Mama had pulled the last sheet of cookies from the oven as the doorbell rang. I jumped, still not used to the loud ringer. Dumping my apron on the chair, I trotted to the door.
The man on the stoop was Daddy’s age, maybe a bit older. He had warm, twinkling blue eyes. He was tall, just a bit shorter than Jack and well built under his designer shirt and jacket. He had a long, thoughtful face with just a bit of grey along the temples nicely blended in with the gold.
“Yes, may I help you?” I asked, assuming him to be one of Daddy’s business acquaintances.
“Mistress Crystal?” he smiled warmly, more telling me that asking.
“Oh! Master Ethan?”
He nodded, “The same…”
I moved aside and opened the door wider, “Oh, please do come in.”
I got him settled in Daddy’s study. I brought a few of the freshly baked cookies and Mama put on a pot of coffee for him.
Once I finally sat, he spoke, “So, tell me, which building was it?”
“The brownstone directly across the street, the one with alleys on both sides.”
He nodded, “So, besides the werewolf and the unidentified creature, have you sensed any others?”
I shook my head, “No sir, Although I did get a weird feeling yesterday but I didn’t really sense anything.”
“If you had to guess, who would you think the new slayer would be?”
I shook my head, “No idea, but we haven’t lived here a whole week yet. I don’t really know the neighborhood.”
He leaned back, “That’s fine. Some slayers get a sense of others, most don’t. I was wondering if you might have some sense of this new slayer but evidently you don’t. Don’t worry about it – it’s not a talent we really need.”
“So, do you have that talent?”
“Yes, in fact it’s easier for me to sense slayers than creatures at times.”
“That’s how you knew?”
He laughed, “Well, partially. I did sense a slayer but the Mistress mentioned your age when she called to tell me to expect you. You mentioned being an only child so it wasn’t hard to guess when you opened the door.”
I blushed, “Oops…”
He shook his head, “Not at all – reasonable question. I did some checking with a friend of mine who works for the police. The cause of death was exsanguination so our creature was likely a vampire type. The police are being rather tight-lipped with this case so I’d bet on a traditional type – any time a case puts them in mind of a supernatural creature the police tend to get very tight lipped about it.”
“I don’t get it, though. I’ve never seen a vampire bypass so many opportunities like that. The nearest cemetery is more than ten miles from here – surely it could have found a closer meal?”
He tapped the side of his head, “Good thinking. You’re right, it is not normal for them to travel very far when food is readily available nor do they usually kill their victims. Now, that could have been an accident; the gentleman might have kept bleeding after the creature departed. It does happen occasionally.”
“Could it have been attracted to the new slayer, then?”
He cocked his head then shook it, “I doubt it. If it were close by, certainly, but ten miles? No, that sounds more like a commanded creature.”
I sat up at that, “Really? I’ve never seen one, I mean, not one the Mistress wasn’t commanding. So, you don’t think there’s a new slayer?”
“Oh, I think there is. That werewolf you spoke with was after something, undoubtedly. And I’m not a big believer in coincidence – a commanded creature just happens to show itself in a building so near to where a werewolf tries fishing for a new slayer? No, that I do not believe.”
“So, what do we do?”
“We go for a walk, of course.” He smiled. “I’ll see if I can get some sense of this new slayer.”
Mama knocked and came in with the coffee. She and Master Ethan chatted for a few moments while I collected my thoughts. A commanded creature? That is a scary prospect even for slayers. They don’t behave normally and they are guided by someone else so they’re usually smarter in their actions than they would be left to their own devices. Werewolves and vampires have nothing on human beings where evil is concerned.
Once Master Ethan finished his coffee and I helped Mama clean up, we headed out. We started toward the north since I usually went that way to get to Jack’s building when I didn’t want to be observed. I was a bit chagrined to realize I had a ‘usual’ way of doing that already.
We chatted about the weather and inconsequential matters. It was for appearances; Master Ethan was already hard at work. We walked the entire block then went around the block my building was on. I couldn’t tell if he was getting anything but I could tell he was trying hard.
“Show me that rooftop.” Master Ethan whispered as we reached the corner.
I nodded and lead him to the alley behind that building. It was empty, not even a stray cat making the rounds today. I leapt to the fire escape, thinking I’d bring the ladder down but Master Ethan merely leapt up himself. I grinned – I’d almost forgotten he was a slayer, too.
On the roof, I pointed out the apartment that had been Mr. Jenkins’. Master Ethan leapt the short distance across to the roof of Jack’s building and I followed.
“I never thought to come up here.” I admitted.
“You’re young yet. You haven’t learned all the tricks.” Master Ethan winked at me.
I watched him go over every inch of that roof. I tried to sense something but it felt sterile to me.
Master Ethan motioned for me to join him. He pointed to a small area. In the tar, I saw a distinct foot print – one that showed no tread.
“Dress shoes.” He commented.
“No detectable tread. Sneakers would leave a tread and so would work shoes.”
I didn’t need him to tell me why. If a body is buried with shoes, they are usually dress shoes. Hence vampires usually have dress shoes if they have shoes at all.”It was up here?”
He nodded, “It waited up here. It fled off that other building as you suspected.”
“Waited?” I asked, knowing what it meant.
He stood up, “Yes, it was definitely commanded.”