Monday, August 22, 2011

The Switch Around

Content advisory: Violence

This is a shot story set in the world of the Judgment Series.

Rob Wallen, Ben Brown, and George Kamp, Vampire Control and Security officers, kept a safe distance behind the targeted vampire. He had taken the bait, and he would pay for it.

The vampire trailed a fourth officer, Harlan Mills, and sooner or later, he would attack Mills. The officers followed a pat script, and every time, one of the sons of bitching vampires went after the bait even though every vampire in Seattle knew attacking a human carried the death penalty.

Normally, rogue vampires were captured and put down at the Security Center. But the State Director, Ryan Banks, had authorized on the q.t. a pet project in which the vampires could be set up and if they fell for the rouse, it was permissible to kill them on the street.

Rob’s team had jumped at the chance to participate and so far, they’d killed at least one vampire every night for the last two weeks. Tonight would be no different. The golden-haired vampire following Harlan moved with the stealth of a hunter, not a vampire trying to lay low and mind his own business.

Though as far as Rob was concerned, any damn vampire in the Restricted Zone should be killed on sight. They weren’t supposed to be there. And they knew it.

The vampire stopped and cocked his head.

“What the hell’s he doin’?” George asked.

“Who ever knows what a crazy-assed vampire is doing?” Rob asked.

“You think he knows he’s being followed?” George said.

Rob squinted. “Nope. He’s looking at Harlan, and even if he noticed us, without our uniforms he has no reason to suspect we’re anything but regular citizens.”

“Hold on, he’s on the move,” Ben said as if the others had been struck blind. “Come on, let’s get going.”

The three of them lit out after their quarry. The vamp walked fast and they almost had to jog to keep up with him while remaining at an unobtrusive distance.

“Look at the bastard,” George said. “You know he lives somewhere here where he isn’t supposed to. His clothes are better than anything I can afford. And watch how he carries himself. Dirty bastard.”

“Yeah,” Rob said. “He thinks he’s hot shit. Some of them have never learned their place. Especially the ones who had money before they were outted.”

The past seventeen years hadn’t been pleasant for the vampire community once humans discovered their existence. The government crackdown had been swift and hard and it was a damn good thing or the leeches would have gotten the upper hand. But it hadn’t played out that way. Thankfully.

“Hurry up,” Ben said. He’ll get too far ahead if we keep pissing around.”

They hurried to close the distance a bit, though Harlan was prepared to defend himself if necessary. Then as if Harlan had decided to test that theory, he turned down an alley.

“What the fuck’s he doin?” Ben said.

“Dunno.” Rob pulled out his cell phone and buzzed Harlan.

“Why the hell did you vary from our routine?” he asked as soon as Harlan answered.

“Have to piss. And I’m not doin’ it out on the sidewalk,” Harlan said.

“Well you’re fucked now. You’ll have to go on through. He’s almost on top of you.”

“No prob,” Harlan said and hung up on Rob.

“He had to piss,” Rob said.

The vampire turned into the alley.

“Harlan might have to take him down if he makes his move.” Which was a possibility. Vampires always went for a secluded place to attack someone. Rob fingered the small leather case tucked in his jacket pocket. It contained vials of drugs and a syringe.

Each vial held enough chemicals for a single lethal injection no matter how big the vampire. Though it was a departure from how officers usually took vampires down with dart pistols, it was a simple and efficient system of euthanasia. Knock them down with the vampire control device and while they were stunned immobile, administer the lethal injection. Most died within a couple of minutes.

They had killed a small and very young vampire the night before. He had died within twenty-five seconds of the drugs being injected. Unlike the others they had put down, he hadn’t taken the bait but they had wanted to see how well the drugs worked on a juvenile. He had been maybe sixteen or seventeen.

A twinge of guilt needled Rob. He had no problem putting any vampire down. But things had gotten out of hand, and the four of them had kicked and shocked the juvenile until blood ran from his mouth and he begged for mercy. And still they hadn’t stopped. There had been no excuse to brutalize him, especially when he’d done nothing to warrant it. Instead of simply putting him down, they had tortured what was basically a child.

A lot of the officers were vicious and enjoyed hurting vampires. He hadn’t known he was one of them. Something inside him wanted to reject it, but he’d already seen the ugly truth and the fact was, he knew beyond all doubt that guilt or not, he would do it all over again. Young or not, innocent or not, he’d enjoyed what they’d done to the juvenile. And he would do it again. After all, they were just highly intelligent animals.

The vampire leisurely walked down the sidewalk and turned into the alley. Harlan was on his own until they caught up.

“Come on,” Rob said. “Harlan might need help with him.” They broke into a jog and quickly closed the distance. Except when they turned into the alley neither Harlan or the vampire was there.

“Shit,” George said. “Where the hell did they go?”

“Maybe he knows we’re following him,” Ben said, unease creeping into his voice.

“Nah. He never looked back once,” Rob said.

“Call Harlan and see where the fuck he’s at,” Ben said.

Rob dialed and waited.

“His phone isn’t ringing. I think the asshole shut it off.”

“What if. . .” George said.

“You think the vamp got him, Georgie?” Rob asked.

George flushed. “Well, no. I guess not.”

“Well then what?” Rob said, knowing perfectly well that was exactly what George thought.

“Nothin’,” George said.

They walked down the litter strewn alley. Water from recent rain puddled in the center. A clank from overhead drew Rob’s attention. A second later, Harlan flew off the roof. His body plummeted toward the pavers. He landed in the middle of the alley, splashing water in a wide arc.

“Oh my fuckin’ God,” Ben brayed and took three steps backward and collided with George. For a moment, the only sounds were from the slow moving traffic on the street.

Harlan’s head had split open like a melon. His legs lay at improper angles. Blood seeped along the pavers.

“Jesus,” Rob croaked.

A shadow moved quickly across the roof of the building Harlan and been thrown from. The vampire. He was still there. At least Rob thought he was. The dirty bastard.

The shadow ran along the top, reached the edge and jumped. He landed on his feet and sprinted out of the alley.

“Get ‘em,” Rob bellowed and ran after the vampire. Ben and George were on Rob’s heels. He pulled the vampire control device from his belt, his only plane clothes accessory besides a small Maglite, as he charged out of the alley. Already a block away, the vampire disappeared around the corner.

They pounded down the sidewalk, no longer concerned about keeping a low profile. The vampire had committed the one act that the law mandated execution. And they were the law.

Panting for breath, they reached the corner where the vampire had turned.

Ben waved his hand. “Did you see him?”

“No,” George said.

“I did,” Rob said. The vampire had slipped into a building one block down. “Let’s get ‘em and take care of business.” This one was going to pay. What they did to him would make their pre-dispatch of the juvenile seem like nothing.

But when they got close to the building, Rob reined back his zeal. It was an abandoned office building and it probably had a thousand places for a vampire to hide.

“We should call for backup,” Ben said.

Losing a member and then needing help with the killer would make them look bad. “No. We can take him. We just have to be careful.”

“I don’t like this,” George said. “In case you haven’t noticed, he isn’t exactly afraid of us. And he’s pretty damn big. What if he’s Resistance?”

“If he’s a member of the Resistance, do you want to share the glory of taking him down?” Rob asked. “Though, honestly, I don’t think he is. They travel in packs like wolves.” The Resistance was the bane of Vampire Control and Security. They were unorganized and worked in small groups. But the individual groups were getting very good at what they did and some were becoming a serious threat that needed to be dealt with.

“They aren’t always in groups,” George said.

“I don’t think he’s with the Resistance. I think he’s an older vampire,” Rob said.

“That’s almost as bad,” Ben said.

Rob had no comeback. The younger vampires didn’t have the physical gifts or experience the old ones had. An old vampire was a hell of a lot more dangerous. “That bastard killed Harlan. Do you want to call for help and look like a bunch of sissies who couldn’t take out one killer? There’re three of us, one of him. As long as we stick together, he can’t win.”

George muttered under his breath.

“What?” Rob demanded.

“No,” George said. “I don’t want to look like a damn wuss.”

“Okay, then. Let’s get him and be done with it.” Rob strode forward, the other two lagged slightly behind.

Rob pushed open the unlocked door and entered the building first.

They stood in what had once been a small lobby. Now it looked like a meet and greet spot for bum central.

“Where do you s’pose he went?” Ben said.

Rob panned the powerful flashlight back and forth, trying not to miss anything that might prove fatal. Nothing obvious stood out. A decrepit elevator with a partially opened, mutilated door was close to where a receptionist would have greeted arrivals. A stairwell at the back of a short hall with a few doors off both sides. A very wide staircase that bent and continued out of sight led up to the second floor. The walls were scarred and spray painted. Litter covered the floors. It stank of age, neglect, mildew, and filth.

“Let’s check the offices first,” Rob said. “But he won’t be down here. I don’t think.” He glanced into the elevator car as they passed. He tried the first door. It opened onto a small, empty room. Each office was the same with trash scattered about and signs of occasional bum habitation.

“I wish we had our pistols,” George whined.

Rob did too, but he wasn’t going to admit it. “We’ll be okay. We’re smarter than he is.”

Last, Rob cautiously opened the door to the stairwell. He shined his light in. Nothing. He breathed a sigh of relief and they headed for the staircase at the front. George trailed, muttering under his breath and Rob stifled an urge to tell him to go fuck himself.

A hiss of sound was the only warning before George let out a blood curdling scream.

Rob and Ben spun, Maglite beams cutting across each other and bouncing off a nightmare. George lay in the center of the hall. Blood already pooled around him. A ragged slash ran across his throat and the wound poured blood. Rob didn’t need to check to know George was dead. “Mother fuck,” he hissed. “Where did the son of a bitch come from?” But it wasn’t a necessary question. He knew. He’d fucked up royally.

He approached the elevator car like a man about to stick his hand in a shark’s mouth and focused the light inside and upward. The top of the elevator was missing. The son of a bitch and waited up in the shaft like a spider. Then he’d gone up, probably to the roof.

“Let’s get the fuck out of here,” Ben said.

Rob didn’t give a fuck what they looked like; he was on board with that idea. “Come on,” he said and headed for the door. He grabbed the knob. It didn’t turn. Ice slithered down his spine. He tried again. “We’re locked in,” he said in a voice that wavered slightly.

“So you are,” a deep voice said from above them.

They spun training their lights on the stairs.

The vampire grinned down from the curve in the staircase. “I enjoy killing assholes like you.”

Rob scrabbled for his phone. The cell phone fell from his trembling fingers, landing on bare concrete where it shattered.

“For God’s sake,” Rob brayed at Ben, “Fucking call in.”

“I can’t,” Ben said. “I didn’t charge my phone. I don’t even have it with me.”

“Terrific,” Rob said. The vampire grinned wide, showing his impressive fangs. A sure sign that he was old. Young vampires had smaller fangs. The bastard facing them was over a hundred years at the least. Rob swallowed hard. All that stood between them and certain death were their control devices which would take the vamp down no matter how old he was if they got a chance to use them.

“That’s right, assholes,” the vampire said. “Assess the situation then kiss your smelly asses goodbye.”

“We could make a deal,” Rob said without much hope of the tactic working. “I have some money saved.”

“Blood money, no doubt. Your salary from the torture and murder of my kind?”

Rob didn’t answer then belatedly he said, “No! Money I inherited.”

The vampire laughed. “You’re a piss-poor liar.”

Rob realized with terror that the vampire had slipped halfway to the bottom of the steps and they hadn’t even noticed him doing it. He was very old and he was fucking with them mentally. Only old vamps could do that.”

“Yes, you’re correct. I am fucking with you. I can also read your terrified little thoughts. “Let me introduce myself, I am, after all, the last person you will ever meet. I am Christopher Wilkes,” he said and made a tiny, mocking bow in their direction.

“Wilkes…” Rob said. He’d heard the name somewhere before but his mind was too scrambled to process it.

Wilkes rubbed his chin then a huge grin spread over his face. “I have an idea. Robbie-Boy, I want you to take your control toy and give your pal a little jolt with it.”

“What?” And then to Rob’s complete horror, he knew he was going to do it. The desire to use the disabling device on Ben was overwhelming.

Ben squawked and stumbled backward. Rob leapt at him, the device ready. Ben spun and took two steps before Rob caught him and jammed the prongs of the device into his back. Ben stiffened, then went down like a stone.

“Oh, my God. You dirty son of a bitch,” Rob moaned. The device was set for a vampire, not a human being. The souped up tazars were too much for a human heart to withstand. He’d just killed Ben. Now he was alone with him.

Rob spun around. “You’re getting your rocks off on this, aren’t you?” he shouted at the vampire who now stood on the bottom step.

“No more than you bastards get off on killing us,” he said in a hiss. “Your mistake was fucking with someone who’s been around a very long time and isn’t afraid of you fuckers. I’ve been watching your little group for the last week. I saw you about have an orgasm when you brutalized a child before you murdered him.”

Rob swallowed hard in an effort to get past the blockage in his throat. “That’s why you’re doing this?”

“Honestly, no. I’m doing this for the same reason you enjoy your job. I like it. You might say I’m an equal opportunity hunter. I take out whoever strikes my fancy. Human. Vampire. Male. Female. Young. Old. Makes no fucking difference to me. It’s just that I took a serious dislike to you four bastards killing that kid. I’d already marked him and you stole him from me.” He grinned again, displaying those ungodly, horrible teeth.

“You’re a serial killer,” Rob whispered then broke into hysterical laughter. “You’re a fucking serial killer.”

“Yes. I am,” Christopher said and leapt.

~ Nickie Asher ~

If you missed any of our previous posts and would like to catch up, you can purchase the Digital Digest Volume II anthology as an ebook for only $.99.

Copyright © 2011 Nickie Asher

All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.