The lights were bright, but Adam Thurston never squinted. Nor did he blink, nor did he flinch. The television camera staring at him were no bother, and Adam paid almost no mind to the mass of microphones attached to the wooden podium before him. If Adam were to run his palm over the microphones, it might feel like one of those egg pads people put on their mattresses.
“For too long, these monsters have run amok in this city,” he spoke, gripping either end of the podium. “This city’s history is in many ways shameful, but no amount of corruption or mafia influence can compare with the dangers and all-too-real threats posed to our citizens by these … creatures.”
Adam’s left hand twitched, fingers threatening to curl into a fist. He took a deep breath to steel himself, standing up straight and smoothing over his navy blue tie. His eyes narrowed not in a squint, but in a show of steely determination.
“I wasn’t planning to take questions today,” Adam said, shooting a sideways glance at his press secretary. Of course this was supposed to be a simple speech in front of Navy Pier, a nice photo op that would eventually lead to nice footage for eventual attack ads against whoever the opposition lined up in the coming months.
But given the gazes Adam was getting as he made yet another impassioned rebuke of the undead movement, taking questions seemed appropriate.
“But what the hell, right? Bob, you’re first.”
Robert Ferguson, a pencil-thin fellow who wrote about local politics for the Sun-Times, stood and stuck his digital recorder as close to Adam’s face as he could. “Mr. Thurston, you’ve made your distaste for vampires clear – and who could blame you – but what is your position with relation to the Fellowship of the Sun Church? Do they provide a meaningful service, or do you find their methods more destructive than anything?”
Adam nearly chuckled, but caught himself. He shot his press secretary another glance before regarding Bob once more.
“While I would …” Adam paused. “… normally denounce the violent methods of what mainstream society and hippie-pants communists like Rachel Maddow consider a fringe group with no real power, the fact is the Fellowship is doing what needs to be done.”
Hearing the murmurs of some in the crowd – including the bloggers sitting in the back who would undoubtedly post this quote all over the Internet with all sorts of derogatory, anti-Thurston rhetoric – Adam smiled, straightening again. “Their opponent is not political; this isn’t a case of Christians against atheists or pagans.
“Atheists are merely annoying. Vampires are an actual threat.”
One of the bloggers stood and shouted, “So you’re saying that unless you’re Christian, you have no worth in this country?”
“That’s one liberal’s interpretation,” Adam snarled. “What I’m saying is … not only do you have no worth as a Chicagoan or an American if you have no pulse, but that anyone without a pulse are a serious and real threat to all of us.”
One of the television reporters – Adam couldn’t see her because she was hiding behind the bright lights of the cameras – spoke up next. “Mr. Thurston,” she began, the slightest hint of a Spanish accent in her voice, “what exactly would you do to keep the residents of Chicago safe from the undead threat?”
Adam’s smile grew a little, almost like he knew something that he wasn’t telling – until now. “Well, I’d start by taking out those at the top,” he answered. “I know of at least one vampire in this city who goes by the title of ‘Sheriff,’ as if these beasts fancy themselves an actual society in need of some bastardized hierarchy. There’s one on the northeast end of the city, a parasite who calls himself Finn.
“Take out the Sheriffs, the lesser vampires are sure to run off like the stinking little cockroaches they are.”
Bob spoke again. “Is this going to be the extent of your campaign, Mr. Thurston? There are other pertinent issues facing this city. Corruption, water pollution, taxation …”
“Yes,” Adam cut off Bob abruptly. “But no other issue poses an immediate and frightening threat to our people. Men, women and especially children are afraid of these monsters. If you could see the letters sent to my office every day, telling of how a child had to be raised by his grandparents because a vampire killed his single mother … or heard the voice mail of an ER nurse who’s tired of seeing patients die from blood loss.
“The danger is very real, ladies and gentlemen. I am the only person capable of dealing with this horrible menace. Anyone else sitting in that mayor’s chair will be at best impotent in the face of the problem, and at worst complicit.”
With the reporters now shouting nearly in unison – undoubtedly wondering what he meant when he said he was the only one capable of dealing with the vampire menace – Adam left the podium to signal the end of the press conference. His press secretary, a short Asian-looking man named Joel, matched him stride-for-stride, unbuttoning his charcoal blazer and looking up at Adam.
“And just how are you planning to deal with the menace, sir?”
Adam’s smile faded, the unnerving determination returning to his gaze. “Whatever it takes,” he mused with little emotion. “We don’t need laws for this.”