The Bakeneko: A Lawson Vampire Short Story by Jon F. Merz – Part Fourteen
The Bakeneko: A Lawson Vampire Short Story
By Jon F. Merz
The cache was at the back of a pachinko parlor in a suburb of Kyoto. The parlor had a bank of storage lockers. I punched in the code and it opened, revealing a small bag that I threw over my shoulder and left. No one paid any attention to a gaijin in a pachinko parlor; they were far too obsessed with the balls drop.
I got back to my car and drove to the ryokan. But I didn’t sleep that night. My dreams were filled with visions of some sort of cat creature stalking the periphery of my awareness. At one point, I thought I woke up and saw a shadow on the verandah outside of my room. Creeping slowly toward where the screens would part and allow it access to my room.
But I wasn’t in the town itself. How could the creature have tracked me here? I drew my pistol as the shoji screen slid back.
And then I jerked awake.
There was nothing in my room.
I slumped back on to my pillow and took a long breath. Higashi had insisted that the deaths were due to bears. Kiyoko had said otherwise. Who was right? Or were they both wrong? The benefit of working in the field for so many years was that I’d heard and seen a whole lot of everything. And I knew that two people could both be completely wrong even when they were both convinced they were absolutely correct.
The longer I mused about it, the less I felt like sleeping. Without thinking, I drew on my clothes and decided to drive to Satoshima.
Having a pistol made me feel a whole better. But what ammunition should I load? I had both Fixer rounds and regular ammunition. But the Fixer rounds wouldn’t be as effective if this turned out to be a human doing the killing. Or an animal. How convinced was I that a vampire was behind this? Not very. And so I dropped the magazine with Fixer rounds out of the pistol and slapped the other one home instead.
As I drove, the deluge increased. I kept the wipers up to maximum, and they flicked away a torrent of water each time they zipped across the glass. The roads approaching Satoshima were overflowing with small rocks and mud. I wondered if the town would flood. Situated deep in the mountains, I could imagine that the plumbing wasn’t all that great.
I reached the outskirts of Satoshima and saw blue lights flashing about two hundred yards ahead of me. I slowed the car near the police cruiser and got out. I spotted Higashi immediately since he was the only cop around. Two attendants dressed in dark rain gear stood near him. They were looking down at something on the ground and I felt my gut spasm as I approached.