Double, double toil and trouble
And the story begins here...
THE HAUNTING OF PETER NEWKIRK
1. Double, double toil and trouble
"Bonjour, Guillaume. As-tu bien déjeuné?... Bonjour, Guillaume. As-tu bien déjeuné?..."
Spike sat up as straight as he could and rubbed the back of his neck. "Dru..." he called softly once and twice. At the third time, his voice had reached its loudest level. "Drusilla, stop it. It's not a good morning, and no, I haven't had my bloody breakfast yet."
Drusilla turned to look at him with surprise. "Sweet Spike, you're awake!"
"Of course I am. Who were you singing to, then?"
He knew that she would not answer to his question directly . One thing that he had learned throughout the years with Drusilla was that she never kept a two-way conversation for more than two sentences in a row. He could keep trying, though.
"That shadow over there," she pointed at one corner in front of her. "Herr Kohler, the owner of the castle. He's very angry with all the people that have invaded his home."
"Did you tell Herr Kohler that he's been dead for over two hundred years?" He got up and stretched. He had to rub his temple to ease the dizziness. "Bloody hell. What did they feed those people with? I feel like I drank a bottle of vodka all by myself."
"Arsenic," Drusilla licked her lips. "I slept like une petite bebé."
"Drugging our food? Buggers! Wait till we get out of here, I'll teach them to mess with William the Bloody!" He went to the door and tried the knob. An electric charge threw him across the room.
Drusilla clapped and laughed. "My poor little Willie. The door has a spell on it, didn't I tell you?"
"No, but that's all right, I didn't ask," Spike said, getting up again. He looked around at their prison. Brick walls, water filtration everywhere... The suitable dungeon to end your mortal years, but not to spend the rest of your immortality. "I wonder what those wankers want from us anyway?"
Drusilla spread her tarot cards on the ground and shrugged. "Moscow for Christmas."
"Moscow? Really? Have they gone mad?" He crouched beside his girlfriend.
"Surely they are. Moscow is awfully cold this time of the year." She threw another card. "Oh, my! The uninvited guest! Will they pay him with cupcakes?"
Spike waited until Drusilla turned to him. "But what about us, Dru? Do your cards know?"
She giggled. "An egg."
"An egg? What do they think we are, hens?" He chuckled. "No wonder they're gonna lose this bloody war!"
"Shh," she said. "I told you that as a secret. They don't know that yet."
"Whatever you say, luv." He shook his head. "I still don't get what we have to do with Moscow and laying eggs."
"What?" Drusilla lifted her head to the wall. "Herr Kohler says that our questions will be answered in a minute... Someone is walking that aisle..." She turned to the door and it opened immediately.
A Gestapo officer came in followed by a scared soldier. Spike could have jumped over him before the boy knew what was going on. However, the officer would not look so self assured if they were unprotected. Drusilla stood up and stretched her hand. Spike just placed himself near her and sneered.
"Captain Grunwald, at your service," the officer said, kissing Drusilla's hand. "I hope you're enjoying our hospitality."
"Enchantée. The three of us are having a ball," Drusilla smiled.
"The three of you?"
"Sure, Dru, me and the ghost of Herr Kohl over there." Spike shrugged. "By the way, he's not too happy with you taking over his home, right, luv? Don't be surprised if someone comes at night and pull your feet or something."
Captain Grunwald tried to smile politely. He had been studying the vampire mythology but this was his first encounter. He only hoped that his research would be enough to protect him.
"Yes, Dietrich says that you're not a good person. Si vous ne quittez pas bientôt, il va vous casser la tête." Drusilla turned to the dark corner and nodded.
"A ghost is going to break my head if I don't leave this place?" The captain laughed. "I didn't know she was French?"
"She isn't, but she drank a French actress before we left Paris, so she thinks she speaks French," Spike sighed. "Let it go, Dru. We're not in France anymore."
"Enough! You will cease causing distraction right now." Captain Grunwald had too many things to do to waste time arguing with vampires. "You've been brought here to cooperate with the Third Reich. The better you do it, the sooner you'll get out of here."
"Oh, is that it?" Spike smirked. "You expect us to cooperate with your filthy plans for taking over the world just like that?" He tilted his head and crossed his arms. "We could do it if the price is right."
"The price is quite right, William." Grunwald smiled. "How about your beautiful girlfriend over here?" He waited to see the puzzle look on the vampire's face before going on. "We'll keep Drusilla in the castle while you get something for us."
"Don't tell me that you're actually looking for an egg?" Spike laughed. "There are plenty at the local market."
"I'm pleased to see that my seers were not mistaken about your foreseeing powers, Fraulein Drusilla. We're not talking about a real egg, William," Grunwald said. "Have you ever heard about the Faberge Collection?"
"Oh, Spike!" Drusilla's eyes glowed with excitement. "The Faberge eggs, remember that night in Paris? We went to the museum and ate the guard..."
"Forget about Paris, luv," Spike told her. "All right, Captain, are you asking me to steal the whole collection. Must be hundreds of eggs."
"No more than a hundred survive... all sizes and shapes... weights and colors..." Drusilla smiled. "Can you bring me one too?"
"Drusilla, please," Spike walked a couple of steps and turned to the captain with his hands on his hips. "So? Which egg do you want?"
"The one with a golden swan on the top." The captain prepared for Spike's reaction.
"Blimey. Of all those eggs?" He chuckled. "You want to die young, don't you?"
Drusilla stared at him with her eyes wide open. "You can't have that egg. It would crumble the entire world like Humpty Dumpty. All the king's horses, all the king's men-"
"Yeah, that describes very well what would happen." Spike shook his head and grinned. "Your brains will blow off your head just trying to find that bloody little thing... Come to think about it, that's something I'd pay to see. But it won't stop with you. Once it's open, no one can do much to calm it down, you know?" He stepped forward and the guard behind the captain took out a crucifix. Spike slowed down and shrugged. "A bloody Apocalypse is what you're asking for. Are you prepared to control all that power?"
"That doesn't have to concern you. We only need that egg and that's why you're here." Grunwald placed himself in front of Drusilla.
"What do you want from us? To find out where the egg is? Steal it for you and your deranged purposes?" Spike tilted his head. "What if we refuse?"
"We have a good idea where it might be. What we need is a thief to get it for us."
"A thief? I haven't done that kind of work in ages."
"Not you, Spike," Drusilla said staring at the captain in the eyes. "The egg is in hallowed ground. Unreachable for creatures like us..." She smiled. "They need a thief... a mortal... Someone with drive... someone who would not yield before adversity."
"That's poetic," said Spike with a shrug. "But why us? You must be surrounded by thieves."
"We are; and we used them. But it doesn't work like that. There are other forces committed to stop us. Our thieves don't have the strength or, as your girlfriend has put it, the drive to carry on with the mission. Seven times we've been close, seven men we have lost. They have gotten close but the clues and hints change all the time." He stared at Drusilla. "You can find that special thief. The one that can pass through the trials and survive."
"A human being, a thief with drive... Good luck. We're out of here, come on Dru."
"You can't leave. You're my prisoners."
Drusilla did not move when Spike grabbed her the arm. She looked up at him and smiled. "I don't want to leave."
"What? Don't tell me that you want that egg too."
"No... I want to find the thief who won't yield."
"Oh, no, Dru, I'm not going through that anymore." Spike glared.
"It's not the same thing... He's alive, and he's not a demon..." She grinned and caressed his cheek. "Come on, Spike... I just want to play."
"Well, you'll play alone. Because I'm out of here now." He turned to the door. The soldiers moved aside and he laughed. "Master Race, get stuffed." He walked to the door and an invisible force threw him against the opposite wall. "Bloody hell. What did you put on that door?"
Grunwald laughed. "Do you think I'm stupid enough to get myself two of the members of the Scourge of Europe without taking any precautions?" He opened his coat to show them the small bottle he kept in his inner pocket. Then, he took out a crucifix. "I went to a seer for advise. He set a small spell on this cell among other things I won't give away just yet."
"Sure, that can wait till I begin to pierce your brains with a railroad spike. Bloody wanker!" Spike stepped forward. "And how in hell do you think we're gonna do what you want if we can't get out of here?"
"Can't you figure it out?" Grunwald grinned knowing that he had them exactly where he wanted. "Miss Drusilla will stay here until you come back with some results. If you decide to fly away, so to speak, she will sleep upstairs in a beautiful room with a view to the east, no curtains whatsoever."
"I'd love to see the sunrise... But only inside my head," Drusilla sat on the only cot and sighed.
"This is ridiculous! That egg has been lost for over a hundred years. It's not even included in the original collection. It's a legend, it may not exist at all."
"That's what they say about vampires, isn't it?" Grunwald smiled. "And it's not been a hundred years. You just bring me the thief."
Spike snorted. "I may have a great reputation, but being a vampire doesn't make me invincible. That egg has a dangerous tag. Dark forces must be working extra hours to stop anyone from getting near that egg."
"Oh, I know about the witch and her horsemen. That's why we looked for you and your girlfriend. The Seer in Nuremberg told us about Drusilla's precious powers and your indomitable determination. Everything has been carefully planned." He pointed at Drusilla's deck of cards. "Fraulein, if you please."
Drusilla held her tarot cards against her chest. "This is so exciting..." She took one of the cards and put her over her forehead. "The Enchanter of Delusion."
"Dru? You don't have to work for them. They can't-"
"Quiet! We just need a name. Who is this Enchanter of Delusion? Do you know where he lives?" The captain dared to step forward.
Drusilla studied the card and smelled it. "England... Stepney..."
"That doesn't work for us. We need one closer than that." The captain paced back and forth. "Isn't there a thief near here at all?"
"I told you... The Enchanter of Delusion," she shrugged. "is from England, currently living near Hammelburg."
"That's about three hours from here, you'll have plenty of time if you leave now."
"Not so fast, I'm not leaving my girlfriend here unprotected." Spike crossed his arms in a defiant way.
"Nice try. I know she's stronger than you." Grunwald took out several objects. "These measures are rather to defend ourselves. The gates have silver nails and the castle is surrounded by water..."
"All right, I get it." Spike shook his head. "Someone writes a book about vampires and everybody thinks they know everything." He sighed and turned to Drusilla. "Oh, well. Is there any other thing I should know about this Enchanter of Delusion? You wouldn't happen to have a picture of him or something."
Drusilla shook her head. "He wears glasses, mittens and a beautiful red shawl."
"Our thief is an old lady?" Captain Grunwald was puzzled.
Drusilla grinned and shrugged. Thunder clapped outside and made Spike turn his head to the small window on the wall.
"Don't say more, Dru. I think Dark Midnight was here."
"Are you going to help us then?" Grunwald grinned.
"I'm not helping you. I'll be back with your bloody egg and you'd better take good care of Drusilla. Because if anything happens to her, I'll rip your heart off your chest while you're still alive. There will be no holly water or crucifix that can stop me."
Somewhere near Hammelburg, the same night...
Newkirk sat on the ground with his back against a tombstone. After half an hour around crosses and graves, the cemetery was not longer that scary. There was no breeze, nothing moved. The night was still and dark. He longed for a cigarette, but the smoke and the smell could attract unwanted attention.
"What time is it?" LeBeau asked. He rubbed his arms and shuddered. "Cet endroit me donne la chair de poule."
"Yeah, there is something about midnight in a cemetery that unleashes your imagination." Kinch crouched down and looked around. "Our contact must be here within the next ten minutes or we will go back." All dressed in black, he could not see his friends. He squinted but it was hard to see beyond where they were sitting. "Newkirk, how're you doing, buddy?"
Another direct question, Newkirk thought. He loved his friends, they meant well, but they only wanted to hear the same answer. He nodded. "Back on the saddle, mate. Doing great."
"Oui, it's good to have you back. We need to crack more safes and open more locks. I was getting bored with only explosives and sabotage," LeBeau said.
"Can't wait for things go back to normal." Newkirk smiled shyly. There was no lie in that one.
"You still have to take it easy," Kinch said. "Just take your time to heal."
A little noise from their right alerted them. The three of them turned at the same time with their pistols ready.
A short man came from the shadows. He was visibly agitated. When he finally saw Kinch, his expression changed from fear to extreme happiness.
"Are you the Owl?" the man said.
"And you must be the Pussy-Cat." Kinch smiled when he nodded.
"Hello, Pussy-Cat," Newkirk grinned and turned to LeBeau. "I was dying to say that."
"Sorry I'm late, but I think I've been watched." He looked around and clenched his scarf against his neck. "My name is Lothar Dresner."
"What do you mean? Did you see anyone?" LeBeau said with concern.
"No, but I know that someone has been following me." He turned to Kinch. "This is the worst night to come out, a wicked night..."
"You don't believe in those things do you?" Newkirk grinned.
"Evil is on the loose, my friends," Dresner said.
The Frenchman opened his eyes wide and Newkirk frowned. Kinch had to stop the chatting before the man got his friends hooked. "You have the message?"
"Oh, yes," the man said crouching down along with the three of them.
Newkirk was as attentive as his companions when a breeze whispered in his ear.
He turned around quickly but there was nothing to see. He nudged LeBeau. "What is it?" he whispered.
"What is what?" LeBeau whispered back.
"You said something."
"You said something," LeBeau frowned.
"Well stop it!"
"You two stop it!" Kinch yelled in whispers. He went back to Dresner. "Sorry about that, you were saying?"
"My contact from the Romanian underground didn't give me many details but it seems there is a new weapon in development."
"What kind of weapon?" Newkirk asked, trying to pay attention.
"She didn't say. Something that will turn the tables on the Russian Front."
This time, Newkirk felt a cold breath on his neck and heard a piercing cry coming from the graves. He sprung up.
"Newkirk!" LeBeau pulled his sleeve.
The Englishman yanked it out and looked around. He strained his eyes in the dark and a shadow rushed through the tombstones in front of him. "Blimey! Did you see that?"
LeBeau stood up. Kinch followed their eyes' direction with his gun in his hand. Lothar Dresner began to shake. He slowly slid behind the sergeant.
"What is it?" he asked.
Kinch stared in silence for several minutes. "I see nothing. LeBeau?"
"Rien de rien." He punched Newkirk's arm. "You're seeing things now?"
"She was right there, I swear," Newkirk said, rubbing his arm.
"She?" LeBeau arched one eyebrow. He turned to Kinch. "Now he's dreaming awake."
Kinch rolled his eyes. He tucked his pistol in his belt and turned to their contact. "I'm sorry, Herr Dresner. Do we have anything else to discuss?"
"Yes, in order to put this weapon to work, the Germans are looking for some kind of gem or something. They have been looking in galleries and museums, even churches. We need you stay put in case that we discover the location."
"Sounds weird. It must be in code." Kinch shrugged. "All right. We'll keep our eyes open. Thanks." He waited for the man to be gone before turning to his friends. "What the hell was that? My little nephews behave better when we go out for ice-cream."
"He started it," LeBeau said.
"Sod off!" Newkirk hissed back. He walked towards the darkness and squinted. The soft breeze moaned in his ears again and he shuddered. He lost his balance but did not fall.
"Hey, what's wrong now?" Kinch came closer and clapped his shoulder. "Are you okay?"
Newkirk closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Yeah, I'm just tired," he whispered.
LeBeau touched his arm. "It's okay, I'm sorry I got mad at you. Do you want to sit down for a moment?"
The silhouette fleeted by like a cloud and Newkirk stepped back. "Oh, no... I just want to go back, if you don't mind... It's so cold all of a sudden..."
Kinch could see LeBeau getting more attentive to the darkness in front of them. The sergeant himself could not help but stare at the old graves and wonder what could be hiding behind them. If Newkirk's intention had been to scare his friends, he could not have done a better job.
LeBeau led the way while Kinch walked behind. They had not seen or heard anything but they did not want to take chances anyway. They walked fast, not turning back and the road to camp was longer than they thought.