Jéan paced around his apartment like a madman, ready to rip his hair from his scalp. He could not remember the last time he had experienced cabin fever as severe as this.
Outside, the rain pummeled the building violently, rattling the windows as it slammed against the walls in relentless waves. It had been going for nearly two hours now, and Jéan was about to come unglued. He scrolled through his phone, desperate for another soul to ease his slow dip into madness. At this point, he did not even care if it was one of the junkies that purchased their fixes from him. He just needed the company. That was when he landed on her name.
Was he that desperate?
“Nope!” he declared aloud, shaking himself back to reality, “Bad idea, Jéan! Bad idea! You’re not that lonely.”
He quickly skipped past her name, trying hard to not think about the violent break-up or the unfortunate events that had led up to it.
“Fuck,” he cursed, scrolling back up, “wasn’t my fault she got fucked up. Bitch made her own choices.”
He pressed the call button and waited.
“We’re sorry,” came the automated message, “you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service. If you feel you have reached this recording in error, please check the number and—”
Jéan hung up and tried twice more before accepting it.
“Probably for the best,” he decided, “She’d rather do the blow than blow me anyway.”
He slumped down onto the couch and slid the top off the coffee table revealing a false bottom. He began cutting product, all but surrendering himself to the captivity of boredom. Barely a minute had gone by before Jéan was startled to his feet. There was a knock—no, a heavy pounding at his door. Instinctively, he sealed the table back up and grabbed the metal bat from the corner by the door.
“Who is it?” he demanded as he pressed himself against the door.
He was met with another round of knocks that sounded like someone was taking a sledgehammer to the building. He called out again for identification, gripping the bat firmly and reaching for the knob. He stopped suddenly as a faint sound reached his ears from the other side. It was soft…breathing? Shivering? Whimpering!
“Jéan?” there was a voice so soft and weak, yet Jéan could hear it clear as day even over the rain, “J-Jéan? Please…please let me in…”
“What the hell?”
Jéan moved without thinking. The bat clattered to the floor as he hastily pulled the door open. He grabbed his visitor by her upper arm and hauled her inside from the rain. She was soaked to the bone, her hoodie and sweatpants waterlogged and clinging to her body. Once he got the door closed, Jéan yanked the throw blanket off the love seat and wrapped it around the woman’s shoulders.
“The fuck, Kara!” he scolded her, “Seriously! What the actual fuck? Are you trying to drown yourself?”
Kara did not seem affected by Jéan’s harsh words as she looked around the room. Her eyes were glassy, and her breathing was low and ragged like a feral animal. She slowly shuffled up to him and, laying her head upon his shoulder, nuzzled his neck affectionately. Her skin was cold, like death. No doubt from being out in that mess, Jéan rationalized. On impulse, he draped one arm across Kara’s shoulders and rested his other hand on the back of her head, holding her close.
Something was wrong. Jéan could not quite put his finger on it, but somehow he knew this girl in his arms was not the same one he held a month ago—or even before the addiction set in. He pulled away from her. As he did, Kara looked up at him dejectedly. Yes, it was her face, but as Jéan stared into her eyes, he could not find her. It was like looking at a corpse.
“Kara?” he said, gently shaking her, “Are you alright?”
“I…” she hesitated, her voice barely above a whisper, “I need stuff, Jéan…I need it…it’s been too long.”
She tried to rest on his shoulder again, but Jéan held her back at arm’s length. There was no way he was going to believe this was the product of drug withdrawal. He knew what that looked like better than anyone, and while it was a terrifying thing to see, it was never this bad. Something else was going on. At the same time, he did not wish to take any chances. He sat Kara down on the couch and pulled the blanket up over her head.
Jéan shook his head. “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he said, much to his own surprise, “You need a—”
“Please!” Kara pleaded weakly, “Please, Jéan.”
“All right! All right,” he gave in, “At least let me get you some water first…I’ll be right back.”
He stood and headed to the kitchen, confused and utterly bewildered. He needed to call someone to come get Kara. He was not sure why, but he felt threatened by her presence, and he desperately needed to get her out of his home.
“This isn’t right,” he mumbled to himself, “I’ve dealt to enough junkies to know this isn’t the fucking DT’s.”
He pressed himself against the wall and pulled his phone out. Who should I call? he asked himself, I can’t call the cops, I’d just get arrested for possession. I can’t call her family; they already think I’m the devil…dammit! This would be easier if I knew what was wrong with her. He shuffled through his contact list frantically hoping a name would stand out, someone he could trust to come help him deal with this situation. Finally, one name did. He dialed the number labeled simply “V”.
“C’mon, c’mon,” he whispered, “pick up, man…”
It was late. The chances of the phone being answered were slim. He knew what V would tell him, but he was not ready to accept that possibility. He just wanted Kara out. This isn’t happening, he insisted as he hung the phone up, this isn’t happening! He rummaged through the junk-drawer and pulled out an old silver pendant his mother had given him a couple years back. He never believed he would actually need this thing, and in fact, he felt stupid for even thinking about it. He tangled the chain around his fingers and settled the pendant into his palm as he had been trained to do and continued his search for a cup.
He reached into the dishes piled in the sink, haphazardly pushing them every which way. In his carelessness, he caught his hand on a knife.
“Son of a bitch!” Jéan shouted, clutching his hand to his chest and letting a string of curses flow.
He wrapped his hand with a towel and turned to leave. Icy fear gripped Jéan’s heart as he found himself face-to-face with Kara. He took a couple of steps backward.
“God dammit, Kara!” he shouted, “Don’t fucking sneak up on me like that
“So sorry, Jéan,” Kara pouted, but her voice was heavy with a sinister glee, “It’s just that…I’ve realized what it is I truly need.”
Jéan’s eyes went wide with terror as Kara suddenly leaped at him, tackling him to the floor. He did not expect such strength out of her small form as he tried to fight her off.
Kara hissed furiously as she went for Jéan’s throat. She howled in pain as Jéan pressed the silver pendant against her face. It was enough to distract her, allowing Jéan to free himself and break for the door.
He did not make it. Kara jumped on Jéan’s back, digging her nails into his shoulder and scalp before burying her teeth deep into his neck. His screams of pain were drowned out by the uncaring storm.
An hour later, the apartment was silent as death. Blood drenched the walls and carpet of the living room as well as a trail that led to the kitchen. Two dark-clad individuals walked the scene in search of clues.
“Looks like the council was right,” the hooded man said, “Someone’s been creating feral progeny; this is the fifth unauthorized feeding in three days.”
“It gets worse, brother,” the woman informed him, “look at this.”
With a gloved hand, she had unwound the silver pendant from the dead boy’s hand and held it up in the light. The symbol at its center was easily recognizable, even through the burnt flesh.
“God dammit. He’s a Watcher,” the man sighed.
“We need to report this immediately. They’ll want this contained before King’s men get wind of it.”
The man nodded in agreement as his sister pocketed the pendent.
There was a knock at the door accompanied by a voice, presumably calling the dead man’s name. The duo decided they had overstayed their visit. They headed for the back door to the balcony and leaped over the side to the ground. The man then pulled out his phone and made a call.
“Master,” he said as he and his sister walked off into the night, “things have just become more complicated.”