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April 15, 2024

Patterns in Blood 46

By Lydia Manx

Los Angeles
The Present

Harvey was taking his time telling me how I could kill Marge and Randa if the need be. Vampires, I had a few good ideas on how to kill them, having done it in Las Vegas and also witnessing them being killed, but their minions were part human and part, I don't know, something other. Nelson wasn't offering any suggestions, but letting one of his chosen circle give me the lowdown. Nelson was far too preoccupied I thought and that concerned me.

"Eventually everything dies. One way or another. Vampires can be staked, beheaded and then their ashes should be scattered on water. Once dead, their evil lives on I think," Harvey wasn't exaggerating but truly thought it. I could sense his certainty and didn't have a reply. I pretty much always thought dead was dead up until I saw vampires. Now I wasn't so sure of much of anything. But still, evil living on past death was unnerving.

"Alanna, the vampire's minion can be killed the same manner as a vampire. But keep in mind that their strength is more than that of a mere human so be careful not to get near enough to be caught. They can literally tear you limb from limb. I have seen it." The catch in my throat was now a hard knot of fear. That wasn't good news given the way I watched vampires render each other into bits and pieces. That their minion could do the same wasn't welcome news.

"Great. That'll make for some fun now won't it?" I sarcastically replied.

"It's not fun," Harvey gravely answered, "I find it necessary to keep them all at least at arms' length or shoot the minion with arrows first. It tends to act like a stake. You can shoot either type of creature with bullets but that is likely to piss both vampires and minion off I've found. Blessed bullets will slow minion but little else." I kept the smile off my face as I thought about what he was telling me. I had seen vampire slayings and doubted even with the number of killings they had done that he'd been around as many vampires at a given time as I had, because Nelson and his crew had just watched me from a distance rather than come to my rescue. That was what made me bite my tongue rather than smile. Being right didn't give me the license to be arrogant. I needed all the warriors possible.

"Fair enough. Okay, Nelson, so do you wanna put this show on the road and get me up to the Griffith Park Observatory to with meet Michael now or should I just call a cab?" I was tired of the drama and traumas, but didn't see any other way around the mess created. Nelson nodded his agreement, and we picked up the various satchels we'd been handed. The skeptical side of my brain wondered if they had given me blessed bullets or not in the guns. I was taking far too much on faith to suit me, but it wasn't like I had a chance to run over to the local church and dip inside and get some holy water. But the thought did cross my mind, I had to admit.

Once loaded with our bags Nelson revealed his plan to get past the cops on the floor below. It wasn't oddly convoluted but rather rational. He suggested using the hotel staff elevator. It wasn't as plush as the guest elevators but it was empty. Quickly we headed down. My stomach was flip-flopping but I followed the group. That wasn't true, as I didn't follow, but was quiet effectively sandwiched between the men.

I was a prisoner in effect. I didn't know what else to do. I was stuck inside the God-squad vampire slayers group and didn't exactly have much of a choice. As Nelson had ordained, we headed out to the meet at the Observatory. I wanted to jump from the car but doubted I would escape even then. The net had tightened and surrounded me nearly as well as the Hagens had spoiled my life. Nearly. There still was that jittering piece of my soul shaking and looking for the bolthole away from this hell.

Naturally, I was denied the opportunity to escape, but then I hadn't expected anything else given my history. It was like I was being driven to make some rough choices whether I liked it or not. I rooted around the bag and made a point of yanking out my purse and brushed my hair. Women grooming tended to make men look away unless they had some fetish. These men shifted away and I removed another bit from the bag and tucked it out of sight without generating any sort of response.

"Do I leave this bag in the car or what?" I was covering all the bases. Nelson met my eyes and said, "You better, and we'll get your back."

We headed up the hills to the fate that awaited us. Nothing good could ever come from this trip, but there wasn't much choice. Los Angeles was having one of the rare days where the smog had retreated and the afternoon air was crisp and deceivingly beautiful. This was the type of day that made the real estate climb to unbelievably high prices. A picture perfect day. A good day to die, I thought. I hoped I was wrong. I had been wrong recently so I didn't hold out much hope either way.

As we wound up the road to the Observatory twilight pushed up and the sky darkened. I wasn't happy to see the sun disappear. It was no longer an equal battlefield. We were on the cusp of night and vampires would be stronger than expected. I saw a tightness about the men's mouths and knew they too realized that the odds had shifted.

The park was somewhat crowded. The parking lot for the Observatory was half full. I wondered how this would all play out. I feared we wouldn't be nearly as cocky in a few hours. Nelson had withdrawn and not said much in the later part of the drive, giving us all too much time to think. I didn't see Cooper in my rental car, but figured he had to take some extra time to plant tracking devices in the car. It also dawned on me he was probably scattering bugs in my clothes. Ugh. I wasn't looking forward to that unpacking. I hoped a good washing machine made short work of electronics. They seemed to kill pretty much all the cell phones Randolph used to leave in his pocket.

I was sitting in the front seat and got out first. Nobody shot me so I took that to be a good thing. The men stayed in the car and let me wind my way slowly towards the Observatory. My neck was alive with spikes of hair and tension. I didn't have any idea how many were watching me but knew it more than I'd seen. Nerves quivered and I walked slowly. A man sauntered in the parking lot in my direction. I could tell by his walk it was Michael Stockwell. He wasn't cowering or expressing any fear. His overconfidence was projected as he strolled casually towards me. A mere human like me didn't at all intimate him. He was assured of his position and didn't think I would harm him.

Oops, he was mistaken. I knew he would never reveal his secrets and to all my watchers dismay I simply went to hug him and stuck a stake in his ribs. When I had been busy brushing my hair I slipped out one of the long sharp wooden stakes so thoughtfully provided by Nelson's kit. I had held it along my forearm until out of the car. Years of martial arts and a really sharp point along with anger helped my aim. His trust didn't allow him to shout out his worries and my stake was true and I found his heart with a deep thrust.

He slumped downward and nobody around us was any the wiser as I simply said, "Dear, is it your heart?" I used that nagging tone that pretty much guaranteed anyone in hearing would duck and cover. Nobody spared another thought about the man dying quietly or offered to help me.

Horrified, Nelson's crew burst from the car, helped guide him away. It wasn't like the piercing wound would heal anytime soon. Nelson met my gaze as they 'helped' Michael off the parking lot. He wasn't betrayed by my stabbing of Michael, but in a way happy. It wasn't like he didn't know my personality, but somehow he had expected me to simply bow down and do as he dictated. That was his mistake. I'd never promised him anything like that. I could see his conflicts roll across his face as he tried to retain control of his men and resist smiling at me.

My neck was itching. I tried to casually glance around as they all shuffled Michael into the back seat of the pavement tank Nelson drove. The urban assault vehicle was one of those oversized SUVs that could easily seat a dozen large men or women. Heavily tinted windows accented the black paint job and since there was nearly no ornamentation to break the color so in the dark that car would be a shadow if anything. As Harvey shut the rear passenger door leaving Michael sagging in the back seat with David he turned back to stare at me.

"Did you have to do that?" He wasn't as happy with my decision to off Michael. Can't please everyone. Nelson was standing, waiting for something. Turned out to be someone. Cooper came up behind me. Naturally my rental car was nowhere in sight.

"What'd I miss?" Cooper was madly looking around. That feeling I was being watched hadn't faded in the least.

"Nothing much. Just Alanna here staking Michael to the great beyond without a word." That was Harvey's comment. Nelson had yet to say anything. I figured he wanted a chance to frisk me for more weapons first. Too bad I hadn't thought to store a few more things on my body. I was feeling exposed.

"Well, that is that, then, isn't it? I gather that's where David is?" Cooper took it in stride. Keith nodded and added, "He's looking through the cop's pockets and seeing what's there to help us."

"I would think the live cop could have been a tad more helpful." Cooper was droll.

I wasn't amused, "No, he would just lie. I don't have time for this anymore. There are far more important issues at hand."

Calmly I said, "Like find out which vampire is watching me right now."

The men tightened and tried not to glance around.

"You sure?" Harvey asked me.

"Positive. It's stronger now than earlier. I'd say your vampire is within twenty or thirty feet. And probably listening to every word we are saying." Oddly I wasn't afraid. Maybe those synapses had been fried with all the stress lately. And that I had just killed a cop -- couldn't forget that because I had a feeling one way or another I'd be paying for that choice. So shock probably added into the mix.

The vampire chuckled and walked forward.

Nelson looked over my shoulder and went ghostly white. That couldn't be good. The itching went down from my neck to middle of my back. Every sensation washing over me was familiar. I expected to hear the irregular ring and clanging of slot machines followed by screams and the smell of blood and carnage. Actually I did smell blood. The blood I had caused. Michael's blood was on me. I didn't even care. That couldn't be a good thing. I wondered which vampire was coming. All I had to do was turn around and I would know if it was a good vampire or a bad one. I bit back a hysterical chuckle. Was there such a thing?

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-10-06
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