Everything else: Aron Head
They drove along, Falco occasionally providing her with directions. “We need to get off the street. I’m taking you to my Austin residence. In light of this evening’s events, I think it prudent for you to be my guest for the foreseeable future.”
Casey nodded absently, her mind still dwelling on those events. She’d lived in Austin for nearly two years now, and thought she knew the place pretty well. It was deeply troubling to discover that there was a darker world just under the surface that she’d never even suspected. Accepting the idea that true vampires existed was disturbing enough — Falco had said that werewolves and zombies were real as well. What else would she be asked to believe in before it was all done? What would the world look like when she was seeing it the way Falco did? Did she even want to find out?
He glanced her way, “Is there anything at your home that you must have? I can send someone to fetch it if needed.”
“Some clothes. That’s about it.” Casey’s voice was uncharacteristically listless.
He nodded, “You’ll have them.” He rubbed at his temples.
Now that the excitement was wearing off, lack of sleep and overuse of her telepathy were beginning to take their toll on Casey’s morale. The unaccustomed use of her power as a weapon of destruction had drained both her energy and her ethical convictions. She wasn’t sure now that she wanted to remain in a place where her gifts would be used to kill people. The thought of returning to the peaceful security of her parents’ ranch was suddenly, powerfully appealing. She could just walk away, and leave all this insanity behind.
She was very quiet during the drive to Falco’s residence. More than anything she just wanted a few hours’ sleep. Once she was rested and she could think clearly again, she would be able to make some kind of rational decision about her future.
Falco was likewise silent. He directed her into a warehouse district. She pulled the pickup into a freestanding, two-car garage. The other car present was a silver Mercedes convertible. The door lowered behind them as they walked along the sidewalk.
They roused a scruffy looking dog from his sleep. He trotted across the street, away from them.
Falco’s keys jangled in the lock of the door. He threw the deadbolt upon closing the door, and they headed up the stairs. Through another very durable door and they were into his abode.
Casey was greeted at once by the pleasant scent of fresh cut flowers. And a wet nose on her hand. A giant tan bull mastiff nuzzled her.
“Ah,” Falco smiled, “This is Cerberus.”
Casey absently rubbed the dog along his cheek and behind his ears. “Hey Cerberus.” His tail was cropped, but the stump wagged with pleasure.
Falco shed his trenchcoat, hanging it on a chest mounted rack by the door. She noted the short sword hanging at his hip. He walked through the entryway, which had in its center a large marble sculpture of a nude woman. The work was quite lovely.
She followed him into the next room which had been sealed by two wooden doors. Entering, she found a varied collection of relics dating from the WWII era back to what appeared to be age of the classical Greeks.
Casey looked around with a slight renewal of interest. Falco’s home was a far cry from either her small, spartan apartment across town or the comfortable, unsophisticated ranch home she’d grown up in.
Falco walked to an empty free-standing glass case, wiped down the blade, and placed it gingerly within. He smiled, satisfied. Turning to Casey, “Your room’s down this way…”
She nodded sleepily and followed him. She’d have a lot of questions for him…later. Right then the desire for a deep restorative sleep was drowning out all other concerns, making them seem unimportant by comparison.
He led her back into the hall and down another. He opened a door, “This is your room. It’s yours, Casey, for as long as you want it. You should feel free to come and go as you please. I would recommend that you not leave the apartment without me for awhile. I am concerned for your safety.”
She nodded again. “I understand, I won’t go outside. Thank you again, for all the trouble you’ve gone to for me. I’ll try not to get in the way too much while I’m here.”
“You’re no trouble, Casey.” He provided a weary smile, “And you won’t get in my way. Please, do try and feel comfortable here. You have your own bathroom,” he gestured down the hall, “The kitchen is down there. Help yourself. Sleep well. I’ll see you in a few hours.”
“Alright,” she said with sincere gratitude. “Good night.”
“Good night.” He took his leave. Cerberus padded behind him.
Casey looked around. The guest room was large; a four post queen size bed was positioned against a row of windows looking out over the streets below. She went to a window and looked out. Dawn wasn’t far off; it had been a very long night. At another time she would have greatly enjoyed the view–she’d always liked Austin’s brightly-lit nocturnal liveliness. In her current mood, though, she saw a city swarming with unseen dangers, unpredictable perils lurking in every shadow. She turned away from the window and continued her inspection of the room.
It was furnished with a chest of drawers and an armoire. A door to the side led into a bathroom. Against the exterior wall was a sunken round tub, nestled in a corner bordered by ‘fogged’ glass window panes. A basket beside it was filled with a wide variety of bubble baths, lotions, and oils. A shower stall was present, large vanity and other bathroom necessities. A white terry-cloth robe hung on the back of the door.
Casey leaned against the doorway and looked at the tub for several minutes. If she’d had a change of clothes with her, she would have been strongly tempted to put off sleep long enough for a hot soak. Probably just as well that she didn’t…if she got that comfortable she’d likely fall asleep right there in the bath.
She went back into the bedroom, taking off her lightweight tan Carhartt jacket and hanging it up in the armoire. Settling wearily onto the edge of the bed she pulled off her boots, then hesitated in the act of removing her white sleeveless shirt. In the absence of sleepwear, and not quite enough at ease yet to sleep unclothed in Falco’s home, she finally opted to remain dressed. For the sake of comfort she unbuttoned her jeans, then crawled under the covers. The linens were Egyptian cotton. Casey could not calculate the thread count. The bed was overwhelming in its comfort and warmth.
She slipped thankfully into sweet unconsciousness.