Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dark Eclipse Magazine #15

     A new issue of Dark Eclipse Magazine is out, and yet again it's full of thrills and chills! Swing by the Amazon page if you own an e-reader and contribute to a local publisher, the cost is only a $1.99, and helps local writers get their creative juices flowing!

Dark Eclipse Magazine #15

Son of a Preacher Man: Pound for A Pound

Son of a Preacher Man Part One

        Night in New York has always been a comforting time for me, for as long as I’d lived here. After migrating here in the early sixties, I’d had the fortune to blend into the growing crowd of delinquents and hippies that were fighting for basic human rights, allowing my rather illicit nightly activities a bit of leeway, the police more worried of some Satanic cult springing up than of a Vampire stalking the streets. I always made certain, especially in those days before the organ trade was worth noting, to thoroughly loot my victims.
Back then such finds were easy to move through pawn shops, or to melt down into small bars of gold or silver. Cell phones with tracking devices were never anything I needed to fear, nor credit cards; cold hard cash was easy to find so long as I looked hard enough.
I can feel the harsh rays of the sun ebbing as the fiery orb slowly sets over the horizon, my rigor stricken body gaining mass and strength as it did every night. My burrow or grave dirt, dug beneath my hall closet, was far too narrow for a man to try and fit into.
Thankfully I wasn’t a man.
Death has a funny way of granting you a new perspective that not many are so fortunate to know. For example, flexibility. With my body being nothing but rubbery bones that suffer from nightly decay, I can squeeze and slither about like the fabled serpent of Eden. Twisting my limbs, groaning in pleasure as my joints crackle and pop from the tunnels tight grip on me, I writhe and push with my muscles, inching my way up from my sunless burrow, pushing the trapdoor up and away from the hidden tunnel with one gangly arm as I emerge, covered in dirt and grime that mars my pallid flesh with dark streaks of mud.
Pulling myself bodily from my nest, I lean back and allow my bones to realign themselves within my body, cracking and grinding as they slide back into the proper positions to allow me the grace of appearing human. Reaching up with long fingered hands, I pull one of the many towels I keep here from a low shelf, wrapping it around my naked lower half as I struggle to stand.
Even the dead have modesty you know.
I push the door open, ignoring the gagged cries of my house guest dangling in the spare bedroom, and slowly pad my way to the bathroom in hopes of getting a hot shower. I do so love my hot showers these nights, as they not only make me feel human, if only for the slightest  while, they also heat my the stolen blood coursing through my dead veins, allowing it to move faster than the sluggish, clotted rate it moves now.
The hiss of the shower reminds me of my nightly chores that I have to do, from finishing the new set of jewelry for the upcoming wedding at the Temple to checking in at one of the many businesses I own. Stepping beneath the scalding water, I sigh as my pale flesh begins to grow pink.
“The only one who could ever teach me…” I begin singing softly, watching the swirling brown water, carrying the filth of my warren, down the drain in a lazy circle. My shower, like all showers, is brief; I don’t sweat and have no discernable odor to speak of, so bathing is a rather pointless endeavor barring I dirty myself.
I spritz on a few pumps of cologne before dressing myself. My thermostat tells me the weather outside is a tad frightful, so I make sure to dress appropriately. A navy blue sweater with a black vest and matching slacks should be more than enough to ward away the cold. My wrist length gloves fit nice and tight, as do my boots. One thing I learned from my time in Poland was, despite their horrid war crimes, the German’s knew how to dress for the cold.
I check on Oleg before I leave, tapping his catheter a few times to make certain I didn’t need to change it yet, his IV bag still half full with fluids. He scowls at me (as best as one can with a ball gag strapped into their mouth) and gurgles what I can only assume to be an insult at my. I smile and pat his face lovingly.
“Now try not to get too crazy while I’m gone,” I say to him with a smile as I move to set up the stereo, turning it to the classical channel just in time to catch the beginning of one of Traetta’s operas. “A little culture would do you some good, my dear Oleg. Try and absorb the tragedy within the music. Perhaps you’ll learn something from it.”
He howls in rage as I get my overcoat and keys, turning to leave him. As I grab my hat from the rack by the door, I snap my fingers as I remember. Moving quickly, I stride down the hall to the spare bedroom where Oleg hangs from the ceiling and pull the door closed, and move to set the heater to a comfortable setting for him. Grabbing my hat, I hum my favorite song as I lock up and make my way out for a night on the town.
The young woman shrieks, a high keening wail that echoes from the high walls of the tall buildings surrounding us here in Lower Manhattan. The street lamps are all out, darkened by a mere force of will to allow me an easier hunt. The young woman who was waiting for the bus noticed the darkness that had swallowed her up and, just as I was climbing down the lamp post, ready to pounce, pulled a flashlight from her purse and turned it on mere inches from  my face.
The sight of my distended jaw and jagged teeth was apparently too much for the poor thing, as she’d taken off running whilst screaming her lungs out. I wasn’t about to allow her to escape, as there were enough rumors going around about murderers and serial killers thanks to my extra curricular work harvesting organs. The last thing I needed was some terrified teenager telling some reporter about a monster that tried to eat her.
Leaping from pole to pole, boots bouncing from my shoulders where they hung from knotted shoelaces, I follow as silent as the stars above her, carefully guiding her into a narrow alley that ended with a high brick wall. Every time she tries to veer away, running in a different direction, I drop to the ground, hissing and swiping at her with my extended claws. Between my gaunt features, rows of needle teeth and blazing red eyes, its enough to corral her where I want her.
And want her I do. She may not know it, but she’s someone I’ve been stalking for years, waiting to find a chance to make her mine.
As she runs into the darkened alley, tripping over discarded newspapers and other assorted garbage I drop at the mouth of the alleyway, sealing her in. She screams even louder as she runs into the wall, scraping at the uneven bricks loud enough for my ears to hear nails cracking, for my nose to smell the slight coppery scent of blood rising room her hands. She cries, begging me to stop, begging for God to save her… begging for someone to save her from me.
Nobody can hear her, save for me.
I slowly begin strolling down the alley, allowing the light behind me to flicker back on, granting her a small reprieve from the darkness that had consumed her. Now she stares at my silhouette as I approach.
“What do you want?” She cries at me, her face puffy and red. She throws her purse towards me, its contents exploding out from within it at my feet. “Money? Just take my money and leave me be!”
I stop, looking down at her offering. Bending down, I casually root through her assorted make-ups and feminine products before finding her wallet, tugging it free from one of the many compartments of her rather expensive wallet. Flipping it open, I ignore the checkbook and the credit cards, as well as the line of crisp bills folded neatly into the money clip. I smile as I yank her drivers license free, tossing her wallet behind me carelessly.
“Angelina Leopold… what a beautiful name.” I say aloud, reading from her drivers license as I begin walking toward her again. “I can assume you have no clue as to why I’ve been hunting you, do you?”
She shakes her head, her breathes short sobs and far too erratic for her to speak. I press on closer to her, earning a keening cry from her as I close in on her.
“I’ve come for you this cool Autumn night as I have you have a debt to be paid to me, Mrs. Leopold. One that has been owed to me for over eighty years.” I rasp, my teeth dripping with saliva as I close in on her, her pounding heart music in my ears.
“I’ve never don anything to you!” She all but shrieks, shaking uncontrollably. “I don’t know who you are!”
“That’s of no consequence.” I dismiss, walking slowly until I stand a mere three feet from her. “My grudge is not against you, but your bloodline. You are the great-granddaughter of  Julius Schreck, a man who did so much wrong in his lifetime that his crimes must be paid for be his descendents.”
“I don’t even know who that is!” She wailed, backing away from me until her back hit the wall. “You have the wrong person.”
In the blink of an eye I’ve slammed into her, pinning her against the wall with my forearm, my other hand grasping at her bleeding fingers, pulling the hand up. “This is all I need to know who you are child.” I rasp, my eyes flaring red as I begin to lose my temper. Reeling it in, I allow my eyes to smolder as she stares at me in terror. “Your grandfather was a cruel man Angelina… a very cruel man. He and I had a deal some eighty years ago that he reneged on, throwing me into Hell instead of allowing me to live free.”
She gurgles at me in protest, fighting to breath despite my elbow in her throat. I press into her harder, causing a pained whine to slip past her lips.
“I told myself I would get my revenge, one way or another.” I say with a feral smile, dropping her limp hand as I reach into my coat pocket, fishing out a scalpel. Holding it up just high enough for the light to glint off of the stainless steel, I smile as she begins panicking once more. “Good, you realize what I’m here to do then?”
I take her choked rasps and sobs as a no. “I’m here for my proverbial five pounds of flesh, as it were. Not many are willing to settle their debts to me it would seem, so I’ve decided the Bard’s tale seems to possess a fitting punishment for those unwilling to settle their debts.”
Twirling the blade between my lithe fingers with precision, I bring it up in a flash of glinting metal, slashing through the side of Angelina’s blouse with a single swipe, revealing the pale white skin beneath. A slight scar, faded by time, ran from her bottom rib and up beneath her black silky bra.
It seems like a good place to start as any. Looking her in the eyes, I smile reassuringly at her tear streaked face, making shushing noises to silence her choked sobs.
“Be quiet child, shhh…” I whisper comfortingly, as well as I can with my forearm pinning her to the wall of a darkened alley. “I seek only what your grandfather owes… for my time in Hell, for every month I suffered, a pound of flesh is but a paltry sum if you think about it.”
She begins to scream and scramble against my grasp, though I quickly silence her movements with an ample amount of pressure to her throat, silencing her with the blissful state of unconsciousness. Using my glittering tool, I quickly shed her outer layer of clothing and lay her down in the alleyway, her back partially in a puddle of stagnant rainwater. Looking around, I smile at the cover provided by a large green dumpster, and quickly set to work.
Pulling a long length of several plastic garbage bags, I lay them flat next to her body, which now lies nude before me in the light of the full moon. My bloodlust tingles in the back of my mind, tickling at my senses in it’s desire to be sated.
Not tonight, I’m afraid.
Reaching for my ear buds, I slip them on and press play on my mp3 player, smiling as Dusty’s voice takes me back to a time when things were simpler, hunting was easier and those that deserved punishment didn’t try and hide themselves.
Humming softly to myself, I pull a small white scale, no more than a few ounces in weight and completely digital, and set it gently on the ground. Pulling a lighter from another pocket, I flick the flint a few times before the flame erupts forth, basking us in a warm orange glow. The sharpened edge of my scalpel needs to be properly cleaned if I’m to do this right.
The next ten minutes are pleasantly spent listening to the wiles of a preacher man’s son while I slowly, carefully, begin to carve away nine pounds of flesh away from the young woman. The first to be carved away are her cheeks, then her breasts, all tissue that is unnecessary to stay alive. Both index and ring fingers join my collection, leaving my an ounce over nine pounds, which just isn’t fair.
Pulling my bloodied gloves free from my pallid hands, I reach into one of my inner coat pockets and fish out an old necklace, one warn by a kind French woman who’d had the displeasure of encountering me whilst hunting some fifty years ago, lone before I migrated to America. I wrap the golden chain around her wrist, avoiding the golden cross dangling from the end, and cup her ruined hand around it. Cauterizing the wounds is a trivial matter, as is wrapping up my gathered meats, wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap before bagging them in old grocer bags, stuffing them within my jacket.
I pull a bottle of filtered water from my coat, rinsing off my blade, as well as my leather gloves, before taking a small squirt bottle full of ammonia and spraying the entire area down. While I may leave no fingerprints, and DNA testing merely reveals a hodgepodge of who I’ve been eating, I’ve learned over the decades not to take chances. Pulling my gloves back on, I reach into her purse and rifle around until I find her phone. Flipping the strange device open, I dial 9-1-1 before merely dropping it on her body and leaping up the wall of the alley; she’d live, but she’d always carry the scars of the past, just as I did.
I return home late, with only a few hours until the sun rises remaining. I carefully stow away my liberated justice within my fridge and make my way to the back room to see Oleg. The radio has abandoned Traetta’s work in favor of some of Mozart’s later symphonies, forcing my to turn the damnable thing off lest my ears begin to bleed. Oleg hangs from his hands, naked as the day he was born, with tubes running in and out of him, carrying nutrient-filled fluids and waste to and from his body.
His eyes flutter open weakly as I close the door behind me, shucking off my long overcoat as I hum the last chorus of Dusty’s song. Looking to him, I smile. “The only boy who could ever reach me, was the son of a preacher man oh yes he was… was… was…”
He grumbles behind his ball-gag, a tired and thoroughly defeated noise. “My my Oleg! Have you finally admitted defeat?” I ask in mock surprise. “Well that changes how this evening will be going drastically.”
He looks at me, his dead eyes full of nothing but curiosity and loathing. “What would you say to an actual meal, instead of all of this needle-food I’ve been forced to give you?”
He looks at me as if I’d grown a second head before hesitantly nodding his head. I move forward, a smile on my face as I remove the ball-gag from his mouth, granting him the ability to talk for the first time in three days.
He moves his jaw back and forth, stretching it out as he clears his dry throat. “Wh-what you gonna feed me? Poison?”
I laugh, patting him on his sweat drench shoulder gently. “By no means would I do such a thing. To murder you wouldn’t teach you a lesson. And after all, that’s why we’re here isn’t it? To learn a lesson.”
He ignores my bait and instead shakes his head slowly. “What you gonna make me?”
I smile, flashing all of my sharpened teeth to remind him of his manners. “I’ll make you some lean meats, if it’s all the same to you; chicken breast, maybe some pork chops… a few ribs if you behave while the restraints are loosened.”
“Oh my god, yes… yes, of course I’ll behave… sir!” He says, tears coming to his eyes at the very thought of getting real food into his growling stomach. The gastric feeding tube I’d cut into him some months ago was, while wholly nutritious, in no way filling. He was perpetually starving with the small amounts of nutrient rich glop I forced into his system, and an actual meal would be a small slice of heaven to him right about now.
Well… more like a slice of Angelica. But he needn’t know that.

Authors Note: A stand alone story that has always left me wanting to write more. Shylock is an interesting character in my eyes, as you rarely find a Vampire story that not only identifies with his victims, chooses to try and help others while maintaining his needed supply of blood. He metes out punishment as he sees fit, and has a long memory. In this story Angelina is the descendant of a former SS Officer that was a personal friend of Adolf Hitler and was known for his rather volatile actions taken against Jewish and Gypsy populations.