Prologue**

Crack... thump...
The bullet riffled through the air, striking its target with a resounding thud.
Crack... thump...
Round after round, the gunman practiced his aim.
Crack... thump...
Anger consumed him... anger for failure to protect those he loved... to protect the ones he vowed would never be hurt. Alas, he had come across a creature no man could possibly kill... at least, not at a normal status. It wasn't because this creature was so powerful that it would take more than just an army to kill... it was solely because the creature had a past... And that past had a history with the gunman.

Chapter One**

1

Upon reaching his desk, Angel Hobbes found a memo from the Chief of Police, Barry Whitham. What more? I've just suffered a long day at work, and now Barry leaves me a memo? Angel sighed as he opened the memo.

"Don't bother reading it. I'll tell you exactly what it says." Angel whirled around to come face to face with the Chief. "If you had been listening to the radio this morning, you may have heard about the murder out on Church Lane today."

"Yeah, I heard about it. Didn't hear much of the details, but I heard about it."

"I arrived at the scene about 20 minutes after I received the call. Christine Lattener, the victim, was found in a wooden box nearby the dumpster. An ordinary murder case, or so it seemed. Opening the box revealed a deeper side of the murder. First, we had to unwrap her... she was covered from head to toe with a fine nylon cloth. Once she was exposed, we found her to be cut open from mid-chest to waist, with her vital organs missing, except for a morsel of her stomach found underneath the 'coffin'. The coroner ran some tests on her, and found that she was also completely drained of blood."

"You mean to tell me that the suspect had eaten her insides and drained her of blood?" Angel asked with interest. What kind of oddball does that for a living?

"Apparently so. We don't have much to go on; the suspect must be a pro at this. There was nothing left to identify the killer, except for that morsel. We took it down to the DNA lab to run a test on it, see if we can't get the saliva to give us the answer we need.
It seems that we are dealing with a cannibalistic vampiric witch, or something." The Chief looked exasperated and began to fidget nervously.

"What does this have to do with me? I'm not involved in any way, am I?" Angel knew what answer was coming up, and he regretted asking the question shortly there afterwards.

"Well, I'd... uh... like for you to take charge of the investigation. I know next week was supposed to be your time off for vacation, but I swear to you, I'll make up for it. I really need you, Angel. Please, don't let me field this one alone."

"But..." Angel began, and then sighed. "Alright, I'll do it. But this had better be worth it."

"Two weeks paid vacation, and a possible promotion decent enough for you?"

"Three weeks, possible promotion. Two weeks, definite promotion. I've been with the force for 17 years. I'm not going to take chump change, especially since this is the first time I've had a chance to even consider a vacation since 1996. That's five years without a break!"

Barry looked at Angel, smiled and said, "Done deal. When can you start?"

Angel looked at his watch, noted it was a quarter 'til six, and responded, "Get me a list of all crimes within the past two years dealing with the, uh, what did you call it? Cannibalistic vampirism or something? Anything dealing with the three subjects you touched upon in describing this odd crime. Leave it on my desk, and I'll start first thing tomorrow morning. Right now, I've got to go home and disappoint my family."

"I'm sorry, Angel. You are the best on the squad, and I need you. I personally wish this had never happened, or at least, if it was destined to happen, I wish it would have happened in two more weeks instead of today, but who knows what really goes on in the minds of killers?"

Angel waived that thought, and proceeded to round up his car keys, shut down his computer for the night, and walk out the door. "I'll see you tomorrow, Chief." And he was out the door before Barry could even muster up the words, "Good night."

2

Later that night, Barry worked on compiling a list of past murders, anything dealing with cannibalism, vampirism, and witchcraft. Staring blankly at his computer screen, Barry didn't hear the door open. He was too busy thinking to himself about what he was doing to Angel, how long Angel has waited for the vacation, and how he loathed not having someone as experienced as Angel to take the case. Poor guy needs a break... hasn't even left this town since his wife died. I wish that I could do something for him, but I really do need him.

Unbeknownst to Barry, a figure was making his way toward the desk. As he continued to stare blankly at the computer screen, a sharp, pointed object invaded his neck, puncturing the skin, allowing a flow of blood to arise from the jugular vein. As the blood seeped from him, he faded into unconsciousness, never to awake again.

3

Angel unlocked the door to his apartment at 1:30 in the morning. Simba, his cat, came from around the corner and nuzzled up to his feet. Angel walked over, glancing at the answering machine for any new messages. As it were, there were none that day, nor had there been any for the last week and a half. I guess everyone is too busy to call me anymore. Mom and Dad don't call as much, Chris hasn't made contact with me for over three years... He picked up the phone and began to dial a number. On the third ring, a voice picked up.

"Will you leave me alone, you bastard!" The voice shouted into the receiver. Angel had to pull the phone away from his ear to prevent any further damage to his eardrum.

"Queiss, is that you?" Angel asked, timidly.

"Angel? Oh my god, I'm so sorry. It's just... well, I've been receiving phone calls for the past two hours, where the caller would do nothing but breathe into the phone. I thought you might have been him calling back."

"It's okay. Did you call the police to have them trace the call?"

"No... I wanted to, but I decided against it. I figured it was just some young boy playing pranks on people." Her voice was softer now, almost a whisper. She had no problem with Angel calling so late. She was always up at this time at night, doing some sort of practical research. Tonight, she was studying the constellations, looking for Orion in the dark sky.

"Well, if he calls again, have the police trace it. I don't care if it's just some prank or not. We had a murder today, and that is why I called you. I need your help."

"Humph. You need my help again? I'm going to have to start charging you, my dear. It takes an extensive amount of time when you need my help, time that could be very well spent studying for my classes. You know how I am about school." Though a senior in college, she still dedicated her day-to-day life studying for her exams. Majoring in science and biology wasn't easy when you had to keep a steady income as well.

Angel didn't pay attention to what Queiss just said. Instead, he continued on. "I need you to research something for me. In all your past studies, have you come across anything that has a combination of cannibalism, vampirism, and witchcraft? The murder today contained all three, and it's driving me up the wall. I've never heard anything like it, and right now, I've got the chief building up a profile on cases that deal with any of those three. But you have the most knowledge in this subject, and I wondered if you knew anything about it."

"Cannibalism, vampirism, and witchcraft? What, is this some kind of cult or something? I've never heard of all three being combined, but I guess I can check it out for you. Can you meet me tomorrow at the Hill Street Diner? I should have more information for you then."

"At noon? I can do it then. Thanks, Queiss, you are a lifesaver."

"Noon it is, I suppose. I'll skip breakfast, because you are buying lunch." Queiss smiled to herself softly. "Good night, Angel."

"Good night, Brynn." Angel hung up the phone, and thought quietly to himself. He was the only one who had ever called Brynn by her real name, instead of just Queiss. Where Queiss derived from, he never found out. But Brynn was her real name, and to Angel, it was much more than a name. It was much deeper than that.

Angel ambled over to the refrigerator, checked its contents, and shut the door again. Before heading off into his bedroom, he fed the cat and brushed his teeth. After a long day at work, Angel was finally ready to hit the sack, and as his head touched the pillow, his mind rushed into the oblivion of sleep.