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May 13, 2024

Patterns in Blood 39

By Lydia Manx

Los Angeles
The Present

Looking at Brother Georgie Elliott I shook my head and did a mental flip. He wasn't some nutty cult leader living up in Oregon being worshipped and adored as the messiah of some death cult but another kind leader. He referred to his members as fellows and knew about vampires. Given the information from him that Michael Stockwell wasn't in any danger was startling, but I no longer had to worry that I was keeping Michael from death now. Plus I needed to find out why the contents of Randolph's cigar box were so important.

I was still puzzling over Paul's brutal beating and the as of yet unidentified female body in the warehouse when a stray thought made me slow down and reassess. Paul had stolen Michael's fiancé. That definitely could have made him feel Paul was owed a beating at least. Maybe all wasn't forgiven and forgotten as much as Michael led me to believe. The sick feeling in my stomach just began churning even more with that possible conclusion and I didn't think it was going to get any better in the next few hours. I wouldn't be getting a call from the mechanical voice until at least that time if that wasn't a lie also.

"Sorry, Alanna, to bring you such news. But it makes sense from my end." Georgie broke into my thoughts.

"Fine, Georgie." The name rolled off my tongue wrong. What had started for me as an attempt to find out about an old missing friend was turning into something much different. And his 'Georgie' name rang false now.

"Okay, is Georgie Elliott even your real name?" Might as well get answers that wouldn't make me toss my cookies.

"No, it isn't." He was trying to keep a grin off his face. "Katherine was right. You really are pretty smart except for that little thing with Randolph. But you didn't have all the information he had on you. He took you at a vulnerable time." My stomach was back to flip-flopping. He wasn't wrong, just too informed. I was a private person and this further illustrated to me that boundaries for privacy no longer existed.

It was as if unbeknownst to me, I had my own private reality show being recorded and screened for the masses. Everyone seemed to be aware of what was happening to me to an undesirable degree. Shuddering, I blocked those stray thoughts and concentrated on the current nameless soul in the room with me. So if he wasn't Georgie Elliott who was he?

"Right, unlike you who has just followed me and figured out my whole life? So then what should I call you?" I kept my voice low and my temper down. I missed my painting and supposed privacy out in the desert. People always complicated everything and nobody I'd met recently changed that impression for me at all.

A soft laugh escaped him and he said, "Actually my name is Nelson Brandt."

"Okay, Nelson at least sounds a bit more grownup than Georgie." I replied with a slight smile of my own.

"Given that I am a grownup I'll allow that dig," his eyes sparkled briefly before he visually caught himself. I watched his face fall as he remembered why I was there.

Nelson glanced to see my sympathetic gaze and said, "Yes, it probably is Katherine's body in the warehouse. Deep down I do know that. I just keep hoping it was some other poor unfortunate that happened to be in the building but it's not likely."

He got up and picked up the phone and muttered into the receiver an order for dinner.

"What do you need?" He asked while holding his hand over the mouthpiece. He held out the thick room service menu he'd glanced at while placing his order.

Laughing bitterly I kept the negative comments inside my head for a change and said, "What-ever is fine." I didn't even have time to think of what I needed in regards to food. Too many other distractions keeping me busy like running for my life and keeping clear of maniacs.

Nodding to me, he just asked his order be duplicated and to add some bottled water and something from the dessert tray.

"It'll be up in twenty minutes or so. I think we need to step back from all this and figure out what is going on exactly." Nelson was right.

He returned to his spot and met my eyes again, "So what brought you so quickly to me? I was expecting a call and maybe seeing you later this evening or tomorrow."

Sighing, "My life hasn't been exactly on schedule this week you may have gathered."

He snorted and looked even more exhausted.

"Katherine is something more to you than just another one of your flock or fellows as you call them, isn't she?" I cut through the small talk.

"Yes, she's my wife." His shoulders slumped with the admission. Well that certainly explained a lot. Upset husband definitely trumped fake guru missing one of the masses.

"And you guys all do what? Spy on vampires?" I may have had a bit of anger in my voice given my personal brush with the Las Vegas vampires.

"No, usually we stake them and salt their ashes. But Las Vegas happened too quickly and as you may recall there were more than just one or two of them." Nelson growled.

"Excuse me if I'm not overly impressed. Had anyone of your team observing the slaughter helped, maybe so many humans wouldn't have had to die." I wasn't giving in on that point. I fought off the fanged monsters with little more than a cross and the leg of a wooden chair I'd torn apart before one of the vampires snapped my left arm. I shoved the point of the leg fist deep into its chest and was horrified to be covered in some muck and bits of flesh as another vampire ripped a boy's head off over me.

The fellows of Nelson had watched me at my most primitive and frightened. Nobody joined me and tried to stop any of that night's madness. Once the frenzy began, it spiraled out of control quickly, but still I escaped and had anyone else bothered to fight back more should have. There were at least three humans for every one vampire. But then I later figured out that was the whole point. The challenge of the possibility of some of the sheep resisting made the game that much more exciting for the bored vampires. Up until they started killing each other, I pretty much figured this was something the vampires had done for centuries. Kind of like their midsummer celebration of being the best killing machines around or whatever.

"Alanna, it had nothing to do with the numbers. We weren't anywhere near when the slaying began. Usually the feast of humans happens on the second night. The first night is just the acknowledgment of ownership, delineation of territories or alliances and the choosing of pets. The vampires who host the event imported those humans or kept them captive locally and raised them like cattle just for the slaying. Nobody there had any energy to fight back. You were probably the only one who'd fed in the last month. How did you even get inside?" Nelson was completely sincere.

"My bad luck."

I was saved any more answers by a brisk knock on the door. It was too soon for dinner. Grabbing my purse I jumped out of the chair and moved out of the direct line of vision from the door. Nelson nodded his approval and snagged a gun he had stashed behind a boxed floral arrangement near the door. I was really slipping to have missed that when walking in but I wasn't expecting a 'cult leader' to bring with him his own toys with him. And since it looked like a Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson's semiautomatic forty-five I was favorably impressed. He jerked his head for me to get further out of view. I had already pulled my revolver out and I was holding it in the classic two-handed pose preferred by smart shooters. Closing one eye I had a straight line of sight off to the side of the doorway once someone breached the threshold. From my angle I could take him out with a shot or two.

"Who is it?" Nelson called out stepping to the side of the door. He was aware of the problems opening a door or standing directly in front of one. Guns really made a big mess and looking through the door's peephole could get your head quiet easily blown off.

"Room service?" The voice was deep and insincere.

Nelson dove out of the entry way and a blast of sound vibrated the walls followed closely by bullets from a scatter shotgun or something similar as somebody was in a hurry to come in uninvited.

"What did you order for dinner? Hot lead?" I hissed while waiting for the next shots. I didn't have long to wait. Nelson wasn't staying still but pulling out some leather satchels from the corner of the room. He whipped one across the floor to me saying, "Nope, but I have just the answer in these bags. Pick your poison."

I unzipped the brown bag and looked inside. I had seriously underestimated how much of an actual arsenal he had actually brought. Mimicking his motions, I was pulling out weaponry and lining the floor with the assortment. The stakes and cross bolt went a bit further behind me -- if I needed those it wouldn't be pretty. My revolver was set back into my purse while more shots were rapidly fired at the door. Then I could hear that followed up by someone grunting and kicking the thankfully thick door from the other side. We didn't have much time to see what 'room service' was bringing other than firepower and negative energy. I picked a semiautomatic and put the matching ammo magazines on the floor. I was on my knees and ready. Shooting from a lower angle reduced the chances of my being shot first and since most guns pulled upwards it was the best position as I'd never fired the like. I carefully slid the first bullet into the chamber and waited. Time was moving slowly to me, but I knew in fact it was only a minute or so since the knock.

"So what did you do to piss that guy off?" I asked while watching Nelson flip shut his phone after placing a call for backup I assumed.

"Found you, I would wager." He got behind a couch mirroring my stance. My chair wasn't the most ideal barricade but it would help in deflecting possible ricochets.

"Damn, it's always about me. Where are the cameras now?" I bit out nastily, hating the turn of the wheel. My life was becoming a damned soap opera without the time off or the decent sized paycheck.

Nelson hadn't realized I was joking and pointed to his laptop on a desk. It was facing us and the web camera was recording it. I was really losing it to have missed that. Nice to know I was now being seen worldwide on the web.

I sketched a wave and said, "Hi kids, don't try this at home!"

Near death humor always slays them. Nelson chuckled and said to the web cam, "Robert, if it all goes bad you're in charge."

Cult leader or not, he was charismatic. I just hoped we'd live through the intruder long enough for me to find out more about the vampires and Michael's treachery. I didn't get to think much more as an arm reached in through the hole he'd finally smashed through the door. I sucked in a deep breath and shot at the arm. Nelson had the same idea. I don't know which of our bullets struck the best but one us tore out a silver dollar sized chunk of meat from the hairy forearm along with a few stray nibbles of flesh. A guttural scream and the blood sprayed into the room as the man yanked his arm back out.

"You just made it worse," the mock waiter snarled and resumed kicking and shooting.

A different voice growled, "Open up now or die slowly."

Oh, goodie, I always liked a choice.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-08-18
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