Wrong Place, Wrong Time is a short story from Richard Morrell's point of view. The Story

Richard Morrell looked at the man sitting across from him – shaking, pale, covered in blood that the ambulance attendants had sworn wasn't his own – and said, "Let's start at the beginning. Tell me your name." He kept his tone neutral, because he wasn't sure yet which approach to take. The guy looked too shaky to push really hard, and too paranoid to take well to friendliness.

Businesslike was apparently the right course, because the man blinked at him, ran a blood-smeared hand across his sweaty forehead, and said, "They're dead. They're dead, right? My friends?"

"Lets talk about you," Richard said, very steadily. "What's your name?"

"Brian. Brian Maitland."

"Where are you from, Brian?" Richard smiled slightly. "I know you're not from around here."

"Dallas," Maitland said. "We were, y'know, just passing through, we thought – jeez, it looked like such an easy score, y'know? No big deal. We weren't going to hurt anybody. We just anted the money."

"One thing at a time, Brian. What are your friends' names?"

"Joe. Joe Grady. And Lavelle Harvey. Lavelle – Lavelle's Joe's girl. I swear, officer, we were just passing through. We thought – we saw the bank open after dark, we thought – we figured – "

"You figured it would be an easy score," Richard said. "You said. So what happened?"

"I – ah – " Maitland seemed to vapor-lock. Richard motioned over one of the two cops standing in the corner of the room – the human one – and asked for coffee in a low voice. He waited until the steaming Styrofoam cup was in Maitland's big, bloody hands before prodding him again.

"You're safe now," Richard said, which really wasn't the truth. "Tell me what happened at the bank."

Maitland sipped at the coffee, then gulped convulsively, not seeming to care that it was hot enough to raise blisters. His eyes had that terrible distance to them, something Richard was way too familiar with.

"There was this girl," he said. "Pretty little thing, cashing a check at the teller window. Joe took the guard, Lavelle covered the couple of people in the lobby, I grabbed the girl."

"Describe her," Richard said.

"I don't know, pretty. Blond. Had a mouth on her, I'll tell ya that." He shook his head slowly. "She kept telling me we were in the wrong place, wrong time, wrong damn town. Pissed me off. But she was right."

He gulped more coffee, eyes darting nervously from Richard to the night visible in the barred window of the room. He hadn't once looked at the cops standing behind him. Richard figured he was blocking it out, the knowledge that one of them might not be entirely human.

"This girl," Richard said softly. "What did you do to her?"

"Nothing," Maitland said, and then corrected himself. "Okay, I hit her. Just to shut her up. And then Joe shot that guard, and somebody triggered the security alarms. These bars came down at the door. We couldn't get out. Why the hell would they want to keep us inside the bank, with the customers? Ain't the whole point to get us outside? Don't you people know nothing about security?"

"You said Joe shot the guard. What happened then?"

"The guard – " Maitland's voice went tight, and then silent. He shook his head. There were tears standing in his damp eyes. "It ain't possible, man. I saw him go down. Joe put four bullets right in his chest, and he wasn't wearing no vest. I saw the blood." Maitland swallowed convulsively, choking down his fear. "And then he got up. I never seen anybody do that. Sure, you see guys on drugs or something who just don't really know they've been shot, they can go for a while before they fall down, but it ain't like they're normal, y'know? This was just some working guy. He shouldn't just – get up like that."

Maitland started to shiver again, and gulped more coffee. When he put the cup down, it was empty. Richard motioned for a refill, and waited. Maitland didn't seem to need prodding now. He wanted to get it out.

"Joe, he emptied the gun, but the guard just kept coming. I was watching them, so I didn't see what happened to Lavelle, but I heard her start yelling. And then she just – stopped. Joe – that guard, there was something wrong with him, man, I don't know, it was like he was possessed or something, like, call the exorcist wrong. His eyes got all red, and he – he – " Maitland looked down. "You wouldn't believe me."

Richard sat back in the straight-backed chair, eyes half-closed, and said, "The guard bit your friend in the throat and drank his blood."

"Um – " Maitland seemed surprised. "Yeah. Just like that. And then he – uh – "

"Broke his neck."


"Same thing happened to Lavelle, right?"

"Yeah. One of those bank people, the teller I guess, she was – like the guard. Y'know, wrong. And then the girl – "

"The one you hit."

"Yeah, that one. She said I was going to die, and she laughed. I was gonna shoot her, but the guard, the one that had Joe's blood all over him, he – he grabbed me from behind and threw me across the room. I landed on Lavelle." Maitland hid his face in shaking hands. "I thought I was next."

There was a knock on the door. Richard nodded his permission, and the vampire cop stationed next to it turned the knob. In walked Richard's sister, Monica Morrell.

Richard tried hard not to react, but his heart kick-started to a much faster beat, and fury beat hot in his temples. She looked awful – and he knew how much that meant to her. She'd been treated at the hospital, but she'd never forgive them for letting her out in public with bloody, matted hair and an unflattering bandage over the whack in her skull. Her skin was pale, and there were dark circles under her eyes. No makeup. The blouse was designer, and it was destroyed – ripped and stained.

One of her arms was in a sling.

Richard kept his seat, kept his expression blank, and said, "Monica, is this the man who hurt you?"

Monica came around to Richard's side of the table, close enough to touch. Not that they touched. "Yeah," she said. "That's the son of a – "

"See? She's okay. You're okay, right, lady?" Maitland interrupted her, almost manic in his desire to get her on his side.

Monica hissed like a cat, and her eyes burned with pure fury. Richard reached out and put a hand on her uninjured wrist – just a light hold, nothing that would set her off. He knew his sister well enough to know how much force he could get away with.

"You're going to die," Monica said. "Just like your friends. Sucker."

"Take her outside," Richard said to the vampire cop. "I'll talk to her later. Put her in my office."

Once Monica was gone, the air seemed still and far too warm. Maitland felt it, too, and kept wiping sweat from his forehead.

"Look," he blurted. "I screwed up, okay? But it wasn't my idea, I was just – it was Joe, Joe said it would be an easy score, and look what happened, Joe's dead, Lavelle's dead. You want to lock me up, fine. Just – don't lock me up here. Not in this town, okay? There's something wrong here. I want to go back to Dallas. Hell, send me to Huntsville, anywhere but here, okay?"

Richard shrugged. "Your lawyer is here," he said. "I think you'd better talk to him before you say anything else."

"But – I don't want a lawyer! Look, I just want to confess, send me off to prison, please, just not – "

Richard stood up. He leaned over the desk, hands flat on the warm surface, and stared right into Maitland's face. "You hurt my sister," he said. "And that blows your one chance for ever leaving this town alive."

Maitland's mouth opened, and he tried to speak, but nothing came out. Richard pushed back, walked out of the interrogation room, and joined Oliver on the other side of the glass. The vampire was standing silently, arms folded, watching Maitland through the one-way window. His eyes were glowing a very faint red in the darkness.

"Does he really have a lawyer?" Oliver asked – idle curiosity, Richard thought. It wouldn't matter a hill of beans to him.

"Sure. Jessie Pottsdam."

Oliver laughed, and Richard saw the flash of fangs in the dim light. "You really should never be underestimated, my boy," he said. "One day, you're going to make this town a very fine mayor."

Richard, still expressionless, stared through the glass at Maitland. The two cops had followed him out, and now, Jessie Pottsdam was going into the room, looking every inch the lawyer he was. Crisp black suit, white shirt, carefully knotted red tie. Expensive shoes and leather briefcase.

Jessie smiled down at his client, and his eyes glowed bright red.

Maitland screamed. Oliver reached over and switched off the speaker. "I don't believe we need to observe the rest," he said. "Justice is swift."

Richard watched anyway, sickness twisting at his stomach. It has to be done. He was a liar, he would have killed everyone in that bank, including Monica.

It's justice.

But it didn't really feel that way.

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