The prison had come into view and shortly Marrok had parked the SUV in the parking lot. Dr. Elder followed the Ranger with a slow, methodical stride up the steps and into the lobby where the pair were greeted by a guard. They wanted to return to the cell that had held Korbin Drake several days before. The guard was not sure it was possible and wanted to check with his supervisor. As luck would have it, the supervisor was the same man from the day when Marrok had originally shown up to investigate Drake’s disappearance. He was agreeable with the Ranger’s demands and personally escorted Marrok and Elder to Drake’s cell, still unoccupied. Nothing had been removed or added, the cell was just as it had been when Drake had left. The supervisor unlocked the door and stepped aside while Marrok and Elder walked into the cell. Dr. Elder looked around for a moment, then cast a gaze at Marrok. Elder then raised an eyebrow and motioned with his expression towards the supervisor who was still standing in the hallway. Marrok seemed to understand as he turned back towards the white-shirted prison guard.
“That will be all thank you,” Marrok said.
“But-” the supervisor began.
“We will let ourselves out,” Marrok was stern.
“Ok. If there is anything you need, let us know.” The supervisor walked away.
Dr. Elder set about a careful examination of the cell. He pulled the bin out, removed the napkin with the “Goodbye” written on it and held it for a moment before replacing it into the bin and sliding the bin back to where it had been. He turned in a circle for a moment and fixated on the mirror. “Ah,” he said as he stepped towards it. He placed his right hand on the top right side of the mirror and stared at it for a ridiculous amount of time. The doctor seemed to be in a daze for a few minutes, Marrok waited. He was beginning to have more and more questions about the professor and was not sure whether to trust him or consider him a threat, or maybe the old man was harmless and wasting his time. He could not be sure. His gut told him to let Elder do his thing, and so he did.
When the few awkward minutes of mirror gazing had ended, Dr. Elder seemed to awaken from a dream. He looked around the cell for a moment as he had before, but then seemed to be content. “Well,” he began, “I think I have part of it sorted then.” Dr. Elder walked out of the cell.
Marrok followed the doctor out of the cell, shutting the door behind him as they left. He kept stride with the doctor and followed him straight out of the building. Elder said nothing to anyone as they made their exit. Marrok offered a nod and a thank you as they walked through the lobby. The supervisor seemed perturbed at their treatment, but Marrok did not care enough to stop and smooth things over. It seemed that Elder did not care either. The professor simply continued walking until they had reached the SUV at which point he let himself into the passenger side and fastened his seat belt. Marrok opened the driver side door and leaned in.
“Are we going to talk about what you have ‘sorted’?” Marrok did not care for being left out.
“On the way back Ranger, get in.” Elder’s voice was matter of fact.
The first few minutes of the drive were silent. Marrok was practically fuming without showing it while Elder sat with a very intent stare through the windshield, obviously pondering something thoroughly before he ended the silence.
“Tell me Ranger Marrok,” Elder began, “How difficult was it to follow his scent out of the cell?”
“How did you know that?” Marrok asked.
“You kind of let on before, remember? No matter, how was it?”
“What do you mean?” Marrok asked.
“The scent, describe it, the trail too.” Elder was persistent.
“Strong in the cell,” Marrok hesitated, “it was weaker on the way out.”
“Like dim lanterns spread out in a line.”
“What are you getting at?” Marrok questioned the old man.
“As I stated before, you were quite right about the necklace. He has Transylvanian earth inside of it. This is not enough to allow him full use of his powers, but enough to make him dangerous, as you have seen. Now, having been without the necklace for some time, it took him a while to rekindle his abilities, and so I suspect when he tried to teleport, he was stifled by his lack of knowledge of the area and his years of separation from practicing the ability. He likely reappeared several times on his way out of the building thus leaving weak and far spread scents that you noticed. It only makes sense, having experienced this difficulty, that he resorted to stealing a car from that farmhouse to continue his escape. He would also be incredibly weakened from having gone so long without feeding. This would explain his pale complexion in the prison versus the muddier red that you witnessed in Robert Lee. The longer the bastard is loose, the stronger he will get. I must confess, I am surprised he managed to survive as long as he did in the prison. He must have fed somehow at some point.”
“How do we stop him?” Marrok asked after letting out a sigh.
“With a werewolf of course.” Elder chimed with a smile. Marrok's response was a snide expression. He regretted that Elder knew what he was. “You really are the only creatures naturally suited to the task.” Elder added.
“Why do you say that?”
“Think about it. They have speed, you have speed. They can teleport, disappear from sight, but a werewolf can sense them, smell them, hear them, you’ll always know where he is even when you cannot see him. They are supernaturally strong, as are your kind. They are nearly immortal, as are you. Most of their weaknesses are incredibly specific and difficult to take advantage of to the mortal man. Drive a stake into their hearts for example: hard to do if you cannot get close. Even if you do get close, your aim must be precise. Burn them, fat chance of catching them and holding them down for that if you’re the standard human specimen. Decapitation, blows from a holy symbol, all must be executed in melee range which a vampire can easily avoid. Now, a werewolf can get close whether he is seen or not. You are so fast, so agile, and stealthy enough if you want to be that their advantages are nil in a match. Who needs a weapon when you have claws of what might as well be steel? Decapitation is fairly easy, the heart is yours if you dig for it, and you have the strength to slow them down considerably even if your blows miss the mark. There really is nothing or no one else better suited, besides another vampire of course.”
There was a lot for Marrok to consider, and he did just that for the rest of the drive back to Lubbock. Hardly another word was spoken between them. Eventually they reached the campus, both of them sitting silently in the cab of the parked SUV. Marrok was still mulling over the sea of information he had been drowned in and the murkier water of the doctor knowing his secret while Dr. Elder considered how best to conclude their time together. Dr. Elder spoke first, as had been his pattern since their meeting several days prior.
“As I said before,” Elder began, “I want to be your friend. What’s more, I want to help you catch Korbin Drake. If the former is not possible, I would still persist on the latter. What say you Ranger Marrok? Shall we hunt a vampire together?”
“Who are you?” Marrok’s reply was slow and distrusting.
“Someone who can help, if you’ll let me.” The doctor’s response was sly. Marrok leaned back in his seat and let the silence return to the cab for a moment.
“We need to find out where he is running to, or if he is running at all.” Marrok said.
“Precisely,” agreed Elder.
“Where was he going last time?”
“I must confess, I do not know. But I will find out.” Dr. Elder began to get out of the SUV.
“How are you going to-”
“We shall be in touch Ranger Marrok!” Dr. Elder cut Marrok off and shut the door behind him. Marrok was left alone with his questions while Dr. Elder strode away across the campus lot.
Traffic was dense on the way off the campus. It was a Friday, students were eager to leave for the weekend. Marrok avoided the chaos by sitting a few extra minutes in the parking lot. He was mentally exhausted from his day with Dr. Elder. Perhaps he should have been planning his next move, but instead he fell into a thousand yard stare aimed straight out the windshield.
Only a few minutes could have passed by when his nothingness was interrupted by the buzz of his cell phone. It was a text. No, not just a text. It was a text from Alice.
I should have asked earlier, do you have any plans for the weekend?
Korbin Drake and Dr. Elder suddenly became the farthest thing from his mind.
Marrok waited impatiently to see what message would come to him next. A few minutes passed by, then several. What was taking so long? Maybe he should text her again? Was she busy and just had not seen his response yet? This is why he hated texting. The suspense over the trifling event became unbearable and he broke under the pressure.
Do you have anything going on this weekend?
His left hand found its way to the top of the steering wheel, his fingers began drumming on it impatiently. He waited.
Where could they go? What could they do? A weekend was two whole days, surely he could think of something to do. What did she like to do? She liked to read, that was not date material. She liked to travel. Where could they travel for a weekend? He had no idea what to do. Suddenly, he remembered Bill Daley and his wife Emma.
Would you like to get dinner and then see a movie at the drive in?
It was like a half-court shot. He had thrown the ball, but the distance made the wait happen in slow motion, it was long and painfully exciting.
I would love too!
Marrok practically rejoiced.
You’ll have to pick me up tho, I’m feeling lazy
I can do that
It was a few short exchanges to work out the time and place he was to pick up his date for the following evening. He had no idea where he would take her to dinner, he had no idea what movie would be playing at the drive in, but he knew Alice would be there and it was sure to be the best Saturday he had lived in a long time. He paddled the steering wheel in excitement.