( viii )
Leila and Red walked into the second location with more ease than the last one. Although the front yard was in a dire need of a gardener, the house was pretty much well maintained. The two-storey house went along with the rustic aesthetic of the small town, but the resident spared no expense at automating and modernizing the house’s security.
“Suzanne Parent. 107 years old. Converted at the age of 37. According to our records, she should be in deep sleep!”
“With a rogue loose in this town, we still need to do our due diligence.” Red said while waving his warden’s master key card on the door’s automated lock. The door opened with an almost silent click. This home was a stark contrast to the previous dwelling. The internal sensors picked up on their movements and automatically lit up the room. Inside, the furniture was covered with linen, as if the resident went on a long vacation.
“According to the logs, she has been sleeping for the past six months and is scheduled to be awakened in fifty years.” Leila read the information from her phone.
“She could be faking it. Better not take any chances.” Red drew his gun once more. “Let the council know you’re sleeping, but go on a feeding spree under the radar. Really convenient!”
Red looked at Leila. “Do you feel any presence?”
Once again she put her hand on a nearby wall. She closed her eyes and concentrated.
“It doesn’t seem like there’s anybody here.”, Leila whispered.
They split up again to search the house.
The home was very well maintained. The kitchen was in tip-top condition. There were no care packages in the fridge. No dirty, empty bottles in the sink. There was a staleness to the air due to lack of proper ventilation, but it didn’t smell as damp and uncared for like the last home. Leila and Red converged once more into the living room and prepared to go to the basement together. Most immortals chose a special hidden room somewhere in the basement since sleeping leaves them in their most vulnerable state.
The basement looked like a warehouse, with miscellaneous items stacked haphazardly. There were no automated systems or sensors to detect their movements. Stray trails of light minimally lit up the room and items such as boxes of books, chairs stacked on top of each other, framed artworks covered in linen, and a large unkempt bed. Red noticed a light bulb with a pull switch.
“I don’t think Suzanne Parent is home at this moment”, he pulled the switch and the light bulb dimly lit up the basement.
“Hold on.” Leila crouched on the ground and felt the floor with her hand. Red stayed silent without moving a muscle to help her concentrate. “It’s the bed. Under the mattress.”
Leila felt the faint and slow heartbeat of an immortal in sleep.
“This never ceases to amaze me.” Red commented on the immortals’ heightened senses and acute hearing while observing Leila remove a heavy mattress with ease. Under the mattress, there was a large and long strongbox with a rotary combination lock. Leila turned the knob to hear for clicks in order to guess the code.
“The code is 5-15-38. It’s written on her file. I don’t know why you’re making this effort.” Red chuckled.
Leila looked annoyed. “You just love to ruin my fun, don’t you?”
The banter stopped the moment it was time to open the vault. Red gulped his saliva as his heart raced due to nervousness. Leila opened the strongbox and saw what seemed like a desiccated corpse, with eyes rolled up, sclera visible, pupils barely hidden by almost open eyelids. An ordinary person would mistake her for a mummy. But Red and Leila knew that when immortals stop feeding themselves, they slowly stop moving. Their body releases most of the water until only a fraction of the original amount is left. The metabolism slows down and an already slow heartbeat of an awakened immortal becomes even slower until it pumps faintly a few beats per minute.
“Suzanne isn’t the rogue, it seems.”
“Nope. Two out of three of our suspects are cleared. It means the next address is likely the one.” Red sounded faintly excited that their mission is coming to a conclusion. He was tired from his exhausting workload and lack of sleep. However, the excitement of moving closer to their goals gave him the bolt of energy he needed.
In the next few minutes, Red and Leila closed the strongbox and made sure to lock it properly. They placed the mattress as it was meant to be placed and made sure that the door was locked behind them. Red made a final verification of whether the security measures were fully functional. The house and its resident must be protected. In fifty years, Suzanne Parent will be awakened from her slumber and must be awakened in her welcoming home.