Days have passed, and soon enough weeks and months had passed. Frank Iero stayed at home with his wife and his new puppy, occasionally discussing the future. He hadn't gone much of anywhere, not even to work. He hadn't quit and he hadn't been fired, but he had been given a year off due to his medical condition. On another spectrum, Gerard couldn't concentrate on a single thing in his life. He had obtained a new copy of the book he burned; he read it long into every day, only sleeping a few hours before picking up the book and reading it again. He no longer walked around his house. He no longer looked for Esmerelda when she wasn't in the library. He only stood and looked out of his fungus frosted windows to a small house a couple blocks away, and softly sang in his cracked voice, "O del mio dolce ardor, bramato oggetto, bramato oggetto, L'aura che tu respiri, alfin respiro, alfin respiro."
It was more than a year since Gerard had last seen Frank. It was the end of November, the air still filled with the aroma of crunching leaves and every once in a while an old lady's pumpkin pie. It was later in the day, the sun almost at its tipping point, and Gerard went on a stroll through town. He figured everyone would be inside, staying warm in their homes. His cane made small clicks in the silent air with every other step he took. He wore a velvet cloak over his clothing, the fabric only slightly scraping the cement underneath it. The fur lining was sure to keep him warm against the chilly breezes that would rush past his face.
"How are you today, sir?"
"I am just fine, thank you."
Gerard hadn't planned on making any conversation with anyone, but this man seemed promising enough.
"Where ya headed?"
"Just up the road. To the store. I needed to pick something up," Gerard rambled, trying to sound convincing.
"Well a'ight, but be careful. I heard there was some business goin' on up there. Some freaky business. Monster business. A man says he goes to get milk, comes back with torn clothes and a chunk of his arm missin'. That ain't a good place for you, with yer fancy clothes and such. They look expensive, you shouldn't get 'em all dirty. 'Specially since if it's not monsters, there's some messed up people up there, I swear. Just be careful, there. I don't wanna sleep knowin' I could've prevented a tragedy."
Gerard bit down a smile, dually because if they're monsters he most likely knew them, but also that some old man that he passed cared what happened to him. It's been a long time since that feeling had been present.
"Thank you, sir. I'll be careful and stay out of everyone's way.
"Good," the man nodded, then added, "The name is McCracken, by the way. You almost look like a friend of my son's. You friends with a Bert McCracken?"
"No sir, I am not."
"Hmph. Well anyway, I'm sure I'll see ya around some other time. Goodbye, Mister."
Gerard stood there for a moment, then continued on his path. As he got closer to the store, it had gotten much darker, the clouds turning black and forming large circles around where Gerard was headed. A young man came running toward him, a spewing gash on his face leaking red fluid. His eyes were swollen and red, as though he had been crying for Lucifer. The man screamed in Gerard's face, but no words could be made out. It seemed like a whole other language, yet not a language at all. Gerard gripped the boy's shoulders and shook him slightly, just to see his face in the middle of spastic movements. Eventually, he cupped his face and stated into his eyes. They were black, but only in crevices. It looked like the moon, the craters reaching deep down into his mind, each one harboring a darker secret than the last. He released the boy who stumbled on his feet and ran off, babbling nonsense into strangers' faces. Gerard moved on.
A store clerk lay dead on the broken tile flooring, his eyes were wide in fright. Blood trailed from his head to seemingly random points in the building, all formed in footprints. A few others lay dead as well, their cold faces lie flat, squished into the dust and their own puddles of blood on the floor. The smell of it all was slightly unbearable, so Gerard covered his mouth and nose with his scarf before trudging through debris to see what was going on. He heard rustling from near the back, but he didn't try to deal with that yet. He wanted to focus on finding any survivors, if any.
"Is anyone still here? Is anyone still alive?" Gerard whispered through the aisles.
Someone moaned from underneath a rubble pile from a broken display. Gerard quickly removed boards and products off of the man, who sat up and stared at Gerard with a look of confusion, then of fright, then back to confusion.
"Are you... y'know, one of them?"
"Who is 'them'?"
"The guys who were trashing this place. The guys who are killing people just to kill. I've never seen anything like it."
Gerard sighed, helped the man up, then shooed him away to get him home safely.
"That kid looked like he was on one hell of a drug," he mumbled. There was more noise in the back of the store, so he finally ventured to the storage room. There was a large mess, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Gerard bent down to sample the blood that was puddled on the floor, a small taste brought to his lips; a euphoria unlike any enhanced substance. It was glorious.
"Hey, Edward Cullen! Will you dance for us too? How about be our disco ball, huh? Would you like that pretty boy?"
Four people, who Gerard assumed were men, stood before him, their faces hidden with crude Halloween masks. He stood up without a word and looked into the eye holes of the man in the front of the group. He squinted, blinked a few times, and reached his hand out to the man's neck.
"What... what the fuck are you doing? You motherfuck-"
"Be quiet or I will rip out your jugular and make you eat it."
The eyes of the man went wide, and a bead of sweat rolled down his neck, opposite of where Gerard was looking. He pinched a little at a small rose tattoo near the man's clavicle. He flinched, but did not say a word.
"Frances...," Gerard gasped, looking into the man's eyes again, "You're not Frances. Where is Frances? Frances Burks? He's here, isn't he?"
More beads of sweat dripped from the man's face, but he kept his mouth shut. Gerard pinched harder on his vein, making him shout loudly, but still no words.
"Tell me where Frances is, you defiled, pathetic excuse for a vampyr!"
"Oh, give them a chance, Gerard. They've just started on their debt today," a voice rang, then deeply chuckled.
A frail body flew from the rafters and landed gently on the linoleum flooring, his heels making a soft click. A cape hung onto his shoulders and long bandages covered his abdomen. His lower body was hidden in drapery, the flowing fabric making it hard to determine if there was anything under it besides his legs. A soft rose tattoo near his clavicle caused Gerard to clench his jaw, his teeth slightly grinding together. The man laughed again.
"Why hello, Gerard. Long time, no see?"