Will burst into Helen Magnus's office waving a sheaf of papers.
"I knew it, and now I have proof!" he exclaimed, slapping the papers down on her desk.
Helen gave him a confused look and picked up the ten sheets in a loose pile in front of her.
"What are you talking about?"
"I finally found an investigator who knows what he's doing. There it is, Magnus, proof of who killed my mother."
Helen gave him a concerned look. All they had known up to this point was that she had been torn apart by a beast, probably an abnormal. Will had been tortured by vague memories for years, and the identity of the killer had become a suppressed obsession of his.
Will just pointed at the papers and said, "Read it. There's even a photo, although it's not very good, just a computer enhanced enlargement of someone in the background. Still, he's recognizable."
Magnus quickly scanned the papers, reading the investigator's summary and taking a long look at several photographs, mostly of the victims' injuries, but including the distant shot of a man. Then she said, "This says your mother and three other women were murdered within a few weeks of each other in the same local area by a creature that is described as having claws and possibly drinking blood but able to pass as human. The photo of the man is quite blurry; I don't see how you could recognize whoever it is."
"You don't want to recognize who's in the photo. You don't want to see the obvious conclusion. The killer was a vampire, and the only vampire in North America at the time was Tesla. That's Tesla in the photo."
Helen sighed. Will had convinced himself, but the evidence seemed open to interpretation. "Give me a few minutes to read through this completely. Then we'll talk."
"Fine." Will sat down and waited while she read through the printout carefully. When she had finished, Helen set the papers down carefully, marshalling her thoughts.
"Will, this says that the victims were clawed and there didn't seem to be enough blood residue to account for all the blood lost. That doesn't prove that it was drunk. All four were killed outside, some blood likely soaked into the ground, there was a great deal of splatter, and some was undoubtedly carried off on the perpetrator. There are quite a number of creatures that would fit that profile, both normal and abnormal."
"It also says no creatures were ever seen or reported, there were no tracks, no hair or fur, nothing at all to indicate that it was an animal. Every witness said all they saw was other people in local area. And the picture is conclusive."
Helen shook her head. "The picture is of a man striding along in a parklike area wearing a suit. There are some patches that look like stains on the suit, but that's not proof he was the killer. He could have tripped and fallen in a mud puddle or something. And frankly, while the height and build match Nikola's, there are undoubtedly thousands of men it could be. According to the report, this was taken about the time of one of the other killings, a family photo that happened to catch him in the background. There's nothing to link him to the other three murders, and it's apparent that all four are similar enough to conclude one killer."
"There's nothing to say he wasn't at the other three kill sites either. And there were footprints found at three of the sites from long narrow male feet, and at the fourth the ground was too hard for prints. One killer, Magnus. And while all of the victims were slashed, there was enough left of one to see a double puncture wound on the neck. The other bodies probably had those marks too, but the bodies were badly mangled and no one knew until the fourth to look for them."
Helen shook her head slowly. "I know you want an answer Will, after all these years. But you mustn't force an answer when there really isn't one here."
"It is right there in front of you, and I want justice, Magnus. Justice for my mother, for me, and for the other victims and their families."
"Let's say for the sake of argument that it was a vampire. That still doesn't mean it had to be Nikola. You know there are other vampires in the world; it could have been someone else. Just because Nikola hadn't located any others of his kind in North America doesn't preclude the possibility."
"Come off it, you're reaching and you know it. Tesla is a murdering bastard, and he has to pay for what he did."
"I'll show him this and ask him about it, that's as far as I'm willing to go. If he denies it and I believe he's telling the truth, then that's the end of it as far as I am concerned."
Will stood up. "That's not good enough."
Just then there was a short rap at the door, and Nikola Tesla walked in. Both Helen and Will stared at him and he stopped, realizing something was going on.
The tall vampire spread his arms and said, "What? Is it about the wine?"
Helen said, "No, but what about the wine?"
Will brushed her question aside. He picked up the papers and waved them at Nikola. "I finally have proof of what you did, you scum, and you're going to pay for it!"
Nikola's eyes shifted right and left from Will to Helen and back, but that didn't aid his understanding of what he was being accused of much. Will was angry but Helen just looked serious, so he wasn't in big trouble, at least not yet.
"Um, I think I need a little more. What am I going to pay for?"
Will advanced and shook the papers in Nikola's face. "You murdered my mother and three other women!"
Helen asked more reasonably, "Did you attack four women, drink their blood and kill them Nikola?"
"No, of course not," Tesla replied in an offended voice.
She asked again. "Are you quite sure? This was not recent, and you have had periods where you have . . . shall we say, had difficulties. It was years ago when Will was a child. It appears a private investigator Will hired has come up with evidence that the murders could have been done by a vampire."
"I don't go around attacking people and drinking their blood. You know that, Helen."
Will held up the picture of the man in the stained suit. "This is you. Don't deny it!"
Nikola looked at the picture and went even paler than usual. He took it from Will's hand and studied it, not looking up as he found a chair and sat down, a pained expression on his face.
Helen's certainty of Nikola's innocence vanished. "Nikola?"
Will pointed at the silent vampire. "There's your admission of guilt, Magnus. That is him, he did it, and he has to pay for his crimes!" Will threw down the papers and rushed from the room.
Helen was becoming alarmed. "Nikola, look at me. Is that you?"
Tesla carefully reached out and laid the picture on her desk. He looked up at her and said in a strained voice, "No, it's not."
"But you know who it is."
"I can't . . ." Nikola stopped, unable to continue.
She got up from her desk and knelt by him, laying her hands on his leg. "Look at me. Tell me. I'll understand."
He did look at her, but he just shook his head. "I can't. Don't ask me. I didn't kill the women; that has to be enough."
The office door burst open, and Will strode in. He was carrying the bulky rifle Tesla had created to fight the Cabal vampires. Nikola had used his own DNA to test it, so there was no doubt in anyone's mind that it was one of the few things in the world that could kill him.