"Okay, Charlotte, why don't you park next to the back door so we can empty the trunk without any watchers?" Toby indicated the spot where usually the delivery vans pulled into while dropping off whatever it was Eddie's needed.
The door was slightly ajar and Charlotte nodded. Kegs was idling behind her on his bike and indicated with a tip of his head towards the street that they may have had followers. No surprise to Charlotte, but she'd stay alert. The vampire security would sound the alarm if it seemed like they were going to be overwhelmed. She didn't know how many vampires were inside because of Toby's vampiric age and power, coupled with the energy of both Kegs and Legs combining to mask that there could be any number of vampires in the bar.
The delivery spot was ideal for her drop off of the two humans still crammed in the Mercedes' trunk. Since it wasn't like there was much need for food and drink to go into the place, the spot was wide open. The various delivery trucks showed up on and off during the day and night and which gave the appearance of getting deliveries. Mostly when the vans were there they were just picking up the linens. A half wall obscured any views by creating a buffer between the street and the door -- creating a neutral drop off point. It was a common practice among vampires who ran mixed businesses like vampire-human bars and nightclubs. Kenyon had bragged to her many times that his cleaning service was often removing bodies out the back while cops were coming in the front door. She nodded and drove over to where Toby had suggested.
Kegs followed her into the lot and helped empty the trunk. The humans hadn't stirred from where they had been shoved. The only way they would wake up was if she and Kegs mentally shook them -- otherwise it would be ten to twelve hours before either of them even began to wake. That was why sending humans to sleep was one of Charlotte's favorite vampiric talents.
During the ride the blood from Garry's scrapes had dripped enticingly off his body into the trunk making Charlotte's fangs slip down.
"Damn it, Kegs, you tenderized this piece of meat too much." She was only half-mocking, indicating the bleeding Garry ruining the trunk's lining with tasty blood.
Kegs grinned wickedly and said, "What's wrong, Babe, you can't handle the temptation?"
She growled slightly, "I can handle it. But not fair. I have been a good girl lately."
Kegs laughter mocked her as they went into the dank smoke-filled bar, dragging their human watchers. Legs was there instantly, slinking up to Kegs, licking her lips and murmuring something while Kegs dropped Garry roughly onto the dubiously stained carpet. Charlotte softly settled the female onto Garry even though she doubted either of them would ever leave Eddie's alive. It wasn't like human folks ever walked out of Eddie's. A vague song swirled in her head about a California hotel.
The bar was a throwback to an earlier time. Flaunting the smoking restrictions of the area vampires and humans alike smoked freely -- anything and everything. Since humans never left to tattle on the vampires and most vampires didn't give a damn what the current climate was regarding smoking (much less the laws on causal draining and slaying of humans) the smoking worked out fine for Eddie's customers. Flickering candles burned on the slick bar top dancing hypnotically in time to the hard rock punching into the room. It wasn't much more than a converted warehouse but it had a staircase leading to the second story where the main office was and a restricted vampire room.
Charlotte had been in the room once many decades ago. It was before Kenyon got his control over her. She froze in the doorway of the bar as she recalled the memory of watching Eddie -- yes there really was a vampire named Eddie -- tear apart another vampire for an infraction. Granted, the infraction was well worthy of extreme punishment. Norbert Peepers had been a finicky human with a small mustache he kept groomed in death. He wasn't like one of the Hollywood stunning fake movie vampires with elegant looks and grace but a pathetic little man five feet tall and about three feet wide whose genetic yatzee had rendered him a gruesome creature. His maker had been seriously pissed off when creating him and knew he would be seen as an abomination by all the vampires.
Norbert's tastes in death were epic. He fueled his various hungers with women and children at a frenzied rate. Most vampires did their draining cautiously and under the cover of 'accidents' or 'tragedies' like the one they left on the freeway when they rode off on the bikes. Vampires had no desire to be noticed much less have humans believe they existed as anything more than characters in a scary story to be read during a winter storm.
So when Norbert liked to make puppets of his victims and paint them with their own blood he begun to attract a bit of notice and not just from the local vampires. Police and people saw how Norbert displayed the bodies in towns and parks for all to see and further drive fear through them all with his death tableaus. Literally human puppets -- as the bodies were physically strung up with wires and the small white lights usually used in holiday decorations further illuminating the horror. Faces had stripes of color from their blood that Norbert swirled and painted adding to the macabre post-draining set ups. It was nearly a cannibalistic feasting that Norbert's tastes ran to in death. By the time he got noticed by Eddie he had been in fact beginning to gnaw off the smaller bits of his victims.
Vampires didn't eat humans but simply drank their blood. Norbert had gone around the bend and was flaunting the secrets and passions of all vampires with his murders. It couldn't be tolerated. Eddie was chosen as the weapon of Norbert's demise. The police didn't have any idea of who was killing the humans and were busy pursuing some idiotic notion about a death sacrificing satanic cult operating out of the local colleges -- straight out of a bad movie. The newspapers locally played the drama down but word of mouth spread the panic. So it was up to Eddie to be the executioner. Eddie was up to the job since most of the humans were being yanked from his section of town. Norbert had traveled around the poor and crime ridden areas and picked up the strays -- women and children -- for his torments.
Eddie sent out a few of his tougher biker vampires to pick up Norbert once there had been a sighting. Charlotte had heard from Kegs and Toby that she needed to come to Eddie's for a surprise. She had been half heartedly following the news without knowing it was a vampire. Until the night of the trial ... of course there was a trial -- the vampires weren't uncivilized. Unlike the human run courts, justice for vampires was often fast and decisive. Never was there a stay of execution nor was there much hope for an overthrown judgment. Pretty much once the executioners pulled a vampire in front of a tribunal their nights were numbered in the single digits if any.
Charlotte remembered going upstairs as if it had been just last month.
"Hurry up, C-Girl, you're goin' to miss everything." Kegs pulled Charlotte up the stairs and she giggled. She didn't know what was so special upstairs.
"Kegs, wait up. I have four inch heels on and I can't climb that fast. Besides, what is going on that's so important?" She grinned and deliberately slowed down. Kegs groaned and simply snagged her with his large hands and smacked her on the ass as he hoisted her over his shoulder. From her awkward angle she entered the room with Kegs both of them laughing. Toby tapped her on the nose as she flew past him and cuffed Kegs on the shoulder saying, "See you've got your hands full."
"With this one -- always!" Kegs dropped her off his shoulder and slid her against his body spinning her towards the shocked vampires already in the room.
She looked around to see there were about a dozen or so seriously fanged faces glaring at them. Two very large vampires held down a shorter one. His face was bruised and his clothing torn. Whatever had happened to get him there, it wasn't smooth. Add in it was obvious to her that he hadn't been allowed to feed since his cuts oozed blood and his bruises weren't fading. The laughter stopped as she met his angry piggy eyes. This vampire hated them all. She sucked in dead air and shuddered. This vampire's scent was toxic with decaying bodies and blinding anger.
She muttered softly to Kegs, "Ooops, I think we're supposed to be quiet or something."
Kegs hugged her to his side saying, "Don't worry about it. We need to be here. Besides they need the bodies to justify what's going to happen."
Charlotte didn't have a clue what was happening but Kegs always protected her so she wasn't overly worried. Besides Toby had let them in, so she knew it was safe. Well, as safe as vampires en mass ever got. Warily she nudged Kegs saying, "Gee, we've made some new friends I guess."
His laughter rumbled and stirred her, "C-Girl, these vampires need us more than we need them." She glanced around the room and saw the vampires assembled weren't clamoring for them to be kicked out.
He glared at the fanged set to see if any of them would disagree. To Charlotte's amazement not a single vampire met his glance. The vampires muttered and shifted but nobody said a word.
Toby pronounced, "All are here so now we can begin."
His voice sent shivers down her spine and he accompanied his words with a decisive clunk of the deadbolt sliding home form the heavy steel door into the surrounding metal frame. His back rested against the door letting the vampires in the room relax as they knew he wasn't going to let anyone pass easily. Charlotte did a fast head count. Including the angry vampire held up by two others there were fourteen mid- to high-range vampires. So thirteen and the soon to be victim was her conclusion.
Eddie walked to the center of the crowded room -- suddenly there didn't seem to be much air available. Eddie was a commanding figure and he sucked every bit of air out of the room with his mere existence. Charlotte knew that he wasn't an overly social vampire. The bar was a ruse to keep a touch spot for vampires and it was named after Eddie, yet she hadn't seen him more than a dozen times in the four decades or so she'd been popping in the club. From what she'd heard Eddie had his own ghosts and games. Kegs had assured her that Eddie liked her. She wasn't so sure if that was a good thing or not. The assembled vampires were obviously afraid of Eddie and Kegs nearly in equal measure. Coming in over his shoulder hadn't exactly given her status points but she didn't care.
His solemn presence stopped any more glances and words. He stood in the center of the room and smacked his hands together in a delighted motion saying, "I am happy you can all join me for this event. Norbert Peppers has strayed from our path. He has slain children. He has eaten of the flesh. What say you all? Death?"
The crowd nodded and murmured. Charlotte was stunned. Nothing was said and yet now this creature would die. Then she looked at Norbert and saw he was grinning inside. His face was calm but his beady eyes danced with humor. He didn't care. Then Eddie pulled open Norbert's brain for all to hear. It wasn't a tape or audio visual tidbit but raw emotions. All the vampires in the room swayed as they felt the blood lust of the pathetic vampire held upright. They heard his anger and smelled the blood dripping off the human prey. They watched him string up their corpses and felt his joy at nibbling on their fingers and lips.
A cry came from the vampires. "Death!"
Then Eddie pulled Norbert's face close to his and said, "It's done."
Toby tossed Eddie a carving knife. The knife flew with Eddie's fingers quickly rendering the doomed vampire to little more than pieces of meat. They all watched and Norbert never uttered a sound other than the wet noises of parts falling off. His head was the last bit separated. Until then it was theoretically possible for him to have been brought back with the proper care and feeding. Severing his head from his spine guaranteed it wasn't going to happen. Eddie made little noises other than slight grunts of exertions given the massive girth of the vampire. Once finished he turned to them saying, "And death is final. He is no more. Strike him from your records and keep this evening close. For we are vampire."
Charlotte shuddered slightly with the memory even after all the years had passed. Iris emerged from the shadows and snuck a hand silently into hers. A human trying to give her strength? And yet she felt warmed by the gesture.