I should know better than to answer the phone.
We’d just gotten back from the Gardens, and settled down to rest for a bit. Viveca and Anita decided they needed a mental health day at the spa, and I’d just started practicing some magic, when the phone rang, they asked for a name that I hadn’t heard in a while. It was someone in the military, at a local VA hospital. For some reason, there was a patient in who had my name and phone number with them. With that the only contact info they had, they really wanted me to come see if I could help the guy. He was having…problems.
Of course, I went to help. It’s just a visit to the hospital, why would I need backup, right? When I got there, the doctors and staff were very, very glad to see me. They explained that physically, he was fine, but he’d had some problems readjusting to life. Things had even been bad enough that he was restrained, and a guard was posted at the door.
Inside, the weird started. It was a guy that I’d run into in the desert, named Barten. The guy was clearly messed up in the head. It was very, very important to him to leave, and he wanted the room as dark as he could get it. He didn’t want to explain what had happened to him, either. It took some coaxing, but he finally told me that they’d been attacked, but not by regular soldiers, and they’d tried to kill him, but he managed to get away, wounded. Actually, they tried to eat him, he said. And, by the way, he was under the impression that people could be really tasty, but he didn’t want to find out.
Things started coming together, and he was very convincing that he should not be in a hospital full of wounded people. His arguments made a lot of sense, so I released him from the bed. After a number of failed efforts, we finally got him out of the hospital, leaving a trail of broken windows, darkened hallways, unconscious guards, and partially filled out paperwork behind. We left in a hurry.
Back at the hotel, introductions were made, and we determined that we didn’t want to leave him to his own devices. He was clearly a half-formed vampire fighting the influence of the attack, so we discussed trying to find a way to undo it.
We decided that we still didn’t want to have the statue from the garden and magic pearls anywhere near each other. Unable to decide on a safe place in the Nevernever, the next best plan was the bottom of a deep lake. After some research, we found a good spot on some maps. Fortunately, the full sized statue of a person was still sitting in the van, which had probably been stolen before it was brought to us. With a simple pulse of energy, the security tracking system was disabled.
Once we got out to the lake, we found a small boat we could use, big enough to carry the statue and most of us. The statue seemed to know what we were doing, though. When Anita got impatient and gunned the engine, the statue shifted, nearly tipping over into the water. Barten grabbed for it, but wasn’t able to keep it in the boat, and he started going over the side. I tried to keep him on the boat, but failed and then fell off the side myself. No problem, though, as I’ve been working with some Water magic, and I’ll just have the lake put me back in the boat. The lake said No. Loudly. And then something strange happened. The stone statue tried to climb me to get out of the water before it sank. I shook loose, and it sank to the murky depths.
When Anita noticed that we were all gone, and pulled the boat around, Barten and I were treading water, amused at the whole situation. We climbed back in, parked the boat safely, and went back home to wash the lake out of our gear and clothes.
The next day, we began scouring our contacts and resources subtly to start learning all we could about the whole vampire thing. We tried not to be too visible about it, because the most obvious and immediate solution is simple. Nearly all supernatural creatures have the evil removed once their head comes off their shoulders.
A person popped up with information, they said, so we warily agreed to meet them. The address was a run down house in a rougher part of town, that was made to appear deserted. Thee were signs of life from inside, though, and a dirty twitchy guy opened the door. His information was weak, but he genuinely seemed willing to bluff the scary people in his roach infested living room, to pay off the debts to the vampire drug lords that he owed money to. He told stories, that seemed true to the group, of his friends being given to the drug dealers to pay off their debts. Some were turned, some were just eaten. He was willing to show us where their base was for as much money as he could get from us.
He became very agitated when he realized that he was in the car sitting next to a tied up partial vampire, and his door just wouldn’t seem to open. We got our best information then, but it was still weak. He claimed there wasn’t any way to undo the vampirism, and showed us a closed down dry cleaner, with a dark alley leading behind it, and an odd smell coming out the vents. On the way back to his house, he admitted to owing them $1000, and was pretty much willing to do anything to get it, he was so scared.
After we let him go, we went back to the hotel. Some of what we got checked out, but he was clearly unreliable. I decided that it would be best if we could help him get out of under the debt, and started getting together some cash. Anita pulled it from the ATM, and I took it over to the house in the morning. He wouldn’t answer the door, so I told him what it was and slid it under the door. Once he realized that I was truthful, he chased me down and admitted he’d called the drug dealers, asked them to come help him, and that I really needed to be at the house with him.
That wasn’t going to happen, and I told him he shouldn’t be there, either. He followed me a little while, then split off to go his own way. I hope we see him again, and can help him break his addiction, so that I don’t have to meet him in the dark with a stake.