Judas stood for a long moment eyeing the house as it burned. She had paid and dearly to buy it for Jude. It was the only pure and decent gift to him after all the atrocities and abuses she had committed against him. Now here it stood covered in flames. The Fire Department was having a hard time getting to the house because traffic was a mess in the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago, IL that night due to the Cubs’ game. Judas knew the whole place would be rubble before they ever got one hose trained on it. It made her want to cry and scream before tearing out the throat of the next passerby. She imagined how it would feel to gash someone’s throat open and let the blood splash her face and chest as she drank from the fount like a child at a drinking fountain.
She decided she would have to get some idea what happened here. If indeed her last remaining child was dead it meant she was really and truly alone now. Judas hoped she was wrong, she held out hope that Jude somehow managed to escape this blaze. On the far side of the house she found evidence of a battle. There was broken plate glass all around an ashen mess near the wrought iron fence. Just then she noticed a man on the front steps wheezing with the death rattle but for all intents and purposes still alive. She pulled the enormous claymore sword from his gut and rolled him onto his back where he writhed and tried to turn onto his side again. He was in his mid twenties and had a face with evident and old knife scars. He also had a glyph tattooed on his wrist, Aragon Del Fuego’s glyph in fact. Judas knew immediately that Aragon was behind this and it was probably an attempt on her life. She picked the man up and moved him down the street to a rented garage she used to park her old classic Harley Soft Tail classic which hadn’t run in years.
Judas let the man tremble and convulse until he stopped moving and stopped breathing. She opened her wrist to let the powerful blood spill. She then held the open cut to the man’s mouth and he suckled softly like a cooing baby. As the vampire blood worked its magic he began to move and tried to sit up.
“There, there, little one you are safe now” she whispered.
In an instant her face distorted into a vicious snarl and she lifted the man by his pony tail and slammed his head repeatedly into the forks of the Harley Soft Tail. The man screamed out and struggled against Judas but she held him tight enough to snap his wrist and neck like number two pencils.
“You are one of Aragon’s ghouls aren’t you” she demanded.
“Yes or I was, I am your now mistress to do with what you will.” The man replied.
“I will tell you what whelp, you tell me where I can find Jude ALIVE and I will let you keep your new un-life. How does that sound?”
“Anything—wait I heard him say as they left that the two of them should go to San Diego. He said ‘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.’ And then they left in a Mercedes.”
“Who is ‘they’? Who was with Jude when he left?”
“One of Aragon’s prized ghouls was with him. Dahlia is her name.”
“Why did Aragon have you guys attack?”
“We were supposed to rescue Dahlia.”
“Why was Dahlia there in the first place? Did Jude kidnap her? He knows better than to mess with Aragon.”
“No, no.” the man said through a tight jaw. He winced as Judas tightened her grip. “She was sent to kill you during the day. We were told you would be there. When Dahlia didn’t come back we were all sent in to retrieve her. Jude took her captive and he killed most of us when we tried to get her back.”
“That sounds like Jude.”
“Also when they left I could tell she had been turned.”
“Oh that’s wonderful, my baby made a baby… wait that makes me a grandmother doesn’t it? Isn’t that great?” she laughed
“Yes it is wonderful. They were holding hands and everything.” The man smiled, starting to relax as Judas’ grip loosened.
“So you came to kill my baby then?” Judas asked with a vicious tone to her voice creeping in.
In an instant Judas had pulled the man backward by the arm and she sunk her fangs into his throat. As she bit in she tore away and the blood sprayed all over her face and chest as she drank from the fount like a child at a drinking fountain. When he was well and truly empty of all his blood she found a stake in one of the lockers and drove it into his heart. As he lay there motionless she found an oil rag and wiped the spattering of blood from her face and chest. She removed her shirt and put her coveralls on that were stored there in the garage. She then stuffed the immobilized new vampire into a foot locker. He was a little long so she had to bend him in half first. The satisfying crunch his body made as she folded him like paper made her feel gleeful.
As Judas made her way down the darkened street she caught sight of the Fire Department finally pulling up as the frame of the house she had bought for Judas collapsed. The whole place was a loss. She mused to herself that the fire inspectors would probably wonder about things like the steel reinforced cage in the basement and all the fetish and porn she left in the basement before she turned the place over to Jude. There was no definitive paper trail to tie to either of them since the deed was under the name “Schatzi Paige”. Judas had loved that name for years, ever since she saw Lauren Bacall play the character of the same name in How to Marry a Millionaire with Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe.
Judas made her way down several city blocks to where she had parked her latest stolen car, a Honda Accord. She pulled the door open and slunk into the cloth upholstered seat. She was exhausted and not in the mood to go looking for Jude tonight. She didn’t have it in her to drive to San Diego but if she ‘felt better after a shower’ she thought she ‘might fly out’. Judas turned the screw driver in the ignition and pulled away from the curb at high speed. She wasn’t sure where she was going to go. Aragon had most certainly ransacked her high rise condominium by now maybe she could stay with Bishop. Seth Bishop was Aragon Del Fuego’s biggest rival in the struggle for Chicago. He was brash and heady but he was also easy to manipulate.
Judas stood before the elevator door in the building Seth kept his home in. It was situated right in the heart of Downtown Chicago. As she stood for a long moment waiting for the elevator to come she felt a tremendous sense of impending dread. On the phone Seth had sounded happy to hear from her, he had also sounded eager to help. Still she couldn’t help but feel like something was very wrong. As people walked past Judas in her oil stained coveralls they snickered and made comments under their breath. She thought she must have looked pretty strange with her hair and make up done up like a gothic model, Minolo Blahnik sandals and a pair of greasy coveralls paired with a Birkin bag. ‘What could I do though’ she thought ‘my shirt was covered in blood. I had to leave it at the garage. ‘
The private elevator seemed to be stuck between the twentieth and twenty first floors. As she stood there damning the stupid elevators a man approached from behind. He was quiet and managed to get within striking distance of Judas. This didn’t happen often so Judas took in a deep breath and smelled the air. It was unmistakable scent of Snake Oil from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab—it was Seth. In an instant Judas was facing Seth with her twin Raging Bulls to his head. He pressed the barrels of his twin platinum .44 Magnums to each of her nipples. They were at an impasse it seemed. A tie, neither getting the drop on the other, both screwed if the bullets started flying. They looked at each other and laughed for just a second.
“Judas, how are you? It is always my pleasure to see you, and the girls.” He said as he looked at her breasts.
“Seth, it is always a pleasure to see you and your two attempts to compensate for your small penis.” She said as she looked at his pistols.
“Hey that’s below the belt.” He fired back.
“Seth there isn’t much of anything below your belt.”
“Ouch! Judas that last one hurt. Besides you are carrying those massive fifty caliber cannons, who’s compensating?”
“I can’t be compensating for a small cock, mine is massive. Seth my face is up here.”
“Oh? Yes, so it is. I like your tits better.” Seth chuckled. “Look sweet tits I don’t live here anymore, haven’t you heard? I guess not. Anyway we have to get out of here. This is Aragon’s place now.”
“Why did you have me meet you here?”
“To see if it was a trap. It doesn’t look like it because those three guys over your shoulder are after YOU”
“You think so, really? Are they armed?”
“Oh yeah they are armed. How do you want to do this?”
“I will lead off and break for the front door, you deal with them.”
“Why do I have to deal with them?”
“Because Seth, I am cuter. Go!”
In a flash of red hair and oily denim Judas sprang to the side and spun on her heel to turn and face down the three assailants. Before Seth could even get one of them in his sights Judas had pulled the trigger six times. The first bullet tore through the left eye of the tallest of the three. He dropped like a building being demolished with dynamited. He simply crumpled to the floor. The instant the first shot sent off people began scrambling from the crowded lobby. A panic broke out immediately. The next shot Judas fired tore through the shortest man’s chest and then next caught him in the throat. Blood spewed from the wound just right of his Adam’s apple and drenched the front of his vest. The last three bullets went wild and missed the last man. Seth caught the last man in his sights and emptied all six chambers into the man’s head. The first bullet which pierced his frontal lobe straight through probably killed him instantly but Seth was never the type to half ass a kill.
The two of them nearly tore the front doors off the hinges as they made a break for Seth’s Aston Martin. As they came through the doors, Bishop’s man, John Smith stood up from where he sat on Seth’s car. He saw more men coming from inside the building armed to the teeth. John reached into the passenger seat of the Aston Martin and picked up the Cobray Street Sweeper 12 gauge Shotgun. He darted past Seth and Judas as they ran and locked his feet just a few feet from the front doors of the building. The first man came through the doors and John fired the first blast into his face and neck. The force of the blow tore the man’s head clean off. The next man through the door took his shot in the chest. John saw the next man come through the doors through the gaping hole in the second man’s chest. He took aim and shot the second and third man with one blast of buck shot. Once Judas and Seth were in the car John began walking backward toward the car. As men continued to spill through the doors John took the remaining nine shots killing five more men and wounding two.
A passerby stopped on his Ducatti motorcycle to see what was going on. John struck him in the temple with the drum of the Street Sweeper as he swung it. The man went down hard and as he did John caught the bike and got on. He signaled to Seth to go and tore off in the opposite direction. As Seth peeled away from the building he looked at Judas. Judas looked at Seth and for a moment they just looked at each other. In the far off distance they could both hear police sirens as they turned a corner and headed straight for Lake Shore Drive. They both sighed with relief as Seth merged into traffic and they were off.
Once they reached a building in the Roger’s Park neighborhood Seth turned into a covered parking garage and got out of the car. Judas followed him and in a few seconds John Smith walked through the gate.
“Clean get away sir?” John asked with an elegant and aristocratic British accent.
“Clean you say? John we made an awful mess back there.” Seth smiled.
“Are either of you hit?” John asked.
“Nope, big bad Seth Bishop protected me from the bad men.” Judas said playfully.
“I’ve no doubt.” John said.
“Actually Judas is the ‘Billy Bad Ass’ of the day. She dropped two of those chumps. Just think of the mess Del Fuego will have to clean up. Police, Firemen, citizens all have to be ‘convinced’ nothing happened. Ha! He will be fucked for days.” Seth cackled maniacally.
“Yes we bruised him tonight but he will be out for blood again before we know it.” John added.
“He hit my kid’s, Jude’s place tonight already to try and rescue some Dahlia chick. I guess ‘Del Fucker’ sent her to kill me. I wasn’t even there. Del Fuego must be slipping.” Judas said.
“Oh sweet tits he is hitting everyone these days. Trying to ‘clean house’ and get all us unsavory persona non grata types gone.” Seth said.
“How did you know he hit Jude’s place if you weren’t there?” John quizzed
“Oh one of Aragon’s ghouls confessed to me.” Judas declared.
“Is he still alive?” John asked.
“Yes he is. I staked him and put him in a foot locker. I will write the address down here for you.”
Judas wrote the address on an ATM receipt she found in her Birkin bag and handed it to John along with the key to the garage. John nodded at Seth and Seth smiled and nodded. Seth then took Judas gently by the arm as John got into a nearby Cooper Mini and drove off. Seth led Judas to a stairway door and opened it for her. Silently they walked up three flights of stairs to a door with a rather faded “Beware of Dog” sign on it. Once inside Judas saw several other people she recognized. The interior was wide open, a very large bunch of rooms. There was a demolished wall in between two apartments making it double sized. Judas saw Billy H Christ in the dining room area of the smaller apartment. He was staring at a computer screen and endless lines of code. She also saw Corey Ambrosi in the kitchen area drinking some blood out of an IV bag. He smiled at her and bowed his head slightly in respect. Judas also saw Jake Mc Farland sitting in the living room area playing on an Xbox 360. He didn’t even turn to look as she passed.
“What do you think?” Seth finally asked.
“It’s cozy, what happened to the old place?” Judas asked
“Aragon forced me out and took it over. He is the head honcho now. Those of use who don’t agree with his regime are holed up here. As you can see there aren’t many of us left. There were others but the constant struggle wore on them and eventually they turned and joined Aragon’s side.”
“You can’t expect much loyalty from vampires these days. Always trying to preserve their own hides and care nothing for each other or freedom.” Jake said
“Oh Jake you are alive. I was certain you had suffered some sort of catatonia sitting there for the last 60 hours straight.” Seth said.
“Good to see you again Jake.” Judas added
Jake said nothing and didn’t move a muscle. Judas and Seth made their way into a back room. Seth sat down at a worn old oak desk and motioned to the chair across from him. Judas sat down and adjusted her coveralls.
“So what’s up Judas?” Seth asked.
“I need to get out of town obviously. You should come too, all of you. San Diego is pretty free still. We could take your private jet.”
“You mean Aragon’s private jet?”
“Oh that sucks. Well can we charter a flight?”
“Aragon controls the airports now.”
“Well a train then?”
“No, he controls those too. Hell he and his goons even control the public transportation, Taxi services and even Greyhound. This place is bad news.”
“Why stay then we can all drive out of here. Does he control all the roads too?”
“I can’t do that Judas. My place is here. Freedom isn’t free you have to be ready to fight for it. I am not about to let Aragon and his ilk enslave everyone in Chicago. I will die trying to free Chicago if I have to.”
“How did Jude get mixed up in this?”
“I honestly didn’t think he was even still in town. No one had seen nor heard from him in about eleven months. Since the time you, well when you left for San Diego”
“What the hell happened then?”
“I told you Aragon is cleaning house. Maybe he got word you were there and figured he would even the score between you two. Jude maybe just got caught in the cross fire.”
“Who is this Dahlia chick?”
“She was Aragon’s prized ghoul. He planned to turn her. We tried to help her a few times, offered her a way out of town when we still had one. She just laughed at us and said she was happy with her master.”
“You think she is playing Jude then? The ghoul said they left together, he had just turned her and they were laughing and holding hands. You think maybe Aragon planned it like that?”
“Not for me to say. Look kitten I can get you out of town but that’s about all I can do.”
“Thanks Seth. I have to track Jude down. He is my only hope. I was lost for a while but if I can make things right with him I think I will be OK.”
“Sounds good to me, once John get’s back from further questioning the ghoul and bringing him to me he can drive you out to Perez’s place where you can have one of his “acquired” automobiles. You don’t think your boy would try to fly do you?”
“I told him never to fly. You are trapped at 30,000 feet that way. He was already afraid to fly when I met him so I seriously doubt he’d fly anywhere. I will have to move fast to beat him to San Diego. If he goes to my old place all he is going to find is ash and rubble.”
“When you get Jude back, if the two of you feel like it, we could use the two of you in the struggle. Will you come back?”
“One way or the other Seth, once I make peace with Jude I will take care of the Aragon problem myself, once and for fucking all!”