Friday, January 4, 2013

Son of A Preacher Man: Hunter

Sitting in my armchair, I errantly flip through the pages as I notice with a sense of grim satisfaction that, according to the headline, a horribly mutilated girl was found and able to be saved sometime a few evenings ago.
“Good for you Angelina…” I mutter to myself as I skim over the article. It would seem that she hadn’t been able to properly identify me during my night time assault. All the better, I suppose. I merely shake my head as I finish the article, the typical plea from local authorities asking anyone for information on the attacker.
A small editorial piece next to the main article debates over whether this attack is in any way related to the Organ Snatcher, the killer that has been plaguing the Big Apple for nearly a year now. I smile to myself as I flip the page over to the business section, my eagle eyes seeking the stock reports for my numerous holdings and bonds. They seem to be stable, which is really all one can ask for in this economy. I lean over to the side table next to my high backed chair and make a note to sell some of my stock in the newer computer gaming country that I’d invested in a few years ago. I’d been slowly watching it decline in value over the course of three years, small spurts of activity aside, and was having serious doubts over the continued value I could derive from the dividends the company paid me on a regular basis.

Perking my head up as the sounds of clinking chains catch my ears, I look over the back of my chair towards the hall leading towards Oleg’s cell. For the past few days I’d been dicing and cutting the fatty meat I’d harvested from Angelina, sautéing the greasy morsels in an aged bottle of white wine that I’d been saving for the past decade. While he couldn’t eat much, he savored the seared meat as if it were manna straight from the heavens.
I suppose he was tired of constantly starving, and more than willing to accept my mystery meat. Mores the pity, I suppose, as I don’t think I’ll ever have the gall to tell him what he actually ate. Not that I have any fondness for the demented little racist, but to tell someone they ate another human being… hell, I have some qualms draining humans from time to time myself, and I’ve been doing it for nearly a century.
Folding over the New York Times, I set it down on the end table. Standing up from my seat, I glide across the room to my wall calendar, taking note of the lunar cycle; only a week before the moon is full and my hunting can begin. I already have several new prospects lined up, a pudgy couple I met at a wedding earlier this month, along with an older couple I’d met at the reception. Between the four of them I’d already sniffed out the organs I would need for the trades that I would be organizing. Walking down the hall and into my workshop, I briefly consider working on some of my harvested jewelry but decide to pass.
Picking up my planner, I flip through the pages until I land on this week. I have a meeting with a less than reputable jeweler from the Bronx that is always interested in bulk jewelry, as well as the owner of a new age art gallery that seems to enjoy my passing attempts at art. Have to keep the cash flowing in as best I can, you know?
A small refractory furnace churns atop my desk, a handful of golden earrings and piercings slowly being set to low simmer, awaiting my use. They should be ready to pour into my single bar molds within the hour, so I decide to make use of the time and go speak with Oleg. The lad has perked up quite a bit since I’ve begun feeding him fresh meat, though I’ve yet to tell him that said meat is human.
Why spoil the fun?
I find him, of course, hanging from the rafters of the bedroom. He looks as if he’s put on a bit of weight since I’ve begun feeding him, as well as a good deal of coloring to his cheeks. He smiles weakly at me as I enter the room, my hands clasped behind my back.
“Looking good Jew,” He chuckles dryly, slowly giving into a series of wracking coughs, “You here to cook me up some supper?”
I look at him with a bit of disdain before snorting. “Afraid not, my little songbird. Though just so you know, I have a small sampling of meat steeping in some red wine for tomorrow night. I trust it will be something you’ll savor for quite a while.”
“So I just get the feeding goo then?” Oleg scowls at me, twisting his lithe frame against the ropes holding him aloft. Rather than trying to free himself, I think he just struggles for the sake of struggling, which I admire on an intellectual level.
“Yes, I’m afraid it’s back to the goo for you.” I reply with a smile, moving around him to check over the machines slowly pumping in his nutrient rich paste directly into his side. A quick flick of his IV tells me his water bag is half full, and his blood bag is nearly dry. Looking to Oleg’s nude form, I smirk at the nasty scabbed over wound sitting just over his heart, a faded tattoo long since torn away by my razor sharp teeth. Looking up to meet his gaze, I try and offer him a polite smile.
“How would you feel about perhaps getting a roommate?” I ask him conversationally, shucking off my leisure coat and folding it over the back of a chair next to the feeding machine.
“You thinking about expanding your little hobby?” Oleg asks me with a snort of disdain. I merely shrug as I move around him, trailing my fingertips over the number of scars I’ve inflicted onto him these past few months. Deep purple and green bruises lined his back, and open lesions were forming around his armpits and groin; the sicknesses in the blood I had been pumping into him were taking their toll.
“Maybe,” I reply after a few moments, tallying a few new supplies I would have to acquire for my plan to work, “Maybe I am.”
            I’ve always loved China Town. The crowded streets, the food vendors, the calls from the shop keepers ringing through the chilly air; it’s all so human. Weaving through the thin crowd is easy enough so long as I maintain a certain level of focus, which seems to respond negatively to most people in one way or another. Usually it just gets them to stay out of my way, though it occasionally garners the attention of some unscrupulous folk.
Like now, with a small gang of tattooed youths following me from a distance.
I’d come down here mainly to visit one of the older apothecaries that are still operational, to speak with a man who deals in the occult just enough for him to be of use to someone like me. Of course, he knows me as an eccentric Jewish collector of oddities. He very well may believe in all of the things he sells, but I doubt he has knowingly played host to anything that can be described as supernatural.
I turn into one of the many side alleys that veer off from the main street, a narrow and dark lane with little to hide behind, save for a few garbage cans. Before my trackers can catch up, I squat and jump to catch hold of the fire escape, pulling myself up to the iron enclosure and masking my presence just as the leader of the pack rounds the corner.
There are four of them, all Korean and young. Very young from the scent of sweat and grime coming off of them. The leader is bald, with a dark tattoo traveling up the back of his neck and to the top of his head, and wears a heavy leather trench coat to ward away the cold, and most likely to hide some weapons. The other three are even younger than the first, but all sport the same tattoo and shaved heads. I catch the glint of steel beneath ones jacket, making my eyebrows shoot up into my hairline.
“Is that a sword he has under there?” I whisper to myself, pulling the shadows around me and wrapping them about my trim frame.
“Where the hell is it?” One of the younger punks asks aloud, his voice heavily accented.
“Shut it. I can feel it’s still here… I just need to concentrate to flush it out.” The leader of the four said, his English perfect if not a tad clipped. “We’ve been hunting this thing for too long to let it slip through our fingers now.”
They’ve been hunting me? And I haven’t noticed? I think somewhat doubtfully to myself. I may be old, but my senses are as sharp as they’ve ever been. I’d have noticed four Korean hit men following me around. I watch as they expertly fan out, two remaining at the entrance to the alleyway while the leader and the largest of the third move deeper into the darkness.
I could just leave them, I muse to myself, but then again, I really need to know if someone has caught wind of what I am. Hit men are never a good thing.
Once again contemplating whether my curse is in fact so bad, I close my eyes and reach out through my own shrouds of darkness, spreading out the tendrils to the sole light in the alleyway. Whereas I could be a show off and break it, I merely opt to short the fuse within the bulb, causing the light to flicker for a few moments before petering out. All four boys let out indignant cries as they look about in the black blanket that suddenly envelops them, but my eyes allow me to pierce the darkened veil well enough to see the faint scars running down the leaders cheek.
The leader barks out a swift command, silencing his three charges and once again garnering full attention from them. Cursing softly, I feel my fingernails hardening as they lengthen, my flesh growing taut over muscle as I slowly shift from my human guise into one more suited for the task at hand.
The two at the head of the alley will be the problem, they’re acting as look-outs, looking around, I smile around my mouthful of sharpened teeth as I notice the loose bricks set into the building next to me, the mortar old enough to have begun crumbling from between the carefully laid red slabs. Wedging my talons around one brick, I slowly ease out from the wall, feeling the heavy weight in my hand with a sense of perverse satisfaction. I slide another three out from the wall, setting them in a neat stack at my feet. Hopping up onto the rails of the fire escape, a brick in each claw, I take careful stock of what’s going on beneath me.
Waiting for another minute to slowly die, allowing the leader and his second-in-command to go deeper into the alley, I finally put my plan into action as I flick both of my wrists, launching the four pound bricks towards the two sentries.
My aim strikes true on one of the targets, connecting solidly with his nose in a sickening crunch before continuing its path partially into his skull, either killing him or knocking him out. The second brick goes a little of course, striking the man atop the head instead of in the face. Sadly, I can hear his skull split from up here and know that his fate is sealed.
I quickly drop down to the alley proper and drag the bodies a bit deeper in, leaning in to check inside their coats for any weapons worth noting. Sure enough, but carry long handled swords made of silver, each with intricate writing upon the blade.
“These are not thugs…” I mutter to myself as I remove a trench coat from one and put it over my own lean frame, pulling the blade free from the scabbard attached to the groaning man’s belt. I quickly stomp on his throat to end his suffering, as I doubt he would have any information for me worth the effort of preserving him.
While I am certainly no expert in how to use a sword, my own training has made me more than proficient in using small knives and clubs. Slowly padding down the alley towards the other two, sword held lightly against my left leg, I hope that neither of these men have any formal self-defense training the likes of which can match mine.
The leader is the first to notice me approaching them and, thankfully, he mistakes me for one of his cohorts. “I told you two to stay at the entrance to make sure he didn’t get away!” He hisses at me as he turns and takes a few steps in my direction.
He stops as if he hit a barrier, and from the look on his face I can tell my ruse wasn’t clever enough.
Before he can react I throw the sword point first towards his lieutenant, goring the hapless man in the stomach with the sharpened blade. Surprisingly, his scream of agony is cut short by a snap kick from the leader of the group, dropping his friend to the ground where he can marinate in his own juices in peace.
“My other two men. Dead?”
I nod slowly, not trusting myself to speak while in my true state. With the light streaming behind me from the main road, I know he can’t make out my features around the hooded trench coat I’d liberated. I flex my claws, savoring the feel of the cold night air on my dry, dead flesh. It’s not often I pull the blood from the surface of my body and into my center, allowing the true me to come out to play. Most of my victims make too much noise if they catch sight of what I truly am.
“It would be pointless to off you redemption for your crimes demon, and to ask that you surrender yourself peacefully, wouldn’t it?” The man asks me as he slowly shucks off his own trench coat, revealing a sleeveless muscle shirt with a similar blade the others held. “No, you just want to keep on killing don’t you?”
If I was capable of talking in recognizable way, I’d ask him what the hell he was going on about. As it is, he looks like he’s ready to fight me to the death. I try and think if I’ve preyed on any Asian families as of late, but can’t think of any off the top of my head. Was there someone else out there hunting and killing people for the same reasons I am?
He comes at my with the tip of the sword dragging against the pavement, slowly at first, circling around me as if looking for an opening. I give him plenty, but he seems to instinctively know to ignore my ploys. It seems like I’ll have to make the first move.
Lunging forward I slash out with a backhand, my talons extended wide and aiming for his midsection. He steps back and whips his blade up, slicing deep into my arm, down to the bone. My flesh sizzles, forcing me to draw back the arm and snap forward with a hard kick, keeping him at bay. Normally my skin knits back together with ease from even the worst cut, but something on that blade lingers in my wound, preventing it from closing effectively. I have to concentrate on the limb, to mentally command the tendons and sinew to stretch and bind back together.
He looks at me for a moment, the blade drawn back as if prepared to strike again. “Didn’t scream.” He says as if surprised. He takes a quick peek at his sword, which is glowing red in a few spots as if it had been close to a furnace. “Well that’s new.”
I take his moment of confusion and decide to press on, pushing forward and striking out with my claws in straight jabbing motions, making my yellowed claws into hooked daggers. As he brings his sword around in a wide arc aimed towards my head, I tuck and roll forwards into his knees, using my greater strength to send him toppling behind me. As I come out in a crouch, I sweep back with my left leg, smiling over my pointed teeth as I hear a grunt of pain and the snapping of bone.
I roll to the left as the blade strikes the ground where I was moments before, lashing out with a blind backhand, luckily striking home and sending him into the opposing wall and into a heap of trash. Crouched, I snake my hand into one of the side pockets of my jacket, pulling out one of my many tools-of-the trade that I’ve come to count on. Palming it, I wait for him to move out from the trash bags, to try and escape or press his attack against me.
He doesn’t stay still for long. He rolls out of the garbage onto his belly, pushing himself up to his feet in one fluid movement, blade still in hand.
“What are you?” He asks around a busted lip, blood dribbling from the side of his mouth. “This wasn’t how it was supposed to go down.”
“The same question could be applied to you.” I rasp around my fangs, wincing as my arm slowly closes the gap his blade had made in it. “I think I’ll be having a number of questions for you over the next few days.”
His eyes widen and he turns to the side, giving me a narrower target to strike at. “I don’t know what you are, but you’re not what I’m hunting. Stay out of my way and I won’t have to kill you.”
“I don’t think you have what it takes to tango with me, young man.” I chuckle dryly, taking a step back as I pull in the darkness around me like a swirling cloud. Smiling at his startled grunt, I leap high into the air, claws scrambling over the red bricks of the shop we’re next to, crawling along the stone like a spider to look down at my prey.
He waves his sword through the roiling clouds of darkness, his sword somehow shining in the darkness, dispelling my minor trick with apparent ease. Taking a long moment to analyze the tattoo branded on the back of his neck and up his head, I decide that discretion is the better part of valor and crawl atop the roof of the building, slipping my ether soaked rag back into my coat. Once upon the roof, I shuck off the trench coat and slowly allow the blood pooled in my center to begin flowing out into my exterminates, revitalizing them.
It would seem that there are some Hunters in the greater New York area. Question is, what are they hunting if it’s not me?

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