All That Glitters

Halloween-themed cocktails of dubious taste rushed through his system; the alcohol eroding inhibition. It took him a few drinks to get up the nerve to get on the dance floor, and a few more to start flirting. Enthusiastic if unskilled dancing made his store-rented costume, a Transylvanian Dracula in the style of Christopher Lee’s Dracula, rather stifling. Clutching his ‘Frankenvodka’ in his left hand, he weaved his way out of the crowd of costumed dancers towards the veranda for a touch of fresh Fall air, chilled by the night. It was there that the blonde-haired Dracula met beauty.

 A slender menthol cigarette hung from rose-pink lips, her skin glittering with a light dusting of foil flakes. The little black dress that clung to her in all the right places was trimmed with cobweb lace. The bob of feathered brown hair screamed Nineties chic. And better yet, not the sign of a partner anywhere. Steeling his resolve with a sip of his green drink, he made his approach.

 “I vant to hav a smoke!” He hammed it up with the lousiest accent he could, drawing a chuckle from her as he leaned against the railing she was rested on.

 “Sure thing, Count.” She grinned, plastic fangs showing. Procuring the pack of ten, three missing, from somewhere on her person, she lit another cigarette from her own before passing it across. “Old vampire meets new vampire, right?” She added with a gesture of her glitter-speckled forearms.

 “You’re not a fan of the books are you?” He asked, taking a draw.

 Dark eyes rolled back for a moment. “No, but it’s an easy costume to pull off. Rhiannon, by the way. You?”

 “Aaron, nice to meet you. Welsh, right?”

 She glanced out across the city, the tip of her cigarette flaring red as she inhaled. “Distantly now. But my family likes to recycle the old names.” With eyes darting to her drink, she gestured with her cigarette. “Is that the Frankenvodka?”

 Aaron nodded, taking a sip. “It’s… not great.”

 “It’s too dark a green for one thing. If it’s not great, why are you still drinking it though?”

 Grimacing at the after-taste, Aaron rested the glass on the railing. “Sunk costs fallacy.”

 Stubbing the remains of her cigarette out on the wrought-iron railing, she reached for his hand. “How’s a proper drink sound? My circulation’s shit, feels like my fingers are going to drop off.”

 Aaron’s hand jolted a little at her touch, the cigarette falling from his hand. Driving the heel of his shoe on the tip, he gestured towards the club. “Shall we then? You’ll warm up in no time in there.”

 “One condition.” She grinned. On noting his curious expression, she plucked the drink from his hand and took a sip. Pulling a face, she emptied the rest into a storm drain. “No Frankenvodkas.”

 “… I can live with that.”

 As the night wore on, Aaron’s stamina wore down. The sugary cocktails stopped their boost of energy to concentrate on giving him a dull and throbbing headache. His costume was damp with sweat from dancing, and he sought cool solace on the veranda once more. A large bottle of likely-overpriced mineral water was pressed into his hand by the dark haired girl he’d met there hours earlier.

 “Drink, you’ll have an awful hangover otherwise.” She commanded.

 Pinching the bridge of his nose, Aaron took a long pull from the bottle, the chilled water washing the taste of alcohol away. “I think I’m going to have an awful one of those anyway.”

 “You hold your drink well, in any case.” Rhiannon smiled, her plastic fangs still in place. “Which is why I’m going to be forwards. Want to get out of here? I live a couple of streets away, and the fridge is well-stocked for a Full English breakfast tomorrow that’ll help chase away any hang overs.”

 Aaron’s eyes lit up. “You had me interested before you even mentioned a good fry-up.”

 Arm in arm, the vampire duo pushed and dodged their way out of the nightclub and down the steps to street level. Aaron managed to avoid stumbling over on his cape but would make a mental note to forego one for next Halloween. The pair walked slowly away from the club, stepping over discarded take away boxes and more unpleasant things as they strolled through the city.

 “Imagine if we came across a real vampire while dressed up like this.” Aaron chuckled after a gulp of water. “Think we’d be able to fool one?”

 “I dunno, maybe they have some sort of secret vampire handshake, or a special passphrase.” Rhiannon laughed, her footing slightly unsteady as she dropped from the curb to the road. “It’s not far now, down Rye Way and then into Baker’s Court.” She added with pointing gestures, her glitter sparkling under the fake-tan orange of the sodium-vapour street lights.

 Slipping his hand down to her waist, Aaron cleared his throat before speaking up. “I’ve got a question… will there be fried mushrooms?”

 The burst of laughter from Rhiannon echoed through the street. “You’re already thinking about breakfast? We haven’t even gotten back to mine yet.”

 The blonde man flashed her a cheeky grin as they proceeded into Rye Way, a hand squeezing at her hip. “Well…” he remarked offhandedly, “I need to know how much of an appetite I should work up.”

 The pair’s chuckles reverberated down the alleyway as they went, the shadows behind them stirring and shifting before a lone figure made quick, silent pace after them.

 –

 Special Detective Inspector Carl North walked into Rye Alley with a face like a bleak cliff on a rainy day. Then again, that was the usual expression for the tall, middle aged police officer. Upon the discovery of the bodies the Special Circumstances Investigation Unit had quickly been assigned the case, and the team had been dispatched to the site of the murders. Digging a pack of Polo mints from his coat pockets, the greying-haired detective popped one in his mouth before moving away from the cordon to the forensic tent.

 “Doctor Fishbourne.” He called into the tent.

 “Come in Carl.” A young woman’s voice called in reply.

 Slipping past the white-fabric door, Carl looked down at the red-haired woman sat kneeling by the man’s body. For someone sitting next to a corpse with its neck mauled, she was in high spirits. “Nothing gets you down, does it, Doctor?”

 “The living tend to get me down more than the dead, Carl.” She smiled, flicking her head slightly to swing her dark red ponytail back. “And this one here is definitely dead. Shock from the blood loss, but the perimortem bruising around the mouth and the state of injury in his mouth indicates he was a screamer. From the bruising to the shoulder and around the wrist? Restrained and silenced while the killer fed.”

 “Glad I skipped breakfast.” Carl murmured.

 “You never eat breakfast to begin with. In fact, I think you skip it just so you can say that line” She grinned. “Time of death’s around the two or three AM mark, I’ll get you some better information once I’m back at my lab.”

 Letting the jibe drop, he gestured to the victim. “ID?”

 “One Aaron Mitchell, financial analyst for Stern, Wakeman and West, from the ID left on him. This was only a chomp job, they didn’t even check his pockets.” Doctor Fishbourne stated, picking up an evidence bag with various personal effects in.

 Crunching his mint between his teeth, Carl turned to look at the second body. “And her?”

 “Don’t let the outfit confuse you. No neck injuries, she had the side of her head caved in. If you weren’t sucking on mints, you’d probably smell the mixture on her neck. It’s potent.”

 “I crunched it. Repellent?”

 “It’s definitely not the latest eau de parfum. She was a vampire hunter. Not a great one, obviously.” She commented before wincing, pressing the back of her gloved hand to her forehead. “I wish this one would shut up.”

 “The woman?” Carl asked, stepping around the body of the woman to help the forensic pathologist up.

 “No, the man. He’s an effer, swearing here and there. The woman’s not talking to me at all. Spirit shock. She’s just standing over her body, watching it.” A slight glow was visible in the doctor’s eyes, a faint blue intermingled in her hazel irises.

 “Think you’ll be able to get anything out of them? Once that one’s stopped swearing and this one’s no longer catatonic?” He asked, gesturing at each body in turn.

 The doctor shook her hand uncertainly. “I’m not sure. I’ll stick about here for a little and try something, the woman didn’t have any identification on her. But I think I have something you can work with for the investigation.” Reaching into her box of collected evidence, she pulled out a bagged set of plastic teeth and a smaller pouch of glittering powder.

 “Aaron was the mark. The vamp hunter in the tracksuit must have followed them. I think she’s back in town, it’s her M.O.”

 “Rhiannon?”

 Doctor Fishbourne gritted her teeth, recoiling from some unseen assault. Carl’s hands were there to support her again, preventing the forensic medium from crumpling to the floor. “Kaitlyn?”

 “Yeah. I’m all right. Someone’s just screaming the air blue here.” She grunted, thumbing at the man’s body. “Given the tirade Aaron’s giving… I’d say we’ve made a positive ID. And our mysterious vampire hunter’s looked away from her body too.”

 “Get what you can out of these two here, then get the bodies back to the lab. There’s going to be Halloween parties for the next few days. Sooner we can pull her off the streets, the better.”

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