All Fall Down
Harry and I sat frozen on the couch and watched the tape roll on, with the vampire couple locked together in death, frame by frame, destroying the other. Comments from Lani and Seneca could be heard now and then, but mostly the sound coming from my TV was slurping, ripping and pain-filled moans.
The video tape never wavered. The destruction of my cousin Greg and Elisa was carefully recorded. Harry said to me at one point, "This is not the first time Lani and Seneca have trapped and killed a vampire."
Regarding the tape and what we had seen, I said, "This is the first time they did two at the same time. I'm pretty sure Seneca has slain a vampire before. I would look to Kenyon's group and see who's missing. She's getting retribution for her brother's injuries."
Harry nodded; he was making mental notes and would check into these people once we finished the tape. I was surprised he hadn't already broken out one of his techie toys.
My offhand thought must have registered with Harry because he went to the table and dug out his personal data assistant and began pushing buttons and grumbling. After a few minutes he finally said, "Yep, you're right, Cassandra, there have been three vampires in the region who have fallen off our radar. Usually it means they have decided to relocate to a less populated city. It takes about a month or so and they are back on someone's radar, but these three are still missing after a month."
Harry had hit the pause button when he went to check out his email information. He came back to my side and hit the play button on the remote. Our eyes were drawn to the final moments of Greg and Elisa being chronicled on the tape. By this time most of the distinguishable features had been bitten or ripped off. Seneca had been quiet while Lani was mocking them rather loudly. She was scornfully directing their torturing of the other. I felt it was a bit of bravado on her part, but as Greg and Elisa tore bits off of each other I could see how that would be daunting. Lani was not squeamish, I had to hand that much to her. But still, she was just a human.
The tape recorded the thorough splattering of the interior of the van along with all the occupants. I did notice that Lani slowly grew quieter as the two vampires were busy rendering each other into fragments. With both of their deeply-ripped throats pumping what remained in their veins out, the spray of blood was thick. They struggled for release, and fought -- just because it was hardwired into their brains. Their eyes were filled with vampiric desires and blood needs. Even secondhand blood tempted them. It had no real purpose as it was tainted, but Greg and Elisa were no longer there for all practical purposes. They were simply being vampires. Whatever was recognizable as either no longer was visible. The frantic clawing and mauling slowed as the little shared blood leaked and sprayed out of them.
Seneca ventured a bit closer and neither moved towards her. She nudged at the body of Elisa and said over her shoulder, "Don't think there is much left for the pigs."
Lani said, "Doesn't matter. We still will dispose of them to keep this little scene set for maximum impact. Harry won't be contacted if it looks just normal. With all the different blood types and no bodies, it guarantees he will be here sooner or later. Cassandra," here she had the camera on her again, "I don't think you need to watch us do the housekeeping aspects, now do you?"
I shook my head. Lani seemed to acknowledge this as she continued, "You now have been warned. I know you wanted to kill Greg on your own, but he was mine first. Elisa was my best friend and deserved better than being a vampire. You clean your house and I will clean mine. So you stick to your agenda and leave me out of it, and we won't need to meet. I don't care about you. Yet."
With that the tape faded to black and then static. Harry stopped the VCR and sighed. "Cassandra, I don't have to tell you how bad all this is, do I?" He seemed very calm in spite that he now knew he was exposed.
I wondered at that and asked, "Harry, what aren't you sharing?"
A grin flicked on and off his lips and he said, "I don't share many things with you, Cassandra. What do you mean?"
I shook my head at his avoidance and asked directly, "Why doesn't this disturb you?" My hand swept indicating the now silent TV and the tape still harbored inside the VCR awaiting more review. I wasn't ready to watch it again, but knew that Harry was itching to get it back to one of his labs and frame by frame analyze the video.
He finally met my eyes and confessed, "I have known someone has been watching me for a while. They took me by surprise with breaking into my home, but since then I have known there are darker shadows, filled with humans. I had thought Kirk Grady was the ringleader. I still think he has some ties to this group and others."
Well that just made me all warm and fuzzy. I growled my displeasure.
Harry pulled my hand into his and said, "I was going to tell you. I had not even thought you were part of this." He pried my fingernails from my palm and stroked out my fingers slowly with his. He was trying to distract me, and even knowing that, I still found myself softening at his soothing touch. Damn vampire had known me too long.
My phone shrilled into the silence, breaking my focus. I pulled my hand free and went to see the caller ID display as another ring beckoned. Blocked ID alerted me it was probably Kirk again. I had yet to reply to his call from earlier, the videotape had definitely put me off any routine. My life wasn't boring and predictable by any means.
A third ring shook me from my musing, and ignoring Harry's shaking his head negatively, I picked up the receiver.
"Hello?" I answered slowly.
"Cassandra," the voice was not Kirk's at all. Hell, it was Kenyon. And he sounded pissed off. I glanced over and saw that my answering machine was flashing over a dozen messages. I had a feeling a few of those calls were Kenyon. Sighing I answered, "What?"
"You forget yourself, Cassandra," Kenyon sounded impressively formal. He must have an audience was the first thought that flew to my mind. There was a soft snicker on the other end and the sound of a tapping fingernail.
"Speaker phone now, Kenyon? Okay, I will play." My soft chuckle was filled with promise. I knew Kenyon better than most.
The sound of the receiver being snatched up on his end was accompanied by Kenyon saying to the unseen listener, "Why don't you go find Donnie and see if he has a lead on Greg yet." It wasn't so much a question as a command. I mentally ran over the little girls Kenyon had with him New Year's Eve and figured it was probably the second one. She had looked pretty impressed by Kenyon.
"Tsk, tsk, Kenyon, is she even legal?" I was openly mocking him now. His disregard for rules was legendary and he expected me to act like some fawning human.
"Yes, Cassie, she is. Quite delicious and very obedient." His use of my hated nickname was petty but expected. Harry had relaxed back onto the couch hearing me talking to Kenyon. He had resumed punching keys on his techno toy and was confident I was well able to handle Kenyon. I decided not reward Kenyon's weak attempt at riling me with any response.
"So what do you want? Besides bragging that you bagged a minnow." Calling his latest conquest a fish was definitely bitchy on my part, but he was so juvenile. At least Greg fished and found someone in his general age range. Elisa had appeared to be in her forties. Maybe he finally had grown up, oh well, too late for him now.
Kenyon picked up my thoughts and said, "If you didn't kill Greg, where is he?"
Nice, really nice, I thought while saying, "Well, that does appear to be a question for you, now doesn't it?"
He snarled, "But not for you. You know something, don't you?"
I laughed and said, "I know lots of things. Hmmm ... let's see, you are dating out of your age bracket by a few centuries. You are attracting far too much notice by our elders and that will come back to cause you problems."
I paused, ready to add a few more things to my list when he interrupted with, "Stop it, Cassandra, you know what I meant. Leave Tiffany out of it."
My next comment was stopped by screaming from Kenyon's side of the phone. Little Miss Muffet aka Tiffany must have returned with some bad news. Kenyon tossed the phone down, and I could hear in the background hysterical female and males' voices. I listened carefully and concluded it was just Donnie and Kenyon with the current flavor of the month. Muted sobbing and soft-voiced pleading was soon muffled as Donnie seemed to calm her or take her out of ear range.
Kenyon picked up the phone and said, "Tiffany just found out her old friend, Raymond, was slaughtered."
I didn't know any vampires named Raymond, so that was meaningless to me. Hearing my unvoiced question he added, "Raymond was human. He had brought Tiffany for me. He went back home last night and was apparently murdered on his doorstep."
"So," I snarled. I didn't see how that human's death meant anything to me. Why would a vampire care?
"So, there was a note on the body saying, 'We know where you play' and a packet of matches from the club tossed on the body."
Sighing, "Still not getting why I should care." I really didn't get so involved with my meals. I failed to understand Kenyon's worries.
Kenyon said, "Up until this week, Tiffany lived with Raymond."
Ewww, that was far too much information about Kenyon's choices of meat. Tiffany was still in the room, obviously, as I heard her screaming again.
"Kenyon, put that creature out of its misery. She is not in control. If you don't, I will take care of it." I was serious. Kenyon's playing with humans had gotten out of hand. Tiffany had none of the desired traits to become a vampire. Normally Kenyon played with the locals for a while, then a tragedy resulted. With all the attention on us now, we did not need an out-of-control wannabe vampire.
Kenyon acknowledged my comment with one to Donnie. He simply said, "Do it." The cracking of her neck was audible even from the phone. Harry looked up and arched an eyebrow. I put up a finger indicating I would tell him in a minute. Kenyon gave Donnie some directions on the disposal of body of the broken girl.
"Cassandra, we have to meet soon," he demanded before abruptly hanging up.