I laughed, “Right.”
Then I pointed at his costume, “How in the world are you still clean?”
He shrugged, “Magic? The costume, sword, and mask all appear out of nowhere when I want them. They might as well be impossible to get dirty too.”
I couldn’t argue with that. Unsure if I could trust the universe to give us a break, I took a 360 degree look around myself. Nothing appeared to be moving around us or even in the air. If flying taught me anything, it taught me to think about the world in three dimensions.\
As a precaution, that turned out to be a good idea, but not one that turned up anything in that moment. There wasn’t anything in the air.
Mateo’s hat disappeared as he walked over to his motorcycle and pulled on his helmet. “We’re going to have to call in the action we’ve had so far. We’ve been in two fights already. With no backup to speak of, I think he’s going to want us out of the field.”
Torn between pointing out that we could have backup any time we wanted it and knowing that Mateo already knew my thoughts on that, I opted to nod.
Taking in my response or lack of one, he smiled, “I’m including you in this call because he might have questions for both of us.”
I didn’t want to argue about this with Working Man either, but I nodded anyway.
Mateo said, “Connect V4 and I to Working Man,” and the helmet did exactly as asked, giving me a brief moment of satisfaction as something I worked on did what it was supposed to do.
“Working Man, here. What do you have?” The helmet’s map placed him in Detroit Unity’s base downtown.
Mateo glanced over at me and started talking, “We’ve been in two fights already, neither of them hard. An employee of the marketing firm in Farmington had been turned. We entered into the building with a member of the local police force who hoped to save her. After our statements were taken and the police left, we were attacked by vampiric watermelons outside the house. We beat them.”
Working Man didn’t usually have his camera on and so we couldn’t see his face as Mateo spoke, but Working Man did pause before answering, “Did you say vampiric watermelon?”
Mateo and I shared a look as Mateo said, “Yes.”
“Damn. Every time I think I’ve seen everything in this job, I get proved wrong. Alright. You’ve been attacked twice and there are two different kinds of vampires. You should probably get back to base because in about an hour, nobody will be able to help you out if you’re in a jam. But before you head back to base see if you can’t pick up another lead. Don’t follow it to the end, but see if there’s any sign that other vampires are out there. I haven’t fought them a lot, but something about this feels wrong. If there are two kinds of vampires out there, there might be more. Something bigger is happening and the two of you are better equipped to figure it out than I am. See what you can do.”
Giving a nod that he had to know Working Man couldn’t see, Mateo said, “Right now our best shot is to circle the area looking for hints of undeath.”
“That’s a good beginning. Try it and report back, but don’t be surprised if I don’t answer. We’re going in in the next thirty minutes.”
“We’ll do that,” Mateo turned his head toward the street, probably thinking about the route we might take.
Working Man said, “Good, but don’t take too long about it. It’s getting dark and soon they’ll have the advantage.”
Then the connection closed.
I looked over at Mateo, “I thought he’d order us back to the base immediately.”
Mateo got on his bike and started it. “He basically did, but he knows that even magic trails get cold. Let’s go around the block and see what we can see.”
I slid onto my bike, started it, and followed Mateo out of the church parking lot when another thought came to mind. “What do you think the chances are that someone saw us driving away from a pile of burned and splattered watermelons, but didn’t see the fight?”
“What you mean,” Mateo said over his Harley’s engine, “is do you think we’re about to be framed for fruit vandalism?”
“More or less,” I turned on my bike’s sensors. They were the same type as I’d used in my helmet’s composite vision, but they had a longer range and better resolution.
“I wouldn’t worry about it. Sure, that would look bad, but we’ve got our own footage, right?”
“Sure,” I said, “but if someone gets the inaccurate version out first—”
Mateo interrupted me, “Can you look up above the houses to our right? There’s something up there.”
I zoomed in on it. It was a human head held up in the air by its flapping ears. There was no body in sight. It had long canines, but aside from that, the lack of a body, and the ear flapping, it looked like a normal forty-something white guy.