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February 19, 2024

The Complex 25

By Lydia Manx

Back in the 1860s somewhere off the beaten track

"Thanks, Mister. I busted up my leg something fierce and haven't had a drop to drink for days. I'm so parched I am a fearin' that I am likely to die. Maybe you got a spare canteen or can ya give me a sip from yours?" The man's tone was properly shaky but that wasn't due to being dehydrated; no, it was quite apparent to the vampire it was due to being extremely excited by the sight of Leonardo -- naturally the human didn't have a clue that Lenny wasn't a na&iunl;ve human wandering into his trap. The vampire's deep Mediterranean coloring and well-defined body wasn't the norm for the Southern or Northern boys. It was something temptingly different. Leonardo always said to humans who inquired that he'd been sent over to the United States to get an education -- it was always well received, as both Yankees and Southerners were overly proud of the dirt-scraping lives they lived.

The human predator had been lusting for a different challenge and seeing the vampire coming towards him he licked his lips while his eyes glistened with greed. He had a few twists that he'd been perfecting over the months of abusing the men and boys who fell to his game. His partner was just over behind the tree west of Leonardo panting softly. The two sociopaths were well suited to each other and had answering deviant needs. The unseen man had already started to loosen his drawers in anticipation of the game.

Jerry Cooper continued to remember the shared past of Ben Richland seated next to him in the back seat, while Julia drove through the storm damaged streets on the way to his warehouse. Lenny, currently in the trunk, was unconscious from Jerry's tapping a vein and draining him into a vampiric coma. The two Vampire Council vampires were unaware of their true situation because they were locked inside each of their memories of their shared past. Jerry, as a true Master Vampire, was in the middle of their shared history and his ringside mental view was riveting.

Back again in the 1860s

"Funny you should mention that. I, too, haven't had a drop to drink in many nights. Can you spare me something of yours?" Leonardo said it softly with nearly a hiss of lust coloring his words. The man still feigning injury at the base of the tree was stunned by the vampire's words, not realizing the game had shifted.

His eyes darted sneakily towards where his friend was waiting with a stout stick and a knife. They both were wary of using guns since the noise often carried for miles and they liked to play the game out for quite a while rather than just create a corpse.

"What?" The man was genuinely confused but also somehow aroused by the vampire's turn of the phrase.

"What, are you deaf? The canons can't be too loud for you over here off the beaten path." He'd gotten just a few feet from the man still sitting on the ground wrapped in his blanket. The man's mouth gaped open as the words sunk in and Leonardo's fangs snicked down.

"Huh? Mister, I just want something to drink. Come closer if you can." There again was that bitter trace of anger in the soft Southern tones. It was then the man noticed the fangs in Leonardo's face. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

There wasn't a trace of fear, just confusion. Not a sharp man at all.

"Me, too, I just want a little someone to drink. And I thank you for so nicely providing me with a quick hot meal on such a frosty morning." And Leonardo covered the distance with vampiric quickness as the other man lunged out ready to swing at him with the chunk of wood he had hidden by the side of his thigh. It hadn't mattered since both Leonardo and Ben both knew from their minds what they'd set up. Ben was watching as the hidden man approached his companion. He planned on connecting with the back of Leonardo's head.

Had he connected with Leonardo, the vampire may have been stunned slightly, but as it wa,s Ben reached out and yanked the wood free of the man's hands when he swung back to get some strength in his strike. The man let out a small squeal of surprise when he fell short without the stick in his hands. Ben had torn it free from his fingers with a twist causing splinters to tear into the man's palms.

Leonardo was on his knees in front of the stunned other man. His fangs imbedded into his throat. He didn't buffer the feeding, but instead culled from the memories of the victims the two had terrorized in the months they'd been playing their little hunter-prey game. Leonardo was quite happy to show the man a more advanced version of the sport. He ruthlessly tore open the man's clothing and ripped the human's flesh free from his bones with hardly any effort. Since he was crushing the human's larynx there was no way the man could do anything but gurgle and die. And he did die.

Once he had his fill, he turned to see how Ben was playing with his food.

Ben also had seen the depraved way the humans had treated their own so he returned the favor in a rather brutal use of the stick he'd tried to brain Leonardo with just moments before. His human wasn't dead but sure as hell wished that he was. The 'game' Ben played lasted another half hour or so before the human's heart simply stopped pumping. Leonardo sat under the tree watching with a smile on his face.

Jerry shook himself free from the shared memories of both the vampires with a bit of shock. The combination of their history was laced with horrors and salvage abuses that seemed to suit Lenny more than Ben. It wasn't like he thought Ben was a choirboy, given his association with the Vampire Council, but still he was somewhat amazed that Ben had that much in him. The Ben he'd known was more cautious and always careful to be in charge of everything and everyone. It seemed that good old Ben Richland could lose control and that Lenny was one of Ben's biggest fans. They had played together for a few decades more than Jerry had figured the vampire had been alive. The history between them had flown into his mind when he put Leonardo in a blood loss vampire coma and taken over the control of Ben's brain from his fledgling. Julia was handling him okay, but Ben was stronger than she realized, even drained. That Lenny and Ben had been companions and best friends from what he'd found in their shared memories was pretty surprising, considering the animosity Ben now displayed towards Lenny. There must have been one hell of a falling out between the two. They'd been closer than brothers in their world.

Jerry Cooper was mildly curious about what caused the split because it would be a useful tool when breaking Ben. He didn't so much care about Leonardo, because he knew that whatever Ben revealed to him would be more useful than Lenny's side of the story. Lenny was a just part of a tool that he'd use to crack Ben's mind. The vampire was currently residing in the trunk with Celina's head and hand both waiting on Jerry's repurposing of them. Celina's head and hand would also be part of the breaking of Ben's body and soul. But they certainly weren't going to be used in any manner that Ben would expect.

All the time Jerry'd spent inside that cursed coffin, Ben hadn't held back in his taunts and torture of the Master Vampire of the Michigan territory. As the vampire enforcer, Ben had been vicious and high-handed in Jerry's treatment. Demolishing all the territory he'd built bite-by-bite and slaying all of his minion and fledglings with nary a word of apology. They were killed and their deaths drummed into Jerry's head by the enforcers. Long drawn-out stories they told him deep into the night. No, he definitely owed Mister Benjamin Richland a bit of payback. Quite a bit. Ben had his fellow Council dogs to run with, while Jerry had been reduced to living like a human. He'd actually worked a job and tried to find his place in the world. He eventually discovered the underbelly of Southern Florida and exploited it to the best of his capabilities.

He'd discovered a local hacker to assist him in locating the Vampire Council enforcers who'd wrecked his world. And the job provided a few niches in the wall where he could stash bits and pieces of himself in cyberspace. He had learned to live in the twenty-first century while living among humans in a gated community, awaiting true death. Despite his various pursuits of the enforcers, he'd never really thought he'd be able to right the wrong. Finding Celina Holston on television was the beginning of his path to correct all that had been done to him; it would take time, but it was worth it as far as he was concerned. Adding in her mockery of the supposed values she was upholding for the self-imposed leaders of the Vampire Council further cemented her destiny. Troll tidbits and true death. She wasn't going to pop back to life and dish out any more true death to other vampires. Her own vampires were quickly being slaughtered and her minions were not much better off. They weren't all dead yet from what Jerry knew but they were getting used, abused and traded like unwanted pets. A fitting ending to the bitch, Jerry thought.

Now how was he going to kick it up a notch with these two ... only time would tell where it all would lead him. Nothing was going as expected, but then he'd found that was the norm in the new world. He was much fonder of the old world when he was king. He'd take what he could get and rise above what the Council had dished out to him, despite the changes.

With his enhanced vampiric skills, Jerry had easily pushed Ben unresisting into the back seat, and Julia was in the driver's seat directly in front of Jerry. It was the best configuration for controlling the enforcer and keeping his fledgling safe. Ben was still fuming about seeing Lenny again, and that the Vampire Council was concerned about his controlling of his territory and the rogue elements running around the Southern states. He was so wrapped up in his fury that he wasn't truly conscious of what was happening to him. Jerry didn't need to read Ben's mind to know how angry the enforcer was. It was easily read in his body language and the scowl etched hard on his features.

Julia set out driving down the storm debris-strewn streets slowly and carefully avoiding the trees and bits and pieces launched into their path from the storm. Neither of them had seen a recent weather report so they were assuming the hurricane was gone. Jerry well knew from his years down in Florida that it wasn't a guarantee that once the hurricane crossed over the land that it was gone -- more than one community had seen hurricanes come back or be followed closely by others and decimate anything missed during the first storm. Jerry gave her directions while concentrating on Ben. Time hadn't changed Ben's looks any, but Jerry certainly didn't look like the same man that the enforcer had captured back in Michigan. In fact, he wasn't even sure that Ben had any idea who he was or why they'd taken them off the street.

Boca Raton was practically deserted. The majority of the humans had escaped when the voluntary evacuations started. The spot where the vampires had met near the Camino Real Bridge usually was active with cars and bicyclist not to mention the boats heading up and down the IntraCostal, but not tonight.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-05-28
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