If the universe had any sense of dramatic timing, someone would’ve burst through the door to grab us just as we were getting ready to leave the room. Fortunately, the universe wasn’t quite that cruel. We didn’t run into Lewellan’s goons until we reached the ground floor.
We’d taken the side stairs on the off chance that someone had staked out the elevator, and were heading out through the side door instead of the lobby, figuring that if anyone was watching for us they’d be able to fit more people there. Maybe if there weren’t enough people and they didn’t think we were going to run they wouldn’t have all the entrances to the building covered.
No such luck, unfortunately.
The door opened into a side parking lot. Fumiko had taken the lead — then Dad, and then myself. Our plan was pretty straightforward: with any luck at all, they wouldn’t know what Fumiko or my dad looked like. So, I’d let the two of them walk out and get the car. Then I’d use my crazy vampire powers to break out and join them, and then we’d burn rubber out of there.
When Fumiko and Dad stepped outside, it seemed like the plan was working. I caught the sound of heartbeats by the door and a whiff of smoke — a couple of people with cigarettes. Were they agents of Lewellan’s? The door closed, and I crept up to it so I could listen to what was happening outside.
Dad and Fumiko were walking. It seemed like they would get away. Then there was a chirp, like a phone getting a text. Then someone spoke. “Well now, Mister. Miss. I think the two of you should be coming with us.”
My dad, worried, responded. “What’s this about? I’m sorry, but…”
“Don’t argue,” another voice growled. This one was close to the door; one of the smokers. Shit shit shit, I thought. What had given them away? I braced myself to burst outside and help.
Then a third voice spoke — and this one was in the hall, with me.
“Why hello,” a nasally male voice said from behind me. “Abigail, I presume?”
I twisted around from where I crouched by the door. I had to look up to see all of the man — something that wasn’t entirely the fault of my position. He was tall, but stick thin. He wore a sport jacket and jeans. He had spikey black hair and an earring — and there was a gold medallion, of all things, hanging from his neck. That made my stomach heave a little with squick. There was a strip of bloody cloth woven through the links of the medallion’s chain.
I didn’t need super vampire senses to tell me that was my blood, but they did anyway. Worse, they didn’t tell me that he had a heartbeat. Vampire or ghoul, I told myself — and I didn’t know which one would be better.
The man smiled at me. “You know, they might have gotten away if you had taken different doors,” he said with a chuckle. “As it was, as soon as you started moving I knew.” He shook his head at that. “I was hoping for more of a hunt from someone who managed to elude a Director.”
“So sorry to disappoint you,” I said as I straightened. I could hear struggling outside, and it didn’t sound like it was going well for Dad and Fumiko. Dad cried out. Fumiko did, too, but hers was more of a karate ‘kiyah!’ before I heard more blows being exchanged — too many for me to even guess at who was doing what to whom. “Let them go and I’ll surrender peacefully,” I offered hopefully.
The man grinned. “It’s so cute that you think that’s an option,” he said. “We know what you did, Abigail. The punishment for murder is mandatory interment.”
“What?!” What?! I tried to wrap my head around the accusation, but before I could even begin to process it the man leapt at me. Instinctively, I froze time.
Only he kept moving. Slowly. Oh so incredibly slowly: like a snail in slow motion. Was he a vampire? Was this what happened when two vampires went into super-speed at the same time? I backed out through the door and closed it behind me. Then I looked around.
Dad was on the ground. A short, balding man was frozen in the act of kicking him in the ribs. Fumiko was still on her feet — and at her feet, cradling a broken arm was another thug. A third– this one with a split lip, black eye, and two rows of jagged ghoul teeth — was lunging at her from the side. And a fourth was turning away from Dad with a snarl — no pointy teeth on him — and pulling a gun.
Shit shit shit! my panic centers yelled at me. It wasn’t helpful. I ignored it and tried to figure out what to do. As soon as I unpaused time that guy in the hotel was going to be out here, I was sure. He had to be a vampire; his own ‘super-speed time’ was probably what let him keep moving during mine. Even if I didn’t unpause, he’d probably get through the door in another couple minutes.
I walked over to the vehicle parked nearest to the hotel door. It was an over-sized truck. Perfect, I thought. I’d always hated those things. You could never see when they were in front of you during the day, and at night their headlights were always just high enough to blast you in the face if they were coming down the road at you, or blind you in your mirrors if they weren’t. Time to see just how super strong I really am.
I grabbed the side of the truck and heaved. I could actually feel some of Melvin’s remaining life-force being consumed from my aura, but I lifted the truck and flipped it over on its side. I held in the urge to giggle and did it again. Then again, and again. When I was done it was laying on its side, wheels to the wall; the undercarriage of the truck’s bed was as flush with the hotel door as I could manage to force it.
Then I turned to deal with the thugs who were attacking my friend and my dad.
They were going to regret that.
I went back to the parking spot I had just vacated and bent down to grab the concrete bumper at the front of it. With a wrench I separated it from the rebar that was holding it in place. Then I walked over to the guy with the gun. Was he a ghoul or a human? Ultimately, I didn’t really care. He was pulling a gun on my friend, and that meant whatever the fuck I did to him would only be replying with commensurate force.
I took the concrete bar in a two handed grip and swung, unpausing time at the last second. Two things happened roughly simultaneously. Behind me the hotel door cracked into the undercarriage of the truck with enough force to split down the center. In front of me, the man’s bones shattered.
I had swung low, and I had swung hard. The concrete took out both of the gunman’s legs brutally enough that they shot out from under him and he whipped forward. He barely got to scream before his face crunched violently into the pavement. I dropped the concrete on his arm — the one with the gun — and kicked the weapon away, just to be sure.
While I was doing that I heard a disbelieving ‘what the fuck?’ come from the trapped vampire. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Fumiko catch the lunging ghoul and judo throw him into the ground, then kick the man with the broken arm in the face. I stepped forward to grab the guy who was still too wrapped up in kicking my dad to realize his buddy was down.
My throw was nowhere near as graceful as Fumiko’s had been. I grabbed the guy by two handfuls of his jacket and heaved him over my head by application of brute force. Then I chucked him into the back of a minivan — by which I mean, into the closed trunk door of a minivan. He fell to the ground in a crumpled heap, still moving but not getting up.
I knelt to check on Dad, who groaned as he rolled over but otherwise — in the most cursory of inspections ever — seemed okay. I didn’t spare anymore time than that, though. Instead, I turned to help Fumiko with the ghoul.
He had gotten back to his feet and lunged at her again. I gave him points for persistence, but there was no way his attacks were working out the way he intended. This time Fumiko slipped to the side a half-step as he threw a punch. One of her hands snapped up and caught his wrist; she pulled him past her and slammed the heel of her other palm into his elbow, forcing it to snap and bend the wrong way. Then she let go of him and pivoted, driving the elbow of the arm that had been holding his wrist into his side as she stepped past him — before pivoting again and this time uncoiling her arm like a whip and driving the knife edge of her hand into the back of the ghoul’s neck with enough force to crack vertebrae and send him sprawling.
I think anyone else would’ve died. Since the ghoul was already dead, however, he just crashed into the pavement and then scrambled back up to his feet. When he turned around, blackened blood smeared his face from a shattered nose — he had face planted hard. But this time he froze before rushing in again. His gaze bounced back and forth between Fumiko, myself, and my dad — who was sitting up now.
I didn’t wait for the ghoul to evaluate his odds further. “Run,” I snarled at him, and I picked the concrete bumper up again to emphasize my point. He bolted. I let him, turning instead to stride toward the overturned truck.
Every second or so it was rocking like something was hitting it on the other side — hitting it hard enough that it had started to shift, although the height of the cab had kept it from falling over so far. I took two seconds to get a measure of the rhythm, then took a running start.
At the same time as the vampire on the other side slammed into the truck, I heaved the concrete bumper — point first, insofar as a huge bar of concrete can have a point — into the middle of the truck. I kind of figured I’d be hammering it back in place; maybe knock tall, thin and toothy back on his ass.
Instead, metal crumpled, screeched, and ripped. The vampire on the other side yelped in pained surprise, and I lost my grip on the bumper — but I’d driven at least half of it through the damn truck. I grabbed it again and pulled it out, wriggling it free when I could and forcing it when I couldn’t. Then I chucked it aside and looked through the hole I’d made.
The vampire was on his ass, alright. He was lying on the ground. His sides were caved in on one side and ruptured on the other, and his mouth was open and spasming like a fish drowning in air. He kept trying to move, only to flop back to the ground when his spine gave out — it wasn’t healing. In fact, his eyes looked dead and his fangs fully extended in the few seconds I spared to watch him.
Oh, fuck. I thought. That’s just… so damn unfair. I spun. “Dad!” I shouted. “Fumiko! Get those guys over here!” I waved emphatically at the thugs who were still on the ground. Fumiko, who had gone to pick up the gunman’s dropped pistol, looked at me inquisitively. “Just do it!” I screamed. “We have a fucked up vampire in there, and if we don’t get him sane he’s going to go on a binge that will make this hotel look like a juice box vending machine!”