The Bakeneko: A Lawson Vampire Short Story by Jon F. Merz – Part Ten

The Bakeneko: A Lawson Vampire Short Story
By Jon F. Merz

Part Ten

 
“My name is Lawson,” I said.
 
She looked me up and down and then drew herself up to her full height with a deep inhale. “I am Kiyoko Mononobe.”
 
Something about that name made me wonder if she had royalty in her bloodline. I could see the pride with which she spoke. I wracked my brain and spoke it before I even realized I’d remembered it. “Mononobe no Moriya.”
 
Kiyoko’s eyes went as wide as basketballs. “How do you know that name?”
 
I smiled. “I make a point to study history.”
 
She grunted again. “The name of my ancestors is not known much these days. The youth of this nation have forgotten. Despite my family’s connection to Emperor Jimmu. None of that seems to matter much anymore.”
 
“Your family would be proud to know that you still carry on their name.”
 
“I am the last of them,” said Kiyoko. “There are none after me. My family name dies with me when I am finally blessed to depart this land.”
 
“You sound like you’re ready to go.”
 
“I’ve been ready for a long time,” said Kiyoko. “But you didn’t come here to listen to an old woman complain about her life. You said something about the deaths.”
 
“Yes. I did.” I paused. “I heard a rumor that you reported seeing some sort of animal. I’d like to ask you about that.”
 
Her eyes narrowed. “I did see an animal. A large cat.”
 
“Not a dog?”
 
“Dogs leave claw marks,” said Kiyoko. “I’ve lived in these mountains my entire life. I know the tracks that a dog makes. This wasn’t a dog.”
 
“And when did you find tracks?”
 
“Couple days back, but the rains a day ago washed them away. They were big though. I followed them for a while. But there’s only so far I can go given my age. I’m not as spry as I used to be when it comes to climbing the mountains.”
 
“You seem to be doing pretty well,” I said with a smile.
 
“I can get around all right. But not beyond the village.”
 
“And you said you saw a cat?”
 
“Big one,” said Kiyoko. “But I’m not surprised. Cats have always been mysterious things in my culture.”
 
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