“I didn’t know what else to do. The necrosis was spreading, and I needed someone that could stop it. Of course, I thought of you.” replied August, trying to keep up.
“I’ve seen a lot of weird stuff. This isn’t the strangest, but it definitely isn’t usual. I’ve quarantined the patient, and I’ve made sure to put the most knowledgeable nurses and staff on watch.”
“By knowledgeable you mean that they know about the supernatural, right?”
“You have it.” replied Dr. Kholsa, her large, round eyes sparkling. “So, what else do you need?”
“I have vampire troubles.” said August bluntly.
“Bureau of Vampire Affairs. That’s a simple enough answer.”
“He’s not registered. Tobias is on the phone with Germany right now, but what we’re thinking is that he was grandfathered in.”
“Shit.” said Dr. Kholsa, shocked. “So then he’s at least two centuries old. That is no good. My uncle Mitesh had a run in with a rakshasi that was half a millennium old; he lost a thumb to her, but it could have been worse.”
“But rakshasas and vampires aren’t necessarily the same, right?” asked August, slightly worried. He knew that Dr. Kholsa’s uncle was one of the greatest demon hunters in Asia, and the story of his lost thumb wasn’t one August had heard before.
“They are same enough, really. Vampires can become flesh eaters, just like a rakshasa can. However, I don’t think you are dealing with one like that. If you were, your friend’s flesh would be missing, not rotting.”
“All right, I think I’ve taken enough of your time. Thanks, Prabha.”
“Don’t worry about it August. Just next time, please call first, okay?” said Dr. Kholsa impishly. She disappeared in a sea of patients, leaving August to navigate his way out of the hospital. He found himself wishing he had paid more attention to where he had been walking. He knew he was making progress when he heard Tobias’ raised voice.
Tobias, who hated hospitals, was vociferously arguing with his cell phone. His angry German shouts had pushed every living soul away from him. August, unaware if the German Tobias was speaking was meant to be angry or not, approached cautiously. Tobias snapped the cell phone shut.
“Nothing. Nothing at all.” growled Tobias through gritted teeth. “Nearly confirms the suspicions that Sebottendorff predates any of the vampire acts, both foreign and domestic. He’s been under the radar for a long, long time. The best I can figure is that Zelinski possessed something that could actually reveal Sebottendorff’s real age.”
“That could mean bad news for Sebottendorff. If he’s been avoiding official channels, he’ll probably take the rap for a lot of crimes, several that he might not even committed. Maybe it’s all self-defense?” proposed August as the pair walked to the squat, green station wagon. Both were troubled, puzzling over the mystery that was at hand.
“We’ll only know for sure if we can have a chat with Sebottendorff.” said Tobias, “But I doubt that he’ll meet us for tea.”
“So, the question is, how do we flush him out without raising too much suspicion?” said August. He slid behind the wheel of the car and let his thoughts ramble for a while. “Minerva will be the key, I think. I’d venture a guess that he knows I’m associated with Mr. Zelinski. He’d probably smell the wolf in your blood.”
“Minnie is still with Claude, so perhaps that is fate dealing us some beneficial cards.” said Tobias, secretly wondering if Claude and Sebottendorff could be in cahoots with each other. He was never one for trusting people, particularly not vampires. “I’ll get on the phone with her. Why don’t you turn us towards home?” Tobias suggested, “The closer we are to Minnie, the better I’ll feel.”
“Timothy Leary was misconstrued, his message, over simplified. ’Turn on, tune in, drop out’ was what he said, and it works on the same level as Socialism. If people are ideal people, they will take that message and run with it, but people are people. They’ll take short cuts and liberties that the ideal man would never take.” Claude’s eyes were focused, his stare intense. Minerva felt uncomfortable as he proselytized tirelessly on behalf of his lifestyle. A century of experience, half of which was spent devoted to counterculture and social revolution, was gazing tirelessly into her eyes. Her powers as a psychic sensitive made her feel doubly vulnerable; she could feel the pulse of his zealous devotion; its color burning a deep red in his aura.
“You know what I mean, right? Vampires are naturally inclined to turn on, tune in, and drop out. We have easy access to heightened levels of sensation and consciousness, and what’s important has a way of becoming obvious after about fifty years without distractions. Yet, most vampires just drop out of the world completely, never doing anything worthwhile. As a race, we tend to be stagnant.” Minerva tried to keep her thoughts to herself, just in case he could read minds. If she was thinking freely, she would have thought that Claude himself had become stagnant, lost eternally in the 1960’s.
However, she listened patiently, interjecting occasionally with comments that made Claude feel like he was the revolutionary thinker that he believed himself to be. She studied the deep lines of his corpselike face as he smiled cheerfully. She could tell that he was enjoying talking to someone that understood what he was talking about. Evidently, the young women he kept around were fine to look at, but lacked the understanding that the vampire longed for.
“I met Jack Nicholson once, you know.” mentioned Claude, trying to impress Minerva. “It was before he made it big. He and Roger Corman approached me, asking if they could make a movie based on my life. This was back when I lived in California, of course. Could you imagine if I said yes? The movie would have been the most divine piece of cinematic trash.” he smiled, lips closed and seeming ironic. The fire was gone from his aura, and all that was left was a subtle trace of sadness, which disappeared when Minerva’s cell phone rang.
Excusing herself from the conversation, she was updated on what happened by Tobias.
“Be careful, Minnie. We don’t know if it’s safe for you there.” said Tobias.
“Love you too.” replied Minnie, trying to remain calm.