Piker Press Banner
June 17, 2024

Further into the Darkness 3

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Three

"Go grab a chair like Harry told you, Eddie. Snag whatever food that you and Jasmine need to refuel," I dismissed him verbally and with my eyes. Knowing Harry, there was probably enough food for a small army or a hungry pack of weres. I didn't have a clue what Jasmine ate but she was human and once my spell wore off, I imagined that she'd be starving. Harry always knew how to plan a campaign. I definitely felt the same energy from him that he and my Master had when they used to prepare for invasions in Europe. The Council had declared an invasion as far as I was concerned and from Harry's response we were on the same page.

Eddie didn't waste a minute once we both had dismissed him. He positively flew out the door for a chair and food. He didn't even spare a glance to Jasmine where she'd fallen -- yay, team Harry. I noticed he shut the door quietly behind himself without being told. Looking at Harry I commented, "So he's been here all day." It wasn't really a question but a bald statement that went unanswered. Jasmine wasn't moving from her cushion since I'd knocked her out magically. It hadn't been an hour, but I did wonder if I'd packed that spell a bit harder than I'd thought. Oh well, served her right.

Harry saw my glance at Jasmine -- his witch -- of course; chuckling he said, "Don't know your own strength, huh, Bethany?"

I shook my head in neither denial nor agreement then looked back at the two laptops on the coffee table between us.

"Harry, this is nasty. Have you actually seen anyone you recognize from the Council?" My voice was soft. I tapped my forefinger against my closed lips as I tried to think of seeing anyone Council-like in my rather small world. I was drawing a blank for anyone supernatural near me in decades -- well, at least that survived me. I really didn't exactly run around with any other vampires. Jason had stuck to infrequent and sporadic meetings over the years. He had been made a vampire by my Master with the Council's approval. Once my Master suffered his True Death I kinda inherited him, with a few others that I really didn't want or interact with in any measurable way. I figured the Council kept in touch with them and if they went off the rails that wasn't my worry.

My last e-mail with Jason after my slayings hit the news had suggested very strongly that he go invisible and with the monies I'd transferred to him relocate far away immediately. So, I knew that he had plenty of funds to run unchecked far and wide from Southern California. Yeah, so like I mentioned I had killed nearly all the human sociopaths from the other night. Bob and his nasty psycho crew of human predators had been raping and killing vulnerable women and a few men around the territory for years. They met 'cute' in bars and parties then roofied or straight out doped the hell out of the prey before ruining their victims' lives. Usually I didn't bother involving myself in human interactions, but I'd stupidly caught the attention of one of the humans in Bob's pack for the lack of a better term. The resulting occurrences of the evening left all those predators dead. I didn't leave any loose ends as a hard and fast survival rule.

I briefly pondered the drunk girls that Bob had attempted to rape and eventually kill with two of his henchmen. But they'd never seen me at the park. One of the three women had packed a pistol in her designer purse and the blonde unexpectedly had shot Bob's two buddies before they ran away. Perky Stephanie had actually shot them dead -- hence why I personally couldn't claim all the bodies, though I admit I'd made sure they didn't get any life-saving medical intervention or get a chance to tell any tales. From how that mess went down, I couldn't see any of the ladies volunteering information to the local cops or to the Council's staff. Yeah, she and her drunken companions were definitely in the wind, if they knew what was good for them.

"No, and I doubt any of those vampires are even currently in the New World. They really haven't been seen outside Europe, Russia and the Far East in centuries. Admittedly with the dawning of the electronic age the Vampire Council have nearly all of their gatherings online. From what has been reported they have all large functions viral. Less opportunities for mass slayings as unfortunately have happened in the past."

Here he paused before continuing, "Bethany, I can't recall the last time they all actually met in person. Phone-video calls are the craze. Now that meetings can literally be phoned in the Council rarely leave their homelands." He sounded slightly amused. I'd never really thought about where the Council physically resided -- we vampires tended to not share such dangerous details. I knew that video computer meetings had actually been around for a few decades -- which to us vampires who were concerned it was like 'just yesterday.' The Council had made it very apparent long before they launched the current message running non-stop on the site that they viewed the New World as a wasted land filled with savages and dirt -- of no real interest to the Council nor any intelligent, well-connected vampires. They just were sick of the potential of being 'outed' to the human world.

"Okay, what about any executioner sightings? Have your minions or humans caught glimpses of any of the usual suspects? Are any rogue vampires missing?" I shot out my questions nearly in a single breath.

Harry waited for me to stop asking questions. He unlinked the laptop in front of him to key in something. The laptop by me was still displaying the endless loop of the Vampire Council's open-ended declaration. My stomach was still doing uneasy flip-flops, but all I wanted now was to be off this continent like yesterday. I'd heard Brazil had stunning scenery and with enough cash and jewels a smart, careful vampire could survive undetected for centuries. That country had a reputation for being a great escape. There were plenty of towns that I could relocate to and with proper incentives -- aka bribes -- would be left to myself. While I was mentally packing my luggage, Harry kept clicking on the keyboard in front of him.

"I am not finding any reports of actual Council members arriving here on any of the boards or messages. So far there has been only three reports about possible vampire executioners landing recently. But Bethany, you realize not all of the executioners are vampires. I've seen documents about a new ultra-specialized team being built. Not all are Europeans either." He kept typing. His fingers were a blur as he continued to search. There wasn't much I could do that Harry couldn't do -- he had a vast network at his disposal. I had some skills but nothing remotely on his level nor with his government connections and databases at his disposal.

Eddie walked back into the room. Both Harry and I had heard his footfall in the hallway long before he turned the doorknob to the library -- as the werewolf had wanted. He could've quite easily slunk through the passage without discernable sound -- a skillset the weres possessed. Eddie wasn't risking arriving unannounced. His level of caution was appropriate -- either Harry or I could've snapped his neck if we'd been provoked, and more to the point Eddie feared my magic. Jasmine laid where she'd fallen when I'd zapped her down and out -- Eddie's witch companion had mistakenly thought she'd take me out first, I just disagreed. She was unavailable at the moment due to my spell. I didn't counter her spell back at her but put her to sleep -- the kind you wake up from, not the permanent kind, though it was tempting. What ticked me off was Harry knew she'd try something and let her flick her wrist. He also was aware that she'd be unconscious for at least another thirty or forty minutes -- after all I'd first said so to Harry in vampiric mind speak -- and then he could've also asked me to counter my spell and 'fix it' if he'd wanted but he hadn't and it wasn't like I was going to volunteer to make his life any easier. So, Eddie wasn't even quite sure that Jasmine would ever awake. I felt the wave of confusion and the slight scent of fear arrive with Eddie at the doorway.

A large tray came through the open door into the library before we actually saw Eddie. He'd taken up Harry on his offer to refuel seriously. The two plates on the tray were heavily loaded with an array of proteins and veggies -- he placed the tray on the coffee table while hauling in the chair that he'd found somewhere else in the house. It was nowhere near as fancy as the sofa and chair we were sitting on -- it wasn't much to look at -- not pricy or custom made but sturdy enough for the weight of the various creatures Harry had assembled. It was a kitchen chair from the looks -- as I noticed then that it was constructed of wood. My eyes gleamed as I quickly figured Eddie's ill-thought back-up play.

"Eddie," I spoke slowly as he tried to look casual and non-threatening while placing the chair just a bit out of my reach near to the unconscious Jasmine, "I won't allow you to snap that chair into stakes. No matter how quickly you think you could do it -- I'd not sit by and let you try to strike me through my heart. Harry, can tell your pet werewolf that if I wanted him dead -- he'd already be dead -- or should I give him another taste?" I made it sound like a foregone conclusion.

Thankfully, Harry didn't challenge my assertion -- if Eddie attacked me by Harry's command -- I wouldn't be battling just the wickedly strong werewolf but also Harry. Harry actually knew some of what I was capable of doing. It was why his witch was currently out for the count. With Harry and Eddie working together I stood a fifty-fifty chance of surviving an attack. Another unknown witch tipped the odds in their favor more likely eighty-twenty. But Harry let my words stand for now.

I even now felt my strings were being tugged and maneuvered by an extremely crafty puppet master -- from Harry's slightly knowing smile he was certainly aware of where my thoughts had flown; he didn't need to push into my brain. He wasn't stupid.

"No need to harm him, Bethany. We are all on the same side," Harry spoke while still concentrating on his laptop searches. His fingers flew across the keyboard as he continued exploring for evidence of preparation for the Council's upcoming war. With his lips flat in a tight line, I knew he wasn't pleased with what he was discovering in the nasty corners of cyber space. A string of rather colorful profanities burst free as he clicked faster. I have to confess, that was not giving me any comfort.

"Sit down and eat, Eddie. We have to prepare quickly. The Council has been sneaking bodies into America for weeks now -- from what I am finding -- undiscovered until now. I have almost nothing reported from any of our usual sources beyond a couple of suspicious sorts that are normal this time of year. What I'm now uncovering is that this isn't a spur of the moment attack. No, from everything here it has been months in the making -- hell, maybe even years." Harry sounded both surprised and extremely disturbed as he confessed to us what he was just now digging up. Not a look on him that I could recall having ever seen. Not even when my Master and he were plundering savage pirates ships as daybreak was bouncing off the waters making it damn near impossible. We never liked direct sun and usually avoided it most days as it could be painful to us older vamps -- not necessarily fatal.

"So, this had nothing to do with me?" My hand broadly swept to indicate the repetitively scrolling words on the laptop screen in front of my chair. Okay, so go ahead and sue me I have an ego. This is not an uncommon trait in long lived vampires.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-06-28
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
0 Reader Comments
Your Comments

The Piker Press moderates all comments.
Click here for the commenting policy.