He’d like to think he was above it all, this detective, with his focus on work and solving crimes, but like any man he was easily distracted from the truth by a pretty girl. Agnes was not one of the vicar’s firsts; he had after all been living in Little-Somerset-Upon-Smother for centuries. Agnes was a recent conquest, and one the vicar was incredibly proud of. She’d taken to immortality like she was born for it, and was a natural at luring stupid men to their deaths. Just asking them for a ‘personal drink’ was enough to sign their life away.
He first sees references to Little-Somerset-Upon-Smother in the diaries of Lorrimer Chesterfield, an account of all the Monster Hunter’s adventures now rewritten into fiction. It’s real enough, even if most people have forgotten a time when the supernatural wandered free and unexplained deaths were a common occurrence. Clive knows though. He knows the world isn’t as safe as it might seem, the manner of his mother’s death saw to that. He knows that vampires and werewolves exist, and he wants to hunt them. He reads all the books he can find, and goes hunting, first Peru and then the world.
Like all stupid men the detective saw her looks and decided she was entirely innocent of all wrong doing, even after she got him to doctor Mrs Waddle’s will for her. He didn’t ask how she was in possession of the will, just accepted what she said as the truth. It would have been easy to drain the blood from his body at that moment, but there was too much resting on this man staying alive. There was something in the timelines that said he was important. He would find the murderer, and in doing so would keep them safe.
The Vicar watches as Agnes goes to the strangers lodgings, and waits for the screams of terror to permeate the air. He waits and waits, for nothing. After a while, Agnes leaves the building, sneaking away as if from the scene of a crime, but no crime has been committed. He’d run after her; ask her what happened, if he didn’t feel like something important had just been set in motion. He didn’t know what, and didn’t hear the sinister laugh, that was only someone’s impression of an evil laugh, not worrying about what that meant for him and Agnes.
Clive isn’t his real name, his surname isn’t Sinclair either, but it’s less obvious than his true name. He’s famous in certain circles, and wouldn’t want to be discovered too early. There have been rumours about this village for decades, but no hunters have yet discovered the truth or destroyed the monsters that lurk there. He’s hoping to be the saviour of this town, hoping that this religious vampire will be his ticket to fame. He wants to be up there with the best, he wants to prove that a lone hunter can work just as well as a pair.
Marjorie is next. That’s what the vicar’s decided. She’s perfect. Being turned would sort out her hips in an instant, would remove all signs of the abuse she suffered as a child. And that rage from years of systematic abuse would make her the perfect creature. Taking all that violence out on people who ignored her, who hurt her, anyone who even looked at her funny, yes, she’d make a perfect vampire. The only question was when to change her. He had a plan, but after “Clive” arrived in the village, all thoughts of turning her were put on hold.
It’s a simple enough case, but the town, Little-Somerset-Upon-Smother, doesn’t seem to exist. There just isn’t a river called Smother. There was once, but that was years ago, not recently enough to be checked out. Roy and Lorrimer would chalk it up to Sir Max’s less than perfect memory, but there are news reports that aren’t just one off’s. Something is happening in a strange village that seems to exist mostly in another time. There isn’t a way of finding the creature causing so much death, and there are nearer monsters so they put Little Somerset out of their minds.
There’s something weird happening in the village. He’s just started to wonder why so many people he knew growing up are still in the village, and still the same age. The detective can’t point to one person he finds deeply suspicious, even though that is his job, and that irritates him immensely. He needs someone to blame, someone to ask about this, but there isn’t anyone. He could ask Agnes but she isn’t really talking to him, and he doesn’t know what he’s done, and he’s not going to ask the vicar, because that crypt really is just too creepy.
The magpies on the church roof aren’t doing anything, and that concerns the detective more than just the sheer number of them. He thinks back to that old rhyme. One for sorrow, two for joy... how did it go after that? And there are more magpies than that, probably into the hundreds but he doesn’t have the time, nor the inclination, to count them. The vicar emerges, blinking, from the crypt and sort of waves towards the magpies and they leave as one, not persuading the detective that he has nothing to do with the strange things in the village.