Book: The First - Part: One - Chapter: 17 - Installment: iii

The house fascinated her. There was something welcoming about the classic design. The brick outer and supporting walls, the creaky, beaten hardwood floors… Electric heat had been jury-rigged into this place sometime before it was abandoned – it was not operational now, so they had built fires in both of the fireplaces on the main-floor. Judging by the metal plates in the kitchen there had once been a wood oven in the kitchen too. For the moment the kitchen was cool. There was some heat bleeding in near the dining room door, but for the most part the kitchen was not much warmer than the November night.
They had repaired an old daybed that they had found on the upper floor and attached casters to the legs. Bound on the bed lay the sacrifice.
If there was one thing that made her uncomfortable about the evening, truly uncomfortable, not the excited nervousness that accompanied the promise of her first sexual congress, it was the live sacrifice. She didn’t want to know where Ruthven had found the victim. They had administered a makeshift sedative of headache medicine and vodka. They had shared the rest of the vodka between the two of them before Hathandra and her entourage had arrived. Sarah was not used to drinking, so Ruthven had had the lion’s share. She figured that in relative terms they were equally intoxicated.
Getting the goat to eat the sedative hadn’t been easy. They had mixed it with oatmeal, but it must have tasted largely of the drugs still, and the goat hadn’t taken to it easily, Ruthven had had to resort to force-feeding the beast. He had been bitten several times in the process. She had thought goats would eat just about anything. Eventually it had worked. The goat lay docilely on the daybed.
On cue, Sarah rolled the daybed into through the dining room, into the room where the ceremony proceeded.
The assembled self-styled vampires parted and allowed her access to the circle of skulls. As they realized that a real animal lay on the bed there was a muttering of surprise. Sarah expected that it was a combination of impressed excitement and hypocritical outrage. She knew several of them were vegetarians… who drank each other’s blood.
She knew a number of Ruthven’s ‘vampire’ friends, several of whom were amongst those present. ‘Hathandra’ herself was taking a Masters in music. Her real name was ‘Jennifer’ – almost as mundane a moniker as her own. Sarah would have to find a good pseudonym for herself, something truly individual.
“Anpu, we give you this life as we cannot give you our own for they are no longer ours to give.”
Ruthven produced a long curved blade from his cloak. Sarah carried a pewter goblet they had purchased in a junkshop on Granville Street. She stepped up beside him as he felt the goat’s neck with his hand until he could find the pulsing artery. He set the tip of the blade against the goat’s skin and with one sharp smack on the butt, poked a tiny hole through. Blood spurted out in one solid stream. Sarah stepped in with the cup and caught the blood. The vessel was quickly filled and the fount of blood continued to flow, jetting over the edge of the bed onto the floor.
The mood in the room was electric. No doubt many of those present were horrified at the reality of what had just happened. Sarah herself felt a mix of disgust and exhilaration, but she had the benefit of foreknowledge of what was going to happen. She could just imagine the thought process of those who hadn’t. She expected that they had been surprised by the presence of the animal in the first place, recognized the trope, but denied themselves the reality that the goat might actually be sacrificed live in front of them, setting up the dramatic anticipation which paid off in spades when Ruthven drove in the knife.
But it wasn’t over. The animal was not yet dead, though it had lost a lot of blood. By now significantly more had poured onto the floor than had been collected in the cup, but the flow was subsiding fast. Soon it would be draining onto the daybed instead of the floor.
Ruthven turned and presented the knife to Hathandra.
“Princess, the honour of final mercy is thine.”
It was a cheeky move. Hathandra was one of the vegetarians present. Both Sarah and Ruthven knew this well – it had been part of their planning. They knew that she would be torn. ‘Jennifer’ would be appalled by the pain inflicted upon the beast, but knowing that it was now suffering and that it’s death was inevitable, she would be compelled to release it… doing it herself was not likely a pleasant idea to her. ‘Princess Hathandra’ on the other hand would be obliged to complete the ritual. It was not simply theatre anymore. It was actually a challenge. Which side of Jennifer/Hathandra would manifest? Either way, Ruthven would be victorious. Either she accepted, implying that his constructed ceremony was a success; or she balked and would have to step down from the Elder’s circle.
Hathandra looked from the knife, to the goat, to Ruthven.
“We do what we must to survive, Princess, but it is not our way to prolong suffering.”
Soon the goat would die of its own accord from blood loss, and Hathandra would lose face, her bluff called, witnessed by a roomful of her Adjuvants.
Glaring at him, with a look that betrayed her distaste for the position he had put her in, Hathandra took the blade from Ruthven. Raised it over her head and with all her might plunged it with both hands into the beast. It spasmed and squealed. Though she had maintained character by accepting the challenge, she had failed to release the animal from its life. As it kicked, she gasped and let go of the pommel, taking a step back.
Throwing his weight on the goat to hold it down, Ruthven pulled the knife from it’s ribs and drove it again, this time hitting home in it’s heart. The effect was immediate. All fight gone, the beast went limp.
Ruthven stood and straightened himself. Hathandra’s failure and reaction had only added to his victory. Her stature as Blood Princess was severely undermined. No one would forget this night.
He reached to Sarah for the goblet, which she gave to him. He had pulled off a spectacular show, she could barely wait for it to wrap up so they could fuck. She wanted him more than ever before.
We could still improvise the taking of the virgin…
They could remove the body of the goat from the daybed. The blood was still wet where it had soaked into the cushioning. They could cover the blood with the cloak that she had already imagined losing her virginity upon.
Ruthven passed the goblet to Hathandra. She looked him straight in the eye.  Sarah thought she saw something there, something beyond the anger that had been there when she took the knife from him. Still eye-to-eye she raised the cup to her mouth. She gave her upper lip the slightest of licks with her tongue. The sub-text was unmistakable to Sarah. That was a sexual overture. Ruthven had demonstrated his dominance and now the Princess had but one option to save her position – to make him her consort.
Hathandra took the cup to her lips and tipped it back. She swallowed deeply, to demonstrate that she was not merely pretending to sip. Never breaking her gaze, she passed the cup back to Ruthven, and he too drank deeply before passing it on to the Adjuvant next to him. Sarah tried to read him, but she couldn’t. Or perhaps she didn’t want to? The sickest of feelings hit her in the stomach. She had no choice but to up the ante.

    Installment iv


Book: The First - Part: One - Chapter: 17 - Installment: ii

Princess Hathandra and her five Adjutants had arrived at the appointed time, and they had begun.
Ruthven looked huge in his dark-priest’s robes, which had included thick-soled platform shoes that he had called ‘kothernai.’ He stood well over six and a half feet tall, and the enormous cape flowed ‘round him when we walked. Even when he was still, the thick fabric draped down from the chevron of his neck and shoulders in an imposing way that made him look strong and sexy. She imagined that when the guests were gone that they would just throw the cloak down on the floor and make love on top of it, then wrap themselves up for the night. Her father would be appalled. Hell, if she wasn’t quite so nervous they could even have made the ‘taking of the virgin’ part of the ceremony. That, would have been pretty outrageous. But she was too self-conscious. She didn’t even mention it to Ruthven, though she had masturbated to the fantasy of it the night prior. But she felt it was best left a fantasy.
“Childer of Cain.” Ruthven began. “Whose voice speaks for all amongst you?”
He of course knew the answer, but that was beside the point of the theatricality.
“It is I, Hathandra, Blood Princess of the Lands North of the Great Beast.”
“You bear the mark of the Ever-Living Curse?”
“I do.”
“And none here speak for you?”
“They do not.”
Sarah and Ruthven had spent most of the previous afternoon preparing the script for tonight. She should have been studying, it was reading break after all, but she promised herself – and was true to it – that she would send Ruthven back to his dorm once they were done. He had memorizing to do and she, apart from the masturbation, had an evening of preparing for the recommencement of classes on Monday.
As Ruthven ceremonialized introductions of each of the Adjutants, Sarah prepared to cue the music. They had found a collection of music from Hammer Horror films on vinyl – the latter part of which Ruthven insisted was the most important element, the scratchy retro-sound was key to the mood. They had borrowed an old turntable from a classmate of Ruthven who spun at Anth Faculty parties. 
Ruthven’s Anthropology department access had proven useful in other ways. The thirteen human skulls that formed the circle they sat in weren’t your everyday props. They were the real deal. Nothing unique – nothing pre-historic or otherwise remarkable. The department kept very close tabs on the special samples, but the base-line specimens were easy to replace. Sarah was sure that Ruthven would still be in trouble if he were caught borrowing these real skulls for frivolous entertainment. She would never call this ‘frivolous’ to him though. And she had to admit that the fact that they were trespassing in the old museum, and improperly borrowing University property excited her. She felt like she was really living.
The thought over took her. She really hadn’t expected that she would ever do anything really exciting. Just a few years ago it took all her will to leverage her way into a halfway normal life. Now here she was participating in some lighthearted, victimless crime. Tonight she would pop her cherry.
Thank you, Ruthven. I’m in love with a ‘bad-boy.’
‘Love.’ She had never used the word before except in a familial way. As the realization struck her she took in a sharp breath and felt the welling up of happy emotion inside her. This was the wrong time to cry, they were in the middle of…
The music! She thought. Ruthven was finished with the introduction. It was time to cue the music. She had almost missed it. She dropped the needle and adjusted the volume to the speakers which sat just inside the door to the next room – the sitting room where the ceremony was going on.
“Anpu, O’erseer…” Ruthven was moving into the main portion of the ceremony, setting the scene for his guests. “Watcher of the Dead. We, the Cursed, the dead amongst the living call to you for refuge. The Curse of the Boy-King renews on this night, as Thoth, the moon-god reaches full strength. We who he shall never weigh against his feather, seek your protection…”
Sarah had been proud of that part. She had drawn the connection between, King Tut and the full-moon through Egyptian mythology. Ruthven’s eyes had lit up with excitement when she had blurted it out as they wrote the evening’s script. She quietly slipped from the dining room into what had once been the kitchen, to prepare the next stage.

     Installment iii


Book: The First - Part: One - Chapter: 17 - Installment: i

Tonight was the big night. Big – Ruthven’s ritual. Big – tonight Sarah was prepared to give herself to him. She had made all the preparations for the gathering, and she made sure that Ruthven had what he needed in order to be safe inside her.
She was excited about the sex. Nervous too. She was self-conscious about being a virgin at her age, but Ruthven had disarmed most of her fears. He had been wonderful. She was certain that when she told him about her illness that that would be the end. She expected him to break up with her. But he hadn’t.
He took the revelation better than she could have imagined. He lay with her and held her that night. He cried. It seemed a bit much – she wasn’t asking for anyone to feel sorry for her – but a boy crying over her… even if it was a bit put on, it was more than she had ever expected. They talked about safe sex options and how to proceed and they agreed that tonight, after the gathering, they would celebrate by having sex together for the first time. Sarah’s first time ever.
She was also nervous and excited about the ritual. She had never been to one, she had no idea how it should play out. Ruthven assured her that there was nothing to be worried about. She had researched most of the detail, he created the format.
“It’s whatever we want it to be. That’s the beauty of it. Essentially it’s theatre. We put on a show. If you went to a show at the Queen E. or the Arts Club, the writer and director determine what will happen and what kind of show it will be. The audience doesn’t make those choices.”
“Yeah, but the audience chooses whether to applaud or not when it’s over.”
“You don’t have to worry about a bad review. I’m the one who could be raised to elder.”
“I don’t want to let you down.”
“Stop worrying, Buff. You’ve found great stuff. It’ll be great.”
She had found ‘great stuff.’ The big coup had been the discovery that Saturday was the anniversary of the opening of King Tut’s tomb. The opening of the tomb also marked, of course, the release of King Tut’s Curse. Sarah had long since found that haematophage culture had a concomitant fascination with Egyptian mythology.  Specifically Anpu – or Anubis in the common term. Sarah hadn’t quite fathomed the connection yet, but she knew she would figure it out eventually with Ruthven’s guidance. Apnu was the god of death, or more accurately, mummification – he shared the duty of being the god of death with Osiris. Certainly in horror films of ‘golden age’ cinema, vampires and mummies shared a common place in the hierarchy of the undead, but as far as she could tell this was where the commonality ended. In any case, it was a good place to start.
Ruthven had found an abandoned home that could not have been more scary or appropriate. It had been some sort of heritage museum after the Second World War. It’s faux continental European design simultaneously put it out of place and made it creepier. But had been poorly maintained, and hadn’t actually qualified as a proper heritage building, so it had fallen into disrepair. A recent sweep had cleared squatters, and with a little bit of ‘creative lock-smithing,’ they had full access. She and Ruthven had spent the entire day preparing for the evening’s event.

     Installment ii


Book: The First - Part: One - Chapter: 16 - Installment: i

The lonely ones were the easy prey. They were susceptible to just a little attention. But just as often they were also a little paranoid. They were lonely because their defenses were up. You could find them alone at the bar, waiting for someone’s attention, but they took extra work. Their feelings of unworthiness usually meant that they would talk themselves out of joining a total stranger out the door ‘home.’ He had never made the mistake of arranging to meet potential prey on a second occasion. The risks were too great. Who knows who they might tell about you in the interim? The last thing he needed was someone discovering what he was. It was far too simple for a lonely middle-management barfly with self-esteem issues to go to work the next day, meet her only friend in the world for lunch, tell her about the guy she traded numbers with the night before… When the victim goes missing, the first place the police would look would be the ‘mystery man’ from the much anticipated second date. He’d never been so foolish, but he’d spent a long time pondering the possibilities, imagining ways he could slip up and show his hand to the world.
The young one from the SkyTrain had been a cinch. But she was special. He always found that he enjoyed the experience better when he felt he knew them – and over the years he’d become very good at reading the person inside, but it was rare that he could see into someone’s being as well as he had with her. No, normally he had to sit down and hear them speak. Listen to them reveal the dark parts inside that had learned life’s dirtiest lessons and usually the hard way. But sometimes life’s wisdom was preternatural. If he could he would have relished the chance to sit with her and drink in the accumulated wisdom of her old soul, but there was only one chance – he had to take her then or not at all. Even a lit street has deep shadows at night. Years of experience, some precise timing and discrete patience was all it took. There was no luck to it. He never took a chance. If the opportunity never properly presented itself he would never have risked it. If she’d stuck to well traveled routes – if she had clung to The Drive – he would have never had the chance. She would still be alive. But one unseen moment in a shadow was all it took, and she was gone.
Easier prey than the lonely, was the vain. But such a shallow cup to drink from. Like the lonely, they were filled with self-doubt and self-hatred but they presented in entirely a different manner. A little attention spun in the right fashion was the only web necessary. The ego of the vain needed stroking and nothing stroked it better than the promise of the properly pitched proposition. It was too easy. Men ‘get lucky.’ Women decide who gets lucky. His secret was that he was strictly bad luck.
He didn’t exactly like what he was, but the joy he got out of it was the most beautiful thing in his life. He wasn’t one of those simpering tortured ones. They had trouble lasting long. It was a simple universal truth – they wanted to be caught. Eventually they always were. Brought down by deliberate sloppiness serving the self-hating part of their mind. Psychological Darwinism. But he also wasn’t the megalomaniac. They too had a hard time lasting long. They taunted. They knew in every inch of their being that they were superior they could not be caught, so what was a little gloating? But they were never right. No, he was the most dangerous kind of monster. He knew very well how careful he had to be. He had no illusions about how fragile his place was. And when it came right down to it, he wanted to carry on. He would kill again tonight if he could. The desire hadn’t become overwhelming, but that was part of being careful. Better to do it now and satisfy his desire rather than wait until he was desperate… and sloppy. He wasn’t one of that variety of failures either.
As much as he wished he could have made more of the young one, she had been a special treat so tonight he could afford to go the easy route. 
He arrived late enough that the options had largely presented themselves. The bar was likely as full as it would get. The drinking was well underway – which never hurt.
He watched her brush off two men. They each misplayed their hands. She was begging for attention, it just had to be delivered with the proper finesse. The clods.
She was by any measure stunning. No one would argue that. But it would be more than vanity to think that her best years were not behind her. It would be delusional to the point of detriment. She worked hard on that form – too hard. She was muscled and sinewy and wore black – the classic trick of one trying to hide extra pounds, though in this case it was unnecessary to a fault. She was proud to a fault and reeked of it. And she tried too hard to play the ‘woman of mystery’ card. She thought she was being playful, toying with him, but in fact she was merely confirming all he already knew. The falsehood was so brash and obvious, no one could take it seriously – no doubt that was part of what she thought was her game.
She had told him that she was a secret agent and they had gone through the ritual banter about telling him more would mean she would have to kill him. He allowed himself a smidgeon of ironic fun, suggesting that if he were a counter-agent he might beat her to it, but she assured him that she was far too good for that. He told her that he would not be at all surprised if she was right about that, but at least he would be brought down by the best. She raised her martini to her lips – a sip would hide the smile she couldn’t contain, he’d seen variations on the theme many times before. The trap was all but finished.
“Do I at least get to know your code name before you eliminate me?”
She set the drink down – the smile remained in a sly iteration as she took a moment before settling on her choice who was getting lucky.
Her eyes swept from her drink to his eyes in mock confidence as she purred her answer to him.
And the web was complete.

Chapter 17


Book: The First - Part: One - Chapter: 15 - Installment: ii

Scott watched the sunset through his hospital window. As the season got rainier the evenings without rain provided redder and redder sunsets.
Red sky at night. Whoever coined that never lived here.
He heard the door seal scrape. He turned to see a nurse enter. She wore a light sterile coverall, gloves and the ubiquitous filter over her mouth and nose.
It’s been four hours since I last saw someone’s lips. How long will this go on?
The nurse lay a plastic tray at the foot of his bed.
“There’s your things. Your cell-phone is there, but this is a hospital. Please don’t use it. There’s a phone by the bed.”
Scott thanked her before she left.
Not like I have anyone to call. He thought before thinking about who he would call if he could as he looked through the various items that he’d had in his pockets.
The evidence bag.
He had put it in his pocket and promptly forgotten about it. The chain was now largely useless to his investigation – was it even an investigation anymore? To his mind it was a foregone conclusion now that Moira Chan’s assailant was Jeremy Meyers. The real question was ‘were any of Shale, Carly and himself infected?’ The investigation was now a medical concern and well outside of his area of evidentiary expertise.
Doesn’t mean I’m not concerned. Christ. I practically sat in her blood keeping Shale alive. Mind you, her husband’s body didn’t seem to infect anyone before it… evaporated. At least not that we know of.
He found the call-button and a minute later the same nurse who had brought him his personal effects was back in the room?
“Yes, Lieutenant Edmond?”
“Does anyone else have this?”
“You mean…?”
“I mean have there been any other infections reported?”
“I don’t think so. You three are the only others on this ward.”
“Can you check and see if any of the other hospitals have anyone?”
“This is CDC’s main office. All suspect cases in the region come here.”
“One last thing. Can I get a copy of Tanya Meyers autopsy? Just for my own satisfaction? Technically, I’m off the case.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
He thanked her again and when she left he picked up the phone and got a number from 411. He dialed again. The phone rang four times before it was answered by a female voice.
“People deserve to know. And contrary to your fears, I don’t see people panicking in the streets.”
“Who exactly did you expect to be calling you, Bev?”
“Who is this?”
Scott Edmond.”
Scott? The Call ID says Centre for Disease Control. I pushed a few buttons this afternoon.”
“Yeah. I saw.”
“So, umm, you know I really didn’t expect a call from you this soon. I didn’t expect that you’d call until you really needed my help. Wait a second. Do you really need my help?”
“I’m in quarantine.”
“Yeah. I may have been exposed to… what’s your virus called?”
“They haven’t identified it. It doesn’t have a name.”
“That’s not exactly what I want to hear.”
“What can I do for you Scott?”
“I just need to know what’s going on. If you’re following this story, I want to know everything you know.”
“I’m going to want your story.”
“I don’t know much myself.”
“If I might have this thing, I want to know everything. And from what I’ve seen, people are going to want to protect themselves.”
“Okay. Well, it seems CDC knows almost nothing. They haven’t been able to identify the virus, and to the best of my knowledge – you are their first live patient.”
“There’s three of us.”
“Okay, they haven’t been able to confirm more than two cases in North America before this morning.”
“Well, I’ve seen two in the past week. One living, one dead.”
“Let me get my pen.”
Scott told her the whole story. Moira Chan to Tanya Meyers and how he, Detective Shale and Carly Meyers were all now guests of the Canadian Healthcare System.
“Jesus, Scott.”
“I know.”
“So, people get sick and turn into mindless zombie cannibals?”
“You are feeding me complete bullshit.”
“I swear to God, Bev.”
“You know I can’t report this. I’d look ridiculous. It would never get to air.”
“Why do you think I was such a push over? Thanks for the info though.”
“Fuck you.”
Scott was almost certain he could hear a respectful smile coming from the other end of the connection.

Chapter 16


Book: The First - Part: One - Chapter: 15 - Installment: i

The EMT arrived before police back-up. Edmond heard the siren arrive. Shale had lost both consciousness and a lot of blood. Edmond didn’t know if he could safely release pressure on the wound.
He hollered out the open door.
“I need you guys in here!”
“We haven’t got confirmed clearance.”
“I’m the officer who called this in. My partner is bleeding. I can’t take the pressure off the wound.”
“Sir, we can’t simply take your word for it. Medics have been shot or taken hostage in similar circumstances.”
“God damn it! Isn’t putting yourself in harm’s way part of the job?”
With one hand Edmond reached into his jacket and pulled out his wallet. He threw it through the doorway.
“There! My badge is in there.”
Hesitantly, the head of one of the medics came into view. He glanced carefully into the dark of the house, then picked up Edmond’s wallet and inspected it. He glanced over his shoulder and muttered something to the other medic.
“Okay. I’m coming in.”
Jesus Christ.” Muttered Scott under his breath. He raised his voice and said “Just you. Best put on a viral-filter, and have your partner call Haz-Mat.”
Scott was sitting in the bedroom with Carly when the door opened and his superior, Captain Anderson, entered wearing a mask and rubber gloves.
Anderson liked to get out from behind his desk as often as possible, and an Officer Involved Shooting was clearly a perfect excuse.
“You know on an OIS you have to turn over your gun for processing.”
“I already gave it to the Evidence Response Team.”
“Good boy. Who is this?” Anderson was trying to show some sort of avuncular charm, but in the filter-mask it wasn’t playing for Carly, who withdrew behind Edmond.
“This is Carly. She’s a bit scared, but she seems okay. Is the DB cleared?”
“Haz-Mat has it bagged. A relation?”
Edmond nodded. “Another in there.” He indicated the on-suite. “It’s been a bad day.”
“I’m sorry Scott, it’s not getting better. I’m also going to have to ask for your badge and put you on desk duty.”
“God damn it.” He winced, recalling the child at his elbow.
“It’s SOP.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“I can’t afford leniency in this. You’re…”
“Bad public profile. I know. Why do you think I’m going by the book on this?”
“I appreciate that.” The Captain leaned against the door frame. “So, care to tell me what happened?”
“Once the Socs come for Carly. There’s something more important I need to tell you. I’m not sure what to do with it.”
“I don’t like the sound of that.”
“I might be in danger. Francis – he’s worse. And…” with the hand that was behind her, Edmond pointed discretely to Carly, out of her line of sight.
“Damned right Shale’s worse. He lost a lot of blood before the medics arrived. You saved his life. So, out with it.”
“You have to expedite the autopsy.”
“We’ll get her in as fast as we can. She’s not going anywhere.”
“I wouldn’t be so confident. Look what happened to… the husband.”
Anderson noticed instantly that the conversation had turned, but he couldn’t fathom what the thread was “What do you mean?”
“I think Meyers was sick. Some sort of Hemorrhagic Fever or Bird Flu or something. He gave it to his wife. God knows about anyone else who’s been in the house. She bit Shale.”
As he put the pieces together the Captain took a reflexive step backwards from Edmond and Carly, before he caught himself.
“Sorry, Scott. I don’t mean…”
“I would have done the same.”
“Holy…” the Captain relaxed again as his reasonable instincts brought questions to mind “What makes you think so?”
“We saw a news report on the way here. The symptoms match.”
“Ever watch Discovery Channel? People who get these things can’t get out of bed, let alone take on a healthy police detective.”
“I’m no doctor Clem. And with all due respect, neither are you.”
“Are the kids showing any symptoms?”
“Kid.” Carly spoke up. “My brother is in there.”
Edmond smiled down at her. Janne is like that too – can’t really keep her out of an adult conversation if you tried.
“Carly, do you feel hot? Or do bright lights hurt?”
“No.” She drew it out, implying that Edmond should have known better and didn’t need to bore her with such stupid questions.
The Captain chuckled. “Sounds promising. Good thing, you two sound like you wouldn’t last long quarantined together. I’ll catch up with you at the hospital. I’ve got a crime scene to oversee.”
Clem.” Edmond called Anderson back.
“Autopsy. Fast. Please.”

Installment ii


Book: The First - Part: One - Chapter: 14 - Installment: i

Fifty-two floors above street-level in the Lancaster Tower, Edward Lancaster sat in a leather arm-chair. Across from him, Marcel Assombri shifted on a matching sofa.
“There is something else at work.” Assombri’s accent was faint but clear. “Things are getting complicated. I believe we are headed into the darkness.”
“Which means?”
“We are under prepared.”
“My resources are not limitless.”
“We are a long way from taxing your finances.”
Lancaster smiled at his old friend. “True, but there will come a point when we are expending faster than I can acquire, and of late your budget has been inflating at a much accelerated rate.”
“If we don’t continue to match the challenge we are lost.”
“I’m not likely to forget.”
“We could have put greater resources to this sooner. Perhaps if we had, we would not be where we now stand. Merely holding back the tide is not enough Edward. If we put everything we have at our disposal to bear then perhaps we can end this now.”
Marcel, if we go ‘all or nothing’ then we have nothing in reserve. If we fail to win an all-out war of eradication, then we have no way of protecting ourselves.”
“We cannot afford to lose any more ground. We could soon reach a critical mass and find we cannot tip the balance back. We will soon find ourselves overwhelmed. Everyone who doesn’t carry some form of immunity will be at risk. They will all succumb. This includes yourself. To not take action is to assure failure, and the cost of failure is absolute, I have no need of assuring you of this.”
Lancaster had not become a man of great power and wealth by lingering on decisions for long, and everyone who worked for him recognized the absolute nature of his final decisions. Assombri knew that his point was as complete as it needed to be, Lancaster would make the concomitant extended arguments without Marcel laying them out. Lancaster gazed through the mesh-blinds towards the park. On a clear day Lions Peaks presided even over his lofty throne above the city, but ubiquitous November cloud-cover left him to pursue his own inspiration. As always it was not long coming.
“Tell me what you require to stem the flow – to reverse what you see and shift things back in our favour. Also tell me what will be necessary to fortify yourself for the future. Once we have accomplished this I will consider further action. If we move too quickly, too obviously, I fear counter-measures. If the battle appears even, then we can curtail any acts of desperation. Once we are truly secure then we can act decisively with impunity. In the meantime I will continue to stockpile my resources for when we can use them to greatest effect.”

     Chapter 15
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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.