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March 20, 2023

The Complex 23

By Lydia Manx

They walked to the bridge and Jerry noticed that the winds had picked up again. The hurricane hadn't hit them yet but there was still the possibility. But Jerry Cooper was growing used to the 'possibilities' in the new world. Ever since he'd been grabbed, bagged and effectively tagged he'd realized that possibilities were ever changing.

All four of the vampires got to the drawbridge and started across slowly. The winds were gaining strength and Jerry could hear the lapping of the waves in the canal striking the pylons beneath the bridge. Jerry let his fledgling work with Ben while he pulled Lenny step-by-step over the small drawbridge. The Camino Real drawbridge was only one lane in each direction and a narrow sidewalk on each side. There weren't any boats or ships waiting to pass beneath the bridge so they continued to the center. The bridge operator stepped out of the small building and hailed them.

"Hello! You sure you all want to go to the island? There's a voluntary evacuation notice for the small barrier islands. I wouldn't want you all to meet your maker before your time." His religious conversion was still underway from Jerry's manipulation of his mind in the last hour. He wasn't completely there yet, because he took a minute to peruse Julia's breasts and mentally think of what he'd do to her body if given a spare ten or so minutes.

Julia took advantage of his lustful thoughts and said, "We need to get our car. Thanks for worrying about little old me." She didn't add a southern accent but a nicely flirtatious demeanor.

The man nodded and waved them across saying, "Ya 'all be careful now, you hear?"

Lenny and Ben were stiff but both Jerry and Julia nodded and called out thanks as they headed for the car. The winds had done their work since they'd been watching the vampire drama on the western side of Boca Raton. Uprooted bushes and trees were scattered across the sidewalks and roadways, along with shards of broken pottery and windows that had been burst by cannonball-like coconuts hurled through homes. A disaster area in progress.

The silence as they walked the streets was amazingly loud in a way. The expected noise from homes, televisions blaring and couples fighting was absent. Other than the winds and stray palm fronds whipping around them they weren't disturbed. The humans who'd been preying on the casual stragglers on the streets were also long gone. A ghost town in the Wild West had more noise than the island. There weren't many hearts beating inside the buildings. In fact, Jerry noticed that there were markedly less. When they'd crossed the bridge earlier, there had been a more than few humans still inside their homes huddled and trying to outwait the storm.

Jerry sniffed the wind trying to find out if there were slain humans chilling in the buildings around the area, but he didn't find any excessive amounts of blood or tortuous suffering on the wind, so he assumed that some more people had actually left before the hurricane could hit the area. It wasn't like it was a mandatory evacuation but after a few of the epic hurricanes that had struck in the past few decades, the locals didn't simply assume the storm would skip them because of a break in the weather. Southern Florida as well as the whole region along the Gulf Coast states had learned hard-taught lessons in the past with ignored warnings painting the way.

The walk to the apartment building where they'd left his car was made in absolute silence, as both vampires were busy keeping their two captives in check. Neither Lenny nor Ben said a word but simply put one foot in front of another without comment. Julia's face was showing the strain of pushing an older vampire, but Jerry was proud of his fledgling as she continued to work her talents and make the Council's vampire do her bidding.

Lenny was trapped inside his own mind and hadn't fully realized that he was being controlled. He could tell something wasn't exactly what he remembered, but he was calm and trying to slowly work out what was bothering him. Jerry'd figured it was the easiest way to twist the creature to his will instead of battling him for each step along the path. So instead of fighting with Jerry he was busy trying to figure out why Ben was so angry with him and how his life had gone so far off track. He'd forgotten the interlude with Maxwell at the fountain and Julia and Jerry arriving on the scene. The fretting that was keeping Lenny distracted worked well for Jerry, because it allowed him to simply use Lenny like a wooden marionette. The strings were invisible but still worked. Jerry just thought right left right left and Lenny paced slowly down the street. Had there been any humans around to observe their passage it would have been odd. The erratic movements and jerky pacing wasn't even in any manner, but they made their way to the car slowly despite the odd and difficult journey. The parking lot where Jerry'd parked was empty except for the one couple's car that had been shoved to the side onto the grass and sidewalk next to the exit lane. It seemed everyone in the building had decided to evacuate in anticipation of the approaching hurricane.

As if the simple thought of the storm had summoned a response, a crash of one of the planters falling from a second or third story balcony startled Julia. That let Ben Richland a single gasp of energy. He took the momentary lapse of Julia's to launch himself full-bodied at Lenny.

"Leonardo, this is your fault," was all Ben was able to say before Julia snapped back the mental leash and pulled Ben back under her control. Lenny sobbed without words as his face took on a shattered appearance. It seemed Lenny did think it was his fault and hadn't resisted or even tried to rebel from Jerry's manipulations.

Through tight lips Julia said, "Sorry, Sire."

"It is fine, my Child. You recovered quickly and there were no ill effects. It seems that Ben is just as focused on Lenny as he is on Ben. They are too intertwined with each other and their own jaded past to be concerned about why we are taking them. Which I must say is a rather nice change of pace for me." Here he grinned to assuage his fledgling's worries.

They reached the car and Julia asked the obvious, "How are we doing this?"

Jerry had already been working through the various configurations for having two vampires to control not just one and he had what he hoped was going to be a workable solution. Plus on the scale of things it appealed rather nicely to his sense of justice.

"I'm going to liberate a few more pints of Lenny's blood and knock him into a vampiric coma. Then we'll load him into the trunk with the Rubbermaid tub of Celina's parts to remind him of his fate should he wake. You will drive and I will direct you but I'll be keeping our friend Ben company in the back seat." They weren't going to be going very far, but it was the most reasonable of ideas short of killing Lenny outright. He could always do that but he didn't like to slay vampires before he'd got the most out of them. And Lenny did seem to have a wealth of information at his fang tips.

"I guess." Here Julia literally shook herself and stiffened her back saying, "Yes, Sire." Her face was taut as she mentally refined her focus inside Ben's thoughts.

Jerry indicated that he would take care of Lenny before she got behind the wheel and released Ben. She nodded tensely as all the strain was starting to take its toll on her. The winds were definitely picking up, but the rains had yet to fall. Jerry was hoping that they could get clear of the drawbridge before the hurricane winds actually began slamming into the pillars that held up the structure. The sustained winds had to clock in at a steady speed for the hurricane to slide up the scale of categories. The gusts that had been knocking everyone about and launching trees and coconuts really weren't 'hurricane' winds but just considered to be sudden or rogue gusts. Some of these itty-bitty winds clocked in at fifty and sixty miles per hour but that wasn't considered to be a true hurricane. The catch phrase launched by all the weather nuts was sustained winds. Getting toppled by a nearly sixty mile an hour wind wasn't easily ignored.

Lenny was still arguing with himself while Jerry was guiding him slowly towards the trunk ever so carefully. Quite literally one step at a time. The Vampire Council envoy wasn't exactly paying attention to where he was heading, to Jerry's relief. And it didn't matter as the vamp's mind was caught firmly in his bloodied past. Jerry was growing tired of weeding through the man's scattered memories and petty rants. It was like the incessant whining of small winged hive insects. It was all he could do to not mentally grab a can of bug spray and annihilate the vampire. Controlling his anger, Jerry concentrated on maneuvering Lenny into the best spot. It also wouldn't do if he'd have to lift the large vampire once Jerry pretty much drained him. He liked the idea that he'd just let the vamp flop back into the trunk and shut him in. It was the little things that could amuse him for hours on end.

Lenny was still caught within his own shadowed past. He wasn't sure why, but Jerry was pretty certain that Lenny wasn't exactly the top selection for the Vampire Council's choice to send down to Southern Florida to clean up the mess that Ben hadn't seen happening in his own backyard. Lenny was probably sent to appease Ben while drilling down to the core issue.

The basic issue was that Ben's region had got out of control. Completely out of control. The Council knew all about Celina's little vampire manufacturing scheme, and it seemed that one of Ben's as-of-yet unidentified associates had branched out into the finer side of decanting vampire blood to vamps and humans alike. Not exactly ideal for a supernatural set trying to stay under the radar. Vampire blood was complex and addictive for all vampires and for stupid enough humans that drank vampire blood it was either a new high or a sudden death. It wasn't predictable. That was part of the attraction. It was nearly like the exotic Japanese fish that when served properly was a delicacy beyond measure. But if the blade of the chef was off just a smidgen the patron wasn't returning for seconds.

Locked into his own panorama of the world and his past Lenny was nearly complacent when Jerry's fangs descended. With a casual hand Jerry tilted the vampire's head and cocked it just off center exposing his jugular and with a swift motion Jerry was fanged in and drinking down the vampire's past. Waves and waves of history flowed from Lenny's blood into Jerry. It was a rich mixture of life, lust and death.

The exquisite layers inside the vampire's veins stunned Jerry. His thoughts weren't nearly as complex as his blood. For all his angst and torturous memories of things long forgotten by Ben and probably everyone else in Lenny's close circle of wanna-be friends, to Jerry's amazement his blood actually had layers. Extremely delicious layers that made Jerry stop and look at the vampire with whole new eyes.

Not that it mattered; Lenny's die was well cast. With Jerry's fangs extended and deep inside Lenny's neck he continued to suck down the Council tool's blood. It was bottomless and lush. Jerry felt his eyes roll back as he enjoyed the dimensions of the blood he was sucking down from Lenny's throat. The Council had let Lenny run riot for the past few decades and the vampire wasn't one to avoid an opportunity handed to him on a platter. Each and every one of those succulent pieces was given freely and Jerry savored each and every bit.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-05-14
Image(s) © Lydia Manx and Sand PIlarski. All rights reserved.
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