That Time With The Vampires
Chapter 6

We picked a day we'd both go on - Omar's next day off. I went in the afternoon as planned, where I pretty much just browsed the library and drank coffee. Eventually, I heard Omar's voice in the hall. I moved closer to the doorway where I could listen, and I could hear him explaining that he'd changed his mind. I heard Michael sound delighted, and I'm fairly sure I heard John Phillips make a noise that could have either been smug or skeptical. I went back to reading while I waited.

I'm not sure how long I waited, but it seemed like it took a long time. Finally, Omar came into the library. I put down my book and looked at him. "Did you find anything?" I asked.

He shook his head. "Can't smell any blood or bodies anywhere," he said.

"Maybe I'm wrong, then?" I asked. "I mean... I don't know what else to go with."

He shrugged. "I dunno, either. I mean..." He glanced around. "Let's go outside, huh? Don't wanna get overheard by these guys."

I nodded and put my book away, and I went outside into the cool evening air with Omar. "Anyway, I don't doubt for one minute they'd drain somebody around here," he said. "But I didn't smell any bodies."

"It wouldn't be hard to dispose of 'em, would it?" I asked.

"I mean, out in a place like this, nah. Not hard at all. Just dump 'em off somewhere, like..." Omar inhaled through his nose, then looked at me. "There a lake near by?" he asked.

"Yeah, there's lots of lakes," I said. "Good place to put bodies."

He nodded. "Yeah. And somebody 'round here's been near one." He walked over toward a car. "This car's got lake smell all over it."

I looked at the vehicle. It was an expensive car, and pretty new. I went to the front passenger's seat and found that it was unlocked, and I slid inside. I found the registration information inside the glove compartment. "Michael Fitch," I said. "I kinda doubt he's hiding bodies." He didn't seem like the type who'd want to get up to that kind of work. Plus, there was no way he'd use a car like this for that.

Omar chuckled. "Yeah, nah, probably not."

"Maybe they're processing the blood at the lake and hauling the blood in bottles here," I suggested.

Omar nodded. "It's possible, yeah. Or he's just got a fancy lake house we don't know about."

"Fancy lake house could be where they're hiding the bodies."

He nodded. "Yeah, true. Now uh, you said there's a lot of lakes? We gotta narrow it down, in that case."

"Yeah." I thought it over. It could be one that was close by, but also maybe not. I checked inside the car for an address book or something, but there was nothing. So I climbed out. "Nothing here," I said.

"I saw an office inside," Omar said. "I could go check it out. Maybe they got an address?"

"Yeah, good idea," I said.

We went back to the house, and I went to the living room to sit down and listen to some conversation or other while Omar went upstairs. I don't remember what they were talking about, so it was probably a pretty boring one. I watched the others to see if any of them were glancing his way, but none of them seemed to paying any attention to anything outside of themselves.

It seemed like ages passed until Omar finally came back. He gave me a nod and walked back to the library. I followed him. "Found an address for a lake house," he said. He handed me piece of paper with an address and a map scribbled on it.

After glancing around to make sure no one was nearby, I leaned in and kissed his cheek. "Thanks," I said. "Let's go."

"Yeah. We'll stagger it, like we did when we came. Leave here in fifteen, catch up with me over at the crossroads."

Omar left me in the library, and I read through a book for another fifteen minutes. Then I got up and bid farewell to my hosts, and I hurried outside. I got in my car and drove down to the crossroads (far enough away that no one from the mansion could hear or see us), and I stopped and got out.

Omar was sitting in his car listening to his radio, and he got out when he saw me. "So, your car or mine?" he asked.

I glanced between them; his was silver, mine was tan. Both sedans, neither one very large. No significant difference between them that I knew of. "Mine," I said, deciding that since I'd dragged him into this, I might as well put my own car on the line.

"All right." He went back to his car and pulled out a pair of binoculars. "Figure these might help," he said as he locked and shut his door. He climbed into the front passenger side of my car, and I got into the driver's seat again. I looked at the map and mentally traced the route before pulling out onto the road.

I drove several miles through woods and forest before getting in the area of the lakehouse. I didn't drive up right to it, though. I pulled off the road and stopped the car in a spot where the trees would keep it from being seen by anyone passing by. Then I grabbed the binoculars and put the strap around my neck, and climbed out.

"You're gonna be able to find the car when we get back, right?" Omar asked me as he got out.

"Yep," I said. I picked up three large stones and placed them in a row facing toward my car, starting at the edge of the road. No one driving by would notice them, but I'd see them when I came back here.

It was getting close to dark, but it was still light enough to have fairly good visibility. "I'm going to get up and take a look at the cabin," I told Omar. I flew upward among the trees, where they'd give me some cover, and peered out through the binoculars. As far as cabins went, it was pretty large. I reasoned that this meant that they had some operation going on there, or that they were ridiculously extravagant in everything they did. Or, I realized a second later, both.

There was a light on inside the window, so someone was probably there. Probably. It was possible they just had the lights on so that an intruder (like me) would think there was someone home. So I needed to go down and make sure. I wove toward it through the treetops, and made my way down to the roof. I landed gently on it in a crawling position, took the binoculars off and set them down, and moved toward a window. I let myself down along the wall and peered inside; there was a man in there, one I'd never seen before. He was older, and he was stirring something on the stove. Hardly a threatening sight; it was cozy, even. A feeling of envy for this man and his cozy cabin with a pot of soup came over me, but was quickly interrupted by the buzz of a mosquito.

I swatted it away, and took another look inside. I could see that the kitchen was pretty normal. Nothing spooky or weird. It was probably built in the fifties or thereabouts, going by the design. Then I saw something that I hadn't noticed before: chemistry equipment over on one counter. There were a few vials of fluids, and something in a flask was being kept warm over a low flame. I looked at the pot on the stove again. Was that actually soup, or was it something else?

I needed to get inside, one way or another. I thought about going to the second story and getting in through a window, but these days it was standard for windows to be covered in glass, and breaking glass was noisy. I thought about turning the pigs loose, but then I remembered that this was 20th century America, where few people kept pigs. I thought about posing as a missionary while Omar sneaked in through the back door (if it had one; I hadn't checked yet), but that probably wouldn't buy us enough time, and besides that, Omar was probably better cut out to be a missionary than I was.

Or maybe he didn't need to pretend to be a missionary. Maybe he could pretend to be someone else.

I flew back to Omar and landed beside him, and informed him that the house was occupied and we needed to get the occupant out.

"So what's the plan?" he asked me. "Also, you didn't mention that you could fly. That... mighta been good to know."

"Oh, yeah. Happened with the lightning strike," I said.

Omar considered this and nodded.

Omar had a face innocent enough to make an angel's look suspicious by comparison. But right now, I needed him to be the opposite of angelic. "I need you to go start a campfire out in this guy's lawn, where he can see it, and keep him distracted by arguing with him. Act like you think this is a public campground and it's your God-givin right to camp here. Every obnoxious customer you've ever met, that's your character." I paused. "I gotta get this guy out of his house so I can look inside."

He snorted. "Okay. I - I guess that might work. So what do I do when he calls the cops?"

I considered this. "Roll with it. It'll take 'em awhile to get here, anyway."

"And if he's got a gun?"

"Will you die if you get shot?"

"No, but it'll hurt a lot. And I'll probably need to drink some of your blood."

"If you need it, you can have it," I said.

I grabbed a lighter from my glove compartment and an old paper bag from the backseat, and we went back toward the cabin. I helped Omar collect rocks to surround a fire spot with and dry wood for a fire, and I soon had a fire going. There was no way anyone standing in the front end of the cabin could miss it.

I went over to the cabin and sat down to wait by the corner closest to the front door. Eventually, I heard it open, and I heard footsteps coming out. Once he was out walking out to the campfire and well out of earshot, I got up and slipped in through the door. Ahead of me was the living room - again, very normal 50's decor. It was the kind that people actually had, rather than the kind you saw in magazines. To the right was the kitchen. That was where I went first. I went to the chemistry equipment and looked at it - there was definitely something going on here, but I couldn't tell you what. Then I went to the stove and looked inside the pot. It was just chicken soup.

Then I went to the fridge and opened it. It looked ordinary enough at first glance; there were milk, apples, cheese, things like that. I grabbed an apple and ate it while I looked closer. I saw several glass bottles of various liquids, a few of which were definitely blood. They were all neatly labeled, but with abbreviations and acronyms I didn't understand. It looked like the kind of thing that was done with the intention of saving time, rather than concealing information. Still, it did both.

I closed the fridge and left the kitchen to look at the rest of the house. As I walked into the living room, I caught the scent of decaying flesh and bleach. I followed it down a hall to a basement entrance, and downstairs I went.

As far as the actual architecture went, it was a normal basement. It had a low roof, Linoleum floors, and white painted walls. Long fluorescent lights lit the place up pretty well. So it was easy to see a table covered with neatly-arranged human bones, a garbage can full of human clothes, and a laundry sink where blood had been splattered on the walls behind it and dried there.

There was also a metal bookshelf. It had books on anatomy, alchemy, and several notebooks. I picked up a pocket-sized notebook and leafed through it. After few pages describing what looked like a few old folk charms, I reached several pages describing previous attempts to extract vital force from various plants, animals, and even the sun.

What were they trying to do, find a fancier way to feed vampires? Vampire fast food? Vampire candy?

Looking closer, I could see that these attempts had all been marked as failures. Up to and including the solution they'd made from an actual human male in the prime of his life.

Poor Todd.

I had everything I needed to know. Murder had been committed here. Maybe the police wouldn't understand words like aether and spagyrics, but they'd definitely understand a human skeleton laid out on a table.

I put the notebook in my pocket. As morbid as its contents were, it was actually pretty interesting, and I was curious to know more about what they were trying to do. Then I upstairs to find a phone, and John Phillips came in through the front door.

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