Blood of the Hunted
Chapter 3: Night of the Living Zombie
[Vampires can be killed, or
haven't you noticed the murders? - Son Pan]
Her nose twitched as she slowly climbed upward from sleep and subconsciously she wondered what the strange scent was. It smelled like the air before a spring rain, an odor of moist soil and green plants, and slightly of rotting meat. Pan's eyes opened and she blinked to clear them.
"What the heck is going on?"
Then she saw it standing beside the bed, leaning over her. In all of her seventeen years she had never seen anything like it, never even considered anything like it.
It used to be human once upon a time, that much was obvious. The flesh was pale and pock-marked from teenage acne and the brown hair was lying limply about its face. Its clothes consisted of a formal black suit that was covered with traces of dirt. Pan's eyes grew huge as she watched its mouth open and wondered what was about to happen now.
"Blood," it rasped. "I need blood."
After curbing her terror slightly, she looked around the room frantically in search of something to give it. "I don't have anything handy..." Then she looked down at her arm and sighed. It was the only thing she had to offer. Taking her fingernail, she pressed down until crimson welled to the surface.
The thing grabbed her arm immediately and pulled her across the bed to his face. The mouth clamped over the wound and it began to suck fervently. After a few moments she pried it away and stared at the circular red mark left behind.
"Okay then," she said in a calm voice that hardly resembled her true emotions. "Who, or what, are you and why are you here?"
The brown eyes blinked. "I don't know. Where is here?"
"You're in my house in Satan City," she said with forced patience. "What do you remember?"
"I was walking home from the store and someone grabbed me from the street," he said this slowly. "Instead of just taking my money, the man pulled out a knife and..." Panic settled on his face and he was tugging at the clothing that covered his upper body. Pan helped him to unbutton both the suit jacket and the white shirt underneath and a long, stitched scar on his abdomen was exposed. His body trembled as his fingers traced it. "He stabbed me and I lost consciousness. I remember being in the hospital and my mom was crying."
Pan figured out what was going on and began to re-button his clothing after gently moving his hands away. His frightened voice drew her attention upward.
"Am I dead?"
"Hai, you are."
"Please put me back now. I want to go back."
"I don't think that I can," she said as she went to get dressed, "but I can try. What cemetery would you be buried in?"
He waited patiently while she disappeared into the closet to change clothes. Dead or not he was still male and Pan wasn't going to let him watch her strip. "My grandparents are buried in Cherrywood so that's probably were I am, too."
At five a.m. in late spring the sun was just barely beginning to rise. The weak light provided the two of them with some way to see where they were going but without the streetlights everything would be nearly pitch-black. At the corner of her street, she paused and shrieked when someone appeared before her on the sidewalk.
"What do you want?" she asked after the initial startlement had past. Pan was quickly ready for a fight and it clearly showed in the way that she held herself.
"She sent me to watch over you and make sure that nothing happened. I can help you with the zombie boy."
A petite red-haired ningen woman stepped forward so that Pan could see her face clearly. "My name is Emily and I'm Jezebelle's human servant."
"She gave me marks to make me hers. The first mark gives a person immunity to your vampire's mind tricks and partial immunity to the tricks of others, the second mark enables your vampire to enter your dreams and take in nutrition through you, the third mark makes it possible for your vampire to speak within your mind, and the fourth mark..." She trailed off with a blissful look on her face. "The fourth mark makes you as immortal as your vampire."
Pan's eyebrow rose. "Vampires can be killed, or haven't you noticed the murders?"
"My master is powerful; she will never reach true death."
The cemetery was half-way across town and the sun had fully risen by the time they got there. Pan was glad for that, she had already been awakened by a reanimated corpse, she didn't need to experience a darkened graveyard to boot. At the gate she paused, looking around for something that would show her the way.
"The grave will have only slightly disturbed soil," Emily told her. "He will not have clawed his way up through the dirt."
"What's your name?" she asked the boy, somehow knowing that she would need it. It was probably that same *something* that raised him in the first place.
He turned his head slowly to look at her. "It's Yonai Kotaro and the plot is this way."
It was a neat grave next to two others that must have been his grandparents. Kotaro fell to his knees beside his tombstone and gently touched it. "It's true," he whispered. "I died just a few days ago, I think." He then stood abruptly and moved to stand in front of the grave. "Put me back now. I'm ready."
She turned to look at Emily. "What in the world am I supposed to do now?"
"How do you know that I can help you?" the woman asked with a smile. "I could just be an ordinary person who lives just slightly inside of the preternatural world."
"You're not ordinary. Jezebelle wouldn't allow ordinary people to surround her. She thinks too highly of herself for that." Pan glared at her. "Now stop the nonsense and help me already!"
Emily handed her a small white packet. "It's salt," she explained. "You use it to bind the zombie back to its grave. How did you raise him, anyway?"
"Um, I don't..."
"The second step is to use the blood from the ritual knife to lay him to rest."
"Ritual knife...?" she frowned in puzzlement. "I just woke up this morning and found him standing over me. Maybe I did it in my sleep."
That drew an unexpected reaction from the human servant. The woman looked at her with an expression that was a cross between amazement and utter disgust. "That should not have been possible for you."
"Why the hell not?"
"You are a child, for one. You know nothing of this world, for another." She waved her hand at Kotaro. "Just put him back. I'll explain later."
Pan looked at the salt and at the zombie. "Now what do I do?"
Emily sighed. "If I could do it for you, I would. Toss the salt at its chest and say these words: with salt I bind you to your grave."
Pan did what she was told. "With salt I bind you to your grave."
"Now, you're supposed to press the blood-covered ritual knife against his lips, but there is no knife."
"Is that all?" Pan created another wound (this time on the opposite arm) and brushed it against the zombie's mouth. When nothing happened, she turned. "What am I supposed to do now?"
"Repeat after me. With blood I bind you to your grave. Kotaro, be at peace and walk no more." She had to modify the words slightly to fit the situation, but she felt that it should still work.
Pan repeated dutifully and the zombie lay back over his grave. The dirt shifted and covered his body, leaving behind no trace of moved soil. She wondered at that for just a moment before remembering that she was supposed to get an explanation. "Okay, spill it."
"Walk with me," she said and they started towards the exit. "I am an animator, a person that has the ability to raise the dead. It's different than a necromancer or a person that can resurrect the dead. When we raise them as zombies they have no souls, only a memory of who they used to be." She paused. "You... I have no idea what you are. You can raise the dead, I've seen the evidence of that, yet you don't need go through the ritual. I need a circle of power made from the blood of a living sacrifice. All you need, it seems, is pure energy. How can this be?"
"You're definitely asking the wrong person, Emily. I didn't even know I could do that!" Pan felt overwhelmed. In just a few days she'd gone from being an normal girl (well, as normal as you can be and still be quarter-Saiya-jin anyway) to an animator and the vampires' only hope for justice. She looked up at the brightening sky and shouted, "Why ME?! I'm nobody special!"
Emily placed a hand onto her shoulder. "Why anyone, Pan? Maybe you're the best person for the job. Maybe it was just your time." She shrugged. "Whatever the reason you need to do what you can to help us. If many more die then the Council will start to take notice. That is not something anyone ever wants to happen."
The woman walked her home and said that she would be back in the evening. Jezebelle would probably want to see her. Pan nodded and climbed up the tree that stood next to her bedroom, not daring to alert her father by using ki to levitate, and climbed through the open window. She had one leg over the sill when the lights snapped on and she met the disapproving stare of both parents.
"Oh," she said, her heart sinking. "Hi."
Videl tapped her foot impatiently against the floor. "We're waiting."
"You see- I, uh- Kaasan!" She threw herself at her mother and burst into tears. "My life is out of control!" Videl automatically tried to comfort her.
"Wait a minute here, she snuck out of the house!" Gohan stared at his wife in disbelief. "Please don't tell me that you're going to let her get away with that."
Videl gave him a look that plainly read "Let me do my job." He threw up his hands in frustrated defeat and left the room. "Now, Pan-chan, tell me what's wrong."
"This morning I woke up and found the most disturbing thing looking at me," she sniffed. "It was a zombie, can you believe that? I think I raised him in my sleep. Anyway, the reason I left this morning was to put him back into his grave."
Her mother was silent for a moment, seemingly trying to process her words. "So, you're saying that you can now raise the dead?" A mute nod. "And the reason you left the house this morning was to put back the zombie you accidentally raised?" Another nod. Videl rose and went towards the exit. "I need time to think about this."
Pan watched her leave, sadness filling her heart. It was pretty hard to be happy about her newfound powers when her own mother seemed so disturbed by them. She collapsed onto her bed, burying her face into her pillow. 'I will not cry. I will not cry.'
"Pan, honey?" Her head didn't lift. Pan felt the bed dip with the weight of her father sitting on it and soon felt his hand on her shoulder. "Your mother didn't mean it that way. She just doesn't know how to deal very well with things like this."
"Things like what?" her voice was muffled. "Weird things? Things not very normal?" She rolled over to face him. "I know she's tried hard to make her family look completely ordinary. ChiChi-obaasan did the same thing. Why can't they just accept the fact that we're different from they are?"
"You'll have to ask them that question, Pumpkin. I've wondered for many years myself." Gohan planted a kiss on her forehead. "Now, tell me about what happened."
She started from the very beginning, right after she met Jezebelle in the club. Pan spared no details from her father and she watched his face go through many of changes. He was startled and worried, thoughtful and just a little bit angry. She felt better after bringing him up to date, though, and that was worth any punishment Gohan could ever give her.
"Despite your age and experience they truly believe that you can help them. I'm going to allow you to do just that." Her face brightened. "On one condition: you have to keep me informed. It's my right as your father to put a stop to any detective work that could get you killed."
"Fine, Tousan. I understand completely." She looked at her hands. "I just need to take this case one step at a time. It's too much for me to try and take in the big picture right now. I feel smothered by the responsibility sometimes."
"If it becomes too much, you need to remember that there are people around to help." Gohan smiled at her. "I'm so proud of you, Pan. You're growing up." He wiped away an imaginary tear.
"Have I grown up enough for you and kaasan to stop meddling in my life?"
Her father started to chuckle. "Of course not!"
"I didn't think so."
That afternoon, after she spent a few hours catching up on missed sleep, Pan sat down with her mother and tried to talk things over. She thought that it was going to be very hard work.
"Why can't you just accept me like I am?" she asked. "You know I didn't ask for any of this."
Videl sighed deeply. "It comes from my childhood, Pan. You know that okaasan, your obaasan, died when I was six, right? Otousan tried the best he could to raise me but some things about girls are best left to a mother. I used to watch the families in the park when he took me every Saturday and wished that my family was perfect like that. I swore to myself a long time ago that I would find a good husband and we would be the best possible parents in the world; the perfect family."
She understood but it didn't make it any easier to hear. Pan pleaded as hard as she could with her eyes. "Please let me be different. I promise that I won't embarrass you two."
"Oh, honey," her mother rose from her chair and went around the kitchen table to hug her. "It's my problem, not yours. I'm just going to have to accept the fact that you aren't what I what expected you to be." She could have slapped herself when she realized what she said. "That's a good thing!"
Pan gave her a skeptical look. "I can't wait to see you make *that* sound positive."
"You're unique, Pan-chan, and that makes you special in a good way. My vision of the perfect daughter was one who wore lace covered dresses with matching ribbons in her hair and looked up to me as some kind of idol." Videl laughed. "You're a much better kid than that little girl. I think I'll keep you."
Trying to picture herself in lace made her shudder. "Well, *I'm* glad I'm not like that. Thanks for having this, um, weird conversation."
"No problem. Are you going out tonight?"
"I don't think so. Maybe I'll just chill on the couch and become a potato." She smiled at the thought and went to answer the phone when it rang. The voice on the other end of the line made her sigh. "Hi Kirsten, what is it?"
"Why did you not tell me that you could raise the dead?"
"I didn't tell you because I didn't know! How'd you find out, anyway?"
There was a short pause that made Pan feel a little nervous. She nearly laughed at what the Master said next. "Jezebelle phoned me." Her voice sounded annoyed. "She said that her human servant sensed your power. You will need to be trained, Pan, before you begin to raise the newly dead every single night."
More nights of the living dead standing over her with vacant eyes and rotting skin? She shuddered involuntarily and silently prayed that the thought didn't give her nightmares. "Why now? Why did that power have to surface at all?"
"I do not know, but it can aid us greatly. This is the reason for my call. There was a witness to the second murder that I need for you to interrogate."
"Why can't you get one of your own people to do it? I still have no idea how I can help you any more than someone else could."
"The dead cannot raise the dead. When the witness realized that she had seen something important, she left a note with her parents and committed suicide. She was eighteen." Kirsten exhaled. "Legends of vampires had terrified her. She truly believed that murdering herself was better than be questioned by us."
"How did you find out about her?"
"The boyfriend of one of her friends is a vampire. He contacted me."
What Kirsten wanted her to do sounded wrong but, then again, permanently killing vampires was sort of wrong, wasn't it? "I have a moral dilemma. On one hand, I don't think anyone who committed suicide should be raised from the dead. You're what she was trying to escape from after all. On the other hand, there is a murderer out there running loose. A good vampire might die, whatever that means."
"You are not amusing."
"I'm not trying to be."
"Whatever. Be here at nine o'clock tonight. I will contact Emily and instruct her to show at The Underground. She will instruct you in the ways of the animator. Farewell." She hung up without another word.
Pan turned the cordless phone off and growled quietly. Louder, she exclaimed, "I can't believe she expects me to do whatever she wants! I'm not some puppet for her to manipulate! I should tell her iie!"
"But," her mother said, "this entire thing makes you extremely curious."
"There's that," she admitted. "I also need to figure out what's going on with me before something really bad happens that labels me as a freak forever."
Videl grinned. "Well, you'll always be my freak."
Rolling her eyes, she said sarcastically, "Arigatou, Kaasan. That's *really* reassuring."