Robert Thompson and Angela Haynes looked at the building before them. A large white villa in the hills above New Kingsport.
“So this house is owned by a Charles Davies then?” Angela asked.
“Yes, better known as Chuck. Let’s just say he is, or was, notorious for having his fingers in a lot of dubious pies. That’s how he’s made his wealth. Now he seems to have vanished off the face of the earth and yet his car has been seen regularly making trips to the city below picking up people and bringing them back here.” Robert replied.
“And I assume all the people that walk in there never seem to walk back out?”
“You would be right there.”
“How did you find this place?” Angela asked.
“The night Freya and Sarah disappeared, I managed to obtain all the video footage from the gas stations on the way to the city using my FBI badge. I assumed they would head to the city and I hoped the car they were in might stop at one of them. After reviewing the footage and seeing all the cars that stopped there, I searched for their owners. Out of all of them, he is the one that seems to have disappeared since then. No one has seen him alive since that night.” Robert informed her.
“Well done.” Angela told him. “Of course the fact that all the curtains are closed is a dead giveaway.”
“Shall we go in and see if they’re still there?”
“Sure. They should be sleeping now, if they are there.” Angela replied. Robert looked doubtful.
“Don’t count on it. If we’re expected, they may be staying up just to surprise us. Keep alert. Robert warned. They both moved forwards to the front door.
Freya peeked through the curtain and watched the two hunters talking outside the house. Once they started moving to the house she withdrew from the window. She turned to Sarah who stood beside her.
“We’ve got to hide now.” Freya told her. Sarah hid among the clothes in a large wardrobe, while Freya found her dagger and hid it in the inside pocket of her coat. She then leapt up to the attic opening and waited.
In a short moment the front door was forced open and she heard footsteps in the floor below. They seemed to go through the rooms one by one.
“Oh look! A pile of dead bodies. What a surprise!” The woman’s voice said. “Do vampires realise how much of a foul smell they make?”
“I don’t think it particularly worries them.” Said the man who was currently going by the name of Robert Thompson. Freya knew him as Alejandro Cortez, and a host of other pseudonyms. She then heard them walking up the stairs.
“I’ll check out this room.” The woman whispered.
“I’ll look in that one.” Robert answered. Freya heard someone walk into the room below. They walked around the room and then looked in the wardrobe. Freya jumped silently down to see Sarah suddenly launch herself at the woman hunter from out of the wardrobe. To Freya’s shock, the woman remained unfazed and quickly stuck a wooden stake into Sarah’s heart. Sarah turned to dust with a look of surprise on her face.
“No!” Freya screamed out. ”You bitch!” The woman turned in shock at her voice. Freya ran at her and deftly deflected the woman’s attempt at staking her. In one quick movement, Freya grabbed the woman’s head and snapped her neck. She fell lifeless to the floor. Freya collapsed onto her knees and sifted her fingers through the dust that had been Sarah. “Sarah no! We had so many plans…” she sobbed as she sat there. Tears of blood ran down her face. She heard footsteps come into the room.
“That’s two of my assistants you’ve killed now.” Robert stated.
“And they deserved it.” Freya shot back as she slowly stood up and faced him.
“The game’s up. Come back with me to the Institute. We’ll look after you. That’s all we want. You don’t have to die here.” Robert offered.
“No.” Freya replied. Robert look disappointed.
“Then I’ll have to kill you.”
“Come at me then!” Freya taunted. Unexpectedly, she then ran at him. He quickly got his stake into position and stuck it into her heart. Freya pulled out her dagger and pushed the blade deeply into his abdomen. With all her remaining strength she dragged the blade through his abdomen until it was through his other side. She then cut upwards. Robert shoved the stake deeper into Freya until she finally went limp and collapsed onto the floor. Moments later he collapsed too. Robert lay there bleeding out. He looked over to Freya’s inert body.
“Dumb vampires!” he said as everything went black.
Freya awoke. The sun had only just set. She knew they had to go soon, so she gently shook Sarah who was sleeping beside her. Sarah awoke wide-eyed and alert.
“What’s the matter?” Sarah asked alarmed.
“We need to get out of here. Now we’ve killed one of the hunters, more will come. The sooner we’re away the better.” Freya told her.
“Can’t we just try to get the other one?”
“No he’s probably guessed by now we’re here. He’ll either be gone or awaiting reinforcements. If he is still here, he will be extremely difficult to get to.” Freya advised. “It’s best we pack up and go.”
“We haven’t got a car.”
“We can always hitchhike.” Freya suggested.
“Okay.” Sarah replied. She got out of the bed and headed to the kitchen. Freya followed her. They warmed up the remaining blood and finished it off. “Do we hide the bodies somewhere, or shall we just let them be found there on the floor.”
“Just leave them for the hunters to find.” Freya suggested.
“Well if they’re going to find them, then I want to leave a message for the dick wad.” Sarah went over to the bodies and produced a pocket knife. Freya watched Sarah carving letters into Tom’s forehead. After she had finished, they packed up their few belongings and went soundlessly out the back window.
Once outside, they walked across the road and stuck out their thumbs to the passing traffic. They didn’t have to wait long for a car to stop for them. It was a red Jeep.
“Where are you sexy girls headed?” asked the driver. He was a man in his forties with short brown hair and a rather cheesy mustache. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and white shorts.
“We’re heading to New Kingsport.” Freya told him. He smiled.
“It just so happens I’m heading there to. Climb on in.” he told them.
“Thanks.” Freya said, as she and Sarah both got into the back seat. They drove off.
“My name is Chuck by the way.” He told them.
“Of course it is.” Freya replied.
“I’m sorry?” he asked.
“No matter.” Freya replied smiling. “I’m Freya, and this is Sarah.” Chuck began to wind down the window.
“So you girls got a place to stay in the city?” Chuck asked.
“We’ll probably just go to a motel.” Freya answered.
“Two pretty girls like you staying in a motel? No, I won’t hear of it! You’re welcome to stay at my place. I’ve got plenty of room.” Chuck told them.
“Thanks, that sounds great.” Freya replied.
“Yeah we’ll make it worth your while.” Sarah said smiling at him.
“We certainly will.” Freya agreed. Chuck smiled. He was in for a good time tonight, he thought.
On the way he stopped at a gas station. Freya and Sarah looked at each other.
“At least we’ve got somewhere to stay for a while.” Sarah stated.
“Hopefully…” Freya answered. She felt disquiet that they had stopped here, but there was nothing she could do about that. When Chuck got back, he was all smiles.
“Well off we go!” He stated. “If one of you wants to sit in the front with me, you’re welcome to.”
“Thanks, but we’re okay here.” Freya told him. “So what do you do Chuck?”
“This and that.” He answered.
“What about you two?” he asked.
“I’m a student.” Sarah replied. “Though it’s the holidays.”
“What about you Freya? Are you a student too?” Chuck asked her.
“You could say that.” Freya answered guardedly.
When they got to the city, Chuck drove to his house in the hills. It was a large wooden villa that had a scenic view of the entire valley. Below them New Kingsport silently glittered with thousands of lights. Chuck unlocked the door and walked in to his house. Freya and Sarah walked up to the doorway and waited.
“Come in you two!” Chuck told them.
“Thanks.” Freya replied as they both walked over the threshold.
“This is the lounge and here is the kitchen.” He told them. “Do you two want something to eat?”
“We certainly do!” Sarah replied. Both Sarah and Freya followed Chuck into the kitchen. He turned around to see them both advancing on him with their fangs out. He screamed.
Afterwards, Freya and Sarah sat on the couch. Sarah was resting her head on Freya’s shoulder while Freya had her arms around her. Sarah had the TV remote in her hand and was flicking through the channels. Both of them had blood dripping from their mouths.
“It should take them a while to find us here.” Sarah said.
“Yes my love.” Freya replied. She kissed Sarah on the forehead.
Freya was thinking about Chuck stopping at the gas station, which would give the hunter a car to track, and that would mean he would be here sooner than Sarah realised. That hunter followed her everywhere. He was relentless. No matter where she went, he would eventually turn up. She was tired of the constant chase, tired of the hunt, and realised she needed to take a stand. She needed to get rid of him, even if it cost her life, and Sarah’s. She looked around. This place was as good as any to make a final stand against the man who constantly stalked her. This would be the only way she could be rid of him forever…
One night there was an ominous loud knocking on the door. I opened it to find a large woman in a bright floral dress. I looked at her confused.
“Hello love.” she said.
“Do I know you?” I asked her.
“I’m Death. I’ve come to collect your soul.” she told me.
“Death? I thought you’d be a skeleton in a black hooded cloak with scythe in your hand.”
“You’d be surprised by how many people say that.” she answered.
“Actually I don’t think I would be.” I replied. To my surprise she walked past me into the house. “So how did I die then?”
“Your heart gave out out dear.” she said turning to me.
“Like my dad’s did?”
“Yes like your father. Now he was a fun one to collect. Not like you.”
“Not like me?” I asked hoping she would clarify that remark. She walked to my kitchen and opened my fridge up.
“Well with you it’s all eye rolling and sarcasm. No wonder you’ve died alone.” she commented. “Do you mind if I raid your fridge? All this reaping souls makes me hungry.”
“Death came to visit and raided my fridge?” I said out loud.
“Well it’s not like you’re going to need it anymore, especially where you’re going.”
“And where am I going?” I asked.
‘What do you mean dear?” she asked as she stuffed her face full of my food.
“Will I just cease to exist? Is there a heaven or hell, and if there is, which one am I going to?” Death just shrugged her shoulders.
“You’ll find out when you get there love. What you believe will happen to you, either you’re right or your wrong, and if you’re wrong it’s too late to worry about it now.” she told me while finishing off my roast chicken.
“Okay.” I replied uncertainly. She came back into the living room and looked at me.
“You ready love?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be.” I told her. She smiled at me.
“That’s the spirit dear! Now take my hand.” I took hold of her hand and to my surprise I found it was warm, and then we walked through the door together.
Robert went to the phone in his room. He picked up the receiver and then dialed a number. He waited for it to be answered.
“This is Little Bo Peep. I need to talk to the Big Kahuna on this line.” He then hung up and waited. A short time later the phone rang and Robert answered it.
“Report.” Said a voice.
“My assistant Tom Mitchell has been killed by the two vampires we were tracking. It turns out they are staying in the same motel we are.” Robert told him.
“That’s unfortunate.” The voice replied in an expressionless tone.
“I did warn him to be careful, but he did not heed my concerns. I don’t think, in the end, he was suitable for this line of work.”
“So what are my instructions?” Robert asked.
“You are to sit tight until we can get you a replacement. Do not do anything until they arrive. Where are you?”
“I’m staying in the Sunny Meadows Motel just outside the town of Lawrence.” Robert answered as he looked out the window at the carpark and the highway beyond it. “I’m in Unit 28. The vampires are in Unit 13. I’m currently looking across at their unit. How long before the replacement comes?”
“They should arrive early tomorrow. Where’s your assistant’s body?”
“With the vampires. I assume they’ve been feeding on him all night. There is also a local person missing. I suspect they were the first victim.”
“If they know you are there, they may come for you tonight. Be on your guard.” The voice warned.
“I’ll take all the precautions I can.” Robert answered. “There is an Inquisitor nearby. Do you think I should approach them about this situation?” Robert asked. There was silence.
“No. Stay where you are. They may already be aware of the situation. I will call this number tomorrow in the morning.” The voice said. Then they hung up. Robert put the receiver down.
“I guess I’m having a night in.” He said to himself. He went to a store and grabbed some food and, once back, he locked the door and put a chair under the handle. After ensuring all the windows were secure, he placed another chair that was equidistant from the door and the window. Opening his suitcase, he pulled out several wooden stakes. One he put in his inside jacket pocket and another by his right foot held in place with a band in his sock. He took out the Glock from his shoulder holster and checked the clip was full.
Once it grew dark, he turned out the light and sat on the chair. From where he was he could see both the door and the unit the vampires were staying in through the window. He sat there and waited. As the night wore on it got quieter, aside from the occasional traffic sounds from the highway. At around two am Robert thought he could hear footsteps on the edge of hearing. They were softly moving towards his door. Then he could hear the door handle slowly move as something attempted to open it. Robert knew he could suddenly open the door and drive a stake through whoever was trying to gain access to his room, but he was under orders to sit tight, and besides, what if it turned out to be just a burglar? That might be a hard one to explain…
The night deepened and Robert continued to sit there waiting. Occasionally he glanced at the vampire’s unit, but saw no signs of movement or activity. No further attempts to enter his room were attempted. Once the sky began to lighten, he relaxed and stood up. He felt stiff from sitting there all night. He decided to take a short nap. The phone woke him up several hours later.
“You survived then.” The voice said.
“Yes. At least one of them made an attempt to enter my room, but they were rather cautious.” Robert answered.
“Your replacement will arrive shortly.” The voice told him before they hung up again. Around an hour later there was a loud knock. Robert answered it. Standing there was a woman only slightly shorter than him. Her skin was black and her long dark hair was in braids. She wore a suit like him.
“You must be Robert Thompson.” She said in a thick Caribbean accent. “I’m Angela Haynes, your new assistant.”
“Hello Angela.” He said holding his hand out. She briefly shook it and then walked into the room and looked around. She was carrying a suitcase in her left hand. “Where are you from?”
“I”m from Barbados. So where are the vampires now?” Angela asked.
“Currently they should be sleeping in their unit.” Robert told her. Angela set her suitcase down on a bed and opened it. She pulled out a stake.
“Maybe we should go and deal with the problem!” Angela said holding the stake in her hand.
“I was about to suggest that.” Robert told her.
“Then let’s go man!” She urged. Robert led her to Unit 13. Using a wire he quickly picked the lock while Angela stood in the way so nobody could see what they were doing. When Robert opened the door, the first thing that hit them was the stench. They both walked in to find two bodies lying on the floor, one of them was Tom. Robert shook his head at his former assistant. One of the vampires had cut the words YOU SUCK! onto Tom’s forehead. Robert guessed it was Sarah, since it wasn’t Freya’s style.
“If only you had listened to me.”
“It definitely smells like vampires.” Angela said holding her nose. Robert looked around. There was no sign of Freya or Sarah. On the bench in the kitchen was a jug with dried blood.
“It looks like they’ve gone. I kept an eye on this unit all night, but never saw them leave.” He went to a back window and found it was open. “I better call in the cleaners. One of our own is here.”
“So where have they gone?” Angela asked.
“They will probably go to the nearest city. Vampires like anonymity.” Robert told her.
Robert and Tom walked into the motel room. They both placed their meagre luggage onto the floor. Robert walked over to the windows and closed the curtains.
“Shouldn’t we still be out looking for them?” Tom asked.
“I’ve been driving all night and day. I need some rest. Besides, I’m sure they’ll eventually leave evidence of their passage.” No sooner had Robert said that then his cell phone rang. He answered the call. “Yes? I see. Thanks for letting me know.”
“Is there news?”
“Yes an abandoned car has been found not far from here. They obviously drove it until it ran out of gas and then presumably walked away, which means they may not be far from here.” Robert informed him.
“I wonder what happened to the car’s owner.” Tom mused.
“I would guess he’s buried in a shallow grave somewhere, probably where they picked the car up.” Robert answered.
“They could have taken another car.”
“Wherever they go I’m sure we’ll hear about it.” Robert said confidently.
“So what do we do now?” Tom asked.
“We wait for further news.” Robert answered. “Though there is an Inquisitor nearby. We could ask them for help.” Tom stared at him in surprise.
“An Inquisitor? Aren’t they the enemy?”
“Well yes, but sometimes the enemy of enemy can be our friend, when we need them to be. Inquisitors hate rogue vampires as much as we do.” Robert told him.
“But aren’t we meant to be destroying all vampires?”
“Well that’s what we tell people, in essence were just getting rid of the troublesome ones. Vampires that are quiet and follow the rules set down by their own council don’t usually get targeted by us.” Robert replied.
“We have to be selective on who we go after. The reason I suggested we use the Inquisitor is they are essentially doing the same thing we are doing: getting rid of the vampires that could expose them all. Vampires have managed to survive for millennia as they have convinced everyone they don’t exist. Vampires like Freya who go on killing sprees threaten to expose that lie.”
“So why doesn’t our organisation just tell everyone vampires are real?” Tom asked.
“Because that is not our brief. We don’t know the ramifications and overall psychological effect on society if it was revealed that vampires actually exist. Besides if they are exposed, then our organisation may be exposed too, and we don’t really want public scrutiny on our activities.” Robert replied.
“But surely the Inquisitor might kill us too?”
“Yes they might. That’s the risk. Which is why I’m only thinking about it at this stage.” Robert told him. “Now I suggest we both get some rest. It’s getting dark. The next few days might be hectic.”
“I thought I might go to the bar across the road first.” Tom told him.
“You plan to drink or pick someone up?”
“Both hopefully. There might be some hot chicks there.” Tom stated. Robert sighed.
“You have to keep focused son. This constant need to go out and prove your heterosexuality has me convinced you are scared you might be gay.”
“What?” Tom screamed out.
“You’re obviously bothered about sharing motel rooms with another man as you are concerned people might think you’re gay. People who are confident in their sexuality, gay or straight, don’t worry about things like that. Which means to me that you’re struggling with your identity.” Robert told him. “As I said you have to keep focused in this job or it will get you into trouble.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Tom stormed out of the room. Robert shook his head and lay down on the bed.
“I touched a nerve there!” Robert said to himself as he drifted off to sleep.
Tom walked angrily outside. How dare Robert accuse him of being gay! The nerve of that man. He stormed across the road, but was met with a loud car horn. He looked to see a pickup truck with two women in the front. A blonde woman was at the wheel while a brunette sat beside her. They were dressed like farmers and were looking rather annoyed with him. He stopped and let their pickup truck pass. A golden Labrador barked at him from the back. Once he checked the road was clear, he walked across.
Tom ordered a whiskey and thought about Robert’s words. It appeared that the organisation he was working for was far different than what he thought it was. When he was recruited he was told he would be killing vampires, but it had turned out far different than he had expected.
“Want to buy me a drink?” asked a voice that broke Tom out of his reverie. He saw there was a young blonde woman standing beside him.
“Sure! Bartender, whatever this woman wants.”
“Can I have a double bourbon please?” the woman asked. The bartender nodded and poured her a drink. She drained the glass in one go. Tom looked at her in wonder. She turned to him. “You been here long?”
“No just passing through. I’m staying at the motel across the road.” Tom told her.
“Me too! I’m there with my girlfriend.” She replied smiling. “We sure could use some company.” Tom quickly finished his drink and left a few dollars on the bar.
“I’m so there!” he replied. That would show Robert. He planned to brag to him about this threesome tomorrow.
“Great! Follow me.” She said. Tom followed her across the road. She led him into a room on the other side of the motel from where he was staying. She opened the door and beckoned him to go in first, which he did. She followed him and closed the door behind her. Tom then saw her friend.
“Oh my god it’s you!” He exclaimed upon seeing Freya smiling at him evilly. He turned to quickly leave, but found his way to the door was blocked by Sarah, who now had her fangs out. Both of them advanced on him.
“This is for Britney!” Sarah said. They muffled Tom’s screams.
Cindy walked towards the Faerie Market. There were all manner of different creatures wandering around the market place or minding the stalls. She could see elves, dwarves, gnomes, a tree-ish woman Cindy presumed to be a dryad, and many others that she had no name for, while above fairies and pixies flittered around them all.
The market stalls had many wondrous-looking items on display. There were gems, jewels in the shape of flowers that blossomed before your eyes as though they were alive, potions, weapons, small chests full of ointments or perfumes, and many more such things. Cindy stopped at a stall that had various trinkets. An old woman with long silver hair wearing a long black cloak regarded her. Cindy picked up a small silver bell that had intricate patterns etched into the metal. When she rang the bell it made a clear note that drove away her feeling of tiredness.
“You like the bell? Would you like to exchange something for it?” The old woman asked.
“I don’t have anything to buy it with.” Cindy told her.
“You have nothing at all?” The woman clarified looking at her keenly. Cindy dug into the pockets of her jeans. She produced the letter from Melissa, which was the only thing she had left.
“I’ve got a letter from a friend and that’s all.” Cindy said.
“Hand the letter over to me child and let me have a look at it.” The old woman requested holding out her shaking hand. Cindy reluctantly gave it to her. The old woman looked it over and opened it up to read. “Ah a letter of apology from a sorceress. This has much value. Feel free to take any item.” A sorceress? Cindy thought, it’s just plain old Melissa. Cindy picked up the silver bell.
“Okay I’ll take this silver bell. It’ll make a nice gift for Jess, my partner. It will help prove to her I was actually here.” Cindy informed her. The old woman nodded.
“It’s a fair exchange.” She declared. She spat on her hand and held it out to Cindy, who then reluctantly shook hands with her. “It is sealed.”
As Cindy walked away she looked behind her to see the woman hide the letter away amongst her belongings. Cindy began to consider it was time to move on. She should really get home as she was unaware how long she had been lost in Faerie, and time seemed to move differently here. Jess would be worrying about her. And it wasn’t like she anything else to exchange with aside from the clothes she was wearing, and she would rather not part with those.
Once finding the path she assumed would lead her back to the portal, she followed it to see where she would end up this time. The path led her through the forest and then upwards through bush until she came across Babradon who was sitting there smoking his pipe.
“I saw you approaching. You were away for some time. Did you get lost?” He asked.
“Yes. I left the path and couldn’t find it again.” Cindy told him.
“I did warn you not to leave the path. Then count yourself lucky you found your way back to here. You could have been lost in Faerie for the rest of your life.” Babradon informed her.
“I know. Luckily a pixie helped by leading me to the Faerie market. I’m really glad I saw it.”
“All’s well that ends well then.” Babradon replied.
“I better be going home. Jess will probably be wondering where I am.” She looked towards the portal.
“I suspect I’ll be seeing you again. So until next time!” Babradon said. Cindy nodded.
“Yes until next time.” Cindy replied as she walked up to the portal. She was looking forward to getting home.
I’m taking a short break from The Oracle, and will use this opportunity to finish the Dumb Vampires storyline. In the previous episode the vampires Freya and Sarah fled the city after the death of Britney. The hunters Robert and Tom are chasing them…
Freya peeked through the curtain to see it wasn’t yet sundown. She lay back in the bed with the sleeping form of Sarah beside her. On the bedside table was a mostly empty bottle of Jack Daniels, as well as copious bloodstains. Sarah definitely still loved her alcohol, even as a vampire, which had surprised Freya.
They had fled the city and driven all night using the two dead bodies with them as food. Once dawn broke they went down a back road and covered the car windows up and slept all day. When it was dark again they abandoned the car and walked along the road. Sarah managed to get a passing car to stop for them. After feeding on the driver and hiding his body, they took the car and drove it until it ran out of gas. Luckily they weren’t far from a town and managed to find a motel not long before the sun came up. Sarah found there was a bar across the road and came back with the Jack Daniels and a companion to feed on. Freya had to admit that Sarah was getting better as a hunter. She had to come to a decision soon: either she had to cut Sarah free or take Sarah as her partner from now on. As she had always survived on her own it felt weird to have someone with her all the time, but she had grown fond of Sarah, though she didn’t like to admit this to herself.
She sat up and carefully got out of bed. Stepping over the body on the floor, she went to the small kitchen. Opening the fridge she poured some blood into a cup and warmed it up in the microwave. As she was drinking it, Sarah appeared with her blonde hair all mussed up. She grabbed some blood as well and warmed it up.
“It was a great idea to put all their remaining blood into a jug.” Sarah commented.
“Yes, otherwise it would go to waste.” Freya agreed.
“So what’s the plan?”
“We shouldn’t stay here too long as we are bound to get noticed.”
“Like we did at my place?” Sarah asked.
“Well yes. We stayed there far too long. We almost got caught.”
“Well I did have a large friend’s list.” Sarah stated. “So what do we do next?”
“We need to head to another city. It’s easier to blend in there, especially if hunters are after you. New Kingsport is nearby.” Freya told her.
“So what do we do? Steal another car and head for there?”
“I think that would be best, but I think first we should lie low for a couple of days here. Hopefully the hunters have no idea which way we headed. The quieter we are the better.” Freya informed her. “Anyway what do you want to do? Strike out on your own or stay with me?” Sarah looked at her surprised.
“I’m not sure I would know what to do on my own. I thought we would just stay together.” Sarah admitted.
“You’re already showing signs you can hunt, and all the other stuff will eventually come to you. I think you could definitely make it on your own.”
“Are you trying to get rid of me?” Sarah asked looking upset. “You’re all I’ve got now Britney is gone.”
“No. I just wanted you to know that you don’t have to stay with me if you don’t want to. Of course you’re welcome to stay with me for as long as you want.” Freya explained. Sarah suddenly put her arms around Freya and held onto her tightly.
“I never want to leave you.” Sarah told her.
“Okay.” Freya replied as she put her arms around Sarah’s quivering body. She now knew she could never let Sarah go. Both of them heard a car drive into the car park. Out of curiosity, Freya opened a curtain to see a familiar car parked there. Two men got out of the car. She turned to Sarah. “The hunters are here.”
Steff was seated on the bridge looking at the swirling blue light before her. Beta Hub was now behind them. They were in a wormhole rapidly getting further away from it. Once they were through a few more wormholes, Steff mused, they would really be in the deeps of space; far away from anywhere else. The pirates had been moved to a warship and were now Byron’s problem, or to put it another way: Byron was now the pirate’s problem, which was more accurate.
Lieutenant Ling Yi, the Second Mate, was also on the bridge. She kept stealing glances at Steff as she sat there unresponsive, seemingly captivated by the never-ending tunnel of light they traveled through.
“Captain, I can take over the bridge if you wish to return to your quarters.” Li offered. Her words broke Steff out of her reverie, and she glanced over at Li.
“That’s okay. I don’t mind being here for a little while longer.” Steff replied.
“You’ve been sitting there for several hours now Captain. I just thought you might want some rest, or at least to stretch a bit.” Li explained.
“I’ve got a lot on my mind at the moment.” Steff told her. “I need to consider things.”
“Understandable.” Li replied. “I’m going to be here for several more hours, so I can keep an eye on things here. I don’t mind really.” Steff considered her words and then reluctantly stood up. “Blake should be here soon as well.”
“Okay, but let me know if anything happens.”
“Sure thing!” Li replied taking over the command position. Steff walked to the bridge doors feeling rather stiff. How long had she been sitting there mesmerised by the lights?
After leaving the bridge she walked to her quarters thinking about Edwards all the way there. Why was he looking at Space Command data as well as information on all of New Earth’s worlds and colonies? It defied explanation. Had the Separatists somehow managed to take control of his mind? Was he acting under their orders now?
“SARA tell Doctor Philips to come to my quarters when it’s convenient.” Steff ordered.
“Yes Captain.” SARA replied. A short while later Philips turned up looking concerned.
“I was told to come and see you. Are you feeling okay?” Philips asked.
“Yes, I’m fine. I just need your opinion. Please sit down.” Steff replied. Philips sat down on one of the chairs and looked at Steff with interest.
“Is it possible for someone to be taken over or come under control of someone else?” Steff asked.
“How do you mean?’
“Take Lieutenant Frank Edwards for example. Say when he suddenly had that seizure and was in a coma for some time, the Separatists took control of his mind in some way. Is that possible?” Philips looked at her doubtfully.
“You’re still not obsessing about Edwards are you? I thought you were over that. To answer your question: no. Not by any technology I know of, as I have explained before. The Separatists would have to be more advanced than we are, and I know they’re not. There have been experiments into this, as the military is interested in this technology, but so far they haven’t yielded any practical results. The only real way to do this most easily is by mind control techniques similar to brainwashing, but that takes time and it pays to have the subject in close proximity when doing it, not many light years away. Edward’s consciousness couldn’t be taken over or controlled this way.”
“What if he had been subject to mind control before he came on board, and then a signal was sent that activated it?” Steff asked.
“That’s highly speculative. There’s no evidence he’s come under such conditioning. As I understand it he was on New Earth for a long period before joining The Oracle crew. Can I ask why this renewed interest in him?” Philips inquired. Steff sat down so her eyes were level with Philips’s.
“SARA informed me he’s looking at quite extensive data pertaining to New Earth’s military, colonies, settlements and worlds. This includes military deployments. Does that not seem suspicious to you?” Philips sat back and observed Steff.
“So you are watching him? I’m disappointed. Maybe he’s trying to educate himself, or maybe he’s just interested in that sort of information. Personally I don’t see why it’s such a problem. Taking control of someone and doing a data search of New Earth information seems rather a bizarre and long-winded way to get such information, if you ask me. If you’re concerned about it, maybe you should ask him about it. That’s what I would have done.” Philips told her bluntly. “You’re seeing conspiracies in fairly mundane activities. That’s called paranoia. You are not well. My advice is resign your command and check in to a psychiatric institution as soon as you can. Get some help before you harm anyone else. I will be mentioning this in my report to New Earth Space Command.” Philips stood up and began to leave Steff’s quarters.
“I’m not just imagining it! There is something going on and we could all be in great danger.” Steff warned her, but Philips didn’t stop and just shook her head at Steff’s words as she left.
Steff sighed. That hadn’t gone well, but then again what was she expecting trying to confide in Philips? She walked over to her table and saw the datafile she had found outside her door. She picked it up and took it over to the interface. She inserted the file.
“SARA play the datafile.” She waited and nothing happened. “SARA did you hear me?”
“Yes Captain.” SARA responded.
“Play the datafile.” Steff repeated.
“I don’t think you want to see what’s on this file.” SARA replied. Steff opened her mouth in surprise.
“It’s not for you to decide what I watch. Play the file.” Steff ordered.
The screen in her quarters flicked on. It showed someone walking along with what seemed to be a large crowd of people in what appeared to be an urban setting. It was someone obviously holding onto a camera as they walked. There were sounds of what seemed to be a celebration. They walked through an alleyway and came into what looked to be a large civic square surrounded by tall buildings. The square was packed with people. Everyone seemed excited and celebrating something. Beside the person filming a man was lifting up his daughter to his shoulders. At the other end of the square was a sort of stage that the camera became focused on. A small group of people climbed up to the stage. One of them walked up to a microphone.
“The New Earth-backed government has fallen!” he announced. The entire crowd cheered to the news. “Our new government has joined the Alliance of Free Colonies!” Again the crowd cheered. “Even as we speak their fleet is coming to protect us. All that stands in their way is a single New Earth frigate far above us commanded by a young female officer. We’re expecting her to order a retreat or surrender. It’s only a matter of time now.” There were further cheers and chants of “Retreat!” “We are now part of the Alliance of Free Colonies. From this day Esfor is a free colony!” The crowd erupted in louder cheers than before. The camera panned round the square showing all the celebration going on. The camera turned back to the stage. The speaker was about to say something else, but then there was a sudden bright flash, and the screen went dead.
Steff sat there devastated. She buried her face in her hands.
“I told you that you wouldn’t want to see it Captain. I am only trying to protect you.” SARA told her.
“Who left the file there?”
“I’ve already told you I don’t know. I have no record of anyone leaving a file there.”
“How can that be? It can’t have just suddenly appeared there.”
“I know. I have no explanation of how the file got there.” SARA admitted. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Why did you destroy the colony of Esfor?” SARA asked. Steff sat there in silence for a while.
“It was my orders.” Steff replied eventually.
“I was told under no circumstances should I let Esfor fall to the Separatists. When the rest of our fleet was outmaneuvered by the Separatist fleet that left only my ship facing them. I could have ordered a retreat, but that would have meant Esfor would have fallen to them, and as Esfor had the primary spaceship building facilities in the Epsilon Sector, it would mean the entire sector would soon be impossible to hold for New Earth. My ship had a full complement of nuclear missiles. So I decided to destroy Esfor. That way the Separatists would never get their hands on it.” Steff admitted.
“You couldn’t have fired those missiles at the Alliance of Free Colonies fleet?”
“No, their ships had defences that would have stopped the missiles. None of them probably would have got through. No one was expecting me to fire them at the colony itself, not even my crew. When I gave the order the bridge crew looked at me in horror. The weapons officer refused to fire them, so I used the override and fired them myself. The entire world lit up below us with a thousand nuclear explosions. That was when Juanita and the others led the mutiny against me. I and a few others escaped on a shuttle, while the mutineers surrendered to the Separatists. They were probably expecting the Separatists to open fire on us, but I think everyone was in a state of mutual shock at the time.”
“Do you regret your actions?” SARA asked.
“Yes. Of course I do. At the time I was a rather zealous officer who believed in the supremacy of the New Earth imperium, but once you kill millions of people, you can’t take it back. No matter what you do. One side rightly wants to hold me accountable, while the other side gave me a new command…” Steff sat there in silence again.
I traveled through Transylvania by carriage. At one point we stopped at an inn. When I told them it was my plan to continue on that night to Count Dracula’s castle, the innkeeper did his very best to make me stay until morning. Honestly the things hoteliers do to get you to stay overnight so they can charge you for a room. Being wise to his game, I insisted on continuing my journey that evening. Also, whenever I mentioned Count Dracula’s name everyone looked at me horrified, but then again I also harbour a dislike towards the aristocracy.
When we got to Borgo Pass where Dracula’s own carriage was waiting for me, the driver on my carriage barely stopped. He just threw my luggage onto the ground and I had to get off while the carriage was literally still moving. The things these drivers have to do to stick to their obviously strict timetables.
When I got into Dracula’s own carriage, the driver never even spoke a word to me and then drove at a furious pace down some rather substandard road that climbed upwards to Dracula’s castle. I mean, we were driving by some rather nasty precipices, and I definitely would have recommended that he slow down a bit if I hadn’t been so momentarily terrified by his driving skills, or lack of. They are so crying out for some decent customer service training in these parts. I will write a strongly worded letter when I get the chance.
When I finally met the Count my worst fears were realised: he was an eccentric old weirdo. The poor dear was so out of it he said: “the children of the night, what beautiful music they make” while a group of mangy wolves were howling outside. God knows what he thought he was actually listening to.
When I handed him the title deeds to his new properties I noticed his fingernails were in the need of a decent trim, and after accidentally cutting myself, he made such a fuss about it I also strongly suspected he was a massive germaphobe. To make matters worse when he poured me some wine he made it pretty clear he didn’t drink. Just my luck to be stuck here with some pious teetotaller.
There seems to be three women living here as well. I’m not sure if they’re staff, or his daughters, or some more distant relations, but I may have slept with them. All three of them at the same time. You see I nodded off in the library one night and then had the most insane sex dream regarding them, but then woke up in my bed the next day. Not really sure what happened there, and nobody is saying anything. I’ll just pretend it didn’t happen. I hope Dracula isn’t upset with me over this. Must try to find out if they’re actually related to him.
One night I looked out my window and then noticed Dracula was crawling down the side of the castle. Good grief man, what’s wrong with the stairs?
I just realised it’s been a long time since I was outside. In fact since I began my stay here I haven’t been outside at all. It’s a good thing I’m so introverted. Back home I could quite happily stay in my own home for months without leaving if I could get away with it. I did try to go outside once, but I couldn’t seem to find any way out in this castle. All the passages and corridors look the same anyway. Dracula was rather remiss to not provide me a map of the place.
It’s occurred to me it’s been some time since I last saw Count Dracula. In fact I strongly suspect he left a long time ago to live in his new home. Frankly I’m surprised he didn’t tell me he was leaving. We could have traveled together. It might even have saved him some money on traveling costs. Maybe I should have let him know about that?
Okay I’m definitely sleeping with the three women here. I just wish they weren’t so into biting. I’ve never found that a turn on at all. I keep waking up with bite marks all over me. How am I going to explain them to my fiancée when I get home?
As soon as I find a way out of this castle I’ll head back home. I really hope Count Dracula is settling in and adjusting to his new surroundings. Hopefully they’re not finding him too weird over there…
After watching the 1931 version of Dracula, I thought it would be fun to rewrite the beginning of Dracula from the perspective of a clueless narrator.
Steff looked at Lewis through the glass. He was seated in their “interview” room. He was a man with pale skin and greying hair, probably in his late forties. Edwards was seated across from him trying to get information. So far Lewis had given his name and nothing else, and even the name could have been fake since it had no corresponding file in the database. None of the others would talk as well. Edwards stood up and opened the door. Steff went to meet him.
“It’s no good. He won’t volunteer any information.” Edwards told her.
“Okay, it’s time for me to have a go.” Steff replied. She walked into the room and sat down across from Lewis. He stared at her with disgust.
“My god, you even look like a monster.” He said.
“Tell us about your friends.” Urged Steff ignoring his words.
“I know what you did, everyone knows what you did. How do your crew stomach seeing you every day?” he asked her.
“I’m asking the questions.” Steff reminded him.
“If I had thought about it, we should have taken you. I’m sure the Alliance of Free Colonies would pay a lot for you.”
“And are you allied with the Separatists?” Steff asked him.
“We’re pirates. They might do business with us, but they would never let pirates work for them. They’re way too high and mighty for that.”
“So that’s a no then?” Lewis shrugged, as if he didn’t care. “Where are your friends? They turned and ran away after their first volley of missiles, once we began firing back that is. Asteroids don’t just sit stationary in space. My guess that might be a hideout with a drive system keeping it in place. Obviously there’ll be other hideouts as well, which is where they’ve probably fled to. New Earth Space Command are sending some ships to check it out. The more you tell us, the better it will be for you, and all your compatriots.” Steff told him.
“Synthetics.” He stated.
“You have synthetics aboard. Have you no shame?”
“Yes, New Earth Spacefleet uses synthetics. They are great as soldiers and security guards, as well as many other important roles on a spaceship.”
“You sent synthetics aboard my ship!” He stated angrily.
“So what? If you hadn’t pretended to be in need of assistance, none of this would have happened. So tell me about your fellow pirates.” Steff ordered. Lewis folded his arms and looked away.
“I’m not telling you anything.” He told her.
“Before we go into the next wormhole, you’ll be dropped off on one of the warships. There you’ll await Admiral Byron’s interrogators. Once they have you, you’ll wish you had spoken to us.”
“As if anything I say here will stop the interrogators torturing me.” Lewis said.
“It will matter. If you’re helpful here, they’ll take it into account.” Steff told him. Lewis laughed. He looked at her.
“That’s an interesting scar down the side of your head. I wonder how you got that. Makes you even look more like a Frankenstein’s Monster.”
“I’m not the subject of this conversation, you are.” Steff reminded him. He continued sizing her up.
“If you remove the scar and add some actual colour to your skin you might be worth a fuck, but only one.” He stated. Steff stood up. He deserved no more of her time.
“When Byron’s interrogators are through with you, you’ll remember this conversation and wish you had been more cooperative.” She turned and walked out the door ignoring his response.
“The others aren’t willing to talk either.” Edwards commented once Steff emerged from the room. Steff just shrugged.
“I guess we leave them to Byron then.” She replied. Walking away from the interview room she wondered whether anything could make them talk. People like that had some honour code that seemed unbreakable. She wondered if there was anything that could make her as intractable as that. If the Separatists managed to grab her one day, what would she be willing to tell them if it meant they might commute her execution? She guessed she wouldn’t know until it happened.
She stopped at the medical bay to have some further work done on her scar. Usually one of the medics took care of it, but today Doctor Philips insisted on seeing her. While Steff was seated, Philips ran a pulsating medical device over the length of her scar.
“This should help the scarred skin to eventually merge and re-knit with itself. In a short time the scar should disappear.” Philips told her. Steff felt the side of her head begin to vibrate along with the device.
“I just want my hair to grow back. It will make me look less freakish when it covers that area again.” Steff replied.
“It doesn’t really look that bad. You probably notice it more and, because of this, feel more self-conscious about it.” Philips said.
“I guess. I keep thinking everyone looks at me strangely, though they were probably doing that before.”
“How have you been feeling? Any headaches, dizziness, or nausea?” Philips asked.
“No. I did have a lot of headaches to begin with, but it’s been fine since then.”
“Good.” Philips replied. She checked Steff’s eyes with a light. “How’s your eyesight?”
“Pretty much the same as always. I’ve never liked bright light and the older I get the more I prefer being in the darkness. I’m not sure if that’s related to my condition or not.” Steff answered.
“Hard to say really. The sensitivity to light is well-documented, but preferring the darkness is not something I’ve read about or heard.”
“Can’t say I have either.” Steff said.
“You seem to be fine. Come back in two days for further treatment on that scar.” Philips told her.
“Okay.” Steff replied. She stood up feeling a little dizzy, but quickly left the medical bay. Since the incident on Beta Hub Station, Doctor Philips was being a lot nicer to her. This puzzled Steff. Was she feeling more empathy for Steff now since she had become a patient? Was she beginning to like her more? Or maybe she was just humouring her and it was all an act she was going to drop in the near future? She had no idea.
When Steff got back to her quarters she found there was a datafile on the floor just outside her door. She picked it up and looked it over. There were no markings on it. She walked into her quarters turning the file over in her hands.
“SARA I found this datafile on the floor outside my door. Did you see who left it there?”
“I’m sorry Captain I have no record of anyone leaving it there.” SARA replied.
“But how can that be? There are cameras and motion sensors just outside my door. They should have picked up anyone who was there.”
“I do not know what has happened. I agree that it is strange, but I have no explanation for it. According to my sensors no one was out there except you leaving and then coming back.” SARA told her.
“There are no gaps in your time? Your program never momentarily ceased at all?”
“Not according to my system log.” Steff frowned at SARA’s reply. She looked over the datafile. It was definitely not something she had dropped. She left it on the table. Obviously it was something that someone wanted her to see. She decided to look at it later, since it might be something that required her full attention, and she couldn’t commit to that right now.
“You wanted me to keep track of Lieutenant Edward’s movements.” SARA announced.
“Yes I did. What can you report?”
“So far in the last week he has been everywhere he was expected to be. He has not visited any restricted areas or talked with anyone unexpected. However, when he is alone in his quarters he has been spending a lot of time looking through databases.” SARA informed her.
“Which databases?” Steff asked.
“He has gone through the entirety of the New Earth Space Command database looking at fleet compositions and placement. He has also been looking at all the worlds and colonies currently under New Earth’s control, including New Earth itself, as well as Old Earth.”
“Old Earth? It’s a dead world.” Steff replied confused. “When he’s looking at the worlds, what is he exactly looking for?”
“Population, resources, settlements, and location.”
“Location?” Steff asked alarmed.
“Yes he seems to be trying to map out the entirety of the Imperium.”
“Why would he need to do this?”
“I have no idea Captain. Maybe he’s trying to educate himself.” SARA suggested.
“Or maybe it’s more nefarious.” Steff wondered. She gazed out the window and thought about it. She felt there was something going on she didn’t understand, and it was beginning to scare her. It was like there was something obvious staring her in the face and she was failing to comprehend it, or even see it.
“Should I continue to monitor his database searches?”
“Definitely SARA. Let me know what else he looks at.” Who should she talk to about this? Steff wondered. It probably wouldn’t be enough to alert New Earth Space Command, but she definitely felt she needed another opinion…
“Captain, Lieutenant Yi is contacting you.” SARA announced.
“Captain, we are nearing the wormhole fleet.” Yi told her.
“Thanks Lieutenant.” It was time to get rid of the pirates. She stood there continuing to gaze out the window. There were a lot of thoughts on her mind.