Jerry Cooper was quite happy now. He had the first piece of the puzzle in the trunk of the car he was driving, on his way to the warehouse that he'd rented and refurbished a few months ago. Celina Holston, said piece in the trunk, had some crappy music choices was one of Jerry's first discoveries. He wanted to give her a fang full of blood and ask her if she'd even heard that it was the twenty-first century, or was she permanently stuck in the nineteen eighties? He wouldn't even mention the discovery of two buttons on her car stereo programmed for talk radio and one for country music. He shuddered as he kept pushing buttons trying to find the right mood music for the remainder of the evening.
He knew that there were many more things for him to discover. He'd been busy running through her mind while she was ensconced in a far larger space than she'd put him when he was captured. He'd been slammed into a casket lined with silver and religiously blessed icons that burned into him at every bump and turn, while she was enjoying the relative comfort of the trunk of a large sedan with a bag of her clothes to cushion the corners. He liked knowing her cell phone was inches from her nose, and she wasn't able to move enough to hit the keys for a rescue. There wasn't anyone she could call, from what he'd gleaned in her dark misshapen thoughts. She'd been systematically cutting off all connections with vampires, and her humans weren't near either. That she had both fledglings and humans stuck something sideways inside Jerry. He hadn't even had that hope when she'd kidnapped him. Or would that have been called 'vampire-napped'? It wasn't like he'd had a soul to pull with the black blood box humming and blinking a cold blue light, sapping all of his vampiric controls and powers.
While she on the other hand, had a few fledglings and human minion running around Florida who called her Master, he had nobody left from Michigan when he'd been the Master of the City. By draining her nearly to true death, she was unable to summon anyone or anything because she wasn't old enough. Granted she wasn't a fledgling, but by comparison to him, she was easily controlled. The Vampire Council had had the advantage when they'd tempted him with her back on the abandoned Detroit city streets because of his blood, fed to the blood box. It kept him from being able to summon anyone until it was destroyed. But by then there wasn't anyone left for him to find. He'd stopped trying once he moved to Florida and adopted the persona of Jerry Cooper. It wasn't worth the time or the effort he'd figured.
In Celina's case, it was Jerry keeping her from calling hers. The bonds she'd formed with the humans and vampires were still fresh, so he easily severed those ties. Once he'd put her blood into the blood box, there wouldn't be any way for her to call out to any humans or vampires near or far. He loved giving back to Celina like she'd damned him all those years ago. She hadn't been nearly as considerate, as he was giving her a nice large trunk in which to contemplate her future -- such as it was.
The large car ate up the miles between her house and the warehouse he'd found near the railroad tracks. It wasn't in the best of neighborhoods, but that was part of its charm. That and the fact that he was able to pull her car all the way into the warehouse once he'd driven onto the alarmed lot and opened up the shipping dock. The scents of wet asphalt and musty dry concrete greeted his nose once he had closed the main gate behind him before pulling up to the building. The rain from earlier served to dampen the already tropical environment, and he found the scents thick and fetid with rotting brush and palm fronds that had been dropped from the surrounding trees. The humidity was dense, and he could hear the sounds of frogs and night birds calling out to each other in the darkness that surrounded the ill-lit lot. Another reason Jerry had liked the place -- there weren't any neighbors to bother him. He pulled down the rolling door, sealing in the car and his vampire. Jerry looked around the largely empty area and went to see if the generator had enough fuel. Not that he planned on giving Celina any lights, but he had been specific in his needs for the rental, and didn't need some idiot wandering in because they'd forgotten to fill the tank and give Celina a chance at freedom. He knew that it would have been odd to rent a building of that size without a functioning generator in a hurricane zone. He'd had the power hooked up also to keep the appearances of a start up business slowly building up for a future enterprise. His landlord wasn't the nosy type, but nevertheless Jerry'd immediately changed the locks on everything once he'd signed the paperwork and handed over the cashier check for the year rental. Both vampire and human satisfied with the transaction, Jerry knew he'd picked the right place. Other than the landlord, Jerry hadn't seen a soul around the property, and from the run-down appearances of neighboring buildings and structures, it wasn't heavily populated day or night. It fit his plans well.
There were some large wooden crates and other assorted scraps of shipping materials set around the space to give the illusion of some sort of business to anyone who grew curious and got close enough to see inside. That too wasn't overly likely, because of the high windows and the tightly locked building. But Jerry figured it never hurt to be prepared for the stray bum wandering too close during the day light hours unnoticed. He wasn't going to worry about that because he was more than capable of handling anyone who got too close. He just didn't want to attract any unneeded attention. The wooden shipping crates were scattered seemingly in a random array but in fact they hid the area Jerry had prepared for the questioning of the Vampire Council's enforcers. He drove the car further inside once he'd closed the door and locked it from the inside. He popped the latch triggering the trunk, and slowly went to see how Celina had enjoyed the travel. She was still half curled inside the trunk on her side and hadn't moved voluntarily. The duffle bag he'd tossed in with her had shifted a bit and he saw the zipper was still pulled shut. Her eyes were half shut and listless. She wasn't as catatonic as she appeared, Jerry knew from the thoughts leaking out of her mind. She was swearing at him in her mind worse than the recently-deceased Tricia. From everything in her thoughts, she didn't have a clue that he was easily listening to her hate-filled rants. How she hadn't figured out he would be privy to her mind given that he'd nearly killed her drinking down her rich blood was puzzling him; then he heard her thoughts.
"I thought the Council said we'd killed him? Who the hell set him on me? Why hasn't he asked me anything? Why can't I hear his thoughts? Is he now a null like Ben suggested? Did we damage him with our torture? Did that black blood box make him somewhat human? Is THAT why the Council claims that he is dead? Damn Ben, for getting me involved with this creep."
Jerry made sure to keep his features flat, unresponsive to what he was hearing, and his stare flatter. So she'd thought he was long dead. It sounded like the Vampire Council hadn't wanted the enforcers to know that they hadn't killed him. It made him wonder if perhaps Celina's little games hadn't gone unnoticed, and they wanted him to kill her. His mind kept working the angles and trying to find flaws in his logic. She wasn't going to go anywhere, so he shut the trunk after removing the bag. Her eyes slowly followed his movements while she kept turning over everything in her mind. Once the trunk was closed, Jerry allowed himself to grin with pleasure. He nearly danced over to the area behind the crates to get the syringe he needed for the next step in the process. He dropped the duffle bag on the floor next to a table. The stainless steel table had been an acquisition from a hospice care supply house as were many of the tools and instruments littering the shiny surface. Not that he cared if there had been any germs on the tools, he still had draped the table with a crisp hospital white linen. Folding back the covering he pulled the large antique syringe off the corner and recovered the table setting the syringe on top shining and bright. It was all part of the psychological effect he wanted when he began torturing Celina for some answers. But first he went to the fridge and pulled out the vial the creature had given him during the purchase of the black blood box.
Of the three vials he'd bought from the creature (along with the black blood box) he'd swallowed one earlier in the evening at his house. He had decided, after he'd seen the newscast where Celina had inadvertently got caught live on television, that the time was right. At the time he'd intended to go immediately to the station in Miami and grab the vamp as she left work. With Edna's distraction closely followed by getting the troll to relocate, he'd worried that the effectiveness of the concoction would've worn off before he found Celina. Thankfully Tricia had helped locate her house before in turn he'd used the hacker as bait. From everything he'd read in Celina's mind, she didn't have a clue what he was thinking, or if he was even still a Master Vampire. That delusion was about to come to a crashing ending. He smiled and regarded the murky moss-colored liquid.
Shrugging, he uncapped the vial and drained the small glass container in a single gulp. It tasted vile and bitter, as if it was somewhat tainted or nearly spoiled. But then, with what he had been dealing, he didn't even want to venture a guess what components were used to create the elixir. The creature had been firm about the order of the liquids Jerry had to consume. The first one, a dark purple shade of surprisingly molten warm floral-scented liquid, which was supposed to cloud his presence from Celina and other Council henchmen, hadn't tasted much like anything. The creature then explained that he had to drink the second one before the coming dawn or bad things could occur. Given how the blood box could hold a full-grown vampire like Jerry, rendering him unable to connect with his clan or minion for a number of evenings, Jerry had decided to heed the advice of the creature. Hellbound or whatever it was, Jerry knew better than to question the magical creature. He had no desire to see what that creature considered 'bad.' The harsh flavor wasn't leaving his mouth, and it felt nearly acidic as it worked its way down his body. To his shock his hands were trembling and his fingernails were light blue. The magic racing through him wasn't sparing a single inch of his frame. His vision blurred and his scalp tingled.
Then it all abruptly ceased as if he'd been unplugged from a live wire. The vial in his hands simply vanished. One moment he was holding the thin tube in his right hand and the stopper in the fingers of his left hand -- then he wasn't. The pit of his stomach roiled uneasily at the further signs that the creature he'd made a deal with wasn't the garden variety supernatural. But he shoved those dark thoughts down quickly and looked to see his fingernails had returned to their normal hue. He looked inside the small dorm-sized refrigerator where he'd removed the vial. The third vial was still sitting on the shelf inside the notched container that had originally held the other two vials. He remembered setting the first vial back inside his home fridge, figuring he'd have to dispose of it later but now he wasn't as sure. His fingertips tingled from the missing vial's disappearance.
The air was lightly scented with sandalwood and bergamot, which was far more pleasing than the taste still coating his mouth. Part of him wondered if he should start looking for a white rabbit. Shaking his head he went back to get the vampire from the trunk.