Carl narrates: with the state of Nevada digging up the desert for new road. May 2nd, an airline stewardess, Elena Muñoz, is driving through the desert when her car gets a flat tire and she cuts her finger while setting up the jack. The blood drips on the ground . . . and she witnesses something claw itself up out of the ground. Munoz flees and when the authority returns, nothing is there.
In Chicago, Carl meets with an old friend, reporter turned anchorman Swede Brytowski, who has heard about blood-loss deaths en route to Los Angeles. The New York office wants someone to go off to Los Angeles and report on a 15-year old guru, and Carl manages to steal the assignment.
May 16, Catherine Rawlins, an "escort," is stopped on the streets of Las Vegas by a man she hasn't seen in three years. At his apartment, she kills the man and later, his girlfriend Linda Cortner.
Carl arrives in L.A. and hears a report from Barstow about a man named Mitchell, said to have died of exposure in a sealed car. This death fits the pattern reported to him by Swede. Visiting Barstow, he talks with an enigmatic deputy named Sample. Sample contends Mitchhat ell stole the care and planned to repaint it, but Carl notices the car windows are black-taped on the inside. The deputy refuses to confirm that the victim had puncture wounds in his neck.
Next, Carl goes to meet with the guru at his new house and discovers he's missed his appointment. He links up with the real estate agent, Faye Kruger. Since she knows the guru and used to be a journalist student, Carl gets her to write his story.
En route he overhears a report of a news briefing being held by Lt. Jack Matteo. Matteo claims devil worshippers are responsible but Carl isn't buying it, and POs Matteo in the process. After stalling Vincenzo and having another confrontation with Matteo at the crime scene, Carl talks to a janitor who confirms that Linda Courtner was Catherine Rawlins' sister. He also learns that Courtner worked as a prostitute for Grace's Catering. Rawlins links up with a "businessman," Ichabod Grace, and joins his string of prostitutes.
After sparring over the phone with Vincenzo (who isn't happy with Faye's real-estate angle), Carl calls Ichabod Grace and sets up an appointment with Rawlins, then chases Faye out, then uses her borrowed lipstick to draw a cross on the door and try to trap Rawlins in the hotel room. That night a woman comes in, but it's not Rawlins—Rawlins is on another assignment with a football player. The guy's teammates show up to find Rawlins feeding and she attacks them, tossing them around the room.
Carl reveals Rawlins' relationship to Linda Courtner, and this convinces Ichabod Grace that there might be something to Carl's contention that Rawlins murdered Courtner. Grace finally reveals where he sent Cathering, and Carl races to the football player's home, arriving as Rawlins is killing his teammates. Carl is able to drive off Rawlins with a pair of crossed fireplace tools. The police burst in and after a conversation with Vincenzo, Matteo tells Carl to get out of town in 24 hours.
Carl meets with Faye and realizes her real-estate connections will help him track down Rawlins' lair. It's sunset when Carl finds her house and makes his own particularly noisy entrance--then Rawlins attacks. Carl manages to hold her off with his cross so that he can flee toward the nearby hill. She catches up to him and he's forced to leave the cross on her to drive her temporarily off. As she closes in, he ignites the cross on the hill overlooking Los Angeles, paralyzing her long enough to drive a strike through her heart. Matteo and his men arrive just in time to witness Carl finishing her off.
Carl is back on a plane with no evidence after having ducked a murder charge--since Rawlins was dead three years, there was no way it would stick.
Written by Gadfly on Nov 30, 2015