Title: Dead Life

Author: Jos Mous

Email: wotan_anubis@yahoo.com

PAIRING: Sam/Brooke

RATING: R

DISCLAIMER: I own none of these characters; I'm not making any profit out of this, blahblahblah.

WARNING: This is really not a pretty fic. It's not as heart-wrenching as, say, Secrets, but those who only like fluffy fic _really_ shouldn't read this.


Ever After

Maybe I'm insane. Maybe I'm just imagining all this. Maybe I should just be locked up in a mental institution. I certainly hope so.

It started five days ago. Or maybe I should say it started two weeks ago. Two weeks and two days to be precise. That was when she died. One week and three days ago we buried her. Five days ago she visited me.Now do you understand why I think I'm losing it?

Maybe someone will read this and laugh. Maybe it's gonna be the doctor in the psych ward, deciding to lock me up permanently. Acute insanity due to enormous trauma. In fact, maybe I'm already there. Maybe I am sitting in some padded cell, living in this illusionary life. But mental patients mostly live in a world they created, a world they like to inhabit. I certainly don't like living in mine, so I fear this must be real.

So, five days -or five nights, depends on how you look at it I suppose- I was woken in the middle of the night. Something was tapping against the window. I thought that maybe it was just the wind, blowing the branches of a tree against it, so I turned around and tried to get back to sleep. Then I realised something.

There is no tree outside my window.

So, I walked over and opened the curtains. That's where the insanity began, doc. Or maybe that's where reality began.

I opened the curtains where I saw two things. My own face reflected faintly in the glass, and her on the other side of it. She looked pale and sick, yet she also looked fully alive. She smiled. I stumbled backwards and fell. I got up, looked again, thinking that I was going mad. She tilted her head and smiled again.

"Not expecting to see me?" She asked.

I mutely shook my head. What else could you expect me to do? And when I finally managed to say something it wasn't the brightest thing that I could've said. "You're dead."

She laughed. "Yet I feel so alive."

She laughed again. I felt the world collapsing around me. She was dead. I knew she was. Her heart didn't beat, her lungs didn't breathe, her eyes didn't see. I shook my head, knowing this could not be real. I slowly stepped away from the window, shaking my head even more. I think she could read my mind. Then again, she could already do that when she was still alive.

"I'm very real." She said.

"Why are you here?" I asked. "To torment me? To drive me insane?"

She laughed again. "Of course not. I am here to make you mine."

Hear that? Some dead girl wants to make me hers. Please, put me in a straitjacket and pump me full of drugs. Please.

"What do you mean?" I asked. Like I didn't know.

She smiled at me. "You're mine." She said. "Always have been, always will."

I suppose it's true in some ways. I either hated her or adored her. Loathed her or loved her. But no matter what I did she was somewhere at the centre of it.

My head was really spinning out of control now. She was dead, she could not be here. She died in some back alleyway. Some homeless guy found her. She was practically decapitated, her neck stained with her own blood.

Then there came clarity. Or another plunge into the abyss. I looked at her again. She looked back at me, her head slightly tilted, studying me. She smiled once more.

"Let me in." She said pleadingly.

"Forget it!" I spat. I rushed over and closed the curtains. The last thing I saw of her was her shocked face. After that I slumped down against the wall and cried.

The few days that followed between then and now were bleak, lifeless. I felt like an emotionless robot, surrounded by other robots. Just performing a specific task without thought, without adding any meaning to it. And every night she would arrive again. Every night she would ask the same question.

"Let me in."

And every time I said 'no'.

But it got harder every time. Everything around me seems fake, and only she seems real. It's difficult to ignore her call. Especially since I love her.

Yeah, you read that correctly. Love her. Did so for a long time. Of course I never realised it. Like I said before she was at the centre of everything I did, but I never realised it. And then she died. Then I realised it.

Pretty lousy timing, huh?

I can keep fighting it. Keep fighting her. But she won't give up. And I know I can't go on forever.

Whoever's reading this should better hope I'm completely insane.

When she comes again tonight, and I know she will come, I am going to say 'yes'.

Maybe we'll live happily ever after.

Maybe it'll just be ever after.

But in any case, it'll be with her.

[From the diary of Samantha McPherson, dated 30-10-2001, found on 02-11-2001 by local police department. Current whereabouts unknown.]


Therapy

NOTE: Another one-timer that gets a sequel. When will I learn?

~~~~~

Cynthia Partridge closely observed the girl sitting in front of her. She was a very interesting case to say the least. To all appearances she was a normal level-headed girl. The death of the girl who was about to become her stepsister had of course affected her, but not overly so. Not to warrantee a stay here. But then, one night, she disappeared and in the last entry of her diary she even questioned her own sanity. A few days later she had been found again, screaming hysterically and with a few minor wounds on her body. The girl was terrified and completely out of touch with reality. After a few more days it had become apparent to her parents that her situation was not going to improve. So they sent her here.

And now, three weeks later, here she was, sitting in her room, glancing every way with a haunted look in her eyes.

"Would you like to talk now, Samantha?" Cynthia asked.

"It's Sam." The girl said. "And no, you'd think I'm even crazier than you already think I am."

"I don't think you're crazy." Cynthia said.

The girl chuckled humourlessly. "You only say that 'cause you're the shrink. Admit it, I'm a nutcase."

"You're just confused, that's all."

She laughed. A completely humourless and almost maniacal laugh. "Confused. Yeah, that's a good one."

She started rocking back and forth into her chair, her arms wrapped around her knees. Cynthia suddenly recalled a passage from that last entry. 'Please, put me in a straitjacket and pump me full of drugs.' Perhaps now she was trying to actually get labelled to be dangerous to herself so she might be put away.

"Do you know why you're here?" Cynthia asked. She asked that very regularly and never received a response.

Today, Sam decided to surprise her. "You read my diary. You know why."

"Yes." Cynthia said. "A dead girl that keeps visiting you, correct?"

"Of course not." Sam said hurriedly. "Dead people are dead, right? They don't visit others. But then again, she's not dead." The girl closed her eyes and rocked back and forth some more, humming tunelessly.

"What are you doing Sam?" Cynthia asked.

Sam opened her eyes and smiled. A rather creepy smile. "Nothing. I'm nuts, remember? I need to be locked up. Please lock me up."

"Why?" Cynthia asked. "Because of her?"

Suddenly Sam exploded. She practically jumped out of her chair and started yelling. "Of course it's because of her! It's always because of her!" The girl sat down again, her tone of voice lowered drastically. "She won't leave me alone. She just won't leave me alone."

"But she's dead, Sam." Cynthia said. "And like you said, dead people don't visit others."

"Don't you understand?" Sam said with a pleading voice. "She's a vampire. And she wants me." She laughed again. "And I want to be with her, if you want to believe it."

"Yes, you've written that down already. But if this is really the case, than I fear you're not making any sense. You want to be with her, but you try to do everything that will keep you away from her. Why is that?"

"Well think lady!" Sam shouted. "Vampires feed of humans. We're nothing more than cows to them. Or maybe pigs. I want to be with her, but in order to do that I need to be a vampire as well. And I don't want to die. I really don't want to die." She glanced at Cynthia for a moment and flashed that creepy smile again. "I may not be eating flies or spiders or birds, but I am under the influence of a vampire. You need to keep me away from her, or I will invite her in one day. And you really wouldn't like that."

Cynthia sighed. "There is nothing to be afraid of. Vampires don't exist."

"Yes! Yes!" Sam shouted. "They don't exist! They don't exist! Yet I keep seeing them. You have to lock me up before this gets out of control."

Cynthia shook her head. At least now the girl was talking, but she wasnít exactly sure if that was a good thing. "Sam," She said as a thought suddenly occurred to her. "Does she know you're here?"

The girl looked at her for a moment, then started glancing around the room again. "Yes," She said finally. "Found me three days ago. Keeps coming back." She growled and grabbed her head. "She just won't go away!"

Cynthia studied the girl for a few moments longer, then made a decision. "Sam, do you want me to put you in isolation?"

Sam's face suddenly brightened considerably. "Could you do that? Please? She'll be coming again tonight you know. And I really should not be in my room. Lock me up, please."

"Very well." Cynthia said. "I'll arrange a private room for you." She continued. "And I'll have one of the orderlies check up on you a few times, how does that sound?"

"Yes, yes, thank you." Sam said.

"Also I'd like to put a tape recorder on your room and let it run all night, is that alright?"

"No!" Sam shouted. "Nononononononononono! You really don't want to do that."

"Why not? Afraid nothing is going to happen?"

"No." Sam said in deadly earnest. "I'm afraid something _will_ happen." Then she shot back into the way she behaved when she brought in, leaving Cynthia to wonder just what was going on with the girl.

~~~~~

The following day inevitably came and Cynthia Partridge once again found her behind her desk, going over the cases she had to deal with today. Next to her stood a tape recorder, playing a seemingly blank tape. She looked over her schedule and found that Samantha McPherson was the first on her list. She was rather looking forward to see the young girl again. She had thought long about her last night, but was still completely puzzled. In all appearances Samantha seemed to be 'simply' delusional, but there was something off about her. But now she had the tape without any sound and she hoped that might help Samantha.

She heard someone ticking. Cynthia's eyes immediately shot towards the tape recorder. That wasn't possible! More ticking sounded and Cynthia realised it was coming from the door.

"Come in." She said.

An orderly entered, looking rather embarrassed. "I'm afraid I have some bad news." He said.

More ticking. Where did it come from?

"It's about that girl."

"What about her?"

"Sam? Sam, are you in there?"

"She's gone."


Goodbye

NOTE: There is currently literature on the market about 'good', Angel-like vampires. Well, I don't believe them. It's all just a conspiracy of vampiric writers to make us humans be a lot more sympathetic towards them so that we're more easily hunted down. That is to say, I would believe that if I also believed that vampires are real. Which I don't, by the way. And the fact that I'm occasionally being visited by someone who has no reflection is of no importance in that respect.

~~~~~

Dinner was eaten in silence. Not that there was nothing to talk about. There was a lot to talk about. A lot that they really didn't want to talk about. They both carefully forked their potatoes and meat and vegetables onto their plates and started eating, still in silence.

Then Jane put her fork on the table slightly harder than she should. "Mike, we need to talk."

Mike sighed and put his fork down as well. "I know."

"The... the institution called me today." Jane said, trying to push back her tears.

"Bad news?" Mike asked concerned.

Jane nodded, not trusting herself to say anything. Then she took a deep breath and looked up. "Sam, she... she disappeared again."

"What?" Mike asked. "H-How?"

Jane shook her head. "I don't know. I really don't."

"But don't they guard that place? I mean, aren't there any security cams?"

"I don't know. At that moment I wasn't really capable of asking any questions. Or saying anything sensible for that matter." Jane said. "All I know that Sam was put into isolation for a night and the next day, she was gone." She sighed. "They..." She sighed again and took a deep breath. "They have already warned the police. We'll be informed when they find her."

Mike nodded mutely and returned to eating. Jane soon followed his example.

They were both too lost in thought to hear someone walking down the stairs. They only noted something when that someone entered the kitchen.

"Hi dad, Jane."

Mike and Jane both looked at the source of the sound. They both experienced a similar reaction.

"B-Brooke?" Mike asked. "H-How?"

Brooke merely smiled. "Aren't you going to say 'hi' before asking questions?"

"Sam was right." Jane said, as she got out of her chair and started to back away.

"Yes, she was." Brooke said. "And I have a message for you."

She reached over, lifted Mike out of his chair and threw him against the wall. Jane quickly rushed over to him. Brooke casually wandered over into their direction. Jane had just helped Mike back to his feet when both adults felt a hand tightening around their necks. Brooke lifted them up a little and pinned them against the wall.

"She's mine, understand?" Brooke hissed. "And I'm really upset about the two of you trying to take her away from me." She flung the two humans back against the ground. "You two are very lucky that I promised Sam not to kill you." She said.

"Where's my daughter?" Jane asked, hoping her question wouldn't let Brooke forget her promise.

"She's where she's supposed to be." Brooke said. "With me."

"Is she...?" Jane started.

"Not yet." Brooke answered. "Soon though."

"Can I see her?" Jane asked desperate.

Brooke considered it for a moment. "Perhaps." She said. "Yes, as a sign of my good will," Brooke grinned mockingly. "I'll allow her to visit you. To see that no harm has come to you." Brooke tilted her head and smiled sweetly at her former parents. "But if you try to take her away from me again I will kill you." She chuckled. "And I will take my time. Trust me on that."

"We won't try anything." Jane said. "I promise. I just need to talk to her."

"I already said she could come, didn't I?" Brooke snarled. "Just don't forget I will come to take her back with me, so don't try to convince her that she should stay with you. Because that would also result in me killing you. And after that, it would also mean killing her, since she would most likely have nothing to do with me any more. Because if I can't have her, well, you know the rest."

"I understand." Jane said as she stood up. "How is she?"

"Fine." Brooke said. "I keep her fed and clothed, try to see to it that she regains her sanity and overall I'm slowly letting her accept her fate." She concluded smiling.

"How is her mental health?" Jane asked. She just had to know.

"She trusts me." Brooke said. "Took me a while. Everyone has filled her head with nonsense, about us being evil and all that. But now she trusts me and she's slowly recovering."

Jane nodded. "Thank you."

Mike on the other hand made some very distressed noises that were ignored by the two others.

"Don't thank me." Brooke said smiling. "After she's more or less sane again, she will voluntarily undergo the change. And then you will have lost her forever."

"I've already lost her." Jane said. "But I do want her to be happy."

"I will see to that." Brooke said. "Trust me." She turned around and started to leave. "She'll be here tomorrow morning. Be here, or miss your shot. Permanently."

~~~~~

The following morning came and, as promised, a car pulled up in front of the Palace and Sam stepped out of it. Before she could reach the door she was already enclosed in a bear hug by Jane.

"I'm so glad you're here." Jane whispered.

"Hey mom." Sam said.

Jane released her daughter and looked at her. "Come inside with me, will you?"

"Sure." Sam said, as she started walking towards the door.

Jane put an arm around her daughter's shoulders as she heard the car drive away.

"Did Brooke bring you here?" She asked.

Sam laughed. "Oh no, nononononono. Sunlight. That was Robin."

"Is she human as well?" Jane asked.

"No and yes." Sam giggled suddenly. "No and yes, no and yes, let her in, drank her blood, no and yes, no and yes." She sing-songed.

They entered the living room and Sam looked around, looking as if she felt out of place.

"Is Mike not here?" She asked.

"No." Jane said sadly. "He had something important to do."

"Afraid he's going to say something stupid? Afraid he might upset Brooke? Angry that I want to be with her?"

"All of the above, I think." Jane said. "Please, sit down."

Sam sat down and looked around some more. The last time she had seen Sam she was also always glancing around. But back then it was because she was afraid, now it almost seemed because she was curious about her surroundings. Jane hated to admit it, but she thought that maybe Brooke was right. Maybe Sam was slowly getting better.

"Do you want something to drink?" Jane asked.

"Drink?" Sam said smiling. "No thanks."

Jane sat down next to her. "How are you doing?"

"Fine." Sam said, nodding vehemently. "Really. Brooke takes good care of me."

"And how are you... you know... otherwise?"

"Well, I'm not terrified any more. Big plus there. Not OK, though. Although, crazy people never know about themselves, right? So maybe I'm fine after all."

"So tell me, where do you live?"

Sam laughed. "Can't tell you that. Well, I can tell you that, I just won't. Don't want you coming after me. Don't want to go, you know."

"I know." Jane said, ignoring the hurt that flooded through her.

"Don't be sad." Sam said. "I'm happy. Brooke's giving me time. Letting me decide. She's not really happy about having to wait, but she's patient." Then she looked down at the floor. "I don't like to see Brooke not happy, but I can't help it. I donít want to die. Not yet."

"So, that Robin who drove you here. Does she live with you too?" Jane asked, quickly changing the subject.

"Oh yes." Sam said, while nodding. "She hasn't got much free will, you know. It's my fault really."

"How is that?" Jane asked, strangely intrigued.

"She was a mental patient too. Too much anger. Too volatile. Nice, but explosive, you know? So, here I was begging to be locked up. And I got locked up. So then Brooke goes to my room, but doesn't find me there. So she looks around, to see if I have a different room. She can't find me, so she wakes someone else to invite her in."

"Robin." Jane said.

Sam nodded. "Brooke promised to help her. Robin invited her in. Brooke let Robin drink some of her blood. After that Robin got very little free will left."

"Is she a slave?" Jane asked appalled.

"Nonononononono." Sam said hurriedly. "Not a slave. More of a serf. She can think on her own a little, but she's bonded to Brooke because of the blood. She can leave if she wants, but she doesn't want to. She's happy right where she is." Sam giggled. "We're one big happy mega-dysfunctional family."

"I think I'll take a drink now." Jane said, as she stood up.

"Get me some milk while you're at it." Sam said.

Jane smiled at her. "Of course, dear."

Mother and daughter talked about everything and nothing for a long time after that. Jane found it rather disturbing when Sam talked about Brooke as a really nice person, even though Sam probably knew she had threatened to kill both her and Mike just the night before. But Jane was glad to find out that Sam sometimes acted completely normal for a few minutes. It was strange that one vampire was both the disease and the cure. But as she watched Sam keep on talking she realised the girl really was happy, albeit in a rather strange way.

Then the darkness fell and Jane knew she had to say goodbye soon. The doorbell rang and Jane was saddened to see Sam jump up.

"She's here! She's here!" Sam shouted excited.

Jane reluctantly started walking towards the front door and found it to be wide open. Brooke was standing outside and Sam clung to her smiling. The vampire was looking down at her and softly stroked Sam's hair.

"Hello Brooke." Jane said simply.

Brooke looked up at her with that special kind of loathing she seemed to have for all humans, save the brunette in her arms. "Jane." She said in way of greeting.

"Take care of her." Jane simply said.

"I will." Brooke answered.

The door closed and in doing so took Sam away from Jane, forever.


Good Morning

"Sam? Sam, wake up."

Something in the bed moved and the sleepy eyes of Samantha McPherson appeared. "What time is it?"

"Sunrise." Brooke answered. Time had no real meaning to her.

Sam grinned. "Wouldn't it be better if you woke me up at sunset?" She asked.

Brooke smiled, liking this turn of events. "And why would that be?"

"Well, sooner or later, that is going to be my normal wake-up time. Might as well get used to it."

Brooke kissed Sam on the forehead. "I love you. Even though you're still human."

"Did you kill anyone last night?" Sam asked.

"No." Brooke said.

"You're just saying that because you know I don't like it." Sam said.

"Sam, honest. I rarely kill." It was true. What Brooke forgot to mention was that she didn't kill because she preferred to see the terror on her victim's faces. She also had a little influence on people she had fed from, making it easier for her to get into houses.

Sam giggled. "I had this really strange dream last night."

"What was it about?" Brooke asked.

"There was this girl and this skeleton," Sam started. "And they were going to save a dragon. And there were fairies in five different colours. But only the black one was good." Sam looked at Brooke. "Isn't black usually associated with evil?"

Brooke didn't answer. The door to the bedroom opened and someone stepped inside. Without looking Brooke said: "Go make Sam breakfast, will you Robin?"

The door closed again.

"How do you do that?" Sam asked. "Making her come to you when you want?"

Brooke was rather pleased that Sam was asking questions. It meant she was thinking about them and that was a good sign. "She has drunk my blood Sam. That means I'm inside her mind. I can tell her everything and she will listen to everything I have to say." The vampire smiled. "That was the overly simplified version. What really happens is not comprehensible unless you're like me."

"I would like to know." Sam said. "But not now."

Brooke smiled again. "I know. Robin will be here soon with your breakfast. I have a few things to catch up with. See you later?" The vampire kissed Sam briefly on the lips and left.

Brooke quickly bounded down the stairs, feeling an urgent need to hurt someone. She did honestly love Sam, but the thought of loving a human was simply disgusting. It was a nasty conflict inside Brooke's mind and she wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible. But turning Sam against her will was not a good idea. Brooke had not wanted to be turned and she still carried a grudge against her sire, even though she delighted in being a vampire.

Brooke walked through the kitchen, ignoring Robin who was reading the paper as a few eggs were being baked. The vampire took a key out of her pocket and unlocked the door to the cellar. She was pretty sure that Sam knew what was down there, but she asked no questions. And Brooke certainly wouldn't give her any answers.

Brooke flicked the light switch and looked around. There were benches, manacles, whips, knives and several nameless things with too many sharp ends. And there was also a girl, cowering in the corner. Brooke had taken her here a few nights ago and had acted out her frustrations over Sam on her. The vampire was completely certain, but she thought the girl was close to breaking. That or she was already broken. It wasn't all that important anyway. There was only one human whose mental health concerned Brooke and the girl trying to get away from her right now was not it.

Brooke quickly walked over, grabbed the girl's hair from behind and yanked her head back. "Hi, missed me?" Brooke said.

The girl didn't answer. Probably because she didn't know if saying something would mean pain or if not saying something would mean pain.

"Thought so." Brooke said. "Now, what shall we do on this fine morning? Any suggestions?"

The girl swallowed hard. Tears were already starting to form on her face.

"Oh, don't worry." Brooke said. "Sam was feeling very good this morning."

The vampire let go of the girl and walked towards the centre of the cellar. The girl kept sitting right where she was. Brooke put her hands on one of the benches and put her hands on it.

"Come over here." She said.

The girl stood up and walked towards her. She was trembling heavily, terrified of what was to come, but strangely obedient and accepting.

"Take off your shirt." Brooke ordered. "Wouldn't want to rip such a lovely shirt, now would we?"

The girl took of her shirt and threw it aside. Her body was beautiful, but its beauty was hidden by numerous wounds, cuts, scars and stains of dried blood. The girl climbed onto the bench and lay down.

"Well, well. Look who's acting like a puppy. Or should I say puppet?" Brooke said, not really sure if she was happy to see that the girl was way past breaking point. The vampire casually wandered over to the shelves and carefully selected today's item. Brooke settled on a simple knife this time.

As she walked over to the bench a thought struck her. What was the most fun thing about doing this? It wasn't the pain. Nor the blood that frequently came with it. It was the fear. The terror of whoever might be here. But this girl's mind was practically gone, or otherwise deeply hidden. She didn't try to get away, she simply did whatever was asked of her. The girl would still feel pain, and she would most likely still scream. But part of the terror of her victims was in the fact that they did not know when the next jolt of pain would come, or when the pain would end. This girl already knew and had fully accepted that the next pain would come immediately and would never end. What was the fun in that?

"Stand up and put on your shirt." Brooke said.

The girl quickly did so.

"Change of plans today. I think I'll let you go."

The girl looked up at her, terrified. Brooke smiled. She was glad to see that this girl was still afraid of dying and that she thought that Brooke was planning to kill her.

"Come here."

The girl hesitantly walked over to her. Brooke smiled and stroked a finger across her neck.

"You know, there is one area we haven't had yet." She said. She pulled the girl closer and forced her head to tilt, revealing her neck. The eyes of the girl were wide open now, her breathing was ragged and she was sweating. Brooke delighted in the sheer terror of the girl for a moment before sinking her fangs into the girl's neck. The only good thing about humans was the taste of their blood. Brooke hungrily drank and she felt the life slowly draining out of the girl. But Brooke didn't kill, so when the girl lost consciousness she simply let the body drop on the floor. The vampire quickly made use of the girl's unconsciousness to look around inside her mind for a moment. There wasn't much left to find, Brooke had already made very certain of that. But she could find enough to make people believe she hadn't changed. She quickly gave the girl a certain sense of identity back and locked all memories from her stay here away, only to come out when Brooke would want to.

The vampire stood up and left the cellar. She entered the kitchen and found Robin still reading the paper. The eggs on the other hand were already gone.

"Have you brought her breakfast yet?" Brooke asked.

"Of course." Robin answered.

"Good." Brooke said. "Listen, our guest will be leaving today. See to it that someone finds her. In fact, drop her off at Kennedy High. It's where I found her."

"Is there a rush?" Robin asked.

"You can finish the paper if you want to." Brooke said.

"Thank you."

"Just remember I want her gone before Sam comes down."

"Naturally."

Having really nothing else to do Brooke simply sat down on a chair and continued to watch Robin reading her paper. She was bored. She had hoped to be able to spend a large part of the day in the cellar, but now she had to find something else. Somewhere Brooke was disappointed. She only had the girl for about five days and already she was broken. The vampire started counting how many she already had. It had been about fifteen people. All of them had left the house a former shadow of themselves. All except the first, who had been the owner and who Brooke had been forced to kill. Most of them lasted at least two weeks, but not this one.

"It's strange." Brooke said, mostly to herself. "I had really expected Nicole Julian to be a lot more durable."


Stop Looking

NOTE: Still no actual story line. Sorry about that.

~~~~~

Jake Torrant carefully ground to a halt in front of the police station where he worked. As he got out of his car he decided that he really should buy a new car. The one he had now seemed to mainly to stay together out of habit, rather than any structural integrity. But Jake really wasn't looking forward to being ripped off by some second-hand car dealer, so this one simply had to do for a while.

Leaving the rust bucket he was still calling a car in the parking lot Jake made his way inside. He knew he should be at home with his wife and daughter at this hour, but he just couldn't let it rest. The case he was working on intrigued him and he simply had to get to the bottom of it. He usually didn't get so worked up over a case, but this was different. Making his way over to his tiny little office he went over everything one more time in his head. Two girls had disappeared from the nearby mental institution. One of them had been there because of so-called 'anger management issues', the other was delusional and occasionally made claims of seeing a dead girl. How they disappeared was a complete mystery. There was one window smashed, and the bars in front of it were bent. That could have been a way out if it wasn't for the fact that the window was on the third floor. What was also puzzling was that the glass shard lay on the inside. Also the delusional girl had been in isolation, which was quite a way away from the smashed window. Staff members who had been questioned had all made a rather confused impression and couldn't remember a thing about that night.

All in all, Jake didn't have a clue. But he wasnít about to let a little detail like that stop him. Turning on his computer, and mentally preparing for another night of frustration, a conversation made its way into Jake's mind. It was one of the psychiatrists of the institution. She had said that the delusional girl -her name was Samantha, Jake recalled- did not claim to be visited by a dead girl, but by a vampire. The girl had also said that there was a distinct difference between those two. It was nonsense of course, but Jake suddenly realised that if it was true, it could be the solution. He immediately dismissed the idea. Vampires didn't exist and even if they did, why would they go through so much trouble just to get two girls out of an institution? Still, just to be complete, Jake opened a drawer in his chest and, after rummaging around through several pieces of paper and tapes, he finally found the tape with the conversation with the psychiatrist. He quickly sought out the part that was interesting. All the technical stuff about the girls' afflictions didnít interest him much right now.

"... name of the girl?" He heard himself ask.

"Let me think." The psychiatrist said. "I believe I have it somewhere here."

The sound of someone shuffling through papers could be heard.

"Ah, here it is. The girl's name is Brooke McQueen. She died a few weeks ago and that's when Samantha started to become unhinged. She claims it is this Brooke that keeps visiting her."

"Do you happen to know how she died?"

"I'm afraid not."

Jake stopped the tape again and stared at the computer screen.

Brooke McQueen.

Where had he heard that name before?

He entered the name into the stationís internal network and leaned back as the computer started searching.

"Excuse me?"

Jake looked up to see a girl standing in the doorway.

"Can I help you?" Jake asked, wondering how a girl her age could get into the station at this time of night.

"Maybe." The girl said. "Are you handling the disappearance of those two mental patients?"

"How do you know that?" He asked. He knew the answer before the girl started talking.

"It's been in all the papers." The girl said. "It has even been on TV."

"Of course." Jake said, mentally smacking himself in the head. "Is that why you are here?"

The girl nodded. "I tried your house first, but you weren't there. So I came here and, well, here you are."

"Here I am. Now, do you have anything to say? I am rather busy."

"Just one thing." The girl said. "Stop looking."

"Excuse me?"

"Stop looking." The girl repeated. "They don't want to be found."

"Where are they?" Jake asked suspicious. For some reason it didn't sound like a prank, it sounded like the girl knew what she was talking about.

The girl chuckled. "You really don't want to know that."

"I think I can decide for myself what I do and don't want."

"No, you don't."

The girl looked at Jake and he suddenly felt like screaming and running away. But, being a good cop, he suppressed those feelings.

"Stop looking." The girl said again. "You'll regret it if you don't."

The girl turned around and walked away. Jake was about to stand up and follow her when his computer made a sound. Jake looked at the screen, seeing the words '1 match(es) found'. He looked up again at the doorway, but the girl was already gone. He walked out of his office and looked down the hallway.

Nothing.

Feeling very uncomfortable, Jake walked back in and sat down in front of his computer.

"Just one match?" Jake said to the air around him. "Well, let's see who this Brooke McQueen is."

The text file came from the homicide department and appeared rather quickly. Jake briefly skimmed over the descriptions of her appearance, focusing instead on the circumstances she had died. She had been found by a homeless person. Her neck had been punctured and she had died due to loss of blood.

That was it.

No leads, no clues, nothing. Just a body and not a clue of who the killer was.

Jake looked at the description of the girl and suddenly several cold shivers started to make their way down his spine. He quickly typed a command and when the picture had been loaded onto the screen he simply looked at the screen in horror for several moments.

Two minutes later Jake was on the road again, pushing his car to its limits. It was not possible. It could not be possible. Dead people were dead. They did not come to police stations. Ignoring a red light Jake suddenly heard a voice ringing through his head.

'I tried your house first, but you weren't there.'

After racing through several more red lights Jake at long last ended up in front of his house. He got out as fast as he could and ran inside. He ran through the hallway into the living room. All the lights were on and his wife was watching TV. She looked at him, but before she could say anything Jake raced upstairs. He took a deep breath when he stood in front of his daughter's room before opening the door. He could see little in the dark, except for the steady rising and falling of the sheets. Sighing, Jake closed the door again and sank down onto the floor, immensely relieved. He chuckled at his own stupidity.

Vampires.

How could he even believe for a single second that they were real?

His wife appeared from the staircase, looking rather worried.

"Honey, are you alright?"

Jake smiled. "Yeah. I'm fine."

~~~~~~

Meanwhile, inside a dark room, Patricia Torrant lay in her bed. Her breathing was shallow, her eyes were wide and her mind was terrified. Two small puncture marks graced her neck.


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