He looked down toward the vampire’s ashen body on the concrete floor, “It’s always been more like what you saw with the first vampire. But I’ve never been in a room with holy water mist either.”
Then he pointed toward my squirt gun, “What did you think?”
I pulled it out and looked it over, “It was okay. I guess I’d been hoping it would have more stopping power. Maybe the thing would dissolve or something? I don’t know.”
Mateo nodded, “It did slow him down. You were working on a stake gun too, weren’t you?”
I pointed back toward the lab, “In the heat of the moment, I didn’t think to grab it. So that’s for next time, assuming Detroit Unity doesn’t handle all of it tonight without us.”
Pursing his lips and letting out a breath, Mateo said, “Don’t mention it to Working Man, but I doubt that’ll happen. This has a feel of one of those nights where everyone is worked past their limit and the situation isn’t under anyone’s control, villain or hero.”
I’d experienced a few of those nights myself.
Then Mateo frowned. Pointing at the people on the ground, he said, “How long before they can talk?”
I considered it. “It depends, but I don’t think I hit any of them for very long. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were already able to move again.”
Mateo quirked his lips. “Then I guess it’s good we weren’t discussing anything secret.”
To the Syndicate L goons, he said, “So, do any of you have something to say?”
The woman said, “We follow our master.”
Turning to look at her, Mateo said, “And who’s ‘master’?”
She didn’t say anything and closed her eyes.
I pointed at the guy who I thought had broken free. “Try that guy.”
With a nod, Mateo walked over to where the man lay on the floor. “I don’t suppose you know who ‘master’ is?”
The man tried to move his arms apart but found that my goo had hardened into something he couldn’t break alone. He raised his face from the concrete to look at Mateo and then me. “I have no idea who ‘master’ is except that he’s not human. He looked into my eyes and I knew that I’d do anything for him.”
Mateo nodded slowly, “What does he look like, and did he give his name?”
The man shuddered, “He’s beautiful. I mean… When he looked into my eyes, I couldn’t see him as anything but beautiful. He doesn’t seem unusual now that I think about him. He’s dark-haired, pale skin, handsome face but long canines, thin… He wears a lot of black.”
“Black suits?” I asked. “Tuxedos? Capes?”
Shaking his head, the man said, “No, turtlenecks, jeans, leather jackets. Except sometimes he’d wear button-down shirts. They looked expensive.”
I wondered suddenly how we’d started talking about clothing and then realized it was my fault. “Not too different from your regular bosses then.”
At that point, he started laughing. It wasn’t quite hysterical laughter, but it lasted longer than the comment deserved.
“You’re not wrong,” he said, “but our regular bosses don’t literally suck the staff’s blood. They prefer LaCroix.”
I’d been held captive by Syndicate L a couple times. LaCroix seemed about right.
They were organized crime if the criminal empire were run by health-conscious, granola-eating, bottled water drinking murderers who got the recommended daily amount of exercise.
Mateo raised an eyebrow, “Did the vampire give you a name?”
The man snorted, “Barrington.”
“Hmmn,” Mateo looked at him. “Barrington? Not Barry?”
The goon shook his head.
“Barry the vampire?” I looked over at Mateo.
Holding up his hand, Mateo said, “I know that sounds dumb, but Barrington sounds like he ought to be one of the orphans in A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
“Or a teddy bear? I’d be surprised if there isn’t a Barrington Bear toy.”
The goon frowned, “I think my kid has one of those.”
Taking a step closer to the goon, Mateo looked over from the man to me, “We’re getting off-topic. Back to Barrington the vampire… Does he have a last name? Did he say where he grew up? Or when?”
Still looking up from the floor, the goon said, “Dunno. He didn’t give us a last name. I say he’s twenty-something by looks, but he sounds pretty formal. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were a couple of hundred years old.”
I grinned, “Which means he might actually be a Victorian orphan.”
“Hey,” the goon said, “if you’re going after him, there’s something you ought to know. He’s one of those vampires who walks around during the day. I’m not saying he’s at his best during the day. He covers up, but he’s not afraid of it either.”
Mateo took in a deep breath, “That’s not good news. I don’t know real vampire lore, but in stories I’ve read, it’s the oldest, most powerful ones that can walk around in daylight.”
Putting my hand on my chin, I leaned back against the wall, “That might not be real.”