Book: The First - Part: Two - Chapter: 10 - Installment: ii

          The man believed the child, or so it appeared to Vala from her perch.

        Precisely why he believed her was harder to glean.

        Clearly the world had changed. That was not surprising. What was surprising was the degree. The evidence was all around Vala, even if she had not found a newspaper and seen the date. It was fortunate enough that she’d been brought back. The longer one laid in torpor the less chance there was of being revived... but less than seventy years, that was truly remarkable. But not so remarkable as the changes in the world... 

        It had seemed to her when she had last been active that automobiles were everywhere. That had been naive. Now they were truly everywhere. So many and so different – almost unrecognizable.

        The newspaper she had found was full of colour, the photos were so clear and it had been filled with so many words she did not recognize. English was not her best language, but even the context was hard to follow – how could this be a mere seventy years?

        And how had she made it to North America’s West Coast? It could have been worse. She could have found herself in the isolationist States. At least Canada had the good sense to rely upon the aid of its’ founding countries. America on the other hand would be hard pressed to make something of itself by separating from the other nations of the world.

        And the girl... there was a taint to her blood that had repelled Vala. That was something she had never felt before. The girl had seen her, witnessed as Vala had feasted, and she escaped. That could not be allowed.

        Vala cursed herself for her recoil. There was no reason that she couldn’t have eliminated the witness, even if she didn’t drink from her. And now the girl had told someone else – her father.

        When the girl had escaped into the night she left behind many personal items. It had not taken long for Vala to sort the girl’s identification cards from those of her deceased compatriots, but navigating this foreign city had been another story entirely. It had taken her almost all night to get her bearings. She’d had almost no opportunity to orient herself in this new modern world as a result.

        As day broke she was forced into the storm sewers which had not been as effective as she was accustomed. While the sewer itself was in better condition than the systems of Europe she remembered, it was small – clearly not expected to be frequented by maintenance workers – and it appeared to be the storm season. Progress was slow as she navigated primarily by educated guess and mostly against the substantial flow.

        As night fell she resurfaced and found her way to the window where she now perched.

        The girl told her father she had seen a vampire - that they had been attacked. The girl told her father the story of Vala’s revival and of the slaughter from her petty human viewpoint.

        The father told the girl that the news supported her story. The details didn’t seem right to Vala. He was talking about vampirism like it was a plague. That it had suddenly struck the city – at a hospital downtown. But she could attribute that to her own unfamiliarity with his source. Radio had clearly changed in her time in torpor – it now included pictures and who knew what else – taste, touch and smell for all she knew – that might skew her own interpretation of the circumstances.

        She couldn’t take the chance. I came too close to letting my presence be known already. The girl and her father would have to die. With luck he wouldn’t share the taint of his child and Vala would be able to feast upon him.


        The window burst inward without warning.

        “Sarah, run.” He said, positioning himself between the skeletal figure and his daughter.


        “Sarah, I said ‘run!’” He bellowed as he pulled a parasol from behind her closet door. Not much of a weapon at all.

        Sarah ran.

        The last sight she ever had of her father, he stood toe to toe with the demi-human beast that had invaded their home, futilely slashing at it with a flimsy girlish toy of an umbrella.

     Chapter 11


Book: The First - Part: Two - Chapter: 10 - Installment: i

          Even her Father’s respite didn’t last long. For the last hours of day-light Sarah had occupied herself with menial tasks while she turned the events of the previous night over in her head. But there was little to do. Her Father maintained a maid service in the house, so there wasn’t much to be cleaned, and her own room was only barely her room anymore. Most of what remained was the nostalgia of childhood. Most of her day to day belongings that might normally accumulate were in her dorm room at the university. She barely even had clothes to speak of in her closet.

        I left so much behind. She thought of her backpack, left at the old house, her wallet in it along with her lap-top and consequently the majority of the work she was expected to hand in once the weekend was over… tomorrow. She expected that under the circumstances - whatever explanation she came up with – she could probably get an extension.

        Around seven thirty she heard the door bell ring and her Father answer the door. There was a brief muffled discussion before the door closed again and she heard footsteps on the stair.

        Here we go. The police want answers, and I don’t really have any.

        “Come in.” She responded to the knock on the door, and Father entered…

        Carrying a take-out pizza box to her relief.

        “Sun-dried tomato and artichoke. Just how you like it.” He said as he sat down on the bed and opened the box.

        “Thank you Daddy.”

They ate in silence long enough for him to start his second piece.

        “Do you want to tell me what happened?” He asked gently.

        “Not really.” Sarah dodged.

        “You know you don’t get to avoid this for long.”


        “Was it…” Clearly he found the thought of saying his next words distasteful. “Some sort of… satanic cult?”

        “No. Not really. But…”

        “Kind of.”


        “Sarah… how did this…”

        “It was supposed to be fun. Just a joke.”

        “And then…?”

        Shit. Can’t back out now. Have to make it up from whole cloth. Though she did have a few ideas to fall back on that had come to her over the course of the day.

        “There was this boy.”

        “So there was a boy.”


        “Sorry. There was a boy. Named…”

        “Kevin - Ruthven.”      

        “Kevin Ruthven.”

        “Uh… yeah. Kevin.”

        “Is he one of the…”

        “Yes, he’s dead.” She took a big breath and dove into the deep end of the lie. “I really thought we were just playing around. Trying to scare one another, but then Kevin, he wasn’t really playing around. You see, they were all supposed to be the priests and I was the virgin…”

        “Christ, Sarah.”

        “Do you want to hear this?”

        “Are you okay?”

        “Nothing happened.”


        “I mean, like that. We were in the middle of this phony ceremony when Ruthven – Kevin – pulled out a knife. I thought it was just a part of the game, but he started attacking the people. He killed them all Dad, and when I tried to run he came after me. I don’t know what happened – how it happened, but when he came at me, the knife ended up in him. Not me.”

        Sarah’s Father watched her face through the whole confession and as she reached the end she looked back at him, into his eyes as a grave look fell across his face.




        “Why are you doing this?”

        “Doing what?”

        “You never lie to me. Ever. Why are you lying to me now?”

        He was right. She was lying. And she had done a terrible job of it, no matter how much she had tried to make the rudiments of the story match the reality. She had avoided his gaze through the entire story, only looking for acknowledgement once her tale was complete. He had read her like a book.

        “Why would you lie to me?”

        Sarah had nothing. She could only lie again, evade him or tell him the truth.

        “Because” She began haltingly. “I… don’t think you’d believe me.”

        “Try me, Kiddo.”

        “Daddy… I think there was a vampire.”

     Installment ii


Book: The First - Part: Two - Chapter: 9 - Installment: i

        It wasn’t the first time he had woken up on the floor uncertain of where he was, but this time alcohol had nothing to do with it.

        The cobwebs cleared after a few moments and he put together that he’d fallen asleep sitting beside Carly’s fold-out bed. He had no sense of what time it was, but it was dark out. He had slept for hours. He’d be up all night now. Carly too if she woke up. She’d let go of his thumb and was breathing steadily. With any luck she was exhausted enough to sleep through ‘til morning. He, for one, had slept much more heavily than he expected once he’d finally got to sleep. Watching vigil over Carly had lulled him.

        Picking himself off the floor he went into the bathroom to relieve himself. Washing his hands he took a glance in the mirror.

        Could have been worse. His face was dirty. He had imagined blood, but none of the blood from the hospital had come anywhere near him. There were streaks down his cheeks where his tears had washed the film of dirt away.

        At least I still don’t look sick. That was the assurance he had really been eager for. For all of his certainty, the possibility that he might still be wrong was his greatest fear. Not only for himself, but for Carly and of course the horror that he had done the wrong thing when he took them both away from their quarantine. The bathroom light was bright, but his eyes were still adjusting – there was no pain. He wasn’t cold. No hunger.

        Satisfied, he moved into the main room. The kitchen clock read nearly seven PM in the glow of the television. Still no sign of Bev. She had said ‘late.’ That probably meant hours still.

        Sitting down in front of the television again he tried to glean what was the story on Can News Net without turning up the volume.

        The ‘VGH Outbreak’ as it was now being called was prominent in the scroll, but the talking heads on the main portion of the screen were inscrutable with the volume muted. He didn’t care to un-mute for fear of waking Carly, and before too long his attention wandered to the room itself.

        He soon realized that he was assessing Bev by her possessions – his detective instincts kicking in. Giving in to his habits he found a light switch and turned on the lights so as to better look at his subject.

        Her CD collection was appalling by his measure. Mostly chick-centric AOR. He counted four Sinead O’Connor albums he’d never heard of. The large number of Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco albums got him wondering if perhaps he had misjudged her sexual orientation.

        She never mentioned a boyfriend at meetings.

        Next the bookshelf – a perfect window into a person’s soul. A lot of classics. Austen and the Brontes, of course. Some Woolf. But also gothic horror. Poe – must have been a complete collection there. Stoker and Wolstencroft-Shelly – staples. Scott was unfamiliar with the oeuvre, but knew enough to pigeon hole her as a diehard genre fan by the Lovecraft. Chandler, Verne, Robbins, RandElmore Leonard!

        Well, she’s not simple.

        His eyes cast over various pictures, a couple of dying plants and above the kitchen cupboard a collection of dusty antique bottles.

        No. Not all antiques.

        One was of a design that was still in use by the Smirnoff Vodka company.

        Oh Bev. That’s a stupid way of practicing your control.

        He knew of other alcoholics who kept totems of their past life in arms reach. A defiant act of will that could only go bad one day.

        He climbed up on a chair and took a closer look.

        The bottle was covered in a thick, slightly greasy layer of dust, just like the row of antiques beside it. Gingerly he tested the cap. It was still sealed. Clearly the bottle had sat there for years. She wasn’t doing so badly. In a way her twisted success over herself was admirable.

        But now he had to get away from it.

        He got down from the chair and slumped back on the couch again, his detective voyeurism having lost its steam at the demon bottle sitting right up there on the cupboard.

        News Net was cycling through a sports update that was probably a few hours old by now. The Canucks had broken a road-game losing streak and the Lions lost their grip on Grey Cup contention in the Western Finals. Cursory highlights from the rest of each league and the NBA then back to the ‘All-Outbreak-All-the-Time Channel.’

        His own face and Carly’s were front and center. The banner read ‘Citywide Manhunt.’

        “God…” Scott laughed to himself. “…as it turns out, I could use a drink.”

        There it is. Acknowledged, and thus defused.

        But it wasn’t.

        Once it was said out loud, it wasn’t going away. Hell, it hadn’t been going away from the time his eyes found the bottle.

        Shit. I have to get rid of it. She’ll understand, won’t she?

        He was certain that she would. He didn’t have her control. He had to get the bottle out of the house.

        Out of sight, out of mind.

        He got back up on the chair and pulled down the offending bottle. He turned it over in his hands.

        It would be so easy to just have one drink.

        But it wouldn‘t be easy to have just one drink.

        He slid the French door at the back of the house open. He figured he could hit the alley from where he was. The bottle would shatter on the pavement. He could buy Bev another if she really wanted it. Perhaps she’d be happy to have it gone. She would understand.

        If I’m throwing it out anyway…just a sniff. Just a reminder.

        He broke the seal and unscrewed the cap. Lifting the bottle to his nose he breathed in the nearly odorless smell of the vodka. The alcohol tickled his nostrils more than any actual scent activated his olfactory nerves. So familiar. And kind of pleasant in a familiar kind of way.

        Okay. Throw it away. Just one sip. A slug for old times’ sake, then throw the rest of it away, just to prove how much control you actually have.

        He tipped the bottle to his lips and let a trickle of the vodka past his teeth and over his tongue. It felt so good. The knowledge that he had it beat was so empowering.

        He swallowed a mouthful. And another.

        He stopped pouring the vodka into his mouth and took a moment to feel the warm sensation of the liquor spreading down his throat, seeming to evaporate into his bloodstream before it even got to his stomach. It really was a wonderful feeling. He could see how he could have become so addicted to it in the first place.

        Okay. One more reminder, then out it goes.

        He swallowed down two more liberal mouthfuls and took in the sensations before looking down at the bottle. Must have been a fifth of it already. Impressive.

        An image passed through his mind of being a teenager and taking part in the time honoured tradition of topping up the bottle with water. It was kind of funny, really. He could do that now and Bev would be none the wiser, whereas if he bought a new bottle she’d notice. The thin layer of accumulated dust and ambient cooking oils was something that he could not duplicate on a replacement bottle. She’d probably notice in the interim anyhow.

        How stupid is this? It’s better to do the juvie top-up and leave the original where I found it, like a pimply faced kid in fear of Mom. How ridiculous.

        He went to the sink and ran the water. As he was about to pour the thin stream down the neck of the bottle he stopped himself.

        I can’t do this. I can’t have this vodka in the house. I’ll just end up drinking it at the worst possible time. Better to get rid of it in a controlled way.

        He turned off the tap.

        He opened the cupboard and found a glass.

        No time like the present.

     Chapter 10


Book: The First - Part: Two - Chapter: 8 - Installment: i

        There had been a time when they had called it the War Room, but it had proven too easy a term to use casually. The War Room masqueraded as the meeting room in the head office of Lancaster Holdings. Indeed it was genuinely used as the meeting room. Having it referred to as the War Room had somehow slipped into the day to day parlance of the company. It had been determined that the nickname was simply too close to the truth to acceptably be used in the innocent world at large. A firmly worded communiqué had gone out to the company as a whole announcing that henceforth the name “War Room” was to be retired in place of “Board Room.” The decree had initially been widely mocked until, after this third warning for defiantly using the term, one employee was fired. From that point, years ago now, no one had referred to the meeting room as the War Room. Even within the ranks of the Lazarus the space was referred to exclusively as the Board Room.

        There was no reason to place suspicion upon the Lazarus using the room with any regularity. The Lazarus Group was a registered subsidiary of Lancaster Holdings. There was no questioning that the Lancaster Board Room had the most technologically tricked-out of meeting rooms in North America. Why wouldn’t a subsidiary that shared office space with its umbrella organization take full advantage of their state of the art facilities? Of course anyone with clearance to use the Board Room for one of the Lazarus’ strategy sessions would know that the room’s most extreme capabilities had been installed primarily for the use of the Lazarus, not for Lancaster Holdings.

        “What do we know?” Marcel opened the briefing to his lieutenants.

        Seven department heads – several of whom were departments in and of themselves - Marcel and Henri as well as Sylvette’s team, minus Simon, were assembled.

        Pamela Guerin, the head of Intelligence, briefed the room on the details of the outbreak, covering what most of them already knew about the situation at the hospital, it’s lead-up and immediate fall out including the missing officer and child who were suspected to be infected.

        The Strategy and Tactics head nodded in tandem with Marcel before the man they looked to as Patriarch took over.

        “I expect I know the answer to this, but is there any precedent to the outbreak? Do we have any reason to connect this to anything we already know about Nosferatu?”

        “All connections are superficial. They appear to crave blood, just like Type I vampires.” The Lazarus’ dedicated expert on what they termed ‘victamortology,’ Abner Osborne spoke up as Marcel turned to him. “I don’t know if this actually falls into my area of expertise as there’s no reason to believe the victims are the living dead – merely mortally infected.”

        “Until we determine otherwise, let’s assume that the observed behaviour makes them our problem. And for lack of a better answer, they fall into your area of expertise.”

        “Type III?”

        “Type III. I’ll be expecting inter-departmental collaboration from Intelligence and Archives.” Marcel nodded to each in acknowledgement. “Any thoughts?” He kept his cool gaze on Allan Miller. The tired looking historian had clearly spent another night trying to put the genie of his knowledge back in the bottle by emptying one first. Not everyone took the reality of a world inhabited by vampires as well as others. Miller’s encyclopaedic mind more than made up for his inability to handle the truth, and every day he went further down the rabbit hole, morbidly fascinated by the truth that kept him up at night.

        “Well... obviously this dovetails with the myths of nosferatu passing the curse with nothing more than a bite, but no... I’m sure if I was aware of any pattern like this in the past you’d already know about it. But I’ll focus my studies.”

        “So that leaves us no where new.” Muttered Jake.

        “I’d recommend that we continue to monitor the situation, but with the civilian authorities already swarming all over this, our jurisdiction is cramped.”

        The Head of Clandestine Ops cut off the Strategy and Tactics Head, “We will find our place in this if indeed we have one.”

        “I’ll expect regular reports from all departments. Anything. New information, insight, hunches. As you get them. Knowing so little on this matter is currently our biggest liability.”

        The meeting broke down into smaller discussions as communication protocols and preliminary theorizing between department heads was established. Marcel acknowledged that the meeting-proper was over and the proceedings organically dissolved until the only remaining participants were Henri, Jake, Sylvette and Marcel.

        The unofficial portion of the meeting began with a long silence while the three subordinates waited for Marcel to collect his thoughts.

        “To my thinking we have three options. One; we release the Nosferatu as per his promise and desires. Two; we destroy him. Three; we keep him under lock and key indefinitely.”

        As he laid out the possibilities, Henri initiated a graphic display on the main screen of the Board Room, adding the options as Marcel enumerated them. He added a new axis as Marcel moved into the second aspect of his breakdown.

        “Whichever choice we pick should be determined based upon a cost/benefit analysis of the possibilities. Nikolai’s promise in essence is that he can be useful to us as a mole amongst the Nosferatu with the implication that he can turn the tide in our struggle. This may or may not be true. He could be lying, he could be deluded, or he could be both. Am I missing anything?”

        “That’s twelve possibilities. For each one there are best and worst case potentialities.” Offered Jake.

        “As well as a spectrum of more likely middle-range eventualities.” Henri contributed as he added a third axis to his graphic.

        “That is worth considering, but let’s not get mired in it. Our goal here is to determine our ‘best bet’ and then I’ll decide if I am comfortable with those odds. Break it down.”

        “As we have previously learned, the extended jail option merely postpones whichever of the first two options we inevitably choose.” Henri opened the discussion.

        Sylvette jumped in. “Agreed. If he is lying, deluded or both we are burning time and resources, if he actually can help us, we are undermining his capability to do so, perhaps even turning him back against us. Keeping him only weakens the potential benefits.”

        “Can you refute that Jake?”

        “The logic seems solid to me.”

        “Prolonged incarceration is off the table then.” Marcel decreed with authority.  “In the case that he is lying, deluded or both and we destroy the nosferatu there is no loss on our part.”

        The junior QB spoke up first. “I’m surprised you are even considering anything else.”

        “So Jake favours destruction.”

        “On the contrary.” He countered. “I find it unlike you to have any other possibility on the table.”

        “We’ve never been faced with an option like this. What is your take on letting him survive, Jake?”

        “If he is telling the truth and can deliver on his promise, well you pretty much said it…. We’ve never had an opportunity like this. We may never get another. This war has been on for much longer than any of us have been alive and in the time we’ve been fighting it, if anything, we’ve lost ground. If we had not been taking the side of humanity, where would we be? This could actually be an opportunity to take the upper hand.”

        “C’est vrai.” Henri agreed.

        “Very well.” Marcel pushed the conversation onwards. “And if we set him free? You’ve outlined the benefit. What if he isn’t an asset?”

        Jake continued, “Then we are no worse off than before.”

        Henri challenged. “If Nikolai is not on side and we let him go, then we are outed. He said it himself. Until now we have been little more than a rumour amongst their ranks. But now he knows for certain. I don’t think we can measure what effect showing our hand would have.”

        “Only if he is lying.” Sylvette. “If he is merely deluded, then he is still on-side. We can quickly determine if he is an effective mole, and if he doesn’t measure up, he can still be eliminated.”

        “That seems morally dubious.” Jake played devil’s advocate.

        “Morality does not play into it with the stakes we are playing.” Marcel asserted.

        “If he is lying he becomes vulnerable to us. His public persona is corrupted.” Sylvette again.

        “He is famous.” Henri. “He can’t hide, and yet with his cover compromised he must. It’s not an easily worked position.”

        A silence wedged its way into the debate as the four participants considered the implications.

        “This is an intriguing dimension.” Marcel broke the brief silence. “You are correct. I would rather see the nosferatu destroyed. Simple numerical assessment, there are more reasons to leave him in the daylight than release him into the night. The benefits do not measure up to the potential losses if you consider them balanced possibilities, but if Nikolai is the asset that he claims he could be the opportunity is unlike anything else we have ever faced. So it comes down to this; Is he telling the truth? Henri, old friend, you make a compelling argument.”

        Marcel paused in his summation, allowing all to consider the spectrum of the circumstance before he continued.

        “I figure a twenty four hour absence is not inexplicable. I will leave this until this evening. If any of you have a good argument to change my mind by then I want to hear them. If not, we will let him go overnight. If you can counter the logic currently on the table, then we won’t even wait for sunrise. We will stake and burn him immediately.”

        Only his daughter had the brazen courage to comment upon what was obvious to all. “You’ve never left a nosferatu free before.”

        Henri. “In the end you have always destroyed them all. ”

        “The only other one we’ve ever kept couldn’t promise us the destruction of more of her kind. Do not mistake this. I may not destroy this vampire, but only because we might destroy far more as a result.”
     Chapter 9


Book: The First - Part: Two - Chapter: 7 - Installment: i

          Sarah lay in through the morning and into afternoon. Sleep was intermittent, coming in fitful windows. She heard the door to her bedroom crack open a half dozen times. By her thinking, her father was checking in on her obsessively. She was home. She was safe. What could he think he was accomplishing by being so protective?

        I’m already the walking dead. How much does he think he can save me from?

        He would never imagine the truth. She almost didn’t believe it herself.

        Is this traumatic stress? Would I even think that, if it were? Did I imagine it all? If I did, then what the hell actually happened?

        She didn’t want to second guess herself. She could only really act on what she had seen. What she had witnessed.

        If I can get back there – get Dad to leave me alone for an afternoon – I can see it again for myself. Confirm what happened.

        There’s no way he’ll let me out of the house. I still have to explain what happened – what DIDN’T happen – to him… and to the police.


        There were plums in the fridge. How did that poem about cold plums for breakfast go? Something about hollow apologies…

        “By the time I figure out how to put words to how I feel right now, this is going to be a long way behind us.” His voice from behind her.

        She figured he was home, but hadn’t noticed her father enter the kitchen behind her.

        “I don’t expect I’ll ever know how you feel.” He continued, “I just know that you, somehow, are still here, when all those other kids are dead. Kiddo, I… you know that every day of my life I think about losing you. You’d think that somehow by now I’d be used to the idea, but…”

        As his words trailed off Sarah knew where his thoughts were leading. He didn’t have to say a thing. For her part she put her arms around his neck and held him tight.

        He was a big man, her father, and as he embraced her it was inevitable that he would lift her sleight body from her feet, but it was Sarah who comforted him as he began slowly to weep and then sob until eventually he sank to the floor, weak with pent up relief, wrought from the knowledge of how close he’d come to losing the most precious thing in his world.

        “I’m sorry.” He told her as he began to regain his composure, fully cognizant of the fact that it was her who had experienced the trauma, and she who should be the one requiring the support from him. “You shouldn’t have to be the one providing a shoulder. Whatever went on last night…. You can’t be expected to take care of me.”

        For her part Sarah was simply relieved to be spared the need of an explanation for the moment.

        “I’m okay, Dad. Whatever you need.”

        “No. It’s whatever you need. Look, the police are going to want to speak to you.” So much for dodging an explanation. She thought. “I’ll put them off as long as I can, but that isn’t going to last long. Tomorrow, maybe?”


        “In the meantime, if you want to talk about it…”

        “When I’m ready. I promise.”

     Chapter 8
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Necropolis by Kennedy Goodkey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at necropolisnovels.blogspot.com.