Kitty and the Midnight Hour Page 1

Chapter 1

I tossed my backpack in a corner of the studio and high-fived Rodney on his way out.

"Hey, Kitty, thanks again for taking the midnight shift," he said. He'd started playing some third-generation grunge band that made my hackles rise, but I smiled anyway.

"Happy to."

"I noticed. You didn't used to like the late shift."

He was right. I'd gone positively nocturnal the last few months. I shrugged. "Things change."

"Well, take it easy."

Finally, I had the place to myself. I dimmed the lights so the control board glowed, the dials and switches futuristic and sinister. I pulled my blond hair into a ponytail. I was wearing jeans and an oversized sweatshirt that had been through the wash too many times. One of the nice things about the late shift at a radio station was that I didn't have to look good for anybody.

I put on the headphones and sat back in the chair with its squeaky wheels and torn upholstery. As soon as I could, I put on my music. Bauhaus straight into the Pogues. That'd wake 'em up. To be a DJ was to be God. I controlled the airwaves. To be a DJ at an alternative public radio station? That was being God with a mission. It was thinking you were the first person to discover The Clash and you had to spread the word.

My illusions about the true power of being a radio DJ had pretty much been shattered by this time. I'd started out on the college radio station, graduated a couple of years ago, and got the gig at KNOB after interning here. I might have had a brain full of philosophical tenets, high ideals, and opinions I couldn't wait to vocalize. But off-campus, no one cared. The world was a bigger place than that, and I was adrift. College was supposed to fix that, wasn't it?

I switched on the mike.

"Good evening to you, Denver. This is Kitty on K-Nob. It's twelve-oh-twelve in the wee hours and I'm bored, which means I'm going to regale you with inanities until somebody calls and requests a song recorded before 1990.

"I have the new issue of Wide World of News here. Picked it up when I got my frozen burrito for dinner. Headline says: 'Bat Boy Attacks Convent.' Now, this is like the tenth Bat Boy story they've done this year. That kid really gets around—though as long as they've been doing stories on him he's got to be what, fifty? Anyway, as visible as this guy is, at least according to the intrepid staff of Wide World of News , I figure somebody out there has seen him. Have any of you seen the Bat Boy? I want to hear about it. The line is open."

Amazingly, I got a call right off. I wouldn't have to beg.


"Uh, yeah, dude. Hey. Uh, can you play some Pearl Jam?"

"What did I say? Did you hear me? Nothing after '89. Bye."

Another call was waiting. Double cool. "Hi there."

"Do you believe in vampires?"

I paused. Any other DJ would have tossed off a glib response without thinking—just another midnight weirdo looking for attention. But I knew better.

"If I say yes, will you tell me a good story?"

"So, do you?" The speaker was male. His voice was clear and steady.

I put my smile into my voice. "Yes."

"The Bat Boy stories, I think they're a cover-up. All those tabloid stories, and the TV shows like Uncharted World ?"


"Everybody treats them like they're a joke. Too far out, too crazy. Just mindless trash. So if everybody thinks that stuff is a joke, if there really is something out there—no one would believe it."

"Kind of like hiding in plain sight, is that what you're saying? Talk about weird supernatural things just enough to make them look ridiculous and you deflect attention from the truth."

"Yes, that's it."

"So, who exactly is covering up what?"

" They are. The vampires. They're covering up, well, everything. Vampires, werewolves, magic, crop circles—"

"Slow down there, Van Helsing."

"Don't call me that!" He sounded genuinely angry.

"Why not?"

"It's—I'm not anything like him. He was a murderer."

The hairs on my arms stood on end. I leaned into the mike. "And what are you?"

He let out a breath that echoed over the phone. "Never mind. I called about the tabloid."

"Yes, Bat Boy. You think Bat Boy is a vampire?"

"Maybe not specifically. But before you brush it off, think about what may really be out there."

Actually, I didn't have to. I already knew.

"Thanks for the tip."

He hung up.

"What an intriguing call," I said, half to myself, almost forgetting I was on the air.

The world he talked about—vampires, werewolves, things that go bump—was a secret one, even to the people who inadvertently found their way there. People fell into it by accident and were left to sink or swim. Usually sink. Once inside, you especially didn't talk about it to outsiders because, well, who would believe you?

But we weren't really talking here, were we? It was late-night radio. It was a joke.

I squared my shoulders, putting my thoughts back in order. "Right. This raises all sorts of possibilities. I have to know—did I just get a call from some wacko? Or is something really out there? Do you have a story to tell about something that isn't supposed to exist? Call me." I put on Concrete Blonde while I waited.

The light on the phone showing an incoming call flashed before the song's first bass chord sounded. I wasn't sure I wanted anyone to call. If I could keep making jokes, I could pretend that everything was normal.

I picked up the phone. "Hold, please," I said and waited for the song to end. I took a few deep breaths, half-hoping that maybe the caller just wanted to hear some Pearl Jam.

"All right. Kitty here."

"Hi—I think I know what that guy's talking about. You know how they say that wolves have been extinct around here for over fifty years? Well—my folks have a cabin up in Nederland, and I swear I've heard wolves howling around there. Every summer I've heard them. I called the wildlife people about it once, but they just told me the same thing. They're extinct. But I don't believe them."

"Are you sure they're wolves? Maybe they're coyotes." That was me trying to act normal. Playing the skeptic. But I'd been to those woods, and I knew she was right. Well, half-right.