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NINE/ƎИIИ 12. Nine After Nine

Note: this episode with Nine is the same scene as next post from Peter's perspective. Choose your side.

After locking the front door and turning out the light in the office, Nine headed downstairs and out the back. Holding her coat closed over her nightshirt, she made her way down the hill and into the graveyard. Checking her phone, she found two missed calls from Peter, one left while she had been inside the Thyme Tomb. After nine o’clock in the evening was an unexpected time to find Peter visiting the graveyard considering his restaurant remained understaffed.

Peter had come to visit the grave of his sister, Tara Gray. At the restaurant, Peter had been imagining his dead sister helping out, delivering wine and filling in behind the bar. Tara had supposedly been there for the team photograph. Of course, no one else had seen Peter’s sister. Records had pointed Peter to Thyme Funeral Home and the graveyard on the hill.

Nine said, “Tara has been in your head, Peter.”

Peter offered a polite smile and said, “Tara is as real to me as you are standing before me now.”

And the restaurant owner was right, wasn’t he? Peter didn’t strike her as a crazy person. He always seemed so calm and understanding. After all the reading about vampires, all she knew about the semi-secretive Itoril people, how could she deny that Peter saw his sister? Tara’s ghost may not be an actual spirit, but Tara could be something only Peter saw.

Reaching out, Peter pulled Nine into a hug. Warm and wonderful, Nine squeezed him as she imagined life without corpses, murders, and vampires. The simple life of working with Peter in the restaurant was a dream where the biggest concern was running out of booze.

“I’m glad you’re feeling better now,” said Peter. “You had me worried earlier.”

Releasing hold, Nine stepped back and shook her head. “I’m sorry I missed your calls. My phone’s battery had died.”

“Not that,” said Peter. He nodded up the hill at the funeral home. “In the mortuary,” he said.

Nine winced. She asked, “What about the mortuary?”

How much had Peter heard about the murder? As far as anyone knew the shooting took place in town, and her father had been arrested at the funeral home. No one needed to know she had sawed the head from that Itoril man.

Her stomach began twisting about, and she buried her face against Peter’s chest to hide her guilt. The hug worked its magic melting her sin away.

Together they walked quietly between a row of graves. His hand took hold of hers, and she squeezed his fingers feeling like a teen sneaking through the cemetery for a naughty night of passion.

At the top of the hill nearing the family sepulcher, Peter stopped suddenly and released her hand. He gazed at something with intensity. Nine searched the rows of grave markers, the stone tomb, and the path leading back towards the woods. She found nothing, but whatever Peter had seen made him tremble.

“Do you know Steve Reynolds?” said Peter. He stared at the area between the path and the sepulcher.

“Peter,” said Nine, “is your sister with us?”

“He sent me your car, weapons, some blood and a serum,” said Peter.

He appeared calmer now, but he continued watching the same ghost or whatever he imagined there. It couldn’t be his sister, Tara, though. The car had come from someone else. Steve? No, a woman, Nine felt certain the car had belonged to a woman.

Nine asked, “Who are you speaking with, Peter?”

Peter glanced over and said, “Nine, Kandy is here.” Looking towards the sepulcher, he continued speaking to the invisible woman. “The serum is supposedly a cure for you and I.”

They had found the bag of clear goo within the coffin, and though it hadn’t quite appeared like venom, Nine held a growing suspicion the serum was based on Itoril venom. That it could be a cure for anything seemed crazy. A cure for reality, perhaps.

“Peter,” said Nine, firmly. “I think that stuff might be drugs and will give you hallucinations.”

“I’m sorry,” said Peter, addressing the other woman, “it was stolen.”

A bag of venom that big could solve her quota problem for the year.

“We need to get it back.”

Peter flashed Nine a peculiar look. His expression darkened, and he began glancing around as if searching for something. The invisible woman. Kandy had left him.