Tanner is currently sitting at the edge of the street bundled up in his coat, his face pale in the washed-out light of the streetlamp. He's just smoking a cigarette, enjoying the brisk winter air and the falling snow.
Dark grey stormclouds hang overhead as their wintry payload descends on the small town of Haven below, the light of the moon leaving streaks along their ragged edges. It's an altogether peaceful evening in the often chaotic little seaside town.
That tranquility is interrupted, though, by a loud buzzing from Tanner's pocket, doubtlessly coming from the man's phone.
Tanner lets out an irritated sigh, his nose scrunching up as a plume of smoke blows out with it. His face is obscured by the cloud before the wind trails it away. He flips out the phone from his pocket, the old plastic coming open with a clack before he puts it to his ear. "Lacroix residence, Tanner speaking."
"I know you're not home right now." Says the voice on the other end. It's a West coast accent, produced by a harsh, masculine throat marred by decades of alcohol and excess.
"I'm sorry, that sounded like a threat, didn't it? I didn't mean anything by it; I'm actually with The Hand, too, from our San Diego chapter, and I could really use your help right now." There's a pause, a sound of soft inhaling on the other end.
Tanner is given pause by the first remark from the stranger, moving his phone away from his ear to check the number on the screen before he puts it back to his ear. "And how can I help you?" he wonders, patting down the front of his coat to take stock. Gun, check. Ammo, check. Keys, check.
Tanner thinks; "Wait, where's my phone.. oh."
The number on the screen of Tanner's phone isn't listed, nor is there any sort of avatar representing the caller. "Alright. So my name's Eddy, and I'm a vampire, and I've currently sorta doing what you might call baby sitting." There's some rustling on the other end, a muffled and distorted piece of conversation Tanner can't quite make out.
"My sire's sire, my grandsire, as we call them, He's gone missing somewhere in town, and I'm afraid I can't look for him right now, so I need someone to do it for me. Someone who isn't a werewolf... or Irish. Now I'm assuming you're neither of those things?" The voice asks, sounding a little hopeful as it croaks that.
Tanner pauses a moment, chewing his lip as he considers Eddy's plea. "I'm not the first thing, and I'm English," he assures the caller, looking up and down the length of the street. "Town as in- as in Haven, towen, right?" he confirms, reaching in to his pocket to thumb at his keys as he approaches his creepy BUGBUSTERS van.
"Tubular, then we're in business bro. And yeah, I mean here in town. Now he could get to just about anywhere in the world in a few minutes, but, it was his idea to come here. It was his old stomping grounds back in the day, by which I mean like Colonial-era, so I don't think he's gone too far." The voice on the other end relays, and there's some more muffled conversation. It's impossible to tell what they're saying, but it sounds rushed and heated.
"Okay okay fine Jesus Christ I'll let him know!..." Comes a discernable snippet as Tanner makes his way over to the disconcerting-looking old van. There's some silence before the voice speaks again. "So my grandsire's kind of having one of his, uh, episodes."
Tanner climbs inside the cold metal skeleton of the van, his butt settling in to the stained seat. He jams the key into the slot and twists it, the engine coughing and kicking with a few loud cracks before it finally starts up again. "What kind of episode would that be?" he asks, looking back into the clutter in the rear of the van and digging around for something. "Stake or no stake?"
The Clocktower chimes: Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong.
The voice coming out of Tanner's phone speaker erupts in laughter, though it's quickly cut short, and there's a crackle and thump of the phone hitting something. Probably being dropped?
"Ow ow! Ok stop hitting me. Yeah. No stake." The voice comfirms, rather firmly "And no sudden moves either. He's not some creepy rage monster or anything like that but he gets a little cagey sometimes." There's an unpleasant throat-clearing noise, made all the more pronounced by the tinny crackle of the phone's speakers.
"So to make a long story short, he's been trapped in the bottom of an abandoned coal mine since the end of the Second French Empire, and every now and then he kind of... regresses, I guess you'd call it, sorta forgets everything that's come after. So he's probably going to be looking for something familiar. Like an old building, or, landmark."
Tanner angles the top of the flip-phone away from himself as he buckles in, hiding from the crackling sound of laughter and thumping. The stick causes an unpleasant grinding sound to ring out as the blond tries to shift gears. Eventually, something snaps into place, however. "No stake," he confirms, putting a hand on ten and leaving 2 cold and empty as he begins to roll slowly along the edge of the street. "Clock tower?" he supposes, glancing into his rearview at the illuminated face of it.
"Could be. I'd also put money on the library or the cemetary, maybe the lighthouse." The voice gruffly confirms. It doesn't seem like there's anyone up on the clocktower's viewing balcony as far as Tanner can see from this distance, and for the most part the streets seem largely abandoned at this late hour.
"Mm, what else. Oh yes, he goes by Girard, I guess I should mention. You'll know it's him when you see a really tall, impossibly old, impossibly caucasian guy in a really expensive suit. Got any questions, Tanner?"
You hear a wolf howl somewhere in the distance.
"He LOOKS impossibly old?" Tanner repeats for confirmation, his brow furrowing as he tries to piece together a mental picture of his quarry. He speeds up a bit as he drives toward the cemetary, turning his hgih beams on to shine on through the fence as he tries to peer into the night in search of him.
"What should I do when I find him?" He adds, adjusting his grip on the steering wheel. He pulls his hand away and reaches to the side briefly to crank up the air conditioning.
"You have a harder time picturing that then impossibly caucasian?" The voices asks quizzically, and there's another bit of undiscernable chitchat on the other end. At least it sounds relatively amiable this time.
"I really shouldn't rip on his looks, he's my grandsire, bro. I'm just saying that he is going to be the oldest-looking guy in the room, and I don't care what room that is, and let's leave it at that. But trust me, he's very /distinct/." Concludes the harsh-throated speaker.
The high beams of Tanner's creepy old van pierce the dark, casting the shadows of the crooked old tombstones over the mostly-undisturbed snow like the teeth of some great demented shadow puppet. But other than a pair of young women doing some late-night jogging, the graveyard is similarly abandoned.
"I'm not sure, though. He's out looking for something, I'm betting. Easiest thing to do might just be to get it for him? You might be able to talk some sense into him, but that's never easy even when he's got all his marbles."
"I know what that looks like," Tanner deadpans in reply, trying to focus in on the chit chat but finding it still unintelligible through the crackly, cheap speaker fo his flip phone. Finding his search of the library unsatisfying, Tanner grunts as he spins the steering wheel alllll the way to one side, pulling a wide U turn on the thankfully (usually) unpopulated nighttime streets of the historical district.
"Alright. And this is Eddy from San Diego?" Tanner asks, shifting uncomfortably against the seat as he takes a slow sunday drive in the direction of the library.
Tanner thinks; "If I get munched I want to know who to send my insurance after."
"Oh right, yeah, you're British. Ow. OW cut it out!" That voice whines, and Tanner can definitely hear his conversation partner as they raise their voice.
"Quit being so rude, we need his help!" The other voice chastises, still masculine sounding but oddly melodical. The sounds goes muffled, a hand going over the speaker as more quibbling is heard but not really understood.
"Yeah, yeah it's Eddy. Edward Mogen. Anyway, once you got 'em, bring him to Elm, we'll be by the gates to Blackfield. Any other questions? We need you driving and checking those places out."
As Eddy asks, Tanner 's just about to pull up to the library, incandescent light shining out of the windows of it's austere and gloomy facade.
A bat flies by overhead.
"I am driving currently, but no, I think I'll be quite alright." Tanner flicks the signal on with his pinky finger, pulling up to the curb near the library and jamming the stick shift back into park. "I'll bring him there. See you soon."
His phone clacks shut just a moment before he tucks it back in his pocket, twisting the key and pulling it out as the sputtering old van falls still once again, the enging coughing as it grinds to a halt. He busts out of the drivers side door and briskly walks toward the library to do some scouting for any old men that may be within.
The Clocktower chimes: Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong.
"Woah that's not safe du--" The voice begins, silenced as Tanner puts his phone away and approaches the library.
Inside, it's a welcome relief from the subtle draftiness that comes with an old van older than Tanner is, probably. The air hangs heavy with the smell of dust and wood pulp, the very scent of learning. The soft lighting is just bright enough that the centuries of knowledge and written word lining the walls can be easily read while maintaining that cozy atmosphere.
There isn't many people here on a 'busy' day, and for now there's only two people in the front desk area: a librarian lady sits as the concierge, hovering somewhere in her mid-fifties in a frumpy sweater and curled up in her armchair with an old paperback; and a girl in her late teens, short with long black hair and clad in a loud anime t-shirt, and reading from some dry looking textbooks.
Tanner strides up to the front counter, knocking on it to catch the attention of the sweater-clad librarian before lifting a hand and flashing his friendliest smile.
"Hi!" he begins, glancing off to the side to scope out the teenager and her textbook before his gaze returns to the older lady. "You didn't happen to see a very old, very caucasian man, did you?" he asks.
The teenager's books appear to mostly just be school textbooks. There's one for chemistry, another about 18th century American history, and a few others. The one odd one out of the bunch seems to be an old faded leatherbound book with vellum pages, titled "The Incomplete Works of J.J. Grandville" embossed in French with crumbling gold leaf, and spelled out in english with a handwritten sticky note.
"Good evening!" The librarian says, smiling up to Tanner as she looks up from her paperback. "A very old, very caucasian man? Oh yes, I think so. I think I saw him perusing the atlas and map sections when I was stocking earlier. Is he a relative?"
Tanner pauses a moment to ponder the teenager's out of order selection of book before the librarian's words grab hold of his attention once more. "Oh, uh- yeah, that's him," he begins, looking off left and right and stuffing his hands in his coat pockets. "He got out of the home again. Where might I find him?" he wonders of the woman.
You hear a wolf howl somewhere in the distance.
You hear a fog horn off in the distance.
"Well, he hasn't left yet, I don't think. I certainly haven't seen him leave." The middle-aged librarian replies. She opens her mouth to speak again, tilting to the side to look around Tanner, across the collection of tables and chairs in this main area to the narrow alleyways of bookshelves across the room.
"Ah, he's over there with the graphic novels." She points out, to a tall, imposing figure. Matching the descrition given to a tee, he is a tall gentleman, six foot tall and then some, his pale almost snow-white skin etched with deep grooves and lines from an inconcievably long life.
The librarian sits back and returns to her book. The old vampire simply stares at the shelves, motionless.
"The graphic novels?" Tanner repeats, swivelling his head to look over and spot the old coot just staring at the shelves. The blond man strides over after a nod of thanks to the librarian, doing his best not to startle the vampire by making his steps just a tad louder on the library floor. "Ger.. Girard?" he says, uncertainly.
"Damn it all, it's not here either." The man intones, his peculiar, archaic accent sounding not too disimiliar to modern-day Parisian. It's cleanly enuciated, with a cold and mechanical precision, and his utter and complete lack of anything resembling body language gives the towering old vampire an unquieting stillness. His eyes go over the bookspines presented on the shelves before his glassy-eyed stare falls on
"What do you want, boy?" He asks Tanner, just how unanimated and doll-like his pale, bloodless blue eyes are all the more apparent as he stares down at the shorter man.
"Eddy sent me to pick you up," Tanner informs the elderly gentlepire, glancing aside as the older man's gaze bears down on him. He rubs the back of his neck and lets out a short exhale.
"Were you having trouble finding something, sir?" He had originally decided upon laying the posh English charm on his accent, but upon hearing the man, he shifts into a sort of English and Parisian hybrid.
"I no of no Eddy, or any Edward for that matter." The elder vampire informs Tanner dryly, plucking a reprinted collection of old Batman stories off the shelf to stare at for a moment. Something resembling an emotion crosses his deeply lined face for just the briefest of moments as he beholds the cover, then replaces the book, the barest hint of a smile as Tanner slips into his alternate accent.
"Perhaps you could. I can tell you're of... acceptable stock, so I will not refuse your help. I have a friend I must meet, arriving on the midnight train from Boston. She's obsessed with the works of this new Parisian illustrator, a J.J. Grandville, And I was informed, perhaps incorrectly, that a copy of his works could be obtained here."
"You don't?" Tanner says, furrowing his brow at the vampire's response as he tries to discern the emotion in the man's face as it crawls out from beneath the folds of his jowls. "Aye- er, yes.."
Tanner glances back toward the front desk area, craning his neck and stepping aside a bit to try and catch a glimpse of the teenager who he'd seen with just that title a moment before. "And your friend's coming how soon? I think, uh, someone else may have that one. Did you ask the librarian?"
The Clocktower chimes: Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong.
The teenager is still there, but it looks like she's started packing it in for the night, slowly loading her books into her already overstuffed backpack.
"Yes, at midnight. I don't understand why she took the train, but I presume for the novelty." Girard relays to Tanner in that staid, robotic tone. Although his eyebrows have long since faded into fine white strands of gauze nearly indiscernable amid his marble white skin, he still raises them a touch at Tanner's question.
"I had not considered that. I require that book regardless."
Tanner counts off the chimes of the clocktower in a quiet voice, his fingers coming out to aid in the task. "Bong, bong, bong.." he murmurs, ending his count at ten. "We have two hours," he adds, with a firm nod of confirmation
"Ah- hey, hey, hey, ma'am!" the blond says as he jogs away from Girard and over to the girl as she packs in her books, holding his hands out toward the object of his desire - the works of J.J. Grandville. "I saw you had the works of J.J. Grandville there, you did? I'm so sorry - I need them quite, uh.. I need them."
The mist level rises.
The old vampire remains there, looming across the room from Tanner and the teenager, staring at him as he approaches the girl. He can feel the elder's gaze on his back, like something substantial and cold like a great icicle is hanging just over his shoulders.
"Uh, what?" The girl asks, snapping the buttons on her backpack closed and slinging it over her shoulder, looking up to Tanner with half-lidded and disinterested eyes. She's about a half-foot shorter than him, and build very gangly, all elbows and rubber bands, graceless like a newborn horse. "I need it for a school assignment."
"My grandpa over there is so old, he doesn't even know how to use a computer," Tanner explains, crouching down to be at level with the smaller girl as he begins to deploy his carefully crafted sob story.
"I bet that if you need that for an assignment, you can find it on the internet. Easily. My grandpa is so old he can't even see.. the words on the screen," he says softly. "Would you mind just letting us have it for this one night? His friend is only in town for one night and would just love to have it."
The mist level rises.
The girl clutches at the arm strap of her backpack, her long but still-obviously chewed on fingernail anxiously clicking at a small Pokemon button adorning it. Her listless stare turns into a slightly suspicious squint as she looks between Tanner and his supposed grandfather across the room. She goes a little paler as he stares back.
"My teacher's real anal about citations, so, I actually do need this book." She says hurriedly, taking a half-step back as she eyes the door.
"Google dot com," Tanner insists, a friendly smile still plastered on his face as he jerks a thumb back over his shoulder to indicate his 'grandfather'. "How am I supposed to explain this to him?"
"Maybe you could come over and help me," Tanner adds dryly, chewing his lip and staring down at the poor girl for a few long moments. He lets out a sigh as he switches to a more pleading tone, a quick nod accompanying his more urgent pace of speech "I think it'd be better for the both of us if you gave me that book sooner instead of later."
The girl looks back to the front desk. The librarian doesn't seem to be at her post, nor does one of the library carts. She backs up a little further, shaking like a leaf between Tanner's hollow friendliness and threatening implication. Not to mention the old vampire, who manages to somehow feel like he's in their personal space despite standing like a sentinel across the room.
"O-or what?" She stammers up at Tanner, sounds a little defiant despite her obvious distress.
The mist level lowers.
Tanner leans in, making himself very much present in her personal space as he bears down upon her. He lifts himself upright again to loom over her. He reaches out to put a hand on her shoulder, but just takes a firm grip on the strap of her backpack
"You look like a good student, huh? Believe me when I tell you.. there's some stuff that's better to learn the easy way than the hard way," he deadpans down to her, voice in a murmur as his veiled threats become less veiled and more threatening. "Give me the book."
The girl tries to shrink away from Tanner's hand but just isn't quick enough after a long day of sitting and studying. She makes a half-hearted attempt to pull away from his grip as he threatens her, and starts to tear up as whatever courage she had disappears.
"Fine!" She barks, her voice cracked. She takes her bag off her shoulders and roughly opens it, digging the leatherbound book out of her back and thrusting it into Tanner's hands. "Stay away from me you fucking creep!" She cries out as she runs for the door.
"What a foolish youth. This is a library, it is meant for silence." Comes the voice of Girard, who just moments ago was metres away and is now inexplicably looking down from just above Tanner's shoulder. "You have the book?"
"No- no, hey, hey!" Tanner says, wincing at the fearful sound of her voice as she thrusts the book in his direction. He takes it, however, shooting up straight and looking around to make sure nobody had seen before he turns to jog back to Girard's side, instead bumping into the man's chest.
"Ah- jesus fuck!" he says, nodding and showing the book off in his hands. "But I've got to get you to come with me for a minute. Someone needs to see you and then I can drop you off at the train station," he offers.
The Clocktower chimes: Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong, Bong.
Other than Tanner and Girard, there's nobody else here, the teen girl already disappeared beyond the glass front doors and into the misty night.
Bumping into the elder vampire produces the same results one might expect bumping into a brick wall, but thankfully Tanner was not going anywhere near fast enough to hurt himself. Girard readjusts his tie, then reaches down to flip the cover of the book open as Tanner presents it to him, to a magnificiently crosshatched caricature of Louis-Phillippe I as a dull-witted looking penguin.
"This is not my taste, but I must admit Grandville does have a knack for capturing the essence of those he parodies." He says, with a sensible chuckle.
"Very well. You have done me a good service, I shall repay you in kind. Lead me to this 'someone' of your's."
Tanner looks up in disgust at the aged vampire as he peruses the newly retreived book, brushing the front of his coat off as he straightens himself up from the bump. "Aye," he agrees, turning on a heel and starting out the door toward his musty, aged van. He takes a moment of pause to look at his van, then toward Girard, before he just moves around to the drivers seat to unlock both doors and invite the vampire in. "Come along." And so, he'll drop the fella off at his destination at Blackfield, not entirely concerned with what happens after that.
Either off in his own little world or absorbed in the works of a long dead artist who remains much younger than him, Girard thankfully doesn't look up or notice the look of disgust Tanner gives him. He climbs into the passenger seat, quizzically fumbling with the seatbelt for the few minutes it takes to travel from the library to Elm street.
A surfer-looking guy with sunkissed skin and a short middle aged woman with her hair pulled back into a bun are already waiting there in the cab of a U-Haul. He upnods Tanner as Girard climbs out, and the last thing he sees of the trio in his rear-view mirror is the presumable Eddy helping Girard into an ancient-looking coffin that rests in the cargo hold of the other, larger van.