I couldn't resist following up the comment by Mitchell in the deleted scene on the series 3 DVDs that he had been to Barry Island in 1957 and that the funfair was "all kinds of brilliant". There's a smattering of Big Bad John in here but a few hints of what the 60s will bring too. And don't slap me for the car - he didn't get the Volvo till the 60s and I liked the look of the Zephyr; it looked like a car a 50s Mitchell might well drive.
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As ever, Being Human belongs to Toby Whithouse and the BBC and I am playing very respectfully in the universe they have created.
Mitchell ought to have been happy; he was in the driver's seat of a very nearly new Ford Zephyr that was his pride and joy, his friend and mentor was in the seat beside him and the open road stretched out before him. Truth was, he wasn't happy at all.
He and Herrick were heading for Barry in South Wales, a backwater when compared with their usual base in Bristol, and they were going to be staying on another vampire group's patch, so he had to keep his nose clean for a while. For someone with John Mitchell's taste for mayhem, that was going to be torture.
He was hungry before they had even got to the Aust Ferry. He couldn't be properly hungry, Herrick told him – he'd fed only a few nights before, after all – but even the emergency chocolate from the glove box didn't fill the gap in the same way blood would and Mitchell had an almost insatiable taste for blood. Herrick knew him better than anyone and he could see the twitchiness in his friend by the time the car was loaded onto the Severn King to make the crossing over to the Welsh side of the river. It was probably a good job Mitchell had never piloted a ferry boat or the crew might not have made it to the other side with their throats intact.
Once on the road again, it was all Herrick could do to distract him from a family having a picnic by the roadside and a hapless attendant at a petrol station. Both killings would have been discovered quickly and they were in a no-mans land, caught between their area of influence in Bristol and the group that controlled Cardiff and its environs. It just wasn't worth the risk.
Reasoning didn't make Mitchell less hungry. Physically stuck at twenty four, he seemed to have retained his young man's appetite and sometimes it seemed to Herrick that he just couldn't eat enough to keep him satisfied. Herrick sometimes wondered if the expression 'hollow legs' had been invented with Mitchell in mind.
So by the time they got close to Barry and spotted a broken-down truck by the side of the road, gaudily painted cars and fire engines on the back hinting that they were heading to the pleasure park at Barry Island, Mitchell was ready to feed on anyone that crossed his path. The road was quiet and the look in Mitchell's eyes bordered on pleading as he glanced across at Herrick, who was in his usual place in the passenger seat. A glimmer of satisfaction crossed his face when Herrick gave the slightest of nods and Mitchell pulled the black car over onto the verge behind the truck.
"Hey, you fellows got a problem?" he called, pulling himself out from behind the steering wheel.
Two men were standing beside a jacked-up wheel, considering it grimly. "Got a flat and we can't shift the last wheel nut. Bloody thing's stuck fast and we don't have a bigger wrench than this without unpacking the whole damn truck to get to the tools for the roundabout. Don't want to be doing that by the road, if we can help it." It was the older of the two who answered, sleeves rolled up to reveal fading tattoos and his hands covered in dirt and oil - some fresh from the wheel, some so deeply ingrained into his skin as to be almost a part of him. He looked sinewy and strong, his skin toughened by days spent in the open air. The younger one was also wiry, but taller and broader, denim clad and black booted.
"Want me to have a go?"
The two fairground workers looked him up and down dubiously and Mitchell didn't have to be a mind-reader to know what they were thinking. They clearly couldn't see how he would succeed where they had failed, for he was tall and lean and they had biceps to spare. "Sure, if you like."
He might be hungry, but he was still a well fed vampire, with the strength to match, and a few well judged tugs on the wrench quickly had the reluctant nut parted from the wheel, and the tyre was soon lying on the verge. The fairground men seemed in no rush to make any progress, leaning up against the truck for a leisurely cigarette before putting the spare wheel on. Mitchell joined them, chatting companionably about their plans for their summer at Barry Island while Herrick watched in amusement, enjoying seeing his protégé toy with his prey before going in for the kill.
Mitchell took the last drag from his cigarette and ground the butt out beneath his foot, then held out a hand as if to shake the older fairground man's before departing. The man held out a hand still grimy with oil, and Mitchell clasped it, grabbing the man's elbow with his other hand and twisting his arm to expose the paler skin on the inside where a serpent twined down the arm and coiled round his wrist. The man gaped at him in surprise, to be met with obsidian eyes and fangs showing between grinning lips. "Been nice meeting you," said Mitchell and he sank his fangs into the man's arm, raking down the arm slicing flesh and muscle from forearm to wrist and incapacitating him while he dealt with his companion.
Nice touch, thought Herrick approvingly. That was a new technique for Mitchell; he normally went straight to the neck, but the rapid blood loss would prevent the first man making a getaway while the other one was dealt with. It was interesting to see his young charge experimenting with his kills.
The older fairground man slumped to the ground, eyes wide with shock, howling in pain and clasping ineffectually at his arm as the blood flowed freely down, soaking through the leg of his trousers and staining the dusty ground around him. Mitchell turned his attention to the younger one who backed away, hands raised to ward off a similar blow, but stopped when he discovered that Herrick had come silently round behind him to cut off his retreat.
"Going somewhere?" Herrick asked with a lift of his eyebrow, allowing his eyes to scorch black and his own fangs to descend. Caught between the two the young man started to whimper, his knees shaking and finally giving way.
"Please. Please don't kill me," he begged, kneeling in front of them. His colleague was still barely clinging to consciousness and watching the proceedings with eyes that were filled with horror, but starting to glaze over.
"What do you think, Mitchell? Shall we kill him?"
"I think we should, Herrick, the bastard's only gone and pissed himself, look. Pathetic sod like that doesn't deserve sparing."
"Oh he hasn't?" groaned Herrick with a roll of his eyes. "How very undignified of him. So, one each, or shall we share?"
Mitchell reverted to type for the second man, sinking fangs deep into his neck and drinking deeply of the warm thick blood, revelling in the sensation as it coated his tongue and flowed deliciously down his throat. Herrick fed too, briefly, his appetite not as great as Mitchell's, who was intent on gorging himself. Mitchell handed the younger man over to Herrick to finish off the older, feeding from him before he bled out. By the time the two men were drained and long dead, Herrick was almost as fresh and dapper as he had been at the start of the journey, but Mitchell's face was streaked with blood which had run down his chin and soaked into the front of his shirt.
Mitchell rolled his tongue around his lips as his eyes returned to normal and he lolled in the front seat of the car in a state of post-prandial satisfaction. "God, I needed that. Not the best I've ever tasted," he commented wryly, "but it fills a gap. You could tell they spend a lot of time in the sun though, couldn't you? That older guy had a hide like a rhino. Remind me to target the guys who run the thrill rides when we get to Barry – they don't open till late. Bloody kids' rides are open all day. Knew there was a reason I preferred women."
"Other than the obvious?" Herrick raised an eyebrow and Mitchell smirked, his dark eyes twinkling.
"Yeah, that too."
Soon Herrick watched as Mitchell dragged the bodies into the back of the truck, their bodies draped over the cars and motorbikes in a grotesque parody of the many children who had ridden them in the past. Jumping into the cab, he slipped the truck into first gear and manoeuvred it to the very edge of the embankment, then climbed out of the driver's seat, put his shoulder to the back and pushed it slowly forwards. It tumbled down the slope, rolling over and over before coming to a juddering rest at the bottom in a crumpled heap of ride parts and mangled metalwork. Mitchell peered over the edge, then turned back to Herrick, the look on his face pronouncing himself satisfied with the results of his labours.
"I don't think anyone will find it there in a hurry. At least no-one will be looking very hard for a couple of carny guys – they'll figure they just got a better offer someplace else."
"As long as we get it straightened out with the local police before anyone does, although you've left enough clues there for even the most hard of thinking officer." Herrick looked critically at Mitchell, "You're a mess. Clean yourself up."
Mitchell drew an arm across his mouth, frowning at the blood smear left behind. He scrubbed at his mouth with his hand, then rubbed his hand on his trouser leg. Herrick wasn't convinced that was an improvement; the older vampire was fastidious by nature and feeding was a neat and precise business for him. Mitchell on the contrary tended to gulp his food and rarely managed to feed without evidence of it smeared across his face, a childish trait that caused Herrick amusement and irritation in equal measure.
"You're such a messy eater," chided Herrick gently. He tried to sound reproving but his tone betrayed his fondness for his protégé. Together they had become the stuff of legend; with Mitchell at his side Herrick's ambitions turned from idle daydreams to clear reality. "You'll need to clean up before we get to Barry or you'll give our new landlady nightmares."
"I still don't see why we've got to go to Barry Island," said Mitchell. "Why can't Cardiff see to their own setup?"
"They've got some of their people out of the area for a few weeks and I volunteered to keep an eye on Barry for them. They don't have the big network there that we do in Bristol, although they have ambitions, so they don't have the backup that we do and there's often...cargo...in and out through Barry Docks, so they needs someone they can trust in charge." Herrick paused then commented, "There used to be a big dog fight set up there, if you remember."
"Yeah, I heard about it. Dog fighting's not my thing, really."
"Hmm, well, I'm thinking about starting it back up again. That's the main reason I offered to look after the place, actually. I thought we could see what interest there was: maybe run it for them occasionally. Not every month, obviously, but now and then. We could even get our own cage together over in Bristol if there was enough call for it." Herrick had been watching Mitchell while he said that. Mitchell pulled a face, his body language betraying his lack of enthusiasm. "Any branch running dog fights gets a lot of kudos from others, Mitchell, you know that. I'd get more interest if you were in it with me. At least think about it."
"Sure," and that was the last conversation Herrick got out of Mitchell till they reached Barry Island.
"So why the hell are we staying in a guest house?" A freshened-up and clean-shirted Mitchell peered through the window of the car at the bay windows and hanging baskets of Whitmore View, which was to be their home for the foreseeable future. A sign in the window pronounced "No Vacancies" and a ginger cat nestled comfortably amongst the geraniums in the front garden. It all looked very homely.
"Not worth renting a place till we know how long we're likely to be here. Anyway, I'm sure Mrs Griffiths will make us very comfortable."
Mitchell parked up while Herrick went to ring on the doorbell, leaving Mitchell to deal with their luggage. The door was answered by a pleasant-looking woman in her early thirties, who was wearing a plain dress and white apron with lace edges. "You just caught me dusting," she smiled, tugging off her pinny. Her voice was soft and Welsh-accented; she was evidently a local. "Do come in. Is that all the luggage you have, or shall I leave the door open for you? That's it? Well if you'd like to follow me upstairs, gentlemen. You have adjacent rooms here – will they be alright for you?" She swung the doors open to reveal two rooms – smallish, but adequate for their needs – and stepped inside the first one, indicating the window. "I'm afraid they don't get much direct sunlight, but the sunniest rooms we have are booked each year to the same two ladies. They have been visiting sixteen years now for the same week in the summer and they are very attached to those particular rooms."
Herrick beamed winningly at her, "Neither of us is fond of the sun anyway, Mrs Griffiths, please don't worry on that account."
"Oh, I'm not Mrs Griffiths. At least, I am, but not the one you mean. Mrs Griffiths who runs this guest house is my mother-in-law. I just pop over and help out and make sure there's always someone in if guests are arriving and she has to go out. She'll be back later, so you'll meet her then." Mrs Griffiths the younger stepped back out onto the landing. "If there's anything else you need, just shout. I'll leave you to settle in and I'll make a nice cup of tea if you'd like to pop down. Just come whenever you're ready." And she smiled broadly and started back down the stairs.
The two men took to their rooms to unpack and sort out their belongings, not a particularly dangerous or taxing task, but Herrick clearly heard Mitchell exploding into a stream of expletives even through the not insubstantial walls. When they both emerged to return downstairs to claim the promised tea, Mitchell was still rubbing his eyes and obviously in some discomfort. He groaned at Herrick's enquiring look. "Bible in the top drawer of the dresser. Bloody Gideons! They make opening chests of drawers in hotels like a game of Russian roulette."
The younger Mrs Griffiths, or Janice as she told them to call her, proved to be amiable company. The two vampires cast expert eyes over the lounge, finally settling on chairs nowhere near the large Victorian mirror that took pride of place over the mantle. These two were experts at mixing with humans, but walking in front of mirrors was a common mistake made by the less experienced and something of a giveaway, since vampires had no reflections.
"So what brings you to Barry Island, Mr Herrick?"
"Business, mostly. I am involved in various business opportunities here; you might call me an entrepreneur. My nephew helps me out wherever he can."
The sound of the front door opening announced the arrival of the older Mrs Griffiths. "Irene, we're in here," called Janice, "Mr Herrick and his nephew have arrived and we're just having a nice cup of tea. Bring yourself a cup in if you want some – there's still plenty in the pot."
"Let me just put the shopping away and I'll be right there," came back an English voice and they could hear the sound of cupboard doors opening and closing in the kitchen.
A few minutes later, a woman of about sixty years old came into the lounge carrying a cup and saucer to pour herself some tea from the pot in front of Janice. When she saw Mitchell she froze, eyes widening. The cup rattled on the saucer and nearly fell as her hand shook, and she brought her other hand up to steady it. "Oh my goodness," she gasped when she recovered herself a little, "I know who you are."