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lavoro pubblicato mercoledì 6 luglio 2016
ultima lettura lunedì 21 settembre 2020

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The Night When Evil Runs Free

di DrWatson. Letto 1271 volte. Dallo scaffale Straniera

Questa è la prima di una nuova serie di storie di cacciatori, il cui seguito è ancora in lavorazione. Jamie e Marya sono due cugini e il loro lavoro è cacciare mostri :D

It's night and a fight is going on, in an isolated field just outside the town. There are a few people, against a single guy, but it seems he's pretty good. At a better look, you can see the little guy is holding a huge blade in his hand and the other people seem pretty aggressive. He's defending himself but attacking them too. They're scary, they're monsters. They have yellow eyes and pointed teeth, they're vampires and they want to kill him and make their meal out of him, or better, of his blood. But he's not surprised or scared, not as much as he should be. He's prepared, he's trained. He directly cuts off their heads with a single and precise blow at their necks. They're more than him in number but he's having the best result. He kills them one by one, but then one of them takes him from the back and pushes him down to the ground. He's actually surprised, his blade falls away from his hand and he finds himself with his back to the ground and a vampire over him, ready to bite his throat. He tries to move her back with his arms, but she's strong and the perfume of his blood just exalts her even more. She furiously tries to reach his neck, he tries to scream and to get free, he knows this can be his end. But then someone reaches them and yells at him. It's a female voice.
"Cover your mouth!" she says. The boy turns his face and covers it with his arms. She quickly kills the vampire by cutting off her head with a powerful blow. Her blood spills everywhere, her head rolls away and her corpse falls down on him. He stays there, a bit disgusted by the corpse over him. She kicks it away and he looks around, moving away his arms. She looks at him and smiles, though surprised at first, and taking away his arm faster. He looks at her and he's surprised too.
"Marya!" he exclaims, happily. She pulls him sitting and he gets up.
"Yeah, it's me!" she says smiling. He hugs her, warmly.
"Oh, my favourite little cousin! What were you doing here?" he asks, leaving her.
"Sure I'm your favourite cousin, I'm the only one" she tells. "And it seems I got here just in time. Always playing with vamps, Jamie?"
"I wasn't playing, I was working. And it wasn't that fun" he refers to the vampire she killed. He looks around and sees she actually killed all the other vamps too.
"Well, anyway, I think, you against all those vamps, was a bit too much" she tells. "You should have called someone"
"Yeah... But, they were on the run, I had to act soon. But now you're here! You can help me with the corpses!" he smiles happily. She's not happy though, she looks frowning at him.

Later, they're back to his motel room. The bed is only one, so they're both sitting on his bed, watching a movie at the TV, while talking and eating fries from a bowl.
"So, you were again after vampires, you really like killing them" she says. He looks at her.
"No, it's just a case. I was going around here and this was the closest case. You know I love my job. Our job"
"Yeah. But you should take a break sometimes", she eats some more. He looks curious at her.
"Oh, look who's speaking! It doesn't seem to me you do that"
"But that's the exact reason why you're still here, boy" she tells, smiling.
"Alright. But what were you doing?"
"There? Nothing, I was coming back from a case and I read something about your case. The fact that I was there, it's a coincidence"
"So, you were working"
"What was it?" he asks, eating some fries.
"Shtriga". He looks surprised at her.
"Wow. I never met one". She looks at him, perplexed.
"Well, it's not like you missed a lot. Actually, I was surprised too. I didn't understand it at first, it took me a while to identify it"
"But never mind, it's over now"
"Yeah" he comments, focusing on the TV. She looks at him, smiling, then grabs a handful of fries and throws them at his face. He shakes his head, confused.
"What the hell? You want war??" he asks, sweeping his hair. She smiles. "Alright, I was thinking to leave you my bed tonight, but no, you'll sleep on the armchair, or on the floor"
"I don't believe you, you wouldn't do that to your favourite cousin" she says, sweetly.
"About that, it's not like I had much choice, actually..."
"You're recanting?" she asks, staring badly at him. He looks at her, a bit afraid.
"No, no. You're still my favourite cousin" he says, smiling.
"Good" she replies, widely smiling. "Because you're my toy-boy"
"Your what?" he asks, surprised. She grabs his hair and starts braiding it. He tries to get it back. "You should find a boyfriend, Mary". She looks at him.
"What? You know it's complicated, with our lives..."
"Yes, I know. It was a joke. Come on, don't braid my hair..." he begs.
"Don't pretend that you don't like it" she replies, "Watch the TV". So, he folds his arms and stays there, watching the TV while she plays with his hair.

Later that night, Marya is sleeping on Jamie's bed while her cousin is sleeping on the armchair, curled up under a blanket. She was right, he's a gentleman, he wouldn't have left her sleeping on the armchair. They're both quiet and relaxed, she moves a bit in his bed. Something scratches the glass of the window. It's dark inside and there's just some light outside, coming from street lamps. The light projects shadows on the window, but something is scratching on it. The shadows start moving, slowly, like a hand stretching out from the darkness. The hand reaches the base of the window and silently pulls it up. It's dark, but something gets in. A humanoid creature, dressed with dark, large and torn off clothes, like a huge frock with hood. Not much is visible, except its skinny hands. A soft wind blows from the open window. Jamie pulls up the blanket, feeling a bit cold, and complains a bit for the uncomfortable position. The creature looks around then slowly creeps toward Marya's bed. It's there, just in front of her. It poses a hand on the blanket and runs it along the bed. Its thin fingers move rapidly, it touches her leg. She moves it back, still sleeping. But the creature starts touching her again. She slowly wakes up, bothered, but she doesn't open her eyes. She's too sleepy and she thinks this is just Jamie, taking his revenge.
"Hmmm... Jamie, can you stop... I wanna sleep..." she murmurs, lowly. Jamie just replies with a loud, confused murmur. But the creature doesn't stop. It moves upper and slowly rubs her arm. She suddenly feels its skinny fingers and realizes it can't be Jamie. She starts and tries to scream but she finds herself blocked, with that obscure creature holding her to bed and covering her mouth. She agitates, tries to scream but she can just emit some noises. She looks terrified at the creature, sitting over her, and she can just see two shiny dots, like two little neon-lamps inside its hood. Jamie hears her making strange noises, and opens his eyes but it's too dark to see and he's too sleepy.
"Mary, are you ok? Are you talking in the sleep?" he asks, with sleepy accent. He rubs his eyes. The strength of the creature over her is enough to keep her immobile on the bed, but she still tries to kick with her legs. Jamie sits and casually his eyes fall on the open window. Open window. They closed it, as usual, before going to sleep. He gets there's something wrong, something got in, so he gets up and grabs his gun from the table. Though sleepy, he shoots in her direction, at the height that supposed thing should be. And although the sleep, his shots are good enough to put that thing on the run. It leaves Marya and runs away from the same window it got in. Marya catches her breath, sitting on the bed, while Jamie looks incredulous at the window. He goes to close it and turns on the light. Marya is holding her throat, rapidly breathing and looking scared.
"Mary, are you ok??" he asks, going to her. "What the hell was that??". She takes a moment before answering. He sits next to her and holds her back. He still has the braiding she made with his hair, on one side.
"A Shtriga... It was a Shtriga" she tells, panting.
"But... You said you killed it" he tells confused. "Did you shoot it in the forehead??"
"Yes, sure! I'm not an idiot!" she tells. Jamie thinks for a while.
"Alright, you must have missed something, we have to check your case again. Whatever thing it is, it followed you 'til here" he says. She closes her eyes, recovering a bit.

The next day, Jamie is sitting at the table with his laptop open in front of him and some journals. Marya is walking back and forth in front of him, making gestures sometimes.
"I tell you, I killed it!" says she.
"Yeah, well, it came here yesterday night, so probably you didn't really kill it, or it wasn't a Shtriga" he replies.
"It was"
"You never saw once before, and neither did I"
"But it was a Shtriga, I'm sure of that"
"You said you had difficulties in identifying it"
"Yes, exactly because I had never saw one before. But then everything was clear. At first, there was just a simple case of a guy, found dead. He was young and healthy and he just died, no one knew how though. There were no evidences on the corpse, no sign of a violent death and not even of a natural one. He just died"
"Weird enough, but there could be various possibilities"
"In fact. I waited for a while and few days later, it happened again. And this time the victim was his brother, died in the same way". Jamie looks interested at her. "So, the first thing I thought, was a ghost. Someone who had something against their family and was trying to have its revenge. So, I searched and searched but nothing popped up. This family was loved by everyone, no one would have ever had anything against them. And so, I arrived to a full stop."
"Yeah... Weren't there any other hints, or strange facts?"
"No, not even signs for a ghost, but it was the only idea. Then, I googled something and this appeared: Shtriga. I obviously heard of it before, I knew it was rare but now everything fitted"
"And did you see it, before 'killing' it?"
"No, I stayed outside the family's house and waited there: there was another young member in the family. And it appears I was right. The thing came and then I saw it. It was the exact same thing that came here yesterday. I swear, Jamie, it's a Shtriga"
"Ok. And you killed it"
"Shot in between its eyes, yes"
"But apparently something went wrong"
"It didn't attack in the next days, so I supposed everything was over"
"Not everything. Here I found nothing about the unlikely return of a Shtriga from the dead" he says, browsing papers and pages "So, I don't know, I have my doubts"
"Doubts? But you saw it!"
"I saw a dark figure, it could be everything"
"But it was the same thing I saw that night!"
"At this point, that thing wasn't a Shtriga. How can you explain it? You said you shot at it"
"Yeah! And I don't know, I'm puzzled too... I'm sure of what I saw and did"
"Maybe there can be another solution, there must be. Maybe you didn't actually caught it"
"It yelled and fell down" she tells him, bothered. "And I saw the hole in its head"
"Ok, ok..." he rubs his forehead. "We don't have enough evidences. We just know silver bullets don't work"
"It has shiny eyes and skinny fingers", Jamie looks perplexed at her. "I saw it last night"
"Ah... Ok, well, we should start again. I see if I find something on the web, you review your case" he tells, typing something on the keyboard. She takes a bad look at him then takes out all her things about her case. Jamie quickly reads on the screen of his laptop, with a surprised expression.
"What is it now?" she asks.
"I think we're going to have our new hints soon. There has been another death, of the same kind of the ones you described"
"See? I told you"
"That doesn't prove anything" he closes the laptop and gets up. She looks confused at him.
"Ok, I'll go there to see if I find anything"
"I come with you" she says, putting back all her things again.
"No, come on!"
"Why?" she asks, offended.
"You're too young, who could think you're an agent?" he exclaims, incredulous.
"Ha! And who could think you 're an agent?" she replies, mad.
"I can be really convincing. And like this we can solve this faster. Don't be mad, I'm still the older one". She stares at him, irritated and he smiles.

Jamie dresses up with a black suit and goes to the police station. He gets in, showing his badge to the guard and asks for the agent who is investigating the new death. The guard shows him the direction where to go and so Jamie goes there, carefully looking around. He reaches a desk where a man is working on a computer.
"Excuse me, agent Collins?" Jamie asks. The man looks up, surprised.
"Agent Turner, Special Cases Unit" says Jamie, showing his badge. "You are investigating the case of this morning's death, right?"
"Yes, it's me. But what should... the Special Unit be interested about?" the man asks, perplexed while getting up.
"Well, it's an apparently normal case, but actually it's not" Jamie says. "We have records of similar cases occurred in the nearby area, and they're all still unsolved"
"Right. But actually it doesn't even look like a normal case"
"Why you say so? What did you get?" asks Jamie, curious.
"Firstly, the victim doesn't show any sign of violence or of natural death. And that's the point: no natural death. The coroner just sent up the report and it says the boy was perfectly sane and there was no reason of such a death". Jamie listens carefully.
"And what should it be, the cause of death?"
"It's unclear. It seems he just stopped breathing, but there's no sign of strangling or suffocation"
"Mmm. So no sign, of any kind?"
"Not even a scratch? To know if he put up a fight?"
"No, nothing. Therefore we think he didn't really put up a fight, so he probably knew the assaulter, if he was assaulted"
"Ok... And where has he been found?"
"At his home. He left his parent's house few months ago and rented a flat in the centre. The mother found him, when she went to him after all the missed calls"
"Oh, dear..." Jamie whispers. "And there were evidences there?"
"No. We found the window open but nothing else. The apartment was perfect, nothing has been taken"
"It was a cold night yesterday, why should he have left the window open?"
"We don't know if it was his custom". Jamie takes a deep breath, reflecting.
"The hour of death, we know it?". The agent takes a folder from the desk and browses the pages.
"Around 1 a.m. this morning"
"1 a.m. ..." thinks Jamie. While he's standing there, the agent's phone rings. He checks it and utters a surprised exclamation. Jamie looks at him.
"Your timing is perfect" says the agent. "We just got images from some security cameras outside the building where he lived". The agent works on his computer and then opens some videos. Jamie gets closer to see better, eagerly to see if there's something.
"Here they are". The agent presses play and at first nothing appears. The window of the victim's flat is visible at one side. Then something dark seems moving near it. Jamie strains his eyes to see better: it's really something obscure but it's not clear. Then the window goes up and something jumps in with an agile jump. Jamie looks incredulous at it, the agent is speechless.
"What is it?" asks he. Jamie tries to keep the situation under control.
"Fast forward it for a bit..." he asks. The agent does it and they reach the moment when the creature is leaving the house. It's going to jump out when the video goes off, just an interference is visible on the screen, but for an instant something appears. Jamie asks to come back, frame by frame and so they can individuate a single clear shot. Two bright yellow lights glimmer out of the darkness. Jamie looks at it, eyes wide open.
"What... What the hell is that?" asks the agent, shocked.
"Agent, I guess you were right when you said it's not a normal case. I'll deal with it, that's why they sent me here" Jamie tells, trying to explain as little as he can. Then he goes away, with the agent looking still incredulous at him and at the screen.

Jamie comes back to the motel and as soon as he gets in, he loosens his tie. Marya looks up at him, waiting for him to talk.
"Yeah, ok, I think you were right. That's probably a Shtriga" Jamie admits, annoyed.
"See? And you tell me now, that I've been searching for the whole time?" she replies.
"Ah, I'm sure that whatever you did, it will be useful" he tells, going to her to see what she found. There's an image on the screen of what should be a Shtriga.
"Is it that?" asks Jamie.
"Yeah, and that's exactly what I killed few days ago and what I saw last night"
"Yes, I saw something similar". She looks at him surprised.
"What? When, where?"
"Just now, at the police station, in a footage of a security camera"
"It got caught on tape?"
"Uhm... Almost. The video went off when it was on the shot. But I could see something. Its eyes were visible"
"So, now that you believe me... I made some researches, again" she tells, turning to the laptop. "I again googled all that we know and again I ended up here: Shtriga. It says it's a creature which feeds with human breaths. It just takes your breath away and you die, but without any apparent sign or reason. It kills young people and especially those who have a blood bond. It was known since the Middle Age, stories of every kind have been told about similar creatures. And as we already knew, it must be killed with a silver bullet's shot at its head". Jamie pushes her a bit on the chair and sits next to her.
"It also says it's a person... It's someone that turns into a monster at night" Jamie reads. She looks at the screen too.
"And who was this person in your case?"
"I... Never found it out. It just appeared that I've been able to kill it before finding it out"
"So maybe if we find that, we can have a key to understand all this"
"Mmm" she tells, unsure.
"I reviewed my case again and there's nothing I haven't already tried. There's nothing useful"
"But you didn't have me" he smiles. "Maybe I see something you didn't and maybe something new pops up"
"Alright, let's see" she tells.
After a few time, they're still in front of the laptop with papers spread all around in the desk. He's browsing all those sheets and almost occupies all the chair, she has to cling to his waist to stay in equilibrium. But they stopped working long ago, when they couldn't find anything.
"Where's your brother now?" asks she. Jamie looks up to her.
"Ha, you know him, he prefers staying alone"
"Well, you were alone too. And me too"
"Right, but he's even worse. I'm working with you now, he wouldn't have accepted"
"But it's better working in two"
"Yes, tell him! He's weird"
"And you're not" she tells, ironically. He looks frowning at her.
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing Jamie, you know you're like a brother to me, I'd never say anything bad about you" she smiles tenderly at him.
"Yeah..." he browses again among the papers. "I don't know, everything looks correct. I can't find anything, we're at a halt again" he adds, pushing back the papers and leaning on the chair. Marya thinks for a while. He observes her.
"What are you thinking? Did you get a stroke of genius?" asks he.
"Mm, I don't know. But I was thinking that if the Shtriga is a person and I killed it, someone should be missing, from the town"
"Yeah, if you killed it... But probably that's a good idea". Jamie comes back to the laptop and types something. After a while, he got in the police records. He scrolls a bit, he restrains the research to the time of the case and actually finds something. A man disappeared there and he has never been found again.
"So, I killed it" she reflects, though a bit confused.
"If we admit there haven't be other crimes, yeah, it's likely."
"But you're still doubtful"
"Yeah, I mean, we had a Shtriga and you killed it, but now we have a Shtriga again, and Shtriga can't come back from the dead..." he tells nervously scratching his head. Then he stops talking.
"What?" Marya asks.
"How could we be so stupid??" he asks, ashamed.
"What? Why?" asks she, confused.
"There's only one explanation that can fit everything: it wasn't just a Shtriga, but two Shtriga!". She stares at him perplexed. One Shtriga is rare, two is even more, but that's really the only explanation.
"Alright, let's say you're right. How can we find it now?"
"I have no idea, it can attack everywhere but at least we know that silver bullets work". He gets up and goes to his bag, to check how many cartridges he has. She sits again on the chair and her eyes fall on a colourful notice on the table. She takes it and reads it, it says something about a Carnival Party for the night.
"What's this Jamie?"
"What?" he turns to her. "Ha, that. It's a thing a girl gave me on the street. I guess she wanted me to go there, haha". He laughs but she stares at it, serious.
"Is it Mardi Gras today?". Jamie thinks for a while.
"It's Tuesday, so probably yeah"
"And there's a Carnival Party. In an old hall, here in town". Jamie looks at her, curious. "Tell me, what is a better opportunity for a monster than this one?"
"It can have all the boys and girls that it wants and it doesn't need to hide, no one will be scared or attracted by its appearance!" Jamie finishes.
"Exactly. We can't know for sure where and if it will strike here, but there's a big chance"
"Yeah, you're right. Do you have any costume?", she looks a bit afraid at him. "No? Ok, we both need one. I'll take you to dance tonight, are you happy?" he tells, smiling widely.

The evening, Jamie is waiting, sitting on his bed and already dressed up with his mask. He's wearing black large trousers, full of wrinkles and tight at half-leg. He has a dark blue shirt with large sleeves and a damask waistcoat. Some wrinkles of the shirt pop out of the coat and he's also wearing long leather boots and a huge black cloak with golden rims. His long curly hair flows down over it. He's playing with and fixing a huge dark hat with a long black feather. He tries it, he puts it on and then takes it off again. Marya comes out of the bathroom with a beautiful large crimson dress, strap-less, with lots of shiny glitters on the top and wrinkles. The circle at the bottom keeps it large and open. She has a very light and natural makeup, but her lips are intensely red, and her long straight hair flows down her shoulders. Jamie observes her from head to feet, charmed and surprised. But she doesn't look happy.
"Wow, little cousin! When did you become this beautiful lady?" says he.
"Come on Jamie, I don't feel comfortable in it" she protests.
"And why shouldn't you?" he asks, incredulous. "You're beautiful"
"But I can't move"
"Knowing you, I say that you will manage anyway. I'm sure you're going to be the most beautiful tonight"
"Come on, Musketeer, stop it" she says, laughing embarrassed.
"No, really, unluckily I'm your cousin" he smiles. She smiles too and goes to sit next to him.
"You know, it's strange. I didn't wear a Carnival mask since when I was 4" she tells, playing with the cloth of her dress. He thinks for a while and smiles.
"Yeah, you were dressed as a light blue princess, right?". She looks at him surprised.
"You remember?"
"Yes, sure. I was just 10 but you were little enough that I could fly you. And you loved it". She smiles shyly.
"Yeah, well... And you, what were you dressed as?"
"Ahm, at that time I had a fixation for superheroes, I think I was Batman" he reflects for a while.
"Batman, ha! Well, now you're a Musketeer, your tastes remained pretty much the same" she jokes. He puts on the hat, giving himself some air.
"Not a simple Musketeer, the best one!" he exclaims, proudly. She laughs at him. "Come on, Victorian lady, go fixing your hair, we have to go in a while" he says, pushing her.

Later, they're at the party, it has a somewhat elegant and antique taste. Some people are dressed in an elegant way, some are way more colourful and carnivalish. At the moment, there's a slow song and everyone is dancing in couples. Jamie put on his huge hat and is wearing a black silk mask over his eyes. She has some locks of her hair tied in the back and has a red rigid mask, with pearls all around the contours and a red feather at one side. She has long red silk gloves and he's wearing gloves too, black ones, leather-made and stretching just a bit below his wrists. He holds her right hand with his left one and the other surrounds her back. He tightly holds her to him and constantly looks at her. She looks up to him and sometimes is uncomfortable with the close distance he's keeping her. She can feel his breath and being her shorter than him, she can just stare at his lips in front of her. But she also looks up at his hazel eyes, shining behind the mask. And he loves playing with her.
"Are you ok Mary?" he asks, playful.
"Yeah, yeah..." she mutters.
"Am I making you feel uncomfortable?"
"No, no" she says, before he can make fun of her. "It's fine"
"Ok. I don't want you to fall in love with me though, it would be inconvenient"
"Ha! Really... It's just that, you went from making me do the airplane to closely dance with me". He laughs a bit. "Hey, shouldn't you be watching around for the Shtriga? We're here to work..."
"Yeah, I'm doing it. Nothing yet" he tells, when his eyes fall on something moving quickly among people. It's a dark worn frock, but he can't discern anything else. She sees him fixedly staring among people and turns around a bit.
"Jamie... Did you see anything?"
"I don't know, maybe..." he tells, always observing around. Then again, the thing appears. It's close the door-window and it stealthily slips outside. Now, Jamie is pretty sure of what he saw.
"It's here. Come on, follow me" he tells, serious, dragging her after him, outside the hall. Once they're out, they can't see anything. It's dark, there's no light, just the one coming from the hall. There's a garden outside, grass on the ground and bushes all around at the perimeter.
"Damn, maybe it got away" Jamie tells.
"Are you sure? Maybe it's still inside, maybe it didn't get out" she says, her voice trembling a bit because of the coldness.
"No, no, it came here, I saw it, it went out" he says, looking around. Then suddenly, something holds them from the back, something tightens its grip at their throats. They try to fight, to defend but somehow the grip is too strong. Marya tries to breathe, Jamie tries to loosen the fingers at his throat. They're skinny fingers and he almost shivers feeling them. The Shtriga keeps them in its power until the grip is too tight and, not being able to breathe, they both faint.

Later, Jamie is looking around. They're in some unknown place, looks like an old farm and it's all dark, except for a lamp hanging from a pillar. They're both sitting on the ground tied, with their hands in the back, to two wooden pillars. They don't have their masks anymore and Marya, few feet away from him, is still unconscious, with her head down and her dress spread all around. Jamie tries to free his hands but they're too tight and he can't take his knife from the sleeve. He pulls his hands away, he tries to get free, he mutters something but he can't do anything. So, he just leans back with his head and looks around, trying to think of something to do. Who knows where they ended up and what the Shtriga is planning to do. Marya slowly starts moving and she recovers. Jamie looks hopeful at her and calls her.
"Mary, Mary! Hey, are you ok?" he asks. She looks at him, still a bit confused, and then tries to loosen the ropes, as soon as she realizes she's tied.
"Yeah, well, kind of" she replies.
"Can you get free?"
"I'm trying... But these ropes are too tight, I can't pull down my gloves..." she tells, making some efforts to take the knife from inside the glove.
"Damn..." comments Jamie. She takes a look at him. "Well, at least you're ok" he adds. She smiles.
"But we won't be so if we stay here for much more"
"I know, I don't even see where we are" he tells, looking around.
"Why didn't it kill us already?" she asks, perplexed.
"I don't know, maybe it just wants to enjoy its meal". Jamie observes her as she tries to get free. "Are you managing?"
"Maybe, just a bit... I'm trying to pull it down but it's complicated..." she explains, when a noise is heard. Marya and Jamie stop talking and just look into each other's eyes. They don't speak but they both mean the Shtriga is coming. Jamie tries to move back as much as he can, Marya tries to get free, with her eyes fixed on the wooden door in front of them. Then the door opens and after few seconds the Shtriga gets in. It has its head down so Jamie and Marya can't see a lot. They try to stay quiet and still as much as they can, though they are scared too. That thing doesn't speak, it just emits a strange hiss and the old dress rustles on the floor. The Shtriga turns to Marya and raises up its head. She tries not to scream as she sees its face but anyway she starts trembling. Jamie looks speechless and shaken at it. Its skin is grey and dry like that of an old corpse, it doesn't have eyes, just two empty sockets, black holes now and shiny yellow dots when it attacks. It doesn't even have teeth in its mouth, just two withered lips. It moves its long skinny fingers toward her and mutters some scary moan. Marya looks terrified at it and she pulls back her legs as it comes closer. The Shtriga kneels down and takes a closer look at her. She turns her face on one side, she's frozen with fear and she can do nothing. Jamie observes horrified and still tries to slip his hands away from the ropes. The Shtriga tilts its head while staring at her, uttering a suffocated breath and stretching its hand to her. Marya tries to avoid it but it passes its finger on her cheek and down to her neck. Disgusted, Marya closes her eyes, breathing quickly and pulling the ropes. The Shtriga stops with its hand over her heart and listens. Then it gets even closer and fearing it could do harm to her, Jamie decides to attract its attention.
"Hey, you! You want something to eat for dinner? Come to me!" he shouts. The Shtriga looks at him curious, Jamie tries to conceal his fear and disgust and Marya takes a quick worried look at him. The Shtriga gets up and goes to him, staring at him in a menacing way. Jamie looks at it, upward, fearing a bit. It bends down and holds him from his chin. Jamie tries to move back, while Marya makes use of the moment to try again to take the knife. She's almost there. The Shtriga looks at Jamie in the eyes and then rips open his shirt and waistcoat to reach his heart. Jamie looks scared at it, he catches his breath. Then the Shtriga grabs him and pulls him up, so hardly that the ropes get untied. Marya stares incredulous at the scene and worried, Jamie tries to escape from its grasp but the Shtriga tightly holds his wrists together and drags him after it. Marya agitates, trying to get free quickly and Jamie tries to resist, protesting and kicking.
"Hey, hey!! Leave me, leave me!!" he says, but the Shtriga is stronger and takes him away.

The Shtriga drags Jamie in a dark corridor, he tries to point his feet to the ground but he's forced to walk. He tries to reach his gun on his belt, hid behind his cloak but he can't do that. It's all dark and Jamie can't see where they're going. He can feel earth under his feet and the cold skinny but strong fingers of that creature at his wrists. It utters creepy noises and Jamie can't understand what it wants to do. Meanwhile, Marya hurries to catch the knife on her glove, she tries, she strains more, she's scared and worried for her cousin. Then she manages to take down the little blade, that falls to the ground, among the straw. She stretches a bit and after a while she can get it back. She starts cutting the ropes and slowly they break. When she realizes she's free, she quickly gets up and looks around for something to break the door with. She finds an old tool on the ground, she takes it and forces the lock. Slowly the door opens, she peeps out carefully, it's all dark. She takes another look around and then takes the lamp from the pillar. She takes her gun from under her skirt, she was keeping it hid with a thigh-holder. So, with a lamp in a hand and handing her gun in the other, she slowly walks ahead. She can't hear anything nor see anything. The cone of light of the lamp shows a strict corridor with wooden walls at the sides and straw on the ground. She carries on, looking around and searching for Jamie.
The Shtriga takes Jamie to another room, it violently throws him against a table. Jamie tries to stay up and quickly takes the gun from his back. But the Shtriga attacks him and blocks him with his back to the table. Jamie looks scared at the Shtriga, bending over him and keeping his hand with the gun away. Jamie tries to move it, to turn it towards it but he can't. The Shtriga holds him firmly, his eyes shine of yellow and it shrieks to his face. He desperately tries to get free, but the Shtriga makes him lose his gun tightening its grasp. Jamie tries to resist at least and turns his face. The creature yells and fixedly stares at him with its eyes pulsing of yellow. Jamie can feel his breath slowly going away, he can't breathe, he needs air but even if he tries he can't get any. He catches his breath, he tries to scream but he doesn't have any voice. Marya still walks along the corridor when she hears something, a subdued yell. There's a closed door, few steps ahead. She hurries there, though quietly. With a light push to the door, she opens it and sees from behind the Shtriga bending over Jamie. Caught by surprise and scared, she leaves the lamp, that falls to the ground breaking into pieces, and shoots at the Shtriga. It gives a high cry but it won't kill it. Still, it leaves Jamie and turns around to her. Jamie falls to the ground, recovering his breath, the Shtriga angrily stares at her and she shoots at it, right between its eyes. The Shtriga yells and then falls to the ground. Marya soon runs to Jamie and kneels down to him.
"Jamie, Jamie! Are you ok? Are you fine?" she asks worried, stretching a hand on his shoulders and one on his belly. He nods, still catching his breath and takes a look at the dead Shtriga next to them.
"Yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine..." he tells, panting. "You took a lot to come" he jokes, smiling.
"Ah, well, I tried my best, honey"
"What would I do without you..." he comments, when something starts glaring from behind her. A huge warmth propagates and Marya quickly turns around: as the lamp broke, it set fire to the straw and now a fire is rapidly running along the corridor. Jamie looks surprised at it and Marya tries to pull him up.
"Come on, Jamie! We have to go! It will be hell here in a few minutes! Come on!" she says, helping him up and leaning him on her shoulder. They quickly run out of the room but outside it's all burning. They take the direction the fire didn't reach yet and run out, her dress rustling on the ground and his cloak fluttering in the air. Once they're out, the whole farm is burning and nothing more remains of it. Jamie and Marya look at it, panting and then Jamie sits on the ground to rest. He takes Marya down too. She holds his shoulders and then hugs him. He holds her too and tightly surrounds her with his arms.
"We did it... We did this too, and we're still alive..." he jokes. She smiles and caresses his head.

After a while, they're back to the motel. Jamie goes toward his bed, but Marya wants to rest too, so they both run toward it and throw themselves on it. They crash on each other but at the end they both lie down there. Jamie closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. She observes him, lying with her belly down.
"Are you ok?" she asks.
"Yeah, I'm just tired. All this story tired me a bit" he explains. She looks tenderly at him.
"Oh, poor little boy..." she jokes, caressing his forehead. He opens one eye and takes a look at her and she smiles happily.
"So, you think we killed it? There's nothing else?" he asks, leaning on one side.
"Yeah, I caught it perfectly and surely it even burned now"
"Good. I don't like Shtriga. I hope this will be the only case"
"Yeah..." she lies down on the pillow and closes her eyes. He takes a look at her, she's tired and she wants to rest, so he just leaves her there and turns off the light, doesn't matter if they're still dressed with their masks.
The next morning, Jamie is looking at something on his laptop while Marya is going back and forth, collecting all her things in her bag.
"Mary... Come here a little" he asks, still focused. She looks at him, frowning and reaches him. He looks up to her.
"I actually think I solved the Shtriga mystery"
"What? What mystery?"
"There weren't two Shtriga, you actually didn't kill the first"
"Jamie, I told you, I did. I shot at..."
"No, you didn't kill it because it dies only if it's feeding" he explains, she looks confused at him. "When you shot at it, it wasn't feeding so even if you shot between its eyes, it didn't die. Still the man disappeared from there because he came here, following you"
"So, it was still the same"
"Yeah, and yesterday it was feeding from me. So, in any case, someone had to do that, be a victim, if we wanted to kill it"
"Oh, well..." she says, surprised.
"Yeah, in any case I would have done it" Jamie tells.
"Oh no, Jamie, I wouldn't let you do that. Too risky". He smiles.
"Thank you, darling" he tells, bending his head. He's too adorable, she smiles. "So, you're going away?" he asks, looking at her bags. She looks back.
"Yeah, well, probably I'll find some other case."
"But don't hesitate calling if you need help, you know... Don't hunt vampires alone". He smiles.
"Yeah, ok"
"I still need my big cousin, alright?"
"Oh, girl... Yeah, and beware, you too" he says, getting up. They hug each other, she tightly holds him.
"I love you Jamie"
"Yeah, me too. Alright, enough now. I'm getting too sugary" he tells, leaving her.
"But you already are sweet, Jamie."
"Yeah, yeah..." he says, making gestures. "Do you need help with bags?"
"No, thank you. I can do it. Maybe you can keep my mask in your car? You know, it's a bit big..."
"Yeah, ok." he looks down. She observes him and tries to attract his attention. He looks up again. "Oh, come on, you're making me sad, I hate watching you going away" he protests. She smiles and kisses his cheek.
"Call me, J. Even if you just want to talk"
"Ok, I'll do that". She takes up her bags and goes to the door. He bitterly smiles and raises his hand.
"Bye J." she says, he smiles.
"Bye, girl". She goes away.


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