We’re made to wait in the living room as the inspectors make their rounds. This hasn’t been done in years, but what with the bodies turning up as they are, daily checks are in order. ” What is this?” I ask. They’re coming out of our bedroom carrying my sword, the guy behind him has our trunk which holds our arsenal of firearms. We’d hidden the weapons extremely well, there’s no way that they could have found it on their own. “We should be asking you that.” Says, the man with him. “It’s for our protection, and in case we’re called to arms again.” Says, River. “All firearms were supposed to be relinquished upon your release.” States the inspector. “Yeah, but those are mine...”
“They belong to us.” I correct him.
“Alright, detain both of them then.”
We’re placed in a paddy wagon, taken to and deposited in separate holding cells. Upset that my plans to try my hand at cooking a pot roast have been delayed, I take a seat in a huff. “Calm down, how long can they really hold us.”
“As long as I say.” An old man ambles over to us, using a cane for support. “Who are you?” His wizened grey eyes fall upon me for a few seconds, before returning to River. “Take him.”
“What, no!” Reaching through the bars, I try to grab him, and my fingers are lightly rapped by the cane. “Settle down, we just need to test his blood is all.” He says. “Is that the requirement now for bookings?” States River, sarcastically as two guards escort him from the room. “You guys aren’t government inspectors are you.”
“Is it that obvious?”
“What do you want? I ask.
“Abraham Setrakian, It’s a pleasure to meet you Cori.” He says, motioning for the guard to unlock the gate. “I’ve been searching for your friend for a long time.”
“Wait...let’s get this straight. You’re offering... no telling him to voluntarily become a vegetable, so that you can siphon his blood to be used to cure the infected.” I state, from my perch on the desk.
“Yes, it’d be honorable of him.”
“Ha, tell them no.” I say, with an unlady like snort to River.
“And that’s a hell no.” I chime in.
“It would be a coma, temporarily. You really don’t have a choice.”
There’s always a choice.” I say, eyeing the guards.
“Show them.” He says, wearily.
A television’s turned on and the display shows a muzzled strigoi being injected with blood. “Your blood.” Says, Setrakian. The thing’s body starts to spasm, it’s head shaking from side to side. “What’s happening to it?” Asks River. “A transformation.” States old man, coming to his feet with the help of a guard. The strigoi’s body halts it’s seizure, and is as still as death. “So that’s the cure? You killed it. We can do that by removing their heads.” I say.
The eyes come open, the muzzle’s removed, and the camera does a close up on the eyes, which are no longer red rimmed. Confusion etched on its features, it looks around at all the faces surrounding it, and then it’s eyes come to rest on the camera. “Wha... wha...what...” Says the strigoi. “What the hell?” I exclaim.
Following the old man from the room, River offers him an arm for support, when he starts to teeter unsteadily.
“Within a week the skin color will return to normal, and the hair will start to grow. Two weeks and the stinger will be completely gone, and the genitalia will start to reform.”
“Well that’s a plus.” I state, from behind them.
“Instantly the desire to feed is no longer compulsory, but until the stinger has disappeared they have to be fed intravenously.”
“Blood?” Inquires River.
“No, nutrients, vitamins...”
What’s in my blood, that does this to them?”
“I have no clue, to be honest, but it’s passed along through the males in your bloodline.”
“He has a father that’s still alive.” I offer.
A dirty look from River, and I shrug in response. “Unfortunately, It’s passed along on the mother’s side.”
Leading us back to the cells, a not so welcome sight greets us. Speak of the devil. Huddled together on a bench are River’s parents. “River, what’s going on?” They say at the sight of him, immediately going to the bars. “It’s okay, mom.” He says, reassurringly. Turning to the old man, his anger palpable, I’ve never seen him this mad. “You took my parents?”
“Motivation, we need your blood.”
“I can donate blood.”
“We can harvest more if you were...bedridden.”
River’s silent, considering his words. You’re not going to let us leave, are you?” Asks River, in quiet acquiescence.