As always, Nick & Co. do not belong to me (having been created by James Parriott and Barney Cohen and belonging to Sony/Tristar), but I'm certainly having fun with them.
by Nancy Braman
As Nick drove by the Raven on his way to work on a perfectly normal evening, his sensitive hearing picked up a scream from within the club. As he hastily parked the Caddy and ran through the doorway and towards the rear of the club, he realized the voice had been Janette's. But that was ridiculous because-- At that point, he nearly collided with Miklos, who was headed in the same direction, and who unwittingly completed his thought.
"Janette never screams!"
As both vampires barged into the receiving area, they were confronted by the sight of a vampiric delivery man standing by a stack of crates, and an obviously angry Janette, hands on her hips, eyes glowing amber, and fangs descended.
"I ordered Burgundy, not Bordeaux!" stormed the mistress of the Raven. "Bordeaux bloodwine is very good, but not, I repeat NOT, when I have ordered Burgundy!"
"I'm sorry, Madame DuCharme," apologized the delivery man, a youngster of only about a century or so, "but I just deliver what I'm told to deliver."
"Remove it," Janette commanded imperiously, "and return with what I ordered. I shall phone your employer, and perhaps this time they will get it right."
As the unhappy delivery man began to reload the crates of bloodwine into his truck, Janette turned and saw her brother and her bartender watching with very bemused expressions.
"Janette, what was all that about?" Nick queried. "Your bloodwine supplier has messed up before, but you never scream about it--you just deal with it."
"Ah, but mon cher Nicolas, this is October 12," Janette told him, and, as if that explained everything, she kissed him on the cheek and then disappeared in the direction of her office to phone her bloodwine supplier.
Nick and Miklos exchanged bewildered glances and simultaneously shook their heads. Nick opened his mouth to say something, but before he could get a word out, another scream, this one from a male voice, echoed through the Raven. Their bewilderment changed to shock. LaCroix screaming? The world must be coming to an end!
The two vampires, with Nick in the lead, charged unceremoniously into the broadcast booth.
"LaCroix, what's wrong?" demanded Nick.
"Why, Nicholas, one would think you were concerned." LaCroix picked up several CDs and placed them near the microphone. "To answer your question, the clerk who files--or perhaps I should say misfiles--my CDs is completely incompetent. No matter how frequently I leave carefully written instructions, he files them by convenience--his--rather than by my rules."
"Is that a reason to scare the hell out of everyone within hearing distance?"
LaCroix raised one eyebrow.
"This, Nicholas, is October 12," he stated. "It is the one day of the year on which I will permit myself to give voice to such an undignified utterance as a scream."
With that, he turned to his microphone, leaving his son and Miklos to back out of the broadcast booth in a state of near shock.
"Miklos, what on earth--?"
"I have no idea," the Hungarian vampire admitted, "but I hope that was the end of it. If I have to put up with that sort of thing all night, I may be screaming myself."
"Well, if you find out what's caused the two oldest vampires in the city to take temporary leave of their senses, let me know ASAP. You have my cell number?"
Miklos nodded. "And if you find out--"
"I'll let you know," Nick promised. As he left, he heard another scream emanating from the depths of the Raven.
As Nick entered the bullpen, the first thing he heard was a scream coming from his Captain's office. The scream was followed by Captain Cohen herself.
"Listen up, people! Those reports you hand me are read by a lot of other people, including the people who decide promotions. It would help if some of you learned to spell and punctuate!"
"Er...Captain? Is that what that scream was about?"
Captain Cohen turned around to see who had spoken. "Detective Knight," she greeted him. "Well, it's October 12." She waited a moment to see if he would say something else, and when he remained silent, she returned to her office.
"Yo, Nicky-boy!" Nick's partner, Don Schanke, sailed into the bullpen, coffee in one hand, doughnut in the other. "What's up?"
Nick gave an inward sigh of relief at the appearance of someone who spoke in a normal tone of voice. A few years ago, he would have hesitated to apply the term "normal" to his then-new partner, but now... Well, even if the rest of the world went crazy, he could count on Don to stay reliably sane.
"Cohen's been screaming about spelling and punctuation in reports."
"Literally screaming, Schank."
"Oh." Schanke snickered. "Well, it couldn't have been directed at you, partner. You never do any paperwork."
"Hey, that's not--" Nick was about to say "fair" when he was interrupted by a scream. His mouth stayed open and he stared at Schanke in shock.
"Won't anyone ever make a pencil that won't break or a pen that always works?" Schanke fired two pencils and a pen into the wastebasket. "What?" he asked, seeing his partner's expression.
"You screamed," Nick said, rather faintly.
"Oh, yeah. It's October 12."
"October 12. Right. I think I'll go see if the Henderson autopsy report is ready."
"Say hi to Nat for me," his partner smirked knowingly.
Nick grabbed his coat and headed out the door. What was it about October 12 that caused vampires and mortals alike to go suddenly, if temporarily, nuts? Was it something in the air? If so, why wasn't he screaming, too? Well, at least he could count on Natalie Lambert to behave like herself. He hoped.
As he approached the lab, all seemed normal. Then, just as he touched the doorknob--
He hastily threw the door open and found Nat glaring at her computer.
"Nat, what's going on?" There was no point in being worried, since the coroner was clearly displeased with the computer, not with him.
"This--this THING ate my file!" Nat grumbled.
"It often does. That's why you make backups. You don't scream at it."
"Not usually. But this is--"
"I know," Nick interrupted. "October 12. Will someone please tell me what the big deal is about October 12 and screaming?"
"You really don't know?"
Nick shook his head.
Nat stared at him for a moment, and then asked,
"Remember that e-mail newsletter the city subscribed all its employees to a couple of months ago?" Nick nodded. "Did you confirm the subscription?"
"Yes, but only because it was easier than trying to explain why I wasn't interested in something called 'Holidays for All Reasons.' I figure I've seen or heard about every holiday in existence."
"Not quite." Nat, grinning, called up her e-mail program. Yes, this month's newsletter was still in her inbox. She opened it and turned the monitor around so Nick could read it. "You know, you really should read these things."
Nick looked at the document on the screen. Unusual October Holidays, he read, then continued down the page until he got to October 12. He blinked and read it again, then rubbed his eyes and read it a third time. Then he turned and looked at Nat, who burst out laughing at his dumfounded expression. For a moment Nick felt like screaming himself, then the ridiculousness of it all struck him and he, too, began laughing. Later, he would tell Nat about a couple of vampires who obviously read the same newsletter, but first, he had a promise to keep. Pulling out his cellphone, he dialled a number.
"Miklos? It's Nick....Yes, I found out what's going on. October 12 is International Moment of Frustration Scream Day!"