After Beau departed the restaurant, Dr. Paine finished his meal though Nellie picked at hers. Nellie told Dr. Paine about the girl killed the night before by Vance and her unsuccessful effort to track him down.
Finding his associates would possibly lead to him, but there was no guarantee that they had any connection to him since University, only Beau’s theory.
While his idea of Vance being used by others to flush out potential hunters made sense, it was not much for them to go on. They only had four days left to catch Vance before the Chief would send them to Egypt.
The restaurant’s crowd had emptied and Nellie and Dr. Paine were alone in their section of the restaurant. “If only we could go public and notify the police and the citizens to be on the lookout for Vance,” Nellie said.
“We’ve been over the ethical issues many times,” Dr. Paine said. “The law does not cover the supernatural and as we’ve seen time after time the consequences on the rare occasions when members of the public encounters such horrors.”
“Madness and despair,” she said quietly. Whenever the curtain was pulled back to show the world as it really existed, most people could not handle it. Even those who got rare glimpses of the supernatural – a strange movement seen from the corner of an eye, a shadow where it shouldn’t be – often ignored them.
Dr. Paine nodded.
“Why aren’t we affected?” Nellie asked.
“Who says we’re not?” he said with a slight smile. His expression grew more serious. “I don’t know, Nellie. We should be. We’re looking for a bloody werewolf, our closest friend is romantically involved with a vampire, and next week we’ll be chasing Nazis spies who even now are plotting an alliance with Egyptian ghouls or living mummies or resurrecting a long-dead sorcerer. We’re wanted fugitives in our native country. And we can’t forget we may have necromancers after us. Are you certain we’re not mad?”
“You really know how to lift a girl’s spirits,” she said.
“If Beau leaves us for good it will be a terrible blow,” he said. “But we had to know. We could not risk him becoming a vampire and feeding upon London and infecting others.”
As a werewolf, Vance had killed roughly 12 times a year for at least five years. They had once listed all of the people they suspected he had murdered, 63. As a vampire, Lucy was known to have slain thousands. The exact number was unknown. The vast majority of them were German and Austrian soldiers killed during the Great War on the Western Front. The sheer horrors of the war’s casualties had helped masked her spree, but a few people – and other vampires – had known.
Vampirologists with access to her secret file at Headquarters referred to it as “The Time of Madness.” Lucy’s husband, a mortal, had volunteered during the Great War. When she had heard he was missing, she had traveled to the front lines to look for him. By her keen sense of smell, she discovered what remained of his corpse. Her vengeance was said to have been terrible even by those who fought and sought to kill the Germans in the World War.
Beau knew this, Nellie thought. And he chose to put himself and his friends at risk by carrying on with her instead of informing them she had returned.
Lucy was a horrifying monster and Nellie could not understand why the Chief had never signed an order for her destruction, particularly after she had played her role in an ancient prophecy involving her. Nellie’s thoughts were interrupted by Dr. Paine. “We might as well call it a night,” he said. “You’ve not heard a word I’ve said in the past 10 minutes.”
“I’m sorry, Doctor,” Nellie said.
“No need to apologize,” he said. “To be honest, I can’t even recall what I was telling you. Let’s call it a night and begin anew in the morning. If you’ll check with your friends at the Yard, I’ll check with the Day Officer to see if any more disappearances or murders have occurred that we need to be aware of that might be Vance’s work.”
“He’s had his kill for this cycle,” Nellie said. “We’ve lost him. We might as well admit it. By the time we return from overseas, it’ll be impossible to track him. He’ll be even more wary and careful than before. I’m certain of it.”
Dr. Paine motioned and the waiter brought over the tab. “Just like Beau to leave before the tab arrived,” he said.
They rode in silence to her apartment. Dr. Paine dropped her off at her building and waited until she entered before pulling away. Nellie entered her rooms and put her briefcase and handbag on her kitchen table, chipped off two ice chips from the block in her freezer and put them in a glass. She carried it over to her desk and poured herself a drink.
Her cat jumped on the desk to be petted, winding his body around the bottle.
“I’ve needed that for hours,” she told her cat.
It had been a long and exhausting day. Though she usually didn’t like to delay writing her reports, she decided to write of the discovery of the girl’s body in the morning. She took off her clothes, wrapped herself in a robe and, after gathering her toiletries, headed for the bath at the end of the hall she shared with three other tenants on her floor. It was unoccupied. She filled the tub with hot water and sank into it, leaning back with a sigh. She picked up her cigarette from the edge of the tub and took a long drag off it. The smoke spiraled up to join the steam as her right hand dangled outside of the tub.
If Beau did not return, she would adjust just as she had in the past. For so long it had been the three of them, that it was hard to imagine life without him.
Nellie had seen Beau’s admiration for Lucy develop as they traveled together by ship from England and down the Mediterranean to Palestine and then by motorcade to Iraq.
The vampire had volunteered to accompany them, knowing there was a good chance that her existence would end. An ancient evil had arisen and a 3,000-year-old prophecy had foretold only the demon Lilith could stop it.
The ritual at the Sumerian temple had been necessary to free Lilith, who was trapped inside of Lucy. Decades earlier, the vampire had drank the blood of Lilith and had destroyed her physical form, but the essence of the demon had remained inside Lucy until Nellie performed the ritual summoning that had allowed Lilith to take over Lucy’s corporeal form.
Once Lilith had fulfilled her part in the prophecy, Nellie had betrayed her and reversed the ritual. She had not been certain what would happen when she had done so. She had not had the chance to find out before Lucy – or Lilith – had risen from the desert sand and flown into the night. Bat-like wings had grown from her back near her shoulders, a form that Lucy had never taken before.
Nellie admitted that Lucy had always frightened her. Lucy’s human appearance barely concealed the monster lurking within. Nellie and her friends had dedicated their lives to destroying monsters. Dr. Paine and Wade Clark, who had accompanied them, had always kept the proper attitude towards Lucy, but Nellie remembered how Beau had been taken in by Lucy’s human guise and his sympathy for her willingness to sacrifice herself for humanity.
Nellie had performed the second ritual not to bring Lucy back, but to prevent Lilith from being free on Earth again.
But who had risen from the desert floor to fly off into the night sky? Was it Lucy or Lilith? Both had reason to kill her and both were experts at making it a painful, lingering death.
Nellie felt a sharp burn on her fingers and she dropped the cigarette into the tub near her feet as she stood up and pulled the plug. She wished she had brought the whisky bottle with her, she thought as she brushed her teeth. After she finished drying off and put on her nightgown, she padded back to her flat. She hung up her robe and slid under the blankets. Her cat jumped on the bed and curled up on the pillow above her head. She reached out to her nightstand and set her alarm clock, turned off the lamp and fell into a deep sleep.
Nellie woke disoriented. She thought she had heard a crash outside. She listened for a moment and did not hear any sounds other than the tick of the clock next to her. She turned on her light.
“Nellie,” she heard from outside her fourth-floor window. She put her robe on and pulled her baseball bat from under her bed before she looked out. Lucy’s pale face stared back at her, her cold, unblinking eyes filling Nellie with terror.
“What are you doing here?” Nellie asked, gripping the bat tightly with both hands as she instinctively crouched into a swinging stance. Her anger and fear grew in nearly equal measure. For the second time that day, Lucy had caught her with her gun left in her handbag. She promised herself there would not be a third.
“Let me in,” Lucy said.
“You must. Now!”
Continue to Chapter 11.