28 August 2008

Unholy Crusade, part eleven

Chapter Five


Cartwright paced back and forth in front of a large window overlooking the street. He was flicking through a grey file, one of a seemingly endless number of similar files Seth had until now kept locked in the drawers of his office cabinet. The old man had been working on this case for far too long, and from the look of some of the documents he was reading, cuttings from newspapers from all around the world, he had not been working alone.

He finished reading an article about a serial killer in Adelaide in the 1920s and looked over at Seth. He was sitting at his desk, pecking at his keyboard with two fingers. He had been working here for longer than Cartwright had been out of school and yet the guy had never found time to learn to use a computer.

Seth looked over at him. 'Seen enough?'

'I don't know,' said Cartwright. 'It's hard to believe one guy is responsible for all this. It goes back decades.'

'You saw Gretl. How do you explain her?'

Cartwright looked at the older man. 'You think she's a...hell, I don't even know what to call her.'

Seth began tap-tapping on the keyboard. 'I think she's a vampire.'

'No way,' Cartwright snorted. 'No fucking way.'

'I saw her skin burn up in the sunlight. She started to look normal after drinking blood. Her death certificate is sat on my desk. What more proof do you want?'

'I saw a kid with a sunlight allergy on the television once.'

Seth looked up from the computer. 'Did she drink blood?'

'You can't honestly think that was real.'

'Why not? What else was it?'

'It could have been anything! The girl's clearly a fucking loon!'

Seth turned back to the computer. 'Keep reading.'

'Why? What am I going to find?'

'Enough evidence to make you change your assumptions about the world.'

Cartwright turned toward the window and looked out at the late afternoon skyline. There were dark clouds on the horizon and there was a chill in the air already. The night was going to be long, cold and unwelcoming. Just what he did not need.


'Condition one,' Seth had said. 'We share everything. No secrets. If you find something out, I want to know about it.'

He had not expected her to provide so much so quickly. Hand-written notes, scrawled on scraps of paper in the most illegible writing he had ever seen. She must have been collecting this crap for years, and now all he had to do was write it up in a decent form, then cross-reference it with everything the Ministry had in its computers. That would take days, but who cared? It was necessary, and he had people to do it for him.

He had chosen to type it all up personally, so he had a chance to read everything as it was going in. It would take all day to sort out the scraps of paper, put them into a coherent order and then type them up but there was nothing more important to do.

He finished typing the last sentence of a file on Allemand's movements in the 1980s. Places he had lived, people he had worked with. Some of this tied in with investigations Seth had run years earlier, but he had never heard of Allemand before.

'He works through intermediaries,' she had told him. 'Don't expect to turn up anything on him directly.'

He was chasing a ghost on the word of a woman who stank like a latrine and whose skin fell off in bright light. He was taking a lot on faith, that much was certain.

She didn't smell as much after she drank blood, he thought. What other surprises is she hiding?

Cartwright burst into the office, carrying a file in one hand and a coffee in the other.

'Got him,' he said, dropping the file onto the desk and jabbing at a photograph.


'Allemand. He's a sneaky fucker but he can't hide forever.'

Seth looked at the photograph. It was in a newspaper clipping from a French newspaper in the late 1960s. In the background of a picture showing the aftermath of a car accident was a tall, thin man with light coloured hair and a beard. The printing was too low quality to give any more information.

'What makes you think it's him?' Seth asked.

Cartwright handed him a printout of a photograph. 'I found this on a website charting the history of the Scholz family in Munich.'

'Who are they?'

'Nobody important, until you see him.' Cartwright pointed to a young man, likely the eldest son of the family. 'This was taken around 1901, before the family were called Scholz. The young lad there is called Hans Allemand.'

'So what happened to him?'

'Apparently he went off to fight in the first world war and never came back.'

Seth stared at the photograph. The boy could not have been more than thirteen when the picture was taken.

He handed the photograph back. 'It's a start. See what else you can find out about him.'

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