I won’t bore you with the grizzly details of my feeding that night. I was gone until sunrise. I feed for hours and killed too many people in the search to sate my thirst that night. My body was weak but each victim feed me strength until I was whole again.
Aodac was waiting for me when I got home shortly before dawn. His exuberance was uncontained. He practically danced down to our lair as he told me the news Kramer had already told him. “When Alan left for the night, Kramer went up to his room and did a preliminary search. He found a letter from Alan’s mother addressed to him. The address was in Westville, Connecticut. Alan is from Westville.”
The news was insignificant to me at the time. “So?” I asked nonchalantly. “What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Don’t you see?” Aodac said in exasperation… “That’s just outside of where we used to live in New Haven!” Aodac practically shouted.
“Yea, and? He could have been from anywhere, Aodac. New Haven is home to a million people; it’s not so odd, is it?”
“It’s just possible… Do you think his grandfather knew us?” Aodac asked in disbelief.
“Anything is possible my love, but I seriously doubt it.” I responded, completely unconvinced. “Did Kramer find anything else?” I asked.
“Not yet.” Aodac said in a pouty voice. He was obviously upset that I refused to jump at this new information without further insights that might prove who Alan was.
“Then let us sleep, il mio amore. Alan will be here for us when we awake, and then we can continue to unravel his mystery.” I said gently.
“Very well.” Aodac said quietly.
I am surrounded in blackness, isolated from everything. I see a figure coming from the dark. Light illuminates my eyes slowly and shines on his face. I reach out tenderly to caress Cahol, only to see him become Aodac. Aodac’s face is twisted in anger or is it pain? I am not sure.
The landscape goes fuzzy and I am lying in bed with Cahol asleep, but not asleep. I see Aodac come into our lair and raise a stake over my body. My eyes grow wide with fear but I am unable to move. I watch as anguish twists Aodac’s face and he brings the stake down toward me, but the piercing pain never comes. I look over and see Cahol reduced to a skeleton and I look up to see Adam leering down over me… I am paralyzed between Adam and Cahol. Adam’s hand caresses my face and I look with wide eyes as Adam morphs into Alan and Alan morphs into Aodac.
I awoke with a start, gasping for air. I hadn’t been plagued with nightmares of Cahol’s death in years and they had never included anyone else. Why now? I thought. Why this dream? Why did my brain play Cahol’s death scene like that? I don’t understand. What clue am I missing? Who is Alan and why has he sought me out? What does he want from us, and who is he going to want it from? I lay awake for hours the rest of that day plagued with these troubling thoughts and wondered on what was to come.
I waited anxiously for Aodac to wake that night. When he did wake, he was alarmed at the look on my face. “What’s wrong, il mio caro un?” he asked me sharply.
“Aodac,” I said as I choked on a sob. “I had the most awful dream this morning and I can’t figure it out.”
Aodac reached out to caress my face in an intimate gesture to quiet my incoherent rambling. “Shhh…” he said soothingly. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
“I saw you standing over Cahol and me and you went to drive a stake through my heart, but you killed Cahol instead and then you weren’t you, you were Adam, and then Adam was Alan, and then Alan was you.” I said in a rush as I cried. “All of you just blended together until I didn’t know who was who anymore.”
“Shhh…” Aodac said again as he soothed away all of my anxiety.
“I don’t understand Aodac… What am I missing? It’s right there in front of me, and I just don’t see it! What am I missing?” I shrieked as panic rose within me.
“Nothing, love. It was only a dream. It isn’t real.” Aodac said quietly in my ear. “I wasn’t real.”
“But, why? Why did my mind connect all of this together like that?” I begged of him for understanding.
“Your mind was playing through all of your anxieties, that’s all. It isn’t real, il mio caro un.”
My anxieties would not be dispelled despite Aodac’s best efforts to try and sooth them away. My anxiety grew and only got worse as Aodac and I left our lair that night to meet our guest.
Alan awaited us in the small entertaining parlor off of the main entry when we ascended. I could see greed in his eyes. I knew that there was something we had that he coveted, though I knew not what it might be. I smiled at Alan… I knew that we could not put this off any longer; come what may, it was time to play the game.
“Alan,” I said with a smile in my voice that mirrored the smile on my face; I raised my hands towards him for an embrace, and Alan was quick to return it. “Forgive our absence these past few days. We had pressing matters that could not be put off and we were unable to be here for you. Please tell us, has the staff looked after your needs in our absence?” I asked as I let my arms fall from the embrace and stepped back into Aodac’s waiting arms.
“Francesca, the staff has given me everything I could ask for except you.” Alan said with false politeness in his voice. I could see the mask this man-child wore and I had to wonder on the cause. Maybe it really was possible that his grandfather had known us and had told Alan who we really were. Maybe his hometown really wasn’t a coincidence.
“Please tell us what you have done in our absence, Alan.” Aodac said with mock sincerity in his voice. I knew that Aodac did not like the game I played with this man-child; however I was not going to rid myself of him until I knew who he was and what he really wanted.
“The staff here has kept me well groomed and fed. Other than that I have been touring Cairo. I have enjoyed my stay here so far.” Alan said in a rush of explanation.
“Would you like to tour the night life of Cairo, Alan?” Aodac asked him.
“Yes. I have only seen a small piece of it.” Alan said.
“Then let’s go.” Aodac said as he let his hand fall away from my waist.
“Enjoy the night life of Cairo, Alan.” I said jovially.
“What? Aren’t you coming with us, Francesca?” Alan asked quickly.
A slight smile touched my lips. “Night in Cairo belongs to men, Alan. There is no place in it for a woman.” I said explained in a quiet tone.
“Then we shouldn’t go, Aodac. It wouldn’t be fair for Francesca to be left alone all night.” Alan said quickly.
“Nonsense, Alan. Go, enjoy the time you have here to experience everything Cairo has to offer you.” I said soothingly.
Aodac clapped Alan on the shoulder and gave Alan a wide smile. “Let’s go, Alan. I promise you don’t want to miss a night in Cairo for the world.”
Aodac led Alan toward the front door and barely let Alan turn as he called “Good night, Francesca.” over his shoulder.
“Good night, Alan.” I called to his back. I knew that Aodac would keep Alan out until almost dawn which gave me most of the night to find out who Alan was.
I ascended the stairs to Alan’s room a little too quickly in my hast to get there. I opened the door and looked around. It looked as if no one had ever been in the room before. I started on the right hand side of the door and searched everything until I reached the left side; I looked in every little nook and cranny in the room in between. I found the same letter Kramer had found, but that was the only personal item Alan had in the room. The only other things he had brought with him were his clothes. I felt that was a little strange. The boy travels from Connecticut to Egypt for an unknown length of time and doesn’t bring anything with him other than clothes and a letter from mom? No grooming items or passport, just clothes? It made no sense to me. Who was this man-child? What did he really come here for?
I am in the house that I lived in when Cahol was still alive. I walk through the empty house and see Aodac impaled with a stake that had nailed him to the floor. Only his skeleton remained; just like Cahol. I run into the parlor across the hall and see a bath of blood across the floor. I see Kevin in the middle of it. I run through the house faster. What happened? I scream to myself. I run for the stairs and see Kramer eviscerated on the landing. I run toward the room that was mine and enter it quickly. I see Adam standing in front of my mirror and walk over to him. I reach out and touch his shoulder but my hand goes right through him. I step to his side and see his face. He is looking at himself, and he is smiling. I see him show himself his teeth and I see his fangs.
I look at his reflection and see Alan reflected back. I see the Alan reflection smile even wider and Adam turns and grabs me, pulling me into him. I look up into Adam’s eyes and see Adam become Alan. Alan smiles even wider and says, “You are mine now, Francesca… For all eternity, you are mine!” He bends down and bites my neck, and I scream…
I awoke screaming. Three nights had passed. I had found no answers in Alan’s room; I only found more questions. I pondered on these questions for several days. My nightmares were getting worse and in turn my anxiety grew every day. I felt that there was a storm coming in our lives and that it would bring disaster if it struck while we were here in Cairo. I knew in the deepest recesses of my mind that Cairo was no place to ride out the storm that was coming. It would have been too easy for Alan to disappear in Cairo and leave no trace as to where he went. I knew that Aodac and I needed to take him somewhere much more remote; we needed to take him to a place that would be impossible to disappear from. I knew where we needed to take him. Alan’s mystery would unfold itself on the stage of my choice, a stage I could control. Alan would not get the best of me; he would get a nightmare.
I heard a knock on the salon door.
“Yes?” I called.
“Francesca?” I heard Kramer say behind me.
“Yes, Kramer?” I asked
“I wanted to tell you that Blair has followed Alan to a local prostitution house. He should be gone for several hours.” Kramer said.
“Thank you, Kramer. This is just the opportunity that I need.” I said with a smile on my face.
“Opportunity for what?” Kramer asked me.
“Kramer, would you and your nephews be willing to travel with Aodac and me?”
“We will go wherever you need us to.” Kramer answered in a definitive tone. “Where are we going?” He asked.
“That is all dependant on my conversation with Aodac.” I said. “I will inform you of our plans soon. Just get ready. We will be leaving tomorrow night.”
“Very well.” Kramer said as he turned to leave.
I left the parlor to look for Aodac. I found him down in our lair. “Aodac,” I said in an imperial voice, “we need to talk.” He looked as if I’d bitten him, go figure.
“About what?” Aodac asked quietly.
“About moving Alan to Scotland.” I said in desperation.
Aodac’s eyes shot up in alarm at the mention of Scotland. “Why?” he asked in a slow and pained voice.
“My dearest love,” I began in a quiet and soothing croon, “It is too easy for Alan to disappear without a trace here. We cannot take that chance. I feel a storm coming in our lives, and Alan is the catalyst. We cannot let that storm come while we are here in Cairo. I know that Cairo is no place to play out this game. We need to go somewhere remote where Alan will have less chance to disappear on us, and Scotland is just the place we need… You know it as well as I.” I finished in quiet pleading.
Aodac looked into my eyes for only a moment; however it felt like an eternity as a silent conversation continued the one that was just spoken. I saw his eyes assess the truth of my words and the desperation in my heart to get out of Cairo with or without Alan. Aodac knew as well as I did that if we stayed here something terrible would happen and there would be no way to undo what was done. Aodac nodded after that brief moment of silent communication. He had given no arguments and I had thought that he would.
I sat in Aodac’s lap and wrapped my arms around him. I kissed him with the fierceness of a hungry and desperate need. I pulled away after only a few minutes.
“We must be quick in leaving, Aodac. We must be gone by tomorrow night.” I pleaded with a desperate urgency in my voice.
“As you wish.” Aodac said to me as his arms reached around and held me even closer. He reached up and slowly brushed a stray lock of my hair out of my face and the minor gesture became a gentle caress. His eyes locked on mine again and Aodac pulled me closer to him for a second and more passionate kiss.
“Aodac, can you arrange for a private jet to fly us to Scotland? I will prepare the rest of the house for our departure tomorrow night.” I said as our lingering kiss faded and I was forced to return to reality.
“Yes, my dearest. I will arrange the flight. What do you mean ‘prepare the rest of the house’?” Aodac asked me.
“I am going to bring Kramer and his nephews with us. This way we will be able to watch Alan around the clock, even when we sleep.” I said quietly.
“I thought you might. You have become quite attached to them, haven’t you?” Aodac asked me quietly.
“How could I not, knowing what they have done for us?” I asked in return. “I must go. There is a lot of work to do before dawn.” I said gently as I rose from Aodac’s lap.
“I will be up soon. We need to speak with Alan together when he gets back tonight.” Aodac said.
“Yes, we do.” I responded as I walked toward the door to ascend from our lair.
“Kramer!” I called as I came through the door in the front entry way of the house. “Kramer!” I called again.
“Yes, Francesca?” Kramer said as he came from the back of the house.
“Kramer, we are preparing to leave. We must get everything ready in the next few hours. We leave tomorrow at sunset.” I told him with a hint of excitement to my voice.
“Very well, Francesca. What do we need to get ready?” Kramer asked me.
“I need you to get your nephews and yourself ready to leave. We will be gone for a long time. I cannot say how long as of yet, so you must prepare for a long trip.” I said quickly.
“Where are we going?” Kramer asked me.
“We are going to my home in Scotland.” I said in a whisper.
“Scotland?!” Kramer shouted in disbelief.
“Yes. We are taking Alan as far away from people as it is possible to get.” I said. “He can disappear too easily here in Cairo. He will not find it so easy in Scotland. My home is built in a remote location on high bluffs. There isn’t a village for miles in any direction. Alan will not find it so easy to slip into a crowd and disappear.” I said.
“I see your point, Francesca. We will be ready to go by sunset tomorrow night.” Kramer said with a nod as he left to begin preparations.
Aodac joined me in the small entertaining parlor about an hour later. We spent the hours waiting for Alan’s return in companionable silence as we held each other close and left each other to our own thoughts. All around us the staff was going from room to room in a frenzy packing what we needed to take with us and covering up the rest.
Alan returned near four that morning. The house was in chaos as the staff went from room to room packing and preparing for our departure the following night.
Alan walked into the parlor and saw Aodac and me on the small settee. “What’s going on out there?” He asked us.
I smiled as I got up from the settee and walked over to Alan with my arms held out for an embrace. “We are going to Scotland.” I told him exuberantly.
“What? Why?” Alan said stupidly.
“Alan, we told you the night we met that we are free spirits and when the will takes us we have to follow it. Scotland is beckoning us, and we follow that call. You are welcome to come with us.” I said in my honeyed sweet voice.
“I’m not following.” Alan said as he shook his head from side to side.
“Alan, you are welcome to come with us to Scotland. We would like nothing more than for you to come with us; however if you choose not to come then please accept our gift and find suitable accommodations for yourself wherever you may wind up.” I said as I held up a check for ten thousand dollars and offered it to him.
“No, wait…” Alan said. “I want to come. I’ve never been there before… Can I really come with you?” he asked in amazement. I saw the greed reflected in his eyes hidden carefully behind the mask of puppy-like innocence and eagerness he had portrayed since we met. What do you really want? I thought to myself as I looked Alan in the eye and saw the fire that burned behind the false pretenses he maintained.
“Of course you can.” Aodac said in a jovial voice as he moved forward to clap Alan on the shoulder. I gave Alan my best smile and leaned in to peck him sweetly on the cheek.
“We would like nothing more than for you to come with us, Alan.” I said quickly.
“Yes, Alan. We would like nothing more than for you to come with us.” Aodac said to reassure Alan that he was not the least bit upset over inviting him to come.
Once again you have affirmed that you want something from us, Alan. No one would have accepted this offer if they wanted nothing from us. Anyone in the world would have been happy to receive a check for ten thousand dollars and say ‘adios’, but not you. No… not you. You jumped at the offer to stay with us. Why? You jumped at the offer to follow us to a completely different continent… why? What do you want? These thoughts ran through my head quickly. I wanted to find out what Alan wanted, or what he thought he knew about us; however I had a feeling then that I already knew the answer to my own questions. Cahol had warned me. I had to wonder why I allowed this game to continue instead of just killing Alan and ensuring that Aodac and I would be safe; however if I did that I wouldn’t know the truth. The truth would die with Alan, and I was not sure at that time if I could have really lived with that.