His eyes were the worst part. Unnatural. Unnerving. Never blinking, never closing. He just stared. Even in the dim lighting they glowed like a bicycle reflector in the high beams of a passing car.
He sat as still as a corpse. That was to be expected, given his nature. The palms of his hands rested on his thighs, covered with what our tech guys called “mittens”. To a casual observer they looked like oven mitts. They were designed to render his razor sharp claws useless. While his strength was unparalleled, he couldn’t damage his cell with fists or feet alone. Those nasty claws amplified by his strength, on the other hand, would have sliced through it like diamond through a sheet of paper. Many an agent had lost a limb to a singular swipe from those hellish daggers. They were the lucky ones, the ones that didn’t get sliced from throat to crotch but lived long enough to see their insides on the outside.
He sat on his bed, the only thing in the cell besides himself. He had no use for a toilet, he wasn’t afforded the luxury of books or photographs. It was just him, his bed and the glass box that surrounded him. The glass box had no visible openings. His kind needn’t eat, drink or breath so why take the chance.
He was unlike any other prisoner and his rights were nonexistent. He was an animal that would’ve rightfully and justly been put down, had that been possible. It wasn’t. It wasn’t like a movie, the only way to make sure he stayed “dead” was to lock him in a inescapable tomb.
I had suggested digging a hole, placing the cell in it and filling it with concrete. The powers-that-be said it was overkill and he may prove to be an important asset someday. I told them they were assholes for thinking he could ever be useful.
Now I was the asshole, sitting in a folding chair, watching those eyes and his smug yet humorless grin. He hated me, because I put him in this place. I hated him because he murdered eleven of my colleagues and wounded a dozen more.
“Professor Price?” He gave no indication he even heard me. I hated how he could look right into your soul yet not be bothered to actually see you. “Look I don’t want to be here anymore than you do but…”
He silenced me with a slight tittering of laughter.
“Mr. Duncan, when ever did you find the time to become a comedian.” He laughed again. I imagined that’s how the hinges on the gates to hell sounded. “No one is forcing you to be here. So run along boy, I have no use for you.”
“Listen, you arrogant asshole, despite my protests, the League of Slayers is offering you updated accommodations for your cooperation.”
“I ask for nothing.” He waved one covered hand as if to shoo away a fly.
“Don’t you miss your books, Alistair? Wouldn’t a drink be nice.” I had to force myself to say it. The thought of the League actually feeding this thing was insane.
“Yes, a drink would be amazing. However, unless your league has authorized you to bring a hot, fresh, and preferably young treat for me to sample, I have no use for you, them or the coagulated shit they would pass off as my reward.” His grin was now gone. “Professor Alistair Price is no one’s pet. I am neither your bitch nor your pigeon.”
“In other words you’re not going to roll over and what… shit on my car?”
“You make me sick. How dare the League send childish boys to do men’s work? Come back Duncan when you have hair on your balls.”
“This childish boy locked your old balls in that glass box.”
“Okay enough of this. I knew this was a bad idea.” A figure emerged from the shadows behind me.
“A new player,” Price said. “And who might you be, my dear lady.”
“Agent Helen Hershey, FBI.”
“Slayers and FBI agents working together? What is all the fuss about?” He raised a thin, black eyebrow creasing the alabaster skin on his forehead. Then he lowered it and frowned. “Oh, that’s right, I don’t give a rat’s rotten ass about the fuss.” He shooed us again with increased urgency.
Agent Hershey studied Alistair Price. I had known this woman for all of four hours but there was something about her. I was interested to see how she dealt with the good professor.
“Professor Price, it’s no secret Duncan here hates your ancient guts.” Hershey patted me on the shoulder. “I don’t though.”
“Oh, no? You want to be friends Agent Hershey? Well I need no friends and I’ve seen this movie before. Hopkins was amazing.
“You see Hannibal Lecter felt the need to help because he was curious and he liked to toy with Clarice and pull strings. Me, I am no puppeteer and I don’t play with my food.”
Hershey’s eyes narrowed. It had just become a high noon stare-down and I think I saw a glimpse of uncertainty behind the professor’s eyes.
“Okay, Price, here’s the thing I don’t hate you but I don’t want to be your friend either. You misunderstand, I’ll forgive you, you’re old. I just don’t care about you one way or the other.” Price scoffed at Hershey.
“No, really, it’s true. You don’t help us on what’s in my little folder here,” Hershey shook a tan file folder at the cell, “I go on with my life. I do what needs to be done. Never wanted a vampires help, never needed it.
“You on the other hand you will have to live in this box and think about all of this.” She got to her feet and pulled something out of her pants pocket. It was a roll of scotch tape. “Help me here Duncan. Let’s show the professor what all the fuss is about.”
Together we began taping the 8 by 10 photos from Hershey’s file to the glass walls of the cell. All we saw were the white backsides of the photos but Alistair Price was getting the full view.
I had looked these photos over a million times. They were nasty. All women, all tore to shreds, Jack-the-Ripper-style. No blood found anywhere near or inside the bodies, just strips and strips of torn flesh. All their heads were on backwards. The corkscrew affect of the neck indicated that the heads were rotated more than once. And last but not least they all appeared to be sexually assaulted with something very hot. Burns lined both thighs on each victim and the genital area was melted like candle wax.
“Friend of yours?” I asked tapping on the glass.
At first he refused to look, but there was a thing about vampires we learned early on when we were picked to be slayers. They were curious creatures with insatiable appetites for puzzles and riddles. It didn’t take long before his obsessive need to know what was in the photos took a hold of him.
Needless to say I was shocked by the look on Price’s face. His curiosity quickly turned to dread as he studied the photos. It was surreal to see his bottom lip tremble and his brow furrow. I heard him let out an almost inaudible tsk-sound. I probably wouldn’t have heard it if not for the microphones embedded in the glass that allowed us to hear him.
“Oh my dear, Duncan, this is no one’s friend.” Price’s voice was like gravel in a cement mixer.
“Is it a vampire?” Hershey asked. Price’s eyes never left the photo dead center. I knew it happened to be one of the pictures displaying one of the victim‘s melted and mutilated vaginal area. Even this creature, known for his ferociousness, who left people to waddle about as they literally tried to hold themselves together, was disturbed and disgusted.
“Certainly not.” He was trying to sound indignant but his voice had lost its bluster. “This is not the work of one of my kind. This is something entirely different.”
“So you are familiar with this attacker or at least it’s origins.” Hershey put a hand on her hip waiting for Price to confirm or deny.
Price looked up at us and nodded. His gleaming eyes had taken on a dull film, sullen and dark. Vampires’ eyes transformed with the changing of their moods. I had seen this creatures eyes go from brilliant white when content to deepest crimson when enraged. This mood and these eyes were not something I had seen from him before. Until that point I never knew a vampire, especially one as ruthless and powerful as Professor Alistair Price, could feel fear and dejection.
“So you’re going to help us find this thing right?” Hershey asked like it was a foregone conclusion. I was surprised Price didn’t protest or argue. He remained silent for a long time. He went back to studying the photos.
With eyes still on them he spoke. “The depraved beast that committed these atrocities must be dealt with. I need to speak with my people at the Guild.”
“Your people? Fuck you.” There was no way I was letting Price contact the Night Guild. It was the vampires answer to our League of Slayers.
“Listen to me and heed my words, Duncan, this,” he pointed at the photo in front of him, “is not something the League of Slayers or the FBI or the CIA or the KGB or any other of your alphabet soup organizations can handle.
“I assure you, you will need all the help you can get and the Night Guild will help with this particular case. I do believe a truce is in order.”
“Back up Price. Before you go talking guilds and truces why don’t you explain why this has you so spooked. Why is this different from any other of your creepy supernatural buddies?” If I was to be completely honest about it, I’d say I was on my way to shitting my pants over Price’s reaction. I didn’t know if I had it in me to slay a creature that made my greatest nemesis cower.
“The evidence you so rudely slapped on my clean cell glass is of a creature far more ancient than my people. The Guild will want to help on this simply because if they don’t there will be no world for them to dominate. This thing is a herald of the end times.”
“Like biblical end times?” Hershey looked at me and pursed her lips.
“Indeed. What you see in these photographs is what happens when a true antichrist hits puberty. You will be looking for a teenage male whose mix of hormones and demon blood is driving him insane. How did this go unnoticed?” The question was to himself and in a whisper.
“What do you mean by that?” I asked.
“Duncan, this is not the first antichrist. The Guilds of Darkness have been taking care of these things in their infancy for countless ages.”
“Don’t be so naïve Mr. Duncan. These aren’t babies these are spawns of Satan, whose only goal is to grow up and burn our world to the grown. Every last one of us, whether you be human or vampire, witch or wolf. Like it or not we’re in this together.”
“I’m going to make some calls, let our people know what’s going down,” Hershey turned and disappeared down a shadowed corridor.
“Won’t it be nice to be colleagues for a change?” Price spoke up when Hershey was gone. “Of course I hear your colleagues have terrible time keeping themselves together around you.”
“Go to Hell.”
“Poor choice of words Duncan. Let’s do all we can so we don’t all go to Hell.”