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and sneaking meals when they will allow me the privilege. Did you know that a group of vampires is called a flight? I always thought it was a coven. Apparently, that is only true for those vampires that practice the pagan rituals or want to imagine that they are part of some strange satanic ‘thing’ that quite frankly would be a load of bullshit if they did not take it so seriously. Oh yes, and there are also some vampires belonging to Wicca. That laughable concept is also quite serious, mostly among the newer vampires. Mary scorns both groups as idiodic sucktards. Her language, not mine. I am, myself, mystified as to how these younger ones even get past the first part of the Rede of Wicca. The Satanists I can understand. Mary is actually not a succubus. That term is a misnomer. I was informed that the term is applied to the demons who act in a similar role. As they would have it, they are called the Hedone Pact. A pact is a specific breed of vampires. She is ancient, but she does not act the part. There is no must of the grave or quiet reflections on her life, or even long drawn out soliloquies droning on about her life. She even sleeps in a huge bed surrounded by satin, fur and pillows, and uses a thick comforter to hide herself from the sun. She just goes about her business as she has done for centuries. The part about vampires and the sun is unfortunately true. Most of them rush to their tombs and coffins each night. Apparently, only the more powerful ones can sleep outside of one, though any one of them can sleep in the dirt. If you have not guessed, Mary plies her trade on the street and over the internet, with the enviable position of getting paid to draw from the foolish men that ask for her services. She is a pimp and a whore all in one pale, gorgeous package. She tells me that I am quite stunning in form, even despite my obviously undead features. She lamented to me that had I been in a city during my life, I could have been a model or a star. I laughed at her for that. I was a hard-bitten farmwife in South Dakota during the depression, not a glamour girl. She smiled quietly and informed me that she had once been a farm girl herself.
It is an escort service of Vampires. All 30 of her girls and boys were created by her, and they are her most exclusive whores. There are human ones too, but there is another system for them. Nobody knows the truth of it except her flight. There are six at this chapter house. Mary, Johnny Fabulous, Sakura, Diamond Devon, Paula St.Peter, and Rough Roddy. They are her corporate heads, and have their own houses somewhere in the world. Obviously, with the exception of Mary, those are their street names. Around us, they refer to themselves with those names. Mary goes by the name Innocence. There are others as well. The Americas are just as much a hodgepodge of undead as they are of human races. Lots of them fled here trying to escape the vampire purges of the last three centuries. Lots of them are masterless and lost. Some are still trying to find their way in this land. My little horde and I have been taken to a house that contains other undead besides the Hedone masters. There is moody Zachary Brown, who is a Phobos Pact vampire. He is the house bouncer and guard. He stands 6’7” and is so bristling with natural muscle that he appears to be carved by a renaissance master. As an undead, I am immune to his aura, but I am told that when he allows it to express, humans have been known to piss their pants just from the sight of him. Then there is the lawyer, Dominic Cantor. He is a Charon Pact, and is ruddy and bloated as one would expect of a vampire that has crawled the battlefields of the wars of the last three centuries. He is quite shocking to behold, and mostly insane. He is the one that drinks the most blood of all of them. Mary tells me that this is to compensate for the fact that he is very rarely allowed to enjoy his alternative. He is extremely interested in us, which is creepy. I have caught him sniffing at my door or at the doors of my companions, like a hound, with an expression on his face of sexual ecstasy. Mary has caught him at it as well, and she is both disgusted and amused. Finally there is Claus Inberg. Claus fascinates me. He is a possessing spirit; that is a human incorporeal that has developed the ability to possess and use corpses. Currently, he inhabits the body of a mastiff, though that might change soon. Just the other day, he had to have Dominic cut out his belly so that his entrails did not drag. He is the first incorporeal that I have ever met.
That is all of us, hiding here in the house because we must. The government has declared a free for all on the undead. I think I know why. It is because the terrorists are using the undead. In this crazy world where everything is so complex, some ideas are simple, at least. Mary believes it is for some other reason, but she does not know why. I cannot help her there. Cal hasn’t helped either. He just sits in his room and stares at his hands. We have to watch him closely. He tried to go hunting the other day to test her theory, and he wound up dragging a human back to this place. Mary was horrified. She had to have Dominic kill the unfortunate when it was apparent that he was not going to become a ghoul. She asked us first, but all three of us declined. I may talk a lot about it to scare humans who are foolishly unaware of the danger I pose, but only Caldwell of all of us actually enjoys it. The rest of us just kill when we need to and usually the murder is done in the oblivion of frenzy and injury. None of the Hedone Pact can bear the sight of true death. It makes them all sick. Oh sure they drink blood all the time, but they never kill if they can help it. Dominic is another story. He is obsessed with death. He killed the poor bum as efficiently as breathing and threw the body at us while we stood, shocked at the efficiency of his kill. Then, we did as we were expected to do and cleaned up the mess. That, at least we can do without a qualm.
“Janice, I swear I am going to fang Dominic if I catch him at your door one more time.” Mary’s irritated voice grated. She sat down hard, displacing dust from the couch. She was wearing cotton jersey sleepware and had her hair up in ties. If she wasn’t a thousand years old, I would swear she was just another modern twentysomething. I shrugged and flipped through the channels again. I suppose I looked like a frumpy old housewife just past her prime in my sweatshirt and jeans. I don’t bother with sleepwear. There is no point to it when you don’t sleep. “He can’t help it. You don’t let him kill often enough, and we smell like blood anyway.” Mary’s nose twitched. I knew that meant that her fangs had just descended. “Yeah. Remind me to get you all some perfume to mask that.” “No. It never smells right on cold flesh. You know that.”
“Hnnh. We have our own scents.” Said Mary. “Do you think we have lived in darkness and death this long and not given it consideration?” “I wasn’t aware that vampires liked to stink.” I said. She bristled. “Not stink! Our perfumeries are the best in the world!” “What so you like to be able to be detected by werewolves?” Mary stopped, her mouth open. “Oh right. But then it might mask that smell of blood. They are attracted to it as well, you know.” She put her hands to her temples. “This house is too full for my taste.” She said. “Flights only work for the incredibly young. I am a solitary hunter. It chafes on my corporate board as well. They would rather be at home in their own haunts.” “You do not have to keep us. We will survive.” “Yes I do. You are now feral, and we must find out how to help you survive.” “We have survived, Lady Mary. You just want to experiment on us like everyone else.” Mary pouted and stared, half smiling. “You are blunt, farmwife. At least you are not adverse to the thought.” “I have the feeling that you will be more careful and wise than the human researchers.” “That is true. But you are not bothered by this?” I shrugged. “To tell you the truth, lady Mary, I have never known of a time that I was not being experimented on. Is life itself not a grand experiment? Besides, we would be testing ourselves as free creatures soon enough anyway. At least with you we have the benefit of a millennium of experience with the reanimated.” “You are not concerned about my intentions?” “No. What is human morality or consideration to those who have died once?” Mary looked away, unable to meet my eyes. “You betray your youth to say something like that. You fought demons and you do not know?” she asked quietly. “In some ways you are right, but you have never been forced to look at the abyss and see nothing but despair.” I paused. Her quietness had a sense of hopelessness that I could not fathom. I looked down at the coffee table. It was full of typical showcase books highlighting exotic and sunny locations. There were no
pictures of night anywhere. Even the wax fruit bowl on the table was decorated with images of the sun. “It doesn’t matter to me as long as you give me the nutrition to reattach or regenerate whatever I lose. You will have to run it by Abe and Tony, but I am sure they feel the same way. We do not feel pain anymore, so physical harm is not as frightening as it is for you or a living human. I just. . .I just don’t know why I was chosen to become this creature.” I said. “Even if you were to experiment upon me to my death I would be grateful. At least I would know whether or not I have been cursed for eternity.” Mary smiled sadly. “Of course. That is all we ever want to know. I have heard that from a thousand fledglings in my lifetime.” She considered me for a moment and curled her feet under her, relaxing. She looked every inch the creature of this millennium, except for her alabaster skin and luminous purple and gold eyes with their red light shining behind her pupils. Those eyes were hypnotic and alluring, even to me. We stared calmly at each other for a long time. I wanted so very badly to open my mind to her. “Your mind still eludes me. I want to find out how to unlock your potential. I feel like there is something missing in you that is only starting to be expressed.” “So what? According to you all undead increase as they exist.” “Yes and no.” she said, taking a wax pomegranate from the coffee table arrangement. She tumbled it in her hands. “We do not know what you are becoming. We do not know your power other than that of survival. The others of your race have been evolving.” I knitted my brows. This was news to me. “How so?” I asked. “I have not noticed.” “They have lost their scent.” She said. “They have gotten faster. Wilkinson is somewhere here.” At this I sat up. “He is not!” “He is. I have been tracking him. We have been tracking him; cleaning up his little messes. Even here in Harlan.” I shook my head slowly, mouth agape. “I have not been told. We should have been on top of those! Why didn’t we know?” Mary shrugged. The hair on my arms stood out.
“Mortal humans are so fickle, you see.” She held the pomegranate to the light. “It does not change at all. They are always abandoning the old for the new. You, my dear, are quite old in their perception and Dr. Meyers, I am afraid, is on no position to continue experimentation. This country flirts disastrously for the need to be immortally young. Meyers would not promise such a thing, but his partner. . .” She opened the fruit, revealing it for the painted thing that it was. She threw one end at me. I caught it. “Chew on that.” I threw it back at her. “Eyuk! No!” I said. “I may be dead, but I’m not about to eat wax. I can’t even eat the real thing.” “Your type I creatures do.” I stopped. “What?” “They eat everything. Anything. Didn’t you notice?” What the hell was she getting at? Of course they don’t they’re just like me. Scavengers. “They cannot. They cannot.” I repeated, staring at the rest of the fruit. “This is not possible.” “Then there is a new type.” She said, “They are just as virile as the Type I, but they are more like living beings than ever. More like us than ever.” “Do you have proof?” “Personal accounts of attacking their hordes only. They have to die, my dear.” “I agree. Have you told the others?” “Not yet. I do not trust them. Even Abe and Tony are questionable, but you, you are like a sister that I lost so long ago. A woman truly of this world.” “I do not deserve that trust yet. I do not trust you.” Mary laughed effortlessly. “I do love your candor. I would never expect you to reciprocate. That is very wise of you, actually. I am twice over a child of darkness, you know; ancient, damned, cursed, bloodsucking, sex fiend that I am. You cannot deny that. I have gloried in it and despaired of it. But let me indulge my fancies. It has been a long time since I have met a fellow Innocent in this dark and savage world.”
“I appreciate your trust.” I said politely, and picked up the other half of the fruit. I set the pieces on the table and looked away from her at the T.V. At I sat watching, I felt a nagging hunger creep over me. At first I was puzzled, but the nagging would not go away. “I am hungry.” I said. “Something’s wrong.” Mary looked at me, concerned. “Hungry now? You don’t need to feed regularly.” “Something’s wrong. Where are they?” “Out with the boys.” Suddenly, the door slammed open, and a group of haggard Phobos Pact vampires stumbled through the door. Abe and Tony were with them, both missing limbs. I rushed to their side. “What is this?” Abe looked up at me, his eyes full of terror. “They. . .we failed. They could not be contacted!” “Who?” “The horde. We. . .the slaughter. They are being made to be resistant.” “No. Why didn’t you take me?” “We were already out for the evening. Zach was showing us his haunts. You were hanging with the girls. It was an accident.” Said Tony. “They were in the sewers. Abe sniffed them out. Hell Mary you should have seen them fight! By god, even we are not so vicious.” He lifted Abe’s shirt. He was missing the soft tissue of his entire abdomen. Mary licked her lips. Now that Abe and Tony were close, I began to feel my perception dim. They were on the verge of losing it. “Lock us up!” I strained, the feeling infecting me. “Hurry! The basement.” Mary directed. “Screw the carpets. Get the others! We need to heal them quickly!” As I was being led down, I could only just keep my psyche intact. Abe and Tony were already straining against Roddy’s vampiric grasp. We were all put into chains. Sometimes I do not know what is happening during a frenzy. This time I knew vividly because I was not wounded. It is like being taken for a ride. The body follows its own passions and needs while the mind desperately tries and fails to stop what is happening. These are the most horrifying moments for me. There is no control, there is
only hunger. I was in frenzy on behalf of my companions. They were insensible terrors, ripping into living humans as if they were fish. The screams echoed in my head. Dominic watched from the shadows, ecstasy on his face. He was getting fed at last. When the feast ended I was curled up on the concrete floor, and Dominic was pushing something into my hand. I grabbed onto it. It was a coffee cup filled with blood. I drained it without a thought and instantly wished that I had not. He had a triumphant look on his face. The blood was foul, tainted with something that I could not place. “Poison?” I strained, wishing that I could gag. “I can’t vomit, you idiot.” I tried to leap at him, but my chains held me to the wall. Dominic smirked. “I saw you, you had eyes. You knew what you were doing! Hah, you are just like me.” He kissed me on the forehead, “My dear you were glorious. I have learned much from you and your brothers. This was no poison. You are the first to think that my own blood is not tasty. Did Mary get to you first?” “I’m not a fucking vampire you leering bastard! I don’t care if you taste like a dog’s ass, I’ll piece you out!” Dominic streaked forward and took my hands, pressing his vicious mouth into mine. I bit into his tongue. He tasted as vile as his blood. He was quivering and filthy, and now his blood was pouring down my throat. “I have been waiting for you to be chained down here. I have wanted you since I first dragged you into this house.” His mind pressed into mine, dragging with it all of his years of death and blood. The shock of him in my head made me scream. He stepped back, reeling. His teeth were long and jagged. He had more than one set of fangs. His eyes blazed with red light and he clutched his head in pain. His tongue gushed blood all over the floor. The sound of footsteps thundered down the stairs. The door burst open. Johnny and Mary stood there in shock. Mary recovered first and restrained Dominic easily. He was fitted with the same silver coated chains that I had on. Johnny unlocked me and I instinctively curled into him. I have not felt so violated in a very long time. I was brought upstairs and made to sit in the kitchen. Mary examined me thoroughly. She was troubled and furious. “He gave you his blood! God! He tried to rape you!” “It. . .his blood is foul.” I whispered.
“Yes I know. I felt that when you screamed. His blood must have triggered something.” She grabbed my face and looked into my eyes, felt my mouth and listened to my chest. She scratched her head. “Wait, you heard me?” “Yes, loud and clear, right into our heads. Listen. If you start to feel more power, let me know immediately.” “Abe and Tony. . .” Johnny turned back downstairs. I felt as if a thousand bees were buzzing in my head. “They are fine. They should be better by morning. Now, are you going to frenzy again?” “No. I think that is over for me. I am not the wounded one. I could not feel them until they were almost on the doorstep!” “I have the house warded, of course.” Said Mary. “We are nearly undetectable as long as there is at least one of us six in here.” “I need to go down there to them.” “If you wish. They are not going to hurt you?” “They cannot.” I said, standing up. The room began spinning. Mary caught me as I lost my balance. My vision dimmed. Mary seemed to understand what was happening. “I am going to pass out.” I said, astonished, just as everything went dark. I woke inside a pine box. Panicked, I beat against the lid and it flew open. I sat and panted, my fears overwhelming me. Mary sat in a chair next to me. “Sorry about that. I forgot that you were claustrophobic.” “I don’t suppose you’ve ever been trapped in a crate?” “Oh yes. I suppose it is not as traumatic for us. When we lie in a space like that, we sort of switch off. We dream, you know. Did you dream?” “No.” Mary checked me over again, and seemed satisfied and frustrated all at once. “Well, we are back to normal, maybe. If you were changing. . .” “Why would I change? I’m already reanimated.” “We don’t know what will affect you three. We have never shared blood with someone like you. We were afraid from your reaction that you would become one of us.”
“Nnngh.” I groaned. “Can you still hear my mind?” “No. No, it sort of fizzled out as soon as the sun came up.” “The sun is still up?” “Yes.” I got up and shuffled to the door. Mary watched me, but did not get up. I felt sluggish, and realized that this was not the sensation of rigor mortis, but the sensation of a person getting out of bed in the morning. “Aren’t you supposed to be dead now?” “I am up early this evening.” I opened the door and went upstairs. Cal sat in the kitchen, reading the evening paper. He looked at me as I walked in. “Oh, Janice. About last light. . .” “You didn’t frenzy with us.” I said. “I never have.” He said. “I thought you would kill me if you found out, so I just sort of went along with it. What about you? Are there any. . .symptoms?” “No. I just went to sleep for a few hours. I slept, Cal.” Cal smiled weakly. “That is interesting. We will have to see if that is a single instance or recurring. Yes I saw that you were unconscious, but I was not aware that you were sleeping. What was it like?” “I am strangely refreshed.” “Your eyes are not jaundiced. You have color to your cheeks. Something must have happened.” “You mean I look alive?” “Not quite. No. You are still quite undead my dear.” “Reanimated.” “Yes indeed.” He said casually. “Come, sit. I wish to have a look at you in the sunlight.” I sat down next to him. He got up and went for his instruments. When he came down I was made to submit to a full physical. When he had taken every measurement and observation he could think of, he took cell samples and even tasted my flesh. This was nothing new. What was new was that he went about it as if I was potentially infectious. “Doc, so tell me, is it terminal?” Cal smiled thinly.
“Oh I think so.” He said deadpan, swirling my sample in a solution and holding it up to the light. I rested my head on the kitchen table, trying to sort through the events of the previous evening. With evolving zombie reanimates, a reaction to vampire blood and a ghoul physician already on my plate I wondered what this night would bring.
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