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June 17, 2024

The Complex 36

By Lydia Manx

Jerry Cooper didn't verbally reply to Lenny's swearing but instead took the small knife he'd used to cut the rope to the needed lengths for binding the vampire and abruptly stabbed him in the left hand. The muscle and sinew gave way easily to his thrust. He removed the knife quickly with little fanfare.

Lenny didn't scream, but his vampire buddy reacted. Ben Richland's eyes were as large as chicken eggs in a frying pan and nearly popped out as far. Jerry had not allowed Ben to speak while he was crafting the cross and tying the Council's enforcer to the structure. Despite his fledgling's fears, nothing had happened when Jerry strapped Lenny down to the cross. Well, other than the vampire swearing again. Which was something that Jerry certainly had clearly stated he didn't care for to Lenny a scant minute or so before. Some vampires had a longer learning curve than others, he'd noticed.

Julia's soft hiss of air reminded Jerry that his fledgling wasn't used to the casual brutality most vampires used with each other. She was still learning, having only been a vampire for a night or so. By morning he didn't think she'd be as naïve about vampires. Her innocence was mildly distracting for Jerry but it wouldn't last.

"Next time it's going to go to a major artery and I won't have to worry about your lack of social graces. Are we clear?" Jerry's tone was soft and full of promise.

"Crystal." Lenny snarled while his hand seeped thick useless blood in a steady stream. His very life was now ebbing away with the loss of more blood. From the look in Lenny's eyes he was well aware of the fact, and knew better than saying anything else to piss off the vampire holding him prisoner.

"Maybe there is hope for you yet. Julia, since I detest waste why don't you head to the toolbox and remove the roll of duct tape for me." He directed his fledgling.

"Yes, Sire." She placed the hammer and chisel she'd been holding back on the gurney next to Ben. Once she returned with the tape Jerry had her tear off a few strips and use them to cover both sides of the wound. Puzzlement etched her face but she didn't ask what was on her mind. Instead she did what she was told while Jerry watched.

Finally, taking pity on the puzzlement etching her features, he said, "We can always rip it off if we need something from old Lenny here. No need to fret."

She nodded wide-eyed and stood up and stepped away from the vampire. Lenny wasn't going anywhere soon and while Julia had been crouched beside the enforcer, Ben's eyes had hungrily followed her. Jerry saw her rub a hand over the back of her neck as if Ben had actually touched her. The two vampires weren't quite listening to Jerry, but then they were obviously under the mistaken impression that they had a way out.

The hurricane that had been brooding off shore and taunting the locals with blustering winds, torrential rains and one hell of a light show had begun to sneak back onto the soggy landscape. Jerry wasn't sure how strong it was or how far it stretched but there was a difference in the rain and lightning. The storm was hungry for land and destruction. He respected the storm but didn't have much patience for the delays due to the weather. The joke about the ever-changing climate didn't seem true. Waiting fifteen minutes wasn't going to bring a new forecast -- other than possibly worse rain. More winds whipped through the hole in the warehouse window and the smell of swamp and death was carried in with the gusts. Humans were dying and their blood scent was in the breeze. Jerry nodded and said to Julia, "Looks like the storm is picking up out there."

Her eyes slightly wider than before she said, "Sire, I think the hurricane is going to be in here before too much longer."

As if her words were heard by the storm the thick tree branch that had been partially wedged in the broken window shifted and the shards of glass remaining in the broken frame fell to the concrete below, and the rains came howling in along with the limb and greenery. The noise was nearly unbearable to the vampires but there wasn't anything Jerry could do to fix the problem. The pane had been struck by flying debris and was high up at the top of the building that was nearly two stories. He had no intentions of replacing the glass so they would have to deal with the noise.

Shouting over the gale force wind now streaming into the large warehouse Jerry said, "Hell, this should make things interesting."

At Jerry's words Julia saw Ben's eyes shift towards the tree branch on the ground and they all watched a very large snake slither its way along the wall.

"Sire?" She pointed towards the latest intruder with a slightly shaky hand. He wasn't sure what she wanted him to do.

Jerry watched as the snake lifted its head slightly then began moving. The python was working its body along the cool concrete with its tongue flickering in and out trying to find an exit or prey. Julia was still shuddering slightly at the unexpected sight.

He sighed, "You don't need to be afraid of a snake. You are strong enough to handle it. But on the other hand these two may not be able to do much."

He quickly made his way to the undulating Burmese python and with vampiric speed snatched the reptile off the cool damp floor. The creature was well over six feet long and not happy at being plucked up from the concrete. It had wanted to escape deeper into the shadows and Jerry's interruption of the journey had startled it and made the snake a tad upset. It quickly began wrapping its thick body around Jerry's waist and left thigh. The vampire held it firmly in his right hand and unwound it from his body slowly with his free hand. Its long forked tongue whipped in and out of its mouth tasting the air.

The non-native species had no natural predators in Florida other than humans. The size and strength of the reptiles usually allowed them to be unmolested by most folks due to the innate fear of snakes humans had. Even vampires tended to shy away from the creatures since they would wind around bodies trying to get warm and with the constricting motion of their movements the results could be bad. Granted vampires didn't need to breath but once a python decided the unmoving vampire might be tasty the resulting biting could kill vamps as well as humans. There had been stories of sleeping vampires falling victim to huge Florida snakes that passed around the campfires of both Council vamps and rogues. It didn't matter that the pythons weren't native to Florida, they still went where they wanted and when they wanted. There were other parts of the world with more dangerous reptiles but the idea of a slithering snake working its way into a vampire's home and killing the sleeping vamp was beyond acceptable.

Jerry didn't share any of that with Julia as she was already spooked enough but knew both Ben and Lenny had been around long enough to know about the various urban legends. The reptile opened up a new set of possibilities. He walked towards the two captive vampires and casually draped the tail down onto Lenny's chest. The snake immediately used the tip of its tail to wind around the rope that fastened Lenny to the boards. Once the python had its tail fully beneath a length of the rope it began to pull its body hard down towards the vampire. It wanted free from Jerry's grasp.

Lenny's eyes watched with a glitter of something behind them other than the typical Council sycophant's arrogance. If Jerry didn't know any better he would have said it looked like Lenny finally tasted a bit of fear. A rolling scent from the vampire confirmed Lenny was frightened. The snake was yanking and constricting fiercely in Jerry's hands. He'd been forced to use both hands once the snake started tugging. The head of the python was firmly pinned between both his right and left hands and the snake's tongue was still darting out trying to figure out the odd scents on the vampires. The skin of the python was thick and slick as it had been coated with rain during the storm. Jerry wondered if the snake was a family pet or one of those that escaped during a past hurricane. Not that it mattered, but he was curious. The temperament of pets could be just as bad as wild creatures.

"Not a fan of reptiles? I would have thought you would've been quite at home with creatures that slither on their bellies given your work with the Vampire Council." Jerry moved closer and the snake took advantage of the shrinking distance and wound more of its body -- tail first -- into the netting that held down Lenny.

"Get this shit off me. Ask me anything. I'll tell you whatever it is you want." Lenny hissed while his eyes never left the snake's movement. Lenny wasn't a mongoose, Jerry concluded, and tied down as he was he wasn't going to be running from the python. A foot of the snake's body was now pushed in between the ropes and smashing against the vampire's stomach. Lenny had unsuccessfully sucked in as much of his belly as possible trying to avoid being touched by the snake in any manner. Lenny really didn't like snakes.

Ben's eyes were filled with an answering fear at seeing his once boon companion frightened. The air in the warehouse was thick with humidity and fear. Julia's nostrils flared as she sucked in the scents. Her eyes glazed slightly and she went back to Ben's side. She'd picked up the hammer and chisel again in the event Jerry needed her to tap out a hunk of Ben's body. From the waves of emotions flying in the area, her nerves were stretched nearly to the breaking point. Jerry didn't want his fledgling to snap so he simply dropped the snake while moving away with vampiric speed. The snake caught its own body before it fell all the way to the floor, and instead it thumped smack dab in the middle of Lenny's chest with its head facing away from the vampire.

Unbidden a shrill feminine-sounding shriek filled the night air and most of the warehouse. If the storm hadn't been so loud it would have likely been heard within a few blocks. To Jerry's relief the noise from the hurricane was nearly deafening.

The snake felt the scream and worked its body down Lenny's before stopping. It had arrived at the vampire's thighs and stopped. Lenny couldn't feel anything since Jerry still held the vampire's mind firmly within his power but the visual image of the large snake pooled in his crotch made him scream again.

"It doesn't seem that you like the snake. And here I thought professional courtesy alone would have kept you quiet." The comparison to the python and vampire was missed by Lenny as he was locking into his fears. Jerry worried for a minute that the vampire would lose his mind before he could be put to any use.

With a sigh Jerry went back to the python and pulled it off the bound vampire. It had already released the rope and hadn't been doing anything. Then he found one of the crates open and half empty. Looking around he saw the lid propped against the side of the crate and simply dropped the wiggling reptile into the opening. With a quick jerk he popped the top onto the crate.

"Fledgling, please bring me some nails and a hammer."

She put the chisel down next to the tool chest and retrieved a box of nails. They all could hear the thudding of the python throwing its body at the insides of the box in an attempt to find an exit. Jerry didn't waste any time sealing the reptile inside and the hammering of the nails were greeted with even more thuds and thumps as the snake appeared to understand exactly what Jerry was attempting to do.

Once he smacked the last nail into the lid Lenny let out an audible groan. It was all Jerry could do to keep from grinning. The opportunities to use the snake again hadn't been removed by tossing the creature in the box, but the vampire seemed relieved. Jerry was thrilled by the knowledge that there was something that truly frightened Lenny. It would be useful for breaking down Ben.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-08-13
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