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November 27, 2023
"Mes de los Muertos"

The Building 32

By Lydia Manx

"Well, Mr. Cooper. It seems the gator took both your neighbor and her dog. The divers refuse to go into the water to check for the victim, saying something about their union and lawsuits." The lady cop wasn't happy and spit out the words like they were bitter and sharp in her mouth.

Jerry Cooper nodded again like he gave a damn about the old lady and her dead yipping poodle. Her male partner shifted uneasily, and looked out into the canal as if that would make either dead Edna or the suspected alligator magically appear. A large egret swooped down and plucked a small fish off the top of the water in a fluid movement, causing both the cops to jump. Sweat stains down both of their backs caused them to shiver slightly in his air-conditioned living room. That and fear. Lovely deep dark fears that rolled off them and into Jerry's soul. He was enjoying the unexpected encounter with the cops far more than he'd figured. But he also had thought he'd get at least a day or two before anyone questioned the whereabouts of Edna and Mister Peaches. That annoying poodle wouldn't be barking and yipping any more, and for that Jerry figured the other neighbors would have just counted their blessings and ignored the quiet house.

"When did it happen?" Like he didn't already know exactly when Edna went down the troll's throat. Hell, he'd watched the troll chomp Edna down like an appetizer offered. The troll had been equally happy to consume Mister Peaches from what he'd gathered and soon would be the recipient of vampire bits and pieces.

The male officer flipped another page in his small notebook and said, "We received reports from one Richard Shamburg three hours ago. He'd been strolling along the canal and found blood going from the victim's home to the water. We arrived on the scene and discovered a suspicious amount of blood inside the woman's home and other items that lead us to believe she'd fallen victim to a rogue gator attack."

His partner, not wanting to lose control of her partner, interrupted with, "We called in the Fish and Wildlife officers to the scene to render their opinion and aid in the recovery of the victim."

Jerry hadn't remembered Richard Shamburg's morning constitutional along the canal in his haste to meet up with the troll by his office, and find Celina Holston. He missed having minions to keep track of all the little details like that. He kept quiet and let them explain why they'd bothered him.

"Okay," he offered into the silence, and arched an eyebrow at the male. The human shifted a bit again and said, "Mr. Cooper, how well did you know the victim?"

Shrugging Jerry said, "Just to say hello. She was a friendly sort."

The woman was still suspicious of Jerry; her innate sense of self-preservation was fairly strong, and she didn't trust Jerry, instinctively.

"How friendly was she with you?" Her tone was smug and superior. Jerry traced back from her fears into her mind for a quick check and found that she'd already heard about Edna's nosy nature and some innuendos concerning a rather active sex life amongst the geriatric set in the gated community.

He laughed and said, "Excuse me? Are you implying something?"

He well knew she was and waited to see what she'd say. It really was shaping up to be quite the lively morning. He missed the sleep but the fear flowing from the two tough cops was rather delightful.

"Charlene," the other cop said, trying to catch his partner's eye. Jerry hadn't bothered to get either of their names and found it interesting that the high-pitched voice of the male cop had dropped half an octave when he breathed his partner's name. Maybe the two of them had some of their own 'friendly' behavior. He risked a peek into the male's mind and was greeted with a visual of them both naked entwined in each other's arms. The mirror on the ceiling and the tawdry environment spelt out a rather cheap motel room, with the added flavor of being forbidden scenting the memory. It let Jerry know that one if not both of them were involved with other partners outside work.

"What, Ken?" Her voice was waspish and she was irritated at her partner's attempt to rein her in.

"This guy's like twenty or more years younger than the victim." Jerry was actually quite a bit older than her but didn't see the need to explain vampiric aging to the humans. He simply regarded Charlene with a steady gaze. He noticed her eyes dropped over his bare chest automatically. Thankfully with the recent addition of blood from Celina, he'd dropped more years from his appearance. Once he got to the serious business of killing all the vampires who'd imprisoned him and drank from them, he'd look another decade or two younger than he currently did. He was happy to look younger at the cost of vampire blood. Especially from the Vampire Council's thugs -- they'd taken so much from him, and if everything went according to his plans he'd be plump as a tick on a dog within a year. The lean years were over, and he was looking forward to his reign in a new corner of hell. The hell of his own making at that.

"So?" She snarled, still unsettled by Jerry. He loved that he made her uncomfortable, but knew that she wasn't as easily led as her partner Ken, so he needed to get the cops out of his home and outside bothering other humans. He had to get back to the warehouse and torment Celina into giving up her confederates. He pushed a few thoughts into Ken's mind easily, while avoiding the disgusting imagery the man had running through his mind about what he was going to do with his partner in the coming hours. Being around Jerry's house had inspired the man to some depths he'd never explored before. Well, that, and Jerry did drop a few stray thoughts of bondage into his mind. He'd figure the man would be slightly revolted by the ideas and push back with fear and worry. No, it seemed that there was a darker side to the cop than he showed most folks. Charlene, who was used to being in control, was in for a rude awakening in a few hours. Jerry contented himself with that while he waited for his suggestions to take hold of the man.

"So, I think we've bothered this man enough. Let's go see the other neighbor Mr. Shamburg mentioned." Ken, finally acting like a cop, made for the front door not looking to see if his partner agreed or not. His fears still shadowed him and scented the room to Jerry's enjoyment but now they were strung together with thoughts of taking Charlene with a brutality he'd never tried before. If he hadn't been so busy getting ready to play with Celina, he'd have kept the two officers inside for more entertainment.

"Sorry I couldn't be more help. Do either of you have a card in case I see something?" He went for the 'helpful citizen' mode just to off balance them. Ken looked back and said, "Charlene, why don't you give the man one of yours."

Ken was obviously asserting his control over his partner to impress Jerry, because the way the woman bristled, Jerry knew she usually called the shots. That and the glimpse into Ken's lust-filled memories had him on bottom, and Charlene riding the man like it was her second job -- meant everything Jerry'd wired into Ken's brain was going to be a jolt for the woman.

She reached into her pocket and pulled out a card and thrust it at Jerry as she trailed after Ken, who was already halfway out the door. Jerry shut the door behind them with a wide grin plastered on his face. The heat outside had risen at least five degrees and the humidity was at nearly one hundred percent. It was like walking into a wet, hot fog while the sun beamed down, cooking anyone stupid enough to leave the air conditioning. The ten minutes or so that they'd been inside only served to illustrate how utterly miserable the day was outside. A rumble in the distance heralded an approaching thunderstorm. A loud crackle of noise, then an eye searing flash of blue-white electricity confirmed the fast-moving storm. Another crack of lightning lit up the area and caused dogs to howl in the distance.

Happily, Jerry went back to his bedroom to grab another hour or so of sleep. The lights flickered, then the power went out. The cops were going to be challenged by the storm. He didn't much care either way and crawled back in his bed to dream dark dreams and remember past glories.

Jerry woke to the sound of the house being hammered by torrential rains. The power was still off but he could tell that at least a few hours had passed. He was refreshed by the sleep but haunted by his memories. The temptation to simply rip Celina apart with his bare hands was clouding his judgment. He knew that wasn't the proper course to take with the Council's bitch, but he wasn't always known for taking the right roads in his life. Hell, that was the least of his worries most nights. He didn't bow to any vampire or creature.

The darkness was nearly absolute inside his bedroom, but it didn't matter since he knew every detail of his home. It wasn't a mansion and he didn't have much clutter. A smile crossed his face as he thought about the police investigating Edna's death in her untidy little home with all those knickknacks accented by flounces, ruffles and doilies. It dawned on him that the cops never once called Edna by her last name. Damned if he could even remember what it was. He imagined at one time he'd been told, but she was such a useless neighbor -- nosy one at that -- he figured if he asked anything about her it would have meant more visits. He shuddered at that thought, glad she was dead. Once he made his way to the kitchen the evening twilight greeted his eyes. It was just after dusk and he was ready to go play.

Still shirtless, he recognized that he'd have to put on some clothes before venturing out and down to the warehouse. Looking inside the refrigerator, he discovered that he was right and that the vial he'd consumed before going to get Celina was gone. And from the smell in the warming fridge some other things were gone over as well. Sighing, he knew he'd have to dump some trash before the cleaning lady showed up. He filled a bag with some of the food and walked outside and tossed it into the trashcan. He walked back inside and contemplated the fridge. Shrugging, he decided the freezer wasn't his concern, and he needed to hit the road. He went back to his bedroom after closing his fridge, leaving it to further putrefy in the growing heat inside his home. He carefully picked out dark lightweight clothing for his trip to Celina.

Vampires didn't usually feel the heat like humans, but even he had to admit the weather was unseasonably warm, and without the air conditioner to pull the humidity from the air in his home, he was happy to head out and into his easily air-conditioned car. He knew the cops watched him pull away but he didn't see good old Ken and Charlene. He smiled, thinking of the man's newly-found confidence and Charlene's bitterness. He'd have to keep an eye on the local news and see if they made headlines. Given the dark side of the cop he thought it was more than likely. She wasn't going to like the new Ken in the least, and if Ken really got out of hand they both had weapons readily available. It could prove to be quite interesting.

Once he cleared his street, he made his way to the gateway exiting the complex; he saw that even without electricity the news stations had caught wind of something bad happening inside the gated community. Instead of the one guard manning the entrance, someone had the insight to double the number. Both of the men were well into their mid-sixties but stubborn. He'd seen both of them give visitors the runaround for a good half hour just for their own personal amusement. It wasn't a guess on his part -- he'd peeked inside their minds and found it was a game they played to see how many visitors, or as they thought of them -- 'barbarians' -- they could stop at the gate. They kept score, subtracting for complaints, and every month the winner would be treated to a steak dinner and a beer by the loser. They pretty much kept even with each other and surprisingly enough, didn't get nearly as many complaints as one would think. Mostly the visitors were afraid they'd be banned, and the residents figured it meant better security.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-09-12
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