Originally published on Short Fiction Break.
“You wanted to see me,” whispered the thin man, lowering his hood to reveal piercing blue eyes which flickered as he waited for an explanation.
“I was hoping you could help me understand,” replied the second, stocky and dark-skinned. His deep voice resonated with authority. “And… I’m sorry.”
The blue-eyed man watched his acquaintance, considering the apology for what it was worth. “You don’t happen to have any -”
The other man pressed a finger to his lips. “We shouldn’t talk here.” They walked through the dimly lit park to an isolated corner where trees blocked them from view. The heavier man reached inside his coat and took a sip from a flask. A drop of red liquid trailed down his chin. He wiped it with his thumb and offered the flask to the thin man, who drank deeply.
“Tell me what happened before she killed you,” said the deep-voiced man.
The blue-eyed man sighed. “Where should I start?”
– 26 hours earlier –
Rob Ellis knew Jeanette Tanner would come looking for him eventually, he just hadn’t expected it to be tonight. When he got home from an exhausting shift at the hospital, a knock at the door revealed the girl whose life he had saved so many years ago.
“Tell me about my father,” she said. He stared at her, open-mouthed, until finally it dawned on him. She was a carbon copy of her mother, from her stern expression to the dark skin, and down to the way she tied her frizzy black hair.
Why now? he wondered.
“You should probably come inside,” he stated, stepping back to allow her entry. He led her to the living room, and she sat in one of the armchairs. “Tea?”
He sat down across from her. “Jeanette,” he sighed, “your father’s dead.”
“Then explain this.” She produced a yellowing piece of paper and unfolded it. Rob read the letter silently. When he had finished, he shook his head sadly and said, “I’m sorry. I can’t help you.”
She took back the letter, looking disappointed. “Mom didn’t want me to find him.”
“She’s right,” remarked Rob.
Jeanette opened her mouth to say something but the words seemed to get stuck in her throat.
“Jeanette? Are you alright?”
“Was,” she corrected. “She was right.”
Rob stared at her. “No.” Her eyes welled with tears and she nodded. He placed a hand on her shoulder, suddenly lost for words.
“I can’t lose both parents Rob. Please,” she sobbed, “help me find him.”
Rob sighed. “Listen to me. You’re better off not knowing.”
He could see the anger building up inside her. He wanted to help her, but she didn’t understand, and how could he possibly explain?
Without warning, she drew back her lips to reveal a pair of sharp, white fangs.
“That,” she hissed, “is for me to decide.”
Two hours into the night shift, Detective Craig Spencer’s phone rang.
“We’ve got a body in an alleyway off Columbus.,” the chief informed him. “Caucasian male, mid-forties, thin, bite marks on the neck.”
Craig sighed. “On my way.”
“Coffee,” said his partner Holly, opening the car door and handing him a cup. “And don’t you dare say ‘Hi coffee, I’m Craig.’”
“Yeah, yeah, no joking on the job.”
She smirked. “So, vampire homicide?”
He sipped the coffee and raised his eyebrows in response. “Told you all the good cases are at night.”
“You did.” They drove to the location the chief had given and entered the alleyway with flashlights. The smell of human blood intensified suddenly, forcing Craig to stop and take a deep breath to prevent his fangs from extending.
“The victim was definitely here.” Holly confirmed, oblivious. “So… where’s the body?”
They shined their flashlights up and down the alley, but there was no sign of it.
“Here’s something.” Holly picked up a card spattered with blood. “A hospital ID. Dr. Robert Ellis.”
As he heard the name, Craig felt blood pounding in his ears. His heart sank. Jeanette.
“Call for backup,” he ordered, “I’ll take this side.” He rushed to the end of the alley and made sure Holly wasn’t watching before dashing around the corner and heading for Central Park.
Jeanette ran as fast as she could, away from the glaring city lights, away from what she had done. She ran to the only place in the city she remembered; a rocky outcropping in the south west corner of Central Park where her father used to take her when she was little. She sat down, pulled her knees up to her chest and tried to stop crying and just breathe.
She heard footsteps nearby and looked up into the blinding beam of a flashlight. She raised her hand to shield her eyes and recognized him instantly. He looked exactly the same as in the only photograph she had, as though time had stopped completely since the last time they had seen each other.
Craig lowered his flashlight and approached her. “Jeanette?” he whispered.
Her heart was racing. “Dad?”
The blue-eyed man frowned as the story reached its end.
“So the NYPD has no idea?”
“And it’s going to stay that way,” warned the deep-voiced man.
“Obviously,” agreed the blue-eyed man. “You know, I never thought she would turn,” he admitted. “When you bit her twelve years ago, I managed to suppress the venom in her system.”
“Maybe the treatment wore off,” the other man suggested.
“No,” replied the blue-eyed man. “Her mother’s death must have triggered it.”
“Jeanette looks just like her,” remarked the man with the deep voice. “I can’t believe she’s gone.”
The blue-eyed man did not answer. Craig checked his watch. “We should get inside. It’s almost sunrise.”
The blue-eyed man nodded. “Does this get any easier?” he asked.
“Being a vampire?” Craig looked out at the park surrounding them, admiring the false sense of peace it created in the midst of the city. “No, Rob, I don’t believe it does.”