Monday, January 7, 2013

Son of A Preacher Man: Hunter, Part Two

The Fortune of War is perhaps the closest thing to a gathering place for supernatural creatures in all of New York. An old style English pub, the small tavern is located in the Bronx, a place not exactly known for seedy taverns. But some way or another, it always seems to make enough money to linger on. I push my way in through the front door, a small set of chimes ringing above head allowing the barkeep to know of his new customer. An obese man by the name of Charlie, I’ve never been able to quite place where he fits into this world.
He knows damn well I’m a Vampire, but doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he’s offered me on three separate occasions hints and tips that have saved me a good deal of time as well as money, all thing considered. I know he deals heavily with the occult, not as heavily as the man I’d originally meant to visit tonight, but enough to know a thing or two about the dealings going on throughout the city.
The only other patrons in the bar are a trio of young women sitting at a roughly hewn table some distance from the bar, along with a grimy looking man and young boy, both s smudged with dirt and reek of death. Grave robbers most likely. I slid onto one of the barstools and stare at Charlie for a few moments before giving him a smile, earning one back.
“How’re things then Shylock?” He asks me, his voice rough and raspy, the voice of a heavy smoker.
“They’ve been better,” I say with a tight smile, leaning onto the bar to keep our conversation low, “I’ve just come from a fight with four Korean boys wielding swords. Hear anything about that floating about?”
“Aye, I heard of ‘em coming into town ‘bout a week ago, looking for some bad egg that came from their little slice of land across the seas.” Charlie says with a conspiratorial tone, leaning forward as well. “Stopped in about two nights ago, asking a lot of questions.”
“Yeah, mostly about the local crime scene. Seems like whoever they’re after might be a bit bitey, if you know what I mean.”
I lean back on my barstool, rubbing at my forearm where the blade had sliced through. The flesh was fresh and clean, but still tingled as if something from the blade was still inside of me, preventing it from working as it should. Whatever those blades were, they were made to hurt things like me. And whatever they’re hunting.
Which means New York must have received a new Vampire. This could be a good thing, or a very bad thing. Another Vampire could be a great boon to me, someone I could perhaps relate to and at least form a sort of friendship with. But from my limited experience, other Vampires tend to be far nastier than I am. The only other one I’ve ever known looked at mankind as a virus on this world at worst and cattle that needed to be herded at best. We worked together in Prague for a few years after the war, hunting down wayward Nazi officers together. But he began to hunt on the side just for fun, and liked to bring his fun back home to where we were resting.
Not that I’m one to talk, I suppose.
At the time, it bothered me and lead to the rift that eventually led us to go on our separate ways. Every now and then I’d catch wind of a Vampire in the area, but that one bad experience had left a sour taste in my mouth, and so I chose to avoid my own kind whenever possible.
But this is different.
If there’s a Vampire here in New York, I need to reach out to him, or her, and see what their plans are for the Big Apple. I also need to let them know they’ve brought Vampire Hunters with them, and that that isn’t kosher with me.
I fish out a twenty and put it on the bar for Charlie, pointing out one of his cheapest bottles of whiskey on his shelf. While I may not be able to digest alcohol anymore, I’ve found the sour drink to have a sort of calming effect on me when I find myself overly worried or upset. And the fact that there’s a Hunter in the area makes me very upset. Charlie takes the twenty with a grim face and sets the bottle on the counter for me, the cork removed. I nod at him slowly, allowing him to walk away knowing I won’t be needing anything else from him.
Standing from the bar, I move towards the back of the dimly lit room, past a column strung with garlic, and towards an unoccupied booth beyond the whispering girls and the grave robbers.
I need time to think.
Two bottles of whiskey later, I’ve come up with a plan. The best outcome of all of this is to have the Hunter’s kill their intended target, thus getting them to leave the city. While I was unaware Hunters even existed, the fact that they have weapons that seem specifically designed to hurt me doesn’t make me want to keep them around any longer than I have to. Merely killing the last one will just prompt more to come, with better equipment.
Not good.
So I have to go the other route, and help the Hunter find his quarry.
“Sorry friend,” I whisper to the bar as I take a final pull from my bottle, smacking my lips as I examine the label, “But I can’t afford to have any wrenches in my plans. I still have retirement to look forward to.”
Putting the bottle down with a final clatter of glass on wood, I stand from the booth and make my way out of the tavern, waving over my shoulder at Charlie in goodbye. Pushing out through the door with a small smile as the chill of the night washes over me, I set off at a brisk pace beneath the moonlight. Looking up, I can see that there are only a few more days until the full moon. I’ll have to wrap this Hunter crap up as fast as I can if I want to harvest what I need.
Hailing a taxi, I crawl into the rusted vehicle and give an address to the edge of China town. The Hunter will be reeling from the loss of his men tonight, as well as the unexpected discovery of another Vampire in this burg. He’ll be dealing with gathering the dead and securing a base of operations, assuming he has any wits about him. If he was hunting in China town, then he had a decent lead on his quarry. Funny how they found me while I was trying to go unnoticed… must have had someone sensitive to my kind of mojo.
Hopefully I killed him.
As much as I dislike drawing attention to myself, I think I may have to actually do the stereotypical thing and start hunting like I used to. Heaving a sigh, I spend the rest of my uneventful ride watching the city lights speed by me, the sounds of traffic and crowds filling my ears.
As we pull up to a curb on the outskirts of Chinatown, I finally take a look at the cabbie in front of me. A tad overweight and obviously of Slavic stock, he has a meaty odor that pervades the cab entirely, as well as a greasy look that leads me to believe he either hasn’t bathed in a few days, or merely sweats a lot. Who knows?
“It’ll be 32.50 pal.” He leans over his seat, eyes glancing over his shoulder.
“You wouldn’t happen to have the time, would you?” I ask him, pulling the blood from the surface of my skin as I speak, my voice growing hoarser as I do.
The cabbie looks irritated, but looks back at his dash. Before he can reply, I’ve lunged over the seat and ripped into his throat, my razor sharp teeth easily chewing through the fatty rolls of his neck and through the clogged veins pumping his precious life fluid. He struggles for but a moment, but the sudden loss of blood has him swooning, and he can only feebly push at my face as my tongue burrows deep into the wound, pushing more blood deeper into my throat at a heightened pace.
It’s over in less than a minute, the motor of the vehicle still running all the while. As I pull back from the bloodless wound, I pull a silken kerchief from my breast pocket, wiping away the gore from my face. Taking a moments respite to think of what a Vampire new to the area would do next, I push the corpse over a bit to reach his wallet, collecting what little money he has.
Stepping from the cab onto the semi-crowded streets of Chinatown, I smile at the flickering neon sign of a pawn shop, telling me it’s almost two in the morning. Feeling flush with energy from my most recent meal, I start off at a brisk pace, whistling my favorite song on blood red lips.
If I want to catch this Hunter’s attention, I’ll need to kill at least three more times tonight.
“Better get to work,” I mutter to myself as I slip into an alleyway, pulling the darkness around me once more.

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