No, we were not home in bed when Crystal called. Granted, I’d only been chasing monsters around roof tops for a couple months but I kinda thought I’d gotten the hang of it. That was right up until I tried to keep up with two retiring slayers.
I’d followed Mr. Schmidt. He’s further along in his retirement – keeps assuring me that his powers aren’t what they used to be. Good for me – I’d have never kept up if he’d been in top form. It wasn’t just the running around – he added dodges and twists that at first made no sense but as I kept watching, it became obvious that he knew exactly where this thing was and exactly how to make it show itself.
Don’t ask for a detailed explanation – it won’t help. A slayer’s world is one of reason and intuition – and Mr. Schmidt had intuition down to a science. He and Mr. Myers hadn’t actually discussed a battle plan but they clearly didn’t need to. They automatically began a pincer movement that forced the doppleganger into the open.
Dopplegangers often take the form of someone you know – but this one was in its natural and anything but pretty form. Had I not been a slayer myself, I probably would have had to stop and throw up both from the appearance and the smell. It didn’t smell dead – more like week old baby formula. I have eight brothers and sisters younger than I am so yes, I do know what that smells like. Add a couple rotten eggs and produce the mess on an industrial scale and you get an idea of how bad this thing smelled. Dinner stayed where it belonged but under protest.
It looked worse. It gave new meaning to the term ‘skin crawling’. It’s skin seemed to do just exactly that. It was like it was covered in a moving blanket of flesh that just didn’t want to stay still. It was disorienting to watch and supper registered a couple more complaints about remaining in my stomach.
Not all creatures are inhumanely fast, so the books claim. Evidently, it’s just the ones that come to New York to mess with me. The doppleganger was racing away from us like it should have been in the Indy 500 – I’m pretty sure it would have won. We were pacing it but not closing. At first I thought that the other men simply couldn’t but I was wrong. They weren’t waiting for it to wear itself out – they were waiting for it to run out of roof top.
That didn’t take long. Walking, it takes me an hour to cover that distance on foot – we’d been running less than fifteen minutes. But it finally reached Carson’s Dairy Supply – that’s the name of the last building of more than three stories. It’s been empty my entire life. Beyond it is a parking lot and a lot of empty lots from the city demolishing the run down neighborhood that use to be there. Lots of empty space – not what a creature fleeing three slayers wants to see.
“Imitate your master.” I told it. I’d like to say I wasn’t huffing and puffing as I spoke but I’d be lying.
The doppleganger changed into a man. I’d seen pictures that James had found – but this didn’t match any of those, which wasn’t a surprise. Dopplegangers can only imitate humans so the fact that it changed meant it wasn’t considering Mycroft the vampire its master. That was good on two counts – I now had a good idea what Vinnie looked like and I don’t think dinner would have stayed put much longer had it stayed in its natural form.
Mr. Myers saw it first, “Look out!”
I turned just in time to see something large fly past me. I took a swing at it with the only thing I had – Arnie, still in his sheathe. It connected but with the leg – I did get a rather satisfying yelp from the thing.
Myers and Schmidt both moved but none of us were close enough. It swooped down enough to grab the doppleganger then took off over the parking lot. The three of us went racing after them. Mr. Schmidt was kind enough to translate the cursing from German for us without undue detail. Evidently, I’d taken a hunk out of its leg because the vampire was audibly cursing as it flew.
I hadn’t forgotten that the vampire that killed Mr. J had spoken German. A vampire rescuing one of Vinnie’s pets – it had to be the same one. I didn’t know yet if it was the one called Mycroft and I didn’t care. For three strategic reasons and one very personal reason I had no intention of letting those things escape. I hopped off a three story building like I was hopping a turn style and kept running.