Marco barged into the cold room with an unconscious man over his shoulder.
‘For fuck’s sake,’ Helena shrieked, locking the door. ‘What have you done this time? This was meant -’
‘Relax,’ Marco said, laying the man down as he swept back his thick black hair. ‘He’ll be fine. I got him from behind anyway.’
‘Why did you bring him in here, fledgling?’ Ambrose said, weary. He stepped away from one of the cabinets and felt the man’s wrist. Ambrose’s breathing hitched ever so slightly. Marco caught his eye with a wan grin. ‘Take him out. Now.’
‘I meant drag him outside,’ Ambrose said.
Marco chuckled, bending to retrieve his cargo. ‘He was just by the door… force of habit.’ The man’s eyelids fluttered open as his head left the floor. He scrambled in a wild dash for the door, caught by Ambrose in a deft, fluid motion.
‘Too late,’ Helena said.
‘Who- what is this?’ the struggling man said. ‘You want the drugs? I have keys, just -’
‘Still yourself, sir,’ Ambrose said, one arm securing him in a strong, expert grip. ‘We mean no harm. Let us conclude our business and be on our way.’ They heard a faint beeping from elsewhere in the hospital as the captive orderly’s panting settled, going limp. Ambrose pushed him away from the door.
‘Where’s Claire?’ Helena said suddenly. ‘We’ve only got an hour. She should be here by now.’
‘That’s plenty of time,’ Marco said.
‘No names,’ Ambrose hissed.
‘What’s the matter?’ Marco said. ‘He won’t remember.’
‘Whoa, hold on…’ the man said, fists shaking a little in a fighting stance.
‘And now you’ve dismayed him again,’ Ambrose said. He read the orderly’s name tag. ‘Jack, sir. There’s no need to be afraid.’
‘Oh, isn’t there! Taken hostage by – by you freaks. Costumed freaks.’
‘These are just jeans,’ Helena said. ‘From Primark. And there’s no need to be rude.’
‘It’s Ambrose who likes the 18th Century shtick. Reminds him of the good old days,’ Marco said.
‘This jacket is barely even formal,’ Ambrose said.
‘For you, old man.’
‘Old man… this game you’re playing is fucking ridiculous,’ Jack said.
‘You keep thinking that,’ Helena said. ‘As soon as Claire’s here I’m gone. I need a drink.’
A ceiling tile slid aside and Claire dropped from above, landing quietly with a whirl of hair. ‘Pity’s sake, Marco,’ she said at the sight of Jack.
‘Because you were so sensible?’ Marco complained. ‘Where the hell have you been, dropping from the ceiling like… like it’s a damn film or something.’
‘I didn’t get seen. In and out like a ghost if you hadn’t screwed it up,’ Claire said, sweeping to one of the chilled cabinets which filled the room and opening the door. Refrigerated air wafted in her face, a hum deepening as the cabinet kept its contents cool. Claire’s nostrils flared. ‘Ah. Look at all this.’
‘That’s what you’re here for, then,’ the orderly said as Ambrose passed Claire an empty backpack. ‘Look, this has gone much too far. This game you’re playing… people need that. It’s very important. Fine, have an alternative lifestyle, LARP, but -’
Jack trailed off as Claire picked out a chilled pack of AB+, opened it with her teeth, and drank it dry.
‘You’ll get more,’ Ambrose said softly. ‘This is better for all of us than the alternative.’
Claire turned to Jack, skin alabaster, eyes dark. Thirsty. She licked a pointed canine. ‘Ambrose, please deal with him and let’s finish here. Dawn’s soon.’
Ambrose grabbed Jack’s head in both hands, their faces close. Jack struggled for a few moments then went slack. ‘You fell and hit your head,’ Ambrose said, while the others stocked backpacks with blood. ‘Nothing unusual happened here tonight.’
‘Yes, master,’ Jack murmured.
‘That really isn’t necessary,’ Ambrose muttered, lowering the dazed orderly’s head to the floor.
‘Maybe they wouldn’t say that if you stopped dressing like an aristocrat,’ Marco said, wiping blood from his mouth with one hand and flicking Ambrose’s high collar with the other. ‘When are you teaching us that, anyway?’
‘When I can trust you to be less foolish with it,’ Ambrose grumbled, unlocking the door to the blood bank.
‘You sired us, remember?’ Helena said.
‘Time was, our kind were more discerning,’ he said, leading the way out. ‘Years of service to earn our gift. Now I have fledglings barely following the basic codes of the masquerade.’
‘And who got your email set up?’ Helena added.
Jack woke, rubbing his head, just as someone else barged into the blood bank. The man offered Jack a hand, his coat moving aside to reveal a shaft of dark wood strapped to his belt. ‘What happened here?’
‘I must’ve fell and hit my head. Say, you’re not supposed to be here.’
‘My mistake, took a wrong turn. Get that bang looked at, eh?’
‘Think I’m alright now. Need directions?’
‘That’s alright,’ the stranger said, not bothering to ask any more. He glanced at the cameras as he left, but knew they wouldn’t be much help catching the things responsible for another unconventional heist.