Chapter 2.20 – Oh No!

“Great! Still standing!” Caleb cheered, setting down his passengers. April landed gracefully and smoothed her clothing down elegantly, watching with disdain as Faith brazenly tugged her skirt into place, flashing her bottom as she did so, probably deliberately.

April winced as she watched her friend jiggling her ample bosom back into her bra as if she wasn’t standing outside and right next to someone else’s boyfriend.

“That was one heck of a ride, Fringey,” Faith purred, making that little knot in April’s tummy tighter, “And this quite some pile of stone. You’ve finally done something right! Now, let’s get in before my skin falls off.” Faith rubbed her bare arms and laughed. “This is where you tell me that it’s locked and you don’t have a key, right?”

“It’s locked and I don’t have a key,” Caleb said, wryly.

“Fringey!” Faith shouted, but Caleb only smiled. He reached towards the door knocker, turning it a few times in each direction until the door swung open to permit them.

“Wow,” Faith said at the same time that April whispered, “Oh my gosh.”

The three vampires crossed into the cool, dark house and surveyed their surroundings in silence for a while, before Faith spoke, her voice sounding harsher than usual as it echoed off the stone walls.

“I’m just going to come out and say what I’m sure everyone is thinking; why does this tiny house have a great big fucking pipe organ in it?”

“Lilith liked to play,” Caleb answered. “She was never very good at it, but don’t tell her I said that.”

“Huh, maybe I’ll take it up. Could use a new hobby,” Faith joked, wandering off to explore the kitchen.

“What do you think, April?” Caleb asked.

April looked around at dusty furniture and the scary looking cracks that seemed to be running down every wall, then back at Caleb’s hopeful face.

“We can get some cushions and some flowers, make it super nice,” she said, quietly. “Open a few windows to let out the musty smell…”

Caleb looked crestfallen for a second before he smiled. “It is over four hundred years old; a bit of damp is to be expected.”

“You’re over three hundred and you’re not damp or smelly.”

He chuckled. “You say the sweetest things.”

April watched as Caleb’s fingers interlaced with her own, trying to understand that odd mix of happiness and sadness she felt every time he touched her.

“I hate to break up this beautiful moment, but where’s Mel?” Faith asked.

At the mention of the name, April pulled her hand away, the sad definitely overtaking the happy.

“Oh my goodness! Where is Mel!”



Melinda had finally reached the gosh darn dogwood tree after running seemingly in circles for what felt like forever.

She paused in its shade to catch her breath. Not that she had any breath to catch, she noticed. She pressed her hands to her still chest, longing to feel the solid pounding of a heartbeat beneath her palm. She remembered how she used to feel after a run: the pulse that rang in her ears, the heat that flamed her cheeks, her ragged breaths and the sweat that would soak her t-shirt.

None of these things were happening now. Melinda was as as motionless, cool and dry as she had been when she’d left the hotel. The only sign of life in her at all was a tightness in her chest and stomach; a grinding, twisting sensation that she’d last felt the first night she’d met Lilith.

Thirst.

There was only a mile to go now. Melinda scratched idly at her prickling skin as she noted the position of the sun in the sky and tried to think what time it was. She couldn’t be a hundred percent sure which direction was south without a watch, but she could take a good guess.

And if she was wrong? Well, what else was new?



“What if she’s lost! Or she’s a pile of ash! We need to go and look for her!” April wailed.

Why? Caleb wanted to hiss at her, but instead he shook his head.

“You’re not going anywhere,” he said, firmly, watching as April folded her arms as if fighting his order before conceding. “I sent her on the less direct route because it had landmarks,” he explained, defending himself even though she wasn’t attacking him. “We’ll give her ten more minutes and then I’ll go and look for her, I swear. She’ll be fi—“

He was cut off mid-word by the sound of Melinda, clattering in and landing on the stone floor, kicking the door closed behind her. She stumbled to her feet as April ran over, almost knocking her chair flying in the process.

“See? Fine,” Caleb said through gritted teeth, not leaving his seat.

“Mel! Oh my gosh!” April gushed. “I was so worried, I— oh no!”

“What?” Melinda asked, her voice raspier than usual.

“What?” Melinda asked again. “What’s happened?”

“Your… your eyes are missing,” April whispered.

“Missing?” Melinda gasped, lifting her hands to her face.

Caleb glanced over. “That’s her dark form, April. She just needs a drink.”

“I am parched,” Melinda admitted. “Where are the plasma packs? I think I’m going to need a few.”

“…I thought you had them,” April said quietly.

“Oh no.”



After being rudely interrupted from his meeting with Wilbur Wangshaft, where he’d been enjoying sipping on whiskey that cost more than his car, Ralf had personally inspected every room of the honeymoon suite at the Glimmerbrook Grand hotel and had come to the conclusion that the ‘assailant’ was no longer here.

The hotel’s day manager had called in when he found the night manager slumped across the hotel bar. The woman – who was slurring her words, seeing double and surrounded by empty glasses – claimed that she had been attacked by a young man and possibly drugged as she had no idea how she’d ended up where she was.

Ralf didn’t like saying he didn’t believe an alleged victim, but—

“Boss! I found something!”

Ralf let out a huge sigh and wandered over to where Jessica was standing. The girl sure liked to make work for herself. She was lingering next to the coffee table, closely scrutinising a small bag.

Ralf wasn’t really interested in whatever piece of rubbish she was holding, but he still asked, “What is that?”

Jessica started squeezing and shaking the packet. Ralf watched as it yielded and melded under the pressure from her fingers; the thick, squelching sound it made as she turned it over made his stomach flip.

“I think it’s a bag of jelly,” she replied.

“Jelly?” Ralf repeated. “Why would anyone put jelly in a blood bag, Jess?”

“People do weird things.” Jessica shrugged and knelt down to rummage through the backpack, pulling out a dozen more full blood bags and a load of empty ones, along with a pink book. “No, wait. You’re right. It’s blood,” she replied breezily as Ralf turned green. “There’s traces of it all over these empty pouches.” She looked around at the pile of rubbish she’d deposited on the floor. “I should probably stop handling everything, shouldn’t I?” she asked, getting to her feet. “It’s not every day you find a backpack full of blood in a fancy hotel room; you’ll be wanting to get the forensics team involved, won’t you?”

No. Ralf really did not want to do that. He needed a distraction.

“What’s in the book?” he asked.

“Do you think I should touch it?” Jessica queried.

Probably not. “Yeah, go ahead. Might explain away this bizarre find; this bag was probably left behind by a travelling doctor or something completely normal.”

Jessica nodded and leafed through the book by herself for a while, as Ralf glanced at his watch, wondering if he’d remembered to set his favourite show to record. Darn it, he hadn’t. He’d been distracted this morning by his sister calling about her son; it appeared that Chase hadn’t been in contact with anyone for a couple of days now.

Ralf would be concerned about his deputy if he wasn’t so annoyed at him. He stared at the huge television, wondering if he could somehow convince Jessica that watching his show was vital police work.

“Boss!” Jessica exclaimed, snapping him from his daydream. “I think this book belongs to one of the missing girls in the Moss case. There’s sketches of all three of them, although the third girl seems to be having an identity crisis as she’s drawn herself a hundred different ways. And then there’s a sketch of a guy, who looks oddly familiar…”

Ralf looked at the image Jessica was pointing to. A young guy with a strange haircut. Ralf was familiar with most of the faces of the residents of Woodland Borough, but he’d never seen this guy before. Or anyone who even looked like him. “Who’s that?” he asked, genuinely curious.

“I know his face; I know it!” Jessica replied, tapping her chin, thoughtfully. “I feel like I’ve seen him recently, too. Gah! Think, brain!”

“If he knows April, maybe he’s an actor?” Ralf suggested. “Although, not a famous one as I don’t recognise him. Perhaps he’s still at the commercials stage and hasn’t quite made it into movies—“

“Movies…?”

“Oh my gosh! That’s it! I saw him the other night, outside the cinema!”

“The night you passed out on the playground? Are you sure?” Ralf asked, his brain groaning as it anticipated the paperwork that would be involved if all this was somehow connected.

“Yes!” Jessica screamed triumphantly and started running towards the door.

“Wait! Jess, where are you going?”

“First I’m going to see if the manager recognises this guy; I bet she will. Then I’m going to Joe’s bar.”

“Joe’s? Why?”

“I have a hunch!”

Ralf glanced down at the backpack full of blood. The book had certainly distracted his enthusiastic officer from wanting to call in the forensic team, but all the way back to Joe’s bar with a hunch?

Sounded like work.



“We can’t go back to the hotel, Melinda. There’s nothing else you can do; you’re going to have to feed on someone,” Caleb said.

“But I’m not ready!” she cried, wiping her wet face. “And what about my sketchbook! They’ll know we were there!”

“But we’re not there now! It will be fine, Mel,” April said. “Caleb will bring someone home for you, I can mesmerise them for you—“

“And if it all goes tits up I’ll help you fill ’em with rocks and drag them into the river,” Faith said.

“Rocks?” April asked. “Why do you need rocks?”

“Dead bodies float. Duh.”

“They do?” Caleb asked.

“Yeah, but it’s sort of a moot point because it’ll all be fine, Mellybean,” Faith reassured her. “You might even like it.”

Melinda screwed her face up. The thought of sinking her teeth into someone made her feel weird. It felt so invasive. Icky.

“I doubt it,” she said, sadly.

Caleb pushed his chair back, sighed. “I’ll be as quick as I can. Do you have a prey preference, Melinda?” he asked. His face looked calm, even friendly, but his voice definitely sounded irritated. Was he mad at her for getting lost and ending up all dried out? It was his stupid directions that got her lost. He didn’t tell her that the dogwood tree wasn’t actually visible from the darn river.

“Whatever,” Melinda replied. What did it matter?

“Male or female? How old?” Caleb continued as if he hadn’t even ruddy heard her. He was so annoying. “I can get children if you really want, but they’re not very nutritious and keeping them locked in a basement seems a bit cruel.”

Holy potato. Melinda thought. This is really happening.

“Um. I…” Words completely escaped her.

“Get her a young woman, Fringey. A pretty one, the kind you like,” Faith said, looking between the two of them. “Then you can share. Something else to have in common.”

“I’m… I never said… I don’t really have a preference… I’m not fussy,” Caleb stated, looking at April.

“Sure you’re not.” Faith winked. “So remind me; how many of your ten thousand lovers were male?” At Caleb’s silence, she grinned and continued. “Just don’t bring us back any drug-addicted hookers, OK? Don’t want them going through withdrawal and banging around the basement. Or just banging in the basement. Actually, probably best that we just stick to one gender then we don’t have to worry about potential little extras popping up at any point. I vote for men purely because they have more blood and a faster turnaround time and not for any other reasons whatsoever…”

“All right, only men,” Caleb said, a twinge of disappointment in his voice. “Anything else?” he asked casually, as if he was simply popping out to buy milk and not to prowl the streets looking for someone to abduct. “Tall, short, fat, thin?”

“No,” Faith murmured. “I’m not fussy. I will sink my teeth into anything.”

18 thoughts on “Chapter 2.20 – Oh No!

  1. It’s kind of nice to see Lilith and Caleb’s old cottage, kind of like they’ve fone a full circle. Though it’s porbably more of a deformed elipses in their case, and the life they lived was something Lilith wanted to escape from with the plasma packs, so going a full circle… not necessarily a great thing in this case.

    Oh, Mel actually made it. That’s positive! What do you know? Of course no one has the blood bags, what a shock. I like the symbolysm of Melinda having left her sketchbook behind too (beyond it being a clue for the detectives) – that trip had her leave a part of herself behind.

    Ralf continues to go into extreme lengths to avoid any kind of police work, so much so that I now have a theory and he’s actually a plant that’s secretly in cahoots with the vamps and trying to make their escape go smoothly. Or maybe the Wangshafts asked him to hold back so that they can do their own, less kosher investigation. I know, he’s probably just very dedicated to being lazy, but still.

    Faith is definitely rather… full on right now. That’s some intense tangling and altering Seth has done with her. Is he really capable of such drastic changes so quickly? He said they are subtle changes over time, but he’s not really had that much time yet, and he can’t even read her thoughts most of the time… maybe that’s the problem.

    Oof, you know something’s off about her behaviour when even Caleb is shocked, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whichever shape you draw, it’s still a burning toilet.

      Hurrah! You noticed my obscure symbolism! Yay! Yeah, forgot the backpack. But it could be worse; at least nobody died! *Progress*

      Ralf is in cahoots with the vamps… Wangshafts doing an investigation… Maybe Ralf’s just a lazy fucker.

      Faith. Well, Seth has previously been surprised by her amplifying his efforts. Maybe his tweaks weren’t as subtle as he thought…

      🤐

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh no! The disasters stand in an endless queue 😬

    Of course, they had to forget all the plasma bags and Melinda’s sketchbook. Things are not critical enough as they already are 👀

    That Caleb through his 700 years of life has not yet discovered that dead bodies float to the surface … I should not be surprised 🙄
    Lilith must have used endless force to keep him out of the danger zone and I can understand that she has occasionally lost her temper.
    Now it’s just a matter of time before Chase’s dead body appears on the surface. Caleb has been right where Chase was last seen and he has been recognized by Jessica.

    Jessica may not seem like the sharpest knife in the kitchen drawer, but you should not be fooled by the first impression.
    Like a bloodhound, she turns out to stubbornly hold on to a track once she’s got a scent.
    Unfortunately, it must turn out that our young vampires have left behind an endless series of tracks….😨

    Disaster is flashing on the horizon 🧨

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I assure you that the queue is long, but it does end.

      Yes, poor Lilith. I think if Caleb was my little brother I’d have probably gone completely mad by now.

      Jessica is young, inexperienced and not getting a great deal of on-the-job training, but yes, maybe there are some brain cells rattling around after all.

      Is that disaster you can see flashing, or something else… ✨

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Heh, for some reason I’m picturing Lilith on that giant pipe organ playing the weirdest, not-meant-for-the-instrument songs she can find. But it was probably something dark and edgy, like that song she had stuck in her head a few chapters ago.

    Oh gods, where is Melinda? Wasn’t she supposed to be faster than Caleb, especially with him carrying two people? Ah and the next section is Mel. Thank gods she’s still alive. Her line of “And if she was wrong? Well, what else was new?” doesn’t bode well, though.

    I already ranted at you for Caleb’s “why”, so I won’t do that aga… nope I’m going to do it again. So much for Caleb’s “keeping everyone safe, even moody Melinda”. Is it because she hasn’t forgiven your disastrous “relations” with April, or because she’s trying to get between you two? Did you send her on the long route on purpose? He can defend himself all he wants but that single “why” and the irritation in his voice says more than all his spoken words do. And to think that Melnda and him had so much fun running in the forest and called each other friends. He wanted her to be gone. I don’t know if he actively wanted to get rid of her, but he definitely wants her gone. Bloody hell.

    You’re really starting to worry me, Faith. It’s one thing to be semi-casual about danger, but laughing at the risk of burning to death is not good. Her talk about what kind of humans to kidnap gave me cold chills too – she’s actually thought it through and doesn’t care in the slightest that they’re about to do something horrible to a human being. A few days ago she was wincing at having to beat up a guy behind a dumpster. That’s a very very abrupt change. I fully blame Seth. He stated that it would be gradual, didn’t he? *eye twitch*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woah. Trying to imagine what ‘Don’t You Dare Forget The Sun’ would sound like on a pipe organ. Or any of the AE songs. Plus now Lilith is singing along as she plays. And I thought Foamy belting out the Prank Day song continuously at the tea party made my ears bleed.

      Poor Melinda. She’s not making great decisions or being a great judge of character right now, is she?

      I do love a good rant. Melinda wasn’t really having fun running with Caleb. She just tried to kiss him. For some reason. *Squeak* Does Caleb want her gone or perhaps is it something else…?

      No, she doesn’t appear to care, does she. Exactly as she requested, though so everything is surely fine. Seth did say it would be a gradual, careful process, but then he also tried to make her pat herself on the face and rewind her a few sentences previously and you know how that went.

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  4. I am so sorry for this long ass comment.

    Aw Lilith and Caleb’s old home looks really nice. And they have a pipe organ in it. And Lilith used to play it. Aww yay, organ buddies! To date I’ve never met anyone in my circles who knows how to play an organ. So idk this got me excited even if its pixelated people 😀

    How strange. I can’t help but think that April’s kind understanding towards Caleb is his trait passed to hers, and his anger at Mel for no reason has something to do with April. Has he got April’s jealousy? Mel and April had something superficial. And April was jealous of Mel/Caleb. And April is worrying over Mel now. Could be any of those.

    Ralf is so strange. The thing is I firmly believe that no one becomes a police officer to slack off because being a policeman is so damn hard so the fact that Ralf is sooo complacent and unreliable in his work makes me wonder if he was as I last thought of Chase, has his hands tied behind his back and therefore grown disillusioned about being a cop and has resorted to being a puppet for the Wangshafts. Or maybe Windenburg Police force has a reputation of being breezy work so he signed up for it. But who would willingly do that knowing they’d be looked down and as a slacker by everyone else. So I’m thinking it should be the first theory. But if that were true, then why would Wangshafts want the police force in their control and be so hopeless in the first place? Makes me think that the mental institution that they’ve erected is actually running something illegal. And by illegal I’m wondering if they have like, a basement full of vampys there. Iunno. Just a thought. I mean, Will knew about Vampires since the beginning. It could be that he was well schooled by Wilbur in fam history, or he was exposed to some live ones, especially since he knew Caleb is a vampire. (I think? I might be mis-remembering.) I’m also thinking, whatever Will knows, Seth knows too. So if they do have a basement full of vampys, then Seth would know by now too.

    And I kinda pity Seth there for a bit. Going through people’s heads and soaking up all their memories seems yuck. It’ll be nice if he has a filter to filter out memories he don’t want, otherwise he’d be like Lilith. Soaking up every icky thought in her surroundings. Ick. I’m assuming he simply sees them like a movie or a documentary and not actually live them as the person themselves right? Otherwise that’s kinda a harsh double edged power he has there.

    “People do weird things.” Ok just adding to the feels here now. First Seth, now Jess. She said it so plainly. Jelly in a blood bag. Idk She’s not outraged, she’s not laughing, she has a history of being ostracised and a mom who’s drunk all the time. Idk. I think she’s seen quite a lot of weird things and this isn’t weird enough for her anymore. Maybe I’m looking too much into it.

    Oh lord Caleb tried to drink from children? … seems a bit cruel? I mean, that makes sense for his character but.. 😦

    Ok I feel like I must’ve missed something. I thought maybe it was simply jealousy that Caleb has for Mel, but to the point that he’s sabotaging and purposely putting her life at risk? It can still be jealousy, but that much that he wants her dead? A puzzle is missing for me isn’t it? And another puzzle is missing for me for Faith. I remember pointing out her sudden letting go of restraints. After her talk with Seth she seemed to have embraced the coldness of vampirism and its too prominent here. And I don’t know why still. Gah I might have to reread that chapter then. It’s not adding up, especially after her mind flashed to Joy. I have a theory. But I think I better just reread.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you apologised because I was so upset when I saw this huge comment. 😆

      You play pipe organ? Woo! If they ever throw a party in the cottage and need to hire an entertainer, I’ll send in SimMercury.

      Caleb/April/Melinda three individuals who are all woefully inexperienced in love, making a complete mess of it.

      Ralf is strange. One of your theories about the state of the police is correct! 🎉

      Seth views his prey’s memories like a movie, or a picture reel, drawn to those that invoke the most emotion in his victim. He doesn’t feel the emotions himself, for the most part.

      Jessica has seen a lot of weird things, yes. 🤐

      Someone must have drank from children or he wouldn’t know this. Maybe their house guest was Verena once upon a time.

      Caleb/Mel: it would have to be some extreme jealousy to want her dead… Yes, Faith’s change is abrupt. She wanted to not care and oh boy, does she not care. Rereading is effort, just ask. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I play a few instruments. Mostly orchestra like clarinet, euphonia, trumpet (wind types) n piano. Ahhh oops im afraid i play digital organ n nvr touched pipe organs before. Id definitely be intimidated if i ever see one irl. 😅

    Im banking on first theory being right. Ralf is a good cop until Wangshaft happened. And wangshaft has scary dreggy vamp fam locked up.

    Im gonna put a happy spin on Jessica and the weird things she’s seen. Maybe its not all doom and gloom bt colorful and sparkly. Turkle is REAL! 🤩

    Verena 😭

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome! Alas, the 400 year old house only has a pipe organ and a violin, so SimMercury is now building up her skills on those, ready to entertain at the party which I am now determined to throw.

      Even if the weird *is* doom and gloom, Jessica will still see it as colourful and sparkly because she’s Jessica. 🌈🌟

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  6. I am not surprised by how badly I want the police to fail to capture them. I am also not surprised by how these dummies manage to leave a paper trail! GAH! Clean up the room, don’t leave evidence of being there! Stop and think for five seconds.

    In other news, I am a little wary of the trek Caleb sent Melinda on. Usually, I chalk things up to Caleb is an innocent dummy but he isn’t…not completely. He was very irritable and it was like he almost wished Melinda didn’t make it..,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The police are idiots, so the chances of them failing are high, but then again with the trail the so-called dummies have left behind, a five year old could probably have a good chance of catching them.

      Almost…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It /is/ a bit strange that Caleb had just been promising to take care even of Melinda and suddenly seems very unwilling to do so. Caleb´s jealousy might be a part of it, yes. The other part… when I think what happened between his promise and now, I can only come up with one thing – Mel has been grilling him, hard, about all sorts of things but especially about how he got that room. And Caleb is very afraid of what would happen if April /did/ find out, isn´t he?

    And April actually hadn´t noticed Mel´s dark for in the motel? She was wasted more and sooner than I thought.

    So wait… are you telling me Ralf is thick enough not to have figured out a way out, here? I mean, the notebook has April in it, so obviously it belongs to the Moss case and he doesn´t handle the Moss case so… also, I do /not/ Like Jessica´s hunch.

    *sigh* Mel… you´re as ready as you´ll ever be. Waiting till the bags run out wouldn´t have helped any. At least being parched should make it easier if you let it.
    I agree that Faith probably somehow amplified whatever it was Seth was trying to do. Makes sense, a big part of her /didn´t/ wanna care. Interesting. Heh, and Caleb´s face at the end. XD I wonder if he´s surprised at her being /that/ cold or, when she said she´d bite “anything,” he imagined getting bit himself. :p He probably knows that can happen when Lilith knew, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Caleb definitely does not want April to find out how he procured the room, no. And that Melinda; she’s so damn observant!

      April is oblivious to most things.

      Good point. He could just hand everything over and have done with it, but then Jessica would definitely have more time to devote to the missing persons files. It’s a fine balancing act, being Ralf.

      It was only a matter of time. Of course, some factors have sped this along considerably.
      Something about Seth has certainly done something to Faith.

      Just a little aggressive flirtation. I’m sure she didn’t mean anything by it and it’s not like he’s attracted to her or anything…

      Like

      1. April /is/ rather unobservant, isn´t she.

        Oh, yeah. And he can´t have Jess going through the files because then she could do something Wilbur would disapprove of. And you don´t cross that guy. Makes me wonder at what point do new recruits get “The Talk.” Chase definitely knew what was going on, didn´t he.

        *snicker* So that /is/ what this was about. Definitely props for your expressions work. Not sure what it says about my mind that I was able to read it from their faces but… I mean, I had the time to learn a thing or two about the way Faith thinks. And Caleb had, too, so… X´DD

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Chase learned the drill pretty quickly, yeah. But, unlike Uncle Ralf, he wasn’t exactly in Wilbur’s pocket.

          Haha, thanks. There’s been a few times now where Faith has made a joke/not joke pass at Caleb and he’s had a similar reaction. Good job the other girls are always around…

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          1. Yep, that´s mostly what he was so mad about all the time, isn´t it? Not being able to do his job properly. …I bet Wilbur isn´t very upset that Chase is missing, either.

            True. Heh, I bet Caleb has /not/ forgotten the way she introduced herself in the first place, either. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

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