Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Station House Six - Chapter One
pocket and wiped the gunk off my face. This used to be harder. I stepped away from the bloody ashes and hurried out of the abandoned tenement.
My spotter, an apprentice hunter called Greenberg, waved an all clear. I waved back to the skinny teen and gave him a nod to follow me. I skulked down the alleyway to my parked cab. Half the force drove cabs these days, it was more discreet. We had to stay under the radar now. Hunters had always been in the shadows, but now it was the whole Night Shift working even deeper in the dark of Chicago’s streets.
Greenberg got in the back and I drove us out to our station house. All hunters resided in station house six. Station captain rotated between the seven houses so no one was stuck with us year round. Apparently even the hardened captains of the Night Shift found working with vampire hunters too gloomy. They called us the Bats, and they meant it as batty. Most hunters ended their days dead or locked up in an asylum.
My mentor ended up dead when a necromancer with a grudge decided to take us all out. He wasn’t completely successful, but his actions had made the top brass reconsider their policies. That was fine by me, I preferred skulking in the shadows.
Each station was hidden away behind the façade of another building. Station house one occupied an old bank, two was an old municipal office. It was no different with station house six. We were located in a former funeral home. Sanders and Son. The owners had a change of profession after the son in Sanders and Son was brutally murdered by a ghoul. Very sad, but now the hunters had an appropriate place to call home.
And it had a crematorium conveniently located in the back.
There was a small parking lot in the back as well. I had Greenberg take the cab back and headed inside, utilizing the two storied home’s front door. To get into any station house, your blood had to be a part of the initial warding spells or gained special permissions. Otherwise, you’d get yourself hurt.
I ignored our desk warden, Sheila, who was preoccupied with her manicure as usual.
I had an office on the top floor. I wasn’t quite morbid enough to take the morgue office. No, that had gone to Waxford. A man even I found creepy. The Victorian furnishings original to the house were still intact, as was the red carpeting up the stairs off the main hallway. My office was a bedroom once. I kept the bed so I could nap after a case. We had showers too, which was where I headed first. There was blood in my hair. I grabbed my spare clothes from my office and ducked into the shower.
I blew my hair dry, more out of dislike for dripping hair than style, and went back to my office to fill out paperwork for my recent kill. If there was one thing that hadn’t changed when the Night Shift split into station houses, it was the amount of paperwork we had to do. I generally avoided it as much as possible, but the Inspector was starting to get on my case about it.
Ian Mulhaney was not a man you wanted to be on the wrong side of.
Paperwork or nap? I considered for a moment and decided on the nap.
“Wayland? Are you in there?”
I yawned and opened my eyes. My office door was closed. The voice belonged to the current station captain, Miranda Cooke. A tall woman with an overbearing disposition. Generally though, she left us all alone.
“Aye, captain.” I rolled out of bed and unlocked the door. Every hunter I knew locked their office door. Habit. “What?” I was known as a man of few words. I preferred internal conversation.
“Your paperwork is due end of day.”
I checked my desk clock. “Which day?” It was nearly midnight.
“Tomorrow.” Captain Cooke gave me a look that told me she was giving me an extension. I must have looked worse than usual. I’m sure I had bed hair. I wouldn’t know really, I never looked in a mirror if I could help it.
“Oh, and there’s this.” She retrieved a folded envelope from her pocket and handed it to me. “You need to start checking your emails, Wayland, so the Inspector doesn’t have to mail all of the memos out to you.”
“Eh.” I shrugged.
She rolled her eyes. “Fine. Paperwork, end of day, on my desk.”
She left, slightly more frustrated than when she had arrived, and I closed my door and sat down at my desk. I’d stolen the desk from the downstairs study. It was a good, imposing walnut desk with carved decorations that were supposed to be flowers but made me think of skulls. I propped my feet up on the felt pad in the center where I wrote my reports and tore open the letter.
It had the official seal of the Night Shift, my name and was held closed with a small dab of wax at the back. There was magic on it. Probably to keep it from falling into innocent hands. Internal memos could have all sorts of incriminating things on them. I always burned them after reading.
Attention all vampire hunters;
After reviewing case files and compiling the data on mortality rates, it has been decided that the Night Shift will institute a new policy in order to protect your lives. Although station house six was operating under the “Lone Wolf” rule, I have determined this house will now follow the same rules as other houses. Every fully trained hunter (including those with apprentice hunters) will be paired up with a partner effective immediately.
Your partner has been assigned to you. Barring personality conflicts, there will be no getting rid of your partners. I expect professionalism from you all.
Inspector Ian Mulhaney
“Fuck.” My head met my desk with a resounding thud.