Changing and Rearranging
My life really had begun to spin in ways I certainly hadn't expected, much less planned for in any way.
Morgan was still trying to console Jasmine from her unintentional offing of the nasty ice-vampire named Helen. Brad and Riley had turned their attention back to the two cops. They were crouched next to the men in my living room talking with each other while also on their cell phones, speaking in mumbled whispers to unseen folks.
I had the sinking feeling that even more vampires were coming my way. Brad met my gaze and nodded, still talking into the cell. He snapped it shut decisively and continued to consult with Riley in hushed tones.
I was getting less and less pleased with the lack of control I had in my own existence. It had been years since I was a smoker, but all the aggravation in my life was renewing a long dead craving for a smoke. Harry caught my random thought and came back to my side. He laughed and said calmly, "You know damn well we don't get any real pleasure from smoking."
He too had been a heavy smoker back when it was deemed socially correct. We vampires didn't get a buzz or much of anything, but the all too human visual distraction having a cigarette or cigar in our hands was part of what made us fly under the radar successfully for so long. We did mirror the society around as best we could, and smoking was one way of appearing normal.
Most of what humans attained pleasure from was denied us as vampires. For years, even decades, I had heard whispers and rumors that there was a high out there for vampires other than blood. I wasn't personally interested in pursuing it, but knew that such unapproved addictions could be fully fatal. I probably could ask Morgan more about that, but didn't quite think this was the time, being that Morgan and Brad were part of the vampire clean up crew currently.
Harry hissed, "Drop it, Cassandra, this is not only the wrong time, but definitely the wrong crowd." Interesting, it sounded like Harry might already know something about the newest addiction for vampires. Of course, with his position in the human world I was not shocked. Mentally I noted the thought and stuffed it far back into my over-crowded brain.
Jasmine roused herself enough to ask, "How many more vampires are coming?" Her voice broke mid-question on the word vampires. Morgan tried to appear in control, but I could see his concerns growing. Jasmine could do lots of damage in a large group of us vampires if she wanted. Brad nodded his understanding and replied, "Too many. Morgan, can you take Jasmine away from here for a few hours?"
That did not thrill me in any way. We were now going to be severely outnumbered by the vampires of Brad's on their way. But I didn't see any way for Jasmine to stay here and not be killed or kill some more vampires. Neither did anyone else with a vote. Harry was busy rapidly typing in something into his PDA and I waited for some words to find out what was going on now.
Morgan nodded and answered slowly, "You are correct, Brad. We will go find out some more about Lani and her Goths from Jasmine's street folks. This is late enough that they are still out and about, and yet not too far gone with either chemicals or alcohol to help. I will await your call to let us know where to meet up." That was a better idea, I thought, than waiting for them to contact us and come back here.
There was a lot to do, and I really didn't want to stay around to see if we could get any more visitors. My home was no longer safe in any manner. Not from humans, non-humans, or even vampires.
With a subtle nod to Harry and me, Morgan and Jasmine were suddenly gone. A different feeling stole over me with their departure. There were now only six of us. Well, four technically, because the policemen weren't exactly in any shape to do much more than shake and shudder. Still, they were the reason we all were even still talking.
With Helen's unusual departure from this world, Brad and Riley were the only two dangerous vampires besides us left for now. That was soon to change, and since Harry and I were a team, and after all was said and done, this was my home; there were things to do quickly if we were to keep ahead of the game. I felt the welcome purr of energy flowing across my skin as the danger of the two unknown vampires began to push into my awareness.
Brad should have been able to read my mind fairly easily as a high level vampire, but the added stress of losing Helen, the tainted cops, and still trying to figure out how to topple Morgan, all the while still retaining his good name as an executioner was keeping him pretty busy. Harry and I took advantage of the break in his concentration to communicate silently. The feeling of Harry washing through my mind was comfortable and very familiar. We quickly made a plan.
"So you agree?" Brad asked, obviously having said something prior I had not been listening to while Harry and I were mentally chatting. Harry was no help, but Riley luckily was an open book.
"No, Brad, I do not agree," I snarled, having heard from Riley that he wanted me to show him some of my safety measures in case we were attacked by others during the wait for his crew. Safety measures for vampires were pretty much along the lines of full on war attack capabilities. Harry was very well versed in my toys, but generally I didn't like sharing.
Harry flinched at the anger in my voice since he wasn't quite sure we had the entire plan in place, and was hesitant to start before Selma called him back. We really did need permissions in place at some level before we acted, but I felt the rush of power coming with our plan and my mood. He had been contacting Selma through his email on his PDA, and was waiting for an answer of any kind. She was capable of contacting the higher up members of the vampire political machine from her home without Brad or Riley knowing we were doing anything. Basically Selma was neutral territory and knew all the players. Still, his expression was now closed to me, and his mind too. Harry wasn't sure my idea was perfect and he hated going with half-assed plans.
My tone got the expected flash of fang response from not only Riley, but a hint from Brad. He wasn't as sure of himself as he thought. Just that quickly, I decided to slay both of them before anyone could come to help. They had conveniently closed off their cell phones while Harry was still studying his small screen and tapping the surface as emails were coming in and going out. He was somewhat preoccupied, and had missed the glance between Riley and Brad. They also had decided not to wait for their friends.
Riley walked up to me and demanded, "No, you can't deny the master. YOU must show me some of the weapons. We must have a defense in case others show up." He used his massive size to push into my personal space with little thought to his vulnerabilities. His bad.
Harry caught the tail end of that and closed his PDA with a sigh. He knew how well I liked being ordered around, and was edging closer to one of my cubby holes of weapons.
I would never have survived a single year as a vampire if I had not learned how to act convincingly. "Play the music," I thought to Harry while falling back a step crying out, "Riley, get away from me, you ass. You are too close." I trembled slightly and put a hand up as if to ward off a blow. Since I had watched him wallop Helen pretty casually it wasn't a stupid move on my part.
"Riley, leave Cassandra alone. She doesn't have to obey your master," Harry called out, leaning on the wall next to the entertainment center, with my television now just a giant mess of broken glass and wires hanging useless from where they had been wrenched out of wall. When Harry and I first started discussing the way to handle Brad and Riley, he had mentally mentioned that he'd had his boys jam all of our listening devices when things had begun to go badly for Helen. I had not even remembered that they were still active. That was part of the reason Harry and I made such a good team. One of us always was thinking ahead. Usually Harry, but hey, it worked.
I took another step backwards, drawing Riley with me as he closed the space between us. He had a hand lifted and begun to swing at my head when he found out I had not been kidding about his being too close. Hell, it was for his own protection. The vampire was sputtering out, as I leaped in and tore out his throat with a combination of a blood letting tool and my fangs. His blood was rich and coppery with a slight undertone taste of youth. He had been very well fed.
The cops moaned on the floor as my guard relaxed and my eyes rolled back a little in enjoyment. That was the distraction needed -- Brad shrieked out some inaudible sound of protest as he forgot Harry in his concern for his enforcer. It never was good to turn your back on Harry. With a graceful move, Harry reached down and tapped open a space in my well-stocked entertainment center, swooping out one of my favorite crossbows. The twang as the arrow left the weapon sang, this was our type of music. Brad was impaled against the wall next to me where I was still devouring his boy.
High level vampires are never easy to kill. You risk them catching your intentions, their enforcer-bodyguards gutting you if you got too close, and the ramifications of actually taking down an upper level vamp. That is a huge part of it. The fear of being hunted by your own kind usually keeps the murdering down to a dull roar. Suicide by vampire toppling is not uncommon, just extremely painful. Without proper permission, killing another vampire can result in a lengthy true and final death that becomes epic and is retold at every gathering. Probably why I usually avoided those gatherings.
By my taking out Riley first, I had taken away one of Brad's lines of defense. The distraction of all that had gone on had kept Brad from hearing our plans. And finally Harry had gotten permission, which I knew by how he stood and where he stood. Had he walked closer to me, I would have had to back down. Years of practice at nonverbal communication had helped, and Riley's pushing into my space gave me the opportunity needed to slay him.
Harry was still working on Brad. With a sigh, I dumped Riley's fading corpse on the floor and went over and kicked the screaming cop quiet. Harry had taken out another toy of mine from the secret compartment and was busy slicing Brad quickly.
Vampires are messy to kill and hard. I had the needed implements to kill anything and anyone that got in my way -- just some survival skills for me. Brad was stunned with the tip of the arrow. Since he was an old school vampire, it worked. Stakes and holy water apply to some of us, but not all of us. The other thing Harry was using to slice was even rarer than my crossbow. In my travels and time walking the earth, I had done a lot of research on what killed who.
Harry had pulled out my blessed silver knife that I had received from a shaman in New Mexico, under a full moon during an equinox. The shaman had been ready to leave the earth, and asked that I take him so he could find his path. He didn't want to return, and gifted me his sacred knife as a thank you for an enjoyable death.
What most folks didn't know about old Bradley Terrill was that he was part Native American. It just so happened it was the same band as the shaman. He saw the inscription on the blessed knife and began to glow. Soon he was gone. Not a single bit of him remained. I couldn't say the same for Riley.
"Cassandra, just once can we have an evening where we don't have to dispose of a body? Any time soon would suit me just fine." Harry sounded exasperated.
I laughed. Maybe this year wasn't going so badly after all.
"Dark Whispers" originally appeared beginning in 2005.