Drained: Chapter 16
I slept like the dead, and woke to the sound of a toilet flushing. A light came on and I opened my eyes to see a naked Carla getting under her covers. She turned to look at me.
“Good morning,” she said and then gave a yawn.
“What time is it?” I asked.
“Wow, I was really out.”
“Yeah, being drained will do that. I’m going to hop in the shower. Do you want the bathroom first?” she asked.
I got up and used the bathroom, grateful for a working toilet and not a bush.
When I came out, Carla headed into the bathroom.
I said, “I’m going to get my stuff out of my car. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
“Okay,” she said as she closed the door.
I pulled my black pants on (and noted new uniforms hanging in the closet for both me and Carla–the laundry bag was empty). Then I pulled my t-shirt off, put on my blood-stained bra, and replaced the t-shirt.
I got my purse out of the safe and grabbed my name badge and parking pass. After stepping into my black flats, I was out the door.
I worked my way through the crowd out front—much smaller in the daytime—no chance of seeing a vampire. I walked to my car and drove it back to the front entrance of the palace. I showed my badge and parking pass to the officer on duty and he removed the barricade so I could drive inside.
I organized a couple of Target bags so I’d have my clothes and toiletries with me and then headed over to the palace.
Carla was making her bed—still naked—when I came in.
“Nice luggage,” she said as she eyed my plastic bags.
I unpacked my little bags and got my clean uniform from the closet before disappearing into the bathroom to shower and dress. The water felt heavenly, and I was quite grateful for the fully-functioning plumbing, even though the bathroom was very utilitarian.
When I came out in my uniform, Carla was dressed (finally) and sitting on her bed (and had made mine), reading a newspaper.
“Thanks for making my bed. Where’d you get the paper?”
“Sure, no problem. The paper’s always left outside the door every day. It was dropped off while you were in the shower.”
I found it funny that the paper was delivered outside the door, but no one seemed to mind that a person had rooted through our closets while we slept.
“Hungry?” she asked.
We went through the cafeteria line and filled our plates with food before finding a table among the other white-shirted/black-panted humans.
Carla said, “It’s nice to have a new roommate. Things around here have been very odd for the past week or so. Really, even before that.”
“Why is that?” I asked, assuming I knew at least a part of what her answer might be.
“Well, you know some of the vamps were getting sick even before all this mess started. We didn’t know why, of course. The Queen and most of her entourage were fine, having probably never even tasted bottled blood. But some of the others were pretty sick.”
“I can imagine.”
“I heard they were really freaked out about it upstairs. Then the shit hit the fan when one of the Queen’s agents went missing and then turned up dead as a doornail. He was really the first one we heard about that had died. That’s when the whole palace went into lockdown.”
“Really?” I assumed that was why no one would take my calls or even Eric’s.
“Yeah, they are very secretive in general, and didn’t want to take any chances that other vamps might know who was sick and who wasn’t. That was smart because now we’re finding out that only the blood on the east coast was poisoned. The California plant wasn’t fooled with, apparently, so the west coast vamps are mostly fine.”
She lowered her voice to a whisper and leaned in to continue. “I heard there was a bloody takeover of the palace in New Hampshire by the king of Oregon.”
“Anyway, now that we know more and that the blood was the root of the problem, hopefully, things will get back to normal soon.”
“It’s been such a nightmare,” I said.
“Yeah. Like I said, as soon as we heard about that agent being killed—well, it’s just been a mess.”
“Was he drained?”
“Yeah, and then the guy who drained him committed suicide in jail. It was in the papers—otherwise, we might have never known what happened.”
My fork stopped in mid-air, and I felt a shiver run down my spine.
“I think I read about that. Was it in Shreveport?” I asked as I set my fork down.
“Yeah. His name was Bill Compton. Really cute. Such a shame.” I checked her brain and saw an image of Bill without a shirt on.
I stopped eating, but kept fiddling with the food on my plate, hoping Carla wouldn’t notice that I’d suddenly lost my appetite.
“When you say he was an agent of the Queen’s, what do you mean?” I asked.
Again, she leaned in to whisper. “She sent him to some little backwater town to seduce a girl who is supposedly a telepath. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Apparently, they’re very rare and very valuable.”
“Really?” I was having trouble breathing.
“Yeah. He was supposed to snatch this girl–well, I guess, more like convince her with his charms, so she’d come work for the Queen. Hey, are you okay?”
I was feeling like I might faint. My head was reeling. I’d thought Bill loved me and he’d really been on some secret mission to bring me to the Queen? And now that he was gone, I’d walked right through the front doors of my own accord. Suddenly, I felt trapped and began to panic.
“Um, no. I don’t feel well. Excuse me,” I said.
I stood to leave, but then I remembered I’d left my tray on the table and went back.
Carla stood and said, “Don’t worry about that. I’ll get it. You look really pale. Why don’t you go lie down. Do you need the medic?”
“No, thank you. I think I’ll just go to our room and lie down.”
I left Carla and started for the door, hoping I could make it back to the room before I passed out. I was starting to see black spots in front of my eyes and I accidentally bumped into a woman who was coming into the cafeteria.
“Excuse me,” I said.
“Are you okay?” she asked, and then she said, “Oh my god.”
I looked up and saw her face just as the room began to spin. All I got out was one word before I began to lose consciousness.