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July 15, 2024

The Complex 16

By Lydia Manx

His fledgling looked pensive.

"What's wrong, Julia?" Jerry Cooper asked softly. They were standing next to the road that led to the drawbridge on Camino Real, where at eleven, Ben Richland had a late date to meet up with an envoy sent by the Vampire Council. Jerry knew that their world had changed with the creation of Julia through a forbidden, ancient, vampire ritual of turning. The side effect of draining the vampires within five hundred miles had been enhanced with time and progress. The last time he'd created a fledgling in that manner he'd gained some skills and talents that he never lost, but nothing like what he got when he made Julia. He was still finding out how many new tricks he had in his arsenal from the transference.

"Master, there's so much suffering and raw pain flooding me right now. I can smell the death of many humans and a few vampires. Why did those vampires die?" She was genuinely concerned. Jerry wasn't sure if she was fretting more over the humans or the vamps.

The emotions she was talking about did literally flood the very air they breathed, but the deaths of the vampires were unusual. Jerry took a minute to pull the layers out of the air, and followed back one thread to a vampire encounter with a human that was happening a few miles away.

"Human, come here, I said." The vampire had no ability to glamour his appearance and was standing in the doorway of a darkened house where there was a small woman living. It seemed the power was still out from the series of storms that had torn through the region. He was craving blood with a passion he hadn't felt in the century or so since he'd been turned.

Starving, he'd tried for the past few hours to reach his Master, but nobody was answering the phone at his clan's house. There hadn't been any mental communication since the previous night when he'd been hit by some weird vampiric lightning. Finally he'd taken to the street in search of a human. To his dismay, almost all of the humans had fled at the warnings of the weather teams claiming that the cone of uncertainty had the area in the possible path of a building hurricane.

He'd seen the woman walking with a large tapered candle from one room to another and he knew it was the best he'd be able to do. He wasn't happy with the choice because there was something about her that bothered him. He'd grown so used to pushing humans to suit his needs and wants with his vampiric powers that he'd stopped observing.

The woman stood in the corner of her home, not taking a single step to him at his demand and said, "Screw you, Mister. Why the hell should I come to you? You smell funny and don't look right."

She had that bit accurate enough. The vampire was aware he stank but couldn't fix it without a lot of blood. And a nice full dose of fear would help make him stronger, but she wasn't afraid of him -- just wary. He couldn't figure out why she was up against the wall with her ass nearly sitting on top of a table.

"Woman, come here, I won't ask you again." And he wouldn't; he knew that he would be forced to go to her. He really hated sounding like he was begging.

"You're right. You aren't going to be doing shit." With that, the mystery of why she was damn near sitting on the table was solved. She blindly yanked the drawer in the table open and pulled out a rather large gun. She didn't say another word to the vampire but began firing. The bullets started at the vampire's stomach and with each one the woman aimed higher.

"People are fighting back. A woman just shot a vampire to death." Jerry shared what he'd observed.

"I didn't know bullets could kill a vampire." Julia's mouth fell open.

"When a weak vampire has holes blowing into its body and brains that pretty much guarantees death. From what I saw the woman shot her way up the vampire's body leaving him no time to even begin to heal much less get any blood to help him move. And some humans are seeing the vampires and recognizing that they aren't quite right. The woman didn't hesitate when pulling the trigger or even let the vampire explain why he was in her home. That is highly unusual behavior for humans, as you probably know." It was a long explanation but it was true.

Julia added, "Also the Castle Law gives the woman the right to shoot to kill in protection of her home if she fears bodily harm."

"She definitely got that pegged. That starving vampire would more than likely drained her dry in a minute or two. But I don't know how she's going to deal with the fact there won't be a body." Jerry ruefully shook his head.

"Why not?" Julia knew so little about vampire natures having only been one for twenty-four or so hours. Jerry had given her some information, but not nearly enough.

"The vampire had been drained of his power due to the ritual, but he was old enough to turn to dust when killed." Jerry answered.

He went silent as he watched his fledgling absorb the fact. They still were in the shadows watching for any vampires approaching. Jerry was pretty sure that Ben hadn't been on the island but was on the other side of the drawbridge. There still was the tingling feeling of vampires approaching. It was a dull throb that pushed in the back of his mind and Julia had also noticed the sensation.

The power wasn't on in much of the area but most of Boca Raton had either generators or a good connection down at FPL. Florida's power company wasn't beyond bribes from what Jerry had heard. The massive pink tower was lit in the distance looking extremely phallic to Jerry. The Boca Resort was one of those pricy spots Boca Raton was noted for and the building overlooked the waterway and the city.

The fountain in the roundabout near the bridge was turned off and the usually dancing water was stagnant and filled with leaves.

Somehow Jerry sensed that was going to be the meeting spot for the envoy from the Vampire Council and Ben. He still didn't know if Ben was coming alone or bringing his protégé, Maxwell with him. Jerry hoped that Ben came alone, but was willing to deal with Max if the need arose. He knew that the next few hours were going to be game changers for him and Ben. Pity that he hadn't thought of filming the meet until the past hour or so because all of his video recording equipment was still back at the warehouse where he'd killed Celina. It would have been fitting since Ben had had the audacity to film him when he'd captured Jerry back in Michigan.

It didn't matter. Jerry simply concentrated on the unusual feelings flowing towards them. His fledgling blanched and asked, "Master, I thought we were the only strong vampires left around?"

It was true a day ago, but with the modern aircrafts and tons of private airports the Council had obviously decided to risk the unknown. The vampire they both felt wasn't extremely close, but definitely within a few hours of them. Jerry figured the vamp had flown into one of the airfields up the state out of the hurricane warning zone. But it didn't matter. By the time the vampire would be down in Southern Florida Ben would be dead or near death and they'd be on their way. Near as Jerry could sense, feeding off vampires up the coast, the one that landed was going to each of the Masters along the upper part of the state and staring into the vampires' eyes before leaving.

That alone would delay the new element of fun. The vampires Jerry had tapped weren't sure who or what the vampire was going to do, but it was feeding on anyone in its path. The sexuality of the vampire was clouded in the minds of the vampires, but then they were without their skills and wouldn't be able to see through any sort of vampiric glamour. Jerry could tell even hundreds of miles away that the vampire was extremely strong and extremely old. The spider web-like trails that Jerry'd spun out from his mind hummed with fear and anger. Julia shook her head like a bee was buzzing inside.

"We have time, Julia. The vampire you sense is hundreds of miles away up near Pensacola. The Council sent a hound dog to trail the vampire who used the ritual. The one coming has to meet with each vampire Master in each territory in order to eliminate them. It isn't a hunt that can be done quickly." He smiled. He recalled having been on one such hunt over two hundred years ago. He hadn't been sent by the Council, but had grown curious about the reports of vampires destroying cities and towns trying to fill their fangs. One vampire, nearly starving, had ventured onto his land and he saw the damage that had been done, and went to backtrack the maker.

"How do you know?" She cautiously asked. It was obvious that she knew she shouldn't be questioning her Master, but her fears were welling up at the idea of being hunted down. Jerry didn't scoff at her concerns, but instead answered truthfully.

"Because I have been the hunter before and I know what it takes to find the Master who used the ritual." He decided to give her more information since they still had a good hour before the meet was to take place.

"The ritual resonates out from the source of the vampire creator, but that isn't easily tracked because of the power being ripped from all the vampires. A hundred or so years ago it was done one Master at a time. The same hunter will go to each Master, and mind-rape the vampire for information. It's a brutal and necessary step. It used to take months to plot out the path of destruction but with GPS and other computer sources they can usually get an idea within a day or two. What is going to help us is the density of Master vampires in the area I pulled from, and how far their families now resided. Masters used to have their families sleep with them with no more than a block or two apart. It gave the vampire strength and the ability to call his to him quickly. With the humans becoming more curious about odd people, the vampires found they could stretch the distance." Here he paused and tilted his head at a noise off in the distance.

Jerry figured it was just a cat in heat and nothing to concern himself with and he continued, "I wasn't sent by any Council or even another Master but went simply to see who had chanced to use the ritual. It had become unfashionable to use as it was noticeable to humans, given the vampires ripping through humanity and feeding to regain their powers. Bloodletting was to be done in the dark and without attracting attention, which was not what happened when vampires grew frightened."

Julia nodded her understanding, having felt the insanity of the vampires feeding and dying within just a few miles of them. She didn't have any problem understanding how it would be a bad thing if vampires walked into crowds and simply slaughtered them. Jerry heard the way her mind traveled and said, "That is exactly what happens. When vampires are frightened, they can be uncaring of witnesses and as humanity had grown and learned to communicate more effectively it was harder to simply claim the plague had hit a town. But vampires still have upon occasion created such bloodbaths that humans tend to slap Ebola or some other modern day plague on as an excuse when arriving upon the scenes of massive death and bleeding."

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-03-19
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