Mateo nodded, “At least he escaped. That’s what I was hoping.”
The hooded figure said, “As long as he didn’t get caught inside the Book Tower, I’d say he escaped but he did disappear. I think he’s been moving from roof to roof, but I can’t be sure. There are fewer rats up there.”
I said the first thing that came into my head, “Have you tried bats?”
Within the hood, I saw his lips move, “Bats are good at finding bugs in the dark. They’re less good at recognizing people at a distance. I’ve tried. I’ve seen someone that might be him. And besides, bats are friendly to some vampires.”
I should have guessed.
Moments like this made me wish I’d ignored Working Man’s orders and created a roachbot equivalent for V4. Unless there were vampires that controlled computers, we’d avoid this problem. On the other hand, given that there were vampiric vegetables, vampires that obsessively counted, and I didn’t know what else, maybe technopathic vampires were a thing.
A few seconds passed as I stood in the dark, wishing for robotic scouts. The hooded man looked from Mateo to Vincent to me. “I should go. I’m handling three different problems right now. I’ll watch you and call in for help if you need it.”
That struck a nerve, “Who will you call?”
His look made me think he heard something in the tone of my voice. Meeting my eyes, he said, “The Michigan Heroes’ Alliance. If no one’s available there, the Heroes’ League. Do you have someone you want me to call?”
I shook my head, “That sounds good. I hope we don’t need help.”
The man nodded, “I’d call the Heroes’ League first if they weren’t on the other side of the state. The Heroes’ Alliance is a bunch of independents that see each other a few times a year. When you’re stuck in a jam, you want a team that knows how to work together.”
“Can’t argue with that,” I said. It wouldn’t be my fault if he called in the League.
Glancing over at me as if he had an idea of where my mind had gone, Mateo said, “If you see V4’s motorcycle go into the Book Tower on its own, call whoever you want. We’re in trouble.”
Visible despite the hood, the man raised an eyebrow, “I’ll watch for that.”
Then he gave us a wave and walked away, disappearing into the dark past the back corner of the building.
Over my comm, I told Mateo, “You know, that’s a little less cool and mysterious when you consider this is the only building in this parking lot. He literally has to be around the corner.”
I wasn’t wrong. We stood in the dark, but there were six parking lots around us, all of them lit up by the streetlights. He’d have to run at minimum one hundred feet in any direction to find a building.”
Mateo grinned, “You can run after him and check.”
I thought about it, staring at the corner. I didn’t see any movement. I shook my head, “I’d probably get attacked by an army of angry groundhogs or something. We should go to the Book Tower, though we should give some thought to what we’re going to do when we get there.”
Vincent sniffed the air, “I’ll second that thought. Are we going to fight our way up the tower and stake the lead vampire? It’s not much of a plan, but it’s more of a plan than we’ve got right now.”
Mateo sighed, “I don’t know. I was hoping to get a look at the Book Tower and see what’s there. We don’t have enough to make a plan. If I’m going to be honest, I’m not even sure we will after we get there. I don’t think we’ll do a frontal assault, but that’s still more of a plan than we have. Let’s call it plan B for now. We’ll take look at the Book Tower and see if we can’t come up with plan A.”
Vincent nodded. “That’s a healthy attitude. Right now, we don’t know if the vampires are in the building’s basement, its highest floor, or somewhere in between.”
We got on our bikes and took Grand River Avenue southeast toward Book Tower—or so said my GPS. It was night. I’d never been there before so far as I knew. All I knew was that we were in a section of Detroit that felt like a downtown. On the left, we passed a brick building from the early twentieth century that had round towers at the corners. Next to it stood a blocky brick building with long thin lines of windows. It might have been from the 1970s. Across from that stood an apartment or office building that stood at least ten stories high.
At the end of the road stood another building. This one reminded me of nothing more than the building from Ghostbusters. It wasn’t any specific detail as much as the feeling. There was no giant walking marshmallow man, lightning, or otherworldly lights at the top, but it almost had a temple.
Most of it was a big, boring rectangle with windows, but on the left side, a big, boring, rectangular tower with windows reached for the sky.
At the top of that tower, it was almost as if someone had added on another building. There were Corinthian columns, sculptures of nearly naked men and women on the columns, and a copper roof shaped like an upside down “V.”
My implant labeled it “Book Tower” and offered me a link to the Wikipedia entry.
Aloud, I said, “That’s Book Tower?”
“I don’t know about you,” Mateo said, “but I’m betting they’re not in the basement.”