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November 27, 2023
"Mes de los Muertos"

The Complex 38

By Lydia Manx

Now that the captive vampire was no longer gushing out blood, Jerry Cooper was able to go back to concentrating on his potion, ignoring all the sounds pummeling the warehouse from the storm rapidly approaching outside. His fledgling Julia finished duct-taping over the newest hole in Lenny as best she could. The chisel had gone deeply into Leonardo's right thigh and from the amount of blood that flowed, she was pretty sure that she'd clipped his femoral artery. Jerry's fast thinking and use of a long barbeque lighter had temporarily seared shut the injury but the duct tape assured her that there wouldn't be any more arcs of blood emanating from his thigh unless she or Jerry ripped off the silver tape. Something she wasn't going to do, but given the tension bouncing around the warehouse Jerry very well might.

At this point Lenny wasn't saying a word but was tightly clenching his jaw. He'd sustained a bad cut just prior to his current 'accident'. The first one had come from Jerry's rather nasty use of a small knife directly into his left hand and Julia had quickly taped that up that little mishap at Jerry's bidding. That the newest injury was dealt to the Council's hellhound from the fledgling, Julia, was something that had to grate on the vampire, but Lenny hadn't said a word about it yet. The incident was caused after she'd taken affront to being sworn at by Lenny and she'd decisively hammered a chisel into the bound vampire's leg.

From Ben Richland's rather lofty position on the top of the ambulance crash cart he was afforded a vampire's eye view of his once boon companion's recently abused body. Lenny was tied onto wooden boards from one of the crates that littered the warehouse that Jerry had torn apart and constructed as a makeshift platform to keep the vampire under control. The wood slats were resting on concrete blocks off the flooring by mere inches. But from Jerry's personal viewpoint it was more than suitable for the strong-willed vampire. Jerry had allowed both captured vampires the ability to speak for now. Not that Lenny was currently up to the task. He was rather busy trying not to scream out at the two standing vampires. Jerry didn't need to slip into Leonardo's mind to determine that, but easily felt it floating around in the clammy air within the warehouse.

The humidity had climbed well beyond the comfortable zone and the air was starting to feel nearly as thick and heavy as the climate had been in the swamplands that used to cover the area in Boca Raton where they currently were. The Everglades had been bulldozed and repurposed, but with the rapidly approaching hurricane, Mother Nature was reminding the humans and vampires alike that it wouldn't take much for the swamps to come back and that all the buildings would be scattered like pickup sticks from a child's palm. The building they were in would be little more than spare parts if a large enough hurricane blew through the area. Adding to the tension between the vampires, there was the python that Jerry had crated off to one side -- it took that particular moment to hurl its very muscular body against the wooden walls of the container. Lenny winced at the sound. He wasn't fond of reptiles, no not at all.

Julia hesitated to interrupt her Master as he was still mumbling over a bowl of hair and some other ingredient he had retrieved from the small fridge. What he was saying were some darkly arcane-sounding words. She thought it might be Latin, but wasn't about to ask. Lenny hissed out softly to Ben, "He's evil."

Ben rolled his eyes and said, "You think?" The sarcasm wasn't lost on any of them.

Jerry smiled and continued his chanting and put a pinch of something into the bowl with both captured vampires' hair. An odd strong aroma of spice, earth and death now accompanied the rather heavy scent of burnt hair -- it wasn't good. Julia hadn't even seen Jerry light the contents on fire. Then she glanced at the flames lapping up the sides of the bowl. They weren't red or even orange but instead green and purple. Readjusting her thinking, she concluded that Jerry hadn't put a match to the mixture but the spell he was casting ignited the hair and contents of the bowl.

He turned to the two vampires while holding the dish between his hands at chest level. The glowing flames grew and he continued to speak softly in whatever language he was speaking. The green shade ran up his arms yet Julia could see it wasn't burning him but dancing over his skin in hypnotic waves. The purple flames were in the center and twirled nearly six inches from the top of the bowl into the space between his arms. His eyes were oddly flat and his expression was detached while he walked towards the vamps.

"I will tell you what is evil. Not me. Your 'Council' of vampires coming into my home and killing my fledglings, minions and human creatures without a word." Jerry stopped dead center and spat out, "Evil and wrong. You judged me without finding out who I was." Here he looked directly at Ben. Ben squirmed slightly and tried to push his head back into the thin foam mattress of the gurney. Suddenly, as if a light bulb had been switched on, Ben's face took on a look of utter surprise closely followed by horror.

"But you were dead! The Council said they'd burned you. You aren't alive anymore. Your corpse was destroyed years ago back in Michigan." More fear raced over Ben's expression of revulsion as he noticed the age difference between the vampire he'd captured in Michigan and the one that had captured him.

"Huh, you aren't that vampire. You must be his kin. You just talk and look somewhat like him," Ben was rapidly rationalizing aloud his denial even while his eyes were growing huge and his fear leaked out in waves of terror. Julia shuddered and moaned very softly. She was swaying slightly at the lush mixture coming from both Ben and Lenny. The potion was still glowing and the weird flames continued to dance to their own beat. The winds that were still whipping in and out of the warehouse through the very crevices and cracks along with the rather large broken pane of glass had no effect on the magical fire.

Lenny found his voice enough to ask, "What the hell are you talking about, Ben?"

Ben rapidly filled the nanosecond of silence with, "He looks like the son of one of the Master vampires cleaned up in the last major sweep of the Council a couple years ago. Celina and I captured the rogue after being given permission to take the vampire's lands and wealth if we cleared out the rat hole the cursed creature had created. The vampire took his time dying but I was called off before we could do the decapitation and charring of body. The Council had another problem I had to handle with my crew in Mississippi and told me that they'd sent a second team to finish the vampire off while we were gone. We got to keep the spoils."

Jerry was rather impressed with Ben's monologue but that didn't stop him from setting the bowl on the floor between them. He wasn't turning back from the course he'd decided on just because the idiot thought he'd been dead. Jerry still had his questions. And Lenny had a few of his own it appeared.

Raising his head up slightly Lenny said, "Obviously not, Ben. He doesn't seem to be younger son of any other vampire. This spirit is older than you and I together. Hell, his spell casting alone should let you know something isn't right."

Ben sputtered something and at Julia's sharp glance shut his eyes and softly hissed out, "No, it can't be."

That hadn't been what he'd originally said, but Julia allowed him to edit his comments. From the way Jerry was standing it wasn't going to be long before something happened and given what she'd already witnessed, she wasn't going to try to interfere with her Master's wishes. She still felt somewhat bad about chiseling into Lenny's thigh but he hadn't died true death, so she figured she'd quit while she was ahead.

Jerry had no compulsion to keep on the path of the 'straight and narrow' vampires. He'd determined that both Ben and Leonardo were so entwined with each other from their shared past and hunting that he'd use that to find out what he needed. The power he'd got from creating Julia was going to be intensifying the newest ancient spell. This was one that he'd only seen used successfully once nearly two hundred years ago. And he hadn't been the one conducting the ritual, but at the time had watched in horror as two vampires he had hunted with were joined. The storm's electricity was lighting up the dark warehouse and giving him a sense of calm. The hurricane was touching land and beginning to drag humans and houses alike into its cone of chaos. Souls were screaming and Jerry could feel the death energy circling, and he pulled from the hurricane with a deliberate phrase. The ancient language danced off his tongue and seemed to literally float in a fog state over his whole body. At a soft nod of his head, things began to quickly happen.

The purple and green flames climbed from his bowl and out from his arms outwards towards both bound vampires. The purple came from the upward flame that had been in the center of the vessel he'd put the hair and unknown substance he'd got from the fridge. It then arced across the space and into both vampires' faces while the green fire ran down Jerry's body and raced up the cart and wooden cross to the vampires' feet. Quickly both fires raced for each other and the two distinctive flames bled together over the top of the vampires when Jerry hissed out a single word in English, "Now."

Thunder claps shook the warehouse and seemed to greet the command word and suddenly both vampires lifted up as if pulled by a rope in the middle of their bodies. Though they were strapped down, Julia and Jerry watched as the strain of the spell physically tore at them. The ropes and straps held, but both vampires were now screaming with their fangs bared and eyes filled with pain. The flames dissolved inside and then a boom and a bright ball of white flashed into the building.

Julia thought lightning had struck for a moment but she couldn't smell anything burning. Even the flames from the spell hadn't seemed to burn Jerry or the captured vampires, so she was shaking her head trying to figure out what had just happened. Jerry had dropped the bowl and it clattered empty to the concrete beneath his feet.

The ball of light settled down between the two slumped vampires. They were no longer being pulled from their middles but were unmoving on their backs. Jerry spoke softly, "You are mine to command."

The white light dropped suddenly and before Jerry stood a darkly gray shadow nearly the same height as the vampire. Then the shadow began to tighten and shape into something vaguely human. Julia was confused and didn't want to interrupt -- Jerry was tightly focused on the shape.

A soft cough, as if the shape was finding its voice, then a quiet, "Yes."

The voice wasn't male or female. It just was. Both vampires were still lifeless. Ben was unmoving on the crash cart and from makeshift bed where Lenny was roped down there wasn't any sign of movement. Even the snake wasn't hurling its body against the crate any longer. Julia felt goose bumps run all over her body. It was the first human feeling she'd had in a while. The vampire side of her had pulled back, leaving her with more questions than answers.

"Now we will get true answers." Jerry smiled with fangs extended.

Confused, Julia watched the shadow figure standing a foot from Jerry shift back and forth flickering with two different sets of features where a face should be. Her eyes widened as she finally figured out that it was a combination of both Ben and Lenny that was rocking across the shadow creature. She rapidly gathered that her Master had slammed both Ben and Lenny into a single creation. Another round of lightning began battering outside the building, digging into Julia's belly, adding to a growing sense of fear. What this meant to the unmoving vampires wasn't clear to her, but Jerry seemed quite pleased. A clap of thunder punctuated the thought and Julia waited to see what was going to happen next.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-08-27
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