Niles Gule sometimes wondered when the average human male officially reached adulthood. The vampire was well aware of what was taught in middle school health classes; that somewhere around the age of eighteen, boys became men. After having lived for more than a century among them, he still wasn’t convinced.
The situation before him was a case in point.
He stood with his arms folded, his weight on his heels, watching as a monster of a man held a smaller fellow in the air by the nape of his neck with a single, giant paw. The move was remarkable. Even Niles, with his vampiric strength, was impressed. Unfortunately, the smaller man wasn’t. He squawked like a baby and fought to free himself from the clutches of his enemy.
Officer Jonas Williams stood beside Niles, his notebook and pencil in hand as he questioned the pair. “Explain to me why you feel the need to hold this man captive,” he intoned in a bored voice. Williams was also a giant. He refused to be impressed by anyone except himself.
“He stole my machine.” Monster Man’s voice was so deep it rumbled the bones in Niles’ chest.
Niles glanced around. The Five X3 gym hummed with business as the after work crowd from central Baltimore descended upon it for their evening routines. Music boomed from overhead speakers which competed against a spin class’s tunes. Men grunted, women pumped on ellipticals and weights banged up and down. Niles twitched his nose, finding the aroma of overheated humans tantalizing. Had he still hunted them, that smell would have indicated prey on the run. Instinct begged him to leap at someone, anyone, and sink his fangs into them.
His tongue ran over his fangs. Good thing they’d been recently filed flat, he decided. He couldn’t act on his desires.
“How does someone steal a machine?” Officer Cooksey asked.
Niles guessed the little bald man had never seen the inside of a gym before. He was as round as he was tall, pasty white and out of shape. He kicked the closest weight machine with his toe but the enormous contraption refused to move.
“One man jumps ahead of another man in line for the machine,” Niles explained in annoyance. He couldn’t help himself. Sometimes Cooksey grated on his nerves.
Williams half turned to stare at the vampire. “When’s the last time you hit the gym, Ghoul?”
Keeping his arms folded, Niles flicked a glance down his long, lean form. “Saturday. I work out at Under Armour three times a week.”
That stunned his co-workers. Ignoring the hapless man still hanging by the neck, they studied the vampire.
“It doesn’t show,” Williams jibed.
Niles narrowed his blue gaze hatefully. “I come for the cardio. With my diet, it’s important.” He gestured to the two men who’d caused the ruckus in the first place. “Can we keep our minds on business? A man has been assaulted here.”
Williams heaved a sigh as he faced Monster Man. His tone revealed just how important he didn’t find this call. “You can’t hold people by the neck, sir. Please put him down.”
Niles stared hard at Williams, trying to get the man to take the call seriously. “The report stated that a riot was in progress.”
The gym’s manager, a person almost as beefy as Monster Man, shrugged. “Ok, so maybe I exaggerated a little.”
“A little?” Niles studied the gym where everyone else was happily grunting in pain. Most of the crowd that had been watching the fracas had since wandered back to its torture routines.
“I didn’t want it to get out of hand. That can happen sometimes when people get hot under the collar.”
“I’m getting hot under the collar,” Niles grumbled.
“I didn’t think your kind got hot,” Williams shot at him. “Aren’t you cold blooded?”
“Yeah!” Cooksey piped up. “A reptile? A gay reptile?”
Niles jerked at the words. He noted the stiffening of several of the spectators, all big men with bulging muscles, and not the type to suffer gay men in their presence. Their eyes trailed over his long, lean form, carefully coifed blond hair and exquisitely tailored suit as they made their assessments. He saw fists clench and knew a beat down was headed his way if he didn’t act.
Ignoring them all, he glared at Monster Man. “Put that man down!”
Monster Man’s dark eyes narrowed. He pushed his face into Niles’. “Who’s going to make me?”
A small, audible gasp went up from the small crowd of onlookers. Cooksey’s eyes went wide as he took a calculated step backwards. Williams stood grinning, his pencil poised above his notepad as he waited for the tall, slender vampire to answer. His gray eyes sparkled with anticipation.
“Oh, this is gonna be good!” he murmured.
Niles chose not to respond. Instead, keeping his face inches from Monster Man’s, he used his right hand to pry the man’s fingers from his victim’s shirt, dropping the smaller man to the floor. Monster Man seemed mesmerized by Niles’ fierce stare. He blinked and freed himself then looked at his huge hand in amazement. He opened and closed his meaty fingers as if testing to see that they still worked.
Niles eased his stance. “I suggest you beat it before this gentleman decides to press charges against you.”
“Maybe I should!” exclaimed said gentleman, climbing up from the carpet. His dark eyes flashed with courage now that he had a champion to protect him.
Niles gave him a vicious look. “Don’t press your luck!”
The man swallowed then, ducking from the vampire’s glittering blue gaze, shuffled away.
Monster Man didn’t hesitate. He slammed a fist into Niles’ gut. Niles took the blow with a whoosh of breath as he flew backwards into a weight rack. His arms tangled in the metal bars, keeping him upright. Meanwhile, Monster Man stormed towards him, fists poised to finish Niles off.
“Need help?” Williams offered in a voice that said he had no intention of helping.
Niles straightened and stared daggers at Williams. He ducked as Monster Man swung at him but made no other move to engage his attacker. He avoided two more swings as Monster Man pursued him around the weight set.
“Stand still, dammit, you light footed queer!” the man demanded.
Niles flashed his badge. “I’m a cop, you idiot. Do you really want to go to jail?”
The man scoffed and stalked around the weight set a second time while Niles continued to back around it in a circle, keeping it between him and Monster Man.
Niles decided this guy had meat for brains. “You think you’re the tough man? You can beat me in a fight?”
“With my eyes closed!” Monster Man snorted. Both his fists clenched.
“Ok, fine!” On his next turn around the weight set, Niles grabbed the largest set at the bottom. He hefted it up and with a gentle toss, flipped it to Monster Man. The man caught it, thinking it couldn’t weigh much given how Niles had tossed it, only to find it weighed over 400 lbs. He went down like an imploded building.
Niles wiped his hands to signal he was done. As he stepped over the stunned man, the spectators backed away, their eyes wide. No one dared to get in his way.
As he stormed from the gym, Niles looked back to find half the gym’s staff trying to figure out how to get Monster Man free from the weight.
Came to break up a fight, he thought. Who knew I was the one who’d be fighting?
© 2017 Newmin