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June 27, 2022

The Complex 11

By Lydia Manx

A puzzled look flew over his fledgling's features and Julia asked, "What do you mean did I try to find out? Find out what?"

Jerry Cooper then knew that he would take a bit of the time they had left before they needed to figure out where the vampires were meeting, to give his fledgling some tools of the craft. Okay, vampirism wasn't something learned by a "Dummies Guide to Vampirism" book bought online. Not to mention all the misinformation out in novels and movies -- some of which vampires deliberately structured to keep their existence in the shadows and out of the daylight and out of the range of human awareness. Sheep-like people -- the humans -- they were easily led and often redirected to the supernatural community's needs. It had been so many years since he'd trained a fledgling on his own without minion and other vamps helping that he'd skipped a few of the basics. If he was honest, it was more like decades since he'd last had a vampire under his direct and absolute control.

"Child, I need to show you a few things," he admitted. Hell, it wasn't just a few things but they only had so much time before they had to head down to the bridge and get Ben. Jerry'd make the most of the remaining time with his fledgling.

With that Jerry began to push thoughts and images into Julia's mind. She sat on the couch frozen by the images and the new world Jerry was immersing her in without a life raft. And some of what he showed her blew her mind further open, and she was pretty much simply bobbing up and down in the sea of the vampire world without anything or anyone to buffer her. It wasn't soft or easy but fast and raw. She didn't seem to mind, but simply allowed him to fill her. And Jerry did.

A memory unbidden crept into Jerry mind. It wasn't from Julia and what she'd seen in the couple's minds, but something that had happened well over a hundred years ago.

The rat-faced human, who was cunning and evil, ventured into his limited view. He easily knew just by looking at the creature that the man's life had been spent in the dank shadows and back roads of humanity; underneath the eaves of hollowed-out homes with broken weed-filled sidewalks, with tear-stained memories to mock equally the hollowed-out man's every movement. The man knew it at his core level, and because of it, he had decided long ago to win at all costs. He took any and all advantages, no matter what. Why not? It wasn't like anyone was going to stop the sorry little man. He well knew that most people didn't see the pathetic creature before them, at times under their very feet, and if by chance he was noticed by the upstanding citizens of his community, he was simply dismissed as little more than an irritant. So when the shuffling little cowardly human came upon the pile of clothing in the alleyway, it was obvious he figured it was a golden opportunity to dig through someone else's pockets for change, and maybe get a spare ten or twenty missed by whoever had killed the man in the alley.

From all appearances, the body was slumped over, so the human picker, not seeing any signs of breathing simply stepped further into the black shadow-filled alley and got closer. Thus the human wasn't more than six inches from the sack of clothing when it moved. Lightning fast claws and sinew lashed out and caught the human. And just like that the Master of the City had a meal. He wasn't overly hungry, just bored with the crystal cups of blood delivered to him nightly upon waking, held by his staff, both fledglings and minions alike. Not to mention the ever-so sweetly blooded virgins offered up casually like appetizers before fine dining on something more lush and vibrant. His kin had begun to revere him beyond anything he'd had before, and the comfort of such treats had finally begun to bother him. After so many centuries of fighting tooth and nail for every bit of existence, it was bizarre to be offered anything and everything literally on a platter.

Admittedly, the Master Vampire for the Michigan territory had become jaded and bored with his slice of the world. So when he got overly bored, he pretended to be vulnerable prey in an alleyway in the worst areas of Detroit, Pontiac and Flint for sheer entertainment value, and possible excitement that the unknown could offer one such as him. It wasn't something he could do weekly, even monthly, but when he could, he slipped out and had his little bit of fun. Of course he'd taken care to ditch his minions and assorted fledglings along the way of his escape, so that he could experience the thrill of the chase without any of his kin trying to help him. He hadn't had fun in a while -- lately there'd been too many arguments in which he had to play mediator, and too many rules to enforce to keep the peace in his area. He didn't like that side of being Master, but despite himself, had to acknowledge that it was part and parcel of controlling so much territory and so many vampires.

After the rat-faced human stepped up and poked him with a thin, nearly fleshless finger, he struck. When his fangs were firmly pushed through the thin skin stretched over the man's throat images began to flow. It was then that he saw how close to death the man had been. His liver had nearly completely shut down and his arteries were so clogged, it was amazing that he'd even been able to walk upright without doubling over with chest pains. The vampire saw that his killing this particular human wasn't an act of terror, but nearly a random act of kindness.

Jerry yanked himself free of the poignant memory, and let himself show Julia how to read a human's body. The simple act of sliding into a prey's mind was multi-layered, and oftentimes loaded with more than a predator bargained for, which could drag an unwary vampire into a new set of hell. She absorbed the information he was giving her, and didn't ask questions aloud or even mentally. He continued to shape her thoughts and perceptions in subtle ways, while giving her the tools that she'd need to survive when he wasn't near. Not that he planned on leaving her anytime soon, nor giving her much freedom. The beginning stages of turning humans into vampires usually took months before the fledgling was allowed much in the way of freedom. Even then the fledgling was tied to the Master on such subtle levels that distance was little more than an illusion. An 'earned' freedom that was by all measures meaningless. Part of what the ritual had done was expand the basics of the Master-Fledgling link, and ripple outward touching further than the expected few hundred miles. The last time that Jerry had done the ritual he doubted there were more than three or four Master Vampires in the region.

The increasing density of human civilization, coupled with the larger cadres of vampires, had definitely changed the power structure. Jerry continued feeding ideas and thoughts to his fledgling while exploring the links he'd forged in the past twenty-four hours. The masking of his presence wasn't absolutely necessary, since none of the linked vampires had any awareness beyond the basic skills given to humanity. Nevertheless he was cautious in his input. Julia wasn't looking overly worn, but he backed out slowly letting her absorb all that he'd fed her mind.

"Thank you, Sire." Julia said with a thick voice. She was mildly overwhelmed by all that he'd shown her, but not to the point of breaking. Jerry'd picked a perfect fledgling.

"I am glad you are mine," he said without breaking into much more, because over-the-top emotions tended to make him mildly nauseous.

Another crackle of thunder and sheets of rain hammered the building without stopping and broke a silence that stretched between them. It was like the skies had opened up and hell came to earth to wreck havoc on the humans stupid enough to stay in the pathway of a growing hurricane. The volume of sound being produced by the storm was nearly deafening for vampires and stray humans alike.

"Master?" Julia's voice lilted up in a question.

"Yes?"

"Are we safe?" He knew that she wasn't easily frightened. Hell, the sight of his deadly, very sharp, fangs had only brought out mild sarcasm, and resignation to a personal fate that she'd long figured was her future. She didn't doubt that vampires had existed, but accepted the idea as a natural occurrence. Once he'd turned her, she'd easily acknowledged her new life and in fact seemed to embrace the notion. She was the perfect weapon for him to wage against the Vampire Council.

"For now," he offered.

Julia dipped her head in a subservient manner and inquired, "What now?"

That was a very good question. Jerry knew that the lack of visibility to the Camino Real drawbridge was definitely a problem. The storm hadn't let up and the clear line of sight he'd seen was gone with the rains and heavy winds. He and Julia were the only true vampires for hundreds of miles, and yet he wasn't going to venture into the meet without carefully plotting the possibilities. And with supernatural creatures there were always 'possibilities' and not all of them were necessarily safe.

"Let's walk out and check out the lay of the land," he said while still checking the waves of panic freely floating in the air. Not just frightened humans, but the vampires around the territory were also beginning to panic. Their lack of vampiric skills and abilities were being noticed, and they were more than a tad upset. The rolling panic was washing over all of humanity and flavoring the air. The vampires weren't able to seduce their prey, so instead, they were running out into the streets and slaughtering any human in range without buffering the effect. That in turn was sending out even more ripples and waves of sheer terror. The air was literally scented with fear, while being laced with blood and memories of horrors that were filling the dark spots in the minds of all the humans witnessing the slaughters. The storm was becoming a horror show of epic proportions beyond anything in recent memory of the victims. It was an absolutely lovely dark night. Jerry decided that he wanted to soak in the atmosphere by walking the streets.

She looked to the back of the apartment and asked, "What about them?"

It dawned on Jerry that she was talking about the two humans who lived in the apartment. She'd guided them to their bedroom with his help and dropped them onto their bed lifelessly and with some minor reservations. Jerry didn't much care one way or the other what happened to the couple. They weren't redeemable in any way that Jerry could tell, but his fledgling seemed somewhat apprehensive about the situation. The amount of cleaning that the two had done would easily keep them sleeping for hours if not days. He sincerely doubted that the woman had ever seen a place as clean as the home was now.

"Oh, well why don't you give them some subliminal suggestions for a better life and then leave them sleeping? By the time the hurricane blows over or through they'll either wake up refreshed, or head onto the next inevitable stage for humans." He wasn't being cruel but honest. Death was inevitable. Even for vampires -- no creatures lived forever -- at times it just seemed that way. He watched her twist and turn his idea in her mind, as he was busy thinking of what to do next. She nodded and seemed to come to a conclusion that satisfied whatever was working her mind into overdrive.

She walked back to the bedroom and pushed into the humans' minds. She didn't ask Jerry to help. He watched her stiff spine head down the hallway and peeked into her mind. She was resolved to try to help the couple, but at the same time feeling the horrid, dark, dank thoughts revolving through both of them as she immersed herself in their thoughts. He could sense her drawing back from her humanity, as she got closer to them and their all-too-human scent. She was forgetting the mundane of humanity as she fully embraced the vampiric life.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-02-13
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