Part 1 of 2

Part 1 of 2

A Chapter by Sarah J Dhue
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Part 1 of a new story set in the 'Monsters' universe. In this first installment, Officer Mitch Denver and Barry Marvin try to hunt down an elusive killer.

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            “Another one.”  Officer Mitch Denver stood under his umbrella, the collar of his tan pea coat popped up against the wind.  He put a cigarette in his mouth and flicked his lighter several times before a flame sprang to life in the damp air.  He inhaled deeply, blowing smoke out of his nostrils.  Mitch was tall and slender with neatly combed, short, black hair and light brown eyes that glowed dimly.  He returned the pack of cigarettes to his uniform’s breast pocket.

            “Same M.O.,” Officer Barry Marvin replied, shaking his head.  Barry did not have an umbrella; the only thing shielding his curly black hair from the rain was his police hat, his dark skin glistening with water droplets.

            “Such a waste of blood,” Mitch commented, and Barry shot him a look as he took another drag on his cigarette.  “What?  I’m just sayin’.  They keep those centers up and running for a reason.”

            “Time and place, man.  Time and place,” Barry rolled his dark eyes.

            Mitch smirked.  He had never had to live in a time without the blood distribution centers; he had only been a vampire since the 1950s.  He knelt over the body of the dead girl, the cigarette smoke helping prevent the smell of blood from invading his nostrils.  She was the same as the rest - in her late teens or early twenties.  Her throat had been cut, seemingly on-site due to the pool of blood haloing the body.  There was no connection - none that they’d found, anyway - between the four dead girls, aside from their age and the manner in which they had been killed.

            “Gotta love working ‘the midnight shift,’” Mitch stood, removing his cigarette from his mouth and exhaling a stream of smoke.

            “Yeah.  Seems like most of the f*****g crazies wait to come out ‘til after dark.”  Barry shifted nervously, “No offense.”

            “None taken.”  Mitch started back for the car, opening the driver’s door.  He collapsed his umbrella, throwing it into the back and plopping down into the driver’s seat.  He gripped the radio, pressing down the button.  “Dispatch, this is Officer Denver.  We’ve definitely got another one.”

            “Damn…” Sharon, the overnight dispatch operator, replied.  “Should I send in backup?”

            “Yep.”

            “I’ll get on that.”  There was silence, and Mitch began to return the radio to its cradle when it sprang back to life, “You and Marvin okay?”

            “Yeah.  Fine, considering.”  Mitch looked through the water-speckled windshield at his partner milling around near the body.  Mitch knew what Barry was thinking; he was thinking about his sixteen-year-old daughter.  “Denver out,” he said into the radio, replacing it in its cradle and climbing out of the car, shutting the door.  He walked over to his partner.

            “Why the f**k do you work this crazy shift?” Mitch asked, gripping Barry’s shoulder.  “Me, I don’t have a choice.”

            “Someone’s gotta do it.  And it helps me sleep a little better at night when we put one more whack job behind bars.”

            “I feel that.  They’re sending in backup…  Wanna get out of this rain and start filling out the report?  The computer is in the car.”

            “Sure, why not?  This part never gets any easier.”

            “Nope.  Never.”  Mitch patted Barry’s shoulder and led the way back to the cruiser.

 

~

 

            Mitch walked into his apartment, the blackout blinds shut tight.  He flipped on the light, which consequently activated the ceiling fan.  He shed his jacket and hung it on the coat rack by the door, undoing the buttons of his shirt.  He stood for a moment, taking a deep breath and closing his eyes, his head lolling back.  What a night.

            He pulled out a fresh cigarette and held it between his teeth, lighting it and taking a long drag.  He walked across the small room to his refrigerator, the smoke wafting up into the blades of the fan and being dispersed about the room.  He opened the fridge and bent down to grab one of the many red plasma packets, his shirt hanging open to expose his bare chest.

            He bumped the fridge closed with his hip, absently scratching a scar on the left side of his neck as he turned toward the counter.  He replaced his cigarette in his mouth after letting out a large puff and grabbed a nonic glass from the top shelf of one of the cabinets.  He unplugged the spout of the packet, pouring the red contents into the glass.  He took a big swig, and then set it down, pressing his fingers against his eyes and beginning to sob quietly.

            Usually his work didn’t get to him.  But the dead girls - with no leads to their murderer or motive for their killings - had been wearing on his mind.  Barry and his young daughter were on his mind.

            Mitch took another swig of the blood, sniffing.  Something had to be done - something that didn’t involve the usual channels or Barry.  He nodded to himself; he was going to have to do some investigating on his own.  He knocked back the rest of the glass, draining it.  He checked his microwave clock.  6:27 A.M.  He retired to the couch for a much needed rest.

 

~

 

               “What can you tell me, chief?” Mitch asked Albert ‘Bert’ Fürchten, the precinct’s coroner, over the operating table; the girl from the night before - who had been identified as Lucille Muren, age twenty-one - was lying on her back, partially covered by a sheet.  Despite the fact that Bert had cleaned her up, the large slash across her neck was impossible to ignore.  
               Well, cause of death was a laceration to the neck.  From the look of it, all four girls were killed with the same weapon,” Bert leaned on the table, looking down at the body and indicating the incision.
               “Okay, that much I knew already.  Tell me more about the weapon.  What kind of blade are we looking at here?” Mitch nodded, furrowing his brow thoughtfully.  The fluorescent lights of the morgue caused his eyes to glow more noticeably.
               “Okay, uh…” Bert turned back to his work station, scrolling through his notes that were visible on the monitor fixed on a swivel arm.  “Looks like a smooth blade - not serrated.  The blade likely has a curve, based on the nature of the cut.  It would also appear that the killer most likely made the attacks from behind.”
               “Hm,” Mitch grunted, absently reaching for his cigarettes and then stopping himself; he was in a morgue, after all.
               “Hey, Mitch,” Bert said, and Mitch looked up at him.  “Why are you down here asking all of these questions?  I already put all this information in the report.”
               Mitch smiled and looked down at the floor, harrumphing through his nose.  He looked back up at Bert, his tone growing serious, “Because there are already four dead bodies, one for each night.  I’m trying to prevent a fifth.”  He pulled out a cigarette, placing it in his mouth.  He turned to leave, but stopped and looked over his shoulder.  “Bert - don’t tell anyone I was down here asking questions, okay?  This is just between you and me.”
               Bert narrowed his eyes, but nodded.  While the two seldom worked directly together, they both had a high amount of respect for the other.  Mitch could remember when Bert had first come to work at the precinct; he had been much younger, his wild and wiry hair brown and no wrinkles or bags under his eyes.  Mitch had thought his large, round glasses were hysterical; they reminded him of Coke bottles.  Now he was old and stooped, his hair just as wiry, but silver and usually hidden under a white Nationals cap to hide his rapidly balding cranium.  Heavy bags hung under his eyes, his face lined with wrinkles from years of difficult work.  But he still wore ridiuculously large, round glasses.
               Mitch walked out of the morgue and rode the elevator up to the ground floor, stepping out onto the dusky sidewalk, lighting his cigarette.  He looked out over the city skyline.  Somewhere out there, the killer was plotting his next move, perhaps even selecting his next victim at that very moment.  Mitch just had to work faster than him.  He knew that the killer would try and claim another life - he had every night before, so breaking the pattern would be highly unlikely.
               Mitch climbed into his car, pulling the door closed and opening his glovebox.  He took out a map, four red X’s drawn in marker indicating where each body had been found.  He had spent the better part of his afternoon reviewing the case reports and scrutinizing the map.  There had to be a pattern, something  He just wasn’t seeing it yet.
               Mitch glared down at the map, replaying what Bert had said over and over again in his mind:  “Looks like a smooth blade - not serrated.  The blade likely has a curve, based on the nature of the cut.  It would also appear that the killer most likely made the attacks from behind.”  His cigarette burned down to the filter and went out, but he didn’t seem to notice, the butt hanging limply between his lips.
               The sun sank deeper below the horizon, and Mitch continued to study the map, thankful for his night vision.  He finally removed the spent cigarette from his mouth and lit a fresh one.
               “Wait a minute…” he said aloud, sending ashes down onto his lap.  He grabbed his phone, opening his map app.  He began typing in names of businesses to check that his memory had not failed him.  He dug around in the glovebox with his free hand and finally felt the shape of a pen.  He pulled his hand out, a medieval Sharpie marker gripped in his fist, the label almost completely worn off.  It would do.
               He drew a black dot near the first red X, and then typed something else into his phone.  He marked a black dot next to the second red X.  After a couple more searches, he had a black dot coinciding to each of the red X’s.  Near the alleys where each of the bodies had been found was at least one hookah lounge.
               It was a long shot - he had remembered busting one of the lounges for serving minors a few months back.  Several Arabic and Asian knives had curves, like a scimitar, and his mind had suddenly made the connection.  If the killer was picking up high girls from the lounges, that would explain why no one ever seemed to notice much of a struggle.  He had but one problem.  He had no idea how many hookah lounges even existed in the city, nor did he have a way to know which the killer would choose for his next hunting ground.  If the lounges were even connected; that was all still speculation.
               He closed his map app and began to dial Bert when he paused.  Sure, smoking a hookah could make you feel lightheaded and maybe even a little buzzed, but in the end, it would likely not have shown up on any of the tests they ran on the bodies as anything abnormal.  He locked his phone and stared down at the map.  He could cruise around or make a random guess and just hope that he was right.
               He rolled down his window and threw out the still-smoldering cigarette, putting a new one in his mouth and lighting it, gripping it fiercely with his teeth.  He gripped his steering wheel with both hands, inhaling deeply and filling his lungs with smoke.  He had to make a decision.
               He slammed his foot down on the gas and sped off toward downtown.  He would cruise around the nightlife district.  It was a Friday night and most everywhere would be full of young people partying and letting loose for the weekend: easy pickings for his target.  He rolled down all of his windows, listening and smelling the air, watching the sidewalks as well as the other cars on the road.  He was taking a shot in the dark, a shot where he would usually have the advantage due to his vampirism, but this was different.
               He slowed down once he reached the nightlife district, driving slowly and pretending he was looking for street parking.  He was glad that he was in his civilian car - in the cruiser, he would have stuck out like a sore thumb.  He drove around for a couple hours, just observing mobs of partiers going in and out of businesses or deciding to call an Uber to take them home.
               He was about to give up when he caught a whiff of blood in the air.  He hit his brakes, almost causing the car behind him to rear-end him, and leaned out his window, sniffing the air and trying to figure out which direction the scent was coming from.  If it was what he thought it was, he was too late, but maybe he could still catch the killer fleeing the scene.  The car behind him blared its horn, and he took a sharp left, following the smell.
               A scream pierced the air, followed by someone desperately shrieking, “Someone call 911!  My phone is dead!”
               Mitch sped up, speeding toward the sound of the scream and spotting a small crowd beginning to form near the mouth of an alley.  “S**t,” he sighed, knowing that the killer had claimed his fifth victim.  But he couldn’t focus on that now; he had to stay sharp.  The killer could still be nearby.  He pulled over into a yellow zone and parked his car, climbing out and running along the buildings.  He didn’t care about getting a ticket; he would find a way to get out of it or pay for it.  He ducked into the first alley he could and looked around in the darkness, sniffing the air for traces of blood - he was sure that the killer had to have some spray on him, or at the very least, the blade.
               He stopped suddenly and listened.  He could hear footfalls further down the alley - a light trot.  Whoever it was was trying to get far away fast without drawing much attention to themself.  Mitch took off after them, trying not to make too much noise, but also not wanting to lose them.  He rested his hand on his gun holstered to his hip, sniffing the air, picking up small hints of blood.  If this wasn’t his guy, they were still up to no good.  Either that or they were having one hell of a night.
               He stopped running, pausing to listen.  He had no idea how far he’d run, or even exactly where he was - he had blindly taken twists and turns in the direction he thought the footsteps were coming from, but his own thundering footsteps had eventually drowned theirs out.  He spun around, listening and sniffing the air, trying to catch the scent of blood again.
               He heard a sound further down the alley; not footsteps, but what sounded to Mitch like a rusty hinge.  He ran toward it and found a slew of the backsides of abandoned warehouses.  One’s backdoor was hanging limply ajar, swaying slightly as if it had recently been disturbed.  A few boards with nails jutting out of them lay near the door, as if they had been torn away not too long ago.
               Mitch approached the door, listening.  All was silent, but the subtle smell of strawberries and tobacco wafted out from inside the warehouse: hookah.  Mitch walked inside, looking around the dark interior.  It looked abandoned enough, although in areas the dust had been disturbed.  Someone had been moving around inside recently.
               He walked down a dilapidated corridor to his right, all other smells drowned out by the fruity tobacco and dust.  Mitch covered his nose, trying to keep himself from sneezing.  The hallway ended at a door.  It was only hanging on by its top hinge, the bottom hinge and knob corroded away.  Mitch pushed the door open, and it let out a loud creak.
               This room had definitely been lived in.  There was an old mattress set up in one corner by a boarded-up window, a few streaks of golden light from the street lamp outside revealing the dirty, ripped pillow and heap of sheets.  Across the room, a table was adorned with melty wax candles and what looked to Mitch like a homemade Ouija board.  The wall near the table - or ‘altar’ - was plastered with calendars, star charts, and a few pages torn out from almanacs.
               “What the…?” Mitch approached the ‘altar,’ trying to make sense of the clutter pinned to the wall.
               The first thing he noticed was that the charts and almanac pages all seemed to be related to the spring equinox.  As he looked closer, he realized that they were not only referencing the equinox, but the current year’s equinox, which was only a couple of weeks away.  He turned his attention to the calendar and noted that four days had been Xed out - one for each murder, starting with the new moon.  The current day had not yet been Xed out.  Mitch looked forward on the calendar and saw that the equinox not only fell on a full moon, but on a blue moon.
               He looked down, turning his attention to the ‘altar’ with the spirit board.  Next to it was a stack of books; the one on top had been left open.  Mitch skimmed the two open pages.  They were partially adorned with sigils and charts, but what he managed to read hinted that a full moon falling on the equinox was a prime time for magical rituals.  It then went on to state that a blue moon occurring at this time would be even rarer, but also an even more opportune time.
               Mitch reached to turn the page when the floorboards behind him creaked.  He whipped around and was just in time to grab the wrists of a dark, hooded figure leaping at him, a large curved dagger gripped in their hand.  They let out a disgruntled cry, trying desperately to swipe at Mitch with the blade.
               Mitch pushed the figure back, sending them tumbling to the ground.  The blade was at least ten inches long, with a curve along its sharp edge.  The handle was gold and ornate, sigils and runes cast into the metal.  The blade had a few runes etched into it as well, but was mostly utilitarian rather than ornate.
               “My name is Officer Mitch Denver,” Mitch pulled back his coat flap, revealing his badge.  “I-”
               The hooded figure let out an angry cry and leapt from the ground, taking a swipe at Mitch and cutting him across the right side of his stomach, just above his pelvis.
               Mitch chuckled.  “Too bad for you, that won’t do much to stop me.”  The figure lunged at him again, and Mitch thrust out his leg, kicking them in the gut.  He put his hand to his hip to reach for his gun and felt that it was covered in warm, sticky fluid.  He looked down at his side and saw that he was literally gushing blood; his shirt, pants, and coat were already stained a deep shade of maroon.  That wasn’t supposed to happen; it had been a shallow cut, and at the most he should have dribbled a few drops before healing up.  “How the…?”
               The figure cackled, lunging and swinging the knife at Mitch’s neck.  Mitch stumbled backward, falling to the ground.  He was beginning to feel lightheaded, the pain in his side coming to life.  “This knife is special.  It’s enchanted, so unless you get some serious medical attention soon, the bleeding will not stop.”  The figure stood over Mitch, the knife gripped tightly in their hand.  “Or I could just finish this now.”
               Mitch kicked out at the figure, sending them stumbling backwards.  Despite feeling weak, he tried to evoke a façade of strength and stood, closing his eyes and concentrating.  When he opened them, he bared two long, pointed fangs, his eyes glowing brighter.
               The figure gasped.  “A vampire!” they said, sounding more in awe than fearful.  “I’ve never met one of your kind before!”
               “You’re under arrest for suspicion of five counts of murder as well as attempted murder of a police officer.”  Mitch unhooked the handcuffs clipped to his belt and held them out in front of him, taking a step toward his cloaked assailant.
               “I appreciate your enthusiasm, but not today.  I have far too much work to do.”  The figure turned and ran for the door.  Mitch reached for his gun as the figure hesitated to say something over their shoulder.  “I feel like I should mention that being a vampire won’t save you.  You’ll be dead within the hour.”  They ran through the door as Mitch drew his gun and fired a shot, narrowly missing the black hooded head.  He staggered forward and almost fell, feeling even weaker.
               “F**k,” he hissed, returning his gun to its holster and gripping his side, the blood oozing out between his fingers.  He began shambling toward where he thought the front door of the warehouse should be and found the door nailed shut and layered with boards.  “Well, here goes,” Mitch took a few steps back and threw himself at one of the front windows, shattering the glass and tumbling out onto the sidewalk.  He cried out in pain as he hit his shoulder on the pavement, his ears ringing and his vision going red.  Whatever enchantment was on that knife was no child’s play.
               He struggled to reorient himself, looking around for a street sign.  He spotted one a few buildings down, the intersection of Dorsett and 67th.  He took out his cell phone.  He knew that he should call 911, but he also knew that if he was going to survive, he was going to have to be a little more direct.  He punched in the number and hit the call button.
               The phone rang twice before someone picked up.  “Mitch, what is it?  Our killer struck again.  Where the hell have you been?  Had to roll out without you when you were a no-show,” Barry’s voice came through the receiver.
               “I’m hurt Barry, I need to get to a hospital.”
               “What!?  Hold on, Mitch, where are you?  What’s going on?”
               “I’m at Dorsett and 67th.  Look, I don’t have much time to explain, I need to get to a hospital now!” Mitch shouted desperately into the phone.  The cuts on his face from the shards of broken glass were not healing as they should either, and the shoulder he’d landed on hurt when he moved; whatever the knife had done, it had shut down his expedited healing entirely.
               “I’m on my way.  You can explain on the drive to the hospital,” Mitch heard Barry turn on his car and siren through the phone before the call ended, and he laid back on the sidewalk, closing his eyes and hoping that Barry made it in time.
               He could hear the siren in the distance, and as it got closer he could hear the revving of the engine - Barry was speeding, pushing the old cruiser’s motor to the limit.  Once the car was through the intersection, Barry slammed the brakes, bringing the car to a screeching halt next to where Mitch lay.  He struggled to get up, his head swimming as he limped toward the car.  Barry threw his door open, climbing out of the car and rushing to his partner.  He put Mitch’s left arm around his shoulders, wrapping his arm around Mitch’s back and helping him to the cruiser.
               “What the hell happened, Mitch!?” Barry exclaimed; he had never seen his partner injured, let alone on the verge of dying.
               “I found our guy.  I found the killer,” Mitch replied breathlessly as Barry lowered him into the passenger seat and slammed the door, running around to the driver seat.  He sped off without worrying about his seatbelt.
               “How did you find him?  You got a lead and didn’t tell me?” Barry shot Mitch a look, feeling betrayed.
               “Just trying… to keep you… and… daughter… safe,” Mitch was growing delirious, his chin resting on his chest, too weak to hold his head up.
               “S**t!  S**t!  S**t!” Barry scrambled for the radio, pressing down the button.  “Sharon, I have a man down, I repeat, I have a man down.  I am in transit to the county hospital, call ahead and have them waiting for me at the ambulance entryway with a stretcher.”
               Sharon’s voice crackled over the radio, “Marvin, is that you?  What’s going on?  What should I tell them?”
               Barry pushed down the button again, “This is Officer Marvin.  Tell them my partner is bleeding out and that stretcher better have four good wheels on it!”
               Sharon gasped.  “Denver; he showed up?  What happened-”
               “Sharon, just call the damn hospital!” Barry cut her off.  “Marvin out!”  He slammed the radio back into its cradle, turning back to Mitch.  “How you holding up?”
               “Enchanted…” Mitch slurred.
               “What?”
               “The knife… enchanted…  A ritual…”
               “I have no idea what the f**k you’re talking about,” Barry jerked the wheel, swerving into the ambulance entrance lane of the hospital.  He could see the paramedics waiting with the stretcher.  He skidded to a stop next to them, climbing out of the car and shouting, “He’s been stabbed, and the bleeding won’t stop!  He said something about the knife being enchanted, but he’s also delirious.”  Barry was standing by the stretcher as they loaded him up.
               Mitch seemed to realize what was happening, that his time with his partner was coming to an abrupt end.  His eyes flew open, and he gripped Barry’s arm.  “The equinox!  Fourteen nights; fourteen victims!”
               “What?” Barry tried to make sense of what he was saying.
               “The equinox,” Mitch repeated as they wheeled him away, running through the automatic doors.
               “He is losing blood fast,” one of the medics shouted, looking at Mitch’s side as they ran.  She turned her attention to Mitch’s face.  “Sir, do you know your blood type?”
               “Any will do…” Mitch replied weakly.
               “Excuse me, sir?  Your blood type?”
               “Any,” he growled in exasperation, rolling his eyes as he felt himself slipping into unconsciousness.  “Vam… pire…”
               “A vampire!?  I’ve never treated a f*****g vampire, what the hell do we do?” Mitch heard one of the male medics yelling before he lost consciousness altogether.
To be continued…


© 2018 Sarah J Dhue


Author's Note

Sarah J Dhue
Whether you have read 'Monsters' or have not read it, this story has an independent plot and characters from the story; it is even set in a different city. The only thing that is the same is the universe. Want to read the novel? The link is here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/sarah-j-dhue/monsters/paperback/product-23201791.html

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Added on July 13, 2018
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Tags: Sarah J Dhue, SarahJDhue, Dhue, story, Monsters, universe, Night Stalker, two parts, part 1, vampire, murder, mystery, crime


Author

Sarah J Dhue
Sarah J Dhue

In the author's lair, IL



About
I am Sarah J Dhue. I am an author, as well as a photographer & graphic designer, currently going to school for web design. I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I live in Illinois. My f.. more..

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