Monster of the Week – Aye Codonas!

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7

Our Hunters: UNIT 13, part of a semi-secret, quasi-autonomous organisation affiliated with the secret service.

MayaAn initiate of an ancient Sect specialising in fighting arts and magical items, although the oaths are severe and take ages to recite.
ThomsonA conspiracy specialist who can find the connection between anything and everything. Knows a lot of people on the internet.
BeaAn expert in the supernatural lore, she rides a motorcycle and can do a little magic of her own. John Smith’s guardian.
John SmithJust an average guy, except he happens to be the ward of Bea and has been mentioned in one of the Sect’s prophecies. Charming, cool, rides a bike and carries a hockey stick.


Thomson and Maya join forces to investigate the mysterious murder of two victims at the Codona’s amusement park, which occurred two days before the start of the 2020 Dracula Convention. The convention runs from Thursday lunchtime until Sunday evening, and the park was closed for crime scene investigations until first thing Thursday morning. One victim was found, entirely exsanguinated, on the pinball table in the arcade. The other was found suspended by the ankles from the crow’s nest on the pirate adventure golf, arms folded over his chest like a bat. There have been mysterious sightings of a con attendee who has the “best vampire costume you’ve ever seen” and a tall man carrying a knife. Paul, the barman, has complained of filth and rats. Everyone they speak to mentions Auld Jack the caretaker and his obsession with how run down and dilapidated the place is, and how the owners never spend any money on it.

During the investigation, the mast on the pirate ship falls on one of the attendees, trapping him by the cloak. It appears it might have been sawn through. The attendee threatens to sue the park in a manner that was most disrespectful and aggressive to the park staff, and is later found in the arcade, missing some vital body parts. Thomson and Maya also find a mysterious black truck that is so cold to the touch it injurs Thomson.

Maya’s Sect informs her there are rumours of a large box making its way across the continent from rural Transylvania and charge her with the mission of finding it.


Maya and Thomson are joined by Bea and her ward/student, John Smith. As Maya and Thomson had asked Paul to call the police after finding the last victim, Bea and the team are confronted by new arrivals: DI Jane Reid and her DC Stu Collins. Both are suspicious of the team, who can offer no good reason for their presence. After promising not to cause trouble, the team goes to investigate another early finding: an anomaly in the floor of the garage, where the park keeps the bottled water and crispsm and the caretaker keeps his tools.

The team finds a crack in the floor, and borrow a crowbar and some screwdrivers to dig it out and uncover what is underneath. While they do this, Sarah Jackman, the con co-director, attacks them unexpectedly. Eventually Maya subdues her with the help of the team. Jackman’s berserk state makes her a formidable foe and each team member is hurt, but not as much as Jackman, who is left unconscious and bleeding. Bea uses her Magic to buy more time, her medical knowledge alerting her to Sarah’s deteriorating state. As they work to uncover what is clearly a concealed hatch in the floor of the garage, it suddenly erupts with cockroaches, boiling in plague proportions from the crack in the floor.

The team runs, seeking refuge in the nearby office. John uses his shirt to block up the gap underneath the office door, but the cockroaches are still finding ways to wriggle through. Bea’s vast knowledge tells her these insects are associated with a supernatural creature, and are driving them away from something important to it. If they get further away, the cockroaches may give up.

They take the decision to escape, and run into the main food hall, dragging Jackman with them, and shutting the corridor door on the seething mass of bugs. After they shout for help, a doctor cosplaying Van Helsing comes to their assistance, followed rapidly by an unimpressed DI Jane Reid.
John Smith turns on the charm, and is so convincing he persuades the police to search elsewhere for the culprit, despite Bea still being in possession of the silver sword she used on Jackman and the trail of blood leading towards the garage.

What next for our intrepid team of hunters?


Image of a figure in a barely competent Dracula costumeHaving charmed the DI, the team remember that they are an autonomous government group operating slightly outside and in a different frame of reference from the law. They can outrank the police, if they have to, and the police don’t like them much but respect what they do — if not always the methods they use to do it.

Wandering upstairs to the indoor boating pond, they discover a sad, despondent individual in a competent vampire costume. Talking to him, they unmask him as Auld Jack McGinley, caretaker of the park and the one responsible for much of the vandalism. The park had once belonged to his family, and he was vandalising it in the hope of it being shut down and removed from its current owners. It was once a safe and happy place for children, and they have filled it with slot machines and violent VR machines that teach children to squander their money and do harm to other people.

The team learns that Jack hasn’t seen his keys to the garage door in more than a week, but there might be a spare in the office. The site manager takes care of deliveries, and the site manager told him not to go out the back of the garage. Maybe the site manager took his keys.

Downstairs, CSI have cordoned off the arcade. The police are interviewing Paul the barman. Sarah Jackman has been taken to hospital and the convention has been sent back to their hotel, on the other side of the road.

They head to the park’s office and Maya uses her axe to break into the desks while the cockroach plague wriggles under the door. Thomson gets their arm stuck in a filing cabinet, and John must help them escape. The filing cabinet releases Thomson but falls on John, trapping him. As stationery flies everywhere, and the cockroaches threaten to engulf John, the team drop everything to rescue their comrade. Cockroaches bury the released keys.

Maya remembers a magic spell that can banish creatures, and it lasts just long enough for them to collect all the keys that had been in the desks and for Bea to break through the office window. John stumbles over an obsidian key that slowly drains his life, but takes it anyway, as it might open the mysterious truck.

They use magic to open the lock in the gate that leads into the small courtyard where the truck is parked, outside the garage. John uses the key to open the truck’s cargo bay, and they are immediately attacked by three of the park’s staff, who have been turned into vampires at some point since lunchtime. Bea decapitates one of the vampires. Maya stabs another through the heart with a hastily enchanted sword. John defends Thomson from the other until Maya can come to his aid. This one, too, is stabbed through the heart. All the vampires disintegrate into an oily dust that resembles coal soot.

The team uses one of the keys they found to enter the garage. It has emptied of cockroaches. Just as they find the light switch and are about to investigate the mysterious hole in the ground, the truck doors slam, creating thuds of silence that abstract noise from the world. When they look round, there is a figure standing in the garage doorway. It is hunched, and bald, wearing what looks like a monk’s habit. Its teeth gleam, long and sharp, and its ears are pointed. Despite the harsh orange sodium haze from the streetlights, the figure is entirely monochrome, apart from a faint pink glow in its eyes. It reaches up and removes the key from the back of the truck, then stares at them from empty, pitiless eyes.

What will our courageous hunters do next?


Thomson shines their torch on the figure, partly to get a better luck, partly in the hope it will react to the light. It narrows its eyes, calmly removing the keys to the truck and placing them in some pocket or fold of its robes. It’s not bothered by the light, but now the team have definitely caught its attention.

They run.

John, a sporty individual with a great turn of speed, sprints for the door. In the dark, nobody can see each other properly, and he inadvertently knocks Maya down and makes Thomson stumble in his intent to get the door open for everyone. Bea, concerned for her ward and not trusting him to be out there alone, charges after him. Thomson scrambles to their feet and follows.

Maya is still getting up when the Old Master swoops down on her, grasping her by the shoulder. She feels limp, stunned, as the vampire drains just enough to render her docile without doing her any harm. It carries her to the top of the truck and holds her there, examining her, before carrying her to the lawn in front of the hotel where the other convention goers are gathered, in a graceful bound that is part leap, part flight. He explodes into a swarm of bats and disappears.

The team notices Maya has gone, and hurry back into the garage to look for her. She is nowhere to be seen. Bea suggests taking the opportunity to search the garage and finally break in to that hole in the floor, but is over-ruled by her team, who want to look for Maya.

They exit the garage and Thomson calls their Netfriends [TM] to ask if they can locate Maya’s Nokia 3210.

“Yeah, sure, probably. But, um, it’ll take a couple of hours and have you tried calling her?”

Sheepishly, Thomson calls Maya, who picks up immediately and says she’s fine, she’s on the lawn outside the hotel with the convention attendees, and feeling really hungry so is off to find some chips. Thomson tells her they will be right there.

On their way out of the amusement park, the team sees that CSI is almost finished, and DI Reid and DC Collins are talking to the CSO. Thomson catches Collins’s eye and mugs furiously in an attempt to communicate their interest that they have a chat. He nudges DI Reid, but she’s still way too angry to talk to the team, so sends him over to see what they want.

John explains who and what the team is and stumbles a little when trying to convince the DC to take their reports of a supernatural monster seriously, because most people don’t know about it. Turns out Collins has ambitions to join their unit and has been doing his own research. He quickly asks how he can help and answers questions about the murders, which don’t seem to be anything to do with vampires.

The team receives a text from Maya – there has been a scream, and she’s heading to check it out.

Over at the hotel, Maya rushes to the kitchens, and finds the body of one of the sous chefs. He has been neatly butchered, and nobody saw a thing even though it was 40 minutes to service and he was working on the garnishes when he was killed.

On leaving the kitchen, Maya catches sight of a what looks like a man sitting at one of the tables. He grins at her as he eats what is clearly a piece of raw meat, before leaving the dining room faster than is humanly possible, like a darting shadow. On inspection, the meat he was eating was obviously carved from the poor victim she has just examined.

When she meets up with the team, she takes them back into the dining room but avoids looking at the plate while Bea and Thomson examine it. Between info gleaned from Bea’s police scanner, and rumours picked up from the dark web, Thomson connects the dots, and realises that this might be Mad Malky, the serial killer that has been slaughtering people all across the country and whom DI Reid is determined to catch. Mad Malky is known for eating rude people, and this theory gains weight when one of the waiters come over to say a customer at lunch service sent his food back, then Marcus spat in it, put it in the microwave, then sent it back. The customer didn’t even taste it, but got up and left after merely sniffing it.

This is no ordinary serial killer, not with moves like that. Thomson calls their Netfriends [TM], who suggest this sounds a bit like a Wendigo? But no one has heard of a Wendigo in the UK. They live in Canada.

“Maybe,” suggests Thomson, “this is why they don’t like rude people. Canadians are always so polite! He probably apologises while he’s killing people. In two languages.”

With a vague plan to try to make someone act incredibly rudely and attract Mad Malky’s attention, the team heads back out to the front lawn. There they find the convention attempting to organise the scheduled best Dracula cosplay competition and not doing a very good job. Thomson insults Professor Peacock, the Chap Hop Dracula, and causes great offence, but they are distracted by the arrival of four more vampire brutes who seem intent on attacking the competition entrants.

Thomson tries to shoot one, and misses, causing mass panic. The competitions entrants disperse into the crowd, drawing the vampire brutes after them.

After a drawn out battle in which John rescues Maya from a vampire with his broken hockey stick, and Thomson and Bea join forces to kill a turned Asda customer services rep, Maya is badly injured and everyone is bruised, bleeding and incredibly tired.

What now for our determined Hunters?


Maya realises she is badly hurt. She is bleeding out, her wounds unstable. The vampires have savaged her, possibly even contaminated her. Without immediate medical attention, she will die.

In her desperation, her lifetime of training takes over. She remembers her Sect instructor, his voice drifting from memory into her rapidly-clouding mind.

“If ever you are about to lose your life and you cannot be helped by anyone other than yourself, all is not yet lost. There is a scroll, part of the hidden mysteries we teach only to adepts. It is called the Rite of the Beast, and the consequences are severe. Our Sect exists to protect and serve humanity, and by inflicting this upon yourself, some of your humanity will be lost. And yet, you will still be more valuable to us as part monster than you will be if you are dead. This will not heal you entirely, but it will save your life. So listen.”

Lose some of her humanity or become part of the Forces of Evil? What option does she have? She begins to recite the ritual in a whispering, broken breath. “Cum vir se bestiam facit, relinquit dolorem humanitatis…

Only once it starts to take effect does she remember that the Sect’s seers can detect any instance of the Ancient Mysteries being used.


As the Team re-assembles, bruised, bleeding and exhausted, they realise that Maya is missing again. Standing on the grass nearby is a seagull, and it is looking at them strangely. When they notice it, it moves towards them, making odd squawking sounds. John backs off, attempting to shoo it away, but it keeps coming, chattering all the while and dancing with its head as if trying to communicate.

Bea picks up the seagull, which remains strangely passive as she examines it. She sees the blood on its feathers, then spots one of Maya’s shoes and her fighting sticks on the grass.

The Sect to which Maya belongs is a martial sect, specialising in fighting arts and magical objects, but that doesn’t stop them having a library of potent magical scrolls (“A scroll is an object, is it not, mistress?” as an acolyte once told her). Bea vaguely recalls having seen a shapeshifting spell scroll on one of her (completely unauthorised) forays into the library.

“I think… I think this is Maya!” she exclaims. Thomson and John appear sceptical. “Maya, caw three times if you can hear me!”

The seagull caws three times.

“Did you know she could do this?” Thomson asks.

“No! I don’t think she could. At least not until just now. Maybe she doesn’t know how to turn back again.”

“Now Maya,” John says soothingly, leaning close. “You’re still badly wounded, and we need to put some bandages on, but if we put them on when you’re a seagull then they’ll be too small for you as a human, so you have to turn back into a human so we can treat the rest of your wounds. All right?”

Within a few moments, the transformation itself fuzzy and indistinct, Maya is human again. Fortunately this seems to be the type of transformation that keeps the clothes on. Maybe her outfit became feathers?

Bea uses her field medic kit to treat Maya’s remaining wounds while the others raid the bag for first aid supplies.

The team retreats to Burger King to get some food and recover a little while discussing what they have found so far.

“You can use your hands to eat your chips, now,” Thomson reminds Maya.

“It was the first thing I saw. Now I’m stuck with seagull. Ugh!” Maya shovels chips into her face as if she hasn’t eaten in a week.

Bea uses her TUFFBOOK [TM] to search her partially-digitised lore library for information on the wendigo. They discover the wendigo is a hunger demon. It possesses those who are already evil and grants them superior strength, preternaturally fast reflexes, and exceptional toughness. It takes away their inhibitions and grants them the confidence of kings. The possessed feel as if they are immortal, intelligence beyond measure, who can do no wrong.

But they are still mortal. They can be killed, leaving the wendigo energy to drift formless and powerless until it can find another evil person to inhabit. It will not go where it is not wanted.

It must feed at least once every day. A starving wendigo becomes berserk, where intellectual capacity is diminished and it is nothing but a ravening beast. A starving wendigo is weakened. But a wendigo can heal its own wounds, although it will need to feed to replenish itself afterwards, lest it become starving.

The team wonders if the demon can be separated from its victim, but no one has ever developed the magic to do this, because the demon only ever picks those who are already evil.

“Did you disturb it from its meal?” Bea asks.

“There was definitely some icky stuff still on the plate when we checked,” John says.

But Maya did not look at the plate the second time, so cannot tell them whether or not Mad Malky had returned to consume more of his grisly meal.

They decide to go back to the hotel, to see if there is any CCTV footage that could give them more information. There they run into DI Reid again, investigating the murder of the sous chef, who gives them short shrift.

Obviously, DC Collins hasn’t told her who they are. Why might that be?

John sets her straight. “We’re from the Supernatural Happenings Investigation Team,” he says, deadpan.

She doesn’t show it, not in front of her crew, but DI Reid is a little disarmed. She’s heard of Unit 13, of course, all police officers senior enough have, and is amused John would use the pejorative term the police have for them: the SHIT squad.

“Right. Can’t really call you anything worse than that. Just stay the hell out of the way of my CSIs. They have a job to do. Like the professionals they are. Properly recorded and documented with a clear trail of evidence. Unlike you lot. Do you understand?”

“Crystal clear, ma’am,” John says with a mischievous salute. He’ll win her over eventually. It’s just a matter of time.

They speak to the receptionist, who says there is only CCTV on the outside of the hotel, as far as she knows, and directs them to the Hotel Manager.

Patricia Melroy is stand-offish but not impolite. She checks John’s ID – helpfully supplied by Thomson — and then offers them another workstation to view the CCTV on. She is very keen to get them out of her office.

The other workstation is ancient, with a giant CRT monitor barely able to show colour. It is crammed into what is little more than a broom cupboard, with a dot matrix printer. Maya scans through the CCTV footage to just before lunch, where they see a handsome, expensively dressed man park his Aston Martin DB in the rear car park.

“That’s him,” she says. “But what would someone who dresses like that and drives that car be doing coming to this hotel for lunch? It’s not exactly fine dining, is it?”

Thomson pulls out their phone and gets in touch with one of their hacker friends, Titan, on the dark web.

The team leaves Bea to keep an eye on the workstation, and heads back to reception. They quiz Lucille about the man from the car park, showing her a print out. She remembers him – clearly thought he was quite dishy – but hasn’t seen him since. They ask if he’s staying there, and she tells them the entire hotel is block booked for the convention. They also find out which room the con organiser David Prattlehorn is staying in, then head back to the workstation.

Thomson reboots the machine, getting into the linux OS and from there into the network. There they track down the folder holding Melroy’s secret stash of videos, helpfully called /roombugs. They start playing the day’s video for Room 45, Prattlehorn’s room, and skim through it at 20x, stopping when they see someone front and centre.

It’s Prattlehorn. He’s not just front and centre. He’s hovering about a foot in the air, his head bent back, eyes wide in fear and shock. As they watch, two puncture wounds appear in his throat and blood trickles down his neck. The flesh of his throat pulses for a breathless thirty seconds, then he crumples to the floor.

“Guys. Did we just see someone get bitten by a vampire?” John asks.

“Yes,” Maya says. “I believe we did.”

Tune in next week for another exciting episode!


When Bea returns from the bathroom, the team fill her in on what they saw in the video.

“How long ago was it?”

They check the time stamp. It was immediately after they beat up Sarah Jackman so badly she needed the hospital. Perhaps Prattlehorn is a direct replacement?

They decide to go and look in the room. Thomson has a universal hotel key — not difficult to make, the instructions are on TubeYou — and they make their way to the 4th floor via the single elevator. John takes the stairs, because that’s the kind of guy he is, and they meet by the aspidistra.

Pushing open the door of Room 45, all is quiet. The lights are on: the key card is still slotted into the box on the wall that enables the power. The TV is showing Panorama, droning on at a low level. John enters the room more fully and finds spots of blood on the carpet. The bed is rumpled, covers in disarray as if someone used them to help haul himself to his feet.

Glancing up, Maya sees bloody handprints on the ceiling. These are not deliberately placed, from someone crawling up there, but random and almost panicky, as if someone recently injured abruptly found themselves on the ceiling with no idea how it had happened. Checking the bathroom, they find bloody towels, and the mirror smeared with more blood. It looks as if someone stared into the mirror and was shocked by what was staring back at them.

Or, more to the point, wasn’t staring back at them.

There is water everywhere, suggesting whoever was responsible might have turned the shower on over their head to see if they deflected the water.

The blood is fresh; there is only one elevator, one set of stairs. John didn’t meet anybody on his way up, so where have they gone?

The hotel has six floors and one set of stairs. There is blood on the door into the stairwell. The team climb the stairs, checking each door, but they find no trace until they reach the door onto the roof.

On the roof, Thomson shines their flashlight into the darkness and the pallid face of David Prattlehorn stares back at them, eyes glimmering emerald. He bares long teeth and hisses, before scuttling down the fire escape.

Bea grabs a ju-ju bag from her pocket and lobs it. She is lucky; it arcs out of sight, but when the team run over to the fire escape and look down, Prattlehorn is lying crumpled on the dirt between the cotoneaster and the hydrangea.

“We’ve got about five minutes,” Bea says. “These bags drain energy, but the effect doesn’t last long.” She hurries down the fire escape.

She is tempted to stab this new vampire with a stake, but he hasn’t fed. The rest of the team need to know that. She ties Prattlehorn’s wrists and ankles with the paracord she always carries.

“There’s a chance he could revert to human — if we manage to defeat the master vampire. But that’s a big ask. We’d need to find the Master in the day and burn him. A mere stake isn’t enough.”

“So we’d have to stash this one in a broom cupboard until then?” John asks.

“It’s risky.” Bea shrugs. “We’ve got enough on our hands with the Master. If this one got out he could kill more people. It might be safest just to stake him right now.”

“But he hasn’t eaten anyone yet,” John says. It is obvious he disagrees with his aunt’s focus on sheer practicality. This is a human, after all. Or was. And might be again. An innocent, as far as they know. Probably lives at home with his mum and walks her toy poodle now that her arthritis is so bad.

“We should call C,” Maya says. “See if the organisation has some facility nearby where they could hold him.”

Unit 13 is a Hunter group for the Covenant, a secretive group that began life as part of the League of Corinth before being subsumed first by the League of Nations and then, somewhat reluctantly, by the United Nations. Neither the UN nor the Convenant is entirely comfortable with this relationship, but there’s no denying that rampaging monsters run contrary to the UN’s central mission of international peace and security, and their international jurisdiction is very handy for the Covenant.

C is Head of European Operations and their immediate superior.

Maya hits speed dial on her Nokia 3210 and C answers. She gets straight to the point.

“Maya. What can I do for you?” There’s only one reason for the team to call from the field. It is never good news.

Maya puts C on speakerphone and explains they have a newly-turned vampire on their hands. When C asks what kind,  Bea replies that they don’t know yet. He was bitten within the last couple of hours, and they have only seen him hiss, so he’s not showing much sign of intelligence.

“Ah, but it is very traumatic to find oneself a vampire,” C says smoothly, as if she has personal experience. “Let me see. Ah yes. We do have one of our more rural facilities not too far away, and I note there is a fire alarm registered from your location. I will send some operatives to pick up your vampire. Remain where you are, and when approached by a firefighter, please make yourselves known. They should be there within 6 minutes. I trust that is sufficient alacrity for your purposes.”

“Thanks, C,” Maya says.

“You are most welcome. I expect a report within 48 hours, Maya. You are already 48 hours late.” Her tone remains benevolent, but this is not a request.

“Sure thing, C.” Maya hangs up.

“There’s a fire alarm?” Thomson asks. “I didn’t notice a fire alarm.”

They had used the fire escape on the roof, alarmed to alert the hotel to guests or staff sneaking out for an illicit cigarette. It is not an audible alarm, as there would be if there were a real fire, only an alert that registers on the electronic hotel management system. The Convenant has electronic fingers spreading across the world, and C likes to keep tabs on her units.

Five minutes later, a fire engine arrives, glistening red and with blue lights flashing. A strapping fireman comes over to the bushes.

“Unit 13?” he grunts. “AKA the SHIT Squad?”

“Yep,” Maya replies.

“That the package?” He gestures at the vampire, who is showing signs of coming round.

“It is.”

“Bag him, pack him, trap him, is it?”


“Just a sec.”

He goes back to the fire engine and returns with another firefighter, this one a five-foot-tall woman made of solid muscle who looks like she could knock out Godzilla with a single punch.

She bends down and swiftly cable ties the vampire’s wrists and ankles, although she doesn’t remove Bea’s paracord.

“That it?” she asks, somewhat snarkily. Both give the impression that they spend their lives running round after Hunter squads cleaning up the mess they make at a moment’s notice.

“Er… Yes?” John says.

“Right you are.” She snaps off a mocking salute.

The firefighters haul Prattlehorn away as if he weighs no more than a toddler and sling him into the back of the fire engine. Within moments, the vehicle departs, blue lights still flashing.

“You know they’re going to experiment on him, right?” Thomson says, conspiratorial. “I mean, we might have saved him from becoming a full-fledged vampire just for the lab people to do horrible things to him.”

Bea shrugs. Not her problem.

They head back to Codona’s. As they cross the lawn in front of the hotel, DI Reid accosts them.

“Have you seen DC Collins?” she asks.

“No. Should we have done?” John replies.

“In the last couple of hours?” The rest of the team agree that they haven’t seen him. “We left Codona’s when we got the call about the chef being murdered. Somewhere between there and here, he disappeared. I thought he was pursuing a different line of inquiry, but he isn’t answering his radio or his phone.”

DI Reid is trying not to show it, but she’s worried.

“We’ll keep an eye open for him,” John says.

They head towards Codona’s.

“What do you think?” John says to the rest.

“There’s a Master Vampire and a Wendigo on the loose, ” Thomson replies. “I doubt it’s good.”

“Maybe we’ve got another vampire to worry about,” Bea says.

They go to the back of Codona’s, to the garage entrance. The truck has gone, and the gates to the compound are unlocked. They push open the roller doors, and Thomson finds the light switch.

The room is maybe a little tidier, but otherwise undisturbed. There has been no attempt to reseal the concrete or cover the outline in the floor.

Maya grabs a crowbar, but the concrete is too heavy for her to lift. John finds a section of scaffolding and uses it for extra leverage; between them, they manage to shift the concrete aside to make a hole big enough for Thomson to get down.

They find a length of tatty, orange nylon rope and Thomson goes down into the hole. It is a cube of slightly more than 2m a side, apparently clawed out of the bedrock. In one corner is a crack, an opening about the size of one fist. A few rats are coming and going from this gap. The coffin is mahogany, polished, obviously well cared for. Whoever measured it did so for a 2m tall corpse. It barely fits in the hole.  There are no handles for pallbearers, but there is a gold plaque on the side covered in a strange, unintelligible script.

A plaque showing ancient script.

The top half creaks upwards, revealing a pristine white silk interior and a bed of soil around 5cm deep.

“Think this might be your box, Maya,” Thomson says, taking photos of the interesting features. “Now PLEASE GET ME THE HECK OUT OF HERE.”

They drag Thomson up out of the hole and look at the photos. Master Vampires can have more than one lair, for sure, but they wouldn’t leave a coffin like this behind. This place is still active.

It’s about midnight. They can’t do anything until the sun comes up.

“What about the wendigo?” Bea asks. “We don’t know its weakness. The reference wasn’t fully digitised.”

“Maybe Maya’s sect has copies of the papers referenced?” John suggests.

“I can call Alistair, my mentor,” Maya agrees.

Alistair was Maya’s Sect Guardian, and looked after her when she was a young girl, as well as being one of her instructors. He is delighted to hear from her, and when Bea explains the situation, tells the team that Gustav Paciorek was one of his close friends.

“He encountered the wendigo in northern Canada, I recall. It tried to enter him for a while — I believe he was suffering extreme depredation at the time — but was unsuccessful. A very strong man, was Gustav.”

“But how did he defeat it?” Bea asks.

“Prevented it from feeding,” Alistair replies.

“Doesn’t that make them berserk?” Maya asks.

“Well, yes. Berserk but, after a while, weaker. Of course, they will heal any wounds they suffer, and that makes them more hungry. Hit it, keep hitting it, stop it from feeding.”

“Well that’s no use to us,” Bea says, exasperated. “There is plenty of food around here.”

“It only gains nourishment from human flesh, Bea,” Alistair reminds her.

“And there are plenty of HUMANS around here!”

“Well,” Alistair says, “perhaps it is one of those with a particular taste in humans.”

“We think it only eats rude people,” Maya tells him.

“Then you could try making it fixate on a particular target? Some wendigoag will refuse to eat if they cannot have their designated target. That might help.”

“We already tried that with Thomson!” Bea snaps.

“Give it time,” Maya’s mentor says with the same patience he showed Maya when she was a girl. “If it has already eaten, perhaps it wasn’t yet hungry again.”

“Thanks, Alistair,” Maya says.

“Any time, Maya. Do take care.”

It seems there is little more the team can do between now and dawn.

Apart, that is, from a trip to Bea’s place to visit the armory.

Will next week finally see Unit 13 defeat Drac? Tune in to find out!


Bea’s house is a modest bungalow on the outskirts of Dundee. The workshop is in an old wooden shed — upgraded for additional security, and woe betide any unruly youths attempting to gain unauthorised entrance — and the smallest guest room, previously little more than a box room, has been turned into a miniature infirmary. The library is at the back of the house, stuffed full of scrolls and books. The most interesting ones are on the top shelf, where Bea thought John wouldn’t get hold of them on the occasions she left him in there to play minesweeper on the old Windows 3.1 machine while she did… Whatever. This means she has to use the wobbly ladder to reach them, of course, and once John was older it was he who had to retrieve the texts for his aging aunt, so now he knows almost as much of what is in this library as Bea does.

They find the rest of the wendigo document and discover that the normal way to defeat one is to trap it and attack it until it can no longer heal its wounds and eventually succumbs. It is also possible to track a creature by using a complex spell to turn a crystal ball into the magical equivalent of a GPS tracker. They have the abstract of the paper that describes how this is done, but not the full text.

Maya receives word that the Sect is pleased with her for locating the box — now revealed as the Master’s coffin — and have rewarded her with her own small team of acolytes. Alistair hasn’t finished deciphering the plaque, but has been able to determine it’s some variant of Linear B, potentially an old Cypriot script.

After catching some sleep and some breakfast, the team tools up for every eventuality, packs it into Bea’s van, and heads back to site. Going in via the garage, they find everything locked and the garage cleared. The concrete slab is still in place. Bea and Maya roll the garage door right up so that sunlight floods the room, and Thomson and John head to the other door to search through the keys they found in the office. They don’t want the vampire escaping through the door. It sounds like the vampire convention is back, and Bea and Maya set about using one of the iron spikes they brought with them to lever open the concrete hatch.

Thomson finds the right key. While testing it, they hear screaming from the main concourse. The team rushes through to find the place in a panic.

John grabs the next person to rush past. It is a woman in a full-skirted, Victorian vampire costume. She squeals when he touches her, terrified, but he manages to soothe her sufficiently to talk to her.

“Dead!” she cries. “There are more dead people! People keep dying here! I can’t spend another minute in this place!”

She is in too much of a state to give them much useful information, but Thomson suggests they just go in the opposite direction to most of the people.

There are people lying hurt and injured on the stairs up to indoor the boating pond, as if they have been trampled by others attempting to escape. John helps where he can as the team move on up to see what is there.

The vast windows flood the room with sunlight, making it hard to see after the comparative dimness below. A coppery, slightly sweet, slightly bitter scent taints the air. Blood. And, as their eyes adjust, they can see the boating pond itself is entirely the wrong colour.

It has bodies floating in it. They have been butchered.

At the far side of the room stands a man Maya recognises from the restaurant.

“That’s him!” she exclaims.

He looks like a prime specimen of manhood. He glows, as if he is a model for a health spa. He is fit, around 6’4, and grins at them around a dripping mouthful of something that has clearly come from one of the bodies in the pool.

“Hello!” Maya says. “Do you remember me? We met at the restaurant.”

“I remember,” he growls. “And now I feed, for I am hungry. I am always, always hungry.”

While Maya keeps him occupied, Bea sneaks around behind him with the wire net she brought. With a lucky throw, she manages to get it over his head. He throws up one arm to keep the wire from his face, and claws through the mesh with his other hand. It parts as if it were made of cobweb.

Bea draws her sword and stabs him in the legs. He reaches for her to slash at her with his claw-like fingernails, but Maya hurls herself at him from the other side of the pool, springing over the water in an agile, gravity-defying leap that shows her Ancient Fighting Skills. She knocks him to the ground as he rakes her arm, and Thomson shoots him in the shoulder.

He throws off the net, snarling, and he no longer looks like an advert for expensive menswear. His face is drawn, lined, his eyes predatory, his nostrils flaring as he sucks in breath. Bea swings at him again, but he throws himself against one of the windows. It smashes, and he escapes.

“Damn!” Bea cries. But her sword is covered in his blood: they have what they need to perform the ritual that will turn a crystal into a location device.

Maya texts her team and one of them digs out the rest of the paper from the Sect’s archives. The method is relatively straightforward: inscribe a Circle of Summoning with charcoal and chalk, then perform, in rapid succession, a Rite of Summoning, a Rite of Entrapment, and a Rite of Observation.

They return to the garage and John draws the circle on the floor with shavings from his broken hockey stick, burned using his aunt’s Zippo, and salt from his aunt’s bag. Maya sets the crystal in the centre. It is a 20cm tall, 7cm wide, hexagonal quartz wand.

Thomson performs the Rite of Summoning, but fumbles the gesture, so Maya steps in to perform that part of the spell. Bea immediately performs the Rite of Entrapment. John attempts the Rite of Observation, but sneezes. Thomson hurriedly covers for him. With the spell completed, the crystal glows blue, then green, then orange, then yellow, brightening to a searing white that blinds everyone, filling the air with a high-pitched ringing, before the lights dies away. The crystal, previously clear, is now filled with an iridescent smokiness. Maya picks it up and peers within.

It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to show the outside of the hotel where they fought off the vampires. Maya transforms herself into a seagull and flies over to distract him, to allow the rest of the team to catch up.

Maya tries calling other seagull to swoop and attack him, but he’s feral now, predatory, and he swipes two of the birds from the sky and rips them apart. She changes back into human, tries to engage him, but he’s not listening. She quickly hurls an entrapment cantrip at him: it works, but not the way she anticipated. He will remain here, but only because he has identified her as his next meal.

She draws her sword and stabs him. He claws into her shoulder. They engage again, claws versus sword, rage and hunger versus a lifetime of martial arts.

John arrives and tackles him to the ground, smacking his head off the concrete path. Thomson and Bea have nearly caught up, and Thomson draws their gun, but John is lying on top of the wendigo and Thomson chooses not to risk him. Bea, on the other hand, has pulled out one of her magical hacky sacks, and yells, “JOHN! GET OUT OF THE WAY!” before lobbing it.

John rolls off almost before he has registered his Guardian’s instruction, and then the hacky sack lands squarely on the wendigo’s face, sapping its energy. Still, though, it convulses and kicks, trying to crawl, trying to get to Maya.

Thomson shoots it into the shoulder. Maya stabs it in the chest. John grabs the sword and gives it another twist. The wendigo grunts and writhes, limbs flailing like a broken mannequin washed up on the beach, until Maya pulls out her axe and chops off the top half of its head.

The eyes glaze over and the team sees, just for a moment, a scribbly form like a humanoid stag made of tree roots with a skull for a face, before it dissipates in the onshore breeze.

At the door to the hotel, Lucille the receptionist and Patricia the Office Manager are staring at them in horror. Lucille is holding a phone, probably calling the police.

Maya calls DI Reid.

“We got your serial killer”

“You… Oh. And by ‘got’ I don’t suppose you mean ‘arrested with due process’?”

“That would be correct. He was… not very co-operative.”

“I see. Knowing what I know about your team and the types of things you deal with, I assume ‘not very co-operative’ means extremely unco-operative.”

“Yes. That is correct.”

“Well. Thank you. I do appreciate it. You have my gratitude, although I am… disappointed I was not there to see it. I will have to escalate this to my superiors, as I’m not sure how we handle the… How we deal with what your unit leaves behind.”

“Yes, fine.”

“Oh, and please do keep an eye out for DC Collins. We are still unable to trace him.”

“We will do that”.

The team catch their breaths and then head back to the park. One more thing to do.

The police are all over the concourse, but DI Reid waves them through. They go straight to the garage.

The concrete slab covering the tomb has been moved, leaving a hand’s breadth opening at one corner.

“We should have tracked down DC Collins,” Bea says, as they look at it.

“You think he’s been in here?” Maya asks.

“Maybe. I mean, it is daylight, but not every human turned by a Master becomes another vampire. Remember what happened to Sarah Jackman. She attacked us in broad daylight. Or maybe he did it himself. Masters are not harmed by the sun, they’re just not at their most powerful. That’s not a prison for him. He is more than strong enough to lift that slab, and he can turn into rats or cockroaches to get out through the crack that Thomson found.”

“I suppose we had better take a look. We can at least see if the coffin is closed or open.”

Maya edges close enough to the hole to be able to see down inside the narrow gap, crouching low to make the most of the thin beam of light penetrating the gloom.

She stares straight into the faintly glowing, watery pink eyes of the Master.

The team’s blood magic rite woke him, and he has caught their scents returning to his lair, rich with the tang of fresh blood from the wounds Maya sustained fighting the wendigo. Now he turns the full force of his hypnotic power on her.

She has a desperate flashback to when she was so badly wounded she thought she would die and be resurrected as one of the evil undead, an anathema to all that her Sect hold holy and sacred. The touch of the Master’s will on her mind crawls through her thoughts as his lieutenant’s taint tried to crawl through her blood. She fights back, grasping for something that will counter his overwhelming strength.

Fire. It blossoms from within her. She feels her human self recede behind a billowing wash of flame. It pours down into the hole, across the floor, flooding the garage.

The rest of the team nearly fall over themselves as Maya transforms into a brick red dragon, purple wings outstretched in rage, and incinerates whatever she saw in the hole. Bea sprints for the door. John, fortunately slightly slower to overcome his surprise, grabs an unmoving Thomson, who just stands and stares at this amazing creature, paralysed by wonder.

Eventually, the fire peters out, magic exhausted. The concrete slabs glows in the aftermath, tinking. The floor, walls and ceiling are soot-blackened. Maya stamps her great dragon foot on the slab and it crumbles to rubble, raining down on whatever is left in the hole.

The rest of the team returns, moving gingerly over the baked floor, and gaze down at the tomb. There’s nothing to see but ash.

“I reckon he legged it,” John says.

“How would we know?” Bea replies. “They turn to spores — to dust. It’s all ash down there. I mean, the lab could probably tell us, but how do we know now?”

“I’ve got this microscope lens for my phone,” says Thomson. “I can take a look.”

Bea rummages in her bag for a container, gives it to John, and John lowers himself into the hole. The stone feels warm under his hands, like a hearth in the early morning after the previous day’s fire.

There is nothing left but ash and the plaque, distorted and tarnished now. The crack appears blocked, and it looks like soil. Like grave dirt, almost as if something had tried to leave by that route but needed or wanted to take the soil from the coffin with it. John scrapes some of the ash into the container, grabs the plaque, and climbs nimbly out of the hole.

Thomson takes some of the ash and peers at it with their phone.  They see flakes of soft, fluffy grey freckled with tiny specks of pure black.

“I mean, I can’t be sure, you’d need a more powerful instrument than this, but it looks like there are spores in here.”

“Yay,” Bea says wearily. “Now what are we going to do about Maya? She’s still a dragon.”

Indeed she is. A dragon with hard, crocodilian scales, a long tail, sharp teeth, and piercing yellow eyes like those of an eagle.

“Now Maya,” John says, soft and soothing. “You aren’t going to fit in the van like that, and someone needs to write the report to C, so you need to change back.”

The others look at him askance and he shrugs. “Well, I don’t know what to say. Dragons are more intelligent than humans. For all I know, when I talk to her as a seagull all she hears is random noise and talking to her now might be like a mouse squeaking at a human.”

Maya nevertheless returns to her human form, calmer now.

“Is that it? Are we done?” John asks.

“Well, we still haven’t found DC Collins or the office manager,” Maya says.

“If they were turned, destroying the Master should have restored them,” Bea tells them. “We got his phone number from DI Reid. Maybe he’ll answer it now.”

Thomson thumbs the number into their phone. As it starts to ring, the team hears a phone ringtone becoming increasingly loud. It seems to be coming from the room next door —the janitor’s cupboard.

They hurry to the cupboard and find Collins standing there, staring at his phone. It’s lying on the floor. Could it be that it dropped from his pocket while he was hanging upside down?

He’s shaking, pale and bewildered, obviously in shock.

“Let me see your teeth,” Bea orders him.

“Whu… What? Have I had a stroke?” he stammers.

“We just want to see your teeth,” she says sternly. “You don’t have to smile.”

He pulls up his upper lip, hand shaking, and they see perfectly regular human teeth. He is no longer a vampire, if he ever was.

“We still haven’t found the office manager, though,” John says.

“Where’s a Karen when you really need one?” Thomson mutters.

They escort Collins back out to the main concourse, where DI Reid comes running over.

“Oh my god, you found him!” she exclaims, and reaches as if to touch him before hesitating. “Given what I know about the kinds of things your unit deals with, do I need to take any” — she hesitates again, eyeing her colleague’s shocked state and realising he may not know what has happened to him, nor want to — “extra precautions?”

“No,” Maya says. “We checked him over. You should be good to send him to hospital.”

“And a regular hospital is fine, is it? You don’t think he needs to be seen by a special consultant?”

“We killed the Master, so he’s not a vampire any more. He’ll be fine,” Bea says. Everyone stares at her. So much for bedside manner.

“Right. Thanks,” DI Reid replies, a little snappish. Looks like some of the good will has rubbed off already. “I’ll get that seen to. Oh, and we found the office manager, by the way. He was one of the bodies upstairs in the boating pond. Looks like he was finally rude to the wrong person.”

DI Reid takes DC Collins away.

Now all that’s left to do is argue about who is filling in the report for C.

And maybe some lunch.