‘Well he was a stubborn one wasn’t he!’ Edwin dragged his hands along his jeans to wipe off the worst of the blood. ‘I swear, it was like he didn’t want to die.’
Sammy mumbled something beneath his breath and continued to throw body part into the pit they’d dug just outside the farm boundary where the boggy peat land crept in and made the ground wet and dangerous.
The pair were sweating but Edwin was still grinning. It had been his idea to go after the vampire, his idea, not Sammy’s.
‘You sure you got all the pieces?’ he asked. He left Sammy unloading the truck and opened the passenger door to fish around in the glove box. Between the dead torch and a road map thirty years out of date he found the half smoked pack of cigarettes and tapped one out into his palm. ‘Don’t want to risk someone coming across some stray bit of Mr Baldy here and kicking up trouble.’
The end of the cigarette glowed red and he sucked in a lungful of smoke.
‘I got ’em all,’ Sammy muttered. ‘This isn’t the first time remember.’ He hurled the last segment of Mr Baldy into the hole and mopped his face with a bit of rag from his back pocket. ‘Your turn.’
Edwin nodded once and leaving the cigarette pinched between his teeth raised his hands up in front of him. The earth groaned and wavered. Frowning, Edwin adjusted his stance and shook out his arms. The earth groaned again, but this time the hole snapped shut with a wet squelch, leaving no trace of the grave at all.
‘You’re getting rusty. You didn’t even have to raise your hand two years ago.’
‘Yeah well, things change,’ snapped Edwin. ‘At least I’m more use that you.’ He ground the cigarette out on the side of the truck and flicked in out into the marsh. ‘Let’s go.’
They climbed into the cab and on the third try it shuddered into life.
‘Looks like I’m not the only one getting rusty.’ Edwin hammered the accelerator home, ignoring the spray of mud behind them. ‘This old girl hasn’t got many more miles in her.’
‘She’s got enough,’ said Sammy, patting the dashboard affectionately. ‘She’ll last a while longer.’
The drive passed in silence until they reached the main road.
‘You think we’re making a difference?’ The question fell between them and Edwin scowled.
‘What you go asking questions like that for?’ he asked. ‘Of course we’re making a difference. It might not be big but it counts.’
‘In whose books?’ Sammy stared out of the cracked glass of the window.
‘In my books for one,’ said Edwin. ‘We’re at war with these things. The lot of us are. We got to do our bit.’
‘What if we’ve already done out bit? What if we’ve paid off whatever cosmic debt the universe thinks we owe? What then?’
‘Then we keep going,’ said Edwin. ‘We keep going and who knows. The universe might return the favour.’
Service stations all looked the same to Edwin. He ordered a burger from the fast food joint available and ate it quickly before finding the toilets, relieving himself, and getting back into the car with Sammy.
They drove again until it was morning and the town in front of them looked nothing like the one they’d come from. For breakfast the stopped at a small cafe that served sausage and bacon baps, and Sammy checked his email on the free wifi.
‘We good?’ Edwin asked, not looking up from his breakfast.
‘Yeah, we’re good. No one got here before us so it looks like the jobs ours.’ He turned his phone around to show Edwin a grainy photo of a young woman pack shopping into a car. She looked to be about twenty-five but that didn’t mean anything. She could be fifty, she could have been a hundred, she could even be much older, age meant nothing for her kind when it came to appearances. Sammy scrolled down to show the address listed below.
‘Bollocks,’ Edwin swore. ‘I hate apartment jobs.’ He chewed a bit of bacon thoughtfully. ‘She got anyone?’
‘Boyfriend. James Charles.’
‘Real boyfriend or mark?’
Sammy shrugged. ‘Does it matter.’
‘No. But it don’t sit the same when we pin this stuff on the mark.’
‘No body, no crime,’ said Sammy. ‘He can’t go down for it. Worse that will happen is he gets hounded out of town.’
‘Aye, I suppose.’
The finished their breakfast and Edwin pulled a slip of paper from his pocket. Sammy watched as he rolled it between his hands for a second and then crumpled it into the centre of his fist. When he opened his hand a twenty pound note stared back.
‘That should cover things,’ Edwin grinned.
The woman’s flat was small, neat, and carefully laid out to look like someone lived there. There was food in the cupboards and the fridge but none of it was touched, and the bed was made up with sheets that had never seen a body between them even once.
Edwin sat down on the sofa and lit up a cigarette. ‘We’ve got half an hour, maybe more.’ He glanced at Sammy who was standing against to wall besides the door. Edwin would be the first one she’d see when the door opened, but Sammy was the one she needed to worry about.
‘You got this?’ asked Edwin.
Sammy popped his knuckles and grimaced. ‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘I got this.’
‘Good.’ He fiddled with the cigarette. ‘I was thinking that maybe-‘
Footsteps cut Edwin off and he tensed.
On the other side of the door a key slid into the lock and turned. Sammy’s hand went to his hip.
The woman saw Edwin and her face morphed from shock to snarl.
‘You,’ she hissed, starting forward.
Sammy’s blade took her head off before she’d made it three steps and it bounced twice before settling. Sammy managed to catch her body, lowering it to the ground quietly and kicking he door shut behind him as he did so.’
‘You were thinking?’ said Sammy.
‘Um-hum?’ Edwin blinked at the body. ‘Oh right, I was thinking. Yeah, I was thinking it might be time to head a bit closer to home. Take Syms up on his offer.’
The look Sammy threw him was scathing.
‘Yeah I know I told him where to shove it,’ said Edwin. ‘He’s a wanker at the best of times and he practically said we’d be useless on our own but-‘ he paused to take a drag of his cigarette. ‘I think we may need to reconsider.’
‘You said we were making a difference just fine as we are.’ He began to drag the woman’s body towards the plastic sheeting laid out behind the sofa.
‘I did,’ nodded Edwin. ‘That doesn’t mean we can’t improve.’ He pulled a saw from the duffel bag beneath the coffee table and passed it behind him.
‘I don’t want to join his army,’ said Sammy. ‘I ain’t a soldier.’
‘Yes you are,’ Edwin chuckled, ‘we all are. We’re just not a very well organised army.’ The sawing started. He shut his eyes and wished he could do the same with his ears. ‘We’ll die doing this one day or another,’ he called, raising his voice above the noise. ‘Why not give Syms a chance to prove his crazy scheme might actually work.’
‘He wants peace. You can’t have peace with these things.’
‘Not all of them, no. But maybe some.’
The sawing stopped and Edwin turned to find Sammy staring at him.
‘I don’t like Syms.’
‘Yeah I realise that you don’t, I do remember, he’s a wanker. But he’s a bloody clever useful wanker though, and I want him on my side.’
‘You have me on your side.’ Sammy almost sounded hurt.
‘I wasn’t saying otherwise you moron, I was just saying it might help to increase our support system. Give ourselves a little boost.’
The sawing started up again.
‘The silent treatment Sammy? Really mature.’
Edwin twisted back to face to door again. It was a war he reminded himself. One long, ridiculous war with no end in sight. Or perhaps there was an end, if Syms was to be believed. Syms wanted men to police a truce, he wanted them to be peacekeepers instead of hunters.
Peacekeepers. Edwin swirled the name around his head. He liked that. He liked it better than the things people called him now.
He thought about the monster behind him. The most recent in a long line. He needed a change. The cigarette end crunched against the table.
‘You sure this guy was a smoker?’
Sammy grunted behind him and Edwin spat. He was rather partial to his particular brand and these certainly weren’t that, but needs must. He grabbed a second saw. Needs must he told himself. He rounded the edge of the settee. The apartment was nice, it almost seemed a shame to burn it down.
‘Let’s get this moving Sammy. Places to be things to do and all that.’ He picked a joint at random. ‘We don’t want to be all night now do?’
Read Part Two here