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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Dark · #2267926
When his clan needs a mystery solved, Kyle is on the case...
SCREAMS!!! Contest Entry 2/22/22
Prompt: A reverse murder mystery where a ____ (ghost, vampire, demon etc) detective is hunting a rogue necromancer in order to put the dead back to rest.
2,920 words

I sat in the shadows, seated in the darkest corner of the dimly lit establishment I could find as I sloshed the brown liquid around the crystal glass. Despite the noise from the rolicking saxophone solo on stage, I could hear the rustle of my black trenchcoat as it crinkled at the elbow as I raised the expensive bourbon to my lips. My senses were acute like that⁠—one of the more enjoyable aspects of my second life.

As I swallowed the fiery liquid, I felt it burn all the way down. I didn’t normally drink alcohol⁠— hadn’t been able to feel its effects⁠ in centuries—but it helped me fit in when among humans. I actually used to enjoy hanging out in places like this sixty or seventy years ago. Back when people had smoked. As I stared into the crowd of tables, I could almost see the wisps of gray tobacco fumes wafting toward the rafters, swirling about the chins of the relaxed patrons of the jazz club like a lover’s caress. I missed those days.

“Mind if I borrow this chair, buddy?” said a ruddy-cheeked man, shuddering as his hopeful eyes met mine. Behind him sat an attractive young brunette with a really gorgeous neck.

I flashed the man a wicked smile, careful to keep the tips of my fangs hidden behind thinned, pale lips. I could have enthralled the man right there but didn’t, releasing him with a subtle nod.

The man blinked several times before returning his attention to the chair, as if suddenly remembering what he’d been doing. Hurriedly, he pulled the chair from my table, dragging it behind him with a loud scraping rasp.

I licked my lips as I watched the arteries in the man’s neck pulse with life-giving crimson. Now wasn’t the time, however. Tonight, I wasn’t here to feed, I was here for a different sort of hunt.

As the band on stage launched into the easy, familiar tones of Take the A Train, my eyes swept across the room yet again, looking for the telltale signs of death-dealing. Blackened fingers. Red-stained scleras. Visible veins. Any would have been a welcome clue.

I saw none of them.

Perhaps my informant had been wrong. Perhaps the necromancer responsible for last night’s raising wasn’t here after all. No one who dabbled in necromancy could hide the signs…

…or could they?

As I considered the question, the door to the club squawked open, and a suit-clad man with a shock of white hair stepped inside. Flanking him to either side were two large, burly men. I instantly recognized both of the man’s bodyguards as vampires.

The man’s hands were gloved, so I couldn’t see his fingertips, but the whites of his eyes were pink and a network of veins rose from beneath the white collar of his shirt, their color dulled by the liberal application of flesh-colored stage makeup.

Bingo.

I rose from my seat, fingers clasping around my amulet to reassure myself that my protection was intact, then circled behind the threesome.

“Excuse me,” I said, tapping Tweedle Big and Tweedle Bigger atop their cannonball-sized shoulders. I watched with amusement as the two hulking vampires whirled with surprising speed, their eyes narrowing as I regarded them nonchalantly. “But I need to speak with your boss for a moment.”

The necromancer was the last to turn, his eyes meeting mine before his brows furrowed in confusion. His gaze descending to find the amulet dangling over my chest, the look of confusion evaporating instantly.

“An Amulet of Anubis, eh? I thought you had the feel of a vampire about you. I’ve just never seen one with one of those.” He pointed at my chest.

“Disappointed?” I asked with a crooked grin.

“Hardly,” said the dark wizard⁠—just before he cast a sidelong glance toward each of his guards, giving them a subtle nod.

By the time I saw the muscles in Tweedle Big’s beefy shoulder twitch, my fist was already well on its way to his throat. It slammed into his larynx with inhuman speed, nearly popping the vampire’s eyes out of their sockets when it landed.

I twisted my body around, catching sight of Tweedle Bigger’s punch as it whistled toward my head. I smirked as I slapped the slow-moving hand aside. These guys were big, but they were far slower and weaker than I was. From their auras, I could tell that they’d only been turned a couple of decades ago. Age was far more important than size in determining the strength of a vampire’s powers.

Before the look of astonishment could properly register in Tweedle Bigger’s eyes, my front kick sent him flying backward, his broad back slamming into the center of a nearby table to initiate a cacophonic cascade of shattering glass and porcelain.

I twisted my head to the other side just in time to see a well-telegraphed punch from Tweedle Big flying toward my cheek. I ducked it, letting it sail over my head. The ham-handed blow swept past in a 180-degree arc, coming close enough to the necromancer’s face to send him staggering backward with a fearful look in his pink eyes before he finally managed to arrest its momentum.

With an audible growl of frustration, the big vampire tried again, this time opting to go low with a kick aimed directly at my knee. With a grin, I leapt upward, letting his foot fly below me as harmlessly as his fist had above me a moment earlier. While still in the air, I chopped downward with both hands, hearing a satisfying crunch as both blows connected with Tweedle Big’s shoulders, disabling both of the young vampire’s bulging arms in a single strike.

Not until I landed lightly on bent knees did my opponent’s yelp of pain fill the room. I grabbed the back of the beefy vampire’s head, swinging it abruptly downward until it met my rapidly rising knee. The strike sent Tweedle Big’s head whipping backward, his body following its bell-curve trajectory shortly thereafter.

As I watched the big vampire land in a crumpled heap on the floor, two meaty hands grabbed my neck from behind. Moving instinctively, I thrust a hip into my attacker, reaching behind until my fingers curled into the cloth of the other vampire’s shirt. I tugged hard, throwing the second vampire over my shoulder with all the strength I could muster. The vampire smashed into the polished hardwood before the startled necromancer, his landing hard enough that it caused the dishes on all the nearby tables to jump.

With a chuckle, I dusted off my hands, regarding the two unmoving heaps of undead muscle with mirthful eyes before returning my gaze to the shocked necromancer. “Now, as I said, I need to have a word with you.”

Usually after exerting myself like that, I feigned breathlessness. But I figured that at this point, after that fight, it would be painfully obvious to everyone present that I was not human. As I stared at the man expectantly, however, the necromancer’s look of surprise quickly gave way to a sly smile. The look sent an icy chill down my spine.

Something was wrong.

Eyes widening in sudden fear, my hands shot to my upper chest, groping about for an amulet that was no longer there. My unbeating heart leapt into my throat as I saw the necklace splayed across the floor, just beyond the fingers of Tweedle Bigger’s unmoving body.

Quicker than thought, I dropped to my knees, reaching desperately for it, hoping that I could get to it before⁠—

Suddenly, I froze, my movement coming to an instant halt as a voice sounded from above. “I think that now would be a good time for that little talk you were so eager for.”

I felt my body respond to the necromancer’s unspoken commands, cursing myself for being so careless as to allow it to have been torn from his neck by a rookie vampire only a few decades old. I rose to my feet, staring directly into the human’s spider-veined eyes, helpless to resist.

Some of the patrons of the club quickly left their seats, heading for the exits behind him, others got back to their meals. The band, which had paused during the fight, resumed its upbeat tune.

The necromancer turned, finding a seat at an empty table. My legs followed behind the suited man, lurching in a spastic gait that was embarrasingly awkward but still somehow managed to get me to the table. I sat directly across from the dark wizard, hands landing with a thump on the table’s polished mahogany surface, as if the puppeteer holding their strings had suddenly let them drop.

“Why did you attack me?” the dark wizard asked.

I felt my stiff jaw relax as the necromancer allowed me control over that one part of my anatomy. “I didn’t attack you. I just said I wanted to talk. It was your weak-ass lackeys that took the first swing.”

The necromancer shot me a warning glance, his eyes filled to the brim with annoyance. “I would suggest against trying my patience, vampire.” He started again. “Why did you approach me?”

Unable to resist poking the bear, I said, “That’s better. See? It’s really not that hard to get the details right, is it? I’m sure when you’re casting your evil spells and all that, you’re a lot more careful about paying attention to those kinds of details. I mean, it would be pretty damn embarrassing to accidentally raise a ghoul to do a zombie’s j⁠ob. All the other necromancers would point and laugh and—”

My tongue halted mid-sentence, the necromancer’s eyelashes trembling with fury. He seemed to be having some sort of internal debate. I began to regret mouthing off. This guy might actually be tempted to off me for my insolence. I knew he could do it with a simple thought. Usually I could get away with that sort of thing with little more than a pained look. Damn millennials. Those thin-skinned, cancel-culture-spewing fuckers take all the fun out of a good bloviation. Not that most of them even know what the word means. Born in a world of abbreviations and emojis, their generation had no idea how to speak proper English.

I tried to roll my eyes, but they remained rigidly locked on my captor’s. Crap.

“Why are you here?!” he hissed, the volume of his voice as low as its intensity was high.

“Well, I thought about crashing game night, but I was worried I might intrude on a rousing game of strip poker or something, and that would have just make me blush. So I thought we could hook up at the jazz club where things were a little more tame. Not that I’m trying to paint all necromancers as lazy, entitled, sex addicts or anything⁠—I know how sensitive you millennials are to sweeping generalizations like that⁠—but I’m just saying—”

I know. I’m nothing if not a real glutton for punishment.

The necromancer lifted his fingers, and I watched my own follow suit. My left hand grabbed a knife from beside the empty plate before me, then slammed it through my right, still at rest on the table.

It hurt. Surprisingly bad. Especially when he made me twist it around a bit. But I couldn’t really show my discomfort, since he had control over the upper half of my face and the rest of my body. The poor guy looked at me expectantly, seeming a little disappointed when I didn’t react.

Take that, asshole. Guess you should have thought of the deleterious effect it would have on your perverse enjoyment of my suffering before putting the whole necromancer-undead-body-control whammy on me, huh?

The sharp pain in my hand turned into a dull throb as I pulled the dripping knife from my flesh. I let out a held breath, deciding that it was probably time to move this thing along. I mean, if someone ever decided to write a story about this little adventure, it might not fit inside of a 3,000-word limit. Besides, no millennial could possibly read more than 3,000 words in a single sitting. They just don’t have the patience.

There was also the fact that my clan had entrusted me to take care of this little matter. No one else had an Anubis amulet, so all necromancer-related duties were automatically kicked my way. If I pissed off this little necromancer to the point where he killed me, my brothers and sisters would be at the mercy of the next uppity millennial necromancer to come along. And Lord knows, they pop up pretty often these days⁠—ever since someone got the bright idea of putting a bunch of scans of ancient texts up on the damn internet.

“My clan had to fight off a little zombie uprising last night, so my clan sent me to investigate its origins. I found the graveyard they’d been raised in, then tracked down a lead to this club. Once I got here, I watched a way-too-young necromancer⁠ waltz in like he owned the place. Didn’t take too much Sherlock Holmesing to put those pieces together.” I thought about the reference, but decided against explaining further. Even millennials knew who Sherlock Holmes was. He starred in a show opposite Lucy Liu’s rather inventive Watson.

The necromancer looked surprised. Apparently, he hadn’t expected me to actually answer his question. Feeling his control wane momentarily as a result, I marshaled my willpower and exploded out of the chair, flipping the table into his face to break his eye contact with my physical form.

I dove for the amulet, my eyes fluttering closed in momentary relief as I felt my fingers curl about its familiar shape. I rose to my feet, enjoying the necromancer’s look of horror as he pushed the table off himself to stare at the item once again in my possession.

I stalked forward, grabbing the human by his neck and lifting him into the air. I squeezed, the resulting crack making me smile as I tossed his body aside. Usually, I drank from humans before killing him. But not necromancers. They always had this acrid aftertaste that grossed me out.

As a chorus of shrieks and the thumping of running feet filled the club, I turned spotting the couple from earlier⁠—the guy who had borrowed a chair and his swan-necked date. Now those two might make a nice little dessert after an altogether-too-eventful evening.

“Y-you killed him!” said the brunette, her wide eyes trembling with emotion. “Why?”

“He was a real piece of shit, lady. A necromancer. Don’t worry about it.” I gave her my bedroom eyes, willing her to fall under my spell. “But if you’d like a little protection on the way home, I’d be happy to provide⁠—”

“Hey!” said the ruddy-cheeked guy, rising to his feet with an angry look on his face. I put the whammy on him too, willing him to sit back down.

Only, he didn’t.

I was so surprised that I didn’t see his date slither out of her seat and pull the amulet from my loosened grasp. I felt my body tense once again, responding to the young man’s will.

“You’ve got to be kidding me! Two millennial necromancers in the same fucking club!” I mumbled before I lost all remaining control over my mouth. The woman made a rain-trickling gesture with her hand, and suddenly the young man’s eyes turned bloodshot, spidery veins flowing all over the surface of his face. His fingers were black as soot.

“Apparently so,” said the second necromancer, nodding toward his girlfriend. “And Lilith here is a witch. Her illusions really help when we go out. Necromancy really doesn’t play nice with the ol’ complexion.” He brushed his fingertips along the side of his tainted cheek.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to roll my eyes again. What kind of guy goes around talking about his complexion. Seriously? By the time this generation was finished, the concept of masculinity would be damaged beyond all repair.

“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation with my friend,” he said, eyes dark. “I’m the one that raised those zombies.”

I forced my lips open, letting a soft hiss of air form the semblance of a word. “Why?”

“Your clan has developed a troublesome reputation. After I downloaded a new spell from Facebook, I decided to test it out on them.”

I threw up a little in my mouth at the verbalization of the F word. I despised Facebook even more than all the rest. It wasn’t even sporting⁠—biting into human prey while they fiddled with their phones, frantically trying to stamp meaningless thumbs-up icons to inane, abbreviated fragments of text.

“With their leader out of the picture. Lilith and I should have little trouble putting an end to the rest tonight.”

I felt my body crumple inward, collapsing in on itself. I gasped as pain turned to numbness, my animated corpse becoming nothing more than any other dead body.

As centuries of undeath finally came to an end, I muttered one final curse at the modern generation and its witless leaders. This was all Zuckerberg’s fault.
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