A Lullaby For The Lost

Chapter 16: Kolchak the Night Stalker

Chapter 16: Kolchak the Night Stalker

Marko remembered the nights when he, David and Dwayne had shared the tiny apartment in Seattle for a time, and he’d worked at the XXX Bijou for almost a year. They hadn’t known Paul yet, but they’d had indoor plumbing and the comforts of electricity, at least most of the times. They also had a black and white TV set with rabbit ears and temperamental reception. The one show that Marko saw in reruns was the one that starred Darrin McGavin as Kolchak the Night Stalker. It had enjoyed its short first run in the early 70’s. In the late 70’s, one of the few stations that didn’t sign off in the middle of the night had a spook show/sci-fi marathon that showcased Kolchak in one of it’s regular rotations. Whenever Marko was off, he made a point to catch it. Tonight, he suddenly felt like Kolchak the reporter, with a camera strapped around his neck, chasing down proof of the existence of werewolves and vampires…

Except for one thing. He was one! What would old Kolchak think of that?

Before long, he found himself on the Martinez property, creeping around from tree to tree, looking for the one that David had told him about. He smelled the stink of werewolf all around, and suddenly, he felt the desire to whip it out and take a piss on a few of the trees himself. That would show them! Yet, he didn’t dare. That would be begging for trouble. Besides a permanent scar than ran him through from front to back where the stake had taken him in his sleep, Marko also had some very faint werewolf scratches on the left side of his back; scars that would never heal from a battle he’d been in hours after he, Dwayne and David had first come to Santa Carla. Max had been the one to heal him up. Thankfully, the werewolves they’d encountered were dead and gone. Marko had managed to kill one of them himself, which had enraged the wolves and caused them to gang up on him. He was only lucky none of them had bitten him before David and Dwayne coolly dispatched them.

If there was one thing in the world Marko hated now, it was werewolves. They smelled disgusting, they freaked him out, and in most cases; they were bigger than him. At least they couldn’t fly unless he threw one. That thought made him smile. They sure the hell did fly when thrown! Their heads flew one way, and their bodies flew the other! Hah! Hah!

At last he found the incriminating tree; and the bullet in the dirt. Carefully, he scooped up the bullet and deposited it into a Taco Bell burrito wrapper that he’d found lying around the ballroom. Then, he stuffed it into the pocket of his jeans and started snapping pictures of the tree. He was only able to snap about five or six shots before the flash made his eyes hurt. Sometimes, there were disadvantages to having sensitive vampire eyes. Marko startled when he heard the sound of dog barking in the distance. He couldn’t tell if it was just some ordinary house hound or werewolf, but he wasn’t taking any chances. Before he could be discovered, he took to the air and made his way to the next destination on his list, blinking wildly as he went. His trip was made in near blindness, but vampires really didn’t need to see. Instinct was their biggest guide.

^..^

The two werewolf officers patrolling the boardwalk had no idea that a vampire was skulking around the pier that night. By then, they had already stopped in to question Gabe. They had also requisitioned the log books, and were combing them over in the comfort of the security bunker. By now, Alex was on shift, watching the two with dark, silent eyes. She had no idea what these two cops were doing in the bunker, and why her superior was still on premises. Gabe wouldn’t leave, even though he looked like he felt awful.

After a few minutes, they demanded the security tapes, too. One of the cops took them and said he’d be going back to the station. The other remained behind and continued his patrol.

“What the hell is going on? I got a distress call…and now this!” Alex cried, as soon as she knew they were alone.

“I don’t know any more than you yet. I just know that Dwayne’s in some sort of shit, and it’s got to do with that kid, I’m sure.”

“I’ve got that much figured out. Do you think that boy from the beach had anything to do with it?”

“I noticed something about his eyes on camera. They glowed, like bike reflectors. Did they in person?” Gabe asked.

“Hell no! I would have seen something like that!”

“Was there anything else strange about him?”

“At the time, no, but now that I think about it, yes. I smelled the same scent that night that I smelled tonight when those officers were down here. It was…dog!”

“Right. Those cops are werewolves, and so is that kid,” Gabe answered.

“Werewolves! Son of a bitch!”

“Alex, they’re going to learn about you. It’s obvious that you’re a half vampire. Just be prepared if they come around and start questioning you.”

“I’m innocent! The tape will clearly show that I was just doing my job,” she defended.

“Don’t worry. I’ll back you up 100%. It’s just that the tape doesn’t show where that kid was coming from…just that he was out on the beach, damn it.”

“Do you think he was Leah Emerson’s attacker?”

“I don’t know. But I think the cops know who was, and they want to cover it up and blame it on Dwayne.”

“Why did they take her…I just want to slap them silly! I know they think they were doing her a favor, but now I think…God, I don’t know what I think!” Alex moaned.

“Alex, they thought they were doing the right thing. It was so much easier to make someone disappear twenty years ago. They got away with it back then, no questions asked, remember?”

“I know. It’s just so hard to think clearly. Dwayne still hurts, I can feel it.”

“So can I. How are you holding up? Are you needing anything?”

“I already drank everything I brought…and I know Marko is busy. I called Paul, and he told me. I can’t leave here to feed from him, so I’m screwed…”

“If you promise to just take a little, I can give you some,” Gabe told her.

“Oh, God, I can’t do that!” Alex protested.

“Yes you can. Star and I used to do it all the time to stop the cravings. I’ll tell you when to stop. Mortals donate blood at blood banks and survive, you know. It’s no different, really…”

Already, Alex had shifted, and she needed no further prompting when Gabe brought his wrist to her lips. The smell of warm blood beneath his skin was just too much of a temptation, and her virgin fangs bit in; savoring the hot flood that filled her mouth. Never had mortal blood passed over her fangs, and the taste was exquisite. Her eyes rolled back into her head, and she would have drained him without a second thought if he didn’t release the suction himself and pull his arm painfully away.

It took a few minutes for the blood rush to die away, but at last, Alex’s features shifted back to normal. She opened her eyes and drew a deep breath, and then gazed at Gabe with a concerned look in her eyes.

“I didn’t hurt you, did I?” she gasped.

“No. I didn’t let you take enough to harm me. I know when to make you stop. I told you, I’ve done this before,” he answered.

Even still, he looked a bit pale in Alex’s opinion. She rose from her folding chair and threw her arms around him, content to listen to the sound of his still beating heart. She didn’t want to tell him that she wouldn’t have stopped if he hadn’t stopped her. Yet, of course, she knew that he knew.

^..^

The scene of the crime was a dark, dreary place that stunk, but not quite as bad as the Martinez residence had. Marko found evidence of blood on a boulder, but he found one other thing that puzzled the hell out of him. Perched on a pile of damp sand nearby was a stuffed, white kitten.

“What the fuck?” he muttered.

Out came David’s camera. He started snapping pictures. The kitten stared silently at him with glued on amber eyes made of glass. Then, he left, making sure to fly out over the sea so that he’d leave as few footprints and scent markers as possible. Kolchak would be proud of him.

^..^

Marko was greeted to the sound of a child’s hysterical crying when he returned to the hideout, but really, in his opinion, there was nothing to cry about. David had just returned with Dwayne, and had him stretched out on the couch.

Leah was obviously upset because Dwayne was a mess. The back of his jacket was stained with blood, grass and dirt. His eyes had a faraway look, and every now and then, he muttered some nonsense shit that made absolutely no sense at all. Yet, Dwayne seemed to think it did.

“He’s all cracked up. The fleabags shot him in the head with a Holy water slug!” Paul cried.

“I know. I found it,” Marko replied grimly, fishing it out of his jeans pocket.

“D-David says he has t-to dig it out of his b-brains!” Leah wailed.

“Leah..it’s not like Dwayne will care. Look at him. He doesn’t even know where the hell he is. Besides that, did you know that the human brain can’t even feel pain?” Marko stated.

“Ba-loney! I’ve seen what my great grandpa does to the animals he stuffs, and he scoops all the brains out, and it’s gross! David’s gonna do that to Dwayne! No, don’t let him!”

“Oh, shit, sweetie. It’s not like that at all. David’s not going to scoop anyone’s brains out! You’re right…..that is fucking sick. He just needs to get the slug out. It’s full of poison that’s hurting Dwayne. You don’t want Dwayne to be sick do you?” Paul asked.

“No,” Leah sniffled.

“Then trust David. He doesn’t want Dwayne to hurt anymore than you do. Maybe you can even help him.”

“How?” she asked, wiping her nose on her sleeve.

“He’ll need some stuff. Go ask him, real nice like. Ask him what he needs, and I’ll help you get them.”

Leah nodded quietly and sidled over to the couch. David turned and regarded her presence warily.

“What do you want?” he asked her severely.

“What kinds of stuff do you need for Dwayne’s operation? I could get them for you…Paul said he’d help…,” she said softly.

“Alright. You two can fetch me some rubbing alcohol and the first aid kit. Everything I need should be in it. Paul knows where it is. Oh, and bring the wine bottle and a couple of blankets, too,” he told her. This time, his tone of voice was much softer.

“Okay,” she responded. Then, she scampered off to do David’s bidding, just as obediently as Marko would. David smiled in spite of himself. A part of him would miss her when she was gone.

He turned his attention to his oldest Childe, who had fallen silent and closed his eyes. His skin tone was an alarming shade of gray, and David knew he needed to feed, but he only wanted to give him just a little bit of blood for now. Dwayne would be better off in a state of distorted reality for the procedure that was ahead, but he would need a little blood in case he lost any more when David fished the bullet from his head. Leah appeared quickly with the first aid kit and the rubbing alcohol. Paul had the blankets, and Marko the wine bottle. David took the bottle of wine from Marko and supported Dwayne’s shoulders, bringing him into a semi-sitting position so that his drink wouldn’t spill. Then, he brought the bottle to his lips and allowed him several good swigs of blood.

Before he was laid back down, Paul wrapped one of the blankets around his brother’s shoulders and spread another over his body. Already, some of the sickening grayness was leaving Dwayne’s complexion, but he was still pale and listless. David knew this was for the best.

Before the procedure got underway, they heard a disturbance in the upper chamber. Thorn was growling, yet he was not having an outright conniption. A male’s voice told him to stuff a dog biscuit in it. Instantly, they recognized the voice as belonging to Laddie.

“Hey, Laddie, you’re just in time. We’re going to fix up your Sire, and he should be good as new by tomorrow,” Paul told him once he made his way down into the ballroom.

“You sprung him?” Gabe asked.

“David did. He got Shelby to pardon him somehow, but David says he’s not in the clear yet. He’ll tell us more later.”

“I need you all to be quiet,” David barked.

He had rolled Dwayne over onto his side by then. With the rubbing alcohol, he had sterilized a pair of small scissors and a pair of tweezers. Then, he’d snipped away sections of Dwayne’s hair to expose the damaged area. Using the tweezers and the scissors tips, he’d probed inside the wound, pulling out little shards of bone, and finally the metal slug. When he was finished, he washed out the hole with the rest of the contents of the bottle of wine. Everything he pulled out of Dwayne’s head was resting on a blood soaked gauze pad on the coffee table beside the couch.

“We’ll need to give that slug and the one you found at the Martinez property to Shelby for evidence.” David told Marko.

“Want me to get a picture, too? In case the werewolves find a way to destroy the evidence?” Marko asked.

“Why not.”

Marko lined up a shot of the bloody evidence, and then took another picture of the two slugs on the table together. Let the dogs argue that!

“All right, it’s time to finish up Dwayne. I’ll need a vein or two,” David ordered.

Even though his eldest Childe was out of it still, David knew he’d felt pain from the procedure. His face had shifted and hadn’t shifted back, David himself felt vague twinges of a headache, and knew he needed to feed Dwayne. He was the first to shove his coat sleeve back and put his wrist to Dwayne’s lips; shoving against his fangs himself to puncture his own flesh. When the blood began to flow, Dwayne instinctively latched on himself. But David’s blood alone wouldn’t be enough, and since the supply from the bottle had been exhausted to heal the wound, David broke the suction when he started to feel weak, and summoned Marko next.

The same procedure was repeated. Paul looked almost antsy to have a turn. He’d never had the privilege of nourishing one of his pack brothers back to health before. Finally, Marko broke the suction, and David carefully examined Dwayne to see how close he was. He didn’t share with Paul that he wasn’t certain if he really should be giving nourishment to Dwayne yet or not. But tonight, there was no choice. The wolves had done quite a number on him, and if he was taken back into custody tomorrow night, they would surely drain him again. With a nod of his head, he called Paul to the couch. Paul eagerly rolled up his sleeve and allowed his pack brother to latch onto his wrist.

He never knew that nourishing another could be so exhilarating or so exhausting. Within a few minutes, he could barely keep his eyes open. Yet, he could sense that Dwayne was growing stronger, and he could even feel himself feeling better than he had all night. He didn’t want to stop. Finally, David inserted his fingers between Dwayne’s mouth and his wrist, breaking the suction.

“That’s enough,” he said sternly.

“But he didn’t feed that long,” Paul protested.

“Still, we’ll need your help filling the bottle tomorrow. And, if they take him again, who’s going to feed him then if they drain him? Save some for later. Now, let him rest. We have some things to discuss.”

Paul nodded sleepily. He was too tired to argue. When he stood up to follow David, he stumbled a bit. Maybe David was right after all.

“Laddie, I need you to stay with Leah and Dwayne for the next half hour. Paul, Marko and I need to find ourselves a quick bite to eat. When we return, we have some shit to discuss before it gets light. We don’t have much time, so we need to go now,” David instructed.

The other two half-drained vampires nodded in agreement. When David said ‘quick bite’, they knew what he meant. Find some homeless trolls on Front Street, drain them quick, and toss them in the deep dark sea. No muss, no fuss. This time of year, there were always bums hanging around, because the homeless shelters were always filled to capacity It was a sad fact of life.

Within 45 minutes, they had done their dirty deed and returned to the hideout. They were surprised to see that Dwayne had actually moved. He had kicked off his shoes and was curled up on the couch. Leah was snuggled up in the blankets beside him, fast asleep. Laddie sat cross legged on the floor, using the coffee table to play a quiet game of solitaire. He was taking care not to disturb the evidence that was still resting on the bloody gauze on one corner of the table.

“Did everyone behave?” David asked Laddie, motioning him over to take a seat in the main circle of mismatched chairs in the center of the room.

“See for yourself,” Gabe responded with a smile.

“Good. Be sure to let Alex in on everything you hear. I hate that she can’t be here tonight.”

“I’ll tell her. Don’t worry. It’s one reason I came,” he replied.

“Okay, well this is what I know. The dogs busted Dwayne while he was sniffing out the Martinez property. He picked up the scent of the pier wolf and followed it there. The scents of the two wolfs that visited us here this afternoon…well, technically, it was yesterday afternoon now…were also there. It turns out, they were a couple of police detectives. They were also the pair that busted Dwayne,” David explained.

“They were cops?” Paul asked.

“You heard me. While they were here, they smelled Leah. They know she’s here.” David said.

“Did Dwayne tell them that?” Marko asked.

“No, frankly, I don’t think Dwayne told them a damn thing.”

“Then all they did was sniff a thing or two. They don’t know shit.”

“They smelled her, Marko. They could come back with a search warrant. We need to get her the hell out of here.”

Unbeknownst to the party talking in the circle of chairs, Leah had awoken when the boys announced their presences and summoned Laddie over to join them. She raised her head from the pillow of Dwayne’s arm and listened quietly to the conversation, even though she knew that eavesdropping wrong.

“Where’s she supposed to go?” Paul asked with a grunt of frustration.

“I don’t know. Maybe Laddie can hide her for awhile.”

“No way. Count me out of this one” Laddie stated emphatically, “The boardwalk has dog cops patrolling the beat now, and I’m dead meat if they smell Leah on me. Not to mention, I’ve got the Frog brothers and her old man questioning me on a regular basis. No way, Jose!”

“No, he’s right. We can’t risk him on this one. Maybe we can do the divide and hide routine. Take her on a hunting trip or something,” Marko suggested, “Hell, we used to tote Laddie around with us all the time.”

“Yes, I’m aware of that, but Dwayne will be in the drink tomorrow night getting questioned, and the two of you will be at work…and Dwayne will need me down at the station. So, who does that leave with Leah?” David cracked impatiently.

“We’ll stash her someplace safe with Thorn. Hey, I know! Stowe Elementary School isn’t far from where I work. I’ll take her there with me, drop her off with some grub, my walkman and my cell phone, and tell her to wait for me, and then I’ll pick her up when I’m off. The school is out for Christmas break, so no one will notice. There’s no reason for the dogs to be sniffing around the school, and Thorn will be there to keep her company,” Paul suggested.

“Bravo, Paul. And, of course, Thorn will scare of any wolves that come with search warrants during the day. We just need to make sure that her belongings are out of the cave before we leave. I don’t think we need to be present for them to come in if they have a warrant. They can toss the place from top to bottom, so we have to make certain there’s no evidence of Leah here,” David told them.

“That won’t be a problem. It’s not like she has much,” Marko said.

“Laddie, dude, you’ll have to help us out that much. Take everything you can and buy a small storage locker for it first thing tomorrow morning,” Paul told him. He pulled out his wallet and handed Gabe a couple of twenties.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ve got it covered.

“No, really. I don’t know how long we’ll be needing it for, so take the money.”

Solemnly, the group disbanded, and Laddie began the task of gathering up Leah’s things, with the exception of a change of clothing, her hair brush, her tooth brush, and her shoes. These necessities she’d need for the following day. Everything else went into two large bags. Gabe rode with one lashed to the back of his bike, and Paul followed him home with the other on his. By then, it was getting close to dawn, and Paul had no time to linger. The boys then helped Dwayne to the rear section of the cavern, where it would be more beneficial for him to spend the day sleeping. All of the undead blood in his body would settle in his head when he slept upside down on the bar, which would aid his body to complete the rest of the healing.

By the following night, Dwayne would most likely be fully restored.