Through the Looking Glass, Part Seventeen

Crystal stopped and dug into her pocket. A few clicks later and she had Mr Ethan on the line. She explained quickly and he promised to make sure Tresmayne knew. How he was going to do that when Tresmayne was surely in wolf from at the moment, Crystal didn’t know or care. Tresmayne was a lot closer to the house than she or Jack. She’d felt Jack’s quarry die and hadn’t seen any others. Three vampires to handle two slayers? That couldn’t be right. Had it been a trap like she suspected and it merely failed? Maybe, but she didn’t like it. She debated waiting for Jack to catch up but decided against. It would be a pain to try to locate each other now – better to go home and meet up there. Crystal took off running, vowing to herself to buy that boy a cell phone. This was ridiculous.

Jack made a quick search for Crystal. She had obviously killed that vampire so she was probably fine. She hadn’t hung around which was smart. Home was the logical place, especially for a girl. Jack paused only long enough to tap out a Morse code message to his brother. Getting no reply, Jack leapt across an alleyway, heading for home as fast as he could manage. Unlike Crystal, he had a very good idea of why there had been only three vampires – you don’t send your main force as a decoy. What he really didn’t get was why. Obviously it had something to do with him but frankly, he wasn’t this danged tough. All this cloak and dagger nonsense just to kill him? Nah, couldn’t be and ditto for capture – there must have been a million chances before he was fully ’emerged’ and more than a few after. Which lead him to another possibility – maybe he wasn’t the main event but the side show?

Crystal reached her block just as she felt Tresmayne drop his concealment. It startled her and she almost fell. She’d sensed him before but never with his concealment completely down – his presence was overwhelming. That scared her – why would he suddenly decide to make his presence so strongly felt? The only thing that came to mind was that he was trying to scare something off but Jack wasn’t at home so it couldn’t be after Jack. But both his family and hers were there and were exposed. She cursed herself for her stupidity. It wasn’t a trap; it had been a decoy.

Jack also felt Tresmayne’s suddenly massive presence but he took little notice. He didn’t have to guess – he knew why. He made a beeline for the house. If whatever it was had hurt anyone it was not going to die quickly. Grimly, Jack grabbed the nearest fire escape and descended to street level. He ran the last block at incredible speed, slowing only as he reached his stoop. He was up it in one bound. He turned and looked at Crystal’s building. That door was closed. He’d check out home then there. He could feel Tresmayne’s presence in his own building. That didn’t bode well. Swallowing his heart, Jack went inside.

In the gloom, two red eyes glowed like freshly blown embers. The blackness concealed the huge figure but Jack didn’t need to see it – he could already sense Tresmayne. Jack motioned at his parent’s door. The massive head shook decisively then turned back down the hall. Jack followed grimly, gripping his ball bat ever tighter.

Crystal woke her parents as she opened their bedroom door to check on them. She couldn’t have been more relieved as her father demanded an explanation. She gave him a quick one and closed the door. There was ice in her stomach as she went out the front and raced across the street to Jack’s building. The door was already open and she could sense Tresmayne one flight up. As quietly as she could, she dashed down the hall to the stairwell. Up one flight then another, Tresmayne was still moving upwards. On the fourth floor, he stopped. One more flight and Crystal reached the hall. The place stank of blood.

Jack was already inside the Myers’ apartment, thanking God they were out of town. Only their cats, Oscar and Mayer, had been home. The living room was a disaster, both the unfortunate cats and the furniture had been torn to shreds. He turned to Tresmayne, “What happened?”

“About the time Ethan contacted me, I felt the vampires and returned. You two were away and I felt another presence. Not a strong one, just a pseudo-modern werewolf. I came in while it was killing the cat. I killed it.”

“Was that when you dropped that concealment thing?” Jack asked.

“Yes, I wanted anything else in the area to…”

Somewhere below, a child screamed.

Jack turned to go but Crystal caught his arm, “You’d better put it back up now, Mr Tresmayne.”

He nodded sadly, “Done.”

Jack pulled away, “That kid…”

“Is having a nightmare.” Crystal finished the sentence calmly, “Everyone in this building if not the block is going to have nightmares tonight.”

Jack looked around at Tresmayne, “Because of him?”

Crystal nodded, “Yes, with no concealment even normal people sense a traditional. They don’t do it consciously and they don’t know what it is so their brains try to make sense of it and that usually means nightmares. A lot of the traditional forms capitalize on that fact.”

“It makes them freeze up?”

Crystal nodded, “If they are awake, yes.”

Jack nodded. That’s why Tresmayne hadn’t dropped his concealment totally before now. “Okay, you two get out. I’ll have a look around and then find some way of explaining how I discovered this mess.” He looked at the sad remains of what had been Mayer, “Why kill a cat? It’s no threat and surely it didn’t attack something like that? Why…”

Instantly, the answer leaped to mind. Furious with himself, Jack put his fist full force through the wall. Crystal grabbed his arm but he only calmly pulled it back, “I’m a damn fool. This has nothing to do with me – it’s the building.There’s something here they want and I’m just an obstacle. But why all the run around? Why do they need so many distractions?”

“I don’t…” Crystal started to speak.

“Because a creature can’t get whatever it is!” Jack answered his own question. “A human has to do it and a human needs privacy and time. They killed Mr J to get his room vacant. Attacking me was just a way of keeping me distracted – so was half killing Chester. Now they send a stupid werewolf to kill the Myers and the idiot thing kills the cats because they were the only living things here.”

“Your sister?” Tresmayne asked.

Jack nodded grimly. That now made perfect sense, too. “Yeah, my sister. I wanna meet this Thompkins guy. I doubt he’s the one but I bet I can find out through him.”

Tresmayne nodded, “So we need only protect those who reside in this apartment?”

Jack shook his head emphatically, “No, the other way around. We protect everyone in the building – if they can’t get to the Myers they will start randomly going after people in the building to throw us off the scent and distract us.”

“What could be here that they would want so badly?” Crystal wondered aloud.

“That I don’t know. But I intend to find out.” Jack declared through clenched teeth.