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By David D. Taylor
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 David D. Taylor
All right reserved.
Chapter OneOn a cold night I woke from my slumber and got up from the couch on which I had fallen asleep. I slowly opened the curtains, and gazed at the beauty within the star lit night. The moon was full and brightly shining into my smoke filled apartment, the air was stale from the cigarette sitting in the ashtray filled with old butts on the end table. The empty beer bottles on the floor are scattered and give the room an even more depressing feel. I folded the blanket and placed it on the end table, after I threw away the beer bottles and dumped the ashtray. I walked across the room and sat back down on the couch. I searched for the remote and after finding it tucked under the cushion I flipped on my television to the local news channel. It was nothing of interest really. The light from the screen casts shadows in the empty room.
After a while I picked up the phone to call my girlfriend and tell her that I was sorry for fighting with her last night. We both said hurtful things to one another. It was something I didn't want to think about, but knew it would be better to call her. As the phone was ringing, the breaking news story caught my attention.
"Early this morning the unidentified body of a young woman was found on the boardwalk. The police say the evidence suggests she died last night. A further investigation is under way. She had a tattoo on her left shoulder blade of an angel and a demon fighting. Anyone having any information about the victim or the circumstances behind her death is asked to contact the police hotline as soon as possible. You may remain anonymous. Due to the numerous recent violent attacks lately, the police strongly suggest that you do not go out alone ... up next, highlights from tonight's games."
Dropping the phone, I fell to my knees in shock. I could not believe what I was hearing, my vision started to blur as the reporter's words sank into my head. The young woman they found had to be her. Although the description was vague, the tattoo of an angel fighting with a demon was not common, especially on a woman. Who would do this to her and why? She was the type of person who got along with everyone. She did not do anything to warrant this. I began to feel sick to my stomach. It was a mix of severe panic and complete shock. I knew that I wouldn't be able to rest until I found the answer to this mystery. I tried several times to call, but of course she did not answer. My mind starts to settle and I realize I have to check her house to be sure. After the initial shock settled I left the safety of my apartment and rushed into the night. This is where the story really began.
I pulled in front of her two-bedroom townhouse in a crowded neighborhood. Her house stands out from the others immediately, it's one of the few well-kept homes in the area. Her car was still parked in the driveway. Which means that she made it home from my apartment last night after our fight, and didn't go back out. She always drives her car to avoid being stuck at any place at the mercy of someone else. She liked to be in control, coming and going as she pleased. Its something I liked about her. She was an independent woman, which can put some men off. To me there was no flaw in her character.
As I walked toward the house I tried to see through the downstairs windows. I couldn't see anything or anyone. I opened the storm door slowly in hopes that I was wrong and she would come out of that door any second. I knocked on the door but there was no answer. After a few minutes with no answer or movement from inside, I knocked again and turned the doorknob. The nervousness inside of me grew, my heart was pounding faster and faster as I noticed the door was unlocked, and opened easily.
She lived in a rough neighborhood with a high crime rate. She always locked the door and only opened it for the people she knew. I called out as I entered into the foyer but still there was no response. My emotions were racing out of control, not a normal feeling for me. Once inside I noticed her purse and keys sitting on the entryway table confirming my suspicion that she never willing left the house last night. I quickly ran upstairs to her bedroom. Maybe she had been hurt, or was so deeply asleep that she didn't hear me knocking. The sheets showed she had been sleeping but had been left bunched up at the end of the bed, not a normal habit for her. She was a tidy person and never left her bed unmade. In fact if she had seen the state of my apartment after the fight she would have thrown a fit. It sealed the facts for me.
Slowly I went through every room looking for something to be out of place to give me a clue as to what might have happened and where she might be. After about an hour, I was still confused about why. Why she was gone with her bed unmade, the keys and her purse on the table, and her car in the driveway? I sat in her living room just thinking the last time I saw her was when the two of us were fighting and she just left. I wish I just stayed with her. We should have talked it out. She was the only one that truly loved me for me and made me feel whole. She made me feel alive. Every time my eyes closed I could see her smiling at me. At this moment it was painful, she wasn't there. As I was leaving I took the small golden frame picture of her from the mantel and shoved it into my coat pocket.
I left, heading straight for the police department to file a missing person report. I was holding onto the slim chance that the woman I heard about on the news was not her. Maybe she was still alive.
I entered the police station, heading straight for the front desk, and told the officer behind the desk I would like to file a missing person report. The panic in my eyes was suppressed. Panic wouldn't help this situation and I knew that. The man sitting behind the desk handed me some forms to fill out and told me to have a seat, someone would be with me in a few minutes. After what seemed like an eternity, the hands on the clock at a stand still, an officer finally came up to me. I was taken back for a moment. He was dressed in a well-tailored, mock-necked sweater. More like how a SWAT team member would dress, not the traditional police uniform. He was relaxed and looked at me with a professional calm. It was obvious he had been in the field a long while and didn't want to panic anyone who came in to file a report.
"Hi, I'm Officer Steno and I was told you want to file a missing person report. If you'll just follow me, we'll go to my desk and get started." He turned, without another glance, and walked away.
I followed him through the precinct to a small wooden desk covered with papers, files and an old looking computer that was hidden under the mess. As I sat down in the metal chair crowded in front of his desk, he asked me why I felt that this person was missing. The question sank me like a stone.
"I called my girlfriend all evening and she never answered the phone. So, I went over to her place tonight. Her car was in the driveway but the lights were all off in the house. I knocked on the door several times but didn't get an answer. I tried calling again but still no one answered. It's just not like her."
He folded his hands and rested them just under his nose. "Well, did you think that she just didn't want to talk to you? People have been known not to answer the door or phone from time to time. Is there some reason she could be mad at you?" He raised his eyebrows, peering over his laced fingers. "How do you know that she's really missing?"
"We got into an argument last night, but I know that wouldn't stop her from talking to me." I should have thought before I spoke.
"So you are saying that the two of you are fighting. It may be that she just isn't ready to talk to you just yet. Wait a day and see if she shows up. She might be hiding from you until she feels like coming out to talk. Women are like that." Officer Steno leans back slowly and shruged to give an air that everything is okay. I knew better.
"Look officer, I think I know my girlfriend well enough to know when something is wrong."
Looking a bit smug, Officer Steno crosses his arms, "It's not that I don't believe you, but we have people filing missing person reports all the time when it's just a miscommunication problem. However, if you feel that strongly that she is missing and not just trying to avoid you, then we'll see what we can do. Can you give me a description of her so we can get started?"
I pulled her photo from my pocket and handed it to him, a bit reluctant to let it leave my grasp. "I understand if you don't believe me, but I'm really afraid something bad may have happened to her."
As he took the picture, his facial expression changed and I knew he had seen her. His calm and smug disposition turned sour, and he straightened up in his chair. "I'm sorry, what did you say your name was?" asked Officer Steno.
"Thomas Garrett", I replied.
Officer Steno quickly stood up and pushed his chair into the desk behind him. The clank of the metal chair hitting the desk made it seem as though the whole world went silent. Cautiously stepping backwards he moves around the desk as if to avoid me, "Give me a moment, I'd like to make a copy of this for the file so you can keep your picture."
He walked slowly looking back at me as he went into a private office near the hallway and shut the door. I scooted the chair back and could see through the window a man dressed in a long gray coat. Leaning further out the door I could see he was a heavyset, yet strong built man with black hair and a matching mustache leaning on the desk. Officer Steno paced back and forth pointing out to me. Then handed the man the photo. The man glanced over to me and shook his head, the twitch under his eye making his annoyance obvious. He walked over and turned the blinds closed. They knew something about her. I just couldn't help thinking they might think I had something to do with this. I repositioned my chair back to its original spot directly in front of the cluttered desk. After a few minutes, Officer Steno and the man came back to where I was sitting. The two men walked in a straight up right position, very frigid. The difference in body language did not offer much comfort. Officer Steno's right hand was opening and closing tightly next to his gun. The other gentleman wouldn't take his eyes off me. I could tell by their movements there was some sort of problem here. I thought about walking out, but that would just make me look bad in the officers' eyes. So I sat still hoping that I'm imagining more than was there.
"Mr. Garrett, this is Detective Mason." Steno motioned to the man standing next to him, "Detective Mason, this is the gentleman who brought the picture of the young woman I just showed you. His name is Thomas Garrett".
He was quick, almost cutting off Steno, "Mr. Garrett, I understand that this woman is your girlfriend, and you believe she is missing? If you don't mind, could you follow me? There is something I need you to see. Officer Steno, could you please accompany us?" Detective Mason asked in a flat tone. His brow furrowed, he didn't look angry, just serious.
As I stood up, I noticed Officer Steno slowly place his hand over the gun strapped to his side.
I followed behind Detective Mason and Officer Steno followed behind me. Just knowing that they were acting strange and me in between the two of them made me very uneasy. I did know that they had some information that would help me so it was in my best interest to do as they asked. We walked down a narrow hallway that led in to the parking lot behind the station. I followed Mason to a medium-sized, four-door sedan parked close to the building. Detective Mason got into the driver's seat and Officer Steno opened the back door. "I'm sorry but we need to take a short ride and only police can sit up front," he said. I turned toward him and asked, "Where exactly are we going?"
"Please, sir, if you'll just give us a few more minutes, I think you'll understand. Some things are better seen with your own eyes", said Officer Steno. I was honestly afraid to see.
I got into the back seat. I sat back there feeling trapped; worried that everything had gone wrong, and my beloved girlfriend was gone. Why won't they just talk to me, ask some questions and give me some answers that would help instead of keeping me in the dark? Officer Steno shut the door and walked to the front passenger seat. He sat down and pulled the seat belt across himself.
It wasn't long before we pulled into the parking lot of a hospital. I had a feeling I knew what was about to happen but asked the officers why we were here.
Detective Mason turned to face me and said, "Look, all I know is that a young woman died earlier and as far as I can tell, she looks very similar to the woman in the picture you showed me. Can you please look at the woman inside the hospital and tell me if this could be the same person?" His expression was a bit sad. It didn't inspire confidence.
I nodded in agreement, and we quietly walked into the hospital through the large glass sliding doors. We passed the patient help desk and waiting area, now quiet. We walked along the corridor to the elevators on the left hand side and entered the first open car. When we were all inside Detective Mason pushed the L3 button, the doors closed and down we went. The silence was almost suffocating. So many things going on at once, and it seemed it was only in my head. When the lift stopped, the rear doors opened to a long cold corridor, we walked down the hall until we came to the first opening. I could see small metal doors lining the back wall of the room. The room itself was white and sterile except for those drawers. Those heavy metal drawers that shone in the fluorescent lighting made my chest tighten. A doctor was sitting down looking over some paperwork in the room when we arrived.
"Excuse me. Can I help you?" the doctor said as he got up out of his chair and he walked toward us. He was an older man, thick spectacles shielding his wise eyes. I noticed a shine under his nostrils, and it sank in that his job down there was not putting files in those metal drawers.
Detective Mason pulled his badge from his inner coat pocket and showed it to the doctor. "You have a Jane Doe that I think this man can help us identify. She would have been brought in early this morning."
He led us over to a small door in the middle of the wall. He pulled on the handle, the drawer slid out. Slowly, and checking the expressions of the officers first, he turned back the sheet that had been covering the now lifeless body it held. Not wanting to see, I closed my eyes, but needing to know drove me to open them and looked down at the body. It was her, it was Miranda. I stepped back slowly, looking at the ground and told the officers that it was Miranda. Images of our life together flashed though my head. I was getting dizzy as I tried to calm down. It was like a panic attack that mixed with shock. Seeing her body lying there lifeless, filled my veins with hate and anger. Everything seemed to fade away, the need to thrash about and release this incredible sadness by breaking whatever I could reach was overwhelming. But I needed to remain calm. I needed to have the two officers trust and help me. Pulling myself together I described to them the tattoo of the angel flying with a spear in her hand on her left shoulder blade, then the demon underneath looking up with fire in its hands. The doctor shifted her body to the right so that Detective Mason could see the tattoo for himself.
As he adjusted her body again, her head tilted toward the right shoulder and I noticed two small puncture wounds by the carotid artery. Detective Mason quickly tilted her head forward and used her hair to cover the wounds. It was too late. I knew, I had seen with my own eyes.
I asked out loud, "Do you know the cause of death yet?"
The doctor replied, "All I know is, that it was weird. There was no blood left in the body just like the other five that ..."
Detective Mason quickly interrupted the doctor with a loud cough and frowned, "Doc, this is an ongoing investigation. I would strongly suggest you not discuss any more details of this case." He then covered her body in one swift motion, the sheet fluttering up before settling down.
Detective Mason turned to me and said; "Thank you for helping us to identify the body. We will take you back to your car, but I wouldn't make any long distance travel plans any time soon." He stared at me sternly, brows so close they touched.
Excerpted from Vampires Curse by David D. Taylor Copyright © 2012 by David D. Taylor. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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