9: The Smell of Danger
Louis, the vampire psychologist, didn’t like Michael’s presence and the latter knew it.
Normally, it didn’t bother the ancient vampire; the younger vampire’s fear of him certainly made working with him a whole lot easier. Michael’s plan was to come for the session, give the account he wanted to give while Louis noted it down, and leave without having to say any other thing to the psychologist or the psychologist to him. It was a quick method, efficient; just how Michael liked things.
But that morning was different as Louis’ fear seemed to had gone off the charts; so much so that its stench began to distract the ancient vampire from the memory he was recalling. “What is it?” Michael suddenly shouted at him when he couldn’t take it anymore.
“What?” returned Louis, confused by the ancient vampire’s sudden outburst. “I wasn’t doing anything.”
“No, but your aura is,” he returned and stood up as if to distance himself from it. “Normally, I won’t care if you’re happy or sad, or downright dying. But today, the stench of your fear is so prominent it’s distracting me. So, what is it that has gotten you all shrivelled up inside?”
“Tell me it’s nothing and I’ll make you wish you hadn’t known how to speak at all.”
Louis knew without a doubt that Michael’s threat wasn’t an idle one. If the ancient vampire said he was going make him regret any lie he told, then he was going to make regret any lie he told.
So, he went for the truth. “I just heard about the death of young girl late last night,” he said. “Apparently, she was murdered in a manner so vile that it horrified even the vampires that came for sessions. They said that nothing had been found out about the killer.”
Michael quirked an eyebrow at the statement. He didn’t see why the death of one mortal- murder or not- should have gotten to the psychologist so much, especially to the point of fear. Mortals died every time; that was what made them mortals to begin with. An immortal didn’t need to contend with such reality.
But it suddenly dawned on the ancient vampire. It wasn’t the murder that bothered Louis; the psychologist couldn’t care less that the girl was dead. He was afraid that Michael, the most infamous vampire in town, had killed her and that he might be next; and Michael laughed like he hadn’t in a very long time. The whole thing was much too amusing for him.
Reducing his laughter to just an amused smirk on his face, Michael came to rest his hands on the table right in front of Louis. Bringing his head to just a few inches from the psychologist’s, he asked, “Where I can find the body?”
The one-room large expanse of space that was West Harbour’s morgue was located beneath the town’s main hospital.
Dimly lit by fluorescent lamps, and eerily quiet, the morgue was somewhere that didn’t receive many visitors, not even the dead, which was the reason why Bob, the medical examiner on duty, could afford to lounge in his chair, cross his legs on the table, and plug in his headphones even though the day had just started.
A typical workday in West Harbour’s morgue comprised mostly of checking in the bodies- stiffs, as the M.E liked to refer to them- performing the autopsies as was necessary, and recording the results of said autopsies before keeping the bodies in storage for the family members to come claim them at the appropriate time.
Many of the stiffs the morgue received from the hospital were elderly people who had died of old age rather than any other cause. They usually only required basic autopsy procedures and their families always claimed them before they even reached storage, which meant that Bob spent majority of the day looking over hospital charts; and even more, taking naps.
But the nap wasn’t to be for the M.E. that morning as the moment he seemed about to lose himself to the quiet, the door to the morgue swung open and a tall, blonde-haired man in black vintage suit and jacket walked in. “Umm, what can I help you with, sir?” asked Bob, very confused by the man’s presence. He looked like he belonged more in a cocktail party than the premises of the morgue.
“I was informed of a body you have in storage, a girl that was recently murdered, ” the man replied. “I’ll very much like for you to show her to me.”
Now, that was strange, Bob thought to himself; even stranger was the fact that the man appeared to be utterly sure about what he was saying.
More confused than before, Bob said, “I’m sorry, sir, but the mortuary policy states that...”The rest of whatever he was going to say died in his throat as the man touched his shoulder and removed his shades to look straight into his eyes.
“Show me the body,” he said and the Bob’s body immediately relaxed.
Like a man under a spell, he replied, “Right this way, sir.”
He led the man to the storage room where the body was and unlocking the compartment, he pulled body out.
“Return to your post and forget that this ever happened,” the man said and just like before, Bob immediately complied.
Michael waited until the M.E. was out of the storage room before he opened up the murdered girl’s body.
Her name tag identified her as Penelope Bryton, twenty-five years old. From the gossip Michael gathered on his way to the morgue, he had learnt that the girl was working as waitress for a diner before her death; she was murdered next to that same diner.
But truth be told, it wasn’t Penelope’s life that had drawn the ancient vampire come to see her for himself, it was her death. Penelope’s murder had generated such a stir that even the supernaturals were concerned; and if the supernaturals were concerned, it was only right that he come see what the fuss was all about.
The first thing that caught Michael’s eyes as he uncovered the body was its death wounds. They were deep lacerations; so deep in fact that they sundered the flesh to the bones.
The girl was cut everywhere; from the head to the toe. A deliberate move by her killer, the ancient vampire presumed. To be honest, it ticked at something in Michael's mind but he didn’t bother himself with understanding it much. Instead, he concentrated on the aura surrounding her.
The horror she felt at her death still lingered; a sweet smell that thrilled his veins. In fact, he could vaguely steal the memory of her scream from the aura that remained. She also reeked of blood and decay; as was common with mortals after their death.
The ancient vampire’s turned the girl’s arm and saw the words carved into it; and immediately he recognised the overwhelming aura that had picking at him ever since he first saw the body and why it was so dear to him.
The smell was one that Michael had never thought he would be encountering once again after his move to West Harbour; the smell of danger.