See the clump of X's? That's just indicating a break in paragraphs, since doc manager is too much of a [insert long string of expletives here] to allow regular or proper formatting.

Chapter 2-What About My New Scarf?

"You're coming with me," Renata says, from behind me.

For such a garish and loud person, she sneaks well, so I don't notice her until she speaks. I drop my sandwich and jump out of my skin. I manage to juggle it for a second, but it slips out of my frantic hands and plops into the bleach-filled sink.

"Why?" I ask the red-head. She blows a fiery red strand out of her face, all the better for me to see the disdain on it.

"Why do I have to ask? Just come here!" Is her reply. She makes a grab for my arm.

That's total bull, I think as she approaches. She wants to get me alone.

Can't have that.

I dodge her.

"I'd love to just do whatever you say, Renata," I sigh, slowly reaching behind myself for the counter, "But I'm busy having a back bone!" I wave the vampire's spine in her face, erupting into giggles.

She smacks my hand away and leaves, but not before I hear her mutter, "Freak."

"Aw, that almost hurt my feelings." I scoff at her hypocritical insult. "Get a sense of humor."

I'm well aware underneath the ire is just…fear. A deep-seated fear of scrawny brunettes that are handy with scalpels.

Of course, Renata is the most adamant about having our Dear Leader, Jack, get rid of me. I don't care because I know they need me.

Renata, however, doesn't like me being here. Even before I started messing with her, before she knew what I was here for, she wanted to stab me in the face and dump the body, for some reason. It's the hunter's knee-jerk reaction to suspicious people, I suppose. Especially since they know how to get rid of bodies.

So I don't blame her in that respect, and messing with her is more fun than trying to be friends, and knowing me I'd push it until she snapped because I like to mess with people. Hopefully Jack will be within running distance when the times comes.

I sigh and glance at the spine. "Well, let's get you on the wall next to the skull collection."

After cleaning out the sink, I skip towards my room, waving at everyone I pass, and they (sullen angst-monkeys that they are) nod at me with very deep frowns imbedded into their faces. Vic; George; Sam; Lana, and finally Trixie with her halter top all have the Hunter's Stare going on.

They keep close to the peeling walls, either because they don't want to risk getting touched by the spine or my radiantly happy smile burns their miserable eyes.

I don't want them to touch it either, so I tie it around my neck.

I can swear I hear a faint gagging sound behind me, and I just wave in its direction without stopping. Why must she still have a problem with my trophy-keeping habits?

Oh well, I get the job done and besides this obvious (perceived) problem, I am very clean and thorough.

Plus, the vampire spilled his guts about his coven, and the others sure as heck don't mind how literal a statement that is either, because remember he was just a vamp...and only my shoes got ruined in the process.


Oh, Sweet Heaven! formerly a major purveyor of all things having to do with cake and diabetes.

Now with flavors Bankrupt Blueberry and Abandoned Apple.

The factory is rather large, and it takes a while to skip to my 'room', which I don't mind, considering it's the only exercise I get. Mind you, it's fast and cheap food or canned non-perishables in a place with no refrigerators. Plus there's no one who cares enough to stop you from consuming nothing but candy bars.

It's both a gift and a curse, since this job doesn't even have dental.

Regardless, it hasn't caught up with me yet, but I want to feel better about indulging myself. So I've taken to using longer routes to get to my room during the less eventful days, enough that I can jog for a while.

I slow down when I hear a voice in the room ahead.

If one were to rank the people living here by how much we stand out, I am only second to Jake. Scrawny guy, just as likely to go out to the field and hunt as I am. Very, very good with computers. He's nice most of the time, even if he prefers one-word answers. Only problem is he's creepy.

I can hear Jake singing to himself, some twisted rendition of a nursery rhyme:

"One, two, get my booze. Three, four, kill a whore. Five, six, fuck up hicks. Seven, eight, lay them straight. Nine, ten, stalk Adrienne. Let's get up and count again…"

He trails off once he realizes I'm jogging past, and seconds later I hear his door shut.


Just as my heart rate starts to pick up, my eye catches movement in the darkness.

Slow and steady, but there. I stop and squint, and smile when I recognize the origin.

The towering figure of Jack steps from the shadows and into the light.

"Oi!" I yell, switching to a jog. "Jack, how was the lead?"

He stops and looks up, sees my 'new scarf' in my hand, manages to force a smile. "Good enough." He replies in that gravelly voice of his. "Think we found where their nest is."

He looks as if he hasn't slept in two days. He looks like crap.

His eyes are bloodshot, his shoulders stooped and his hair greasy, but underneath the grime I can still see a good-looking guy, who will soon lose those looks to the weight of trying to save innocent people and his own team from peril. A new line is carved in his face each time he fails, but his dark eyes burn with the determination to save more people.

No matter how many wrinkles he risks.

Praise him, our Dear Leader.

"If we're especially lucky," we share a look as he says lucky, "Maybe they've been in contact with another coven and that'll get us another lead. See if they've been working together to snatch those teen couples."

"So we can move on?" I ask. "Never been in one place for this long."

"Yeah, uh, this one will probably be another two weeks."

"Trixie baiting one of them?"

"Yeah. One likes to prowl at this one bar. Got his eye on her, so you'll…have company soon, probably." He's pretty much the only one who'll look me in the eye when my hobby enters the conversation. Sad, isn't it?

"That's good." I say, eyes straying to the ground. "I know it's probably a bad time, but I have something to ask of you."


I hesitate.

"…It's about Renata."