Chapter One: In Which Banter Helps Fill Us In
A summary: Derrick meets up with our other main character and shop talk is exchanged.
Meanwhile, an intestine is tossed onto the floor and forgotten.
The first thing Derrick noticed when he finally got into his apartment was the dripping. It was a slow, thick sounding sort of drip. The sort you expect with overly runny maple syrup. Following the noise and a previously unnoticed sticky, bloody, trail, he saw Dene looking down, very far down at him, making the best use of their height difference, with an unamused look. An intestine was thrown over her shoulder and it was seeping blood slowly but steadiy.
It looked almost jaunty. Derrick didn't dare laugh, as she was clutching a large sword in a white-knuckled hand.
"Well, this explains the trail in the hall." he said and went to go put his groceries away.
"It popped! The stupid thing went and popped on me!" yelled Dene after him. "You never told me they could pop!"
"I'm sorry, I thought redcaps had better physical... integrity. Or did you slash the hat? Don't slash the hat, they're just gross," he said, putting things in order. Derrick peeked his head out of the kitchen. "Hey, are you staying for supper? I'll put extra noodles on. But only if you wash whatever spewed out of the hat at you."
"No, I hate that look of disappointment on your daddy's face when he realizes there's nothing to see when he looks down my shirt. So now he gets bloody goo. That'll bring a smile to his face and a laugh to his heart, right? And it wasn't a redcap, brat. It was the vampire."
Derrick looked up from his sorting, blinking in confusion. "Vampires don't pop, they aren't mosquitos. At least, nothing I ever read featured the lines 'and yea, the vampire didst pop as if a mighty pimple, and so a volcano of blood flowed upon me and mine to ruin my flowing gallic beard and all the other vikings laughed at me.' Or something from the actual right region. Pretend I at least mentioned a culture that had vampires, please."
"You said vampire was coming--"
"Jord said a vampire was coming. I just read the books. Do you want chicken or vegetable?"
Dene continued smoothly, ignoring the interruption: " I go to the house and I find this giant red sack sucking blood out of the old lady. Insert sword, get blood everywhere. Flee back here in the hopes of ruining your carpet in revenge." Dene looked down, seeming to notice the bit the vampire had left on her for the first time and tossed it off her with a yelp. "I need a shower. You find out what that was. Now. Tax's supper can wait and maybe if he's lucky I'll give him one of my magazines."
"I don't think he's that bad..." Derrick gave a half-hearted protest on behalf of his guardian. "And, please. Shower now. I'll be nice and lend you my shirt. Aren't I good? Stop looking at me like that. You smell really really bad."
"Uh huh. The only reason you have a working shower and I don't is the damn hick pride thing Tax has going with the landlord. Where's a towel? I need to scream for a few minutes and I want to do it clean."
"Actually, I'll go to your place and pick up some clothes for you while these are boiling. You don't fit mine and you just look weird in Tax's stuff."
Dene walked off with an elegant shrug, already yanking off her shirt.
Now, at this point, we must take a moment to ponder the nature of vampires. There are quite a few types recorded throughout history. We have the archetype courtesy of Bram Stoker, the brooding, handsome overall human vampire who just wants to find true love with an AB blood type.
Then we have the poor souls that modern science has told us were only mistaken for vampires because they wanted the blood that their body wasn't producing properly due to some disease and would attack passerbys to drain them dry. (Although some children would ask 'but how would they know it's blood they need?' But they are children and should be ignored.)
And, let us not forget, the twisted monsters of yesteryear before hollywood came in. People so evil that Hell rejected them, leaving them out to prey on the living. Able to be countered with poppy seeds and lost socks, however, proving that even evil can't always be hardcore.
Dene had run into none of these.
"It was Egyptian!"
"Someone just didn't get embalmed correctly. We only have to fix the body," Derrick said with gleaming eyes. "I'll get my shovel and tools."
"I know a creepy little boy..." muttered Dene as she rummaged through the bag Derrick had brought from her apartment. "You need bigger towels."
"You need smaller hips."
"Barbie doesn't have hips small enough for these. Gimme that. You found a cure for yourself yet?" Dene plopped down on the couch and started paging through the book. "Because I'd like to switch the topic to your failings. You said you'd found a lead when I went off this morning."
"I don't need a 'cure' and I don't want to discuss it. Can you put your shirt on already?"
"Shirts are patriarchy. Plus? I think I'd like to know exactly what's going on with you before it comes back to bite me on the ass and I have to kill you or something. It'd piss off your daddy. And I mean... actual searching for any hints, not just a 'cure'. But no animal sacrifice, I don't do that shit. Or whatever's happening in this woodcut." Turning the page upside down didn't help make the picture any less worrying.
"That one's Sumerian. And stop calling Tax my 'daddy'. Can we play Experiment On Derrick later? Please? Like... fifteen hundred years from now? I'm coming to terms with being an abomination unto God. Hey, let's focus on you!" Derrick scooted closer to steal his book back.
"Sucks to be Derrick. Anyway, how do we find the body? That vampire was just screwed up. It was like... schluppp. And she was a withered up old mummy by the time I managed to get through that window. Speaking of which, I see too many damn dead grannies. You have got to invite a higher class of ghoul into town. Something that preys on nubile young lesbians, maybe..." Dene got a distracted look on her face.
"You want corpses of them? Ew."
"I was thinking of more of a sweeping in to save at just the right moment thing," Dene leaned over to steal Tax's cigarettes. "Can you do something like that?"
"Put those back. Yeah, I'll get right on it. Hello, Satan? Are you there? It's me, Derrick. Look, my friend wants to sin with some nice young ladies, so if you'd be so kind as to--OW. Stop that!"
Dene rubbed her fist. "Your head's harder than it looks. Be good. Speaking of things, the ghost in the stairs tried to send another person flying. I was right, those 'oddly convenient' piles of trash we left at the bottom are helping. No broken arms this week at all."
"Unless it can learn, we're good. We have got to figure out what killed him. Or her. Do you think it's a her?" Derrick looked up at her eagerly, glad to be back on a topic where he could show off. His hair flopped over his eyes, ruining the intrepid look a bit. "I mean, I've kind of spoken to them but they'd fallen down every stair, so it wasn't like I could make out what they looked like."
"I think the one in the park is a her. This one's definitely a guy, look at the targets he goes after. Mostly women or much weaker men. Definite dominance issues. I bet he looked like you in life," Dene said with a smirk while ruffling Derrick's hair, moving her fingers away quickly to dodge his teeth. "Not as cute though. I wouldn't have picked him up for my partner at all, I bet. My sweet little bite-size bookworm."
"Screw you. I can keep up."
"Yeah, but it's just been three months. That's nothing. And you're still tiny and cute." Dene smiled at Derrick's little blush.
Four months ago, life in the city had gone from a high chance of mugging and death, to a higher chance of having your soul sucked out of your mouth and then death if your day was going especially well. Fortunately for the city, various people, including Dene Surma among the first to arrive, had decided to take an interest for darling old grannies and nubile lesbians everywhere. She just hadn't expected Derrick, living smack in the hotspot. Their meeting hadn't been the best. She'd first seen him after barely dodging his current hobby: tossing bleach bombs at the local plague, murderous little Redcaps out his window. The vicious goblins had been scattering and shrieking, their blood-soaked hats turning pink. And Derrick? He had been laughing like a little kid. That was Derrick.
She did find the warding markings Derrick had carved into every doorway he could charming, however.
"I'm not that short..."
"You're only up to my chest."
"Godzilla barely reaches your chin. I've got a disposal guide in here. Go get the shovels, we can deal with this tonight." Derrick looked even more eager.
"Yeah, sure. Bring stuff along in case of surprises. If anything remotely dangerous shows up, you're going straight home. No arguments. Especially if we run into those ghoul girls again."
"I'm sorry the ladies find me so irresistible."
"They're undead, flesh-eating ghouls. They think you're their lunch."
"But women! They're women!"
"Just go. Now."
"I changed my mind, I like you better without the shirt." Derrick fled, dodging a smack from the flat of Dene's sword.
end chapter one