Immortal Remains 2 - 30 Days of Night, page 1
“I can’t deny what you’ve shown me, but I can’t just say, okay, sure, this kind of stuff exists, you know?”
“So I’m just somewhere in the middle and I hate it. I’m a cop—I was, but you know what I mean. I like there to be answers.”
Dane nodded, sniffing the air. “Slower.”
Mitch brought the car down to a steady crawl. Every rock in the road, every bit of uneven pavement, jounced them.
Other smells assailed his nostrils, confusing the hunt. These were new and unmistakable.
It only took a minute before he saw one, crouching at the edge of a rooftop. Watching the taxi creep down the road.
Another stood in the shadowed depths between a warehouse and a trailer used as an office.
A third squatted in the tall grass of an empty lot.
“What?” Mitch asked, noting Dane’s sudden tension. “What are you looking at?”
“Vampires,” Dane answered. “We aren’t alone here after all.”
Enter the terrifying world of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT
Novels available from Pocket Books
Rumors of the Undead
Graphic Novels/Comic Books available from IDW Publishing
30 Days of Night
Return to Barrow
Annual 2004 (featuring “The Book Club,” “The Hand That Feeds,” “Agent Norris: MIA,” “The Trapper”)
“Picking Up the Pieces”
(featured in IDW’s Tales of Terror)
Spreading the Disease
Eben and Stella
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In the 30 Days of Night mythos, Immortal Remains takes place some time after the events depicted in the novel Rumors of the Undead and the graphic novella The Journal of John Ikos.
30 DAYS OF NIGHT IMMORTAL REMAINS
Her house sinks down to death, and her course leads to the shades. All who go to her cannot return and find again the paths of life.
THE WORLD WILL END, or so the sagas claim, in fire and water.
Earthquakes will fell every tree except Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Gods will battle one another, and in the wake of their combat, flames and steam will blot out the sky. Without the sun’s rays, summer will cease to bring warmth to the mountains and the glaciers will spread across the land.
Lilith didn’t necessarily believe in the legendary descriptions of Ragnarok. She had been undead long enough to know that every religion made up stories to suit its needs. The Norsemen were no different. But Lilith lived on land once occupied by Sturmi Bonestealer, whose sagas described the cataclysmic clash of the gods that would wipe the planet clean, leaving but two people, Lif and Lithrasir, hidden inside Yggdrasil’s leafy boughs, so she felt she owed the ancient bard a fair hearing.
She stretched her lean form languorously on the cold marble slab, her left hand skating up her torso, enjoying the smooth, new flesh.
Around her, six young girls—young in comparison to Lilith, as everyone was, they had been twelve and thirteen when they were turned in 1967—sponged fresh blood onto her skin, occasionally squeezing drops into her eyes and mouth. Lilith swallowed what she could and let the rest soak in through her pores.
Nothing restored like blood.
Her world had not ended on that balmy April night in Los Angeles—far across the Atlantic and the North American continent from her home near Alesland, Norway—at the hands of Stella Olemaun. The world had not ended, but it had been close enough for Lilith.
The enormous explosion had leveled the house Lilith had rented for her mission of vengeance in the States. The pain had been intense, enormous, worse than anything she had experienced since her death, so long ago that she could barely remember it. Her skin had burned away, her organs had withered, her bones had shattered.
She had survived, though, and with the help of her young friends, she was spirited away from California, onto a freighter, and finally brought back to the shadowed forests and icy fjords of her beloved Norway.
The Olemaun woman would pay for her deceit.
Oh yes. A thousand times since that night, Lilith had sworn that Ragnarok would rain down on her head.
First Stella’s husband, Eben Olemaun, had murdered Vicente—Lilith’s lover, companion, and husband these last several centuries. Then Stella had written a book (a book!) about those who had foolishly attacked the town of Barrow, Alaska, where she and Eben had been acting law enforcement. In that book, she had described Vicente’s murder as if it was a heroic action. As a final indignity, Lilith had arranged to trade Eben’s ashes to Stella for a computer disk containing video evidence of the disastrous Barrow invasion—the only known recorded incident of such an event—and Stella had repaid Lilith’s generosity by trying to blow her to pieces.
Lilith closed her eyes, trying to focus on the small hands that rubbed blood across her breasts and stomach, up her legs, over her unsettled brow. Soaked in blood, she was healing quickly. But she needed to relax her mind as well as her body, needed to recuperate mentally, not just physically.
Around the world, she was hailed as Mother Blood. She was the greatest of them, giver of eternal life, matriarch of the race. Without Vicente all these months, her strength was even more important.
Without Vicente, she reigned alone.
But reign she would.
Already, as her organs reconstituted themselves, her skin growing anew and spreading over her body, her hair regaining some of its luster if not its length, she had given a great deal of thought to that. Her children were divided, some of them set on a course—like that assault on Barrow—that could only result in their final extermination. They needed the leadership, the guidance, that only Lilith could provide.
Lilith realized that the girl had already said the word three times, each one with a rising inflection, even a little quiver in her tone. Heather, she thought, without looking. Heather’s hands were tiny, delicate, fingers no longer than the distance between Lilith’s knuckles. She had black hair, blue eyes, and an angelic face that could charm a priest into offering up his own jugular. “What is it?”
“Missus, someone is—”
Heather’s voice cut off abruptly. Lilith pressed her elbows against the slab and tried to rise, but she was still too weak. She opened her eyes but saw little more than the red haze of her feeding, with indistinct shapes moving about like shadows in a d
“Missus—!” Then a horrible screeching.
Now Lilith could see a larger shape moving among them. The girl-shapes threw themselves at it, fighting with fang and claw, but the intruder—a male, she could just discern—lashed out, his strength more than equal to theirs.
The sound of flesh tearing, blood splashing wetly against floor and walls and even Lilith’s nakedness.
In just moments, he loomed over her, his features becoming more distinct with proximity. Tall, his head—like Vicente’s—had been completely shaved. Also like her husband, this one’s large ears tapered at the top, almost like wings jutting out from his head. For the briefest of moments she thought it was Vicente, back from his final death—
This one didn’t carry himself with Vicente’s regal grace, but slouched like a common street creature. A foul smell assaulted her senses, as if he had been feeding on rancid flesh. “I do not know who you are, but you have made a terrible mistake,” she croaked. Her damaged throat burned when she spoke, forcing the words out as if pushing them across ground glass.
The intruder laughed.
For some reason, the sudden, ghastly sound actually revived in Lilith a raw emotion not felt in what could very well have been ages. It was fear.
“I would think,” he said, leaning closer, “that you would be happier to see your father, dear, sad Lilith.”
“You—” she began.
“Shh…don’t try to talk, daughter…” he soothed, caressing her cheek with a large hand. “You are not feeling well. Poor thing.”
The large hand suddenly clamped over her mouth. “You never knew when to listen and when to speak. This is almost sad.”
Now the hand snaked to her throat, his strong fingers pressing against the tender skin there like steel rods. He lifted her up toward him, her back losing contact with the slab.
“Hear me now, daughter. The time has come to change our ways. For too long, we have hidden in the shadows, fearing the mortals. But I ask you, does the lion fear the calf? Does the wolf cower from the lamb? Please don’t answer, these are simply rhetorical questions, Lilith. And besides, you are so weak.”
That laugh again, like an infant’s bones rattling in a demon’s skull, utterly without mirth. “So desperately weak. No, do not speak, daughter. There will be time for that.” He yanked again, pulling her off the slab altogether. She tried to resist but it was useless, her muscles not yet recovered enough to even close her hand into a fist. “For too long we have been hunted by humans, chased as if we were prey instead of predator. No more. It is time for us to push back.”
He closed his fingers more tightly still around her throat, until she thought he would tear through the flesh.
Everything fading again. Going black. Only the cruel, unyielding voice filling her world.
“Yes, yes, I know, it’s not your way. Or Vicente’s. But you see…Vicente is gone. And you, daughter…you don’t really have anything to say about it. In fact, I would like to think you won’t be saying anything at all.”
THE WORLD TURNED on its axis, night following day following night. Although Dane preferred the night—naturally—the important thing was that with each turn the world changed…and everyone, his kind included, had to change with it.
Once New York, nexus point between Europe and the United States, had been at the forefront of global change. Not anymore. Now, Dane believed, Los Angeles fit that bill rather nicely. The Pacific Rim had overtaken old Europe as the center of modernity. Try as it might, New York would never reclaim that mantle. LA had been a sleepy yet glitzy coastal hamlet once, but no longer. Walking its streets at night, listening to the roar of tens of thousands of cars and the hum of electricity and the rush of blood through billions of veins and capillaries, he felt more alive than…
…well, than when he had been alive.
Half a block away, a young couple stepped from the lighted doorway of a liquor store onto the dark sidewalk. He was black, she was Asian; the perfect pair to represent contemporary mulitculti Los Angeles. Both were dressed casually, in short sleeves and jeans, appropriate to the late summer night. The man carried a paper bag with the shape of a six-pack impressed upon it from the inside. They started up the block, in Dane’s direction, but then the young man spotted Dane and took the woman’s hand, guiding her out into the empty street, and across it.
“What?” she whispered, although Dane, of course, could hear every word. “It’s not like this is Savannah.”
“No, it’s like this is LA, and there’s freaks here, too.”
“You think he…?”
“I don’t know. Something about him just doesn’t seem quite right,” the man said.
Very astute, Dane thought. The two reached the sidewalk opposite and cast furtive glances his way, as if worried that he might charge across the street toward them. He shot them a fierce glare, hoping to justify the guy’s actions in his girlfriend’s eyes. If they thought he looked like some kind of psycho killer, what could it hurt to let them think they had him pegged?
Dane continued down the street, past the liquor store and a travel agency that someone had smashed in the front window of (plywood covered it, travel posters over the plywood, graffiti and metal band flyers covered the travel posters) and a dry cleaners. A street lamp stood on the corner, the only one on the block that worked. Dane passed through its cone of light and stepped off the curb, paused to let a taxi whoosh by, then crossed to the next block.
Interesting that the woman from the liquor store had mentioned Savannah.
The Georgia port city had come up in his consciousness several times lately—enough that he thought he might lose his mind. The first time was a few weeks ago, when he’d read online what would be the first of many articles about the recent killings in Savannah. Initially, he didn’t think much of it, probably due to the fact that the police were releasing scant information in hopes of screening out the potential cranks. But then, as more sordid facts came out—the savagery, the unusual M.O., the tremendous loss of blood—and the tabloid frenzy began inevitably ratcheting up via the twenty-four-hour cable news cycle, Dane found himself on the verge of being obsessed (again).
Instead of feeding (he had a couple bottles in the fridge, back at his apartment, but had been on the lookout for something a little fresher), he decided to return home. His place was a couple miles away, and once he’d made his mind up, he covered the distance in a few minutes.
Inside, Dane set the dead bolt and the door chain, knowing how ineffective both could be against the right kind of force, and out of habit clicked on the plasma TV in his living room.
The apartment was small, this room serving as living and dining space, separated from a small kitchen area only by an oak bar. A plain wooden door hid one bedroom. The rent was cheap and because it was over a boutique that closed at seven, there were no downstairs neighbors, and he didn’t care much about the way the place looked anyway. He had safe houses scattered throughout the country and a handful overseas. If he wanted aesthetics, he could go to Carmel-by-the-Sea or Santa Fe or Gstaad, and if he wanted luxury there was always the chateau in the Loire Valley. This place was meant to be convenient, which it was, and to house his communications devices, which it did.
While CNN flickered onto the big screen, he booted up his MacBook. With the TV droning in the background (war and unrest in the Middle East, a widening gap between rich and poor here at home, Britney Spears had publicly embarrassed herself yet again), he went to Google News and entered “Savannah+murders.”
The search engine found a surprising number of hits. More than the last time he checked.
He started with the local Savannah papers, the Morning News and the Chronicle, which had dubbed the killer “the Headsman,” then moved on to the big nationals, the Post, the New York and Los Angeles Times, before moving
After reading those, he muted the TV, still waiting for any news from Savannah to come on, picked up a cell phone, and dialed a number from memory. He didn’t know where Merrin was these days—Michigan, last he had heard—but even though it was two in the morning in California, he didn’t worry about waking his friend up. His kind didn’t need a lot of sleep, and Merrin never minded a call.
“Yeah?” Merrin answered. He sounded distracted, as if Dane had caught him during a meal. Which reminded him. He got up off the sofa and went into the kitchen, tugged open the refrigerator.
“Merrin, it’s Dane.”
“Dane? What a pleasure, my friend. What a genuine treat. All’s well?”
Dane uncapped a cool bottle of blood and took a long hit off it before answering. Warm was better, but cool stored longer. “As well as can be expected,” he said.
“Understood, my friend.” Merrin had been born in Europe, and had stayed there even after being turned, until his family—of whom he had always been protective—had emigrated to the United States in the late 1800s. In spite of his time in the States, he maintained many of his old-world habits, and Dane always enjoyed talking to him. He and Merrin had spoken many times about the challenges facing them in today’s world, and both were mostly in agreement. “What’s the nature of the call, then?”
“I’ve been hearing a lot about this situation in Savannah,” Dane said. “What do you know about it?”
“Savannah?” Merrin had a habit of repeating questions, or at least parts of them, while he collected his thoughts. He also had a habit of keeping in touch with an incredible array of others—and even an assortment of humans, who had no idea of his real nature—so one never knew what obscure knowledge he might have picked up along the way. “I assume you’re talking about the killer?”