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September 26, 2022

The Building 17

By Lydia Manx

The nights had blurred for Jerry Cooper back in Michigan while he had been held captive by Ben Richland and the Vampire Council's handpicked minion. Without a calendar and the lack of blood, he grew fetid and delusional. His mind kept running through his past and confusing the faces of his captors with other vampires he'd slain over the decades. Hell, who was he fucking kidding, over the centuries. He'd loved being Master of Detroit and never cared about the consequences of his actions. Why would he? He was vampire. And not just any vampire but one that had outlasted the French trappers and their invasion of a ripe tasty territory, not to mention the Native Americans who knew to leave him alone from the first time he'd fanged in on one of their famed medicine men. He was called a skin walker, a haunt, a horror. None of it mattered. He ruled supreme, unchecked for hundreds of years.

Ben's face had been the one he grew the most familiar with since the Council's lap dog had made sure to peer into the casket often. The anger and excitability Ben had first demonstrated when Jerry'd initially been incarcerated grew distant, as did Jerry's memory of the taste of Celina's blood. She hadn't been back since she'd tricked him and delivered him to the Council's vamps.

Then one night, as if in a dream, her face appeared above his. It had been a bright, sun filled horror of a day and Jerry had the scorch marks all over his body to prove it. The icons lining the interior of the coffin were seared deeply into every spot that had been tapped against during the nightly inquisitions. His mind had been drifting back in time to the turn of the previous century and how he'd delighted in hunting the hunters up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The UP had been full of deer that winter and he'd tracked the humans to their camps and picked them off one at a time. Every now and then he'd taunt the surviving members of the hunting party with limbs that he'd ripped off their companions. Sheer terror would scent their blood as the horror of a dismembered friend was etched into their minds. Screams and shouts often answered the gruesome discoveries.

"Well, now, lookee here. Old Master Vamp is looking a bit dry." Celina had giggled. Her honey syrupy voice had been little more than another in a series of flashbacks of his past as far as he knew. He blinked. His eyes were waiting for her to fade away. The memories of his hunts in Michigan fueled his body. The taste of the victims' blood ate at his soul, giving no sustenance but a ghost memory.

She didn't disappear. Instead a long polished nail tapped in the center of the Plexiglas window in front of his face. The sound inside the coffin was far louder than his thoughts. The flash of red nail lacquer made his mouth water. One of his minion used to lash open the vessels being offered to him during moonlit ceremonies, and bring him a fang full of blood to sample the vintage like any good sommelier.

Celina kept tapping while talking slowly, "You getting tired of being cooped up in the coffin yet? All you have to do is answer Ben's questions. And make a little statement for the video camera. Nothing untrue -- just let everyone know how you found yourself captured by the Council and why your property and fledglings were given away or slain."

It wasn't the first time he'd been told that they'd let him out of the casket to have a taste of air if he would admit to his failings. Just the first time that Celina'd come back. He had looked at her and smiled. His fangs weren't bared and he knew that his eyes didn't reflect the grin. She, on the other hand, had seen his charming smile differently. She'd laughed delightedly and clapped her palms together.

"Ben, honey, it looks like our fiend here may have something to share."

He had, in fact, had quite a bit to share -- just not aloud. Celina Holston spun from the coffin, taunting. "And you'all thought you could handle him."

Her words were accented by what looked like a mincing dance step. Ben had moved into view, staring fiercely at Jerry, and snarled, "Is she right? You finally going to be reasonable?"

It had been all he could do to keep his eyes flat and his voice even flatter.

"Why not?" He hadn't lied, but nobody had seemed to pick up the fact that he hadn't said yes. His idea of reasonable was going to seriously clash with these clowns' realities. Something none of them had obviously given much thought about was to ask the creator of the blood box exactly how long the vampire remained in a frozen somewhat distant state. Jerry could easily answer that question for them. Not that he planned on disclosing the news quite so soon.

Celina had giggled annoyingly again while hissing to another unseen vampire, "Get the camera set up. We need to make sure to get everything recorded perfectly. The Council won't reward for mistakes much less failure ya know."

A grumbled reply and then music to Jerry's ears -- he could hear another unseen minion cranking a key into the holes of the locks that had kept him sealed inside the casket. Jerry had kept any stray thoughts from drifting far into his thought or his eyes. The religions icons lining the box were definitely acting as a dampening field. Yet still he could taste Celina on his tongue. He had been careful to allow her essence to flow over him and to not reach out. A tremor of excitement had washed over him, nearly undoing his escape since Ben had naturally noticed the tremble.

"Wait a second." The locks being opened had stopped abruptly. Ben had then leaned in, his face filling the square, and with a detached look in his eyes Jerry had seen Ben's nostrils flare, and the vampire had inhaled deeply before deciding it was nothing. And that was precisely what Jerry had been busy thinking with every fiber of his being. He was concentrating on absolutely nothing. No air and no blood. He had needed to maintain the façade of apathy and remorse for just a few more moments. Difficult, as his patience had never been very good. Jerry hadn't found it to be a necessary virtue. Most vampires in his circle had agreed. Still, Jerry could feel a tug of cravings rocking his body. He knew that his hands were clenched in solid fists to keep from 'helping' the lid fly off the coffin.

In Ben's haste to set up and record what he'd thought would be the breaking of a Master Vampire, the Council's bag boy had moved the blood box further from the coffin to the other side of the large rather empty living room. As the lid was finally lifted Ben had grasped Jerry by the throat and bodily lifted him out of the horror-filled deathbed. Jerry wasn't shocked by the casual brutality of the vampire but instead amazed by how reduced he'd become in the casket. His slacks had fallen off his hips and puddled on the ground -- a grim reminder to the fierce vampire of how little he'd had to sustain him while imprisoned. Dreams and nightmares had been all that fed him. The vampire setting up the tripod with a rather large complicated camera and fistful of wires noticed the pool of cloth and had broken out laughing.

"Hey, Ben, do we have to put his dammed ass back in those?" He'd gestured mockingly at the pants. Jerry's shoes had long been discarded inside the coffin. He'd slipped out of them to give himself something to do when being sunburned during the daylight hours. His attempts to inch the shoes up to be used to cover his face hadn't worked out due to the blessed icons and statuary that seared his skin every time he contorted his body to try to move the leather up his length. Currently his shoes were as useless as his pants.

His throat had been uncomfortable in the grip of Ben's large palm but he'd remained loose while his eyes took in the room. He made sure to do it slowly and not obviously as there as no reason to telegraph his intentions to the crowd. He hadn't thought he'd ever get another chance to escape so he'd wanted to do everything correctly.

Ben had laughed, "No, he won't be needing his pants. Make sure to pan back at some point so our audience can see what the oh-so-famous Master is reduced to now."

They had all had a good chuckle while Jerry had felt like a rag doll being discarded by a spoiled, petulant child. A plain chair had been hauled into the center of the room by one of the other vampires. Steel legs and an off colored white seat cushion which harkened back to a kitchen set from the fifties with a matching chrome table topped with white metallic flecked tops. Jerry could almost smell the freedom. His fangs inched down while he had been tossed onto the chair.

Ben had released his neck from the grip and slapped Jerry dismissively on the cheek while saying, "Not so tough, are you?"

Jerry had kept his mouth shut while dropping his eyes. He knew it was nearly time. Celina was looking inside the coffin with a casual interest. "Damn, it's smaller in there than I'd remembered."

Her bubbly laughter had made a mockery of the discomfort he'd withstood while locked inside the hellishly planned casket. She was greatly amused by his capture, but she wouldn't be for long once Jerry reminded them why he was a Master Vampire and that they were just the tools of the Vampire Council.

He had been careful to remain slack and limp on the chair. The joy he'd felt, freed from the casket had to be stuffed deep down, tempered by the knowledge that he'd make them all pay. It had been all he could do to keep his mouth shut and his fangs hidden. He was mentally ready to strike but physically still drained.

Celina's nearness had helped. She had radiated her thoughts and emotions, unaware of his soaking in all that she so heedlessly discarded. Ben was standing behind the tripod glancing at the small screen and making minor adjustments of the camera and lens. He hadn't been paying close attention to Jerry, but instead the proper framing for the expected 'confession' from Jerry. "You ready?" Ben had asked -- still out of reach. A tingling sensation had rippled over Jerry's body as Ben closed the distance between them. Celina had left the casket and taken a spot just a foot or so to Ben's right. Jerry hadn't seen how he'd get too much more of an engraved invitation once a brutishly large vampire he'd heard called Vincent cuffed him on the back of his head saying, "Answer Ben, you creep."

Lightning fast, Jerry had struck. His fingers had slashed out, catching Vincent on the throat, slicing open the vampire's skin effortlessly. Jerry had been immediately sprayed with a fountain of blood -- glorious, hot, tasty blood. He'd let the life-giving liquid run down his throat. It had been lush and distracting. Jerry had felt his body sing.

The blood box they'd placed all their trust and hopes on keeping him in line was also making a noise. Jerry had figured it was self-destructing or something from the buzzing and loud chirping it was doing at a frantic pace. Letting the vampire Vincent's blood fuel his strength he'd quickly got up from the chair and launched it across the room, shattering the entire black box and the stilling the blue light and with it the control of him. The leash was off and he knew that he had to kill them all.

The vampires had been momentarily stunned by his quick actions. Jerry'd felt like laughing. Looking down at Vincent, depleted and bleeding out, Jerry had regarded him as little more than a used condom -- the sex was over and the rubber cast off not worth his attention. He'd felt alive for the first time in weeks.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-05-30
1 Reader Comments
Anonymous
06/04/2011
01:16:59 PM
Nicely paced, great ending. (Barry)
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