Gule’s Next Bite

Sergeant Tan Lo of the Baltimore Police Department gestured for Officers Jackson and Krewelski to fan right.  He sent Officers Williams and Cooksey to the left to control the perimeter.

“Be careful, folks,” the diminutive Asian warned his troops.  “This guy’s armed and dangerous.  Keep in contact.  I’d rather we didn’t shoot one another.”

His warning earned him a baleful look from Williams before the giant man plodded into the darkness, little Cooksey in his wake.

Lo held back his biggest weapon in the search until the perimeter was secured.  Niles Gule stood waiting for the signal to proceed.  Half the night shift had been called out to the Grasmick Lumber Yards east of Baltimore.  They were trying to capture an armed robber who’d held up a liquor store, shooting the owner in the process.  The man had fled to the lumberyard, an excellent place to hide given the business was tucked under Interstate 695.   Shadows lurked under the overpass and around every pile of lumber.  At that time of night, the business was closed and little more than wasteland surrounded it on all sides.  The robber knew he had only to wait the police out then slip into the darkness never to be found.

Being a vampire, Niles felt no terror of the darkness.   Unlike human eyes, his blue eyes saw the world in differing shades of black and gray.  He noted a mouse fleeing as Jackson stomped towards the outer fence and a piece of newsprint drifting in the breeze.  If he squinted, he knew he could read it.  He didn’t bother however.  His task was to use his incredible eyesight to locate a killer.

“All right, Gule,” Lo said.  “We’ve got the yards surrounded.  You and Cruz head in.  Hopefully you can simply find him.  If not, maybe you’ll flush him out and he’ll run.”

Niles nodded to his partner, little feisty Mariella Cruz who was chomping to start the search.  He had to grab her arm to hold her back as he moved cautiously forward.

“Just because I can see in the dark doesn’t mean this guy can’t surprise us and shoot one of us,” he warned.

Cruz scowled but slowed her step to match his.

Together the pair moved into the lumberyard.  Cruz held her service pistol ahead of her but Niles went unarmed except for his silver knife.  He wasn’t licensed to own a firearm and as a consulting detective felt he should obey the law.  Being a vampire, his knife was all he needed.  He was stronger than a human and wounds that would kill a human merely made life miserable for him.  He was hard to kill.

“Is there a reason we’re being quiet?” Cruz whispered.  “Aren’t we trying to flush this guy out?”

Niles snorted.  “Not everything can be resolved by charging in with guns blazing.  I’d rather he didn’t just shoot us before he flushes.  I don’t feel like being in pain tonight and I certainly don’t want you getting killed.”

Cruz grinned, her olive-complexioned face aglow in the dark.  “Niles!  You care!  That’s so sweet!”

His sharp eyes caught movement near one of the concrete pillars that held up the overpass.  Niles gestured for Cruz to stay on the right side of the pillar while he circled around to the left.  He leaped.

The suspect was too frightened to shoot.  He saw a vampire lunging out of the darkness, fangs gleaming in the dark, and he shrieked like a little girl.  Then he ran.

Niles was after him in an instant.  He grabbed the guy’s shoulder to stop him.  Their momentum rammed them into a large pile of aging lumber that had been left out in the rain too long.  The pile shifted, its rusted metal bands giving way.  It collapsed.

Cruz arrived with her pistol at the ready.  “Don’t move!  Hands up!”

The suspect jerked himself free of Niles who let him go, knowing he wasn’t running anywhere.  When the vampire tried to right himself, a stabbing pain froze his foot.  He took a bad step.  The leg refused to hold him and he went down.  Cruz yelled again at the suspect who tried to use the vampire’s collapse as cover to run.

“Move and I’ll shoot,” she warned.  “Drop the gun.  Drop it!”

As he writhed in pain on the ground, Niles saw the gun land next to his nose.

His leg felt as if it was encased in ice.  He couldn’t feel his ankle anymore and soon his knee was growing cold.  Cruz held the suspect still with the gun in one hand while she radioed for help with the other.  Niles lost feeling in his knee, then his hip.  When his chest froze, his vision failed.

Niles came to with a start, his entire body wracked with pain.  He fought against hands that held him until Lo’s voice broke through the panic.

“It’s me, Niles.  Relax.”

Niles panted as he fought through a wave of icy pain.  As it relented his vision cleared and he could breathe again.  His leg was still on fire but now he could move it.

“What happened?” he asked.

Lo’s brow creased.  “That’s what we’re trying to find out.  Cruz said you just collapsed.  Is this something vampires do?”

Niles slowly sat up.  Cruz and Jackson supported his shoulder until he was able to gesture that he could remain vertical on his own.

“I don’t know what happened.  I’ve never felt that sort of pain in my life.”  He ran a hand through his short blond locks.  “That’s saying a lot too.  I’ve been around for a while.”  He bent to touch his ankle.  The fire in his leg was easing but there was one spot on his ankle that felt as if it had been shot.  He eased up his pant leg then rolled down his sock.  A pair of brilliant red spots, close together, was centered over a ruddy bruise on his otherwise pasty ankle.

“Looks like a spider bite,” Jackson said, peering at the wound.

“What sort of spider could down a vampire?” Lo asked.

Niles gingerly touched the bite then regretted the action.  His entire foot throbbed.  He could feel it swelling in protest from the bite.

“What happened to our suspect?” he asked

“We got him.”  Lo was more concerned about his vampire than his suspect.

Jackson flicked a flashlight around the area.  He played it across the pile of lumber that had collapsed.  There between some of the boards was a bit of webbing.  In the middle of it sat a large, black spider, wriggling its forelegs at him.

“Holy crap, it’s a black widow!”  Jackson jumped backwards.  He glanced at Niles.  “What happens when a vampire gets bit by a black widow?”

“Nothing good,” Niles grumbled.  He wasn’t sure he could stand.  He rolled his ankle and put weight on his foot.

“Apparently it’s not deadly to you,” Cruz said, giving his shoulder a squeeze.  “Thank God for that.”

“But what about the spider?” Jackson asked.  When Niles gave him a hateful look, he said, “No, I mean, what happens to a black widow that bites a vampire?  Your blood aint normal, Gule.”

The four police officers stared at the spider.  It stared back with its million eyes.  Then it flicked what seemed like a finger at them, chittered evilly, and marched off.  Moments later the entire pile of lumber shifted as the spider pushed it out of its way.

Jackson’s wide eyes looked at Cruz.  Cruz looked at Lo.  Lo looked at Niles.

Without a word, the four people ran.

 

© Newmin

 

Niles comments:  Black widow spiders are nothing to laugh about.  My dear friend Peg was bitten by one a week ago.  Fortunately, she’s recovered but more spiders are out there.  They are native across the entire United States and most of southern Canada.  They like to hide inside structures like barns, piles of wood, and yes, houses.  Something that makes even a vampire shudder!

 

Image result for range of the black widow spider map

Gule is Crabby

The setting sun painted the horizon purple, orange and red when it sank beyond the sea of reeds.  The oar locks creaked as Walter Cooksey steered the little boat along the mud flats.

Niles Gule, being a vampire, appreciated the sun retiring.  He detested being abroad in daylight.  Only now that darkness crept near could he comfortably travel with his fellow police officers to the tidal flats of the Chesapeake Bay.

In search of crabs.

Why would a vampire do such a thing?  This thought wandered through Niles’ mind as he sipped a beer and watched the reeds slowly scroll past.  He had no interest in crabs because vampires didn’t eat seafood.  They sucked blood from humans and gnawed on their bones.  Niles, having taken a vow of abstinence, lived exclusively on land-based proteins like beef, pork, or venison.  When he agreed to go crabbing he knew he’d give his two companions his catch.  So why had he agreed to spend the weekend setting crab traps with Williams and Cooksey?

Because, Niles thought, taking another sip of beer, they’re the closest thing you have to friends.  He considered the odd couple, Williams younger, huge, dark-haired, then Cooksey aging, fat and balding.  What a pair.

Williams commanded Cooksey to stop.  The chubby little man shipped his oars and tossed the small anchor over the side with a plunk.

“Bet I’ll get more than you,” Cooksey boasted as his watery blue eyes studied the darkening inlet with the wisdom of an experienced crabber.

“You’re on.”  Williams rocked the boat as he stood to collect his traps.  “What’s the stakes?”

“One week’s pay and a case of beer.  Good beer.  Not that cheap shit you always buy.”

Niles glanced at his bottle of Bud.  No argument there.

“Can I get in on the bet?” he asked, desperate to be friends with these two humans determined to hate him.

Williams rolled his eyes but Cooksey grinned.  “Absolutely.”  When he noticed Williams’ scowl he protested.  “It’ll be like taking candy from a baby!  What does a Ghoul know about crabbing?”

“Nothing.” Niles adjusted his long legs in the confines of the little boat.  “Yesterday was the first time I ever set a trap.”

Cooksey chortled.  “There’s a skill to this, Ghoul.  It takes intelligence to bring home good crabs.”

“So you’re saying I’m guaranteed to win then?” Williams quipped.

Cooksey whacked his partner with a bumper.  “I’ve been crabbing these waters since I was a kid.  I’m winning this bet.”

Williams hauled his traps up hand over hand.  One by one the cages appeared, murky water running off them in sheets as he pulled them into the boat.  By now the sun had faded.  Cooksey lit a Coleman lantern and counted the crabs Williams dropped into a bucket.

“Twelve.  Huh!”  Cooksey scoffed while Williams rebaited his traps with more chicken then sent them over the side.

“That’s not bad!” Williams protested.

Now it was his turn to take the oars.  He moved the boat along the inlet to a second arm where Cooksey had set his traps the day before.  He dropped anchor, then Cooksey fished his collection of crab traps from the bay.  Niles held the lantern as the little man counted.

“Fifteen!”  Cooksey did a little dance in the middle of the boat, almost sending the lot of them overboard.  He pointed a finger at Niles.  “You’re going down, Ghoul.  Get ready to cough up a week’s pay.”

Niles shrugged.  “I can afford it.”  He would surrender his paycheck if it convinced these people he wouldn’t eat them.

Williams gestured to the oars.  “Your turn, Ghoul.  Put your back into it.”

Niles shot the man a cool glance before he took the seat between the locks.   He was a vampire, with a vampire’s incredible strength.  One pull sent the boat flying.  Williams nearly pitched overboard and Cooksey yelped as he grabbed the lantern.

“Shit, Ghoul!  This ain’t a race,” Williams growled.

Niles smiled, his eyes glowing yellow in the lantern light.  He saw Williams shiver and cursed his damned eyes.  The convex shape of his iris directed light to his retinas which gave him excellent night vision.  But it also added an unearthly shimmer to his gaze that made humans nervous.

After a few minutes, they arrived at where Niles’ had set his traps the day before.  Because Cooksey insisted on secrecy for his treasured crabbing spot, the three men had each gone out alone to set their traps.  Only because of a shortage of skiffs to rent had they come out together to empty the traps.

Cooksey considered Niles’ location.  “You can’t catch anything here!  The water’s muddy and shallow.”

Niles shrugged.  He shipped the oars and dropped the anchor.  Then, to the surprise of his companions, he jumped over the side.  He landed up to his knees in brackish water.

Cooksey howled.  “You don’t have a clue how to crab, do you, Ghoul?”

“Do you need the lantern?” Williams asked.

Niles raised a supercilious brow.  Night had fallen.  The two humans could see nothing, but to Niles the world existed in clear black and white.  He could see the bank of reeds and the small ribbon he’d tied to one to indicate where he’d placed his bait.  He kicked around with his feet until he hit it.

Steeling himself against the revulsion of putting his hands in that awful water, Niles bent down and grasped his bait.  With a heave, he tossed it into the boat.

Williams and Cooksey both yelled and scrambled backwards, almost tumbling from the boat as the dead body landed between them.

“Shit, Ghoul!  You used a dead person?”  Williams stared in horror at the corpse covered in crabs.

Niles pulled himself into the boat and fastidiously wrung the water from his trousers.  “Sure, why not?”  He counted.  “Thirty-six.  I win.”

“Jesus!”  Williams’ eyes were white orbs.

“Did you kill him?” Cooksey asked breathlessly.

“Of course not!”  Niles scowled.  “What do you think I am, a murderer?”

Their aghast silence answered him.

“Well I’m not!”  Niles huffed with affront.  “He was a homeless guy.  Died of a heart attack.”

“You don’t use people as bait, Ghoul!” Williams yelled.

Niles pointed to all the crabs covering the body.  “It worked.”

“Sure did!” Cooksey exclaimed.  He started pealing the critters from the body and dropping them into the bucket.

“You aren’t going to eat those are you?” Williams demanded.

Cooksey blinked.  “Crabs, Jonas!  They’re crabs!”

“They ate some dude!  He’d got no eyes, Cooksey!”

Cooksey looked mutinously at his partner.  “Crabs are crabs, Jonas.  It’s not their fault a vampire baited them.”

Williams looked ready to use Niles as bait next.  Grumbling, he jumped into the rowing seat, pulled the anchor and set them moving.

“What now?” Niles asked.

“We have to get this guy back and officially log him as a dead dude,” Williams grumbled.  “Although how the hell we’re going to explain it I’m not sure.”

“He had a heart attack crabbing,” Niles offered.

“Oh lord!”

Cooksey giggled.

“What will you do with the crabs?” Niles asked.

Cooksey beamed.  “Crab fest at my place!  Who’s in?”

Niles and Cooksey looked at Williams.  The man’s face had turned several shades of green.  But now he was looking at the bucket of squirming crabs.

Slowly he raised his hand.

“In,” was all he said.

 

© 2016 Newmin

Gule Makes No Bones About It

 

Niles Gule folded his arms and tilted his head as he considered poor Marrensten’s problem.   The elderly vampire hovered nearby, fretting, twisting his viciously clawed fingers together and clicking his fangs on his lower teeth.  The staccato noise of this bad habit irritated the younger vampire.

“It was an accident,” Marrensten explained in the Home Tongue, a high-pitched, screeching language that pained human ears.

“English!” Niles hissed.  Not that any humans were within hearing distance.

The two vampires stood in the lush backyard of some suburban home in west Baltimore.  A nice place, Niles thought, as his eyes swept the darkness, having no problem even at midnight making out the swimming pool with spa and waterfall.  The home’s former owner had been wealthy judging by his choice of outdoor décor.  Solar powered lights followed the curving walkways while tiny LEDs in the trees had the look of fireflies.   A thick, manicured lawn stretched into the darkness.  Two acres, if Niles was any judge.

“He’s dead!” Niles snapped.  “Drained bloodless.”  He turned his brilliant blue eyes on Marrensten.  “By you!  Do you care to explain how that could be construed as an accident?”

The second vampire had the grace to study the grass.

“If it means anything to you, he was in the midst of a nasty divorce,” Marrensten offered in a hopeful tone.  “Wife and kids left him.  Rumor has it he was suicidal.”

“So that makes it okay?”  Niles hated how his voice even in English was rising to a high pitch.

Marrensten heaved a huge sigh.

Niles wanted to catch the little vampire between his claws and strangle the life out of him.  He was strong enough to do it.  Old Marrensten was an original.  One of the few remaining vampires who’d arrived on Earth in the Vanapir ship over one thousand years ago.  He’d not thrived in his new environment however.  He was small, thin, spindly.  Tall, lithe Niles at only one-hundred-fifty-seven years old looked like a linebacker compared to the old man.  Niles could crumple the ancient vampire into a ball and use him for basketball practice.

But he didn’t.  Because vampires honored their elderly.  Niles knew of only four originals still alive because humans had killed the rest.  So silly old Marrensten had nothing to fear from the virile young vampire beside him.  Not that Niles would let him know that.

He flexed his claws, causing Marrensten to gulp.  “I agreed to let you to live in my territory under one very simple condition, Marrensten.”

“No consuming humans,” Marrensten said dutifully.

Niles gestured to the mess at his feet.  “This is not part of the agreement.  Nor was it an accident.”

Marrensten nodded.  He blinked up at the taller vampire with his deep, brown eyes as if he could charm compassion out of his fellow.  If Niles had been any other vampire, Marrensten would have found out just how little compassion any vampire felt.  Fortunately for the old man, the one vampire lord he’d crossed was the only one with something akin to a heart.

Niles shook his head as he considered the problem.  He didn’t want to turn Marrensten over to human justice because the only sentence for a vampire was death regardless of the crime.  Nor would he kill the old man himself.  He decided to scare Marrensten out of his wits so that he never broke his vow of abstinence again.  He bared his teeth and allowed his eyes to turn red.  He screeched a hunting cry in Vanapir that nearly flattened Marrensten into the grass.  The poor old vampire quaked and held his hands out to ward off the attack.  Niles flexed his claws and raised his hands in the typical attack posture.  He lunged at Marrensten.

The little vampire was too terrified to run.  He simply crumpled at Niles feet and mewed piteously, awaiting his fate.  Niles raged over him, swearing in English, German and Vanapir, then kicked him a few times for good measure.  When poor Marrensten was a quivering pile of jelly, Niles raked him across the face with his claws, raising a pair of white slashes, then banked down his anger.  He took a few deep breaths and stepped back.

Smoothing his hair, Niles considered what remained of the homeowner.  “Explain to me again how he got into this condition?”

Marrensten remained sitting in the grass at Niles’ feet, his face ghostly in the dark.

“I caught him on the lawn chair.  He was stone cold drunk so it wasn’t hard.”

Niles could well imagine.  Marrensten wasn’t strong enough to hunt down a human male in the prime of life.  He had to catch one at a disadvantage.

“Then… after…”  Marrensten gestured.

“You drank the poor soul bloodless,” Niles finished, flashing him an annoyed look.

“I thought I’d better dispose of the body.  No evidence.”

“So you thought cremating him in his fire pit would be a good idea?”

Marrensten nodded.

Niles sighed.  The fire pit was a disaster.  It wasn’t large enough to hold a human nor would a fire be hot enough to completely consume a body.

“So what did you do?”

Marrensten’s gaze flicked away.  “I… um… well… the bones were still there.”  He flapped his hands to show his unhappiness.  “I had to get rid of them.”

“And?”  Niles was pondering the mess on the lawn.

“I thought the best way to get rid of the bones would be to grind them up.”

Niles fought to keep from groaning.  “What did you use, Marrensten?”

“The guy’s lawn mower.”

Niles closed his eyes and shook his head.  That explained the strange pall of ash and dust that was strewn across the beautiful lawn.  Niles could still see bits of bone here and there, black where it had been charred, white where it had been chopped by the mower.

“I don’t suppose it was a riding mower?” Niles asked.

Marrensten shook his head.

“Jesus, God!” Niles swore.  He swore some more when he saw the lights of police vehicles headed their way.  “Neighbors must have called the cops, Marrensten.  There’s a burn ban right now because of the drought, you idiot.”

“Really?”  Marrensten blinked in surprise.

Niles pointed.  “Beat it!  Now!”

Marrensten jumped to his feet.  “What about you?”

“I’ll handle the police.”  Niles shoved his hands into his coat pockets and strolled towards the front driveway as if he hadn’t a care in the world.  He heard Marrensten scramble for safety behind him.

Niles waited for his fellow police officers to arrive.  To his annoyance, Williams and Cooksey had pulled the call.  Williams, a giant man of Polish descent, swaggered as he came around his vehicle, his gray eyes surveying Niles suspiciously.

“What are you doing here?”

“I heard the call.”  Niles gestured to the back yard.  “I put out the fire.”

Williams strode around him.  “Where’s the homeowner?”

“I believe he killed himself.  Threw himself into the fire pit.  Rumor has it he was suicidal.”

“Threw himself in a fire pit?”  Williams’ voice betrayed his disbelief.

Niles shrugged.

As the big man threaded through the elaborate gardens, Niles followed.  When they reached the fire pit, Williams considered it, noting the bones that were clustered at the bottom.  Scratching his head, he muttered something.

Niles continued to smile as Williams strode onto the grass.

“What’s all this ash?” he demanded, kicking it around with his toe.

“I believe it’s called lime,” Niles offered.  “Put on grass to make it grow.”

Williams shot him another look.  “Not that I believe this,” he said, “but I’m calling it in as a suicide.  For the moment.”

Niles breathed a sigh of relief.

Williams pointed at the grass.  “Why would some guy do this when he knew he was going to kill himself?”

Niles shrugged.

“Does it work?”

Niles considered the ashes on the grass.

“Oh yes.  I think the grass is going to be nice and thick this summer.”

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

Niles comments:  I apologize for the delay.  Apparently my biographer was asleep at the keyboard and failed to post my adventure in a timely fashion.  He’s been reprimanded and is spending the day in a corner pondering his sins.

 

 

Gule Gets Into the Swing of Things

Hotel bar surveillance had to be among the most boring duties Niles Gule was expected to undertake.  Because he was on duty, he couldn’t drink so he nursed a glass of ginger ale and pretended to be a businessman whiling away his off hours.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  For something to happen.  Police officer Jonas Williams was also under cover, tending bar.  He’d volunteered when he’d learned Niles had been loaned out to vice for the night.  The big man considered watching Niles stake out hookers hilarious so he jumped at the request for additional officers.

He was occupied at least, Niles thought.  The bar had a steady stream of patrons both at the bar itself and throughout the room.  Additional people came and went from what appeared to be a convention in one of the hotel ballrooms.  People with name tags would drift into the bar, place an order, eye the various individuals sitting around, and drift out again, usually alone, but sometimes not.

Vice.  Niles muttered into his ginger ale.  Ridiculous.  He was a vampire.  With the keen instincts of a top predator.  With the exquisite eyesight of a night hunter.  But instead of working murder investigations, the Baltimore police had him working a prostitution sting.  It was humiliating.

Williams leaned over the bar as he pretended to take another order from Niles.  “Seen anything with those laser-like eyes of yours?”

Niles snorted.  The bar was well lit.  Vice didn’t need a vampire’s eyesight on this job.  He suspected what they’d really wanted was his looks.  Niles, like most of his vampire brethren, was tall, lithe and handsome.  His blond hair shimmered with golden highlights.  His blue eyes gleamed like a Montana sky.  And unlike most of his fellow officers on the Baltimore PD, Niles was a wealthy man who always dressed the part.  That evening in his role as a businessman, he wore a custom tailored Saville Row suit of black with a cream silk vest and navy tie.  His Italian leather shoes were carefully polished and his gold cufflinks winked in the lights.  Unfortunately, however, no hookers had hooked him.

“It’s going to be a long night,” Niles sighed.  He planted his chin on his fist.

Williams’ gray eyes twinkled as he winked at Niles.  “Maybe not.  Here comes something.”  He backed away and pretended to clean a glass.

A stunning blond glided up to the bar.  Like most of the others who’d come and gone, she wore a name tag that declared My Name is Jane.  Instead of ordering anything, however, she flicked her hazel eyes up down Niles’ long form and twitched her ruby-red lips.

“Well hello, handsome,” she murmured.  Her voice was rich and deep like a Hollywood siren of the nineteen fifties.  “A pretty thing like you shouldn’t be alone.”

Niles smiled encouragement.  “No?  Got any better ideas?”

Her smile deepened.  With a delicate hand manicured with jewels on each nail, she placed a small circlet of multicolored charms beside Niles’ glass.  As she turned away, she ran her finger across his cheek.  With a seductive saunter, she swayed out of the bar.

“What the hell was that?” Williams demanded.  His eyes were staring at that luscious derriere as it shimmied into the ballroom next door.

“Not a hooker,” Niles replied, fingering the charm.  He wondered what it meant.  The woman had seemed to think he’d understand.  “She’s part of that convention.  I don’t think hookers have conventions.”

“If they do, I want to be invited!”  Williams’ eyes were round orbs.  “Maybe it’s an escort’s convention.  High priced hookers.”

“She didn’t offer up a price.”  Niles flicked the charm with a finger.

Williams considered the charm.  “A couple of those people from the ballroom have been handing those things out.  What are they?”

Niles shrugged.  He toyed with the beads while he pondered possibilities.

The night went on.  People left the ballroom, usually in groups of two or three, and headed for the elevators.  Others, generally single, came into the bar.  Some offered charms seemingly at random before wandering back to their convention.  One, a stunning black gentleman wearing golf togs, also left a charm next to Niles’ glass after he’d ordered and received a rum and coke.  He winked as he turned away.

“I feel like we’re in the Twilight Zone,” Williams muttered.  “These people are giving me the creeps.”

From the occasional chatter on the radio, Niles assumed the man in charge of the sting operation was growing annoyed.  Around two in the morning he finally called a halt to the sting.  With a grumble, Williams tore off his mic and apron then rounded the bar to flop next to Niles.

“That was a waste of a night.”  He downed a glass of club soda to wash away his disgust.

When Williams jerked, Niles turned.  Another man had wandered into the bar from the ballroom.  Niles blinked when he realized it was Williams’ partner, Walter Cooksey.  The little, balding man wove through the tables, eyeing the few people who remained.  When he saw Niles and Williams, he froze.  His pudgy face went white and he stumbled.  Niles half rose to help him, but Cooksey grabbed a chair and righted himself.  Plastering on an insincere smile, he cruised up to the bar.

“Fancy meeting you here!”  His voice sounded falsely cheerful.  His eyes narrowed.  “What are you doing here?”

Williams waved a disgusted hand.  “We volunteered for vice.”

“Vice?” Cooksey’s voice was a squeak.

“A prostitution sting,” Niles said.  “With no results.”

The little man eased and his smile grew less tremulous.  “Oh well.  That explains it.”  He blinked when he saw the two charms next to Niles’ drink.  His dark eyes shot up to capture Niles’ blue ones.

“You?” he whispered.

Niles fingered the charms while he considered how to respond.  Vampires could entrance humans with just a look when they wanted to.  Niles ordinarily forbade himself from using that dastardly little trick but just this once he decided the situation called for it.  He allowed his eyes to grow warm and a sensuous smile to curve his lips.  “Maybe.  Thinking about it.”

Cooksey stammered.  He blinked rapidly.  Unable to speak, he stumbled from the bar.

Niles watched as the little man didn’t return to the ballroom.  Instead he raced for the lobby doors.

“What the hell was that about?” Williams demanded.

Niles continued to play with the charms, his smug smile still in place.  He decided he couldn’t tell Williams.  Poor Cooksey had enough problems without his partner knowing he was a member of a swinger’s club.  Niles cringed at the thought.  Little, fat, balding Cooksey.  A swinger.  Egad!

He picked up the charms and tossed them in his palm.  “It’s a game, Williams.  He who has the most charms at the end of the night wins.”

Williams frowned.

Laughing, Niles climbed from his bar stood.

He handed Williams the charms.

 

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

Niles comments:  I’d like to give a shout out to Jane for revealing the secret of this little club.  Perhaps next time, lovely lady?

Gule Meets a Fox in Sheep’s Clothing

The soulful baying made Niles Gule wince.   Because the vampire’s hearing was more sensitive than a human’s, the foxhounds’ din rattled his brain but he didn’t mind.  Nor did he mind the cold snap in the air or the pale sun that bled faintly pink through a cloudy sky.  As a vampire, he should have been asleep during daylight, but he’d risen early.  He wasn’t going to miss this opportunity.

A foxhunt on a cloudy day.

Heaven.

Niles suspected his co-workers in the Baltimore PD would be shocked to know he engaged in foxhunts.  It wasn’t a hobby he admitted he enjoyed.  He didn’t need any more ridicule from officers who already thought him effete as it was.  Nor did he desire to explain why he hunted even through his physical pain.  Contrary to popular opinion, vampires didn’t vaporize when exposed to daylight.  They merely burned.  Their skin had not evolved protective pigments so any exposure to sunlight resulted in extensive radiation burns.  To survive, Niles wore wrap-around sunglasses to protect his brilliant blue eyes and slathered his pallid face with several coats of sunblock.  Fortunately, traditional foxhunting attire covered the entire body, so he didn’t need to worry about burning his arms and legs.  Even his short, blond hair was covered with the black velvet riding helmet that was required for the hunt.

That afternoon, Niles had joined Iron Bridge Hounds for a day in the countryside.  He’d learned to hunt as a young vampire in New England in the 1870’s.  Although the sport had faded from its former glory, it continued to survive in Maryland, much to the vampire’s delight.  The state hosted seven hunts and land owners willing to allow horsemen on their property.

Niles rode a boney dun horse named Marvel who was anything but.  The gelding had an attitude he aimed at other horses and his rider.  His mouth of steel allowed him to ignore the bit.  Niles loved the nasty tempered beast.  His sour attitude seemed fitting for the cold and wet of winter.   At that moment, his ears were pinned and he flashed his teeth at a mare that moved too close.  Marvel’s expression was all vampire.  Teeth and rage.  Niles patted him fondly.

A pack of black, white and tan foxhounds milled, eager for the afternoon to start.  An elderly gentleman in tweed kept the pack under control while the group waited for the Master of Hounds to arrive.  Twenty other riders sat aboard their horses sipping coffee to keep warm.  Being a vampire, Niles didn’t notice the cold.

Bethany Montgomery ranged alongside.  She was a rapacious forty-something divorcee desirous of marrying again.  Preferably someone tall, rich and handsome.  Someone, she seemed to think, like Niles.

“Niles!” Her flaming red mouth wore a brilliant smile.  “It’s wonderful to see you.”  She gave him a reproachful look.  “You really should join us more often.  You know what they say about all work and no play.”

Bethany didn’t know Niles was a vampire who could only ride on cloudy days.  He used his work as an excuse.  “Duty calls, Lady Montgomery.  The criminals of Baltimore never sleep.”

She tittered at the word lady.  Niles used it deliberately.

She laid her hand on his arm.  “I’ve having a luncheon tomorrow.  I would be ecstatic if you could come.”

Niles placed a gloved hand atop of hers, hinting at an intimacy he didn’t feel.  “Unfortunately, I’m working tonight.  Tomorrow I’ll be sleeping.”

“You don’t have to sleep alone,” she offered.  “I could cancel my luncheon.”

Niles allowed a roguish gleam to flicker in his blue eyes as he shook his head.  “Alas, I think not.”

Bethany pouted.

Niles looked around.  “What are we waiting for?  Where’s Milton?”

She gestured.  “Helping some new fellow.  Just joined.  Big dollars and all that.”

Niles lifted a brow.  “I’m surprised you aren’t welcoming him to the fold.  Is he single?”

Bethany’s look turned wicked.  “Now, Niles!  Are you becoming jealous?”  When he didn’t answer, she gestured with her crop.  “There they are.”

A pair of riders approached.  Niles recognized Milton, the Master of Hounds.  With a stab of shock, he also recognized the second man.  Malcolm Deschamps.  The tall, thin man was dating Niles’ partner on the Baltimore PD, Mariella Cruz.  The two men had developed an immediate dislike for each other.  They were too much alike and a woman each desired stood between them.  Stags in the forest understood the emotions the two men felt.

Malcolm recognized Niles immediately.   His ebony eyes ran down Niles’ form, seeking a flaw in the vampire’s appearance.  There was none.  Not a scuff on a well shined boot.  Not a hair out of place.  Just as the same could be said for Malcolm.

“My word, the two of you look alike!” Bethany gushed.

Two sets of eyes, one black as night, one blue as a summer’s day, stared at her.

“I meant your general form,” she recovered, gesturing to both men’s long, slender bodies.  “In hunt attire, you look quite the thing.”

Ignoring Niles beyond a vague nod of his head, Malcolm rode to the front of the group.  The Master of Hounds gestured, the huntsman blew his horn and the hounds took off, baying with delight.  In a mass they broiled across the countryside, sniffing for prey and howling at scents.

Niles felt no need to curry favor near the front of the pack.  He settled towards the back to enjoy Marvel’s rolling canter and the wintery landscape scrolling by.  The hounds scrambled beneath a fence.  Marvel launched himself over it.  Niles flexed and landed cleanly.  They cantered on.

As the group swept through a pinewood, Malcolm pulled his mare alongside Marvel.  The man glanced at Niles with a wicked gleam in his eye.  Then he reined hard, plowing his horse into Marvel.  The big roan stumbled.  As he dropped to a knee, Niles flew over his head and landed in the trees.  Malcolm reined in and feigned concern.

Brushing himself off, Niles tramped after Marvel who’d stopped as soon as he lost his rider.  He wasn’t going to expend one ounce of extra effort if he didn’t need to.  Niles was grateful.  He didn’t have to chase the beast.

“Bad luck, eh what?” Malcolm commented, affecting an English accent.  He kept his face bland.

“Not as bad as yours,” Niles replied as he remounted.

Malcolm frowned.

Niles sidled Marvel alongside Malcolm’s mare.  The female flicked her ears back, not liking the dun.  He didn’t like her much either.  He pinned his ears and bared his teeth.  As the mare tried to dance away, Marvel lanced out with his teeth.  He landed a solid bite to her flank.  She whinnied then bucked.  Malcolm tried to hold on, but Marvel went after him next, grabbing him by the breeches.  Niles heard a tremendous rip then Malcolm went flying with a giant hole in his backside.

Niles allowed Marvel to finish off the mare with another bite.  That sent her fleeing for her life, reins and stirrups flapping.  Then he settled Marvel and smiled politely down at a huffing Malcolm.

“Bad luck, eh what?” Niles asked.

Malcolm glared at him.

“I’d offer you a ride, but I’m sure you’d refuse to ride pillion,” Niles commented.  “So I’ll wish you an enjoyable walk home.”  He turned Marvel in the direction the others had taken.

“And just so we’re clear,” he added over his shoulder to his fuming enemy.  “Stay away from anything I claim as mine.”

His blue eyes hardened with warning.

“Anything.”

 

 

© 2016 Newmin

 

 

Niles comments:  Fox hunting is alive and well in Maryland.  No foxes are killed any longer.  Instead members can engage in a 200 year old tradition outside in the fresh air, enjoying camaraderie and excitement.  Howard County Iron Bridge Hounds offer a number of events for the equestrian including cross country hunts, team challenges and fund raisers for charity.  Check out their website and if you live in Maryland, join the fun.

 

http://hcibh.club/

 

Gule Gets Wet

Sometimes humans bewildered vampires.

Niles Gule, vampire of Baltimore, blinked sleepily as a pale winter sun rose over the Chesapeake Bay and he watched as another strange human festival got underway.

He adjusted his wool scarf against his neck to protect it from the sharp wind that blew off the water and yawned because he was up past his bedtime.  Around him milled hundreds of people braving the cold morning, sipping hot coffee or strong alcoholic drinks and waiting for the event to start.  They were dressed in outfits that puzzled the vampire.  Some shivered in simple bathing suits totally inappropriate for the frigid day.  Others wore Victorian bathing gear, clown costumes, or Viking attire.  Several were all but naked and had painted their bodies in bizarre colors.  One elderly gentleman with a large paunch wore only a loin cloth.  Niles avoided that view as best he could.

Some of the crowd rambled around the edge of the bay at the Sandy Point Park beach.  Others had what Niles considered better sense and were huddled inside the Ram’s Head Ice Lodge, a tent set up for the event.  About half the group was made up of brawny men in ridiculous getups while the other half appeared to be their friends and relatives, dressed warmly against the chill wind, laughing and taking pictures of the idiots who were about to do the inexplicable.

Go swimming in the Chesapeake in the dead of winter.

Having lived amongst humans for more than a century, Niles knew something about their anatomy.  They were warm creatures who loved to bask in the sun.  They dreamed of Caribbean vacations on tropical islands and complained mightily about cabin fever during the long, dark days of winter.   So the reason why they were deliberately choosing to swim in icy water had escaped him.

“Explain this to me again?” he asked his partner, Mariella Cruz.

The feisty little Mexican-American danced to keep warm.  She was wearing what Niles considered an offensive attempt at vampire attire, not that he didn’t love the effect all the same.  She’d attempted to cover her luscious curves with a black lace body suit that hid nothing, especially her ample chest and cute little legs.  Over her shoulders she’d draped a black satin cape with deep purple lining.  She’d scraped her black hair tight to her head and let it fall in a long, graceful ponytail down her back.  White theater makeup turned her complexion pallid and she’d lined her eyes in smoky gray.

As if, Niles thought, any self-respecting vampire would appear in public dressed like that.

He glanced down at his own appearance.  In deference to the cold he wore a chic, camel colored coat with a chocolate hued scarf knotted at his throat.  Beneath that he was Michael Bastian from top to toe.  GQ all the way.

No black satin or skin-tight lace here, he thought.

“It’s the Polar Bear Plunge!” Cruz explained.  She huddled against officer Jonas Williams to keep warm.  “We all jump in the water and freeze for five minutes to raise money for police, fire and ambulance companies.”

Niles lifted a brow.  “I’m not sure how all of you risking your lives raises money.  Or why anyone would agree to do it.”

“It’s fun!” She poked him with a bare toe.

“Don’t bother to explain it to a Ghoul,” Williams grunted.

The big officer looked equally ridiculous in vampire garb.  He, Cruz, and the rest of the Baltimore PD’s nightshift had volunteered to jump in the bay.  They’d chosen a vampire theme and named their team the Ghouls.  Niles found his lips twitching.  He couldn’t decide if he was honored they’d named the team after him or outraged because they looked so tacky.  Was that really how they viewed his species?

Little, aging, bald Cooksey bulged out of his spandex vampire outfit in all the wrong places.  He looked like someone had let Batman out of the nursing home.  He cupped his cold hands to his mouth to warm them.

“I don’t understand why the one person who isn’t bothered by the cold isn’t joining us.”

Niles gazed at him urbanely.  “Someone has to hold the towels.”  He lifted the bundle he carried.

The conversation was cut off by the sharp blast of an air horn.  The crowd bolted, the brave, the excited and just plain crazy diving into the frigid waters first while the timid merely dipped their toes.  Niles remained with feet planted firmly in the sand as he watched the crowd cavorting in the shallows.  The Ghouls bounded into the water like a rambuncious pack of Labradors after a toy, laughing and splashing each other as they howled about the cold.  Williams, being the tallest, grabbed Cruz around the waist and waded chest deep into the water then dunked her.  She came up sputtering and pounded him with her fists.  Jackson, a huge African-American, decided that looked like fun.  He swept a squawking Cooksey up in his massive arms and marched out equally far.  Then he dumped his burden into the water.

Unlike Cruz, Cooksey didn’t come up.

“Cooksey?”  Williams started wading around, fanning the water as if he could find his partner by pushing the bay aside.  “Cooksey!”

The rest of the Ghouls grew agitated as they milled around, trying to find the little man.

With a stab of panic, Niles remembered Cooksey wasn’t a strong swimmer.  Were there currents in the bay?  Could they be sweeping little Cooksey out to sea?

He pushed through the crowd of people fleeing the water after their dip until he reached the edge.  His height allowed him to watch as his team desperately searched for Cooksey.  Still the man didn’t appear.

Swearing, Niles tore off his overcoat and scarf, then his suit coat and tie.  Finally, he toed off his boots and sprinted into the water.  The cold bit into his legs but it didn’t pain him the way it would pain a human.

Arriving in the deep water where the Ghouls were frantically searching, he asked, “Any sign?”

“No!”  Williams kicked with his feet.

“Damn!”  Niles spun around, trying to look into the murky water which was now broiling with sand the team had stirred up.  “Where could he have gone?”

“Don’t know,” Williams grunted.  He flashed a look at the vampire.  Something flickered in his gray eyes.  With both huge paws, he shoved Niles by the shoulders under the water.  “Maybe you should look below, Ghoul!”

The sudden dunking startled the vampire.  Panicked, Niles struggled free of Williams’ grip, swam a few feet away and surfaced.  Shaking his blond head clear of sand and water he cursed his nemesis.

To find Williams laughing.  To find the whole team laughing.

Including Cooksey.

Niles wiped his face clear then stood totally soaked, water dripping from every pore, as his team howled at his expense.

Jackson and Williams high-fived each other.

“Score one for the home team!” Jackson laughed.  He slugged Cooksey, nearly knocking the little man back into the water.  “Good job, Cooksey!”

Niles glared at the group.  “Funny!  Very funny!”

Williams grinned and slapped him on the shoulder.  “Yes, Ghoul.  It was.  We couldn’t go swimming as the Ghouls without you, could we?”

Niles studied his ruined clothing.  Lord, how he hated to be mussed! He turned annoyed blue eyes on his team to find them all waiting to see his reaction.  Cruz especially looked appealingly at him, begging him to join in the fun.

Fun.

He considered his expensive, Bastian suit, now destroyed.

Humans had a strange idea of fun.

He twitched his lips in annoyance while he considered how to react.  They’d extended an olive branch.  Asked him–no forced him–to join in a human experience.  How could he refuse their offer?

He managed to grin and pretend he was thrilled.

Laughing, they gathered around him and cavorted like children.  Dunking each other.  Dunking him.

Niles tolerated it like an indulgent parent.  Not that he understood.

Sometimes humans bewildered vampires.

 

 

© Newmin

 

 

Gule Mourns For His Department

Conversation in the meeting room was subdued.  A handful of staffers and police officers were shocked by the revelations but many weren’t.  Niles Gule, vampire of Baltimore and detective consultant for the police department’s night shift, was dismayed by the lack of surprise he saw.

A major story had broken over the city.  Seven police officers who’d served in a high-profile gun unit had been indicted on federal racketeering charges.  They were accused of running what amounted to a criminal mob organization.  They’d used their badges to rob innocent citizens, often simply mugging people and laughing because they knew they couldn’t be arrested.  After all, they’d probably thought, if the victim called the police, he’d be calling his own attacker.  Not content with simple thuggishness, the group had falsified expense reports, took vacations that they charged to the department, and made fraudulent overtime claims.  All this while the Justice Department was investigating Baltimore for violating civil rights.  The crimes were epic in scope.  That they’d continued for so long meant many others had to know and yet had remained silent.

The blue line, Niles thought.  One never crossed it.

To our shame.

The chief of police had called the meeting to bolster his people.  He described the situation and praised the handful of individuals within the department’s investigative wing who’d helped bring down the perpetrators.  He reiterated that the criminal behavior exhibited by the ring was beyond the bounds of human decency and he was gravely disappointed in himself for failing to stop it sooner.  He asked that all the honest, hardworking officers of the force keep their chins up and be proud of the fine work they did.  Don’t, he said, allow a handful of bad actors to destroy all the good work the rest of you do.

“There’s gonna be a ton of shit coming down,” Jonas Williams murmured after the chief left the room.

Niles nodded.  “The pep talk was nice but let’s be honest, others had to have a clue.”  His vivid blue eyes darted around the room where uncomfortable officers avoided looking anyone in the eye.  “This isn’t the end of it.”

His partner, feisty little Mariella Cruz, was shaking her head.  “I feel like a freaking idiot!  I didn’t know.”

Williams, a huge man in his fifties, gave her a shrug.  “You just joined the team, Cruz.  I’ve been here for fifteen years.”

“Did you know?” she asked, her dark eyes wide.

Williams folded his arms and gazed out the window at Baltimore sparkling in the night.

“Did you?” Niles pressed.  He’d heard rumors but nothing he could have acted upon.  He was ashamed he hadn’t pursued his suspicions.  Maybe this pain could have been avoided.

Jackson kicked the vampire’s foot.  “Don’t go there, Ghoul.”

“Why not?”  Niles rounded on the black man.  “If he knew something, he should have reported it.”

“I didn’t know anything!” Williams snapped.  He glared at Niles, daring him to continue.

Cruz pressed her forehead into her hands.  She shook her head, her satiny black hair waving in its thick pony tail.  “I can’t believe this.”

“There’s nothing to believe,” Jackson insisted.  He gave Williams a bracing look.  “He didn’t know.  None of us did.”

“How can you be so certain?” Niles demanded.

Jackson glared.  “Because I know.”

Williams’ partner, Walter Cooksey, was white faced.  Niles feared the little, fat, bald man was going to be sick right there in the meeting room.

Being a vampire with icy hands, Niles knew better than to touch him.  He did lean close.  “Are you going to be okay?”

Cooksey swallowed and blinked rapidly.  He nodded in a frantic fashion then hung his head.

Cruz sank into her chair.  “You both knew!  Jesus!”  She turned worried eyes to her partner.  “Did you?”

Niles scowled.  “Hell, no!”  He lowered his voice.  “I might be a vampire but that doesn’t mean I don’t have scruples.  I don’t rob people.  I don’t falsify reports.  And I don’t lie to cover it up when other people do.”

“No, you just kill and eat people,” Williams growled.

Niles’ blue eyes momentarily flickered yellow with anger.  He took several deep breaths to control himself.  “Go ahead.  Attack me, Jonas.  Make yourself feel better.”

“Will you both just stop it!” Jackson hissed.  “We can’t afford to fight amongst ourselves.”

“Defending the indefensible is what got the department into this mess!” Cruz insisted.

Williams drew his breath.  He let it out with a wheeze.  He stared each member of the team in the eye.  “Look.  I didn’t know anything.  I’d heard stuff.  I suspected things.  But I didn’t know!”

“You should have spoken up.”  Niles shook his head in disgust at Williams and himself.

“That’s easy for you to say, Ghoul!”  Williams snorted.  “You don’t consider us your friends, your brothers.”

Niles flinched as if he’d been hit.  “I resent that, Jonas.  I’ve bent over backwards to fit in.  But right now I’m not sure I want you as a friend or a brother.”

Williams’ gray eyes flashed like a storm cloud.  “Then it’s a good thing we’re neither, isn’t it?”

“Stop it!” Cooksey popped onto his feet.  He was so short the action did little to stop the argument so he waved his arms.  “I can’t stand this.”  He glared around the circle.  “We’re a team, remember.  We take care of each other.”

Williams folded his arms and half turned his back.  “Everyone but the Ghoul, I’m thinking.”

“Even the Ghoul,” Krewelski said quietly.  “He’s probably the most honest one amongst us.”

Jackson laid a huge hand on Williams’ shoulder before the man leaped at Krewelski.  “Jonas, stop.”  His deep voice rumbled like the ocean.  Like Cooksey, he swept the circle with his dark eyes.  “Cooksey’s right.  We need to hang together.  All of us.  This thing could get ugly.  When it does we may have no one but each other.  Remember that.”

Williams huffed then subsided.  He seemed to deflate.  He sat staring out the window bleakly.

Jackson looked pointedly at Niles.  “Are you one of us, or not?”

Niles didn’t know where to look.  At a disgusted Cruz who seemed ready to simply quit, a fervent Cooksey who nodded at him to agree, a confused Krewelski or Williams’ defiant back.  Finally, he made his decision.  He sighed.

“I’m one of you.”

Jackson slapped his shoulder then stomped off to get some coffee.  Cooksey smiled.  Krewelski shrugged and headed for the men’s room.

Cruz shook her head.  “We’re gonna burn in hell, Gule.”

Niles nodded.  “Probably.  But we’ll burn together.”

She snorted and suggested they get to work.

As he followed her to their desks, Niles wondered just how far the disease had spread.  And what he could do about it.  He finally decided there was nothing he could do.  He was one of them.  In for a penny, in for a pound.

The blue line, Niles thought.  One never crossed it.

To our shame.

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

Niles Comments:  The arrest of the seven officers has shocked and saddened me.  The saying is true.  Power corrupts.  We must all remember that the vast majority of police officers in this country are dedicated men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep the rest of us safe.  We cannot allow the actions of a few to destroy the faith we place in our men and women in blue.

7 Baltimore Police Officers Charged In Racketeering Conspiracy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gule: Anti-Dentite

Few things could frighten a vampire.  After all, they dealt in human terror and bloodshed on a daily basis.  In his younger days, Niles Gule had brutally murdered hundreds of people without a qualm.  This situation, however, caused the vampire’s long, lithe body to quiver.

“A dental convention?” he demanded to his partner, Mariella Cruz of the Baltimore PD.  “Someone just had to murder someone else at a dental convention?”

Cruz shrugged as she ducked under the police tape that surrounded the crime scene near a display booth featuring invisible braces.  “It happens.”  She glanced over her shoulder then hesitated when she saw the vampire’s utterly white face.  Being a night creature, Niles was normally pallid.  Today he was positively ghostly.  “Is there a problem?”

“I hate dentists.”  Niles ran his tongue over his ever-growing fangs.  In order to pass as a human, once a month he visited Dr. Luca Delorento, the only dentist in the city brave enough to defang a vampire.  Since Novocain didn’t work on his biology, Niles suffered the procedure without painkillers.  He usually spent his dental day totally smashed on vodka until the pain receded.

To be surrounded by dentists, dental equipment, sales people brandishing plastic teeth, tooth brushes. Yikes!

The murder at the convention center had taken place just at the start of the night shift, which meant Niles and Cruz, being the night shift detectives, had pulled the case.  While Cruz worked with the crime scene processors, Niles was tasked with questioning witnesses.  Of which there were hundreds, none of whom saw a damned thing, or so they claimed.  The convention floor was a sea of sales booths pitching every dental device and product imaginable.  Through that sea swam schools of dental professionals collecting freebies the way blue whales trolled for krill.

In the ever swirling pool of people, Niles circulated, asking for details of individuals’ movements.   Everyone was willing to talk, but no one had anything to say about the dead guy.  The victim was a sales person peddling a fancy laser system for whitening teeth.  An obnoxious individual according to most and a frequent annoyance on the dental convention circuit.  Niles had a hard time finding sympathy for the poor soul.

The strange feeling of a hand slapping him on the shoulder made him jump.  Humans never touched vampires.  Even though few knew Niles belonged to that species, some deep instinct warned people not to touch him.

“I’m surprised to see you here, Mr. Gule!” Dr. Delorento’s voice boomed even through the babble of the crowd that surrounded him.  He winked a twinkling eye at the vampire.  “I didn’t think you cared much for my profession.”

Niles planted a polite smile on his pale lips.  “Forgive me, but I’m not fond of it.”

The doctor laughed then his brow puckered.  “You’re growing out again.”

Niles wiped the smile from his face to hide his always growing fangs.  “I’ve got another week.”

A strange light started to burn in Delorento’s eyes.  He grabbed Niles by the arm and hauled him down the aisle.  “Fortune has smiled on me.  You’re perfect for this lecture.”

Ever urbane, Niles would never cause a scene.  He demurred as he was dragged behind the doctor.  “Dr. Delorento, I’m here to investigate a murder.”

“Yes, well, Faherty is dead and no one’s gonna miss him.”

Niles tried to protest not just being kidnapped, but the dismissiveness of the dentist, but Delorento chugged on.  He tugged Niles to a small stage in front of several rows of chairs which were filled with dentists.  A young, Japanese woman addressed the crowd.  She paused in the middle of her lecture when Delorento motioned to her.  She bent down and listened then straightened.

“We are lucky to have an actual example of Yaebaism here in the hall tonight,” she said brightly.  “Mr. Gule, will you come up on stage please?”

Niles resisted Delorento’s shove.  “I don’t think…”

“Oh, come on!  Just smile for the crowd and nod at whatever Dr. Yoshimura has to say.”  He patted Niles shoulder.  “She came all the way from Japan for this lecture at my request.  It’s harmless, I swear.  You owe me.”

Niles gave him a hard look but couldn’t really argue the point.  He did owe Delorento a lot.

The lady beamed as he stepped onto the stage.  He loomed over her by almost two feet.

Yoshimura asked Niles to smile.  Reluctantly, he did so, revealing the stubs of his fangs growing out.  They weren’t fully formed yet, and so looked juvenile rather than fierce.  Still he hated showing them off.

“Mr. Gule has obviously had the treatment done,” Yoshimura explained.  “You can see his pronounced canines which give him a vampiric look.”

A man in the front row raised his hand.  “Why would anyone deliberately change their teeth into fangs?”

“It’s a fashion statement,” Yoshimura said.  “In Japan prominent canines are considered young and hip.  Among Australians it’s become something of a fad.  Since youngsters can’t shock us with tattoos and piercings anymore, they’ve come up with yet another way to make themselves stand apart.  I think it’s important that the dentists of the US be aware of this trend and nip it in the bud.  Having one’s mouth deliberately destroyed is a waste of money.  Patients face a lifetime of improper bite alignment that can lead to TMJ and other painful problems.  And frankly, it’s hideous.”

Niles turned his vivid blue eyes hard the lady.  She didn’t back down from her statement, however.  She gave his look right back at him.

“Then there’s the cost of correcting the mess after it’s been done,” she stated.   “Self-mutilation is never a good decision.”

“I’m going to mutilate someone,” Niles grumbled.

Thereafter, he suffered the indignation of having a half dozen dentists examine his supposed self-mutilation while he plastered a frozen smile on his face.

“That’s gonna be a mess to fix,” a dentist commented.  He handed Niles his card.  “Call me.”

More dentists huddled around.  Niles found himself in what amounted to a house of horrors to a vampire.  Finally, he decided he’d taken enough.  He allowed his anger to turn his eyes yellow and he roared, brandishing his stubby fangs.

“Enough!”  He glared in a circle at the dentists who scampered backwards in fright.  “If one more person sticks their nose in my mouth, he’s going to discover what I can do with these!  God, I hate dentists!”

Unable to retain a serene appearance, he pushed himself through the crowd and stormed off, in search of the sanity of a murder investigation.

“Talk about over sensitive!” one of the dentists grumbled at his back.

“What does he expect when he mutilates himself?” another asked.

“He’s an anti-dentite!” complained a third.

“He’ll be back in twenty years when it’s not such a fashion statement anymore,” commented a woman.

Dr. Delorento chuckled.  “Oh, he’ll be back sooner than that.  Trust me.  A lot sooner.”

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

Gule Finds He’s Not Alone

 

 

A hand slithering along his thigh caught Niles Gule completely off guard.  The vampire glared as a handsome twenty-something African-American slid alongside him to feel him up.  The man smiled.  His eyes glimmered with promise.

“I’m taken,” Niles stated.  He hoped his disapproving tone would drive his assailant away.

“Aren’t we all, sugar?” the gentleman responded.  “Doesn’t mean two boys can’t have fun.”

Niles considered the environment in which he stood.  The Hippodrome throbbed with a heavy base beat while a soulful woman belted out lyrics he thought might be “hurry home” or “curry comb”.  He wasn’t sure.  He hadn’t adjusted from symphonic music to the Beatles, let alone hip hop.  This new stuff utterly confused him.

The dance club was awash with brilliant lights in red, green, purple and blue.  Several hundred people packed the dance floor and bobbed in unison to the beat while the DJ in his booth pranced like a pony.  Niles, with his excellent night vision, could make out every face, count every link of the chains on each man’s neck and even read the track number of the CD from clear across the room.

When the hand groped towards areas Niles considered off limits, he reacted with gut instinct.  He bared his teeth, revealing his growing fangs, and let out a high pitched keen that pierced his assailant’s ears.

“Lord have mercy!” the man said, backing away.  “I’m into kinky, but not that kinky.  Nuh uh!”

Officer Cooksey, acting as a bartender, leaned over the bar.  “Was that the signal?”

Niles fought to keep from groaning.  “No,” he muttered.  “Just some horny guy looking for action.”

Cooksey grinned.  “Did you mention you really suck, Ghoul?”

The look Niles shot his fellow police officer should have slain the man where he stood.  He wanted to slice Cooksey into pieces but knew the man wasn’t worth the effort.  Instead, he returned his attention to his purpose in the night club.  He was doing a job for which the Baltimore PD had found him exquisitely suited.  Night surveillance in low light areas.  An informant had told the police a high level dealer would be at the club that night and would use the dancing to cover a major transaction.  Niles was stationed at the central bar with a clear view of the doors.  His job was to signal when Lenny the Brute entered the club.  An easy gig.  Lean against a bar and study every person who entered.  Unfortunately, the Hippodrome was frequented by much of the city’s gay population and Niles was a tall, blonde, stunning man.  Half the clientele had been staring at him.

Officer Williams, pretending to be a waiter, shot him a glance, seeking direction.  Niles shook his head.

A change in scent twitched Niles’ nose.  As a supreme carnivore, a Vanapir could discern each individual human he met simply by smell.  The Hippodrome was awash with enticing odors of blood, sweat and testosterone.  The spicy gumbo made Niles’ body ache with a hunger he refused to satisfy.  No humans was his mantra.  Ever.  Some days humanity made keeping that stance difficult.

Sensing a danger he didn’t understand, Niles abandoned his surveillance of the door and allowed his eyes to wander over the crowd.  He caught a familiar scent to his left.  Knew the person to which it belonged.  Couldn’t place a name or face to it however.  Immediately thereafter he caught another, stronger smell.  Cool and crisp it contrasted profoundly with the rich aroma of humans.  A vampire was in the club.

Niles gestured to Cooksey behind the bar.  Alert.  Something was wrong.

The familiar human smell focused into a name.  Marcus Williams.  Jesus!

Niles located Officer Jonas Williams’ new location too late.  Marcus, his estranged cousin, had found the undercover policeman.  In the uncertain, wildly flashing light, Niles saw the gun.  Knew Marcus was ending his feud with his cousin right there.

Niles couldn’t reach his fellow officer through that crowd.  He therefore resorted to the only other trick in his arsenal.  He screamed.

A human scream in the hot, pulsing atmosphere would have barely registered, but a vampire scream cut at such a high pitch that it ripped human ear drums and tore a hole through the cacophony of sound.  As if a bomb had been dropped, the entire club winced and the dancing stopped.  The DJ slammed his hand on the control board, instantly cutting the music.  A gunshot rang through the silence.  People screamed.  Pandemonium engulfed the Hippodrome.

Niles fought through the crowd of maddened humans racing away from the gunfire.  From the corner of his eye he saw Cooksey bound over the bar with his pistol drawn, following Niles.  Shoving people aside, Niles plowed towards the Williams cousins.  Jonas Williams had been hit in the arm by his cousin’s first shot.  Now he was fighting for his life, trying to wrest the gun from Marcus.

Niles threw himself into Marcus’ back.  The man stumbled and Jonas spun away.  Cooksey was on Marcus, wrenching the gun free.  Niles scrambled for the man’s hands and caught them.  While he held the wildly flaying Marcus, Cooksey slapped handcuffs on him.

“You okay?” Niles panted at the wounded officer.

Williams nodded, holding his right hand to his bleeding left arm.

Niles swallowed and fought down the sudden rush of lust at the sight of all that blood.

“So much for catching Lenny the Brute,” Cooksey complained.

His partner glared then turned to Niles.  “Thanks.  I’m sure that noise, whatever it was, came from you.  Saved my life.”

Niles shrugged.  “No problem.  Just doing my job.”

Now that his team was safe, Niles hastily surveyed the disaster.  Most of the crowd had bolted.  Baltimore PD officers were securing the scene and ushering the remaining bystanders out of the building.  Niles eyes sought the vampire he knew had been somewhere in the club but found nothing.  The scent, too, was gone.

Sergeant Tan Lo appeared looking hot and flustered.  “What a disaster!” he complained.

Niles nodded.  “It’s worse than you know.”

Lo lifted his brows.

“We’ve got another one, Sergeant,” Niles said grimly.  “There’s a new vampire working Baltimore.”

 

© 2016 Newmin