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August 15, 2022

The Complex 13

By Lydia Manx

Palm fronds, coconuts, pieces of litter and other bits of debris flew by them like the tornado scene in a very classic movie with a yellow brick road. The road beneath them wasn't in the least yellow much less brick lined. Not easily navigated either with all the flying chunks of trash and greenery ripped free from the lush tropical vegetation. The pottery formerly up on balconies with small plants and flowers were being launched off the edges every time a strong gust of wind tore through the area. Julia looked to Jerry Cooper and said, "It's really bad out here."

"Seems so. But at least we don't have to worry about being seen by many humans." Jerry felt the pulse of the humans and knew they were either drugged, drunk or sobbing in their pillows in utter fear. And those were the ones not looking out their windows. Nobody in their right mind got near windows during the wind gusts of hurricanes. The few stray humans glancing out quickly ran from the panes as branches and coconuts hit the glass with impacts that at times shattered them. The street had bits of glass sparkling in between the greenery and tattered paper. It was truly amazing how much paper flew around during a storm. And here he thought computers had turned humanity into a paperless society -- another fallacy.

The county had issued an evacuation order that was for the most part being followed. The street they were on was empty, as were most of the homes, but Jerry well knew that not everyone followed the rules. He staked his life on that -- nightly. The humans who remained were usually the ones that had something to hide or were bloodthirsty predators. A few were hyenas that ate off the scraps left by the apex predators who'd destroyed those in their paths. A number of humans hiding in the shadows were waiting to settle scores under the darkness and chaos of the storm. Basically a feeding trough of passions, hatred and blood -- ripe for Jerry and Julia; he couldn't have asked for a better evening.

The palm trees lining the street were whipping back and forth and the root balls on them weren't deep enough to withstand the motion. Jerry knew soon they would begin to uplift and be ripped completely free from the ground and become airborne projectiles. Such objects could actually harm if not kill Jerry so he took care to watch while they edged along the street. They weren't able to travel very quickly due to the strong gusts of wind coupled with the vast array of things cluttering their pathway. Fallen pottery, empty trash cans, vegetation and coconuts were just a few of the bits and pieces blocking the sidewalks. One or two bushes had already been uprooted by the storm and tumbled every which way. Julia shrieked as a huge branch from one of the many trees lining the street came crashing down in front of them.

"Oh, fuck! That could have killed me!" She was rather excited.

"Actually, yes. The wood definitely could be considered a stake and even though it's not one of the deadliest types of wood for vampires, the sheer force of being impaled would do the job." Jerry didn't say it loudly but loud enough for her to hear and stop dead in her tracks.

He turned back to see she was deathly pale and shaking.

"I don't want to die now."

"That makes two of us. We better hurry along and see where we can hole up and still catch the meet." Jerry didn't see the need to sugarcoat the whole situation but she didn't follow. She was frozen in fear and trembling slightly.

Exasperated, Jerry resisted sighing audibly knowing it wouldn't help the situation. He went back to where she was standing and touched her face turning her eyes to his. He could see the sherry brown irises were nearly invisible given how large her pupils were dilated. It wasn't necessarily a vampiric response, but a touch of her humanity fighting still. Jerry pushed deeply into her mind through her eyes and stroked her vampire state. Her fangs snicked out and her eyes began to light from the inside out, no longer looking stunned.

"Sorry, Master," her voice was nearly a whisper.

"Child, it is natural to have fears. They keep us alive. If you grow too complacent you can die. The trees are a danger to us. So are the humans around here that want to rape, rob and kill others abandoned to the elements. It's best if we keep moving and pay attention to our surroundings." He didn't bother to point out they were starting to attract attention standing still on the street. From the slight widening of her eyes she'd finally noticed they'd garnered an unseen, hungry audience.

"Oh, wow." She'd picked up on the blood running in the nearby humans' veins and the pumped up adrenaline adding into the scent. "I count at least five individuals who are completely focused on us and all of them seem to be trying to intercept us at the next cross street."

They continued to walk and Jerry said, "Okay, now pick one of them and simply slip into the human's mind and redirect the predatory instinct to one of the others."

Julia frowned lightly and said, "Yes, Master."

And Jerry felt her surge of power race back to one of the smaller men. He slipped into the smaller man's mind and sat back and watched through his eyes as he quickly turned on his heel and raced over to a stocky man standing behind a large dumpster holding a rock. The man with the rock had just whirled at the sound of the smaller man's thumping feet. Without a word the man hauled off and slugged the shocked man causing him to stumble to his knees. The man lifted a work boot and brought it crushingly down onto the fist holding the rock. Even inside the human's mind Jerry could hear and feel the cracking and crunching of the victim's fingers being crushed into the broken pavement. His fingers were still tightly gripping the rock and with the boot pressed down on his fist he was unable to release the hunk of stone causing his fingertips to pop open like overly ripe grapes. It took nearly two heartbeats for the pain to travel the length of the man's body and relay the injury to his brain. When it did the man roared and screamed out echoing down the dark corridor filling the sky.

The other man picked up his foot again and swung it back aiming for the burley man's chin. Unfortunately for the smaller man the larger man had a rather high pain tolerance and wasn't happy at having his fingers and fist crushed. He reached over with his uninjured hand and caught the man's foot yanking it up rapidly. The smaller man's head flew back as he was literally pulled off the ground. With a fierce groan the injured man used his body to pile drive the smaller man into the concrete. Jerry quickly exited the smaller man's thoughts as he realized rapidly what was going to occur next. Even a half block away both vampires heard the brutal snapping sounds of small bones in the human's neck meeting the cement and the ominous thud of wet as the back of the man's head was splattered onto the ground. The air filled with pain, blood and death.

Julia said, "Two down three to go."

She hadn't lost focus and for that Jerry was pleased. She asked permission, "Do I do the next one also?"

Jerry tilted his head and said, "There's only two now. Let's have a bit of fun. As you can tell the screams caused one of the watchers to reconsider the neighborhood. If you breathe deeply enough you can smell the urine that is now spattered down the man's shorts and onto the sidewalk."

Julia grinned and said, "Wuss."

"Ah, but fleeing at times is the right option. Witness our two friends coming this way. Do you think either of them thinks we are frightening?" The two vampires weren't overly menacing upon first glance. Rather they appeared to be lost tourists given their lighter skin and good looks. Neither was dressed too casually nor too formally but they still had an air about them that wasn't exactly 'local'.

Julia nodded and said, "What's the next step?"

"Oh, this is the fun part. We let them dictate the mood. We counter everything they do only better." His smile was slight but promising.

The two men headed their way were cocky and rather large even at a distance. Jerry looked forward to the confrontation and possibilities of a tasty meal to take the edge off the evening frivolities. One was grumbling as he walked towards them. Jerry could make out his words barely since they were still a bit down the litter-strewn sidewalk.

"Who the hell are these clowns? Haven't they heard there's a terrible hurricane headed right for them? Oh wait, that'd be me and Antoine here. We'll show these fools that they should've evacuated. Now we'll evacuate their money from their wallets and their bling from their stupid asses." He punched out and clipped his partner on the shoulder. Antoine didn't even flinch but simply reached back and punched his companion just as hard if not harder.

Antoine said, "Don't worry, brudder. We'll educate them right quick."

Neither man was in the least worried about 'educating' both of the vampires. They seemed more than positive that they would walk away wealthier and leave the vamps broken if nothing else. Julia snickered slightly and said, "This is such a nice appetizer."

Jerry knew what she was saying and resisted nodding. He didn't want to get overly cocky himself until he had his fangs buried into their throats. He wasn't picky about which one since both looked like they'd scream themselves dry soon enough. The big ones could be soft and gooey when push came to fang.

The unnamed assailant rubbed his crotch with a lecherous look at Julia and needlessly added, "I want the girl. She looks mighty fucking tasty."

"Fuck you, Ted, you got the last chick." Antoine gave the second victim a name. And Julia was glancing at the two men now less than a block away and said very softly to Jerry, "They both look tasty enough to me. But then I'm still young so I could be mistaken."

Jerry allowed himself a quick mind-to-mind link with his fledgling and replied, "No, they have wickedly tasty blood. Because they've been bad boys in how they've lived for most of their lives, that creates a nice flavor palate overall, and then you add into the mixture that they aren't in the least aware of what is going to happen. That surprise factor is going to make their blood take on another element that will be quite delicious."

He'd said it all in a single breath -- as it were -- with a slight snotty tone like a chef discussing the dinner menu at a mediocre restaurant trying to impress his date. Julia caught his mockery and said, "Oh, do tell! Can I sample both of them?"

"That remains to be seen. Remember the rule?" He asked softly.

"We are to only counter whatever it is they do. Words aside, if they don't do anything to us we can't strike first." She seemed slightly deflated as she remembered his rule.

"Precisely." Jerry wasn't sure if he would even keep to his own rules but at least it sounded like a plan for the moment.

The two men hadn't stopped walking but the vampires both did without a word aloud. They saw the archway of a building that butted up against the IntraCoastal Waterway that looked ideal for the confrontation. If the winds picked up and more palm trees became airborne they wouldn't run the risk of dying embarrassingly with a tropical tree skewered in their chests. Jerry didn't want to meet the two in the middle of the sidewalk or street because there were too many things twirling around the skies for his comfort. He didn't make it to his ripe old age without learning how to pick his battles and where. He hadn't been kidding when he told Julia that fleeing at times was the best option.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-02-27
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