“Be quiet!” Murphy growled. Then tapping the hot ashes from his pipe, he looked at Harker and said, “What’s the meaning of this?”

“You’re not exactly the easiest people to find,” Harker said, walking past us to go stand near the body. He looked down at it and said thoughtfully, “It’s such a shame that someone had to lose their life to flush you three out from wherever it is you hide, but let’s just put it down to a mere necessity.”

“A mere necessity?” Luke said in disbelief. “You’ve murdered someone.”

Glancing around, then to Luke, Harker fixed him with an icy stare and said, “I know, it’s very sad, but his life was not taken in vain, I can assure you of that. Hopefully his death with save many more lives. Let’s just say he was a sacrifice.”

Taking a step closer to Harker, Murphy said, “Okay, I’ve had enough of your fun and games, how about you tell us what’s really going on here before me and my friends tear you a new arsehole.”

“Don’t try and threaten me, Murphy,” he hissed. “Yes I know your name, I know all of your names, Vampyrus. You should be nice to me, because it is I who holds the solution to all your problems.”

“Problems?” Murphy roared. “What problems?”

“Let’s see,” Harker said, rubbing his hands together. “How about murder?”

“Murder? What murder?” I snapped, taking a step closer towards him. I glanced at Luke and could see that he had hung back as to keep one eye on Drake and the pretty police officer who stood silently at the foot of the stairs.

“Why, the murder of this poor man of course,” Harker said, steepling his fingers beneath his chin.

“Oh this is such a load of old bollocks,” I groaned. “We don’t have to stand here and listen to this crap.”

Then, raising his hand as if to hush me, Murphy looked at Harker, and frowning, he said, “What are you talking about?”

“When the official police arrive, because let’s be honest, you’re no more part of the official police force than I or my colleagues over there are,” he said, “But when the genuine boys in blue arrive, they are going to find your bloodied footprints all over the crime scene.” Then bending down, he hooked a finger and ran it down the length of the corpse’s tongue. Standing, he reached out and dragged his finger down the front of my coat. Smiling he said, “And they’ll find the victim’s DNA all over Potter’s coat.”

“Why you sick son-of-a-bitch -” I started, but was cut short as Drake lunged forward at an incredible speed and pushed Luke hard in the chest. Before he knew what was happening, he was pinwheeling his arms and stumbling backwards, then forward. I watched in slow-motion as Luke fell face-first towards the corpse. As he went down, Luke stuck out his hands to break his fall, and I watched them disappear into the gapping hole in the corpse’s torso. Luke was up in a second, his hands covered in blood. But as he stood, he slipped momentarily and steadied himself by placing one of his hands against the wall of the underpass.

“Fingerprints in the victim’s blood as well,” Harker said, shaking his head slowly from side to side. “It just gets worse and worse. The evidence just keeps mounting against you guys. Forensics will have such fun!”

“You don’t really think you’ll get away with this, do you?” Murphy said, his voice low and calm. “We have friends, you know,” and I knew he was referring to Chief Inspector Rom, a Vampyrus who had managed to secretly work his way up the ranks of the police force.

“We all have friends in high places,” Harker grinned. “You don’t think the Vampyrus are the only ones that can infiltrate positions of power within the human society, do you?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Luke asked, wiping the victim’s blood from his hands.

“Some of us Lycanthrope are good at fooling humans too,” Harker beamed. “Why, only one of my species has recently been promoted into the House of Lords.”

“Okay, so we’re not the only ones who have managed to live undercover amongst the humans in the police force,” Murphy said. “But we have done this for a reason.”

“And what might that be?” Harker asked.

“To hunt down and kill child-murdering scum like you,” I told him.

“Apart from him,” he said, glancing down at the dead body, “I haven’t murdered for years. None of my pack has. We have been trying to live in the sleepy town of Little Hope in peace, hoping that if we do, the curse that was placed upon us centuries ago will finally be lifted. We policed this town for many years and there has been peace here until…”

“Until what?” Murphy asked, his silver eyebrows making a V-shape in the centre of his brow.

“Until the children started going missing,” the pretty police officer said as she stepped forward.

“Constable Madison,” Harker cut in, “Please be quiet. I am quite able to explain the situation here. Thank you.”

I looked over at her, and she seemed to blush again, walking backwards into the shadows by the foot of the stairs. This was the second time I’d seen her blush and the rose-coloured tint only highlighted the prettiness of her face. But it didn’t matter how attractive she was, Constable Madison was a Lycanthrope and I knew what hid beneath that pretty face. Hadn’t Murphy told me once that female Lycanthrope had hairy tongues? Despite her obvious attractiveness, I had no intention of ever finding out.

“As I have already said,” Harker continued, “my pack has lived amongst the humans peacefully for many years in Little Hope, until recently, when a number of the town’s children have gone missing. As part of the police force for this town, we have investigated these disappearances, but to our horror, we discovered the bodies of these children hidden in an empty house in the remotest part of town. The injuries are such that it became obvious to all that these children have been slaughtered by some wild animal. It hasn’t taken long for rumours of werewolves to spread amongst the townsfolk. At the moment they are just rumours, but it won’t be long before those rumours start to take hold and the official police and authorities start to investigate deeper into these killings. The site where the bodies have been found has already been named the ‘Wolf House’ amongst the residents of Little Hope.”

“So why get us involved?” Murphy asked.

“Because you are hunters – that’s what you do,” Harker said, and now his smile had gone, replaced by a grim look of despair. “I need you to track this rogue Lycanthrope and kill it before its crimes bring attention to my clan, or worse, reveal our true identities.”

“And remind me again why we should help you?” Murphy said. “After all, aren’t you trying to frame us for murder?”

“Find this werewolf for me and I will clear this murder away. It will be like it never happened,” Harker said.

“And if we refuse?” Murphy asked.

“Then it will be you who is blamed, not only for this murder but the others too,” Harker warned him.

“No one will believe that,” Luke said. “Apart from your pathetic attempt to frame us for the murder of this poor man, you have no evidence against us for the deaths of the children.”

“When the official police realise that you are not human, but Vampyrus, a freak breed of vampire bat which have wings, claws, and fangs, they’ll believe that you killed those children,” Harker smiled again. “In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t pin every unsolved murder that has occurred over the past fifty years on you.”

“And how are they ever gonna know that we are Vampyrus?” I said. “It’s not as if we don’t look human. We don’t go around brandishing our fangs and flapping our wings for the fun of it.”

“They will know when they carryout x-rays on good Sergeant Murphy here,” Harker beamed. “They’ll take one look at those x-rays and see that his bone structure is nothing like that of a human being.”

“Now why would they want to x-ray me?” Murphy growled at him.

“So they can find the bullet,” he said, snatching a gun from his waistband and shooting Murphy with it.

5

The pop of the gun firing in the underpass was deafening and I couldn’t help but flinch backwards. The smell of gunpowder was overwhelming. Everything seemed to happen at once. Murphy spun around on the spot as if doing some weird Michael Jackson move and Luke shot forward in a spray of shadows, catching the Sarge in his arms before he hit the floor.

Blood pumped from Murphy’s right thigh and he covered it with his hand. His already-pale skin seemed lighter, if that were even possible, and beads of sweat covered his brow.

“What the fuck have you done?” I barked at Harker.

“Back off, Potter,” Harker snapped, pointing the gun at my head, “or I’ll be decorating the walls of this underpass in a delicate shade of gray matter!”

Despite his warning, I made towards him. Harker shook his head slowly from side to side, holding the gun steady and said, “Get back in your pram, Potter. I mean what I say,” as if to prove it, he fired another shot. I felt the bullet whiz past my right cheek and explode into the wall behind me.

“You won’t have that gun forever, Harker,” I warned him, “and the moment you drop your guard, I’ll drop you.”

“If you think your threats intimidate me, Potter, you must think I was born yesterday.” Harker smiled.

“It’s a shame you weren’t, as we could have started your personality from scratch!” I spat. Then looking back over my shoulder, I could see Luke had rested Murphy on the floor.

“You won’t get away with this,” Luke said, glaring up at Harker.

“I already have,” Harker beamed, and I so much wanted to rip that smug look from his face.

“If you think this is going to persuade us to help you catch your rogue Lycanthrope, Harker, then you’re crazier than I thought,” Murphy groaned as he applied pressure to the wound with his hands. I could see streams of black blood seeping through his fingers.




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