To Fear the Dawn: Chapter 6
Time passed, and the death toll in Strangetown continued to rise. More and more bloodless bodies were found, the only consistencies to the deaths being two small punctures in the neck...wounds too small to cause such severe hypovolemia. The authorities still remained baffled.
Added to the trouble were several mysterious disappearances, not least among them the husband of the recently deceased Circe Beaker. From what anyone could tell, the last time Loki Beaker had been seen was on the evening of his wife’s death. The other resident of the house, Pascal’s friend Nervous Subject, also could not be located, and Nervous’ name was added to the growing roster of the missing.
However, despite all the trauma in the outside world, the Curious children continued to grow. Xander and Xena became toddlers, and Orion grew into an adorable little boy who was excited about starting school and making new friends.
There had been talk of shutting the school down in the light of the events in Strangetown, but nothing had been done as of yet. For one, none of the victims to date had been children, and for another, no deaths had occurred during daylight hours. School actually seemed to be a lot safer than home these days, so it remained open.
Pascal, Vidcund, and Lazlo were constantly on the alert at the lab for any type of rumors or theories as to what could be causing the deaths and disappearances, but so far, nothing seemed to hold any weight. They began to do private research on their own after hours, hoping to find an answer themselves. However, they didn’t dare leave Charity and the children home alone at night, so while two of them would stay at the lab, one would go home to keep watch.
More often than not, Pascal would volunteer to be the one to go home.
Vidcund had a horrible suspicion that his brother’s motives were more than just to keep a lookout, but chose not to believe it until one evening he came home earlier than usual to find his brother passionately kissing Charity on the couch. Charity sensed Vidcund was there, and, mortified, she hurried off to wash the dishes in the kitchen. Vidcund gave Pascal a disbelieving look, turned, and walked slowly away in a daze.
Well, what did I think was going on, Vidcund asked himself sadly. Pascal’s been coming home early almost every night...Isn’t that why I came home early this time? To find out for sure? Well, now I know... and I wish to God I’d stayed at the lab...
“Vid?” Pascal’s voice was behind him. Vidcund stopped but didn’t turn around. He was afraid if he did so, he might do something rash.
“What?” he said angrily.
“Look...I know that bothered you, and yeah, you’re right. I probably should be doing more of my share of our research...but...”
Was that what Pascal thought he was angry about? Vidcund couldn’t believe it. Pascal thought this was about the research?
Vidcund spun around and faced his brother heatedly. “You really don’t have a clue, do you?” he said, breathing hard. “You think this is about work?”
“Well, isn’t it?” Pascal replied. “I know you and Lazlo have been doing a lot yourselves, and I feel bad about not helping like I should... but you two are really doing a great --”
“It’s not about work!” Vidcund interrupted, sputtering. “It’s not about work, or the killings in town, or the disappearances, or anything like that! It’s about...” he lowered his voice. “It’s about Charity.”
Pascal looked slightly taken aback. “What about Charity?”
“You know I care about her, Pascal!” Vidcund yelled, not caring who heard him now. “You know...and yet you persist in following her all over this house like some kind of rutting animal! Do you think I haven’t noticed? Do you think it didn’t dawn on me what was going on when you were always the one who left early from the lab? And then I come home tonight to find... to see you... Gods!” Vidcund turned away from his brother and faced the window, shaking.
Pascal shrugged. “Charity doesn’t seem to mind,” he said lightly.
“I’m not amused, Pascal!” Vidcund raged. “Damn it...do you think I’m not serious about the way I feel?”
“Okay, fine. You’re pissed. Look, I’m sorry about that, but if you cared so much why haven’t you done anything about it all this time?”
“How could I, when you’ve always been two steps behind her... hanging around her, making sure you’re the only one who ever had a chance to be alone with her?”
“Calm down, Vid,” Pascal said quietly. “I care about her too, you know. Very much.”
“Then you should give her the chance to make her own choice.” Vidcund said acidly as he turned his back on his brother and left the room. “Or is that what you’re afraid of?”
Pascal ran after Vidcund, caught him by the shoulder and spun him around. “Don’t dare walk away from me!” he yelled. “What the hell did you mean by that?” He shook him. “Well?"
“Get your hands off me, Pascal.” Vidcund said through clenched teeth, “before I do something both you and I will regret.”
“I’d fucking like to see you try,” Pascal seethed.
“Don’t tempt me!”
“Stop it!” Charity screamed at them, running in from the kitchen. “Stop it right now! This is not what I wanted, do you hear me? You have to stop! Just stop!”
She started to cry, and both Pascal and Vidcund stepped toward her, but she held up her arm to ward them off. “No,” she said. “Enough is enough. I knew it was a mistake to get romantically involved with either of you!”
“Wait a damn minute!” Pascal said angrily. “You mean you’ve been involved with Vidcund?” Vidcund looked just as shocked as Pascal.
“Not physically.” Charity said softly, turning her tear-filled eyes on Vidcund. “Why didn’t you tell me how you felt,” she pleaded. “Why did I have to find out like this? With the two of you at each others’ throats? Oh, Gods...” she gasped with sobs. “I can’t take this! I need to go. I have to get out of here for a while.”
“Charity... please...” Vidcund began, taking a step toward her, but the look in her eyes stopped him. “Charity, we were wrong. Please...we’re sorry. We were acting like asses.”
He reached out for her but she turned away and slipped out the door.
“No... don’t.” she said as she went. “I’ll be okay. I just need to get out and think for a while.”
“But it’s dark, Charity!” Pascal cried. “You know how dangerous it is now! Wait! Stop!” He ran out after her, Vidcund close behind, but they were too late. Charity had already gotten into the car, and by the time Vidcund and Pascal caught up, she was pulling out of the driveway and, with a protesting squeal from the tires, took off down Cover Up Road.
As the two brothers stood helplessly in the yard watching the taillights of the car disappear over the hill, they heard a second car pull up to the curb. Lazlo hopped out and hurried over to them, excitement evident in his face and his stride. However, as he came closer, he took one look at his brothers and he stopped short.
“What happened?” he asked, taking in their disheveled clothing and flushed faces. “You two either look like you’ve been in a fight or making out with each other, and since I hope to the Gods it wasn’t making out, why in the hell were you fighting?”
Vidcund and Pascal looked at each other ruefully and didn’t say anything.
“Hold up. Why are you out here in the yard?” Lazlo demanded. Where’s the car? Wait...oh Gods...where’s Charity?” He put his hands squarely on his hips and glared fiercely at his older brothers. “What in the hell did you two do?”
“Charity...um...” Vidcund began, his voice breaking. He stopped and cleared his throat, then continued, “... Charity went for a... drive. She said she had to think.”
“Charity’s gone?” Lazlo said, horrified. “You let her leave? What the hell’s the matter with both of you?”
“Lazlo, we couldn’t stop her!” Pascal argued. “We tried!”
“Well, why did she ‘have to go think’ in the first place?” Lazlo demanded.
Pascal looked sideways at Vidcund and they were silent once more.
“I’m not going to find out, am I?” Lazlo said. “But I will tell you one thing. We have to get her to come back. I don’t care what went on, who she’s pissed at, or what the hell you two did, but she can not be alone out there, do you hear me?”
“Laz, calm down,” Pascal said. “I’m sure she’ll just drive around to cool off and then come back home.”
Lazlo interrupted him angrily. “‘Cooling off’ be damned! Did you hear me? She can’t be out there! Did she take her phone? I have to call her and tell her to come home right now.”
Vidcund had never seen Lazlo so agitated.
“Laz,” he said quietly. “There’s more to it, isn’t there? What aren’t you telling us?”
Lazlo paused in the action of calling Charity and looked his brother straight in the eye.
“I know what’s out there,” he said in a terrified whisper. “I found out tonight. That’s what I came home to tell you. I know... and by the Gods, we can’t let Charity be killed, or worse... become one of them! We just can’t.” He buried his face in his hands.
“One of what?” Vidcund asked, bewildered. “Lazlo?” He put his arm around Lazlo’s shoulder and was surprised to feel his younger brother was trembling. “Laz? What is it? What could Charity become?”
Lazlo wearily took off his glasses and scrubbed his eyes with his shaking hand. “A vampire, Vid. She could become a vampire.”
To Be Continued...