Chapter 26

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Alex sat brooding as he watched Nadia from across the cafeteria. He wanted to go over and talk to her about some of the information he had found on her family. Not all of course, just the cliff notes, he wanted to get a feel for how she would react before he told her too much. The problem was, she was sitting next to Ethan, who had suddenly changed lunches to be with her, and of course his two lapdogs were sitting across the table from them. He had no idea how both Ethan and the two brothers had managed to get their schedules changed, nobody else in the school seemed to be able to as far as Alex could tell. The more Alex watched them the more his irritation grew; this was the only period of the day he was able to hang out with Nadia without her jackass of a boyfriend hanging around and making things difficult. After almost an entire lunch of consideration Alex decided to leave them be and just go see her at the restaurant that weekend. He would try to broach the subject of her family’s history then.

 Turning his attention from Nadia and Ethan, Alex pulled the blue notebook out of his backpack and began looking down at the notes he had made at the library. The newspaper articles he was able to dig up didn’t have as much information has he would have liked, but they did have enough for him to discover a pattern of killings and missing person cases as far back as the newspapers went. He had found repeating series of unexplained murders and events, all happening within a year to a year and a half, and all ending with the killing of one of Nadia’s ancestors before the papers and town went back to normal. Alex wasn’t surprised that the pattern had never been found before, after all it’s not like it happened by any real pattern, like every ten or twenty years, it happened once a generation, and only once a generation one family.   

In the oldest cases, things always started off with livestock being killed and drained of all their blood, or being taken away completely, leaving only pieces behind as evidence. Then there would be a period of strange attacks on people, illnesses where they would find strange bite marks and become pale and bedridden. All that would finally lead up to a few scattered disappearances, just not in every case. Alex found a few letters from victims in the gossip columns, all claiming to be the victim of a vampire, and all being dismissed as insane by local authorities. He didn’t read through all of those columns, he was looking for real attacks or killings and not old folklore. Brushing the so-called vampire attacks off to the side, he had focused on the unexplained killings and disappearances.

 Most of the killings were labeled as animal attacks; the few people that had been interviewed during these cases reported that the victims had been torn limb from limb. When Alex had read that, he had re-read the article about the college student being torn apart in the woods off one of the local trails. That had also been deemed an animal attack. Thinking about the attack on the college student, Alex worried that the pattern was starting up again, minus the livestock killings.

Irritably Alex pushed that train of thought to the side and picked up the half dried slice of lunchroom pizza sitting in front of him and took a bite, thoughtfully flipping through his notes until he found the old funeral picture he had printed off. He looked from the picture to Nadia’s table. Ethan leaned over and whispered something into Nadia’s ear, it must have been hilarious because she started laughing loud enough for Alex to hear from across the room. Alex snorted and rolled his eyes, looking back down at the picture. Did Ethan have family from this town too? He looked almost exactly like the person in the picture talking to Nadia’s great-great grandfather. The person in the picture had a different haircut and clothes but otherwise identical; like a twin brother from a distant past. Alex just couldn’t shake the feeling that that old picture was a major clue to the entire mystery.

Alex was watching them thoughtfully when Ethan noticed him looking and shot him the finger. Suddenly Ethan stood up and sat on the lunch table with a loud thud, blocking Alex’s view of Nadia, stuffing his hands into his jacket pockets before turning away from Alex and back down to Nadia, Wes, and Dillon once more. Mr. Randall, a teacher from the art department walked over and started motioning for Ethan to sit back down, and although Alex couldn’t hear the conversation, he could tell by Mr. Randall’s gestures that he was getting more irritated with Ethan by the second. Wes and Dillon watched the exchange leaning back with grins on their faces. Ethan leaned over and got almost nose to nose with Mr. Randall, and for a moment Alex thought he was getting ready to spit in the teacher’s face. Instead, Ethan said something Alex couldn’t make out, and to Alex’s surprise Mr. Randall simply nodded meekly and walked away, leaving Ethan to sit on the table as he pleased. Alex shook his head and looked back down at his food, it just didn’t matter what it was, it seemed like Ethan got away with whatever he wanted.

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