Warning: Contains very graphic description and rather surreal plots. This is not one for the kids. Or the squeamish.
The thumbnail moon curved like a scythe in the bleak, dark sky. Clouds drifted in front of it, blocking the meagre amount of light entering through the dirty window of the tiny bar. A wind howled around the walls, and shook the rafters into a series of ominous sounding wails and creaks.
Looking up, Wally contemplated the possibility of the roof caving in over his head. The ceiling didnt look all that sturdy. One good buffet of wind and the complex might topple in right on his head.
Might be a better alternative to feeling like shit the whole damn day and then drowning his sorrows in a godforsaken bar tucked so deeply into the trees, he wouldnt be surprised if the clientele was made up solely by owls.
His eyes, calm and green, flicked around the desolate interior. There were no pictures on the peeling paint of the walls, no carpet to cover the dirty parquet, to hide the scuffs in the wood. The jukebox in the corner played only the one song, and even then, it was disjointed and eerie, as though it was being played by an osteoporosis-plagued skeleton.
There were few people apart from him; six or seven in total, including the bartender and himself.
Looking at them, Wally wondered idly if this were some sort of meeting place for the weird and the wacky, a haven for those with less-than-normal tendencies.
There was a guy over at one of the tables whom held an apparently riveting conversation with what, if he wasnt mistaken, was a stuffed squirrel wearing a shrunken baseball cap. Another man was nodding off in his bowl of sludgy soup, and his partner was too engrossed in a taxidermy magazine to notice that his friend was attempting to drown himself in bad cream of chowder soup.
There was a figure in the corner, cloaked in black from head to toe with a hood over its face. The glass that sat in front of it was untouched.
A lone man sat a few stools down, his long hair falling around his face. Twin piercings glinted amber low at the corners of his mouth. His jeans were ripped to tatters from the knee down, and the Queen T-shirt hed donned was faded and lacking most of its graphics.
Someone, Wally thought, had been a little too into the fifties rock fad.
The bartender was a man built like a rhino, with brown hair cut short around a face of prominent features. His eyes were lagoon-blue, misty behind the rimless lenses of his oval glasses.
His mouth was a strict line, his chin strong and square. A thin beard ran alongside his jaw, leading up to a point beneath the centre of his lower lip. Bushy brows arched over his eyes.
His eyes never strayed from his pale hands and the ragged cloth he was using to wipe the bar. If he knew of the occupants presence in his establishment, he ignored it.
The minutes trickled by in silence. The old clock set above dusty shelves of untouched bottles struck ten oclock, then eleven. The front door rattled on its hinges, and remained open to the cold and the forest.
Somewhere nearby, an owl shrieked in two-tone beats and a mouse squeaked its distress. A wolf howled in the distance, and the answering cries of its brethren still lingered in the air by the time Wally set down his glass and rose to his feet.
He tossed down a couple of dollars. Keep the change.
It was then that the bartender looked up, and Wally saw that his skin was almost too pale, like he was leeched of all blood. Must be a trick of the moonlight, he told himself.
He took a step, and his head spun like a top. The bar and his surroundings sloshed together like paint, hue falling into hue to create an unintelligible splodge.
But he could see the bartender, those odd blue eyes, as he stepped in front of him. And he could see the fangs, long and lethal, that peeked through that damning smile.
You not be going anywhere.
His voice was like gravel, thick with a Russian accent, and he could hear the amusement in his tone.
Wally had never yet encountered a drug that effected him to the amount that this one did. He waited for the effects to wear off, but the room just kept spinning and spinning and spinning until even the vampire was gone and all he could see where those pale eyes.
And then, just as his stomach couldnt take anymore spinning, he blacked out.
The night was every childs first fear. The pockets of darkness, of shadow, that crept around rooms from corner to corner, were lairs of red-eyed monsters. The half-shut closet door was a hiding place for disfigured demons, and the dark space underneath the bed was the sanctuary of the Boogieman, a frightening creature that waited until children feel asleep before devouring them in their own beds.
She had never feared the night. To her, the pockets of darkness were another means of escape. He never saw her in the darkness.
The imaginary demons and monsters that dwelled in dark spaces and closets had nothing on the real life counterpart that walked in the light and talked like a lover. She had experienced evil. There was no competition between that of the light and that of the dark.
The worst was when the dreams came. She could never escape the dreams, and she thought shed see him until the day she died; blond and beautiful and smiling at her even as he hurt her, beat her, destroyed her.
He was nowhere near her, and he still frightened her. Even when she was deep underground, surrounded by vampires, he frightened her.
She rose from the table, and threw back her hood. Corkscrew curls exploded around her face, whiter than the moonlight, and trickled down to brush her shoulders as she bent her head over the felled body of the victim.
Her eyes were large and violet as ripe plums, moving slowly along the unconscious face.
And it was a gorgeous one. The mouth was sculpted for an angel, the cheekbones for a god. The features were strong and rugged, like a mountain-mans, even for the males young age. He couldnt be much older than her. Perhaps twenty at oldest.
The eyes were shut, but she caught a hint of green beneath the lids. His hair was thick and red a particularly favourite colour of hers- and cut shaggily around that impressive face.
Hed fallen with a loud noise, and the hitchhikers in the corners finally drew out of their reverie. She ignored them, ignored the possibility of being found out, and reached out to stroke long fingers down his exposed throat.
He had skin like pure silk and was nearly as pale as Ivans. She wondered if any other woman had laid hands on that virgin-white skin, and decided that they probably had. The face alone was enough to have a woman turn her head and look twice.
She darted her gaze down, and her full mouth bowed up into a smile.
And then when they saw that body, all lean muscles and toned skin, and she could bet theyd been on him like flies over shit.
An unusual prey, Queen. Ivan poked the body with the tip of a sneaked foot, and his head angled down to look at the leader.
Hell do. TJ glanced back at the motley group of hitchhikers that were staring, transfixed, at the little play. We should kill the witnesses.
The guy with the stuffed squirrel made an audible sound of distress.
Ivan glanced back, and that strange smile crept across his lips. ... I havent the feeding for the last hour.
Raiden joined them, pushing his hair out of his eyes. Stepping over the body sprawled out on the ground, he took a position on TJs other side. Queen, the night is starting to wane.
Theres time yet. She glanced pointedly at the clock. As though on a hellish cue, it started to chime; deep, slow bongs that signalled the birth of the witching hour.
Ivan bared his fangs, lunged.
Raiden skipped along, snagging the one hitchhiker whom had attempted to run away. Nuh-uh. Naughty, naughty. He giggled, and sank his fangs deep into the mans neck.
The screams were soft and terrified and hidden beneath the chimes of the clock. The moon ducked behind a cloud and hid the scene from the eyes; the wriggling bodies, the flailing arms, the panic-stricken eyes.
She herself wasnt hungry. She wasnt a proper vampire, but a half-demon, and the thirsts for blood were fewer and far between than those of Ivan and Raiden. One feeding a day would sustain her from sunrise to sunset.
She never played with the prey she caught, never attempted to bed any of the men. Most of the time, sex was the last thing on her mind.
She glanced at the boy, and her mouth firmed into a thoughtful line. Come to think of it, she hadnt had sex in the longest time. And there was power, brutal power, in sex. Control was up for grabs, and the fight was never properly won during mating.
Perhaps she wouldnt kill this one outright. If her research was as good as she thought it was, hed prove to be a suitable playmate.
She hadnt had a playmate in so long. And he was so very pretty, so very gorgeous. It had to be the red hair. She had a weakness for the colour red.
Of course, there would be arrangements to make. He couldnt know her face, for one. Hed have to be blindfolded. Red silk would suit you, she thought to herself as she crouched down to slide one of his prone arms around her waist, pulling him to his feet.
His head lolled forwards, his weight piling down on her.
Shed have to tie his hands, and tie them tight. Research pegged him as a speedster, and one sure-fire way to stop something from moving was to tether it and tether it well. Besides, even if he did get away, there would be no way to get out of her room.
She guarded her room jealously, and had put numerous spells on the large doors. TJ had a key, but shed never much held faith in keys. Plus, it was interesting to see what she could do with her meagre amount of powers.
When she was a little girl, shed been told she was a Forbidden Guardian, a Guardian Angel with an equal amount of demon and angel genes inside her blood. In theory, she went neither way. In practice, shed embraced the dark and left her angel side to fester inside her.
She didnt qualm at the choices shed make. If she had to make them again, shed choose the same path. The darkness had protected her so far; why mess with perfection?
Ill meet you back at the base. She called, raising her voice so they could hear it over the rip of flesh and slurp of blood.
There was no reciprocating answer. Taking that to mean an affirmative, she tightened her arm around him and vanished out of sight.
Back at the base, the candles dripped shadows over the walls. The screams of the dying, the damned and the frightened echoed around the stony halls like music. Vampires patrolled the large, ungainly cages slumped into the sides and the people that prayed and wept inside them.
Another cage, filled to the brim with howling men and women, held the half-vampires. They clawed at her as she passed, reaching out with too-long nails to rip at her skin, and were promptly slapped back by the guard posted at the door.
It was dangerous to keep them, these half-vampires, and especially locked up and fed only once a day. They couldnt control their blood lust like vampires could, couldnt hold in their rage like she could, and that made them a very risky bet.
She had her reasons for keeping them. And around here, what she said was held in the highest regard. There were non-believers; there were those who tried to undermine her.
They never lasted much here.
Her shoes were muffled on the slick stone, the blunt heel clashing against the polished stone. She stopped in front of a mammoth door, and reached down to point her finger at the lock.
The language that flowed out of her mouth was made for romance and for love, and the words she spoke were ones of war and treachery. English was too easily understood, and few knew her true nationality. She had never spoken in Spanish to any of her followers except to Raiden and Ivan.
Grey sparks ignited the doorknob, and the lock clicked open; the door swung open far enough for her to squeeze inside. As soon as shed cleared the threshold, it slammed shut, nearly closing one of the boys feet between the wood.
A grey fire snapped in the grate to shed light to the underground room. The wicks of the candelabras were lit as well, and their flames bled silver light onto the carpeted floor.
A sumptuous four-poster was pushed against the wall, and the deep red canopy matched the sheets that fell to the floor like a tidal wave. The pillows were piled high against a headboard carved out from black mahogany and trimmed with dark lace.
A chest lay at the foot of the bed, the old wood pressed between solid metal, and it held her toys, items she considered to be used only when she was in the mood for sex. It wasnt often that she was, but it was good to be prepared either way. She was dreadfully impatient once she had made a decision.
The furniture looked old, pocked with scars and dust, and the surfaces were crammed with boxes and items. A case spilt jewels and runes onto the polished top of a dresser. Tiny bottles of oil crowded around the pack of tarot cards that spilt over yellowed papers and half-buried a ballpoint pen. The wardrobe in the corner was filled to the brim with outfits of silk and lace and leather, outfits that could have been nicked directly from some sort of lingerie shop. She rarely wore those outfits, donning instead a pair of ragged jeans and a baggy shirt, or perhaps her much loved bodysuit and cloak.
A bookcase pressed against the fireplace, and dust trickled down the spines of the old novels that filled the first shelf. A shotgun and a stake lay on the other two, an empty box of ammo overturned by one of the points of the stake. Two bottles of wine, and a few wine glasses laid claim to the lower shelf.
She dragged the boy over to the bed, and let him fall. The noise of his body hitting the sheets was barely audible, and it took some wriggling, some pushing, to get that lovely physique dead centre in the middle of the bed.
First, TJ walked to the chest and opened it, rooting through whips and handcuffs until she found the length of red silk. It snapped satisfyingly when she pulled at it, and, straddling the boys waist, she slipped it over his eyes and tied it deftly into a knot.
Taking her knife, she sliced off the excess fabric, and knotted his hands to the headboard.
His head lolled forwards, chin resting against his chest, and she smiled, reaching out to stroke her fingertips over his cheek.
Such a pretty little pet. She murmured, and slid off his body. She used her knife to slit his shirt to ribbons, and pulled the remains away from his body. Her eyes glittered in appreciation at the well-built chest, the washboard stomach, the trail of red hair that arrowed down to his jeans.
Her hand found the button of his jeans, and undid it. She pulled the trousers down, and tilted her head, critically sweeping her gaze over him.
He had the legs of a model, long and muscled and gorgeous enough to lick. There was nothing wrong with the rest of him, either, she decided, letting her eyes linger at the thin line of red hair arrowing down to a well-endowed manhood. Her lips curved. Nothing wrong at all.
Picking up the discarded clothes, she walked over to the shut door by the bedside table, and nudged it open with her shoulder. Walking into the unlit, pocket-sized bathroom, she used the flickering light coming from her bedroom to guide her to the basket set beneath the sink, and dumped the clothes in there.
Her eyes flicked down to her watch, and she judged the time shed left the men. They had to be back by now.
Her legs ate up the distance as she walked towards the front door, taking a moment to pull the blankets over the pets body.
She was gone in the swish of a cloak on stone, and left Wally alone, naked and completely helpless.
Queen, I am not thinking that good idea. Ivan was saying, and his blue eyes were calm again and worried. Slaves, they are not good ideas.
No-one asked you to think, Ivan. Idly, TJ tucked her hands into her pockets. I know what Im doing.
Raiden frowned, absently wiping his bloody mouth with a pristine white handkerchief. I have to agree with Ivan, Queen. What if hes violent?
Those cool violet eyes made the five foot four Raiden shrink into himself. TJ Kavarizzo-Ranierie was a perilous woman and woe betides anyone who forgot it.
Do you think Im some sort of moron? She rolled her eyes. I can handle him. Hes tied up. The drug you found really worked well on him.
Ivan inclined his head, an inkling of pride snaking through him. Praise from the Queen, however roughly it was delivered, was praise to cherish. I did my researching, Queen. But still...this slave...
When Im done with him, you can drink his blood. TJ lifted her shoulders, and the cloak fluttered in the cool of the meeting room. Silent chairs sat, facing them, like sentries. Hes all yours.
Queen... Raiden knew it was futile to argue. The Queen was as stubborn as a packing mule. What if he has friends?
Then theyll come looking for him and well pick them off one by one. If hes popular, we can feed off him and his friends for years.
Raiden shook his head.
TJ shoved her hair irritably out of her eyes. Have I ever screwed you over?
No... Raiden commented uncertainly. It wasnt uncommon for a vampire to take a slave, a plaything, and dispose of them. Hed just never thought his stoic leader would take one. She scorned company, and the only time hed ever heard her express interest in playing with a human was when she was feeling particularly cruel.
No. She repeated, matter-of-factly. Her long-lidded eyes flicked from his face, then to Ivans. Trust me. Everythings going to be just fine.
Ivan slouched against the wall, his handsome face irritated. He didnt like slaves, thought slaves beneath them, and he knew that this particular slave was going to be a lot more trouble than he was worth. Fine, Queen.
Raiden peered at her. If you know what youre doing...
I do. TJ turned around, and started to walk away. The knife against her hip swayed like a pendulum. I know exactly what Im doing.
Raiden watched her leave, and then turned to Ivan, replenishing his smile to million-watt-mode. Im going clubbing, he announced would you like to join me?
Ivan stared back incredulously. ... No.
Are you sure? Youll have fun, Ivan. There are lots of people and they dance in something called a disco...
No. Ivan stressed the two letters to breaking point. I be having things to be doing.
Raiden sighed. Fine, then. He said, and turned away, sweeping out into the night.
Back in her room, TJ checked on the pet. He was still sleeping, under the effect of the potent drug, and she slipped off her cloak, tossing it over the arm of the chair. Her bodysuit, the effective black fabric, clung to her athletic frame as she curled herself up into the plush armchair by her desk. Swirls of red curled on the bodice of her suit.
Her current novel, Shakespeares Much Ado About Nothing, lay open on the bedside table. She picked it up, opening it to the page shed stopped before that nights mission, and settled down, curling her legs beneath herself.
And she waited, trying to immerse herself in the elegant words and classic plots, for her new pet to wake from his sleep.