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Pretty Perilous in Pink
Pretty Perilous in Pink

Pretty Perilous in Pink

JPYoungJPYoung

PROLOGUE

She walked as if she not only owned the pavement, but the entire city that went with it. The sound of her high heels echoed against the three level Victorian era terraced houses with their decorative wrought iron fencing on their balconies. The streets were deserted as it was two hours before the dawn.

He watched the woman dressed in an expensive pink mini-skirted party dress set off with a yellow belt and the same coloured high heeled shoes. She wasn't staggering like those who had too much to drink; she showed no fear of glancing from side to side. Her observer thought she looked too well dressed to be an undercover policewoman, rather she looked like an intensely self confident fashion model returning from a very late night photo session. He looked around to confirm that there was no one else walking on the pavements. There was no traffic, and none of the windows of the terraced houses had any lights on.

He had been an attacker of girls and women since his teenage years. He would be arrested, then released, arrested again, proclaimed to have a mental disability and released again, arrested again...

The attacker thought, 'This is my lucky night!' as she approached the shrubbery that he was hiding behind.

He leapt out from behind the bush...

The attacker was visibly dismayed that she had no fear or surprise whatsoever.

She looked at him with disgust as if he were something smelly that she had stepped on.

He restored his shattered ego with a threat and a facial expression that he fancied was frightening.

'Your cash or your arse!'

'You're not getting either until you get on your knees and beg for it.'

Enraged, he pulled out a push button stiletto and pushed the button sending out its blade with a loud click. Again, she had no reaction other than disgust.

'What are you going to do, shave your legs?'

'Give me your money or I'll stick you!'

'Is that the only thing you have to stick me with?'

'Give it to me or I'll kill you!'

The woman having zero fear angered him more and more. When she began to laugh at him he lost control. After her laughter she sneered,

'You don't have the nerve to stab me, you're just a little eunuch whose ashamed he can't get it up. You don't need a knife as a prosthetic when you've got your head for a dildo. You certainly smell like you've had your head up somebody's arse.'

He thrust the knife into her stomach.

His wide eyes that symbolised savage hatred transformed into panic when she smiled and laughed.

'Let's have a drink together.'

Her bright white teeth became fangs that ripped into his neck...

I

Doug was a freelance journalist who had the common sense to not leave his well paying day job. When he arranged an interview he would take leave from his public service career to satisfy his urge to write. He had scored three interviews that he would hold in the delightful Hôtel Quaife in the posh old money Eastern Suburbs of the city.

Sherry was a part time worker who accompanied Doug as his photographer and to enjoy her husband's happiness in living his dreams. She had to admit that she had entered an appealing and very different lifestyle than what she was used to.

That evening they were greeted by the owner of the Quaife, Mrs. Williams and her loyal black miniature poodle Patrice who welcomed her pair of regular clients as they walked into the foyer. It was the eve of one of the weekend festivals the suburb was famous for.

'You'll be in room "17" upstairs and on the right. I'll have tea in the parlour ready for us in 20 minutes.'

As so many of the Quaife's guests remarked, going to the hotel was like going home. Patrice welcomed the pair again as they re-entered the hotel's parlour; the poodle jumped in Sherry's lap for a pampered cuddle. Sherry's nerves from the train and bus trip with their luggage melted into relaxed happiness, and she was absolutely mellow after her first cup of tea and the catching up conversation with Mrs. Williams.

Alison Williams was a former Rhodesian air hostess who worked for BOAC, Central African Airways, Air Rhodesia and South African Airways where she met and married the man who swept her off her feet, her husband, who she always referred to as 'the Colonel'. The Colonel began his career as a Commando in World War II. After the war he and his comrade-in-arms enlisted in the French Foreign Legion where they served together again in French North Africa and Indochina. They both returned to being British officers in Korea, and elsewhere. After retiring from the British Army he became a free lance mercenary where he became a well known figure of the 1960s from his experiences in Africa, where the couple met and married. His final military operation in the 1980s led to his promotion to Colonel, his arrest and brief imprisonment and a continuation in the limelight with his autobiography and the release of a film or two based on his exaggerated exploits. With his income from his return to the spotlight of fame or infamy, the Colonel and his Lady retired to Australia where they bought a former Victorian mansion that they turned into the Hôtel Quaife.

Sadly, the Colonel, nearly twenty years her senior had died, but she referred to him as if he were still present. In many ways he was, as her room and many things in the hotel were a shrine to him; the décor featuring his artefacts and souvenirs from around the world. Doug had once written an article on the Colonel that led to him coaxing Mrs. Williams to have him ghost write her own autobiography on her experiences in Africa in the 1960s. She had kept her slim figure, good looks and sense of humour that reminded both Doug and Sherry of the actress Rosalind Russell.

Patrice raised his ears in concentration, then jumped off Sherry's lap and began savagely barking at the main stairway of the hotel.

A blonde woman dressed in a pink jacket with matching shoes and handbag set off with leopard skin yoga pants walked down the stairs from her room into the parlour. She was perfectly dressed, her hair well coiffured and she had ice blue eyes; her effect in the predominantly grey and white room was stunning.

Patrice had truly gone into mode 'd attaque.

'Patrice! Nous acceptons nos clients, nous ne les critiquons pas!', scolded Mrs. Williams.

Patrice turned to return to his mistress, then he swivelled his head back to look at the blonde with an 'I'll sort you out later' expression on his poodle face.

The blonde smiled and did not show offence.

'Your dog speaks French?'

'Naturellement. Poodle, you know. Would you like to join us for a cuppa?'

'Thank you, no. I'll be going out. Isn't "Patrice" a girl's name for a boy dog?'

Patrice snarled and showed his teeth.

'The Colonel named him after Patrice Lumumba when he noticed him in the litter and he remarked "He's a black bastard with a mean streak a mile wide".'

Doug stood up and introduced himself,

'This is my wife Sherry and I'm Doug.'

Doug and Mrs. Williams gave welcoming smiles. Sherry stared at the blonde with a similar expression to Patrice who had returned to his place in her lap.

'How do you do, I'm Crystal.'

'Staying long?'

'I've some work here at the moment, I'm not exactly sure how long it will take. Well, a pleasure to meet you. Hoo roo!'

She smiled and walked out of the hotel to the night time street.

Mrs. Williams waited for half a minute before she remarked,

'She's an interesting one, she looks so young but she has the intelligence of one three times her age. She leaves every evening and comes back in the early morning, we can't tidy her room during the day.'

II

The next day brought the first interview.

This was the one that had the strictest deadline. Scobie Jones was the publicity mad public relations specialist of the upcoming yearly Eastern Suburbs Festival. Scobie's efficient admin assistant provided a 'talking points' press release that covered everything that needed to be covered, except Scobie's ego. Doug was able to use Scobie's self important anecdotes in order to flesh out the article. Scobie was very happy to pose for Sherry's photographs in the Quaife's foyer and outside the hotel.

Whilst Sherry caught up with friends and shopping, Doug, accompanied by a pot of tea, composed, edited and polished off the article on his personal tablet computer on the desk in his room with the pleasant view of tree lined Queen Street.

He sent the article out, went for a walk, then returned at dusk. He waited for Sherry in the foyer and relaxed with a Graham Greene novel.

Crystal came down the stairs dressed in a pink business suit with matching black leather belt, handbag and stiletto heeled shoes.

'Going out to dinner, Crystal?'

'Eventually. Sherry isn't with you?'

'No, she's catching up with friends and shopping. I'm waiting for her now and we'll be dining at the Lord Dudley.'

'Mmmmmm', she purred. 'It has a lovely atmosphere.'

'Dining with friends?'

'Yes, you could say that, Doug.'

'Where are you from?'

'Nowhere really. My parents sent me to several schools abroad in several different places, so I really don't have a home. Now I work internationally. What do you do?'

'I'm a writer.'

'That hides a multitude of sins.'

'You sound very cluey...are you a writer too?'

'No, I just commit a multitude of sins...My best to Sherry, cherry-bye!'

She departed the hotel.

* * *

It was in the wee hours of the morning. Doug awoke and could not get back to sleep. Sherry remained asleep. He quietly dressed, made sure he had his room key and went out for a walk through the neighbourhood.

Queen Street was even more charming in the dark than in the day. He enjoyed the lack of traffic and pedestrians. He turned the corner to walk by the miniscule park featuring some shrubbery and a couple of park benches. A blonde woman in pink was being embraced in a hug by her lover on one of the park benches. Doug smiled and began to turn around to go back to his hotel.

He heard the sound of a body hitting the ground and turned to look back at the park bench, the male lover lay on the ground. Doug wondered if he had had a heart attack and moved to give him first aid, but the blonde produced a wooden stake and thrust it in the prostrate man's heart.

'What the...'

The blonde turned to face him and he recognised it was Crystal. She looked at him with the same glare that Patrice and Sherry gave to her. Doug ran as fast as he could back to the Quaife and went in the door.

He quietly but quickly moved up the steps and entered his room, double locking the door. Sherry remained asleep. He undressed and got under the covers. He saw by the crack at the bottom of the door that someone was standing outside his door and he didn't have to see her face to know who it was...

III

Doug had a troubled night.

For once Sherry's lengthy time to 'put on her face and join the race' worked to his advantage in the morning. He checked all the media in vain for any news of a murder, and walked by the park to see a total absence of police vehicles. He hadn't imagined what he saw, but was it some sort of practical joke or a rehearsal for a play or a film?

Doug was too embarrassed to relate what he thought he saw to Sherry, or to anyone else. He returned his mind for the preparation for his second interview, the local actress Katrianne Barléne.

As the autumn day was a splendid one, the interview was conducted on the rooftop lounge of the Quaife.

Katrianne came in dressed in a white blouse set off with a scarf on her neck, tan jodhpurs and a tilted large brown fedora. 'Kat' had several things to plug in her interview, a film role, two television appearances and her duties as an 'ambassador' to the upcoming local festival. Sherry admitted that she was as charming as she was on the screen and had a witty sense of humour. They got on splendidly, especially as she discovered that they attended the same school, though she had a different name then. She explained her equestrian appearance as she had just come from riding in nearby Centennial Park. Sherry began shooting some photographs on the rooftop. They were soon joined by Mrs. Williams and Patrice who both appeared to be fans of Kat.

'You look splendid and very adventurous today.'

'I'm somehow reminded that she looks like someone I've seen before in that outfit, but I can't for the life of me think who.'

Mrs. Williams answered Doug's query.

'Miss Barléne, you look exactly like Faith Brook at the beginning of The Jungle Book.'

'Which one of the singing animals was Faith Brook?', asked Sherry.

'She was in the Sabu live action version, dearest, not the Walt Disney cartoon movie. Faith Brook was the English gentlewoman who Joseph Calleia relates his story to at the film's beginning', Doug responded.

All but Sherry and Patrice remarked how they loved that film. Mrs. Williams asked,

'As you look adventurous, may I make a suggestion for your photo shoot?'

She brought them into a hallway that was adorned with various items that had once been in her husband's study. Sherry was able to get a memorable shot of Kat standing with a crossbow in front of a leopard skin pelt, as Mrs. Williams said, her costume matched that background perfectly.

'That's an interesting crossbow.'

'My husband used it in Malaya, later he bagged that leopard in Kenya when he was going after the Mau Mau'.

'Is it real?', asked Sherry.

'She didn't win it at Luna Park, dearest.'

'I meant the crossbow, silly.'

Mrs. Williams grabbed one of the series of projectiles called 'bolts' from their place on the wall, tautened the string of the weapon by cocking it and expertly fired from the hip into a traditional dartboard across the room backed by a large square of unknown material.

'If there's any burglars in my hotel, I wouldn't want to wake my guests. That would be unthinkably rude', she answered as she placed the weapon next to its place on the wall near the bolts. 'Don't worry, I've Scotchgarded the carpet to soak up any blood. More tea? I've a fresh teacake just out of the oven.'

Kat relaxed with the three of them in a totally different manner and accent than she had carried on with during her interview, with Patrice gaining a new admirer when he sat in Kat's lap. Now sounding like the Old Girl from Sherry's school that she really was, she established a bond with Sherry. She confided off the record that being an actress and celebrity had given her the life that she had desired since her childhood. Kat went into her family problems and sibling rivalries that led her to an escape in the world of stage and film. Everyone enjoyed Sherry and Kat's schoolgirl tales.

On their way to escorting Kat downstairs past several of the rooms, Mrs. Williams was holding Patrice and put her finger to her lips. Doug noticed a Do Not Disturb sign on Crystal's door.

IV

The next morning Doug and Sherry had breakfast with Mrs. Williams on her private balcony, for he had another interview to do before his third one.

Mrs. Williams had put Patrice to sleep in her lap by softly singing his favourite song Master of the House from Les Misérables and carried on in a detailed interview with Doug for their planned book, Air Hostess Africa.

'You seem pensive today, Doug.'

'I was just thinking that everyone seems to have a more exciting life than I have. Sherry says my idea of high living is sitting on someone else's doorstep.'

'I recall once seeing a very old charming film called Reunion in Vienna. An old man tells John Barrymore's house guest character who's a former Archduke in globetrotting exile that he had never left his neighbourhood whilst the Archduke travelled the world. John Barrymore replied that "world travel is for people who have no place to be." It's true, Doug. You have what seems to me an organised, safe and secure life with your public service career and wonderful wife, but the pair of you take your holidays together to do your freelance journalism without any financial fears.'

'I chose safety.'

'You chose wisely. Once the Colonel and I travelled the world, now the world comes to me, and like your interviews, the world comes to you for their publicity addiction. The Colonel courted the press, and vice versa. Doug, for every person who had a wonderful life of travel and adventure there's five or ten who ended up broke or suicidal. Danger is the price you pay for excitement, and many people don't survive it, either physically or emotionally. You've your lovely wife to keep you company, and she helps you in your work as your photographer. You're doing very well, because you're writing what you want to write, not what someone forces you to. Interviews are a great subject; people are addicted to publicity.'

'Tell me, why do you think that is?', Sherry inquired.

'Like a drug it makes people feel good. You made Scobie and Kat very happy when you interviewed them and took their photographs. Scobie's position in the Festival Committee is all he lives for; it makes him come alive. Ego makes the world go round, but I think the main thing is that it's a form of immortality.'

'Sometimes I hope for something exciting in my life, but I'm not the reckless type...But I think you once were! Now where were we?'

'Stanleyville, in the Belgian Congo...'

'Oh, the times you had!', Sherry proclaimed.

Mrs. Williams laughed, Doug gave a questioning expression, Patrice remained contentedly asleep.

'I thought I had missed the glamorous times of the early 1950s, or being an S.O.E. operative parachuting into Occupied France during the war, or living as an adult during my parent's salad days of the 1930s. Then I read that Hugh Hefner began Playboy because he thought that he missed the days of The Great Gatsby and the Lost Generation of the 1920s. Have you seen that wonderful Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris?'

Doug and Sherry smiled and nodded.

'Everyone has their own time to be, they may not realise it at the time, but if it's meant to be, something happens and you'll have the memories to keep you content in your twilight years. If you remember one thing that I've told you, remember this. Everything happens for a reason. You may not understand the reason, or you may not like it, but...'

'Well, let's get back to...'

'Saigon..., no, that's later...Stanleyville...', she continued.

V

Doug's final interview and morning tea at the Quaife was with Dr. Deanne Laurent, who was as colourful as Mrs. Williams, but her field was the world of the occult. She dressed colourfully but tastefully in a bright almost cornflower blue suit and skirt with a flowered blouse and a golden lion rampant brooch. Like Kat, she wore an attractive large hat.

They started out with Sherry's photos as she had a luncheon and shopping date with Kat. She completed her picture taking and kissed Doug, then apologised for not having time to chat with Dr. Laurent.

Doug had prepared a light interview with the subject being the signs of the Zodiac as some women's magazines had expressed interest in an interview with her on that subject.

Dr. Laurent was a highly intelligent woman with a keen sense of humour. They got on famously and Doug compiled enough information for two stories; one on astrology and the other on numerology that he would sell to two different magazines.

He recalled Mrs. Williams' remark that everything happens for a reason...

'Doctor...'

'Deanne...It doesn't take any psychic gifts to determine you want to ask me something about the occult. I've no idea why everyone becomes so coy on the matter.'

'You'll understand my reluctance when you hear the tale I have to tell you...'

He related the series of events and for her understanding of why he didn't contact the police after he saw 'the lover's quarrel' on the park bench.

'Of course you don't call the police, Doug. Can you show me her room?'

Both of them removed their shoes and crept up the stairs to Crystal's room with the Do Not Disturb sign.

Deanne nodded, then beckoned Doug. They placed their shoes on and without a word Doug followed her like a puppy dog.

First he waited outside whilst she went into one of the local markets and came out with something in a paper bag. He followed her until they reached a pay telephone box.

She smiled and placed a coin into the pay telephone. Her expression changed to panic.

'HELP!!! The Hôtel Quaife is on FIRE!!!!'

* * *

The pair of them stood across the street watching the loud arrival of the fire engines as the staff and one or two guests of the Quaife waited outside the hotel.

Crystal was noticeably absent.

* * *

Deanne and Doug took luncheon at the Quaife Café. It was another gorgeous autumn day.

'Are you a full time journalist?'

'No Deanne. I'm just a public servant with dreams. Being a writer is like being an artist, an actor, or an author. The only way you can get a guaranteed steady income is to teach it.'

'You're spot on, Doug. I'm a teacher without tenure and a librarian at large. My identity as an expert in the occult is an unpaid hobby...except for the lunches and teas I have provided during interviews. Horoscopes, numerology and bogus fortune telling are the only things any of the media are interested in. Thanks again for shouting lunch by the way...'

'Intellectual prostitution.'

Mrs. Williams came out with a flustered expression that changed to a smile when she saw Doug and Deanne.

'Parkyerkarkus, as my dear old Dad used to say', Deanne smiled. 'I heard you had some excitement here this morning after we left.'

Mrs. Williams smiled and sat down at their table. Patrice jumped into Deanne's lap for a cuddle.

'Someone rang the fire brigade to say the Hotel was on fire.'

'Was it?'

'No, but I am. At least I'm not going to be charged for a false alarm.'

Deanne gently tapped Doug's leg and gave him a quizzical look.

Doug took his cue and spoke,

'We saw everyone outside. I hope the guests weren't frightened.'

'No, they just thought it was a false alarm like we used to have in the winter evenings when the fireplace would set things off.'

'Did they mind being evacuated?', asked Deanne as she poured another cup of peppermint tea.

'Not at all. Nearly everyone was out on the town.'

Deanne gave Doug's leg another tap.

'Did Crystal get out of bed?'

'That's a funny thing. There was no answer, I used the pass key to get in. Her bed hadn't been slept on, only her large pink trunk was in the room. I had offered her the use of our luggage room for it, but she said she needed it.'

'Fancy that', smiled Deanne.

Mrs. Williams chatted some more then left back to her office.

'Now, Doug, you said you were going to show me the etchings in your room...'

The pair walked up the stairs but Deanne guided Doug with her hand to another part of the hotel and stopped at Crystal's room. The Do Not Disturb sign was still on the door.

Deanne unwrapped the contents of the paper bag and covered the floor in front of Crystal's room with garlic cloves that she had bought, then removed the Do Not Disturb sign and placed the sign on them.

'Ne pas déranger', whispered Deanne.

VI

Though the festival was a while off, there were fireworks in Room 17 of the Hôtel Quaife that evening.

'What is THIS????'

Sherry's eyes were blazing with hate as she handed Doug a folded piece of paper with the impression of some woman's lipstick. He unfolded it.

'Darling,

Thank you for today and making me feel like a real woman!'

Love you as you love me.

Crystal

XOX

P.S: Catch you later as we arranged'

'Just what have you been doing whilst I've been away?'

'Interviews.'

'Close ones!'

Doug attempted to tell the story of the admittedly unbelievable occurrences that made Sherry angrier and angrier.

* * *

She did agree to walk to their pre-booked dinner, but changed her shouting to the loudest whispering that Doug had ever heard, however she seemed to be cooling,

'Well, she is pretty high maintenance for a nobody like you...'

Their attention was attracted by one of those hoon tune automobile musical horns that the annoying purchase to call attention to themselves.

They looked to see a pink four wheel drive recreational vehicle with NIGHTSAFE SUPREME emblazoned on the door. It was driven by Crystal who blew a kiss and mouthed 'I love you', then squealed off down Queen Street.

Sherry smacked the back of Doug's head nearly knocking him to the ground and went into a loud Patrice the Poodle tirade.

Throughout the dinner Sherry maintained the expression of a vampire about to strike.

They attended a late film together in Paddington and walked to their hotel. She had progressed to deafening silence and death ray staring. As she went into the toilet Doug looked out their window.

Crystal was perched on a tree branch staring at him.

'SHE'S ON THE LIMB OF A TREE LOOKING INTO OUR ROOM!!!'

'Your dolly dolly bird?', she sneered.

'No, Crystal is in the bloody tree!!!'

The en suite bathroom door quickly opened.

'You're so in love with her that you can't stop dreaming of her!'

She slammed the door and he heard her begin to cry.

He looked out the window again, Crystal was gone. A bat flew by the window.

* * *

Doug awoke to the sound of Sherry dressing.

'Where are you going?'

'I have to have a walk to do some thinking...'

'It's the middle of the night...or beyond!'

'We both know this is a very safe suburb, and didn't Scobie tell us that they hired a plainclothes security service to make the area safer for the Festival?'

'Well, maybe that was hype...', he thought of what he had seen with Crystal and what he thought was her murdering someone and he reflected there was nothing in the media about it, nor had he noticed any police vehicles in the area. He thought of Katrianne Barléne being an actress and wondered whether they were using Crystal's fashion model looks to film a commercial to promote the festival...and he had assumed the worst...and the most ridiculous thing.

'I'll go with you.'

He leapt up to throw some clothes on and made sure he had his room key.

'I want to be alone.'

'You will be, Garbo. I'll watch you from afar.'

* * *

Doug followed his wife from a distance in the night.

They smelled fresh paint and heard shouting males. Sherry quickly turned the corner with Doug dashing after her.

A wall had what looked like the start of a graffiti tag, but three males lay prostrate on the ground, two of the bodies had wooden stakes through their chests. A woman with a pink evening dress was straddling the third man with her mouth on the side of his neck and her black gloved hand over his mouth.

Sherry screamed.

Crystal turned around with the streetlight displaying her bloody mouth and savage glare to their best advantage.

Doug grabbed Sherry and ran dragging her back to the Quaife. He heard the sound of rapidly approaching steps.

'Get to the hotel!'

Sherry continued running, Doug ran towards Sherry who was making amazing time in her stiletto heels. He threw a football block that knocked her down. He had no idea what made him lift her full length evening skirt over her head, but it would buy them some time. He was glad she didn't have a miniskirt that night; there was enough material to tie up on top and allow him to dash to the hotel.

Sherry was waiting by the door to let him in. She locked the door and they reached the stairway when the door burst open with the bloody mouthed glaring Crystal.

'You had to ruin things, didn't you!'

Patrice came to what he thought was their rescue by running down the stairs and barking.

Crystal gave a shriek that made Patrice consider his French instincts that discretion really was the better part of valour in order to join Doug and Sherry in running up the stairs. On the landing they were met by Mrs. Williams with her husband's crossbow.

Once Crystal reached the bottom of the landing with the view of the determined Mrs. Williams on top, she stopped in fright.

The bolt went into her heart.

She fell to the floor and gradually a pink evening dress filled with dust was left on the landing. Patrice barked in triumph, no doubt Poodlese for 'I think she got the point'.

'Tais-toi, Patrice!'

The frustrated Patrice seemed disappointed as if complaining to his mother that she never let him have any fun. Sherry stood on the stairs with her hands over her face.

'I'll get the vacuum cleaner out. After we've had some Scotch.', Mrs. Williams calmly remarked.

Doug rolled up the pink evening dress.

* * *

The Scotch went down well. Patrice was comforting Sherry by being on her lap.

'Thank God you were there! Thank you!'

Mrs. Williams explained,

'I'm always leery of someone Patrice doesn't like. All hotels have strange guests so I wasn't too suspicious of Crystal's night time hours. I used the pass key when the firemen were here and her bed was unslept in. She must've been using that large pink trunk as her coffin though she'd have to be sleeping in a foetal position. I knew something was up when there was garlic on the floor in front of her room. I was just about to have it removed when Deanne...Dr. Laurent, called and we had a heart to heart about her mischief. By the way, she offered to make amends by shouting me to dinner tomorrow at the Lord Dudley and we'd like you two with us.'

'Who the hell was Crystal, and where did she come from?'

'Her name and identity could be false. I'll be keeping her luggage until someone claims it. Another round?'

Sherry spoke up,

'OK. I'm trying to believe that we saw and you killed a vampire with a crossbow that sent a wooden stake into her heart. But why was Crystal killing those men with wooden stakes as well as biting them and sucking out their blood?'

'Maybe she didn't want any competition, dear. The legends say when a vampire bites someone their victim becomes a vampire and they'll be competing for the same patch. Crystal bit, then impaled her victims for some reason, and the bodies were taken away before nightfall. Either Crystal's car was a pink hearse she used to hide the bodies or someone else was cleaning up after her.'

'Sustainable vampires...', Sherry pondered.

EPILOGUE

Scobie Jones addressed his Festival committee.

'Our Nightsafe Supreme consultant has disappeared. No one seems to know where she's gone but Nightsafe Supreme has informed me they will be sending a replacement. I'm sure you'll agree that since our suburb was patrolled by Nightsafe Supreme there were no incidents of any vandalism or crime, and no one noticed their presence.'

Councilwoman Samantha Sims spoke up,

'Wasn't there some talk of some people being found dead with wooden stakes in them?'

Scobie responded with a forced laugh,

'That was only an unfounded rumour. The police have no record of any such incident ever occurring, either in our suburb, or anyplace else. There has been nothing in the media about it, so I don't think the matter is worth discussing. The company removed their operative's luggage and vehicle from the Quaife and her replacement begins tonight.'

FIN

Author Notes: I am the author of three Extra Dimensional/Ultraterrestial military science fiction novels MERCENARY EXOTIQUE, OPERATION CHUPACABRA and WORK IN OTHER WORLDS FROM YOUR OWN HOME! as well as two travel books THE MAN FROM WAUKEGAN and TWO AUSTRALIANS IN SCOTLAND (all from Lulu.com). I live happily ever after with my wife in paradise (coastal Kiama, NSW Australia).

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