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September 26, 2022

The Building 18

By Lydia Manx

Jerry Cooper recalled that taste of freedom. The hint of dust from the empty home had warred with the scent from his own body that had been slowly dying inside the coffin. The blood, sweat and fears that laced the casket where he'd been held -- the blood and sweat were his but the fears weren't -- had made for an acidic odor. Jerry'd never feared anything, which was part of the reason that he made an excellent vampire. Even the metallic odor of the silver icons and blessed statues tickled his nose breathing in the room's stale air. No humans were in the house, just vampires.

Vincent, one of the vampire council's pet henchmen, had mocked him and cuffed the back of his head when he didn't immediately answer Ben, the head vampire sent by the Council as their enforcer. He had returned the favor by slashing open Vincent's neck and tasting the first bit of blood in weeks. Vincent hadn't been the meal that Celina had been, but as a vampire he wasn't half bad. What he would've given to be slurping down a college kid, one that had the delusion of immortality laced heavily with strong ties to a rich childhood. He so loved those humans -- breaking them made the blood that much richer. The camera had been still rolling and Ben rapidly spitting out orders. Jerry had thought it was for effect since the tone of the abandoned Michigan house wasn't what anyone would find soothing and controlled. The vampire behind the lens, who was there to record the confession from the infamous Master of Detroit, was quickly panning to catch all the action. Jerry did finally laugh. Vincent wasn't dead, yet, so he could easily hear the vampire's thoughts as clearly as if he was shouting.

Vincent was thinking, Fuck you, Kevin, put down the damn camera and come over here and help me!

Kevin could plainly hear Vincent, as they were blood tied, thus Jerry got to hear the reply. Kevin snarled back in his thoughts, No, fuck you, Vinny, you were stupid enough to get in fang distance of the vamp. Besides, this was very smug, the Council needs to see what's happening.

Jerry had thought it was a pretty weak excuse, but Kevin had continued to film the chaos, not moving from behind the tripod. As if the thin metal rods would protect him from Jerry. And the scene inside the dark ill-lit room had rapidly dissolved to little more than that -- utter chaos. Ben had been barking orders still while Vincent was steadily bleeding out his life onto the floor all the time cursing Kevin aloud and with his thoughts. Jerry had found the dying vampire fairly creative in his curses. He doubted that Kevin could actually perform some of the actions Vincent proposed to Kevin to do to himself -- anatomy of vampires did have some limitations. Celina had gone over to see how damaged the blood box was and was foolishly trying to thump the mess as if that was all that was needed to adjust the system. The bits and pieces that surrounded the box were obviously part of the problem and not a debris zone to be ignored. She was mumbling underneath her breath, asking nobody in particular, about how this could not be happening.

She'd picked up the chair that Jerry'd launched to destroy the blood box and hurled it even further away into the largely empty room. The metal legs were slightly askew but the chair was still useable. Even though not much was made indestructible, the furnishings from the 50's came damn close.

Ben had pulled a long blade from off the top of the mantle over the empty fireplace and pointed it towards Jerry.

"I'll take your head," he hadn't looked as certain as his words.

Hoarsely Jerry had answered, "You can try."

And he had pushed into Celina's mind with a violent thrust fueled with Vincent's blood. All his pent up hungers, rages and lusts flooded her thoughts brutally. She made a small squeaking sound and fell unconsciously to the ground. Before she went down she'd attempted to push back. Jerry caught a light chuckle in his thoughts that momentarily had confused him. It was then he had been literally lifted off the floor and sailed halfway across the room while his skull felt like it had been cleaved open with a dull axe. A fierce pain shot through him as the pain rode him like a jockey and it traveled down his back. He thought his body was being ripped open from the middle of his spine. Face down he couldn't see who was attacking him.

He'd clawed at his shirt, trying to reach whatever had him pinned down on the floor. His shirt came away in tatters into his fists but he still was unable to buck off whoever had caught him off guard. It no longer had been a matter of how he'd escape, but whether or not he'd survive until the next moonrise. Ben had pulled back a foot and brought it hard into his side -- lifting him off the ground a good solid six inches. There had been nothing Jerry could do. All the Council's hit men were then on him -- kicking and striking him. Okay, Vincent didn't participate, he wasn't really doing that well Jerry knew because he'd been pulling as much energy from the vamp as he could. Celina was still out so it was basically Ben, Kevin -- who'd finally left the camera to kick a vamp when he was down -- and the unseen assailant still on his back. It had felt like a legion, not three mediocre vampires.

A flutter of something had brushed his mind, then Celina rose and saw what was happening.

"Stop -- you can't destroy him yet. The Council needs his confession. He's too high up to simply be erased." She'd swayed up on her feet still unsteadily from Jerry's mental assault.

Ben had given one more vicious kick, this time just below Jerry's jaw. It wasn't a deathblow but it had knocked him out. He knew that when he came to because he was nearly naked and imprisoned back inside the coffin. Daylight had streamed into the unholy cage. He had slipped in and out of consciousness for days.

After that incident Ben and Celina had taken no chances. They still had asked for his confession, but instead of the promise of freedom out of the box, they'd offered him a quick and final death. The taunts and torments had continued, and Vincent had come back, wary of getting too close, as if he feared Jerry'd leap from the casket and finish the job of tearing out his throat.

For all the time Jerry had spent inside the coffin he had never found out who had ridden him like a horse. That bit of humiliation had never surfaced on the net. In fact, during his research once he'd got to Florida he'd never seen a single frame from that event. It was as if it had never happened. He might have convinced himself it had all been a horrific nightmare were it not for the swath of pain that had glued his back to the lining on the bottom of the coffin for weeks. And later the actual pain of healing ever so slowly had further nailed that into his mental coffin.

They never had replaced the blood box -- he didn't know if it was because nobody wanted to open up the coffin to get more of his blood or because they didn't want to waste the money buying another one. He knew exactly how expensive constructing the weapon was -- hell, he'd worked like one of the human prey at a 'real' job to subsidize the purchase; the other side effect from his near escape was that from time to time he could taste Celina and Vincent's essence in his mind -- that had kept him alive and fueled his anger easily. Not until those foolish kids had let him free did he realize just how much they'd kept him going.

The vampire blood box had cost more than just cash and the victim's blood -- it had cost Jerry a favor. Master vampires rarely allowed themselves to be in the position where they were beholden to others. But the creature who crafted the devices used its magic and its own blood to bind the spell. Jerry now owed the denizen from what he could only imagine was hell to have his allegiance at some future unspecified date. It wasn't negotiable. He didn't ask what the Vampire Council owed the creature, but made sure to arrive on time and leave without giving offense.

The cave the creature currently made its nest in was heavily decorated with corpses in various stages of decomposition, not to mention signs of spiteful anger-driven destruction. Had Jerry found or thought of any other way to get to Celina, he would've worked as a security guard another twenty years if needed to make the money needed. But no matter how Jerry looked at it -- his revenge had to be demeaning and precise. Part of they torture had to make Celina aware of what her actions had done to him. She needed to suffer. He wasn't keeping her for months -- hell, probably not even weeks -- she'd be lucky to live a few nights once he got her. That kept him warm on more than one night while working in that damned building.

Jerry contemplated his next move. With Edna's "gator" demise the neighborhood would be far too vigilant for him to attempt to keep Celina in his home. Besides, he was well aware of how good the forensic science in police departments had become, so though keeping her close to home would've been an absolute delight, it was a pleasure he couldn't indulge in -- just yet. Florida didn't have the basements and crappy weather like Michigan but there still were enough spots that were in serious need of urban renewal and were dangerous for locals and tourists alike. He didn't want to drive back and forth to the gangland war zones of Miami, so he'd been scouting the locations available in the area.

Boca Raton had a surprising number of vacancies in both the commercial buildings and foreclosed houses. Both also tended to be infested with stray humans -- disposable ones -- the cast-offs, vagrants, drug addicted pill heads which were all tasty snacks he figured to fuel his base needs. The various warehouses that lined the railroad lines weren't as well patrolled as humans thought. Budget cuts, along with mismanagement of public funds, further reduced the armed police response. Just the thought of what he'd soon be doing to Celina brought a smile to his face. The flexibility of the location he held her was key to his games. He was starting to get very excited by the challenge of destroying Celina Holston as she'd tried to destroy him. But unlike her and her little friends he'd finish the job.

He didn't want to use his personal computer to search out more information on Celina, and since he wasn't scheduled to work for a few days he was in a precarious situation. He was going to have to leave his 'safe' little community and venture out to one of his tech type donors. He got back into his car and headed out to see if Tricia was home.

She lived one town over in Deerfield Beach. She was a party animal with a dark side. She was a hacker. She subsidized her life by stealing other people's money. She'd tried to steal from Jerry's bank accounts right after he'd arrived in Boca and he'd trailed her back home and downed a pint. At first he'd planned on killing her and making it look like a bad love affair gone wrong -- a common enough story in the Sun-Sentinel -- but once he tapped her vein he found out she was a thief and relatively new to Florida.

Florida was the funnel for America, he'd discovered once he'd begun to look around the state and figure out what was what. There were the seasonal snowbirds, folks that came annually to escape the harsh winters to the north, flaky rich humans who came down to escape their careers and greedy children, seniors who moved to the warmth to die in comparative comfort with like-minded sorts, and then the scammers and conmen trying their luck around some of the wealthier communities. Jerry had been delighted to find that a number of humans were constantly busy trying to erase their past and ignore their futures. It was ripe grounds for him to feed undetected.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-06-06
Image(s) © Lydia Manx and Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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