By: B.A. Holland
“Air Date” 8/01/2012
Published by: Abyssal Books
All Rights Reserved
This series is a work of fiction. Characters, names and incidences are either productions of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Jordan did not go to her mother’s car as ordered. It may have taken the better part of the year to finally reach that much dreaded and anticipated teenaged rebellion that her mother had warned her about, but it finally set in. It of course, came in a form of the fact that she had lost her last boyfriend, the love of her life, and that she didn’t want this to happen again. Over the past year, she had seen death too much and therefore was about to do something her family considered, extremely stupid. She told her new boyfriend, Eric, to wait for her at the 24/7 Starbucks while she went to do something. She knew that Rodney, Casey, and Nickey would be taking their car across town to their residence and after a quick peak at Anna’s computer, she was able to see exactly where that was. This gave her plenty of time to run across town much faster than a car ever could, and sneak inside. The mansion was not that huge and most of it looked like a bunker from the outside. The front of the house was attached to an uprising in a hill. There were guards out front with weapons that looked like they could deliver a painful beating. Jordan ran around the back of the hillside and inspected a few vents. She could smell tomato soup, chicken, and all sorts of spices coming from the exhaust vent. Out another vent she smelled fabric softener, and concentrated detergent. She might have been a fledgling but she understood the difference between a kitchen and a laundry room when she smelled it. The girl vanished in a puff of mist. All that was left behind were her gothic clothes, and millions of black flakes that made up the dye that Jaime Jax had put in her hair to change her from a blonde to a raven-haired Goth girl. The mist collected in the vent and went down the tube.
Deep inside the bowels of the Gamboni Mansion, a smooth running top of the line General Electric washing machine suddenly started jolting in the middle of its cycle. The once quiet hum of a routine cycling suddenly turned into a panicked thumping and jolting that sent the boxed component moving from side to side as if it had just ate something bad and was trying to cough it up. The sudden load in the machine caused sparks to fly from the back of the machine started to dance next to the calm washing machine. The door was kicked open so hard that the machine’s trigger mechanism that told it to stop spinning, jammed. This caused the machine to continue running as a bare blonde girl spun round and round. First a pair of socks flew out of the machine, then pants, then, Jordan.
A few minutes later, Jordan scrounged up enough clothes from the machine to make an outfit. She found a boy’s suit that fit her and she laughed at the fact that it was probably an expensive outfit and she was totally planning on messing it up. She stood in front of the mirror and looked at herself. The pants fit her, the shirt, and the jacket for the shirt as well. The one thing she couldn’t figure out was how to tie a tie. She made a mental to ask Nero how to tie ties as she snuck out of the laundry room. What she didn’t notice was the warm, orange glow emanating from between the cracks of the washer and dryer. Jordan stuck close to the walls as she focused her vision on anything that might resemble a safe. She snuck across one of the large hallways that led to a thick oak door. She reached out and carefully turned the handle; it was locked. The girl went to mist again, unlocked the door from the inside, and pulled the suit back in with her before locking the door once more. Dressed and re-buttoned, she threw on the coat to the suit she stole and advanced into the room. Everything looked antique in the room. There was an old desk that had probably been made way before the first laptop computer, statues of ancient ruins from around the world, collections of artifacts from archeological digs, and first-edition books that probably went unread for well over a century. Behind one of the many modern-art pieces was a false wall. She was easily able to see it because the shades of the wall changed just as it went behind the picture. She found out that the picture swung away from the wall on two hinges. Behind it was a thick metal safe. Jordan thought, that with her super-sensitive hearing, she would be able to listen to the tumblers lock in place whenever she spun the dial. She tried for about a minute but her tries were in vein. That’s when she pulled at the handle until it popped off of the strong metallic door. She didn’t let that stop her though. Jordan pried her fingers inside the safe and started pulling. She braced her shoulder against the wall and used it for leverage on the safe door. Her tiny body shook as she grinded her teeth and pulled hard. The wall beside her shoulder cracked . The safe door suddenly pulled open. Inside were stacks of hundred dollar bills.
Jackpot, she thought.
The money was carried up the exhaust tube via ripped pants, torn underwear, knotted shirts, and socks that were all tied together to hoist the money up the hole. Eric was nearly hit in the head when a stack of hundred dollar bills launched itself through the tube via his new friends strength. Once he grabbed onto the fabric that was tied around it, he was literally yanking out hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once it was all up the tube, Jordan turned to mist and followed the money. With super vampiric speed, Jordan grabbed the Goth clothing Jaime Jax had made for her, and had it all on before her new friend could see anything. Eric still looked at her and gave her a double-take.
“What?” Jordan asked.
“You’re… You’re a blonde?”
The girl sighed as she extended her bottom lip and blew on her bright blonde strands that waved in front of her eyes with the force of her exhale.
“I hope that won’t be a problem?”
“Will you dye it back. You looked awesome!”
Jordan giggled and winked at him. The kids ran off into the woods. They would now have plenty of cash for the trip home and at the same time, Jordan got a little bit of her revenge on the Gamboni family for causing her so much grief. What she didn’t realize was that the dryer exhaust port was now puffing thick black smoke with fire chasing behind it. As they crossed the bridge back into Manhattan, the kids could see the orange glow in the distance.
“Hm… Someone’s house must have caught on fire,” Jordan mused as she patted her bag of money.
Rodney returned to the mansion only to find it in flames. The guards were outside as they watched the Gamboni family house burn to the ground. After returning from giving the New York City Vampire Sanctum a warning that they were about to be overtaken by the British covens, he knew, this couldn’t have been a coincidence. He may have declared war, but they drew first blood. Nickey, being the little ass kisser he was, pretended to be angered and shocked by the flames and destruction of the Gamboni house. The boy, who had lived here all his life, was seriously traumatized. He had just gotten his ass kicked by a fourteen year old vampire girl, and now, he got to see his house go up in smoke.
“No!” Casey yelled. In the course of the night, the boy had probably cried enough tears of blood to satisfy an entire blood-mobile. The shirtless boy fell to his knees and pounded at the dirt below his fists. Rodney ignored the temper tantrum as the ground shook beneath his feet and eyed one of the other lower ranking Gamboni crime family members.
“How many more of your men do we have?”
“Everyone made it out alive. The fire was electrical and started in one spot. The Laundry Room.”
Rodney had expected the entire house to perish by way of all rooms igniting at once; this clearly wasn’t the case and from the sound of it, he gave the benefit of the doubt that this was intentionally set. Sirens could be heard in the distance. As they got louder, Rodney thought about just using the fire as an excuse anyway.
“We must vacate this place as soon as possible.” Rodney turned to Nickey. Luckily for him, Rodney wouldn’t kill him tonight as he had planned. He was suddenly useful again, thanks to the fire. “Nickey… I need you to make various accommodations around town and in the city to house everyone. Also… Do what you do best and pick up some escorts for us.”
“Don’t ask me questions. Just do what I say.”
Rodney shook his head with disgust as he watched the dead man run off to do his bidding. He then pulled the boy up by his arm.
“Get a hold of yourself!”
At this point, the boy was wishing that his father was still around. He may have been mean but now the boy was realizing that he wasn’t all that bad compared to Rodney. He was forcefully pulled to his feet and wisped away by his new father-figure that did little to prepare him for the afterlife.
“Where are we going?”
“To a hotel. It’s our only refuge at the moment. Tomorrow, we’ll acquire a more permanent residence and then make plans to strike back at this Sanctum of theirs.”
The column of all black SUV’s and cars rolled to a stop next to the valet. Just before dawn, they checked into the five-star hotel. On it’s tallest floor, the curtains were drawn, and the windows were blocked the moment the undead took up occupation of the rooms. The other bodyguards and Gamboni men took adjacent rooms and were able to enjoy the view while Rodney and Casey observed their living space.
“When are you going to teach me to do that vampire stuff?”
“Vampire stuff?” Rodney’s voice sounded disgusted as he focused on the boys words. He didn’t even consider some of them to be words in his personal dictionary. The English language had changed so much over the centuries, he found himself despising what he would call, butchery of a once beautiful tongue. The boy backed off and walked around the large bed that could house a whole orgy. It wouldn’t save him from his masters wrath but it made him feel that little bit comfortable.
“I’d rather you learned proper diction first before learning how to avenge yourself but we have to start somewhere. First off… And foremost… LISTEN TO ME when I tell you not to do something. I told you not to confront her but you did anyway. I’ve killed men for less.” Rodney sat on the bed and looked to the large 90 inch plasma TV on the wall. It may have been off but he could see the burnt + and – numbers where some rich suit had paused stock numbers from the NYSE for so long that they became a permanent part of the screen. He knew that the kid wouldn’t be satisfied watching anything off a television in such horrid condition; he was stuck with teaching him throughout the day and he knew it. Of course, the boy was more interested into the other things that were also partially burnt into the screen that must have been a freeze-frame from a late-night HBO movie. Rodney snapped him out of his daze by smacking him on the back of his shoulder.
“No more feigning ignorance with me, either. We have food coming and you’re more than welcome to play with it before you devour your nights meal. Back home, we had the luxury of synthetic bags, but without help from the Sanctum which we aim to overthrow, you’ll have to live on the real thing. Depending on what type of person you get, you’ll either love it or despise it.” Rodney smiled at the boy; it was an Evil smile that unnerved Casey to the core.
“Now, we need you to learn things quickly for the upcoming battle. Like it or not, you’re a part of this and I’m going to need you to kill people for me. If you wish, you can start with Jordan. They key to killing her is that you’re going to have to catch her completely by surprise. She’s been a vampire longer than you and that’s going to account for most of her ability and strength.”
That of course, was a lie. Rodney knew that the reason he got his ass kicked by a girl the same age as his fledgling was the fact that Rodney refused to teach him as he developed. The young boy would probably never know that because if plans went the way he intended, Casey wouldn’t live long, anyway. For the same reasons the boy got nearly murdered by Jordan in the alley, he didn’t want to keep the kid around. He could care less about teaching someone else the ways of immortality. There were too many immortals as it was and the last thing he needed was a kid that might not follow his every instruction to the letter. Jordan was a risk just as much as Casey and they both needed to be gone by the end of the month according to him. If the girl didn’t kill him, he’d throw him out in the sun himself. The last thing I need is to train a little brat, he thought.
“First things first… We need to work on your defense. The next time someone throws you through the air, turn to mist! You cannot knock yourself out if you lose all the concentrated mass needed to hit a wall.”
“But then when I come back, I’ll be – naked,” the boy said.
“You KILL whoever you are fighting, Casey. If they’re dead, they won’t give a damn if they’ve seen you naked. The point is, you don’t let them get the upper hand. If your self conscious about it, don’t get thrown into a dumpster!”
There was a knock at the door. Three women entered the hotel. They were obviously straight from off the street. Casey took one look and saw a dark black aura around one of the girls. Aside from her physical appearance, Casey knew that she didn’t have long to live; weeks at the most. Rodney looked to Casey and smiled.
“Which one do you want?”
The door closed behind the women and they all turned a moment to see that they were alone with them. A blonde girl that might have been closer to thirty, pointed to the boy and raised an eyebrow.
“Um… How old is he?”
“None of your concern. Please… Join us on the bed.”
The other girl with a healthier Aura, a brunette with bright green eyes and a scar across her face, shook her head and started backing toward the door.
“You don’t want to do that,” Rodney said as he pointed directly at her. His voice was full of venom. The girls were so shaken by the impact of his words that they froze where they stood. Casey was almost envious of the control that he seemed to have over them. “To the bed,” Rodney pointed beside him. Rodney laughed as the girls took their places. Despite sitting beside them, they were drawn into themselves and far from outgoing.
“We uh… We usually don’t deal with people of that kid’s age.”
“He’s in the room!” Rodney grabbed the brunette and forcefully pushed her chin in the direction of Casey. “You can talk to him as if he is right next to you because he just happens to be – in the room. His name is Casey.” Rodney leaned over to look beyond the brunette. “Leave the dark haired girl for last. I want to show you something.”
The brunette started crying as she stared into the boys eyes and apologized to him. It was then, that she was yanked into the bathroom. The other two girls ran screaming and tried to get at the door but it wouldn’t open; Rodney’s guards made sure of that. In a frightened daze, the boy idly wandered into the bathroom to see two dull figures fighting behind the curtains in the bathtub. He could see a feminine arm reaching from behind the curtains until it finally went limp against the porcelain side. Then, suddenly, the hand exploded into a cloud of dust. The grey cloud rose above the shower curtain and flowed down the other side.
“Your turn… The Blonde…”
Rodney’s voice was full of excitement. Casey jumped when Rodney appeared from behind the curtains as a trickle of blood ran down the side of his mouth. The boy knew that he was not in the mood for if’s, and’s, or but’s from him. The blonde screamed as the boy drug her into the tub while crying at the same time. Casey wiped the tears from his eyes, apologized and bit in. It was like a machine-gun-rush… Pleasure surged through his veins and his body tensed, causing him to drink harder as he dug deeper into the woman’s neck. He could feel her heart begin to lug and he quickly found the willpower to let go.
“What are you doing?!” Rodney yelled.
“I can’t!” The boy launched himself to the other side of the bathtub as his mind went white with pleasure that seemed to wipe away the concern over the girl that was in the tub with him. During his daze, he overlooked the fact that Rodney had reached into the tub and slit her throat for him. She wouldn’t turn to dust this way.
“If you can’t bring yourself to finish feeding then you’re only going to leave a trail of myths in your wake for the rest of your eternity. We will try this again tomorrow night but thanks to you we have to check out of this hotel!”
In the other room, Amy found a corner to duck into. She hadn’t known the other two women that she worked the corner with very well and she promised herself that as soon as she had enough money to see a doctor, she would quit selling her body for money. She was now thinking that she was a day late for such decisions. The boy and the older man dusted themselves off and walked to her as she cowered at their feet.
“Are you sure this is how you do it?” The boy asked.
“Don’t ever ask me that stupid question again,” Rodney replied simply as he reached down and grabbed the hooker’s hair. He pulled her to her feet as pain surged through her. She had blisters all over her body that she tried to hide and she was sure that she felt one of them on her feet pop and she gasped in agony. As she gasped, the boy put his wrist to her mouth while Rodney held her nose. She tried to scream as blood trickled down her throat. She swallowed as she attempted to breathe. Her eyes clenched shut as the agony set in and she knew she was going to die.
“Rodney?” Casey’s concerned expression looked to him as he saw that his new master was about to choke the woman to death.
“Shut up, kid.”
They watched as the woman’s aura vanished. Casey witnessed the last beating pulse raise the skin on her neck just as she passed away. Her body fell to the floor in a loud thump. As she lie there, Casey watched as the dark lines that traced the veins in her neck, arms, and legs vanished, replaced by flawless pale white skin. Her tattoos got darker and darker and then soon melted away. The ink under her skin now lie on the carpet below her as her bone structure popped and settled in from old broken bones that never mended correctly until now. Her eyes opened again and she gasped. Through that gasp, he could see her fangs extending.
“Welcome to the land of the dead,” Rodney joked. “This is your master, Casey… Do only what he says. If you do anything otherwise, I will kill you for real next time, understand.”
Casey turned a bit paler than usual as he looked to Rodney.
“I’m her master?”
“It’s your blood, kid. She’s yours.”
The kid suddenly felt a sense of pride and he started inspecting her like she was property as he walked around her. He looked to Rodney and smiled but didn’t get anything more than a very light grin in return. He felt like his dad had just given him the keys to his brand new car. This was exactly the reaction that Rodney wanted out of him.
“You were dying, you know…”
Amy nodded and looked to the floor.
“What did you do to me?”
“We turned you into a vampire,” the boy said.
“Vampires?” Amy backed away toward the window. She couldn’t believe that even if she wanted to. “What are you smoking?”
“Feel your pulse.” Rodney crossed his arms and smiled as he watched the woman’s horror. Her eyes went wide and she gripped the side of a dresser as she leaned against a window and proceeded to breath too hard for her own good.
“You can stop breathing now! You only need to do that for talking. Step away from the window. Please?” The boy tried his hand at sounding forceful like Rodney but she wasn’t listening to him. Rodney, however, wouldn’t wait for her to fall out the window and alert the police just prior to sunrise about what was going on inside the five star hotel. He pulled her away from the window and threw her onto the bed. She bounced off of the surface and landed on the floor.
“You’re going to have to sleep with us tonight, I’m afraid.”
“I – can’t stay with you here tonight. My – My… Someone that looks after me will…”
“Your pimp will come looking for you and he knows where you are,” Rodney helped. The boy watched as his personal fledgling nodded at him. Rodney laughed and responded. “We’re counting on it. He’s going to be your newest meal.”
“What do you want from me?!”
“We’ve given you new life. Did you know you were dying?” Rodney asked. He got his response when Amy started to cry tears of blood. Even Casey’s eyes became a little red as he watched the sorrow pour from her eyes in the form of crimson red.
“Good,” Rodney said with a satisfied grin. “In return for our service to you, you need to do a little something for us. Who knows, you might even enjoy it. It’s going to be the revenge you never had in life, followed by a mandatary support in a new type of leadership.” Rodney was becoming impressed with his lies. Once these two were done serving their purpose, he fully intended to show the both of them their last sunrise. He laughed at the thought of it and it got even funnier as Casey laughed with him. The poor little fucker had no idea what he was laughing at and it made the moment just that much more sweet.
Jerome Washington loved his job. Every night it was drugs, sex, and money. His life revolved around drugs, sex, and money. Drugs, sex, and money were his lifeline, his combination of normalcy, his need, and his overall pyramid of happiness. He usually always got what he wanted, because if he didn’t, he would be angry and just like the hulk, nobody liked him when he was angry. He had to step out of his love pit, otherwise known as, his upscale apartment in lower manhattan, to check on three of his escorts that didn’t show up with his money. Without the hookers, he couldn’t get his sex. Without his hookers, he couldn’t get his money. Without his money, he couldn’t get his drugs.
Jerome Washington was angry.
He signaled his presence by slamming his fist against the hotel door so loud, he woke up the guards that were supposed to be guarding the door. The metallic sounds of hammers being pulled back preceded the door being opened by Amy. He also felt the cold steel muzzle of an UZI being jammed into the small of his back.
“Bitch! They better be pain ya’ll extra!”
He reached his hand up to slap her but before he could even swing, Amy’s pale hands grabbed him by his head and pulled him inside the door so fast his pink fuzzy hat was all that remained in the doorway. The mafia guards all jumped back in terror as the door slammed shut so fast that it blew the pink feather that had been neatly tucked into the hat, into the air.
Anna sat at her desk in the police station. She stared off into the distance as uniformed cops passed back and fourth in front of her desk. She knew that she was supposed to be out on the streets working but she used the excuse of catching up on paperwork to sit in her chair and wait for a phone call from her daughter who mysteriously went missing in the night. She checked her watch and saw that it was a quarter to six in the morning. The sun would be up soon. Not a single vampire even bothered to drop in to say hey! I got Jordan here with me. With the impending war going on underneath the nose of every mortal in the city, the only people capable of helping her with the whereabouts of Jordan, would be busy. She jumped when Zak flopped into the chair in front of her desk.
“She’s fine, Anna… I’m sure she’s found a place to stay and she had a good reason for it.”
“If she’s not dead when I find her, I’m going to kill her for scaring me so bad!” Anna leaned forward and slammed the desk as she said it. Several officers stopped what they were doing to see if they heard her correctly. Anna pulled some of her straight blonde hair over her eyes to shield her face out of embarrassment.
“Have you tried calling Nero?” Zak asked. He witnessed Anna’s eyes roll before locking them onto his own. “Wow… What would I do without a detective like you around – of course I called him! Nero said that she dropped by tonight and they hadn’t seen her since that vampire guy showed up at the club and screwed everything up.”
“Don’t bite me, Anna… I’m trying to figure these things out too you know. I go for all angles. I make sure nothing gets missed and I don’t assume shit. You know me.”
“Sorry, Zak…” Anna reached out and grabbed his hand. She used her other hand to pat the top of his. “I’m worried is all.”
“Me too.. But I’m also confident that she’s safe. This is Jordan we’re talking about. Not just some other girl out there on the streets with nothing on their mind but finding some guy.”
Half way across town, Eric woke up in his bed next to Jordan. In the corner of the room were stacks of hundred dollar bills, and on top of the stacks were articles of clothing that Jaime Jax had made for Jordan, next to the chain-clad clothes that Eric had worn throughout the night. The boy reached for the shades on the window just as a beam of light made its way between two three-story apartment buildings. The beam hit his arm and shot pain throughout his body as the light bored a hole straight to the bone. Jordan awoke with terror as the boy screamed and the smell of burnt flesh reached her nose. He pulled the curtains to his room tight the moment his new girlfriend emerged from under the sheets.
Jordan’s slender face stretched as her mouth opened from a mixture of horror and surprise. Just as she stepped out of the sheets, the door flung wide open. Out of natural instinct, Jordan turned to mist before the boys parents even had a chance to look into the room. His mother quickly looked away when she saw that he wasn’t wearing anything. By shielding her eyes, she neglected to see the three hundred thousand dollars stacked in the corner of the teens lair.
“Oh my god! Eric! You sleep naked?” She turned around and helped push her husband out of the room.
“Get out!” Eric yelled. By the time he finished yelling at them, the hole in his arm healed like nothing was ever there and pain was quickly replaced by hunger. He heard his fathers voice through the door.
“I saw that mist in there too young man! When we said no more drugs in the house, we meant no water bongs either! I want it all out of your room by tonight!”
“Okay!” Eric yelled.
The mist recollected next to the closet and Jordan scurried over to Eric to look at his arm.
“What did you do to me?!” Eric’s hiss was just above a whisper but quiet enough to keep from reaching his parents ears. Jordan spun the boy around to face her and she took another look at his arm.
“This is impossible!” Jordan shook her head and nervously ran her free hand through her blonde hair. She opened the blinds just enough to let a slither of sunlight into the room and she jammed Eric’s hand into the stream of light again. His fingers instantly blistered and sizzled. Eric screamed out as pain shot up his arm. Jordan streaked to the door to lock it this time. She turned the lock switch just as the door started vibrating with pounding fists on the other side.
“Eric! If I find out you’re doing LSD in there, so help me god… I’m calling the police!”
“I’m NOT!” Eric yelled back.
“Don’t talk to me like that!” The deep voice reverberated through the door.
Jordan returned to see the boys hand.
“Open wide!” Jordan whispered. She looked into her angry boyfriends mouth to see that his canines were now pointed and able to extend from his gums. She then slapped her fingers against his throat and felt for a pulse; she found none.
Yannis Zevros had just finished getting his ass chewed out by his Assistant Director in the New York Federal Field Office. All he wanted to do now was rest but there was no rest for the weary. His eyes crossed so hard that they met while checking his e-mail an finding a suspicious report marked in yellow. He had set his e-mail account to coalate depending on his interest of cases and this notice came to the top of his list. Yannis liked to escape into himself whenever he found himself faced with ridicule and self-righteious high-horse disgust. In this case, his boss was giving him a hard time over how he spent his free time. He liked to update his investigative methods while getting yelled at. This made him look like he was taking notes and attentive to the verbal ass-kicking he was getting when really, he was getting deeper and deeper into more trouble that his boss watned him out of. He had found out where Anna lived and added that general area to his watch list. It wasn’t the fact that something happened in that area that got him to cross his eyes and pound his face against the desk; under-the-counter felony purchases happen every day in New York City. It as the fact that the same little girl that he had met at the club during the whole vampire ordeal happened to be on tape caught by one of his snitches — she had blonde hair instead of raven-black hair, but she still had the same gothic dress from mthe other night which made her easily recognizable — and, she was buying a machine that made bullets.
Fucking great… Yannis thought.
Anna McKenzie woke up to an empty bed the following night. She threw on her robe and stepped into her slipppers. The young detective crossd her fingers as she opened the bedroom door with a hole in the center of it. She stepped into the hallway to see Zak standing there already with his hand on his chin; that wasn’t a good sign.
“What is it?” She didn’t have to ask but anything to prolongue the inevitable answer would have given her enough seconds to keep the hurt from coming back right away. She was a good detective and didn’t need to ask such a question when she could see her partner and lover standing there with such a forelorn expression.
“She didn’t come back tonight…”
Anna wrapped her arms around Zak and tried not to weep. Just then, the phone rang. Zak reached to the wall and picked it up.
“Zak? No, it’s Tom. What are you doing at Anna’s?”
“She was picking me up. ‘Sup?”
“Get Anna and meet me at the station as soon as you can. An Agent Zevros from the FBI want’s to talk with you.” Zak rolled his eyes and cupped the phone.
“It’s that fed guy you brought from the club. He wants us to meet him at that piece of shit precinct you got us stuck with.”
“I heard that!” Tom’s voice emanated from the phone so prominently the receiver buzzed in Zak’s palm.
Anna made it to the police station in near-record time. Her captain was sure to have heard the crash of the trash cans against the side of the building as she jammed her crown victoria half onto the sidewalk. Zak trailed closely behind as she blasted into the lobby. She looked through the bullet proof glass panel windows in the sergeants desk to see the officers desks beyond. Yannis was sitting beside one of them and he seemed to be working hard on a laptop. The officer cleared them through and Anna wasted no time walking up to the agent.
“What do you want?”
Yannis, dressed in a nice suit this time, spun his Laptop around with a video of her daughter on it.
“This was about two hours ago. One of my mafia snitches sent this through our database. It looks like your daughter; she’s buying one of those machines that fits bullets together.” Yannis leaned forward to look into Anna’s eyes. “I took this off the database and risked my ass for you, Anna. Don’t ask me why, but I do want to know what your daughter is doing buying a weapons manufacturing kit.” Yannis whispered just loud enough for Zak and Anna to hear him but for nobody else in the department to catch onto what they were talking about. He was surprised that Anna wasn’t scared that he had found something about her daughter. In fact, Anna sighed a great sigh of relief and hugged Zak.
“Where was this?”
“About — two blocks away from where you live, give or take. You — aren’t surprised?”
“We’ve been looking for Jordan ever since last night,” Zak said. “We weren’t sure if she was — still around.”
Yannis’s eyes went wide at that reaction.
“You mean, still alive?” Yannis rolled his eyes and shut the lid on his laptop. “All I wanted to do was put away gangsters. Now you two have me in this bind. I didn’t join the FBI to be put on the X-Files.” He got up and tucked his laptop under his arms. “Is there any way we can fix this situation to where I can keep my job and not be labeled a lunatic over what I find?”
“Maybe,” Anna said. “Help me find my daughter tonight and we have a deal.” Anna put her hands on her hips and gave her the best please help me grin that she could muster. Yannis was no match for her.
“Any word on the blue whale?”
“Blue what?!” Zak asked.
“I’m missing my daughter and you’re worried about your car?”
Yannis realized that all his questions were coming back with questions and he sighed. He had an immense education in psychology and he knew when people were dodging questions. This did not bode well for his vehicle. Just as they were about to head out, Tom ran out of his office.
“Hold the presses! This one, just in…. Murder at the Marigold Inn. Double homicide. Why are you taking him with you?” Tom pointed toward Yannis with his Ipad. Looking like a deer in the headlights, Yannis’s eyes widened and his shoulders rose to chin level.
“Because I can?”
He hoped that was a good enough answer. He pulled his FBI credentials from his pocket and flailed it around in his hand. He looked like Fox Mulder would have looked if he got caught watching porn by his partner Skully. Tom took a deep breath and looked beyond Yannis to two detectives he was talking to in the first place.
“Any arrests you make, it’s our collar. This agent-guy here is just an observer. Observer, you got that?” Tom looked directly to Yannis and waited for the eventual shake of his head. The three left together and peeled out of the trash pile that they parked in. Speghetti sauce, dead fish, and undersized, used micro-contraceptives sprayed the air in their wake as they hit the sirens. The pungent stench of the Chinese restaurant’s waste hit the officers at the front desk and reacted to it as if it were mustard gas.
Yannis threaded his fingers through the metal grate of their cruiser. It was the only way he could talk to them without yelling over the siren so kept himself pulled in close, holding on against the rapid acceleration as Zak wove through cars at high speed to get to where he was going.
“So about this vampire stuff… I still don’t believe it.”
Zak laughed as he concentrated on driving. Anna sighed and looked to Yannis.
“I know it sounds strange but you walked in on the wrong conversation, Agent Zevros. Life would be a little easier if you forget it but as you could hear, there’s a war going on and if you want to help, or need more proof, let’s find my daughter and I’ll let her give you all the proof you need to believe!” She had to yell over the sound of the sirens wail. Yannis nodded through the bars that separated the front from the back seats.
The clubs were closed on a Saturday night, yet still, there were people wanting to get in for their fix of extasy thanks to Pedro. Nero stood far enough back that the lights from the street wouldn’t touch him as the twilight stream of photons poured through the window and landed softly in it’s blue radiance. In the shadows, Margot, Pedro, Titus, Nero, and a few other close trusted members of the new Sanctum gathered for their plans. They used the slightly raised stage to sit around.
A cloud of mist emerged from the stairway and three other vampires emerged from the vapor and walked across the dance floor. Jaime, and two other men joined the party. Nero was already waiting for Jaime with her clothes.
“You totally have to get down to my club sometime and do that in the crowd. That shit would be legit.” There was laughter coming from some of the other vampires as Pedro made his somewhat rude, yet true statement.
“What did you find out?” Nero ignored Pedro’s blunt observation as the vampires got dressed.
“Looks like they got help. They left the Marigold hotel about half an hour ago.” Jaime paused to slide her short shorts back up and to button her sports bra. The men looked saddened by her sudden clothed appearance. In fact, Nero was getting annoyed at how disappointed they all seemed to be. He only hoped it was because of the dismal news about the war. “Three men in very expensive suits… All wielding swords.”
“Swords?!” The Columbian club owner laughed as he kicked in a crate and pulled out an M-4 with an M203 grenade launcher underneath. “Who the hell brings a sword to a grenade fight?”
“Better hit him with the grenades this time. The bullets don’t do shit,” Nero reluctantly reminded Pedro.
“These guys are going to be very good, you know that…” Jaime sat down and pulled a pistol out of the crate along with a holster. “They had another vampire with them too, besides that boy. Some fledgling. She looked like she didn’t know what was going on.”
“We need to change our location to a place that we are familiar with but we shouldn’t fight on familiar ground. We’re going to have the local authorities to deal with after this is over and Pedro’s club has already been the battleground once,” Margot said while sharpening a wooden stake.
“Hey! What about my club?” Jaime planted her hands on her hips and stood back up after strapping her gun onto her leg.
“You want to fuck your place up, Jaime?” Margot’s brows furrowed.
“No! I mean… This is not just Pedro’s club, it’s mine too. So we should take the fight away from our clubs.”
The vampires all looked over to Nero who began laughing hysterically.
“This is not funny,” Joey, one of Pedro’s closest friends retorted. “Last time we had a fight I spent half my time hiding behind a Greek statue while a bunch of vampires tried to kill me with conventional weaponry.”
“No… No I’m not laughing at that.” Nero caught his breath and explained. “It’s just that, we’re on the brink of a war that’s going to kill people. Some of us, if not all of us, are going to die tonight and you’re all worried about recognition for your club. Maybe that just means your just that confident? I hope!” He started to laugh again. Even Titus had to smile at the observation.
“Confidence is a virtue of the victorious but lets not be hasty to develop overconfidence for that is a virtue of the defeated for many a historic battle,” Titus said.
“I suppose you’re going to be running around with swords, too?” Margot asked.
Titus pulled a G-36 assault rifle from behind his back and pulled a round into the chamber.
“I change with the times, my dear.”
“Central Park? The Empire State Building?” Pedro asked. “What about those places?”
“You wish to destroy a symbol of this great country just to satisfy your lack of tactics?” Titus said. “How about Central Park? It’s fucked up already anyway…”
“Too many cops,” Nero said. “We patrolled that area like no tomorrow back when I was a cop; especially at night. We need to find some place that won’t gather attention to lure them into.”
“These vampires have been around for many years. It’s going to be hard to lure them anywhere,” Margot said. “They’re not just going to come at us by invitation alone. They’re going to show up when they feel like it and there isn’t anything that we can do about that.”
“So we’re just supposed to sit around and wait for them to dust us? At least we’re trying to plan here,” Pedro retorted. “We need to keep an eye on them and know when they plan to make a move. It’s the only way.”
“And when your enemy makes their move, that’s when we change our venue to a place of our choosing,” Titus added. “I seem to remember an alliance with mortals with specific capabilities that could be of use to us in our dire straights.” Titus smiled. “Someone capable of tracking vehicles, keeping tabs, and generating vital intelligence to our support.”
“But you didn’t even bite me!” Eric protested as he paced back and fourth. Jordan had just bought dye for her hair from the store. She didn’t understand how it happened because she agreed with him, she didn’t bite him as far as she knew. The cute Goth boy that she was quickly falling in love with was a hundred percent human the day before.
“Did that boy bite you? Did you end up with anyone’s blood in your mouth?”
“I’m not joking! Did you bite me last night when we were… Um…”
“Boinking? No! NO… I hate blood! I wouldn’t hurt you. I really like you!”
Jordan sighed as she stuck her hair under the sink to rinse the excess dye out of her hair. Even as a vampire, appearances were still somewhat of an effort to maintain. She liked going to mist but the problem with going to mist was that the moment you do, you lose your clothes, jewelry, makeup, earrings, and even the hair dye stays behind.
“Well Vampy… Looks like you’re going to have to start getting over your hate as soon as possible because blood is the only thing you’re going to be drinking for the rest of your unlife.”
“Dark Chocolate… I’m going to miss Dark Chocolate.” The boy whimpered as he collapsed on Jordan’s bed. His eyes closed for a moment as he thought about things and then he opened them again. “… SCHOOL?! What about school? They don’t have school at night! I’m going to have to tell my parents.”
“NO! You can’t tell your parents!” Jordan jumped out of the bathroom with a stained towel around her head. Her eyes all but burned into him as she said it. “No matter what! We can’t tell any meanie mortals about our condition. Ever ever ever!” She jumped up and down for each ever that she said.
“What am I going to do?! You should have asked me before you killed me.”
“I didn’t mean to kill you! I never meant to kill anyone so far, they just – die!” She gasped in frustration as she blasted back into the bathroom. The door slammed shut so hard that it must have alerted the neighbors. As if on queue, the front door started pounding.
“I’ll get it!”
“Whatever…” Jordan’s muffled voice sang in reply from the bathroom.
Jordan was about to give her tangled black locks one more rinse before she realized what she just okayed her boyfriend to do. Oh no, she thought.
Jordan pulled her head away from the sink so hard that she knocked the faucet from it’s base and water started spraying straight into the air and splattering all over the tile floor, the mirror, the ceiling, and the walls. She crashed through the door wearing nothing but her sports bra and her basketball shorts. Despite her vampiric speed, Eric had already opened what may as well have been the doorway to hell.
Nichole Draysdale stood there in a grey and white evening dress, sporting dyed white-blonde hair. She raised an eyebrow at the Goth kid as he locked eyes on her obnoxiously enormous breasts that threatened to pour out of the dress and flood the apartment if the dam broke.
“And what is this noise I keep hearing?! Who are you? Where are your parents?” She talked over the hypnotized boys head and looked to Jordan who was still dripping all over the carpet from the accident in the bathroom.
“Sorry about that. I’m helping Zak fix something in the bathroom while my new boyfriend watches – well he was watching TV but now he’s watching your stupidly ginormous boobies. We’ll keep it down.” Jordan reached over to the door and started closing it. Nichole jammed the toe of her high heels between her carpet and the underside of the door to keep it from closing as she looked around the bathroom.
“Are you sure you two aren’t alone? That would be so unfortunate, you know… I could call child services again. I have my eye on you!”
Jordan gave her the evil eye and kept closing the door on Nichole. Nichole was used to the tactic of jamming her steel toed high heels under the door to keep it from closing but she had never known that it was possible for a tiny little girl to plow the door right over her foot and steam-roll it right into the carpet. Jordan was sure she heard a toe snap as she kept closing the door until it was shut all the way. Blood curdling screams could be heard from the other side of the door as Jordan locked it.
Nichole gasped and screamed in the hallway as she knelt down to unbuckle the ankle strap from her thousand dollar shoes. She pulled her feet out and gasped.
“I’m calling the police!!! That is it, you little bitch! I’m going to see to it that you don’t even return to New York! You and your low-rent, divorced, sinner mother! You unchristian little runt! That was it! You hear me! That was it!” She fell onto her back and started to cry as she nursed her bent toe. She jammed her hand past her Christian cross and pulled her cell phone from her cleavage where she stored her personal belongings. She started to dial as the phone was grabbed from her hand. She looked up to see a young man in an expensive striped suit.
“Give me back my phone!” Nichole demanded. Nickey looked down at her and shook his head.
“I’ll deal with you later,” he said as he threw the phone down the hallway and kicked the door in. The two kids backed toward the window as the man walked through the splintered doorway with a crossbow in hand.
“Here’s Nickey!” He said in a tone similar to that of “The Shining”. “They sent me to take care of you while my boss takes care of the rest of your family.” He laughed menacingly as he brought his crossbow to eye level and launched a large wooden stake directly at the girl. The stake slammed straight through Jordan’s torso and the glass shattered behind her. Nichole and Eric watched in horror as a single teardrop traced blood down her pale cheek. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she dropped out of the window.
“And you… You her new boyfriend?” Nickey asked as he grabbed Nichole by her twisted ankle and yanked her into the room. He tried to close the busted door but the high heel prevented him from moving the door another inch without needing to kick it again. He laughed and turned back to the boy. “You know what I did to her last squeeze? Hm?” He dropped the crossbow and pulled a Glock pistol out. “I killed him, his whole family, and ruined her life. I guess I should have killed you first. That would have been nice.” Nickey took aim at the young teen and squeezed the trigger. The bullet blasted through his hand and dug into his heart. A splash of crimson red plastered the boys face and he fell backward next to Nichole, who screamed.
“Oh shut up!” He raised his arm and went to pull the trigger but his finger suddenly relaxed in the trigger guard as he looked down at his chest. The same large stake that he shot Jordan with was now sticking out of him. Jordan’s rested her bloody chin on the collar of his suit.
“That was for missing the heart,” Jordan whispered. “This is for Derrick!” Nichole passed out as the little girls fangs extended and dug into his jugular. The last thing he saw was Eric rising from the dead, wondering what happened. Eric was suddenly blasted by a mountain of dust as Jordan exacted her revenge.
“Are you okay?”
Eric responded by jumping at her. Jordan was taken completely by surprise as her boyfriend wrapped his arms around her and gasped with relief.
“I thought he killed you!”
“Of course not. He totally missed. But don’t worry. Nothing will happen to me. We’re vampires now. We don’t have to kill people like this all the time. This is just a strange night.”
“Remember how you said earlier though, how you never meant to kill anyone? Well, you killed him too!” Eric pointed an accusing finger at the corpse over and over again. In the case she wasn’t paying attention, he used both arms to forcefully thrust a finger at the pile of ash in machine-gun fashion. “And I’m pretty sure you meant it!”
“Yeah well he meant to kill both of us!” Jordan once again, placed her hands on her hips. Instead of receiving a retort, she got a kiss instead.
Anna received another call from the station just as they finished bagging the bodies from the Marigold hotel. It was a rather disturbing message from her captain about the vandalism of her house and her neighbor being taken to the hospital. She was told that there was blood at the crime scene and that CSI would be on site within minutes to find out what happened. Anna’s anxiety level skyrocketed at that point. She looked to Yannis and then to Zak before deciding she needed to be the one on scene at her house.
“I’m going to leave you two in charge of this investigation. Someone broke into the house,” she explained.
“The house? Our house?”
Anna didn’t say anything to Zak as she left the crime scene. Yannis crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow at Zak.
“You two um…”
“None of your business…” Zak said. His phone started buzzing in his hand. It was Nero. He flipped the phone open. “What do you want? We’re kind of busy.”
“Sorry to add to your busy schedule, bud… We uh.. We need a favor. Could we borrow a few of those tracking devices from your new fed buddy? It’s sort of life or death.”
Jordan and Eric were back on the street with a crate full of supplies that they had been collecting with the money they stole from the Gamboni family. They quickly pulled themselves up to the nearest rooftop tall enough to conceal what they were up to and began working with the she machine that they had bought from an underground arms dealer. Eric sat Indian style as he placed an empty shell into the machine and filled it full of gun powder.
“I don’t even know if I’m doing this right…”
Jordan looked down to see that the boys hands were white as paper. If he were still human and not dead, he would have been shaking so much that he wouldn’t even be able to put the bullets into the shells.
“You keep a lookout and I’ll get it.” Jordan waved him away and sat down in front of the machine. She had used a similar one before in Iowa with her father but this one was slightly different. She took out the one bullet that he had made and inspected it. “How much gun powder did you put in this shell?”
“I filled it all the way up, why?”
Jordan rolled her eyes, “This bullet will probably blow up the gun that fires it. You don’t pack it in like that.” Jordan pushed that bullet into a small pocket in her short skirt. “Okay, so now you put just a little bit of powder in each one. Just a little under half way and you take the tips and slam it on, replace the primer – that little small thing on the back of the bullet.” She explained. “She made a bullet after he watched and handed it to him and then got up.
“Where are you going?!” Eric asked.
“We got to test it out! I’m getting a gun! Keep making those bullets, kay?”
Jordan climbed down the side of the building and doubled back to 335 West End Avenue to get back to her apartment. As expected, cops had surrounded the building. With lightening fast speed, she rocketed toward the nearest officer. The faster she moved, the more energy she had to expend to do so but the slower everything around her seemed to be. The police officer at the door seemed to be moving very slowly from her perspective now. His eyelids closed in about one fourth real time as the young boy in blue saw the dark haired gothic chick close in on him. By then, she was already on him with fangs extended. The last thing he saw before blacking out was his own gun. Jordan licked the wound and it healed instantly to cover up the bite marks. Then, let the unconscious man fall to the ground as she leapt up and caught the overhang on the building. Jordan leapt up the windows too quickly for anyone to notice. It looked as if the officer had simply feinted. In just a few minutes, Jordan appeared on the rooftops again. The boy had gotten done with five bullets by the time she returned. Jordan rolled her eyes and took back over again.
CSI detective Gary Nolan was very scientifically minded; a skeptic in all things until given proof. Which was why he would never believe in vampires. The thought never crossed his mind as he sat over what used to be a pool of blood while wondering if he still had his eyebrows. He knew a lot about crime scenes and blood. He was an expert in blood spatter patterns, what types of bullets were used to kill the innocent, the many ways in which bodies could be removed from the scene and planted in other places, and of course, proper procedure.
There were many things he didn’t know about, however. In addition to not having the spiritual capacity to believe in such things as vampires, he of course didn’t know how to handle vampire blood. Vampire blood has many unique qualities that he would never be able to know about. As he stood over what used to be a crimson pool of evidence, the fire alarm finally went off. Nobody bothered to tell the poor man that looked like he had just stuck his fingers in a light socket (his hair was standing in the direction of the ceiling) that vampires were real, and that their blood didn’t react very well to any ultra violet light.
Accompanied by a staggering gun-less NYPD officer, Anna raced up to the apartment to see that most of it was flash-singed what looked like some sort of chemical explosion. Knelt in the corner was poor Gary Nolan. He looked like Wile E. Coyote after playing with Acme Explosives, black from head to toe, with a busted UV lamp in his hand.
“Gary?! Are you okay?!” Anna asked. “You’re missing an eyebrow!”
Gary responded with the kind of squeak she would have expected from a man that had just been thrown a surprise birthday party after being firmly punched in the crotch by a three foot tall midget. It was that special mixture of surprise and pain.
“I uh– destroyed the evidence…”
Anna sat the uniformed officer down on her sofa and checked on the CSI officer.
“You’re okay…” Anna said with relief. To the CSI investigator, it convincingly sounded like she gave a shit about his well being. Anna felt guilty shortly after because her relief was more over the fact that the evidence was destroyed and not so much that Gary was okay in the process. “Stay here.” Anna raced into Jordans bedroom to see that her daughters phone, that was recently connected to the power cord for most the night, was now off the charger. She reached into her pocket and dialed Jordan. After a few rings, it picked up.
“Hello!” Jordan’s voice had that cheerful quality to it which let her mom know that there was about to be so much bad news pouring into her ear, that only sounding extremely happy will help cushion the reaction. Regadrless of the motherly association with impending upset, Anna all but collapsed on her daughters bed when she heard her daughters voice.
“Jordan! Where are you! You need to get home right now! There’s about to be a war between the vampires and you can’t be out like this!”
“I know mom… I’m helping with it. Trust me.” Jordan chirped
“Get home, now!”
“I can’t right now… Trust me. We’re working on something.” The trust me’s always sounded happy and chipper. Anna heard that method of reply before and it was always bad news. There always seemed to be something behind that door labeled trust me that opened to something very, very bad. For once in her life, Anna wasn’t prepared to walk through that door by asking her what exactly it was she was doing.
“Did you see what happened to the apartment?”
“Yeah… I know. Nickey tried to kill me.”
“That’s why you need to get home! He could still be after you!”
“Nope… He’s dead now, mom. Please tell Zak it wasn’t revenge. That meanie Nickey was in the apartment. He shot Eric but he’s okay. He tried to hurt me too but he missed and I fell out the window. I came back and he was about to kill our neighbor so I drank him.”
“You drank him?” Anna’s eyes widened and she put her hand over her mouth to take in what her daughter had just said. “Where is he?”
“Dust, mom… They turn to dust when you do that.”
“Alright… If they know you’re here, don’t come back home. Don’t go to the club, either.. It’s too dangerous.” Anna said as she ran through the events of the night in her mind. “We found a lot of dust in a bathtub today next to a corpse at the Marigold hotel… There might be more vampires around. It might be a little while before these Vampires make good on their threats but strange things are happening. I don’t know why they would have gone to a hotel.”
“Oh that’s probably because I burnt the vampires mansion down, mom.”
“What?!” Anna screamed. “Alright.. Alright…” The detective got off of her daughters bed and started turning circles in her daughters room as she panicked. “Just.. Calm down!”
“I am calm.”
“Alright… Well.. Just get – that guy. What’s his name?”
“Right… Get him to a hospital if he’s shot and we’ll figure out how to deal with it from there. I’ll meet you at –,”
“You said he was shot!”
“He was but he’s alright now… Sort – of… I mean… I kind of turned him into a vampire.”
“I don’t know! I didn’t bite him.. I didn’t even give him my blood!”
Anna heard other police officers responding to the explosion and the previous call.
“Alright… Just – Zak at Central Park at five o’clock, okay? He’ll check you and Eric into a hotel – separate rooms! And we’ll go over how angry with you I am. And Jordan.. I love you.”
By the time she walked out of her daughters bedroom and back into the blown up living room, she was shaking just as much as the stunned CSI officer.
“I love what you’ve done with the place. It’s very… Crusty, Detective McKenzie,” the NYPD officer that lost his gun almost sounded drunk as he looked around the room. Anna picked a stool from the kitchen bar off the burnt wooden floor and sat on it. More officers poured into the door as she placed her elbows on the counter. She rested her face into her hands as a few more cops entered the apartment.
“Anna,” one of the police officers said that juts got into the door. “Are you taking lead on this case? You aren’t going to believe the tall tale that your neighbor just gave us.”
“At this point I would believe anything you said,” Anna said. She pulled out her phone and started texting.
It took Yannis and Zak an hour to pinpoint which new high-end motel in lower Manhattan was used to house the Vampires that now controlled the Gamboini crime family. They were currently done attaching the last of the transmitters onto the cars when Zak received a text message.
JORDAN IS FINE. OUR APARTMENT IS TRASHED. PICK HER UP @5AM – CENTERAL PARK. VERY IMPORTANT! NEED TO RESERVE HOTEL FOR JORDAN AND ERIC. HE IS A VAMPIRE TOO.
Yannis pulled himself out from under the car and looked at the odd expression on Zak’s face – something he was used to seeing by now.
“What is it?”
“Hold up…” Zak started dialing his phone.
“Hello!” Jordan’s voice replied.
“Jordan! I’m picking you up at five. You have splainin’ to do, girl… What’s this with Eric?”
“He um… He woke up a vampire and before you say anything… No I didn’t give him any of my blood and he just ended up that way! The weirdest thing. Oh and it wasn’t revenge to kill Nickey… Really. He threw me off of a building so I drank him.”
“Yeah, I know… I get that a lot.”
“And you say you didn’t bite Eric or –,” Zak stopped when he remembered what Titus had told him earlier in the night. He put his hands to his head. “Oh my god…”
“So what have you been doing all this time?”
“Oh we got this really cool bullet making machine thing and lots of empty brass cartridges for your guns… We’re making bullets that will kill vampires!”
Zak rubbed his hand to his chin and nodded in understanding even though he couldn’t see the girl on the other end of the phone as he mumbled, oh good… good… Bring Eric I think Im’a need one of those…
“Nothing…. Five Sharp! No if’s and’s, or buts!” Titus jammed his finger into the hangup button and dropped the phone into his pocket. Yannis could see that something was terribly wrong as they returned to their new Dodge Charger. Yannis breathed in the new car smell, something he hadn’t experienced in over a decade and exhaled.
“You going to tell me about it, Detective Jones?”
“Now — is not the time…”
Leaving behind an entire column of GPS tagged cars, the Dodge Charger drove off into the night with tires squealing. Yannis found the trusty oh-shit handle near the roof next to the window as the angry driver rushed back to the Marigold hotel to continue their investigation before anyone noticed that it wasn’t actually being investigated.