Kitty Saves the World Page 34

“Some critics and commentators have suggested that this is how a vampire like her might maintain a career over several centuries—she periodically drops out of sight and reemerges with a new identity a generation later, after everyone’s forgotten about her. I’m not sure how that’s going to work in this day of Internet searches and pervasive photography, given that everyone knows she’s a vampire. Maybe she just got tired of living the life of a Broadway star, and maybe she really is gone for good. I’m sure we all wish Ms. Cook well.” I managed to keep most of the sarcasm out of my voice.

“Second item of business: I recently ran into a friend of The Midnight Hour, Tina McCannon, costar of the paranormal investigation show Paradox PI. I’ve seen enough of Tina’s work to know she’s onto something when she talks about being psychic, and to know it’s not as simple as TV would have us believe. I asked her a few questions about what she’s been up to lately, what she’s learned, and where she goes from here…”

I signaled the booth, and Matt cued up the recording, which gave me a few more minutes to dither. A tame fluff interview—this was fine, this was innocuous. For the moment, I felt safe. That bubble of safety would end just as soon as the show did.

Calls were already coming in, names and cities and topics scrolling on my monitor. I recognized some of them—regulars with axes to grind calling about the same damn things they always did, and Matt put them through anyway and let me decide, just in case I wanted to have some fun with them. Some had obviously called before the show started, because the topics they wanted to talk about had nothing to do with what was actually coming out their radio speakers. This was normal, and sometimes I’d start taking calls at random just to see what happened. Another chunk of calls actually were on topic: comments about Mercedes Cook’s disappearance, wanting to talk about psychic abilities, hoping to talk to Tina and ask questions. I could fill up the rest of the show just taking these calls.

The interview ended, then we broke for prerecorded station ID and PSAs. They droned through my headset and I tuned them out because I’d heard them a million times before. Getting up from my seat, I stretched, shook out my hands and legs.

I could make this a softball show, picking easy calls and keeping the conversation light. But I didn’t want to do that. Waving a red cape, I’d told Ben. I had a lot of possible red capes. Wolf marking her territory was just one of them. Time for the next one.

Matt called, “Kitty, you’re back on in five, four, three, two…”

“And, we’re back. This is The Midnight Hour, and I’m Kitty Norville. I want to thank Tina McCannon for taking the time to answer my questions. Maybe one of these days I’ll get the whole Paradox PI crew back on the show and they can tell us about some of their recent cases. For now we’re moving on, I do have some meatier topics to talk about tonight. Maybe some bloodier topics. That’s right: vampires. They never seem to go away—of course not, they’re immortal—but what’s more amazing to me is no one ever seems to get tired of them. How many vampire soap operas can one person watch in a night, anyway? The answer would amaze you.

“I have kind of a weird question to throw out there. What do vampires want? This might seem like a deceptively simple question. I mean, I know they want human blood—they need it to survive, and fortunately for the rest of us they don’t need very much of it. Can you imagine the body count? In another respect, they want what anyone wants—a nice life, a safe place to stay, friends and hobbies. I think a lot of vampires have lives that most mortal humans would recognize—just extended over a longer period. We’ve had calls from a lot of those vampires. You vampires listening out there—you’re a big part of the reason I do the show at all.

“But then there are a few. If they’d remained human they might have run for president or become CEOs of major corporations or the like. What is a vampire going to do with all that drive and ambition? And an unlimited amount of time to spend it on?” Especially the few I was thinking about right now …

“Many of them become Masters or Mistresses of cities. I’ve been thinking a lot about these vampires lately, for various reasons. How much power do they really have? How far do their ambitions really go?” This was a way of talking about the Long Game without actually saying the words. I didn’t know where this line of questioning was going to go. I was making noise to see what jumped out to complain. Cormac had his crossbow, Amelia had her magic, Hardin had her badge, Ben had his credentials, and I had my show.

I hit a call from one of the crazy regulars. Mostly because I could predict what he was going to say and had a script for it.

“Hello, you’re on the air, thanks for calling.”

“Kitty, hi, so great talking to you again, I love the show. Anyway, I mean, aren’t you the one who’s always saying that vampires are trying to take over the world?”

“Well, sort of,” I was surprised into saying. “But I don’t think I say that ‘vampires are taking over the world’ so much as I say that a few individual vampires working together might in fact have designs toward world domination. Just, you know, as a hypothesis.”

I’d gotten in trouble before for sticking my neck out about this kind of thing. I’d lost ratings and market share when I crossed the line from “endearingly fringe” to “genuinely crackpot,” which hardly seemed fair. It had been a while since I’d gotten this close to discussing the Long Game in the open. I was curious to see how it would go.

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