August sat at a large desk, his new books stacked neatly on top of a messy stack of notes. In a small, leather bound journal, he continued copying diagrams from the edition of the Necronomicon he had purchased two months earlier. Minerva’s fingers danced on the keyboard of the office’s PC, logging a new series of entries into the database of clients. Rain streaked down the windows, which shuddered as the wind rattled against them.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandfather.” said Minerva. “He could bring a lot to the business. He has a ton of experience and he is a more powerful magician than I could ever have been.”
“I don’t like that he hides behind that illusion.” said August, “It’s disquieting; it makes me wonder what else he’s hiding. Besides, he’s a necromancer. Those guys scare the hell out of me.”
“It’s just something I’ve been thinking about. If we were to come across something devastatingly powerful, we’d need some help.” Minerva swiveled her chair about to look at August. “The way things went with the witches at the retirement village just made me think that we could use someone more potent on call. With King Bodon cropping up here and there, I’m confident that we’ll need someone to bail us out sooner than later.”
“You’re being cautious, and I respect that, but I just can’t trust Adrian. He seems so cold and detached; inhuman, almost like a vampire. Cold logic can be a hindrance, as much as raw emotion.” August closed his journal, the Necronomicon still opened to a chapter about vampires. He had been researching an expunging of vampires throughout Europe during the first World War.
“You’ve been talking about vampires a lot lately.” said Minerva, artfully changing the topic. “What’s Claude trying to do now?” she asked with a smile. Claude was the vampire that lived across the street from them in an old bank that had been converted into apartments. He was an active member of the community; a child of the sixties, he was fond of folk music and political activism.
“I’m not entirely sure. I know he’s been pushing for an increase in feeding rations since the city has started thriving, but I don’t know how this will help. Maybe he’s hoping to ask for reparations or something?”
“He’s going to have a tough time of it then.” said Minerva in a serious tone. “There’s been a rash of apparent vampire attacks over the last week or so. The surviving victims have all identified the same attacker; a pale blonde man dressed in shabby grey clothes. Possibly German.” Minerva saw August ‘s face freeze as he recognized the description. He had only glimpsed the man walking towards Mr. Zelinski’s bookstore. “Do you know anything about this?” asked Minerva.
“I think I saw him earlier today. Who have his victims been? Is there any connection?” August was visibly upset, nearly shaking. He couldn’t believe that he didn’t recognize the vampire; if anything happened to Mr. Zelinski, he wouldn’t be able to forgive his neglect.
“I’ll check through the news and see what the word is online.” volunteered Minerva. August was all ready dialing the number for Mr. Zelinski’s store. With each passing ring, August became more anxious. By the fifth ring, his stomach felt like it was full of snakes.
“Zelinski’s books and curiosities, how may I be of service?” the voice was silky smooth and was inherently calming. That was one of the hallmarks of a vampire; soothing their prey with sweet words as they pinned them to the ground. The light German accent confirmed August’s fears.
“May I speak to Mr. Zelinski?” asked August, trying to seem nonchalant.
“I’m afraid he’s not here right now. Is there something I can help you with?” August couldn’t believe the vampire’s audacity. Saying that he’d call back later, August hung up the phone.
“The vampire seems to be attacking spiritualists and occultists. His victims have included a few minor collectors, two weak psychics, and an author.” stated Minerva.
“Get Tobias on the phone; I’m going to need him on this one. I think that the vampire is at Mr. Zelinski’s right now. Tell him to meet me there.” August blew out of the door like a storm, his duster trailing him like a ragged stalker.
The smell of incense was heavy in the air. Claude Hooper Bukowski was reclining on satin pillows, his long, lean form sprawled out on a colorful Persian rug. He rubbed his hand across his bald head, then stood up to greet Minerva. The room was dark; the windows covered with canvases that were in turn covered with art that walked the boundary between erotic and pornographic. One of his lovers, a young girl with straight blonde hair, helped him put on a silk kimono.
“Claude, we need to talk.” started Minerva, wanting to evade any of Claude’s chatter.
“Salutations. Greetings. Hi. Claude, I need to talk to you. There are a lot of ways to say hello, my sweet child. Some of them are more appropriate than others.” said Claude condescendingly. It was as though he knew that Minerva did not approve of his lifestyle and was going out of his way to make her uncomfortable.
“I’m sorry for my brevity, but there’s an answer I need, and I hope you have it.”
“It would be a truly groovy thing to help you kids out, but where’s Auggie? He’s been doing some groundwork for me, and the sooner the foundation’s in place, the more solid things will be.” replied Claude. “But yeah, if you have a question, just lay it on me.”
“Do you know of any German vampires that have recently arrived in the area?”
“What do I look like? The Teutonic telephone book? I need a bit more to go on than a genetic predilection for sauerkraut.” Claude smiled, confident that he was being witty. The young girl that was attending him reclined on a pillow, smiling and laughing at the attempt at humor.
“Blonde, shabby, and newsworthy. Likes killing people.” said Minerva with all the charm and politeness of an iron club.
“You might be looking for Sebottendorf. He’s fairly new around these parts. If not, he might have some answers if you ask him nicely. Sounds German enough to me, though not all of us keep our given names.”
“I know, Francis.” said Minerva, retreating from the choking scent of sandalwood.
“Minerva!” called Claude, running to catch her by the wrist. She pulled from his grasp and looked into his pleading eyes. “I’m sorry; sometimes I have a hard time being a gracious host and good neighbor. I don’t get many visitors.”
“Yeah, well I have something more important to deal with right now. I need to get this information to August and my husband as soon as I can. I don’t want them going in blind against anything.”
“Well, if it is Sebottendorf they are after, they need to be careful. He’s more than just a potent vampire. His command of magic is unmatched by mortal standards. Combined with a total lack of control and the pot’ll hold a stew of troubles.”