Chapter 22: The Escape
“Why didn’t you just use your taser like you threatened to do the last time?” Kate asked as she strode into the hotel room, throwing her purse down on the side table in the hallway near the door.
“I would’ve if she hadn’t have thrown that powder into my eyes. She had it in her pocket and she was waiting for the right time to use it,” Logan explained as he pointed to the powder substance that littered the kitchen floor.
Kate knelt down and examined it. She touched and rubbed her fingers together as she stood up. She sniffed it before taking a glass out of the cabinet and filling it with water. Sticking her finger with the powder on it in the water, she watched as it turned red.
“It’s cinnabar,” Kate said. “You’ll live.”
“I already knew that,” Logan said flatly.
“Oh yeah, that’s right. You’re the one who knows about all this voodoo stuff,” Kate scoffed. “Why weren’t you paying more attention?”
“Look, we can sit here and play the blame game and do this little tit for tat, but that’s not going to solve our problem,” Logan replied. “Mama Eshe played us both.”
Kate sighed. “You’re right. I should’ve gone with my first impression of her.”
“I wasn’t any better. When we had that conversation with her earlier today, I thought maybe she truly was a victim of Kalfou,” Logan admitted.
“We need to find her,” Kate replied. “Sitting around here isn’t going to do us any favors. You have any ideas where she may have gone?”
Logan shook his head. “We could try going back to her shop and see if there’s anything left behind that could give us a clue. There’s also a good chance that she might be trying to skip town.”
“Call Arlo and see if he can monitor the buses leaving town. As far as we know, she didn’t have any money on her for a ticket, but there’s no telling what she would do to leave if that’s the case,” Kate instructed.
“On it,” Logan said as he pulled out his cellphone.
Kate sat down in the armchair in the living room and sighed. There was no telling how far Mama Eshe had gotten from the hotel and they had no leads to go on. Logan hung up his call with Arlo and picked up his car keys on the table.
“Let’s go,” he said.
Kate bolted from her chair and followed him through the hotel down to the parking deck. They loaded themselves into the car and Logan maneuvered the car onto the road towards Mama Eshe’s shop. As they approached, crime tape sectioned off the alley leading to the front of the shop.
“Whatever was left behind in there is probably singed beyond recognition,” Kate pointed out.
“I don’t see you coming up with any other ideas,” he scoffed.
Kate blew out another sigh. “As much as I’d like to worry about the whereabouts of a woman that I couldn’t really be bothered with at the moment, we’re sitting on the fact that our boss is a vampire.”
“We’ll deal with that later,” Logan replied.
“We need to deal with this now,” Kate demanded as she turned in her seat to face him. “A vampire is leading the most renowned vampire hunters. How is that even possible?”
Logan sighed as he got out of the car and stepped onto the sidewalk. Kate quickly followed him. “Are you even listening to me? We’re working for our enemy.”
“And?” he asked as he spun around to face her before heading down the alley. “If we don’t find this woman, we’ll have a bigger problem than working for a vampire. That, we can take care of. If Kalfou makes it into this world, we may not be able to stop him. I doubt that Alastor planned for anyone to uncover his secret so quickly.”
“So we’re just going to blindly follow his orders?” she inquired, her hands placed firmly on her hips.
“Of course not,” Logan sighed. “But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t conduct our own investigation. We don’t have to turn in any reports to him at the moment. Let’s just sit on what we have and see what we find out first. Does that sound fair?”
Kate crossed her arms over her chest. “And I can trust you that you won’t go behind my back and feed him any information until my word?”
Logan saluted her and turned around towards the shop. Kate trudged along behind him unsure if she could trust him at this point. While his presence was starting to grow on her before, the escape of their suspect left a bad taste in her mouth.
The door to the shop was on the ground in front of them burned to a crisp, the window beside it broken from the force of the fire. The area around the shop was singed with ash and smoke leaving black splotches against the bricks of the buildings.
Kate stepped on the wooden door and it cracked underneath her weight as she crossed the threshold into the building. The inside of the shop had been utterly destroyed. Glass littered the floor around where the window had been. Drapes were burned with scraps of cloth the only things left in their place.
“The fire department didn’t save much, did they?” Kate mumbled as she kicked a wooden board over to check underneath.
“The fire was already out of hand when they arrived. At least they were able to save the other buildings beside the shop from catching aflame as well. It could’ve been worse,” he commented.
“So what are we looking for?” Kate wondered.
“Not sure. We’ll know it when we see it—”
“There,” Kate said as she rounded the counter to discover a safe embedded within the back of it. “It’s fireproof.”
Kate knelt down behind the counter and inspected the safe. It had a classic dial combination lock being the antique that it was. She spun the dial around and bowed her head, slamming her hands against the side of the safe.
“Do you know how to crack this?” Kate asked.
“I can try. Usually in safes this old, they have an audible clicking noise when you hit the right numbers,” Logan said as Kate stood up to allow him to kneel before the safe.
He turned the dial slowly, waiting for the sound of the tumblers inside to give him a clue. Once he heard the first click, he spun the dial back in the opposite direction for the next. After a little patience, he was able to lift the handle of the safe and open it, the hinges creaking as he did so.
Logan pulled out the contents of the safe and placed them on top of the counter. Kate came around and searched through the scattered papers, landing on a small notebook hidden in between them. Opening the notebook she read Mama Eshe’s notes aloud.
“‘Zane cannot withstand the power of Kalfou. It’s wearing him down just like all the others. My attempts are starting to drain on me as well since my power is connected through him…’ Son of a bitch,” Kate shouted as she threw the notebook down onto the charred counter. “She was playing us all along!”
“Doesn’t surprise me,” Logan said as he picked the notebook back up, flipping through the pages. “She says here, ‘the vampire girl will be a suitable body for Kalfou. If her body doesn’t work out, I have offered him my own…’”
“Then she hasn’t left town,” Kate said, pulling her hands away from her face. “She can’t leave town if she’s willing to give up her physical body to house Kalfou if the ritual goes wrong. She knows that I warned Victoria about the link and she’s going to make sure Kalfou isn’t tricked.”
Logan flipped the page in the book. “‘Humans bodies won’t suffice for the amount of energy Kalfou needs to maintain his existence on Earth. He uses more energy than their bodies create unless a constant source is created…’ That doesn’t sound good.”
“What does that mean?” Kate asked as she snatched the book away from him. “Does she know a way to keep him here forever without the need for a vampire?”
Logan paced the room for a moment, deep in thought about his mystical training. “A portal…”
“Portal to what?” Kate asked slowly. She had an idea but was hoping she was wrong.
“To the Other World,” Logan explained. “If a portal could be opened, then Kalfou would have unlimited power to draw from to keep his body young and strong as well as to maintain his power here in the physical world.”
“How does one open a portal?” Kate inquired.
“Sacrifices,” Logan said. “Human sacrifices.”
“The Ashford family…” Kate whispered. “Once Kalfou is present and they return to their bodies he plans to kill them for good.”
“It’s a great backup plan,” Logan admitted. “He has them right where he wants them and he knows there’s no way for us to get in touch with them because of the barrier around the estate. Mama Eshe is probably somewhere there right now.”
“We have to warn them. We have to try,” Kate said as she left the burned shop and headed back down the alleyway, ducking under the crime tape on her way out. Logan ran after her knowing that she couldn’t do this alone.
“Kate. Kate!” Logan called after her, grabbing her arm. “We have to have a plan—”
At that moment, Kate followed Logan’s gaze as it landed on a dark car parked down the street.
“Get in the car,” he whispered as he ran around to the driver’s side.
Kate did as she was told and hopped into the car. Logan shifted the car into gear and entered the street, passing the car on their side. As they passed, Kate glanced into the side mirror and saw the car pull out of their space behind them.
“We’re being followed,” Kate said.
“It’s Arlo,” Logan answered.
“How do you know? The windows are so dark, I can’t make out the person behind the wheel,” Kelly said.
“It’s him. My ability is to amplify the power of other Hunters. I know what his ability feels like and it’s definitely him,” Logan revealed.
“Neat trick. Does that mean you also know why he’s stalking us?” Kate asked sarcastically.
“You should probably ask your new friend, Mr. Boucher,” Logan mocked as he stepped on the gas.
They left buildings and cars in the dust as they sped past. Arlo followed them in hot pursuit ensuring they were still within his line of vision.
“You need to shake him,” Kate commanded from the passenger seat.
“Don’t you think I know that?” Logan snapped as he ran a red light, cars honking at him in the distance. Whipping the car around a corner, the rear tires slid along the ground until he righted the car on the road. Arlo had also picked up his speed after them.
“We need to lose him before we get to the Ashford Estate,” Kate said. “Take a left up here!”
Logan sharply turned the wheel to the left, barely making it past oncoming traffic. They bounced along a narrow alleyway as Arlo spotted them. Kate opened the glove compartment of the car and pulled out a Glock 22 and aimed towards the back windshield.
She steadied herself as she turned her body around in her seat and opened fire through the glass at Arlo’s vehicle. The back windshield spidered out where the bullets exited the car and struck Arlo’s front windshield.
Kate crawled over the seat into the back and broke the back glass the rest of way with a swift kick of her foot. Logan spun the car back out onto a main road and Kate lost her balance and hit her head against the side door.
“You okay?” Logan called from the front.
“Keep driving!” she shouted back as she picked herself up and planted her knees into the seat.
Arlo’s car slid out from the alleyway behind them as he sped forward ramming into the back of their car. Kate unloaded another round into his windshield until the gun clicked.
“Hand me the other clip!” Kate yelled over her shoulder as bullets whizzed by her head. Arlo had leaned out the window and was firing back.
“We need to get away from all the civilians! I’m getting us out of town towards the estate,” Logan shouted over his shoulder as he threw the clip over his shoulder towards Kate.
Kate shoved the new clip into her gun as she hunkered down. Logan got them to the edge of town at lightning speed as Arlo tried to cause their car to spin out of control.
“Aim for his tires!” Logan shouted as Kate started to take aim again.
Kate shot at Arlo’s front tire on the driver’s side and happened to stick a shot. The tire blew and shredded as the car spun out of control on the road. The car landed in a deep ditch along the side of the road as Logan kept up pace to make it out towards the estate.
Kate sat down in the back seat and exhaled, placing the gun in her hand beside her.
“I guess we know who ordered Arlo to hunt us down,” Kate said.
Logan shook his head from the front seat. “You think Alastor knows that we know?”
“I don’t see how,” Kate replied. “I’ve only told you about it unless you tipped Arlo off with that phone call earlier?”
“You’re my partner, Kate. Not Arlo. I wouldn’t go behind your back like that,” Logan assured. “Besides, that dude was a little weird.”
“He found out somehow. Arlo wouldn’t just attack us like that without some sort of instruction. I’m not so sure Alastor is where he says he is,” Kate said as she climbed back up to the front seat, glass crunching underneath her feet.
“You think he’s in town?” Logan asked.
“He’s a vampire. He could’ve…heard Victoria talking to me at Adrian’s club. Fuck me!” Kate shouted as she punched the glove compartment in the car. “He’s been here all along watching us.”
“That means we’re in danger,” Logan admitted. “You called me from the club so chances are he knows that I know as well. After this, we need to lay low for a while. Go off grid so we can figure out our next move.”
“Alastor will have Hunters all over us,” Kate replied as Logan turned down a dirt road off the main one.
“Then we better be smarter than they are,” Logan commented as he pulled to the side of the road.
They got out of the car and walked into the surrounding woods a ways before slowing to a halt. Kate held out her hand feeling the humming sensation of the barrier. Logan stood close behind her.
“The barrier is still up. I suppose that’s a good sign for now,” Kate mumbled under her breath. “It’s strong. It’s going to take a lot of work just to cut a hole wide enough for us to pass through. Even then, there’s a chance their spirits will be able to feel the breech.”
“We’ll have to take that chance,” Logan said as he placed his hand on her shoulder and held his hand out as well.
“Keep a lookout for Arlo just in case,” Kate said. “This is going to take some time and it’s going to hurt like hell.”
Kate took a step forward as she felt the burning sensation of the barrier touch her palm and spread through her hand and wrist. It felt like the stinging sensation of a tattoo gun but amplified a thousand times. She squeezed her eyes shut and saw the barrier burning bright along the tree line. Letting out a shrill scream, she kept herself steady as a small tear pierced the barrier.