Blood Work
to fight in it. Hence the
camouflage jacket. Oh, and the cargo pants. Loads of nifty pockets
to put things in, like weapons.
    So, fashion
versus combat lesson aside, the Reds arrived in a susurrus of
flaring coats. They didn’t crunch on the leaf and twig covered
ground, like I did, and their big army surplus boots didn’t thump
noticeably, like mine did. Very quiet indeed.
    They formed up
around me in a loose circle, silver eyes sparkling prettily in the
faint light from the hospital windows. There were half a dozen of
them.
    “Night Call,”
the one directly in front of me whispered.
    That was
pretty special. It’s not often… okay, never, that a vampire
initiates a fight with idle chit chat. Don’t get me wrong. When we
fight, there’s heaps of yodelling and screaming, and the vampires
make some noise as well. It’s just that your average vampire isn’t
a big talker. Seemed this guy was. Add that thought up with the
fact he had also read my mind and it equals ‘nasty’.
    He was a big
bastard, too. André the Giant big. All right, no one’s that big,
except André, of course. But if this guy ate his Vegemite he might
get there.
    I’d just had
the metaphorical teeth knocked out of my head by Aurum, and here I
was confronting a mob of vampires without Mercy. I could either
roll up in a ball and hope they’d left their dancing shoes at home,
or I could do my best.
    I straightened
my shoulders, dropped the esky and looked him in the eye. Heck, I
was still gonna hope they kept the fangs holstered, but that was
more a backup plan.
    “A man is more
than his job,” I snarled back. “I have a name. Learn it.”
    “Your name
means nothing to us. What you do does. You are the Night Caller,
the death of us.”
    I got a little
less scared for a moment. It was pushed aside by a touch of pride.
They had a pretty cool name for me. Neat. Then I went back to being
scared.
    “Then let’s
not beat about the philosophical bush. How about we see the Night
Caller in action?”
    “We did not
come to fight.”
    “Heh.” I
tensed anyway. “That’s a new one. Then why are you here? Is it the
laid back lifestyle? Live in the ’burbs, work in the big
smoke?”
    The guy doing
all the talking rolled his shoulders and cracked his neck. “We are
here to negotiate a deal.”
    I stared at
him. I stared at the other vampires standing around me. Their eyes
had dulled from combat-ready to normal. When I faced the main guy
again, his eyes had also lost the predator sheen.
    “You’re
serious.” I swallowed. “Well, fuck me.”

Chapter 10
    What are the odds? My back up plan
worked. And I didn’t even have to fail at Plan A first. It’s nights
like this when I should go buy a lotto ticket. I just had to get
through the negotiation first.
    “A deal?” I
spent a moment pretending to mull it over, but really cataloguing
the weapons I carried. I wasn’t Kofi Annan, after all. “Why?”
    Big Red took a
step toward me. By golly, he was good enough to get a sweeping
flare from his coat with that simple a movement.
    “You have
something we desire.”
    I patted
myself down. “Nope, no bags of spare blood tonight.” And all my
weapons just where I remembered putting them.
    “You need not
fear. We have all fed sufficiently.”
    “Phew, that’s
a relief. Now you can just beat me up for sport.”
    Aurum would
have smiled tolerantly. Big Red just growled. A deep, throaty sound
that should only ever be heard on the plains of the Serengeti while
you’re safely tucked away in a big old photo safari bus. Every
nerve in my body screamed ‘Fight or flight, preferably flight!’ If
that wasn’t bad enough, it brought with it the sensation of cold
electricity generated by the presence of huge supernatural badness.
It crawled across my skin, prickled my hair and crept in through
every—and I mean every —orifice to sink into my guts and
veins and muscles, steeling strength. There was such a rush of cab
sav flavour through my head I could

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