“I’d feel better about leaving Boston if we could put a man on Collins,” stated Chris as the trio crossed Quincy.
“Belcher won’t listen to us,” answered Damon, “but Pappoús might be able to convince him to put a man on Collins.”
Tony chuckled when they approached the Porsche and he spied a yellow paper under the saloon’s windshield wiper. “Heh, told ya you were gonna get a ticket,” he declared, pointing at the citation.
Damon frowned as he snatched the paper from the car and unfolded it. The frown was quickly replaced with a quizzical look as he read the contents. “This isn’t a ticket,” he reported, scanning the street.
Tony pulled the rear door open and frowned, disappointed that he was wrong. “It’s not?”
Damon handed the paper to Chris.
“It’s a note,” Chris stated. “‘Harvard Station, Inbound—7:00 PM. Have info regarding The Vampire Killer’. That’s just a few blocks from here,” he said, glancing at Damon. “It’s probably a trap.”
“Probably, but we’ve gotta go.”
Tony stared at his friends. “Hold up,” he said. “You guys know this is a trap and you’re just gonna walk right into it?”
Damon shrugged and slid behind the wheel. “Yeah, pretty much.”
Tony frowned and looked to Chris. “And you’re signin’ off on this?”
Chris smiled as he skirted the front of the Panamera. “Relax Tony. I’ve got my service weapon. Damon has his and at this time of night there’ll still be lots of people at the station.” The younger man settled into the passenger seat and pulled the door closed. He glanced back at Tony who’d taken a position behind the driver’s seat. “Collins would be crazy to try anything there.”
“That’s my point.” Tony grumbled, pulling his seatbelt across his chest. “I think we pretty much established the guy’s a fucking psycho. He’s the reason we’re all in a constant state of freak-out.”
Damon fingered the start button and smiled. “Relax Tony, it’ll be fine.”
“I just don’t wanna be a vampire’s midnight snack, that’s all,” grumbled the pilot.
“He’s not a vampire,” chorused the brothers.
Damon, Chris and Tony scanned the platform for anyone who looked like they might have something to say. Damon and Chris kept their hands within reach of their weapons as a precautionary measure.
Within minutes of their arrival, a young man wearing a black backpack approached them from behind. “I’m here to warn you,” declared the stranger, turning to face the men.
Chris guessed him to be roughly their age. The stranger had sandy blonde hair and brown eyes. There was something familiar in the man’s appearance, but Chris couldn’t immediately put his finger on it.
“Warn us about what?” Damon demanded.
“He’s annoyed at your constant interference into his affairs.”
“Who are you? What’s your relation to Collins?”
“I’m no one of import. He’s the one you should fear. He sent me to tell you to cease your meddling or suffer the consequences.”
“That’s very melodramatic,” replied Chris. “What consequences did he have in mind?”
The man in black swallowed hard. “He can make you do…things.”
“What things?” pressed Tony.
“Your family will suffer for your impudence.”
“Be very careful who you threaten,” menaced Damon. His words were nearly drowned out by the noise from an approaching train.
“Remember my warning,” called the messenger over the clamor of the train. “Your family is in grave danger!”
Tony watched as terror took over the stranger’s features. He sensed what the man was about to do. “No WAIT!” Tony tried to grab the young man, but it was too late.
Before any of them could react, the black garbed stranger hurled himself in front of the incoming train. The horrified conductor jammed on the brake, but there was nothing he could do to stop the subway train in time. The train struck the young man, killing him instantly.
“Oh my God!” Damon stared in dismay as the stranger’s body was partially dragged underneath the train.
Terror spread through the platform as horror-struck passengers gawked at the scene. A woman next to Tony tearfully called 911.
“Goddammit,” Tony cursed, clamping his hands onto his head at the horrific scene.
Chris hopped down onto the tracks and touched his fingers to the man’s neck just under the jawbone. There was virtually no chance he was alive, but he was obligated to check. He looked up at Damon and Tony and shook his head slightly.
Two Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority cops arrived on the platform. One of the officers joined Chris near the body while the other called the incident in and dealt with the gathering crowd.
Chris glanced back at the body and suddenly realized why he had looked familiar. “Guys,” he said tersely. “Look.”
“What?” Tony queried not zeroing in on what Chris saw.
Chris pointed to a bright red Nike shoe laying on the track.
“The motorcycle rider,” Damon murmured.
Chris nodded grimly.
The MBTA cop cleared his throat and spoke gently. “Did you know this man, sir?”
Chris shook his head. “No. He contacted us saying that he had information on The Vampire Killer.”
“Did someone push him?”
Chris considered his response as he checked the backpack for ID. There was no point in telling the cop that Collins compelled this guy to jump in front of a train. It would lead to questions to which he didn’t know the answers. “No,” he muttered. “He jumped.”
Christian found a school ID and flashed it to Damon and Tony before handing it to the transit authority cop.
“His name’s Garret Ashby,” supplied Chris as he stepped forward. He found a foothold about halfway up the concrete and planted his foot. He grabbed hold of Damon and Tony’s outstretched hands and allowed them to hoist him up to the platform. “Thanks. He was a student here at Harvard.”
Damon shook his head. “Pappoús was right, this business is getting out of control and the body count is rising.” He noticed Tony’s ashen face as he stared at Ashby’s body. “You okay?”
Tony turned to face Damon and then glanced at Chris. He was as serious as they’d ever seen him. “No, I’m not okay,” he murmured. “I just watched a man kill himself in front of me and I’m a little freaked out right now. We need to get that bastard Collins before he does this to someone else.”
“Tony’s right,” breathed Chris. “I don’t care what we have to do, Damon. We need to get Collins before he kills again.”
The trio of men turned to find Detective DePalma heading directly toward them. He wore a tan trench coat and a scowl. “Mayhem and murder just seem to follow you two around,” he growled.
Damon frowned. He’d been counting on DePalma’s level-headedness to counteract Belcher’s obstinacy in convincing the police to go after Collins. There was enough circumstantial evidence to hold Collins and hopefully buy them enough time to get solid proof that he was the killer. That plan seemed in jeopardy now. He tried to diffuse the situation. “Mike good to see you…”
“Don’t try to make nice with me,” grumbled the detective. “What the fuck happened here?”
The Karases related the evening’s events for DePalma including their suspicions about Collins.
“You want me to believe that this Collins guy can put some kind of whammy on people and make them do things against their will?”
Damon shrugged. “I know it sounds…”
“Crazy? Yeah, it does!”
Chris looked at the Boston cop pointedly. “Look Mike, Collins may not be a vampire in the sense that he’s the living dead, but he is a killer. We think he’s an extreme sanguinarian…”
“Sanguinarian. Someone who has a taste for human blood.”
“Except this guy’s willing to kill to get it,” added Damon.
“He’s killed for it and he’ll kill for it again unless we stop him,” Chris finished.
“We know it sounds crazy,” Damon admitted. “We have a friend with some pretty—amazing abilities. He can do things that we didn’t think were possible. I think Collins may have some of those same abilities.”
DePalma frowned and shook his head. “I don’t believe in hocus-pocus, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. I’ll look at what you have,” he said then quickly added, “but I’m only doing this ‘cause you work for Ben. Personally, I still think your fucking nuts.”
Damon smiled at their small victory. “We’ll take it.”
“Simpson,” said Chris. The others looked to him with blank expressions. “If Collins got to this guy, Ashby, then Professor Simpson could be in danger, too.”
Damon looked to Mike. “Can you send someone to check on Professor Miles Simpson? Last known location was The Harvard Faculty Club.”
DePalma nodded and called it in as Damon reached for his vibrating cell phone. “Hello?” There was a moment’s pause where Damon’s expression changed from calm curiosity to stunned horror. “What!?”
Chris and Tony immediately zeroed in on the older Karas’ conversation.
“Get our man up to the house and call the Weston cops. We’re on our way!”
“What’s going on?” asked Chris, alarmed at his brother’s reaction.
“That was dad. The fab four are missing. He thinks they may have gone to Collins’ house,” Damon called back as he began to push his way through the crowd. “Damn!”
“I’ll follow you,” offered Mike.
“You better ride with us,” replied Chris, trailing Damon through the throng of onlookers. “We need you with us and you won’t be able to keep up otherwise.”
DePalma struggled to keep pace with the trio and nearly collided with an EMT en route to treat the traumatized conductor. A dozen conversations reached the detective’s ears as he made his way past students, faculty and others.
‘What happened up there?” asked one woman.
“I think some poor guy threw himself in front of the train,” answered another.
The woman’s hand flew to her mouth. “Sweet Jesus” she cried.
Another man complained about the delay, pissed that he wouldn’t get home for hours ‘cause some idiot decided to off himself by leaping in front of a train. It left DePalma to question what had happened to peoples’ sense of compassion.
The Porsche blasted off as Damon set course, sending the German sports sedan hurtling toward Weston.