I’d chosen Hubner’s for the date because it had just the right amount of class. It wasn’t a fast food restaurant nor was it a place for candle lit dinners. It was nicely in the middle. It also had the added attraction of the correct usage of the apostrophe in its name.
Being a week night the restaurant was quiet. There were only six others present. The waitress directed Jessica and me to a booth to the right-hand-side and we ordered drinks. By the time the waitress returned we were both ready to order.
“What sort of work do you do?” Jessica asked.
I hated having to lie. “I work in finance.”
“Not really. I discovered in High School I was good at math.”
“Come on.” She smiled. “There must be something good about it.”
“Well I get a fair amount of freedom. If I have to visit a client I can take the long route back or something like that.”
“Every job has its perks.” She took a sip of her drink.
“Indeed.” Just as I was lifting my own glass there was an almighty crash and a scream from the front of the restaurant.
“What was that?” Jessica said.
“Not tonight,” I muttered.
“Nothing.” I peered out from the booth. The front window had been smashed in. The three couples present were cowering under their respective tables. I could just hear the frantic voice of the waitress talking, I presumed, to a 911 operator.
“What’s going on?” Jessica asked.
There was another crash before I could respond. This time it was a mirror at the front on the restaurant. That was the proof I needed. “Stay here.” I reached down to my ankle holster and pulled out my revolver. I flipped it open to make sure the wooden bullets were in place correctly.
“What are you doing!”
I wasn’t sure if Jessica had seen the gun. “My job.”
“You work in finance!”
“I… I’m sorry. I’m not supposed to discuss it.”
“What are you?” She said. “CIA, FBI, ATF.”
“Something like that.” I crept out from the booth and kept low. I passed a young couple clutching each other. They had been sat near to the mirror that had shattered. “Are you okay?” I whispered.
“Yes,” the woman said. The man looked too scared to speak.
“Good. Stay where you are.” I moved away from them. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my hand. I’d rested in some of the broken glass. I turned my palm over and saw blood trickling down it. As I concentrated on the wound the blood began to clot and the glass fell away. Taking another look round the room I decided to stand. “Come on!” I shouted. “Show yourselves. This isn’t your usual hunting ground.”
There was a crack behind me. A booted foot stepping in broken glass. I turned and there he was so pale. He grinned showing his fangs – they love to do that. “How you doing.” I quipped.
I aimed a punch at his face. He swung at me and I ducked. I still had my gun but I was too close to use it. Suddenly he staggered. Behind him I saw Jessica. She was holding the extra large pepper grinder from the bar.
I stumbled backwards and fired. I hit the vampire square in the heart. He fell backwards and turned to dust before he hit the ground.
“This is new.” Jessica said.
“So,” Jessica said, “vampires huh?”
“Yeah,” I said, “and quite an old one.”
“How do you know?”
“Vampires occupy dead bodies and use their magic to prevent decay. When the vampire is killed the body decays as it would have.” I was surprised I’d just told her everything. It was supposed to be a secret.
“So if someone was… Is possessed the right word? … and killed in one night you’d be left with a corps?”
“Yes. You don’t seem phased by this.”
“I grew up in Texas, after a while nothing surprises you.”
I frowned at that remark. I needed to get home fast. If the vampires were attacking in the open something odd was definitely going on. “Listen everyone you need to go home. Leave now!”
“Home,” the woman I had spoken to before said, “how’s that going to help?”
“They can’t come in unless invited.”
“That’s true!” Jessica said.
“You sound surprised.”
“Its just that it seems an unusual weakness.”
“I suppose it is.” I said with a shrug. “A coven in Glastonbury performed a spell, this was several thousand years ago, to ensure the safety of the home.”
“Can’t I help in some way?”
I was about to respond when I realised no one had moved. “Please,” I said calmly. “You should all go home now.” I waved my hand through the air and waggled my fingers. The others in the restaurant got to their feat and moved towards the door. I turned back to Jessica. “You really want to play in my sandbox?”
“Vampire hunters drink coffee don’t they? I’d rather be serving you guys than in Starbucks. Then I’d be privy to the greatest secret know to humans!”
I was sure I was going to get seven kinds of hell for this. “Sure. Come on then.” We ran out of the restaurant to my car. We got in and pulled the doors shut. I pulled my sell phone from my pocket and sent an emergency message. “The other thing you should know is that magic is real. About one in every five thousand people have magic. I work for the Order of Odin. We track down those with magic and keep an eye on the vampires.” I pulled the car out of the parking lot and headed for main street. “I think I’ve got a couple of pizzas in the freezer.”
I lived in a small house on the outskirts of San Francisco. We got out of the car and ran up the drive way. “What do you like on your pizza?”
“The usual,” she said, “pepperoni, ground beef.”
“Good,” I said.
“What about sunlight?”
“Sorry?” I said.
“Sorry,” Jessica said, “I have a bad habit of randomly changing the subject. “Are vampires effected by sunlight?”
“Their senses are more attuned at night, they are nocturnal, but they can move about during the day.”
My keys jingled as I pulled them from my pocket. I unlocked the door and stepped over the threshold. I reached the picture of the grand canyon on the hall wall, stopped, turned around, and folded my arms. I tried to keep my face as neutral as possible.
After a moment Jessica seemed to understand and stepped inside. “Nice place.”
“Thanks. Sorry about that I couldn’t take the chance.”
“You thought I was a vampire?” She asked.
“You can never be too careful,” I said, “I’ll put the pizzas in.”
I squatted down by the freezer, opened the draw, and took two pizzas out. I paused for a moment. I had proven that Jessica was human but how could I prove I was trustworthy.
I unwrapped the pizzas and placed them in the oven. Coming back into the living room I sat on the sofa opposite Jessica. “Do you trust me?”
She was a little taken aback by the question. “Of course.”
“I could be a vampire.”
“I don’t think so. You don’t have that vibe about you. On the other hand I would welcome you proving it.”
Of course I knew many tests. However they all relied on knowledge of vampires. She might expect a crucifix to sizzle a vampire’s skin – this was not the case. “I’m not sure how I can.”
There was the noise of an engine from outside. We rushed to the window. With fangs showing the vampires came rushing towards the house each held an axe.
“You aren’t attacking me with an axe.”
“Good point.” I said. “We should duck.” We dove to the floor. There was a loud thud as a brick hit the double-glazed window.
“Can they come in if they cause enough damage?” Jessica asked.
“Lets not test that theory.” I took Jessica hand. We ran out of the living room and briefly into the hall. The vampires had successfully broken down the door. One of them approached the threshold and Jessica and I saw him repelled by the empty opening.
“So it is true.”
“Yeah. Let’s get upstairs.”
“Not the best chat-up line ever you know?” Jessica said.
Unsure of what to say I ran with her up the stairs. We ran to the guest bedroom at the back of the house and sat on the floor below the window.
“Can I ask you something?”
“What do you think of the deus ex machine endings?”
“What?” She said panting. “Well it’s a bit of a cop out.”
“I agree.” I paused for a moment. Right when I expected it there was the sound of a helicopter. “Though I’d be willing to give it a try.”
“What’s that?” Jessica asked.
“The cavalry. I text them from the car.”
Jessica gave me her address. She lived in a small apartment in Alameda. I knocked on the door and Jessica opened it. Her lips twitched slightly. She obviously wanted to simply invite me in but knew that she couldn’t do that any more. Her world had changed. Instead she just smiled gingerly.
I took a step forward across the threshold and then another step. I closed the door behind me. “See,” I said, “nothing to fear.”
“I’m glad to be sure,” she said.
“Indeed.” I smiled. As I followed Jessica into the living room I wondered how I was going to explain that for three nights soon I would be incommunicado. Though it was day I could see the moon – it was waxing its way towards being full.