I wake up to an empty house. No Heather in the kitchen making coffee and sharpening stakes. No Ralph upstairs blowing up things in his lab. I call Jason to see if the little brat is across the street bugging him. I get the answering machine.
I fed last night and I have the house to myself. Maybe I can watch some TV in peace for a change. Then the phone rings.
"Did you check your porch?" says Carlos. My sire apparently bred him special just to track me down and destroy me. It's nice to see he still cares after all this time.
"I don't do mail calls."
"I think you should check this one. It's a special present just for you."
"What is it, a bomb? I'll let Ralph disarm it when he gets home. He enjoys that sort of stuff."
"Give me some credit. Besides, I don't think your little Ralph is coming home any time soon."
So much for a quiet evening watching TV.
"Where is he, you suicidal whore?"
"Insults! I'm wounded. Check your porch, Alexandra. I'll be waiting for you." He hangs up on me.
I open the door and see a plain cardboard box in from of me. I pick it up and feel something damp on the bottom. I go into the kitchen with it and put it on the table. It's not until I pull my hand back that I realize the bottom is soaked in blood.
I open the box and see Heather's face staring back at me.
Next thing I remember is waking up with the refrigerator on top of me. I sit up and realize I completely tore the kitchen apart. I crushed in the front of the stove; the table is in splinters, and the box---
The box is on the floor with Heather's head sitting next to it.
There's a blood soaked note in the box with an address.
I try to call Craig's cell phone but get no answer. Same with Jason. I call Josh's house and his dad tells me Craig picked him up a few hours ago. Heather's dead. Ralph is missing. And I can't reach any allies.
Fine. He wants to dance? We'll dance.
I jump on my Harley, activate the stealth mode Ralph installed, and get to the address. It's an old junkyard just outside of the city. The front gate has been forced open, but there are no guards to be seen. Doesn't mean they aren't there. As I enter, I see the remains of a few vagrants who were in the wrong place, wrong time. I smell a bonfire in the distance.
I pull up to find about two-dozen pack members dancing around the bonfire and gorging themselves on some homeless people. I don't see Carlos anywhere. Since he decided he wasn't gonna play far, neither am I.
I drop the stealth and hit the headlight.
The UV light fans out in a cone-shape I front of me, causing eight of them to explode into walking flames. I start driving my bike around the perimeter, screaming for Carlos to come out and play and adjusting my steering to make sure the light catches them all as they try to escape.
Suddenly I find myself thrown from the bike as something pulls it out from under me. When a regain my footing I see one of those giant junkyard electromagnets has snatched my Harley. My bike is lost to me.
How do I explain this to Ralph?
Then I see Carlos operating the machine. Next thing, I'm surrounded in shadows not of my own making. They try to crush in my eyes and pour down my throat. I don't care. I burn up some of my blood and rush forward, crashing into the machine. I vaguely think I heard Carlos say "What the hell?" as the machine falls over.
The shadows get dropped and I see Carlos trying to escape from the equipment. I rip the door off and reach for him. He turns around and kicks me in the chest, sending me flying 20 feet into a pile of trash.
A black tentacle grabs me around the ankle and pulls me to the ground. I return the favor with a mass of tentacles of my own. They flail around Carlos. I reach for my gun, but another of his tentacles knocks it out of my hand.
Both tentacles get a solid grip on my legs, keeping me from reaching my gun. Carlos manages to get to his weapon and fires at me. I squirm out of the way of the first shot, but the second hits me in the stomach, and I feel the beast let out a howl as the round explodes inside me. It leaves a hole big enough for my fist to fit through.
Carlos fires again, catching me in the shoulder. I feel my right arm go limp as my shoulder blade is shattered. I barely get my head out of the way of another round.
I find a banged up hubcap and manage to grab it. I throw the rest of my strength and all of my will into it, sending it like a discus toward Carlos. I get hit in the chest with a third round just as the hubcap connects with his throat. The force of the throw cuts straight through.
The tentacles disappear as Carlos collapses to the ground. I crawl over and try to lap up a few drops of blood before he shrivels up. I feel torpor calling.
Then I realize it's just my cell phone.
I roll over and stare up at the moon as I answer the phone.
"What in the hell happened here?" screams Heather. "Where are you? Why is my head on the floor?"
I spit up some of my hard-won blood at the sound of her voice. Then Ralph gets on the phone.
"You have to excuse Heather. She seems to have lost her head," says Ralph. He yells ouch as I catch the sound of a hand smacking him in the back of the head. "Where are you?"
"Where were you guys?"
"Craig was taking his daughter and Josh to the circus, so we all went. I left you a note."
"I didn't see any note."
"Did you look before or after you trashed the kitchen?"
"Don't start. Please. Craig and Jason didn't answer their cell phones. I couldn't reach anyone."
I hear Ralph ask Craig if his phone rang and Craig responds 'no'. He might have lost the signal at the circus and not even realized it. Jason had left his at home, figuring if he got on rides he didn't want to lose it.
I close my eyes and mentally kick myself for being so stupid. Carlos must have had some fiend fleshcraft a victim to look like Heather. He knew it would push me over the edge. But how the hell did he know when to strike?
I hear a growling above me as Ralph rambles on about how he can fix the stove and maybe we should consider a small nuclear battery to save electricity. I open my eyes to see a seven-foot tall werewolf with a deformed arm and a disfigured eye standing over me.
"It's been nice talking, Ralph," I say as it rears back its good claw. "but I'm gonna die now."
The werewolf stops and looks at me confused. "That Ralph?" it says. I nod. It grabs my hand, pulls me up, and puts the phone to its ear.
"Hello Ralph….uh huh…but it in my yard…but…I know, Ralph is my friend…ok…I leave it here…more to chase down anyway…" It drops me on my ass.
"You're lucky Charlie found you. If it was his brother, you'd be a goner," says Ralph.
"Charlie? Never mind, somebody please just come get me. I can't walk."
I watch Charlie pounce off after any stray pack members that escaped as Jason gets on the phone asking for directions. I hope Ralph's werewolf buddy find them before they come back and find me. I close my eyes and wait.