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February 19, 2024

The Building 16

By Lydia Manx

"Night One, thank you," the troll said finally. A frog made a halfhearted attempt at a croak a few feet away. The troll glanced to where the sound had emanated and seemed to mentally mark the spot for further investigation. Much like most of the creatures that were eventually living around or in the water, Jerry Cooper gathered that they'd be history in the next few weeks.

Jerry nodded at the troll's thanks. He didn't want to upset the troll any more as he really needed its gullet for vampire chow. He hadn't realized that the troll didn't have family or clan nearby. Not that he cared in the long run, but at the same time it was odd. Most trolls had more extended family than ever expected and usually less than a stone's throw away. He'd taken to calling the troll 'Guardian,' given he didn't want to offend the creature by asking a name or presuming more than it was a troll. Pissed-off trolls weren't the best neighbors or creatures to have made alliances with. He didn't want the troll as a close neighbor, which was why he gave the troll directions to the pond near his work. He decided that he needed it for an alliance and again to be a readily available vampire disposal system. Trolls could put away the meat when needed and this troll was starving.

"I will return in two evenings." Jerry Cooper, as a human, had to show up to work in two nights so he could stop in and check on the troll when he reported back for work. But the vampire was going to spend the next few nights physically tracking down Celina Holston from the news station, where he'd caught a glimpse of her earlier in the evening, long before Edna had become troll victuals along with her toy poodle. He didn't need the troll to stalk Celina.

He walked back to his car trying to think of how he'd get some of Celina's blood. During the past two years he'd taken the time to find out how to build one of those boxes that had so effectively trapped him in his own territory. As he drove back home he seethed at the memories from all those months shut inside the coffin to burn and blister.

When Jerry had been first carried into the house outside Detroit, he'd figured they'd lop off his skull at first light and leave his ashes to scatter in the early dawn winds. Instead they'd set his coffin in the bay window knowing he'd get some nasty sun exposure, all the while hissing and spitting out taunts. Celina had been removed from his vampiric pull within minutes of his being brought inside encased in the casket. Her blood was still on his lips, reminding him that her lush blood was still flowing inside his body. The vampire called Ben, he later found to be Ben Richland, had berated Celina for allowing him to bite her. She'd screamed in her cute Southern drawl that she hadn't exactly opened up a vein and asked Jerry to down a pint. She hadn't called him Jerry back then either -- because he hadn't assumed the skin of Jerry Cooper at that point -- but still had his old name. One he didn't even try to use now, since for all practical matters the vampire Prince of Detroit that he'd been was long dead and staked.

The night he'd been captured had been odd for Jerry; even now he still marveled at how naïve he'd been. His usual fledgling or two hadn't accompanied him -- which at the time had seemed perfectly normal. The excuses given to him by Ron, his second-in-command and confidant, had been reasonable and Jerry'd long convinced himself of his invulnerability. He'd never figured he'd be snagged by minion of the Vampire Council much less a half dozen of them off the deserted streets of Detroit. As Celina tempted him close to the van housing the mechanized blood box, he'd grown weak and disoriented. He reached out automatically, he couldn't find any of his fledglings or minions with his mind and he didn't know if it was the black box that had cut the cord between him and his clan, or something worse. Once he'd fanged into the vampire, he knew from Celina's blood that they were council enforcers; he'd had to figure that his family was gone. The council wasn't known for their kindness.

Celina's blood had briefly allowed him to flex his powers, but the box she'd put in the back of the van where he'd been tossed caused him an unbelievable amount of stress. The box had been given his very sweet blood at some point, and was further fueled by a magically-driven power source; it took him months to find out that that was the reason he hadn't been able to move in the beginning.

The first day hadn't been bad in the abandoned Detroit suburban house. He wasn't able to find any humans nearby to call, as was his due being a Master of the City, but then the vampires had taunted him that the blood box, as they called it, was going to put him in a world of hurt. At first, he thought his death was just a matter of the right vampire arriving to pronounce judgment or something like that. The Vampire Council was well known for their dramatic gestures and archaic self-involved ceremonies when it suited them. But then as the night gave way to daylight, he settled in for the sunrise. He had plenty of blood from feeding the night before he was kidnapped so he wasn't overly worried about dying immediately. The drain of his abilities he put down to the box not an actual loss of his powers. The younger vampires couldn't take much sunlight but after centuries passed vampires could survive the sun far longer than any human ever expected, much to their prey's horror. The memory of the look on a human's face as the sun kissed his fangs kept him warm many a night. Dawn was somewhat welcome the first day, because he'd found out that the vampires who'd imprisoned him weren't that old. He knew that when they fled, leaving behind the first human of many. When vampires were young they slept like the dead and were defenseless against a good mind-reading vampire -- that was one of Jerry's many talents.

The human didn't engage in conversation with him. In fact, if he hadn't heard the vampire called Ben say good-bye, and the man then verbally respond, he would have been hard pressed to even say that anyone had been left behind. The human was a null. There was nothing inside the man but meat. Jerry used his power voice to summon him to the coffin and got no response. He tried to find the man with his mind, but figured that the blood box had dimmed any of his skills at calling victims. If he strained past the silver icons with their blessed aura and the tears of the love showered on them over the ages, he could just barely make out a heartbeat and a pulse. Little more than a trace of a taste of a skin and blood, that Jerry could no more enjoy than he could free himself from the coffin. His memories were stronger than the human's scent in the house. The human didn't stay near the living room, but from how the house felt, he figured the man was further away, possibly in the kitchen. Without his vampiric skills he wasn't precisely sure.

The following evening there had been a clattering of noises, and what sounded like locks being unlatched by the front door where he'd been brought inside. Then he'd heard Ben talk and dismiss the man after asking how the vampire had behaved during the day. For the first time Jerry heard the human speak.

"He was fine. He did try to breach the box but it didn't work. Be careful, Ben, he's not like the rest." The man's voice was thick and ill-used, like he rarely spoke. Jerry tried to do one final push for the human's taste and to his shock he felt like he was being slapped in the face.

Ben came into view and said, "Stop that, creature. Leave the human alone. You have had your time on Earth, now give in and admit you were wrong. The Council knows your heart is corrupt and evil. Just admit it."

Looking right into the enforcer's eyes, light blue ones at that, Jerry smiled and hissed. He didn't waste his words on the vampire. He was saving his strength. Youthful arrogance was etched on Ben's face. By being the chosen of the Vampire Council the younger vampire thought it would protect him from Jerry. Even all those years ago, Jerry knew that he'd eventually be free and track down the vampires who'd tortured him. After not being slain within the first twenty-four hours and the arrival of Ben back to the house the following evening, he knew that they wanted something from him. Not just his head.

Ben pushed his face closer to the Plexiglas and snarled, "Admit it!"

Jerry flashed his fangs and made a motion as if to bite through the plastic and fang into Ben's face. Ben automatically jerked back from Jerry even though he didn't even dent the thick window with his teeth. A sizzle and pain raced through him as his jaw hit an imbedded rosary made up entirely of silver and prayers. It was worth the pain to see the younger vampire lose face in front of his vampires.

There were no chuckles, but even Jerry knew that there'd be quickly hidden smirks. Vampires were always looking to triumph over those above them, and any sign of weakness was an opportunity for advancement. Even within the wretched ranks of the Council's hit men. And he didn't forget Celina; the Council also had hit women. He'd tried to see behind Ben to see if Celina was with him, but the other vampires shuffling in the room weren't in his immediate visual range. He'd breathed in deeply and could smell her on Ben but not behind him. Seeing Jerry's nostrils flare caused something to snap inside Ben's head.

He pounded on the top of the coffin with a closed fist saying, "She's not here. She won't be coming back for a while, not until the taint of your fangs are erased. Admit you are wrong!"

The human said, "Ben, stop. I told you he isn't like the others. You will need to do other things to break this one."

Then there was a door slam and Ben walked away saying, "Don't go anywhere, Master. We're not done yet."

Jerry had taken pride in the fact that Ben was easy to rile. Taking blood from Celina seemed to have pushed Ben out of his normal pattern and caused him to lose control. It was something Jerry would use against the vampire.

The second night had been a memorable one, with testosterone-filled vampires posturing for each other while keeping him in constant agony. Fueled by sets of non-stop 'control sessions.' He'd conducted his own sorts of those types of evenings long ago in Michigan when it was still a young territory and he was full of blood, busily carving out his own personal stake in the world. The Council's vampires weren't nearly as good as he and his minions had been, but they had given it their best efforts. Each of the male vampires had taken great pleasure in jostling the casket, causing his body to strike the silver and blessed icons with regularity. They'd kept a running stream of vicious bitchy little comments.

"Hey, Master, so now where are your devoted fledglings?"

Another vamp, laughing, had answered, "They are nothing more than ashes in the wind. Soulless rogue vampires doomed by the very taint of your blood."

"Your French bitches screamed the most. Mon Dieu! Like we cared? How did they think their warped worship of you was going to end?" He hadn't responded, but simply waited, filled with hate and unasked questions.

Snarling, one of the younger ones bit out, "Staking them was a pleasure. Impaling their pale corseted corpses on stiff ash wood. I know they loved me sticking it to them." Laughing and play-acting humping his unseen vampires -- Jerry had watched him with hatred and silence. The vampire had made sure that he could see his sexually crude motion and fang-filled smile of pleasure.

Their insults had gone on through the night with surprising creativity. Descriptions of how his minion had bled and how his fledglings had died by their hands. Jerry didn't know if they were lying -- the blood box wasn't allowing him any touch of mind or soul with his clan. He kept pushing every chance he got.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-05-23
1 Reader Comments
01:12:28 AM
Jerry's going to return to the little lake and find that the troll has a diner sit up, all ready for the vampire entree.
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