Available Darkness: Chapter 25
(Serial and Milk: Available Darkness is a serialized horror thriller co-written by David Wright and Sean Platt. A new chapter appears here each Friday. If you missed previous chapters, you can read them here.)
“How about that one?” Larry waved his finger at an old man slowly peddling an ancient-looking 10-speed in the dark, likely on his way to a job that had been swallowing his soul one sip at a time. Two plastic grocery bags dangled from the handlebars, heavy with a cheap prepared lunch or perhaps pages to turn while whittling away a break.
“No,” Abigail said, sitting beside Larry in the van, clearly uncomfortable.
They were parked beside two other cars, both broken down by the looks of it, at the far end of a gas station/convenience store still about an hour away from lighting its canopy. From their position, they could see the station and a small strip plaza, which was also not yet open. They’d hoped to find some wayward soul up to no good.
Unlike Larry’s disastrous motel headquarters, the van was immaculately clean and well organized, despite its outer appearance. Along one wall of the van stood a built-in table with a few monitors and onboard computers and a chair. The opposite wall held a long row of dark heavy duty plastic totes which drew Abigail’s curiosity, though she’d refrained from asking about their contents.
Larry had allowed Abigail to continue holding the gun, while also giving her a quick lesson in aim and handling. He had both a .45 of his own and a stun gun, which he was ready to use as soon as they found the right person to accompany them back to the motel.
They’d been sitting in the parking lot for nearly 20 minutes, but the bicyclist was only the second person they’d seen. The first had been a heavyset woman in her late 40’s, out for an early morning run. Considering that the nearest residential area was at least a mile away, Larry suspected she was on her way to the all night doughnut shop a bit further up the road. Abigail had cast a vote against her as well. Fortunately for the jogger, the wages of sin by way of donuts was not worthy of execution via vampire.
Abigail had hoped this would be easier, half expecting they’d catch someone committing some sort of heinous sin that she and Larry could stop in the nick of time, knocking the bad guy cold and bringing him back for John to feed on. Unfortunately, there was never a bad guy around when you needed one.
“We’re gonna need to find someone soon,” Larry said.
“Fine, but not him,” Abigail said pointing at the old man as he slowly faded from one patch of light on the deserted highway and into darkness.
“It’s okay,” Larry said, “He’s too old anyway. He probably wouldn’t have done much to quench John’s hunger. Younger people have a lot more life force to feed on.”
“So,” Abigail said, “I’d be an ideal meal, then?”
Larry wasn’t sure if she were making a dark joke or verbalizing her fear.
“Yeah,” he agreed, matter-of-factly.
Abigail swallowed the knot in her throat.
“I don’t suppose you know anyone around here who needs to die, do you?” Larry asked, “Maybe an old boyfriend who pissed you off?”
“Boyfriends?” Abigail laughed.
A pair of headlights swirled into view and grabbed their attention, as a white van rolled into the station and idled beside one of the station’s doors. A short man hopped out, tufts of brown and gray hair curling around his balding dome. He wore khaki knee-length shorts and a faded yellow tee shirt with black spots peppering the front. He slid his van’s side door open, retrieved a bundle of newspapers, then dropped the pile next to the gas station doorway.
Abigail and Larry exchanged glances.
“Too high profile,” Larry said, “he’d be reported missing before the hour was up, soon as the cops at the donut shop down the street realize their coffees are cold and they don’t have their papers yet.”
“No,” Abigail said, “I don’t want to take him. I have an idea. Can you give me some money?”
“For a paper?” Larry shook his head. “No way, missy. You’re picture is all over page 1 A, I can guarantee you that. That dude gets one look at you and the cops will be here in minutes. We wait until he leaves.”
“Oh yeah,” she said with a frown. She began tapping her feet on the floorboard and Larry rolled his eyes. Kids.
The delivery man left and Larry sprinted to the station, grabbed two papers and returned to the van.
“Okay, what’s your big idea?”
Abigail was frozen, the pictures on the front page sending a chill through her body. One clearly showed her wide eyed terror as she stood by the side of the freeway, the other far more blurry shot had been snapped just as John was moving from one victim to the next.
“Earth to Abi,” Larry said, snapping his fingers, “what’s your idea?”
She shook the moment away and started to explain, “It’s like what you said before. Let’s find someone who really deserves to die. I mean, people do bad stuff all the time, right? And most of them don’t go to jail, I bet.”
Larry looked at her, wondering what kind of hell a kid goes through to become this jaded so early in life.
“Well, chances are good that if they’re in the paper, they’re probably in jail, or maybe hard to get to.”
Abigail glared, “You have a better idea?”
“Not really,” Larry said.
“Then let’s find someone who needs to die,” Abigail said, clenching her jaw and unfolding the paper across her lap.
Four black vans with their lights off rolled out of the darkness and into the parking lot of the motel simultaneously, quiet save for the sound of tires crunching over debris on the littered pavement.
Squad leader Brock Tyler was anxious to get the ball rolling. “We’re here,” he radioed his boss. “It looks like he’s alone.”
“Good,” Jacob responded, “then go in and bring him home.”
Brock gave the command and at once, all the van doors slid open and 12 men in black paramilitary body armor prepared to descend onto John’s hotel room, weapons drawn.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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