“Well...” Lazlo looked uncomfortable. “...he was hoping you wouldn’t find out, but he went to scope out that vampire’s house with the police this morning.” ********** Reginald’s house in daylight was an imposing, forbidding structure. The building had existed on the outskirts of town as long as Vidcund could remember, one of those incredibly huge, old, and derelict properties that could never keep an owner more than just a short time. This particular structure had served as an insane asylum in ages past, and it was a persistent rumor that patients who had died there were never taken out, but were buried in the dirt floor of the cellar. “How many?”
To Fear the Dawn: Chapter 22
Hey, Vid,” Lazlo said, unexpectedly walking into Vidcund’s room. “I didn’t know you were home already.”
Vidcund hastily wiped his eyes. “Uh, yeah. That last batch was successful.”
“What? You’re kidding!” Lazlo cheered, hugging his brother. “That’s awesome!”
“Yes, it is, isn’t it?” Vidcund smiled, the reality finally setting in. They had a cure. They really had a cure at last. “All that needs to be done now is get it into a form that’s easily consumed or injected, and that won’t take very long.”
“So, you going back to the lab today to work on that?” Lazlo asked, making a drumming motion with his hands. “If you are I’ll go with you. We’ll get some cool tunes... maybe some Van Halen...” Lazlo grinned at Vidcund. “...well, for you, we'll make that Van Hagar.”
Vidcund rubbed his eyes tiredly. “I was really hoping to get some sleep first,” he said. “I feel like I haven’t slept in so long...” He had stayed at the lab all night in order to be there at dawn to test the rats with sunlight... not that it mattered. The only place he had been catching any kind of nap at all lately was on a cot in one of the laboratory’s back rooms.
Lazlo looked concerned. “Yeah, bro, you’re right. Get some sleep and we’ll all go back this afternoon when Pascal comes home.”
Vidcund got undressed and lay down on his bed. “Where is Pascal?” He asked sleepily.
“I’m... not sure,” Lazlo said evasively.
Something in his voice made Vidcund come fully awake and look at him sharply. “Laz? What aren’t you telling me? Where did Pascal go?”
“What?” Vidcund cried, jumping out of bed. “We all agreed we shouldn’t do that yet!”
“I know, I know...” Lazlo said. “...but the police showed up here bugging us about it again. I guess they really want to get their hands on that Grand Vampire.” Lazlo shrugged. “I don’t blame them ... but if they’re letting all the other vampires off on a medical defense, they’d have to for him, too, wouldn’t they...?”
“I don’t give a damn about him!” Vidcund interrupted. “Charity is there, too! If the police start messing around, who knows what that monster will do to her! It’s too dangerous! Don’t those damn police think of that?”
“Relax, Vid.” Lazlo said. “I think they’re just going to check it out.”
“We have to go there,” Vidcund said, struggling into his clothes. “We have to make sure they don’t do anything stupid.”
“Pascal’s with them,” Lazlo said. “Don’t you think...”
“No! I don’t,” Vidcund said stoutly. “He doesn’t either, or else he would never have done this.” He walked toward the door. “Well? Aren’t you coming?”
Knowing it was futile to try and persuade his brother not to go, Lazlo sighed and followed Vidcund outside.
As children, the Curious brothers had been terrified of the place, and as teenagers, they had been fascinated by it. In fact, the last time Vidcund had been here was when he was a teenager on a dare, he remembered as he stared up at the house. It hadn’t looked quite the same then. The moat hadn’t been there, for one thing. That was a feature the vampire had obviously added, in order to keep people away.
Or to keep prisoners in, Vidcund thought angrily, Charity coming to mind.
Pascal was standing near the outer retaining wall with a police officer, carefully avoiding the water that had seeped out from under the wall and pooled around the sidewalk.
“...we had no idea anyone was living here,” the policeman was saying to Pascal. “It’s been abandoned for so long and there were never any indications it was occupied. We assumed the water flooded the place due to a broken water line. Always meant to check it out, but really... it wasn't the city paying the water bill, and there always seemed to be something else coming up... ”
Pascal saw Vidcund walking toward them. “Hi, Vid.” he said, quickly stepping away from the policeman and coming toward his brother with a guilty expression. “Look, I’m sorry about all this, but...”
“Pascal, you’re an idiot.” Vidcund snapped. “What do you think that bastard could do to Charity if he knows the police are out here? She’s in there, with him, and we can’t get to her! What if he tries to escape with her and gets them both killed? What if he can’t escape with her and decides to kill her to save himself? God, don’t you think of anything?” He spun around on the gathered policemen. “Don’t any of you think?”
Pascal cleared his throat. “It’s not only Charity, now, Vid.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The police have reason to believe the three Grunt boys are in there, too.”
Vidcund stopped his rampage and stared at his brother. “Why do they think that?”
“I don’t know.” Pascal said, “but they do. That’s why they came to our house this morning.”
“Do they think that they’re...” Vidcund couldn't bring himself to say it.
“My God.” Vidcund wiped a hand over his eyes wearily. They’re only children!
“What’s going on?” Lazlo asked, walking up to them. “Can you believe this place? Jeez, I haven’t been here since...”
“Hey, Laz, did you hear?” Vidcund asked his younger brother. “They think the Grunt boys are vampires, and they think they’re in there, too.” He pointed toward the house.
“What?” Lazlo said incredulously. “Buzz’s boys?”
“That’s what the police told me.” Pascal sighed, kicking at the sidewalk, and they all three looked up at the enormous building with a sense of dread.
Vidcund seemed to come to a decision, nodded to himself, and stepped off toward a group of police officers who were standing at the opposite corner of the immense retaining wall.
“Vidcund, what are you doing?” Pascal asked, but Vidcund just waved a hand in the air and kept walking. Pascal ran to catch up and then fell into step beside him. After a moment, Lazlo followed.
“That batch of the formula we were working on last night when you left, remember...?” Vidcund asked them as they walked.
“Yeah...?” Pascal sounded confused.
“It worked.” Vidcund said.
“What? You’re kidding!”
“No, I’m not.” Vidcund said with a determined look. “We have the cure now. We’re so damn close...”
He walked up to the group of officers. “Listen,” he told them, and looked up at the house. “If there are vampires in there, they’re hidden well away from the light and not coming out any time soon. I don’t think we’re doing anybody any favors, least of all Charity Davenport or the Grunt boys, by being here right now. I think we should leave.”
The officer in charge, Larry Mace, turned to Vidcund and shook his head. “We’re getting ready to set up for a stakeout here, Curious. This is a hostage situation, now.”
“But you...you can’t!” Vidcund cried. “You’re not dealing with a normal criminal, here! There’s no telling what he might do!”
“No criminal is normal.” Larry said calmly. “And we have officers who are trained to handle this kind of thing.”
“But...but...” Vidcund desperately wanted to come up with a good argument. He wanted to tell them how afraid he was that any kind of action from the authorities might endanger Charity’s life, as he adamantly refused to believe the vampire loved her enough to protect her or save her.
Vidcund knew with the development of the cure, he had a chance of getting Charity back, and he was scared to death the police were going to interfere with that. Either by getting Charity killed, or by causing the vampire to steal Charity away from them and take her someplace where he could never find her.
However, Vidcund could think of no way to convey his feelings in words.
“Listen, Curious. I know you want to be involved in all this,” Larry told him kindly. “But the best thing you can do is what you’ve been doing. Go to your lab and work on that cure.”
“It’s done.” Vidcund interrupted quickly. “Or very nearly. We finished it last night. I just need to refine it into an easily administered form and place it into mass production.”
“Really?” Larry said, raising his eyebrows and stroking his chin thoughtfully. “When do you suppose you could have all of that done?”
“I could have it in an oral suspension form within a few hours,” Vidcund answered. “but I won’t have many doses yet.”
“Do you think you could get those together and come back here after sunset tonight?”
“Why?” Vidcund asked in confusion, then something clicked inside his brain. “Do... do you think we might get a chance to actually use it?”
“I don’t know yet.” Larry said, shrugging. “But, luck favors the prepared. It’s up to you, Curious, but we’re going ahead with the sting, whether you’re here or not. Orders.” Larry turned away from Vidcund and began to converse with several of his men who were dressed in riot gear.
God, this is really happening, isn’t it? Vidcund thought miserably. I wasn’t counting on this...
As much as his basic instinct wanted to smash through those brick walls to Charity and spirit her away, he knew it would not be that easy, and he worried that any kind of confrontation with the vampire would lead to disaster. Now, apparently, it was not only Charity they needed to be concerned with; there were also the lives of the three young Grunts at stake. Vidcund cast a fearful gaze at his brothers. They knew nothing about police actions, and here they were planning to be in the middle of one? What in the hell were they thinking?
At the same time, however, Vidcund also realized there was no way he was going to allow this to happen without being a part of it and doing all he could. There was more than lives at stake here, there was love. He knew that, even if the police didn’t, and, perhaps in a way, that made him more powerful than anyone realized.
“Pascal, Lazlo,” Vidcund called to his brothers. “You two want to head to the lab with me? We’ve got a lot to accomplish before sunset.”
“I’ll call in the team,” Pascal said. “We’ll need everybody that can possibly be there.”
“...and send word to the hospital, too.” Vidcund said quietly, “to let them know about the cure. We promised Nervous.”
They all headed toward the cab that was parked on the side of the street.
“Well guys,” Lazlo said as they climbed into the vehicle. “I’ve got the most important thing covered for our work today. What’s it going to be?” He patted the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt and there was a rattle of CD cases. “Van Halen or Pink Floyd?”
To Be Continued...
“Well...” Lazlo looked uncomfortable. “...he was hoping you wouldn’t find out, but he went to scope out that vampire’s house with the police this morning.”
Reginald’s house in daylight was an imposing, forbidding structure. The building had existed on the outskirts of town as long as Vidcund could remember, one of those incredibly huge, old, and derelict properties that could never keep an owner more than just a short time. This particular structure had served as an insane asylum in ages past, and it was a persistent rumor that patients who had died there were never taken out, but were buried in the dirt floor of the cellar.