Warning: Death? to a major character.
Cold hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colors from our sight
Red is gray and yellow white
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion
-- the Moody Blues
Mike Logan steered the late model Chevy through traffic on his way to work the night shift. He was already 15 minutes late. He stopped at an intersection for a red light and watched while mini-vampires, aliens and a couple of Sesame Street characters he didn't know the names of ran across the crosswalk in front of his car.
"Nights in white satin, never reaching the end..." came from the radio. So that explained the gloomy music. He had forgotten it was Halloween, or maybe he forgot on purpose. It was not one of his favorite nights to work, when all the loonies came out of the woodwork. The precinct was filled with the same kooks with the same complaints as any other night, but somehow the costumes they wore made them seem more supernatural and otherworldly. At any rate, the effect made him nervous.
But it was more than just the costumes. The whole concept unnerved Logan. He had seen so many dead and dying people that skeletons and zombies ceased to be amusing. People roaming the streets seeking the thrill of the scariest night of the year made no sense to him. Why didn't they just stay home and party where it was safer? Watch a video.
The homicide division of Precinct 128 was busy as usual for a weekend night. He walked in the doorway and stopped to survey the weird scene before him. Elvira was sitting at Brady's desk filing an assault complaint from the sound of it. Dracula was holding the side of his head, being arrested for DUI. Frankenstein and his Bride had Stopler backed against his office door, shouting something about a missing person. He spotted Mike and motioned him to come over.
"Would you take these two citizen's complaints while I tend to another matter?"
Logan enjoyed the pleading look on his boss's face and hesitated as long as he could without seeming too rude. "What seems to be the problem?" he finally asked the two monsters.
"They took Inky. We want to know what you plan to do about it," Bride said in a screeching voice. She was an imposing woman, and her three-foot lightning-bolt streaked hair made her taller than Logan.
He was almost afraid to ask. "Inky?"
"My cat! He's a black cat. He's disappeared! I just know those Satan worshipers in 5B took him for some horrible ritual."
Logan fought the smile straining at his lips. "Ma'am, you need to talk to Animal services. This is homicide division."
"You're not listening, Detective. This is a homicide! They're going to kill my Inky."
"I understand, ma'am, but we only handle human homicides."
Ms Frankenstein drew herself to her full height and glared at him.
"I'm sorry, I can't help you," he said in his most sympathetic voice.
She pushed him out of the way with such force, he backed into Mr. Frankenstein.
"Oh, sorry," he apologized.
Mr. Frankenstein smiled sheepishly. "No, I'm sorry. I tried to tell her. But you can't reason with that woman when she gets upset. I've tried to tell her the couple in 5B are just kids into heavy metal music, but she is convinced they are Satan worshipers. They delight in glaring at her in the hallway."
"Barney!!!" The screech made the hair stand up on Logan's neck and everyone else turn and look toward the door. Mr. Frankenstein sighed. "I guess I'd better go try to calm her down."
Logan held out his hand to the monster, who shook it firmly and said, "thanks for your patience."
"You have my deepest sympathy, sir."
"Oh, Inky will probably be back tomorrow."
"I wasn't talking about the cat."
Barney Frankenstein grinned at him and rushed out the door.
Lt. Stopler walked past the hen-pecked monster and half-smiled at Logan. "You have no idea what a madhouse this has been."
"I'm beginning to get the picture. Sorry I was late, but..."
Stopler waved his hand, dismissing his explanation. "Don't worry about it. I've got someone I'd like you meet. This is Nick Knight, your new partner."
Logan had seen the man walking behind Stopler when he entered, but he thought he was there to file a complaint. He was Logan's height with light brown wavy hair and piercing blue eyes. He had a gentleness about his manner that unnerved him for some reason. He didn't seem to have the temperament for a homicide detective. When he shook hands with him, his hands were cold and dry like...like a corpse. He pushed the image away. It's Halloween, he thought. Don't go getting spooked.
"We've been called in to investigate a murder at a liquor store over on 11th street. You and Nick take it."
Logan stepped up to Stopler as Knight walked to the door. "We need to talk when I get back."
Stopler smiled. "It won't do you any good, Logan. You knew you were getting a new partner eventually after Boyer got shot."
"So you stick me with this reject."
"That reject has commendations up the yin-yang from his precinct in Toronto."
He shrugged. "They say he's a good cop."
Logan glared at Stopler. "Well, we'll see about that."
As they drove through the night to the murder scene, Logan struggled with himself to maintain his control and not take this out on Knight. It wasn't his fault. Losing three partners and being transferred for punching a councilman (never mind he was asking for it) sort of marks a person. He'd even heard himself referred to as Luckless Logan. But Logan had just about had it with the NYPD. First the transfer to Staten Island, then to the graveyard shift, and now this.
"So, how long have you been with NYPD?" Knight's soft voice was getting on Logan's nerves, as he attempted a conversation with him.
"Too long," was his tight-lipped answer.
"Married? Any kids?"
Logan sighed wearily. "Look, if we're going to work together, it might be best if we don't get too personal, all right?" God, this guy was getting on his nerves.
Knight studied him carefully. "I've heard about your bad luck with partners. I'm sorry."
Mike glanced at him. "Hey, it's not my fault, all right? People act like I got some kind of curse on me, or something."
Nick smiled sadly. "I've been there. I lost a partner, a lot of friends in my lifetime."
Something in the tone of his voice that sounded like a man old beyond his years softened Logan. "Really? Life's like that sometimes."
Nick smiled. "Sometimes. Sometimes it's a blessing and sometimes a curse."
"So how did you get stuck with graveyard shift?"
"I asked for it, actually. I'm allergic to sunlight."
Logan stared at him. He shook his head in disbelief. Could this night get any stranger? "God I hate Halloween," he muttered as he drove on.
They arrived on the scene where three people had been killed in a liquor store robbery. One was the cashier, the other two shoppers. They questioned a witness who had been hiding in the back of the store during the shooting. She gave them their only description. One was wearing a R2D2 mask, she told them, the other Princess Leia. "Robbery must be busy. I guess we're getting the leftovers," Logan said as he put away his notebook.
Knight and Logan stood on the sidewalk and looked around.
"What are the odds he might still be around?" Knight said, taking a deep breath.
Logan shook his head. "Slim and none. He's probably made the other side of the island by now."
"Or maybe he's hiding until the excitement's over. In my experience, most robberies occur within a five block radius of the perpetrator's home."
"Okay, you take that block, I'll take this one. We should be able to question everybody by, oh, I don't know, Christmas. What are you, nuts?"
Knight laughed. "Why don't we start with the alley. We've got to look for clues anyway."
Logan shrugged. "We might as well at least look like we're doing something." Together they walked down the street to the alley that ran behind the store. As they turned into the alley, Logan spotted movement behind the dumpster. He drew his gun and sprinted forward, shouting "Police! Freeze!" The figure started to climb the chain-link fence and Logan went after him. Before he could reach him, a dark mass came over his head and covered the man on the fence, pulling him down. It happened so fast, it took him a second to realize it was his partner. He had the guy by the throat, holding him against the wall beside him. Then there was a fierce growl that didn't sound like any animal he'd ever heard.
"What the hell?! What are you doing?"
He grabbed his partner by the shoulder. Knight snapped his head towards him, and Logan jerked back away from the sight before him. His new partner's eyes were glowing yellow. They had changed into an animal's eyes, and he snarled at Mike with teeth that looked like a...
Logan almost opened fire, then caught himself. He couldn't be seeing what he thought he was seeing. It had to be a trick of the light. Halogen light did that sometimes, made things look spooky and weird.
"Hey, we need him alive, all right? Come on, Knight!"
Knight let the man go and walked away. Logan grabbed the guy, who didn't have much fight left and cuffed him. "You have the right to remain silent..."
After he read him his rights, he looked around for Nick, who was standing in the shadows.
"Hey, Knight, you okay?" he called to him.
He moved forward and stared at Logan with a look that commanded his attention. "You won't remember any of this. I grabbed the suspect and that's all you saw..." he heard him say softly. Suddenly a sharp pain stabbed into Logan's brain. He grabbed his head with both hands. "Ahhhh! God almighty! My head!"
Nick grabbed the cuffed man by the arm and put his hand on Mike's shoulder.
"Logan, are you all right?"
The pain eased off, but he was still left with a splitting headache. "Jeez! I think I'm having a stroke or something," he moaned, still holding onto his head with both hands.
Nick watched him with some concern. The uniformed officers arrived to take the suspect in. "Maybe you should see a doctor," he asked as they returned to the car.
"No, I think there's some aspirin in here." Logan opened the bottle in the glove compartment, dumped out some tablets without counting and popped them into his mouth, chewing them.
"Maybe I should drive," Nick offered.
"No, I'll be just fine. But I want to know one thing." Logan twisted around in the seat until he was fully facing Knight. "Who, or what the hell are you?"
"What do you mean?" Knight asked innocently.
"What was that I saw back there? You looked like some kind of monster."
"I lose control when I get angry sometimes."
Mike snorted. "I'll bet. So you grow fangs, and your eyes turn yellow, is that what you're saying?"
Knight looked at him innocently. "I don't know what you mean. It must have been a trick of the light."
Logan glared at him. "Trick of the light, my ass."
The radio squawked to life in the car. It was Stopler telling them to report to another homicide. Someone was found in a car, shot, wearing some kind of mask.
He started the car, put it in gear, and spun out from the curb, leaving behind smoke and the smell of burning rubber.
The two detectives stared into the car parked beside the curb. The victim was leaning back against the headrest wearing a cheap plastic R2D2 mask. He didn't fit the description of the robbery suspect, he was too tall.
Logan shook his head. "Look around for a trail of Tootsie roll wrappers. Maybe he got mugged by Eewoks." He reached inside and gently pulled of his mask, being careful about where he left fingerprints. He held it up by the rubber band and handed it over to a forensic cop who had appeared with a large plastic bag. He stopped for a moment and examined the inside of the mask. He wasn't sure what he was looking for until he looked back at the victim's face. The victim had blood around his mouth, internal bleeding from the gunshot wound. Probably gutshot, poor guy. More than likely he died choking on his own blood.
"What is it?"
He half-turned to see Nick Knight staring at the body intently. His pupils were more dilated than they should have been in the bright lights of the squad car parked in front of them. And he had this weird look on his face, like he was hungry... Logan just turned away from him, trying to hide his exasperation. What was wrong with this guy?
He pointed to the mask. "You see, he's got blood on his face, but there isn't any on the mask." He looked back at Knight, who looked normal now.
Knight nodded. "So he put the mask on after he shot the victim."
"He would have to have been dead when he put it on. And you don't die from a gun shot wound like that immediately."
"Which means he hung around until the victim died."
"Make sure you go over this car with a microscope. I want every inch dusted," he directed the forensics team. "Of course, there is another reason," he mused staring at the body. He looked at Knight, who was listening intently.
"It's his signature," Logan said, simply.
"At least we can eliminate one suspect."
Knight nodded. "His partner."
"But how do we know it's him? There had to have been hundreds of those masks sold."
Logan took one last look at the victim. "Trick or treat," he said dryly.
When they arrived back at the precinct, they met the robbery suspect in the interrogation room. Logan walked in reading from a manila folder. "Larry Hoskins, convicted for shoplifting, assault and battery, resisting arrest, failure to appear...nice laundry list. Decided to graduate to armed robbery and murder?"
Knight stood in a dark corner leaning against the wall, and watched the two of them.
"I'm still waiting for my lawyer," he said haughtily as Logan sat down across from him.
"He's probably at a Halloween party. He'll be here. But we need to know something about your partner."
He glared at Logan. "What partner? I didn't do nothing. What do I need a partner for?"
"Oh, I suppose you were out trick or treating at the liquor store, huh? Princess Leia?" He held up a plastic mask. "This was found in the alley near the dumpster, behind the liquor store. It's got your prints all over it."
He leaned towards Hoskins, until he was within inches of Hoskin's face. "Tell you what. Tell us the name of your partner, and we might just go easy on you."
He shot a murderous look at Logan. Then, without warning, he spit in his face.
Before Logan could react, Knight had sailed across the room, grabbed the guy by the throat and pinned him against the wall. He held him up off the floor, his face inches away from him. "Tell us who your partner is. Tell us his name." His voice sounded hollow, like he was inside a tunnel. It gave Logan chills to hear it, then he remembered it was the same voice he'd heard before, right before he felt the stabbing pain in his skull.
Hoskins got a glazed look in his eyes, then mumbled something. Nick let him slide to the floor. He jumped to his feet and started cowering from Nick, his eyes wide with fear. "He tried to kill me! Get him away from me!"
There was sudden commotion as Stopler and Profaci entered the room along with Hoskin's lawyer.
"What the hell is going on here?"
They turned to face Stopler. Logan stared at him innocently. "Mr. Hoskins here fell. Detective Knight was just helping him up."
He stared at them, at their perfectly innocent faces. He grumbled under his breath. "Oh, great. Now I've got two of them." He sighed. "Our "Star Wars" killer has struck again. Yoda this time."
Logan and Knight passed through the crowd, with Stopler, the lawyer and Hoskins glaring at them suspiciously. Logan stopped in front of Hoskins. "Give my regards to Luke Skywalker."
As they climbed into the car, Logan laughed. "You know, you keep that up, we'll both be transferred. But the look on his face when you grabbed him..." His laughter stopped suddenly. He looked at Knight. "Are you going to tell me what's going on?"
"I told you..."
"I know, you get angry. Big deal, so do I." He sighed. "Look, you realize we can't use that in court. He asked for his lawyer. Technically the questioning was over."
"All we needed was a name."
"Yeah, but we obtained the name illegally. If we arrest him, it won't stick."
Knight smiled cryptically. "Maybe it won't matter."
Logan shook his head. "Where did you learn your police technique, the Yukon?"
"That's in Canada, right?"
Knight stared at him with a puzzled expression, not sure if he was kidding or not until Logan laughed.
Over the next three hours, the killer struck twice more. He left Annikin and Obie Wan masks on his next two victims. At the precinct, they poured over computer printouts and old police reports. They discovered that over the last three years, three other murders had been committed on Halloween involving masks on the victims. But each time, the victim was thought to be a partygoer. No one suspected a serial killer. They were all killed with a .22 shot to the midsection, same as the last three victims.
Around four 'o clock, Logan went gone down the hall to raid the vending machine. Knight came running up to him, his eyes flashing with excitement. "We just got a call from a woman who heard shots fired. She saw a man wearing an alien mask running away from a body."
"An Alien? Not Star Wars?"
"They don't know. She said it had long pointy ears and a huge snout, big eyes."
Logan slapped Knight's arm. "Well, let's go kick Jar-Jar's ass."
"How do you know so much about Star Wars."
"I once dated a young lady who wanted to do nothing but see "The Phantom Menace" and rent Star Wars videos. I drew the line on using the light saber in bed." Logan gave him a lewd wink and laughed.
Knight smiled. He realized he was beginning to like Mike Logan.
When they arrived on the scene, forensics had already secured the scene.
"Where's the mask?" Logan asked the officer in charge.
"No mask. Just a shot to the belly."
"Do you think it's the same man?" Knight asked.
"Same MO except for the mask." He shook his head. "Most serial killers go weeks, sometimes months before they kill again. But four in one night? What's his hurry?"
"Maybe he's wrapping up his career."
"Or maybe there's more than one. Come on, let's go pay Mr. Binks a visit. What was his real name, anyway?"
"Any relation to George?" Logan joked.
"Let's hope not, for George's sake." They started to walk towards the car and Knight asked, "Who is George Lucas?"
Logan laughed. "Come on, O-Knight-of-the-Force. What's the address?"
When they arrived at the apartment no one answered the door.
"Should we break in?" Nick asked.
Mike looked at him in mock surprise. "Haven't you learned anything? You don't break in, you go find the building manager and persuade him to open."
Nick cocked an eyebrow. "Persuade?"
"Yeah, with fire code violations."
A movement down the hall caught his eye, it was someone ducking around the corner. He drew his gun and took off after him, Nick close behind him.
"No funny stuff this time, Knight."
"I still don't know what you're talking about."
They followed him into the laundry room. Logan studied the area, which was filled with large washers along one wall and huge dryers in the middle. Behind the dryers were ductwork, part for the dryers, part for the boilers; plenty of places someone could hide. He motioned to Nick to go in one direction while he moved in the other.
Holding his gun in front of him, he cautiously peered around dryers and under ductwork. At one point he saw Nick moving around on the other side of the room. He gave him a questioning look. Nick shook his head, then seemed to spot something behind Mike. Mike turned to see a figure crawling on his hands and knees behind one of the washers. Before he could get away, Mike grabbed him by his coat hem, dragging him backwards. "Whoa! Where the hell do you think you're going?"
John Lucas turned around to face him. Mike heard the gun go off before he saw him holding it. Then he felt the searing pain in his midsection. He grabbed his stomach and yelled out to Nick, who grabbed Lucas away from him. He shoved him up into an open dryer and he landed half in and half out. Nick pushed his head in further, hitting it against the metal tub, hard.
"Your life is worth nothing now if he dies. I should go ahead and kill you," he growled.
He struggled, cursing Nick. "I hope he does. What are you going to do?"
They were the last words he spoke. There was a loud snapping, crunching sound as Nick twisted his head with both hands. Then he went limp. Nick let the body fall out of the dryer and stared at him, regretting for an instant what he'd done. Then he heard Mike behind him coughing, a gurgling liquid sound he was all too familiar with. He turned around and saw him leaning against a washer, blood around his mouth and soaked into his blue plaid tie. His shirt was saturated with it. The smell was a heavy delicious odor, and Nick tried to control his urges and ignore the hunger that pumped through his veins. One look from Mike, and he felt another urge. To help his partner.
He pulled off his coat and rolled it up. Gently he pulled Mike away from the washer, laid him down on the floor and rested his head gently on the coat. Nick squeezed his hand. "I'll go get help. You're going to be fine," he said reassuringly.
Mike knew that was not true. Already his body was beginning to feel cold, and he could no longer feel his legs. He was struggling not to pass out. Every time he took a breath, his lungs felt like they were on fire. He knew he couldn't hang on much longer. He tightened his grip on Nick's hand. "Don't leave. I'm dying."
Nick could hear his heart slowing second by second. He could feel the life force ebb out of him.
Mike looked up at him. He grimaced with pain, then gasped for breath. The look of pain and desperation pulled at Nick's heart. "I've known what you are. I think you can help me." He coughed again and blood gushed from his mouth.
If he was going to bring him across, he had to hurry. The life force was getting weaker. But he had to be sure of what he was doing. "I don't know what you're talking about. I can't save you," he lied.
Mike grabbed his hand tighter and pulled him closer. Nick was surprised by the strength left in this dying man. He would make a perfect companion.
"Don't give me that crap! I know what you are! The allergy to sunlight, the fangs, the eyes, the hypnosis... You son of a bitch! Don't you let me die! I'll haunt you the rest of your days if you do." His eyes were wild and furious in his pallid face.
Nick had never before experienced the chill he felt at that threat. He had been haunted by many souls, but this one he could not bear. Mike Logan was a strong spirit, with integrity, courage, and strength that reminded Nick of himself when he was a soldier in the Crusades. But already he was followed by the soul of Natalie and many others he had tried to bring across...and failed. Dare he try it again?
"You don't know what you're asking. It's not as easy as it sounds."
"Easy? You think this is easy? Working half my life watching people die is easy? Only to end it like this...as another homicide case in my own precinct? Unh-unh. No way." He coughed again. "I'm dying," he whispered hoarsely. "I don't care what happens, I don't want to die."
Nick licked his lips hesitantly. He'd failed every time he'd tried before. Could he do it?
Was he strong enough?
"I have to make sure..." he started.
"Just do it, dammit!" Mike slumped back. He tried to breathe, but gurgling noises came instead.
Nick quickly grabbed him around the shoulders and scooped him up in his arms. His mouth found the throbbing artery in his neck and he clamped down tightly until his fangs found their mark. Mike Logan groaned as the blood pumped out of him and into Nick. "Just enough," he heard the voice of his father, La Croix say. "Not too much. You have to leave enough for the spirit to survive. You have to let the heart live."
He stopped the second before Mike's heart did, then bit his own wrist. He placed it to the dying man's mouth. He felt the life force come back as took the offering Nick gave him. He had been right about him. His spirit was strong.
Nick watched Mike Logan come back to life as a proud father would watch a son being born. More than seven hundred years of time had not erased the memory of rebirth. It was something that his kind could not forget.
Mike Logan opened his eyes, then shut them quickly, tightly. The light stabbed his eyes with its intensity, even though minutes before the room had been dimly lit. His skin burned like it was seared and his blood pounded through his veins. His heart beat a staccato rhythm in his ears. Then he noticed another sound, another heartbeat, close by. He opened his eyes to see Nick watching him, smiling.
"Congratulations, partner. Or should I say 'happy birthday?"
Mike rose unsteadily to his feet. Nick took hold of his arm and helped him into a nearby chair. "Not too much at once. You'll be weak for a while."
"So this is it?" Logan whispered uncertainly. He knew he was dead. He had to be dead, he had seen the tunnel he heard so much about. When he had seen the figure at the end, he thought it was his father. Yet, when he reached the end, Nick Knight was there, offering his hand. Offering immortality.
"Not quite. You said you understood. So you know what price you have to pay."
Logan's eyes widened for a second. He realized he had only been thinking about saving his own life, not taking someone else's.
"Don't worry. You won't have to kill. Any blood will do."
Mike buried his head in his hands, trying to grasp the reality...or unreality of the situation. He hadn't expected to feel anything at all, no emotions, nothing. But here it was, all the pain, agony, and guilt that defined a human being.
Except he would never die.
"I won't die?"
Nick smiled. "Well, you still have to take care of your heart. Just steer clear of sharp wooden objects."
Mike smiled, feeling his canines against his lips. He reached up to touch the point of one. His strength came in large waves and with it, a pain that shot through his midsection sharper that the one he'd felt when he'd been shot.
Nick frowned as he watched him double over from the pain. "We have to get you home fast. You can stay at my place tonight."
As he recovered, Mike shook his head and laughed. "Oh, no. I'm going out to celebrate. You said it yourself. It's my birthday."
"And how many people will you kill when the pain becomes too great? I can teach you all you need to know tonight. Just come home with me."
"Okay, whatever you say." He turned around and looked at Lucas. "What should we do with him?"
"I have people I can call."
He nodded, then laughed out loud. Then he howled with delight.
Yes! He thought.
Mike Logan will live forever.
Mike Logan will never die.