Over the centuries it has been noticed that when a vampire forgot to do simple human things it could be noticed by the prey. Alarms were sounded and at times believed. It caused more than one decapitation as stories were told, repeated tales of vampires' transgressions hoarsely spit out in dark whispers to keep us younger vampires in line. In my existence, I'd actually seen a vampire outed by a small child back in Europe during wartime. The bombings allowed that particular vampire to escape for the moment, but the human child wasn't so lucky -- enforcers had been nearby talking to me about a local theft of a painting and snatched the boy from the doorway and into the night. I hated that memory. I hated William and Pauly for dredging up that piece of my personal history even though they were utterly clueless.
My feeding off Bob was still bouncing around my bloodstream filling me with darker urges not all mine. Taking energy from his mutated nature I folded it deeper and worked with the residual charge so to speak and began my latest unplanned escapade. It wasn't the first time I'd had my world go sideways and decidedly wouldn't be my last, given my luck. Unlocking the men from their cells I stood back while they made their way cautiously up the stairs and back out into the yard. I took time to lock up and snag my backpack figuring I'd need to change out of the messy, blood drenched clothing sooner rather than later. The fog had grown even thicker as the night air was scented with fall. Naturally skunk spray made up a large portion of the fog, they both coughed at the oily nasty odor. I was grateful not having to breathe.
Once we'd gone out the door both Pauly and William began to softly chatter to each other. Gone were the grandiose ideas they'd been spouting in their cells, but instead it was sounding more like the normal male bullshit often overheard in bars. They were stone cold sober -- I tended to have that affect on men, go figure. They brought me into their babbling as I'd programmed into their brains. My bloody attire wasn't even noticed as I'd made sure to mindwipe that from their memories. The skunk odor was helping to distract them both while they continued to walk down the sidewalk and towards an overgrown lot that was feeding back to a canyon finger.
"So, Bethany, don't you agree?" William finished whatever he'd been saying and included me in his conversation with manners he hadn't bothered to illustrate up until this moment.
"Dunno, William, what do you think, Pauly?" I redirected the question to Pauly actually not having a damned clue what they'd been chit-chatting about while they followed my carefully crafted mental directions that I'd pushed into them back in my basement cells. They kept talking all the while, retracing my earlier evening walk on the dirt pathway down to the abandoned fort in one of the remote areas. Both men had been there long before I'd visited earlier tonight so none of their actions rang false in their minds. That was one of the more helpful conditioning steps when planting false memories and ideas. While most folks would have had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards a certain death, they were lulled into thinking this was all their idea and that I'd be the one getting harmed at the end of the journey.
That wasn't in my playbook for tonight and soon we joined their dead pals, Karl and Chuck whom were both still really dead. I could draw it out here but by now I'm pretty sure it's clear that neither William nor Pauly were alive for too much longer. And yes, I made them crawl up into the fort before I slaughtered them -- it was the least I could do after all the women they'd made do the same thing during the drunken and drugged stupor caused by the men and their bar games. Call it poetic justice or straight out spite, both were true. Given how long the evening had been I felt it was reasonable to take a pint or two from them before I staged a scene of epic betrayal and bad blood. All theirs. Hell, everyone loves a good horror story now and then and I was happy to oblige.
I found myself back in my living room and shook my head trying to rid myself of the memories that had returned. It wasn't like an alcoholic black out because I hadn't personally sipped anything all night but various sundry blood types. It was kinda like a hangover of epic bad decisions laced with the blood-filled memories of the deaths I'd caused in the past twenty-four hours. Such was my life -- okay my death -- at times. Literally I found myself shaking off my previous evening's memories. Instead I focused on my current situation as the memories of all the women's deaths were actually haunting me. I felt flushed with anger by the humans' actions and I had to consciously push away the emotions or it'd all really distort my judgment.
Jason would be waiting to see me at a different local haunt to bring me up to speed. Not the park where I'd left Bob torn up and decorating the trees but another park that over the years we'd been meeting whenever we needed to be out of the visual spectrum. His mentioning a new squad of enforcer goons heading to check out what was happening out here in the Wild west did push a few of my buttons. And not good ones -- my rather violent self-preservation ones coupled with my auto-destruct dangerous switch. Damn vampire council always pushing into our lives when we least needed them to be anywhere in our vicinity much less the same zip codes. Growling, I checked my cell phone and found it charged.
My email accounts were stacked up with unread missives. I glanced through the list and found another email from Jason. This subject line was noticeable given it was all in caps -- computerese for shouting. READ ME -- simple declarative line I had to give Jason props for knowing what would catch my eye best. Sighing aloud I went ahead and clicked it open.
Screw the B Street hookers, you fucked the donkey ride! They totes found like serious carnage blowing up the airwaves and the net. OMG and like some jr mint and his puppy found a smelly fort filled with fucked up corpses all part of that dead dude's crew. (Jason-speak, that was pretty scared. He used less emoticons than usual and used full on sentences. I found myself in turn starting to get scared and a bit nervous.)
You are kryptonite and this super boy ain't showing anywhere near your pretty tush. Sry. Hit you later watch that ass. No clue who's behind invasion of coast but going to be nasty. Rumblings dark with whispers of epic purging -- not the phony ass bulimic kinks either.
And he signed off with a string of unhappy yellow faces. Looking at the list of emails with rude and some truly unhelpful subject lines I didn't bother to click another. Jason was a self-serving cockroach and if he was avoiding me after requesting a meet up, that wasn't good news on any level for my game. Damn.
Feeling the walls pushing in, I jumped from the couch and started pacing trying to figure out what was my best move next. I didn't need input from Jason or anyone else and he was warning me I was too hot to be seen with right now. That spelt out more than just a nervous Jason -- he was also letting me know to avoid any and all vampires trying to make connections. For a cockroach, he wasn't stupid -- he knew I'd flip him some serious coin once everything died down. With a sly smile I figured I'd upgrade Jason's life immediately and I used my newly found bitcoin winnings and transferred a chunk of ill-gotten gains to an account that Jason had access to in the past. Giving it some thought I coded a reply from a different anonymous email account he knew I'd use.
Subject: Gothic Crash and Burn
So totes happening for sure. Batman isn't going to cave. Daily Planet has to take a full ad out. Clark left a package inside the Daily Planet per usual rates.
For those new to the game I was contacting Jason on a different email account and telling him I understood his message and for his efforts was sending him some coin aka money as a thanks and to get the hell outta town. Hopefully he was able to decipher my speak if not the monies would still be there at a later date. Over the decades I'd helped Jason fix a few local issues without questioning why and I'd never asked anything in payment.
He'd known my previous Master and I'd kinda inherited him after mine went dark. And by 'went dark' I didn't mean switched to being a bad blood sucking vampire -- hell we all were those -- I mean he was utterly and finally killed. Not something that usually happened to Master vampires with a clan and connections, but like I said we lived in the wild west. There'd been blood spilt by vampires and werewolves and word on the street -- Dark Web and other places where vampires crawled on their computers -- was that a few witches had also joined the local mix. That's the word and from what I'd seen and heard it wasn't a big shock. It all sounded true and horribly possible.
For those who know a bit of history, the Spanish Inquisition is touted as some wicked cleaning of heresy in Spain for over seven hundred years started by some royals. Yeah, there was the whole Catholicism bit but what wasn't reported in histories was the Vampire Council used it as their own personal ethnic cleansing for heretic vampires. Many vampires found their way off the European continent by boat, ship or trains to other parts of the world where Spain wasn't in charge. I'd gone with my Master via a different set of explorers not given enough credit for travel. Currently called 'Vikings' they were Scandinavians who went 'a Viking' which was traveling and exploring. My Master wasn't a rule follower by any means, and he passed on that particular trait when I was young and called by a different name.
Bethany Clifton was my current name as far as my legal documents were printed, faxed and digital trails complete. But in the rest of my collection of passports and driver licenses I had stashed around the land had many other names and just as complex histories as needed to travel. When he was killed, I didn't turn myself over to the Vampire council immediately; I'd gotten a few calls but nothing screaming 'or else' so I put it on the back burner until I decided what I needed to do. My take was that the Council had a large number of items on their list that were of a priority much higher than a slow-to-respond old vampire like me.
Pacing didn't do much for me but wear a patch in the area rug covering my pristine hardwood floors. I found myself trying to second guess what I was doing and that never ended well. My first instinct was to run. I hated that raw, primal instinct but couldn't see any other open road. My cell phone pinged in my hand and I saw a new email had shown up in my LanaL account. This wasn't a known account. Chewing at the edge of my left forefinger, gnawing actually, I decided this wasn't spam or some new obnoxious email trying to liberate my bank account and credit card numbers from my life into a boiler room in some offshore country with data mining jobs. Or the ones held by very articulate men needing immediate help, promising eternal love, and if a quarter of a million dollars were transferred discreetly into the overseas accounts given in hushed voices to these gentlemen the possibility of an hour of Dr. Phil's attention revealing the depths of the illusion were nearly guaranteed.