The historian lived near Thyme Funeral Home, a short drive to the top of the same hillside. So short, Augustus Thyme decided to hike an old footpath through the woods. The fog grew dense, but as he neared the peak, clouds gave way to blue sky. Emerging from the forest, he gazed out over the valley. Roseland hid beneath the cloud deck leaving a breathtaking view of the mountains appearing like the rolling backside of a green dragon swimming in a frothy sea. Four snowcapped volcanic peaks running north to south were the dragon’s rugged armor plates.
After catching his breath, Augustus walked to the what appeared like a tiny castle, a Victorian manor, surrounded by manicured hedges and lawn. The antique business paid better than he had guessed.
The butler led him to a windowless library decorated in late 19th century furniture with early electric lighting. The room felt cold, and Augustus eyed the small flames within the fireplace with suspicion.
While waiting, Augustus strolled around the room scanning titles. The books were arranged by subject. Judging by the vast majority, science must have been the antiquity expert’s favorite subject. He paused a moment at a shelf crowded with mortuary science texts and recognized several of his favorite authors. As he approached the next shelf, a title caught his eye: The Vampyr: A Family Tree.
Augustus took the book and settled into a chair at a round table. Flipping through the hefty tome, he scanned headings and lists broken by brief passages describing individuals. Quickly, he began to realize the book indeed outlined a tree breaking down prominent members and their lines. Flipping back to the beginning, he found a familiar name at the very top: Ithuriel.
A single paragraph described Ithuriel as violent and quite mad. Also, possibly a myth created by the passing of stories to new generations over a millennia. More evidence convincing Augustus there was no Ithuriel, certainly no longer, as this text suggested the source of all vampires had disappeared long, long ago. Whomever Susan had referred to as patriarch was somebody else.
Glancing around, Augustus spotted a woman standing in the doorway. Dressed in something his mother might have worn to church, the woman appeared like a doll. The woman’s eyes hid behind smoky spectacles, but Augustus could feel her studying him.
“You must be Augustus Thyme,” said the woman. Her soft voice sounded authoritative.
Augustus stood and inclined his head.
Approaching the table, her shoes barely made a sound on the wood floor. She told him her name.
“Nice to make your acquaintance, Helen,” said Augustus.
“We’ve been practically neighbors for years,” said Helen. She shrugged. “It’s surprising we haven’t met until now.”
Eager to escape pleasantries and move onto business, Augustus held out the card the woman from the record store had given him.
Helen took the card and set it on the table. Her dark spectacles made it difficult to tell if she had glanced at it.
After taking their seats, Augustus told Helen his story starting with the day he met Susan and the old man in the Cadillac. He described in detail how his son had been taken from the hospital. Helen listened closely, nodding at times. The smoky spectacles began to irritate him. Helen was impossible to read, but he kept going, telling her about collecting books and his research into the descendents of Ithuriel.
“Now, I’m uncertain to whom Susan had referred to as patriarch,” said Augustus, feeling spent.
Helen leaned closer. Augustus could barely make out her eyes moving behind the smoky lenses, and he felt like a lab rat under her scrutinizing gaze. Smiling, Helen revealed her teeth, all perfectly natural in appearance. If she was trying to make him feel more comfortable, it wasn’t working. Those dark glasses put him on edge.
“Tell me, Augustus, what will you do when you meet the one responsible for taking your son?”
“Reason with him,” said Augustus. It wasn’t a lie, but he felt guilty. A part of him wanted to hurt the old man in the Cadillac. If that man was a vampire, violence seemed a more reasonable solution.
“Normally in a situation like this,” said, Helen, “I’d advise you find a truly good lawyer, but my suspicion tells me a lawyer will do you little good.”
“Because he’s a vampire,” said Augustus.
“Because he may have a legitimate claim,” said Helen. Pulling the book closer to her, she began flipping pages.
Augustus couldn’t imagine how any vampire could have a right to take his son, but he grew curious about what information might be in the vampire lineage book that could help him.
“Here we are,” said Helen. She tapped the page with her finger. “My suspicion is that your wife and her father had made a deal with this one.”
The book slid across the table, and Augustus found his surname at the top of the page.
“What is the meaning of this?” said Augustus.
“Perhaps you’re a surrogate father for the first Thyme,” said Helen.
Augustus studied the page.
The text implied that his family name was derived from a vampire named, Thyme.