Konrad was kicking himself. He shouldn’t have killed them. They were, after all, only trying to get a living, but the Beast had wanted out. He’d not unleashed it for too long, and he was surprised it hadn’t overpowered him. Even he was astonished at the ferocity that it had unleashed, and how violently it had killed the men. Still… Something was nagging him… How many men had ridden into the alley? He tried to remember, scrabbling at the fragmented memories of the Beast. Five… He could swear there were five. How many had he killed, though? He could see four decapitated heads… And nothing else. Oh, damn! he swore. That was very bad. Rumours like that would bring in a Hunter, there was no doubt about it… And then his thoughts were interrupted.
Those three knocks sounded like a condemnation of guilt, a judge banging his gavel. He almost fled out the back door, but he knew that if it was a Hunter, then he’d always be on the run. He might as well have it over with now. He trudged slowly towards the door, a sturdy construction of old knotted grey oak, with a heavy black iron bolt closed. He stopped, hand hovering above the bolt, about to draw it back. Did he want to do this? And then he breathed deeply, swallowing his anxiousness, sure he was about to get a silver stake through his unbeating heart. And then he caught it. The blood wasn’t spicy, hot with excitement. It was… Cold; ridden with fear. Mr Matthews, Konrad’s next door neighbour and a wealthy man who could afford the best food and wines. Konrad had always desired his blood. Suddenly, the door was open, the biting winter wind attacking his angular face.
“Ah, hello, Mr Matthews. Please, come in, you’ll catch your death standing in this cold.” He moved aside, letting the elderly noble man pass into the deliciously warm hall. “Please, follow me.” He led Mr Matthews into the lounge and gestured for him to sit on a comfortable-looking chaise loungue. “So, Mr Matthews, what can I do for you?” he asked casually, proffering the man a cigar. Mr Matthews took one and allowed Konrad to light it. The vampire then studiously went about pouring small measurements of deep amber whisky into glasses, and, very subtly, added a tiny portion of clear, viscous liquid to Mr Matthew's glass; vampire venom. He swirled it as per his usual habit with drinks, before turning around, a pleasant smile forced onto his face, and offered the glass to his neighbour.
"Thank, Mr Noite"
"It is my pleasure. Now, could I inquire as to the nature of this unexpected visit? I have had rather a long day and need to sleep."
“Of course, of course, I completely understand. Now, I couldn’t sleep last night, you see, and so I decided to do some more work. Now, my study is at the back of the house and overlooks the garden.” Konrad’s eyes widened slightly, but his visitor didn’t notice and took a puff of his cigar before continuing. “I saw something very odd. At first I didn’t believe it, but I can’t really disprove the evidence of my eyes, now can I?” He took another puff of the cigarette. “Anyway, as I was saying, I saw something very odd. It was by chance, actually. I looked out of the window and saw a bird of some description land in your garden. It was very dishevelled, with blood all over it. I thought it had been in a fight with another bird, if I’m honest. And then the unbelievable happened. It turned into you. Still covered in blood. And then walked into the house as if nothing had happened!” Mr Matthews said this all so quick that he was turning red in the face from lack of breathing.
“Mr Matthews, please, breath!” he requested, trying to sound shocked and yet polite. Mr Matthews breathed deeply a few times and his face returned to its normal shade. “Mr Matthews, I have no idea what may have caused you to see that. That is a truly perplexing quandary… May I suggest that you probably saw a bird fly into my garden and then me walking back home, and put the transforming and bloody parts down to a lack of sleep?”
“But, Mr Noite, I was not at all tired, which is why I went back to my work.” Konrad was starting to get annoyed.
“Please, Mr Matthews, drink. And maybe, maybe you were more tired than you realised?” he replied, voice silky calm. Mr Matthews raised his glass to his lips and took a sip. A moment later, there was the sound of shattering glass as Mr Matthews dropped his whisky. Konrad tutted in annoyance. That had been one of a very rare set. He then set his face to one of shock and almost ran out of the house and knocked on Mr Matthews’ door. His wife answered after a minute or two. As he fed her his story about how Mr Matthews had died, he grinned inside. He should have been an actor.
And then he wondered how many more people had seen him and got very nervous, and excused himself very quickly, on the pretence of being greatly shocked at his neighbour’s sudden death. He had to pack, quickly, and move on. He’d spent far too many years living on that street in London. He was getting careless.