Happy Good Friday puckheads! Here’s hoping you are having a great Easter season and that this weekend you will get to spend some time with family. I don’t talk religion very often, but I consider myself blessed that I’m able to pursue my dreams of writing. It’s days like today that we need to remember, to quote the great Norman Greenbaum, “I’ve got a friend in Jesus.”
I’m also feeling good to have hit 50 followers on this crazy blog thing. I know from the good old stats page that a lot more people visit on a regular basis, which blows my mind. I didn’t think my mad ramblings were all that intriguing, but what do I know?
Well, I do know that as I’m listening to my favorite mix tape and getting ready to hit the writing trail, that the topic of this blog post is Chapter 19 of The Cactus Killer. Once again, Happy Easter everyone and enjoy…
“I’m going to take the job. The pack gave me the okay if I want to and I decided I want to.”
She looked at my skeptically. “This is not one of your silly jokes? Are you serious?”
“Yeah, I think it is time for me to expand my horizons. A little disagreement last night reminded me that even if I am respected, I will never truly be a wolf. I want to blaze my own trail if you will.” She didn’t need to know all the details.
“I am sure Cristof will be pleased with your decision. You two are kindred spirits; you will see once you meet him.”
“Well it’s five in the morning, so I suggest we both get a little shut eye. Your boss, according to the email, is due in Santa Fe at seven tonight and I would like to be well rested the first day on the job.”
“It has been quite a long week; I think I will take you up on that. I am a few days overdue for my rest as well. I am starting to feel the drain.”
I was about to reply with some sort of grandma joke, but I thought better of it. I wandered upstairs and put on my flannel sleeping pants, turned the air conditioner down to a cool sixty-eight and promptly fell asleep.
I woke up around one in the afternoon feeling great. I had slept really well, except I could have sworn I felt someone cuddle up to me at one point. Well, I was alone when I woke up and chalked it up to a dream. When I came downstairs, Liz was in the kitchen again drinking her coffee. I am pretty sure she spiked it with blood, but I never asked. I was worried that she might be getting low and after making pleasantries, I asked.
“I know you have been here longer than you planned, so how are you doing on food?”
“I am down to my last two bottles. That should get me through tonight and tomorrow, but I will need to get some more soon.”
That might present a problem. “I guess worst case scenario you could take another hit off me, just don’t leech me dry, I need it too.”
“That is sweet, Vic and if I need to, I will let you know. My hope is Cristof brought some and that will not be necessary.”
“What about Reno and Phil, are they doing okay?”
“I have been sharing mine with them. That is why I am pretty low.”
“Then why don’t you leave the last two for them tonight and seriously, just take some of mine. I need to make sure you are good to go tonight just in case anything happens.”
I wasn’t sure if she would take up the offer but after a moment she relented. “Okay, I will, but only just enough to get me through the evening.”
I held out my arm and turned away. Just because I was a gentlemen didn’t mean I still wasn’t a bit freaked out by it. It didn’t hurt nearly as bad this time and after a few minutes the stinging sensation went away.
“Thank you, Vic. You may want to get something to eat, it will help with the dizziness you have.”
Sure enough, she was right. As soon as I ate a few hot dogs left over from the other evening, I felt a lot better. “Well, we have about a four hour drive to Santa Fe. I suggest we leave here around three, just to get there around the same time as the plane. Then we should have about thirty minutes to scout the area and make sure everything checks out.”
“Alright, that sounds like a good plan. Let us get ready then.”
A little while later, we were on the road to Santa Fe. Liz vetoed using my Mustang, as she said Cristof was used to a certain level of comfort and the Jaguar would provide that. That also meant I was relegated to the passenger seat and she took to calling me things like navigator and co-pilot.
For the first part of the trip, we just listened to the radio. I knew a really good classic rock station that didn’t spam commercials all the time, and we got into a groove singing along. After one particularly off-key rendition of a popular rock ballad, laughter got the best of us and ended our short lived dreams of forming a band.
“Now this is how a road trip is supposed to be, fun. We should’ve packed up sodas and beef jerky.”
“You and your abhorrent eating habits! It astonishes me that you are in such good condition. If I did not know who you were and saw your refrigerator, I would have placed money that you were overweight and a heart attack waiting to happen!”
“What can I say, a wolf has good metabolism. Don’t shoot me; I just signed for the goods.”
After a dirty look, followed by some scary driving as Liz tried to merge onto the highway, I decided it was time to ask some more questions.
“So, what is this Cristof like? I imagine him to be one scary hombre.”
I could see her brain working from behind her sunglasses, probably thinking of a way to explain him that wouldn’t make my head explode. “Cristof Rollins is the oldest vampire in North America and second oldest only to Roderick, the head of Europe.”
I heard that name before. “Is this the same Roderick that rebelled against your folks?”
“The very same, though now he goes by Rod. Poor Rod just wants to fit in with today’s society and as such, is more like a wealthy teenager.”
“It’s hard to picture millennia old vampires acting like teenagers.”
“Keep in mind we never technically grow up. The age of maturity or the year we are turned is when we stop aging. For some that also means the mind too.”
So that explained why Liz looked younger than even me. That in itself could be considered a curse. “Sounds like Peter Pan syndrome if you ask me.”
“Do not joke about the name Peter Pan. He is very much real and a vampire I hope you never have the misfortune to cross him.”
“Stop pulling my leg lady.”
“I tell you the truth. The year was 1806 and a vampire came across a young boy, no more than fourteen years old, who had been mauled by a bull. The vampire saved the boy from death by transforming him into one of us, but being fourteen for the rest of your life is no gift. By the late 1880’s the boy was no longer in his right mind and started turning other young ones into vampires.”
“What happened next? Who turned him and where did this all happen?”
“Patience Vic, I am the one telling the story.”
“Fine, continue on boss lady.”
“The boy and his pack of underage vampires were cornered in London. Rod led a group into the heart of the city and captured them. It was a bloody affair that almost exposed us to the world. Three humans died that day and another was injured so severely he would have died too. But the boy, who by this time renamed himself Peter Pan and his lost boys were no longer a threat. Rod exiled them to an island off the coast on England and using strong magic, put a barrier up. The boys are stuck there, Foreverland as it was nicknamed, for all eternity.”
Wow, the way the story ended made it sounded like there wasn’t much cause for celebration. “He is still there then? Alive and well?”
“Oh yes, him and his band of misfits still rule that forsaken island. Rod goes out there every ten years to make sure the barrier is holding. Peter is always waiting for him in the same spot too, just glaring at him. To be honest, I have no idea how they are all still alive without a reliable blood source, but that is a mystery I am not interested in solving.”
Another vampire tale and all it did was bring about more questions for me. “So it took place in England, but you never said who sired Peter?”
“It is a little close to the heart, but Jonathan was the vampire who sired him. It was his first and last attempt at creating another.”
“Oh wow, your brother, huh?”
“Yes, he was trying to do the right thing. He had made a vow to never bring another into this life, but he broke it to save the boy. I tell him all the time it was not his fault.”
Another fate that wasn’t mentioned was the human who didn’t die. “You said three humans died and one was critically injured, did he end up dying too?”
“No, I was on scene for the capture of Peter and came across the young man who was lying there bleeding out. He asked me to save him so I did.”
“So far the attempts at saving lives by turning them into vampires haven’t worked out so well. How did this guy fare?”
“For once, this one did not end in travesty. The young man was a Spanish immigrant who had not enjoyed an easy life so when I turned him I also gave him employment.”
“Was that guy Reno?”
“Yes, Reno Tavares was there that awful day. Do me a favor and never bring up Peter’s name in his company. That day, Reno was gutted like a fish by Pan.”
You can find all my work, including “The Wrath of Pan,” @ www.amazon.com/author/jeremycroston