“A blood bank?” I questioned as I stared at the document. I could see what it said clear as day, so I didn’t conformation for that. I just expected to see something much more sinister like a threatening note or a roster with all of the people he kidnapped! This didn’t seem very precarious at all… except that it came from the property where a vampire resided! “What does a vampire want there? I thought they only ate fresh blood! Is this like their version of fast food?”
“Vampire or not, that kid is obsessed with blood,” Aleck remarked. “I can’t talk about it without him getting overly excited! I’m afraid to start doing dissections again!”
Phoebe commented, “This seems like a place Damon would go, and this flyer was found where Corvina was last seen, so maybe this blood bank holds some clues to all our missing students!”
Fletcher objected, “Oh no! I thought this little adventure would be a one time thing! I’m not going there just ‘cause that son of a bitch might hang out there!”
“I’m with Fletcher!” Ellie chimed in. “I got things to do this weekend! My plants need watering, and my shower needs to get cleaned real bad! We washed the dogs in there, and now it’s a real mess!”
“So, you’d rather have a clean shower than safe children?” Phoebe challenged her. Ellie seemed affronted by that insinuation, but she didn’t have an answer for that.
Ginger brought up, “What are the odds Damon actually hid something important in a public place like that?”
I responded to her, “He wouldn’t deliberately leave anything there, but there could be something that he didn’t realize was important like records of the victims donating there or something. Some of the staff may have been the last ones to see those kids before they vanished! If we can figure out Damon’s hunting grounds, we can put a stop to his scheme before he takes someone else out! The police won’t don’t anything with this! It wouldn’t’ be enough for them to get a warrant, there’s no evidence of a crime actually getting committed on that property! By the time the cops connect the dots, it could be too late! We need to go there ourselves and find out what he’s up to or else a lot of innocent students will be doomed!” I could tell Phoebe would go there in a heartbeat, but, while the others appeared to feel badly about the situation, they didn’t seem so convinced to make the trek down there. I then added, “Unless you’d rather investigate that abandoned house…”
That prompted everyone to immediately show enthusiasm for going to the blood bank! Phoebe peered at the flyer and reported, “Looks like they’re almost closed. We’ll have to meet up there tomorrow. How about at noon?”
“I can’t do that, I gotta run soccer practice ‘til one,” Fletcher let us know.
“Yeah, my son has karate lessons from one to two,” Aleck put in.
Ginger stated, “My partner and I have Pilates at two.”
I asked Ellie, “Let me guess, you have something going on at three?”
“Actually, no!” Ellie answered. “I rarely schedule anything anymore. Since my husband retried, he has all the time in the world to do what he wants! Unless there’s a doctor appointment, he doesn’t make plans for anything. I’m sure at that time he’ll be watching football, eating greasy snacks, farting a lot, and yelling the TV. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind getting out of the house for a bit!”
“So, three o’ clock then?” Phoebe posed to the group.
Ginger requested, “Can we make it three thirty? I don’t my partner would wanna tag along for this whole thing.”
I confirmed with the group, “Three thirty it is then! See you all tomorrow!”
Aleck, Ellie, Fletcher, and Ginger all mumbled their goodbyes as they headed to their cars. Phoebe handed the flyer to me and inquired, “If we leave this with you, is it gonna get stuck on your cat’s legs again?”
“Oh sure, ‘cause I’m gonna leave something important lying around the house where she could get to it!” I shot back. She grinned at my quip- man, she had such a beautiful smile! She lingered there for a brief second, and a part of me hoped that she would invite herself into my home…
“See you tomorrow!” she genially expressed to me. I felt a slight surge of disappointment, but my thoughts didn’t stay on that topic too long. I couldn’t help but watch her leave, it made me feel like I was receiving an exquisite treat just being able to do so! I forgot about everything else in the world until…
Phoebe pulled away, and I saw my neighbor watching me. Was he viewing our escapade that whole time? I gave him a friendly wave and then I turned to go inside my house straight away! If he could hear any of that, he probably got a good grasp of our plight already. If he hadn’t, I wasn’t about to explain it to him! It took me a whole book to explain it to you, so how would I have done that in a short conversation? Regardless if he heard us or not, I wasn’t up to having a long discussion right then. I had less than twenty-four hours until I became a vampire hunter again, so I needed to go inside and relax while I still could!
I played my classic rock station as I prepared my dinner, which I had to share with Jett because she apparently loves chicken, and, for once, I could think about my day without feeling completely anxious! The tunes definitely helped, but it also comforted me to know we would be confronting Damon in a public place. He had to maintain a normal person’s cover to blend in and keep his post, so I didn’t think it was likely that any of us would have to drive a stake through his heart during our visit. My mood was also lifted by my coworkers’ assistance throughout this ordeal. Now that they had quit acting cold towards me, I was able to get to know them a bit, and doing so made me start to like them. What took up, like, ninety percent of my headspace was Phoebe though! Every love ballad or song about an enticing lady made me think of her, but it didn’t occur to me that I had romantic feelings for her quite yet. I knew I found her alluring, but the same could be said for lots of beautiful women. I viewed it more as a celebrity crush and didn’t take it seriously until a song about a break-up became an exception for me not picturing Phoebe as the star of the story art. I recalled the ugliness that went down with Lilith, and then it hit me- Lilith hadn’t crossed my mind at all until that moment, so maybe my attachment to Phoebe had become stronger than what I had with Lilith!
Most people who make a discovery like that would be thrilled, but I just got really overwhelmed! Guilt surged throughout me; I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten about Lilith! She was my wife and my motivation behind everything, so it astounded me that a pretty face could take all of that away! Then again, it wasn’t as though my feelings for Phoebe were so flippant! She had a strong drive and ardently pursued her goals, and she balanced that with an air of sweetness and unbeatable kindness, both qualities that I greatly admired! But it wasn’t as though Lilith didn’t have her good qualities too! I hadn’t known Phoebe for long, but I knew Lilith for over twelve years! I had developed a real love for Lilith, although a part of me wondered how true that could have been if Phoebe had that kind of effect on my heart! A song about being torn between two lovers came on, and that seemed to ring true for me… except that I had no proof that either woman had any interest in a relationship with me! The whole thing just had me so confused, but on the plus side, my mixed emotions over the matter kept me occupied enough that I didn’t have a panic attack about going to the blood bank and possibly fighting Damon!
You know, if your parking lot is closed due to re-pavement, you should really put that on your website! I suppose they probably informed the people who got scheduled to donate blood, but we had no idea until we drove up! They kept a small section open for disabled people, but even if any of us qualified to use those, we couldn’t take any of those spots because those were all full! We found a small dirt lot nearby, but we still had to do some walking, which wasn’t so easy considering there was no formal sidewalk! We traveled along a small patch of dirt along the roadside, but its rocky texture made it hard to traverse! Ginger complained, “Ouch! Ugh, if I knew we’d go this route, I wouldn’t have worn flip-flops!”
“My knees’ll be sore tomorrow!” Fletcher grumped.
“Oh great! There’s a giant bush blocking our path!” Aleck vexedly observed. “We’re gonna risk getting run over just trying to get to this place!”
Phoeboe encouraged everyone, “Remember why we’re here! We’re trying to save our students’ lives! Any pain or discomfort we go through will be worth it if we can keep them all alive!”
I really marveled at Phoebe’s resilience right then, but that dose of adoration got swiftly by a bout of self-reproach for forgetting about Lilith again. Before I could contemplate that too much, Ellie reacted to Phoebe’s statement, “Yeah, tell that to my chaffin’ thighs!”
I didn’t want our plans to fall through from a stupid plant, so I quickly studied the area to come up with a solution. I came up with, “Only one of us needs to go into the street! I’ll do it. I’m gonna push the leaves aside so your path should be clear. We should be almost there, and I imagine there’s some chairs for us to sit and take a break in…”
Ellie, Aleck, Fletcher, and Ginger all begrudgingly agreed to that. Phoebe appeared to show real appreciation for my commitment to this, and I tried not to let myself get too pleased by the fact as I watched for cars. As soon as the road was empty, I jumped onto the street. I could hear a vehicle speedily coming up behind me, so I hurriedly pushed against the branches of the shrub. Thankfully, I made it time! Breathily, I announced to them, “You may pass!”
“Are you okay?” Ginger queried. I didn’t want to highlight my labored breathing, so I just gave her a thumbs up as she went by.
“Oh good, we really are almost there!” Aleck noted. “Hey, look! There’s a Chiroptera Emballonuridae!”
Fletcher chided him, “What did we tell you about using your scientific name for crap? Can you just say it in English?”
Aleck differed with Fletcher, “Actually, the scientific names we give to things are considered a part of our language!”
Before Fletcher could snap at him, Ellie came into view of the blood bank parking lot and pointed out, “Oh, wow! There’s a bat landing on the property!”
A bat? A bat landing on the property where Damon, who could turn into a bat, had an affiliation? You bet that got my attention1 I swiveled around the bush, and once I let go of the branches, I could see it landing on the blacktop. It just sat there for a moment, and I really hoped that it wasn’t a regular bat behaving oddly! The others watched it curiously, but then they grew alarmed as they saw it suddenly shrouded in smoke! When it dissipated, they saw, in its place, Damon now stood there!
Everyone froze from sheer shock, and Damon now saw us standing there! His eyes grew wide from fright right before he dashed inside of the building! Phoebe gasped, “Did that just happen, or did we all suffer from the same hallucination?”
“Damon can turn into a bat!” Ginger exclaimed. “How is that possible? Unless…”
“He really is a vampire!” Ellie finished her sentence. “Huh! Vampires are real? Who’d have thunk it?”
I asserted, “I did! I told you guys!”
Fletcher probed, “Wait, so we’re fighting a real vampire? This is way above our pay grade!”
Aleck concurred, “Yeah, are we really gonna take on this responsibility? It seems like too much!”
“Well, what are we supposed to do? It’s not like the police have a vampire fighting division!” Phoebe retorted. They couldn’t argue with that reasoning, but the real weight of the circumstances dawned on everyone. We all had misgivings about this, but we had no choice- we had to do this! It wasn’t a pleasant concept, but the alternative was even less so!
“Okay, so shall we then?” I invited them as we all stared at the structure where Damon now lurked…