It all happened too fast for Peter to stop it. He had woken from a sound sleep to find a man dressed all in black going through their shared dresser drawers.
"Hey!" He had hissed. "What's going on here?"
That was the moment things clicked into fast-motion. The man whirled and shot at Peter. Seeing the glint of the weapon gave Peter just enough time to fling himself away, and the bullet put an end to Peter's pillow's life instead.
The man breathed a curse in a language that wasn't in Peter's repertoire, and pulled the hammer back again. The agonized scream Peter let out when the intruder pumped two bullets into Davy's sleeping form served only to enable the gun to be fixed on him once more. The man's teeth glinted in a smile as the hammer was drawn a third time.
There suddenly came the sound of breaking glass and an unearthly hiss. The man whirled, firing his remaining trio of bullets into the body of the man behind him. The newcomer didn't pause in his relentless slow advance. When he stepped into a pool of light, the gunman yelped as his face was revealed. "Jones! B-but you're...I just...."
"I'm not Davy," the Scottish-accented voice growled before he pounced.
Peter stood slowly, transfixed as the gunman's throat was laid bare, then the newcomer's head lowered. Peter snapped on a light, and instantly wished he hadn't. There was blood everywhere --- on Davy's bed and his cooling body, splattered onto the wall --
--And oozing down the dying gunman's throat as their friend MacLaren methodically, with a nearly insane relish in his eyes, drained the soon-to-be corpse of every drop of blood.
For the second time that horrific night, Peter's scream rang through the bedroom ---
--And kept ringing as hands shaking his shoulders roughly drew him from the nightmare.
"Peter! Peter, wake up!" Peter's eyes flew open in shock. That voice....
"Whew!" Davy smiled and sat back. "We thought you weren't ever gonna wake up!"
"Yes, Peter," a second accented voice, filled with worry, said gently. "When we heard your screams..."
Peter grabbed Davy and pulled him closer. With strength and swiftness borne of sheer desperation, he grabbed the collar of Davy's T-shirt and ripped it down the front.
"Sheeeesh, Peter, you're makin' a habit of this!" Davy groaned. When he'd been shot nearly two years ago, Peter had done the same thing.
"No blood," Peter gasped. "There's no blood....you're okay...."
Davy frowned and looked to his left. Peter followed the movement and saw a second Davy frowning at him as well. "MacLaren," he whispered, his voice trembling.
The vampyre nodded and knelt by the bed. "Aye, Peter." He took Peter's hand in both of his cooler ones. "What is it? You're so pale..."
Peter blinked as he looked into MacLaren's eyes and trembled involuntarily, remembering the dream. "Davy..." he whispered, "can you... leave us alone for a bit? I--- I need to talk to MacLaren alone."
Davy nodded. "Lemme grab an untorn shirt first." He squeezed Peter's shoulder, then grabbed said shirt and left the room.
Half an hour later, Peter left the bedroom -- alone. "Where's MacLaren?" Micky asked.
"He's gone flying," Peter said, moving toward the kitchen. "Had to clear his head."
Mike lowered his head to disguise the grin. "Just goes t'show how people can get used to anything," he deadpanned as he resumed tuning the 12-string.
"What do you mean?" Davy asked from his perch on the window seat.
Mike looked over his shoulder briefly before saying, "Well, two years ago we all thought creatures like MacLaren didn't exist -- and now we're discussing his flying as calmly as discussing the weather!"
That made Davy and Micky chuckle. Peter drained his glass and set it in the sink. "I had a nightmare," he announced calmly.
They didn't know which chilled them more: the fact Peter'd had a nightmare -- they had stopped months ago -- or the calm way he'd said it. He didn't meet their eyes as the terrible details of the dream spilled out; still in that eerily calm voice.
When he finally fell silent, he looked up, revealing the tears streaming down his face. Softly, his voice still oddly calm, he finished, "I told MacLaren about it. Everything. That's why he left."
The other three gathered around him. Micky gently wiped Peter's face. "It's okay, Big Peter. MacLaren knows how you really feel about him -- he knows you trust him."
Mike sighed. "Yeah -- we all trust him. But it's what he is, Micky."
Micky nodded. "Yeah, it is. But he told us he's not drunk human blood in over a century. And he had the same note in his voice then he's had every time he's told us the truth." He met Mike's eyes. "And I would know."
"And that's another thing!" Mike pointed at Micky. "We trust him not to harm us physically ... but what he did to you..."
Micky held up a hand, cutting off Mike's words. "What he did to me, he did because these yahoos thought it would be funny to have a joke that never ends."
Davy grinned. "And it's worked out pretty good."
"Like you'd know," Micky growled. "All this time, and I'm still trying to figure out if having a photographic memory is a blessing or a curse!" He rubbed the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. "And none of this is helping Peter."
"It's not me that needs the help," Peter sighed. "None of this is helping MacLaren."
In an alley across town, the sound of humming was heard as the man went about his task. Already, he was enjoying himself and he had barely begun. The humming increased in volume as a satisfied smile crossed his face.
But his female companion, her once-lovely eyes now fixed and glassy, was long past hearing, her flesh under his methodical ministrations already growing cool.
Two nights later, Peter awoke from another nightmare, screaming his lungs out. Davy jerked awake and raced to his side, as MacLaren ran in from the living room. Davy took Peter's hands and rubbed them, trying to stop the trembling. "The same dream?"
He nodded, shaking so badly he was almost convulsing. He turned to look at MacLaren. "I-I-I'm so s-s-s-sorry..."
The vampyre smiled slightly and ran a hand through Peter's hair. "Nothing t'be sorry for, lad. They're only dreams."
"Mi-Mi-Micky says you kn-know how I r-really f-f-f-..."
"Shush now." He sat down and wrapped an arm around the taller man. "I do know how y'really feel. I can't fathom why you're dreamin' these things."
Peter shuddered and leaned into the almost fatherly embrace. ".....second one tonight...." he whimpered.
Davy blinked. "Second?"
A nod, and Peter's voice dropped to a whisper. "I s-s-saw a mu-murder in my f-first one....and it w-wasn't you...."
MacLaren blinked and looked down at Peter. He broke the hug and cupped Peter's chin in his hand. "Peter.... I need you to remember that first dream. Everything you can tell me."
Peter nodded. In a choked whisper, gory details spilled from him. He'd dreamed of a woman going out with a man and ending up dead at his hands. He'd become frightened because he'd seen it from the man's point of view, felt what he felt. "Does....this m-mean I... I like what I saw?"
The vampyre shook his head. "Not at all. The fact you were frightened by what you saw, even though who you were in the dream relished it, shows that you most definitely did not like it. Your true self is inherently good, Peter. You could not enjoy what the dream-monster did because that shade of darkness doesn't live in your soul. You've touched it in others, but never has it become part of you." He met Peter's eyes. "Not even when you lost Carolyn and Mike. A darkness consumed you then, but it was not this darkness. You have different demons."
Davy laid a hand on his double's shoulder. "MacLaren.....do any of us have this ---"
"No," came the immediate answer. "Not even Michael --- his darkness is like Peter's. A self-consuming darkness, not an others-consuming one. They are very different. None of you could ever be like this creature Peter dreamed of."
"Then why would I dream it?" Peter whispered.
"I don't know, Peter." His hand slid over Peter's hair in a fatherly gesture. "But mark my words ---- together, we will find out."
The day passed as normal -- with the Monkees and their nocturnal houseguest sleeping the morning away. One by one, the four humans got up and resumed their day. All were up and moving by two, keeping their activities quiet except for practice, which never woke MacLaren anyway. They'd often remarked how odd it was that he could awaken if one of them blew their nose too loud, but could sleep through two hours of rock music.
At six, Davy was out with one of his latest conquests. Micky was putting the finishing touches on a new percussive rhythm he was working out, and Peter was in the kitchen getting lunch for them. Mike checked to make sure the downstairs bedroom door was closed, and then he sat down on the couch and clicked on the six o'clock news.
The newscaster began. "Leading tonight's news, police still have no clues in the murder of Polly March, a twenty-year-old college student from Minnesota..." A picture of the murdered woman, taken in happier times, flickered onto the screen as the newscaster finished, "....Miss March was found in an alley at approximately-----"
Mike whirled and stood up in one motion. Micky shot off the bandstand and ran to behind the couch.
Peter stood there, trembling from head to toe. He was surrounded by the remains of lunch, bits of chips and broken glass and plates around his feet, sandwiches scattered. The tray he'd been carrying them on still spun in a strange arc at his feet. Micky and Mike approached him gently, his ashen face and too-wide eyes alarming them as much as the nearly-convulsing trembles wracking his form. "Peter?" Mike whispered.
".....that's her...." Peter whispered, his eyes locked onto the screen. The news had moved onto other stories, but he still stared at the television though he didn't really see it anymore.
"Who's her, Big Peter?" Micky asked, laying a gentle hand on the blonde's arm.
"....the TV..." Peter whispered. Slowly, his eyes turned to Micky. "......that's her."
"Her who?" Mike asked softly, afraid if he spoke at normal volume, Peter would break into a million pieces.
Those haunted eyes turned to lock onto him. "......her, Michael," Peter said in a shaky voice, his eyes beading with tears. "......that's......that's the woman from my dream...."
Micky paled. "You mean...."
Peter nodded slowly. "I....I saw.... I saw her murder....." Then his eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed bonelessly into Micky's arms.
Peter sat on the bed, trembling from head to toe. MacLaren had his arms around Peter's shoulders and was soothing him as best he could.
Finally, Peter gasped out," I... I s-saw a.... a m-murder...."
"In your dreams," MacLaren said softly. At Peter's nod, he gave a long sigh. "I was afraid of this. When I noticed --- well, I was afraid this would happen."
"What?" Mike asked gruffly. "When you noticed what?"
"Take it easy, Michael," Peter snapped. "MacLaren isn't the enemy here." Then he lowered his head. "I am."
"You are not!" burst from four throats before they could stop it. The quadruple-voiced blast brought a weak smile to Peter's face.
MacLaren rubbed Peter's arm. "You're not an enemy, Peter. You do, however, have a gift." At his incredulous look, MacLaren nodded and went on, "When Michael went missing, what did you do?"
"I... I wore his clothes...slept in his bed...."
"Yes." MacLaren smiled. "You did it to feel closer to him, correct?" Peter nodded, and the smile grew. "That was when I suspected it. And when you could feel Michael wasn't nearby or in a specific place, my suspicions grew stronger." He took Peter's hand and squeezed. "And these dreams prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt."
"Prove what?" Peter asked in a strangled whisper. "Mac...what am I?"
The smile was gentle now. "Psychic, Peter. You're psychic."
Peter goggled at him for a moment, and then flung himself out of MacLaren's grasp. "No!" he screeched. "No, no no! I don't want this!"
"Peter," Mike said, climbing to his feet.
"No!" Peter cried -- and began to cry. "No...no, it's a horrible gift! I... I see people die!"
Mike wrapped his arms around Peter and went to his knees as Peter's legs collapsed under him. He carded his fingers through Peter's light straight hair and hummed a tuneless, soothing song as Peter clung to him and wept.
One by one, the others lent their wordless support. Davy rubbed Peter's back. Micky rubbed his legs. MacLaren rubbed both Mike's shoulder and Peter's.
Peter's tears soon sent him into dreamland. Mike lifted him and tucked him into the bed. He then raised his eyes to the others. "Now what're we gonna do?"
An hour later, Peter's scream pierced the air. Less than five minutes later, he appeared in the doorway -- pale, trembling, and shaken to the core.
"Peter?" Mike asked, shaking off MacLaren's hand and climbing to his feet.
His eyes flicked from Mike to MacLaren to Davy to Micky. His mouth worked, but no sound came out.
Mike took a few steps toward him. "Pete?"
This time he managed to get it out. "He....he's...killed...again...." And his eyes began to roll back.
Mike lunged, and caught Peter as he fainted dead away.
At MacLaren's elbow, Micky murmured, "Boy he sure faints a lot since this started."
MacLaren nodded. "Every gift has a price, lad."
He nodded. "Me, I'm immortal -- my price is I must consume blood and stay out of the sunshine. You, you have a photographic memory---"
Micky nodded. "And my price is I have to remember every detail about every thing -- even things I wanna forget. You said Peter's psychic --"
"And his price seems to be the use of his gift drains his body of energy."
Hearing this, Davy ran to the kitchen for some orange juice to feed to a slowly-coming around Peter. Micky watched the other two. "What about them?" he asked MacLaren.
"I don't know, lad. Time will tell."
Micky sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose in a "Give me strength" gesture he'd picked up from Mike. "G-d, I hate it when he turns cryptic...."
Two days later, Peter got up early even by his own standards, adjusted for the nocturnal lifestyle they'd adopted to accommodate their vampyre roommate. He walked the fifteen blocks to the police station in silence and solitude, making it there by eleven AM.
After taking one wrong turn and being propositioned by a 'working girl' who was awaiting arraignment, Peter finally made it to the duty desk. "Excuse me," he said. "I need to talk to a detective."
"Your business?" the sergeant behind the desk asked as a redheaded man turned at the quiet question.
"I need to talk to him about Polly March's murder." Peter shivered.
The redheaded man walked toward him. "What about her murder?" he asked.
"Who are you?" Peter asked, though he relaxed a bit. This man didn't feel like a threat.
"Detective Tom Davis," he said, smiling at Peter and pulling him over to the side, where they had more privacy. "What can you tell me about Polly March's murder?"
"Not much," Peter admitted. "I've never seen his face, but the man who killed her and the other lady enjoys his work. I'm afraid of him and want him off the street."
Davis was no longer smiling. Peter frowned as something in the air seemed to shift. "You're afraid of him? How do you know he enjoys his work?"
"I.... I've seen him work...." Peter admitted in a whisper. "Seen just where he cuts...just where he puts them when he's done..."
"Where's that?" Davis asked, slowly reaching for something in a drawer beside him.
"He put Polly March in an alley, made her look like she was sitting there..... he put the other woman inside a parked taxi....."
Davis nodded. Peter suddenly took a step backward --- the mood had suddenly shifted, and the detective now seemed to scream "threat!”. "De...Detective?" he stammered as the red-haired man stood up.
Suddenly Davis lunged and grabbed Peter, who gasped in shocked alarm as handcuffs were suddenly ‘snick’ed upon his wrists. "You're under arrest, mister!"
"For suspicion of murder in the cases of Polly March and Miranda Tolin."
"What?" Peter shrieked, his eyes huge with disbelief.
"We never released the second murder to the public --- nor did we release the position we found Polly March in. You nailed details you couldn't know --- unless you were the killer. Come on."
Peter mentally screamed for Mike as he was dragged away.
Mike gasped and sat up, moaning as the heels of both hands flew to his pounding head. "....Peter...." Ignoring the near-crippling pain, he swung out of bed and down the stairs, opening the bedroom door.
Davy was secure in the bottom bunk; the top of MacLaren's head was visible under the covers in the top bunk.
Peter's bed was empty and made. Without thinking about what he was doing, Mike reached out with his mind --- the area was cold, missing Peter's mental 'warmth'. He'd been gone awhile.
Mike grunted in pain and pulled away, closing the door and staggering toward the bathroom, focused on nothing more than getting aspirin in him now.
Just as he downed three pills -- dry -- the phone rang. Mike moved over, wincing with each clamor, and picked it up. "What?"
A sniffle on the other end. "Mi...Michael?"
Pain was suddenly forgotten as Mike gripped the receiver tighter. "Peter! Where are you?"
"Please....j-just come g-get me out...."
"I'll be right there, Pete. Right there." He hung up and bolted toward the stairs, only to freeze and blink in astonishment as Micky leaned over the railing, jeans and a button down shirt in hand.
"Boots are by the couch," he told Mike. "I heard enough to know somethin' big's goin' down. Go, do whatever you have to. Call us and let us know."
Mike raised his arms and caught the clothes, shooting Micky a warm smile. "Thanks, man. Get the checkbook, will ya? I gotta go bail Peter out of jail."
Micky blinked, even as he headed down the stairs and to the small desk. "Jail? Peter?"
"Jail. Peter. No idea why, but he sounds scareder than a jackrabbit on an interstate."
"Here it is." Micky handed it to him, as well as his hat. "Go on...I'll get the others up nearer dark."
Mike nodded. "I'll call," he said, heading for the door and scooping up his keys.
Once the door was closed, Micky dialed a number from his eidetic memory. "Yeah, hi, this is Micky Dolenz of the Monkees --- I'd like to retain the services of one of your lawyers, please?"
Peter had fallen into a fitful sleep in the cell, and the dreams came again. Once more, he saw murder.
He was recovering from a faint when Davis walked in. "Come with me," he ordered.
".....need food...." Peter murmured. "....fainted...."
"You've not been in here long enough for ---"
"....dreamed...... saw another murder....he's done it again.....please....food...."
Davis blinked at him. "All right, we'll get you a sandwich in the interrogation room."
As Peter ate, Davis watched him like a hawk. When he drained the last bit of milk, Peter smiled at him, his strength returning. "Thank you."
"Let's chat, shall we?" the detective began.
Peter nodded. "All right."
"Suppose you tell me why you killed Polly March and Miranda Tolin."
Peter sighed and rubbed his eyes. "I can't tell you that, Detective. I didn't kill them."
"You expect me to believe that? You know details that only we and the killer could know."
"I saw them in my dreams."
"Once again, you expect me to believe that?"
Peter leaned forward, his eyes full of anger that he was trying valiantly to control. "I can't tell you what to believe or not to believe. But this sick maniac has killed three women now and he needs to be stopped."
Davis blinked. "Three women?"
"I saw him in my dream. He killed a third woman tonight."
To his credit, Davis managed to hold in his disbelieving scoff. "I think, Mister Tork, that you are trying very hard to divert suspicion from yourself."
"I don't need to divert suspicion, Detective. I'm innocent. I came to you to see if I could help." He sat back. "If I'd have known I would be charged for a crime I had nothing to do with except for the bad fortune of being an eyewitness in my dreams, I wouldn't have wasted my time."
Davis's partner Jameson walked into the room as Davis leaned over the table and said, "Look, Tork. Enough of this crap. You know you killed those two ladies. I know you killed those two ladies. You've been here since eleven this morning --- surely by now you know the value of cooper--"
"Hold on," Jameson said, walking forward. "Tim....you say he's been here since eleven?"
Davis nodded. "That's right. Prime suspect in the March and Tolin murders."
Jameson shook his head. "Innocent man wrongly being held, you mean." He threw a folder down in front of Davis. "Juliette Owens. Victim number three. Coroner fixes time of death between three and five this afternoon." He nodded at Peter. "While you had this boy in a holding cell."
"You're kidding!" Davis grabbed for the folder and scanned its contents. ".....well, I'll be damned. Mister Tork.... ah..... it seems I owe you an apology....."
"You don't owe me a damn thing," Peter said, standing up and slapping his palms on the table. "You owe those ladies the dignity of not wasting everybody's time and finding this man!"
"We're doing the best we ---"
"Bull!" Peter exploded. "You're too damned busy with your posturing and your power to give the first honest lead that comes across your path anything but contempt!"
Jameson held up a hand. "Hold on.... honest lead?"
Davis jerked his head toward Peter. "Aaah, he claims he's seen the murders in his dreams. Nailed some details we hadn't released to the press. S'why I've held him -- thought he'd done it."
Jameson stared at Davis, his jaw unhinging. "And you didn't tell me about this?" he burst out. "For G-d's sake, Tim, no wonder his generation doesn't trust us anymore!" He stood up and moved toward Peter. "You've witnessed the murders?"
Peter nodded. "Every single one. The March woman, the second lady, and the one he murdered this afternoon. I ... I dream them. I don't want to, but I do." He glared at Davis. "I came here, hoping I could help, and I ended up treated like the criminal I'm not."
"Come with me.... maybe we can get to the bottom of this." Jameson glared at Davis. "And don't think for one minute this isn't going to the Captain, Tim. Not this time. This is too important."
Mike parked the Monkeemobile and got out, frowning up at the police station. He moved toward it, and began to jog up the stairs to the front entrance.
A man in a dark jacket bumped into Mike on his way down. Mike and he both turned, and their eyes locked. Chocolate brown eyes met eerie violet ones.
Mike suddenly recoiled, his hands flying to his forehead as his senses were assaulted by hatred so pure and primal it stank. He could taste evil so deep and pungent his stomach turned. The reek of blood surrounded the violet-eyed man -- not the same blood-smell as came from MacLaren, though. That was the smell of the animal blood the vampyre used to keep himself alive.
This man reeked of human blood. Fresh blood. And the evil joy of taking it by force.
The man moved on, vanishing into the crowd, and the moment was over. But it was more than enough.
Mike rose shakily to his feet, his head pounding and his world tilting crazily. Deep within him, though he didn't know how he knew, he knew that he'd gazed on the face of the man from Peter's dreams.
And he'd been in the police station ---- feet from Peter.
Fear and worry making him swift, Mike burst into the police station in search of his friend.