Before I even caught a bus home, I called Miranda, left her a message: that she had to call the police about Chelsea, that Chelsea was probably dead, that Nick and Sig were behind it. I didn’t say how I knew. It occurred to me that I was staking a lot on Miranda trusting me when she had no good reason to. I didn’t hear back.
I was useless for work the next morning, and paranoid from lack of sleep, so I called out sick and tried to spend the day figuring out my next move. But it was no good planning when everything depended on other people. Were the police investigating Nick? If they had, would Nick be onto me?
If I wanted any answers, I’d need to face Nick again. I knew only one place to find him: on the mat. So after I spent a day getting myself under control (and still staring at every shadow) I headed back to the Emerald City Submission Grappling Club that evening. Even if Nick knew I was onto him, I was tired of dodging. If anything went down at the Club I’d have people on my side who knew how to handle themselves. An emboldening thought. By the time I got off the bus, I almost felt ready to take on Nick and Sig together.
But Nick and Sig weren’t there. For the first time since winter started there was nothing but friendly, honest faces at the Club. Jenna was there, ready for a good-natured throw-down. Pete was there, ready to run class. Everything was normal. I had no idea what to do.
“Where are Nick and Sig?” I wondered aloud. Maybe the police had picked them up. Maybe they’d skipped town. Maybe I could relax.
Pete just shrugged. Jenna said, “I thought I saw their car on the way here. I guess not. There a problem?”
“No,” I said. “I just… it’s been a while since they weren’t here.”
Jenna just shrugged. “You warmed up?” Before I could say “Not yet,” she grabbed me by the jacket and pulled me onto the mat. We grappled back and forth until Pete called the class to bow in. For a while, I almost forgot there were bigger problems in my life than keeping my elbows in during forward throws.
Then on my way out, Miranda met me in the parking lot.
Even under the street lights, I could tell she was having an even worse time than I had been. “Can I talk to you?” she said, sounding exhausted. “I did what you said. The cops opened a file. But you’re not telling me everything.”
Jenna stepped into the sphere of the conversation. “Is everything all right?”
“Yeah,” I lied. Then, to Miranda, I said, “Look, we can’t do this here.”
“Then where?” she said.
I thought about telling her the truth. She might think I was insane—and what if she didn’t? Maybe the cops could handle a vampire. I wasn’t going to ask Jenna or Miranda to.
“That’s my bus,” I said. A 74 was pulling around the other side of the street and I would have to sprint to make it to the bus stop before the bus did. So… that’s what I did.
Between my bus stop and my apartment building, there are a few blocks where the streetlights stop. The sidewalk crosses a bike trail, with a thick buffer of trees on either side and past that the road slopes up beside a cemetery on a hill. Naturally, this patch of darkness was where Sig found me.