The guard shook his head as he came back to the present day and the end of his shift. Becoming Jerry Cooper had been fun in the beginning. The opportunities he'd thought that he'd have in Florida weren't as lush as he needed, however. He had decided the time had come to begin to shake things up a tad bit. His replacement was coding into the building as a smile broke on his face.
"Charlie McNeil, how the hell are you?" The guard greeted the older man with a lively step and a slight wave. Over the years he'd learned quickly how to mimic the other guards from the security company as a defense mechanism at first, and then it became automatic. He'd found out that the other security men tended to scrutinize newcomers or folks that didn't look and act like them. The fear of the unknown made the men bully and casually brutalize anyone that didn't fall into their social sphere or meet their expectations of manly behavior.
Charlie McNeil was roughly in his mid-sixties and looked like he'd been dragged out of bed feet first and thrust into the wrinkled uniform while still asleep. His hair was nearly hidden by a dingy blue-gray baseball hat, but what was visible was sticking out gray and spiky. The rings of puffiness beneath his bloodshot brown eyes weren't unusual but pretty much how McNeil looked every time they crossed paths.
"Doing okay, Jerry, just doing okay. You look like you just woke up." Charlie chuckled at the idea. It was instant grounds for dismissal from the security company getting caught sleeping on the job, but the guard knew that quite a few of the boys had found ways to hide in the building and sleep away their shifts without being found. The new Jerry never slept on the job. Even while trying to blend in with the boys he'd only go so far. Besides there were too many other things that kept him busy during his shifts.
"You know, I think I did." His grin spread wider as he began to plan what he was going to do. After a few more inconsequential exchanges of words and antidotes the guard left. Charlie had no idea how lucky he was. The guard was getting hungry again and the building was ripe with souls to be sucked.
Being Jerry Cooper wasn't complicated. He showed up just after nightfall at the building he'd been hired to work Sunday through Thursday for fifty weeks of the year. He'd spent the last two years using the computers, tracking his prey while being paid to watch a building do nothing but gather dust. His job wasn't complicated, just boring. But he needed those years to gain knowledge and heal. His time away from the game of predator-prey had been well used, if not exciting. The last time he'd been ill prepared and the battle nearly cost him everything. Hell, it had cost him financially every last dime he'd built up while living in Michigan for all those decades. That was something that still bothered him.
The guard had a different name when he was somebody in Detroit. That name was as dead as was the original Jerry Cooper. He knew that nobody left from the last battle really thought he'd survived because if he had been discovered, he'd have been staked and left out in the noonday sun for kicks and giggles. He'd crossed the council once and that was what got him into the current mess. His research had shown him that most of the action was taking place on the West Coast, but he wasn't heading out there yet. He had a few scores to settle before he ventured out of his comfort zone. The building had been a brilliant move on his part. Once he'd figured out that he needed to leave Detroit, he figured he'd go somewhere warmer and plot out how best kill those who'd betrayed him. He knew it wasn't going to be easy, but he was looking forward meeting up with those vampires soon.
Once he got back to his lair, which was how he thought of his current home, he settled in for a rest and to do some planning. The Internet had become his closest friend in the past few years. He'd heard how open and easy it was to navigate, and after his incident with the council he learned quickly how true that was. His home computer system wasn't as fast and secure as the one he used in the building, but it did help him stay tuned in to what happened while he slept. And despite the rumors to the contrary he slept. Being a vampire, even a fallen one, wasn't all that Hollywood had portrayed. Hell, if he saw anyone sparkle with pixie dust he'd shoot first and ask questions later. That reminded him of the weapon on his waist.
The reason he'd picked the security company currently employing him was because they were all licensed to carry concealed weapons and actively encouraged to keep their guns on them at all times. He didn't need a gun but he liked the idea that he could shoot a human without having to overly explain his reasons. 'I was just doing my job, sir' would be the first words out of his mouth. The way Florida worked, he'd get a commendation and plaque for the shooting. Floridians were crazy, he'd discovered.
He stashed the gun inside the dresser drawer next to his bed. He didn't have to use the gun but it was there for him if he wanted to pistol-whip anyone foolish enough to try to disturb him. As dawn pressed up against his shuttered windows he found his pillow and faded.
The new Jerry Cooper woke with a purpose. He knew that the time had come to start asserting his reign. He was tired of skulking in the office building down in Florida waiting for the vampire council to come find him. He didn't do anything wrong. Okay, check that, he didn't do anything any other vampire wouldn't have given the same opportunities. He just forgot to ask permissions from the council. And for that transgression the council had made him pay. Not just financially.
He could have fanged into the old Jerry back in that dank, fetid Detroit basement, but the enforcers sent by the council to punish him had been wickedly thorough. His needs had changed from his incarceration. Blood didn't always fill his soul. He needed more fear and loathing than blood. They'd starved him for over four months in a silver lined coffin. Hollywood got that one right. Silver wasn't something many supernatural creatures were fond of with some nasty reactions when touched, ingested, pierced or spattered by varying degrees.
The vampire council had made the silver far more harmful and, in his case nearly fatal, to vampires, by using blessed silver crosses, pendants, statues and coins all in their original forms. With all the power from the belief, prayers and devotion trapped inside the metal causing unbelievably intense pain when even slightly touching skin. Anywhere skin met the blessed silver was burned instantly. His captors had lined every available inch of the large coffin with the exception of the bottom -- that was layered with a thin rank smelling pad that let him know he wasn't the first tortured occupant to reside in the coffin -- and there was a small four by four inch pane of Plexiglas in the lid. He figured the original design was intended to let a loved one's face be glanced at one last time before being planted under the sod.
Imprisoned in the box, the top of the coffin was part of evil design in the torture. The enforcers didn't bury him but instead left him in the living room of a large home in a suburb of Detroit. One of the many abandoned homes that stood in the middle of an empty neighborhood, surrounded by fields and weeds was where they'd taken the coffin. The humans had long deserted the wealthy enclave as their own net worth plummeted. The house he was in had a nice large bay window that caught the most of the daylight, leaving the then vampire prince of Detroit, now a lowly guard named Jerry Cooper living in Florida, the devil's choice. Either burn from the sun streaming through the small window in the lid of his coffin confinement, or scald his exposed skin on the sides of the box as he shied away from the ever-moving sun streaming through the lid. The council's vampires had left him with little concern about his escaping during the daytime figuring the sunlight would do their work if he'd managed to free himself. A single human guarded his jail. He'd been thrown into the coffin with nothing on but his fangs and fears. There had been five of the enforcers armed with stakes, swords and words.
Most of the words were still etched into his mind. He'd been called every nasty thing heard on cable network and a few things only whispered in the dark. These council-approved vampires hated him and everything he'd ever done. He didn't know any of them when they'd slain his entire clan but over four months he'd learned their names, their loves and hates and other bits of history. They had assumed he was going to die quickly. That was their first mistake. He'd lost strength but never stopped plotting. In the beginning he couldn't figure out why they hadn't slain him, when they first killed off his fledglings and minions, but over the nights of their taunts and hisses it had become clear. They were sent to humiliate torture and harangue him first, and eventually once they broke him, they would finish him off. He was to be a lesson for other vampires left walking the night.
Every now and then a video camera was placed in front of the Plexiglas and his hisses of anger and snarls were filmed. He didn't shy from the camera but instead let a litany of curses of his own. He called upon any vampire in the area to come to help him. He screamed out directions as he best could recall from his trip inside the coffin and all the years he'd reigned over the Motor City. And the information spread out on the Internet and by word of fang.
And one morning he was in the coffin sideways, the best way he had found to avoid the pane of glass and the pain of silver, he heard people come into the house. The long vacant residence was usually quiet in the mornings some mornings he could swear that he would hear the grass growing outside and the dust falling. His captors slept elsewhere, he'd soon figured out. In the day he couldn't touch their dreams or find their scents. They simply left a human to guard against his escaping. But nobody had bothered to explain to the council's human guard that someone might want to break in. The scream of shock coming from the throat of the human in the house echoed with pain and total horror. He heard footsteps and then darkness. The bay window had black out drapes, it turned out. The visitors had pulled them shut before hammering open the locks keeping the coffin shut.
"Master, sorry we took so long to find you." He didn't have a clue who the human was but his tone was subservient enough. He'd thought vampires would've come to his aid, not wanna-be vampires in human forms. It just showed him how much control the council wielded over the Masters.
The boy took a sharp knife out of his back pocket and quickly lashed open his hand. With a practiced motion, the boy cupped his hand allowing his heart to pump and fill his right palm with his life's blood. Once his hand was nearly half full he placed his palm directly in front of the hungry, starved vampire's lips.
Without a sound, the nearly dead vampire took in blood for the first time in nearly five months. Once the boy's hand was empty the vampire licked the line healing it. It left an ache in his stomach. Sighing, he looked at the youth and wondered what possessed him to come and try to rescue a vampire.