Authors: Rosette Bolter
The questions stared at her like a
maze. Teasing her. Taunting her. His answers divided by truth and fiction, each
shaping his character a little different depending on which was a lie and which
wasn’t. Haley felt dizzy. She’d known the whole time he was just toying with
her. He wasn’t playing by their rules either – he played by his own. Still, she
couldn’t shake the feeling that the killer had been honest with her. That he
actually seemed to sympathize with her in some way. It would make sense enough,
as it was alluded to that she knew him. But he’d told her he wasn’t Julian
Echo, and the answers seemed to eliminate Brock.
Who was left?
If it was
someone she knew, there were only two possible areas connected with this case
that hadn’t been completely examined. Either the killer was still somehow
sprouting from the dastardly Cyrus / Edmond Rance chain, or perhaps even worse
… they had once worked for the paranormal police. And the killer and the
traitor were one and the same person.
And if that
was the case, then who could it actually be?
Who did she
know that fit all the criteria?
her eyes. Her mind was becoming drowned. She was forgetting his answers to the
questions. Forgetting the questions themselves. If only she had the time to go
over each individual suspect, however unlikely, and see who could be eliminated
… and who fit the profile.
killer had been truthful.
killer could keep his word.
out angrily, punching the seat in front of her. She couldn’t take it anymore.
She couldn’t take not knowing. This whole time it seemed Brock was pulling the
strings, but – what if he wasn’t? What if all these years she’d been living in
fear for nothing? How could – how could he ever understand…?
But no, she
did not seek Brock’s forgiveness. He had broken his bond with her.
somehow, there had been a disconnect. He had been consumed by his newfound
powers and was no longer available in the emotional sense that he once was.
Haley couldn’t think about it. She couldn’t see straight. Even though…
were right in front of her.
flashing now. The pilot’s voice carried across the intercom. They were approaching
the landing strip.
Haley held on
tightly, drifting in and out of her thoughts.
it to click.
it to come together.
It had to.
it would not be too late.
There was a knock at the Count’s
door. The new Count, Brock Ferns that is.
trembled in the light of the doorway, almost afraid to speak.
“What is it?”
Brock asked shattering the silence.
just radioed in,” the servant said. “Madame Haley has reached her destination.”
purred. “Have another chopper come to collect me. I am almost ready to leave.”
back to his phone conversation. “You were saying?”
and her investigation team are dealing with the matter privately. I can’t get
any closer to them without raising suspicion.”
supposed to be driving around, searching the area. Nadine thinks the Count is
still about somewhere.”
updates as they come in. Keep texting them to me. And stay with the others.”
seated in his armchair, poised with concern. While news of the dark occasion
would no doubt have traveled to many a crooked place in the world of vampires,
he still had not anticipated the old Count’s return. It was Brock who had
stolen from him – his league of servants, his alliance with the vampire
community, his coffer of riches. Brock also knew the Count was infatuated with
Haley, seeing her as one of his most prized possessions. Yet despite the great
history between them, after all these years the Count’s return came as a bit of
wondered if he should phone ahead, check on proceedings. Make sure Haley was
being treated … reasonably. As Brock had spies throughout the world, no doubt
the Count did as well. All it would take was one more traitor going over to the
higher vampire’s side for things to come undone.
The night was
drifting further and further away from them.
pondered whether his place was beside Haley, or if he should set upon joining
the hunt for this monster, before the monster came to him.
There was a red carpet waiting for
Haley upon her arrival. Doors were opened for her and dazzling lights reflected
off her skin as photographers snapped their pictures. She was at the edge of an
enormous dome shaped room, a series of diamond shaped windows with golden
borders filling the ceiling and sides with a view of the starlit sky. There was
a crowd of well-dressed people, a lot of them vampires, mingling with one
another holding glasses of champagne and appetizers. She was and felt alone, as
she did not recognize anyone present, but there was something safe about the
anonymity. As beautiful as Brock said she was, she doubted she would stand out
in this fashionable assemblage.
across the edges of the room. Occasionally she thought she might catch a glance
of someone looking at her, but when things came into focus it never seemed to
be the case. She plucked a glass of champagne off one of the trays and slipped
it slowly, still following the circle. Her mind was not at rest.
And no it
wasn’t the killer’s threatening return that had given her the most trouble.
this room full of sharks and predators sizing her up like a sack full of
chocolate syrup they could bite their greedy mouths into.
come to realize things about herself. Where once she had been a problem-solver,
a go-getter of physical magnitude – her former ambitions had been left for
nothing recent as well. She hadn’t made the wrong turn days or months back. She
had been living this lie for years, and when the true parts of herself were
reflected back, it took all her strength to not break down in horror.
he had reminded her.
Not that he
was alive and fine and coming to kill her –
But that she
had never become the woman she was supposed to be.
she could see a waiter approaching her, his face addled with an artificial
grin. His eyes were hypnotic – and the longer she stared into them, she began
to see they weren’t eyes at all, but flaming colorful lights.
Haley?” he asked of her.
herself composed, tilting her head slowly.
wishes you to try this humbling concoction.”
removed a glass from his tray. On the surface it looked like just another glass
of champagne, but as it moved closer to her, she could see a faint tinge of
took her old drink while she accepted the new.
it to her lips as the waiter’s eyes widened.
isn’t it?” she said in a sharp tone of voice.
to life’s questions, are just another drink away,” the waiter said cryptically.
hesitated. “Well of course, they are.”
She drank the
drink and collapsed.
“Who were you on the phone to, Dino?
Who were you giving all that information –”
Dino exclaimed to his questioning companion. “It was a private matter.”
looking out for you,” another one of his security friends said. “We don’t want
any leaks coming through that could give away our –”
trustworthy source, alright,” Dino snapped. “We need all the help we can get.”
of his comrades walked over. “You guys find anything?”
another replied. “We’re just standing around. Trying to figure things out.”
“I don’t know
what faith you put in that skinhead’s gut feeling. Seems pretty bogus to me,
the back of his hand along his rough chin. “You ever think maybe I sensed
something out here too? We’re gonna find these fuckers, and if we don’t we’re
going to at least be able to say we tried.”
some mild agreement.
remind you that they killed my fucking wife,” Dino cursed. “I swear when I get
my hands on them, I’ll –”
guys!” one the team said running over. “We found something!”
immediately took off down the road in pursuit of him.
Just as Dino
was about to run with them, he felt something take his arm.
and was stunned to see a gross and vile, undead replica of Kendra Armistice.
She put her
finger to her lips to silence him.
what to make of this Dino allowed himself to be drawn away to the side of one
let go of him.
believe what I’m seeing,” he muttered. “You’re supposed to be dead.”
I am dead,” Kendra said. “But my intentions are still very much alive.”
us –” Dino accused. “You’re the traitor –”
hissed back. “Will you just listen to me for a moment. Please.”
his head. “What the fuck are you going to say?”
the Count was at Jason’s tonight –”
exploded. “You’re with him!”
him to meet Jason there. Said they had information about Brock Ferns –”
“Oh, so he
was set up,” Dino said sarcastically. “Because throwing the blame on the Count
was super important to do.”
me,” Kendra said. “Julian is innocent. You have to trust me.”
Cresh. Luna was there for that one. Probably Maurice too by the sound of
things. Not to mention whatever the hell happened to –”
didn’t murder Cresh. He would never have done that. And as far as Maurice is
concerned we found him together. I was there that night, remember.”
believe you. Sorry.”
listen to me,” Kendra tried again. “I’m here in peace. The real killer is still
“No! Wake up!
It’s been Brock the whole time! And we also know which of the team is working
for him –”
suddenly stunned Dino’s face.
Riley were hurrying over.
“What are you
doing hiding away here?” Jason asked. “We thought you were the Count.”
“I was just
–” Dino turned back to where Kendra had been.
found anything?” Riley asked.
said. “Wait – I – the others –”
the fuck?” one of his friends called from the road. “You have to see this!”
Flames. Shattered glass. Blood.
and Dino hurried to where everyone had gathered.
had smashed into tree and caused the engine to explode. Bodies were scattered everywhere.
Their throats were ripped to shreds.
past several of Dino’s men to find Nadine crouching in the centre. Luna Evans
was on the ground below her. Dead just like the rest of them.
“Oh my God,”
Riley exclaimed. “Oh my fucking God!”
up to them. There were tears in her eyes. “I told you that fucker was still out
believe this,” one of Dino’s men said. “Are you saying this was just one
“He’s a big
one, I’ll give him that,” Jason said.
“No,” Dino interrupted.
“No … it wasn’t just him…”
“What do you
mean?” Nadine asked.
“I just – I
was just speaking to…”
erupted with shock and anger.
Nadine got to
her feet. “Where is she? Where the fuck is she?”
there,” Dino said pointing.
you grab us?” one of his men asked. “Did you even try to –”
Dino gasped. “I wasn’t sure she was in on it. Now, obviously…”
up,” Jason said.
group moved towards the side of the house where Kendra had last been seen. Once
they were all there, Nadine asked, “What did she say to you, Dino? What did she
know,” Dino mumbled. “She said the Count was innocent.”
curses flew around.
“She said she
knew who the traitor was … after I accused her.”
trying to lure you somewhere?” Jason asked. “Why didn’t she attack you?”
shrugged. “She seemed sincere. I don’t know how else to put it.”
are we supposed to do then?” Riley asked. “Start searching round for them
again? Wait to be picked off one by one?”
something about that other vampire, Brock something,” Dino said. “As though he
might be behind this.”
don’t see him here – do you?” Riley fired back. “We know the Count’s here for
fuck’s sake. What the hell’s he doing? Why doesn’t he just –?”
second, Dino,” Jason said. “Did you actually believe her? What she was saying
said stubbornly. He crossed his arms. “I mean, well … I’m not sure why she
didn’t attack me. And kept going on about peace –”
listened to enough of this shit,” Nadine said. “Kendra! Get the fuck out here!
to the trees blowing above them.
Nadine tried again.
He looked around, searching for movement.
Then he saw a
dark figure standing in the middle of the road.
“Will I do?”
the Count asked.