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The lid to the tomb was heavy but it slid of easily once I applied enough force. Using all my strength I pushed it so it was slanting to the side, giving me a good look inside my intended destination. I shined my flashlight into the bottomless hole. Just as I thought, four pairs of bloodshot eyes blinked back at me. And to think I thought I’d be out of here in time to pick up my girlfriend for our date.
Wishful thinking I guess.
Most teenagers didn’t spend their nights stalking monsters. I was an acceptation to that. However, this wasn’t how I expected I’d be spending my Halloween chasing a lead to the Riverview cemetery in Trenton. My ‘reliable’ lead was some kooky museum curator who believed he was the reincarnation of Dracula. I hated to break it to him but I’d staked that s.o.b. weeks ago.
“Terry are you listening to me?”
“Yeah, yeah,” I said, waiting for my prey to exit its decaying hovel, “destroy the brain or remove the head I got it. Can I get on with this? I was supposed to pick up Nat fifteen minutes ago.”
“This undead epidemic is more important than your puppy love Terry.”
The voice in my comlink ignoring the fact I had a personal life was my boss Dr. Guster. He was the one who got me roped into this. Once I was a normal delinquent kid, tagging the sides of trains, perpetrating grand theft auto, I’ve done it all.
That’s me Terry McGuiness, resident rabble rouser, novice detective, and vampire slayer extraordinaire. Now I find slaying the undead as a wonderful channel for my misplaced anger. Some people garden. I cut up blood-sucking monsters with a samurai sword. My shaggy black hair and dark attire melted into the darkness and I knew only my eyes would be visible. Bright blue teetering on the edge of violet; they looked like vampire eyes.
Something I loathed.
I tensed. My undead quarry didn’t sound happy. I took out the katana in my backpack. I hoped they were angry; I needed an outlet for my frustration.
“Cut the instructions short Doc.” I said, “Am I taking the heads this time?”
“Yes but don’t-”
I cut the link. How the hell was I supposed to fight vampires with him chirping in my ear?
Killing them didn’t take long. They weren’t even real vampires, just minions of some bigger fish. I was drenched in blood, it was dripping from my hair and my fingertips. I now had four trophies in a bag in the trunk of my car. Sweet. Four heads might get me a couple of days off. Maybe Nat and I could-crap Natalie! I’d totally forgotten. I was supposed to pick her up an hour ago.
Natalie was going to kick my vampire slaying ass from here to Helsinki.
The drive back to Endsville was interminable. It was close to midnight and the highway was full of cars; too many for me to drive the way I needed – fast and angry. Instead, I fumed as I consistently got stuck behind idiots who meandered their inferior domestic vehicles all over the road like they had a mental illness that forced them to drive in a manner that would infuriate Mother Theresa.
I was in vehicular hell.
"GET OUT OF MY WAY, YOU MOUTH-BREATHING MORON!!" I screamed at the Mini Cooper in front of me that randomly slowed down for no apparent reason. This guy was dancing on my last nerve. It was Hallow-freaking-ween and I was girlfriend-less and smelled like I’d bathed in zombie blood.
I watched as the driver calmly slowed down further and raised his middle finger to me.
That was it. "AAAAAARGH!!!"
I hit the accelerator and swerved around him, raising my middle finger viciously as I passed. It didn't give me much satisfaction. I briefly considered running him off the road and staking his head to the hood of his car. If I was still killing for 'justice' this guy would be a borderline case. I don't know what it said about me that I considered slow drivers just below murderers and pedophiles on the 'unforgivable crimes' list. I was still seething when I heard a siren and caught sight of flashing lights in my review mirror.
Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me!
I checked my speed.
Freaking hell I was going over one-hundred miles an hour.
I was so worried about Natalie hating me I’d made the most reckless mistake I could ever make. I tossed the bloody katana into the backseat and wiped my face with some of the Burger King napkins I left in the glove box. What the hell could I possibly say to explain the way I looked?
Oh forgive me officer; I was just on my way home from mercilessly murdering some of Endsville’s resident undead. Please ignore the arsenal in the backseat and the blood on my clothing. Oh and that putrid meat smell? Don’t worry; it’s just the vampire heads in the trunk.
I slowed the car down and pulled over to the shoulder, shaking my head as I tried to calm down. I really didn’t want to get arrested. Not tonight.
Could this evening possibly get any worse?
I opened my window and looked up as a flashlight shone straight into my face.
“Evening, son. I’m Officer Cyprus but you already knew that. Didn’t you McGuiness?”
Crap. It was Natalie’s dad.
“Would you like to explain to me why you were doing a hundred and ten in a sixty zone? Is there a hair product sale on somewhere that I'm not aware of?”
Did he just insult my hair?
I tried not to glare. It wasn't easy.
"I was just…anxious to get home," I said lamely. I wanted to leave out the part about needed to beg for his daughter’s forgiveness.
“I'm going to need to see your license and registration.” he said, squinting at me.
I sighed and reached into the glove compartment, handing over what he'd requested and trying not to look like a homicidal creature of the night.
Once again, not easy.
“Thought you cleaned up your act McGuiness.”
"I have…sir." I said. It was hard to show him any respect when I wanted to shove his face into my windshield.
“Where were you this fine Halloween, Mr. McGuiness?”
"Trenton sir… my Aunt was throwing a costume party for my cousins at Bloaty’s Pizza Hog." I wanted to bash my head against the steering wheel.
He shone the flashlight into the car, scanning my body.
“Costume party huh?” he said dryly. "What exactly are you supposed to be?"
I looked down at my tattered jeans and black V-neck shirt, all of which were splattered with blood.
“Ah...a modern-day vampire slayer.” I said, still feeling nervous.
“Son, I'm pretty sure a modern-day vampire slayer would drive something a little cooler than a Volvo.”
First my hair and now my car? What the hell was his problem?
“Volvos happen to be very safe cars, sir,” I said defensively, “and their handling is exceptional.”
“I could see how that would be important to you considering how fast you drive McGuiness.” he countered.
My point precisely.
He bent down to the window and leaned on the door, inspecting my face and comparing it to my driver's license.
“Been drinking tonight McGuiness?”
"No sir. I’m not the guy I used to be." Even if I was would I admit it?
He stared at me for a long time.
Not blinking. His face was completely impassive. I felt the overwhelming need to squirm in my seat.
I never squirmed.
“How have you been treating my little girl McGuiness?” he asked casually.
I usually ignore her calls and blow her off for hunting vicious vampires that want to drink my blood like a Dairy Queen Blizzard. I just love standing her up even though she stuck by me when I was thrown in Juvie. I'm really very busy.
"Very well sir…Nat’s very special to me."
Good one, McGuiness. You sound like you want to marry her now.
“Still working at the cemetery?”
Why the hell was he still talking to me?
“It’s part of my community service sir.”
"All right, McGuiness," he said as he handed me back my license and registration and my first and last speeding fine, "I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt because I'm feeling generous tonight. That and my daughter would kill me if I hauled you in. But if I catch you speeding like that again, I'm taking you in, understand?"
"Yes, I can honestly say I won’t be going that fast ever again." Wow my BS was so legit I was beginning to believe it.
"Good. The slightest mistake going at that speed could turn you into a dead man."
I smiled up at him."We wouldn't want that, would we?"
"You have a good night, McGuiness" he said, leaning down and looking straight into my eyes. "I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon."
I watched in my rear-view mirror as he got in his car and drove away.
Kansas City, Kansas
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