The Legacy 3 - Branded Mall

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A security guard vanishes at a newly built shopping mall/centre that hasn't opened yet. The Legacy Foundation are called in to investigate so the shopping mall can open as planned in the coming days.

BRANDED MALL

The security guard put his cup of tea down and stood.  It was time to make his rounds.  The security guard who he was replacing should be arriving back here any moment.  They would probably cross paths along the way.  The five foot eight, slightly overweight guard stepped over to one of the shop fronts and stared through the window.  He then checked the door to make sure it was locked.  None of the shops had opened yet as the shopping centre was still new.  However, some of the staff had been coming in over the past week or so to finish a few things off ready for opening in two days’ time.

As the guard stared through the window at the dark interior of the shop, he caught a glimpse of a reflection in the window.  He turned quickly but there was nothing there.  He glanced all around him, but he was alone.

As the guard glanced up to the upper level, he thought he saw a figure standing behind one of the pillars but couldn’t make out who it was.  The lights on the upper level were dimmed, making it difficult to see much of anything.  He took out his walkie talkie and held it close to his mouth.

“Colin, are you on the upper level?” he asked.

“No.  I just got back to the security station.  Why?” came the reply.

“Thought I just saw someone up there.”

“Ain’t me.  Probably just someone from one of the shops up there working late.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right.  I’ll check it out anyway.”

“Okay.”

The guard put his walkie talkie away and began to make his way towards the nearest escalator and began to ascend.  As he reached halfway, he caught sight of someone moving away from one of the shops.  He ran up the remaining steps and turned to the shop where he had seen the figure, but once more, there was no one there.  The guard looked around but couldn’t see anyone anywhere.  He was sure he’d seen someone.

The guard began to look in the shop windows as he walked along, searching for any sign of life.  Maybe that’s where he had gone.  The person had disappeared so quickly.  That is the only place he could have gone.

As the guard passed a craft shop a woman stepped out from a corner filled with shadows.  The guard turned to her.

“Excuse me, Miss,” he said.  “Do you work in one of the shops here?”

“No, not really,” Cathrine answered as she stepped towards him.

“Then may I ask what you’re doing here?  This place doesn’t open for another two days.”

Cathrine came closer and stopped inches in front of him.

“Very polite for a security guard.  Don’t you think, Bran?”

“Oh yes,” Bran answered from behind the guard.

The guard spun round to see the much taller man standing behind him.

“Where-“ the guard began.

“Where did I come from?” Bran asked, interrupting him.

“Yeah,” he nodded, becoming unnerved.

“The same place she came from.” Bran indicated Cathrine.

“Let me take you there,” Cathrine said.

****

Colin, the second security guard, almost dropped his cup of coffee when he heard the scream.  He stood and began to look around.  Where had the scream come from?  He turned back to the monitors and began searching the many screens for any sign of movement.

Colin picked up his walkie talkie.  “Pete, where are you?” he asked.  He released his finger and waited for a reply which didn’t come.  “Pete?” he asked again.

“He’s with us,” came the reply.

Colin stared at the walkie talkie for a moment.  That hadn’t been Pete’s voice.

“Want to join us?”

Colin began to search the monitors once more for the source of the voice, but no one came into view.  He must be somewhere.  He must be somewhere, Colin thought, becoming very uneasy.

“Look behind you,” the voice almost whispered.

Colin froze.  He looked at the view of the security station on the monitor but all he could see was himself.  But the hairs on the back of his neck were standing on end, as if someone were there, watching him.

Colin slowly stood and turned to see a woman standing right behind him.

“Hello,” she said, waving a hand at him.

Colin turned back to the monitor but all he could see was himself.  The woman wasn’t there.  But he could see her with his own eyes.  So why wasn’t she showing up on the monitor?

“You won’t see me on there,” Cathrine said, revealing two large fang teeth.

Suddenly, Colin knew who this woman must be.  But he had never thought they had been real.  Until now.

Cathrine stepped forward, keeping her dark eyes locked with Colin.  He was completely hypnotised by her.  She tilted his head to the side and bit into his neck.

 

Nick took a sudden deep breath and sat bolt upright in bed.  Yet another dream.

“Nick?” Dael asked as she felt Nick move beside her.  She lifted her head and rested it on her hand.

Nick threw back the duvet and got out of bed.  He stepped up to the arched window and stared out.  Dael came up beside him and put her arm around him.

“Another dream?” she asked.

Nick just nodded.

“You’ve been having a few dreams lately,” she said. 

“Something I didn’t know I’d forgotten,” Nick said.

“Some hidden memories?” Dael asked.

Nick nodded.  “I remember what happened to Cai’s mother.”

“How could you forget something like that?” Dael asked, taking a step back.

“I don’t know.  All I do remember is my father told me she had died in childbirth.”

“Does Cai know this?”

Nick nodded.  “I told him that. I later found out she escaped to the Marubi Mothership.  Or at least that’s what a medic told me.  My father is really good at altering memories when he sees fit.  I think that’s what he did to me.”

“Your father altered your memories?” Dael asked, quite shocked at hearing this.

“He wasn’t a nice man, very controlling.  I think as soon as Cai was born, he put Micah in a chamber and someone else helped her escape.  I found out about this, and my father took the memory away.”

“Until last night,” Dael added.  “Is there any way to find out if she’s still alive?”

“Maybe Garion will know,” Nick sad.  “But he hasn’t been in contact with his family for a long time.”

 

“Where is Nick?” Jack asked as he limped into the dining room for breakfast.

“He’s outside, thinking,” Dael answered, taking a sip of her tea.

“Outside?” Cai asked.  “It’s raining.”

“He had another dream last night,” Dael explained.

“Another one?” Jack asked.

Dael nodded.  “He’s remembered more about your mother, Cai.”

“He has?” Cai asked.  “He never did talk about her much.  Always wondered why.”

“I’m sure he’ll tell you everything when he’s ready.”

Jack sat down at the table and poured himself a coffee.  “Anyway,” he began.  “The Powers That Be have sent something for us.”  He reached over and picked up some bacon from a plate in the centre of the table.  Lily reached over and chose some more vegan bacon and filled another sandwich.

“What is it?” Cai asked, taking a sip of his decaf coffee.

“Large shopping centre just outside Derby,” Jack said.  “Opens tomorrow for the first time.”

“Is it that new one?  Bit like Meadowhall but a bit smaller.  The one that’s had all those problems with planning and stuff?”

“That’s the one,” Jack confirmed with a nod.

“So, what’s the problem?” Garion asked.

“Two missing security guards,” jak explained.

“Missing security guards?” Lily asked.  “Is that it?”

“If they’re missing then why don’t they call the police?” Cai asked.

“They did yesterday, and the police couldn’t find them.  Both men are single, living on their own and don’t have any family living close by.  The police have given up on the case.  They reported for work as usual but weren’t there in the morning when the changeover arrived.”

“Couldn’t they have just left, gone off somewhere?” Dael asked.

“That’s what the police think.  There’s a few things missing from some of the shops.  They think the guards took them.”

“So, they want us to find the guards?” Cai asked, his fork halfway to his mouth.

“Not exactly,” Jack began.

“Then what do they want us to do?” Lily asked.

“Not you, Lily.  Just Nick, Cai and Garion.”

Lily dropped her sandwich and sat back in her chair, disappointed.  “Why not?” she asked.  “I miss out on all the fun.”

“Because you’re not trained for this.  It’s not what you were hired for.”

“I did alright on the last one,” Lily insisted.

“That was luck.”

“Jack’s right,” Nick agreed as he entered the room.  “You need to stay here.  You’re not trained for the field.”

Lily sat back in a huff.  She had enjoyed herself last time, even though she had been afraid at times.  But she had never felt so good while doing a job and she wanted more.  Now she had a taste for working in the field she wanted more.

Jack turned back to Cai and Garion.  “It’s something that’s on, or I should say, isn’t on, the security disks that they didn’t show the police.”

“Like what?” Garion asked.

“You’ll understand when you see it.  The manager of the shopping centre couriered a copy over this morning.  He didn’t want to send it by email in case it got intercepted.”

“That must’ve arrived early,” Dael said.

“It did.  Thank the ‘Powers That Be’,” Jack stated.

“Why call them the ‘Powers That Be’?” Garion asked.

“Because we don’t know who they are.  Just that they work hight up in the government and they know all about where you three come from and are willing to keep it a secret if we do some jobs for them once in a while.  We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.”

“Some jobs?” Cai asked.

Jack just stared at him.  “Okay, more than some.”

“Let me get changed first,” Nick said, still dripping on the floor from being out in the rain.

“That’s what you get if you go out in the rain,” Garion said.

Nick just smirked at him and went to change into dry clothes.  He was becoming a little cold.

 

As Nick entered the computer room everyone was already there, waiting for him.  “So, what’s on this security flash drive?” he asked.

“It’s what’s not on the disk,” Jack began and placed the flash drive in the computer.  “Now watch this,” Jack continued, pointing to the screen as the right part of the flash drive began to play.

As they continued to watch the large screen they saw the security guard, who was sitting at the desk on his own, suddenly stand and turn to look at something of camera.  Or so it seemed.  Then, after a moment he hilted his head and patch of blood appeared on his neck.  He seemed to struggle for a moment, then collapsed.  But what was really strange was something invisible began to drag the guard away.

“What do you think of that?” Jack asked.

“Who dragged him away?” Garion asked.  “There was no one there.”

“Vampires,” Nick said.

“What?” Garion asked.

“How long have you been down here on Earth?” Cai asked.

“A few months, why?”

“Do you know what vampires are?”

“Yeah, but I don’t know much about them.  I can’t read English, so I haven’t been able to read any of those books in the library.”

“We’ll have to teach you,” Lily said.

“Vampires can’t be seen on camera or in mirrors,” Jack elaborated.  “That’s why we can’t see them.”

“Terrific, Vampires,” Nick said.

“You’ve dealt with Vampires before?” Garion asked.

“A couple of times,” Nick answered, glancing at Cai.

“So, that’s why they called us?” Cai asked.

Jack nodded.  “The manager has dealt with Vampires before.  His father became a Vampire hunter after they killed his mother some years back.”

“His father isn’t Jeff Barstow is it?” Nick asked.

“Could be.  He has the same last name.”

“Oh good.  If he gets a whiff of this…”

“You’ve met before?” Lily asked.

“A couple of occasions.  The man’s a little crazy where Vampires are concerned.”

“Paul Barstow wants to keep this as quiet as possible,” Jack continued.

“Why did he build there in the first place?” Cai asked.  “Especially if he knew the repetition of the place?”

“It was cheap,” Jack answered.  “Very cheap.  And it had been on the market for a long time and the price kept dropping.”

“And he wants us to find the Vampires?” Cai asked.

Jack nodded.  “So does ‘The Powers That Be’.  He’s told everyone you are coming in as extra security for tomorrow’s opening.  He’s told everyone else there was a bomb threat and that  you’re coming to make sure everything goes smoothly.”

“He’s still going ahead with the opening?” Garion asked.

“Yeah.  He hasn’t told the owner of the centre that there’s a problem.  He’s got some celebrity for the opening ceremony.”

“Who?” Lily asked, getting a little excited.

“I don’t know.  Some actor,” Jack said, taking the flash drive out of the computer and put it back in the box it came in.  “The new car isn’t ready yet, so you’ll have to take the Cherokee.”  He took the keys out of his pocket and handed them over.

“You trust us with your new car?” Cai asked.

“Yes,” Jack answered.  “Don’t crash it.”

 

Paul Barstow sat at his large glass desk staring into the flat screen monitor of his computer. Of all the times for something like this to happen, it had to happen now.  He’d had a bad enough experience the last time with Vampires and now it was happening again.  He had taken an office job hoping it would take him away from his father’s obsession to find the Vampires that killed his mother.  And if his father couldn’t find the right Vampires then he’d kill as many along the way as he could.

So, here Paul was, the managing director of the new shopping centre about to open to in less than twenty-four hours and what happens?  Two security guards go missing along with some goods from one of the shops.  Looked like a simple robbery.  Until he saw the security disks.  Didn’t take him long to figure out what had happened.  At least he had some specialist coming in to deal with the problem.  And they were nothing like his father.  These were real specialists with many years of experience.

Paul reached for the com on his desk as it began to buzz.

“Yes?” he asked.

“The people from The Legacy Foundation are here,” Paul’s secretary informed him.

“Okay, Stacy.  Show them in.”  Paul stood as the door opened and came round his desk to great them.

“Good morning,” Paul said, holding his hand out.  “I’m glad you could come so quickly.”

“We didn’t have that far to come,” Nick said, shaking Paul’s hand, keeping his webbed fingers retracted.  “I met your father once.”

“Hmmm,” Paul answered.

“You don’t like what your father does?” Garion asked.

“He won’t give up until he finds the Vampires that killed my mother.”

“He will be lucky,” Nick said.  “Nick Youngblood,”  he added.“These are my brothers, Cai and Garion.”

Paul shook their hands, noticing what looked like a scar on each of their hands.  Nick noticed where he was looking.  At least Paul couldn’t see what the ‘scars’ really were.

“Can you find these Vampires and get rid of them before the opening tomorrow?” Paul asked.

“By tomorrow?” Cai asked.

“Can’t you delay the opening for a couple of days?” Garion asked.

“No, it’s too late to delay.  It will be opening tomorrow at nine.  The owners and press will be there.  Among others and the public, waiting to enter.”

“I can’t promise that we can find them as fast as that,” Nick informed him.  “Vampires have  a knack of evading capture.  They will find the darkest place to stay during the day where no sun can get.”

“I know.  But where could they be?” Paul asked.

“Here some place,” Cai said.

“And we’ll find them.”

 

Nick opened the back of the Cherokee, letting Trinity out the back.  He picked up two backpacks, handing them the Garion and Cai, then picked up a third for himself.

“Is everything we need in here?” Garion asked, holding the backpack up.

“Almost,” Nick said, and reached into a box containing several small bottles.  Nick took several out and handed them round.

“What’s this?” Garion asked, holding one up.

“Holy water,” Cai answered.  “Just throw it in their face.”

“Holy water?” Garion said, looking at the contents.

“Apparently, Vampires don’t like it.  Burns them.”

“I have so much to learn.”

“You’ll get there,” Cai informed him.  “I grew up around this stuff, so I learned along the way.”

Nick closed the car door and locked it.

 

The Vampire watched the three people by the large 4 x 4 from where he was hiding.  These were new people and he suspected they had been brought in especially. So, someone knew they were here.  The police had left that morning. The Vampires thought that would be the last of it.  However, now these new people were here.  They weren’t new security guards.

As he continued to watch the Vampires saw one of them reach back inside the car and take out several small bottles of what looked to be water.  He opened his eyes wide when he realised what the water must be.  Holy water.  They were Vampire Hunters.

He turned and ran.  This was something Bran would want to know about.

 

Nick and Garion turned as they heard a noise somewhere in the shadows.

“What?” Cai asked, looking around.  “What is it?”

“Didn’t you get that?” Nick asked.

“Get what?”

“Heard something,” Garion said, looking around.

“Where?” Cai asked.

“Over there.”  Garion pointed to the area on the other side of the dark cark park.

Nick took his hand-held crossbow as he saw movement.  “Over there,” he said, pointing the figure out that he could just see.

“Wait a minute,” Cai said, holding Nick back.  “What if it’s not a Vampire?”

“Then he’s got nothing to worry about.”  Nick began to head towards the figure in the distance.  Cai and Garion took out their hand-held crossbows also and began to follow the figure.  Trinity ran along beside Cai, his ears full upright and alert.

The figure glanced back at them for a moment, then ran through a door.  Trinity began to growl and ran up to the door.

“He’s definitely smelt something,” Cai said, reaching for the door.  He grabbed Trinity’s collar as he opened the door.  Just as they were about to run through the door a security guard appeared.

“Hey, who are you?” the guard asked.

“We’re with The Legacy Foundation,” Cai informed him.  “Did someone just pass you?”

“Who?” the guard asked.

“Paul Barstow hired us to find the…missing guards,” Cai said.

“Oh yeah,” the guard said with a nod when he realised who they were.  “And you’re checking to make sure it’s safe for tomorrow after the bomb threat.”

“Yes,” Nick said.  “Now, have you seen anyone come through this door apart from us?”

Before the guard could answer they heard a scream.  They all looked around but couldn’t determine where the scream had come from.

“Bloody ‘ell!” the guard said.

“Sounded like it came from all around us,” Garion said, looking up at the lowered ceiling.

“Air vents,” Nick explained.  “This place must be full of them.”

“They are,” the guard agreed.  “They run in all directions.”  He pointed up at the ceiling, moving his finger around.

“Then that scream could’ve come from anywhere,” Garion said, also looking around.

“Yeah,” Cai agreed.

“Dam it!” Nick said.  “One of these ducts must lead to where they are.”

“Where who are?” the guard asked, confused.  They all looked at him, realising he was still there.

“Never mind,” Cai answered.

 

“I’m getting with bored with this man,” Bran said casually as he came strolling out of the small room at the back, playing with the knife in his hand.  He wiped some of the blood from the blade then licked his fingers.  “I think it’s time to eat him now.”

The second security guard opened his eyes wide, fear showing even more greatly on his face.  Cathrine sat close to the guard and every so often she ran a knife up and down his arm, cutting his flesh, then licking the blood from the blade.

“Will someone please turn that horrible music off and put something more soothing on,” Bran said over the sound of the rock music.

“I like it,” Scott, another Vampire, said.

“Well, I don’t.  So, change it now before I decide to turn into a cannibal.”

Scot quickly got up to change the music.

“Now, now,” Cathrine said.  “Mustn’t eat our own.”

“Sometimes these…people make me feel like it.  We must find better stock.”

The music suddenly changed to one of Bran’s CD’s, something by Enigma.

“That’s much better,” Bran said, closing his eyes so he could feel the music more, and enjoy it better.

“Want to play with this one?” Cathrine asked, holding the knife under the security guard’s chin.

“No.  He’s all yours.  I wouldn’t want to deprive you of your fun.”

“Bran, Bran,” a Vampire called as he ran into the dimly lit room.

“What is it now?” Bran asked, turning to him with little interest.

“They called in some Vampire hunters!” Malcom said urgently.

“Oh, they have, have they?” Bran asked.

“Are you certain?” Cathrine asked, getting to her feet.

“Yeah,” Malcom said, nodding his head vigorously.  “Saw the bottle of holy water and crossbows.  Heard them talking a bit as well.”

“Now what do we do?” Cathrine asked.

“Don’t worry about it, my dear,” Bran said casually, waving at her.  “I’m sure we’ll be fine down here.”  Bran turned to Malcom.  “They didn’t see you did they?”

“Yeah but they didn’t see where I went.  Lost them before I came here.”

“How many were there?” Cathrine asked.

“Three.  All got black hair.  Didn’t look like they were from around here.”

“I think we can handle three Vampire hunters,” Bran said.  “No problem.  Might be quite fun getting them onto our side.”  A broad smile spread across Bran’s face.  “Just think, making three Vampire hunters into something they are trying to kill.”

“Yes, that would be something to see, wouldn’t it?”

Cathrine agreed.  She glanced over at Malcom and saw how he was looking at the captive guard.  He looked like he was looking at his next meal and looking like he hadn’t eaten in a while.

“Oh, go on then,” Cathrine said, stepping away from the guard.

“Really?” Malcom asked.

“Yes, you can have him.  He’s no fun anymore.”  Cathrine turned and walked away.

The guard struggled in the chair he was tied to, trying to get away as Malcom approached him.

 

Nick, Cai and Garion suddenly stepped in their tracks as they followed the security guard towards the next level of the car park.  The man’s screams rang out around them, seeming to come from everywhere.

“There’s that scream again,” the security guard said, looking around.

“That is a different person,” Nick said.

“Two?” Garion asked.  “You sure?”

“Definitely different voice,” Cai agreed, hearing the difference in the voice.

“How can you tell the difference?” the guard asked.

“Good hearing,” Cai informed him.

“Two missing security guards, two different voices,” Nick added.

“Everyone knows those two took some stuff from some of the shops and buggered off,” the guard said.

“Did they?” Garion asked.

The guard looked at them.  “You mean you think that’s them?” he asked.

Garion didn’t answer.  He was still new to this job and wasn’t sure what he should and shouldn’t say.

Nick walked past the guard and back into the shopping centre area.  He stepped up to the barrier on the first floor and looked around.  The guard walked away from them and headed for the escalator.

“You really thing that’s them?” Cai asked.

“It has to be,” Nick answered.  “The Vampires are obviously keeping them alive for now.  But they won’t last much longer.”

“These ducts must lead somewhere,” Cai stated, looking around.  “One of them will lead us to where they are.”

“There must be hundreds of ducts in a place this size,” Garion said.  “We could do with a plan of this place.”

“No,” Nick said.  “I can’t understand plans.  But we do need to find the rooms not accessible to the public,” he continued.

“Wouldn’t the plans help?” Cai asked.

“Maybe they would if you could understand them.  Could never get my head around them.”  Nick glanced around him.  “One of these rooms is where they’re held up.”

“How long have you been doing this job?” Garion asked.

“About fifteen years, why?”  Nick asked.

“And you still can’t read a plan?”

“No.  It’s all those line and funny marks.  They don’t make any sense.  You’re telling me you can read a plan?”

“No,” Garion answered.  “Just surprised you can’t after all this time.”

“Never had to use plans much.  I just find a door and walk through.”

Cai glanced over the rail and saw the guards looking up at them.

“I think he’s told the other what we said,” Cai stated.

“We better get down there,” Garion said, heading for the escalator.

“Hold up,” Nick said, grabbing Garion’s arm.  “Let’s be careful what we tell them.

“I know,” Garion said.  “I’m not an idiot.”

They followed Garion down the escalator and to the security desk in the centre of the ground floor.

“What’s this about Colin and Pete still being here?” one of the two other guards asked as they approached.

Nick, Cai and Garion glanced at each other. 

“We can’t guarantee that the two voices we heard are the two missing guards,” Nick told them.

“Voices?” Jeff asked.  “That wasn’t voices.  That was screams.”

“You just said-“

“I know what I said back there but I was guessing.  It could be anyone.”

“We thought you people where here to deal with the bomb threat?”

“We are,” Garion said, knowing that was the reason Paul had given them.  He wanted to keep the Vampires as secret as possible as most people thought Vampires were just works of fiction.  How wrong they were.

“Then what’s with the crossbows?” he asked, indicating the one Garion was holding.

Garion glanced around at Nick, not sure what to say about the weapons they were carrying.

“We always carry then,” Nick lied.  “The tip has a tranquillizer on it.”

“Why would you need them?” another guard asked, still confused.

“You never know,” Cai answered casually.  He glanced at this watch.  “Nick, its going dark in about three hours, if we want to search the place before then.”

Nick glanced up at the tinted glass skylights.  He was beginning to get dull outside already.

“Yeah, we had better get searching,” Nick agreed.  “I’d be very surprised if we get this completed today.”

“Just what I was thinking,” Cai said.

“See you around,” Garion said and began to walk away.

“Wait a minute,” Nick said and turned back to the guards.  “How do we get below the centre?” he asked, pointing to the floor.

“There’s nothing down there but the boiler room and some storage.”

“That’s exactly why we want to go there,” Cai pointed out, knowing that’s what Nick would have said next.

“And where’s that?” Garion asked.

“Come on.  I’ll show you.”  The guard moved towards them.

“No.  Just point the direction.  We’ll find it.”

“Unless Mr Barstow gave you a set of keys and a key card you’ll never get it working.”

“No, he didn’t,” Nick answered, a little annoyed that they had to rely on the guards for them.

The guard began to lead the way back towards the escalators.

“We have to go back up?” Garion asked as they came to the escalator.

“Afraid so.  Right to the top.  Service elevator is on the top floor.  From there you can get to the sub levels.”

“Levels?” Cai asked, as they began to climb the escalator.“How many levels does this place have?”

“Three.  Most of the space is used by the shops to keep some of their stock.  Name’s Steve by the way.”

“Three,” Nick repeated, sounding defeated.  “This is gonna take longer that I thought.  We’ll never get this done before it gets dark.”

“What happens when it gets dark?” Steve asked.  He stepped off the escalator and onto the next one leading up.

“Can’t work at night,” Cai answered.  “Not on this type of thing.”

“If there’s a bomb-“ Steve began.

“If there’s a bomb,” Nick interrupted, “I doubt the person who planted it wants it to go off tomorrow.”

“Then shouldn’t you find it today?”

“You’ll be lucky,” Garion said.  “Too much space to cover in such a short time.”

Steve led them passed a variety of shops selling everything from clothes to ethnic furniture.  Once they came to a small newsagent Steve turned a corner and through a door just ahead were two lift doors that had ‘Staff Only’ stencilled across them.  Steve stepped up to the door on the left and took out his key card.  After he inserted they key card he input a six-figure code.  A moment later the door opened.

“We can handle it from here,” Nick said as he stepped into the elevator.

“You’ll need the key card to get back into the lift.”

“Thank you,” Cai said, taking the card out of his hand.

“Oi!” Steve said as Cai entered the elevator.

“We’ll give it back to you later,” Cai told him with a smile.

“I finish in about two hours.”

“Then, if we don’t see you before then we’ll give it back to you in the morning,” Garion said, giving him a slight wave and a smile.

“Wait a minute,” Steve continued as the door began to close.

Nick pressed the bottom for sub level one and the elevator began to descend.

“Nick, I can’t use this,” Garion said, holding up the crossbow.  “I can’t kill anyone.”

“Garion, they’re Vampires,” Cai pointed out.

“I can’t.  I promised myself I would never kill anyone or anything again. I’ve done enough killing.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Nick said.  “Use the stunner.  You can’t kill anything with that.  But it could slow them down.”

“One more question,” Garion continued.

“Go ahead,” Nick said.

“Why are we not continuing on once it gets dark?”

“We will have to teach you to read English,” Cai said.

“Because Vampires are more powerful at night.  They gain their strength from the darkness,” Nick explained.

“We are not entirely helpless, you know,” Garion stated.

“I know, but I’d rather deal with them in the daylight.  They could become stronger than us at night.”

“What difference does it make?” Garion continued.  “It’s dark down here.”

“Because they’ve been up all night,” Cai explained.  “They sleep in the day like we sleep at night.”

“Are you sure they are still asleep after all these screams we’ve been hearing through the ducts?”

“He’s got a point there,” Cai said.  “We might not surprise them.”

Garion put his crossbow away and took out his stunner, just as the elevator doors began to open.  They all tensed and raised their weapons just in case any Vampires had heard the elevator descending and had come to see who it was.  The way ahead of them was clear.  For now.  If any Vampires had heard the elevator descending they had come to investigate, or they were lying in wait somewhere.

They stepped out into a long, dimly lit corridor going on what appeared to be forever, both to their left and right.  Trinity almost immediately turned to the left and began to growl.

“What is it, Trinity?” Cai asked.  He leaned in close and placed a hand on his head.  Trinity continued to growl.  He glanced down the corridor where the German Shepherd was staring.  The corridor appeared to be empty.  But Trinity sensed something down there.

“Can any of you see anything?” Cai asked, knowing that even with their enhanced eyesight it was difficult to see anything.

“No,” Nick said, glancing around, trying to penetrate the darkness.

“Hang on a minute,” Garion began.  “I’ll change into something that has better eyesight at night.”

Before Nick and Cai could stop him, Garion began to shapeshift, becoming smaller, his arms spread wide and became wings.  When his transformation was complete a Bat hovered before them, and a pile of clothes lay on the floor.

“Garion,” Nick began, “a Bat has bad eyesight.  It uses a kind of sonar to find its way.”

“Actually,” Cai began.  “A Bat’s eyesight is particularly good.  The sonar just helps locate better.  But why a did he choose a Bat?”

“No idea,” Nick said.  “He probably doesn’t know that much about Earth’s wildlife,” he added.

“He’s bound to be seen if anyone is down there.”

“I know.  Let’s just hope they think it’s natural for them to be here.”  They stood and watched the Bat fly along the corridor until the dimness of the light made it seem to disappear.

 

Garion flew down the corridor feeling how it was to be a Bat for the first time.  His sonar was bouncing off the walls and back to his large ears, letting him know where things where so didn’t fly into them.  Nick had been right about his eyesight.  It wasn’t that good.  But as he shapeshifted into the Bat he had become the Bat.  He could do everything the Bat could do.  He felt so good in this form.  This was the first time he had shapeshifted where he knew he wouldn’t have to kill someone at the end of it.

Garion came to a corner and few round it.  Far in the distance his sonar picked up four moving objects.  As he few closer he knew what they were.  It was what Trinity had sensed.  The Vampires.

***

“Would you look at that,” the Vampire said when he first saw the Bat coming towards them.  The other three Vampires turned and saw the Bat also.

“How’d that get down here?” Ben the Vampire asked.

“Must be a nest somewhere.”

“Yeah, right.  When have you ever seen a Bat on its own?”

“Never.  Ain’t seen a Bat before.”

As they continued to watch, the Bat turned around and began to fly back the way it had just come.

“Let’s follow it,” Malcom said.  “It might lead us to some food.  I’m starving.”

“you’re always starving.”

 

Nick tensed when he saw movement along the corridor once more.  It was a little dark to see what that movement was until it came closer.

“Is that Garion coming back?” Cai asked when he saw the movement also.

“Yeah, that’s him.”  Nick began to relax slightly.  But he didn’t want to get too relaxed in case something was following him.

The Bat stopped in front of them and began to shapeshift once move back to himself.  At that moment Trinity began to growl once more, staring passed the Bat.  When Garion returned to his true form they both stared at him, waiting for him to speak.  Garion picked up his clothes and began to put them on.

“There’s four Vampires back there,” Garion informed them as he continued to dress.  “And they’re coming this way.  Fast.”

“Shit!” Cai said, and raised his crossbow.

“Not here,” Nick said.  “Garion’s not ready.  Nick turned and began to run in the opposite direction.  Cai and Garion were not far behind.

“Trinity,” Cai called when he saw the German shepherd wasn’t following.  He turned and ran up behind them. 

“Try and find an open door,” Nick said as they ran along the corridor.  They didn’t want to be caught in the open like this.  It would be better if they could sneak up on the Vampires from behind somehow.

Each of the began trying doors as they ran along the corridor.  Every door they came to was locked and the Vampires were closing in.

“Over here,” Cai called as he found an unlocked door.  They all ran inside, and Cai slammed the door shut.

“Find something to barricade the door,” Nick said, looking around.  They found some boxes and began piling them in from of the door while Garion continued to dress.

“It won’t hold them for long, but it might give us enough time until Garion’s ready.”

“I’m ready,” Garion answered as he finished buttoning his shirt.  “That’s the only thing I don’t like about shapeshifting,” he continued.  “Leaving your clothes behind.”

“Well, let’s hope you don’t have to do in front of a woman anytime soon,” Cai teased with a smile.

Garion sniggered back.

As Nick reached into his backpack for more wooden arrows the banging on the door began.

“It won’t take them long to get through that,” Cai said.

“I know.  But at least we’re ready for them now.”

Within a minute the boxes they had placed in front of the door began to move, opening slightly.

“Get ready,” Nick began, raising his crossbow.  “Here they come.”

The door suddenly burst open, and the four Vampires rushed in.  Trinity tried to run forward but Garion held him back, but that didn’t stop him from barking and pulling against his collar.

“Stay back!” Garion told the German Shepherd.  He let go of his collar so he could adjust his grip on his stunner.  Trinity stayed at his side but continued to bark.

“Lookie here,” one of the Vampires began.  “The Vampire hunters.”

“Lookie here,” Nick mimicked.  “The night walkers.”

“Night walkers?” the Vampire asked, never hearing that term before.

Nick laughed.  “You walk around at night, so therefore you are night walkers,” he explained.

“Oh, yeah,” the Vampire said with a laugh, getting it now.  “I never thought of it that way.”

“How dumb are these guys?” Nick said to Cai and Garion telepathically.

“See this?” Cai said, indication the crossbow.

“Yeah?”

“Time to eat it.”  Cai let his arrow fly and it hit the Vampire squarely in the chest, which made the Vampire explode into a shower of dust before he had a chance to even cry out.

Nick let his arrow go also and he turned to dust seconds later.

Garion fired the stunner at another Vampire which made him stagger back but didn’t cause him any harm.  He also fired at the last Vampire which helped to hold them back while Nick and Cai reloaded their crossbows.  Nick fired once more, killing a third, leaving just one.

“Bran is not going to like this,” the remaining Vampire said and ran through the door before he, too, could be turned to dust.

“Did he say Bran?” Cai asked, turning to Nick.

“Yes, he did,” Garion said.

“Oh shit!” Cai cursed.

“You know who this Bran is?” Garion asked.

“I’ve had dealings with him in the past,” Nick answered.

They all ran out of the room and back into the corridor.

“Where’d he go?” Garion asked, looking both directions.  “We were right behind him.”

“They can move very fast when they want to,” Nick pointed out.  “Even faster than us.”

“Bran, that’s all we need,” Cai said.

“And where Bran is, Cathrine won’t be far behind,” Nick added.

“Who is this Bran anyway?” Garion asked.

“He’s only the head Vampire,” Cai explained.  “I was just a kid when we first met him.”

“A very nasty Vampire,” Nick added.  “Likes to torture his victims before  he eats them.  He’s quite old and difficult to find.”

“Which way should we go?” Garion asked.

“I think we should go that way,” Cai suggested, pointing to his right.  “They came from that direction.  He probably went back that way.”

They followed the corridor back the way they had just come, stopping when they came to the elevator.

“Want to carry on?” Cai asked.

“Yes, for now,” Nick said.  “I’m sure that Vampire is telling Bran all about us by now.  But hopefully he won’t figure out who we are.”

“Yet,” Cai added.  He took out the key card and used it to open the elevator door.  “How’d they get past these doors?”

“Maybe they didn’t come this way,” Garion suggested, looking around.  There weren’t that many places they could have gone.

As the elevator door opened they were surprised to see Bran and Cathrine standing there before them.

“Well, look who we have here,” Bran said with a smile.  “So, you are our Vampire hunters.”  He put his foot in the door to stop it closing once more.

“Not seen you for a while,” Cathrine added, placing a hand on her slim hip.  “And who are these two lovely looking men?”  Her eyes took in both Cai and Garion, her tongue rolling over her lips.

Nick placed a hand on Cai’s chest as he attempted to take a step forward.  Cai slowly put his hand in a pocket and grabbed hold of the holy water he had there.  Bran noticed the movement and started to step forward.  Garion then reached for his stunner and fired a burst, hitting Bran squarely in the chest.  He staggered back into the elevator.  Before Nick could aim his crossbow, Cathrine pressed the button and the doors closed.  Cai held out the key card.  But it was too late.  The elevator had started to move.  By the time the elevator arrived back for them Bran was nowhere in sight.  They had lost the Vampires again.

As they left the elevator on the first floor they ran to the glass barrier and saw the security guards still at the information centre on the ground floor.

“Has anyone come past you in the last few minutes?” Nick called down to them.

The guards glanced up at them when they heard Nick call.

“No one come this way,” one of them called.

“Dam it!” Nick said.  “Where could they have gone?”  He walked around in a circle, wondering where to look now.  How could they have got passed the guards without being seen?  Bran and Cathrine had got away again.  However, Nick was sure this wouldn’t be the last time they would come across the Vampires.  They would meet again sometime.  He was sure of it.


Submitted: October 31, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Sharon Fletchby. All rights reserved.

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