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May 20, 2024

The Complex 10

By Lydia Manx

One of the neighbors on the floor below the apartment screamed out for someone to shut the damn alarm off or else. Jerry Cooper had no clue what 'or else' could mean when the area was pretty much being evacuated due to the approaching hurricane and the 'cone of uncertainty' that covered the local area map. Not that there seemed to be any uncertainty from the news reports and evacuation requests. So there weren't many police wandering around wanting to arrest folks for noise infractions. The streets and the freeways leading out of the coastal areas in Florida were nightmares of car wrecks, breakdowns and abandoned vehicles that were out of gas. Watching the skies carefully Jerry said to Julia, "I'm not so sure that Ben will show up."

"Who?" Julia asked confused. It dawned on Jerry that he hadn't exactly kept Julia in the loop about the evening's plans.

Laughing, "Ben's one of the Council's little pets. He was part of the injustice the Council did to me that needs to be corrected."

Jerry didn't feel like expanding on the situation with the humans still able to hear but his anger was rising at the thought of Ben running off into the night and not paying for his part in Jerry's capture and abuse. A large palm frond slammed into the sliding glass door causing the two humans to start and the woman screamed in response.

Julia was still running them but Jerry could see it was starting to wear on her.

"Command them to go to sleep." Jerry offered. He knew from his experiences that the skill sets that had been gifted to him and Julia and he hoped that his fledgling was able to use the talent.

Nodding, Julia screwed up her features and focused on moving the humans out of range. The home was nearly pristine now, and the effort it took to control them was beginning to drain Julia. To Jerry's relief, it was a talent that his fledgling had acquired during her turning. She was able to control them beyond the basic commands as a baby vamp. He wanted to see how much more she'd been given. She made them march into their bedroom and go to bed. The woman tried to protest but Jerry slipped into Julia and helped shove them into their room. He didn't let either of them speak or undress, but mentally helped direct them into the bedroom. The woman wasn't resisting in the least, but her mind was cluttered with vulgarities and stupidities that were bothersome. Which was kind of like having a mosquito trapped in a small car and being unable to stop the insect from biting. The husband resisted more strongly because his alcohol-soaked mind was having trouble wrapping around the notion that humans weren't alone on the face of the earth. If Jerry had a nickel for everyone he'd ever run into who thought that way he wouldn't need to ever work. Ever.

Once they left the living room and Jerry could hear the sounds of the two humans falling onto their bed -- dirty clothing and all -- then Julia stumbled slightly and fell to her knees. But she was able to knock the pair unconscious before nearly collapsing completely herself. Immediately Jerry went to her side offering her his wrist. She latched onto his forearm like a newborn baby seeking its mother's breast. The wet sucking sounds of her sipping blood from his veins filled the room while the winds and rain pounded the building.

After a minute he pushed her free and said, "Enough."

Her eyes were blown wide and wild. She was struggling against her desire to keep drinking from him with her innate sense of self-preservation. She knew Jerry could easily kill her and she couldn't lift a fang to prevent it. She slowly rocked back on her heels and looked up at him from her nearly sitting position.

"Thank you, Sire." Her voice was rough and she continued to battle her instinctive need to try to get more blood.

"It's okay, my Child. You are only a fledgling vampire." He wasn't being condescending but honest. The lights in the apartment flicked on and off as FPL sent a pulse of electricity through the area. The TV had clicked on and off and then there was an audible pop noise from the base. There was an immediate crack of thunder and the sky was ripped open by a thick bolt of lightning. The power flickered once more as if trying to battle the elements and the smell of ozone and feeling of raw electricity filled the room. Then it seemed like every light blazed brighter than possible in the room before blacking out again. Ominously the television had remained dark and silent through the last brief power surge.

"The power's off for a while now?" Julia asked.

"More than likely. That last power surge had to have fried tons of electronics. And I doubt the lovely couple who live here ever invested in quality surge protectors." Jerry was amazed at how humans figured they'd protect their eight hundred dollar television with a six dollar strip surge protector. The power strips weren't guaranteed to last through multiple surges as a rule and the cheaper ones barely made it through a mild hiccough in the system. The smell of burning electricity dominated the room and Jerry looked to see if anything was actually on fire.

No flames raced around the floor or walls so Jerry figured they were good for the moment. Julia didn't say a word but went into the kitchen and brought out a red fire extinguisher.

Laughing Jerry asked, "You think that's going to work?"

Smiling she showed him that there was a note taped to the front and she sing-song read out, "Happy Halloween Dear. Now maybe we can finish a meal without the fire department being called!"

"I guess the wife doesn't cook very well," Jerry smirked.

"Hey, it could be for the hubby, and as we know, he drinks." Julia was smiling but she took a second to toggle the extinguisher open and use the nozzle to spray a line of chemical at the base of the sliding glass door.

Jerry arched an eyebrow at her as she put the extinguisher down saying, "I'll clean it up I just wanted to make sure it works in case this tinderbox ignites!"

He didn't blame her and she did clean up the foam residue on the pane. Fire was one of vampires' least favorite things after stakes and axes. Shuddering at the idea of being burned alive, Jerry focused on the sliding glass door. The winds were hitting the multiple-storied building hard and whistling through every little gap. The rain was hitting the windowpanes and doors relentlessly so both inside and out there was a whistling sound from the gale force winds pounding the area and Jerry' brain. Vampire hearing wasn't always a good thing. The visibility was rapidly disappearing as another tail of the approaching storm moved in closer. The idea of spying upon Ben was quickly falling apart as an option. Jerry knew that he'd have to be closer than he'd originally intended given the lack of a clear line of sight. But still he planned on taking advantage of the break in the clouds and rain and study the lay of the land as best he could.

Julia didn't bother Jerry while he was gazing out into the storm-filled sky. In fact, she sat quietly on the now cleaner sofa and hummed softly. To Jerry's amazement the tune was actually a real piece of classical music not some tone deaf interpretation of Queen's 'We are the Champions'. The soft background sounds of her melody calmed him as he tried to figure a new strategy.

The car alarm abruptly stopped competing with an awkward chirp then closely followed by a rather ominous zapping sound. Jerry concluded someone had yanked the auto's cables to the battery terminal stopping the irritating noise. It wasn't like there were any police lights rotating in the parking lot below; there were just some anxious people rapidly filling their cars with all their earthly possessions. Whoever had been under the hood of the now damaged car left the vehicle opened up without bothering to shut the hood or even close the driver's side door. Jerry wondered if it had even been the human's car or if they had just been tired of hearing the incessant blaring of the alarm. Either way the open vehicle wasn't going to weather the winds and rainfall very well.

As if Jerry's mere musing had summoned the weather, suddenly another series of clouds covered the skies and dumped an inch or two of rain within a few moments. Jerry sighed and peered as best he could with his vampiric vision down towards the drawbridge. From everything he saw there wasn't much choice, but in the next hour or so they'd have position themselves closer to the actual bridge and hopefully pick the correct side for the meet -- or it could prove to be a far more interesting evening than he desired.

He turned back to see Julia watching him carefully.

"Yes?" He found himself oddly caring what was causing the slight frown between her eyes. The responsibility for a fledgling wasn't a feeling he'd had in an awfully long time. Even those he'd created in the past decade had been buffered from him and his core group for the most part.

"You made me to help you trap the executioner sent by the Council, didn't you?" She didn't seem bothered by the idea.

"Not completely," he answered honestly.

"But I can truly die tonight, can't I?" She didn't seem disturbed by it in the least. But having seen her tormented by her bad luck in boyfriends and life, she hadn't been interested in living when he'd found her. Her absolute pain and lack of surprise at his being a vampire had charmed him despite his apathy towards humans. But then she wasn't a human anymore.

"Yes, you can. But I don't think you will. I think the ritual changed the dynamics of tonight's meeting. Ben Richland won't be showing up with his usual set of vampire skills and questionably legal vampiric talents, but instead as a somewhat-confused nearly-human creature. Without vampiric speed and skills, the odds are changed and decidedly more in our favor. And we are both stronger than ten vampires right now. At least any in the immediate area," he grinned and smiled at her. She grinned back and said softly, "No matter. I've had a better time with you than I ever had with William. You let me see a side of myself that I never even suspected I had."

Her exuberance was nearly glowing from her, as she was completely sincere in her words. Jerry realized if his fledgling didn't survive to another sunset, she'd be perfectly happy with the time they'd spent together. The pang of feeling like he belonged to a family again reminded him ever so clearly of all that he'd lost. It also helped focus his determination to not allow the Vampire Council to take anything more from him.

"Forget William for now. Once this evening is over, we'll work on straightening out that little bit of your past for you. Fair enough?" Not that she had an option as he was her Master and she would do whatever he commanded, but still he was pleased to be able to offer her something to look forward to once they got through the next few hours.

The storm was picking up strength again and visibility was diminished further; the stars weren't shining nor was the moon out in the black and gray sky. Jerry couldn't even see the drawbridge any longer. The parking lot below them was pretty much a mere memory.

"Are we going to stay here?" She asked, waiting to see what Jerry'd decided.

"No, we will have to go down and make our way amongst the common rabble." He wasn't kidding about the rabble. He no longer could see down to the street level, but he was left with the sounds that carried up as if they were a half a step away not a few stories underneath them.

"Now?" She asked while looking back towards the bedroom where the humans lay asleep at her command.

"In a bit. I'll let you release them before we leave." He offered.

She looked momentarily confused, then asked, "Will they be okay?"

"Do you honestly think that they ever were in the least 'okay'? I mean really?" It was all Jerry could do to not break out laughing at the notion.

In answer Julia broke out in laughter and said, "Not hardly. Hell, they make William and my relationship look positively normal. The mouth on that woman is incredible and I think his liver is nearly gone."

Jerry stopped and asked, "Did you try to find out?"

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-02-06
1 Reader Comments
10:16:08 PM
I thought the vampires would drain them, but they'd probably just leave a bad taste in their mouths ...
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