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January 30, 2023

The Building 42

By Lydia Manx

Julia stopped struggling against the all-too-human flee instinct as Jerry Cooper continued to pull the powers from vampires within five hundred or so miles. It wasn't a legal boundary ritual so he not only drained vampiric power from vampires in the United States but also the Caribbean and other islands off the coast of Southern Florida. There was a ripple effect that Jerry hadn't even thought about when he started the ancient forbidden ritual. Any vampire with an ounce of strength reached out to their family and kin giving Jerry even more energy than he'd expected. Slowly but surely the range was shooting well beyond anything he'd ever experienced.

With each vampire shooting back more energy to Jerry he also gained their clan and families' vampiric force. And he felt the years falling off him as he grew stronger and more aware of the danger of supping too long at the wealth of power being funneled to him. Julia was dying her human death rapidly and Jerry was shoving the vampire talents into her skin and turning her into his fledgling. She still wasn't screaming, but she did whimper as her humanity was ripped from her and vampirism became her new life.

Long before he wanted to stop, he forced himself to sever the ritual and freed the unseen vampires without a word. Since the turning had gone far differently than he'd ever anticipated, he wondered if the scope of vampires used would confuse the Vampire Council as to where the epicenter was. He could easily hear all of those he'd touched -- they were confused, angry, scared and deliciously frightened -- while they weren't able to contact anyone in or out of their world. The matrix of connections was almost his undoing as the bell of questions and contacts rippled and bounced into him. He received it all and let his head bow briefly as he mentally shifted through the vampires he knew locally. None of them had any idea what had just happened and many were actually calling each other on the phone as they couldn't mentally connect. He'd literally put the vampire world back into the dark ages. They were nearly human in their fears. Those fears he deliciously drank in while seeing if Julia was going to survive the turning.

"Master," her voice was raspy and deliciously saucy. She knew she was different and she wasn't sobbing anymore.

"Yes, my child?" He felt the words flow from his lips. He knew he could mind-to-mind connect but decided not to risk attracting any attention. All it would take was one other supernatural creature tuning into her and the Council would be on their way to finding him. Other magical creatures would be tapped at some point for information. Vampires hated admitting that they needed help, but there was no way the Council would be able to keep the flux of power under wraps for long. A century or so ago it would have been easily hidden, and had -- he well knew -- but with all the modern ways of communicating that wasn't as easily done.

His invoking the ancient turning ritual had unleashed something long forgotten by supernatural creatures. Vampires had been reigning supreme and unchecked for centuries but his use of the dark incantation -- forbidden by the Vampire Council -- was rather noticeable. The enforcers locally were useless and the Council would be tapping into other supers to see if they knew who'd dared to turn a human in the old ways. Instead of frightening Jerry it made him smile. His fangs flashed in the night and Julia smiled back. She looked at him with large blood-filled eyes. Her turning was not complete, but she seemed to be withstanding the pain and agony.

"The pain is different," she finally said, panting slightly.

"Everything is different. You aren't human any longer and the feelings you have are going to change as you embrace your vampiric self." He felt foolish explaining something he took for granted, but without anyone else to guide her he needed to tell her some important things. Softly he leaned into her face and began sharing the darker secrets of vampirism. The more Jerry told Julia the better he felt about creating her. She wasn't necessarily his first choice, but she'd be a perfect weapon in getting to Ben Richland. Between her and Celina's severed head and hand there was enough to crack Ben. Jerry knew it with every fiber of his body. And how he was enjoying his new body! He felt the years dropped off and he was renewed by the influx of vampire power that had flown into him and helped him craft his fledgling.

She let out a slight whimper when her fangs first pushed through her gums. He drank down the pain and allowed her to take a little blood from him at his wrist. She was reluctant to let his vein free but he pushed into her mind and made her obey. Her eyes glazed over as he put her under his command and she nodded. A warmth spread through Jerry. It was intoxicating to feel the waves of awareness and vampiric power going through Julia and to him. She was stronger than Jerry'd realized when he decided to use her. Her anger at William and feelings of betrayal masked the strength of character she had. She wasn't common to her age but more like women were decades ago. He'd enjoy shaping her to his needs.

Keeping with that plan, he began working and manipulating her spirit to anticipate his wants and to obey him. Her humanity was fading quickly as she began to see through her vampire vision. Everything was sharper. The scents in the wind were deeper and layered with meaning that humans couldn't even start to comprehend. She lifted her head and tilted her face a bit then said, "I can hear the heart beat of some creature outside."

"Listen for the sounds it makes and tell me what it is," he coached.

She nodded while she concentrated then said, "It's a cat. I could hear it rumbling and purring while grooming itself."

He nodded in return. "Now, let's get you to sleep."

Jerry was able to withstand sunlight easily. Vampires over a hundred years that had fed well could walk amongst the humans without worry. Newer vampires could, but there was a cost. They lost their ageless quality and had to feed voraciously for many nights afterwards, depending on the vampire and the sun. Floridian sunlight was sub-tropical and strong. Tourists flocked from all over the world to soak in the sun and usually resembled the local dinner treat of lobster by midday. Slathered with sunscreen the humans thought that was enough of a defense against the UV rays and within a day usually discovered their error. New vampires were as vulnerable as the humans coming from Michigan and Wisconsin in January. Only instead of turning lobster red they could die truth death. He didn't want to waste the magic he'd used to create Julia to lose her to stray sun.

"Do you have hurricane shutters in the house?" Jerry saw a quick fix for the little cracks in the blinds and curtains. It was still middle of hurricane season and with the storms pounding in for the past few days there was always a resident who thought it meant the next big one was coming. Also people who left their homes for calmer climates often put up the hurricane shutters just in case one hit while they were away.

"Yes, Master. They are in the car port up in the rafters. I will help." She stood stunningly pale and still naked.

"Next time. You just rest and listen to the night. Let it guide you to sleep, my child." He was happy that she'd sensed immediately that she was to assist him without having been told. Her dependence on the ex-boyfriend William had been easily transferred to him, and her lack of self-esteem made her very malleable. He put the covers over her and walked out into the dark home. The storm had let up enough for him to quickly fasten the shutters and close up the house from any storms and sunlight. Closing the front door and going back into Julia's bedroom, it dawned on Jerry he couldn't have picked a better location. The lack of neighbors coupled with the power he'd been given during the transformation of Julia was creating quite the cave for him to rest. The stolen vampiric powers were giving him ideas and thoughts that were delightfully wicked.

He found Julia had fallen asleep in his absence, and he blew out the candle lights. She didn't move or even snore since she wasn't human any longer. She was a baby vampire with more skills and talents than she knew yet and Jerry was going to be using them in the next twenty-four hours. He reached out and followed the trail for Ben Richland he'd found during the turning of Julia. Ben was in a dark room holding his head and trying to figure out what had hit him. Like a fly on the wall Jerry easily watched Ben. He wasn't watching through his own eyes but another vampire in the room with Ben. Riding the unseen vampire's soul Jerry simply observed.

"Ben, what's wrong?" The voice was high, but still Jerry knew from the feeling of the body it belonged to a male.

"Don't you feel it, Max? Like you've been wrapped in thick plastic and have someone sitting on your chest holding your powers?" Ben looked into Max's eyes and Jerry was shocked to see the fear and uncertainty. It wasn't the same Ben who'd ruthlessly mocked him and caused Jerry so much pain.

"Benji, it's just the weather. You know how it keeps you on edge." The man-child walked over to the chair and stroked a hand over Ben's shoulders. It was nearly sensual but a tad subservient. That the vampire wasn't calling Ben 'Master' was something but 'Benji' seemed to imply a close relationship. They weren't Master-Fledgling but more like Teacher-Student. Ben looked at the hand on his shoulder and said, "I told you to stop touching me, Max. And my name is Ben." There wasn't much fire behind the words, but was said automatically. It was obviously something that happened often.

Ben stood up and said, "No, it's not just the weather. I don't feel right."

A phone rang and Max rushed to answer the call. The low tech phone wasn't hooked to an answering machine and thus was still useable during the power outage. Jerry felt slightly queasy at the unexpected quickness of the vampire's movements. Mentally he pushed himself further back in Max's head while Max screened the call.

"Richland residence. Maxwell speaking." From the rote style of Max's words Jerry figured out that Max had been playing servant to Ben for a while.

"Put him on," the voice was strong and powerful. And Jerry felt the slight touch of another vampire trying to seek out information. This wasn't a vampire who lived in the range of Jerry's ritual but someone outside the umbrella who knew something had happened in Florida. The prodding was flicked away by Max automatically. He didn't take to being invaded by unknown voices and was stubborn enough to skillfully avoid that vampire. He was unaware of Jerry's remote viewing of the scene unfolding in Ben's darkened room.

"Who may I say is calling?" Again the chipper voice of subservience laced with a slight amount of sarcasm.

A flicker of flame rushed through both Max and Jerry's brains and the voice said, "The Council." Max dropped the receiver on the top of the nightstand with a clatter while rubbing his head. He said, "Ben, it's for you. Council."

Max went back to the plush chair he'd been sitting in when Jerry'd invaded his mind and muttered, "Ass clowns. Damn them all."

With a sullen attitude, Max made no attempt to hide his listening in to Ben's call. Ben was shaking slightly when he picked up the receiver. Jerry was utterly fascinated. He knew that Ben had been like Celina, making up his own rules as he went along. The Council had lost their control over their own enforcers, it seemed.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-11-21
1 Reader Comments
Barry
11/22/2011
08:29:29 AM
Terrific start, the rest is just delicious, the commentary on the dialogue seen from Jerry's POV is superb. Nice and dark...
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