Gule Gets Into an Argument

Gule Gets in an Argument

 

 

“Look, there’s no such thing as vampires,” the man said, spreading his hands out in a gesture of complete confidence.

Niles Gule, resident of Baltimore and a vampire, lifted a brow as he planted his chin in the palm of his hand.  The long white talons of his fingers caressed his cold cheek while his brilliant blue eyes considered the man sitting beside him on the bleachers.

“Really?”

Dave Jacobs nodded.  “Sure, it makes for a great story, but come on!  It’s just superstitious nonsense from the Middle Ages.”

The vampire turned his eyes back to the field hockey game being played under beaming halogen stadium lights.  A dozen girls ran up the field chasing a ball to the cheering of their parents.  “What makes you so sure?”

Jacobs yelled encouragement to his daughter before he answered.  “This business about frying in daylight?  It’s nonsense.  There’s no scientific basis for any creature getting burned up by sunlight.”

Niles considered the man’s nearly bald head.  “I assume you haven’t been to the beach for a while.”

His companion scowled and ran a hand over his bald dome.  “I’m not talking about a simple sunburn.  I’m talking about getting totally fried.”

“But if a creature evolved to exist only at night, it might not develop the skin pigments required to survive in daylight.”  Niles gave a thumbs up to Mei Li Lo as she scampered along the sidelines to collect the ball when it bounced out of bounds, her sleek black ponytail flopping as she ran.

Jacobs pointed at Niles with a finger.  “Except vampires are supposedly dead people.  People have skin pigment.  So vampires would have skin pigment.”  His expression said he’d scored a point.

Niles twitched his lips.  “Vampires are not dead people.”

“Legend says they are.  And what’s this about being afraid of garlic?”  Jacobs punctuated his point by thrusting a garlic fry at Niles, causing the vampire to recoil.  “Garlic’s just a bulb and it’s not poisonous.”

“To humans,” Niles murmured.  He edged away on the aluminum bleacher seat but not so far he revealed himself for a vampire.  Jacobs had no idea he was sitting right next to the creature he was convinced was a figment of human imagination. Niles had little desire to correct him.

He countered.  “Grapes aren’t poisonous to humans, but don’t feed them to dogs.”

“All I’m saying is, the whole thing is a crock.”  Jacob paused to take a sip of beer.  “There’s no such thing as vampires.  Why they’re so popular in books and television is beyond me.  If you’re going to write stories, you should get your facts straight and have them make coherent sense.”  He looked his companion up and down.  “You said you work for the Baltimore police.  Do you think there are vampires working the night shift?”

Niles spit beer as he fought back a cough.  “Um… well… I can honestly say I’ve never run into one.”

“There ya go.”  Jacobs nodded as if he’d won the argument.  He returned his attention to the game and cheered for his daughter when she took control of the ball.

Niles wiped spattered beer from his face and considered the situation.  Why were humans so danged competitive about things that didn’t matter?  Jacobs’ desire to out argue Niles seemed almost visceral.  He looked proud of the fact that he considered himself the victor.  It made no sense.

Niles understood competitiveness.  Vampires were cutthroat creatures.  They were just as quick to kill one another as they were a human to eat.  Territorial by nature, they fought to hold ground and would challenge any vampire that encroached on their turf.  Niles was no exception.  Although he’d turned his back on his heritage and no longer consumed human blood, that seething instinct to hold what was his still burned hot in his cold heart.  And like the majority of his brethren, he was a loner.  He had no mate and few friends in the vampire community.  Most vampires he encountered immediately challenged him, forcing him to fight them.  It was reasonable behavior.  Fight for territory.  Fight for mates.  Fight to defend your life.

But this?

Niles watched the kids race down the field.  Their parents often leaped to their feet, screaming when the ball got close to one of the nets.  When a referee made a call a father didn’t agree with, a screaming match ensued.  Niles watched with fascination as the ref threatened to have the man evicted from the stadium.  That just set dad off the more and pretty soon security was called in.

The vampire studied the fracas empirically.  While vampires were territorial loners, Niles had decided humans were tribal by nature.  The family unit was the immediate tribe, but humans also created any number of ersatz tribes to feed their primitive hunger.  Tribes that were centered around sports teams were one of the biggest of such convenient structures, but so were political parties, and language, religious and ethnic groups.  The carnage humans had wreaked upon each other over the centuries in tribal conflicts made the losses they’d sustained to vampiric hunting miniscule in comparison.

Jacobs answered his cellphone with a rolling of his eyes to tell Niles he really didn’t want to take the call.  While security wrestled their recalcitrant parent out of the stadium and Jacobs discussed labor rates and pricing models, Niles waved to Mei Li.  The Chinese-American girl shouted up at him, asking if he would take her and some friends for ice cream after the game, to which he nodded indulgently.

The game got underway for the second half.  Niles cheered for Mei Li’s Wildcats as the score seesawed back and forth.  As the last minutes of the half ticked down, the Wildcats were in the lead.

“So, have I convinced you?” Jacobs asked, stuffing his phone in his pocket.

“That vampires aren’t real?”  Niles scratched his blond head with a talon.  “I don’t know.  I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

“Hell!”  Jacobs moaned as the buzzer sounded, ending the match.  Mei Li’s team had beaten his daughter’s.

Niles grinned though he wished his fangs weren’t filed down.  He would have loved to see Jacobs’ face.  “We won.”  He couldn’t resist the dig.

“I teach my daughter it’s having fun playing the game that’s important,” Jacobs replied, collecting his trash as he rose.  He climbed down off the bleachers.  “Remember,” he said.  “Vampires aren’t real.”   When he hit the flat grass, Jacobs spread his arms wide.  “It’s all fantasy.  Even this.”

Niles frowned.  “How so?”

Jacobs laughed.  “My daughter plays hockey in the York area.  There’s no way she’d be playing a Baltimore team.  Nor would her team lose.”

Picking his way down the stairs, Niles considered the man’s boastful words.

“Maybe,” Niles said, descending to the grass.  “Maybe not.  Just be careful.”

Jacobs arched his brow.  “Yeah?  Why?”

Niles stalked behind him as they left the stadium.  “Because some day, you’ll turn around and a vampire will be right behind you.”

Jacob grunted.  “Yeah!  Like that’s gonna happen!”

Niles opened his mouth to take a bite of the neck ahead of him but reconsidered since he hadn’t the fangs to do it right.

Watch your back, Mr. Jacobs, he thought.  Because I’ll always be right behind you.

 

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Masochistic Gule

Such nights were made for memories, Niles Gule thought as he strolled through the exquisite gardens and sipped champagne.  The moon was a silver crescent rising out of a brilliant red sunset over Pennsylvania.  The soft warm air carried the smell of newly mown grass and the muted sounds of quiet conversation.  He’d strolled this exact garden before on a night very much like this one decades ago.  The music had been different, soft jazz then, Michael Buble now.  But the feeling of quiet gentility was the same.

His steps were hushed by the thick turf as he studied topiaries sculpted into birds, animals and abstract shapes.  They hadn’t changed since the 1920s when he’d last visited this place.  Even the same time piece remained on its concrete platform.  He couldn’t call it a sundial because while it did measure time using the sun it wasn’t a dial.  Instead it was a complicated metal armature that needed to be moved each day to give an accurate reading.  Not that Niles had ever seen it in action.  He was a vampire.  He seldom saw the sun.

The place was Longwood Gardens.  The event was a charity gala to raise money for emergency responders.  Once the private retreat of industrialist Pierre DuPont, the estate had been transferred to a public trust in the 1950s shortly after the man’s death.  Since then it remained open to the public as a stunning gift of beauty to the American people.

During the 1920s and 30s, the DuPont family escaped the city of Wilmington by visiting their country estate where they would entertain lavishly.  Back then Niles came to dance under the stars to music from the theater organ housed in the enormous glass conservatory.   He was surprised by how little the conservatory, like the gardens themselves, had changed in the nearly 100 years since he’d last visited.  The conservatory sported new wings and pools for water lilies.  But the terrace overlooking the fountain gardens hadn’t changed, nor had the topiaries.  As he ambled towards the conservatory, Niles could imagine the year was still 1925 and he was a vampire only sixty-seven years old.

He arrived on the terrace to find Don Kinnear hustling towards the organ room.  Compared to the towering six-foot-six Niles, Don was a diminutive fellow but what he lacked in height he made up for in rambunctious energy.   He would be playing the organ for the gala, a special privilege given the Longwood Aeolian organ was the largest in the world held in private hands.

“I’m taking requests if you have any,” Don said as Niles followed him to the organ room.

Niles’ pale lips twitched.  He watched as Don settled himself on the bench and arranged his sheet music.  “Depends on who will be willing to dance with me.”

Don twisted around, his eyes flicking up and down the tall, elegant vampire.  Not that he had a clue he was talking to an actual, full blooded vampire.  Niles didn’t advertise his biology.  He even filed his fangs to hide the fact that he had any.

“I can’t imagine you’ll have trouble finding a dance partner.”

Niles shrugged.  “Who can say?”  He mulled a thought.  “Tell you what.  If you see me land a perky, luscious little Latina lady, play that.”  He pointed to a particular piece.

Don tilted his head in question.  “Are you serious?”

Niles nodded.  “Very much so.  Trust me, it’s appropriate.”

Don laughed and turned back to his organ.

Smiling to himself, Niles returned to the terrace where banquet tables stood arranged under the clear summer sky and guests milled in evening clothes.  Men wore black tie while the women were a colorful flock of birds in blues, greens, reds and yellows, the finest of their elegant dresses.  Niles had opted for black that evening which made him look taller and even more dashing than normal.

Don’s hands touched the organ and music swelled over the terrace.  The piece was a samba.  Several couples separated from the crowd and drifted like windblown leaves across the terrace.  Niles stopped near the railing that looked out over the fountain garden to watch.

Little Sun Yi Lo, the wife of his boss, Sergeant Tan Lo of the Baltimore Police, asked him to dance, even knowing he was a vampire.  Niles’ smile grew wider as he swept the tiny Asian woman across the terrace, taking one step to every three of hers.  He was an excellent dancer, having learned in Victorian ballrooms in his youth.  He could waltz, tango and samba with the best of them.  Sun Yi was a lovely dancer in her own right and moved smoothly in his arms as they swirled around the terrace.

“Where’s the boss man?” Niles asked.

Sun Yi’s mouth curled down.  “Sitting it out, of course.  He swears he doesn’t dance.”  Her dark eyes twinkled.  “You, however, are superb.  I knew the evening wouldn’t be boring with you here.”

Niles smiled fondly, loving the little woman for her acceptance of him as just who he was.  When the samba ended he handed her off to her husband who looked grateful Niles had resolved one problem for the night.  Every time his wife wanted to dance, she’d having a willing partner who wasn’t her husband.

Niles continued to drift through the crowd, chatting with those he knew, which was a great many.  He stopped at the railing overlooking the fountain garden and watched the fountains dance in the moonlight.  He remembered standing in this same place long ago.  He’d been lonely then too.  As he was lonely now.

“Penny for your thoughts,” a soft, feminine voice, lighted accented in Spanish said from behind him.

Niles turned to find his partner, Mariella Cruz, eyeing him.  She was stunning in a Grecian style gown of sapphire blue.

“Where’s Deschamps?” he asked, naming the man who escorted her everywhere.

Her mouth gave away her displeasure.  “Schmoozing for dollars, of course.”  She gestured with her shoulder towards a knot of the rich and powerful.  Sure enough Malcolm Deschamps was there angling for influence.

Cruz held out her hand.  “Dance with me, Niles.”

Niles knew he should refuse.  The two of them had a chemistry that could burn down the estate in which they stood.  But he couldn’t help himself.  He grasped her hand and spun her into the crowd of other dancers.  On a pass near the organ, he nodded to Don Kinnear, who nodded back.  When he finished the salsa, he played Niles’ request.

Cruz’s dark eyes widened at the hot sounds of a tango.  Grinning, she allowed Niles to swing her about with abandon.  Together, they tangoed across the terrace as other less agile couples made way for them.  Niles was debonair in his dark clothes, brilliant blue eyes and pale hair silver in the moonlight.  Cruz was sultriness personified, her curves made to soften the sharp, staccato moves of the dance.  She laughed then sobered when he dipped her and froze, their eyes locked.  The strains of the tango continued as they gazed at each other, lightning flashing between them.  Then the words of the song came to Niles’ mind and he spun her away to leave her beside Deschamps.

Ah yes, he thought as he found more champagne to ease his sore heart.  The song fit his desire for Cruz.  A woman he could never have.

 

Your eyes cast a spell that bewitches
The last time I needed twenty stitches
To sew up the gash
You made with your lash
As we danced to the Masochism Tango

 

It was the Masochism Tango by Tom Lehrer.

 

© 2017

Niles Comments:  If you are in the south central PA area, the Longwood Gardens Christmas display is a must see!  Brother Don will be playing the organ on select dates throughout the holiday season.  Check out Longwood Gardens here:  https://longwoodgardens.org/.  I admit I’ve never seen them during the daylight hours, but the nighttime display is magnificent.   The Masochism Tango is a fun piece of music.  Listen if you dare:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TytGOeiW0aE

Guest Post: Open Wide!

Niles comments:

It’s Thanksgiving week.  For those of you who indulge in the turkeyfest, I wish you well.  I’ll be gnawing on some new raw beef while you binge on cranberries and sweet potatoes (shudder!).

In honor of the holiday, I’ve decided to give my biographer the week off so that Mel can enjoy time with family.  Instead, I’m offering a post by a writer named Marty who has been inspired by my adventures to come up with one of his own.  Don’t confuse the following with reality.  This is purely Marty’s vivid imagination while my stories are always real.

Enjoy!

Puzzled and concerned, Niles Gule studied his old friend, Cole Tender.

“You look lousy,” Niles said.  “What’s wrong? Got the flu or something?”

“Wish I knew, Niles. I’ve been to several doctors who referred me to specialists.  They’ve ordered me to take all sorts of tests. No one has come up with anything.”

“No kidding?  What are your symptoms?  Maybe you have one of the old diseases from back when we were younger. Modern doctors haven’t heard of even half the things that laid us low back then.”

Cole Tender sat down hard on a nearby easy chair, saying, “You don’t mind if I sit while we talk, do you? I have no strength left to stand.”

“No, No. Of course not. Make yourself comfortable,” Niles urged his guest. “Can I get you anything? Wine? Whiskey? Fresh whole blood?”

“No, Niles. Thank you anyway. That’s one of my symptoms. I seem to have lost my appetite for blood. It’s been like this for a couple of months… since our group’s party on Fang Day in August. That night was probably the last time I enjoyed a full meal. Since then, I’ve been living on coffee and an occasional chocolate cupcake or a soft pretzel.”

“Are you getting your share of iron and the rest of the trace elements we need from human blood?”

“That’s the puzzling thing about all this. My blood tests show I am maintaining my normal level of trace elements, although there has been a barely detectable decrease over the last month or so. However, I’ve lost 40 pounds, as you can see by looking at me. I don’t know what to do, which is why I’ve come to you, old friend. Can you help me?  You still possess much of the old knowledge.”

“OK. I’ll try. First, open your mouth.  Stick out your tongue and say Ahhhh.”

“Ahhhhh”

“Wider!”

“AHHHHH”

“Why is your tongue bloody? Have you just fed?”

“No. Honest. I haven’t had a thing today, and I’m not even hungry. That’s what I’ve been telling you.”

“Well, there’s blood on your tongue and your saliva is bloody. You didn’t have a small bite before you came here?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Hmm….. open wide again. I want to check something out.”

“Ahhhhh.”

“Aha!!! I’ve found it. At least I think I have. Your gums are bleeding, and badly, it seems. I believe you’re suffering from a condition called gingivitis; probably caused by periodontal disease. When was the last time you saw your dentist?”

“Er… not since, oh… about 1870. Yes, that’s it, a few years after the Civil War. I never went back to him because he wanted to grind down my fangs to normal tooth size.”

“Well, Cole, as strange as it may seem for a vampire, you’re bleeding yourself to death. Your own blood is satisfying your hunger, so you don’t eat or have the urge to feed yourself. You’re living off your own blood… recycling it, as it were, but each time it goes into and out of your system, it becomes less potent. That’s why you have lost weight and feel weak.”

“Does that mean I’m doomed to a slow death?”

“Not necessarily. But you must get yourself to a dentist… a specialist… a periodontist. Let him work on your gums. Some surgery might be needed, but I don’t think you have any alternative. Also, you must force yourself to eat and, naturally, make sure your new whole blood intake is accomplished twice a day.”

“That will be very expensive, Niles. I’m not sure I can…..”

“Not to worry, old friend. I’ll lend you the money. You can repay me whenever you can.”

“Gee, Niles. You are a real Prince. ….A Prince of Darkness.”
 

 

© 2017 Weiss

Gule is Ribbed

Niles Gule groaned.  His hand clawed along the surface of his bed until it encountered his black and silver silk duvet.  He clutched it and rolled, wrapping himself up like a burrito.  And yet still he felt cold and feverish.  The sensation was odd.  As a vampire, Niles seldom felt cold, even on the iciest winter days.  He also never got sick because human diseases couldn’t thrive in a vampire’s cold body.   So the intense shaking terrified him.

Desperate to be warm, he finally untangled himself from his bedding and staggered to the bathroom.  His rubbery legs threatened to collapse from under him so he grasped furniture to keep from falling.  When he arrived in the bathroom, he stared at his reflection in the mirror (yes, vampires do actually have reflections).  His brilliant blue eyes were bloodshot.  His face was even paler than its normal pasty color.  He was panting even as he shivered.

Stumbling to the shower, he turned the hot water to scalding and allowed it to beat him into submission.  The heat tried but failed to warm his cold blood and he continued to shiver violently.  He clutched the bar on the door and hung on as the world swung wildly around him.

The sound of someone entering his apartment startled him.  Few people visited a vampire.  And none, as far as Niles knew, had a key to let themselves in.  But he was too sick to leave the shower to find out who’d invaded his space.

Through the steam, Niles saw a large, dark shape appear in the doorway.  Although his vision was wonky, Niles’ sensitive nose picked up the scent with ease.  The invader was his nemesis, Jonas Williams, a co-worker on the night shift of the Baltimore PD.

“Dear God!” he moaned into the glass door.  “Why you?”

Williams came to a stop in the middle of the doorway but said nothing.

The man’s silence dragged Niles’ gaze from the floor.  He found Williams was holding a pizza box with a paper bag poised on top.  He clutched a six pack under the pizza box.

“I brought you dinner. I figured you could use it.”

Niles groaned.  The thought of pizza made him even sicker.  Vampires were strict carnivores.  Niles didn’t care for cheese and despised tomatoes.  Figuring Williams was tormenting him, Niles shot him the finger.

“That’s a fine welcome for someone who’s looking out for you.”  Williams shuffled his pizza box to one hand and plopped the paper bag on the counter.  “Raw baby back ribs,” he explained.  “Fresh from the butcher shop.”

Niles winced at the quiet reprimand.  Before he could apologize, Williams retreated into the bedroom, taking his pizza with him.

With a snarl of annoyance at both himself and Williams, Niles turned off the water, whipped a towel from the warming bar and scrubbed himself off.  Then, wrapping the towel around his hips and grabbing the bag of ribs, he marched into his apartment in search of Williams.

He found the human sitting in the elegantly appointed great room, munching on pizza, swigging a beer and watching basketball on Niles’ hi def TV.

“Make yourself at home,” Niles grumbled.

Williams grinned.  “I did.”  He slapped the couch beside him.  “Sit down before you fall down, Ghoul.  You look like hell.”

“I feel like hell,” the vampire muttered as he collapsed into a chair.  “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“I do.”  Williams’ grin became ever more shit-eating.  At Niles’ glare, he said, “You partook of human blood, my friend.  Unfortunately, you chose as your victims a couple of junkies.”  He swirled his fingers in the air.  “I suspect this is the result of mixing vampire and heroin.  Not pretty if you ask me.”

“I didn’t ask.”  Niles rubbed his throbbing head.

Williams poked the bag of ribs.  “You need to eat, Ghoul.  You’re thin to start with and you haven’t eaten in two days.”

Niles frowned.  “Why do you care?  You hate me.”

“Hate is a strong word, my friend.”  Williams swallowed some more beer.  “I don’t hate you.  You annoy the hell out of me, but that’s not the same as hate.  I have too much respect for you to hate you.”

In the midst of snuffling in the bag, Niles blinked.  “Excuse me?”

“Don’t get all gooshy on me, Ghoul.  It’s a long way from respect to like.  You’re a co-worker in trouble.  We of the Baltimore PD look out for each other.  So, when you lost it and punched Cruz yesterday, I decided I’d better take over baby-sitting.”

“I punched Cruz?”  Niles sat back winded.  He had no memory of yesterday. “Did I hurt her?”

“Nothing so bad she won’t recover.”  Williams picked another slice of oily pizza from the box.  “We knew you didn’t mean it.  Your hand and her head just happened to inhabit the same bit of space for a second there.  She’s fine.  So now I’m here to see you detox safely.”  He chuckled and shook his head.  “It’s a hell of a thing to see.  A vampire coming down off a heroin high.  I’m surprised you have a door left.”

Niles glanced at his front door which was now bolted in three places.  “How did you get in here?”

Williams searched his back pocket, removed some keys and jingled them.  “I got them off of you.”  He tossed them on the table.  Then he sat back on the couch, slobbered his slice and made a contented sound.

I’m going to owe the bastard yet again, Niles thought.

“You enjoy having me in your debt, don’t you?”

Williams nodded.  “Yep.”

“What’s it going to be this time?”  Niles squinted to keep the two Williams from escaping each other as his vision swam.  “Do I need to marry your girlfriend’s sister?  Contribute my fortune to the Fraternal Order of Police in your name?”

“That would be nice.”  Williams’ eyes lit up at the thought.  “But I don’t have a girlfriend at the moment, so you don’t need to marry anyone.”

“What then?  You don’t do anything for free.”

Williams pursed his lips.  “Did it ever occur to you I might be doing this for Cruz?”

Niles eyed him suspiciously.  “Are you?”

The big man shrugged.  “In a way.”

“So what’s your price, Jonas.  You want something.”

Williams turned his gray eyes on Niles.  They’d lost some of their smugness and looked serious.  “Introduce me to your girlfriend next door.”

Niles jerked.  “Tyra?  You know she’s a vampire, right?”

Williams nodded.

“So why…?”  Niles spread his hands.

“Let’s just say I have my own debts to pay.”  Williams swished beer in his cheeks then swallowed.  “Besides, I can only imagine what having sex with a vampiress must be like!”

Niles knew all about that.  Vampires were aggressive when they mated.  Partners sometimes got hurt.  He couldn’t imagine what would happen to a human.

“You’re out of your mind!”  He exclaimed.

Williams nodded.  “Probably.  But like I said.  I’ve got debts to pay.”

Niles sat silently pretending to watch the basketball game while he forced himself to eat the ribs.  All the while his mind was parsing the problem of Tyra.

And Cruz.

He knew what Williams was up to.  Running block between Cruz and a vampiress who had her eye on the vampire Cruz desired.

Tyra and Williams.  Tyra and Cruz.  No matter how you sliced, it was a hell of a combination.

 

© 2017 Newmin

Gule Takes a Trip

Niles Gule woke with a groan.  Flashes of blinding light stabbed his eyes even though they were closed.  His head reeled, nearly causing him to vomit.  He lay curled in the fetal position and tried to determine where he was.  The air was cold and clammy.  Musty with the scent of dried blood.

Niles was a vampire who, like all his brethren, preferred his blood fresh.  He found the smell of dried blood unbearable.  It, along with the spinning of his head, made him wretch a second time.  A thin dribble of undigested blood seeped from his lips.  Horrified, Niles forced himself to sit up.

A shimmery world of black and white shadows meant he sat in darkness, his night vision picking up just the tiniest hints of light.  The shimmer, however, was something new.  His head continued to spin, a sensation Niles had never felt before.

The unknown bred fear and fear fired his instinct for survival.  He scrambled to his feet then swayed when his vision refused to solidify.  Staggering, he tripped over something that mumbled a complaint.  His hand found a wall which he used to anchor himself.  The eerie, unknown space and his inability to understand it terrified him.  Where was he?   What had happened to him?  He started to panic when his memory failed to respond.

Breathe, Gule.  Whatever this is, you have to conquer it.  Anything else means death.

By will alone, Niles cleared his head and looked around.  He stood in an underground chamber filled with the stench of mold and death.  At his feet lay another vampire breathing the deep breaths of the sated.  A young male, maybe half Niles’ age.   Dried blood stained the front of his t shirt and smeared his face.  Elsewhere in the chamber other vampires also slept.  Their bloated bellies told him they were stuffed full of blood like happy ticks.  Depending on the amount they’d consumed, they might remain in that catatonic state for two days or more.

And judging by the feast he saw, they’d fed well.  Five human corpses were piled in the center of the chamber, all with the ghastly pallor of people drained of blood.  Flies buzzed merrily.  Numerous bottles and syringes lay scattered about.  A drug den.  A vision of hell.  And a vampire’s paradise.

Niles’ hand touched his stomach.  It bulged, another sensation he hadn’t felt in a long time.  He’d fed, because he’d had to.  To refuse would have meant his death at the hands of the vampire flight.  So he’d broken his vows and indulged in some blood.  Too much, the swish of his stomach told him.  One swallow was too much.

And yet, he thought with grim pleasure, the feeling of a stomach full of life-giving blood was ecstasy.  He hadn’t felt so satisfied in years.  A thousand pounds of bloody beef couldn’t replace the feeling of a stomach brimming with human blood.  His tongue circled around his mouth, savoring the intense flavor.  Even though he was stuffed, the taste made him salivate anew.  He hungrily considered eating one of the corpses.

Niles recoiled in horror at himself.  No!  No more!

Using the wall to hold himself upright, Niles staggered up some stairs.

Even cold, fresh air couldn’t clear the vampire’s head.  His vision continued to shift as he tried to understand where he was.  The pale pinkish light of earliest morning revealed a tired residential street in Baltimore.  Niles fought to remember how he’d come to be in that horrible place, surrounded by a flight of vampires, doing something he’d sworn he’d never do.  His mind refused to answer.

“Detective Gule!”  A woman’s voice penetrated his fog.

He frowned.  He knew that irritating voice.  Meredith Brigolles.  Reporter for the Sun.

Her hands caught him as he sagged to his knees.  “My God!  Is that blood?  What happened to you?”

Niles slapped her away and begged his mind to obey his will.  The sun was rising.  He needed to seek shelter in his apartment before the yellow rays fried him.  He certainly didn’t need some damned reporter involved in this debacle.

“It’s not mine,” he muttered when the woman clawed open his suit jacket to investigate the smear of blood.  His hands scrambled for his cellphone.  He needed help and knew of only one person he could call.

Brigolles considered the decaying Queen Anne mansion with a reporter’s eagerness.  “Did someone die in there?  Did you kill him?  Did he try to kill you?”

Niles grabbed her arm before she could charge into the house.  He easily held her with his vampiric strength but in doing so dropped the cellphone.

“Gule?” The voice of his partner, Mariella Cruz, came thinly.  “Gule?  What’s up?”

To the vampire’s annoyance, Brigolles snatched up the phone.  “He’s been injured.  We need an ambulance on East Lombard.”

Niles heard Cruz’s frantic queries asking who had his phone to which Brigolles tartly explained who she was.  Cruz’s answer was a string of curses before Brigolles hung up on her.

Brigolles eased Niles onto the porch.  “Take it easy, detective.  Help is on the way.”

Niles wanted to shake the woman out of her sick excitement, that of a reporter on the hunt for a story.  Knowing Cruz was on her way was a relief, but Niles still panicked.  His vision refused to clear.  His thinking remained muddled.  The sun was rising.  And he had a basement full of sleeping vampires beneath him who might decide to wake at any moment.

Brigolles tried to free herself from his grip, but the one thing Niles could do was hang on.  He couldn’t let her see what was in the basement.  She’d discover the vampires and the murdered people.  She’d know he’d taken part in the feasting and would know him as a vampire.  Then the story of Baltimore’s vampire police detective would splash all over the front page of the Sun just when the police department didn’t need another scandal.  Hell!

The wait seemed interminable.  Niles’ vision continued to falter and Brigolles tried everything to pry her hand loose.  Niles knew he was hurting her but at that moment he didn’t care.

“Hey, Ghoul.”  Officer Jonas Williams sauntered up the overgrown walkway with his characteristic nonchalance.  He nodded to Brigolles, tilted his head to consider the vampire, then with a snort, stomped into the house.

Cruz came running up the walk a minute later, her dark hair flying in its ponytail.

She gave Brigolles a heated look as she dropped to her knees beside Niles.  Her eyes took in the blood on his shirt and the stains on his lips.  Hastily she used a tissue to clean that up.

Niles gazed at her in desperation.  He didn’t want her to know what he’d done.  He was terrified of her condemnation.  Her loathing.  But in typical Cruz style, the little Latina dealt with the problem at hand, which was getting her vampire out of the sunlight.

“Let’s get him up,” she said to Williams when he reappeared from the house.

Williams twitched his mouth then scooped Niles up in his bulging arms.

“I don’t understand what’s wrong with him,” Cruz said worriedly.  “He seems kinda out of it.”

Brigolles fussed, furious that she was being ignored.  “What’s going on?  Where are you taking him?  Why didn’t you call for an ambulance?  And what’s going on inside the house?”

Even with his arms full of vampire, Williams whirled around.  “It’s a crime scene.  You enter it and I’ll arrest you.”

Brigolles huffed and her eyes flashed, but she didn’t attempt to enter the house.

Cruz trotted beside Williams as he carried Niles to her car.  “I’ve never seen him like this before.”

“I have,” Williams grunted.  “Last time it was chocolate.”

“What is it this time?”

Williams belched a laugh.  “Who’d thunk it?  He’s stoned, Cruz.  Those people in there?  They’re heroin addicts.”

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

Trick or Gule

Niles Comments:  Happy Halloween!  It’s a vampire’s special day and I intend to enjoy it in full vampire style.  For those of you following the incident of the flight at the Queen Anne, you’ll just have to wait until next week to find out how that ended…. badly, I might add.  I’ve asked my biographer to relate my holiday story in honor of this wonderful night.  Enjoy!

Oh… and to a certain gentleman of my acquaintance… vengeance is a dish best served cold.  Vampire style…. Just saying….

 

The attack was as forceful as it was expected.  Niles Gule, resident vampire of Baltimore, found himself under assault from a bumblebee, a zebra, a Disney princess, a farmer and some oddity he couldn’t explain.  The strange menagerie grabbed his legs and pulled on his arms excitedly, nearly bringing the tall, lithe vampire to his knees.

“Uncle Niles!”

The chorus of five young, girlish voices pained Niles’ sensitive ears as he held out his arms to the marauding hoard.  A plastic orange jack-o-lantern hit him in the face but he merely smiled indulgently as he was swarmed.

These were his boss’s daughters, ranging in age from four to thirteen.  Sergeant Tan Lo of the Baltimore PD was the proud father of eight children, five girls and three boys, all of whom considered Niles an uncle.  Most parents would shudder to think of their child hugging a full blooded, mature male vampire but not the Los.  They adored Niles and he in turn adored them.  He’d vowed never to consume human blood and hadn’t for two years.  His friendship with the family had bloomed during that time.  He was a part of the Chinese-American family, albeit one totally out of place with his blond hair and blue eyes.

Tonight was Trick or Treat in the Lo neighborhood and Niles had volunteered to chaperone the girls on their annual quest to extort candy from the neighborhood.  It was a chore that he anticipated all year because Halloween was his holiday.  The one day when he could proudly display his heritage.  He’d dressed in a black sweater and slacks and thrown a high collared cape over his shoulders.  He’d dyed his corn-colored hair black but could do nothing to change his brilliant blue eyes.  They didn’t fit the pop culture stereotype of a vampire but he knew the Lo girls wouldn’t care.

The first house offered meager pickings, so stated the thirteen-year-old Mei Lin with a sniff as she peered in her jack-o-lantern.  Sweet tarts, not chocolate.  Cheapskates!

Niles held out his hand and took the tarts.  Chocolate was an anathema to him but he liked sugar.

At the next house, the girls poured through the open door and pounced on the giant bowl of candy sitting on a table, babbling excitedly to the smiling mother who greeted each girl by name.

“Only a handful!” Niles called from the front lawn.  “Be polite.”

“Whoever heard of a polite vampire?” Fen Sha demanded as she stuffed a fistful of chocolates into her bucket.

Niles lifted a brow.  “I beg your pardon?”

His deliberately stuffy tone sent the girls into twitters of laughter.

The girls encountered a group of their friends on the way to house three which meant Niles stood patiently in the middle of the street while the collection chattered at a million miles an hour and showed off their costumes.  The parents gathered beside Niles and complimented him on the mastery of his makeup.

“How’d you get your skin to look so white and translucent?” Mrs. Chronister asked as she peered closely at Niles’ face.

Niles smiled, allowing his fangs to show, which startled her.  “It’s a lot of work and a ton of foundation,” he lied.

“Looks real,” the woman murmured.  She backed away.

Having finished their little fashion show, the extortion team proceeded forward, determined to fill their pumpkins to overflowing.  House after house was plundered.  Adults exclaimed over the cuteness of the costumes and pretended they didn’t know the children behind the masks.  Ever patient, Niles followed behind, collecting objects as the girls dropped them.  The zebra’s tail.  The princess’s magic wand.  The bumblebee’s antennae.  He glittered as he walked, his black cloak billowing behind him.

Mei Lin’s gasp brought the troop up short.  Niles edged forward when he sensed the growing discomfort of his little band.  Like a protective father, he scanned the road ahead to see what had frightened his charges.

A group of four boys stood in their path with what Niles assumed was their father, a huge, beefy man who despite the cool evening wore a wife-beater shirt revealing the wealth of tattoos on his arms.  The boys were dressed as a group of soldiers of fortune in khaki camos with black bandanas around their foreheads.  Plastic machine guns hung from their backs and fake Bowie knives were strapped to their legs.

Ah, the future of America, Niles thought with a sigh.

Little Lili tugged on Niles’ cape and whispered, “They’re bullies, Uncle Niles.”

“They beat kids up for their sneakers,” Mei Lin murmured.

Although she shivered with fright, the oldest girl nevertheless moved to the front of her sisters to protect them.

One of the boys raced at them, brandishing his rifle and demanding the girls give over their candy.  Immediately, his fellows joined him, circling around the girls and taunting them.

Niles ignored them.  He turned his condemning blue gaze on the father.  “Are you just going to stand there and let them assault little girls?”

The father snorted and puffed on a cigarette.  “If it ain’t illegal, I don’t care what they do.”

One of the boys wrenched Fen Sha’s jack-o-lantern from her grasp.  She screamed and swatted at him but he pushed her away easily.

That snapped the vampire’s delicate grip on his temper.  He stormed at the boy and loomed over him, brandishing his fangs in a typical vampire threat display.  But he knew better than to touch the child.

“Give it back,” he commanded.  He pointed with a taloned hand at Fen Sha.

The boy glared.  “What are ya gonna do?  Bite me?  I’ll sue you.”

Niles blinked, stunned.  He was even more stunned when the boy brazenly strutted to his father’s side and showed the man his purloined candy.  The man shrugged and puffed some more.

Niles opened his arms wide and used his cape to collect the girls.  His brood came to him like chicks to a hen and he swept his cape around them to protect them.  He continued to snarl at the boys with his fangs, but none of them were afraid of him.  He decided he was wasting his time.  The father was responsible for raising such little monsters.

“I’d suggest you tell your son to return the candy,” Niles told the man.  “Do you really want them to grow up to be thieves?”

The man grunted.  “It’s a profession, ain’t it?”  He extended his arms.  “Look, they’re just kids.  It’s what kids do.  Beat up each other.  It’s how they learn.  Lighten up, girlie man!”

Niles froze, willing his fury to cool before he did something everyone would regret.

“Let’s go home,” Mei Lin said from the depths of his cape.  “Fen Sha can have my candy.”

Niles felt his heart flip.  Family.  They stood by each other.  And the Los were his family.  These were his girls.  His daughters.

His eyes narrowed as he considered the father.  Although he wanted to leap at the man and sink his fangs into that fat, tattooed neck, he held himself.  Instead, he turned to the boys.

“I’m sorry for you.  You don’t know what the love of family means.” When the boys all howled derision and the father jerked in affront, Niles continued.  “Real family.  Real love.”  He bent his head to view his girls who gripped his waist.  “Keep your candy.  It might give you some little joy.  Unfortunately, you’ll miss out on the greater warmth.”

He shuffled the girls around and herded them away from their tormentors.

“You don’t know jack!” one of the boys shouted at his back.  “We’ve got the candy!”  He lifted it high like booty and danced.

Niles nodded.  “So you do.  Remember tonight.  The night you walked away with candy.  While I walked away with armfuls of love.”

Like a mother duck leading her ducklings, Niles took his brood home.  His brood.

His family.

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

 

 

 

 

Gule Breaks His Vows

The vampire’s black gloved hand tightened on the knife as he considered how to approach his quarry.  His brilliant blue eyes flashed in the moonlight, seeking danger but finding none.  No street lights illuminated that particular corner of Baltimore.  The abandoned Victorian era homes hulked as black and white shadows in the vampire’s night vision and offered a plethora of opportunities for their illegal denizens to leap on him from cover.  A frigid wind rustled his blond hair and flapped the hem of his charcoal gray overcoat.  The clatter of spent leaves tumbling down the street made hearing a stealthy footstep difficult.

Niles Gule knew he was in dangerous territory.  Any number of his vampire brethren could lurk somewhere along that street, cautiously out of sight until they pounced.  For that reason he did something he never would normally do in public, he revealed his sharp fangs in the moonlight.  The show didn’t guarantee a vampire wouldn’t attack him, but it might give them pause.  Those fangs proclaimed him a compatriot, not prey.

Like those he stalked, Niles kept to the shadows as he moved towards his objective, an abandoned Queen Anne style mansion.  His informant told him a vampire had taken up residence there.  Because the night was young, he hoped his quarry had not yet awoken to begin his evening hunt for a human meal.  Niles wanted to catch him at a disadvantage and either oust him from Baltimore or, if necessary, kill him.

Although he stalked a dangerous enemy in the dark, empty places of the city, Niles felt no fear because he was a supreme hunter with years of experience tracking prey that could also hunt him.  Filled with fervor, his eyes changed from their ordinary blue to a pulsing yellow that glowed in the dark.  His body was taut, prepared, as he flitted from shadow to shadow, his silver knife leading the way.  His footsteps were hushed for he wore black, rubber soled shoes.

When he reached the mansion, Niles slid his back along a wall and sent his gaze sweeping over the elaborate building with its round turret, filigreed roof brackets and deep, shadowy porches.  The windows stared blackly at him, refusing to give up their secrets.  Niles congratulated his quarry.  That house possessed a hundred rooms where a vampire could hide.  Finding him would be difficult.

When a hand landed on his arm, the vampire nearly leaped for the sky.  His heart thumping, he whirled around and stabbed with the knife.  A feminine shriek sent his hand diving aside at the last moment.

“Detective!  Don’t kill me, for heaven’s sake!”

Niles clutched the knife with furious fingers as he waited for his panting of both startlement and anger to dissipate.

“What the hell are you doing here, Brigolles?”

Meredith Brigolles, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun who’d been stalking him, crouched beside him in the darkness.  Her long, blond ponytail wafted in the breeze and played around her intense face.

“You’ve been avoiding me for weeks.”

“You’ve been stalking me.”

She nodded.  “Damn straight!  So when I saw you sneaking out of the precinct like a thief in the night I followed you.”  She looked pointedly at his knife.  “What are you up to?”

Niles hissed.  The last thing he needed was some human underfoot while he killed a fellow vampire.  And a reporter no less!

“It’s personal.”

“Bull.”

Niles popped the woman’s shoulder with the palm of his hand, knocking her back slightly.  “Ok, it’s police business.  Whatever it is, it’s not your business.”

Brigolles’ pale brown eyes flashed.  “I’ll decide that.”  Those eyes narrowed.  “I’ve been doing some research.  You aren’t who you say you are.  I can’t find record of you anywhere.”

Barely restraining his fury, Niles gave her a hard glare.  “You’re bad at research. Clearly I’m here.”  When she opened her mouth to protest, he cut her off with a slice of his hand.  “Go back and try again.  If you interfere with me tonight, I’ll see you’re arrested.”

He didn’t wait for her response.  With his silver knife in hand, Niles advanced on his target.  The area was eerily silent for a place in the middle of a large city.   In the distance he could see traffic flowing along Baltimore Street, but the wind carried the sound away.  He was grateful for that wind.  Vampires possess keen senses of smell and hearing.  The clatter of dead leaves might cover the sound of his footsteps, and the wind would carry his scent away.

Cautiously, Niles crept along the mansion’s foundation until he found what he’d been seeking, a broken basement window.   His eyes peered into the black hole beyond but saw nothing.  He scented the air to find only the smell of dull, moldering damp.  With every faculty on high alert, he eased himself through the window and dropped into the mansion’s basement.  When his vampiric sixth sense told him he was not alone, a shiver raced down his spine.  His eyes remained focused on any movement in that inky darkness.  Although no light could reach the dank concrete room, he could see in vague shades of black and white.  And if he could see, his prey could as well.

He rounded a turn then froze, stunned.  He stood face to face with not a single vampire, or a pair, but an entire flight of seven, both male and female.  Hastily he recalculated.  Either his informant had been wrong, or he’d been lied to.  Niles felt both rage and panic.  Rage because these vampires had invaded his space and panic because they’d kill him if they learned who he was: the vampire who claimed Baltimore as his fiefdom.

The group turned glowing red eyes and brandished their fangs at his unexpected appearance.  Talons extended in defense.

Knowing he was overmatched, Niles sheathed his knife.  Fighting this many was out of the question.  As was running away.  Because Niles never backed down.  The only way out of this would be to talk his way through.

A female hissed.  Her eyes burned with hunting fervor.

“Who are you?”  Her eyes slid over him, knowing him for another vampire.

“Name’s Marrensten,” Niles lied, using the name of an elderly vampire he knew.  “Been in the area for a couple of years.”

The woman continued to study him.  “You look ghastly, youngster.  Haven’t been eating well, have you?”

Niles drew a breath.  For once his choice of diet was coming to his aid.  “No.”  He tried to laugh.  “It’s not easy with Lord Gule driving us underground.”

The woman’s lips twitched.  Niles caught a glimpse of savagery in the dark depths of her eyes.  “He’s a problem.  Arrogant bastard.  Claiming an entire city.  I understand he’s alone with no flight to protect him.  He’ll be easy pickings for us.”  Her smile was pure evil.

Niles pretended to return that smile.

The vampiress tilted her head, studying him.  She liked what she saw.  “You can feed if you promise to join us.”

She gestured to her feet and Niles noticed the freshly killed human corpse.  He shuddered as the smell of warm, fresh blood drew him like a magnet.  He fought the overwhelming desire then realized the group of vampires was eyeing him warily.  No vampire refused a fresh kill.  No vampire.  He could not or they’d know him for what he was.  Gule.  The vampire of Baltimore who refused to eat humans.

His heart hitched a beat.  He couldn’t do this.  And yet, those faces, growing more suspicious, demanded he prove himself.

God forgive me.

Clasping the golden crucifix he wore to remind him of his vows, Niles stepped forward and joined the feast.

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

Gule’s Territory is Invaded

“Looks like we’ve got a vampire problem,” pronounced Officer Jonas Williams of the Baltimore PD.  Holding a cloth to his face to cover the stench, he stood over a pile of dismembered bodies that buzzed with blow flies and oozed bodily fluids towards his feet.

“Ya think?” choked Sergeant Tan Lo, commander of the night shift.  The little Asian’s face was white as he considered the gory tableau.

The group of police officers stood in an abandoned building in East Baltimore.  Night hung gloomily over the city as an autumn storm spit cold ran.   Blustery winds whipped spent leaves through the air and whirled them down like giant brown snowflakes to pile in crinkly drifts against dilapidated buildings.  Few people braved the streets, probably a good thing, if vampires were afoot hunting for food.

The room where the officers found the cache was rank with the stench of decomposition.  In the darkness of the unelectrified building, death lurked like a living thing, flitting as a shadow at the edges of sight.  The crazed lighting didn’t help matters.  Flashlight beams shot around like lasers as the officers flicked them nervously, trying to catch what hid in the shadows.  The red, white and blue of patrol car lights slashed through openings between the boarded up windows.  The walls were a crazed tapestry of multicolored graffiti, most of it dealing with death. The space stank of urine, smoke and the rotting flesh of the seven victims piled in a corner.

“Get the Ghoul up here,” Williams commanded a rookie who cowered in the back of the room and fought to keep from vomiting.

The Ghoul was Baltimore’s resident vampire hunter, Niles Gule.  He arrived, tall, slender and ghostlike in the doorway but hesitated before joining his co-workers.  His pale, aristocratic face blanched even whiter than its normally corpse-like pallor as his blue eyes studied the mess.

“Vampires?” asked Lo.

Niles swallowed hard before he dared to enter the room.  His hesitation gave him the air of deliberation.  Not that he was deliberative.   He was shivering with hunger.  All that blood sang to his vampire soul.  He longed to drop to the floor and suck every drop from the boards, then gnaw on the white arm that stretched towards him as if in supplication.  But he’d taken a vow of abstinence.  He’d turned his back on his heritage and thrown his lot, for better or worse, with humans.  He could not act on his instincts.  He could not.

The vampire licked his lips and commanded his blood cool.  He could see his visceral reaction offended his co-workers.  Their eyes darted nervously as they watched him struggle with his inner demons.  They knew him, trusted him for the most part, and yet, did not.  When faced with the horror of his species’ feeding habits, they recoiled.  Though he understood it, the reaction saddened him.  Reminded him how he’d never be one of them no matter how hard he tried.

Gulping down the lust for blood that tore through his mind like a hurricane, Niles clinically studied the pile of bodies.  The savagery of the murders, the dearth of blood, the terrified expressions forever emblazoned on the pale faces told Niles these people had been murdered by vampires.  The difference between a pile of bodies left by a human serial killer and a cache left by a vampire was the stark bloodless appearance of the people and the surgical precision of the dismemberment.  Vampire fangs punctured jugulars and sucked most blood from the body.  To get the remains in small capillaries, vampires used their razor sharp talons to rend their victims apart.  They then sipped from the severed limbs.

This particular cache was only partly consumed.  The blood was gone and the limbs had been sucked dry, but the vampire hadn’t finished his meal.  Human bones were rich in marrow which was rich in iron.  Vampires needed that iron.  The one who’d killed these people would return to harvest the marrow at his leisure after the horrid, shrieking need for blood had been sated.  Marrow, Niles knew from personal experience, was dessert.

While he pretended to study the cache with disinterested eyes, Niles calculated.  Seven adults.  More than any single vampire required to survive.  This smelled of a hunting flight.  A group of vampires aggregating around an alpha and hunting as a pack.  His territory had been invaded.

“A flight did this,” he finally said to Lo.  His hand tightened on the haft of the silver knife he carried specifically to remove his brethren from the world.  His blue eyes focused hard on his co-workers.  “I’ll take care of it.”

No one contradicted him.  Combating vampires was his job.  And this was vampire business.

Infuriated on so many levels, Niles stormed from the scene.  One or more unknown vampires was working his turf.  Something Niles could not allow.  He was becoming an alpha himself, a vampire strong enough to force all other vampires into subservience.   Because Niles had allowed only two vampires to reside in his territory, his reputation for holding all of Baltimore to himself was garnering him the title of alpha.  That he had no flight of weaker vampires to aid him only made his reputation grow in the community.

And yet someone had dared to hunt his lands without his permission.  He was furious they’d stolen in under his nose.  He would find them.  They would either leave of their own choosing or he’d kill them.  It was that simple.

As Niles stepped outside into the circle of police cars and watched two rookies stringing yellow police tape around the scene, the wind tore at his short, blond locks and sent his suit jacket flapping.  He swept his gaze along the benighted alley that flickered under the glow of failing street lights.  A handful of locals hovered nervously in the background, their eyes flashing, their voices low and murmuring.  They knew, Niles sensed, that vampires had returned to Baltimore.

The wind blowing a woman’s long brown hair captured his attention.  Narrowing his eyes which could see exquisitely in the dark, Niles studied her and found she was studying him.  She was a youngish, white woman, wearing a dark pantsuit and woolen coat which she clutched to her throat against the raw wind.  She stood alone, away from the locals and Niles knew by the expensive clothes, she didn’t live in East Baltimore.

She raised her cellphone as if to dial then aimed it at him.

With a vampire’s rapid reflexes, Niles spun away as the flash added its white light to the disco display from the patrol cars.  Vampires could be photographed but LED flashes brought out the pallor of their skin and made them look translucent in photos.  He’d appear as an animated skeleton in any picture the woman took.

“Detective!” her voice called.  “May I have a word with you?”

Niles knew a reporter when he saw one.  He avoided them like daylight.  This one he’d seen before.  She’d been hovering around several of his crime scenes over the past month.  Stalking him, he decided with a curse.  The last thing he needed was publicity.

Determined to lose the woman, he slipped between the milling officers and ducked down the street.  His strides settled long and sure as he hurried away.

He momentarily brandished his fangs when he heard the woman yelling for him and he increased his pace, eventually leaving her behind.  He didn’t slow until he knew he’d lost her.  Deep in thought, he allowed East Baltimore to swallow him, not noticing the bright orange and purple of Halloween decorations swaying in the wind.

A flight of vampires was hunting his lands.  A press reporter was hunting him.  His hands stuffed into his pockets, his shoulders bent against the wind, Niles Gule sought safety in the darkness.  Maybe if he walked far enough, he could outrun his demons.

© 2017 Newmin

For Gule by Owner

Niles Gule twitched a supercilious brow as he considered the elderly vampire simpering in front of him.  Marrenstan was ancient, more than a thousand years old, and none of those years had treated him well.  Unlike Niles who at a spritely one-hundred-fifty-eight was tall, well-muscled and lithe, Marrenstan was pale, thin and sickly.   He was also the most timid vampire Niles had ever met.  At a mere five feet tall, poor little Marrenstan was dwarfed by the six-foot-three Niles.  On that dark night, on a lonely patch of empty wilderness somewhere in the midst of Maryland, Marrenstan looked like a ghostly mist in the moonlight.

“You want my advice?” Niles’ brow puckered.

Marrenstan nodded, clicking his fangs against his lower teeth in a nervous habit that annoyed Niles.  His long, white talons rattled as he fidgeted.

Niles was, in essence, Marrenstan’s lord.  After settling in Baltimore and taking a vow to never consume human blood again, Niles had chased out virtually every vampire in the city, which had been awash with them before his arrival.  He tolerated a handful to remain within his territory but only if they promised to obey the rules.  No hunting humans.  They could consume human blood only if they found a volunteer to offer it or they bought it from a blood bank.  Marrenstan had managed to abide by the rules and so lived unmolested in the city, protected by his lord and subservient to him.

“I’m considering purchasing real estate.”  Marrenstan’s pallid face lit up, his watery brown eyes showing the vaguest gleam of life.  “I’d like your opinion.  I don’t want to get taken by some sharp-talking realtor.”

The younger vampire hesitated.  Niles had never owned real estate.  He’d been on the move most of his life.  From the city of his birth, Boston, to London and Paris, working for the Allies in Germany during the war, and time in New York before arriving in Baltimore, he’d never stayed in one place long enough to warrant buying property.

“You’re rich, so I figure you must know something about investing.”  Marrenstan gazed hopefully up at the taller vampire.

Niles sighed.  Yes, he was a wealthy man, primarily because during the late 1800s during the railroad boom, he’d killed a man who’d been scamming people.  Niles had claimed the man’s ill-gotten fortune then invested it in a little known enterprise called The Tabulating Machine Company.  Many years later it would grow to become IBM.  Niles still lived off just the dividends from his investment.

He rubbed the nape of his neck.  “Okay, Marrenstan.  I’ll help for what it’s worth.”  He studied the benighted road and the dark woods that encroached upon it, wondering where in the world Marrenstan had found to invest his money.

A harvest moon rode the October sky, raking through a veil of noctilucent clouds that gave an eerie cast to the night.  Although Niles could see perfectly in the darkness, especially with such a bright moon, he saw nothing in the surrounding area that could be described as an investment property.  Behind them stood thick woodland, tangled with bracken, empty and abandoned.  Before them lay former farmland, long gone to weeds.  Small trees had sprouted over the years.  Their dried leaves rattled in the breeze.  An owl hooted, low and soft, adding to the haunted feeling.  Niles felt like he was a million miles from civilization.

To Niles’ surprise, Marrenstan plunged into the overgrown field, tromping down dead milkweed stalks and thrusting aside wild rose canes with his spindly arms.  Annoyed that he would get burrs stuck to his Tommy Hilfiger suit and mud on his Gucci shoes, Niles nevertheless followed him through the brush.  After several minutes of bushwhacking through the forlorn emptiness, the pair stepped into an open space where once lawn must have existed, although now it was a sea of long grass gone dormant for the season.

A cast iron fence encircled the space which kept the encroaching wilderness at bay as if fighting off an attacking army.  In the middle of it stood a monolithic stone building perhaps twenty feet square and one story tall.  Once it must have been magnificent white marble, but now it was discolored with age, tired, lonely and forgotten.  Long streaks of black ruined its side and thick moss grew lushly on the peaked roof.  The iron door, rusted to a dusty reddish brown, was flanked by half columns carved from the marble, also black with mildew.  Niles sensed tremendous age and decades of sad neglect in that tiny field.  No one had been here for a long time.

Until now.

A human stood waiting for them, folders tucked under one arm, perky smile plastered on his face, his eyes darting nervously and yet trying not to.  Niles estimated him to be in his late forties, short compared to a vampire, and nearly bald.   He was dressed conservatively in a dark suit, white shirt and understated tie.  The word businessman was written all over him.

With forced geniality, the man thrust his hand towards the two vampires.  “Greg Jean.  Pleased to meet you.  So glad you could come out to see the place.”

Niles considered the ruin.  Above the door, carved into the marble was the name Cinister.  How appropriate, he thought.

“This is the investment property?”  Niles couldn’t keep his voice was rising.

Marrenstan nodded eagerly.

In search of a sale regardless of the clientele, Jean gamely marched through his sales pitch.  “It’s a family mausoleum, over one hundred years old.  Historical.  A minor skirmish during the Civil War took place right here.”  He gestured to the wilds beyond the fence then slapped the mausoleum.  “Quite solid.  Roof is in excellent shape.  Foundations are good.  The property has access to electric power, water and sewer capability, and a natural gas line at the road.  It comes with fifty acres of prime farmland just waiting for the right touch to bring it to life.”

Niles froze to keep from gaping at Jean.  He saw nothing prime about that rocky stretch.  Nor had anyone else or it would have been farmed.

“The views are spectacular,” Jean plowed on.  “During the day, of course.  Good access to 83.”

If one has a jeep, Niles scoffed.

“It’s a bargain, really.  The family has moved away and doesn’t want it anymore.”

Nor does anyone else.  Niles bit his tongue.

Marrenstan trotted to the mausoleum door and peered inside.  “It’s nice and dark in there,” he said, his voice echoing.  “Great place to sleep during the day.”

Niles nodded wordlessly.

“Bodies are long since disintegrated so there’s no smell,” Jean offered.  “What more could anyone want?”

Niles considered the offer.  Meanwhile an excited Marrenstan surveyed his new home.  Niles considered the asking price and ran his eyes down some of the terms.

“Owner eats the closing costs,” he said.

Jean nodded, his face sweating and yet looking as cold as ice.  “Yes, sure.”

Niles sensed an opportunity.  “And the taxes through the end of the year.”

“You got it.”  Jean looked ready to agree to anything just to get out of there.

Niles decided to keep going.  “You cut your fee to 3%.”

Jean stiffened.  Then he found his footing.  “You’re pressing your luck.”

Niles wordlessly brandished his fangs hoping to scare up a good deal.

Jean’s eyes narrowed.  He gritted his teeth.  “Not happening.  You can threaten me all you want but that’s off the table.”

Niles shrugged.  He knew he’d gone too far and he respected the human for standing his ground against a vampire.  Two vampires.  In the middle of nowhere.  The man had guts.

“Ok, deal.”  He extended his hand to shake Jean’s.

Marrenstan reappeared, his white face aglow with happiness.  “Is it mine?” he asked.

Niles nodded.  “Enjoy it in good health, Marrenstan.”

Jean was already bolting from the field.  With his long legs, Niles easily caught up with him and fell into step beside him.

“Are you going to kill me?” Jean asked.

Niles lifted a brow.   Then he chuckled.  “No.  I’m going to congratulate you.”

Jean gave him a startled look.

“Sixty thousand for that disaster?  You drive a hard bargain, Mr. Jean.”

 

 

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

 

Niles comments:  I’ve had the honor of working with Greg Jean on another property sale.  He’s great to work with and does indeed drive a hard bargain.  So if you’re in the market for real estate in the south central PA area, give him a call or visit his website at:

www.yorkhgproperties.com

Meanwhile, I’m going to take a nap in Marrenstan’s mausoleum.  Cold and dark.  Ah, heaven!