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November 27, 2023

The Complex 3

By Lydia Manx

Calling a troll 'him' and discovering it was a 'she' usually resulted in loss of limb if not life. Jerry's centuries of dealing with the creatures came in handy. As did the troll he'd talked out of his backyard into the pond near the office building where he worked as a night guard. He'd realized that Florida had a large variety of supernatural creatures hiding in the shadows and beneath the bridges and boathouses. That he'd found a troll shouldn't have amazed him, but it did. He was used to dealing with them in the Great Lake region and into parts of Canada but never actively sought one out when he'd taken the long road south.

Jerry'd found a use for the troll once presented with one damn near on his doorstep. It had actually been in his neighbor's home. He'd gone back with nosy Edna after she came crying on his doorstep saying her dog was missing. He didn't know anyone other than Edna who'd ever go looking for Mister Peaches. The poodle was a nasty bit of fluff that barked at its own shadow. He'd made an agreement with the troll in exchange for relocating. He knew having a troll in his canal behind his home would be noticed at some point. He offered the troll freedom in a large pond in the industrial business park and was going to use the troll as a vampire disposal service. Celina Holston from the Vampire Council had been the first of such offerings that Jerry had for the troll.

The rather wet delivery of a promised vampire corpse was what caused Jerry Cooper to even find Julia. He took it as a positive sign that he was on the right road. Granted, most would call it the road to perdition, but then he'd found long ago that he was much more content to live by his rules rather than society's. After all, society changed its collective mind every couple of decades, he'd discovered quickly with his longevity.

"Wow, it's all so intense." Julia seemed to grasp that she wasn't living in the same world she'd been in the day before.

"It is so much more." Jerry promised.

He asked her if she needed anything from her house. Then he told her that he doubted that they'd be coming back any time soon, which was more than likely a major understatement. So he didn't bother to add 'if at all' since it wasn't necessary. Her face was serene and actually pretty calm by comparison to how she'd looked earlier. Solemnly she weighed her options.

"No, I think I have all that I need at the moment," she beamed at him with worshipful eyes.

Jerry was taken back because it had been so long since he'd had a fledgling under him that was so untutored and raw. It made him feel better somehow, and more connected to his true nature. The Master - Fledgling bond wasn't understood by humans because quite simply, it wasn't human. It was part and parcel of vampire nature and a side of the supernatural sphere that was unseen by humanity.

William, her ex-boyfriend, had abandoned her after driving off and leaving her in a store. It happened right after she'd had a conflict with him and his actual mate. Shopping with the then boyfriend William, Julia had been stunned to discover he already had a girlfriend who shopped where she shopped. She'd been lamenting it when he'd first come into her home. Despite the urban legend, he'd entered unbidden. He loved the romance Hollywood had with the illusion of vampires, but the reality never came into play. Vampires didn't need to be invited into their prey's home. Chalk one up for the supernaturals.

He guided her towards his vehicle while working through the steps he needed to take in the next few hours. He probably should have dumped the car he was driving and gotten something that didn't have possible blood evidence from dragging Celina's body out to the pond for the troll. Not to mention the smaller Rubbermaid container still containing her head and right hand. He concluded that the first thing he had to do was to get his new driver's license before they found Ben and dealt with his ass. At some point he'd have to get back to his current home and get a few items, but his current driver's license was for an older man. They had a few hours before they were due to ambush Ben Richland and whoever the Vampire Council had sent to meet up with the enforcer. But with his current new younger appearance he needed to get some ID to support his claim to being Jerry Cooper's nephew.

He pulled out his rarely-used cell phone and punched in a number he'd stored for an emergency. And the current set up pretty much cried emergency, or at the very least awkward problem. He wasn't exactly sure how he got Tony's number but the notes said fast ID and had a dollar amount next to it. He had a few such phone numbers stored in his phone.


"Jeff here, you have some time, Tony?"

"Jeff at the Beach who knows Tricia? Yeah, I guess, if you got some cash." The man said while sighing as if bothered by the mere idea of making money. Even though the unknown Tony's reply was odd, he figured he'd take a chance as he didn't exactly have a ton of time.

"Naturally. I am thinking we meet up in an hour." He'd forgotten that Tricia Sanborn had given him Tony's number. But he'd never met Tony so it wasn't like he'd know how much Jerry'd changed in the past few nights. Not to mention that he'd given Tricia up in an extreme fashion. She'd been the human bait he'd used to get Celina. She'd been a good hacker, but had grown tiresome to the vampire. Her methods at finding information had been phenomenal but she'd become a potential problem. Jerry was avoiding those now that he had a focus and little time to meet the goals. He'd discovered recently that Ben Richland wasn't staying on the East Coast; he was getting ready to head for the West Coast.

"Whatever." Tony obviously wasn't a high-powered business man. He didn't seem to care if they met up or not. That suited Jerry because it meant he wasn't hurting for money, and was less likely to be monitored by the cops. Such problems could snowball out of control and Jerry didn't need any more complications.

"Where?" Jerry asked.

"Over at the Patio Bar?" A grunt then, "Meet me in the non-smoking section."

Jerry resisted laughing at Tony's attempt to control the meeting. Hell, if he really felt like it, he'd fang into Tony before he even made it to the bar, and get his cooperation without having to buy a drink much less pay the man. Not always the best thing to do with forgers, but he didn't like the highhanded attempt at control. But then the idea of a non-smoking section at the Patio Bar cracked him up even more than the human's attempt at control. After all the 'non-smoking section' was little more than a small Plexiglas divider that segregated the area between the smokers and non-smokers. It was amusing to Jerry -- the idea of an open bar having a non-smoking section. The space was effectively useless once the winds came off the beach and pushed any and all cigarette smoke directly into the "smoke-free" small room.

"No, you need to meet me at the Bru's Room at their bar in an hour, or don't bother, and I'll find another 'friend', you understand?" Jerry heard the pause on the other end of the phone then the reluctant reply. "Sure, Jeff, whatever you say." With that the call was over and Julia was laughing.

"Who was that?" She was genuinely amused.

"Our future."

She stopped and looked at him and asked, "What?"

"He's the guy that's going to give us our new identifications." Jerry figured it was time to switch up the world. He'd call himself Jeff instead of Jerry -- maybe. Or at least for the guards sitting at the gateway that led to his home, because he needed to get a few things out of his house before he hit the road. He kind of liked the name Jerry. It was something he'd been living with for a few years. Over the centuries he'd had plenty of names but this one suited him.

"I like my name." She was pouting and defying him in a small measure. That amused him because he knew that she really didn't have much of a choice. In the long run he'd call her what he wanted.

"Don't you want a new last name? Maybe one without creditors hounding you or ex-boyfriends who screwed you over?" He tossed the last bit in to make sure she heard him.

She did.

"I guess." It was reluctant but sincere.

"So we'll meet up with Tony over in Deerfield Beach and get our new identities. First we need to stop by a CVS store and get some snaps for the licenses." Jerry'd done his research and knew that they'd need some passport pictures for their driver's licenses and other things. He'd give Tony plenty of cash and within twenty-four hours or less they'd have a complete packet of identification and background. He wanted to have passports made along with driver's licenses so the trip to the drug store was necessary. The photo department took pictures and gave patrons nicely-framed shots useful for any and all government sorts of ID. The modern age of immediate gratification meant with less than ten bucks, he'd have a couple of snapshots useful for a driver's license and passport. He was very happy that Tricia's past hacking was easily supplying him with enough money to do such little maneuvers.

Julia nodded and they got into his car and headed towards the coast. Some of the neighborhoods were slowly emerging from the darkness. Empty houses brightly lit and completely abandoned. The mass exodus had yet to be reversed so the homes were vacant reminders. The humans who'd fled the storms and power outages rarely thought to flip the switches for their lights and turn off their televisions. Once the power came back, the electricity powered their homes when the spikes and surges hadn't fried the equipment. Jerry could smell the sparks from some of the faulty wiring as homes began to cook in the night.

Soon they found a well lit CVS with patrons wandering in and out of the doors. Slowly Julia got out of Jerry's car.

"What's wrong now?" He tried to keep the anger from his voice.

"Aren't we different? Won't they notice?" She was hesitant.

Jerry laughed, "All they will notice is a hot girl wandering into their store."

She giggled and said, "You aren't looking so bad yourself."

He smiled without fangs. He appreciated her flattering words but also was busy concentrating on the humans inside. Even with his vampiric powers he knew that there were humans that sensed his true nature, and with Julia so fresh and young he didn't want her to overreact and slaughter such a person on the security camera footage.

He'd learned long ago how often humans trusted cameras to do what their eyes couldn't. And he well knew that vampires did actually show up on cameras. Yet another Hollywood myth blown out the door that vampires couldn't have their images captured by technology. Vampires did move too quickly at times without thought, and that got noticed very quickly. Some vampires used it to their advantage, and stole anything not nailed down in jewelry stores and other places like luxury item shops. If humans ever realized what else went thump in the night, they would have had more bars on the doors and windows than the nearby ghettos. Thus they didn't have a clue, or in all reality, really want to figure it out.

They walked into the store. Thankfully there weren't many patrons inside and they made their way to the photo department near the front of the store. A sullen twenty-year old was behind the counter pouting at having to work when all her friends were out causing trouble. Jerry knew it because he scanned her thoughts. What the counter help was thinking wasn't something Jerry worried about as a rule, but with the importance of the photographs he chanced a quick glance into the girl's mind. She was worrying that her boyfriend was fucking her best friend and that she wouldn't ever be able to get a better job. She was also looking at them with a casual disdain, an attitude reserved for youth.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-12-19
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