Gah! I’m slacking lately. Sorry folks! Here’s another teaser for Errand Girl of the Undead , which I finished last week. Woo!
Previous chapters in case you’re new around here:
His exit left me shaken, although I wasn’t sure why. Samson blinked out all the time and other vampires I knew moved quick, but one minute he was there and the next, he just wasn’t. It was creepy. The thick white card slipped from my fingers and landed on the counter, corners of green bills stuck out, beckoning me to open it.
I wasn’t happy with the way he just handed me information. I wanted to be able to question him more. It wasn’t the way I typically did things; then again nothing about this job was typical.
The little bits of green caught my eye again and I flipped open the card to find a significant stack of hundreds. Scratch that, some of them were five hundred dollar bills. How did you know a vamp was old? He paid you in currency that was no longer produced. Are they were still worth five hundred or more now that they were collector’s items? I’d have to check around online or call my bank… There were five thousand dollars there total. I wasn’t sure ten thousand was enough when I knew how potentially dangerous the job was, but I would be the highest paying job I had taken. Regardless, it would look nice in my “buy Ellie a new car” jar.
With the money tucked safely into my pocket, I picked up the card. The inside was crammed full with a neat printed outline of the incidents and the locations where they occurred, the first being around the corner from the shop. No time like the present to check things out, right? Even though the sun had set, me and my trusty flashlight could get an idea of the area and then come back in the daylight to look for more clues.
Flashlight in hand, small spiral notepad stuck in my back pocket, I flipped the lights and turned the lock. Time to earn my money.
The first murder was actually located in a large park known for its running trails. Tomas gave very specific details, counting off the steps from signs and benches, so I would know exactly where the body was found. When I pulled in the park, there was one other empty car in the lot; probably a runner trying to burn off the stress of their day.
Making sure to lock the car, I turned on the light and looked over Tomas’ directions. Take the path to the left, closest to the park entrance and walk until you reach a fork. Easy enough. I started down the dirt lane, noticing how the canopy of trees let very little light in. Dappled shadows decorated the path, giving it a very creepy vibe. Good thing I was used to creepy.
When I came to the fork, I glanced at the directions again: Veer right and follow the path around a gentle curve. When you come upon a lone broken bench, step off the path and into the woods heading east. Head east, huh? Good thing my phone has a compass app.
The sounds of the early evening surrounded me as the night creatures came out to play. Crickets chirping, owls hooting, who knows what else was out there hunting its nocturnal prey.
I finally came upon the bench, tagged with graffiti and probably broken by punks. Shame some people have no respect for public property. My phone pointed me east and I stepped off the path and behind the damaged seating area.
One hundred feet from the path will be a clearing in the woods. That is where the first attack occurred. Under my breath I counted off the steps trying to ignore the sharp branches that were scratching up my bare legs. Probably would have been smart to have switched out of shorts for the trip. Too late now. While keeping the flashlight trained at the ground so I didn’t trip, I missed a thin branch jutting out in front of me until it caught my face, taking a small strip of skin with it. I hissed and dropped the flashlight to slap a hand to my stinging cheek. That better not leave a scar or I was going to send Tomas a plastic surgery bill, dammit. When I removed my hand, there was a line of bright red blood marring it. I hoped there were no blood sucking creatures traipsing in the woods. While I wasn’t gushing like a stuck pig, any blood was a bad thing when a hungry vamp had an amazing sense of smell.
I swiped at the cut again with the back of my hand before crouching to grab the flashlight. As I was down there, I heard the telltale sound of dry brush crunching underfoot. Considering I wasn’t moving, I knew it couldn’t be me. Holding my breath, I strained to hear where the sound was coming from. Whatever it was it was coming up behind me. Fast, to boot. Do I stay close to the ground? Hope they don’t see me? It could give me an advantage if it’s an unfriendly person or creature. Then again, if I scared them they might lash out in self-defense. Oh decisions, decisions. Answer, you better come to me quick.
A cramp in my leg ended up making the decision for me. I was forced to stand and tried to get myself into a defensive position, just in case. The noise indicated my company was closing in on me but the darkness kept me from seeing who or what it was. Keeping the light low to the ground, I scanned the area in front of me, trying to get an idea of what I was up against. Noticing some of the upper branches bending, I realized whatever it was, it was big. Bigger than me and it did not sound like it was taking a leisurely stroll. Either something was chasing it or it was coming for me. Neither option sounded ideal.