First Contact


  The fireplace cracks and snaps as the wood inside it buckles under the heat of the flames. Ria and Brody are sitting opposite each other, replete with a full meal courtesy of Miss Eleanor’s pantry. They bask in the orange glow that is reaching out across the teak floor of the dining room, stretched out, full and contented. Their plates and cutlery and leftovers are abandoned on the table.

  “We should take jobs like this more often,” Brody says, picking at his teeth.
  “I’m hearing that,” Ria says, glad that Brody’s stormy disposition had broken, her hands interlocked behind her head as she stares up at the chandelier on the ceiling. Its dulled prisms cast beautifully distorted reflections of the flames below upon the ceiling behind it and the colours dance and flicker.

  Brody had decided – upon waking peacefully yesterday morning with nary a spirit in sight – that the aforementioned undead was a clever one. He had turned the power off at the breaker in response, sighting that if what they were dealing with was indeed a shade – as Ria suspected – it would draw it out. Whilst spirits were certainly not foolish, Ria had thought, they often proved to be malleable. Easily provoked and thus easy to control and thus easy to destroy. Brody had a knack for finding their buttons.

  So they sit in relative darkness, recounting old haunts and hunts as if they were favourite holidays or long forgotten acquaintances.

  “Remember that vampire-” Brody begins, but succumbs to his own laughter and has to stop for air before continuing, “-that vampire in Burbank Minnesota?”
  “Oh God, don’t remind me,” Ria says, putting a hand to her head in mock shame, “possibly the most ill-timed period in the history of humankind.”
Helped us find the damn thing though,” Brody says, continuing to laugh.

  His laughter is cut short, however, by a movement in the shadows. A movement noticed by the both of them. A blackened figure striding across the kitchen doorway, unmistakably blacker than the rest of the accustomed greys.

  “You saw that right?” Brody says, suddenly serious. Ria simply nods. Her hand is already on the duffel between them, parting it to recover the weapons stashed inside.

  “We good?” Brody asks quietly.
  “Oh yeah,” Ria says, as cool as her partner, “We’re good.”


~ by Joseph Blame on September 14, 2010.

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