This post is one of a series in the ongoing Juniper Campaign posts. If you’re new to the blog, you may want to consider starting from the beginning, or reading the summary to get caught up on events up to this point.
While Shannon and Felix were wasting time inside the club, John, who managed to get kicked out of the club before ever getting in, has been monitoring the club’s exit from across the street, looking for people who he can see with his eyes but not with his camera. He’s still doing that when Shannon and Felix finally emerge.
Since bothering the bouncers and schmoozing with the club-goers isn’t working so far, it’s time to adopt a new strategy. The group has no idea when, or even whether, the killer will emerge from the club with another potential victim, but no one is willing to take the chance that he (or she, or it) won’t. Since the fact that the killer doesn’t appear on camera is still the group’s best lead, Shannon and Felix follow John’s example, stationing themselves at various positions around the club in order to monitor the exit.
It takes a couple hours of waiting, but eventually they spot what they’re looking for. Two men, each with his arm around a woman, exit the club. Shannon recognizes one of them as the man who invited her out for drinks earlier. All four seem to be having a very good time. The women are both visible on the groups’ cell phone cameras. The two men, however, are not.
John follows the group on foot, while Shannon and Felix each pursue in separate vehicles. When it becomes apparent that the men and their intended victims are heading for a subway station, John texts Shannon and Felix with the route information before following the group onto the train.
At the second-to-last stop, one of the men and one of the women get off. John texts Felix and Shannon the location of the stop so that they can pursue, and stays on the train with the other pair.
As the subway car pulls up to the last station, John gets up to stand near the door. The woman likewise stands up, and the man walks her to the door of the car. When the doors open, the woman steps off the car and onto the subway platform, so John does too. The woman, however, stops on the platform; she’s still talking to her companion, who hasn’t stepped off the car but is instead waiting right between the doors, holding them open as they start to close.
The two aren’t making any attempt to hide their conversation, which sounds like fairly standard end-of-first-date material. The man assures the woman that he had a really good time tonight, and flirtatiously asks for a a good-night kiss. With her permission, he leans over and kisses her lips.
A moment later, her spine curves forward, and her eyes shoot wide open. He withdraws, wipes his face, and steps back onto the train as the door closes and the train pulls away. The woman collapses to the platform.
John steps forward and pulls her away from the subway tracks, shouting for help, then eases her to the floor and starts checking her for signs of life. She’s unconscious, her pulse is weak, and when he checks to make certain that her airway is clear, he finds that the inside of her mouth is covered in blood. John, a former paramedic, soon determines that her mouth isn’t actually bleeding; rather, it seems she’s bleeding from somewhere inside the respiratory system. Eventually, he manages to stabilize her at least enough that she can probably make it to a hospital–sirens can already be heard in the distance–and, that done, melts into the crowd.
Felix and Shannon, both in their vehicles, follow the other man and his companion away from the subway station. Once it becomes clear that the couple is heading towards a particular apartment building, Felix and Shannon park their cars and continue following. The monster and his intended victim enter the apartment building and head towards the second floor. Shannon and Felix trail some distance behind, as if they’re only heading towards their own apartment.
Before too long, the man and the woman arrive outside the woman’s door. “Listen, I had a really good time tonight,” he tells her, launching into a version of the same speech that John overheard on the subway. It’s at about this time that Shannon and Felix receive a text from none other than John himself, warning them not to let the monster have its goodnight kiss.
Not wanting to do anything too rash with an innocent woman standing right there and figuring that the man won’t be doing whatever it is that he does as long as there’s an audience, Shannon figures it’s about time to call attention to themselves. Doing her best to sound annoyed, she glares at Felix as if he’s done something wrong. “Ow! What the hell was that for?”
“You closed this door on me!” Felix protests, following Shannon’s lead. “Ow, ow, ow, ow…”
The man doesn’t seem particularly alarmed by this interruption; he only looks faintly disgusted. Conversationally, to his companion, he remarks, “don’t you just love the breed of people that this kind of place attracts?”
She seems a little affronted. “What do you mean by that?”
“Well, you know, we’re trying to have a moment here, and these doofuses here are having one of their little couple fights.”
Hoping that they’ll continue to bicker, Felix mutters a complaint about the smug asshole who just called his apartment a slum. Unfortunately, this comment seems to prompt the woman to decide that Felix is the doofus after all. Shannon and Felix are still staging their pretend fight as they continue down the hall, but it’s clear that they haven’t stopped anything: the couple is only waiting for them to leave.
Which is why Felix decides to whip out his pistol and fire it directly at the man’s chest.
Needless to say, the sudden gunfire startles, well, everybody, including Felix’s target. The man stumbles backward as the slug hits his chest and slumps against the wall, not moving.
Since apartment buildings are not a particularly good place to get into a gunfight, and since gunfights are something that neither Shannon nor Felix wants to explain to the cops, they leave the apartment and run for their vehicles. Felix is just getting into his car when an eight-foot-tall being lands on his hood.
The bloody wounds in its chest are about the only thing that suggest this creature is in fact the same being that we followed back to the apartment. Its arms don’t look normal, almost as if they don’t have bones. Its tongue is even less normal: it’s about a meter and a half long, covered in spines and leech-like suckers, and in the process of smashing through Felix’s windshield.
Felix manages to start the car just as a sucker latches onto his neck. Frantically batting it away, Felix slams on the gas pedal and aims towards the nearest building, hoping to throw the thing off the hood. He doesn’t manage that much, but he does manage to crunch one of its legs between the hood of his car and the brick wall of a post office.
Shannon, seeing all this from her car, grabs a hatchet off the front seat and hucks it at the creature. Unfortunately, the hatchet goes sailing past, and Felix has accelerated quickly enough that the creature is already too far out of range to attempt another throw.
The creature drags its barbed tongue down Felix’s arm. Felix, still trying to throw the thing from his car’s now-smoking hood, backs the car up and then aims it at another building. This time, though, the creature manages to hold on upon impact–at least until Shannon rams Felix’s car from behind, sending it flying through the shattered wall of the post office. It does not emerge.
Since there’s no time like the present to finally go for a weapon, assuming that “when you first decide to pick a fight with an unknown monster” isn’t an option, Felix reaches for the Tommy gun in his backseat. Shannon goes to take an identical weapon out of her trunk, pausing only for a moment to retrieve the thrown hatchet, which she jams into her belt as she goes to join Felix outside the post office. Felix, who has just phoned John to warn him about the “large wormy monster thing” whose night we’ve just ruined, puts his phone away just as an alarm goes off inside the post office.
When Shannon and Felix step inside, the post office is dark and, at first glance, empty. After a moment, however, Shannon spots moving out of the corner of her eye. Not willing to let the creature get the drop on them, she spins and lets off a short burst of autofire…
… directly into Felix’s smoking hood. (Shut up, alright? I crit-failed a spot check.)
“Shit, sorry!” Shannon glances wildly around. “Where did that thing go?”
Felix looks back at his car, the engine of which is now on fire. “Clearly it didn’t go behind us.”
“Sorry. So where did it go?”
“Probably through that door that says ‘Alarm will go off if opened.'” Felix shuffles towards the door he just mentioned, which has indeed been opened, and peers into what looks like an internal courtyard. There are high fences all around and a gate across the way, but no sign of forced entry. There’s also no sign of the monster. Felix grumbles. “It’s probably just above the door, and once we step out it’s going to drop on us.”
“Probably,” Shannon agrees. “So are we going?”
“I think it’s our moral obligation to walk out into the courtyard and make sure. I really don’t want to, so I’d be open to explanations of why we shouldn’t.”
“Yeah, I don’t have any.” Shannon motions Felix away from the door. “Look, you’re bleeding. Ladies first.”
When the creature fails to jump out at her after she walks a few feet into the courtyard, she pauses for a good look. “There’s a fire escape–I think it’s gone. We probably should be, too.”
They walk out of the post office and by Felix’s car, which is still blazing merrily. “I’m going to get nasty phone calls and possibly go to jail, aren’t I.”
“We might both be,” Shannon agrees. “I really don’t know what to do about that.”
“Well,” Shannon says, exasperated, “unless you want to think about it to the cops, we should probably just get out of here.”
It’s at about this point when John pulls up, to see Shannon’s car severely damaged, Felix’s car on fire, two shattered buildings, and Felix covered in blood. “Wild night?”
There are sirens in the distance, so there’s not much chance for discussion. Shannon’s car is still driveable, but obviously there’s nothing we can do to prevent Felix’s car from being discovered by the cops. John offers Felix a ride and a place to sleep, for now, and the group agrees to reconvene soon; there are, after all, two creatures still on the loose. In the meantime, with the sirens drawing quickly closer, there’s not much left to do but for everyone to go their separate ways and spend the rest of the night looking over their shoulders for monsters.
Welcome to the Vigil.