Fortified by the blood from the honeymooners, Rusty and Darlene, Harry and I squared off on the six young men flashing blades at us. The Boardwalk had cleared and the fog was drifting in causing the sounds of the surf to bounce around oddly. The boys playing at being tough weren't overly impressive, but rather amusing given our base character. They were happy to prey on the weak and frighten anyone who didn't yield. We weren't that far apart ideologically with that little exception of our vampiric natures being decisively evolutionarily advanced.
One of the young men stepped a pace ahead of the other five strung across our paths and barked out, "Hand us your wallets and cell phones and nobody'll get cut."
He must have practiced his tone in front of the mirror for weeks to get that slight snarl and curl of lips just right. It probably scared the tourists and young lovers but didn't do much for us. I nearly burst out laughing at the sincere posturing form the kid. He was just so cute I could've eaten him up with a spoon -- at least.
Harry smiled without his fangs flashing but the menace was in his voice just the same, "Instead why don't you hand us your wallets and cell phones and you won't be harmed?"
One of the smaller kids chuckled and slapped the tough looking guy to the right of him loudly saying, "Wow, we got ourselves some regular comedians! Sean, you ever hear something so funny?"
His pupils were dilated oddly -- they looked very large and glassy -- then with his soft inhalation I detected the metallic chemical odor of illicit drugs on the wind mixed with the salty tang of the Pacific Ocean. I wasn't always up on what the kids stuffed into their bodies but from the scent it wasn't aspirin or sinus meds that was for sure. The pants around his waist were barely held up by a thin black leather belt and the black t-shirt he wore was promoting some band with large blood red letters. He fit the bill of a clown rather well in my book. The delicious irony of his shirt made me smile. The band was called the 'Blood Sucking Freaks'. I wasn't sure if it was a real band or not but it sure got my attention.
Harry caught my eye and smirked. He'd also noticed the words on the shirt. We stood still in the middle of the Boardwalk and waited to see what the leader was going to do. He was in black jeans; they weren't quite as ridiculously oversized and he was wearing a pricey pair of Doc Marten's boots probably purchased from stolen money. The black t-shirt he sported just had in red letters the word Zero. I wondered if I was supposed to comment on his number or not. Harry laughed, "I wouldn't, sweetie. They don't seem to appreciate our humor."
I guess I was projecting rather loudly my thoughts on the ridiculous t-shirts. We didn't share blood so Harry would've had to work at reading my thoughts. Vampires usually mind read those of their own blood not others. At least that's what I thought. For all I knew, Harry had a few new tricks up his sleeve. Harry always seemed to have surprises for me. He was one of the few vampires I knew that genuinely seemed to get a kick out of being immortal for all practical purposes and I think he was the same as a vampire as he'd been as a human. The phrase 'comfortable inside his own skin' summed up Harry well.
"Shut the fuck up, man." One of the other boys growled. His voice faltered on the word 'fuck' giving a hesitant quality to his request. I shook my head realizing he wasn't much past puberty, and in his late teens running with these fools, he wasn't likely to ever hit adulthood without getting killed or incarcerated. That's if he survived Harry's and my attentions. Which still remained to be seen.
Harry laughed and reached into his pocket. One of the smaller boys giggled a combination of nervousness and excitement. In his eagerness he mistakenly thought Harry was getting out his wallet. I knew perfectly well what Harry was grabbing. He flipped the leather case with his shiny badge inside that meant nothing to me -- and from what I guessed probably ninety percent of the population --they didn't have a clue what real badges actually looked like either --but from the pale faces they recognized the shield.
"Damn, he's a fucking federal cop!" Even faced with the badge, I noticed not one of them budged. I had to admire their moxie if not question their misguided belief in their immortality. Humans were such fragile creatures with such a bloated confidence in their place in the universe.
I felt their fear run over me like an exotic perfume. Hot, fiery and full of sexual tension and anger --pretty much delicious to all vampires --Harry's nostrils flared in and out as he inhaled their scent. They figured outnumbering us was enough to top the badge. As I saw one of the smaller boys pull out a second knife, all I could think was that he thought it would be more intimidating? Not a one seemed to figure where there's a badge there usually was a gun. I bit back a fang full of smile knowing that Harry wouldn't use the gun unless he was truly bored. The stench of gunpowder could burn in my nose for hours.
Besides, we had our own set of weapons that were far more fun and useful than silly bullets. Once bullets started flying I rarely got to fang in and drain. One of the boys began to bounce on the balls of his feet as he pumped himself up to make a run at us. Harry put the badge away and said dismissively, "You all still here? You really aren't the sharpest tools in the shed are you?"
His tone wasn't even mocking but rather flat and full of danger. The lads couldn't even wrap their brains around the idea that they'd bitten off more than they could chew. We'd clarify that for them real soon.
The drugged-out one cackled like a hyena and said, "You're the fools. We have you outnumbered three to one."
"Oh good, you can count," I said and smiled. Just a quick flash of fang not enough for anyone to be sure but just a bit --a promise of what was to come.
They'd obviously worked out a tried and true plan in advance. It was practically broadcast by their glances and the way they dipped their heads. Vampiric speed wasn't a myth and since Harry and I had just fed we had an added edge of energy. Both of us could have strode into their midst and killed them all before they finished telegraphing their moves but we weren't in that much of a hurry.
We hung back and waited for their charge. They orchestrated it well, I do have to admit, but they didn't stand a chance. I got the pleasure of being up close and personal with the drugged kid wearing the bloodsucking t-shirt. That boy had some skills and obviously wasn't afraid to use his blade. He came at me with his knife tip pointed down using a sweeping movement he'd probably seen in a movie. But the knife was sharp and could rip open my skin if he connected and I had no desire to bleed for the kid.
No matter, he wasn't good with a broken wrist, I quickly discovered. I flipped his wrist wickedly fast snapping the hand holding the knife as he swung in for my stomach. While he was falling to his knees I removed the knife and twisted away to avoid being sliced by the next combatant. I really didn't want to have to change before heading to Dark Whispers. My skirt twirled with me and I kicked out with my heeled boot at the third member of my attack team who had begun to rush me. I felt the satisfying crunch of his shinbone as I stomped down with my foot. He fell to the ground with a groan while I looked at my last volunteer.
He was breathing rapidly and had taken the time to yank his belt off and was swinging it deliberately aiming for my face. I liked my face without punctures and caught the belt the next time it flew close. Pulling the buckle end hard I yanked him to me. I hissed and let my incisors flash out with tad longer fangs than most folks had in their mouths. He stumbled back moaning something about, "Los vampiros!"
Comically enlarged eyes quickly grew as his choice of clothing came into play. By removing his belt his oversized pants started to yield to the natural laws of gravity and motion. His arms wheeled as he tried to keep his balance. He fell on his ass with a meaty thud. I dropped down carefully and looked into his eyes and bit out, "Boo!"
He probably should have skipped the super-sized soda with his dinner. The wet stain was rather large and fragrant. He trembled and crossed himself. The boy was dead white and he was trembling hard. The tattoos covering his stomach and what I could see of his arms showed a strong interest in religion and names of various lovers or kids. The blue-black ink looked silly in the moonlight but his knife was still grasped in his right hand. Seeing an animal instinct at self-protection raise its ugly head I slapped down on his clenched fist with my hand snapping a few small bones making him drop the knife. He cried out for his mother and mumbled prayers.
"Nope, that won't help you. You need to reconsider your life choices, child. I'll let you go but if I find you down here ever again I'll kill you." I leaned in and pushed into his mind giving him a full dose of what I could do to him. I drank in his fears as he listened to me inside his thoughts. I didn't need to drink his blood I just needed the pure terror of emotions running through him to satisfy my thirst.
The other two were still on the ground. I left the one boy's side and drank from the one with the taunting t-shirt. Not draining him dry just enough to mess up his iron and he'd be lightheaded for a day or two. I left him a thought of going back to school and avoiding his friends for the rest of his natural life. The third one I mind wiped and gave him the idea of moving out of state and donating his free time to the local homeless shelter at whatever town he ended up in. That was me, 'social reformer'. I smiled.
Harry had been doing his own ballet while I had danced with my three. The leader with the Zero t-shirt was curled into his stomach with a swath of flesh torn roughly open in the middle of his chest. He wouldn't be wearing that shirt again any time soon. I gathered he tried to use his dull knife on Harry and my friend showed him how it felt instead. The sounds he was making were sad and somehow young. I didn't think he'd ever been injured before he met Harry. Harry's eyes glittered with bloodlust and he had a small speck of blood at the corner of his mouth. I looked for the victim. It wasn't the boy wearing the spattered Zero shirt but one of the others. I could see they were all still living and breathing, a bit roughly, but alive.
Knives are poor weapons in unskilled hands. The ones these boys had were basically like the knives people have in the kitchen that slice ever so sweetly through tough tomato skins and raw cuts of meat with little effort but they don't really hold an edge. Everyone buys a shiny new chef's knife and gets a cut or two when slicing fruit or cheese so they hesitate to sharpen the knife very often. Over time with use they lose their edge and they get buried in the back of the drawers. The knives the boys were using were not much more than poorly used kitchen blades. The sharp pristine edges of their store bought toys were slightly better than those designed to cut veggies and meats, but the Zero boy had let his edge dull and the wound Harry had inflicted was jagged and gristle of his muscles could be seen. I could smell the sweet blood flowing as the kid cried watching his guts move wetly. An edge of hysteria had begun to rise in the cluster and Harry caught my eye.
"Hell, we need to go. These kids aren't going to bother anyone." Neither of us mentioned what suggestions we'd given our set of boys but turned back towards the street leaving our pleasant ocean sidewalk games. I was satisfied and feeling ready for whatever Kenyon was planning.
To be continued ...