Chapter 04 The Unholy Ghost

On the other hand, the Vampire? – or whatever was killing humans and draining their blood? – was still out there.

The Buffalo PD found another dead body, a homeless person – sorry, "residentially challenged" – in the cluster of old warehouses down by Scajaquada Creek Tunnel, over where the Scajaquada Expressway meets Interstate 190.

If this was indeed the work of a Vampire, it was most definitely NOT from the group in Black Rock. Farrell insisted that the two Black Masses where we had gotten Jesse and Gleep, were the only two they conducted.

So…what was going on?

I should also clear up, in the real world; you need to say "Vampire-like killings."

I apologize for sounding pedantic, but I am still, on paper anyway, a University Professor…so Vampires 101.

Take notes, this is all testable material.

The popular picture of a Vampire, Bela Lugosi as Dracula – not terribly accurate. There's actually a whole spectrum of beings that exhibited Vampire-Like behavior.

To start out with, there ARE variety of Vampires, native to Earth, that are basically human, with a few DNA sequences different from the rest of us. Thing is, they ALSO need to be exposed to a two part retrovirus, one present in the blood stream of an adult vampire, one in the saliva, AND they must be exposed to these retroviruses BEFORE they complete puberty.

While they can eat solid food, to some extent, and some can walk in the daylight, for a time anyway, they need to ingest mammalian blood to survive.

Those with the Vampire DNA in their family tree, who are not exposed to the retrovirus, prior to puberty, will develop as normal humans.

Some Vampires exist by feeding off animals such as cattle and goats. We call them "vegetarians".

Some exist by making deals with humans in return for blood…we call those "symbiotes". Blood feedings need not be fatal to the host.

Normal humans that are bitten by these vampires, if they do not die from the exsanguination, will recover quickly – if fact, the retrovirus in the vampire saliva? Well, it "backwashes" if you will, leaving the victim with a feeling of euphoria, and an increased, but unfortunately, temporary, increased healing factor and vitality.

Some Vampires are straight up predators, killers, who regard normal humans as "prey". Those are the dangerous ones.

We hunt the dangerous ones, and often merely identify the symbiotic vampires, or the "vegetarians" – those who dine on animal blood, and leave it at that.

Some of those vegetarians and symbiote Vampires have lived useful and productive lives in the general human community. Some are members of ZOMG.

There are other – creatures – which cross from other dimensions. Some are pure predators, and do not even look human, or even vaguely human.

Those! –we track down and kill.

/\

It was looking like the Vampire we were hunting was a predator of some sort – either a Vampire killer, or a creature that killed in a vampiric manner.

I had already put out the word in the small Vampiric Community in Buffalo, and passed the word upward to be sent out through normal ZOMG channels.

Vasily Degtyaryov, the local patriarch of the Vampire community, promised to alert his people. Hey, while I said that the Vampire Stereotype was not complete, I didn't say it was totally inaccurate.

The mythology of Central European Vampires? – has solid basis in fact. While a Vampire can walk for a limited time in sunlight, they often suffer from decreased melanin, and can suffer terribly from exposure to ultraviolet.

Thing is, the Vampire is often twice or three times the strength of a normal human. In the days when wars were a matter of physical strength, they could swing a sword or axe, much better than a normal person.

They do not live forever, but they age about half as slowly as humans, particularly on a diet of human blood, and tend to pick up a lot of knowledge.

A Central European Community of the Middle Ages could do a LOT worse than giving up a little blood to feed a Vampire Overlord and a few minions. (Heh) and armor will block UV quite well, thank you.

Oh, and Vampires have excellent hearing and eyesight, over a broader band than normal humans. They were expert marksmen with bow-and-arrow, although most prefer to stay away from firearms.

/\

Meredith and I were sitting at Vasily's Harbor Place Penthouse, watching the sunset over Lake Erie.

"So, Joseph" he said slowly, "you think it is a Vampire?"

"Yes," I said, "although, I cannot tell if it is a Predator, or merely some creature that sucks blood."

He turned his glass of wine in his delicate, long fingers, stared at the magnificent colors in the Western Sky, and sighed. "I hope it is a creature. It has been years since we had a Predator in this City."

"Truth" I agreed, "but if it is a creature, it is a cunning and smart one."

We went over the killings we had found. Luckily, it had been confined to the poor and disadvantaged, in the parts of town where "nobody sees nothing." The authorities – those that knew of it at all – were keeping a lid on it.

"Are you sure," he said disdainfully, "that it is not another cult, like the last one?"

I sighed. That case had been before my time in ZOMG, but I remembered reading about it in the newspaper. Stupid Human Cultists had kidnapped unfortunates and drank their blood, mimicking the behavior of the Vampires in story.

ZOMG had investigated, and found nothing but sick and twisted humans.

"We have not ruled it out, Ser Degtyaryov, but we would appreciate the help of you and your community, no matter what this killer is."

"Fair enough." Said Vasily. "It is a nasty business all around."

/\

Just to make things even better, we were assigned a newbie agent, just out of the ZOMG training course.

For reason not entirely clear to me, the existence of the so-called "supernatural" is denied by the Governments of just about every country on Earth. I mean, recognized, official religions such as, but not limited to, the Abrahmaic faiths, Hinduism and Shinto are accepted and tolerated.

But, things like werewolves, vampires, zombies and such are officially denied and a sub-rosa campaign of making fun of such things is the unofficial policy.

Survivors of problems with such creatures are urged to either be quiet about such events, or they are placed in mental institutions – that is, if they are not already in mental institutions.

Some survivors, on the other hand, if they show potential, can become ZOMG personnel.

Dana Morgan was one of those survivors.

I considered her personnel file. Meredith had already read, and passed it to me without comment.

I moaned as I read it.

Morgan was – of all things! – a Former IRS Agent.

"What is the matter?" said Meredith, quirking an eyebrow.

"IRS Agent, nine years experience, CPA." I said.

"She sounds qualified." Said Meredith, still puzzled. "Why are you unhappy?"

I have to remember, that while my partner is actually older than the human race, she still has a lot to learn about the subtle nuances of American Culture.

"I'm expecting a soul-less bureaucrat, a paper-pusher at heart." I told her. "She will probably want to serve a Vampire with a warrant, rather than a stake."

"She made it through Agent Training." Observed my partner. "She did quite well, it seems." She said, pointing to her impressive academic performance, as well as her weapons qualifications scores.

"There IS that in her favor." I allowed. "She is supposed to be reporting in tomorrow morning." I said. "Let me brief the team on her."

Every newbie agent gets a probationary tour with an established team right after school, usually about six months. If they survive that, they then go back to school for a two month Advanced Initial Training Session, then they go to their permanent teams.

Sometimes, they stay with their initial teams, but mostly, they go elsewhere.

I briefed the rest of the team – Danny, Pete, Tom and Jimmy before we knocked off for the day. Actually, Tom and Jimmy were just coming in – they had the overnight shift, providing human over watch to the string of monitoring stations we had in various locations around Buffalo.

It seemed as the creature was limiting its hunting to the poor and disadvantaged around Buffalo – specifically, the West Side areas.

That made me think it was probably a creature – a smart and cunning creature, but not a human vampire – i.e. homo sapiens vampiris. A human Vampire would probably have access to a car, and would have a much wider range.

This thing – seemed – to be on foot.

We would know more, once we had a sighting, a survivor, or sensor data.

Right now, all we had were human bodies drained of blood.

/\

It was a quiet night, with no alerts from the night shift. Meredith and I were in good form to meet our newbie.

I mean, she was the newbie, not us, but I like to greet a new troop and make a good first impression.

The door beeped as she slid her ID card in the electronic lock. I stood up as she walked in.

"Probationary Agent Dana Morgan, reporting in." she said. I revised my estimate upward, as she seemed to have a nice firm grip. She was a trifle stocky, but that looked like good upper body strength.

"Joe Laub" I replied, "I'm the SAIC here, and this is my Deputy, Special Agent Meredith Meridiana."

She shook hands with Meredith as I motioned her to a chair.

"Tell me about yourself, Agent." I said as we all sat down. "I read your file, but that is just a bare bones. If we are going to work together, mesh together, we need to know each other."

"Fair enough." She said. "Dana Morgan, I was a CPA and an IRS Agent. One day I was working on an audit, and wound up taking down a werewolf."

I shook my head. "that's a rough way to get into this business."

She chuckled wryly. "You're telling me." She shook her head. "I always carry a gun on audits – you never know what a desperate person might do – but it was my knife that got me through."

"Really?" said Meredith with a twinkle in her eyes. "THAT wasn't in the report."

"Yes." She said. "A friend gave me a letter opener with silver inlay. I was going to show it to a friend of mine, and I had it in my purse." She paused as she looked inward to the memories. "I emptied the revolver, but he got back up again – and when my purse fell open, I grabbed the knife in desperation."

"Lucky," I observed. "Lucky that you had the knife, lucky it happened to be in your purse, lucky that you were smart enough to use it."

"I'm glad the legend of werewolf disease is a myth." She said. "He mangled my arm pretty badly."

"The infection is bad enough." I observed. Werewolf bites are not going to turn you into a werewolf, unless, as I said, you are prepubescent AND have the werewolf gene. However, the virus will cause a nasty infection, with symptoms much like MERSA.

"Well," I said, "we need to get you introduced to the rest of the team, and get all the paperwork squared away."

"We've got an active investigation going." Said Meredith, "a Vampire-type Predator of one sort or another in the West Side Area."

"So, if everybody takes off on you," I said, "you know what is going on."

/\

We looked at the map where we had placed the monitoring stations. This creature seemed to be aquatic – and somewhat amphibious. All the bodies had been found along stream banks – but, unfortunately over grown stream banks and culverts were also a place where the "residence disadvantaged" tended to find shelter.

Something about this bothered me – there was a memory, niggling away in my subconscious, but I couldn't think of what it was.

I told the group about it.

"Our killer might be amphibious and simply taking advantage of an opportunistic food supply." Said Pete.

"On the other hand," said Danny, "the killer might be simply taking advantage of the fact that the most disadvantaged folk are living down there."

"I'm not sure." I told them. I looked at Tom and Jimmy. "You guys get some sleep…it's been three nights since the last death, I get the feeling that tonight is the night."

"Roger that, Boss." Said Tom. Jim nodded his head in agreement as they headed for the parking lot.

/\

The creature made a bad mistake that night.

I would suppose that it did not like our monitoring setups, since it did not go near the places we had staked out.

What it DID do, was try to take out a Cop.

You have to know Buffalo, to understand what happened. The city is bordered on the west by the Niagara River. Western New York is the only place in America where Canada is not just North but also West.

The Erie Canal runs along the Niagara River. Actually, the Black Rock Canal is simply some islands and a break wall from where Tonawanda Creek empties into the Niagara River, down to Buffalo's inner harbor.

The islands are used for picnicking and recreation. Thing is, at night, the parks are deserted, except for a few die-hard fishermen – and the drug dealers.

The Buffalo PD had staked out a drug deal scheduled to go down at the Southern tip of Bird Island.

Since this bunch of gang-bangers had a rep for being violent, the narcotics squad had posted a SWAT sniper over on the Northwestern tip of the park, along the overgrown bushes bordering the Black Rock Canal.

Darkness fell, the fellow moved into position, was waiting there for a couple of hours, and suddenly, something came up out of the Canal and attacked him.

When Ben heard the story, he immediately notified me. I headed over to the Erie County Medical Center (You can tell I'm an old guy, since I still call it Mayer Memorial)

The fellow, Sergeant Pete Shanahan, told me his story.

"Look, Agent" he said, "I'm not crazy…what happened was crazy."

"I'm not judging your sanity, son." I said, "I hear a lot more crazy stuff than you would believe." I shook my head, "Just tell me what you saw, and let me do the interpretation."

"I got into position a little after sunset." He said, "The Drop was supposed to happen at 1 AM."

"OK" I said.

"My cover was that I looked like a fisherman." He said, "I had my Remington 700 in a fishing pole cover." He chuckled, "Once I got to the bushes, I unpacked my ghillie suit and bellied down in the bushes."

"Makes sense" said Meredith.

"About 10 PM or so, I hear a splash, and then something is behind me, making wet squishy noises…and he's breathing deep, locomotive breath, like some old fat guy has fallen in or something,"

I chuckled, as a lot of the night fishermen are like that – old fat guys, swilling cheap beer on the seawall (lakewall?) and telling their wives they are fishing.

"Then, he comes up and I'm afraid he's going to step on me – then he does, and I turn around." He stopped and rubbed his head. He looked at Meredith and I searchingly. "It looked like something out of a nightmare – something that was truly Twilight Zone."

"Describe exactly what you saw." I told him seriously. "EXACTLY what you saw Sergeant, it could be very important."

"The Captain thought I was crazy, or maybe doing drugs." He said.

"It wasn't drugs that put those slash marks into your back, and the backs of your thighs, Sergeant." Said Meredith.

"It..it seemed man-like." He said, "humanoid at least, and I was wearing NVGs, so everything was shades of green, anyway."

"OK" I said.

"It was the skull that was just - bulging" – he said, "It didn't look like a helmet, it looked like his skull was darn near twice the size of a normal person."

I tapped my teeth and looked at Meredith. "Rusalka?"

"Was there a lot of fur or hair?" she asked the Sergeant.

"I didn't notice any." He said, "But the thing had a mouthful of teeth like a lamprey, and tentacles around the mouth."

"Really?" said Meredith. She looked at me. "What about a Krovosos?"

"Sounds like a Krovosos." I told her. "Sergeant, did the thing – blink out or disappear while you were watching it."

"This thing was real?" said the Sergeant. "What the hell is a Krovosos?"

"We do work with crypto-zoology." I lied smoothly. "Things get brought into the country from all this foreign trade on the lakes and the Welland Canal."

"So what's a Krovosos, and why haven't I ever heard of one before?" He asked.

"Reasonable question." I replied. "It's a rare Russian Creature, almost considered mythical until a few years ago, when they finally found a couple in the Ukraine."

"Literally" said Meredith, "It's a "blood-sucker" – that the translation of "Krovosos" she said. She wrote it out on a slip of paper in Cyrillic –" кровосос" is the singular, but "кровососы" (krovososy) is plural!"

"I hope there isn't more than one of them!" he exclaimed.

"Me too." I agreed. "There isn't a whole lot of Russian Folklore available in American Culture – and even Russians might hardly know of them until the Ukrainian Computer Game STALKER started using them as one of the dangerous mutants in the storyline."

"So how'd it get here?" he persisted.

"As I was saying, Russian and Ukrainian ships tie up here at the Port of Buffalo to pick up grain all the time." I said. "It might have slipped ashore from on of those."

"Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the Saints." He swore.

/\

We left him and went outside to talk to Ben Ryan.

"We think it was a Krovosos." I told Ben.

His dark face screwed up in a frown. "What the Hell is a krovos – whatever dafuq you called it?"

"Krovosos" said Meredith smoothly. "It is a rare creature of Russian folklore – somewhat amphibious, humanoid, - "

"And it sucks blood out of the victim." I said. "Its M.O. is totally consistent with what I'm seeing here." I shook my head. "I should have seen the connection earlier, but we've never had a reported sighting of one of these things before."

"They aren't that common in Russia." Said Meredith. "Actually, the only live ones ever captured were in the Ukraine."

"Damned Russians." Swore Ben. "So how do we fight it?"

"First up," I said, "You get your guys to try and clear the streams and riverbanks in the city." I said, "Particularly in the D-Wards."

"This thing is primarily nocturnal." Said Meredith, "but the real kicker is that it can somehow bend light and become – well – invisible."

"Christ on a crutch." Swore Ben. "For real?"

"For real." I assured him. "And your guys have NVGs available to them, but they only amplify visible light. What you need to see this guy all the time?" I told him, "is something that can use thermal imaging."

"Shit. Shit. Shit." Swore Ben. "The Fire Department has thermal imaging equipment…"

"We've got the AN/PSQ-20 Enhanced Night Vision Goggles with thermal imaging." I told him. "I've got a couple I can loan you guys, but my team will need to use their own to go into the marsh and take this guy down."

Ben swore long and fluently.

"We need to sit on this story." I told him. "Seriously, we do NOT need to tell the people of this city that a nightmare creature out of a Russian Horror story is stalking the night."

"At least nobody is paying attention so far." He said. "So far, it is being reported that Sergeant Shanahan was injured during a routine drug bust."

"Good." I said, and Meredith nodded assent.

/\

I had a feeling about the site over by Scajaquada Creek – which is not all that far from the attack site. The creature could easily have swam down the Black Rock Canal and seen the Sergeant laying by the side of the canal – and seen him as easy prey. It would have figured him to be sick or unconscious.

Pete was working the base station, but I had the rest of the team gear up and load out. I wanted to check the Scajaquada Tunnel – a half-mile long culvert built to channel Scajaquada creek into the Black Rock canal. Much of it was 19th century brick and mortar. People as well as animals had worked loose the bricks and burrowed into the soft dirt under Niagara Street and the highway Interchange.

The Krovosos was a nocturnal hunter – the Ukrainian team had nailed their specimens as they returned to the den in the morning.

I was surprised – and a little dismayed – to see Jesse and Gleep in the van when the team showed up.

"I wish to help." Said Jesse, and Gleep nodded his head affirmatively.

"Guys," I said. "I appreciate your spirit, but we have not trained together." I looked at them both. "I don't doubt your spirit, but if you want to join the team, we need to work out systems of coordination, so we don't shoot you by accident, you know?"

"That would be bad." Agreed Jesse. "I have seen –movies- of what these weapons can do."

"Actually, you guys can back up Agent-Probationary Morgan and Agent Cooper out here by the van." I told them.

Agent Morgan bristled a bit, but I added, "It isn't the brush-off you might think – we're going in from the other side, so the creature might flush out the tunnel – if it does, you guys nail it, OK?"

The four agreed. I looked dubiously at Jesse, who produced a compound bow with a heavy draw, and a quiver of broad heads. I HOPED he would be effective with them – hell, I just hoped he wouldn't shoot any of the cars or trucks on the I-190.

"Remember guys," I cautioned them, "Keep your sight lines clear. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, take a shoot if he goes up on the roadway."

"Roger that, Boss" said Tommy.

"Roger, copy" said Dana.

"I will not endanger the innocents." Said Jesse.

I counted that as good enough, and we got into a Police SWAT van to go to the other side of the tunnel. Half the Special Situations SWAT would also monitor this side of the tunnel – the other four would anchor the other side of the tunnel.

I was gambling that this was the den, and for that matter, the creature was inside.

Ben Ryan looked at me as we made ready to enter the Eastern side of the tunnel. "You sure you don't want to wait until we get more of those Enhanced NVGs?"

"No," I said. "Sergeant Shanahan thought he might have hit the thing a few times with his pistol. It will probably go back to the den to rest – but it will definitely feed tomorrow. I want to either kill it tonight, before it can heal – or make sure to write this site off as clean."

"Your funeral." He said.

We four entered the tunnel in line abreast. For all that it is actually an overgrown culvert, the thing is fifty feet across, about a mile long, and it was thigh deep in cold water. We walked slowly, sweeping every inch of the tunnel surface, looking for either the creature or the entrance to it's den.

/\

We moved slowly, keeping an eye out for burrows and openings, as well as the beast itself.

Bad enough to try and engage the beast down here. I didn't want it sneaking up behind us. The Ukrainian report said that the thing could jump incredible heights as well as scaling walls like a gecko.

As it was, it attacked us head on.

I heard a roar, and its characteristic hoarse panting – "locomotive breath" was the term that the Ukrainians had used, as well as Sergeant Shanahan. It came splashing down the tunnel, running somehow at an incredible speed, and with its long arms extended, and the splayed fingers with their scimitar-like claws fully extended.

While it preferred to attack stealthily, it also could use a running attack like this to hamstring the victim and bring it down, to be dealt with easily.

When it got about ten meters out, it disappeared on visible light – but was still readily apparent on the ENVGs. The red beams of our laser designators shone bright in the slight fog of the tunnel, tracking the beast with .45 caliber slugs from all four MP-5.

We had fitted them with Sionics suppressors, or the gunshots would have deafened us in that confined space. As it was, it was still noisy.

The beast was tough and fast though, taking a bunch of hits, and passing between myself and Danny. Its claws slashed at us, and knocked both of us arse-over-teakettle. If we hadn't been wearing the enhanced Special Situations Body armor, I doubt if either of us would have survived.

I don't think the beast ever got the idea that we could still see it…and, fast as it was, we still put a lot of lead into it. It roared it's pain and frustration and raced away from us.

"West End!" I shouted into the mike. "It's headed your way!"

"Roger!" shouted Danny…and then he said "Damn!"

"What the hell happened?" I demanded.

Danny cursed long and fluently in several languages.

"Interesting command of invective, Danny, Not very informative" I said as we splashed to the West Entrance.

As we finally came to the Black Rock Canal, we could see the beast struggling weakly in the water.

It was writhing and snapping weakly, and then it finally thrashed and groaned and went still.

While we later counted thirty seven bullets in the creature, the coup-de-grace was four broad head arrows that had torn it's vitals into hamburger.

I guess playing stringed instruments gives you strong arms – and the compound bow had multiplied his strength, driving his arrows with the equivalent of a 200 pound draw.

But Jesse wasn't just strong – he was accurate as HELL, making four shots in twenty seconds, and every one of them had torn though the creature from side to side.

Gleep was flying around and cheering – hell, we all were.

It was good to see the Krovosos dead in the water.

And then, we heard the unmistakable roar of another one.

"Shit" said Jimmy.

"I agree wholeheartedly" said Meredith.

/\

We were frantically reloading. The MP-5 only holds a 20 round mag when you're firing .45 caliber. I've seen 30 and 40 round magazines for it, but they have this bad problem with "failure to feed".

Reloading in combat is marginally faster than clearing a jammed cartridge – and that margin can literally! – be a matter of life and death.

Behind us, a rock fell from the ceiling as a foot came through a hole that we had not noticed. It was a big, webbed foot, and looked suspiciously like another Krovosos.

At this point, Gleep spread his wings and took to the air – but what was surprising? – was that Jesse did, also.

I HAVE mentioned that weird stuff happens in this job, didn't I?

He splashed into the water at the edge of the canal. "I cannot allow my friends to go into danger while I stand by idly." He nocked an arrow and expertly skewered the leg of the beast.

The beast fell into the water of the tunnel, a lot less gracefully than it probably intended, and four MP-5s cut it to doll rags.

In the meantime, another, smaller one jumped out, but it suffered a similar fate.

Gleep sailed over to a small grate in the tunnel and chattered excitedly. "Come Quick! More!"

I looked behind the grate and swore. It looked like a nursery back there, with several small Krovosos.

I readied a thermite grenade, and Danny got a white phosphorus grenade ready. Meredith ha unlatched the grate, holding it shut. She opened it, and I shouted "FIRE IN THE HOLE!" as I threw the thermite into the nest.

Danny threw his White phosphorous in directly behind my thermite, and white smoke billowed out of the hole, to the accompaniment of a hellish screaming that turned my stomach.

However, capturing the baby Krovosos was never even a consideration. They might be infants, but they were vicious little predators with a diet requirement we could not support.

Better to kill them immediately and as cleanly as possible.

A little while later, I put in my fiber optic periscope. I didn't see any exits to the den, nor any apparent survivors. ZOMG had approved contractors who would come out, take down the wall, examine the burrows and the bodies, and store the information for possible later use.

But…it appeared that our work for this night was over.

We got back to the house as the sun was coming up, so we just showered and headed off to bed.

I woke up a few hours later. Meredith was still asleep, so instead of using the master bathroom, I went to the bathroom in the hall…except that door was shut, and the light and fan was on. I figured Jesse was using it.

I went to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. Hydraulic pressure was beginning to make me contemplate banging on the door and telling Jesse to hurry up, when I heard the toilet flush.

Except…it wasn't Jesse in the bathroom. Gleep opened the door, and was buckling his pants, with a comic book under his arm. He looked up at me in surprise. "Hi, Joe" he said. "Gleep thought everyone still asleep."

I chuckled. "No sweat, little buddy."

When I got out to the kitchen, Gleep was seated on a barstool, reading the comic book.

"Can you read that, Gleep?" I asked.

"No," he said, "look at pictures. But these things-" he pointed at the text boxes, "Gleep wants to learn."

I laughed again. "Sure thing, buddy." I pulled out an orange and offered it to him.

His style of eating an orange took some getting used to. He sank his fangs into the skin, sucked the juice out, then, sliced open the rind and ate the pulp.

Although it sounds messy, he had excellent table manners, and what little he spilled, he wiped up immediately with a napkin.

Meredith wandered out in a blue terrycloth bathrobe, her hair askew, and asked sleepily, "Is there coffee yet?"

I mean, intellectually, I knew it was all a glamour, and she didn't need to wear clothes, any more than she needed makeup. She could appear fully dressed to the nines with perfect make-up. But she didn't – it was part of seeming like a human woman…and yet another reason why I loved her so much.

Meredith Edit; Aw, Joey!

Joe Edit; Gotta love a woman who looks good in the morning before she puts on her makeup.

About that time, Jesse stirred himself up, in sweatpants and an old Buffalo Sabres Tee shirt I'd given him. "How goes it this afternoon?" he said. "Is that coffee I smell?"

"You bet, buddy." I said, handing him a large mug.

"Anybody hungry?" I asked.

Gleep grinned. "BLT with egg?"

"Can do easy, buddy." I smiled back.

"Sounds good." Agreed Meredith.

"I would like one also, please." Said Jesse.

"Coming right up, folks." I said, as I got out the griddle.

I wondered what I was going to tell my mom the next time I saw her.

I guess, family is what you make of it, you know? A Succubus, an Elvish Elvis Master Bard magician, and a Flying, Talking Monkey.

Somehow, kids are just not part of this equation for the foreseeable future, you know?

The End – for now.

Author's Note; and this bring this episode of "Tales of the ZOMG" to a close. Stay tuned next week for another exciting episode as our heroes continue their unsung battle against the things that go bump in the night.