Heart of the Vampire : (Episode 3) by Tasha Black


Dru led Officer Wagner up the staircase, her mind reeling.

If Viktor didn’t come to the door, would he kick it in like he had the door of the groundskeeper’s cottage? If he did, would he be suspicious not to find Viktor there? Would he check the trunk?

Viktor isn’t suspected of anything. Wagner won’t kick in his door.

Will he?

“Which one?” Wagner asked her as she paused in the hallway, trying to think of any excuse.

She pointed toward the Sapphire, Onyx, and Quartz rooms, wondering if she could slow him down by taking him to the other two rooms first.

But that was ridiculous, it was still morning. She couldn’t keep him distracted until dark with some kind of Scooby-Doo doors and hallways gag.

“This one,” she said, indicating the entrance to the Sapphire room.

Wagner tapped on the door. “Mr. Striker, this is Officer Wagner. I need to ask you some questions ab—”

The door swung open and Channing slipped out, wearing a white lab coat and looking like some kind of enraged pharmacist.

“How dare you disturb this man?” Channing demanded in a harsh whisper. “He is under my care.”

“This is a police investigation, sir,” Wagner said. “We need his cooperation.”

“He’ll speak with you when he’s rested and not before,” Channing scolded.

“He may need serious medical attention,” Wagner said.

“The wound was minor, but he was shaken up,” Channing retorted. “I’ve given him something to relax his nerves, so he’ll be out for a little while. When he’s feeling himself, I assure you that we’ll call for you.”

“Did you want to go see the body?” Dru suggested to Wagner.

She definitely didn’t want to see the body again. But she hoped the offer might be enough to distract him.

“Very well,” Wagner said, looking frustrated. “But I’ll be back to speak with him as soon as he’s up.”

“Of course, sir,” Channing said.

Wagner turned and headed down the stairs. His pace beating a staccato rhythm on the steps.

“Thank you,” Dru mouthed to Channing.

Channing smiled delightedly, giving her a deep bow.

Dru grinned and headed after Wagner before he could notice she wasn’t right behind him.

“That was Tyler Park, the EMT?” Wagner asked.

“No, that was Hugh Channing,” she said, before she could stop herself.

“I thought you said he was…an actor?” Wagner asked, stopping in the lobby to look at his notes.

“Who can really make a living as a full-time actor these days?” Dru ventured, hoping it was enough.

“I see,” Wagner said, and made a note. “Which way to the catacombs as you call them?”

“I usually go out through the solarium and enter from the back,” Dru said.

“There’s no access from the first floor?” Wagner asked, looking surprised.

“Oh, there is,” Dru told him. “But there are so many tunnels that I prefer to go the most direct way.”

She didn’t want to talk about the fact the narrow tunnel from the inside was too much for her to handle sometimes.

“Wouldn’t want to get lost down there, eh?” Wagner asked.

Dru shook her head. Once was enough.

“I remember touring this place in elementary school,” Wagner said. “Underground Railroad and all.”

“Me too,” Dru said, grinning. “And I guess the mob used it to move alcohol during Prohibition.”

“And to move stolen jewels, according to legend,” Wagner said. “You get a lot of treasure hunters up here?”

“I’ve only been here a few weeks, so I’m not sure,” Dru admitted.

They had reached the solarium, where she took him out through the door and into the snow.

The sky was clear and bright now. She wondered if the sun would have a chance to melt everything before it froze again overnight.

It had been a while since she’d been awake at this hour.

Dru slipped out her skeleton key and opened up the basement entrance.

A faint odor of decay greeted her right away.

“This won’t be pretty,” Officer Wagner said. “You don’t have to come with me.”

“I’ll get you in there,” Dru offered. “The tunnels wind and branch off. I want to make sure you find him.”