave it
away?” Jason shot back. “What’s going on? Who are all these people?”
familiar face made his way to the front and centre. “Hi Jason,” Luna greeted.
“Nadine called our offices after your discovery here. We’re all terribly sad
for your loss.”
“I – I don’t
remember –” Jason began. “I don’t remember going to sleep –”
fainted,” Nadine explained. “When we went back inside, remember?”
shook his head. “No, no –”
“How are you
feeling?” Luna asked stepping in front of him. “Do you need a doctor?”
said. “I mean I – maybe I do. I –”
down at the lawn. There was an urge to vomit.
looked back up he saw headlights advancing towards them from down the road.
people?” Jason asked.
his gaze. “Looks like Dino and his security guard friends.”
they doing here?” Jason demanded. “What’s going on?”
the only one attacked tonight,” Luna explained. “Dino’s wife was killed as well
as Riley’s boyfriend.”
kidding?” Jason said. “How is that even –”
part of his game,” Nadine said. “It’s what he’s wanted from the start. To bring
us all together.”
fuck?” Jason muttered. “Why is that even –?”
with regular police will be here soon,” Luna said. “If it’s too much for you,
you can stay with them. But otherwise –”
“If it’s too
much for me?” Jason exploded. “My family’s just been fucking killed! What the
fuck are you thinking –?”
“You want to
get him, don’t you Jason?” Nadine asked.
“Get him? Get
who? This phantom we’ve been chasing around. The mysterious killer no one has a
clue who –”
actually, we know who he is,” Luna said.
her arms. “Who?”
stepped between them. “You tackled him. I was there. I saw his face.”
Count,” Nadine confirmed. “Julian Echo.”
He had been there. There was nothing
he could do now, that she had seen him. Nadine = 1, The Count = 0. If we
started keeping score as of an hour ago. Perhaps the board deserved to be
balanced further in her favor. She had after all put a bullet in his forehead.
The Count still remembered. He might be an undead creature, but that didn’t
mean he couldn’t feel pain.
“Can you see
who that is?” he asked from his place behind Kendra on the roof.
“The blue car
turning into the street. Looks like a late arrival.”
steadied the telescope. “Okay. Got her.” She pulled away and turned to face
him. “It’s Riley McCormick. The last of the old team.”
the Count muttered. “Who would have thought that little family would yield such
“You know as
well as I do, that they’re not there for Jason.”
matter what’s brought them together,” the Count said. “Soon they will be after
you and I. It’s time to formulate a response.”
stepped off the side of the roof and levitated back to the ground.
He soon heard
Kendra land on the ground behind him.
called to him, “what the hell are you doing?”
“I’m going to
speak with them,” he announced. “Tell them what’s really going on.”
what if they don’t listen?”
“Then I guess
I won’t be doing much talking.”
Kendra ran in
front of him. She put her hands to his chest. “Wait. Please … Please, wait.”
history with them,” Kendra said. “They’re not bad people. They don’t deserve to
“We know at
least one of them is working with Brock. Not to mention…”
have to say it. I want to get even with her too. But that’s not going to happen
if you walk into the middle of their mess now.”
do you suggest?”
to the road in front of them. “I’ll draw them out. Talk to them one at a time.
Build a bridge between us, that sort of thing.”
“And what if
“Then I guess
we do it your way.”
Nadine peeled her eyes away from the
horizon. She sensed the vampires weren’t far. Turning back to the group, it
seemed the others weren’t on edge like she was. They were so distressed, so
angry about the tragedies in their lives, that there was no strategy or order
for how they were conducting themselves. If they paid more attention, they
might be able to see that the danger was still here.
approached Riley, who was still hovering around her car. She’d just got done
having a conversation with Luna and was staying put for the time being.
not detect a ray of emotion in the pretty woman’s face.
again,” Nadine said dryly.
against the car next to her, leaning against it.
“So that guy
who was rude to us before – he –”
go there,” Riley snapped.
“I just want
to make sure you have your story straight,” Nadine pried further. “We’d hate
for it to come up with any inconsistencies. What with, a traitor on the loose
“Last time I
checked you were the traitor,” Riley said smugly.
“But we both
know that isn’t true, don’t we?”
“What are you
saying?” Riley countered. “That I’m still working with the vampires? After all
this time? What possible motivation –”
family’s dead. Dino’s wife. Your ‘boyfriend’. This is all about what happened
before. The past is still here. The killer is still here. That’s what we were
trying to tell you, before you decided to ignore us. And why was that by the
way? Because you think you’re better than us?”
“I don’t have
to listen to this,” Riley sneered. “What the fuck are you doing here anyway?
Did your family get killed too? Or do you just like basking in other people’s
off. Jason was hobbling over to them.
One of the
ambulance drivers had lent him a crutch to lean on.
like you guys are arguing,” Jason said. “I thought we might be able to be a
little more mature than that, given the situation.”
“I thought so
too,” Nadine said, “but Princess is still pulling bitch routine.”
Jason shouted. “Her boyfriend just died! Why don’t you lay off a bit?”
“How do you
know her boyfriend died?” Nadine said stubbornly folding her arms. “Because she
says so? Isn’t it all a bit too convenient?”
guess you’re calling Dino a liar too then,” Jason retorted.
“At least he
brought people with him that can corroborate his story.”
fuck is your problem, psycho?” Riley hissed. “Do we have some sort of vendetta
I don’t know about?”
already,” Jason said. “Please. Both of you. We’re supposed to be on the same
side here. We’re supposed to be helping one another.”
“Do you want
to start again?” Nadine asked Riley.
said. “I don’t.”
past both of them and maneuvered her way across the lawn.
after her a moment, before turning back to Nadine.
“Is it just
me, or did she not address you once?” Nadine asked Jason.
pretending like you don’t exist. The freaking nerve.”
“I didn’t get
that. What I got was that you upset her.”
screeched. “She started it!”
“I don’t care
who started it. We need to be civil to one another. How else are we going to…”
Nadine put a
hand to Jason’s shoulder. “You got me? Okay. I’m here for you. I’m gonna see
this thing to the end.”
Thanks, I guess. Means a lot.”
hesitated. “You didn’t really mean that stuff about us not knowing her
boyfriend was dead, did you?”
know,” Nadine shrugged. “Ask Luna. She’ll know more about it than I do.”
probably a good idea.”
stepped in close to him. “I think we’re being watched.”
“What do you
are still in the area. They might make a move.”
“How do you
even – how would you know that? Did you see something?”
natural intuition. I used to be a top-tier investigator, remember?”
“Those were the days.”
at each other. A moment of peace melting the night away.
listen up guys!” Dino’s voice rang out behind them. “Can I have everyone’s
attention this way? Luna has something she’d like to say…”
“Thank you, Dino,” Luna said, patting
him on the shoulder. “I understand now that a lot of us are hurting. These
attacks were of the absolute worst possible nature. We have lost the people
closest to us, in the most horrendous of fashions. I can already see some of
you pointing the finger at one another. But the truth is there is only one monster
behind these attacks. And that monster is the Count, Julian Echo, as witnessed
by Nadine Blue leaving Jason Freelaw’s home. Now, we at the Centre of
Paranormal Investigation, will be doing everything we can to ensure that this
man is caught and caught swiftly. You are all welcome to come stay at our
facilities where you and your loved ones, should you wish to bring them, will
be safe. Alternatively, we do urge caution of all of you, as there is no
guarantee there won’t be any more attacks – in fact it seems to be an imminent
round in front of her. “Can I say something?”
“To me? Or to
everyone…” Dino trailed off. He seemed uneasy. “With respect to your speech
there, and how you and your team will do everything you can, I feel that you’re
leaving us a bit dry.”
“What do you
mean?” Luna asked.
“We all came
down here – me and my guys at least – we all came down here because we wanted
to help. We thought there would be more that we can do.”
Nadine called out.
means,” Luna said, “do whatever you feel is necessary. We just caution you that
attempting to bring the Count in will be extremely dangerous. If you come into
contact with him, then I strongly suggest you reach out to us first, before you
going to help us, right?” Nadine demanded. “You’re going to provide
“What do you
to the front of the crowd. “I mean, we’re all going to be on the same page
here, aren’t we? We’re going to go over the same plan together. We’re going to
put our heads together to come up with an organized strategy –”
can run your own investigation,” Luna said, “but we’ll be running our
independently. That’s just how it works.”
like we’re not qualified!” Nadine persisted. “You have to let us in on this!
This is personal!”
think I can be any more clear,” Luna said. “That’s our position. I’ve nothing
more to say.”
away pushing past Dino.
Her team of
investigators followed her to their vehicles.
hold of Dino. “She’s not seriously going is she? You have to stop her.”
know,” Dino mumbled. “Her mind seems made up.”
back to face Jason and Riley.
“Are you guys
okay with this?”
understand any of this,” she said. “What’s happened that he has to come after
us now? Where has he been all this time?”
difference does it make?” Jason cursed. “He’s a monster. He needs to be
in the area,” Nadine asserted. “My energy’s been telling me I’m being watched.
Not sure what angle from exactly. Only … I think he’s still out here…”
drive around,” Dino said. “I think there’s enough room in the cars for all of
need to stay here in case he shows up again,” Nadine said. “I’ll volunteer. I
think he’s upset with me for some reason. I might be able to lure him out.”
“A couple of
my friends will stay with you,” Dino said. “Just for safety. I’ll drive around,
heading to our left. Maybe Riley you can drive around, heading to the right.”
with you,” Nadine said.
whatever,” she said.
at them uncertainly before hobbling off behind her.
I know we’ve had our differences,” Dino said. “But I’m sure you can’t be
involved in this madness, so I’m willing to bury the hatchet. What do you say?”
“Okay – Josh,
Lachlan – you guys stay with Nadine. The rest of you, come with me.”
Dino and his
men headed up to the car.
up at the tall muscular men Dino had left her with.
be having some stimulating conversation,” she muttered.