Chess

Hartigan slumped into his chair and watched the steam curl up from the cup of tea on the table next to him. They'd 'eliminated', the word curling his lip with distaste, fifteen 'traitors' today, most of them pregnant woman that didn't want to risk their unborn children to the side-effects of the contaminants. It made him sick, but it was the right thing to do.

As many people had said before him, sacrifices had to be made. For every person uncontaminated there would be another vampire with one more food source to keep them strong. They were traitors because they put their own selfish wishes before that of their entire species. And yet as much as Hartigan ran through the same speeches and arguments over and over again in his head, he ended up in this fugue.

He shook his head and took a quick sip of tea. The scalding hot liquid burnt his lip and he dropped the cup, spilling hot tea down his leg.

"Awwww... god damn it!" He yelled, leaping up from his chair.

"Richard!" His wife asked, concerned. "Are you okay?"

"No of course it's not okay you stupid woman! I've nearly gone and scalded my bloody leg!"

His wife looked like he had slapped her and her expression quickly sobered him out of his anger.

"I'm.. I'm sorry Martha, it's just been, hard. A hard day. I shouldn't have yelled at you it's not your fault." He winced as he pulled off his trousers and looked at the bright red burn on his leg. "Could you run me a cold bath. Please."

Martha swallowed, nodded silently and disappeared up the stairs. Stood there in his underpants, his leg beginning to itch from the burn, Hartigan prayed.

 

* * * * *

 

"We've just had a tip off sir, from a Miss Jane Simpson. Apparently the hospital she works at is in danger. Says there will be a vampire attack in three days."

"Bring her in for questioning, see what she knows. Did she happen to mention where she came about this information."

"No sir."

"Well, we'll find out soon enough."

 

* * * * *

 

Marcus Antonius Cordus was pleased, they'd taken the bait. His man on the inside reported that the army was taking the warning seriously. They were stretched thin though and didn't have the resources to just throw men at a possible threat, no, they would need proof, which means they'd start investigating. Then they would find the information he'd left them and reach the conclusions they were meant to reach. He could sympathise with the instigators of the Cattle program sometimes, though perhaps they should have called it the Flock program, humans were so often sheep.

For a vampire as old as Marcus, it was hard to think down to mortals levels, hard to see through the tiny window through which they perceived the world. He couldn't help but think in decades, centuries even. Time didn't mean the same thing to him any more. At least he had a reasonable place to wait.

He was staying as a human in one of most expensive hotels in London, hiding in plain sight. He'd had plenty of practice blending in and knew they signs they looked for. He wore makeup for his complexion, full-body, and contact lenses for his eyes (shades only attracted mistrust). Even in this paranoid age, he found it easy to be one of them, he'd lived through worse already.

Idly, he pulled a knife, a letter opener, from the elaborately carved mahogany desk at which he was sat and cut his arm, peeling back the skin and flesh with an almost clinical detachment. He didn't even bleed any more and his flesh, if it could be called that now, was like spidery white filaments, like gossamer threads of a fungus. Cutting his arm was like cutting into a sponge, his very body lived to drink, was made for it. He folded the flap of arm back into place and watched it heal with a sigh. He may think in ages, but in waiting for even a moment, he was bored.

There was a knock at the door and he tensed. Two fainter rappings followed and then shortly after a slightly heavier knock than the first. He opened the door and retreated to his chair in one fluid movement. A woman stepped into the room.

"Hello Mac." She said with an Irish lilt, using the name with a deep sense of familiarity, though a frown rested on her face.

"Why if it isn't my dear Connie! You look like a sour puss indeed. Bad news I take it?"

She smiled. "I never did have a good poker face. I see you've been in one of your moods again." She nodded towards the fading scar on his arm.

"Just a little introspection to pass the time."

"Typically looking within oneself isn't meant to be taken so literally." She grinned as Marcus rolled his eyes. "Anyway, to business. You're right Mac, it's bad news indeed."

"Well get on with it."

"There's trouble at the farm."

The End

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