A Vampire in Killingsworth, Pt. 1

It was a Wednesday.

I can’t remember what I was doing that morning, or why it was that when the telephone rang and rattled in its holder I was already wide awake, deep breaths leaving me in long, drawn out heaves.

I remember feeling like I had just woken up from a dream—a nightmare—though what it was I couldn’t place. I gave up trying to remember so I could pick up the phone. I recognized the voice of my superior, Chief Geegan, on the other end of the line immediately (no one else I knew could manage full sentences with a cigar the size of a rolling pin half cocked in their mouth). He let me in on the whereabouts of a recent 187 in the Killingsworth District. He knew me well enough to know I used to live there, that I’d spent the first ten years of my time on the force calling it home. Being that I only lived some ten minutes away, I told him I’d head over as soon as I finished my coffee, before hanging up the phone and downing the remaining shot of whiskey in my glass leftover from the night before. I’d need another soon. I checked my window. Seeing the same dark, grimy alleyway beneath it, wetted with rain and slick from ice; I knew I’d need to add my umbrella to my list. After all, it was November: that time of year when the city gets dark earlier in the evening, so that you’d better hurry up and hope you got done what you needed to before the temperature drops, along with the light.

I made sure to grab the things I always took with me on the job (my notebook and my pen; my gun and holster; and a single pack of cigs) as well as the umbrella, before making my way down the stairs of my apartment building, wondering all the time whether this was going to be it: the day those creaking things finally took me. Apparently it wasn’t.

Before long I was standing at the entrance of a ghetto-looking door, in one of the roughest neighborhoods in the city; what for me used to be home. While knocking on 221, I trained my eyes on the balconies around. It didn’t matter that it was 2am: the ghetto never sleeps. But Killingsworth was all of quiet, except for some booming bass from the floor above and a junkie in the alleyway beneath crying out for help—sounds all too familiar for me. I remember hearing over the blaring of a distant car horn and muffled music a strange sound of chittering, and seeing something dark and fast-moving flapping its wings. So strange was it, that I paused my knocking to watch it disappear against the darkened sky, before losing sight of it in the rain.

It wasn’t long before I was let in by Deets, easily the lowest rung in the department, who gave me a failing smile and a just as shitty “Good morning, Detective Blackcloak,” as I closed my sopping umbrella. I remember his pale face staring at me as he opened the door, his bloodshot eyes hovering over my badge—probably wishing he could just nab it and collect another fifty-grand by the end of the quarter. That fuck.

He led me further in, past a crooked coat rack and in through the kitchen, which was almost the size of a closet. I gave him the briefest of nods. The first thing I remember saying aloud to Deets concerned the interior of the apartment, which was about as dark as the inside of a coffin.

“It can’t be this fucking dark in here,” I growled, flashing a scowl in his direction. “How the hell are we supposed to see what we’re doing? How the fuck am I supposed to do my job?”

I was met with that same, stupid look Deets was known for, and that shrug that always drove Chief Geegan through the wall. I watched him begrudgingly flip one of the nearby panel switches, his shaky hand making me wonder how he ever got approved to carry a firearm, and suddenly the room beyond illuminated.

Before long the rest of the lights were turned on, and by that point I had already pushed past and was entering into the next room. I remember it being pretty sparse: just a few pieces of cheap, hole-ridden furniture and some spider-webs in the corners—shit typical for that neighborhood. I also remember there being one cracked window, which looked out and into the apartment across, some twenty feet. It held a larger room—and one much nicer than the one I was standing in: newer furniture, complete with a coffee table that looked like it had been ripped right out of Interior Design Weekly.

I stared into it for awhile, then back to the room I was in. Memories of my first apartment in the city, mainly how shitty it had been, coming back to me. Not this shitty, I thought, looking at the cigarette stains in the leather sofa. But still: shitty enough to make working the then sixty-hour-a-week schedule seem worth it. I glanced down at the floor, where a poorly placed white sheet failed to hide the bloody imprint of a body beneath it. Fucking Deets, I thought, as I took note of the sketched impression of the body’s hand, which was extended oddly, as if to be reaching for something. I wondered whether the person who lived there spent their time looking into the next apartment over, wishing they could be there instead, as I was. Then I remembered where I was, and that I hadn’t managed to have my cup of coffee after all.

“How many?” I asked, not bothering to look over my shoulder: I knew it would just be to see the same stupid face as before. “And why the hell didn’t you wait to have them moved?”

“One child, one parent; the mother,” I heard Deets call over to me. “Chief said it was fine to. I’ve already collected evidence. COD is being ruled as strangulation, pending confirmation from the coroner.”

“Already collected,” I grumbled beneath my breath. “Husband in town?” I asked half-humorously, assuming this would spell the end to my morning and the beginning to my day drinking. Maybe a tonic—no, better be a Bloody Mary after last night.

“Husband died four years ago,” I heard him say. 

“Father-in-law?” I asked, scratching my chin where an old cut was failing to heal.

“Lives in Connecticut—concrete alibi.”

“Fuck,” I muttered, as the cut suddenly reopened. My thirst for another drink tapped me on the shoulder, as if to say “How bout it, bud?”

“Known associates in the building at TOD?” I asked, turning away from the window and back to the room I was in; there was more blood on the floor than I remembered there being.

“Just Mrs. Winster down the hall. Says the victim was a choice tenant—always watered her plants whenever she was out of town. Said her son was a sweet kid, too. Used to play baseball at—”

“Any other leads?” I asked, leaning down to examine the blood-soaked carpet. “Lot of blood for strangulation.”

“The victim’s eyes were uhm…impacted.”

“Must’ve been personal, then,” I mumbled. Lifting up the sheet, a clear outline of the body could be viewed; where it lay prone, on its side. Weird, I thought. You’d think she’d be on her back.

My eyes returned to her hand and the way it seemed to be reaching for something. A book: there, beside the stain left by the bloodied corpse, half-hidden beneath the sofa, lay a small black book.

This is what the fuck we need light for, I thought. “Already collected,” I grumbled again.

“Victim was a practicing therapist. Specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy, whatever that means…”

I opened up the black book to see a long list of names, accompanied by small notations and inscriptions, all in reference to the names listed. I searched through to the last entry, which appeared unfinished.

Mr. Drago Slovinsky suffers from acute paranoia, fears he is being stalked by his own shadow; experiencing loss of sleep, suffering from reoccurring nightmares, centering around a fixation of—

“There’s something else,” I heard Deets say from the other room, halting my reading. “Whoever did it must be one hell of a sick fuck.”

I paused my reading. “What makes you say that?”

“Coroner says the bodies were nearly drained when they were picked up. BOS doesn’t match with what’s missing so, I mean, the only other logical explanation is—”

“That he drank them dry,” I said, the words sounding hollow as they left my mouth; my craving for a Bloody Mary gone.

I finished the last line.

Reoccurring nightmares, centering around a fixation of blood.

I suddenly remembered what my dream from the night before had been about.

To be continued.

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