Vampire’s Curse

Chapter 1 – Party in a Strip Club

Why do strip clubs play their music so damn loud? It’s hard to stare at ginormous fake tits when Poison or Mötley Crüe or whoever the fuck this is keeps melting my eardrums. I should expect it since it goes with the territory. Still, is this what I envisioned when I set out to celebrate the second anniversary of my death?

I snap out of my funk when I see the blonde and brunette sauntering toward me. Two angels sent from heaven… although, I have a hard time believing heaven would send me anything. I’m a lucky man, in the right place at the right time. This is what I wanted when I woke up this morning. I haven’t seen my family and friends in two years. Here, I don’t have to worry. No one recognizes me and I don’t have to hide. The naked strippers don’t hurt things, either.

This isn’t my first trip to this particular establishment. I requested these ladies on purpose, having had the pleasure of their company on numerous prior occasions. The blonde, Destiny, isn’t much older than eighteen. Her crystal blue eyes are intoxicating and she wears a schoolgirl outfit with her hair in pigtails. The brunette, Lola, is twenty, out of high school long enough that I don’t feel like a perv. Her brown hair hangs loose, framing her face, and she wears a skin-tight, curve hugging nurse’s outfit. Just what the doctor ordered, I think while they both crawl into the booth to join me, one on either side. I can’t hide my glee.

“Do you even know how excited I am to see you two?” I ask with a smile. They both push closer while nodding.

I’m not a sick, old, dirty man; I’m twenty-two. Technically. So, don’t get holier than thou—this is legal. And let’s not forget, I’m in a strip club.

Their exhilarating aromas—a mixture of perfume and lavender—drive me nuts. When they come closer, I want to explode.  Lust burns in their eyes. For once, I wish their feelings were their own. I want them to want me for themselves, but it can’t be. They’re irresistibly attracted to me.

My outward appearance is ordinary. When I was human, girls ignored me and most wouldn’t give me the time of day. Now, they can’t help themselves. My body emits a pheromone, drawing them in and driving them crazy. All because of what I am. And I hate myself every day for it.

Whatever. People think they know or understand me. They don’t have a clue.

Part of the problem, Hollywood has ravaged our image. My skin doesn’t sparkle like the world’s largest diamond when I step into the sun. I’m much faster than a human, but I’m not the Flash, flying around in a blur. I won’t explode into a ridiculous fountain of flesh and goo when I’m killed. I’m not afraid of the sun and I don’t sleep in a coffin. That’s right; I eat, drink, sleep, and piss just like each and every one of you. Well, maybe not you…. Hell, I could be next to you right now and you wouldn’t know. Just another average person flitting from point A to point B during my usual, mundane life.

Why do I hate it? Because you see me as a monster, that’s why. My family, being the good Christians that they are, will never accept me for what I am, nor will they appreciate what I’ve done. That’s why I faked my death and spared them the truth. It wasn’t too difficult, considering my diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. You don’t understand how hard it is letting everyone you love believe you’re dead. It’s painful and lonely.

What I hate the most is the fear I see in your eyes when I tell you what I am. It never works out; I learned this early on. You have nothing to fear; I don’t get nourishment from your kind—few of us do. How could we—have you seen the shit you put into your bodies? The drugs, the alcohol, the fast food you stuff into your mouth because it suits your fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyle. You’re poisoning yourself and it’s in your bloodstream. So, no, thank you. I’d much rather starve than feast on what’s slopping through your veins.

But enough with my pity party. Tonight, I’m treating myself to the fine company of these two lovely ladies. Dwelling on my miserable past is as enjoyable as shooting myself in the head.

Destiny climbs on top of me while Lola licks my neck and nibbles my ear. I stiffen—in more ways than one—when she runs her hand up my thigh. My head swims, the endorphins blocking out all negative thought, and ecstasy takes over. Her hand creeps up my leg and her plump lips press against mine. Her breath smells sweet and she surprises me when she bites down on my lip. It’s playful how she toys with me.

All conscious thought ceases to exist, replaced with my animalistic cries. Yes! Yes! Fuck, let’s do this! Her hand nears my cock and I think I’ll explode, but Lola joins and I find a new, more exciting, level of bliss.

My eyes close and my head tilts back, overwhelmed by the experience. I want nothing more than to tear their clothes off and take them both. But Lord only knows what my vampiric seed would do to their young bodies. I don’t want to find out; it wouldn’t be fair to them. I don’t wish this curse on anyone. That’s why when I turned, I promised myself I’d never have sex with a human. I’m still a man with urges. But there are other ways to find a release.

Through the muddy waters of my lust-crazed mind, something hits me and I gag. A sulfuric scent tickles my nostrils, faintly at first, but growing stronger by the second. Teufelhunds are near.  Fucking Devil Dogs, although that’s too nice a term for them. To humans, they look like any other person, but vampires see their true form. Their eyes are red like lava and they have slick, gray skin and large, sharp teeth dripping with a poison ready to turn my body to stone. Think terror dogs in Ghostbusters, minus the horns. That’s as close as it gets.

When I see them, my arousal melts and with it, my pheromones. Destiny and Lola shake off hazed minds and lock eyes with one another, sharing looks of pure what the hell?

The loud club grows quiet when the two creatures walk through, examining the other patrons. Each Teufelhund wears a black suit and dark sunglasses; they don’t belong here and look like they walked off the set of the newest Men in Black. One stands taller than the other, with cropped, blond hair. The shorter one has a bald head and dark goatee. I toss money at the girls and free them from the impending maelstrom.

I scan the club, looking for a way out, but see none. Just the main entrance and an emergency exit in the back. If I run through there, I risk endangering everyone, something I don’t want to do. I need to put Plan B into motion, but it’ll take time. Fortunately, a full moon adorns the sky and I’ll have the full strength of my runes. I only hope the Teufelhunds aren’t ready for it.

They approach my table, their sharp teeth shimmering in what little light emanates from spinning lights and disco balls. My scent drives them mad, evident by the fresh poison dripping down their fangs.

“Christopher Malone?” the taller one asks.

I nod. “Call me Chris. What do you want?”

The shorter one drags two chairs over, blocking my escape route. They sit across the table, interrogation style.

“My name is Brandr. My associate here is Erwin. We’ve been looking for you. You’ve done well to stay hidden, making our jobs all the more difficult.”

Shit!

“Nice to meet you, but what do you want? I’d like to get back to those two young ladies,” I lie. I have no intention of doing any such thing. These two fucktards ruined my evening, which really pisses me off.

Brandr laughs. “If I were you, I wouldn’t make such demands. You’ve been ignoring us and we need to talk.”

“Ignoring you? I had no idea you were looking for me.” My confusion is real. I’ve smelled their scent before, of course, but rule number one is to fear that smell. So, yeah, I’ve been dodging Teufelhunds, but not ignoring.

Erwin, the short one, finally speaks. About time he joins the conversation. “Shut up!”

Then again, maybe not. He’s been silent so far and the sound of his growl sets me on edge.

“Just because we’ve struck a deal with Aldric doesn’t mean we don’t like to sink our teeth into vampire flesh from time to time.”  Erwin’s eyes narrow and he studies my face. “And he allows it, so mind your tongue and listen.”

Thank God these are Aldric’s men. I’ve never been more relieved to hear those words.

I get it. Message received and locked away. The ice is thin and I’d ventured too far out on it. Instead of speaking, I nod in understanding, heeding the order to guard my tongue.

Brandr grins, if you could call what his face does a grin. “I’m glad you’re seeing reason. Do you remember the tumor growing in your head?”

What a stupid question! How could I forget? I lived with that pain and misery for five years. My anger is growing, but I hope it doesn’t show.

Brandr continues. “On your death bed, you made an agreement.” He pulls a scroll from his jacket and unrolls it while he speaks. “He offered to rid your body of cancer and pain, giving you eternal health and life. You remember this, do you not?” With a lanky finger, he points to my signature scrawled on the bottom of the document next to Aldric’s flowing mark.

I want to roll my eyes. What good is it to show me my signature? I thought I had several years before they’d call upon me.

“You must remember, in return for this magnificent gift, Aldric is entitled to your service for one year. Well, he’s calling on you to hold up your end of the bargain.” Brandr’s lips curl.

Like hell! I resent what I’ve become. Why would I fight to protect others of my kind, let alone that prick, Aldric? His minions prey on the weak, those close to death and out of options.

No, this needs to stop, now!

“What would I be doing?” I ask.

Erwin snarls and lunges across the table, but Brandr holds him back. “Let me remind you, this has already been agreed upon. Without his protection, you’ll be vulnerable,” Brandr says. “And if you don’t comply, he’ll let me and Erwin loose on you. Maybe Erwin will get his opportunity to taste your flesh after all.” He grins.

Give me a break. The only protection I need is from these two jerk-offs.

“Please defy him,” Erwin says. “I have a little pent up energy and is just what I need to calm down. What we’re destined to these days is unnatural. I yearn to taste the blood…”

Brandr interrupts him. “It isn’t wise to go against the wishes of the council,” he whispers. “Watch your tongue. Aldric has eyes and ears everywhere. I’d hate for him to hear what you just said.”

Erwin’s eyes drift to the floor, but after a moment, he raises his head and snarls at me like the wild animal he is.

“I can see you feel the gravity of the situation. Don’t make this hard. We just want to bring you in. Come with us and Aldric will explain it to you.” Brandr stands and so does Erwin.

I sometimes don’t think before I speak, and eventually, end up putting my foot in my mouth. This is one of those times. “Is that all it takes to keep you in check?” I laugh. “One little mention of the all-powerful Aldric and you bring your anger into check? How weak.”

Erwin steps forward with his hands outstretched, but Brandr stops him with his arm. “Easy, Erwin. We need to bring him in alive.” He sets his eyes on me. “And you, I would watch your tongue.” Anger builds in his eyes and it’s hard to keep my own locked on him. “Aldric saved me and Erwin over five-hundred years ago. He is our master and we proudly serve. You will soon find this out on your own. And it doesn’t have to be an easy transition, I can make this difficult for you. Don’t forget, we know you can heal. As long as we only hurt you enough to keep you alive, you’ll be right as rain by the time we get to Aldric.” He leans in closer to me. “But it will be painful. Let me guarantee you that.”

There are perks to my vampire body—like my runes—and with my assailants currently off their guard now is the time to strike. It’s time for me to tap into that power. I have three options, but right now, I only need one.

My runes glow while power builds. Tonight, I’m wearing a long-sleeve shirt. These two dipshits didn’t think to make me roll up my sleeves, giving me the element of surprise. They stand and motion for me to join them, but instead, I unleash the full force of my power. A blue shockwave flows through my body, knocking the two to the floor, where God only knows what fluids have landed before. The shockwave spreads through the club, shattering glass and sending people tumbling to the ground.

I scramble through the carnage, garnering wide mouth stares from the humans. With each step, I make sure I don’t step or trip on anyone. With the door only a couple steps away, my heart pounds, adrenaline courses through my veins like I’m a damn water park. My spirits lift when fresh air brushes my face. One last glance over my shoulder and the two dogs are still on the ground. I hope it buys me a couple minutes.

Outside, car alarms blare, a byproduct of my shockwave in the club. I stop to remember where I parked. Crap—it’s in back. I dash into an alley between the club and a tattoo parlor, checking one last time to make sure no one’s following me. Next thing I know, a loud crunching fills my ears, my bones shatter, and I fly through the air.

Are you kidding me? I manage the escape of a lifetime, but I’m hit by a hybrid barreling down the alley. I tumble end over end back toward the parking lot and catch glimpses of the star-laden sky.

Fuck. My. Life.

Chapter 2 – An Old Friend

 

“Unpleasant” is the term rolling around my head while my face skids across the pavement. For no reason at all, I laugh for what seems like an eternity, but only seconds tick by. I pound my fist on the cold, hard, surface of the alley, trying to bring myself back under control. My leg hurts, but it’s not what concerns me. My leg will heal. But will it be quick enough for me to get the hell out of here?

The hysterical voice of a woman floods my ears. She scrambles out of her car and rushes to my side. Maybe my luck hasn’t run out. There’s still a chance I’ll enjoy my birthday yet.

“Oh, my God! Are you hurt?” she asks, kneeling by my side. “I didn’t mean to hit you. You ran around the corner and I didn’t have a chance to stop, but I tried. What have I done?” Tears stream down her face.

The irony isn’t lost on me. I may have injured several people inside the club; this is karma’s way of working it out. If she gives me a lift, I still have a chance at getting away. I try to calm her. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll be fine.” I crane my neck toward the club. So far, no one has followed me out. “I need a lift, though. And the quicker, the better. Just help me up,” I say while trying to sit.

“You shouldn’t go anywhere. You need an ambulance.” She holds me down, probably thinking adrenaline masks the pain of my injuries.

When I look into her face, I think I know her. Her skin is fair, almost pale, with several piercings in her nose and ears. Tattoos cover her hands and arms, and I see a few more hidden on her neck beneath her brunette hair. She is pretty. “Really, I’ll be fine. Two buffoons in the club are angry with me. The sooner I disappear, the better off I’ll be.”

Her eyes search the front of the building. “Sure, I guess,” she says in a trembling voice. “I can drop you at the hospital. It’s just down the road. But be careful. I don’t want your blood on my seats.”

“Yeah, that’d be great,” I lie. “Help me to my feet.”

Carefully, she throws my arm around her shoulder and helps me stand. She is much stronger than her thin physique would lead one to believe. There is still something about her I recognize and it drives me crazy.

“Thanks,” I say to her with a smile. Her green eyes reflect the pale moonlight.

She stares at my face and looks at me for the first time since coming to my side. Her eyes squint and she looks me up and down. Her skin turns bright white like she’s gazing upon a ghost. “Chris? But…  you’re dead. I… I don’t understand.” She almost drops me.

When the words leave her mouth, I recognize her, too. The tattoos and piercings did a nice job of camouflaging her features. I went to high school with her. Damn, what was her name? “Michelle?” We weren’t friends but had several classes together our freshman and sophomore years.

Thinking quickly—which is difficult given my now severely broken body—I release some of my pheromones. I don’t want to turn her on or make her want me, but just a small release will calm her nerves and make her see reason.

She nods her head. “This is crazy. You’re dead, and I don’t believe in ghosts. Tell me what is going on, or I’ll leave you here for the two… what did you call them? Fucktards.”

“Look, I’ll tell you all about my fantastic and mystical journey, but we need to get in the damn car,” I say. What are the odds? I’m in the slummy part of downtown. How can I run into another suburbanite? Annoying millennials are taking over the whole city.

“No, this has to be a mistake.” She takes several steps away from me. “I’m sorry I hit you and all, but you’re dead anyway.”

I call after her, releasing even more of my pheromones. “Wait, I really need your help. Please reconsider, one old friend to another.”

She stops and stares at me. It’s working, I can see it in her eyes. “I suppose I can give you a ride. But you owe me one HELL of an explanation.”

With her help, I climb in and glance at the club entrance one last time. People are flooding out the door. No sign of the Teufelhunds, which is a relief. I yell at Michelle to hurry. She jumps in and, without even buckling her seatbelt, jams her car into gear and speeds out the parking lot with squealing tires.

We head south on Colorado, heading away from Colfax and leaving downtown Denver in our rearview. I have no idea where to go. My family thinks I’m buried in a grave; and no doubt, my apartment is the first place Aldric’s men will search if they haven’t already. The bones in my injured leg pop when they move back into place. My body is healing itself, much to my relief. Although it’s excruciating, which I’m sure shows on my face.

She turns and in a calm voice, says, “I don’t understand what the hell is going on, but I need you to tell me where to go. Am I still taking you to the hospital?”

“No. Where were you going? You know, before you ran me over with your car,” I say with a smile. “What are you doing down here, anyway? Weren’t your parents well-off? Surely, you’d have a nice, cushy job in an office somewhere in DTC.”

“I was going home. And not that it’s any of your damn business, but I’m an artist at the tattoo parlor right next to the strip club. I also don’t accept my parents’ charity.” My leg moves underneath my pants—a sign the healing continues—and it’s hard to miss. Her knuckles turn white when she grips the steering wheel. “OK, this is too much. I have no idea what is going on, no idea how you’re even here right now, but you owe me an explanation. What’s happening to your leg? Is it fixing itself?”

I hesitate, not wanting to divulge too much. I’ve told few people, and most of them hate me for it. But I owe it to her. I see panic and doubt growing in her features and send more pheromones. It’s a damn full-time job trying to keep her calm.

“There are things in this world you’d never understand.”

Her eyes open wide and she drives the car to the shoulder of the road. “Try me. After what just happened, my mind might be more open than you think.” She takes her hands off the steering wheel and crosses her arms. “We’re not going anywhere until you tell me what’s happening. And I want the whole truth or you’ll find yourself walking from here.”

I want to roll my eyes but settle for a sigh. “First, you need to agree that anything I say remains between the two of us. I mean it. No one else can find out. Promise me.” She says she promises. “There are other creatures walking the Earth. You may not believe it, but they do.”

“Like what? If it’s true, I’m sure I would’ve heard something about them. Everyone has a camera with them at all times these days,” she says, interrupting me.

“Can I talk?” I ask. She motions with her hands to proceed. “For one… vampires.” I watch her face to gauge her reaction. She thinks I’m joking. “You believe I died, right? Do you remember the brain tumor I had when I was fifteen?” She nods. “It was a Glioblastoma, which has a low survival rate and the Doctors gave me five years to live. They were right. Two years ago, the end was in sight. I couldn’t see, I could no longer keep any food down, and my energy waned. I slept more often than not because it was all my body would do.”

“That’s terrible,” she says. “But you overcame it. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here.”

“Not exactly. A vampire visited me, but it wasn’t the first time. Anyway, he made the same offer he’d made several times before. He came to me in my hospital bed and told me he’d turn me, curing me of my cancer and granting me eternal life.” Surprise fills her face. I’m still not sure if she believes me or not. “There was one catch. I had to sign a contract, agreeing to return his kindness by offering my service to his boss, a vampire by the name of Aldric. The contract didn’t stipulate when it was open. He said I’d be called upon to make arrangements. The lecherous bastards. Byron makes his living in hospitals, striking deals with unsuspecting goats—such as myself—who aren’t ready to give up on life.”

She doesn’t speak for several moments while she mulls over my confession. “Are you serious? This all sounds a little crazy. Maybe I’m crazy. Is this a hallucination?”

Damn it, woman, what will it take to convince you? “Trust me, this is no hallucination. I know it sounds crazy, but think about it. You remember how advanced my tumor was. I wouldn’t be talking to you right now.”

I roll up my sleeves and display my runes, pulling energy from the moon. There are several cars on the road and I need to be careful. Too much and the bright light will catch someone else’s attention. After a few moments, the runes glow a soft blue.

“Is this proof enough?” I ask.

Her eyes focus on my runes and grow large. A small scream escapes her lips.

“Holy shit! You’re telling the truth.”

“Yes. I wouldn’t make this up.” I look over my shoulder. I don’t see anyone approaching the shoulder behind us. “If I’ve satisfied your curiosity, can we please be back underway? I don’t want those goons to catch up to us.”

She stares at me for a second. “Of course.” After a moment, she eases her car back into traffic and we’re once again on the road. “Something I don’t understand though is your funeral? I didn’t go, but several of my friends did. Your whole family was there.” Her voice softens. “I heard it was beautiful.”

“Yes…  it was. I watched from a distance,” I say in a sad voice.

“Do your parents know?”

“No. This is something I can’t share with them.” I cast my eyes to the floor of the car.

“Wait a minute, If you’re a vampire, how many people have you killed?” she asks and slides away—well… as much as you can in the seat of a car.

There it is. The one question I’ve been waiting for. Like I said, Hollywood jacked this up for my kind.

“None. Most vampires feed on animals, like cows, sheep, pigs… whatever we can sink our teeth into that has no voice to protest.”

“Oh,” she says, relaxing a bit in her seat. “So, this is it? You survive on animal blood and what… only come out at night?”

With a deep sigh, I continue. “No, I live a normal life, just like you. The only difference is my feeding. I can go out in the daylight. I interact with other humans, have friends, earn and spend money, just like you. But when it comes to eating, I don’t sit down to a meal. For this, I do stick to the night so I can find animals in the wild. I’m as harmless to society as you are.” Her large eyes and gasps aren’t lost on me. I see the questions tumbling around in her head.

“I don’t know that I agree. How many animals have you killed? Just because you don’t harm people, doesn’t mean you’re innocent.”

I can’t help myself and laugh. “Wow, a bit of a hypocrite aren’t you? How many animals have you killed? For every meal you eat, some innocent animal has to die.”

“Good point.” She pauses and focuses on the road. “But, the meat of a cow will feed a couple hundred people. Whereas I assume one cow will provide enough blood for just one vampire. Right?”

“That’s where you’re wrong. I don’t kill a cow. I only take as much blood as I require. The animal still has enough to survive. So, unlike you, I don’t need to kill an animal to survive. If anything, that makes me better than a typical human.”

“Yeah, right.” She laughs. “What else?”

“The healing, the special abilities, they all make us difficult to kill.”

“Let me get this straight. You’re nearly invincible, and every vulnerability normally associated with vampires isn’t true?”

I nod.

“Why haven’t vampires taken over the world? It seems it’d be easy.”

I try to keep tabs on where we are heading, tracking the turns we take while I speak, glancing in the mirrors to make sure no one is following us. A car about a half block behind seems to be heading to the same destination, or they are following us. Damn!

“We don’t want to take over the world… well, most of us, anyway. We’ve enjoyed a peaceful relationship with humans for thousands of years. Why change it now?” Her eyes show she has no answer. The car trailing us closes the gap. “Do me a favor. Take your next right and turn on the next street.”

“Wait, what? Why would I do that?”

“Just humor me, please. I think someone is following us.”

She looks in her mirror but does as I ask. “But what if you try to take over the world? How can we stop you?”

“We draw our energy from the moon. During daylight hours—when it’s circling the other side of the planet—we have none of our powers and can’t even heal. That’s when we’re the most vulnerable. I can die just as easily as you can.”

The car follows our every turn, even closer to our bumper now. I look out the rear window.

“What about your runes? How were you created?” she asks.

“Lucifer created vampires.” The car comes even closer. “Look, I understand your need for information, but now isn’t the time. I promise I’ll explain…”

The rear window shatters when a bullet flies through and exits the front. Michelle screams and the car swerves, hitting the guardrail. The bastards are shooting at us. Now, they’re really pissing me off.