'So you're not interested in the kids yourself?' Gerald asked after a while, breaking the silence.
Loki snorted. 'Not in the same way as you are.'
'Alright, only asking. Jesus.' Gerald swung silently again for a few seconds, then said, 'So what do you want one for, exactly?'
Loki grudgingly explained about his condition. As a psi-vampire, he depended largely on the psychic energy of others for sustenance. Every now and then when he was getting low, he would have to steal out at night and grab a late-night walker. However, adults had a fairly poor supply of psychic energy, and Loki often killed his victims, merely trying to keep himself alive. Blood worked too, but again he needed more than his victims could give.
'It's my opinion,' Loki finished, 'that a child would have more psychic energy. But I need one by tomorrow. I'm already low as it is.'
Gerald pondered. 'Have you tried a child before?' he asked.
'An adolescent. I got more from him than from any adult, so this is where my theory stems from.'
'Look, mate,' Gerald said, 'you're obviously in denial about your feelings. You don't have to make up this vampire bit for me. I understand.'
Loki flashed towards him suddenly. 'I'm not like you, you pervert!'
'Oh come on mate, be reasonable. I'm trying to help you, alright?' He wrenched his body from side to side, trying to loosen the ropes stringing him up. The swing below him rattled.
'Let me down now, seriously. All the blood's going to my head.'
So Loki took a few minutes to untie the ropes, and Gerald landed most ungracefully onto the tarmac. He sat up slowly, spitting out a pebble, then rubbed a graze on his face. 'Jesus Christ, man, you didn't have to do that. you could have just let me down gently.'
'Remember who you're talking to,' Loki warned. 'Oh. Hang on.'
He left Gerald for a second and leaped over the wooden fence. Maybe he could take Ian's energy to keep himself going. Was he still alive?
He found the body. Nope. Dead. Recently deceased, but still useless. Loki trudged back grumpily to Gerald West from Swansea, who was sitting there compliantly. This was good. This one would do as he was told.
'So,' Loki summarised. 'Tomorrow, you just do your regular act - sit on a bench, try and trick a few toddlers or whatever to come back and see the puppies, and then you tie one of them up and bring it back here in 24 hour's time. If you turn up without one I'll just exhaust you. OK?'
'One question,' Gerald said, finally untangling himself. 'Oh, hang on, two actually. Does the actual age matter, or... just any child?'
'I'd like a young one.'
'Right. And... what if I don't return tomorrow?'
Loki grinned. 'I'll find you.'
'What if I leave town?'
Loki shrugged this time. 'One less pervert for the kids to worry about. I'll see you tomorrow.' He bent down, threw the rope to Gerald, and walked away.