Chapter V: The trail of the thin-bloodStepping out of The Asylum, swinging the keychain around in my fingers, I looked across the road towards the hummin neon sign. That humming had been irritating as a human. With my acute hearing, the noise was borderline unbearable.
My thin-blooded friend by the beach had told me he often used to come into the diner with Lilly. It seemed as good a place as any to start the search.
If The Asylum had been dirty, this diner was swimming in filth. Food was spilled across the floor, old crusts and crumbs dotting the surface of the booth tables. A cockroach crunched stickily underneath one of my boots as I stepped forward. I grimaced, grinding it underfoot. I wouldn't eat here, even if I could. Suddenly aware of a brooding, exuding presence on my left, I turned to the source.
A man stood awkwardly in the corner, staring off into nothing. He was strong, self-possessed. Somehow, I felt drawn to him, and took a step closer.
Once again, my innate abilities came to the surface, as the mysterious lurker took on an unearthly purple hue. Instinctively, I knew this man was a vampire. I attempted to start a conversation.
The voice was more of a growl than human speech. There was anger here, so much so that even in my nigh-on immortal state I suddenly wished I was somewhere else. I faltered.
'Uh, chilly outside tonight, don't you think?'
I carried on, mentally kicking myself for not walking away. Never was one to leave a mystery unchallenged though. Locked doors, password-protected computer systems...if someone wanted me to stay out of their business, it was guaranteed my curiousity would get the better of us both.
'You seem a little distracted. You OK? Waiting for someone? A girl, maybe?'
Better back off...he's bristling for a fight, and I don't think this one is winnable...
'Suit yourself man. Take care.' I inched away, keeping the man in my peripheral vision. I was already dismissed from his mind however, his thoughts somewhere dark, somewhere alone. Spotting that the woman behind the counter was now free, I returned there to ask about Lilly.
'What'll it be?' The voice was crackly, the voice of someone broken but carrying on because there was no alternative.
'Evening miss. I was wondering if you could help me. Have there been any pale, sickly-looking girls in here lately?'
I changed tactic.
'Well, does the term 'thin-blood' mean anything to you by any chance?'
'Please, try to remember. Maybe it was mentioned by a girl? Her name is Lilly, I'm a friend of hers.'
'Thanks. Thanks very much for your help.' I pressed a few dollar notes into the woman's hand. The show of generosity seemed to overwhelm her; obviously in this part of town, compassion was not a common factor. Ignoring her stammering refusal, I turned to leave the diner. I'd been given a some carkeys, a photo, and a bail bond.
A bail bond? What exactly was Lilly up to?
It seemed that this was a mystery for another time. Wouldn't do to keep Therese waiting. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure why I was so interested in Lilly's case with everything else that was happening...I thought back to the beach. Then, I knew. The outcasts' feelings of bewilderment, abandonment. They closely mirrored my own, although I had an acceptance of sorts that I lacked. It seemed somehow the right thing to do. Bring compassion to a world seriously lacking in it.
I walked to an empty part of town, then looked around for a manhole cover.
I shuddered. This better be worth it. I wrenched the cover open, and climbed down the ladder.
Well, it can't be worse than this, surely, I thought to myself as I unlocked the gate with the key that Therese gave to me. Could it?