Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chapter Eleven: Five Things That Have To Do With Vampires That Don't Appear in this Story

I slid into the limo seats, not really enjoying the leather as I should. My palms were already sweating and I was so hungry that I was getting light headed. That coupled with the hangover was really fucking with my normal aplomb. 
I looked over at my boss. He wasn't a tall man, or a handsome man, or in any way remarkable physically. However, if anyone, after meeting him, would be asked how tall he was it would be well over six feet, not five six, and he would be two hundred pounds of solid muscle, not one forty-five and lean as a whip. If he was a D and D character, he would have a fucking twenty in charisma.

Ophelia”, Dammit. Why is he the only one I worked with who didn't call me sugar or angel or some other fucked up thing? “We have a problem.” His legs were crossed, his dark hair was perfect, his voice was soft like a shy teen-age girl's and I was still scared out of my pants.

There is nothing in there that I did wrong. Who ever Grandma-evil is, she's pretty fucking unconscious, and the zombie-voodoo-whatever it was, is just a bunch of parts for Duffy to scrape off the floor now.” His dark eyes widened just a bit, and I knew that we both knew any bravado on my part was ridiculously false. I just wanted to go home. And get some pizza. And not be in this limo. Unless maybe it had pizza in the mini fridge and then would take me home.

Ophelia, I didn't mean that at all. I'm sure you handled yourself as you normally do.” He looked amused, rather than angry. The alcohol was leaving my system. I really had to get out of this limo before I completely sobered up.

My dear, you need to be sober.” He leaned back into the dark shadows of the limo, right before he leaned further into my fucked up little head. Ophelia, you need to use your talents for me again. Sober up....Mmmmm...I think I should feed you.

Yeah, one more thing you should know about me. I know about these people, and non-people, and little witchy Willow like people, because my head is full of whatever is in their heads. Well, not entirely. I can't read minds, but I can can tell if they are human or just pretending to be. I can tell, before I even see them properly, whether or not they are dead, or undead or a ghost. I can tell if they intend to harm me, or anyone else, and I can usually point to who the target would be if that poor sod is nearby. The worst part is the little pictures in my mind. Or, at least I think it's in my mind. Alcohol helps, but not completely. I just thought I had weird dreams when I was a kid, and my kindred, all those people in my family, they just thought I had a dark-Gothic side. Which was true, I did. 
The first time I saw my boss I was unfortunately stone cold sober. I was on my way to get pizza at Joe's, ironically enough, and I was a starry eyed, thought I was a worldly freshman out about town. He walked out of this little Japanese Zen garden that people like to neck in, right near the other pizza joint, the one I hate that has all the healthy shit on the pie. He stopped and looked right at me, and I swear I saw shapes just zooming right out of him, like tentacles on Cthulhu. They writhed and ducked and speared right into a dozen poor unsuspecting people like little deadly white powdered glass shards. Right into me. No one felt them but me. Well, I'm guessing about that, but I was the only one who ended up on the pavement. When I opened my eyes, there he was, smiling down at me like I was his long lost daughter.

My dear,” he said in his velvety voice, “my name is Alexander Harris.” I think I laughed about that through the tears running down my face. I mean, come on. He might well have picked Van Fucking Helsing. It wasn't his real name anyway, not that a name really mattered. I knew what he was, he knew that I knew, and he had plans for me. He picked me up off the pavement and whisked me down the block to the old Mason's Temple building where he had set up his offices. (Okay, now think about that for a moment. A Free Mason's building. Lord, the irony.) Trust me when I say, I have reason to be concerned about my well being. It wasn't that he was evil, or good. He was old. Very, very, very, very, very, very, very fucking old. You don't get that way by being nice to freshman girls with a headache.

And use me he has. Repeatedly. But that's another story. Today, in the limo, with my hangover and injured foot, my ex-boyfriend outside, and no pizza in sight, I was getting another little vibe off my boss. I saw it before I had even touched the shiny chrome door handle. He was angry. If you looked at him, even up close, he would have looked calm, even lazily content. Unless you happen to be me. I was seeing blood, and people impaled on spikes, and the very flames of hell. Use me, he would.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chapter 10, Silent Apocalypse and Duffy

Gavin got on the phone and immediately started talking non stop, which he does the week of a full moon. “Hey there pretty lady! I couldn't help overhearing. So we have some zombies at Joe's. Oh, God, is Joe dead? Man that would suck, he makes the best freaking pizza, like the absolute best. Way better than over at Keno's. You remember when we went there for Liz's ten year? That was cool...”

I cut the little chatter box off, but I had already missed half of what Bruce and Joe had been saying. “Gavin! Shut. Up.” Blessed silence from the other end of the line. “I need a clean up crew here now.” I looked down at the recently knocked out Grandma-evil. “Send Duffy. He'll at least know what to do with the little madam I found, and we don't want another silent apocalypse like we had last year.” Bruce stopped talking at that one and gave me a quizzical look. “Yeah, look, it's a long story, I'll tell you later.”

Gavin popped back over the line, “Tell me what?”

“I wasn't talking to you, fuzzy. Just get your tail over here now, with Duffy, the cleaners and...” crap, I didn't want to say this last bit. “Bruce is here. We better tell the boss.”

“Ummm...okay, Bruce, huh? Is he mad about the bottle you broke over his back last night? Because, damn, if you were my ex, I would have you up on assault charges. And all the pizza that you ordered for everyone...”

“What?!? What pizza? There wasn't even boxes in my..” and I was cut off again.

“Well, there wouldn't be, sugar, you threw most of it out of the window. That's why everyone left! Hell, I'd still be there, but I was hungry, and there are all these little rabbits that had been living in the park...”

“GOD!! GAVIN!! SHUT THE FUCK UP!!” We both paused and there was a couple seconds of silence all around to digest the bitchiness that is me.

“Yeah, okay, I have stuff to do.”

“Too right you do!” I slammed the phone down and took a deep breath. Yelling made my head hurt. I went over to where Bruce and what was left of Joe were on the floor. Their conversation seemed to be over, and of course I missed it. Joe peered at me with filmy dead eyes that still had a bit of frost on them.

I really didn't know what to say. What can you say to a man whom you barely know, but who has fed you repeatedly for the past two years? Sure, I paid for it, but...”You made the best pizza Joe. Thanks.”

He smiled a bit and closed his eyes. There was a little flash from the amulet and Bruce reached out and took it off Joe's chest.

“Okay, that's that.”

We looked at each other over the now completely dead Joe. “So,” I asked the question not really expecting an answer, “What did you have to ask him?”

“Ophelia Lenore Flowers, you know I can't tell you that.” God, I hate my name. I blame my parents for every single weird thing that has ever happened to me.

Before I could answer there was knock on the alley door and Gavin came in, scruffy and looking like a younger, skinnier Grizzly Adams. “Hey there, sugar, lets get this show on the road!” I looked behind him and saw the long limo that meant my boss was here too. Tinted glass, motor running. Gavin followed my eyes, even as he started directing the workmen he had brought with him to various stages for clean up. As he passed me he leaned down. “Just get it over with. It's daylight for another five hours at least, so he's pretty mellow.”

Duffy passed by us with a big bag slung over his shoulder and gave me a sympathetic smile, but he kept walking.

I looked at Bruce, who was standing now, and I walked out the door. As I reached for the door handle of the big black limo, I couldn't help wonder, once again, what had Joe had to tell Bruce that was so important that he came back from the dead to do it?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chapter Nine: A Lunar Anomaly and A Spider

I dialed the office, not waiting for Bruce to answer my question about pizza and praying someone other than my boss was there to answer the phone. My prayers were answered, but, as often happens when praying to gods, their sense of humor is not my own.

Hello, you have reached the Fellowship, can I help you?” The voice was chipper and gravely all at the same time, with a genteel Southern drawl that brought up pictures of plantations and the movie Gone With the Wind . I knew that voice.

“Barnaby, what the fuck are you doing answering the phone?”

“Oh, hello, my dear! You are going to be late if you are calling from anywhere but down-town.”

“I'm calling from Joe's. A zombie infested Joe's. Don't change the subject. Are you at my desk?”

“You, my dear, are crabby.” I could hear a drawer being opened. Damn parasite. “Yes, as a matter of fact I am at your desk. It is a mess. I was thinking about cleaning it out for you...”

“Touch anything and you will not live to see your next lunar anomaly you fucking spider.” Like my boss being a life-sucking vampire, that statement was more or less accurate.

“My, my, very crabby!” I heard the drawer being closed. Barnaby sighed, and I heard a bit of a shuffle which probably meant his eight hairy arms were putting things back where I left them rather than where he put them. “All right, sweet thing, I won't touch. Now, zombies you say? How exciting! Not ours I take it?”

“Would I be calling you if they were ours?” My head was killing me, and my foot was definitely bleeding again. “Get your hairy ass away from my desk and put someone on the God Damn phone who can do more than just clean it!”
I heard Bruce clicking his tongue from the other room, and there was silence from the other end of the phone. I sighed and tried to get myself under some semblance of control. It wasn't the fault of a gender confused mutation that I was having a bad day. “Look, Barnaby, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. I'm just.....” I turned away from where Bruce was in the kitchen and spoke more quietly. “Look, Bruce is here, okay, and I don't...I'm not dealing well with things...and I have a hang-over...I'm sorry...”
I heard more shuffling from the other end of the phone line, then a distinctive sniff. “Hmmm, well, apology accepted, but only because of our long standing friendship and because of the completely enjoyable party you threw last night.” Huh. I don't even remember him being there. 

“Gavin is here. Will he do?”

Speaking of lunar anomalies. “Yeah, I suppose. the boss in?” I was hoping for a negative. It was morning after all, and he was more of a night person. But we were all more or less night people, including the ever sunny Barnaby.

“He came in about twenty minutes ago, but seems to be distracted with something else. You want to keep this quiet?”

“I don't want to bother him with it if we don't have to. Might be some new people in town.”

I could actually hear his eight eyes blinking as Barnaby digested this. Probably the layers of mascara I'm sure he had on. “Oh, that is not good, honey.”

“No kidding. Get Gavin.”

I waited on the phone for Gavin, and looked back at Bruce. He was taking what was left of Joe the rest of the way out of the freezer. I felt a little odd admiring his bunching back and shoulder muscles as he moved a corpse that really was too heavy for one guy to be moving so easily. A little odd, but not much. He looked up and caught me looking. Good thing I never blush.

“Hey, I could use that amulet now.” He stood up with that little half smile on his face and sense of humor showing through. Dammit, I wish I didn't look like I know I looked, like some chick with a hang-over who didn't care enough to even take a shower. I had forgotten about the amulet.

“Sure.” I put the phone between my neck and shoulder and fished in my bag for the ebony amulet he had given me. Really should have given me instructions, honestly. He was lucky I had brought it at all. I tossed it at him, and he easily caught it without even breaking eye contact with me. Mental sigh.

I watched, curious as hell as to what that thing did. He carefully put it onto Joe's chest and leaned down to whisper something into a dead man's ear. Wicca stuff. If I had been anybody other than me, I would have been creeped out when Joe opened his frost covered eyes and looked up at Bruce.

“I'm dead.” It wasn't a question, but a statement of fact.

Bruce nodded. “Yeah, man. Sorry bout that, but I have to ask you some questions.”

Gavin got on the phone at that moment, so I didn't get to hear the whole conversation. I should have told Gavin to hush the fuck up so I could listen. It would have made a difference later, but hind-sight, right?