Saturday, 7 April 2007

Chapter 37: "Let's Talk"

‘I think you’re being a bit over-dramatic,’ Agent Simpson said in a considerably calmer tone than mine.

Over-dramatic?’ I shouted, even louder this time.

Agent Simpson stayed calm, probably hoping it would rub off on me. ‘This isn’t the place. Let’s talk in the car.’

We got into the car and I slammed the door. It was a pool car, a replacement for my old car that had been impounded as evidence of the battle that afternoon. I’m not sure what point I was trying to prove by slamming the door but I needed to vent somehow. I wasn’t even sure what I was venting. Anger? Shock? A feeling of complete disillusionment and helplessness?

I picked up the radio. ‘Dispatch, this is Detective Ryder. Make sure all units are on the lookout for Officer Myers. He used to be dead but now he’s naked and running round the streets near the hospital, eating homeless guys.’

‘This is Dispatch. Please can you repeat that, Detective Ryder?’

‘You heard,’ I said and threw the radio onto the dashboard. I turned to Agent Simpson. ‘Now let’s talk.’

She sighed. ‘Where do you want to me start?’

‘You’re the vampire expert,’ I exclaimed, ‘tell me everything. Where do they come from? What do they want? How can we kill them?’

She took a deep breath, like she was about to recite a story she had told a hundred times before. ‘As far as we know, vampires have always been a part of the human community. There is documented evidence of their existence going back as far as man has been able to put ink to paper.

‘There have always been two theories for their existence: either the vampires themselves are a species of their own that has mutated from mankind or that their behaviour is caused by a disorder of the blood and they are still human deep down.’

‘So the World Health Organisation have discovered that it’s a blood disorder?’ I asked in a lower tone of voice.

‘No, not exactly. Doctor Owen has been working with samples of vampire blood. He and many scientists before him have discovered that there are certain ways of treating the blood to cause a chemical reaction. Some treatments could eventually be used to remove the symptoms and the other treatments will be used to kill vampires in a more effective way than silver bullets.’

‘It is true that humans can inherit some of a vampire’s attributes when he or she is bitten. The World Health Organisation also suspects there is a core of pure blood vampires who are the direct descendants of the very first vampires, just as we are the direct descendants of the first human beings that evolved from the apes.’

At first I was surprised this was such a big secret. How could there be a worldwide vampire community without it being obvious to everyone?

Then I realised what would happen if this information got out. If the six billion human beings on this Earth suddenly realised they weren’t at the top of the food chain there would be complete panic.

I wanted to ask her why she hadn’t come clean with me from the beginning. Why didn’t she just tell me about all this when we met this morning?

I already knew the answer to that question as well. I wouldn’t have believed her for one second and I would have tried to have her committed.

‘I can understand why you want to keep the existence of vampires secret from everyone but what about the vampire community? Outside of the movies, this is the first I’ve heard about them. How do they keep such a low profile?’

‘Compared with the human race, their community is very small. They have a presence in most major cities in the world but they keep their numbers under control. They need to feed regularly and big cities are easy places to sweep missing people under the carpet. They’re not stupid though. They know that if they were to launch an attack on a large group of humans, it would attract attention, get in the papers and on the news and life would change for everyone.

‘Once people get over the initial panic and get used to their new place in the world, they always come to realise that vampires aren’t actually that hard to kill.’

Now we were getting to the interesting part. ‘How can we kill them?’

‘Forget what you know about garlic and crucifixes, that’s straight out of the movies. Silver and ultraviolet light are the best weapons against them. The blood of a vampire reacts in different ways to external influences than human blood.

‘After an hour or so in direct sunlight without sunscreen, you and I would get pretty bad sunburn. The vampires’ skin is hypersensitive to UV light so they get the same kind of sunburn after just a few minutes or even seconds in some cases.’

‘So vampires are all creatures of the night, like in the movies?’ I asked, trying to relate what I thought I knew.

‘Not at all. As long as they stay out of direct exposure to the sun, they can carry on as normal. Remember, it’s not the light itself that harms them, it’s the UV rays. If you sit in a car in the height of summer, your skin won’t burn because the glass in the windows absorbs most of the UV rays. They use similar techniques to operate in daylight hours. There’s a very good chance you run into vampires in your daily life. They’ve had centuries to practice being incognito.’

It would be very difficult to forget what movies had taught me. These vampires weren’t demons from hell sent here to take our souls; they were unfortunate people that had contracted a terrible disease. Or that was the theory anyway.

Agent Simpson continued. ‘Doctor Owen has discovered that silver reacts with a compound in vampire blood to produce an acid that burns their bodies from the inside. The acid is so strong that it breaks down all tissue and bone. Once a vampire absorbs a silver bullet, it only takes a few seconds for the whole body to decompose.’

‘That’s why there were burns marks on the wall in the house where Officer Myers was killed,’ I concluded, ‘The doctor was being held there by vampires, wasn’t he? The guys who snatched the doctor must have had silver bullets in their guns. Who are they?’

‘They call themselves The Brotherhood. They are a group who devote their lives to the protection of the human race.’

All day long I had known she knew who they were. ‘But they killed policemen today.’

‘They operate outside the law and at times they take extreme action for the good of mankind. The vampires must have picked up Doctor Owen last night. With your help, The Brotherhood tracked him down and rescued him.’

‘With my help? That’s the real reason you’re working with me today, isn’t it? You’re one of them and you wanted the inside scoop.’

She nodded in agreement. ‘I’m afraid so, detective. I wanted to tell you but I feel that the information I am sharing with you is on a need to know basis. Only now do you need to know.’

I thought she was right but I didn’t tell Agent Simpson that I agreed with her.

‘Do you think they have Doctor Forrest as well?’ I asked.

‘We should assume they have him, yes.’

‘So it must have been the vampires that blew up the Mantek lab,’ I said, ‘they discovered Doctor Owen was working on the treatment and took action against him.’

Agent Simpson nodded in agreement.

Another thought occurred to me. ‘But if the vampires destroyed the lab, all of his work and killed his assistant, why didn’t they kill the doctor?’

‘I’m afraid I don’t have the answer to that,’ said Agent Simpson. Given my experience of working with her so far, I didn’t know whether to believe her or not.

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