Kitty Saves the World Page 35

“See?” the caller said. “Seems obvious to me, if you’re immortal you can put plans in place that work out centuries later, and no one will even guess because no one’s around to put all the pieces together.”

Unless Amy Scanlon meets Kumarbis, the vampire who turned Roman two thousand years ago, and records everything she learned from him in her book of shadows, which we were then able to decode, and I was able to bring together a network of vampires around the world who started comparing notes on Roman …

My voice took on a wicked tone. “Ah, but someone has been able to put the pieces together, or we wouldn’t be talking about it. Stuff like this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. For example, do you know I’ve heard from a couple of different sources now that indicate that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum was caused by a magic spell called the Manus Herculei? The Hand of Hercules. I know, right? I have to admit, I get a tiny bit suspicious these days every time there’s a volcano or earthquake or something.

“Let’s take another call now, see what else jumps out at me. Next caller, hello!”

“Well,” the guy huffed. “It only makes sense, doesn’t it? Vampires are clearly the next step in evolution. We’re doomed, like Neanderthal.”

“Except if mortal humans go extinct what are vampires going to eat?”

“Who do you think is funding all this research into artificial blood substitutes?”

“Huh. That’s an angle I haven’t thought of before. So you think their ultimate plan is to get rid of the whole seven billion of us? Is that even possible?”

“Two words: viral pandemic. But here’s the thing: I think enough human scientists will figure this out that they’ll engineer the artificial blood to give vampires cancer! If they try to live on it, they’ll all die! We’ll all die!”

“I’m not sure how that’s better,” I stated.

“Then nature can start over. Fresh. Clean. It’s like Noah’s flood. Zombie apocalypse. It’s beautiful.” He gave a deep sigh.

“And with that, we have veered into another talk show entirely. I’m cutting you off now.” I punched up a new call. “You’re on the air, lay it on me.”

“No, it’s not going to be a pandemic. It’s going to be the weather,” the woman said.

“Oh?”

“If vampires can control the weather, they can cause some kind of greenhouse effect that blankets the planet in perpetual darkness. Then it’ll be nighttime forever. Sunlight won’t be able to kill them. That’s how they’re going to get us.”

This was turning out to be deeply entertaining. I ought to be writing these down so I could sell them to Hollywood. Was Lightman listening? “You know that nighttime is caused by the rotation of the planet and not by cloud cover, right?”

A moment of confusion, then, “Wait, so you think they’re going to make the whole planet stop rotating? Is that how they’re going to do it?”

“Right, moving on…”

It went on like that for a while. Then things got a little strange. Stranger.

“Hi, Kitty,” said a calm female voice. The monitor said she was Elsa from San Diego. “I’m a vampire. I’m not all that old, but I’m older than some, and I wanted to tell you about something. There are these coins—they’re old Roman coins that some vampires wear around their necks, like tokens. No one will talk about them. I’ve been told not to ask. It’s … I think it’s the sign of some secret society. I just wanted to know, have you heard of anything like that?”

A chill washed through me. But I had to keep talking. “Yes. I have. It’s not a secret society as much as it’s … well. Have you heard stories about a vampire called Dux Bellorum?”

“Yes!” she said, excited, as if I was the first person who’d ever been willing to talk about this with her. “He’s this shadowy figure, like something out of a story. Even vampires are scared of him.”

“The coins identify his followers. But you can also find coins that have been marked out, cut up, and ruined, basically.”

“Oh yes, I’ve seen those, too! I wondered … if it was all some kind of harmless club-type squabbling, or if it was serious. I … I’ve had chances to get one of those coins, but I never knew quite what it meant. It’s not harmless, is it?”

“No, it isn’t,” I said. “The guy they belong to—he isn’t a good guy. If it were me, I’d stay away.” I had stayed away.

A couple of calls later: “Kitty, you’re so right. I’m a vampire, and if Elsa’s still listening, I just wanted to tell her to listen to you. Elsa, listen to Kitty, stay away.”

And then, “You’re going to pay for this. Talking about Dux Bellorum in the open like this. You don’t know anything, and when the Long Game ends, you will call him Master, if he lets you live.”

“Hey!” I answered, pissed off now rather than nervous. “You’re wearing one of them there coins right now, aren’t you? Yeah. Not worried.”

“Yes, you are. I can smell your fear from here.”

“Yeah, okay, whatever, moving on.”

I took another couple of calls, then the next time I looked at the monitor, there was a call at the top that didn’t list a name or city. The monitor only said, “You really need to take this one.” I looked through the booth at Matt—he was pale, biting his lip. Not just serious, but scared. He’d been threatened. Well, alrighty then, what could this be about?

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