Chapter 8 - “Psychopath”
I called Phil for the fourth time since we landed at LAX, and I still got no answer, which was unusual for him.
“What’s wrong?” Roxanne noticed my intensified focus on being preoccupied with my Blackberry.
I pressed END after hearing his voicemail and shook my head as I scrolled through my contacts for Eric. ”Nothing.” I lied.
“Wait.” My attention was grabbed by the small television in the backseat of the Escalade that was escorting us from the airport to a hotel until I could be sure our Phoenix home was safe to move back into.
The news reporter’s voice was heard over the images of a large gathering of people, angrily chanting, some of them crying. ”Maramures was the first city to be swept by what people are already deeming ‘The Second Holocaust’. Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, and Timisoara have fallen victim to what appears to be a mass kidnapping and genocide. The most frightening part? Nobody is aware of who, or what, is massively clearing out the population; but it is moving quickly, across every city in Romania. Romanian Armed Forces have been called into action; but it seems to not have slowed up the number of disappearances, which include various military personnel...”
“Rox.” My mouth ran dry.
She looked from me to the television and back to me again. ”Bruno, this can’t be…”
“Hey this is Eric, can’t get to the phone right now but leave a message and I’ll hit you up when I get a chance!”
“H-here.” Kenji dropped a piece of bread down in front of Kam, who looked up at him.
“What the hell am I supposed to do with this?”
“Eat it!” Kenji demanded loudly, causing everyone in the room to jump. He had been terrorizing everyone since yesterday, and the basement reeked of perspiration, blood, and soiled clothing. When Kam took too long, the vampire shoved the slice into the human’s mouth, causing Kam to sputter and choke.
“Swallow it.” Kenji said through gritted teeth as he clutched Kam’s throat.
“I-I c-can’t.” Kam wheezed.
“Kenji, we can’t survive down here like this…if you aren’t gonna kill us, we’re gonna die anyway.” Eric spoke calmly, still hoping he could tap into some form of reason deep within the vampire’s crazed state of paranoia. Kenji glanced back at Eric, his eyes narrowing as he released Kam’s throat.
“I will kill you all soon.” He said, as if it were a comforting thought.
“What have we ever done to you?” Eric asked.
Kenji swallowed and his eyes fluttered several times before he replied, “I will kill you first.”
“Whoa what?!” Phil maneuvered himself to sit up. ”You can’t kill Eric!”
“I CAN KILL WHO I WANT!” Kenji yelled, his hands shaking as he stood up and slowly approached the drummer, who sat there, completely unfazed by the spectacle. If anyone had remained calm throughout the duration of this insane course of events, it was him. Kenji knelt in front of him and looked into his eyes.
“If you’re going to kill me, can you at least tell me why?” Eric asked, “We used to be good friends, what happened?”
Kenji’s conscience was shattering as he listened to his old friend speak. He became more and more on edge, his eyes darting all over the place. ”I-I m-might be able to k-kill him.”
“B-Bruno.” Kenji sat down and hugged his knees to his chest as blood tears welled up in his eyes. ”I-If he is confused…y-you see. If I can make him v-vulnerable, I can kill him. Then he won’t kill me.”
“Bruno would never hurt you, Kenji. You know that.” Eric said.
The vampire looked down, his expression full of shame as the droplets of blood left his eyes and soaked into the dirty concrete floor. He collapsed and began sobbing hysterically.
The crew exchanged wary glances, unsure if Kenji’s emotions were real, or if they were another psychotic mind game to make them let their guards down. Eric, however, was probably the only one truly concerned for the vampire. He knew there had to be a deeper issue to cause him to lash out so drastically. After all, he had committed suicide as a human.
“I killed Roxanne.”
I banged loudly and repeatedly on Robyn’s door, only to get no answer. ”Rih! It’s Rox! Open up!” I banged again.
Bruno ripped the lock off effortlessly and pushed the door open. I stared at him as he walked past me into the large estate, “Completely unnecessary.” I murmured, following him inside, but I was met with a stench so powerful, that I staggered back and covered my nose and mouth, gagging.
“Do you smell that?!” I asked.
Bruno looked around in the foyer, his nose twitching. ”There’s a shifter here.” He sniffed the air, twice. ”The one from San Mateo.”
“Ray?” I asked, confused. ”This keeps getting weirder and weirder Bru.”
“Well if it ain’t the star crossed vamp lovers.” Ray’s voice boomed from the top of the staircase. Robyn came scurrying behind him, clutching her bathrobe around her waist. I noticed her hair was now jet black and partially shaved on one side, as she had it back in a ponytail.
“Fancy seeing you here, shifter.” Bruno leaned against the wall, his hands in his pockets as he looked up, cool about this whole situation, which was slowly but surely freaking me out. I stayed quiet and off to the side, afraid I might quip the wrong thing since we had officially entered a strategy zone.
You see, in the car ride to our hotel, Bruno and I began to come up with theories. The kidnappings in Romania could only be a large number of vampires. It made no sense that nobody witnessed it, and those who did couldn’t remember not a detail. Clearly they had been glamoured. And Romania? Definitely a place suited for the Elitists, though I knew they probably had multiple estates.
This had to have been their plan, or at least part of it, and the longer we proceed without doing something about it, the stronger they become. They were looking for power. For what reason, we still didn’t know.
Another issue, none of the band members were answering their phones. This was the most important at the moment, since Bruno had no solid reasoning for that. I, however, had a bad gut feeling that Kenji had something to do with this, which only made my own personal agenda more complex. Now, Bruno was more than alert for anything out of the ordinary, Ray’s presence in Los Angeles included.
“Rox! You two are back!” Robyn came bounding down the stairs. She slowed up when she finally saw me up close. ”Wow…you look…”
“Dead?” I suggested.
“No…perfect.” She said, reaching out to touch my face but thinking twice and drawing her hand away.
“It’s alright.” I said. I was fully sated with blood for the next couple of weeks. I would be tempted if I’m around an extremity of racing pulses, or open wounds; but in normal settings, my training had engrained sharp discipline in my mind.
Robyn reached out and touched my cheek. ”Your skin is so smooth, but cold as hell.”
“Why don’t you come downstairs so we can have a little talk?” Bruno said, causing Robyn and I to fall silent and watch these two very different Alpha males try to project their masculinity over one another. Bruno did it subtly; he knew he was extremely powerful, and therefore carried himself more relaxed and laid back. Ray knew he was very powerful himself, but not as quick or abrasive as a vampire, therefore causing him to carry himself with his chest forward, shoulders squared, jaw clenched.
“Don’t see why not.” Ray replied, coming downstairs. Robyn and I watched as they disappeared back into the living room together.
“Oh, I almost forgot.” She said as she grabbed my hand and led me over to her computer desk. ”That Dr. Hendrickson guy moved and changed his number. He gave it to me and told me to pass it along to you two when you get back.”
I frowned as I took the paper. Everything was beginning to make less sense as time went on. Why would Jason just pick up and leave out of nowhere? Especially in the midst of a genocide in another country, clearly due to his superiors?
“He moved to New York City?” I asked in shock as I read the note. ”Did he tell you why?”
Robyn shook her head. ”Why? Is there a problem with that?”
I tucked the note into my bra. ”No, I’m just a little baffled as to why he just moved like that. It’s…weird.”
“He never told you guys he was planning a move?”
“…No.” Suddenly, a thought came to me and I looked back up at Robyn, “Have you heard from Ryan?”
Her cheeks reddened slightly. ”Wh-what?”
I could sense her pulse spike. She was lying about something. ”When is the last time you heard from Ryan?” I repeated, more sternly this time.
She toyed with the sleeves of her robe as she broke our eye contact and replied, “He was just over here…two nights ago.” She mumbled.
I was a bit taken aback, “Um…” I shook my head, the details were unimportant, “That was the last time you heard from him?”
Robyn nodded, “Yeah. I tried calling him last night, but his phone is off. How come?”
“Have you heard about the shit goin’ on in Romania?” I asked as I sat on the arm of the couch. Ray was uneasy as he stood in front of me, eyeing me down as if I were his prey. Funny, this wasn’t the same cool southern guy who we had stayed with months ago. Something about him was…off.
“Course I heard about it, it’s all over the news.” He replied, “I’m sure you know all about it y’erself, don’t you?”
I twisted my fitted backwards atop my curls as I spoke, “No, I don’t. I’ve been gone for a minute and was hopin’ someone of my nature could shed some light on the situation.”
He snorted, “Trust me, vamp, we ain’t of the same nature.”
I nodded, “Right, you’re just a dog, I forgot.”
He curled his fists, “Watch y’erself, ‘fore I’m havin’ you for dinner.”
The side of my mouth curled up in a smirk at his threat. ”I’m sure I wouldn’t taste nearly as good as you would after I rip your throat open. Now can we quit the back and forth and get some shit figured out here? I’m here to get answers, not start trouble.”
I saw Ray visibly relax. ”To be honest, that’s what I’m up here for. Word around my community is that your kind is startin’ a war.”
“This is news to me.” I crossed my arms, “Have you heard anything about the Elitists getting involved?”
He shook his head. ”Nothin’ official. All word of mouth, and nobody mentioned y’er leaders.”
He was lying.
I could detect it.
“You talk to Jason?”
“Haven’t heard from him.”
A silent moment passed between us before I dismissed the conversation altogether. ”Alright.” I said, standing up.
“Wait,” Ray stopped me. ”What if y’er Elitists are behind this? What do they want?”
I turned around and left the room as I spoke, “Let vampire business be handled between vampires.”
“T-They promised me power…and money…and…and…I owed it to my ancestors….”
“Why would they ask you to do that?”
“The Elitists…they want…they want Bruno. I-If I give him to them…I-I can be with them. Rule over other vampires.”
Kenji sat on the side of the bed that Eric was chained to. Eric had gained enough trust to be let out of the basement, but was still restrained, due to the vampire’s paranoia. He just tried to talk his way out of this so he could call his brother. The situation needed to be dealt with before Kenji went into another episode and killed them all.
“What do they want with my brother? He can’t do anything for them.” Eric relaxed against the chains, feeling his wrists begin to bruise. He tried to keep from wincing.
“They never told me…they just want him. Bad. When I…when I killed Roxanne…I wasn’t thinking, Eric. It happened so fast. She opened the door, and then she died.” Kenji sniffled and looked down, “Well…I mean, then I killed her.”
“But what do we have to do with this? The band? None of them even know what’s going on, and you know Bruno is going to find his way here sooner or later. If he sees all this, even before he finds out about Rox, he’s still gonna be angry.” Eric explained with reason.
Reasoning with a psychopath, however, was unwise.
Kenji’s anxiety reached another maximum peak and he vamped all over the already messy bedroom, smashing lamps, vases, turning over the giant dresser, causing the attached mirror to shatter.
When he was finished, he clutched his hair, looking around frantically. ”He can’t find me.” In a rush, he unchained Eric and slammed him onto the ground so hard that the human went instantly unconscious. Kenji lifted him over his back and vamped down to the basement, knocking each human out one by one.
He had to relocate.
Chapter 9 - Trust Issues
“I’d rather you stay here.”
“I bet you would.”
I sighed and pulled my black wifebeater on as Roxy slipped into sweatpants. ”I’m serious, I’m prepared to really fight tonight.”
“I can tell.” She said, looking at me with a dangerously seductive glint in her eye.
I lifted a brow, “You ready to drop your end of the bet?”
She crawled across the bed over to me and wrapped her arms around my neck, kissing me aggressively before pulling back, releasing my lower lip from between her teeth. ”We’ll see how the night goes.” She said, pushing herself off the bed and grabbing my red beanie from my suitcase and pulling it over her honey blonde curls.
“I guess we will.” I reached in the front of my suitcase and pulled out a brown paper bag.
“What’s that?” Roxy asked, until she gasped when I pulled out a 9mm, looking it over before cocking it and putting it on safety.
“Silver bullets. In case we run into any vampires…or unwanted humans for that matter.”
“Bruno Mars! Have you ever shot anyone before?!” She asked in shock.
“No, but I don’t feel like getting blood on my clothes tonight by doing this the hard way.” I tucked it into the back of my jeans and covered the pistol with my shirt. ”So since you’re taggin’ along, young grasshoppa, I’ma need you to be on full alert. We’re gonna start at the studio, see if anything is up there. Next, we’re gonna go by everyone’s house. We’ll pick up a scent and follow that into what could be a danger zone. Shit, this could all be a trap for all we know, I don’t know. Just stay on full alert baby girl, and do not kill unless you can’t restrain your attacker.”
I saw her falter just slightly. ”You really think we’re gonna have to fight someone?”
“Think about it…the shit in Romania, my whole band disappears. We’re not about to go into this unprepared. So whassup? You stayin’ behind?”
She bit her lip before her brow furrowed in determination and she exhaled sharply, “I think I should be the one handling guns around here.”
I slapped her ass as she walked by, “Yeah yeah, I know seein’ me fuck around with dangerous shit turns you on. Fuckin’ masochist.”
“Shut the fuck up!”
“Who the hell are you?” A middle aged woman asked, a lit cigarette hanging between her lips, rollers in her scraggly platinum blonde hair.
Kenji stood there, his eye twitching.
“I said, who in the hell are you!?”
“SHIRLEY WHO’S AT THE DOOR?!”
“I DON’T FUCKIN KNOW RON, SHUT THE HELL UP!” Shirley stepped outside of her old beaten down home and shut the door. ”You here for some cat’s piss huh?”
Kenji twiddled with his fingers. He didn’t know why he was stalling, but the longer he stood there, the more uneasy the woman became and something about that began to entice him. Like a distracting game almost; a game that made him forget how deranged he was really becoming. Perhaps he wouldn’t kill her, perhaps he would just bring her along…
“Look, I ain’t got time for games, just gimmie your money and I can get the shit for ya. Clearly you’re fiendin.” Shirley put her hands on her hips, feigning confidence. ”Scuse me kid, you alright?” She reached out and tapped his shoulder, hard.
When he looked back up at her, his fangs were extended and she was immediately horror-struck. She opened her mouth to scream but he grabbed her throat so tightly that nothing came out but barely a squeak as her windpipes collapsed and she suffocated to death. He let go of her and she crumpled to the ground in a heap, her eyes still wide open in fright.
“Sorry.” Kenji whispered, adrenaline rushing through his body as he vamped into the home and grabbed a nearby swiss army knife, slicing the husband in the throat before he could even register what was going on.
“Sorry again.” He said shakily, lightly licking the knife, his eyes darting around for some type of underground enclosure he could bring the band members into.
Ari began to stir on the metal floor of the van that the bodies lay in. He wriggled around, sighing in hopelessness when he felt his still handcuffed wrists. ”Anyone awake?”
“My eye is swollen; but I’m up.” Phil answered.
“Eric, did he tell you what’s goin’ on? Are we gonna die or what?” Jam asked. ”Because I’m ‘bout ready to pass out, I can’t breathe.”
“He killed Roxanne, didn’t you hear him confess that?” Ari readjusted himself to lie on his back and he blinked, trying to focus on anything that the moonlight streaming in would illuminate.
“No, I musta been blacked out, why’d he kill her?!”
“Shhh!” Ryan pressed his ear against the door. ”He’s coming.”
“Guys, he thrives on seeing us suffer, just play possum for a bit—”
“How long is a bit, E!?” Dwayne snapped quietly.
“Until you can think of a better plan!”
The doors opened up with a metal creak and Kenji surveyed the bodies with a small smile. ”We will be safe here.” He assured the crew, although they all lie still with their eyes closed. ”We will…be…safe.” He said again, for his own self-convincing, since he knew he had a ticking life clock on his head that was quickly running out, no matter how far he ran, or how deep he hid.
He was going to get as much enjoyment out of this as possible.
There was nothing out of place at the studio, everything was as it was supposed to be before we left, and there were no unfamiliar scents. We continued to dip in and out of the backstreets, vamping behind one another so as to not draw attention to our presence in the vibrant, busy, late night streets of Los Angeles.
Minutes later, we arrived at Phil’s home. The lights were on inside.
“Urbana’s probably home, shouldn’t we ask-“
“Shh.” Bruno quieted me. I followed him around the back and he stopped, looking down at something he had stepped on.
“I knew somethin’ was up.” He said as he picked up a broken metal window lock. ”Follow me up, use your training, no noise.” He instructed. I watched as he silently climbed the nearby tree and jumped for the sill, pushing the now unlocked window open and going inside. I followed behind him, leaping into the room and almost stumbling on the floor until he caught me.
“This is why you can’t handle guns.”
Bruno chuckled before observing the window and the lock. ”No human can break a lock like this.”
I took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly, my senses ringing. ”I smell blood.” I knelt down to the floor and pulled the throw rug back, only to reveal smudged blood on the floor. ”Well I’ll be damned…” I looked up at Bruno, “Maybe we really should be prepared to fight.”
He shook his head. ”Isn’t it funny how I’m the only one who hasn’t been attacked? Everyone around me has, you included. If someone’s lookin’ for me, they better be real fuckin’ ready when I find ‘em.”
He angrily swung out of the window and I took one last sniff of the room before I followed. I caught up to him as he was vamping to the apartment complex that housed Ryan and Eric. ”Bru, baby wait.” I finally stopped him.
“We don’t have time to wait-“
“Wait, babe.” I didn’t care how much of my Creator he was, he needed to slow down. ”You can’t run off anger like this or we’re gonna end up accusing the wrong person of some shit and killing innocent people.”
For the first time, I saw a hint of worry in his features as he turned from me and covered his face, yelling out in frustration into his hands. He moved them to the back of his head and began pacing. ”Babygirl, I don’t think you understand…if I go in here and see some blood on the floor of my brother’s apartment, I’m gonna lose it. I am.”
“Then maybe I should go alone.”
He dropped his hands. ”You’re crazy.”
“No, I’m thinking rationally. Look,” I pointed to each person’s apartment respectively, “Nobody’s lights are on. Nobody is home.”
“This whole thing could be a trap, Rox.”
I placed my hands on both sides of his face, looking into his eyes, trying to leave this rushed moment. ”Bruno, trust me. You can sense when I’m in danger anyway. Please.”
I knew he hated to do it, I knew it took everything in him to let me go; but he did. He closed his eyes and sighed. ”Go. Check out every place and come straight back.”
With his blessing, I vamped up to Ryan’s apartment first, only to find that the door was unlocked.
Before heading inside, I made sure I didn’t hear, or smell anyone. No pulses, but a human was the last thing I was concerned about at this stage. I entered the apartment and turned the lights on, and gasped when I saw the wreckage in front of me. Clearly there was a struggle, shit was strewn all over the place. Glasses were shattered and liquor was spilled over by the bar.
I went through the entire apartment, but found no trace of anything that could lead me anywhere. The only thing to be confirmed was that these abductions were definitely on purpose.
I left Ryan’s place and hit Eric’s. His door was open and I heard talking inside. I stood outside by the wall, silent as I overheard the conversation.
“It’s not like him to just not answer our phone calls and it’s been too long, I just…I know something is wrong.”
That had to have been his wife, she was sobbing hysterically.
“Calm down Miss, we’ll get this figured out.”
“I don’t know why he would leave us like this!”
“Have you contacted anyone that he could possibly be with?”
“Everyone’s phone is off, Officer. The only person I could get in touch with was his friend’s wife.”
“Urbana.” She sniffled. ”His brother and his wife are out of town and, oh God, he’s gonna lose it, I just know it!”
I began to leave, but not before I caught a familiar smell that I kept catching at every home. I tried to ignore it; but my curiosity got the best of me and I walked straight into the apartment, having to interfere with affairs I had no business in; but I had no choice. Hurriedly, I mistakenly went for Eric’s wife first, grasping her to catch her in a glamour; but before I could fully enrapture her mind, I felt a sharp pain rip through my shoulder that made my fangs eject and anger rush through me as I turned to see the police officer holding his gun up, his confidence faltering once he realized what he had just shot.
He backed up and shot me again, right in the heart. I growled as the bullet pushed itself out of my skin, blood leaking over my healing skin and in fright, the officer dropped his gun and started to run; but not before I caught up to him and slammed him against the wall.
He slid down, unconscious; and witnessing what I had just done, I backed up and breathed, covering my face as I knelt on the floor, terrified at how quickly I could lose control of a situation. Why did things have to be so calculated? Why did I have to plan every single step before executing them?
I felt Bruno’s presence before I saw him and he quickly closed the door. ”Lisa?” He asked; but Eric’s wife was caught between glamour and reality as she sat on the couch and stared up endlessly at the ceiling, silent tears pouring down her face. ”Did you…did you glamour her?!”
“Not all the way!” I defended.
“You can’t DO it halfway! That can give permanent brain damage!” He rushed over to her and tilted her head up to look at him so he could properly put her into a state of ignorant bliss.
While he busied himself doing that, I took it upon myself to rush to the den, where my nose led me to the coat closet. I opened it and pulled out a leather jacket; but not just any leather jacket.
As I sniffed the material, it suddenly hit me.
I doused cold water on the police officer until he grumbled awake, trying to piece together his vision. Before he could, however, I took control of his mind and erased the course of events that had happened.
“You were never here.” I said.
“Never here.” He repeated.
“You never got a call about this, nothing is going on in this apartment building.”
“I was headed out for food.” The officer said with a grin, “So hungry. Are you Bruno Mars?”
“Hi Juan. You look like Bruno Mars.”
“No, I look like Tom Cruise.”
“Yes…Tom, you got a tan.”
I picked him up, thankful for my supernatural strength. ”Rox, let’s go!”
She came bounding out of the bedroom. ”Bruno! We didn’t check with Dre!” She announced.
I was taken aback by her statement. ”He didn’t answer his phone either.”
“I just called and he answered, he’s home. You should go check with him.” She came over and hoisted the police officer over her shoulder. ”I’ll drop the police officer off.”
“I’ll meet you at Dre’s.”
My eyes narrowed. ”Roxanne…somethin’ is up with you and now isn’t the time to fuck around with side quests.”
“What’re you talkin’ about Bru?” She said. I felt her attempt to wash her emotions, but luckily I hadn’t taught her to have such skill.
“I can feel you, and you’re tryin’ to make it so I don’t. What did you find in that bedroom?” I questioned.
She rolled her eyes. ”I didn’t find anything, I called Dre. I’m trying to hide my anxiety so I don’t fuck up again like I just did, by not thinking.” She gestured to the cop strewn over her shoulder, who was humming nursery rhymes happily.
I took my phone out and dialed Dre. ”Whatever we can do to get this done before daybreak. I don’t care at this point. My brother is gone.”
As I watched her vamp off quicker than normal, I knew she was hiding something; and I suddenly began to wonder what great lengths this mysterious person would go through to get to me. I wondered if they could have persuaded my own wife to sabotage me; and was I to proceed on my own from here on out? To plot against her just to save myself?
Damn, even a vampire couldn’t trust another vampire.
Chapter 10 - Never Alone
Jason Hendrickson had finally come upon the city of Abydos, Egypt. It was nighttime, and the closer he got to the sacred Seti I temple, the less the vibrant stars seemed to shine. By the time he arrived at the cracked and worn stone stairs; the only form of light was the full moon.
It was the only night he could get this business done.
He proceeded inside of the dark temple, his supernatural vision assisting him in easily maneuvering in the lack of lighting. He could sense several presences somewhere around him, watching his every move; but he continued to walk past the ancient tombs until he reached the outer quarters of Osirion. The water levels were elevated, and the way the moon reflected off the clear ankle-height waters was mesmerizing.
The vampire reached the dead end, inside of a small, stone tomb, was a wall filled with a long, hieroglyphic message. Archaeologists had come here and interpreted as the story of some ancient Egyptian mythology; but he knew better. In his millennial lifetime, he had travelled far and wide to study the supernatural phenomenas that he missed while being wrapped up in the wasted thoughts a human thinks throughout their short lifespan.
He had made a few…acquaintances, in his research.
Jason released his fangs and sunk them deeply into the palm of his hand. He swiped the blood in the symbol of an Ankh. As he stepped back, he felt the vibration of the ground beneath his feet as the wall slowly sunk into the ground, causing the surrounding walls to shake and chips of stone to fall, dust being stirred.
He knew better than to proceed, and waited until he heard a deep, baritone voice that seemed to shake the walls more than the opening of the vault.
“Come forward, immortal.”
“Lord Osiris, it’s been years.”
I arrived in front of Kenji’s home and the smell of death was so powerful, I was shocked this place wasn’t a crime scene. Perhaps it was just because I was a vampire, but it definitely made me more certain than ever that he was behind this. Whether or not that had to do with the Elitists was irrelevant; I was the way I was because of him, so this was personal business.
My fangs were at the ready, my fists curled as I approached the home, opening the unlocked door without an issue. There were wide blood trails throughout the hall and living room, and I followed them to a basement door that was padlocked four times.
He must have underestimated a vampire’s strength. I ripped the door open and it fell off it’s hinges, clanging loudly on the ground, and the stench got stronger and worse. I carefully crept down the stairs, only to be met with what I could only describe as a torture chamber.
This was unreal. I knew, after killing me, Kenji had a few screws loose; but what exactly had he been hiding?! He had to have been extremely methodological in his thinking process to be able to abduct all the members of the band and creating something like this. Pools of blood were everywhere, it smelled like shit was down here too, and piss. Chains were thrown askew, various blades lay messily on a nearby table. I could only imagine what the members had to go through down here.
And now, fear set in as I wondered if they were alive…because nobody was home right now. No. I scoped the entire house and every room came up empty. I couldn’t feel anyone nearby either.
I was pretty damn good at scents, but as I arrived outside and the environment intermingled with my focus, I knew I would be no good at tracking and following a scent over a long distance.
So, I pulled out my cellphone and dialed the only person that I knew who could.
Osiris, the powerful god of the dead, sat upon his throne as he listened to the vampire’s proposal. His body remained still, just his piercing golden eyes following Jason’s slow back and forth pacing. He was a frightful presence to many; with his unnatural green skin and long, dark nails that resembled talons. He was dressed in a white robe, his legs and feet separately wound with decaying mummy-wrappings. He had a long, black beard that was adorned with a talisman of the immortal symbol of the precious Ankh.
“Vampires desiring world domination. This does not come as a surprise to me, as Apep created your kind.” He finally spoke, his fingers curling around his crook and flail he held in one hand. ”I know of Amam. He is destructive and has made several attempts to take my power.”
“Why haven’t you killed him, Lord?” Jason asked, careful to remain respective of the powerful entity he stood in front of.
“I am a god. He would never obtain the strength in character to enter my tomb, let alone be capable of handling my power. A simple body would explode before it encompassed a fraction of me.” Osiris explained. ”And yet…you want him dead.”
Jason nodded. ”I’d like them all dead, but it’s a process.”
Osiris chuckled lightly. ”For an immortal, you have always been…refreshing. Had you not had such a strong character, you would not have made it through the temple of Seti I, let alone made your way down here to me. I know you would not travel this far should it not be for a exigent cause.”
“Amam is a thousand years my senior. I have not battled in years and am not prepared to take on someone with such exponential strength, which is why I have come to you, Lord.”
“The leader of this league…is she not very powerful as well?” Osiris questioned, his free hand coming up to stroke the roots of his beard.
“Orielle, my Lord. She is five thousand years old, and will be near impossible to defeat; but I will find a way-“
“And if you don’t?”
Jason closed his eyes, his head bowed. “Failure is not an option.”
With this, a smile passed across Osiris’ features as he waved his hand in the air slowly, suddenly tightening his fist and twisting it, before opening his hand. Blood that seemed to have appeared from nowhere, dripped from his hand onto the floor, and vaporized into the air like steam.
“Worry not, immortal, for Amam is no longer.”
“We gotta hit this and we gotta hit it as quick as possible. Bruno will know something is up and be tracking me in no time.” I explained to Ray as he went around every room in the house to become familiar with Kenji’s particular scent.
He turned to me, “He got any vamp friends, ‘cause y’er kind’s stench is heavy all over the place.”
I frowned, “What?”
Ray lifted an eyebrow, “You ain’t know he was associatin’ with a vamp? Musta had one in every damn room in the house, ‘specially downstairs.”
I was more confused than I had ever been at that news. ”I-I don’t know…maybe? Hell, I didn’t know he was psychotic until I saw the basement!”
He shook his head. ”You know, I’m only doin’ this f’er ya because I knew you as a human. Here lately, we’re in a war and my Alpha would have my ass for helpin’ out the other side.”
“I’m not on any side Ray.” I said, walking over to the window and looking out at the boulevard. The cars racing by, people laughing and talking, completely unaware of the chaos that lurked outside of their social bubbles. ”I just want to be as normal as possible.”
“That’s somethin’ all of us can agree on.” He said softly. ”Well, let’s get to trackin’. I gotta shift so I can get a stronger trail, you’d do best to keep up.”
I turned and watched intently as Ray stripped down and before he could fully get his pants off, his body crackled and twisted into the form of a black wolf. A far cry from the friendly Great Dane he had transformed out of when we first met him back in San Mateo. He glanced up at me, eyes just as intense and kind as Ray’s, before sniffing the ground and darting off.
Of course, I vamped behind him as he left the house and down the streets. Unfortunately, the scent remained on the public path, so I had to bob and weave amongst pedestrians who gasped and looked around frantically after seeing a wolf race by, followed by a blur.
Things started to become more and more desolate, and once we hit the freeway, I knew something was up. I was beginning to wonder if Bruno was right, and if this person was setting up a trap. They had to have known we’d come looking, and then not even bother to cover up their scent? Now we were getting into the more odd parts of California, and I knew, twenty five minutes into running, that we most certainly were not in Los Angeles anymore.
Thank God I didn’t have to breathe.
Ray began to slow to a trot once we happened upon a dingy neighborhood that seemed to be oddly cast off to the side from civilization. There were a few trailer homes scattered everywhere, and a couple one story houses. A two story house here and there, most of them with paint peeling, busted windows with sheets for draperies, and the like.
“Where are we?” I quietly asked Ray, who sniffed the ground and turned the corner. Of course, he couldn’t answer me in his current form, so I just continued to walk, feeling my skin prickle at how eerie this neighborhood was. It seemed like one house was a meth lab, I could have sworn I saw a crack house. Drugs were most certainly prevalent in this community.
Finally, we arrived at a one story home, and there was a cleaner’s van parked outside of it. Ray sat down and looked up at me. ”I’m on my own from here, huh?” I asked.
He looked up at me and I felt a sense of encouragement in his eyes before he sprinted off into the distance, leaving me to my mission.
No matter how much of a vampire I was, I still had very human thoughts and emotions; and it was a frightening situation to be tracking down a killer, who killed you, and being unaware of his capabilities, stranded in a drug neighborhood in the middle of bumfuck nowhere at dead night.
I pulled Bruno’s beanie tighter over my curls, before circling around to the back of the house, looking for a way to sneak inside. The back door was locked, but there was a small window that led into the basement. I pushed it open, thanking God it wasn’t locked. Of course I could break locks, but my point was to sneak in, not announce my arrival.
I crawled through and landed on the basement floor, feeling people all over the place in this home. I also smelled a vampire; and I knew it would only be a matter of time before it either smelled or heard me.
Hearing a groan come from the other side of the basement, I hurried over, and to my utter revulsion, I saw Ryan, chained up and bleeding, against the wall. His arms were sliced up, his shirt ripped and his face bruised, lower lip swollen and cut up.
I vamped over to him and touched the chains, but hissed when I realized they were silver, and they burned my palms instantly. My fangs extended once I realized how much blood there was, fresh blood leaking out of his wounds. Ryan’s eyes opened slowly, and his brow knotted in pain. ”R-Rox?” His voice was hoarse.
“I’m gonna get you outta this Ryan.” I said, looking around frantically for something I could use to cover my hands. In the meantime, I withheld my breathing, for fear of being overcome with the desire to feed.
“The others…they’re upstairs…” He whispered. ”Kenji’s gone crazy.”
I grabbed construction gloves and slipped them on, kneeling next to Ryan and gripping the chains, ripping them apart. ”I’ve noticed.” I said, “Is there a vampire in here?”
Ryan stretched out his arms and laid back against the wall once he was free from his constraints, before he tilted his head to look over at me. ”Yeah…Kenji.”
The coldest of chills ran down my spine as I let that information pour over me. I listened to the footsteps upstairs, put on a sudden edge. I thought I could easily contain a human Kenji, but a newborn vampire one would be a lot more of a task I wasn’t prepared for.
“Where’s Bruno?” Ryan asked.
There was a slam upstairs that made both of us jump, and I hurriedly handed the silver chains to Ryan. ”No time to explain, just wrap these around your neck and your wrists, and stay down here.”
“Ryan.” I looked him in his eyes, “Stay. Down. Here.”
I vamped upstairs and saw all of the band members in a setting so creepy, it should have been a horror movie. Dwayne, James, and Jam were seated at the dining room table, all tightly restrained and gagged. In front of them were various melting TV dinners that they couldn’t even reach.
Kam and Phred were on the couch, Ari was passed out on a nearby chain and Phil was leaned up against the television set.
Eric was nowhere to be found.
“KENJI!” I shouted, the muscles in my arms clenching with my buildup of anger. I was over being a spy, or creeping around and using logic. I wanted a straight up brawl, and I wanted it now. I could give a fuck with the Elitists wanted, or questioning him about his reasoning for killing me.
The band members all looked to me with varying expressions of happiness and shock. Suddenly, I heard slow footsteps down the stairs. ”Hi Rox, welcome to my housewarming party!” Kenji said with a deranged grin. His face and hands were all smudged with blood, his fangs in full view. He was most certainly all vampire.
“When’d you decide to join the undead?” I asked as he slowly came to the middle of the room, only a few feet in front of me.
“When my ancestor turned me. You might know him? He runs you, all of us.”
I watched him closely as he began to circle me and I did the same, refusing to have my back turned towards him. ”Nobody runs Roxanne.”
“The Elitists do.”
I stopped in my tracks.
So my theory was right.
He was related to that Asian vampire from my nightmares!
“I’m not a fan of wordplay, so we gonna square up, or what?”
I witnessed a thought take place over Kenji’s features as he tilted his head. ”You’re alone?”
I didn’t know what he was getting at, but I didn’t let my confidence break. ”Before I kill you, I just gotta know, why did you kill me? What the fuck have I ever done to you?”
“It wasn’t about you, Rox!” He seemed to be switching between moods in a weird, bi-polar manner that was throwing me off, bad. ”I had to! I owed it to JongHo, they were going to save me!”
“They’re coming…and they don’t like you at all.”
I had enough of his games and I readied myself to lunge for him, when I heard several, ear shattering cracks break through the air and Kenji collapsed to the ground, hissing and kicking the nearby table over in what appeared to be extreme pain.
I looked up to see Bruno, holding the 9mm up, anger acutely evident in his intense gaze.
“You should know she’s never alone.”