Tuesday, March 26, 2013



Vicky waited for the paperboy.  He was late as usual. 
She would pretend to be impatient, but secretly she was delighted.  The last time, she had seen how Mr. Horsham had looked her over, as if trying to see how she looked with her clothes off.  She had just been waiting for another excuse to be alone with him.
She read everything about him there was to be read, had followed him to nightclubs, and even snuck in a few times, watching from a distance as he handed out tip money like it was water.  He liked the girls, that's for certain.  Tall, willowy blondes.  Such as herself.  Well, such as herself after going to the salon every two weeks. 
She checked a hand mirror.  The Horsham estate had almost no mirrors -- actually none that she'd ever seen.  She had a few too many dark roots to be perfect, but not bad.  Blond and beautiful and young.
He was older than his official biography, she'd decided.  Not that he showed it.  No, he had one of those tall, lean bodies that never got flabby and dark lustrous hair that never greyed or grew thin.
But the news stories just went too far back for him to be only 40 years old or so. 
He had to be lonely, possibly even depressed.  He never got out of the house until after dark, slept all day.  It was time he had a woman take care of him full time.
The paperboy -- actually a middle-aged man -- finally showed up. 
 "The truck was late," he muttered, and she believed him because he'd obviously been running, sweat dripping off his fat face.
"It best not happen again if you want your bonus," she snapped.  Mr. Horsham paid bonuses that were bigger than his wages, if you pleased him.  She planned to please him very much indeed.
He wasn't up when she got to the kitchen.  His meal was laid out, but the light under the bedroom door was still dark.  She looked around at the curtains.  Wouldn't it be nice if they were open when he got up, catching the last vestiges of the day?  She went to the window, but she couldn't see anything that would open them.  They seemed almost permanently attached.  How strange.
"What are you doing?" The voice was guttural, unlike the smooth tone she was used to hearing from Mr. Horsham.
He was in the shadows, wearing a bathrobe.  He seemed to have ...an erection.  She flushed.  She thought she was prepared for anything, but now that the moment had come, she felt uncertain.  His silhouette wasn't quite right, as if he was wearing something on his face, something that protruded.
Nevertheless, she pirouetted prettily, a move she'd practiced a hundred times in the mirror at home.  She had a great body, and she knew it.
"You have the perfect body."
She couldn't believe he said it.  She'd dreamed of him saying that, but not like this. 
"Why thank you, sir.  It is at your service."  There.  She said it.  A little more bluntly and crudely than she'd planned, but then again she hadn't expected her boss to be already aroused when she said it.
He stepped into the light.  He was wearing a mask.  A fright mask of some kind.  Not funny at all.  He seemed to be running toward her, why would he be doing that?  She tried to plaster a smile on her face, opened her arms.
As he got to within a few feet, she saw he wasn't wearing a mask.  She couldn't move.  She couldn't scream.  She slammed against the dining table, and fell to the floor.
Then he was on top of her, ripping her clothes off.  Violating her.  She had dreamed of this, of being ravished.  But there was nothing sexy about it.  He was grunting or something, nuzzling her neck.   Biting her.  She tried to push him off.  She'd changed her mind.  She didn't want sex after all.  She didn't want to be here.  She'd sue him, instead.
But she could barely raise her arms.  He continued to bite her, and she felt liquid flowing down her neck and chest.  Had they spilled the orange juice?  He was sloppy, disgusting. 
He reared up as he came, and she saw his face one last time.  The face of a monster leering down on her.  He cupped her breast, and leaned over and took a bite out of it.  The pain was somewhere in the distance, happening in another time and place, to someone else. 
The light dimmed, and she could no longer see him, only feel him -- eating, eating.

She had the perfect body.  Just the right proportions of meat and fat.  He tried to hire his servants that way, figuring it never hurt to have a walking pantry full of meat for emergencies.  She had no family, few friends.  Otherwise, she wouldn't be working for him.
When he was finished, he took what was left of her and stuffed her down the special disposal he'd had installed in his kitchen. 
He'd warned her.  She'd been skulking about for months, even stalking him on his nightly rounds.  She'd almost been his meal several times, but he preferred not to kill anyone who could be connected to him, whenever possible.
But this had been necessary.  She had broken one too many rules of the house.  She'd dared to research his past.  It was only a matter of time before he disposed of her, one way or the other.  This had been nice.  It was a little early, only a few days since returning from Scotland, but sometimes he needed a little booster.
It wouldn't cause any problems.  It had been years since he'd eaten an employee.  Didn't want to do too much of that, they tended to notice.  But no one would doubt he had fired Vicky -- and no one would miss her; she had been a little bitch to everyone around her.
He turned on the laptop, washing down the taste of her with orange juice.  A red flag immediately popped up.  He read it and picked up his cellphone.
"Sanders.  Get Twilight ready for a trip to America.  We'll stop in New York tomorrow, and fly on to the west coast the next day.  That's right.  No, not California.  Portland, Oregon.”

Less than an hour later, he settled back in his seat, the plane's blinds permanently shuttered since a jet plane could fly from darkness to light in minutes.  At long last, a hint of Terrill's location.  Nothing more than a hint, but it was more than he'd found in decades.
It didn't matter how long it took, Terrill would pay for what he’d done.

"They are food, Horsham.  Nothing else.  Don't forget it."
They had waylaid a stagecoach, taking the money.  That's all that would've happened if one of the men hadn't gotten foolish and taken a shot at them.  The bullet hit Terrill in the shoulder, and they were both fell upon the occupants of the coach in seconds.  Ripping them to shreds.  It was a snack, nothing more, both of them having fed the night before.
One of the humans was a little girl, and Horsham hesitated -- just a second -- remembering his own daughter at that age.  Terrill tore into her, and she was dead in seconds. By the time he was done with her, his bullet wound was completely healed.
"Don't you remember being human at all?"  It was possible that Terrill didn't remember, since he was many hundreds of years older.   Since the disappearance of their Maker, Michael, he was perhaps the oldest vampire on earth.
"I remember hating myself and everyone around me.  I remember being beaten, and working from dawn until dusk, going to bed hungry, whipped when I didn't work hard enough.  I remember going back and tearing the overseer's head off, but not before I had taken my time eating just enough of him to keep him alive.  I remember never having to answer to another being again."
"Even Michael?"
Terrill laughed.  He never seemed to have any doubts.  He reveled in his existence, did as he pleased, but had an eerie sense of how far to push it.   Michael the Maker had advised to Horsham to follow Terrill.
"The bastard is a survivor, I'll give him that," Terrill said, was strangely subdued. 
Michael had been quiet for years now, eating only when he needed to, the rest of the time holed up in his library reading book after book about human philosophy and religion.  It was strangely disturbing to Horsham.  To all vampires.  What was he doing?  Why was he acting this way?
When Michael had simply disappeared one day, no one had been surprised.  Perhaps he'd just grown weary, had walked out to greet the day's dawning.  Or perhaps he had gone to ground, only to emerge centuries or millenniums later.  He'd done it before.
Michael had been a kind of Mentor to other vampires. 
Terrill felt no such obligation.  He led by example, and it was a bad example for most vampires who followed his aggressiveness without his uncanny sense of self-preservation. 
"The fewer vampires, the less they notice us.  The less they notice us, the better," Terrill said, when Horsham realized he was now the third oldest -- second oldest? -- vampire.  Horsham almost never felt fear, but when his traveling companion (he wouldn't say friend) said this, he felt a tinge of trepidation.  Not only wasn't Terrill following the example of Michael by helping his kind, he was working actively for their doom.
Horsham almost broke off from Terrill at that moment. 
He would always regret that he hadn’t.

The private jet landed in New York and refueled.   Horsham lost about four hours of night, which was too bad.   They landed in Portland five hours later, losing another couple of hours of night.  It was mid-evening, time enough to get a late meal, but not do any business.
He booked a room at the Benson after midnight, and then went on the prowl, getting a sense of the town.  He got back before dawn, and slept the day until 3:00 p.m.  It was a dark day, drizzling, so he bundled up and ventured out.
He got to the Portland police station just as the day shift was ending.
Detective Brosterhouse was getting ready to go home.
"Please, Detective.  I flew all the way from London just to talk to you."
"What's your interest in the case?" the Detective had already taken off his coat and sat back down at his desk.  
"I've been following similar cases in England.  I wanted to follow up, see if it matched the details."
"What do you want to know?" 
There was a skeptical look in the human's eyes.  Horsham realized he hadn't thought it through sufficiently. He'd expected a bored civil servant, going through the motions of solving the murder of a prostitute.  It was obvious that this Detective Brosterhouse was fully engaged.  Horsham had given him a false name, a Mr. Harkins, Private Investigator, and showed him the false I.D. in case anything went wrong.  But it wouldn't take long for a real detective to discover who had arrived in Portland from London on this day.
"I'd like the see the crime scene first, if I may..." 
Brosterhouse shrugged.  "Sure.  Room 221 at the Travelin' Inn.  Costs 35.00 bucks a night, but watch out for the bedbugs.  They bite."
"Could I perhaps entice you to lead me through it?  Everything you've found?"
"We've found almost nothing.  The only thing interesting about this case is how much interest there is in it.  Normally, the murder of the prostitute only grieves the family, and half the time not even them.  First that cop from Bend, and now you.  So what is it about this case that interests you?"
"Cop from Bend?"
"The victim was an old girlfriend of his..." Brosterhouse said.  "If Carlan hadn't most likely been in Bend when the murder occurred, I'd have bet anything it was him.  I still think it might have been."
Bend was a nearby town, apparently.  Horsham had a strange inkling that there was a connection.  The mighty Terrill, terror of Europe for centuries, vicious and remorseless had stopped killing many years before.  He'd disappeared.
Why?  What had changed?   Horsham remembered how Michael had been at the end, seeming almost regretful.  But most of all, he remembered how he himself had once begun to doubt the killing of humans.  How Mary had changed him, until...
Horsham was aware of the irony.  Once, Terrill has been a vampire’s vampire, and it was Horsham who had doubts, who had regrets.  Once, it was Terrill who killed indiscriminately, and cared for no one and nothing, and Horsham who looked for villains, and who had cared for the innocent and the weak.
With one act, Terrill had changed Horsham forever.  Without Mary, Horsham had lost all interest in humans.   It was perhaps ironic that Terrill had changed, that they had both changed – but it didn’t matter.  Terrill must die.  Nobody, human or vampire, would stand in the way of this end.

So now, unexpectedly, Terrill had fed again.   If it was true that Terrill had somehow grown a conscience, what would he do? 
Horsham remembered his own response when the human he loved was murdered.  Suddenly, he was certain what Terrill would do and where he would go.
"The girl was from Bend?"
"Newly arrived in the big city.  A lamb to slaughter.'
"Let me buy you dinner, Detective.  Tell me what you know."
Brosterhouse sat behind his desk like a statue.  Massive, ponderous.  He nodded his head once.  "It couldn't hurt.  This is about as cold a case as it could be..."
The policeman took him to a steak house, where Horsham picked at an overcooked hamburger while Brosterhouse gave him all the information they had.  Which wasn't much.  Which wasn't really anything at all.  Except for one detail.
"She was untouched, except for the puncture wound?"
"Yeah, it was weird.  Someone laid her out and wrapped her up like he gave a damn.  Drained her of blood and then treated her gently.  Sicko, weirdos, creeps.  There are all kinds, all kinds."
The detective didn't have much more information than that.  It didn't matter.  That wasn't the real reason Horsham had enticed him out of the police station.  Horsham didn't leave witnesses.  Where he went was nobody's business -- especially a cop who seemed a little too curious.
They headed back to Brosterhouse's car, and as they passed an alley, Horsham grabbed the huge policeman like he was a little child and threw him into the filth and darkness of the alley.  The cop was florescent to Horsham's eyes.  He saw the big man trying to see in the darkness, drawing his gun quicker than Horsham expected, firing a shot and getting lucky, hitting Horsham right between the eyes.
Horsham stumbled away, running further into the alley.  He could take any wound, as long as he fed quickly, but a shot to his head was enough to weaken him, and he ran rather than continue the fight.  He'd come back when it was all over.
A couple more shots came his way, but both missed him.
At the end of the alley, he found a homeless man leaning against the bricks and Horsham drank his blood in seconds.  He kept going, not stopping to feed further.  Staying in darkness, using every instinct developed in centuries of hunting, he made his way back to his motel room without anyone seeing his blood-splattered clothing and smeared face.  He fell into bed, still weak.  The bullet had fallen out in the nightmarish journey, but the wound to his head still made him dizzy.  He'd need a few hours to recover.
After that, he'd get out of town.  The detective would be looking for him.  The whole Portland police department would be looking for him.  
But when Horsham didn't want to be found, he was nearly impossible to track.  He'd find out where Bend was, and hope Brosterhouse didn't remember his curious questions about the town.

No comments: