I missed most of what happened the next morning. Ayami, Kagome and I all had classes so we left fairly early. Kagome and I saw Ayami to her campus – our classes being a little later than hers – and made it with time to spare for English 102. At least this professor wasn’t assigning papers every other day.
James told me about it later – Jack had his hands full by the time I got home. I hadn’t asked Ayami for a tally – I got that from James. Overnight Ayami had caught more than fifty mice, twenty or so gerbils and hamsters, two guinea pigs and one of the two ferrets. Jack had built a fairly large cage for the project but ended up having to borrow two more from the attic.
Jack slept through the morning – he’d been up all night with Ayami and Mr. Myers. James had been elected to stand watch for the day – it had been a busy one.
James took his station on the stoop, his trusty laptop by his side. It was still early – he waved as Ayami and Kagome went past toward the bus stop (I had to take the long way to avoid being seen). James said it wasn’t long after that that he noticed a young man, mid thirties, coming out of the building next to Jack’s.
He was average height, thin, looked like his last meal had been more than a week ago, with a sallow face and his brown eyes half hidden behind a shock of obviously dyed blonde hair. High cheeks, aquiline nose – he could have played Sherlock Holmes in a play if it hadn’t been for his anorexic build. He was wearing sweats and a tee, no jacket despite the chill air. He paused coming out, as if the sunlight confused him. He seemed lost, wandering to and fro around his own building. Occasionally, he’d go back in but would be back outside in minutes.
James watched, pretending to type on his laptop, for some time. After over an hour, when the man got close to where James was sitting, he looked up and spoke, “Hello? Is something the matter?”
The fellow started, almost coming out of the sagging folds of his skin, “N-no, no, nothing…”
James shrugged, “Okay, it just seemed like maybe.”
The man nodded, “Yeah, I’m just looking for something…”
It took a while before the man spoke again, “Yeah, my … pet ferret.”
“Hmm, haven’t seen one today.” Which was true, James had seen the ferret the night before when Jack put it in the cage. “Sorry. If I do, I’ll be sure to let you know.”
He nodded, distracted and dejected at the same time, “Thanks…”
The scenario repeated itself several more times. The man kept coming out, hunting around and going back in. Each time he looked more harried and upset. James started to feel a bit sorry for him – until he reflected that a man had died just a couple months earlier.
By mid-morning, just as Kagome and I were joined by Kimberly and Monica in gym class, there were a half dozen people in the street that James didn’t recognize. Not merely folks passing through – those came and went all the time – but four men and two women milling about, looking around surreptitiously. One of the women went into the apartment building but came out alone.
James continued to type, now in Gaelic as he took notes of the stranger’s activities. They were looking for something, that was obvious. Something small – they were looking under and in things no one looking for a missing jacket for instance would bother with. They went into various buildings – but none came to the stoop of Jack’s building.
James shot off a group text. I was in between gym and art class – he had notices that they were avoiding Jack’s building. Jack sent back that Tresmayne would be in his apartment in a minute and would check it out.
That was pretty obvious to me – in human form, James isn’t very sensitive to creatures. Now, a kid in distress and he’s going to know it a mile away – but Tresmayne would have to be in wolf form and drop his concealment entirely before James would have a clue he was there. James couldn’t tell for sure – Tresmayne would be able to tell.
And sure enough, when I got out of art class and could check my texts, there were a dozen. Tresmayne had gone to Jack’s front room and carefully looked out the window. Much more sensitive than either Jack or I, he could identify two vampires (both women), three werewolves, an adarna (it’s a bird type night creature), and a golem. That was interesting – golems that can pass for human are rare. Of course, adarna aren’t exactly common, either. I smiled as I headed for the cafeteria – Jack had been right.
The part of Jack’s plan he worried about the least that I wondered about the most was whether or not Vinnie had a monopoly on werewolves and vampires he could throw at us. The answer was no – just as Jack suspected, Vinnie was beginning to run low. It dawned on me finally why Jack had been so convinced – Vinnie was only using creatures with human forms. Such creatures are easy to hide in a city – they simply blend in unlike a chupacabra, for example, which would have a heck of a time staying hidden in a huge metropolis like New York for more than a few days. It would be easy prey for a passing slayer.
If I understood correctly, that all meant we now had Vinnie’s attention. I wasn’t sure why we wanted it, but I trusted Jack’s planning. I hummed all the way home – we were finally in the driver’s seat, not just hanging onto the bumper.