Elsewhere… In an alleyway.
“So, you called for me?” a grumpy cop asks the man who brought him to the bad side of town.
“Sure did. So, what do you see here, Simmons?”
Simmons looks around. “Seems pretty clear. Murder scene. ‘Cept we ain’t got no body here.”
Simmons sighed. “Two pairs of shoes, plus the victim. Then…” he pointed at a spot on the ground. “The corpse gets dragged a bit, then lifted clear off the ground.” He steps out of the alleyway. “Have somebody follow that trail.” He points to a few drops of blood, then a few more ten feet further on. “I don’t care how long it takes them.”
The grumpy cop sighs. Technically, that would be Simmon’s job. However, he’d not do anything of the sort himself, unless he was particularly interested. Still, he noticed details others wouldn’t, so he could get away with it somewhat.
There was the sound of steps coming down the stairs, and the door opening.
“Yoooooo, Mr. Grumpypants. Still alive?”
Sanguis shook himself awake, and opened his eyes. “Yeah, still alive. Sorry about being grumpy, earlier. I don’t suppose I can have some food? I haven’t eaten all day.”
“Food?” She looked at him quizzically her eyes wandering to the bloody bandages, then started. “Oh, that. I mean, I don’t have any. Err… I’m out. I’ll just go get you some, okay?”
“That would be great, thank you.” He figured he really should be nicer to the person who saved him.
She turned to walk out of the room, her foot kicking the book he’d thrown. “Heey! Did you put my book over here on the floor?” She glared at him. “Treat books nicely!”
“Oh, sorry, I was reading your book on blood magic and got kinda frustrated… so I threw it over there.”
“Threw it?!” She seemed to take the insult against the book much more personally than being called an idiot. “That’s not how you treat books! Why I oughta… blood magic?” She tilted her head. “You can read this?” She marched over towards him, only to slip in the pool of blood by the bed.
She quickly stood up, trying to make it look like nothing happened, but looked a bit out of it. She looked at her hand, and licked it. She stood there lapping at her hand for a while. “Hey.” His words startled her out of her daze. “This might be an odd question, but… are you a vampire?”
She threw up her hands in shock, the book flying back over her shoulder. “Wha-? N-no. Of course not.” She fidgeted. “What gave you that idea? I mean, supernatural stuff like that doesn’t exist. Hahahaha. You’re so silly.”
He concentrated again. Maybe he was crazy, but he didn’t think so, so he had to trust his senses, or he definitely was crazy. He floated a tiny little bubble of blood up in front of her mouth. Her tongue flashed out and her head moved forward to lap it up. Then she got a shocked expression on her face.
“Yeah, you definitely are.” His stomach growled. “Listen, can I get that food? I’d like to have this conversation when I’m not so hungry.”
She sorta vaguely nodded. Her eyes looked at him with a very serious feeling, and then she turned to leave.
She returned about half an hour later with a paper bag bearing the mark of a fast-food burger joint. Sanguis knew it wasn’t the best food, but what do you really expect from fast food anyway. She held out the bag. “I got something called a cheeseburger. I hear people like them.” She was talking quickly and nervously. “It was the #1, so it should be the best one they had… right? I don’t really know anything about human food, so I don’t know when it’s… appetizing…” Her eyes drifted towards the floor, and her mouth hung open slightly.
Sanguis took the bag. “Burgers are fine. I don’t believe you know so little about food, though… um, what’s your name? I’m Sanguis.” He took a bite of the burger. It had mustard. He didn’t like mustard. He was starving though.
She looked at him with half-glazed eyes. “V-Valerie.” She looked just about as hungry as he felt. Sanguis took a moment to float some of the blood, what he thought was fresher, up from the floor and the sheets. There was a surprisingly large amount that still seemed fresh. He took another bite of his burger as he did so. He took a moment to ponder that he hadn’t really noticed the smell of blood, even though it was everywhere. He felt that should have bothered him more, but it didn’t.
There were now two orange sized orbs of blood, one from the sheets, where the blood seemed fresher, and the other from the ground. Sanguis spoke up. “Does it matter if it’s clean? I don’t know if you can get sick… The one on the right should be fresher though. It’s fine to drink it if you want to.”
Valerie looked almost like an addict trying to resist the urge for the next hit. Sanguis wondered if he had made a mistake. Then, Valerie stuck her face into the fresher orb, and started lapping it up. She finished drinking about the time Sanguis finished his burger. She didn’t seem interested in the other, and the glazed look in her eyes was gone. One of them sat and the other stood in awkward silence for almost a minute.
“H-how did you know I was a vampire?” Valerie asked.
“That? It was kinda obvious. The first thing you did when you came in here was lick my bloody bandages.” Valerie looked quite embarrassed about that. “Then, you were sleeping during the day. Also, you only have occult books, and vampire books. Now, normally, that would have just convinced me you were a lunatic… but since the book on blood magic worked, I kinda realized that supernatural stuff was at least partly real.”
“Oh, I’m glad I wasn’t obvious… except where I slipped up. I’d like you to know I’m not normally clumsy and stupid, okay?” She nodded vigorously. “It’s just because there’s so much delicious blood around here… Umm…”
“Yeah, about that. Do you have a bucket or something? I can clean this up.”
Valerie quickly shuffled out of the room, presumably to get the bucket. Sanguis noticed he was still floating the second orb of blood, and started adding the rest that was on him, the sheets, and on the floor. He was surprised how well it came out of the sheets, it didn’t even stain. Well, maybe there was a tiny hint of pink, but that was significantly better than the blood staying in the sheets, soaking them.
When Valerie got back, he had an orb about the size of a basketball. Based on what he knew, that was a lot more blood than anybody had. He dumped the orb in the bucket, and Valerie took it somewhere to dispose of, then returned. She looked significantly better without the blood all over the room.
Sanguis had to ask, just in case. “Listen, that blood… was it all mine?”
“Of course, why would there be any other blood here? I don’t bring dying people and put them in my bed very often. Well, ever. I’m not even sure why I brought you here. Why?”
“Do you know how much blood that was?”
“About eight liters…” she seemed to understand where he was going. “Wait, how are you alive?”
He shrugged. “I was going to ask you that, but I guess you don’t know.”
“I don’t. You should, though, since you’re a blood mage.”
“What, because I can do this?” He made a tiny ball of blood. His stomach wound was still bleeding slightly, even with the stitches. He should probably have been worried about that. “I just read how to do this in your book.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “Ok, let’s say you somehow managed to learn, in an afternoon, how to do that.” She shook her head. “That still doesn’t explain how you can read it at all.”
“What, do vampires not learn how to read in school?” He grinned mischievously.
“Of course we can read!” Valerie picked up the tome from it’s forgotten home on the floor. “Tell me then, what letter is this?” She pointed to the first letter on the cover.
Well, the title was “Blood Magic” so of course it would be a b, right. “Isn’t it a…” Sanguis looked closer. “Umm… what is that?” Looking at it as an individual letter, it was obviously not part of the English alphabet. He vaguely remembered having that thought before.
“I can tell you it’s not something you’d learn in school. Any school.” Valerie glared at him. “Only blood mages and vampires know how to read it, and not all of them either. You’re not a vampire, obviously, so you’re a blood mage. So, who taught you, and why are you here?”
Sanguis sighed. “Look, I don’t even know where here is, besides your bedroom. You brought me here, remember?” She looked like she’d forgotten that. “Also, nobody taught me. I can just read it.”
“That’s… that’s… you expect me to believe that?” She didn’t really sound confident. “That you’re not some kind of spy or something?”
“Look, would I get myself stabbed and nearly killed for something like that? I mean, are you or this place even important?”
“Well…” Valerie looked down. “I guess not? I mean, this is just my house… and I’m nobody special.”
“Well, even if you were special, what could I do as a spy? I mean, one look at my wallet should show that I’m pretty much nobody.”
Sanguis’ stomach wound twinged. “Oh yeah… I was mugged. Also, since I missed work for a couple days without saying anything… again… I might be out of a job.” He sighed. “Well, probably better than being dead. I guess.”
Valerie gave a sympathetic look. “Well, you can stay here until you can walk around, at the very least. As an apology for not taking you to the hospital.” She paused. “Are you… unhappy?”
He shrugged. “Not really. I wasn’t particularly happy though. Actually, finding out about supernatural stuff is pretty cool.” He buzzed the ball of blood around the room. “Plus, it’s kinda like I have telekinesis now. I always wanted to be able to do stuff like this. Well… not with blood, specifically.”
“Actually, finding out about the supernatural is probably the biggest problem you have. It’s a pretty dangerous world. You’d do best to avoid it.”
“I suppose I could. Just go back to my job, and live life.” Sanguis frowned. “That would be boring. This-” he gestured to his floating ball of blood. “This is awesome.”
“Yeah, I guess. Aren’t you tired? I heard blood magic is a lot of work.”
He shrugged once more. “Not really. I’m a bit thirsty, I guess…” His eyes opened wide. “I really need to drink something! I mean, I lost a lot of blood! Isn’t that bad? I probably have to drink at least as much as all that blood I lost. Actually… this might be kinda an odd question… but do you have internet access?”
She gave him a strange look. “Huh? Internet access?” She rolled her eyes. “Who the heck doesn’t have internet nowadays?”
“Great, can you look something up? Like… the volume of blood in an adult male’s body.”
“Oh, that? It’s like six liters or something. Don’t need to look it up.”
“…I just gave you eight liters, approximately. I should die at a couple, and I should be at like, negative two liters of blood.” He looked down. “I’m still bleeding. So, either that number is wrong, or I’m dead.”
It wasn’t wrong. Sanguis was pretty sure he wasn’t dead though.