Vampire 2.0 – Pingback (Part 1)

(Want to see where it started? Click here!)


“Brussels sprouts again!?” Billy whined.
“Yecccchhhh,” Sally, his much-maligned and often tortured younger sister, chimed in.
Sighing and casting her eyes skyward, Elain Mors shook the long wooden spoon she had been using to dish out the vegetables at her tortured son.
“Look, I know you hate them.”
She tilted her head and slid her eyes to the side to include Susie as well.
“Both of you. Your father, too, for that matter. But they’re good for you, and you’ll eat them, or no dessert.”
Billy grumbled, pushing one of the hated green spheres around on his plate, rolling it in his mashed potatoes in the hopes that the white glop would dissolve it… or at least hide it from his mother’s eagle eyes. No such luck.
“I don’t think dessert is worth this. Not even if it’s a special dessert.”
His tongue, long and viciously barbed, slid across his lips with a lasciousness that did not belong in the repertoire of the ten tear old boy he appeared to be.
Hands on her hips, voice pitched in such a way that would brook no argument – but with a tremble underneath that Billy recognized as a warning that she was reaching her breaking point, probably due to the lack of such special desserts of late – Elaine snapped at her son.
“Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter now, does it? Go to your room! Both of you! No supper at all!”
 Billy opened her mouth, about to protest – and could see that Susie was doing the same – when a sharp pain suddenly ripped through his head, filling his brain with glassy spines that demanded his attention. A sound like feedback coursed from one side of his head to the other, and as he moved to cover his ears he saw his sister and mother doing the same.
Just as suddenly as it had begun, the sound stopped. But not all the way. There was still a faint hiss in his mind, like on the radio when the DJ had stopped talking for a moment but hadn’t keyed off his mic. A moment later that hiss became a voice, unfamiliar but somehow known and expected at the same time. Judging from his family’s rapt expressions, they heard it too.
“Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” this new voice said. Billy felt something in him change, a leash he hadn’t known he was wearing snap. His tongue dropped from his mouth, dangling against the collar of his shirt, throbbing and pulsing in time to his heartbeat. He could see Susie’s tongue doing the same, and the way her eyes went from the pretty blue that would make all the boys chase her in another couple of years to a solid crimson that somehow devoured the light around them. His mother showed no such changes, but her smell twisted, went from old lavender spray and dirty dishes – the smell of mom, to him – to something wet and red and rancid, old blood spilled in a cavern full of noxious mushrooms and left to rot.
“On second thought,” Elaine said, and the note of worry and anger was gone from her, replaced by a keening greed and a thoughtful uptilt that seemed to carry dreadful connotations. “Perhaps a special dessert isn’t off the menu tonight. Go get changed, kids. We’re going out.”
Both of them bounded from their seats, Billy a bit faster due to his lengthening limbs, and dashed upstairs. All three of them halted in their tracks as the voice came a second time.
“But one other little matter. Bring me Vlad Tepes. Bring me the Pretender. So speaks your master.”
Billy cocked his head. Pretender? Vlad had always been their king, or so his mother told him.
“Well, that’s interesting,” his mother hissed. “Changes in management are always so exciting!”
Susie began prancing in circles, flailing about with arms that had become tentacles, grotesquely long and distended, covered in three-inch long spines.
“New boss, new boss!”
Her singsongy tone was grating on Billy’s ears, so he lashed out with a tendril of his own, sending her sprawling. It didn’t make her shut up, just changed the tone from giddy expectancy to petulant mewling.
“Children, stop bickering. Let’s go.”
Billy sighed, helped his sister up, and squelched out the door after his mother.

* * *

Roderick slammed his stein back down on the table, his face stretched long in an expression of disbelief.
His companion, a hulking brute layered in black leather, adorned with a beard that seemed determined to swallow the entirety of his face, typically answering to the name Crusher, began to laugh. Clouds of alcohol-tainted breath washed over Rod, carrying with them the barest hint of rotten flesh.
“No, mate, I shit you not!”
Crusher was still laughing as he spoke, giving his voice an unusual rhythm that ebbed and flowed like a filthy tide.
“Fourteen inches, and all of it coming right out of her spine!”
Roderick shook his head, gulping down the last of his own beer. He was chuckling himself, though the story his friend was sharing was at least a little depressing. He remembered the time before the Inquisition, when they had all been free to do such things. Then had come the time of the burning, and Vlad and his damnable decrees had followed, and since then there wasn’t much to do but sit around, drink, and tell each other stories – almost all of them made up or grossly exaggerated – between quiet, clean kills that the papers never heard of.
Crusher crunched one hand against his eyes, brushing away black tears that had begun to leak from them. His laughter was tapering off, but left behind an awkward, reminiscing silence. He jerked his own stein upwards, thrusting it at Rod, who recoiled from it for a moment before lifting his own.
“To the good old days, eh, mate?”
 Crusher’s voice had gone mellow, miles from the barroom bellow that Roderick had grown accustomed to over the last three hundred years or so.
“The old -”
He stopped as a wave of sensation flooded him. Faint pain, tingling through all his extremities, followed by a warm glow. A sound like mosquitos buzzing in his ear, and then a voice, one that was unfamiliar and yet as accepted as his own.
“Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”
He saw Crusher’s eyes widen, the whites flickering and swirling to an indigo hue, as though someone had squeezed a dropper or ink into them. He felt the sting in his own eyes and knew it was happening to him, too.
“Hear that, mate?”
Crusher’s voice was a hoarse whisper. The bear of a man was smiling, his lips spread out over teeth that seemed far too large for his jaw.
Roderick nodded.
“Time to party like it’s 1399, eh?”
Roderick nodded again. He could feel his own mouth widening as his teeth spread out and elongated, and didn’t trust himself to speak. Since becoming what he was, he had always been somewhat embarrassed by the speech impediments imposed by having dozens of dagger-sized teeth standing guard in front of a stub of a tongue.
Other patrons in the bar were starting to notice them; how could they not? A moment ago there had been a pair of burly, rowdy bikers trading exclamations of expletives. Now there were a pair of furred, vaguely human things standing there, snarling at one another while they pushed out of their chairs and flipped the table. Roderick felt the old red rage welling up in him, suffusing his limbs with strength beyond any mortal man, and began to laugh himself.
The pair descended on the humans present, making short work of them but lingering over the kills. It had been too long since they had shared a proper pint, after all, the blood of a fresh kill quaffed directly from the skull.
“Where next, mate?”
Crusher was picking at his teeth with something that appeared to be a finger bone. Rod shrugged while he rummaged among the remains for his jacket, hoping he hadn’t ruined it. The leather hadn’t come cheap, and just because they were off the leash didn’t mean he could suddenly become a wastrel.
“Start lookin’ for the poncey bastard who put the leash on in the first place, I wager. S’what the new boss wants. Heard him say as much between the screams.”
“Right. But what do you think the odds are that he’s anywhere nearby? Last news says he was stateside, not hiding out in the bush, you know.”
Rod stood up, lifting his coat and shaking the blood and bits of flesh off of it with an expression of manic glee on his twisted features.
“Well, yeah… Don’t mean we can’t have a spot of fun on the way to the airport, now does it?”

(Want more? The story continues here…)

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