Chapter TEN

 

I paced furiously around the hotel room, hands clenched into fists, swearing angrily, Evra watching mutely.

"I'm going to kill him," I finally muttered. "I'll wait for day, pull back the curtains, drive a stake through his heart, chop his head off, and set him on fire."

"You don't believe in taking chances, do you?" Evra tried to joke. "I suppose you'll scoop his brains out, too, and stuff the space inside his head with garlic."

"How can you make jokes at a time like this?" I howled.

Evra hesitated. "It might not have been him."

"Come off it!" I barked. "Who else could it have been?"

"I don't know."

"The blood was sucked out of them!" I shouted.

"That's what the reporters think," Evra said. "They weren't certain."

"Maybe we should wait," I huffed. "Wait for him to kill another five or six, huh?"

Evra sighed. "I don't know what we should do," he said. "But I think we should have proof before we go after him. Chopping a person's head off is kind of final. If we find out later we were mistaken, there's no going back. We can't glue his head back on and say, 'Sorry, all a big mistake, no hard feelings.?

He was right. Killing Mr. Crepsley without proof would be wrong. But it had to be him! Those nights out, acting so strangely, not telling us what he was doing - it all added up.

"There's something else," Evra said. I glanced down at him. "Let's say Mr. Crepsley is the killer."

"I have no problem accepting that." I grunted.

"Why would he do it?" Evra asked. "It's not his style. I've known him longer than you have, and I've never seen or heard of him doing anything like this. He's not a killer."

"He probably killed when he was a Vampire General," I said. I had told Evra about my conversation with Gavner Purl.

"Yes," Evra agreed. "He killed evil vampires, who deserved to be killed. What I'm saying is, if he did kill these six people, maybe they had to be killed, too. Maybe they were vampires."

I shook my head. "He gave up being a Vampire General years ago."

"Gavner Purl could have persuaded him to join again," Evra said. "We don't know anything about the Vampire Generals or how they work. Maybe that's why Mr. Crepsley came here."

It sounded halfway reasonable, but I didn't believe it.

"Six evil vampires on the loose in one city?" I asked. "What are the odds against that?"

"Who knows?" Evra said. "Do you know how an evil vampire behaves? I don't, maybe they form gangs."

"And Mr. Crepsley wiped them out by himself?" I said. "Vampires are tough to kill. He'd have no problem killing six humans, but six vampires? No way."

"Who says he was alone?" Evra asked. "Maybe Gavner Purl was with him. Maybe there's a bunch of Vampire Generals in town."

"Your argument's getting weaker by the second," I commented.

"Possibly," Evra said, "but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. We don't know, Darren. You can't kill Mr. Crepsley on a hunch. We have to wait. Think about it and you'll see I'm right."

I calmed down and thought it over. "Okay," I sighed. "He's innocent until proven guilty. But what should we do? Sit back and pretend nothing's happened? Report him to the police? Ask him straight to his face?"

"If we were at the Cirque Du Freak," Evra mused, "we could tell Mr. Tall and leave it in his hands."

"But we're not at the Cirque," I reminded him.

"No," he said. "We're on our own." His narrow eyes narrowed even further as he mulled it over. "How about this? We track him every night when he leaves, see where he goes and what he gets up to. If we find out he's the killer, and that these are ordinary humans, then we kill him."

"You'd do that?" I asked.

Evra nodded. "I've never killed before," he said quietly, "and I hate the thought of it. But if Mr. Crepsley is murdering without good cause, I'll help you kill him. I'd rather leave it to someone else, but since there isn't anybody..."

His face was serious, and I knew I could rely on him.

"But we have to be sure," Evra warned me. "If there's even a glimmer of doubt, we can't do it."

"Agreed," I said.

"And it has to be a joint decision," Evra added.

"You have to promise you won't kill him without my approval."

"Okay."

"I'm serious," he told me. "If I think Mr. Crepsley is innocent, and you go after him, I'll do everything I can to stop you. Even if it means..." He left the threat unfinished.

"Don't worry," I said. "This isn't something I'm looking forward to. I've grown used to Mr. Crepsley. The last thing I want to do is kill him."

I was telling the truth. I'd love it if my suspicions turned out to be wrong. But I had an awful feeling they wouldn't.

"I hope we're mistaken about this," Evra said. "Saying we'll kill him is easy, but doing it would be a lot harder. He's not the kind to just lie there and do nothing while being attacked."

"We'll worry about that later," I said. "For the moment, let's turn the sound back up. If we're lucky, the police will solve the case and it'll be nothing more than a crazy human who's seen one too many Dracula movies."

I sat down beside Evra, and we spent the rest of night watching the news, rarely speaking, waiting for the vampire - the killer? - to return.

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