The Bakeneko: A Lawson Vampire Short Story by Jon F. Merz – Part Fifteen
The Bakeneko: A Lawson Vampire Short Story
By Jon F. Merz
He spun around with a pistol in his hand. I put my hands up and when he recognized me, he sighed and lowered the weapon. “Lawson-san…what are you doing out in this weather?”
“Couldn’t sleep. Bad dreams.”
He cocked an eyebrow at me, but grunted and then turned back to whatever he was looking at. “You’re not the only one.” He waved me over.
As I approached, I caught the smell of blood on the air. It wasn’t strong; diluted as it was by the wind and rain. But of course, I could smell it.
The corpse lay in a culvert and was torn apart. Shredded clothing and limbs splayed out from the main cavity where the organs had been ripped away. It was far messier than I expected it to be. This wasn’t anything like the simple blood-letting that had brought me here in the first place. This was far more gruesome. If I didn’t know how Lycans operated, I would have suspected a werewolf. But like vampires, werewolves prefer to keep a low profile. This was almost an obscene amount of damage.
“Who is he?”
Higashi shrugged. “Not one of the villagers. Although given that half of his face is missing, it’s difficult to be sure.” He stepped back and lit a cigarette, taking a long inhale and blowing out the smoke. “Perhaps a hiker. We get a lot of them in these mountains. This time of year the weather and scenery combine to make for an attractive excursion.”
I looked overhead. “Except it’s been pouring far too much since earlier.”
Higashi threw away his soggy cigarette and smirked. “That is true. And a bit out of the ordinary for us.”
I stepped closer. “You still think that was a bear?”
“What else could it be? This is Japan. We don’t have giant cats like the old woman suggested. If it wasn’t a bear then what else could it have been? No human could have done this. Certainly none that I’ve ever met.”
I looked around. “I don’t know.”
Higashi eyed me. “Is that why you’re armed, Lawson-san?”
Higashi might have given off the appearance of being some backwoods redneck cop in a sleepy little village in rural Japan, but he was apparently pretty sharp. I’d tucked the pistol around to the rear of my right hip, but he must have noticed its vague outline, even though I had a jacket over it.