Julie was a bit restless from the image she had seen when she hugged Raven. Usually her flashes came at a single touch, which they shared when he was introduced to her. She made sure of it, to see if he was trustworthy… and there was nothing, not even a shimmer of his past! Then why now, when he was leaving, were her powers triggered?
'I'm off! See you at lunch'
'Okay, say hi to Iridessa for me' Julie answered as Jane left for work. Her vision has been on her mind since yesterday and she barely slept because of it. The image wasn't much, but from what she remembers it was cruel and gruesome. And there was a man… It all went as fast as it came, but she was almost sure it was Raven. He was smiling… no, snarling… with FANGS! Julie gasped at the thought. Raven was a vampire?! She had only just learned of their existence and had never actually seen one, but everyone knew what vampires look like. Really handsome features, enthralling personalities, elegance, red eyes, but most importantly, they don't walk in sunlight.
'Raven doesn't have red eyes, his are brown. Or maybe that's only when they feed…'
Julie felt a nauseating feeling originate in her stomach each time she thought about Raven being a vampire. The same being as the one that attacked they some time ago or the same? Was he send to Marina under cover to get to them? The idea was unsettling. To have been so close to danger on such a happy day for Rosalie… day…
'That's right! It was day when he and Marina arrived at the house!' No red eyes, sunlight… she must've been over thinking it; her vision clouded by him and the fact they've been studying up on vampires. Julie blocked out everything happening in the foreground of her vision and instead recalled the surroundings. It looked old… almost Victorian old. The street was paved with small stones and the street lights… definitely Victorian. There was a familiar house-number sign right behind the vampire all smeared with blood. It covered half of the sign, but she was able to extract a few numbers off it. Julie tried to think back to where she had seen that sign before, but like always, when you need something, you can never recall where it last was.
She decided to check up on the sign to see where it's from and the only place to look for history is the library…
Julie walked into the reading area and halted in front of the glass case. She knew she had seen a sign like that somewhere before. A history buff college buddy of hers had told her the library housed some antiques, but she's not an art or antiques fan, so why would she go looking for them. Lucky for her she did see it in passing…
'Excuse me' Julie said to the librarian pushing the cart with tattered books in front of her. No doubt on their way to the repair-wing for a new paperback or binding. 'I'm sorry for bothering you, but do you know where I can find this number-sign? I would love to have it in my garden…' she smiled at the librarian, knowing she was acting dumb. Everyone knew these were antiques… but then again, most people made jokes about blondes being dumb, so why not use it to her advantage even if the statement wasn't true.
'These are antiques! Most over a hundred years old if not more! That particular piece is one of the number-signs they used in New Orleans. They don't make those any more obviously, no, it was passed down in my family and I in turn loaned it to the library. You see, this was my great-grandmother's house number, God rest her soul'
'Full of history and memories, huh?' Julie said, keeping her eyes on the wooden sign.
'Yes. To think this piece of wood made it through all those years AND everything that has happened in New Orleans and is still in good shape'
And I need that history right now, Julie thought. She tried to think up a way to get her hands on that piece of wood. Just a finger would be enough to trigger all the memories it stored, but she knew for a fact that very proud librarian wouldn't appreciate it, to say the least, if she even considered asking her to remove the glass case. She'd probably go into cardiac arrest if even a hair touched it, so that was a dead end… and the place it stood in was in full view of everyone. Even if she waited for miss Antique to walk to the back, someone would see her and she'd probably end up in jail or with a hefty sum for destruction of property… or at least the attempt of it.
'If you'd like you can check the archives for reference. Maybe you can find a good picture to have a replica made for your garden'
'Can't I just take a picture of this one with my phone?' Julie ran the blonde thing into the ground and was enjoying the horrified look on the librarian's face.
'No pictures allowed!' she shrieked, 'The flash will ruin them. Honestly, you people!'
'Relax, I was joking! The archives, please?'
The woman was hardly breathing and pointed Julie in the west direction of the library.
After going down a flight of stairs, she halted at a crossroad. 'Perfect!' Julie exclaimed. There were no signs saying which corridor let to where and she was not planning on getting lost or ending up in restricted areas. She smartly enough halted in the center of the crossroad and looked down each corridor. There was a mirror-like piece of wall down one of them that looked like a sliding window. Maybe she could ask for the way there.
'Excuse me, I'm looking for the archives', she softly ticked on the glass. An young woman slipped through the door. 'The archives? Oh, you're one of those that like to do things by hand aren't you?'
'I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean?'
'You're looking for the library's archives… There's a billion documents on every kind of history in there. You won't be able to read through everything in this lifetime though!'
'Well, maybe you could help me? I'm looking for old number signs of –'
'I highly doubt it! Even I don't know everything that's in there; I'm just an intern… why haven't you tried the computers? Most of what's in the archives has been scanned or written into the system'
That librarian bitch, Julie thought, she had a feeling this was a wild goose chase; Then again she had asked for it. 'So I just enter it in a search engine and it'll find it? How come I didn't think of it? I'm on the computers here all the time' . 'Not just any computers, the ones in the east wing! I bet you've never been in there… good luck!', and with that she closed the door behind her.
Unlike the maze of the west-wing, the east-wing was easily to navigate and before long Julie found herself staring at a computer screen; Scanning through the pictures of old newspapers and documents of New Orleans. Once found, the computer listed everything to do with the street the ???? number-sign was from - 678 hits. She needed to be more specific in the key words and added gruesome and cruel. 25 hits! Rolling through the first pages she realized they were all newspaper articles about the gruesome massacre that happened in that street; all different statements of various police officers with one common saying 'The Beast of New Orleans' . In more than a few of them there was also a mentioning of the O'Connor family and Julie searched for a link between them if one existed.
She found hear-say that the O'Connor family was supposedly killed by the same massacre murderer; the so called 'Beast of New Orleans'
On page 14 was a picture of said O'Connor family, but when Julie twisted the knob to go to that page, it half came into view before snapping back to page 13 like the page was stuck or something. She tried it again and saw half of the picture before it snapped back to page 13. Julie tried numerous times to access that page, but the result was the same. If it didn't go to page 13, it skipped over entirely and went to 15. But she wasn't one to give up. There was something about that family if they were mentioned in those articles. So many people were killed in that massacre, so why were they the ones to get a front page story…
She tried again, stretching the picture. Measuring to the exact point where it would snap back. In that EXACT moment, even if it was for one second, the other half was partially visible. Julie held one hand on the knob, slowly turning it and one hand on the printscreen key. She pressed it exactly in time with the flipping of the page and waited by the printer. As the picture slowly made it out, her eyes grew wider. Even though it was still a bit distorted, amidst the trio of men on the other half of the picture, one face stood out as clear as day. It was a black and white photo, but she could see the browns of his irises stare back at her…
Jordan slowly turned her head when the black haired man looked in her direction. She was sitting on a bench across the street with her phone against her ear heavily in conversation to not make it obvious she was spying on them. Alex turned her head after him to follow his gaze, but Jordan knew she wouldn't be recognized. She frowned when the black haired man looked in her direction again before taking Alex by the arm and pulling her further into the alley.
Remembering what Kat told her about there, possibly, being a guy and with Alex' lack of resistance, she concluded that that had to be the boyfriend. They seemed pretty normal from where she was sitting with the exception of him looking her way now and again and Jordan told this to Kat and Charlotte later that night in the living room.
'You're sure? Nothing out of the ordinary?', Kat informed.
'No, nothing. They looked like an ordinary couple to me. Her boyfriend is quite the looker too'
'Really? What did he look like?', Charlotte smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes. To Jordan Charlotte just seemed interested in his looks, but Kat saw the look in her eyes. Charlotte was on the prowl for signs.
'Oh, you know. The type your mother warns you about; tall, dark and mysterious. He'll bed you and leave you kind of guy. Makes me wonder what Alex does to keep him, huh!', Jordan winked, 'Yeah, I don't know… there's something about him. He's got this bad-boy thing going on complete with that bad-boy hair. I dig the way his mane is covering his eye…'
Charlotte's face lost a bit of color. 'His right eye?'
'Yeah. You know him?', Jordan asked seeing her reaction. Suddenly she felt as if she missed something important with assessing him.
The right-hand man… Charlotte got up immediately and fast-paced to Alex' room, ignoring Kat's questions as she followed close behind her. Charlotte cursed inwardly at why she hadn't thought about it before. The way he had looked at Alex that night; daring her, luring her in… She should've known. Kat and Jordan weren't there, so when Kat followed Jordan, following Alex, this evening she didn't recognize the guy either. 'Damn it!', Charlotte let out. She didn't think Alex would be that stupid.
Without the decency of knocking first, there was no time for that, Charlotte opened the door to Alex' empty room. Of course she wasn't back yet!
'Do you know how many times you've said that on the way to her room alone? Are you going to tell me what's up?', Kat said folding her arms.
'Where did you last see them?'
'No! Tell me!'
'Kat, I don't have time to…'. Kat added to her folding hands by tapping foot annoyed. 'The guy's a vampire, okay! Now where?', Charlotte sighed.
'Westport… Does she know?', Kat ran down the stairs after her.
'Of course she does! She's a hunter! He's also the right hand man of the Elite vampire from a few weeks ago! That's when it must've started! Get in!'
'Right there!', Kat pointed at the alley Jordan was watching earlier. Charlotte parked the car on the sidewalk and jumped out to look for Alex, but the alley was long abandoned. They checked for hidden nooks, but other than the occasional drug user, no Alex. 'Nothing!', Kat sighed, 'I think he really did notice Brianna spying on them.'
Charlotte checked her watch. It was little over 10; almost half an hour since Brianna watched them. Enough time to get as far away from here… She leaned against the wall that was tucked inside the alley to shield against the cold wind.
'I'm positive he did now that I know who he is! The position he has, I know he's not a lower-level vamp', Charlotte answered, 'Lillian was right! She's the one we've been looking for…'
'Alex doesn't look like someone that can snitch! Sorry, but she's lacks the IQ for it!', Kat looked down the street for movement, 'Maybe he's using her!'
'I don't care who's using whom! She should know better! He's a vampire! We can't kill them without cause, but we don't get close to them either. I learned that the hard way!'
Kat realized she was reminded of her brother again and didn't know what to say, so she decided not to say anything and let the silence take over.
They stood in the alley for a little while, looking around to maybe still catch a glimpse of Alex, but even the street in front of them was cleared. The night's air was becoming relentless and they decided to go back before it snowed again. Alex probably already did…
'Oh no….', someone whispered.
Kat and Charlotte turned around simultaneously at the sound of the voice; gun in hand. The minute Alex' frame came into view they fired at the movement next to her. If it'd been a human next to her, he'd be dead. But Chase just laughed it off after hearing the bullets he just dodged ricochet off the port-o-potty. However, he was no fool. These were hunters and damn good ones. Alex didn't even come close to their league. He quickly ascended the thin stairs of the fire-escape as they reloaded the next round. Leaping over the adjacent wall, he could feel the bullets trail behind him. They're fast… , he thought, 'Alex really had nothing on them… shit!' . One of the bullets went through his jacket the minute he went over the wall.
'What are you doing?'
'What are WE doing?! What the fuck are YOU doing?', Kat bellowed. Charlotte pressed her against the wall. 'Damn it Alex, what were you thinking? WERE you even thinking? Lillian was right when she pointed you out. You're the snitch we've spend days looking for'
'I would never!! Believe it or not he never asked me anything work related. Not once!', Alex defended.
'You stupid girl! HE DOESN'T HAVE TO! Most upper-level vamps have the gift of mind-tricks! Whatever you see he can see too!', Kat threw her hands up in exasperation. She could punch Alex right now.
'He… he didn't…', Alex knew that was a lie. He had pushed so many images into her head only now did she realize he probably knew how to extract too. So all this time he'd been using her…
Charlotte was disappointed and didn't fail to show it. Somewhere inside she had hope for Alex with her being so intrigued, asking those questions. Now she knew there was no victim that got bit - it was her; she was questioning for herself.
Kat was too furious to even look at Alex'. She looked at Charlotte instead who was sporting an unreadable look with eyes penetrating Alex'. 'We can't shove this one under the rug Charlie!', Kat said.
'I never planned on it! I just wanted to see for myself if it was true!', Charlotte never removed her eyes from Alex', 'Come on, we have to go back!'
'My car's on the other side…', Alex whispered. Now that she was found out, she actually feared going back to HQ. Mainly because she had no idea what to expect from Lillian.
Charlotte just turned around, followed by Kat, and got in the car. No words were needed… Alex would get booted out if she came with them. The same if she came later, so it didn't really matter if she decided to run. Alex walked to her car and watched the others spin around the corner. She picked up her phone and dialed his number. 'Where are you?'
'Far from you, that's for sure!'
'I need some answers Chase! Where are you?', Alex said through closed teeth.
'Need all you want babe! I come to you! Not the other way around!'
She could hear the smug smile through his words and it angered her. Alex hung up the phone and threw it onto the passenger's seat. It was no use tracking his cell number cause she knew he'd have a new number by… now! He only ever used one number once, so instead she punched in the code of the tracker she put in his jacket. She had only attached it tonight, so hopefully he hadn't found it yet.
Bingo!... Alex thought when the little red dot appeared on her GPS screen and she set off in that direction. At first it moved further and further each time she got to the places the GPS showed, but then it stopped. She got out of the car and moved the coordinates from her car GPS to her phone. It let her into an alley; much like the one the girls found her in, only a lot darker. The GPS turned itself off when she stood over the jacket; thrown onto the floor. Guess he had figured it out…
Alex bend down to pick it up when a hand closed itself around her slender neck and lifted her with ease. She had a painful reunion with the brick wall as Chase pushed her against it and lifted her off the ground; leaving her hanging by her head.
'I can hear a dog whimper 5 streets from here, Alex! Did you really think I wouldn't notice the 'almost' silent beeping of a tracker in my jacket?! Honestly?', he lifted her a bit higher. Alex could feel the rough material of the wall through her jacket as her back slid against it. 'You're right, I'll lead you to the nest. You and your little hunter friends. You must really be stupid to think that!'
'They have n-nothing to do with it. I-I… just w-wanted to be able to… f-find you', Alex choked, but Chase didn't remove his hand around her neck.
'Well, I'd say you found me! You're very brave, hunter! To travel into this dark alley all on your own. Do you really think I'm the only one that wanders them?', Chase hissed baring his teeth at her.
As if on cue, a glass bottle rolled on the ground a little further away, making Chase's head snap to the direction it came from.
'Chase…', Alex let out weakly on the verge of passing out. 'DO NOT say my name in this place', Chase closed his hand a bit more until she was unconscious. Taking a few steps back he looked left, then right down the alley. The sound of another bottle filled his ear; this time from the other side of the alley and Chase took a defensive stance. He sensed a group of 5 hungry vampires. Not so new-born, but not that experienced either. He smiled at how easy this would be and even enjoyed picturing their blood gushing from their bodies after ripping their heads off, until Alex crossed his mind again. He watched her as she lay slump against the wall. One of them might get to her first and the last thing he'd want is for her to die at the hands of a vampire… he'd be the first one the other's would hunt.
He cursed inwardly, threw her over his shoulder and took her back to the room in the abandoned warehouse.
-To be continued-
If you happen to notice a lack of snow in some pictures.... what can I say... Sims!
Snow vanishes a lot quicker than in real life!
Hope you enjoy! (Yes, I'm also aware we're cliffing....)