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September 26, 2022

The Complex 37

By Lydia Manx

"So, Lenny, you aren't here just to ask good old Ben here about the Vampire Council's problems, are you?" Jerry Cooper smiled and looked at the two vampires bound in front of him.

Ben Richland currently wasn't able to talk, and Jerry was going to keep it that way for a bit longer since it was a delightful slice of entertainment. He wanted the Council's enforcer to begin to wonder what it was exactly that Jerry wanted. He wanted fear and a bit of panic to prey on the vampire who was strapped to an ambulance crash cart, unable ask anything or even to speak a single sound. The inability to communicate had to be driving him crazy.

Not to mention the damage already done to his body, this had to be finally giving Ben pause. The arrogance and haughty manner the vampire had flaunted in Jerry's face a couple years ago hadn't diminished with time but grown like a cancerous tumor. Much like Celina -- a now permanently-erased vampire who also was like Ben and had she done what she had wanted -- Ben had thought himself far above the law and done whatever he pleased, unknowingly mirroring Celina's little grab for power and pleasure. As it was, neither of the vampires were Masters nor even on the list of the up-and-coming Masters. They were little more than the Vampire Council's poorly trained hellhounds. They were the dogs to be sent out into the world to terrorize and menace so-called rogue vampires that strayed off the beaten path and failed to bow to the Council and their ridiculous rules and regulations. Both vampires had been one way or another aimed at Jerry, and Ben admittedly had nearly destroyed him. For him, payment was long overdue in Jerry's world.

Lenny's eyes automatically cut over to the wooden box where Jerry had just dropped in a sizable Burmese python. The non-native Floridian reptile hadn't much cared for the storm and when the tree limb it had been resting on had dropped into the warehouse it had slithered away from the shards of glass and attempted to flee. Instead of getting a dank, dirty hole in which to sulk it was snagged by Jerry as a possible threat to the captive vamps. And to his utter delight and amazement Lenny was terrified of the reptile.

Finally Lenny came to a conclusion and said quietly, "No."

Nodding Jerry tapped the lid of the crate where he and his fledgling had secured the snake. The soft taps were answered by a very loud thud of the python's body hitting the side of the box. The snake, it seemed, wasn't finding its new home to its liking. The tapping of the vampire's fingertips hadn't been missed by the snake inside the box, since it would have been amplified and the vibrations felt by the creature.

"Julia," Jerry called out softly to his fledgling, "would you be so kind as to bring me the rather nice and shiny shears sitting on the cart over there?"

Julia went and fetched the large scissors and handed them to her Master without question. Both captive vampires followed her with their eyes. Puzzlement flashed over Ben's face as Jerry approached the vampire. He open and shut the six-inch blades slowly even as the sound of the motion was lost in the storm, but the lighting striking around the area intermittently illuminated the steel and it was enough for all of them to hear it in their own thoughts.

Jerry regarded the two vampires slowly while poised between them waiting for some indication of their thoughts to show on their faces. They were losing their stoic edge as time ticked on and Jerry hadn't freed either of them or outright slain the pair. Vampires were self-centered creatures at heart, and nothing could change that between two who weren't blood mates or Master-Fledgling bonded. Some of that rolled over Lenny's face first. The snake had rattled the composed vampire and the taunting of them with the weapons was starting to wind fear into the very air that surrounded them all.

Giving Ben his voice back, Jerry waited to see who'd crack first.

"Don't tell him anything!" Ben finally spit out, finding his tongue. Jerry stepped over to the strapped-down vampire and took the scissors and edged towards his face. His eyes grew huge as they went closer to his eyes. Defiantly he added, "Fuck you."

Jerry heard the unnecessary hissing in of breathe from Ben as he carefully leaned in closer -- he wasn't afraid of Ben, but making sure to create a bit of drama. Vampires were all about the pageantry and drama, Jerry had long concluded. The captive vampire quickly clenched his eyes shut as if that would keep him safe. An evil grin flitted across Jerry's face and he snipped off a large chunk of the vampire's hair next to his cheekbone letting the cold steel of the scissors touch the vampire's skin. An audible whoosh filled the space as Ben's eyes snapped open to see Jerry step back holding a fistful of his hair.

Without looking back, Jerry walked to the partially-covered cart and pulled a porcelain-clad steel bowl from beneath the white sheet. The imagery of the covered stainless steel cart tended to prey on one's mind; he'd long ago figured that out during his time of tormenting vampires and humans alike. The Council hadn't researched him well enough before sending out Ben and Celina. If they had he would have been long staked and torn to bits with his ashes scattered before the next moonrise. His gain -- and for now it was definitely the Council's torment. He tossed the lock of Lenny's hair into the bowl and placed it carefully back onto the partially uncovered tray. With vampiric speed he swooped down next to Lenny and removed a single lock of his dark hair. Julia stood near the two vampires just as puzzled as they were as to what her Master was doing. Once he had both hunks of hair in the bowl he nodded and deliberately placed the scissors back onto the cart without comment.

Then he went to the small refrigerator where he kept the various containers of human and animal blood, and removed a tiny wooden box that had been on the door next to a cup or so of red liquid marked "deer blood" on the very white label stuck on the side. With his forefinger placed on his lips, he regarded the choices before him, still not speaking. Ben's curse seemed to float between them all. Jerry hadn't struck him or done anything but taken some of his hair.

Outside, the storm was growing in size and volume but nobody spoke. Even the snake in the box wasn't trying to garnish any attention from them, and had stopped throwing its body against the sides of the crate. Darkness seemed to fold into the void and a sense of anticipation began to build inside Julia. She picked up the hammer and chisel again just to be on the safe side. From the looks she kept throwing Ben and Lenny it was apparent that she didn't trust either vampire -- even bound. Somehow she knew whatever her Master was going to do wasn't something usually witnessed by a vampire of her age and she wanted to be armed in case either of the two vamps were freed. A sigh escaped Jerry's lips as he spotted what he wanted to use and he carefully moved a few of the plastic blood filled containers aside and pulled out something from the back. The small box was put on top of the refrigerator, and he moved the containers around to free up the container he sought. To Julia the blood inside the container seemed to be moving more than from simply being shuffled around on the shelf merited. Oddly disturbing, but she kept quiet. She didn't plan on breaking the silence.

Ben wasn't so smart.

"What the hell are you doing?" His voice was quarrelsome and his attitude of entitlement had returned with a vengeance. His eyes were spinning around trying to focus. Jerry hadn't given the vamp much room to move and Ben was pushing as best he could.

Lenny wasn't so ignorant. He hissed out, "Shut the fuck up, Benji boy. Don't you realize why he took our hair? It sure as hell isn't for him to keep in a damned memory locket."

It appeared Lenny was starting to finally figure out that the youthful-appearing Jerry wasn't some rogue vampire who was just causing troubles in Florida. He'd gathered that Jerry wasn't from Florida and it was beginning to dawn on Lenny that Ben seemed to be Jerry's main focus. From the flickering of Lenny's eyes it was obvious that he was working through his own memories, trying to place where he knew Jerry from and if he had caused the vampire some Council-driven pain. Jerry wasn't exactly going to volunteer that they had never met before, and that he'd run through the vampire's thoughts and feelings for the past few hours. Any stain of recognition was coming from his dabbling in the vampire's past.

Julia's eyes darkened as she began to put together what Lenny was trying to tell Ben. She quivered slightly as a large gust of wind blew more of the outside into the warehouse. The python woke back up and thudded against the side of the crate again, causing Lenny to slightly stiffen. He'd temporarily put aside his fear of the snake, while Jerry was busy plotting a new level of torture.

"Wait a damned minute, it was you, wasn't it?" Lenny asked with an expression of hatred tainting his good looks. Ben, on the other hand, was looking utterly clueless.

"What was me?" Jerry didn't bother to look at the two vampires but continued to set various items on top of the small appliance carefully. His forehead had a thin line of concentration marring his features. Julia watched her Master with a worried look of her own. She wasn't completely sure where Jerry was going with the hanks of hair and the potion he seemed to be mixing up but she certainly wasn't going to challenge him. If nothing else, she'd figured out that Jerry would be her protector and the other two vamps weren't worth her spit much less concern.

"All this," Lenny jerked his head slightly at the outside.

"I doubt anyone can make a hurricane appear at will." Jerry stopped and rolled his eyes back in thought then added, "At least not anymore."

He'd shown a trace of ancient ritual knowledge with his creation of Julia fully-formed into the vampire world, and with his answer, he was admitting that the ancients had more tricks up their sleeves.

"Anymore?" Julia's voice was a tad higher than her usual speaking tones and it was nearly a shriek if the truth be known.

Lenny snarled up, "Fledgling, you can shut the fuck up."

It wasn't the smartest move for him to make and that immediately dawned on the captive vampire as Julia brought the hammer down on the top of the chisel cutting into his right thigh. The arc of blood that shot up when she yanked the chisel out of the meat of his leg alerted Lenny to his verbal error and the unexpected consequences of swearing at her.

"Damn, I don't think duct tape is going to fix that," Julia said with wide fearful eyes. She hadn't aimed for his femoral artery but she'd hit it true as if there'd been a giant 'X' marking the spot. Killing her Master's captive wasn't a smart idea, but she didn't know how to stop the blood.

Setting aside the concoction that he'd been mixing, Jerry grabbed up a long barbeque lighter from the cart near the refrigerator. Without uttering a word he snapped the flame to life and roughly thrust it into the flow of red-black blood leaking from Lenny's thigh. Lenny howled and the smell of burning flesh filled all of their noses. By the time Jerry had pulled the red hot lighter out, the vamp's flesh was slowly knitting shut. It wasn't a complete fix but enough to prevent the vampire from immediately bleeding out.

"Now you can use the duct tape. Next time aim for his stomach -- less to damage." Jerry set the lighter back on the cart he'd snatched it from and went back to his arcane spell. Julia could hear that he was mumbling under his breath, but the words weren't English.

Jerry's face took on an eerie glow in the dark warehouse. The lightning was still dancing in the clouds leaking into the building. But still the vampire's face wasn't the same. It was shifting slightly beneath his skin Julia thought, but kept the words to herself. She wasn't sure she wanted to know what he was doing.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-08-20
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