Sergeant Tan Lo of the Baltimore Police Department gestured for Officers Jackson and Krewelski to fan right. He sent Officers Williams and Cooksey to the left to control the perimeter.
“Be careful, folks,” the diminutive Asian warned his troops. “This guy’s armed and dangerous. Keep in contact. I’d rather we didn’t shoot one another.”
His warning earned him a baleful look from Williams before the giant man plodded into the darkness, little Cooksey in his wake.
Lo held back his biggest weapon in the search until the perimeter was secured. Niles Gule stood waiting for the signal to proceed. Half the night shift had been called out to the Grasmick Lumber Yards east of Baltimore. They were trying to capture an armed robber who’d held up a liquor store, shooting the owner in the process. The man had fled to the lumberyard, an excellent place to hide given the business was tucked under Interstate 695. Shadows lurked under the overpass and around every pile of lumber. At that time of night, the business was closed and little more than wasteland surrounded it on all sides. The robber knew he had only to wait the police out then slip into the darkness never to be found.
Being a vampire, Niles felt no terror of the darkness. Unlike human eyes, his blue eyes saw the world in differing shades of black and gray. He noted a mouse fleeing as Jackson stomped towards the outer fence and a piece of newsprint drifting in the breeze. If he squinted, he knew he could read it. He didn’t bother however. His task was to use his incredible eyesight to locate a killer.
“All right, Gule,” Lo said. “We’ve got the yards surrounded. You and Cruz head in. Hopefully you can simply find him. If not, maybe you’ll flush him out and he’ll run.”
Niles nodded to his partner, little feisty Mariella Cruz who was chomping to start the search. He had to grab her arm to hold her back as he moved cautiously forward.
“Just because I can see in the dark doesn’t mean this guy can’t surprise us and shoot one of us,” he warned.
Cruz scowled but slowed her step to match his.
Together the pair moved into the lumberyard. Cruz held her service pistol ahead of her but Niles went unarmed except for his silver knife. He wasn’t licensed to own a firearm and as a consulting detective felt he should obey the law. Being a vampire, his knife was all he needed. He was stronger than a human and wounds that would kill a human merely made life miserable for him. He was hard to kill.
“Is there a reason we’re being quiet?” Cruz whispered. “Aren’t we trying to flush this guy out?”
Niles snorted. “Not everything can be resolved by charging in with guns blazing. I’d rather he didn’t just shoot us before he flushes. I don’t feel like being in pain tonight and I certainly don’t want you getting killed.”
Cruz grinned, her olive-complexioned face aglow in the dark. “Niles! You care! That’s so sweet!”
His sharp eyes caught movement near one of the concrete pillars that held up the overpass. Niles gestured for Cruz to stay on the right side of the pillar while he circled around to the left. He leaped.
The suspect was too frightened to shoot. He saw a vampire lunging out of the darkness, fangs gleaming in the dark, and he shrieked like a little girl. Then he ran.
Niles was after him in an instant. He grabbed the guy’s shoulder to stop him. Their momentum rammed them into a large pile of aging lumber that had been left out in the rain too long. The pile shifted, its rusted metal bands giving way. It collapsed.
Cruz arrived with her pistol at the ready. “Don’t move! Hands up!”
The suspect jerked himself free of Niles who let him go, knowing he wasn’t running anywhere. When the vampire tried to right himself, a stabbing pain froze his foot. He took a bad step. The leg refused to hold him and he went down. Cruz yelled again at the suspect who tried to use the vampire’s collapse as cover to run.
“Move and I’ll shoot,” she warned. “Drop the gun. Drop it!”
As he writhed in pain on the ground, Niles saw the gun land next to his nose.
His leg felt as if it was encased in ice. He couldn’t feel his ankle anymore and soon his knee was growing cold. Cruz held the suspect still with the gun in one hand while she radioed for help with the other. Niles lost feeling in his knee, then his hip. When his chest froze, his vision failed.
Niles came to with a start, his entire body wracked with pain. He fought against hands that held him until Lo’s voice broke through the panic.
“It’s me, Niles. Relax.”
Niles panted as he fought through a wave of icy pain. As it relented his vision cleared and he could breathe again. His leg was still on fire but now he could move it.
“What happened?” he asked.
Lo’s brow creased. “That’s what we’re trying to find out. Cruz said you just collapsed. Is this something vampires do?”
Niles slowly sat up. Cruz and Jackson supported his shoulder until he was able to gesture that he could remain vertical on his own.
“I don’t know what happened. I’ve never felt that sort of pain in my life.” He ran a hand through his short blond locks. “That’s saying a lot too. I’ve been around for a while.” He bent to touch his ankle. The fire in his leg was easing but there was one spot on his ankle that felt as if it had been shot. He eased up his pant leg then rolled down his sock. A pair of brilliant red spots, close together, was centered over a ruddy bruise on his otherwise pasty ankle.
“Looks like a spider bite,” Jackson said, peering at the wound.
“What sort of spider could down a vampire?” Lo asked.
Niles gingerly touched the bite then regretted the action. His entire foot throbbed. He could feel it swelling in protest from the bite.
“What happened to our suspect?” he asked
“We got him.” Lo was more concerned about his vampire than his suspect.
Jackson flicked a flashlight around the area. He played it across the pile of lumber that had collapsed. There between some of the boards was a bit of webbing. In the middle of it sat a large, black spider, wriggling its forelegs at him.
“Holy crap, it’s a black widow!” Jackson jumped backwards. He glanced at Niles. “What happens when a vampire gets bit by a black widow?”
“Nothing good,” Niles grumbled. He wasn’t sure he could stand. He rolled his ankle and put weight on his foot.
“Apparently it’s not deadly to you,” Cruz said, giving his shoulder a squeeze. “Thank God for that.”
“But what about the spider?” Jackson asked. When Niles gave him a hateful look, he said, “No, I mean, what happens to a black widow that bites a vampire? Your blood aint normal, Gule.”
The four police officers stared at the spider. It stared back with its million eyes. Then it flicked what seemed like a finger at them, chittered evilly, and marched off. Moments later the entire pile of lumber shifted as the spider pushed it out of its way.
Jackson’s wide eyes looked at Cruz. Cruz looked at Lo. Lo looked at Niles.
Without a word, the four people ran.
Niles comments: Black widow spiders are nothing to laugh about. My dear friend Peg was bitten by one a week ago. Fortunately, she’s recovered but more spiders are out there. They are native across the entire United States and most of southern Canada. They like to hide inside structures like barns, piles of wood, and yes, houses. Something that makes even a vampire shudder!