Yes, I know, no one will ever accuse me of being the sharpest tool in the shed. The whole way up and while Jack was letting us in, it never struck me as strange and none of the pieces fell into place for me. It didn’t seem odd to me that a guy would want to see the scene again even though it had been thoroughly trampled by now. I was just glad he did. While a normal guy might not be able to get much out of such a thing, a slayer like me just might. It was certainly worth a shot. As a result, the whole time I was more concerned with how to share anything I did get. After all, it was Jack’s friend and his idea but I couldn’t exactly tell him if I sensed a vampire, now could I?
Yes, now, hindsight being what it is, that whole thing seems really stupid, but at the time it just didn’t occur to me. So I decided to figure it out if and when I actually got something. If necessary, I’d wait and talk to Mr Ethan first then have my ‘epiphany’. Whatever, I wasn’t going to leave Jack out in the cold – that would just be wrong.
Once inside, the apartment seemed remarkably unremarkable. I had no sense of anything, not that I expected it off the bat, but I did begin to wonder if I’d just wasted a lot of worry for nothing. That changed when I followed Jack into the kitchen. Looking out the window I’d looked in a couple times before gave me an odd feeling. I looked at the sill more carefully as a result and noticed that it was painted perfectly, except for a few scratch marks. I felt them and knew immediately the creature had left them – they were much deeper than they appeared.
That matters to a slayer because it’s something that happens when a creature or a slayer is leaping unnaturally far. I don’t fully get why, but any mark left will be deeper than it appears. But, of course, Jack wouldn’t know that so I played dumb and asked if he had made them before telling him that they felt so deep.
Jack found scuff marks on the floor he was sure he hadn’t made. I touched it and knew he was right. I could sense the creature from it, definitely a vampire. I wasn’t sure of the type yet, but I was finally certain of what it was.
Jack led me into Mr Jenkins’ bedroom. The first thing I noticed was a pale blue armchair with a lot of upholstery cut off the armrest. Why the armrest, I wondered, then asked Jack to confirm that was where the old gentleman had died. Jack was surprised that I’d suspected the chair was where the old gentleman had been found but the place was neat as a pin so the only reason for the chair to be cut would be if the cops took it for evidence. Ten years of watching CSI finally paid off.
Jack and I were trying to figure out why the blood the cops presumably took was on the armrest. Jack noticed that the end showed marks as if someone had dug their nails into it. Of course, that made perfect sense to me in a very, very bad way.
Poor Jack was still confused but I was more worried about the implications. Everyone knows the old wives’ tale that a vampire’s hair and nails grow in the grave. They don’t, it’s just the effect of dehydration but the truth is, a vampire’s nails can be quite sharp. The creature had held Mr. Jenkins’ arm down as it attacked and probably scratched his arm in the process, hence the blood. But vampires don’t do that when they are just feeding – the victim is usually asleep. Vampires hold onto conscious victims and there aren’t but a couple reasons for that – neither of which are good.
I couldn’t say anything to Jack. He wouldn’t understand and it would only make things so much harder on him. I would take care of it myself – it was my job as a slayer and my duty as a friend. Besides, no one and I do mean no one should ever see – well, what I was now pretty darn sure might happen.
Once we were finished discussing things, I turned toward the door. That was when I saw a beautiful bayonet hanging under a mounted, tricorn folded, American flag.
“May I?” I asked Jack. He told me it would be alright and I lifted the blade from the wall.
His name is Arnie. Mr Jenkins had a sergeant by that name who trained him to use the bayonet and Arnie had been named in his honor, a fact he told me that Mr Jenkins had only shared with a few people over the years. Arnie had belonged to a soldier named Joe Daniels in World War II and had been in the European Theater. Joe died of dysentery after being wounded a few days after the Normandy invasion on D Day.
Arnie had been sent back with Joe’s things and put in a garage for a number of years. Some kid had asked for him when helping clean out that garage but his mother had taken Arnie and sold him to the local surplus shop. It was there that Mr Jenkins had bought Arnie several years before being called to service in Grenada.
Using Arnie had saved his life several times. Arnie had been there when Mr. Jenkins, then Corporal Jenkins, had been the only survivor of his five man team. Arnie told me how Corporal Jenkins had tried so hard to save his friends but had been knocked away by the concussion of a grenade, fallen in a ditch and awoken to find himself alone, his friends dead.
Arnie told me about the battles, the people he had cut, the men who had handled him, the bravery, the fear – blades have a sense of things people don’t usually get.
When he finished, I thought about the night Mr Jenkins died. I don’t speak out loud to blades much anymore – people stare at me when I do that – and I don’t need to, they can hear me just as I hear them. Arnie remembered the whole thing. I felt his bloodlust, wanting to dive deep into the killer and his frustration that he could only hang on the wall and watch as he lost yet another comrade in arms.
I got all that from the images and feelings Arnie shared. But now, Arnie began to tell his final story…