Vlad the vampire seeks a snack in Manhattan but bites off more than he can chew.
|Vlad sighed and scanned the usual selection of cougars and peacocks propping up the faux mahogany counter inside the crowded singles bar. After five hundred years subsisting on such an unvaried diet, life had grown monotonous. It just wasn't fun anymore now the women wanted to be seduced and actually grew excited when he ripped into their jugulars. At least, they did until the moment when their heartbeat dropped below critical and the light faded from their eyes. Who could have imagined one day he'd actually miss those prim ladies with their noses in the air who fought for their virtue every step along the way? In the old days, hunting was a challenge often enhanced by exhilarating sprints through the woods chased by an angry mob wielding pitchforks and blazing torches. These days in Manhattan, he was more worried about crazed stalkers who sought out vampires in the hope of being turned.
Careful not to move too quickly and alert the wary to his supernatural skills, he navigated around the occupied tables, ignoring the inane chatter of the already matched couples and the latest Kesha hit that blared from the loudspeakers to assault his eardrums. As he neared the bar, the unattached barflies all turned his way in perfect synchronization. They could win Olympic gold for such choreography. The cougars wore skimpy summer dresses, and the peacocks smart yet casual designer jackets. All in the latest and most expensive styles, of course, this close to 5th Avenue. He dismissed the peacocks from his mind. In an attempt to inject a bit of spice into his existence, Vlad had tried feeding from men two centuries ago. They inevitably tasted worse than women and soiled themselves when he revealed his fangs. He could stand the bitter taste but not that godawful stench.
A quick survey of the five cougars informed him four were successfully promiscuous—not only did they look great for their ages—the consequence of a subtle blend of Pilates and plastic surgery—but they also had that confident spark in their eyes. He hated the acrid taste of chlamydia so immediately shifted his attention to the less certain woman and glided toward her using his proprietary sinuous steps that sent shivers along the forearms of every observer. Up close, he saw why she lacked confidence. With more chins than Jabba the Hutt and a hairy wart on her chin, it was a wonder she dare set foot in this room of wannabe runway models.
He beamed at her, and his super sensitive ears picked up the minute skip in her heartbeat followed by an accelerated pulse. Oh, why was it always so easy? He smoothed back his jet black hair and wondered if he might be able to persuade her to step into the restroom for a quickie. Taking in her “go large” size, once he got this boring feed over with, he'd be good for the whole night. He'd be able to do a little reading, or maybe enjoy a good movie DVD. It was six months since he last watched Twilight, and Vladimir did love a good comedy.
“How you doin'?” he asked in his usual southern drawl and dropped silently onto the leather padded stool beside her. After that Irish spoilsport Stoker rumbled his game a hundred years ago, Vlad had spent torturous, hungry decades erasing his East European accent and now never used his real name.
She whimpered. The familiar smell of Channel No. 5 put him somewhat at ease, taking him back to happier times in Paris between the wars.
“Tex is ma name and lovin's ma game.”
The cougar's cheeks flushed bright red, and Vlad's stomach rumbled. “I-I-I'm Almira.”
He stifled a chuckle. Over the half-millennium, he'd picked up many languages, including Arabic. This woman's parents must have had quite an imagination naming her Princess. With that carrot-colored hair and freckled complexion, she was no more an Arab than he was alive. And why would a redhead ever wear a bright red dress? Hadn't her mother given her any fashion advice as a child. At the very least her friends should have told her it was a faux pas. But maybe she had no friends.
He reached across and stroked the back of her hand, saliva pooling in his mouth as the heat from her surface capillaries radiated out to caress his cold, undead flesh. “Well, Almira, how'd you like to slip away somewhere real quiet, y'hear me?”
She snatched back her hand and frowned. “What kind of girl do you think I am?”
He blinked. “Pardon.”
She shuffled her stool an inch further away and glared. “I'm not some toy here for your amusement.” She gestured to the stool to her left occupied by a lady with a body like Jessica Rabbit. “My friend Mary might be more to your taste.”
Mary didn't appear offended and actually fluttered her eyelashes at Vlad. He suspected she wouldn't be more to his taste at all. Even from here, his super-sensitive olfactory senses informed him he'd get more hemoglobin from a Bloody Mary than from this Mary's alcohol-filled veins.
He sat up straight and squared his shoulders. Clearly, he'd become over confident, relying upon his stunning good looks combined with her obvious desperation to seal this deal. For the first time in a decade, he'd have to use his awesome hypnotic powers to subdue his prey. He smiled and fixed her with his steel blue gaze.
Almira scowled. “Stop that right now.” She waggled a chunky finger in his face. “I know exactly what your game is!”
“You do?” He swallowed and glanced around. Was she one of those Van Helsings who mercilessly murdered vampires while they slept? Maybe a burly henchman skulked nearby with crossbow and ax. Contrary to popular belief, vampires were only slightly stronger than the strongest humans, not completely unbeatable in a fight.
She poked his chest. “You're one of those pranksters who post videos on YouTube.” She waved her arms around. “Somewhere there's an accomplice filming this, then your million online fans will be laughing at me from now until forever.”
He relaxed his shoulders and smiled. She'd just misinterpreted the situation. He'd easily talk his way out of this. “I am no practical joker, ma'am. You're an attractive woman, and—”
She stood and smoothed down her dress. “I may be ugly and fat, but I'm not an idiot. Some guy who looks like Mel Gibson's younger, better-looking brother doesn't walk into a random bar to pick up a girl like me.”
“I wouldn't say…”
Her eyes narrowed. “Stop treating me like an imbecile. I'm no Julia Roberts.” She loomed over him, still seated. “Hell, I'm not even Ugly Betty!” She spun and strutted away, headed for the exit.
Vlad's mouth opened and closed like a fish's, an unfamiliar sensation emerging within his consciousness. Was that disappointment? He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so deflated.
Mary slunk over to occupy the recently vacated stool. The sickly sweet candy store perfume she wore failed to hide the ethanol seeping out of her glistening pores. If he drank her blood, he'd have to go on to drain at least two others skinny whores her size, and likely he'd wake with a banging hangover tomorrow at dusk.
“Hey, shame about Almira.” She smirked and placed her hand suggestively upon his knee. “Maybe I can make it up to you”—she winked—“I know tricks with a tennis ball Serena Williams never dreamed of.”
Vlad stood, backed away a little and slapped a hundred dollar bill on the bar. “Have a drink or five on me, y'hear.”
He marched out of the bar. Outside, latent summer heat rendered the night air unpleasant in this city of stench. Garbage day tomorrow, so black sacks formed stacks beside many of the restaurants closed for the night. The two Neanderthals in tuxedos beside the door eyed him speculatively, but more with the look of men looking for a date than security professionals watching out for potential perpetrators. Obviously, their narrow minds probably couldn't entertain the possibility that a hunk like Vlad might be stalking a woman like Almira, though that was exactly what he had in mind. For decades, his pray had succumbed willingly to his approaches. For the first time in over a century, he'd been spurned. He licked his parched lips and smirked.
With the tantalizing scent of Channel No. 5 to follow, she was easy to track through the urban jungle and onto 6th Avenue headed north. Ignoring the crosswalk, she'd jaywalked across West 59th Street into Central Park near the pond. The distant chattering of chimpanzees and the roar of a lonely tiger echoed across the greenery. Perfect!
Quicker than humanly possible, he sprinted along the path until she came into view. She dominated his every sense. His supernatural night vision revealed every crease in her badly pressed dress. Each hairy wart stood out like a mountain against her thick neck. Under that floral perfume, he detected the slightly sour stench of sweat from a hard day in the office. Her healthy heartbeat pounded in his ears. When she caught sight of him in the gloom, her sharp intake of breath resounded in his head like thunder.
Her leg flew up, and the ball of her foot landed squarely in his gut, forcing the air from his lungs. If he'd needed breath to live, he'd be on the ground by now. He grabbed her hair. She punched his face, his chest, his stomach, then kicked him in the groin. So fast! So strong. She might look like a hippo, but she moved like Sarah Michelle Gellar in his favorite late-nineties sitcom. Impressive!
Vlad gripped her shoulder with his left hand, and effortlessly forced back her head with his right. He sank his fangs into the deliciously soft skin covering her jugular. Warm, tangy O2 positive pumped into his mouth. He savored the taste, sweeter than any other blood he'd had this century, easing off his bite to delay her inevitable death and prolong his ecstasy.
With her free hands, she pounded his arms and chest, struggling to escape. The pounding became a tap until, at last, her hands fell away limp and useless, and her body slumped in his arms. Reluctantly, he released her corpse, which collapsed to the ground. This courageous woman had been the bravest and most skilled warrior he'd fought since he died—so strong, so quick, so fierce. He was in awe.
Whistling, Vlad skipped through the moonlit graveyard clutching a single, red rose. He checked the fresh graves, one by one. There. He read aloud, “Almira Jefferson, beloved daughter of John and Sandra Jefferson. Taken too soon from this world.”
He leaned down, flung away a large wreath of wilting flowers and placed his red rose in the center of the freshly turned earth, then stood back.
A hand burst through and grasped the rose, crushing it in a tight fist. A chubby arm followed, then a carrot-topped but grimy scalp. He crouched and helped Almira clamber out from her grave.
As soon as she'd brushed the dirt from her smart, formal dress, she examined him as if she were the frog and he the admiring bog. “What did you do to me?”
“I have transformed you into a goddess. You are now immortal, my sweetheart. You shall reign beside me as my vampire princess for eternity.”
She slapped him. Hard. Now that she was as strong as he, it actually hurt. He rubbed the sore spot, reveling in this strange, new sensation of pain.
“How dare you,” she screamed, and poked his chest. Hard. “You presumptuous prig.” Her eyes narrowed. “And what happened to your Texan accent?”
He laughed. For the first time since it stopped beating five centuries ago, a warm glow spread out from his heart.
“Why would I need to present a false face to you, my darling? I've waited half-a-millennium for a girl like you.”
She put her hands on her hips and glared. “So you turned me because you were lonely?”
“You bastard!” She shook a fist at him. “You're selfish, just like all men. Didn't it occur to you I might not want to be turned, that maybe I was happy as a human?”
Her eyes narrowed, and she stepped closer, her chin jutting upward. “If you think you'll ever mean anything to me, you're sadly mistaken, mister.”
Vlad grinned. He believed she meant every single word. It could take decades, if not centuries, to subdue such a strong woman, and she might never love him. He took a deep breath he didn't require and inhaled the musty scent of her recently departed corpse. Ah, so sweet and fragrant. At long last, he'd met the ideal woman who might hate him for an eternity..
WORD COUNT: 2150
"Fantasy Newsletter (May 1, 2019)"