Chapter 4 – A Side of Green Jello

"Rise and shine sleepy head."

Alex groaned and draped an arm across his face hiding from the glaring hospital lights. Hadn't these nurses heard that the recently resurrected needed their sleep? The glare faded as the nurse who had flipped on the lights hovered over him casting a shadow over his face. Alex dropped his arm and squinted up at the man who was smiling down at him. Long bond hair framed a handsome chiseled face set with a pair of icy blue eyes. It wasn't a nurse torturing him with lights before the crack of dawn. It was Satan.


"You need something?" Alex asked. He had no idea what the devil could want with him, but he marshaled every bit of false bravado he could muster. He commanded himself to forget about the hunger and his doubts about his own redemption. "If you haven't heard, I'm alive now, not a creature of darkness anymore. Heart's beating. Blood's pumping. I even ate green Jello and really tasted it, not that I enjoyed the experience."

"No, I imagine it was a rather dull meal, when I know what you're craving," Satan said. His voice was resonant and deep, a voice you could trust. "I dropped by to let you know the rules to your conditional resurrection. Ready? You're alive until you die. You can die now like any human being, and you can live but not like any human being, because my high and mighty siblings left you with a burden, a hunger. You feel it don't you. Can you taste it?" Satan caught his bottom lip between his teeth and bit until the blood rolled down his chin.

Alex looked away from the devil and the stream of blood that trickled tantalizingly down his face. "I'm alive now," he said. "I don't need that anymore. I don't want it."

"Don't bother lying," Satan said. "You don't need it but you do want it. It's your burden, resisting this desire. It won't get stronger, and it won't drive you mad the way it once did. Hell, it isn't any stronger than a nicotine craving for a smoker, and people quit smoking everyday. What are those cold-turkey success rates? Five percent? Three percent? You'll be fine as long as you stay on the wagon, but if you give in, I still have an opening for a creature of darkness." Satan pulled a blank black card out of his pocket and set it on Alex's starched white covers. "If you need me, just call. We could make beautiful music together."

The music pounding out of Priscilla Elder's thick black ear-muff headphones wasn't the usual pre-teen fare. She was leaving the bubblegum pop for the girls who were focused on things like being elected most beautiful or getting a cute boyfriend. Priscilla had more important tings to focus on, darker things. Rolling her mouse back and forth like an expert, she scrolled through the meaningless posts at Indian Joe's bulletin board and looked for the aliases she knew posted the good stuff, stuff she'd be interested in, stuff about her brother. Finding a likely post she clicked on it.

Subject: Alex?

From: RedWolf

Date/Time: 12/30/03 01:02 AM PST

I found this article off the AP website. Check out the picture.
I think it's Alexander Krakov. I can't wait for his next novel.
He takes the vampire novel to a better place. If Bram Stoker
and Ann Rice had a child it would so be Alexander Krakov. My
question is, what is Krakov doing in a Sweedish IHOP?


Priscilla groaned, rolled her bright brown eyes, and clicked the back button. Who were these morons and why didn't they read the category that they were posting in. This was the serious news folder, not the gossip folder. Scrolling through the remaining topics, Priscilla felt her frustration growing until she was brimming with it. In exasperation she started her own topic.

Subject: I need NEWS!

From: LittleElder

Date/Time: 12/30/03 02:32 AM PST

Has anyone heard from Alex, the Alex, you know who I'm talking
about, Joe. I need to know something, anything. Please email me
if you have any news. Anyone?



Knowing that waiting for a response in front of the computer would drive her slowly insane, Priscilla abandoned her computer and threw herself across her bed. She didn't quite manage her flying leap without unplugging her headphones and freeing her music to fill her room and the rest of the house. Pris flew forward quickly silencing her radio, but the damage was done. Lights had already come on out in the hall and her parents were beating at her door. "Come in."

"It's two AM, young lady. Eight year old little girls sleep at two AM," Mom said. She turned to her yawning husband looking for backup, and he nodded his agreement. "I'll just take this, and we'll see if you can fall asleep if you don't have Smashing Cantaloupes or whatever it is you listen to ruining your hearing." She unplugged, Pris's rounded pink stereo and hefted it into George's abdomen for him to carry away.

"Go to sleep, doodle-bug," George commanded. He used his mock-stern voice, and hefted his daughter's radio under his arm. "If we catch you awake again, I think you may lose the computer."

As much as Priscilla wanted to stay up and wait for someone to reply to her post, she knew how annoying it was lose your computer. She'd experienced that particular punishment before. Instead she crawled under her covers and closed her eyes. Sleep didn't hide from her now that she wasn't running from it and she drifted away.

Not so far away in a run-down apartment building, a scruffy middle-aged detective, David Freeman, was sipping instant coffee and actively fighting the urge to sleep. His room was dark except for the dull electric glow of his computer screen. He wasn't trolling personal websites looking for news on missing children. He was cruising a more reputable source.

There were a dozen files open in front of him, active cases he was being paid to investigate, missing children: Simon Dixon, Eve Harvey, Cindy Lewis, Alex Elder, Evan Reynolds. Their faces looked up at him and he scrolled through the missing children databases looking for their faces, a sighting, a clue.

The AVIS National Directory was very user friendly and David could view fifty children's faces with a click of the mouse. His high-speed connection did the rest, refilling the screen over and over.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are," David whispered. Click. Click. Click.

"Whoa Nelly." David caught a familiar face, third row, fifth column. "Alex Elder? Hello puppy."

George returned to bed after depositing his daughter's stereo in the closet. He had just snuggled down under the covers, settling back to a place of calm where sleep might be possible when the phone rang, jangling into the silence. A whole litany of expletives on the tip of his tongue for whoever was calling him at two AM, George snatched the phone out of its cradle. "George Elder." His tone communicated the annoyance he restrained himself from actually expressing.

"Mr. Elder, apologies for the early morning call. It's David Freeman at East Avenue Detective Agency. Your contact person has been Mrs. Spencer. The file said I was to call you immediately if there were any developments, however minute, in our investigation for you."

Sleep forgotten, George slid out of bed and headed for the bathroom, so that Cynthia couldn't hear. She would assume the call was from work, and he wouldn't have to worry about upsetting her unnecessarily. "What have you found?"

"It's a hot one, sir. A social worker in Colorado put a picture of your son on AVIS, one of the big national directories. She listed him as maybe fifteen, but according to her notes, he's claiming eighteen which we know he is, even if he doesn't look it. They won't be able to hold him after he walks out of the hospital. I'm booking a flight for one of our people that's taking off in two hours. Would you like a ticket as well? We understand if you'd like to join our agent."

"Of course I want to fly out there. You're certain it's him? Why is he in the hospital?" George asked. "What the Hell is he doing in Colorado?"

"I couldn't say, sir," David said. "I've booked your flight. You can pick up your ticket at the United Counter."

After hanging up the phone, George sank down onto the edge of the tub and stared unseeing at himself in the mirror. After more than three years, they'd found his son, on the other side of the country, and in the hospital. Vampires didn't go to the hospital. Vampires were dead. They didn't get injuries, and the hospital couldn't cure death. George grinned, his logic leading him to a good place for a change. His son was in the hospital, for whatever reason, and he couldn't be undead.

George closed his eyes and started silently thanking God for this miracle, however it had come about.

Author's Note:

Another chapter down, and a few more to go. I want to finish this story this year. It's a goal. I'm saying it out loud, which makes it tangible, not a promise, but a GOAL!