In The Night
Chapter 1 - Book Murderer
Carl the friar flicked through his books rapidly exactly the way most people don't at midnight. "Most people" would have their heads drooping forward and wondering why they got out of bed after a nonsensical dream to flick through books. And they wouldn't have the lovely library that Carl had at his disposal, though most of them weren't suited to his research anyway.
Frustrated, he threw a book across the room and watched with satisfaction as it slammed into the wall. Carl couldn't be sure, but he thought he heard the book cry, "Murderer!"
Just for the heck of it, he threw another book.
Again, the book cried, "Murderer!"
"What in God's name…?" Carl glared at the fallen books carefully, then jumped up to save them when he realised the pages were bent at dire angles.
He smoothed out of the paper, looking around the library guiltily. Cardinal Jinette was nowhere in sight. The cranky religious man was probably snoring his head off, fingers shut in a heavy bound Bible. Carl figured it was just as well no one saw him prodding the wall, warily listening for any sound.
The friar stepped backwards a few steps into the table he had been using and glared down the aisle. He seized a book that rambled on about whichever Thesis Martin Luther wrote and threw it with all his might at the stones.
"CARL, YOU MURDERER!"
Carl went flying backwards over the table in shock. He found himself looking up the ornate ceiling, or closer to him, the amused face of Van Helsing.
"You!" Carl pointed up as far as he could.
"Me," the monster hunter said simply.
"You're meant to be in Ireland."
"Did you bring him with you?"
"Wrapped in a sheet."
Carl let out a gusty sigh. "Apprehend does not mean slice, dice, peel and deliver."
Van Helsing stepped over him and inspected the open texts Carl had been looking at in earnest. Some were open at ink pictures that could be classified as scribbled lines. The monster hunter read a few lines to himself and stared at his friend.
"I didn't know they had this blasphemy in here," Van Helsing commented.
Carl sprang to his feet and slammed into the table so that he slid off onto the floor on the other side, taking the books with him.
"They don't," Carl said defiantly. "I keep them hidden. Besides, there are scientific and logical reasons behind the so called powers that these so called witches have."
Van Helsing raised an eyebrow. "No, that's not the book I saw. You've been looking up dream interpretation again – please, Carl, don't bother yourself. There are perfectly logical reasons for me having dreams about battles in the past."
"There are, hm?"
"I stick dangerous weapons into people. Why shouldn't I do it while I'm asleep?"
"For your information..." Carl rolled to the side to avoid Van Helsing's boot. "I was trying to interpret my own dreams."
"Carl, there are perfectly logical reasons for dreaming about test tubes trying to kill you. It just means you need to do more field work," the monster hunter added encouragingly, watching Carl roll away from his feet.
The friar levered himself off the ground using a bookshelf. He snapped, "Just because all of Europe is calling you murderer doesn't mean you can pass the favour onto me."
"You're changing the subject," Van Helsing observed. "And besides, I thought you were doing the books an injustice."
Carl's ears went red. "Fine! You want to know why I'm leafing through books filled with witchy rubbish?"
"You already curse and sleep with barmaids, why not this?"
Carl threw his hands up in frustration, then squeezed them together in a loop, imagining Van Helsing's throat between them. He was not going to let the taller man win this. The monster hunter smiled wickedly. Carl leered back at him. The offensive this time was a series of rather sordid hand gestures which might have involved a barmaid. Carl sighed.
"Alright," he said. "I've been having the same dream for two weeks now…"