Two young women smiled when Veto walked by. He responded with a smile of his own but would not be distracted. Even before the change, he had been an attractive man and was accustomed to the attention. Dylan called him the chick magnet. All in all, not a bad moniker. It had been over three hundred years and he still appreciated the attention and the accompanying benefits.

He turned down a dark alley but knew no fear. The fey walked softly when they saw him. Witches and werewolves dreaded his arrival. Vampires owed their allegiance to him. He was the head of the colony. Excluding stories told to frighten children, humans knew nothing of his kind.

The projectile entered his chest near his non-beating heart. Veto turned on his attacker and raised an incredulous eye at the human who dared to attack him. Dressed in a dark suit with a top hat, the attacker holstered his gun and swung a bat at Veto, who dropped and rolled to the side. The bat caught air. Veto stood. Unconcerned, he checked to make sure the alley was empty and laughed. A human thought to kill him. Still chuckling, Veto turned to face his opponent as the bat landed a clean hit to the side of his temple.

Even vampires can be knocked out by a blow to the head.

Veto opened his eyes to complete darkness and reached for the cell phone he could feel in his pocket. His elbow hit a wall. Shaking his arm to stop the sting, his hand hit another wall less then twelve inches in front of him. Cursing, Veto kept his arm and elbow near his body and reached in his pocket to retrieved his phone. As his corneas adjusted to the light provided by his phone, Veto’s mouth turned up slightly at the absurdity. He was in a coffin. It’s not like he had never been in one before, but if the colony found out, there would be a string of coffin jokes.

He ran his fingers over the silk that covered the padding. It was comfortable. Veto pulled away a small portion of the padding to reveal boards made of tulip poplar. At least his adversary sprung for top of the line. Veto pushed on the lid and verified what he had expected. He had been buried. Irritating, but not a problem.

Hitting speed dial, Veto waited for Dylan to pick up.

“Hey, man. Where are you?”

In the background Veto heard pool balls drop into a pocket while Cassey, a bartender at The Broken Broomstick, talked to Chloe. He had hoped to reach Dylan before he left his flat. Veto pushed down his irritation and said, “Track my location and bring a shovel.”

“Shovel?” Dylan sounded confused. “Where are you? You sound like you’re in a cave.”

“GPS my location. And hurry.”

Dylan must have looked at the coordinates because he asked, “Are you… buried?”

Veto sighed. There was no way out of explaining. “Yes.”

“Six-feet-under?”

“Just get here and dig me out. Otherwise, I won’t tell you what happened.”

“On my way.” Before Dylan hung up, Veto heard him say, “You guys will never guess where Veto is.”

Gritting his teeth, Veto waited for Dylan and wondered who would be with his lieutenant. It was a safe bet The Broken Broomstick would empty out as the colony came to see this.

When he heard the faint sound of shoveling, Veto checked his phone. It had been over an hour from the time he called Dylan. Good thing he didn’t need to breathe. A few minutes later, Veto felt the coffin shake as the lid was lifted and he saw at least half of the colony peering down into his place of rest.

Amid catcalls and whistles, Veto grabbed Dylan’s extended hand and climbed out of the coffin. Veto had been buried in a plot where the resident shared the same last name as he did. That was certainly the MO of the killer. All victims had been buried on top of someone with the same last name. Veto felt confident this was the first time a victim had been buried on top of their brother’s descendants.

“Who did this to you?” Chloe asked. The youngest undead of the colony, she was barely fifty years old, but she would look forever twenty-five. She was also the owner of The Broken Broomstick.

Penelope slid her hand through Veto’s arm, and said, “I’d rather know why they did it.”

“Yeah, boss. What happened?” Dylan asked.

Veto straightened his jacket sleeves and checked his suit for dust. “I’m the latest victim of The Coroner.”

“The Coroner?” Dylan scratched his chin. “The serial killer who buries his victims?”

“The same.” Veto nodded.

“Explains the top-of-the-line casket, but not why you allowed yourself to be buried,” Chloe said.

“The Coroner knocked me over the head. I woke up buried. That’ll teach me to laugh at a serial killer.” Veto withdrew his arm from Penelope and walked away from the colony.

“Where you going?” Dylan asked.

Veto’s fangs extended as he called over his shoulder, “To haunt my killer.”

More flash fiction by N. R. Tucker.

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