"The lives of Charlie and Bella Swan were devastated when Renée was murdered by a serial killer: The Drainer. Charlie, a former FBI profiler, is convinced that the killer is a vampire, and that those creatures are real. Nobody believes him, till the day he captures one of the undead."
[1-28-2013] A big portion of this story was written during my first NaNoWriMo (November 2012). I completed NaNoWriMo with more than 51,000 words, but the whole story will be much longer. Thank you! to Snare's fantastic prereaders/betas: Camilla10, SatinCoveredSteel, and Marlena516. Thanks also to Emergency Beta Service.
Snare is based on Twilight – which, as you probably know, I don't own – and on other fics, such as TrueNature or SoldierX. Charles Swan is loosely based on some characters from the popular TV series CriminalMinds. Anyway, this is NOT a crossover. Expect one hundred percent Twilight, vampires included.
"Better be important," Charles Swan grumbled into the phone. The call had awakened him in the middle of the night, just when it seemed that his usual nightmares wouldn't disturb his slumber.
"Sherman talking. I'm in a motel in Tacoma. Can you get here tonight?"
Charlie's blood went cold at the news that Brian Sherman, the FBI special agent who had been his partner for years in the Bureau, was in the city where they used to meet. "Has something new turned up about...?"
He didn't need to complete the sentence. His colleague knew how Charlie hated the nickname the media had given to the serial killer who had stolen everything from him. Years before, The Drainer had slaughtered eight people in the Seattle area. The bodies had been found in awful condition—some showed signs of massive blunt force trauma, while others had been partially burned—and they all had one thing in common: every one of them had been bled dry.
"I can't tell you anything more over the phone. Come here and we'll talk."
"I'm on my way."
He knew the cold feeling that had gripped him at Sherman's words wouldn't release him anytime soon. Even scribbling a note for his daughter, telling her that he had to leave, became a difficult task. Bella would understand immediately why her father had been called away overnight, and she would remember, too. The old pain would invade her–the old fear. Charlie regretted that he wouldn't be there to comfort his little girl when she woke up in the morning. Love, Dad, he signed at the end of the note. There had been a time when he would have hesitated to say the L-word out loud, even to his wife. But now that he'd had to live every day of the last six years wishing he'd said "I love you" to Renée on the last morning he'd seen her, it was different.
He tried to calm down on his way to Tacoma. Since he'd left the Bureau, his former colleagues had usually summoned him for one of two reasons. The first (and official) one was his outstanding competence as a profiler. He had been dubbed "Scuba Diver," because he could delve more deeply than anyone else into the abyss that the mind of a serial killer represented. After his early retirement, he'd agreed to be a consultant for some cases; in addition to the criminals who had been caught while he was still working in the field, a growing list of killers had also been stopped, thanks to his recent investigations.
Sherman's rare calls always connected with the second reason, though. When Charlie's obsession with the Drainer had ended up swallowing all his time, to the point that he'd left his job, Sherman had been the only colleague with whom he'd shared his new lines of research. He had supported Charlie when he'd been removed from the investigation after going from being one of the best agents on the case to being the husband of one of the victims. Bending the rules, he'd continued to keep him posted about the team's findings. Charlie knew how things worked with serial killer investigations, and the Drainer had been no exception: the agents had reached a dead end, and other cases had taken over their attention. The files had ended up under piles of newer folders on the agents' desks, before going to gather dust in an archive.
When Charlie had begun to delve into his anthropology studies and the legends that, through different cultures and centuries, dealt with creatures who drained human blood to feed upon, Sherman had been skeptical. He'd worried that his friend's grief for the loss of his wife had become stronger than his sanity. That was the last they spoke of it, until Charlie had talked with him about the documents of Project 98331.
Charlie entered the address Sherman had given him on his GPS, then sent him a quick text. I'll be there in less than an hour.
Good, Sherman replied. I was afraid you were at that lodge of yours.
The Lodge. If he only knew...Charlie thought. He'd already alerted his assistants, in case he needed to put the place to its intended use; he wondered if that need would arise tonight. He went through different scenarios, not knowing what to wish for.
The official version was that he'd retired in order to write books and go on lecture tours, and that he spent the rest of his time in a secluded lodge he'd had built in the middle of nowhere. Not even Sherman had ever been invited there.
Since Charlie was rich – he could count on the earnings of his work and the huge inheritance his parents had left him – and fiercely secretive, there were rumors about the lodge. Many people imagined it was the luxurious retreat of a brilliant, wealthy man who was starting a new life after facing a tragedy; others believed it was his way of continuing to grieve for his wife when he couldn't move on.
No one could have guessed that the lodge was in fact a small prison, equipped with state-of-the-art security systems. It was designed to keep a supposedly indestructible creature captive, should Charlie ever be able to catch one. In the meantime, it was used for experiments, as well as a place to file away the results of his secret studies, but the cell had never been put to use. At least so far.
"You were on the right track," were Sherman's first words when Charlie arrived at the motel.
"What brought you to Seattle?"
"There's been an explosion in the Olympic peninsula, deep in the forest, and a cabin was destroyed. My team was summoned because there was an alert for a terrorist cell, but it turned out to be a false alarm," Sherman explained. "The current theory is that the explosion was caused by a propane cylinder, but I think there might be more to it. I called you because I'm afraid I've found something that might be related to Project 98331."
Charlie's eyes widened. "What do you mean?"
Sherman retrieved his tablet computer from his suitcase. "I don't need to remind you that I'm risking my job..."
"I know," Charlie told him quietly. "Thank you for understanding what it means to me."
Among the pictures taken at the scene, there were a few that made it clear that the cabin and surrounding woods had been the theater of a fight before the explosion and the fire. Sherman talked him through the photos, pointing out to the flattened vegetation, freshly broken twigs, shreds of clothing, and what appeared to be the scattered remains of a cell phone.
"Did you find bodies at the scene?" Charlie asked.
"No." Sherman pointed to a detail in one of the pictures. "But look at these." On the tree trunk was a series of indentations that bore an uncanny resemblance to fingers. It was as if a human hand had grasped the trunk and squeezed. Of course, no human could possibly have had the strength to leave such marks.
"What the hell...?"
"I thought about those...super-agents you talked about."
Sherman recalled the day Charlie had first shared his theory about a connection between Project 98331 and the modus operandi of the serial killer he was studying. According to some papers from the 98331 folder that dated back to the second World War, the Nazis and Fascists had possessed a small number of super-soldiers who seemed indestructible. The intelligence had found evidence of their involvement in a few military operations, but by the end of the war, no trace of them remained. The first element to catch Charlie's attention was the mention of the preferred killing method of those super-agents: they left their victims drained of blood. They had been able to kill their targets – who were no less than expert, high-profile military men – before they could use their weapons, and the intelligence had surmised that they'd used some sort of venom to incapacitate their victims.
The second element had been even more shocking. More than fifty years later, the agents working on the Drainer's cases had found an unknown substance adhering to a few pieces of evidence. It was a transparent, sticky fluid, and the best researchers had been unable to determine what it was or how it could be used, let alone if it was relevant to the crimes. Charlie had insisted on continuing the experiments, but the only significant step had been the discovery that very high doses of vitamin D could influence the substance's chemical structure; samples treated with it were sensitive to the sun and highly reflective. He had called it venom, using the same term he'd read in the old reports in the 98331 folder.
His superiors had quickly dismissed that line of research. The Drainer hadn't struck in some time, and the case become cold. It had been the final straw for Charlie, and he retired shortly after that.
"I need to survey the scene."
"It's too risky," Sherman objected. "We've kept the media at bay so far, so if someone discovers that you've been there, they'd know immediately that I'm the one who tipped you off."
"But you called me, so it means you haven't ruled out the possibility that I could be right, have you? Nobody would know I was there. Have the agents and the firemen left?"
"Please, Brian. I'll be quick and they'd be none the wiser."
"I should have known better," Sherman mumbled, giving Charlie the directions to the burnt cabin.
An inferno. That was Charlie's first impression of the scene. He made his way toward the inner part of the cabin, taking as many pictures as he could, desperate to find further evidence to support his theory besides the marks on the tree. To his disappointment, he found nothing of interest. With a sigh, he turned to leave; perhaps he would have better luck outside. He needed to get some fresh air anyway, because the stench inside was overpowering. The cabin stank of wood smoke, mixed with a smell he didn't recognize – pungent and sickly sweet.
He'd just stepped through the doorway when he heard a noise behind him—it sounded like part of the cabin's ruins had collapsed. Heart pounding, he turned back.
Under a fallen beam there was a young man – but not the corpse of a man, like he might have expected. He was flat on his stomach, surrounded by debris, his clothes shredded and stained with soot. Charlie stepped slowly toward him. He checked the tracks the boy had left behind himself and surmised that he must have crawled until the beam had fallen on him, blocking him under its weight. His gaze moved to the boy's face: a mop of unruly brown hair covered his forehead, and his half-closed eyes were an amber hue that reminded Charlie of a snake's gaze. As he took another step toward him, the young man uttered a growl. There was a desperation in the sound that brought to mind a wounded animal, and wounded he was, judging by the long gash that had almost severed his head from his neck. Charlie froze when he looked closely at the wide cut, his heart pounding even faster than before.
The boy was not bleeding–at least, he wasn't losing blood. Instead, a strange, transparent fluid oozed from the gash. When the creature growled, the flow increased, and it seemed to exhaust his energy, because he closed his eyes and stopped moving. He continued to breathe, but with shallow gulps that made him shake on the ground.
Charlie opened his briefcase and retrieved a syringe and a vial. As he prepared the syringe, he thought about his studies concerning vitamin D. If my guess is right, it's the only chance I have to impede his recovery and keep him under control. He closed the distance between himself and the boy. He knew he had one opportunity, and that if he was wrong, he'd be dead before he even realized that the creature had moved.
The sweet, pungent scent that pervaded the cabin grew stronger as he crouched beside the boy, coming in thick waves from the gash in his neck. Touching the skin around the wound gave him all the confirmation he needed: the cold tissue, as hard as marble, couldn't belong to a human. Before him was one of those creatures who, until now, belonged to the world of myth. When the vial's contents were pushed into the wound, the features of the young man relaxed, as if he'd slipped into a coma.
In the early morning, under a cloudy sky, Charlie entered the lodge and gave orders to open the cell. Not long after he was locked in, the prisoner began to regain consciousness.
Thanks for reading!
The project's number, 98331, is not a random number. Can you guess what it is?
The next chapter is due to be posted next Monday.
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