Open That Trapdoor
I disclaim all rights to the Anita Blake universe and characters.
Detective Kirnan tried very hard not to whimper as she was led down the corridor. It was dark, and cold, and it smelt like death. The vampire leading the way glanced back at her, and she bit her lip to keep sound from escaping. His expression hadn't been predatory, just empty
, devoid of interest in her. The vampire raised one eyebrow ever so slightly. Kirnan remembered a lecture she'd once attended on vampire powers. Vampires are alpha predators, she remembered the presenter saying. They can hear it when your heartbeat increases, smell it if you're scared or angry. Don't think you can hide your emotions from them. But, the lecturer had said, try to hide them anyway. Vampires won't respect you if you can't control yourself.
So she pulled together her tattered calm, and simply gave the vamp a cool stare. It turned away and continued down the corridor. Down a flight of stairs, around a corner, until it stopped at a door. The vamp knocked once, a light tap.
A voice floated through the door. "Yes?"
"Detective Kirnan requests an audience." The vamp's voice was a bland monotone, but it managed an undercurrent of 'Aren't the humans with badges amusing?'.
The voice came again, male and full of an easy, confident power. "Show her in."
Kirnan's guide-vamp pulled the door open and stood back, his extended arm and mock-deferential posture inviting her inside. She walked in, and the door swung shut behind her.
The tableau made her shiver. The room had a desk and drinks cabinet against one wall, but it was dominated by a couch; by the people sitting there. A short woman in a black robe, with skin so pale it glowed in the yellow lighting. She sat next to a vamp in a particularly silly shirt that displayed a muscled, marble-white chest. On the other side of her was a man wearing only black slacks, tall and muscular. A leopard sat at the woman's feet, currently rubbing its head in her lap. It was the only movement in the room; the three on the couch were still, their eyes calm and assessing. Kirnan straightened her back and returned the woman's gaze calmly. The room reeked of power, so dense it was almost physical, running along Kirnan's skin and stirring her hair.
She cleared her throat, speaking as calmly as she could to the Triumvirate of St. Louis. "Thank you for agreeing to meet me."
The vamp's mouth curled ever so slightly. "We are always eager to assist the police." The woman - Anita Blake, the Zombie Queen - narrowed her eyes a little, and ran a hand over the leopard's head. The cat purred. It was probably a human, acting like a pet. Kirnan suppressed a shudder, and went on.
"There have been a series of shifter attacks, directed against the Mackenzie-Smythe family and their friends."
"And you wanted to let us know that you're onto us?" Growled the tall man, his voice bitter. Richard Zeeman, the Werewolf King. Kirnan tried to imagine him as a high school teacher, and couldn't.
"No, we don't believe that any of you, or your associates, are involved. I'm here to request information on any shifters that might have entered St. Louis recently."
"No." Zeeman said simply. Kirnan could guess his objection; he had lost his job after shifting to protect a police officer.
"The information will remain confidential." Kirnan said.
"Don't be stupid," Blake said bluntly, still stroking the leopard. "You'll never keep a list like that quiet. It would ruin the lives of every new shifter in the city."
"Lieutenant Zerbrowski will check the list himself, and then destroy it. He will be the only person in the department to see it." Blake's perfectly calm face shifted a little, but Zeeman looked even more mutinous.
"And what of the two or three who have no alibi? What will happen to them, when the police arrive at their offices?" He shook his head. "Our only hope of a normal life is secrecy. And you cannot give us that."
Kirnan opened her mouth to argue, but Zeeman raised a hand. "Sorry, an old argument."
"In any wise, the list of shifters is irrelevant." The vamp, Jean-Claude, said. "We allowed you an audience to inform you that the murderer has been dealt with."
Kirnan didn't like the idea of being allowed
an audience, but she let it slide for the moment. "Are you going to tell us anything, or just leave it a mystery?"
Blake snorted. "It's better this way. Go back to the station and tell Zerbrowski that the monsters," her voice was thick with bitterness. "Killed the monster."
Kirnan licked her lips. "Thank you for your efforts. We will need to identify the body to close our investigation."
"There isn't a body." Blake said coldly. "Now leave."
Kirnan would have argued, but the vamp gave her a smile that displayed two small, razor-sharp fangs. She left, and the last thing she saw was the leopard at Blake's feet rolling onto its back, pawing at the air as she rubbed its tummy.