“What’s this? Some kinda joke?” she asked, looking for the hidden cameras that she knew must have been concealed somewhere. The pale man, in his dark uniform, grinned predatorily, exposing his mouth filled with pointed, shark-like teeth. He pointed at the girl and one of the men that flanked him leaped across the expanse of the desk. She clawed helplessly at his thick, dead skin as his hands wrapped around her neck. A security guard, who had been watching passively, rushed to her aid, but was intercepted by another of Sebottendorff’s victims.
“This is no joke. I need to find a man called Zelinski. He has information that I need, and if you wish to survive, you will assist me. Otherwise, I will be forced to let my associates eat you. Do you understand?” Sebottendorff’s eyes were fixed on hers; he could see her desperation and savored it. “Put her down, Fowler.” he commanded, and the creature obeyed. The receptionist coughed, trying to catch her breath. Once she gained her breath, she let out a scream; the security guard’s head rolled back as his bloody body collapsed.
“I believe that the authorities will be here soon enough,” started Sebottendorff, “We will need to secure a perimeter. We’ll need more if we are to hold the lobby. You three go and bite some folks; let them rise. We need numbers more than food right now. Focus on women and children; the authorities are less likely to fire on someone with the visage of innocence.”
Sebottendorff looked at the receptionist’s shining gold name tag. “Rebekah. You will find Zelinski for me, yes?” Rebekah shuddered, fighting her urge to flee. Sebottendorff saw her face sink in obedience and felt his heart lighten. It would be only a matter of time before he would know where his book was.
A scroll hung on the wall of August’s tiny apartment. An intricate labyrinth had been painted on it centuries ago by a monk from some cloister or other. It was made to contain evil spirits; when an incantation was recited, the spirit would be drawn into the scroll. The spirit would then wander the labyrinth until its release; their wanderings were noted by tiny specks that moved about the labyrinth’s rings. In some way, he found watching the movements soothing.
He was vexed by the mysteries before him. He wondered why the folio seemed to mean so much to Sebottendorff. While it seemed to profile him, there was nothing truly incriminating. A knocking sounded on his apartment door; August grabbed hold of a small, silver dagger that he kept in his apartment in case anything ever came for him at home. Peeping through the hole in the door, he saw that it was the vampire Claude. Bald headed, wearing a woven poncho, and bespectacled with tinted granny glasses, Claude waved casually.
“What do you want?” asked August as he opened the door.
“I think I might have an answer for you.” said Claude. August looked the vampire up and down, and was repelled by his dirty, bare feet and overgrown toe nails. “But I’d ask for you to let me in before I share.” August knew that there was no use in arguing with the vampire, so he invited him in, but didn’t sheathe his dagger.
Claude marveled at the confusion that August called home. A black and white television sat defiantly in the midst of the apartment, tuned to the ten o’clock news. Unwashed dishes and dusty tomes filled the kitchen counter, while an unappetizing stew simmered in a black pot. “Going for the single male modern witch thing, huh?” asked Claude. “Kind of a Season of the Witch meets Martin thing, you know? Very Romero-esque. You know? Like the fiction, but in a real, deconstructed way.”
“I don’t have time to talk about old movies, Claude. I have something to figure out. You said something about knowing an answer, so here we are.” said August, more angrily than he intended. Claude appeared crestfallen.
“It’s something he owns.” said Claude plaintively. “We all go through these fits where we need something we’re connected with. It’s hard when you’re old, you know? You forget things easily, and sometimes they get muddy. Then, you remember something clear as day and you need it. Like earlier, I was talking with Minerva about Roger Corman, then I remembered that he worked on that movie, The Trip. I remembered the whole flick, vivid as this very moment. Then, I really wanted to actually see it. I sent the girls out to find me a copy; Shelia insists I should just put it on my Netflix, but I just can’t wait.”
“But to kill over it?” August asked. “That’s kind of extreme.”
“Nah. Claus is a nasty guy.” said Claude, realizing that he let something slip.
“Claus. So, you know a bit more about him, huh?” asked August.
“I never said I didn’t.”
“So why didn’t you tell Minerva what you know? Just plain and simple?”
“Because I thought she wouldn’t come back if I told her everything.” admitted Claude, feeling ashamed of his selfishness. “Truth is, most of what I know is just legend. He’s sort of a bogey man amongst my kind. They say he can turn anyone into his slave with his bite, even if it is another vampire. He’s a nightmare.”
“And you decided to wait this long to tell us? I’ve spent half the night trying to figure out what was in this folio. I translated the damn thing, then ran a ton of tests just to make sure that there was nothing hidden.”
“And did any of your tests reveal anything?” asked Claude, expectantly.
“Well, then how about the fact that it was written by Rudolph von Sebottendorff, Claus’ brother and the principle founder of the Thule Occult Society. I’d have figured you would have recognized the name, given your profession and all.” said Claude, feeling vindictive. “Also, if you hold the pages up to the light, you’ll find even more information.”
Then, in a moment of silence, August noticed the voice on the television. It is a scene of utter destruction. Police have yet to reveal what has happened at Pioneer Medical Center; currently, the SWAT team has entered an intense shoot out with unknown terrorists on the third floor Intensive Care Unit…“Mr. Zelinski.” muttered August as he rushed towards the door.