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November 27, 2023
"Mes de los Muertos"

The Complex 34

By Lydia Manx

"Don't!" Ben Richland bit out.

The chisel in Jerry Cooper's hand slipped slightly and bounced off Ben's ankle, the sock offering little in the way of cushioning. It was done deliberately and he enjoyed watching the waves of shock roll over Ben on the gurney. Jerry still held the hammer at chest level but hadn't struck the head of the chisel. Jerry had allowed Ben to feel his right leg but not move it. It was to keep the vampire off-balance as best he could. There was no way he was interested in giving Ben any sort of edge. It was war as far as Jerry was concerned. Collateral damage was just a part of it as was anything else he could think to do to the Council's tool. And Ben really was a tool.

Part of the vampiric gifts Jerry had been given was the ability to control any human or vampire like a puppet. Normally he could control humans and some lesser vampires, but the ritual he'd used to create his fledgling had given him more than a Master vampire usually possessed in their arsenal. More of everything that he'd ever heard any vampire could do. Not all the skills were available to all vampires and like humans, some vampires excelled in some talents that other vampires barely understood. As a Master of the City in Michigan, Jerry had a wide range of skills he had developed and honed over the decades. Every new fledgling he created was gifted with certain talents and vampiric tricks that he didn't necessarily have, and once he'd fed off his creations, he was able to absorb that particular talent to a degree and with time and use, he could enhance his own array of gifts. With the creation of Julia he'd been blown away with all that he'd collected. He didn't need to tap into Ben's brain to feel the fear and pain -- it radiated off the strapped-down vampire out into the world in a thick miasma of energy. Julia, his fledgling, moaned softly in ecstasy from the wealth of richly layered emotions.

Vampires weren't overly emotional as a rule and when they did succumb to something, the power behind it was immense and darkly delicious.

"Excuse me? Don't? How dare you command me!" Jerry snarled. "I seem to remember when you had me tortured in the coffin you so thoughtfully lined with blessed silver icons and religious metals, there was no forgiveness for any of my transgressions but rather joy for being able to keep me captive. Did you ever stop? Did you ever even consider how I felt? Oh, wait, you did! You wanted me to suffer and wanted me to beg. I didn't. Funny that. You haven't even been harmed and here you think you have the right to command me. You slaughtered mine without any concerns other than making your mark in the greater vampire community. And look how well that worked out for you. Here you are at my mercy and there aren't any minions or fledglings surrounding you telling you how wonderful you are." Jerry used the chisel point and punctuated a few of his words with a measured tap or three onto Ben's ankle bone, effectively reminding the vampire who was in control.

"But you haven't asked me anything! How can you do this?" Ben was awkwardly pleading for Jerry not to sever his foot from his leg. Jerry hadn't planned on doing it while Ben was alive, but didn't see the need to fill the creature in on all his little thoughts.

Picking the hammer up above his shoulder, Jerry began to swing it down towards the chisel head. Ben screamed as Jerry deliberately missed and the hammer thunked down on the mattress of the crash cart with a dull smacking sound. The vibration ran up Jerry's forearm and he knew from the way Ben's eyes went wide and panic-stricken that he could feel the impact through the gurney.

"Wow, he's a wuss," Julia observed, her eyes glistening as she watched her Master break down the vampire.

"It seems so. Looks like he sure can dish it out but he can't take it." Jerry hefted the hammer back up and casually swung it down connecting with the bone right above the ankle missing the chisel but still hitting Ben. The unexpected action caught Ben by surprise and there was an eerie delay before the vampire screamed in pain.

"Now, that's a reason to scream," Jerry said removing the chisel and setting it next to the vampire still shrieking.

He could have swung the hammer with vampiric strength but had instead simply 'tapped' the bone. It wasn't shattered or even fractured but Ben definitely felt it. If the vampire lived long enough to drink some human blood there wouldn't be any sign of the injury within an hour. As it was the pain caused by the blow was excruciatingly painful. Already a large knot was pushing up the skin and the little blood in his body was flowing to the nerves making Ben whimper as he no longer had enough breath in him to scream.

Julia's eyes were growing glassy as she savored the waves of pain flowing from Ben literally scenting the air. Jerry sighed and said, "See what you made me do? I was prepared to be somewhat reasonable despite our rather rough past, but you had to keep pushing now didn't you?"

It nearly sounded like Jerry cared.

Nearly, but in all honesty Jerry knew he would have found a reason to harm the vampire with or without cause. The arrogance of Ben's words and thoughts were the 'reason' along with nagging tones the vampire kept taking while questioning Jerry's every little action. Jerry had forgotten more about vampires than Ben had ever learned. Ben mistakenly thought Jerry was a weak creature without his minions and fledglings.

"Fuck you!" Ben screamed towards Jerry's direction as his eyes were squeezed shut and he was frantically trying to summon a human to him. Julia looked at Jerry then picked up the chisel and tapped the spot where Jerry's hammer had hit.

"I think this is a good spot for us to take the foot off. Will he regenerate another or be maimed for the rest of his miserable life?" She said it loudly because Ben was screaming wordlessly at the chisel's touch. The winds picked up and howled through the broken pane adding to the general noise.

"That's a good question, Fledgling. You are new to our life and haven't seen or heard how we heal." Jerry's voice carried and Ben broke off and just moaned. Jerry found it curious that Ben seemed to be waiting for the answer just as much as his fledgling. The Council didn't always share the vampire gifts with others it appeared. Most vampires were killed quickly and rarely did enforcers take much time torturing anymore. Not like in the past where torture and maiming were nearly an art form.

"No, Sire." She used a demure tone and the twinkle in her eyes made Jerry smile back. Ben had opened his eyes slightly and a small trickle of bloody tears ran down both sides of his face. He shuddered as one of his nerve endings sent back a message to his brain. His whimper was disappointingly predictable and even Julia rolled her eyes at how poorly the vampire was conducting himself.

"Some vampires will be able to form another appendage immediately upon feeding. That is a gift given to certain blood lines but not all. The others can over decades regenerate the removed limb but it never is quite right and if reinjured it pretty much spells end of that piece of flesh. There are also some that just lack the ability to control the growth and end up mutated in quite unexpected ways. Remind me to tell you about those sometimes. They are quite," here he paused and glanced down, "well, disturbing to say the least."

Jerry paused and waited for Ben's mind to race through what he'd just said. It didn't take long for what he'd said sunk into Ben's brain. Horror began to etch over the vampire's face as he weighed the odds of what kind of blood was in his line. It was obvious to both Jerry and Julia that Ben hadn't ever given any thought to his being harmed while doing the work commanded by the Council. That was just one of his many mistakes that Jerry was looking forward to reeducating him on very soon. Celina's death had been too quick in hindsight and he didn't want to ruin any opportunities available to him if he worked Ben over properly.

Julia looked distracted for a moment then asked, "Why is Lenny starting to come around?"

Inhaling deeply, Jerry shook his head as he found the disturbance Julia had noticed.

Jerry sighed, letting the unneeded breath out and said, "Ben's pain is feeding him. Give me a moment I'll handle that. Why don't you see if there's any bright and shiny object on the cart you'd like to play with?"

He pointed to the partially covered moveable cart that had implements of both the mortician and autopsy trades. Not all of them were shiny as a few were decades old and somehow laden with the scents of death and decay. It was quite intoxicating to handle the tools, Jerry had concluded when first buying them from various venues. There hadn't been any need to buy them rapidly, so in the past couple years he'd spent time garnering them in anticipation of the night he'd finally get a hold of the executioners who'd held him confined far too long.

The winds were picking up again outside the warehouse and Jerry could hear the creaking and groaning of the window pane as the tree branch was jostled and working its way into the building. The tinkle of small bits of glass hitting the concrete below resonated throughout the nearly empty structure. The rain was joined by a sudden burst of hail spattering inside adding to the tempest.

Jerry went back to the car and popped the latch to release the trunk lid. As the lid flew up, to Jerry's shock Lenny launched himself upwards, fangs and fingertips extended. From the muffled area of the trunk he'd mistakenly thought Jerry would be standing there having used a key. Jerry watched the vampire nearly turn mid-leap like a cat dropped from the rooftop. Without moving, Jerry seized Lenny's mind and the vampire slumped to the concrete where he puddled loosely, appearing nearly boneless.

"Well, shit. They really are connected tightly," Julia picked up on how Lenny had gained strength. Ben's fears and panic had fed into Lenny's protective instincts. Even with Jerry's draining out of blood the Council's envoy the vampire still had pulled on hidden reserves. Sighing disgustedly Jerry said, "It would appear so."

Tapping a long slender finger on his lips he worked the idea through his mind. He didn't anticipate having two vampires at once so he didn't have another ambulance crash cart. The gurney Ben was strapped to was all that he'd thought he'd need. Mentally he chastised himself for being so unimaginative. That said, he needed to do something with Lenny. He didn't think putting him back in the trunk would do much if Lenny kept feeding off Ben. His most recent invasion of Lenny's mind had been wickedly fast and deeply invasive. Lenny wouldn't be going anywhere under his own power, Jerry didn't think, but it didn't do to underestimate the tie. He hadn't thought Lenny would even attain consciousness much less movement without a half dozen pints of fresh type O.

The crates offered one idea to the vampire. And he certainly had enough tools to accomplish the desired structure. It wasn't like it was his first rodeo, but Jerry hadn't wanted to any more manual labor than necessary. Julia watched her Master then offered, "Can I help?"

"In that outfit, I'd prefer you watch Ben and whack him with the hammer if he tries anything stupid."

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-07-30
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