Creatures of forever, p.1
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       Creatures of Forever, p.1

         Part #6 of The Last Vampire series by Christopher Pike  
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Creatures of Forever
Chapter 1

 

  I am a very powerful vampire. In the recent past several encounters have served to increase my abili?ties. My creator, Yaksha, allowed me to drink his blood before he perished. Yaksha, who originally made me a vampire five thousand years ago, was much stronger than I was. His final transfusion of blood heightened my strength as well as my senses, both my physical senses and supernatural ones. After that my blood was mingled, through the secret of ancient alchemy, with that of the divine child. I am not exactly sure what this child's blood did for me because I am still not sure what this child can do. Yet it did make me feel stronger, definitely more invinci?ble. Finally, before she died, my own daughter Kalika gave me her blood in order to save me. And this last infusion has done amazing things for me. Really, I feel I have become my daughter, the irreproachable Kali avatar, and am capable of anything. The feeling is both reassuring and disturbing. With all this in?crease in power, I have to wonder if I have grown any wiser.

  I am still up to my old tricks.

  Killing for kicks, and for love.

  In a sense, since vampires are considered dead by living beings, I killed my friend, Seymour Dorsten, by making him a vampire. But I only did this to prevent his certain death. I have to wonder if Lord Krishna will forgive me this--the third exception to my vow to him. I question if I am still protected by his divine grace. Actually, I wonder if Krishna has allowed me to become so powerful because he no longer intends to look after me. It would be just like him, to bestow a boon and a curse in the same act. God has a wicked sense of humor. I once met Krishna and still think about him.

  At present I sit in a bar in Santa Monica with Seymour on the stool beside me. We are drinking Cokes and chatting with a young lady, but Seymour is thinking of blood and sex. I know his thoughts because, since drinking my daughter's blood, my mental radar has become incredibly sensitive. Before I could only sense emotions, now I get all the particu?lars. And I know that while Seymour flirts with the young lady, the guy at the end of the bar, with the swan tattoo on his left wrist and the shine on his black wing tips, is thinking of murder.

  I have been watching this guy since I sat down, quietly reading his mind. He has killed twice in the last month and tonight he wants to make it number three. He prefers helpless young females, who silently scream as he slowly strangles them. But even though I try to catch his eye--smiling, winking--I am not successful and that puzzles me. I mean, I am cute and helpless looking, with my long blond hair and clear blue eyes, my tight blue jeans and my expensive black leather coat. But I intend to kill this guy, oh yes, before the night is through. He will die as slowly as his victims, and I will not feel a twinge of guilt.

  "So what do you do when you're not partying?" the girl asks Seymour. She is pretty in a lazy sort of way, with short red hair that has been cut to mimic that of a popular magazine model, and nervous glossy lips that need to be moving, either talking or drinking. She is currently drunk but I do not judge her. Her name is Heidi and I know to Seymour she is the second cutest thing in the world. Since becoming a vampire, he has conquered his virginity and then some. But I haven't slept with him, and I suppose that is why I'm still a goddess in his eyes. Seymour leans close to Heidi and smiles sweetly.

  "I'm a vampire," he says. "Every night is a party to me. "

  Heidi clasps her hands together and laughs heartily. "I love vampires," she says. "Is your sister one as well?"

  "No," I interrupt. "I have a day job. "

  "She works undercover for the LAPD," Seymour continues. "She's really good, too. Last week she caught this thief in the act and blew off the back of his head. "

  Heidi frowns, her lower lips twitching. "Do you carry a gun?" she asks me.

  I sip my Coke. "No. My hands are lethal weapons. " I know Seymour intends to sleep with this girl, and I don't mind. But I don't want him to use his eyes to manipulate her into bed. This is a warning I have repeatedly given him, that his vampiric will cannot be used to dominate human will in order to gain sex. To me, that is just another form of rape, and so far Seymour has obeyed my rule. Also, I have forbidden him to drink from his conquests. He lacks the skill and control to stop feeding before he kills a person. For that reason, when he has to drink blood, he does so with me beside him. But unlike Ray, Seymour is not squeamish about blood. He loves being a vampire so much so that he should have been born one.

  "Do you know karate?" Heidi asks me.

  "She is a walking Kung Fu machine," Seymour gushes.

  I stand and cast Seymour a hard look. "I am going to go talk to this guy at the end of the bar. I'll meet up with you later. OK?"

  Seymour understands that I intend to kill this guy. He is not squeamish about blood, but death still disturbs him. We have never actually killed any of his meals. He pales slightly and lifts his glass.

  "Let me know what you're up to," he says.

  "Good luck," Heidi exclaims as I step past.

  "Thank you," I say.

  The guy at the bar notices my approach and makes room for me. Sliding onto the chair beside him, I bat my long lashes and smile innocently. I am sweet, the type I hope he enjoys.

  "Hello," I say.

  "Good evening," he replies. He is terribly good looking, and young, twenty-two at most, with a Rolex on his wrist to cover his tattoo and a seductive smirk on his adorable face. His hair is longish, brown and curly. "What's your name?" he asks.

  "Alisa," I say, not being too secretive because I know he won't live long enough to repeat it. "You?"

  "Dan. What're you drinking?"

  "Coke. I'm on a diet. "

  He snorts. "What kind of diet is that?"

  I laugh softly. "An all-sugar diet. Do you come here often?"

  He sips his scotch. "No. To tell you the truth, this place bugs me. "

  I'm already tired of making conversation. I just want to kill him and be done with it. Since inheriting Kalika's psychic abilities, I have gone out of my way to kill a few bad apples. Of course, I have no intention of making it my life's work.

  "Do you want to leave?" I ask.

  He acts surprised. "Who are you?" he asks, with an edge to his voice.

  I catch his eyes. I have a very strong stare. Just by looking at metal, I can make it turn to liquid. I pitch my voice so there is no way he can refuse my invitation.

  "Just a girl. You're looking for a girl, aren't you?"

  He finishes his drink and stands. "Let's go," he barks.

  Out on the street, he walks fast toward a car he never seems to find. I have to adopt a brisk pace to keep up with him. People move past us in the dark, the nameless faces of a humanity I have known forever. The summer air is warm.

  "I have a car if you can't find yours," I finally offer.

  He shrugs. "I just thought we'd take a walk first, get to know each other. "

  "Fine. What do you do for a living?"

  "I'm a plumber. What do you do?"

  "I'm an artist. "

  He is amused. "Oh, yeah? Do you paint?"

  "I sculpt. Statues. "

  He gives a wolfish grin. "Nudes?"

  "Sometimes. " It's so nice to get to know each other.

  Yet there's something wrong, more than the obvi?ous. He's not at ease with me, and his discomfort goes beyond his thoughts of wanting to murder me. He fantasizes how my bright blue eyes will dim as my brain dies beneath his grip. Yet I am more than just another victim to him.

  He is afraid of me.

  Someone has told him something about me.

  But who that someone is, I don't know. My concen?tration is divided between Seymour and my situation. Yet I don't know why I should worry about Seymour. Certainly Heidi is not going to harm him. I scanned the girl's mind for a few seconds when I met her and there was nothing in there but thoughts of drink and sex. No, I tell myself, Dan is all that matters. I wonder where he's leading me, who we'll meet on the other end. He makes a sharp left into a dark alleyway. Naturally, to my eyes, everything in the alley is perfectly clear.

  "Where are we going?" I ask.

  "My place," he says.

  "Can you walk to your place from here?"

  "Yeah. " He pauses and studies me out of the corner of his eye. Although he's striving to act cool, his breathing is rapid, his heart pounds. He definitely knows I am more than I seem, more dangerous than a cop with a gun. But he doesn't know I'm a vampire. There are no images in his mind of my drinking his blood. But the farther we walk, the more difficult his thoughts are to penetrate--another mystery. Yet I know he is worried what will happen with me in connection with another, how our meeting will go. This other, I sense, is also dangerous, in the same way he thinks I am.

  The other is close. Waiting.

  Are we going to meet another vampire?

  There should be no other vampires, other than Seymour and myself.

  I smile. "Do you live alone?"

  "Yeah," he says, and his hands brush against his coat pocket. I realize he has a weapon there, and wonder why I didn't spot it before. The gun must be unusually small, I think. But when I sniff with my nose, I detect not even a trace of lead or gunpowder in the air, and I can smell a bullet from a quarter of a mile away. My questions pile one on top of the other, but I am far from ready to walk away from the encounter. There is a puzzle here--I must solve it.

  "I live with my brother," I say.

  "The guy back at the bar?"

  "Yeah. "

  "He doesn't look like your brother. " There is a bite to his remark. For some reason, Seymour is still very much on this guy's mind. Why?

  "We had different fathers," I say, and my own hand brushes against the knife I wear in my belt beneath my black leather coat. Nowadays, I can kill a man at better than a mile with my trusty blade. Even good old Eddie Fender, a psychopath if ever there was one, would be useless against my new and improved reflexes.

  Dan snorts. "I never knew my father. "

  That is one truth in a string of lies.

  There is a warehouse at the end of the block, a shabby affair built to house dirty equipment and sweaty workers. Using a key, he opens the door and we go inside. The warehouse is chock full of shelves of metal gear, the nuts and bolts of larger pieces of machinery. There is a pronounced smell of diesel fuel. The yellow lights, coated in grime, are few and far away. The shadows seem to shift as Dan turns toward me. If he reaches for his weapon, I will put a foot in his heart. Already, I think, I should kill him. Yet I want to know why he has brought me to this place, who the other is. Even though I reach out with my mind, I sense no one else in the building. He studies me in the poor light.

  "Are you really an artist?" he asks. His curiosity is genuine, as is his continuing fear. He wants the other to arrive soon, so he can return to the streets.

  "No," I say, "I lied. "

  My remark unsettles him. He thinks about his weapon--the small something in his coat pocket. He shifts uneasily.

  "What are you then?" he asks.

  "A vampire," I say.

  He smiles, a lopsided affair. "No shit. "

  "Yeah. It's true. " Still staring at him, I begin to move around him. He feels my eyes--I let the fire enter them, sparks of pressure. Sweat appears on his forehead and I continue. "I am a five-thousand-year-old vampire. And you are a murderer. "

  His upper lip twists. "What are you talking about?"

  "You, Dan, your private occupation. Because I'm a vampire, I can read your mind. I know about the two girls you killed, how you strangled them and then ate a big red steak afterward. Killing makes you hungry--that's one of the reasons you do it. That's opposite of me. I kill to satisfy my hunger. " I reach out and finger the sleeve of his shirt. "I'm thinking of killing you. "

  He brushes my hand away. Yet he doesn't go for his gun. Someone has warned him that could be fatal. "You're insane," he says angrily.

  I laugh softly. "You don't mean that, Dan. Someone told you I was different so you're not completely surprised by what I say. I want to know about that someone. If you tell me now, tell me everything you know, I might let you live. " Once more I reach out. This time I touch his left ear, but before he can swat my hand away, I pinch it. Rather hard, I think. He is in pain. "Talk," I say softly.

  "Stop," he pleads, as I force him to bend over.

  "Just a slight tug of my hand," I say, "and your ear will separate from your head. I am very strong. So talk to me, while you still can. Who is to meet me here?"

  "I don't know. " He squeals as I twist his ear. "I don't know!"

  "Tell me what you do know. "

  He gasps for air. "She is just someone I know. She came to me after I killed the first girl. She said I could work for her. She gave me money. Please, you're hurting me. Let me go!"

  I shake him hard. "What is so special about her? Why didn't you just kill her and take her money?"

  Red appears on the left side of his head. His ear is coming loose. He tries to straighten up and I force him back down.

  "Her eyes," he cries. "She has strange eyes. "

  I pause, and then let him go. He is bleeding badly now.

  "What is strange about her eyes?" I ask quietly.

  He holds his hand to his ear, panting. "They're like yours," he says bitterly.

  "Is she a vampire?" I ask.

  He shakes his aching head. "I don't know what she is. " He takes his hand away; it is soaked in blood. "Oh God. "

  I frown. "Does she have exceptional strength?"

  The blood continues to drip from his ear onto his blue shirt. "I don't know. She never hurt me like you just did. "

  "When is she coming here?" I demand.

  "She should be here now. "

  There is a sound off to my right, deeper in the warehouse. As I whirl to confront it, I also reach into Dan's coat pocket and remove his weapon. It is not something I can use to protect myself, not without study. It is a small rectangle of metal, with buttons on the side. Really, it looks like some sci-fi creation to defeat alien monsters.

  Two figures move in the shadows beyond the towers of drawers. One is Heidi, the other Seymour. Heidi has one of these funny little boxes in her right hand, pressed to Seymour's neck. She stands behind him, using him as a shield. She is no longer drunk. When she speaks, her voice resonates with power and au?thority.

  "Throw down the matrix or I will kill your friend," she says. "Do so now. "

  The matrix will take me several minutes to master and is of no use to me right then so I throw it down. Heidi takes a step closer, bringing Seymour with her. It is clear, from her body language, that she is stronger than my vampiric friend. The big question is, am I stronger and quicker than she is? Seymour stands relatively still, knowing the danger is real. Heidi's expression is harder to decipher. There is an empti?ness to it, an almost total lack of humanity. I wonder at the transformation in her, and realize that Seymour and I have been set up. Dan fidgets on my left, anxious to be gone. His left ear continues to bleed freely. He speaks to Heidi.

  "I have done everything you asked," he says.

  She nods. "You may leave. "

  Dan turns toward the door we entered.

  "Wait," I say in a simple yet powerful tone.

  Dan pauses in midstride and glances over at me, sweating, bleeding, shaking. But my attention is on Heidi, or on the creature inside her. Right then she reminds me of James Seter, Ory of ancient Egypt, the Setian that possessed Dr. Seter's adopted son. Yet there is something different about her as well.

  "I don't want Dan to leave," I add softly, planting the idea deep inside Dan's mind, so he has no choice but to stay. But I am not the only one in the room with subtle powers.

  "Leave now," Heidi tells Dan.

  His paralysis breaks. He takes another step toward the door.

  I reach out and grab him, and now Dan is my shield. My fingers are around his neck and I push him toward Heidi and Seymour.

  "Release Seymour or I will kill him," I say.

  In response Heidi levels her matrix in our direction and pushes a button on the side of the black box. There is a flash of red light, and I let go of Dan and dive to the side, behind a tower of drawers. The weird light hits Dan and he is vaporized. Just like that, on a gust of burning air, he vanishes on the tail of a piercing scream.

  Wow, I think. Heidi has a ray gun.

  In a flash, I move through the building, using the equipment and machinery as camouflage. Heidi seems able to follow my movements, but not well. I estimate her powers to be equal to mine before Yaksha, the child, and Kalika restyled my nervous sys?tem. Yet her psychic control must be greater. In the bar she knew who I was, but I knew nothing about her.

  I end up in a dark corner, up high, behind a bunch of boxes. For the moment, Heidi seems to have lost me. But I know if I speak to her, she will find me. Yet I am capable of projecting my voice, making it bounce off inanimate objects. Perhaps I can fool her yet. I do want to talk to her. She continues to keep Seymour close.

  Heidi finally stops searching for me.

  "We do not wish to destroy you," she calls out.

  "Could have fooled me," I reply.

  "We wish to meet with you, make you an offer," she says. "Come out where we can speak. You know this to be true. We could have killed you in the bar if your death was all we wished. "

  "I will come out only after you have explained who you are," I say. "And don't threaten Seymour. He is all you have to bargain with, and I think we both know it. "

  "We are of an ancient tradition," she says. "Our line is mingled with yours, and with that of others. We hold all powers. This world moves toward a period of transition. The harvest must be increased. We are here as caretakers, as well as masters. If you join us in our efforts, your reward will be great. "

  "Could you be a little more specific?" I say.

  "No. You agree to join us or not. The choice is simple. "

  "And if I refuse?"

  "You will be destroyed. You are fast and strong, but you cannot survive against our weapons. "

  "But I must have something you don't have," I say. "Or else you would not be interested in my assistance. What is this thing?"

  "That is not to be discussed at this time. "

  "But I want to discuss it. "

  Seymour cries out in pain.

  "This one is dear to you," Heidi says. "And you are wrong. We have more to bargain with than his physi?cal shell. At the moment I am twisting off his arm. If you do not come out of hiding, he will be destroyed. "

  I hear no bluff in her voice.

  "Very well," I say. "But if I show myself, you must give me your word that neither Seymour or myself will be destroyed. "

  "I give you my word," she says flatly.

  I wish I still had the matrix with me, even if I don't know how to use it. But it is still in her sight lines: I cannot get to it. All I have is my knife. Just before I step into the light, I position it on a shelf near the circular area where Heidi holds Seymour captive. I point the tip of the blade toward them, then I appear around a tower of shelves. Heidi is not surprised. She continues to press the matrix into Seymour's neck.

  "Release him now," I say.

  "Not yet," she says. "Not until you join us. "

  "Don't be foolish," I say. "I cannot join a group I know nothing about. Where are your people from?"

  "Here, and elsewhere. "

  "Are you from another world?"

  "Yes and no. "

  "Are you human?"

  "Partly. "

  "How many are in your group?"

  "The number cannot be measured by human or vampire standards. "

  "So you know I am a vampire. Who told you?"

  "You did. "

  "No. When?"

  "Long ago. " Heidi shakes Seymour and I hear the bones in his spine crack. "Enough of these questions. You join us now or you will be destroyed. "

  "What do I have to do to join you?" I ask.

  "You must swear an oath, and offer us a large portion of your blood. "

  "What do I get in return?"

  "I have told you. Power. "

  "Power to do what?"

  She sharpens her tone. "Enough! What is your decision?"

  Since she has a weapon at my friend's throat, I feel I have no choice. "I will join you," I say. "On the condition you release Seymour. "

  "Agreed. " She pushes Seymour forward so that he stands midway between us.

  "Seymour," I say quickly. "Leave this place. "

  He has been hurt and frightened, but he is no coward.

  "Will you be all right?" he asks. He does not want to leave.

  "Yes," I say firmly. "You cannot help me by re?maining. Leave. "

  He turns toward the door.

  "No," Heidi says. Seymour stops--there is strength in her tone. "He is not to leave. He is to be your sacrifice. "

  "We have an agreement," I say bitterly. "He is to be let go. "

  "No," Heidi repeats, and there is cold evil in her voice. "I agreed only to release him. I have done so. But to join us you must sacrifice him. It is part of your initiation. "

  My tone is scornful. "Is this the way of your people? You splice words so thinly they become lies. "

  Heidi points the matrix at Seymour's back. "Your choice remains the same. You have five seconds to make it. "

  I imagine she is good at keeping time. Seymour's face is ashen. He believes, either way, that he is a goner. But I have not lived five thousand years to be so easily tricked. Clearly this creature knows a great deal about me, but not everything. Since the recent infu?sion of Kalika's blood into my system, I have the ability to move things with my mind, as well as read minds. I have no doubt my daughter could effortlessly affect objects from immense distances. This psychoki?nesis, however, requires great concentration on my part and I have never used it under adverse condi?tions. Up at Lake Tahoe, where my friend Paula lives with the divine child, I have only practiced pushing rocks and sticks from place to place.

  But now I must move a knife.

  Push it through Heidi's throat.

  The blade is above and behind her. I can see it; she cannot. Yet I am afraid to focus completely on it, afraid Heidi will guess what I am up to. Instead I must continue to stare at Heidi, while I think of the knife, only of the knife. Rising up on its own, flying through the air, digging deep into her soft flesh, slicing open her veins, ripping to pieces her nerves. Yes, I tell myself, the knife will fly. It can fly. The very magnetism of my mind commands it to do so now. At this very moment.

  "You have two seconds," Heidi says.

  "You have only one," I whisper as I feel my thoughts snatch hold of the cold alloy, a special blend of metals, far more powerful than steel, an edge far sharper than that of a razor. For me, it is almost as if I hold the blade in my fingers. There is pleasure for me in this killing. But for her, there is only surprise.

  The blade swishes through the air.

  Heidi hears it, turns, but too late.

  The knife sinks into the side of her neck and suddenly her blood is pouring onto the dirty floor. Yet I do not take this to mean my victory is complete. Heidi's will is strong; she will not die easily. Even as her left hand rises up to remove the blade, her right hand brings up the matrix and aims it at both Seymour and me. We are standing in a straight line in front of her. I anticipate this move, and already am flying toward my friend. I hit him in the knees just as a flash of red light stabs the air where he was stand?ing. Together Seymour and I roll on the floor. But I am quickly up and kick the matrix from Heidi's hand before she can get off another shot. My knife in her neck has slowed her down some, but she almost has it out, and perhaps she is capable of healing even fatal wounds, as I can. But I will not give her the chance. Before she can totally remove the knife, I reach out and grab her head and twist it all the way around, breaking every bone in her neck. She sags lifeless in my arms, dead, but still I am not finished with her. Ripping off her head, I throw it into the far corner. Now there is no way she can recover.

  "Nice," Seymour says behind me.

  "Get those two weapons," I say as I drop to my knees and examine Heidi's headless corpse. "We are leaving here in a few seconds. Her partners must be nearby. "

  "Understood. "

  While Seymour goes off to collect the two ray guns, I rifle through Heidi's clothes, coming up with a wallet and a passport. These I will study later. Feeling her from neck to foot, I find nothing else on her person. Seymour is quick on his feet. Already he stands behind me with the matrixes in his hand.

  "Who was she?" he asks.

  "I haven't the slightest idea. " I stand. "Let's get out of here. "
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