Early evening creeps in on little padded feet. It creeps silently over the canvas of the late afternoon. The light fades ever so subtly, bit by bit, until the darkness snuffs it out entirely. The sun disappears and the night is born. This was normally my favorite time of day but lately I had been in a wretched state of melancholy. Judas had not been back for eleven months. I had received not one letter, not a call, no word at all in fact. To say that I was worried would be a grave understatement. I needed a distraction to help me keep my mind off things. As luck would have it I got exactly what I wanted; be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.
The crash of glass shattering into thousands of crystalline shards across the smooth marble floor jerked me awake at mid-day. I next heard the metallic bouncing, scraping, scuttling noise of a canister followed by a loud hissing as the hallway filled with smoke. In an instant I was up out of bed, naked and pissed off, guns at the ready. I narrowly ducked behind the bedroom door as it was kicked open. I could smell the intruder’s salty sweat mingling in the billowing smoke from the smoke grenade. I noted how heavy and cold my guns felt in my hands. The steel had been hung up on the bed posts cradled in the hand made leather holsters Judas had bought me for several days. I dared not go out for fear I was being hunted. At first I thought it was just paranoia but as I stood there silent behind the door it became clear someone was after me. As the intruder looked about left and right I prepared myself to fight my way through any number of would be assassins.
The intruder passed on to the next room believing mine to be empty. I slowly peered around the door to be sure the intruder was gone. I slid the dresser drawer open ever so slowly and pulled out a pair of very much worn black leather pants along with a black cotton turtle neck. I put these on quickly. I cautiously opened another drawer and drew from within a black ski mask, leather driving gloves and a pair of dark Gargoyle sunglasses from the bowl on the top of dresser. I slinked over to the closet and took my leather jacket and Kevlar vest out and put those on hastily. I found a pair of socks to wear on the floor and pulled them and my motorcycle boots on in a hurry. I paused to listen but heard no foot steps.
I could make a break for it but how many hunters would I run into if I did? I wondered to myself and pondered my next move for too long. I was too distracted and disoriented being awake during the day. As I was trying to focus, and it was tough to get the fog to clear, a crossbow bolt slammed into the Kevlar of my bullet proof vest before it bounced to the floor. I looked up to see the intruder. There the intruder stood, crossbow in hand, reloading with clumsy fingers. She was young with jet blue black hair and wearing a big black gas mask which hid her face. Her solid and stacked form was surrounded by wisps of smoke and as she reloaded the cross bow and took aim I decided I would let her waste another shot before trying to fight back.
The arrow struck right between two plates of Kevlar and I could feel it pierce through my rib cage. It stung terribly but she missed the heart. I went down like it struck true. As I fell I dropped below the smoke and vanished. I rolled under the bed and when she advanced carefully to check for my body I sprung out the other side of the bed and dashed right out the open doorway. The quick way to the basement was blocked by rays of sun streaming in through the broken window about half way down the hall. I saw the sunlight coming through and it scared the shit out of me to see it. We vampires are susceptible to sunlight but prior to that instant I had thought it was strictly some sort of biological thing. The fear I felt course through me told me it was something more supernatural in nature. I spun and reeled in fear only to come face to face with the intruder again. This time she had a katana in her hands and looked pissed off. She shouted some sort of declaration before slicing through my leather pants across my right thigh as I tried to dodge. I couldn’t hear anything clearly or even think precisely straight as the fear of the sun still drove me to run and escape. Instincts took over.
I ran down the hall and down the stairs. I was no longer amused; in fact I was rather losing my patience and my composure. As I hit the bottom of the stairs she jumped down right in front of me. She was quite a sight, jet black hair spilling out from behind her gas mask. She wore black combat fatigue pants and a black stretch Lycra top. She had a dancer’s body and I don’t mean a ballerina either; I mean an exotic dancer. She brought the katana up again and when she did I noticed a glyph on her right wrist. This was no religious zealot, no vampire hunter. This was someone’s ghoul! Vampires take on ghouls, mortals given vampire blood, to do their bidding. Ghouls are imbued with super human abilities by the consumption of vampire blood. Most are totally dismissible but this one was rather bothersome. I raised my pistols just in time to have a hand severed. My right hand dropped to the floor as the Heckler & Koch went off and missed her head terribly. I ducked under her next swing which she deftly targeted my neck with. Decapitation spells the end for vampires so that was lucky I dodged.
She was fast as lightning but I was faster. I kicked her square in the left knee with my steel toed boot and she shrieked with pain as her knee splintered. As she clutched at her broken knee she dropped the katana—amateurs. I was on her in an instant and had her arms pinned above her head with my left hand. I pressed the two parts of my amputation together as I held her there. I still get tickled when severed limbs reattach. My hand rewove itself on as she struggled beneath me. She was strong as an ox but I held her fast. I straddled her body and locked my legs around her ribs. She bucked fiercely and managed to tip me to the left. I locked my legs tighter around her in a body scissor. I now had each of her wrists in each of my hands. She spat and cursed and struggled as I tightened the body scissors around her abdomen. She quickly lost power as her air ran out she fainted.
As she lay there I sat for a long moment and just looked at her. I smoked one of her Marlboro Mediums which I lit off of her custom Zippo lighter. “Dahlia” was her name, or at least that was what was inscribed on the Zippo’s face. I retrieved her hand cuffs from her belt and cuffed her hands behind her back. I checked for a pulse and it was still there. No time to waste though, she would come to any second. I removed every weapon I could see or find and hoisted her over my shoulder. She began to stir as I moved through the den and into the garage. I set her down on the hood of Judas’ Mercedes. She sat up and looked at me through the gas mask. I laughed very heartily as she struggled against her own hand cuffs.
“Who sent you?” I quizzed finally.
“Holy Mary Full of Grace sent me asshole” she quipped.
“Not funny in your situation, ghoul, I would be a bit more respectful. Now tell me who sent you or…” I picked up the chain saw and pull started it. “…or I cut you into little pieces and figure out who your master is later.”
She just sat there steadfast looking straight at me. I reached over and pulled her gas mask off. She jerked away from me as I did and tried to hide her face. I could not get a good look before she rolled off the hood of the car and drove a valiant spin kick to the side of my skull. She was a spirited one. She broke the hand cuffs, freeing her hands and gave me several punches to the head. As I reeled from her assault she ran for the automatic door opener and struck the button. She dropped to the floor to roll under the opening door and sunlight began to crawl in as the door inched higher and higher. I dropped the chainsaw and snatched her by the hair as she tried to roll out the bottom. I was hit just between the sleeve of my turtle neck and my glove as I pulled her back under the door. My boot felt awfully hot too. I could feel the nasty burn that tiny little exposure had cost me. It burned like thousands of tiny knives crisscrossing my skin with lemon chasers. I threw her against the back wall as I hit the button to bring the door back down in a near panic state. She slumped to the floor as I turned back around and I could tell I had really hurt her.
Her green eyes rolled to either side as I looked into them. She was injured severely. I examined the glyph more carefully and recognized it almost immediately as belonging to Aragon Del Fuego. Aragon was this crazy Spanish guy who Judas had on again off again flings with in the past. She told me all about him and how dangerous he was. She had warned me about him and how he might come looking. She left very specific instructions in case he came while she was away but I didn’t pay attention when she gave them to me. She said nothing about him sending ghouls during the day. That shit is frowned upon in vampire society. Generally speaking they all act like aristocrats and plot each other’s destruction over millennia. Now this poor girl got mixed up in it. I felt bad for her. She was just doing what her master ordered her to do. I found myself very attracted to her. Hell she was gorgeous I wanted to keep her. As I felt the back of her neck I could tell it was broken. She was a corpse if I didn’t do something. Ghouls can take a hell of a licking and keep on ticking but broken spines don’t heal so easily.
Against everything I was ever told and against my better judgment I sliced my wrist and pressed my gash against her petal soft lips. Her eyes flickered open and focused but she wouldn’t drink. The blood just spilled down her chin. I pulled her against me and into my arms. Her back was now against my chest as I sunk my fangs into her neck. She rocked against me and tried to fight, to escape, but I held her and swallowed up the last of her blood before I slashed my wrist open again. I pressed it to her lips and this time she quickened as the droplets touched her blood stained lips. She locked on to my wrist and gulped down huge mouths full of my blood. I could feel her body tighten as she drank more and more. I had to really pull hard to get my arm away from her.
I watched her change before my very eyes her skin took on the soft marble quality of a living statue and her fangs came in as she hissed and fought against the change and writhed in agony on the oil caked floor. I carried her hissing and cussing into the basement and placed her with force into the reinforced cage where I spent many nights past when Judas was still here. I watched her for hours while she spat and cursed and struggled, she fought as hard as anyone could have but there is no fighting off this disease and no one escapes from that fucking cage, trust me.
She finally calmed down a few hours later. The sun was now safely slunk away over the horizon. I just stared at her for long moments and she just stared right back. I pulled my ski mask off, put the sunglasses in my pocket and rolled my sleeves up for comfort. Her eyes at first cold and calculating softened as she saw my face for the first time. Her poker face was back in a flash but I saw it, she liked what she saw.
“Why did Del Fuego send you?” I asked
Her eyes were as wide as saucers but she said nothing. I could sense her fear starting to boil over as she realized I had identified her as Aragon’s ghoul. Her eyes darted around looking for a way out. She clung to the hope she could escape somehow. Then she seemed to realize there was no escape.
“Why did Aragon send you?” I asked again more firmly.
“You tell me smart guy why would the most powerful vampire in Chicago bother with you? Are you English or something by the way? What’s up with that wacky accent? Are you from like London or something?” Her voice was like honey in Earl Grey tea.
“Not for me to say as to his reasons. As for my accent, yes I am British, and no I am not from London but Berkshire, England. Now you tell me why you were sent here and stop playing these games.” I demanded.
“Please don’t be mad at me daddy.” She said sarcastically with a fluttering of her lashes.
“This is not the time for you to be cute whelp” I said, “I am your master now, you are my creation, you owe me your life.”
“Ha you want it back?”
“You are pissing me off. What is your name?”
“That’s the idea and my name is Dahlia.”
Just then it hit me, she was stalling. Someone was coming, and it would be a vampire this time or several ghouls. ‘Just my luck’, I thought, ‘probably will be both’.
“What do you think they are going to do with you when they find out you have been turned?” I asked. “Aragon is way too paranoid to leave you alive. I am sorry I did it but you would have died and I need answers. Please wait here while I go kill your, would be assassins. Or would you rather I just leave you here for them to find?”
“No please don’t leave me here”, she said through clenched teeth.
“Fine stay here, I will be right back and when I come back if you are not more cooperative I will just hit this button over here and the whole floor goes up in flame. Do you know what fire does to vampires? You are way too pretty to die again.”
“When you come back I will tell you everything. If you come back that is. How can you possibly take them all?” she asked quizzically.
“Easy as candy from a baby… baby” I smiled
In the crawl space under the house I could hear them wandering about trying to find any signs of me or Dahlia. The way down to the basement was hidden. Aragon had never actually been to this place because Judas bought it for me just before she left. I knew Dahlia would be safe down in the basement; the doorway leading down there lay hidden nearly seamlessly in a wall. You would have to have Superman’s eyes to find that door if you didn’t know it was there. I could hear one of them directly above me, a vampire. Where I lay there was a hatch door and this vampire was standing directly on top of it. It too was practically seamless so I was confident I could hide here for a while undetected. As this vampire moved a few steps forward to look in the study I slowly, carefully lifted the hatch door and crept out silently. He looked from side to side as he walked.
I stalked up behind him careful not to make a sound. I drew my long knife from my belt quietly and poised myself for the strike. He must have caught my reflection or something because he called out in a panic just before I tore right through his spine and esophagus. I darted back toward the crawl space but it was too late for hiding. Automatic weapons fire drove me back. These guys prayed everything in the house but me. I ran back through the study and sprung onto the long oak table. From there I sprang up onto the first of the two large book shelves. I sprang from there to the stairway landing. I saw two men coming up the stairs, both ghouls; I could hear their hearts pounding. Instantly I had my guns out and took aim. I took those two down “run and gun” style with bullets tearing through their screaming faces, throats and chests. They dropped in twitching heaps half way up the stairway.
As I rounded the corner toward the upstairs family room I found a woman, a vampire, dressed in hardly anything but armed with a massive Scottish claymore sword. She was tall and beautiful, long and strong. She had a shock of bright orange hair spilling down her back. Her back was to me so I tried to stop and go back. It was too late and I slammed right into her. I drove her and myself hard right through the big plate glass window. As we fell I turned her around to face me and held her arms in place. We landed on the gothic design wrought iron fence. I heard wet splitting and ripping sounds as I landed on top of her as she landed on the pointed spear-like tips of the fence. I bounced off of her and to my feet as she struggled to free herself. There was a sickening gurgling noise coming from her throat and a strange sucking sound as she tried to get off of the fence points. One of the points had gone right through the front of her left eye dead center in her cornea. I wrenched her sword from her grip and tore the blade right through her neck to sever her head.
Bullets tore into my sides where the Kevlar doesn’t cover as I turned back toward the house. I raised that massive claymore and threw it like a spear right through the gunman’s stomach. He was obviously human and it pierced him good. He was a goner so I moved past him and back into the house. Pissed off, hungry and irritated I looked around for the last mercenary I knew had to be here. I moved from room to room silently being as cautious as possible. As I came to the upstairs hallway where Dahlia and I had fought I found her katana. I picked it up and moved on back down the stairs after finding no one upstairs. I came across the hidden basement door and found it open. I scrambled down the stairs and found Del Fuego standing in front of the cage door trying to find a way to open it.
“You took something of mine Jude and I want it back”, he said coolly, “Now get this door open and give me my ghoul back.”
“Fuck you Aragon. That is my creation I turned her, she is mine.” I replied.
“That would be a mistake” he said
“Why did you send her to kill me?” I asked inching closer.
“I sent her to kill Judas, your bitch of a ‘mother’”, he said, now losing his patience and decorum.
“Well Dahlia here already told me everything. I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. I’ll have you know she fought valiantly and heroically. A true prize that one. She is in point of fact… my prize.” I said
“Jude I will ask one more time and then I will kill you and take her back by force.”
“That would be a mistake.” I said as I came within striking distance.
“The mistake is your little Jude, you turned my favorite ghoul and now you must pay she will have to die too. Both of you will have to die.”
“I seriously doubt you have the testicular fortitude to carry that out old man.”
“You are an impudent and stupid little stripling and you will pay the price for your—“
I sliced hard and fast straight through his mid section before he could finish his sentence. I cut him right through his fine Seville Row suit. The severed half of his tie hit the ground first then as he tried to turn to face me his top half slid right off his bottom and he fell into two pieces onto the hard stone floor. I cleaved him in half life an overripe grapefruit. He bled everywhere. He must have over fed because the blood exploded from his body as I cut through him. He raised his hands up and fire sprung from the finger tips. His first blast missed me entirely as he struggled to right himself. I sprang for the cage door and stuck the key in the lock. A bolt of fire struck me in the back of the neck as I tried to turn it. I struggled to put the flame out as Dahlia reached through to turn the key. I looked at her for a split second and in her eyes saw a reassuring look. My whole back, by now, was bubbling with fire as I dropped onto the floor. I tried frantically but in vain to put out the supernatural flames. Aragon must have been focusing his attention on me to keep the fire going because Dahlia managed to put a stake in his chest and just like that the fire was out.
As I lay there racked with pain Dahlia put a hand on my shoulder and turned me onto my back. She looked deep into my eyes for a long moment before she helped me to my feet.
“Did you really mean what you said before?” she asked.
“Yes he would have killed you” I said
“No about me being pretty.”
“Yes you are very beautiful, dreamy and unfathomably delicious. Now can we get out of here?”
“Don’t be a smart-ass about this. Do you seriously think I am beautiful?”
“I do think so. You are very, very beautiful, strong and very attractive to me.” I said.
“Thanks”. She gushed
“This is not the time…”
“Right, we need to get out of here. If Aragon is here then his pit bull bitch isn’t far behind.”
“Do you mean the tall drink of water with the big sword and a bikini?” I asked “I killed her outside.”
“No, the slender, diminutive and petite one with the bull whip.”
“I didn’t see her.”
“Well slick just look behind you.”
“Shit!” I yelled as the whip tore into my back.
The small bull whip toting woman’s first priority was to get Aragon out. That was made fairly obviously because once she whipped me and practically tore my spine in half she grabbed up Aragon’s two halves and sped off out the door. I gathered myself up as best as I could before Dahlia helped me up. She laughed a little as we made our way up the stairs.
“You got your ass kicked by a girl twice today.” She laughed
“It just isn’t my day.” I said
“Do you smell that?” she asked
“Yes”, I said, “She has set the place on fire, she’s burning us out.”
“What do we do?” Dahlia asked
“We leave my house and scramble off into the darkness to fight another day.”
“Just like that it’s over?”
“Hell yes just like that.”
“Are we going to attack them back or retaliate?”
“Retaliation is a good way to get killed. You have a lot to learn yet youngling”
“Then what do we do? Aragon isn’t going to let this go. He will be back to kill us both.”
“I know he will, and that’s why we are going to San Diego to find the bitch who gave me this curse. Aragon is her problem. It’s high time she took care of it.”
“What about the bitch who gave me immortality? What is he going to do then?” she asked with a smile that could melt ice.
“Watch your mouth”, I laughed, “and carry me out to the Mercedes the fire hasn’t reached here yet.”
“Judas, do you have a girlfriend?”
“No I don’t. I had one but she left months ago.”
“You do now”
“Oh is that right and why is that?”
“You have a nice butt and you fight like a crocodile… you’ll do.”