"Just do me one favor and they'll be let go." he paused a moment. "I want you to kill the one who lured me into working for him. I want you to kill Samuel."
"I don't need you for me to want to kill him." A thought occurred to me. "Unless you know how to find him?"
"I do." Matt said and smiled at me.
I looked down over the hill and everything looked normal. Men and women were walking around wearing hard hats and boots, carrying wheelbarrows of dirt, some were operating machinery; everything looked normal for a construction site.
Except they were digging, not building, it was the middle of the night and we were up in the mountains. This looked like the right place.
I looked over at Arnie, our team leader, for the signal. Arnie's the kind of guy who'll laugh and joke with you about anything but say one word about his Mom or his family and he'll punch your face in. But I think that actually made him a great captain. He knew what was important and what to do in order to do what had to be done.
After a moment Arnie looked around and nodded. That was the signal. We fanned out and made our way silently towards the site, being sure to avoid the lighting. Jenn made the first kill, slamming the seven inch, double sided, razor sharp blade through the mans neck. He looked bewildered a moment and then bled a little before she slid the blade around and severed his head. He turned to ash a moment later.
This was definitely the right place.
Three others made kills before I worked my way over to a lady baring razor sharp, inch long fangs at me. She lunged and I dodged, jamming my own blade through her heart. She froze in shock just long enough for me to take one of my other knives to her neck, taking off her head.
I looked around. All eight of us were completely out numbered ten to one, but we were quicker, more agile and better trained than these people. Some were vampire, most were human but one way or another they would all die tonight. We felt no remorse for the humans. They were just being used whether they knew it or not, and they couldn't live else they be used by another vampire. And this plan they were working on now definitely could not happen.
We had surrounded the site and so far as we knew, no one had escaped. Several dozen kills later, we had the last few surrounded. Closing in to finish them off, one caught my eye. I pulled him from the group and let the others take their final kills.
When they were done only my pick was left. Jenn looked at me. "Go on, finish him. I want to get home." Jenn was the youngest of us, at only fifteen, but she was small and spry for her age. She'd been a gymnast until her sister was killed by a vampire after a meet one day. That's how we all got started; We'd all had friends and/or family who'd been killed by them. Some more than others.
"You guys go on ahead. I want to question this one. See if we can learn anything else about their plan." I was the best interrogator on the team so Arnie gave me the go ahead. I didn't hold back when questioning a catch because my anger was pure. I had nothing and no one because of them.
The team headed back to where we left the vehicles and now that everything was silent I heard them start up and drive off. The machinery had covered our entrance. Silence enhanced our exit.
My capture, as that was the easiest thing to cal him, spat at my feet and looked up at me from where he'd fallen to the ground. "I'm never going to tell you anything, you fucking murderous bitch."
I waited until he was done to grab a cloth from my pocket and wipe the spit from my shoes. I promptly tossed the cloth. "You don't recognize me do you?" I looked into the young face that I had recognized immediately, blue eyes and blond hair making him look the same as ten years ago when I last saw him.
"Why the hell would I?"
"Cause you tormented and bullied me every day we had school for five years straight Matt."
He looked at me a little closer and after a minute realization dawned on him. "Judy? Is that you?" He looked bewildered but I nodded. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I oughta ask you the same thing, but since you asked first, killing vampires. And you?" My voice took on a snide tone as memories flooded my mind.
"Vampires? Do vampires leave bodies?" He gestured around him. "These were people, human beings for Gods-sake!"
I clenched my teeth and breathed deeply trying to calm myself. "Let me correct myself then. Vampires and their pawns. Now tell me what the fuck you're doing here."
"Digging, what does...er, sorry, did it look like we were doing?" He took a step back and looked about ready to run. I grabbed his wrist and twisted him onto his knees before he could move.
"Why were you digging. If you lie you'll be killed right here. Since I know you personally if you tell me the truth I'll let you live." He stayed silent so I twisted his arm harder and he screamed. "I said tell me the truth and you live." I already knew why they were here digging, but I wanted to know if these people had known and gone with it. I doubted they did.
"I don't know!" He struggled a little to try and alleviate some of the pain. "I don't know about the others but all I was told was that I'd be given a great pay while we were digging and an amazing bonus when we were finished."
I eased up on his arm. "How did you get involved with this?"
"I met this guy, he told me about it." So far he sounded like he was cooperating so I let go of his arm. I stepped away and he stood up.
"You're doing very well. Keep cooperating and you'll be fine. One more thing and you're free to go. Who get you into this? What was his name?"
"I don't know." I knew he was lying the moment he said it.
"Don't start lying to me now Matt." I kept my voice calm and neutral. "You lie to me and I will have to kill you." I wasn't sure he believed me, but I would do it if I had to.
"Ok, ok. I don't know his full name but he told me to call him Jacobs." He looked scared but something still wasn't right.
"I frowned and cocked my head giving him a look meaning I knew that he was still lying. "Oh please. If you're gonna lie to me at least make it something believable. Die with a little dignity you know?" Maybe if I repeat it enough times he'll get it that I will actually kill him. "If there's one thing I don't like, it's a liar."
"Ok fine!" He slumped his shoulders and sighed. "He really did tell me to call him Jacobs though. That wasn't a lie."
Finally I was getting somewhere. "So then what's his name?"
"Samuel. Samuel Jacobson." He hung his head and looked like he was jut waiting for the blade. I was frozen to the spot, stunned.
"Samuel Jacobson? Are you positive?" I sounded almost scared because I couldn't stop my voice from shaking. But it wasn't fear, it was rage that coursed through me.
Matt nodded. "He gave me a business card of his, so yeah that was his name. Kinda tall, sandy brown hair, green eyes. Looks like he's in his thirties but acts like an old man, although now that I think about it, technically he is being a vampire and all." He gave a nervous chuckle which only made me angrier.
"Why is that so funny?" I had to stop myself from yelling and it was harder than I thought it would have been. "What, if anything, makes Samuel Jacobson," I paused to try and stop myself from yelling at the end and failed miserably, "FUNNY!" The word echoed around the empty work site turned graveyard.
"Jeez, what the fuck is your problem?" He looked at me like I'd gone crazy. Maybe I had and all of this was a delusion. Of course what he said next made me realize that it wasn't a delusion, although I wish it was. "He's actually not a bad guy once you meet him a couple of times."
I started breathing deeply and I turned away. I couldn't look at him anymore. "You make me sick."
"Why? Because I'm friendly with a vampire?" He made it sound like I was some sort of racist.
"No, because he's not a nice guy, he's a cold blooded murderer!" I turned back towards him and lunged quicker than he could react. I pulled the dagger from my thigh and had it against his throat almost as soon as he'd been pinned to the ground, my knees right under his armpits.
He looked at me with true fear, wondering whether he was really going to die and/or if I'd gone crazy. After a moment my breathing calmed down and I climbed off him.
"You really have no idea what that bastard has done, have you?" I pitied and envied his ignorance at the same time. I shook my head and laughed at that thought. "I'm done with you. You can go." I sheathed my dagger, turned and started the half mile hike back to the car I'd left.
"Wait Judy!" Matt called after me and I heard the ground crunch as he stepped forward. I stopped. His voice flowed quietly over the site. "What is it he did? How do you know him?"
I looked over my shoulder at him and said as coldly as possible, "He killed my family." I started walking again, the crunching gravel beneath my feet the only proof I'd ever been there.
When I got back to my car I made a phone call to Arnie to give him the news of what I'd learned. He picked up after two rings, expecting my call.
"What'd you get?" he asked.
"He said he didn't know what the dig was about but he did give me a name."
Arnie sighed. He could tell from my tone of voice whose name it'd been. "It was Jacobson, wasn't it?"
"Yep. And if he's in on this then we're gonna be in deep shit if we don't act soon." Arnie knew what Jacobson meant to me. He was the first one of the group I'd met and the only one besides me and Jacobson who knew the details of my family's death.
"You're damn right we are! Alright it's late. Head home for now and head over to HQ tomorrow. We can think of our next move then."
"See you tomorrow." I hung up the phone and started the car. If Jacobson was part of this then things were a lot worse than we thought...
I pulled up in front of the house Arnie and Jenn lived in and turned the car off. I'd been called into work for a few hours so it was nine thirty by the time I got here to HQ. Arnie had called everyone else and pushed the meeting back like would if had been any of of us who wasn't bale to make it on time. That's what we loved about him; he wasn't so much of a hard ass as to make you miss a meeting, which he knew very well could be life or death for someone. Experience had taught him that the hard way.
I walked up the stairs to the door and knocked. Jenn answered the door wearing a dark red shirt with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on it. I always loved her shirts at meetings because she'd probably never heard of half of the bands or movies on them. She'd gotten into the habit of wearing her sisters' shirts to our meetings in honor of her, something Arnie didn't care for, but he knew it made her happier, so he let it go.
"Am I late?" I asked as Jenn shut the door behind me.
"Puh-lease. You know Dad's rule." Doing her best impression of him she stated, "'No one misses a meeting, no matter what.'" She sighed. "You'd think it were a law the way he carries on about it sometimes."
We walked into the living room and looked around. Steve and Laura still had yet to arrive. They'd recently (and it was about time, too) confessed their feelings and started dating. With the meeting being pushed back they'd probably gone out to dinner or something. Arnie walked in and I heard their car pull up.
"Y'know, sometimes I think he watches for us to pull up because he always walks in right as the last person, or in this case people, pull in. It's kinda creepy sometimes." I commented to Jenn and she giggled.
The two lovebirds walked in and took their seats Arnie stood at the front of the room and started talking. "I just want to say good job last night. With that out of the way I now have some unsettling news." He took a deep breath and everyone knew it really wasn't gonna be good. I already knew what it was though I was the one who'd told him.
"Last night Judy questioned one of the employees from the dig site."
Jenn interrupted. "We know, Dad, we were there." Typical fifteen year old. Always gotta talk back. Arnie ignored it though.
"From what she learned the news isn't too good. He said he didn't know why they were there, but he did give us the name of the vampire who got him the job." He paused a moment to brace everyone. "Samuel Jacobson."
Everyone in the room looked at one another.
"Fuck." Jenn swore and her father glared at her for her language. She may be a top notch hunter and excellent fighter but she still wasn't allowed to curse. Go figure.
"What the hell is he doing with something like this? This is highly organized and highly vampire social. He keeps to himself. Steve pondered aloud almost as much as to himself.
"Calm down. Now I've informed the Johnson group of this development and suggested that we move up our timetable. Abby's already agreed. We're moving on the main site in three weeks. It'll be us, Johnson and the Whitestone groups. That'll give us about forty fighters and from what Whitestone has said about their recon on the dig site is that forty will give us about a 12-to-one, them to us, ratio which shouldn't be too hard to handle."
Abby Johnson was the leader of about sixteen or seventeen hunters in the next big town over. They were maybe twenty miles from us. Whitestone was another large group of sixteen or seventeen fighters about thirty miles from us in the opposite direction of Johnson. We'd worked with both groups before, but this would be the first time all three of us worked together. Having forty of us would be interesting.
"12-to-one shouldn't be a problem, should it babe?" Laura looked at Steve who still looked unnerved by the news.
"No it shouldn't be, but I don't know. Remember the lat time we worked with the Whitestone group, things didn't end so well." He shook his head and then looked at Arnie and Jenn. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say it like that."
"No, you're right. We need to be careful with them. But also remember that mission was Jameson's first." Arnie looked sad a moment but looked back at Steve with a knowing glance. Steve smiled and nodded.
The last time we'd worked with Jameson Whitestone and his group had indeed been his first mission. He thought he was was ready to lead and he wasn't. Jameson gave some false information to a girl in our group named Tara who, despite missing our group meeting, had opposed his appointment as leader from the beginning. When she didn't show up at the rendezvous point we began to suspect something wasn't right. Jameson said he'd "accidentally" given her the wrong time. Instead of showing up at the bridge she'd gone to meet her sister, thinking she had more time, only to get attacked by a vampire who recognized her. Tara was Arnie's oldest daughter and Jenn's older sister. We had all blamed Jameson and the rest of his group had blamed her for her stupidity in missing the meeting and then not double checking the information she'd been given. A week later he'd called Arnie to apologize for his mistake.
We hadn't heard from them in a little over a year, when out of nowhere Jameson called Arnie and told him they'd gotten word from a vampire they captured that there was a big dig site about two miles outside of town. After some torture he revealed all of what he knew and it was disturbing. He called us for help and when we were told we asked Abby if she and her group were willing to help us. They couldn't have been more on board. We had to stop this plan from being executed.
Arnie looked around the room and cleared his throat to get everyone's attention. "I think Jameson learned from that experience and I'm willing to trust information the gave us. He was able to give us the small site we destroyed last night, but I want to be positive about the main one. Jane, Maggie, you two are going to make a trip out to Canyon Bay to check on it yourselves. Can you both make it?"
Jane nodded but Maggie shook her head. "I can't. Jake's out of town on business so I have to stay with the kids." Jane and Maggie were about the same age. Jane lost her husband to the vampires twenty years ago and Maggie lost her daughter, Jake's wife, six years ago. We were an eclectic group, but that's why we worked so well together.
"Ok fine, Mike can you go instead?" Arnie really didn't want to ask Steve or Laura because they were still younger and needed me here. And there was no way in hell Jenn was going.
Mike nodded. "Yeah. My ex has the kids for the next week so I can go." Jenn may have been the youngest of our group, but Mike was the newest. He'd only been with us six, maybe seven months. He'd lost his brother during the war. They were stationed at the same base when his brother was attacked and drained. Mike finished his tour of duty and when he got home he found us. Being a soldier helped him with his training with us and he flew right through it. He was just as good as the rest of us.
"Alright then. You two will leave in the morning. Until you two get back with your report you can all go home." Arnie nodded and dismissed us.
I was almost to the door when Jenn ran over to me. "Judy, you wanna do something tomorrow?" I was one of her few good friends who could drive and had my own car.
"Sorry sweetie, I have work. But we can go see a movie the day after tomorrow if you want." I liked Jenn. She was a good kid, even with the attitude she gave her Dad sometimes.
"Ok sounds great." she said as she waved and ran up the stairs. I walked to my car. I couldn't wait to get home, get some food, get changed and then finally get some sleep.
The next day it was a typical slow Tuesday night at the grocery store I worked at. We closed at 11 PM so I was usually there until then. With this being Tuesday night it had been three days since our raid and break-up of the dig site, and other than our meeting breaking the news, things had been slow. Tonight was just as slow.
There were only two cashiers working tonight, myself and Jordan, this high school kid who was always hyper, odd, and whose eyes always looked a little too wide. But he was a good kid.
I'd been staring off into space when he tapped me on the shoulder. He was holding a small bouquet of flowers, one of the ones we sell, out to me.
"Oh Jordan, that's so sweet, but I think I'm a little old for you." I said pushing the flowers away. He was seventeen and I was twenty-four after all.
He looked at me weirdly and shook his head. "They're not from me. The guy I just had in my line asked me to give them to you." I took the flowers from him not remembering seeing anyone for the last ten minutes. If someone could slip by me without my notice I was really out of it. Maybe I was getting sick. I'd pick up some cold medicine later.
"Ok then. What did he look like?" I held the bouquet and sniffed the flowers. I then felt a slight movement against my hand and knew something wasn't right. Pulling the bouquet back away from my face sounded like a smart idea.
"Short bond hair, kinda tall, that's about all I got. He handed me the money for the flowers, asked me to give them to you and walked out."
While he had been talking, about five other things ran through my mind and I didn't even hear him. I knew something was in there, something alive. How much heavier was the bouquet with whatever it was than without it? Was it poisonous, and if so how deadly was it? Who could the guy have been? If it was meant to kill was it deliberately for me, or was I just the unfortunate victim? Jordan's words slowly filtered into my mind answering at least three of my questions. It had sounded like Matt, and if so, then it was deliberate and it was definitely poisonous.
My free hand started to reach for the pen on my register, the only real weapon that I had available. Whatever it was in the flowers became more agitated at the movement and lunged at me out of the flowers. My head darted to the side, my hand grabbed the pen and it was jammed through the tiny skull onto the bag table behind me. It was dead in less than four seconds from the time that it lunged.
There on the table, laying with a pen through its skull was a small snake, a little over a foot long. Completely black eyes lay open and just as lifeless as they had been when it was alive. The bright yellowish-green of its scales stood out from the deep red that smeared the table beneath.
Jordan's eyes grew wider (if that was possible) and he stared at me and the snake. "How the hell did you do that? What even is it?" His eyes went back and forth between mine and the dead ones on the table.
"You really don't wanna know how I did that and it's a baby Easter green mamba." With it's coloring and size it was the only thing it could have been. How the hell had he gotten a hold of one though? "You can handle the floor while I clean this up." I asked him. He nodded and I proceeded to grab some paper towels. I just left the pen, no point in trying to save it. When everything was sufficiently clean I threw it all in a paper bag and wrapped I as tight as I could putting it into a plastic bag and tying the bag tight. The plastic would hide the smell when it started to decay, which hopefully it wouldn't still be in our garbage can when it did. I took it out back and threw it in the dumpster.
I got back to my register and looked at the clock. 9:37 PM. "Hey, I'm gonna go outside and get some air. I'll be back in five."
"No problem." Jordan said and turned the page of the magazine he was reading, still looking startled but acting like nothing happened.
I walked out the front door and took in the cool night air. It was the end of May, so night still came a little earlier and it was still cooler. I looked up at the stars and saw a shadow move in my peripheral vision. Matt stepped into the light from the lamp in the parking lot and I wished more than anything that I'd had a knife right then, or even another pen would have worked, anything I could have used to stab him.
"You know, maybe I shouldn't have let you live Saturday night. Then I wouldn't have had to deal with a deadly snake in those flowers! What if it had killed Jordan instead of me? Would you be able to live with yourself knowing an innocent 17 year old boy died because you wanted to kill me?"
"Yeah, probably. The same way you live with yourself knowing you're no better than the vampires you kill. They kill innocent people and so do you."
"What do you mean 'innocent' people?" He was really getting on my nerves.
"All those people you killed on Saturday? Weren't they innocent? If they were like me they just knew that we were digging. What could they have done wrong?"
"If they had lived," I paused and took a breath, "If we had let them live then all of you would just have been transferred to another dig site. We killed them quick and as painlessly as possible because if you knew what they were planning you never would have agreed to dig for them, and then they'd have killed you anyway, and it wouldn't have been anywhere near how we did it." I turned and started to walk back towards the building but stopped when Matt started talking.
"'Their plan', 'What they were planning', what the fuck do you mean? Tell me what their plan is and I'll decide whether I'd have agreed or not"
He'd gotten me all emotional and adrenaline still ran through my veins, so I steadied my breathing and turned back to face him. "About a month ago we received some information that there was a large dig site about 30 miles from here. At this dig site they were planning on digging to an underground cavern. Once into this cavern they would have a completely untapped and fresh new food source. I don't know how they found it, or who brought it to their attention but they knew it was there. Once they had complete and full access to this new food source they were going to systematically turn every living human and leave them out for the sun to ash. Easy, relatively painless, and no bodies to clean up. According to our source they hoped to have rid of the human population within six months. Everyone you know and love would be dead, including you. Now do you still think you'd agree to that?" I didn't think he would answer and he didn't. He just looked at me stunned. I turned around and headed back inside.
Jordan looked at me and set his magazine down. "Y'know actually I think I do want to know how you did that. And are you sure that was a green mamba?"
The short burst of adrenaline to my system was wearing off leaving me tired and drained. There was no use arguing. I'd answer his questions as best I could without revealing too much. "Yes I'm positive it was a green mamba."
"How do you know?" he wondered.
I moved the sleeve of my shirt back showing some of my shoulder, where he could see the head of the same snake I'd just killed, albeit in bright green instead. "I love them."
"Sweet tattoo." he nodded his approval as he spoke.
I moved my sleeve back and looked at him. "Do you believe in the supernatural?"
The quick change of subject caught him off guard and the look on his face showed it. After a moment he nodded and said, "Yeah, some supernatural things. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, I think they're out there somewhere. Why do you ask?"
I nodded and laughed. I should have known he would. He was too weird not to believe in them. "Well then this will be easier to explain." I stopped as an older lady came through my line. Jordan looked at me expectantly but I wasn't going to say anything with her here. I took care of her order, setting her bags down on the table where just under an hour before a dead snake had laid. Once she was gone and the store returned to quiet I continued. "Two and a half years ago my mother, my younger brother and my boyfriend were killed. A man broke into our home while I was at work and slaughtered them. Six months later I couldn't take it anymore and was going to kill myself when a now dear friend of mine found me and asked me what happened to make me make the choice to end it. I gave him all the details, although even now I don't know why I did, and he took me in. He helped me and he trained me to kill."
Jordan looked at me in awe. "Kill what?" He seemed to know that it wasn't humans, picking up from my question on the supernatural.
"The man who broke into my home, or more correctly was let into my home was a vampire. My mouth went dry at the thought of Samuel and what he'd done. I took a swallow of my water and looked at Jordan. He looked sad.
"I'm sorry." he simply said.
"Why? You're not the one that killed them." That always annoyed me. He half smiled and nodded not knowing what else to do. We were both silent for a few minutes while he had a customer. By now it was almost ten thirty. When we were alone again Jordan looked at me. "So you really kill vampires. That would be so cool. Going out at night to hunt some of them, being all bad ass about it. "Now we was returning to his normal hyper self. "Do you guys use guns with silver bullets like they did in the Underworld series?" He mimicked firing at someone far away. He really annoyed me some nights.
"Okay, firstly, you need to rewatch that series because that was vampires versus werewolves. Secondly we do not use guns. They're too loud and believe it or not but silver doesn't actually kill them. We prefer to use knives, silver ones are best, because although it won't kill them it will temporarily send them into shock just long enough to take off their head. Fatal weakness, but one they can't avoid."
Our manager passed by making his nightly rounds to check and see if the store was empty so he could send us home before he locked up for the night. When he was out of sight, Jordan asked, "So how do you kill a vampire?"
"There are three ways to kill a vampire. Two are easy and the third hasn't been used in a long time because the vampire has to be tied down, or bound in some way." He watched intently as I talked, listening eagerly. "The first two are beheading and sunlight. Either one will turn them into ash, and are relatively easy, the latter being the trickier of the two." Why was I telling him all this The same reason I told all the details of my family's death to Arnie's; a reason I didn't know. "The third way is fire. They have to be tied or bound otherwise it's too easy for them to put themselves out or someone else since their on fire, or have someone else put them out. It's also a lot harder to light a vampire on fire than you would think..."
Our manager came back and told us we could go. We both nodded and counted our drawers, closed down our registers and punched out. When we got outside Jordan turned to me. "I still have a whole bunch of questions to ask you.
"Next time we see each other. I don't need to tell you not to tell anyone about what happened tonight, or what I've discussed, do I?" I made a step toward him threateningly and he stepped back looking scared.
"No not at all! Night." He shook his head and walked away quickly, ready to run if need be apparently. All I was ready for was bed.