Kate tossed another folder onto her desk. “I don’t get it.”
“It’s a missing person case,” said Dennis.
“How can anyone live in this town?” asked Kate. “How can they close their eyes, and not see all the stuff that’s going on?”
“They see a lot more than they let on.”
“So why don’t they move away?”
“Same reason people live in the shadows of volcanos,” said Dennis. “It’s their home. Even when the mountain starts rumbling, they refuse to move. Most of the families in this town have been here for generations.”
“You’d think that they’d smarten up.”
“What’s your excuse?” asked Dennis. “You moved to
this town, when you already had a pretty good idea of what was going on here. Why’d you do it?”
“Someone has to,” said Kate. “Someone has to protect these people. Someone has to stop the monsters.”
“And that’s another reason why some of us stay.”---
They were interrupted by a call from the desk Sergeant. A couple had come in to ask if there had been any progress made in their investigaton of the disappearance of their daughter. The distraught parents were insisting that they speak with the detectives in charge of the case. Dennis told the sergeant to put them into the nicer interview room, and to get them coffee, or anything else that they might want while he grabbed the file that Kate had thown down earlier. “Come on,” he told her. “It’s time to tell comforting lies to the grieving parents.” Kate thought that she tended to be cynical, but Dennis could out-cynic her.
The couple waiting in the interview room looked like typical middle class parents to Kate. Both worried about what had happened to their daughter. The cynical cop in her told her to suspect the parents if anything happened to a child, but from what she’d read in the file, and what she saw in front of her now, she didn’t think that was the case, this time. They had reported their daughter’s disappearance promptly, but not too
promptly, and their worry about what had happened to her was palpable. Interviews with their daughter’s friends had confirmed that she had been out at the Bronze the night that she disappeared, and had started for home in plenty of time to get there before her curfew. None of them had indicated that Marcia Timmins had had any particular quarrel with her parents, nor with anyone else. She wasn’t one of the cool kids at school, nor was she one of the social outcasts. She was one of the majority of students who had been living a completely unremarkable life, up until the moment she had disappeared.
Kate let Detective Clark do most of the talking, telling Marcia’s parents about the negative results of their investigation. No one had reported seeing Marcia since the night of her disappearance. They’d talked with the ticket sales agents at both the bus and train stations, and none of them had recognized her picture as someone they had sold tickets to. None of the bus drivers who had been working that night recognized her either. Marcia’s photo, and description had been sent to every police department in the state, and every cop who pulled over a car with a teenaged girl in it, would be looking to see if she matched it. Hospitals and morgues had also been notified, and no Jane Doe admissions, or bodies, that might be Marcia had been reported by anyone.
“It’s possible that she just decided to take off, on her own,” said Detective Clark. He raised his hand to ward off her parents’ objections. “I know, she doesn’t fit the profile for a run-away, but sometimes kids have things going on in their lives, that they never tell their parents, or their friends. It happens, and if that’s the case, she could come back on her own too. Most run-aways do, after only a few days. But if she does come back…” He hesitated, not sure how to continue.
Mr. Timmins looked grim. “I grew up in Sunnydale, Detective. My family’s been here since the first Richard Wilkins founded the town. I know, if she comes back, she might be…different. If she shows up at our door one night, we’ll open it for her, but we won’t invite her in.”---
“Is it always like that?” asked Kate, when they got back to their office.
“No,” said Clark. “That was an easy one. The tough ones are the cases where you know
the victim has been turned, and their family doesn’t
know the score. How do you tell someone that the appropriate response to seeing one of their loved ones again, who had been missing, or dead, is to run, and scream really loud?”---
Clark hung up his phone, and smiled. “Huh! Looks like we caught a break. Marcia Timmins has just been brought into the hospital emergency room, alive, and well, not well, but with a pulse. Come on. I’ll let you drive.”
When they got to the hospital, Marcia was still in with the doctors, so Clark interviewed the admitting nurse, about how she had arrived, while Kate kept notes.
“Dawn Summers, and a boy brought her in,” said the nurse. “I don’t know his name, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him before.”
“It was Kevin Berman,” said another nurse. “His mother works in the administration department.”
Kate wrote the name down. “Dawn Summers?” she asked Clark.
“Buffy’s younger sister,” said Clark. “She’s about sixteen, I think. She’s starting to get more involved in her sister’s line of work, though Buffy’s usually pretty careful to keep her away from the action. She’s sometimes the one who brings victims into the hospital, so most of the staff here knows her.”
They talked with Marcia’s doctor before they went in to see her. She reported that Marcia’s physical condition was pretty good. She was primarily suffering from blood loss, that had taken place through multiple “puncture wounds.” She had taken photographs of all the wounds, and gave Clark a USB thumb drive with copies of them on it. The doctor also reported that Marcia’s psychological trauma would probably have more long term effects. She wasn’t just physically abused by her abductors. She was sexually abused as well. “We’ve got her on some anti-depressant, and anti-anxiety medications, for now, to keep her from freaking out, and hurting herself, but that’s just a temporary stop-gap. She’s going to need some long-term therapy. I’ve given her parents some recommendations for appropriate therapists.”
Clark nodded, and Kate understood the unstated message that had passed between them. Marcia would need a therapist who wouldn’t start measuring her for a straitjacket as soon as she started talking about vampires.---
Clark let Kate handle talking with Marcia, while he held back to take notes. There was no way that this case would ever be prosecuted, so they weren’t really interested in collecting evidence that would stand up in court. They mainly wanted to know who had taken her, and where she’d been held. Marcia was so doped up on the drugs that she was barely awake enough to tell them anything. Kate managed to learn that Marcia had been held by a dozen or more vampires in a warehouse somewhere near the docks, before being rescued. She wouldn’t say who had rescued her, but she thought that some of them had stayed behind to pick off any of the vamps who had been out of the warehouse when they’d attacked, when the vampires returned at dawn.---
They prowled the streets of the warehouse district, looking for the one in which Marcia had been held. Sunnydale was a small city, and it didn’t take long to find what they were looking for: a car that Clark recognized. “That’s Harris’s. They’re somewhere close.”
They still didn’t stop. While Clark was willing to park in some Sunnydale neighbourhoods at night, this wasn’t one of them, even if the Slayer was nearby. They would come back after sunrise, to check out the warehouses around where Harris’s car was parked.---
It wasn’t the first warehouse they looked in, or the second, or even the third. It wasn’t until they checked out the fourth warehouse that they found evidence that it had been used as a vampire nest. The first sign was visible from the outside, to a careful observer. The windows had all been sprayed over with black paint. Once they got inside it got even more obvious that the place had been home to multiple vampires. First, there was the smell. Nothing smelled quite like a vampire nest. Old blood, sweat, and other odours mingled with more recent smells: the peculiar scent left behind by a recently dusted vampire.
There were mattresses lined up along one wall, and some ratty old furniture. The warehouse office had been made over with a better class of used furniture, and had heavy curtains over its windows, giving it better protection from sunlight than the paint over the exterior windows. This was the room that had been the home to the alpha vamp of this pack of them.
Clark knelt down, and wiped a latex gloved finger through a patch of dust on the floor. He rubbed his finger tips together, feeling the texture of the grit, and sniffed them. “Enough dust here to account for at least half a dozen vamps,” he said. “Even if the Slayer didn’t get all the vamps who were staying here, I doubt if any of the rest of them will be coming back, any time soon.”
Kate found the remains of a pentagram painted onto the floor. Someone had very recently scoured the area, erasing most of it. “What about this?” she asked. “What do you think they were up to, with it?”
“I don’t know,” said Clark. “Something to ask Marcia about, next time we talk to her.”---
It was getting to be a long day for Kate. She wasn’t used to seeing this much daylight. Normally, she’d be in bed, sleeping, soon after the sun rose. Unfortunately, even if she was nominally on the night shift, most of the people she had to talk to for this case were still working days, so she had to be awake too.
They were back in the hospital, to have a second talk with Marcia. She was still pretty out of it, but she wasn’t as bad as she’d been the night before. “We found where you were held,” Kate told her. “But there was no sign of the vampires who took you. All we found was dust.” It was convenient to be able to talk to a victim without having to beat around the bush about just what it was that had attacked them.
“We found the remains of a pentagram on the floor,” said Clark. “Do you have any idea what it was for?”
“They had an Orb,” said Marcia. “They called it ‘the Orb of Kauket.’ It was supposed to bring night to the world. The others were interested in it too. They must have done something with it.” So far she had avoided mentioning any of the people who had rescued her by name. Kate was beginning to suspect that a good half of the population of Sunnydale was involved in a sort of conspiracy of silence. The first rule of Sunnydale: no one talked about the Slayer. The second rule of Sunnydale: NO ONE
talked about the Slayer.
They asked Marcia a few more questions, going back over the same ground they’d covered earlier, now that she was more coherent, but they didn’t get any new information. If anything, she told them less, now that she had some more of her wits back about her. They ended the interview by wishing Marcia a speedy recovery, and left her room.
Clark pointed out a couple of teenagers sitting by the elevators. “That’s Dawn Summers,” he said quietly, “And I imagine the boy with the flowers is Kevin Berman. I guess they’re here to visit Marcia too.” Kate had a good look at the two teenagers, fixing their faces in her memory.
Clark walked past them to the elevator. He pushed the ‘down’ button for the elevator and waited. He looked at the girl again and smiled and nodded. “Miss Summers.”
The girl nodded back at him. “Detective Clark.”
Clark looked at the boy. “And Kevin Berman, I presume.”
His eyes widened. “Uh, yeah! How did you—”
The elevator chimed and the doors opened. Clark just smiled and nodded at him. “Have a nice day.”
Kate followed Clark into the elevator, and the doors closed again. She pushed the button for the ground floor. “So, that’s the Slayer’s sister,” she said.
“I suppose she’s covered by the conspiracy of silence too. Everyone just pretends she doesn’t exist.”
“We don’t pretend she doesn’t exist,” said Clark. “We just ignore most of the illegal stuff she does.”
“What sort of illegal stuff?”
“Mostly ‘hacking’ into our computer systems,” said Clark, “but the Slayer’s real hacker is Miss Rosenberg. Dawn is more of the sorcerer’s apprentice, in that regard. We know the back doors she uses to come into our systems, and we keep the really sensitive information well partitioned, so she can’t compromise any of our real criminal cases. We leave the stuff about supernatural cases lying around where she can find it easily.”---
When they got back to the office, Clark printed out the photographs of Marcia’s wounds that the doctor had given them. Each picture included an ‘L’ shaped ruler around the wound, that Clark used to calibrate his measurements of the bite marks: the distance between the fangs, and the radius of the arc made by other teeth impressions. He took note of any abnormalities in the bite marks: missing teeth, or teeth out of alignment. When he was done, he figured that he could positively identify six different vampires, and had tentative identifications on three others.
He pulled an ink pad, and a rubber stamp from his desk drawer. He went to the filing cabinet, and pulled nine files from the top drawer. Six of them got stamped “CLOSED”, and refiled in the closed case drawers. The other three got moved to the “Inactive” drawer.
After the last file was put away, Clark slamed the drawer shut. “And that’s the way we do things in Sunnydale,” he told Kate. “Come on; it’s been a long day; I’ll drive you home.”
Kate was too sleepy to argue with him.