Hunted Blood: Predator and Prey Ch. 01byAmenRa©
Author's Note: This story takes place a few years before the events depicted in the first "Hunted Blood" story.
It would have been just another day in Seattle. It was raining, though not heavily. The streets had that oily film that comes with the first light shower of the day. The sidewalks were equally slick, and in this part of town, equally grimy. And this meant it would have been just another day, even with the corpse lying across the sidewalk near the alleyway entrance. However, there was something unusual about this particular corpse. But it was similar to ones from before.
This was the third one. The third female victim found in the early morning on a street known for its over-abundance of females. In this part of town, murders were not unusual at all. Drug deals gone bad, or drug deals gone well, either way, someone sometimes died as a result. It was the way of the streets. For this part of town, it was accepted. But, not this one. Not the third, or the second, or even the first.
There was a crowd gathered, as there always was at a crime scene of this type. They were curious onlookers hoping to get a glimpse of death. Yellow crime scene tape had been tied to a few light posts and secured to a fire-hydrant, making a triangular shaped area guarded by uniformed patrol officers. A police dog, secure and dry inside a patrol car, barked while his handler stood silently near.
The crime scene technicians were knelt down beside the body. Two plainclothes investigators and another uniformed officer stood near them, all within the boundaries of the tape.
One of the investigators, Melissa Cove, stared hard at the third victim. She had been the lead investigator on the previous two. Both of those had turned up absolutely nothing, beyond a very puzzling crime lab report. And this one looked the same. Female, young, very early-twenties. Definitely a street-walker. Hooker. Whore. Whatever. Drug user. Crack head. Whatever. This one had the same tearing to her neck, over her jugular vein, just like the ones before. Melissa even thought she could see what might have been the blood vessel itself inside the ragged hole through the dead girl's flesh. She fought back the rising bile and looked around the body.
There was no blood. None. She and the other officers had already searched the alleyway. There was no blood there, either. None.
Just like the first two.
Which led Melissa to the logical conclusion: the girl, whore, hooker, whatever, had been killed somewhere else. Or, and this was the one that Melissa didn't want to think about, the killer had drank the victim's blood. Like a vampire.
That was just plain crazy. Even though the lab report from the first two said there was some type of saliva in the wounds. The lab report couldn't define the type of saliva, but stated it was human-like, or had human characteristics, or some such shit.
She watched the guys from the medical examiner's office stuff the corpse into a black body bag. She and the crime scene techs exchanged a few words, and then she went to her car.
The rain coat Melissa wore did little to save her dark brown hair from getting wet. She had pulled it back into a tail, as was customary when she was working. It didn't matter now, she thought, because she was soaked to the skin thanks to the early morning drizzle.
This was number three. They were obviously all killed by the same person. Some sick, twisted sociopath was out there preying on the girls who worked these streets. Some of the police officers didn't think that was such a bad thing. She could understand that kind of attitude, but whatever the case; there was a serial killer on the loose. A killer the newspapers and TV had already labeled "The Vampire Killer".
If they only knew how correct their identification had been.
- - -
It took almost six rings for Michael Stone to answer his cellular phone. He had to change the fishing rod he held to his left hand and dig in his shorts' pocket with his right. He put it to his ear and heard a familiar voice.
"Michael Ivanovich," the voice stated. Stone smiled. The voice belonged to Yuri Pavelovich, a contact for The Organization. The Organization was a secret directive of vampire hunters, funded by many world governments. Their mission was not only to destroy vampires, but to also study and maintain intelligence on them. In other words, they hunted down and killed the ones who threatened humankind, and watched carefully the ones who didn't.
"Yuri," Michael said into the phone. "I'm not catching a damn thing."
"Have you seen the news?" Yuri stated, not bothering to acknowledge Michael's comment about his fishing trip in Florida.
"News?" Michael asked. "Yuri, I'm on vacation. I don't watch the news."
Yuri made a sigh. "Too bad, vanya. Your vacation is going to be cut short. I've emailed you a brief. Read it and comply."
Michael's voice took a serious tone when he replied. "Will do," he said.
Michael ended the call and began to reel his line in. This was going to be a good week, he thought. He had even met a rather nice looking young lady that was staying two doors down from him at his hotel in St. Augustine. And at this point, he knew he would never get to ask her name.
- - -
It had taken a little while for the chartered fishing boat to make its way back to the marina. Michael snatched up his gear, but he had no fish to take with him. Back in his hotel room, Michael plugged in his laptop. When the computer booted, he accessed his email and waited for the encryption algorithms to run. Once the email program had downloaded his message, he read it.
The brief was detailed with newspaper articles and some television video feeds about Seattle's "Vampire Killer". The newspaper headlines caught his attention, as it had no doubt done the same when read by one of The Organization's analysts. The word "vampire", along with several others, was a key word that ran through The Organization's servers. The servers collected information from various news agencies, and if any of the key words came up, these articles and stories were flagged for review. It was one of the many ways the secret society of vampire hunters kept track of their quarry.
Michael read further. He learned he would be using his FBI cover, with an assignment to the Seattle field office. The Seattle Police Department's criminal investigation division had requested a profile to be done on the Vampire Killer. Stone would provide them with just that. He learned his point of contact was an investigator named Melissa Cove. Further details told him his identification and other necessary items would be waiting for him in a hotel room in Seattle.
The Organization was tied into just about every major government in the world. In most cases, these governments had contacts with The Organization at the executive level. This included national law enforcement agencies such as the FBI in the United States and MI5 in the United Kingdom. As a result of this Michael Stone had official status in several different agencies. His training, however, surpassed anything modern law enforcement could provide.
Michael sighed. He wasn't quite ready to leave sunny Florida for rainy Washington. He had no choice, however. His quarter-million dollar yearly salary meant he had to go to work.
He drove his rented car back to the airport in Jacksonville, Florida. He found his plane ticket waiting for him at the Delta counter, and soon he was in the air once again, heading west.
- - -
Michael Stone settled into his hotel room. He unpacked his luggage, and retrieved a briefcase from the closet. Inside was his official FBI identification, as well as the issue FBI sidearm, a Springfield .45 that was designed and built for the FBI Hostage Rescue Team. Not too many agents were issued them as side arms. Stone hoped no one asked too many questions about his choice of carry weapon. The .45 round was necessary, though. It was the preferred ammunition choice for hunters, as The Organization had designed special hyper-fragmentation rounds that were almost explosive in nature. They were the perfect bullets to kill vampires.
Stone power napped for half an hour, then dressed in a navy blue business suit and left the hotel. He took his rented car to the medical examiner's office. His ID let him through to the morgue, where he asked to see the body of the latest victim.
It was as he had read in his brief, but seeing it was much worse. Michael noted with his trained eyes the distinctive tearing of flesh over the jugular vein. The bruising around the site told Michael the vampire had sucked hard, draining the young girl of blood. Michael donned a pair of latex gloves and opened the corpse's eyes. The eyes were glazed over, the pupils fixed and cloudy, the way they should be. This told him the young girl was truly dead, and had not been fed blood from the monster that killed her. She was dead, and would stay that way.
"Toxicology report?" Michael asked the Medical Examiner.
"Evidence of metabolized cocaine," the ME replied. "Typical for where she was found."
"What about the wound? Anything at all?"
The ME got a perplexed look on his face. He shook his head. "Something," he answered, "that I'm not sure about. There was saliva present in the wound. But the DNA doesn't match anything. And I mean it doesn't match anything human. It's almost the same, but there are proteins I've never seen before. Amino acid strands that just do not come from people. It's like they are alien or something." He looked at Michael as if he expected Stone not to believe him.
Michael nodded his head. "Thank you, Doctor," he said. Stone pretended to look the body over once more, as if he was studying for post-mortem details about how she was killed. Actually he had learned all the needed. She was killed by a vampire, and she would not become a vampire herself. He turned to leave, and as he walked out the door into the hallway, he literally bumped into Investigator Melissa Cove.
"Pardon me," Stone said. Melissa stepped back and gave him an accusing look.
"Who are you?" she asked.
Michael retrieved his ID from his inside coat pocket. He opened the leather folder and showed her. "Michael Stone," he said. "I believe you asked for me?"
Melissa sighed. "You're the profiler?"
Stone nodded. She was shorter than he was, but tall enough that he wouldn't have to bend too far to kiss her. He watched her mouth when she talked. She was very pretty, beautiful even, but Stone sensed a hard edge to her. Well, she was a cop, after all.
"What were you doing in the ME's office?"
"Formulating a profile," he said. "Looking at evidence. Cop stuff."
She was clearly exasperated. "And do you have a theory yet, or are you just as lost as the rest of us?"
Michael gave her a slight smile. "I'm working on one," he told her, "but I'd really like to see where she was found, as well as the scenes for the others."
Melissa's face softened a bit, but she still had the edge of someone in a hurry when she spoke. "I'm off duty in about twenty minutes," she told him, "and I was just checking here to see if anything new had turned up." She shook her head, clearly tired. "Tell you what, pick me up at the main station in an hour and I will take you on the tour."
Michael was watching her talk, which he berated himself for later. He couldn't help but wonder how her lips would feel –
"Is that okay with you, Agent Stone?"
He mentally slapped himself for loss of concentration. "Yeah," he answered, "that sounds like a plan. See you in an hour," he concluded.
- - -
An hour later, Michael drove the rented Ford Taurus into the neighborhood Melissa had directed him to. The term neighborhood was a loose descriptor. The streets were grimy, and the buildings along them were old, decrepit, and only a few occupied. Stone could see it clearly: a feeding ground for a predator. Michael noticed people gathering on the street corners, obviously prepared to sell whatever to whomever was buying. They seemed oblivious to the fact that any one of them was potential meals for a most hungry stalker.
Melissa showed him the alleyway where the latest victim had been found. Stone parked the car, and they walked a few yards into the alley. When they stopped, Melissa pointed to the dirty concrete below their feet.
Stone noticed they were far enough into the alleyway that, when the street lights came on, very little light at all would make it to where they stood. Stone looked up, seeing a building top about two stories above them, and the opposing one was about another two stories taller. He then knelt to examine the grime beneath him. Melissa knelt, too. "No blood," she said.
"Which means what?" she pondered. "She was killed somewhere else and then dropped here?" Melissa looked around. "We even had canines try for a track, but nothing was found".
Michael shook his head slightly. "No," he answered, pointing behind him and then in front, "even with it being night time, I imagine these streets have enough people on them that someone would notice the killer bringing her in here. And a police dog is only as good as the weather will allow. There wouldn't have been a scent trail for them to follow anyway." He sat up and brushed his hands off from where he had touched the filthy pavement. "She was killed here."
"So where's the damn blood?" she asked. "The human body has like 8 pints of blood. So where did it go?"
Stone stood and looked her in the eye when she stood as well. "The killer drank it," he answered. "And the human body has about 11 pints or so."
Melissa sighed and looked at the ground. "So that's your theory? The killer thinks he's a vampire so he drinks his victim's blood?"
Stone looked at her with a serious expression. Melissa felt his stare bore into her, his cold gray eyes piercing and somewhat intimidating. "You've seen the ME's reports, Investigator Cove. How did the victims die?"
"Extreme blood loss," she answered.
"Extreme and very quick," Stone added. "The killer tore open their necks and drank every last drop of blood that they had."
Melissa sighed again, clearly exasperated. "This is fucking crazy," she stated, "to think we really have a serial killer running around that thinks he, or she I guess, is a vampire. I'll put a BOLO out on Count Dracula."
"I don't think telling your patrol officers to be on the look out for Dracula will do much good," Stone told her. He glanced up again, checking the distance to the lowest roof top. Two stories would be an easy jump for a vampire. "We're looking for something that stalks their prey, entices them, attacks very quickly, and then flees with great stealth."
Melissa narrowed her eyes. "What are you saying?"
Stone thought for a moment before he answered her. "Is there a coffee shop nearby?"
She shrugged. "I don't know," she responded.
"Come on, this is Seattle. Surely there's a coffee shop somewhere near here." - - -
They had had to drive for a few minutes, but they found a Starbucks. Michael and Melissa sat across from one another. She had a steaming mocha latte in her hands, while Stone had just finished spooning sugar into his cup of Earl Grey.
"So you think our killer believes he is a vampire?" she asked. "I have to admit, the ME's reports and everything else adds up to that. Some sick sociopath that is so mentally deranged he actually believes he's a walking corpse."
Michael looked at her over the rim of his cup. "The killer doesn't think he's a vampire, he is a vampire."
Melissa almost dropped her latte. "You're kidding, right?" Stone took a sip of his tea and then set his cup on the table. He looked at her impassively. "Oh my God, you're serious!" she exclaimed quietly, aware of the other customers in the shop. "What part of the FBI do you work for, anyway? The X-Files?"
Michael ignored her comments. "How long has it been since the last murder?"
"Four days," she answered.
"It will kill again tonight," Stone stated.
"What makes you say that?"
"Most vampires feed every four days. Although this one seems to over-indulge itself. They really only need a few pints of blood to sustain themselves."
"Okay," Melissa said, setting her latte cup on the table, "let's just say for a minute that this really is a vampire. Why is he, she, it, whatever, stalking around that part of town?"
"Food supply," Michael answered calmly. "The same reason great white sharks stay around small islands when seal mating season occurs. As long as there is a good supply of food, a predator will remain in an area until that supply is exhausted. Or, until it gets scared away. But the lure of an easy kill will commonly keep the predator close to a food source even if there are other threats to it in the area."
"Damn," Melissa said with a low whistle, "you go from Fox Mulder to Nigel what's-his-face from the Discovery Channel in one swipe."
"This isn't the first time something like this has happened in a location similar to what we have here."
"Really? When and where was the last?"
"London," Michael answered. "The Whitechapel area, 1888."
"Jack the Ripper?" Melissa asked, and saw Michael nod. "You're telling me Jack the Ripper was a vampire?"
Stone nodded again.
"This is insane," she stated.
Michael would spend no time trying to convince her. He looked out the window. It was getting dark. He had work to do.
Stone stood up and grabbed his rain coat. Melissa took it as a signal that it was time to leave. They drove in silence. She showed him where she lived, and he told her he would see her in the morning at her office as she got out of the car. He watched her walk up the steps to her apartment. He shook his head to bring himself out of a lustful reverie, then put the car in drive and headed back to his hotel.
Michael made a phone call on his cell while en route to his hotel. The call connected quickly, and the person on the other end listened quietly while Stone placed his order. There was some hesitation at first, and then the person told Michael he would receive his ordered items within an hour. Michael ended the call as he parked his car.
In the hotel room, Stone changed into his black, Kevlar reinforced combat suit. As he was buckling the straps on his boots, there came a knock at the door. Stone grabbed his rain coat and opened the door. There was a very non-descript looking, very large man turned and started walking down the hall. Stone followed him to the elevator. They rode in silence to the parking level. Stone followed him out to a plain, white van. The man opened the rear doors and retrieved a large, rectangular shaped box which he sat down in front of him. The man then turned and walked away without a word.
Stone hefted the box inside the trunk of his Taurus. He then got into the car and drove away.
Michael drove from memory, from when he and Melissa had gone to the crime scenes earlier. When he entered the area, he parked his car in the parking lot of a closed corner store. It was dark, yet not entirely secluded, so he was careful when he removed the box from the trunk. He also grabbed his katana and a small backpack. He ducked into an alleyway, and once he was out of sight, he cut the box open with a pocket knife, and he found a large rifle case inside. He opened the case and checked its contents. The rifle case contained a Robar SR-60 sniper rifle. It was matte black, with a very large ITT Nightvision scope. This rifle was chambered in .300 Winchester magnum, as Stone had requested. There was a box of twenty specially-made .300 rounds with it. Stone pulled one of the rounds of ammunition from its box and looked at it. It was a version of the hyper-fragmentation rounds developed for the .45 auto by The Organization's armorer. This one, however, was designed for a rifle, and was extremely accurate at the high velocities achieved by the .300 magnum cartridge.