There was a cold wind blowing that night, and Dean wished he'd brought his jacket. He rubbed his jaw and stared out the windshield at the dark street and the large white house up ahead. They were all large and white in this neighborhood, and Dean was honestly surprised the whole neighborhood wasn't gated. He glanced at the pizza box in the passenger seat, and pried it open one last time, as if he didn't know he'd finished the last piece an hour ago. It was empty, nothing but crumbs.

Dean looked up, past the hood of the Impala. No movement yet. Just like the last few hours. He debated getting a bag of chips from the backseat. Wait, what was that? He squinted into the darkness between two houses. A flash of dark movement, going straight for House Zero.

"Gotcha, you son of a bitch," Dean growled. He got out of the driver's seat and went round to the back of the sleek black Impala. He popped the trunk and propped it open with a sawed-off shotgun before taking a good look at the formidable array of weapons inside. He grabbed a machete quickly before shutting the trunk again. He had holy water and a pistol with silver bullets, if it got to that point. But he was pretty sure this was a lone vampire, a rogue who had been forced to go on a killing spree in a big city for lack of other options. It was a fool move to leave the nest if you were a vampire. This one must have done something extra horrible to piss off the other vamps.

"Ah, whatever," sighed Dean before jogging off across the street. This vampire had an interesting way of choosing his victims, a complicated formula. Nothing a little research on graphs couldn't handle, of course. And this was Ground Zero.

Dean ducked into the long shadows between the two houses where he had seen his target move in a blur of motion. He shifted his grip on the machete in his right hand; the vamp would no doubt smell him before he ever got to sneak up on him. In Dean's experience, he thought it wise always to prepare for the worst.

Because the worst was all he'd ever gotten in life, so why should Fate change her mind now?

Dean saw the half-open fence door and sidled into the backyard and past the A/C unit. He looked out across the treeless, moonlit, suburban lawn. And there was no one there.

Dean frowned. Where the hell was the vamp? He glanced from side to side, suspicious of any slight rustle of grass in the wind. There was no way this was going to go down smoothly.

Dean broke his pause and strode quickly across the lawn to the patio. The back door was shut, but when he tried the knob it swung open easily. This was obviously a trap.

Dean flicked on his flashlight and peered in through the doorway. Nobody immediately inside, as far as he could tell. This was nothing but bad. How was this even good?

Dean backed away for a second. He couldn't just go charging in there without someone to back him up. It was obviously a trap. He had to make a call first.

Dean flicked off his flashlight and walked away from the back door and going around once more into the alley. He kept himself highly alert as he did so, and still held his machete at his side. He fumbled for his phone, flipped it open, and speed-dialed.





"Hey dad, it's me. I found our vamp, I'm at his house now, but something's up. I don't like it."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean I think I'm walking straight into a trap. He left the backdoor unlocked."

"Where are you now?"

"I'm right outside House Zero, I'm, like, 99 percent sure he's in there right now waiting to jump me."

"Get back to the Impala, then." Dean's dad's voice sounded slightly concerned. "Drive away. If he came back home tonight, it means he's not going to go out again. Take him in the daylight tomorrow."

"Okay, good idea," replied Dean. "Thanks."

He took a step forward and dove to the ground, face first. The phone and machete went flying from his hands. "I've got you, little hunter," hissed the soothing voice of Dean's quarry.

Dean grunted and tried to roll over, but a strong firm grip on the back of his neck and a boot in the back prevented him from doing so. Dean realized he had to go limp. There was nothing he could do now except hope he didn't get turned. "The hell are you waiting for?" he grunted.

"Hush," whispered the vampire. Dean was able to turn his face and see a thin hand pick up the flip phone lying in the grass. "This is Mallory Sloan, Daddy. I'm a powerful creature, and I have your son. You have forty-eight hours to bring me everything I need, or I gut your little boy here. I'll text you details in a little while. Goodbye."

Dean heard the flip phone slap shut, and the last thing he felt was a powerful blow to the head.