Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chapter 13 of my Vampire Novel

Here is chapter 13 of my Las Vegas Vampire Novel. I'm still searching for a title. The winning suggestion gets a mention in the acknowledgements when the book is published.

Note: You can start at the beginning of the story by going here. Chapter 12 is here. Chapter 14 is here.

Chapter 13:

                        Sammy steps from the limo.
                        "Come on, Henry," he says. "We're running late."
                        The yard turns out to be a fenced-in parking lot just west of the Strip, surrounded by warehouses and junkyards. A row of limousines under a metal canopy runs along one side.
                        We're in the center of the lot, next to another running limousine which is facing the way we came. With just a couple of steps, we go from the first limo to an identical one with no bodies in it. As I take those steps, I see two men and a woman standing nearby.
                        Sammy waits so that I have to go into the second limousine ahead of him.
                        I take the same seat I took in the first one. The window to the driver's seat is down, and I see Walt get in behind the wheel. Sammy sits on the rear seat and moves over. The woman slides in next to him.
                        The limo starts rolling, exiting the yard. Once we turn onto the street, it feels like Walt floors it, taking us south. I glance through the windows behind me and see the Las Vegas Strip roll past us in the distance. Lighted hotel towers of various colors. A purple dome. Twin skyscrapers that look like giant bronze apostrophes.
                        "Henry, this is Iris," Sammy says.
                        Iris says, "Hello, Henry. It's a pleasure to meet you."
                        She's a short asian woman dressed in a red business suit. Her hair is done up in a chignon, and she's wearing rimless glasses. She looks about thirty and smells like cocoa butter, which doesn't fully cover up a deeper, muskier tang.
                        She has a camera in her hands, which she points at me. She begins shooting, and a light on the camera flares brightly for a few seconds.
                        She lowers the camera.
                        "That should do it," she says.
                        "Thank you, Iris," Sammy tells her and strikes. But he's not going for blood. He bites the back of her neck, just below her hair. And he releases just as quickly, keeping her from slumping forward with a hand across her chest. He eases her back against her seat.
                        "Now," Sammy says to me. "A couple of ground rules. First, no biting anyone without my approval. I'll make sure you're well-fed. Besides, from the looks of it, I'm not sure you're doing it right. You look malnourished."
                        "I'm not good with rules," I say.
                        "Second rule," Sammy continues. "Is to follow the damned rules. I got a good thing going here, and you could be part of it. But I can't have some wild animal upsetting the apple cart."
                        I say nothing.
                        "How long have you been a wanderer?" Sammy asks.
                        "Long as I can remember," I tell him.
                        "Well, you're about to go from being a nomad to being a king, my friend," says Sammy. "A prince, anyway. It's time you got civilized."
                        "Any more rules?" I ask.
                        "The most important one," Sammy answers. "Do what I tell you."
                        "Like I have a choice," I say.
                        Sammy gives one of his laughs.
                        "You really don't," he says.
                        The limo slows, pulls off the street, and then goes down a ramp.
                        "Elmore Dashiell Higgins," Sammy says. "Friend, or fellow traveler?"
                        "He was a friend," I say. "His suffering has ended."
                        "And you repay him by leaving a mess in his house?" Sammy asks. "Some friend."
                        "He offered me the house just before he died," I say. "When I got there, I found squatters."
                        "He offered you his house?" Sammy asks. "Of his own free will?"
                        "He did."
                        Sammy shakes his head.
                        "You've got talent," he says. "No doubt about it. But feeding on a pregnancy? It goes against the basic rules of hunting, does it not?"
                        "Like I said," I tell him.
                        "Well, you're going to have to learn. And fast," says Sammy. He holds out his hand. "And I'm going to need Mr. Higgin's cellphone and ATM card."
                        I think about attacking Sammy. At least it would be over quick. I pull Elmore's wallet and phone out and hand them over. Sammy tosses them into Iris's lap next to her camera.
                        The limo has stopped while we were talking. The door opens.
                        "This is where you get out," Sammy says, shifting Iris's knees aside so I can squeeze past. "Be a good boy, and we'll meet later."
                        Again, I think about attacking him, ending it all right here. But I don't.
                        As I start to go out the door, Sammy stops me with a hand on my arm.
                        "I'm putting you with people who know how to deal with you," Sammy says.
                        "That so?" I say to him.
                        As I step from the limousine, I see we're in an underground parking garage, and we've pulled up to a set of glass doors. I'm greeted by a woman wearing the same suit as Iris, but this one is tall, blonde and white, reminding me of Alice.
                        "Hello, Henry. Welcome to the Como Resort," this woman says, holding out her hand. "I'm Angela. Please come this way."
                        She smells delicious, both salty and sweet. Never mind that I'm full with Yesenia.
                        She closes the limo door, and it speeds off.
                        Angela leads me through the glass doors into a small, plush lobby. Music plays softly. The air is thick with perfume. There's a marble service counter to one side and a sitting area, but it's deserted except for a large security guard standing next to a set of elevators at the back of the lobby. He's wearing a uniform that makes him look like a police officer, and he's carrying a shotgun.
                        Angela stops at the service counter, where a folder and a cellphone are sitting. She hands me the cellphone, opens the folder and then gives me a keycard. She scans something in the folder.
                        "Mr. Gunn has instructed that we remind you that you will be under constant surveillance during your stay with us," Angela tells me. The tone of her voice is pleasant and friendly, but she isn't smiling.
                        Neither is the security guard, who is now pointing the shotgun at me. It's got a pistol-grip stock and a front vertical grip. A nice weapon.
                        "Mr. Gunn also wants to make clear that the staff of the Como will gladly fulfill any reasonable request you may have," Angela continues, leading me toward the elevators.
                        With each step we take towards the elevators, the security guard takes a step to the side, staying clear but keeping the shotgun on me.
                        We stop in front of the elevators. There are five of them. The guard with the shotgun is now between us and the glass doors we came through.
                        "Please insert your keycard here," Angela says, pointing towards a small slot next to the middle elevator. I do. The elevator on the far left slides open.
                        "You're a brave girl," I tell her.
                        "Mr. Gunn wants to remind you that you have a noon meeting with him, and a representative of the Como staff will be visiting you at eleven with an appropriate wardrobe," says Angela, gesturing for me to get into the elevator. "Until then, you are advised to stay in your suite, taking advantage of our many amenities."
                        I step into the elevator but she doesn't. I turn to face her, holding out my hand to block the door from sliding shut. As I do, Angela's demeanor cracks, ever so slightly. Her eyes go wide, and along her hairline, sweat starts beading.
                        "Anything else?" I ask.
                        She glances into her folder and then back at me.
                        "I, uh, believe that covers all of Mr. Gunn's instructions," she says. "Do you have any questions?"
                        "What time is it?"
                        Angela looks at her watch.
                        "It's five minutes to four," she says.
                        I look beyond her to the security guard, who has taken a few steps towards us, still pointing the shotgun.
                        "You like your job?" I ask Angela.
                        "Uh, yes," she answers. "My job as a Como concierge allows me to meet some very interesting people--"
                        "You're not just a concierge," I say, cutting her off. I lower my hand and the elevator doors start to slide shut. Just as they do, I say, "You're bait."
                        The elevator starts climbing.
                        Angela's not tainted, but I wonder how long that will last.
                        Because the security guard, the guy with the shotgun, is a vampire.

Note: You can start at the beginning of the story by going here. Chapter 12 is here. Chapter 14 is here.

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