Ambrose tried again to nudge the muzzle off, but it was a weak attempt at best. He laid his head on the floor.
Barbara. Come to me. I need. I need…
His eyes closed on him again and it felt so good to close them.
His mind drifted into words that didn’t make sense.
He heard footsteps.
A door opened.
Neither scent smelled any good.
Apple cobbler coated with motor oil.
Cheap cinnamon gum with hints of nail polish remover.
Footsteps walking towards him.
“He’s sure gonna need a change of clothes.”
“Right on, bro. No one’s gonna want to see him lookin’ like this.”
He snapped out of his mental doldrums.
They’re talking about me.
They’re talking about taking me back there.
I can’t go back. I can’t go back!
He shook his head.
“Ehh, bro! He’s coming around.”
“Don’t worry. He can’t do nothin’ with that muzzle and handcuffs on. Come on. You take that side. I’ll take this.”
If I could get my hands free…
They grabbed his arms and pulled him up to his feet.
He struggled and squirmed, but they held him tight.
They dragged him out of the cell.
His mind klutzed about, trying to come up with a way to escape. But nothing overly constructive came up.
Barbara went through the usual screening process and stopped at the front desk.
The receptionist – a burly man who clearly didn’t belong behind a desk – drummed his fingers on the desk. “Whaddya want?”
“Umm. I’m here to see Ambrose Smith. He’s a vampire. He was arrested—”
“Yeah. I know him.”
“Can I see him?”
He snapped his fingers.
A young man who resembled a twig with glasses rushed out of another cubicle. “Yes, sir!”
“Take Ms. Addleston to see that vampire prisoner.”
“Sir, uhh. You’re not following protocol. There are questions you’re supposed to ask and—”
“Protocol can go and—” He glanced at her. “—flunk a spelling bee. I don’t care. Take her.”
“Sir, I uhhhh—-”
“Don’t you “Sir, I uhhhh” me. I gave you an order. I expect you to obey me.”
“See? This is why you’re on desk duty. You just don’t know how to—”
Burly man rose from his seat. “You got moths cluttering your ear canals?”
The other man turned pale. “Okay. Okay. But if I get in trouble for not following protocol—-”
“Shut up about protocol!”
Skinny twig guy escaped to Barbara’s side of the desk. “You know, you’ll never get out of desk duty at this rate.”
Burly Man punched his fist into his other hand. It looked like it hurt.
“Okay, Ms. Addleston. This is not how normally run things around this department, but I don’t want to call a code violet. Come with me.”
Ambrose shook his head again and again until he realized that shaking his head while in a day exhausted state was a bad idea. It made him feel like his brain was made out of water and gelatin and it was sloshing loose inside his skull.
His shoulders slumped.
I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to.
His head drooped.
Barbara followed the skinny young man down a dingy hallway with a low-set ceiling. The walls and the ceiling were the color of dried grass. The stiff, flat carpet was the color of mud.
She fell into a quiet daydream about what colors she’d change it to if the department gave their universal okay. And she couldn’t imagine why they wouldn’t.
She was debating the merits of a sky blue ceiling versus a sky blue tiled floor when two thuggish looking men came around the corner at the far end of the hallway.
They were physically escorting an orange-suited prisoner wearing a buckle and bar mask.
Why don’t they just let me go? Let me get my sleep? I’m…I’m…
The scent of semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla bean jolted him.
He opened his eyes wide and raised his head.
There she is!
It can’t be him. That would be a ridiculous coincidence.
“Ms Addleston, please come. We don’t have all day.”
And coincidences like that almost never happen in real life. “I’m coming.”
He struggled to escape.
Barbara! I’m here! I’m here.
He wanted to shout it, but the metal piece kept his mouth firmly shut.
She drifted to the other side of her chaperon as they walked past him.
“What is it now?”
“Someone called my name. It sounded like Ambrose.”
I’m here. Right here. Come to me. Barbara. Come. Before it’s too late. Come!
Tears filled her eyes. “Where are you?”
She startled and turned around.
The two men pushed and pulled the struggling prisoner around the left corner.
She didn’t debate it further.
Barbara ran after the masked prisoner.