When Darkness Falls


Page 41









"And I'm wearing a cross!" Renate warned, pulling a huge silver cross from beneath her blouse.


"Good for you," Danny said with a shrug.


"Look at his neck, Matt. Go on-take a good look at his neck."


"You can both look at my neck!" Danny said, turning slowly around. Renate went closer, closer still.


She studied Danny's neck carefully.


"If he's a vampire, he wasn't hungry the other night," Danny joked.


"He won't go after you, not if he's seducing Jade."


"Wait up, now, Renate," Matt said. "According to you, Jade is already sleeping with him."


"Yes, but ... well, he probably wants to seduce her to his cause. I'm not sure what he's planning, or what he wants. I'm just sure that ... he's a vampire, and terrible things are going on. And we have to protect ourselves, and Jade-"


"Well, hell, Renate, maybe we just need to save the whole damned world," Matt suggested.


"Don't you laugh at me, Matt."


"All right. But why do think this guy is a vampire?"


She took a deep breath, looking at them both. "Coffee?" she asked politely. "I have a lot to tell you." Matt looked at Danny. "Fine."


Renate sauntered into the kitchen, more assured now. "First off, I'll explain. I've been listening to the police band on the radio."


"All right, so go on," Matt said, accepting a cup of dark chicory coffee.


"Good, we'll go back. Jade heads off to Scotland, and comes back in sad shape. Scared, thinned to the bone, in therapy."


"Imagine that!" Matt said to Danny. "She survived a horrible massacre in a graveyard and went into therapy. What will they think of next!"


"She met the guy in Scotland. There is a terrible killing spree in New York, and another one of the survivors from Scotland is among the victims."


"Then there's our kid in the morgue," Danny commented.


"What?" Matt asked sharply.


"You haven't read today's paper, have you?" Renate asked.


"The kid killed in the accident.. . it wasn't an accident, and it wasn't just any kid. He'd been using a fake name when he transferred down here to school," Danny explained. "And he was dead before he went through the windshield. After he went through it... someone did the job on his throat with a wedge of the broken glass."


"Ugh," Matt said, sinking down to sit at the counter.


"He was another of the survivors from Scotland," Renate said, making an annoying tingling sound in her cup as she stirred one packet of Equal into her coffee.


"Then, in Massachusetts, people are not just murdered in a horror house-but dismembered!" she continued. "And one of them is also a survivor from the massacre in Scotland."


"Well, the killers will be out of survivors soon, right?" Matt said, trying to sound hopeful. Then he realized what he was saying. "Oh, God. Jade is a survivor."


"So far!" Renate muttered.


"Okay, so how does that make this guy a vampire?"


"Well, he's Scottish, I'm pretty sure."


"DeVeau?" Matt muttered, shrugging at Danny. "Well, actually, he is Scottish. The name came from Normandy, hundreds of years ago, some shit like that."


"There you have it!" Renate said.


"Renate, vampires are usually from Transylvania, aren't they?"


"How on earth would we know where they really came from?" Renate demanded. "That's my whole point! I've been reading, and the legends didn't just start with Bram Stoker! Vampires are ancient; they were in Syria, in Egypt, in Greece-"


"They're just about biblical, eh?" he interrupted. "They can be anywhere," Renate said. "Look!" She brought out a book entitled Strange Stories of the Americas. "These are all cases that are documented in old town courthouses, right here in the United States!" she said, flipping through the pages. She started to read, " 'Beautiful young Sally Anderson fell in love with the handsome stranger from the start. But soon after their engagement, she sickened. A high fever and general weakness dragged down on her. A terrible pallor in her cheeks increased night after night. She died two weeks after her first meeting with her fiancé.'"


"So-," Matt interrupted.


"Shut up and listen!" Renate commanded. " 'Her tearful parents buried her; the tall, handsome stranger had disappeared. Two days after her burial, her younger sister fell ill.'"


"It was probably a contagious disease," Matt said.


"Matt!" Renate warned, and kept reading. " 'Her sister complained of Sally coming to her at night, begging entrance to the room, and then kissing her neck ... and making her sicker and sicker. The younger sister suffered the same weakness, the same fever . . . the same strange pallor. A week later she too died, and was buried in the same graveyard .'"


"Renate, it's nineteenth-century superstition-"


" 'A third sister in the same household fell ill.' " Renate read loudly. " 'She, too, complained of being visited by her siblings. Her sisters wanted her to hold them. They wanted to be warmed and kissed. The third sister suffered the same mysterious illness, telling everyone of the visits she received from her deceased siblings.' " Renate looked up, staring dramatically at both of them." 'Then she, too, died.' "


"High fevers, pallor, could have been a number of things," Matt said.


"You haven't heard the end," Renate told them. " 'Desperate to save the one daughter they had left, and an infant son, the family called for help. The local minister said that they must dig up the bodies of their lost children, cut out and burn the hearts, and sever the heads from the bodies.'"


"Wouldn't they arrest us if we dug up corpses in such a manner today?" Matt said.


"You bet. They arrest you for just being in the cemetery at night," Danny said.


"Will you two please pay attention! There are records on this in a New England courthouse."


"They hanged eighteen people for being witches and pressed a man to death in old New England as well," Matt reminded her. "In 1692, to be precise."


"Matt, this happened right around the Civil War."


"When they were really enlightened," Danny supplied.


"What the hell makes you think we're so enlightened now?" Renate demanded. "Will you please let me finish? 'The mother and father dug up their daughters. The bodies looked as fresh as on the day they were buried. The mother wrote in her journal that she thought her oldest daughter opened her eyes, that she was ready to talk to her. But the minister wouldn't let any more evil escape the child-he staked her heart' And do you know what happened then-as seen by a dozen townspeople?"


"No, do tell, Renate, do tell," Matt said.


"She screamed."


"Such things have happened," Danny said. "Renate, they find out more and more as time goes by about human physiology. Maybe gases were suddenly released. Maybe the corpse had been buried in such a manner that there was a reflex-"


"Maybe they buried the poor girl alive," Matt suggested. "Such things have happened."


"Edgar Allan Poe-'The Premature Burial,'" Danny said.


Renate let out a sigh of pure disgust. "I have more books. Here's one I think you should see, Daniel Thacker."


Danny looked at the book. "A History of Scotland- Families in Peril?"


"I'll show you!" Renate said. She took the book from him and flipped pages. "A number of current clan names date back to the Norman Conquest-and before. The very famous Scottish king, Robert the Bruce, was descended from a fellow who came north from England after the conquest; his family had come from Normandy. In the first part of the century, many of the family went by de Brus."


"So?"


"This book tells of bad blood between the Bruces and a family called DeVeau. There's a stirring tale of the DeVeau heir coming to fight at the right hand of Robert the Bruce just as they faced the English."


"Scotland was full of feudal warring. You've lost me completely. First we're talking vampires. Then we're into the history of old Scotland-"


"Look!"


She pushed the book toward them.


"The bad blood came about because of a madwoman sheltered by the de Brus family. There were rumors that she was a witch and a murderess, and DeVeau wanted her to stand trial before the king, and, it's said, be executed by being drawn and quartered."


"And what happened?" Danny asked.


"Well, there's nothing in this book about an execution. I can't find a name for her anywhere, or any other information. But you're not looking, you two-look, please. Look at the picture." Matt stared at the page blankly. There was a man on a horse, clad in mail with an overtunic that bore a family crest. It looked like a red dragon or a wolf on a field of gold. He carried a standard and a sword.


The painting was from a fresco created for a church near Edinburgh.


"I don't get it," Matt said.


"I do," Danny told him.


"What?"


Danny glanced at Renate and shrugged. "The guy looks just like this new friend of mind. The painting is a spitting image of Lucian DeVeau."


"He is a DeVeau. It must be a family resemblance," Matt said.


"Oh, you fools!" Renate cried. "He isn't a DeVeau, don't you see? He's the same DeVeau." When her father and sister were back with her step mother, Jade excused herself to go up a floor and see how Rick was doing.







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