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August 15, 2022

The Complex 8

By Lydia Manx

Jerry Cooper was more than ready to show the fighting couple a bit of reality since the musty smell from the poorly cleaned house was starting to make his skin itch. Snicking his fangs down he said, "No, I think this place suits us fine. Well at least it will once we clean up a few things around here."

The human woman pushed her ass off the floor and stood next to her husband saying, "No, you guys need to fucking leave."

"Child, you may be right. They aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer are they?"

Waiting to ambush Ben Richland had sent Jerry and his fledgling Julia into a multi-storied building that looked over Camino Real and the drawbridge, where Ben was supposed to meet up with the Vampire Council's enforcer for some sort of instructions. Celina Holston had planned on watching and figuring out if Ben was actually meeting with Council or plotting something else. Since she'd been living on the edge, creating her own rogue batch of vampires, she had every reason to be a bit concerned, but it wasn't a problem for her any longer.

No, that little bit of Southern trash was dead and digested. Leastways most of her was in the belly of Jerry's troll. Not that he considered the troll his, but the alliance they had was part and parcel of Jerry's returning to power. Her head and right hand were currently residing in the trunk of his car in a small Rubbermaid tub. He wasn't sure if he even needed to use the head now since he'd stolen most of the vampires' power for a good five hundred plus miles when he created Julia. Ben wasn't going to be the powerful foe that he'd been last time they'd been in the same house. Which reminded him of the ugly home they'd picked to perch and watch the meet.

Jerry's eyes could make out the room easily and wandered to the couch where he sat down. To his utter dismay a puff of dust rose with his body hitting the cushion. Cleaning was slipped up higher on his list. He looked over and saw that there was a candle that had been recently used to illuminate the home right next to the couch. Since they'd been nearly out the door when Julia and Jerry had arrived on the scene one of the two had blown out the wick, which was still lightly smoking. Whichever of them had been responsible for candle maintenance had conveniently left a box of wooden matches next to the large pedestal and thick candle on the end table. Picking up the box Jerry removed a wooden match and struck it rapidly on the outside strip.

The scent of sulfur wafted on the breeze from the gaps in the windows and draft from beneath the front door. The apartments were very poorly insulated and more than likely were spendy to heat and cool. Badly designed and quickly built, the complex wasn't energy friendly in the least. The thought of their electric bill was enough to make Jerry shudder.

Once the wick caught a soft glow with a lingering aroma of vanilla illuminated the tightly grouped humans and vampires. The woman and man were standing with their backs against the liquor cabinet while Jerry and Julia stood between them and the only real exit. He didn't count the sliding glass door out to the small balcony over looking IntraCoastal and the drawbridge as an exit -- at least for humans. Jerry rather liked the arrangement. The two humans began to realize that they weren't exactly in the best location for the obvious confrontation.

Then the woman's eyes widened as she finally noticed the fangs in the flickering candle flame. Jerry had to hand it to her: for all her flailing and shrieking before she knew that they'd been there, she didn't even emit a squeak seeing the two vampires in her home. Julia slid closer to the woman, within a whisper of the human's throat, Jerry noticed. The man still wasn't completely clued into what was happening.

With a shaky voice the lady said, "What do you want?"

Jerry said, "Just your home. You were ready to abandon it so we figured you wouldn't mind us staying here protecting your valuables."

The man mentally clicked into the conversation, abet a tad late, and said, "But it's our home!"

Julia, still next to the slightly shaking wife, said, "Not anymore." Her fangs were caught in the candlelight and glistened wetly. The man's eyes grew huge as he finally noticed the fangs. He definitely very slow on the uptake -- Jerry classified him as a spoon in the knife drawer.

While his fledging had begun to seriously look at the woman, like she was a medium-rare t-bone steak on a plate and she was starving. Jerry knew that she didn't need to feed, but it was the same as a cat playing with a mouse when it was well fed. Julia was enjoying the predatory nature of vampires, and definitely not above tormenting humans as her needs arose. And Jerry was pretty happy to see that she was savoring the elements of her new nature.

Both humans began to panic, and Jerry employed a skill he'd acquired during the transition of Julia from human to vampire. He simply pushed them unconscious. They fell bonelessly to the floor. He loved the newly-acquired talent.

"Well, that sucked," Julia said while snicking her teeth back into her gums.

"No, you wanted to suck them dry. We need them. If for no other reason than to clean up this pigpen." They both looked around the crappy apartment.

Julia said, "Sire, can I take a few minutes to clean up a bit?" It wasn't really a question but more of a statement but she wanted his approval. Since they had time and the place was horrid, Jerry shrugged from his spot on the dusty couch.

Jerry got up from the couch and nodded to her while yanking open the closed curtains. The view was everything he desired. There was a sliding glass door that led to a small balcony but the winds were whipping around and various bits of debris were slamming into the door. He didn't need to get a stake through his heart because he wanted to look at the bridge without safety glass between the complex and the bridge. He had a nasty little thought and began checking the glass for a sticker. To his dismay he didn't see any sign guaranteeing the quality of the safety glass. The apartments weren't precisely new, and given Florida's historical lax attention to minor details like general contractors with legitimate business licenses and the appropriate permits, a queasy feeling of unrest raced through his body. He was taking the quality of the glass on faith and Jerry wasn't overly fond of faith as a rule.

While Jerry mused over the building Julia began cleaning with vampiric speed. The dust was airborne and the humans still on their floor. Jerry kept his mouth shut and let his fledging do what she wanted to, as it definitely was making him happy.

Julia stood in front of him after a few minutes and asked, "Are you ever going to let them up?"

He'd half-forgotten the humans inert on the floor as their home was being cleaned rather well by Julia. Once he'd decided that the thickness of the supposed safety glass wasn't something he could easily fix, he'd stayed glued to the possibly faulty windowpanes of the sliding glass door watching the drawbridge. They'd been inside the apartment for nearly fifteen minutes when he observed the bridge go up to allow a tall sailboat to putter through. Given the current wind and potential hurricane approaching, Jerry had to shake his head at the stupidity of the human willing to sail in such weather. There weren't many other boats willing to risk loss of life and limb -- not to mention a very expensive toy -- in the current conditions.

"Why were they being helpful in some way I missed?" He tossed over his shoulder as he looked north towards Boca Raton where he could see most of the larger boats were being carefully secured or moved towards anchoring away from the canal walls and away from possible damage in a large storm swell.

A frown creased Julia's brow and she said, "It's just -- " she trailed off and sighed, "Okay, I get it."

Jerry knew she did and simply released the humans. They slowly came around looking completely confused.

"Oh fuck me, what the hell happened?" The not-so-golden tones of the woman breached their ears first.

"Remember you bitched about it," Jerry said softly to Julia who looked pained as he reminded her that she'd complained about the humans on the floor unconscious just moments ago. Jerry saw it as a learning lesson. It gave him a chance to teach his fledgling that for every action there was an equal and opposite reaction and that wasn't always a good thing.

The humans under consideration simply ignored them, and continued their own conversation as if the two vampires weren't even in the room. Jerry hadn't done anything to create that situation. They sincerely weren't paying any attention to them. It was like both of them turned off their powers of observation in order to fight again.

Because naturally that was what was going on -- to Jerry's utter amazement.

"I told you that I need to find our wedding album and the snaps from our honeymoon. My parents spent serious amount of coinage for us to party like rock stars!" The woman started in while glaring at her mate.

"Honey, your fucking paparazzi mom has like a million pictures from our wedding and the honeymoon will live on in my dreams until I die," the man said laughing and pulling at his wife's wrist. She tugged her hand away and said, "I don't care. I want our photo albums!"

It was like the two vampires were invisible. That wasn't something Jerry'd expected. They both simultaneously had decided to ignore the vampires. They weren't going to face the reality unless either Julia or Jerry pushed it.

The woman looked around and said, "Thanks for cleaning up."

She didn't look at anyone so Julia arched an eyebrow to Jerry and shrugged. The human could have been acknowledging Julia's work or talking to unseen pixies. At this point it was anyone's guess. And it wasn't completely clean by Jerry's standards but not quite the clusterfuck it had been when they first went through the door. If they were going to stay longer than ten more minutes there would need to be a more detailed cleaning.

Grinning Julia said, "You're welcome."

Both humans jumped and spun to finally look at the vampires.

The man asked, "Who the hell are you?"

Sighing loudly Jerry said, "We've done this dance before, and unless you want to be unconscious for the next few hours, or dead, suck it up and pay attention."

The woman said, "To what?"

Julia said, "To the fact we have fangs and you don't."

Pretty basic.

The man's eyes bulged out as he finally caught the fangs both Jerry and Julia were currently sporting. It wasn't difficult to see that the idea of vampires didn't bother the wife nearly as much as the husband. She was easily able to wrap her mind around the notion of something different, while the man was still trying to figure out how they even got inside their home.

"Definitely a spoon," Julia said watching the man with a dismissive stare.

"Shut the fuck up. They aren't faking it. They aren't normal people like us." The wife said with a bitter look on her face. She wasn't impressed by the idea of vampires, but she wasn't disbelieving like her man. Jerry was appalled to hear they thought of themselves as 'normal people.' Not a term he'd ever put together with the nasty couple. They seemed to be very argumentative stupid humans at the minimum.

"You are fucking kidding me!" Slowly he was catching up. His eyes were wide and he kept glancing back and forth between them, as if watching them would suddenly help clarify the situation.

His wife causally bitch slapped the back of her husband's head saying, "Grow a pair. I mean these are fucking vampires."

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-01-23
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