Excerpt from Vampyre 2000: Life to the Lifeless
The cocktail was placed on a bar napkin in front him promptly, the bills were removed from the stack and the bartender went on about his business. The gentleman sitting next to Cornelius suddenly went into a loud discussion about something that occurred in the game on TV, he couldn't help but overhear.
"Oh, that's bullshit, they're going to review!" one man said angrily.
"What's wrong with that? I wanna see the call made right." said his friend.
"That's crap Andy, you saw the play, they're gonna take all day to tell us what we already know."
"I don't know it, they don't know it, if they're gonna have replay, then I want it to work." The game cut away for a commercial break, Cornelius was out for some conversation tonight and he saw this as a chance.
"Pardon me, I don't mean to intrude, but what is this `review' you speak of?" Cornelius asked to one of the men.
"What are you, serious? You don't know what a review is? You're not a sports fan are you?"
"Although I do enjoy them, my line of work prevents me from viewing a lot of television."
"You look like a normal guy, you aint one of them are ya?" replied the man. Cornelius understood exactly what he was insinuating and he didn't appreciate it, but he wasn't here tonight to show this stranger just what kind of a man he was. He looked him dead in the eye and furled his brow.
"Hey, look, it was just a joke, I'm sorry. You don't know me, I don't know you, I shouldn't be saying stuff like that. Listen, a few years ago, they came up with this new rule that the referees can look at the video of the last play when they're not sure what call to make. They'll look at it over and over, from this angle and that angle to try to get the call right."
"Let me see if I understand you. A play or a score is made during the game. The result of the play is unknown until the judges watch a recording of it. After which a determination is made. Wouldn't that directly affect the outcome of the game?"
"That's right" said the other sports fan "and there's a lot ridin' on these games."
"So what do you think about it?" It all seemed so very ridiculous to Cornelius, his answer to the man was this:
"When machines invent sport and it is played by machines for the entertainment of machines, let them have this `review', but man invented sport. It is played by man, for the entertainment of man. Therefore, let a man officiate it."
" I like your style buddy, you're all right!" He said as he patted Cornelius on the back. He gestured to the bartender and said "Let me get this man's next one." He turned back to his friend and returned to watching the game. Cornelius was surprised by the stranger's generosity, he felt like he had said something right and it felt good. He returned his attention to the people and the activity of the bar. Several people had come in since his arrival and it was becoming more crowded. He thought to check his watch, as it was getting later, 9:05pm. If he didn't feed tonight, Cornelius knew that he would have to on some night soon, but tonight was to be a night of discovery, nothing more. So he decided not to make it a late night and close the bar, he simply had to be on the last train out of the city around 12:20am. Just then he felt some pressure on his back, it was a woman trying to get the attention of the bartender through the mass of people surrounding the bar. She waved her hand in the air, he didn't notice her, she waved her hand again, still nothing.
"Sir, excuse me, sir?" said Cornelius in a frequency he knew the bartender would hear. He nodded at Cornelius, dried his hands on a towel and made his way to that end of the bar.
"Yes sir, whadda ya need?"
" I believe this young woman here is trying to get your attention."
"I'll take a Greyhound, please" she said to the bartender. He acknowledged her and started to prepare it. Waiting patiently for her drink, the woman stood there and remained next to Cornelius, she decided to be the one to break the ice.
" Hey, thanks for that." she said to Cornelius. "This place is a madhouse tonight, usually it's pretty mellow in here."
"I'm finding all the activity rather refreshing actually."
"Oh, I take it you don't get out much?"
"Not like I once did."
"You know, I come here a lot and I don't think I've seen you around, is this your first time here?" Cornelius now turned completely around to face her, upon seeing her face, he had a sudden revelation. He had seen this woman before, she obviously didn't remember their brief encounter. On a night, some weeks ago, this woman nervously walked past him near a street corner not far from here, he could feel her anxiety as she went by. Quickly and awkwardly she glanced at Cornelius, he could hear her heartbeat pounding wildly as she crossed in front of him. It made him hunger. Now she was there directly in front of him, just inches away and he was quite taken by her and her amazing beauty. She was a tall woman with long dark brown hair. Her brown eyes accentuated a very elegant face that sat atop her long and athletic hourglass body. To Cornelius, she was the embodiment of a goddess on earth. He thought to himself what an incredible creature she was and now he wanted her company.
“Hell, man it aint like nobody’s comin’ in here. Shit, I’d be lucky if anyone comes in here all night.” Having said that, he went into the storeroom in the back, put the mop bucket into the floor sink and turned the hot water faucet on. When it was full, he turned the water off and wheeled it out to the front. Bruce stood there with one hand on his waist and one hand on the mop handle, which was standing straight out of the bucket into the air. He wasn’t at all excited about doing this again and he wasn’t looking forward to it. Just as he very reluctantly began to mop he heard a cowbell alerting him that the front door was open.
A solitary figure stood in the open doorway and stared into the store, all that could be seen was the silhouette. He was tall, wearing light colored cotton slacks, a light jacket and an old torn oxford shirt underneath. Standing there barefoot, the man was covered in dirt, even his hair. Beneath his dirty face his squinting eyes peered to the left and then to the right. Mr. Phillips was walking to the front of the store, the man spotted him and slowly stepped inside and let the door close behind him.
“Hey partner, am I glad to see you, it gets pretty lonely ‘round here! Now what can I do ya for?” The man stepped out of the shadow and into the light.
“Jesus, buddy! You all right? You look like you could use some help.” The appearance of this man more than startled Bruce, who was now standing behind the cash register at the checkout counter. The stranger had no reply as he moved slowly toward the cash register.
“Look buddy, if you’re lookin’ for trouble I think you picked the wrong place, you best be turnin’ around and gettin’ ya ass outta here.” Again, there was no reply from the vampire, he stood there and glared at Bruce confidently, like a wolf looking at a rabbit. He slowly opened his mouth and was able to find his voice, albeit a very scratchy one.
“Today’s date, what is it?”
“What? What year? Buddy are you serious, you some kinda escaped lunatic or somethin’?” The man asked again, only this time angrily and in a louder voice.
“Tell me what year it is!” Bruce pointed to the calendar that was on the wall behind the counter. It was a typical calendar from an auto parts dealer, complete with the girl of the month.
“What are you blind and retarded? Look, I already told you I don’t need any trouble. Now, if there’s nothin’ I can do for you, you best be takin’ your filthy ass self on down the road.” Bruce had slowly moved his left hand under the counter, it came to rest on top of a revolver. His comments angered the vampire causing him to perk up his head and again, squint at Bruce.
“How dare he speak to me like that, this poor bastard has no idea who he’s messin’ with, well, it’s high time he learned.” thought the vampire.
He took a step back and began looking at Mr. Phillips, inspecting him, and sizing him up. With his dirty hands out in front of him, he inspected himself and took a quick mental inventory. He stepped forward to the counter, looked into Bruce’s eyes and said,
“You’re right. There is something you can do for me.”
“What?” said Bruce defiantly.
“Die.” Within the blink of an eye, he stretched over the counter and clutched both of Bruce’s shoulders with two hands. Bruce, a man who was no stranger to a good fight, reacted instantly with a right uppercut. It connected squarely under the chin of the vampire and drove him back. The force knocked him backwards and into a rack full of snack cakes. It collapsed under him as the vampire lost his footing and went sprawling on his back onto the floor. Bruce wasn’t about to be cornered like a rat behind the counter and with a single leap, he went on top of the counter and jumped down to the other side. He grabbed the gun with both hands, aimed it at the man on the floor and said,
“I swear to god, you son of a bitch, if you don’t get the fuck outta my store right now, I will kill you!” The vampire was stunned that an ordinary man had done this to him. As he lied there on the floor, it suddenly became apparent to him just how weak he was. That feeling of weakness was one he would not accept and reminded him of why he had stumbled into this gas station in the first place. He leaned forward and slowly climbed to his feet. He let out a chilling growl, bared his teeth and extended his fangs.
“I should rip you limb from limb!” yelled the vampire.
“I’m warnin’ you for the last time man, I aint afraid to pull this trigger!”
“Good, cuz that’s what you’re gonna have to do.” he said as he rushed the store clerk. BLAM! BLAM! Bruce put two shots into the vampire’s chest! They stopped him in his tracks, but only momentarily. He looked down at his bloodless wounds, flared his teeth and advanced again. Bruce was now terrified. Two shots at close range to the chest didn’t phase this man.
“Puttin’ two bullets into me? I’m gonna show you, mister, just how much I like gettin’ shot.”
“Jesus Christ, man, what are you?”
“I am the one who’s gonna make you see your maker, I hope you said your prayers boy.” With a lightning fast slap, he knocked the gun from Bruce’s hand and it flew across the store. When it struck the floor, the hammer fell and it discharged with a loud bang. Bruce jumped and recoiled in fear as he realized that this was the end of his life. He was babbling and almost in tears.
“This aint real, what the hell are you? This aint real, this cant be happenin’, you cant be real…” The vampire put his hands on either side of the clerks head, he pulled him forward and squinted into his eyes one last time.
“You still happy to see me?” Instantly, he jerked him forward and slammed his head into the middle of Bruce’s forehead, head-butting him. He removed his hands from the clerk’s head and his limp body crumpled to the floor. The vampire leaned over, placed a hand on Bruce’s neck and felt for a pulse. He was unconscious, but still alive.
"Yes, I'm the manager." As he put his hand down to his side.
"And were you the manager last Thursday night?"
Yes I was, I had a feeling this had something to do with that night. I've already filed a police report, so what else can I do for you?"
"I'm looking for a woman who was here that night."
"That could be a lot of people, you got a name?"
"No sir, I don't, but I know what she looks like. She was young, maybe in her early thirties, long dark hair with a real pretty face."
"I, uh..." Chuck shrugged his shoulders, "Gee, I don't know. Listen, I'd love to help ya, but unless you got anything else to go on. What does this have to do with what happened Thursday night?"
"I'm looking for the man she was with, he's wanted in connection to a murder."
"And this guy was here?" asked Chuck. His eyes were wide open.
"I believe so."
"And he's wanted for murder? What'd he look like?"
"Wait a minute. You said you filed a police report. About what?"
"You mean, you don't know? You're not here for that?"
"Sir, about what"? demanded Gregory. Chuck motioned for Gregory to follow, he turned around and went back down the hallway to where he had just been. He stood in front of the women's room and looking at the officer, pushed and held open the door. There on the wall that was opposite the door was a large gaping hole. It was temporarily covered with clear plastic and tape that was sealing it in.
"See that hole? There used to be a window there, someone knocked it out last Thursday night, the other officer said it was done from the inside." Gregory approached the wall and took a closer look. The exterior wall was constructed out of concrete block and he could see, through the plastic, that the entire frame and part of the wall was missing.
"So you think your man had something to do with this"? said the manager.
"Now, I'm sure of it."