Mr. Kane sat at a flimsy table, uncomfortably clothed in a three piece suit. The plastic chair was making his back ache, and Professor Langley still had enough wind in him to drive a storm across the ocean. He was giving a labyrinthine answer to a direct question: “How has the British government’s licensing procedure changed over the last decade, and how has it affected independent investigators.” Kane’s answer was simple.
“They have tied the hands of well meaning investigators and opened the door for charlatans that run pyramid schemes disguised as ‘Supernatural Suppression Societies’. It has been a load of shit, and it won’t get better.” The crowd reacted poorly to most of Kane’s answers, and he didn’t care. Their discontented rumblings just meant that he was telling the truth.
Kane closed his dark, abyssal eyes. Folks put make-up on the dead ‘cause they want to pretend that they’re still fine. Just sleeping. The way I see it, people hate the truth. The truth is not a pretty girl with a swan neck. Even if it was, she’d have strangling marks on that nice neck. No, the truth is a gorgon with a bulging tongue and dead eyes. Kane opened his eyes and studied the others on his panel.
They were a sad lot, mostly fat and retired. Old Allard sat on the far end of the table, dozing lightly, lost in a cloud of dreams. Next to him was the faded flower that used to be called Violet Rose. Nowadays, no one really bothered calling her anything.
The Professor was the youngest of them and even he had more wrinkles than a baby Shar Pei. His frantic gestures and grand words were most of what was left of a once brilliant mind that had all ready started to atrophy. That could easily be August in thirty years.
He turned his eyes on himself, seeing a man that looked like a tiger in a zoo. Proud, vital, and out of his element. He suit was tight; the wool was making his flesh crawl. His mouth was dry. He smelled the stink of humanity all around him. His tanned hand tensed into a fist as he began to feel anxious. He stroked the revolver at his side and it reassured him.
He scanned the audience, some of whom were falling asleep as the Professor lectured the crowd on the finer points of form 27-1-AB/9002, which allowed a private supernatural investigator access to Her Majesty’s private library. He lauded it like the Second Coming, despite there being no occult books of interest in Her Majesty’s library that weren’t all ready available to even Tom, Mabel, and Jackson.
His eyes moved to his silver pocket watch. He ran his thumb on the embossed wolves that cavorted on the circumference of the lid. Popping open the watch, he read the time, and groaned when he realized he had another hour to spend in the convention hall.
“Elijah Kane, Sir?” asked a waif-like girl dressed in an old-fashioned suit with a high collar. “What do you feel about the treatment of Elves in America compared to the treatment of Elves in France?” Kane drew his full attention to the girl, and looked deep into her golden eyes. She warily backed away like a person would back away from a rabid dog.
“I think that the treatment of Elves in America is despicable. Holding them and breeding them like endangered species is wrong. It is nothing short of eugenics. Their laboratory lives are wasted, particularly since captive Elves life about a quarter of their natural lifespan. In France, they are at least allowed to die out like the obsolete species they are.” Kane spoke doggedly, his tone indomitable.
“You can’t mean that,” said Violet, stirring weakly from her seat. “A people are judged by their acts, especially their acts towards the least of its members. Elves have given much to French culture, and allowing their species to die is an unallowable and unforgivable sin.”
“Yes, I agree with Miss. Rose…” said the Professor before Kane interrupted him.
“The sin is the one being committed in America! They are genetically altering the Elves through their experiments. When the day that Elves in America are free comes, their species will be indistinct from humanity,” argued Kane vehemently.
“See here Kane, we…” said the Professor before Violet Rose interrupted him.
“But isn’t that what you want? A society free of supernaturals? No more werewolves, no more vampires. Why are the Elves free from your wrath?” Violet’s neck was turning pink with anger.
“Vampires are a blight. Werewolves are a blight. Elves are the best of all of us. Most are incapable of evil. Show me a vampire that doesn’t harm society, and I’ll show you a vampire that has hidden his past.” The hall fell silent; the only sound in the quiet was Allard’s soft snoring.
“I suppose we must agree to disagree then?” said the Professor as he folded his hands over his stomach. Both Kane and Rose glared at the Professor. The girl in the audience sat, her head dipped shamefully. With difficulty, the panel discussion went on, but the audience seemed to lose its enthusiasm. When the audience broke apart, Kane was left sitting on the stage with Violet Rose.
“That was low, Vi,” grumbled Kane. “What do you think Sasha would say if she was still here?”
“She’d say that her husband’s a damn fool that’s trying to purify the world with fire, even if innocents need to die.” replied Violet.
“Everyone needs to die sometime,” retorted Kane weakly, “Even Allard, someday.”
“These are lives, Eli. These are real people with real contributions to society. Even now, medical research is being done on vampire blood and its disease fighting ability. Have you heard about Bukowski’s New Treatment? He has developed a comprehensive program designed to rehabilitate criminal vampires and help them reintegrate into society. His work with Sebottendorff has been miraculous.”
“Claus Von Sebottendorff? As a man he was a monster, and as a vampire he is a fiend.”
“Even so, if life can be preserved, even unlife, it is worth it. Our time here is precious. You of all people know that.” Violet Rose took Kane’s hand and held it with each of her own.
“Which is why they must die. No matter how many treatments there are, no matter what research will be done, at the end of the day a duck is a duck.” retorted Kane, pulling away from the fragile looking woman.
“And what does Rebecca think of this attitude?” asked Violet.
“She agrees. The government took her ten years ago, just before she finished college. Seems like half-Elf is enough to get you taken into a program. Of course, you didn’t know that, did you Vi?” Kane’s words were acrid.
“I’m sorry Eli! I didn’t know,” apologized Violet frantically.
“At least they let me see her once a week. She’s doing well in that damned commune. If you’ll let me go, I have business to attend to. Just ’cause I’m on the old fogies panel, it doesn’t mean I’m retired.”
“Eli, I’m so sorry.”
“Yeah, you sure are.” Kane pushed past her brashly.
“Elijah Kane, don’t be a damned fool!”
“What do you want me to do?” raved Kane, “I tried to walk the narrow, but my balance got bad. Now all I have is revenge.”
“Don’t leave like this Eli. I know you are better than this.” Violet Rose ordered, despite being dwarfed by Kane.
“Good bye Vi. Good bye and good luck. Tell Charles I said hi.” Kane began to walk away. He felt Violet’s eyes boring into his back. She was watching him, probably crying.
“He’s dead Kane. Just like you’ll be if you keep on this maniac path.” Violet’s voice wavered as she called out. “And don’t think you can fight your way out of Hell.”
Kane hesitated for just a moment before he disappeared in the crowd.