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June 24, 2024

Strange Bedfellows

By Lydia Manx

What the hell was going on at Kenyon's club? Come on, I mean it wasn't like he was acting normal. Dark Whispers had been shut down two nights in a row. The word on the street was that ATF or some other three lettered scary government types closed his doors -- maybe even permanently. I didn't know. I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel and pondered the fact of the locked club from the safety of my car.

I did know that I needed to find out what happened to Jessie. She was dead. True death! She wasn't the best vampire pal, but she had been sincere. Her boyfriend, Buddy, had been peculiar to me but then I wasn't really comfortable with werewolves so I wasn't the best judge of his boyfriend material worthiness. Werewolves tended to fur out at the oddest times. I wasn't like those fanatics who wanted to stake and burn them all back to the Stone Age or something; racism in any manner was wrong to me. Love found its own level. Jessie and Buddy fought but worked as a team mostly, from what I knew of the couple. She had seemed happy enough with the were.

Not that I'd see them ever again, which was why I was casing Dark Whispers. I knew it held the key to their deaths. Kenyon wasn't my Master and he didn't much care when other vampires died, from everything I'd seen and heard. But he did seem to be the center of all the recent deaths both vampire and other. Bodies were being carried out of there right and left -- legally and not so legally with the laundry and delivery vans. The police didn't have a clue but they did have a heavy drive by schedule. Another black and white cruised past the entrance slowly. The cop driving used the high-powered light attached to the vehicle to sweep the front for stray bodies. I figured the officer wasn't in any hurry to get out of his car and look. I didn't see anybody and the driver never looked around so he didn't see me. I leaned forward out of the shadows I had hidden in when the patrol car had appeared. It was an automatic habit that had saved my neck on more than one occasion. Some nights more than others I wondered how the humans handled their limited senses. That cop didn't have the smarts to look around and had I been in a different frame of mind he would haven't been driving away unfanged.

My cell phone beeped softly and I flipped it open and pushed the send button. I never understood how 'send' was the word choice used for answering calls. One of those mindless distractions that still pulled at my imagination. Anyways it wasn't like I got money for the creation of cell phones and their damned confusing buttons but it still bugged me. The number of the caller was blocked but I knew who it was.

"Hey, DB, how they fanging?" He hated when I was flip.

"Natasha, stop that. It was annoying the first time but now it's just stupid." He growled at me.

I found it amusing that Kenyon unknowingly had hired Damson Barlow -- DB -- as a recent addition to his cadre of bad boys and girls. DB was a wickedly nasty sociopath. But he was mine. Literally mine, because I'd made him into a vampire. I let him have some room to play but kept his leash close at hand. Moving him into Dark Whispers was a strategy I had some minor concerns about, but basically no choice.

Kenyon Huston was creating an army. I needed to prevent the little territory wars from becoming a full scale Armageddon. Kenyon's foray into politics wasn't new but he'd begun to push against the wrong vampires and was painting a large target on all vampires. He had his vampires thinking they truly were immortal and that he'd take them into the next millennium as gods. It wasn't likely but the minions and fledglings readily believed his promises. I was instructed to educate him without adding to the bloodletting too much. It was at my discretion but still the unspoken command was not to paint the streets with the blood of innocents and ignorant -- if at all possible. Had to love those open-ended arrangements.

"So where you at?" DB wasn't much one for small talk. But then I hadn't picked him for his scintillating conversational skills. I'd found him living on the edge out in some horrible city where humanity was at its lowest level. He was a nasty predator who made a living off the women and girls he could cull from the sheep and sell to the rich deviant men with deep pockets and no morals. He'd mistakenly thought I was prey.

At well over six feet tall he usually easily overpowered his choices. The ghettos he haunted were ill lit and depressing even during the day. The evening he'd stumbled upon me I wasn't in the mood to be nice and drain him dry outright like I usually did. My nerves had been frayed and catching his scent I was stimulated to play a different game. Much like the doomed human I'd come to the neighborhood to find a hot tasty treat. Earlier that night I'd had a bad run of luck and wasn't looking to create a new vampire but something wicked in me took a hold when he tried to subdue me. His anger at humanity and his lust for pain were flowing off him. It was a tasty turn and he wasn't able to resist. I wanted to unleash back on humanity a slice of its own pain and suffering to justify the anger I had that night. DB was the logical and handy answer.

He was horribly white and his body was clean-shaven. I later heard that he told others it was to keep the transference of forensic evidence to a minimum. When I turned the bone white human into a vampire Damson was already completely nude and there hadn't been any sort of forensic scientists back then. He liked the sheer skin-to-skin contact with his victims. I knew it first hand since he'd tried to grab me. His body had been taunt and hungry for mine and I gave him more than he'd counted on to satisfy his lust and basic desire. He never complained even while I sucked the lifeblood from him in order to turn him into a vampire.

He sighed, "Well?"

I forgot he was on the phone while my mind had wandered. Focusing I replayed his prior question and answered.

"Outside the club. Cops just rolled by and it looks totally dead." I grinned at the double entendre. He completely ignored my jab at the vampire hangout. Despite the portrayal of us in film and books vampires weren't really undead. We weren't completely human either. And there was that whole blood bit that always needed explaining.

"You might as well head back home. Nobody's going to be there tonight. Kenyon's called a meeting for tomorrow evening. I have to see if the werewolves are willing to come to a meet. All they want is severed heads on a platter now. Right now Kenyon's out at their pack leader's spread and they're discussing the murders. I got to go. I'll try to call before you go to sleep." That was more than I'd heard him say in a while. Death made him happy. That he didn't personally cause the murders meant little to him. He was addicted to death in any manner.

I snapped the cell shut and pictured him. His eyes were non-descript light brown but deeply hollowed by black shadows. In life he'd been near starvation when I turned him. He would never get the ruddy full-faced human looks of a well-fed vampire no matter how much blood he'd taken. Most vampires took on a more flush and human appearance when we drank but DB had been far too close to death when I'd made him my fledgling. It didn't help his having thin colorless lips and adding that his fangs were razor sharp and extremely thin he had a bizarre appearance even by vampire standards. I never knew true vampire fangs could be so slender. I'd seen him use them and for all their apparent fragility he could suck a full human dry in nearly record time.

Taking Damson at his word, I turned on my car and headed home. I knew he was enjoying his current job as the bad boy enforcer for Kenyon and his vampire family at Dark Whispers. I'd been reluctant to let DB get so far from me but he seemed to be enjoying the new temporary Master. I'd have to find a nice insane cult for him to join once we were done. A good blood bath amongst crazy human sheep would make him happy. It didn't much matter to him what their demented belief system was because by the time he was done with the cult he'd show them a side of death they'd never even thought existed outside nightmares.

The plan had been for DB to get close to Kenyon, find out as much as possible about his business, his friends, and enemies and then we'd begin cleaning up the messes around town. I was just in town at my Master Simon's request and only peripherally on the outside of Kenyon's awareness from what DB said. Jessie was from my clan and Simon had sent her to be trained in running a nightclub. This was supposed to be a fact seeking trip for me nothing really more. Instead once I'd hit town Kenyon launched his insane plan to marry off one of his prize vampires to a werewolf in order to solidify a territory with the weres as a back up when heads began to roll. Both vampires and werewolves had been plotting and planning the wedding that was to take place in another month when Jessie and Buddy had been kidnapped and subsequently killed. Jessie's death was painful to all of us because she wasn't some old nasty vampire who'd outlived their usefulness, but a bright and shining new vampire with no enemies and a heart. Despite what humans think, vampires do have hearts.

Jessie had been grabbed from the roadside after she'd been shopping at the mall with Renee -- the bride -- for a wedding gown. Buddy been in an accident that I gathered was Buddy's fault and Renee had left them driving off in one of the vehicles. Jessie and Buddy had to pick up the pieces literally from the wreck and were supposed to meet back at Renee's house once they'd cleaned up the site. They never showed up and the hunt was on for them when they both were brutally murdered. We hadn't found their captors yet or even their bodies. The deaths of both rang out through the night and there were packs of vampires and werewolves out looking for payback. I was more than happy to head back to my temporary home.

I had to make a few calls myself. Disregarding the law against cell phone use in moving vehicles, I flipped through my contacts and called my Master. He was expecting my call. Slipping into the sparse traffic, I headed up the freeway with the flow of cars. I saw quite a few folks also talking on the cell phones in the dark, obvious from their faces being lit up by the glow from their phones. Hands-free cell use was still far in the future for those folks.

"Why are you leaving?" His voice was firm and strong. I felt like a cat being petted. He still had that effect on me after all the decades I'd been his vampire. It was a strong bond.

But I didn't feel any other vampires around so DB must have reported to Simon before I'd called. My sociopathic vampire liked to cause conflict almost as much as he liked casual killing. I was so looking forward to my retraining of him once this mission was done. Egos of vampires are epic but as my mother liked to say, "I made you therefore I own you." It sounded more menacing in my native tongue but the venom wasn't under any doubt, or the actual meaning. She nearly killed me long before my Master took me. She had some issues with control, I figured out early in my human life. In death, I didn't care so much. Mother dearest was long dead and I got the last laugh.

"Kenyon's out playing with the fur faces in the mountains. There's a meeting of the 'minds' tomorrow so nothing for me to see here." I tried for nonchalant and kept DB's mind games out of it. A light chuckle from my Master let me know he was well aware of the play between my crazy fledgling and me.

"So I've heard. Now is Renee still marrying Carlos? Is Kenyon putting his wedding arrangements on hold or not?" My Master asked softly. I didn't have a clue.

"I'll find out tomorrow. I need to go to represent our family. Jessie's going to be missed." I kept my thoughts out of it but he still caught my feelings.

"Fair enough. I expect a full report before you go to bed tomorrow. Now go get some sleep. You'll need your wits about you when you see Kenyon." With that he hung up.

To be continued...

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-03-23
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