Bad Blood Rising Sample

Chapter One

The pain radiating from my face was excruciating. I could heal myself, but I willed myself not to. They had to think that I was more like them—weaker like them. A dozen vampires stood around me in an imperfect circle. The leader of the coven was taller than the rest, but still shorter than me. He stood around six foot tall. His stupid hair was shaved on one side and long enough to cover half of his face with the swept style in which it was fashioned. The black boots he wore kept making clomping sounds on the floor like a trotting horse as he paced back and forth in front of me. The sound echoed through the aged warehouse. There were a few different stacks of pallets of varying heights stacked in one of the corners of the warehouse. Old machines with cobwebs strewn across them were still bolted to the floor. It looked like it had been years since they were last used. Some of the windows were broken with glass littering the floor beneath them. A thick layer of dust covered the machines and floor. There were places where dust created indistinct shapes where the cobwebs clung to various particles. The air was stale and carried a faint stench of dead rats. The other side of the warehouse contained numerous workbenches scattered with rusted tools that were left behind when it was closed. One of the workbenches had been dragged behind me for my weapons to be placed upon after the gang had disarmed me. The overhead lights and graffiti on the walls were the only new looking thing in the building. Most of the white paint was discolored and peeling. The gang had decided to tag the walls with various statements and symbols. Some of the new paint seemed to be covering up what appeared to be older looking graffiti as well. As a result of Franko’s continued torture my blood kept splattering on him and filling my mouth so I kept spitting it at him. Red stains speckled his white t-shirt and blue jeans. Brass knuckles adorned his right hand. The crowd cheered him on while he beat me. My legs were chained to the legs of the steel chair they sat me in. The chair was bolted to the floor. My hands were handcuffed behind me and ran through the bars that made up the back of the chair.

“Franko, hit him again!” one of the girls closest to us screamed.

“Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!” The entire crowd started chanting and pumping their fists in the air to the rhythm.

Franko grabbed a hold of my hair with his left hand and smiled. The right brass knuckled hand he brought up into the air in preparation for another strike. Like a piston he began speed punching me in the face. It hurt like hell since it was his main area of concentration. He paused again.

“Tell me friend, why were ya creepin’ round here. What is your game man? Who are you?”

I spit on his shirt around where his heart would be, “Game? No game pal, just trying to find what I’m looking for. I’m not exactly anyone.”

“Trying to find what you’re looking for. Well, what would that be ya creeper?”

“A vampire, he answers to the name Mathias.”

Everyone in the room started laughing.

“You’re not looking for a vampire; you’re looking for the vampire. Mathias rules us all man. What do ya want with the Don?” Franko asked as he finished chuckling.

“Don? He’s a Don now is he? Where is his office? I’d like to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Fresh blood filled my mouth and I spat it at his face this time. Some of the blood flew higher and speckled his hair.

“Not the hair man! What the hell is your problem anyway?”

He began beating me in the face again with more fury than before. Apparently he likes his hair. After a few minutes he paused again for breath.

“The Don is untouchable man! We wouldn’t know how to reach him. We ain’t seen him since the eve of his daughter’s wedding. That’s when he gave us this place. His daughter is a looker too! Not that you’ll ever know. Let’s see, what was her name again?”

A short man stepped out of the crowd. He was around five foot tall. “I think her name is Helena. It was Helena Blight, now it’s Helena Belmont.” the short man said with a bit of angst in his voice, he was shaking.

“Thanks Shorty that’s it, what are ya shakin’ for?” “Franko sir, I think I know who he is.”
“Really now? Well who do you think he might be?” “He looks familiar, like the vampire Vangetsu Ocelot.”

The room grew silent. Everyone in the crowd took a step back. Franko’s eyes went wide as he tried to piece together a puzzle that his mind couldn’t quite comprehend.

“Vangetsu is a myth. Mathias said that he has dealt with him personally. No one survives Mathias.” he said flatly, like a fact that would be true as long as he voiced it out loud.

I smiled and started laughing. My head fell back and blood dripped from my mouth. I willed my healing ability

to start back up and my wounds started repairing themselves quickly. Blood flowed back into my body; it pulled itself out of my clothing where it ran down my torso. My black shirt was no longer damp. The red stains on my denim jeans disappeared. Franko’s brass knuckles fell from his hand as he stared at me in disbelief. The hamburger appearance of my face restructured itself back to normal.

“Helena Belmont. I had a daughter once. I had a family. Your Don killed them. It is only fitting that the favor be paid back in kind. Maybe I’ll throw in a little interest.” I popped the bones in my neck.

The handcuffs still hung tightly about my wrists. I swung my arms up in arcs above my head snapping the cuffs off like they were made of glass. My legs were still inconveniently wrapped in chains. I stood up, turned around, and walked to the workbench for my things. The chains caused enough of a hindrance to feel as if I was walking in water before they finally snapped apart.

Behind me, I heard the sound of rapid clicking. If they were smart, it would be the sound of their shoes clacking against the ground in an effort to escape. If they were dumb, the more likely of scenarios then they were checking to make sure their guns were loaded and safety’s switched off. Gunfire echoed out into the empty warehouse. Bullets rained upon my back in a torrential downpour. I felt them as they dug into my flesh tearing bits away and dragging bits with them into my softer tissues. I quickly grabbed my unsheathed twin swords from the workbench. Turning quickly I started parrying the bullets from their trajectory. Unfortunately, I couldn’t deflect them all but I was able to deflect most of them. One managed to hit me right in the eye. It caused quite a bit of discomfort as it went through my brain and exited out of the back of my head. It was a hollow point as well which caused even more damage. The barrage of bullets stopped. They needed to reload. One of the male vampires started charging at me. He was wearing my sunglasses. They were Revo Square Classics with orange lenses. His hair was dyed a bright red shade. The shirt he was wearing was white and had a brooding looking teenager in a Dracula costume holding a sign reading Will sparkle for food. He ran too close to one of the nearby machines, smacked his shin into it, and tripped.

“Damnit!” He exclaimed as he rolled head over heels until he was resting at my feet. “Double damnit!”

I smiled down at him, “It seems fate has decided to be unkind to you my friend.”

The path of destruction through my brain healed itself. A new eye popped itself into place. I took the sword in my left hand and plunged it through the vamp’s heart until it was lodged in the ground. His body started to burn and turn to ash. My sunglasses were still on his face. I bent down, picked them up, and put them on. The overhead lights in the building were brighter than I thought; the glasses helped me see much better. Franko stood across the room from me with wide eyes.

“Hey Franko, looks like you have a little bit of blood on your shirt.”

“What?” Franko looked down puzzled.

I exerted a bit of my will and clenched my left fist. The blood on Franko’s shirt began to eat a hole through the fabric. It continued its path slowly eating away at his skin like acid. My blood is an extension of myself and can eat through anything. It would be possible to use it to consume his heart more quickly but I willed it to go slower so that he could savor the pain and relish in it. His screaming was blood curdling. He turned his gun on himself, aimed at his heart, and took his own life instead of letting me finish. An ash pile formed on the ground.

“Really? I hate when you idiots don’t let me finish having my fun. What is wrong with you? Oh well, two down and ten to go.”

The remaining ten vampires just stared at me. They stood frozen in place for a few seconds and then looked at each other. Shorty stood in place while the other nine bolted for the door. I flash stepped to the door. There wasn’t one vampire in the group as fast as me. The nine stopped in their tracks. One of the female vampires stood about five yards away. I threw the sword into her chest striking her in the heart. She began to burn. I ran and grabbed the sword from her chest and kept going until I got to the next person and slashed them in half bringing the sword through their heart in a wide arc. His top half began to slide off of the bottom half of his body but he completely turned into ashes before he hit the ground. The seven remaining idiots lifted their guns and began firing again. I deflected their bullets the same as before only this time I began to send them back in their direction. The vampires screamed as they were getting torn apart by their own bullets coming back at them. I managed to hit five of them in the heart causing them to begin deteriorating. Vampires could solve a lot of their own problems if they would wear bullet proof vest or bore some type of armor to protect the vulnerable muscle from being punctured. There were two of them left and they had stopped firing. A noise erupted from my stomach. It was complaining about my expenditure of energy from fighting and healing without having had anything to eat for quite some time. I took the sword and stabbed it into my stomach. Blood started to trickle out of the wound. It wasn’t enough so I wiggled the sword around a bit to make the wound larger causing the blood to gush out at a much faster pace. It began to pool on the floor. The two vampires stared at me in confusion. The blood started to quiver and took a different form after I exerted a bit of my will into it. The form of a snake should do. I sent the crimson snake slithering toward the last male vampire that stood against me. His female companion stood frozen in shock. The blood python wrapped itself around its victim and slithered into his open mouth. Once inside him I began the feeding process.

“How does it feel to be eaten alive? Each cell of my body can attack any other living cells and consume them, thus the need to cut myself so that I could use my blood as a weapon.” I crossed my arms in front of my chest.

He opened his mouth in an attempt to speak but failed. Instead, blood starting running out of it. Tears of blood started to run down his cheeks and more blood trickled out of his ears and nose. His eyes began to dissolve and his skin became translucent. Veins could not be seen, just the color red underneath the dissolving skin.

I turned to his companion and smirked, “He looks better in red.”

“Y-you’re a monster!” She squealed.

“C’mon lady, what do you think you are for crying out loud?”

“I don’t feed on my own people!”

“Um—duh, because you can’t or it would more than likely kill you. The reason I can, is because not only am I part vampire, but I am part reaper as well.”

“Reaper?”

“Yeah, the beings responsible for taking care of everything after death.”

“H-how on Earth did that happen?”

“After I was turned the Grim Reaper came to me and gave me additional powers so that I could feed on any living being. My palate prefers vampires, it helps keep down your population. Order is important after all.”

The vampire I was consuming was nothing more than a humanoid shaped sack of blood by this point. I finished him off by consuming the skin. A large puddle of blood remained. I willed it into the air and threw it at the female vampire. She screamed but no sound came out. The blood began to feed on her from the outside in. In a matter of about a minute only two piles of clothes remained. I walked over to the puddle of blood, stood in the middle of it, and willed it all back inside my body. It ran up my legs and went back into the hole in my stomach it came out of. The sword began to force its way back out on its own but I yanked it out the rest of the way. Shorty still stood where he was standing before. He stared bug-eyed at me. In the corner of my eye I saw another man standing in a dark corner with thread in his hands. He kept forming different figures such as a cat’s cradle and seven stars. He wore ancient Egyptian style clothing. A shendyt made out of a fine material covered his lower body. He wore no shoes or shirt. A wide gorgerine was worn about his neck with blue anklets, armlets, and armbands. The weirdest part about him was that he had the head of an Ibis.

“Hey you, what are you doing?” I shouted.

Shorty answered, “N-nothing. Just standing here, p-please don’t kill me.”

The man with the Ibis head snapped his attention forward and stared intently at me for a moment.

I looked at Shorty and gestured to the corner with my sword, “Not you idiot, the man in the corner behind you.”

The man exploded. Not a fiery or a bloody explosion, he exploded into what looked like strands of hair or pieces of thread.

Shorty looked over his shoulder.

“Um—who was it you saw?” His voice still had a detectable quiver.

“There was a man there. Dressed like an Egyptian with the head of an Ibis.”

I flash stepped over to where the man was standing. A slight breeze wafted through the area and some of the strands started to blow away. I bent down and picked one up. It was definitely some kind of thread.

“The man exploded into small pieces of thread.” I stated.

Shorty gave me a peculiar look, “Vangetsu um—sir. People don’t explode into thread nor do they usually have the head of an Ibis. Are you feeling OK?”

“I’m feeling fine. Come see for yourself. Do you have a name, or should I just call you Shorty?”

“Shorty is fine sir. Are you going to kill me?”

“That depends, are you going to make me kill you?”

Shorty thought about something for a moment, and then warily walked over to where I knelt.

“See, it’s a pile of threads.” I handed him the piece I was holding.

He took it from my hand. “You’re not kidding. It is very odd that a pile of threads would be here. I don’t remember seeing anything like it here before.”

“The man kept forming different figures with some kind of thread in his hands. There’s no telling who or even what he is.” I grabbed a handful of threads and placed them in the pocket of my blue jeans.

A soft meow came from the direction of the entrance of the building.

“Shorty, what was that?” “Don’t know sir.”

I let my attention drift from the threads and toward the doorway I was dragged through earlier in the night. A little gray and white kitten was meandering about. It was searching the ground intently, presumably looking for some kind of food to eat.

“Did you lot have a cat?”

“No, we did not. Are you going to kill it?” Shorty glanced quickly between me and the cat.

I gave him a puzzled look, “Kill it? What is wrong with you? Do you think I’m a monster?”

“The myth of Vangetsu is the urban legend most vampires tell when they talk about things they fear,” he shrugged his shoulders. “I just assumed that if you were such a nightmare to vampires then there was nothing safe from you.”

I snapped my fingers and pointed at him, “The sooner you get this straight Shorty, the sooner you will understand me better. I think of myself as a hero to the innocent, a protector of all that is good, and if that makes me a nightmare to vampires or the like then so be it.”

Leaving my sword behind on the floor I stood up and walked over to the little kitten. It stopped meandering and looked at me. The poor little guy only had one eye. There wasn’t really much around here to eat that a cat would like. I knelt down and scratched under its chin. The kitten purred with excitement from the attention.

“Are you hungry little guy?”

The kitten continued to purr and rub against my hand. I picked it up, checked its gender, and then held him in my arm.

“So, you’re a he, but you don’t have a name huh? Let’s see—I got it! Since you only have the solo eye I’m going to call you Odin.”

An inflated sigh came from behind me, “You’re naming him Odin? Really?”

I rolled my eyes and turned around, “It’s better than Shorty. Why what would you call him?”

“Shut up, you’re the one that gave me that name too. I’d probably just call him Cat.”

My fingers shot up to where my nose met my forehead and massaged the area between my eyes, “You know, you’re not making a very good case for me not killing you. Make yourself useful and tell me where to find Helena.”

He shrugged his shoulders, “You can’t. She’s double royalty. The Blight family and the Belmont family have been around since the first vamps. I’d start with Blood of the Bat Bar though. Mathias owns that little niche. It’s in an alley off of Fourth Street. The password to get in is bitten by bat, bound by blood.”

“Is there any particular person in there that knows anything?”

“Vangetsu, you’re resourceful. If you can’t get any answers then kill everyone and burn the place down. At the very least it will get you noticed.”

“True. Thanks Shorty, I think I’ll let you live—for now. Don’t get back on my radar and there won’t be a problem.”

Shorty waved and exited the building. My other gear was still on the workbench behind the chair where I was held captive. I made my way over to it, picking my swords up along the way, and placed Odin on the workbench next to my duster. It was an oldie but a goodie given to me by a man without a name when I traveled through Mexico many years ago. I had two old revolvers given to me by the same man. The two swords I had won from a samurai years before that; I put them back in their sheaths. I fastened the sheaths and holster in place. The holster held two revolvers on the same side. I wrapped the duster around my frame and slid my arms through the sleeves. My slouch hat was the last item I returned to its resting place a top my head. Odin meowed in approval. He jumped into my arms and we headed off into the night.

Odin

Chapter Two

A dark alley branched off of Fourth Street like a vein. Dumpsters and trash littered the ground as if mimicking a blocked artery. A single light illuminated a door in the center of the alley on the wall to the left of me. The sound of my footsteps reverberated off the walls. The wind howled through the narrow alleyway causing my duster to billow behind me. The moonlight glistened off of my revolvers and off the hilts of my swords, safely tucked away in their sheaths and holster. I stopped at the door taking a moment to glance at my elongated shadow made longer by the slouch hat that I wore. There is no sign or form of identification on the door, just a single light and graffiti adorning the walls surrounding it. A giant bat symbol was painted in red above the door with Blood of the Bat painted beneath it.

“OK Odin, you’re going to stay out here while I go see about some business. We’ll get you something to eat afterwards.” I sat Odin down on the ground.

He let out a bored meow and rested his head on his paws. Turning my attention back to the door, I raised my right hand and knocked on the door.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

A small window in the door opened to reveal a pair of eyes with glowing red irises.

“What—is—the—password?” A gruff voice with very slow enunciation asked from behind the door.

“Bitten by bat, bound by blood.” I replied with a nod.

“That—is—correct. Hold—on—a—moment.”

The window slid shut followed by the sound of several clicks as the man unlocked the door. He opened it and gestured inside toward the bar.

“Sit—where—you—would—like.” He said and his eyes narrowed as they looked me up and down.

I tipped my hat at the vampire door guard in response and started to make my way across the room. The walls were painted black with groups of flying bats painted in red in what looked to be random patterns. The floor was blood red. The bar and tables were also painted black. There were red lights placed on each table and red lights shining from behind the bar. Bottles of what appeared to be blood and alcohol lined the shelves and cabinets. A group of six male vampires were playing poker at a table to the left. A vampire couple was on a date to the right. Toward the back and to the right there was a table with four male vampires, each with two human female escorts. The smell of their blood was thick in the air, almost suffocating. Two out of the eight escorts were AB- blood type which is fairly rare. One of the others had the stench of sickle-cell anemia. I could sense how narrow her blood vessels were; no doubt she would eventually have a stroke and die of a cerebral hemorrhage. There was one more slick haired vampire sitting at the right side of the bar alone and the vampire bartender was standing behind the bar washing a glass. I sat down in the middle of the bar, took off my hat

and sunglasses, and began listening to my surroundings. It was hard to clearly understand the group off to my right because the jukebox was playing Bad Moon Rising as loud as it could go. I overheard one of the male vampires mention Mathias when the bartender finally came up to me and interrupted my train of thought.

The bartender shrugged his shoulders, “What can I get ya?”

“Huh?” I replied snapping out of my concentration. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“Oh, yeah I’ll have a Bloody Jack. Better yet, I’ll have three.”

He cocked an eyebrow and stared at me with piercing red eyes as if waiting on something, then it hit me.

“Right, here you go. Keep the change.”

I pulled a small pouch containing silver pieces out of my duster and threw it on the bar. He picked it up and opened

it. After examining the contents for a few seconds he nodded and closed the pouch.

“That will do just fine. Might I ask your name stranger?” “Does it matter?”
“Naw, I’m just trying to make conversation.” “Well, it isn’t necessary.”
The bartender grunted and grabbed three glasses and two bottles. One was a black bottle of Jack Daniel’s and the other just had a sticker of a black bat on it and contained the necessary ingredient for any vampire mix drink, blood. He sat the glasses down in front of me and starting on opposite ends began to pour the liquids into the glasses; he crossed in the middle so that each glass contained around two thirds blood and one third whiskey. I wrapped each hand around the two glasses on each end and drank them one at a time very quickly. I wrapped my left hand around the third glass and waited for the effects of the first two to kick in. Slowly, I began to feel the effects of the drinks in my system.

“You’re sure knockin’ those back pretty quick. You got some demons that you’re running from?” The bartender asked.

“On the contrary, there’s a demon that I’m chasing.” “Does this demon have a name?”
I knocked back the last Bloody Jack.

“Are you familiar with the demon known as Mathias Blight? I’d also take any information about Helena Belmont.”

The bartender’s eyes bugged out and he grabbed for something underneath the counter. He brought up a double barreled shotgun and aimed it at me. The slick haired vampire at the bar jumped up from his stool and pointed a handgun at me as well. He must be the bodyguard sent with the group to protect them or another bouncer for the bar, possibly both.

“Well, I suppose now it’s too late to try the subtle approach isn’t it?” I asked rhetorically.

I raised my hands up and tried to look as innocent as I could. Slowly, I stood up from the stool.

“Do you not know Don Blight owns this bar? You have to be suicidal to walk in here and declare you are chasing him!” The bartender twitched with anticipation.

“Can I put my arms down? Perhaps, I could explain myself?”

“Lower them slowly and explain.” The bartender gestured downward with the shotgun.

I lowered my hands slowly and put them into the front pockets of my black pants.

“Mathias is the vampire that turned me. He also murdered my family in front of me.”

The bartender shook his head, “They were just collateral damage for the rise of our leader.”

The door guard decided to make his way over and stood behind me. There were twenty three people in here other than me.

The slick haired vampire to my right pointing the handgun at me decided it was time for him to speak, “Oh, boohoo, you should feel blessed that you were turned by the Don! He gave you the gift of immortality you ungrateful piece of shit. Your family is dead. There is nothing you can do to change that. Get over it and forget them already, they died providing nourishment for a cause greater than them.”

“Slick, you should know that I would gladly trade immortality for the lives of my family! I’m glad you feel so strongly about the cause because you just became a martyr for it.”

“Excuse me?” He asked quizzically.

In a simultaneous movement I flash stepped towards Slick and with my right hand drew the revolver from its holster. I placed the barrel to rest beneath his chin. I could not contain my anger. My right eye grew wide and my left eye

twitched with the anticipation of pulling the trigger. His surprised and frightened eyes stared at me in disbelief. I sneered at him and fired a bullet upwards through his head. The bullet exited with a trail of blood and brains in its wake. I pointed the revolver at his chest and fired another shot through his heart. His body flashed orange and turned to ash. The human women screamed. The vampire couple ran for the door and began unlocking it. With my left hand I drew my other revolver and fired two shots through each of their hearts from behind and they too glowed orange and dissipated into ash. I heard the sound of the shotgun firing and turned in time to catch both shots with the left side of my face. Pain shot through me as the buckshot tore through my flesh. The pellets continued through dragging flesh, blood, and bone with them. I couldn’t see through my left eye seeing as it was destroyed with the blast as well. With my good eye I noticed the door guard drawing a pistol out of his coat. He took aim and fired straight through my heart. The pain was now almost unbearable. Blood poured out through the gaping hole in my chest and flowed down my black shirt. I fell to my knees and let my arms drop to my sides. Blood was flowing steadily from my head and chest now. I allowed it to.

“Wh-why isn’t he dying?” The bartender asked. “You shot him in the heart.”

“I—don’t—know. What—is—he?” The door guard replied this time with a quiver detectable in his gruff tone.

I stared at the door guard and licked my lips where there was flesh missing. My pool of blood was now just short of touching the door guard’s foot. I raised my right arm and fired a shot into the bartender’s chest. He glowed and turned to ash. The door guard was standing directly in the pool of my blood now. I willed my blood upwards and onto him. It crept up his body like vines. He screamed and emptied the rest of his clip into my chest. I willed my blood into his mouth suffocating him. His face twisted in horror with a silent scream.

I raised my hand and clenched my fist, “Devour.”

My blood began to consume him like a centuries worth of decomposition rolled into one minute. The gun fell from his hand. His clothes started to fold in on themselves. Once he was no more, I willed my blood back into me; my body began to regenerate quickly. I turned to where my left side was facing the male vampires with the entourage of human women and fired a shot each into their hearts. They glowed and turned to ash. The women screamed again now that their so called protectors were laid to rest. They all huddled together behind the table. The remaining six vampires in the room stood up and started to rush at me. I raised my right arm and fired three shots into the hearts of three of them. My revolver clicked empty. I turned and brought my left revolver to face them and it too clicked empty upon attempting to fire. I spun the revolvers around my fingers and stuck them back into their holster. Using my right hand I grasped the hilt of the sword on my left side. I flash stepped out of the path of the oncoming vampires trying to attack me; at the end of my flash step I unsheathed the sword and swung it in an arc cutting through the middle of all three vampires. Their top halves slid slowly off of their lower halves. The sword cut through their hearts ending them all at once. They glowed and then the six halves turned to ash. I reached into my back pocket and pulled out a rag to clean the blade. After wiping the blade clean I sheathed it and placed the rag back into my pocket. I whipped out the revolver from my left side and swung out the cylinder. After ejecting the cartridges I reloaded it using one of the speed loaders from my duster pocket. I closed the cylinder, spun the revolver on one finger, and holstered it. I whipped out my other revolver and repeated the reloading process. The human women were staring at me in horror.

“You lot are free to go.”I jerked my head toward the exit.

They bolted for the door. I grabbed the sick one by the arm before she got past.

“Excuse me sweetheart, I have a sixth sense when it comes to blood. You don’t have much longer left from what I can tell. I’m sure you already knew that you have sickle-cell anemia. Go get help, or at least enjoy your life to its fullest until your time is up. Take this, the money from the register, and the pouch of silver on the bar.”

I handed her a pouch full of gold pieces. “Thank you sir—I don’t know what to say.”

She took the pouch and made her way behind the bar to retrieve the other pouch and the cash from the drawer. I turned around and the other women had already run out the door. I walked over to the bar, grabbed my hat and sunglasses, and put them back on. It occurs to me that Mathias may have some confusion about who may have crashed his bar. I should leave him a note just in case. The inside pocket of my duster holds three large nails that were used to crucify Christ. I pull one of them out and carve a V into the bar. The nail is imbued with residual holy energy from the blood that stained it. It draws attention to itself even to someone that isn’t supernatural. A bowl full of miniature chocolates sat upon the center of the bar. I grabbed one, unwrapped it, and ate it. The best invention that there has ever been since blood is chocolate.

“How can you hate vampires so much if you are a vampire?” The remaining woman asked.

“I might ask you the same about humans?” “Touché.”

I made my way to the door and just before I exited the building, the sick woman called out to me.

“Hey! What is your name?”

“Vangetsu.”

We waved at each other and went our separate ways. Odin got up and began to follow me. Mathias would be in touch; now it’s time to wait. A confrontation is drawing near. I can feel it in my bones.

Chapter Three

The bar wasn’t too far away from Richard’s Magic Emporium. I needed some supplies and Richard’s was the best place I have found in centuries. His shop was the only one like it that I knew of in the greater Indianapolis, Indiana area. The Emporium also served as his home. He had no problem inconveniencing himself to help me out when I needed it. It didn’t stop him from being a crabby asshole though. His normal hours were during the day but he catered to my special needs since I could only be out at night. Odin and I made our way out of the dark alley and turned back onto Fourth Street. We walked a couple of blocks and turned onto Washington Street. The only places that were still open at night were the tattoo parlor, the fortune teller, nightclubs, bars, convenience stores, and the bail bondsman. I knocked on Richard’s door. A few minutes went by. I knocked on the door again harder this time.

“If you’re Jehovah’s Witnesses I swear to God I am going to kill you!” Richard yelled from somewhere inside.

“Good luck trying you wannabe wizard!” I yelled in response.

Richard finally made it to the door and opened it. “Vangetsu! Come on in! How is my favorite vampire?”
I walked into Richard’s live in shop and he patted me on the shoulder smiling.

“Jehovah’s Witnesses at this hour, I swear Richard you are losing it. I’ve hit a dead end on the Mathias search again. Got me a new kitten though, his name is Odin.” I gestured at Odin trailing behind me.

“That’s kind of a coincidence, why Odin?” Richard closed the door.

“He only has one eye, why is that a coincidence?”

“I recently obtained a new Norse related item I think you will like. What brings you here today?”

“Well, I need some cat food and some ammunition.”

“Pfft, I can’t help you with the cat food. This isn’t a department store jackass. Follow me to the back, I’ll hook you up with ammo and show you my new arrivals.” Richard gestured toward the back of the shop.

“Richard before we go any further, I can’t hold it in any longer. What in the hell are you wearing?”

He had on a blood colored red suit with black buttons, black dress shoes, a white undershirt, a black tie, and a blood red fedora with a black accent.

“What, these rags? I’m trying a new look to appeal to my vampire clientele. Do you like it?” He cocked his head to the side. His cheek length black hair danced across his face.

I shrugged, “No not really, then again you know dusters are more my style.”

The front of the shop was adorned with antiques and collectible statuettes. Not much profit can be made from those, Richard profited most from his dealings with the black market and the art of magic. The back of the shop was littered with boxes. Odin chose one to his liking, jumped inside, and curled up. We stopped at a table with various items on it including a vial of tinted liquid.

“This is the Norse related item I mentioned. This liquid bears the color of rose gold. It causes a manic reaction when it touches someone. The liquid is actually Freya’s tears that she shed for her husband Oor who was never around. She grieved her loneliness. When introduced to someone, Freya’s tears induce an overpowering amount of grief causing them to kill themselves as a means of escape.”

“I’ll take it. What type of ammo selection do you have?”

“A bunch of new rounds arrived this afternoon. I special ordered them with you in mind. Elemental bullets enchanted by spells. The bullets aren’t cheap so I only ordered a couple sets of rounds each for you to try out. My ammunition supplier started producing fire, electric, and ice rounds. They activate upon penetration burning, electrocuting, or freezing the unsuspecting victim of their assault. I think triple our usual agreement shall suffice.” He smiled and rubbed his hands together.

“Triple! My God Richard do you think I just grow money like a tree grows leaves?” I threw my hands up in frustration.

He grabbed one of the bullets off of the table, “Maybe you misheard me you vampire filth—elemental bullets.”

“Jesus…” I grabbed six pouches of gold from the inside pocket of my duster and threw them at Richard.

In place of where the pouches once were I placed the elemental bullets and vial of tears.

“As always it’s a pleasure doing business with you. Where is the closest department store?”

Richard thought for a moment, “Turn right when you leave the shop. Follow Washington down to Eighth Street. Turn right again. The road will eventually turn into Tenth Street. The giant blue building with a bunch of cars in the parking lot will be what you are looking for.”

“Thanks. Come on Odin.” I gestured toward the door.

I let myself out and turned right. Odin followed. A few blocks down the street Odin stopped and turned around as if he had noticed something. After glancing down the street there were only shadows cast by streetlights, store fronts, and moonlight.

Odin looked up at me, “Meow,” he then pattered onward. I shrugged my shoulders and started following him until we made it to the intersection of Washington and Eighth.

“Odin, I’m going to carry you the rest of the way.” I bent down and picked him up.

“Meow,” he replied.

Travel was much faster using my flash step. We finally made it to the blue department store Richard talked about with the giant parking lot. People streamed in and out of the store in a constant flow of motion. I had never seen anything like it. Then again, it was my first time having to actually go into a department store. The doors slid open automatically. I walked into the store with Odin. People kept looking at me strangely and giving me a wide berth. A person in the entrance with a nametag that read ‘Berta’ smiled at me.

“Hello Sir, animals aren’t actually allowed in here. No one is supposed to bring weapons into the store either. You’re going to have to take them back out to your vehicle,” Berta told me politely.

“Oh um—Berta, I actually ran here. I didn’t bring a vehicle. Can I leave them here with you?” I asked in response.

Berta acted taken aback by my request, “Well I suppose. We aren’t really supposed to, but maybe just this once.”

Odin gave my hand a head-butt. “Meow.”

Slowly I handed Odin to Berta. She took him carefully and petted him. He seemed to enjoy that very much. Cats, it doesn’t take much to buy them off I guess. I removed my holster and swords and placed them by Berta’s feet. She gave them a long look.

“Are those real, or for some kind of reenactment?” She asked without looking up.

“A reenactment, can you please point me in the direction of the cat food?”

Odin was head-butting Berta’s hand, “Take the first aisle towards the right. Look up at the signs and you will see a sign that says pets. It will be in that area.”

Following her directions I arrived at the pet section of the department store. There were aquariums with fish, toys, and many different kinds of food. The food took up two aisles itself but was divided between dog food and cat food. There was cat food enriched with vitamin D, vitamin B, calcium, bacon flavored, tuna flavored, and different kinds for different breeds.

“Sir, excuse me, but I couldn’t help but notice that you look like a lost puppy. Do you need help finding something?” An average sized woman with long black hair pulled back in a ponytail, emerald green eyes, wearing black leather pants, black boots, a white corset with black threads, and a black leather jacket asked.

“Yes, I need some cat food.” “What breed do you have?” “Um—kitten.”

She giggled, “A kitten isn’t a breed silly. It’s a baby cat.” “Then I guess I need kitten food?” I shrugged.

“Does the kitten prefer wet food or dry food?”

“What is the best?”

The woman grabbed my arm and led me over to the wet food. Her boots clomped against the polished floor. She started reading the labels with a furrowed brow. Finally she grabbed a can and jabbed it toward me.

“Get this! It will be the best for kittens.”

“Thank you Miss.”

“No problem, I better get on with my shopping now. Tell you what, here’s my card in case you need any help later.”

The woman reached into her pocket and handed me a business card.

Ramona Botan Paranormal Investigator/Psychic
Call my name three times!

After I got done reading the card I looked up to ask her some more questions but she was gone. I pocketed the card, grabbed a few more cans of food, and headed back towards the front of the store. Lines of people were waiting to purchase goods at various numbered stations. There were around fifty stations with only five open.

I stopped to talk to a man at the end of a line, “Are they serious with these lines?”

“Yes, they are. It’s bullshit isn’t it,” he retorted.

Shaking my head I said, “In my day sir, a man could go to a market and purchase his things just by throwing a bag of coins at the merchant.”

The man glared at me like I was from a different planet and then took stock of my items. He gestured toward the right. “You have four cans of cat food. You would be better off using the self-checkout.”

I walked in the direction he gestured while the man muttered inaudibly under his breath. There was no waiting and about ten stations with lights above them. I walked up to a machine.

Please hit start or begin scanning your items.

It appeared to work like one of those new phones I seen people using. I tapped the start button.

Begin scanning.

The display showed a picture of a product with a bunch of lines. The cans of food had lines on them so I took one and waved it in front of the machine. It beeped.

Place your item in the bagging area.

It showed a picture of a person placing products in a bag. I did likewise. After scanning all four cans and placing them in a bag I tapped finish.

Please choose your payment method.

I tapped cash. There was a slot in the machine for coins in. I took out a pouch of silver from my duster pocket, removed a couple of coins, and placed them into the coin slot. They rattled around in the machine and then came back out in the coins out slot.

Invalid payment – Please tap try again

I tapped try again, took the coins from the coins out slot, and placed them back into the coins in slot. The machine rattled again. The coins kicked out into the coins out slot.

Invalid payment – Please tap try again

“I’ll give you a double tap you bastard,” I reached for one of my revolvers.

My hand hit my waist. Berta still had my revolvers. I had forgotten. An old woman started hobbling my way. Her gray hair was a tangled mess. It looked like a dusty clump of insulation for a house. She had thick horn-rimmed glasses and a leathery pickled face. Her body was just shapes. Something about her just seemed wrong. Her nametag read ‘Debbie’.

She grabbed one of the coins between two of her sausage fingers, “What is this?”

“Silver, what’s it look like.”

“Sir, this isn’t C-Camelot.” She stated, spraying me with spit.

I removed my sunglasses from my face and cleaned them with my shirt.

Through gritted teeth I retorted, “Ma’am, if this was Camelot you would be burned at a stake.”

Her eyes bugged out of her head. She glared a hole into me with blood thirsty eyes. After being satisfied with the state of the glasses I placed them back on my face. The last thing I needed was her glare to start producing UV rays and burning me. With my right hand I grabbed the bag of cat food.

I tipped my hat at Debbie, “Keep the silver.”

In an instant I flash stepped to where Berta stood by the door.

“Stop him!” Debbie shrieked and pointed at me.

With a swift motion I grabbed all of my belongings off the floor. Berta had a stunned look on her face. The pouch of silver was still in my hands from the pay station.

“Berta, I’ll trade you. God bless.” I shoved the pouch toward her.

She took the pouch with her free hand. I grabbed Odin and flash stepped out of the store.

Richard

Chapter Four

The sun was on the horizon. It was time to head home. Home was a small house by the cemetery. After clearing the steps with a single bound, sunlight caught my hand and it began to sizzle and crack. I sat Odin down on the porch, grabbed the key from my pants pocket, and inserted it into the keyhole. The mechanism clicked as I turned the key. I removed the key, placed it back in my pocket, entered the house, let Odin follow me, and I shut the door behind him. That was close. A small coat and hat rack stood in the foyer. I took my sunglasses off and placed them in an inside pocket of my duster. Next I removed my hat, took off my duster, and placed them on their designated hooks taking note of the new scars on the duster from the bouts of the night. On the last remaining hook I placed my holster. The swords I just leaned against the wall. I walked into the living room. The windows were all painted black. I didn’t want sunlight shining through. There weren’t many decorations in the house. A picture of a rose that Elise had painted hung on the wall above the couch. I took a seat and took my black boots off. My piano sat in the corner next to a bookshelf. I didn’t own a television like most people did. Most of the shows I used to enjoy were no longer on the air. The walls were painted beige. An end table was on my left with a small lamp. I reached over and twisted the switch so that it turned on. Odin curled up on a couple of cushions on the other side of the couch I placed the bag of cat food on the couch and took a seat. Next I slid out of my jeans, folded them, and placed them next to me. I stood and made my way through the dark hallway to the kitchen to grab a couple of bowls for Odin. The kitchen was small. It was big enough that maybe four people could stand comfortably in the room at once. The faucet to the sink had a continuous drip that needed fixed. Dark wooden cabinets were arranged around the room at eye level. The countertop was white with various scratches and chips adorning the surface. The cabinet above the counter and to the right of the sink contained the bowls I was looking for. I opened the cabinet and grabbed two bowls. One of them I filled with water from the sink faucet. Carrying both bowls I walked back to the living room and placed the water bowl on the floor. Odin leapt off of the couch, ran to the bowl, and began lapping up the water immediately. I placed the food bowl beside it empty. Odin looked at the empty bowl and then gave me a look of betrayal and his ears sunk to his head. He looked pitiful.

I grabbed a can of food from the bag, “I’m getting there buddy.”

Odin walked over to me, “Meow!” It sounded more like, “Now!”

I opened the can and dumped it into the food bowl. Odin attacked it furiously.

It was bathroom time next, I made my way down the dim hall branching off the living room. The door to the bathroom was down the hall and on the right. I entered the bathroom in order to look at myself in the mirror. The whole vampires don’t have a reflection thing is poppycock. That’s just something that vampires want the humans that actually do believe in them to think to make them feel a little bit safer but in reality makes them a little more vulnerable. My poor shirt, it was a tattered bloody mess. Skin was showing through the bullet holes. I removed the shirt and threw it in the trash can next to the door with the empty can of cat food. Inspecting my body you wouldn’t have been able to tell I was shot earlier. When turned your body takes a snapshot of itself so it never ages and defaults back to normal after any injuries. My dark brown hair was the same as it’s always been. Long enough to cover most of my face and barely touch my shoulders in the back. My cheekbones were still the most pronounced part of my face. I’m glad I was fairly fit when I was turned. It helps being a muscular vampire over six feet tall. The only real change is my eyes. Instead of the bluish green they were a long time ago they stay a steady shade of crimson red. Dried blood decorated my skin from earlier. Behind me, the shower seemed to be calling my name. I could almost see it beckoning me in the mirror. I undressed the rest of the way and hopped into the small shower. It was the type that is mounted above the bathtub and has a curtain to pull around you. After shutting the curtain, I turned the water on and set it to a fairly warm temperature. The shower was refreshing and for a moment I just stood there and let the water run over me before finally shutting the water off. My towel hung off of a towel rack to the right. After drying off I exited the bathroom and put on some clean underwear from the hallway closet between the living room and bathroom. I grabbed some socks for later, went back into the living room, tossed the socks onto my jeans, and crossed the floor to the record player. The only record I owned was by Beethoven. I set it to play Fur Elise and started my typical meditation by sitting in a lotus position in the center of the room. Odin got up, walked over to me, and crawled into my lap. Meditation is the only time that I can seem to get my mind completely clear. Any other time it is focused on vengeance. Vengeance is patient, but soon Mathias will learn it is rarely kind. I looked up and stared at the painting of the rose on the wall. Odin and I stopped at the same time when we heard the mail slot open and close at the front door. We made our way to the door and there on the floor sat a single gray envelope with my name written on it in red. Odin walked over and picked it up in his mouth and brought it to me. I bent down, picked it up, and opened it.

Dear Vangetsu,

It has come to my attention in recent times that you may bear some ill will towards me. I received your note at the bar. It gave

off a weird vibe. It wasn’t nice of you to kill my associates. We need to meet and have a chat old friend. Meet me tonight at the old factory where you spared my associate. You called him Shorty.

Sincerely, Mathias Blight

He doesn’t even treat me as a real threat. That son of a bitch! I crumpled the letter in my hand and started to tremble. Odin sensed something was wrong and started rubbing against my legs. In order to kill the time I walked back to the couch and sat down. Odin jumped in my lap and closed his eyes. I petted my new companion and grabbed The Art of War from the end table beside me and began to read. At nightfall I decided it was time to get ready to meet with my nemesis. My jeans were folded where I left them with socks on top of them. I grabbed the socks, slid them on, and put the jeans on left leg first. The boots were next. Standing, I stretched and made my way to a closet in the foyer. I grabbed a fresh shirt off of a hanger and pulled it on over my head. The swords were leaning against the wall; I picked them up and tied them around my waist. I took the holster off of its hook and fastened it around me. I put the duster on and then placed the hat on my head. My sunglasses were still in my duster pocket so I pulled them out and slid them into place. Odin walked over to me; I bent down and picked him up. I walked out the door and locked it behind me. I flash stepped back to the old factory and barely felt the strain of the extended distance. The smell of death was overwhelming. I could taste something metallic in the air. It seemed to reverberate with palpable energy. The only time I had sensed it before was when magic had recently been used.

I placed Odin on the ground, “Odin, stay out here. I’m going to check it out inside.”

Odin looked up at me, “Meow.”

The door to the factory was already open. Lights were on inside. It looked inviting—too inviting. Fifteen feet from the ground above me was a large window. I jumped up and through it with a loud crash. I drew a revolver and shot at the doorway while I fell to the concrete floor of the factory. Sure enough, one of the bullets set off a laser sensor activated mine placed at the door. It exploded and doubled the size of the doorway. I landed on my feet and aimed the gun toward the middle of the room. It took me a moment to register the sight of the room in front of me. There were about two dozen dead bodies that littered the floor. Blood was everywhere. Cloaks were tattered around what was left of the bodies they once covered. The man standing in the middle of the carnage was wearing a black coat with gold trim. The lapel held two medallion pins that bore the symbol of an upside down pentagram. The coat covered a black suit. Part of his short brown hair was sticking up and part of it swooped across his forehead. Wrinkles adorned his ugly face and even his crow’s feet seemed to smirk at me. It had to be Mathias.

“Finally we meet again—you bastard!” I yelled across the room.

He cackled. He actually cackled at me.

“Vangetsu, c’mon now can’t we just put our weapons down and talk this over like old friends?” He held his hands out in front of him peacefully. “I am basically your father after all.” He said with a smile.

I grimaced. “Father my ass. You’re as good as dead!”

A frown replaced his smile, “But don’t you want to stand there and listen while I tell you my evil plot? I practiced it in front of a mirror you know.”

“You wasted you’re time asshole. Now stop wasting mine and die!” I flash stepped and drew one of my revolvers.

A moment later I drew my other revolver and opened fire with both guns. Mathias kept flash stepping to avoid my fire. A few bullets caught his duster though. He started to throw knives at me. Now I remembered, he was in a traveling circus for a while as a knife thrower. No wonder that was his weapon of choice. I holstered the guns when they ran out of ammo and drew my swords. Mathias kept throwing knives and I parried them with my swords. We ran at each other. I swung my left sword in a wide arc that Mathias dodged and he repeatedly stabbed my abdomen with both hands before slicing my left arm off with a dagger. I flash stepped backwards a few steps. We faced each other. He crossed his arms while I let mine hang at my side.

Mathias narrowed his eyes to slits, “A little rusty aren’t we, Walking Death?”

I stammered, “I-I haven’t went by that nickname since the Crusades.”

“How many people did you murder in the name of God Vangetsu? How are you any better than me?” He unfolded his arms and jerked his thumb towards himself.

I steeled myself. “That is between me and God. I never said I was better than you; but you cannot kill my family and not expect retribution.”

He quickly shot a dagger in my direction. It struck me in between the eyes and hurt like hell. I grabbed it and threw it back. He dodged but I was able to head him off and slash him across the chest. He flash stepped back a few steps. We faced off again.

“I tire of this Vangetsu. Can we please just –“

His speech was interrupted by my left arm driving a sword through his back and through the heart. It exited his chest.

“Oh my, you have pierced my heart. Damn that left arm of yours! I forgot all about it.” Mathias grabbed the sword sticking through his chest and ran his hand along the length.
He forced blood out of his hand and formed multiple arrows in the air.

My eyes went wide, “My God, your powers are similar to mine.”

He launched the arrows at me quicker than I could flash step out of the way. The force of the impact knocked me to the ground. My sword fell from my hand and clattered when it hit the floor. His blood ran down my clothes and pooled beside me. He flash stepped into it and stood above me drawing his blood back into himself. In a swift movement he grabbed my left hand still holding onto the sword and removed it from his back. He brought it up to plunge it into my chest –

A song began playing, “Your blood is my hunger, your blood is my thirst…”

Mathias dropped my arm and answered his cellphone.

“Hello?”

Pause

“Helena now is not a good time.”

Pause

“I understand. Thanks for the warning. I love you. Goodbye.”

Through clenched teeth I muttered, “Are you having some family trouble?”

“That was my daughter. The ringtone was her singing. She has a beautiful voice. Apparently, The Legion of Light is sending reinforcements. I gotta run.”

“Mathias, wait. Your daughter, I will find her, and I will kill her.”

He grinned at me, “Good luck. She is a Belmont now. I’m a well-connected vampire but even I don’t hold a candle to them. Word is that they have a direct line to Lucifer.”

Mathias flash stepped through the newly renovated door of the factory cackling all the way. My entire body throbbed with pain.
Wincing, I let out a grunt as I sat up, “Lucifer – great how am I supposed to deal with that?”

The only sound that replied was my own heavy breathing. My body forced out another grunt as I leaned over to grab my left arm from the ground. It still held the sword. I placed the arm where it was lobbed off and it began to reattach itself. In the meantime I grabbed my fallen sword with my other hand and sheathed it. When I glanced up I noticed the Egyptian man standing in the distance next to a machine. He was playing with thread again.

I waved towards him, “Any chance I could get you to stop screwing around for a minute and help me?”

Like before, his head snapped up and he stared at me intently. This time his eyes narrowed before he disappeared into a cloud of threads.

Loud footsteps interrupted the silence he left behind. I turned to see a dark haired woman running towards me.

She held Odin in the crook of her left arm. The woman stopped a few feet next to me. Her right arm fell straight to her side as she took in the surroundings. She curled her right hand into a fist and lightning began to erupt around her. Her hair began to lift up from her head. Runes were carved into finger length gloves that she wore on both hands. The runes on her right hand were glowing. The lightning caused her pale skin to appear even paler. The black dress she had on started to sway in the wind that seemed to also be curling around her. Shorts kept her body hidden when the dress flew up high enough. The loud footsteps were caused by black combat boots. She didn’t appear to be friendly judging by how tense her body posture was and the way she was glaring at me.

I made eye contact, “Lady, if you’re going to self-combust or something can you please put my cat down.”

“Vangetsu Ocelot. Shut your mouth,” she seethed through tight red lips.

“Look Witch, I don’t want any trouble –“

The Witch moved her hand and my body lost control of itself. It shot up into the air. My feet dangled barely above the ground and my arms hung limp at my sides.

The Witch walked up until she was inches from me, “You should have thought about that you filthy bloodsucker. You are wanted for murder in the first degree. Witnesses peg you at the scene of multiple attacks against forces of The Legion of Light. At least they were able to put up a good fight this time. You look like shit.”

“Could you stop with your hocus pocus and let me explain?”

“You have nothing to explain. I also witnessed you leaving Richard’s Magic Emporium myself. He is a rogue wizard in league with The Order of Darkness. Our sources say that he was working with a special type of vampire that was harder to kill and wore some kind of long dark cloak or duster. Richard is also on the payroll of another vampire that goes by the name Mathias Blight.”

It clicked. Her words froze the gears turning in my brain faster than ice. Mathias was always one step ahead of me because Richard kept me from getting too close until he wanted me to find him. Mathias had been committing crimes while impersonating me.

“Lady, please let me –“

She moved her hand and the lightning flew at me; it lit me up like a Christmas tree.

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