The last vampire, p.6
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       The Last Vampire, p.6

          part  #1 of  The Last Vampire Series  by  Christopher Pike / Young Adult / Horror
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Chapter 6

The pier is a half hour from my house, in the town of Water Cove, twenty miles south of Mayfair. I arm myself before I leave the house: a snub-nosed forty-five in the pocket of my black leather coat; another smaller pistol in my right boot; a razor-sharp knife strapped inside my left boot. I am handy with a knife; I can hit a moving target a hundred yards away with a flick of my wrist. I do not believe Slim will come alone, knowing how dangerous I am. Yet he will have to bring a small army to contend with me.

I leave immediately. I want to arrive before Slim does. And I do. The pier is deserted as I cruise by in my black Ferrari. I park two blocks down from the pier and climb out. My hearing is alert. I can hear the bolt of a rifle being pulled back from over a mile away. Slim would have to come at least that close to try to assassinate me outright, and that is a possibility I consider. But all is calm, all is quiet. I walk briskly toward the end of the pier. I have chosen the meeting place for two reasons. Slim will only be able to approach me from one direction. Also, if he does arrive with overwhelming odds, then I should be able to escape by diving into the water. I can swim out a mile along the bottom of the ocean before having to surface. My confidence is high. And why shouldn't it be? In five thousand years I have never met my match.

Almost to the hour of our agreement to meet, a long white limousine pulls up to the entrance to the pier. A man and a woman climb out of the back. The man wears a black leather coat, a dark tie, a white shirt, smart black trousers. He is approximately forty-five and has the look of a hardened Navy Seal or CIA agent: the short crew cut, the bulging muscles, the quick shifting eyes. I see that his eyes are green even from two hundred yards away. His face is tan, deeply lined from the sun. There is at least one gun in his coat, possibly two.

The woman is ten years younger, an attractive brunette. She is dressed entirely in black. Her coat is bulky, as are her hidden guns. She has at least one fully automatic weapon on her. Her skin is creamy white, the line of her mouth set and hard. Her legs are long, her muscles toned. She may be an expert in karate or some such discipline. Her mind is easy to

read. She has a nasty job to do and she is going to do it right. Her promised reward is great.

Yet it is clear the man is the leader. His smile is straight and thin lipped, more chilling than the girl's frown. This is Slim, I know.

Four blocks down the street I can hear another limousine parked, its engine idling. I cannot see the second car--it is hidden behind a building--but I am able to match the sound of the engines. The cars could hold maybe ten people each, I estimate. In all the odds might be twenty to one against me.

The man and the woman walk toward me without speaking. I consider escaping over the side of the pier. But I hesitate because I am a predator first and foremost; I hate to run. Also, my curiosity is high. Who are these characters and what do they want with me? Yet if they reach for their weapons, I will jump. I will be gone in the flick of an eye. It is clear to me that neither of these approaching creatures is anything but mortal.

The woman stops walking thirty yards from me. The man approaches to within ten yards but comes no closer. They do not reach for their weapons but they keep their hands ready. Down the street I hear three people get out of the second limousine. They spread out in three different directions. They carry weapons: I hear the metal brush their clothes. They take up positions--I am finally able to see them out of the corner of my eye--one behind a car; another next to a tree; the last crouched behind a sign. Simultaneously three people inside the limousine at the pier level high-powered rifles at me.

My hesitation has cost me already.

I stand in the sights of six sets of cross hairs.

My fear is still manageable. I figure I can take a bullet or two and still escape over the side. As long as they don't get me directly in the head or heart. Still, I do not want to run. I want to talk to Slim. He is the first to speak.

"You must be Alisa. "

I nod. "Slim?"

"In the flesh. "

"You agreed to come alone. "

"I wanted to come alone. But my associates didn't think it would be wise. "

"Your associates are all about. Why so many soldiers for one girl?"

"Your reputation precedes you, Alisa. "

"What reputation is that?"

He shrugs. "That you are a resourceful young woman. "

Interesting, I think. He is almost embarrassed by the precautions that have been taken to abduct me. He has been told to take them--ordered. He doesn't know that I am a vampire, and if he doesn't know, then probably no one with him knows since he is clearly in command of the operation. That gives me a huge advantage. But the person above him knows. I must meet this person, I decide.

"What do you want?" I ask.

"Just that you come with us for a little ride. "

"To where?"

"To a place not far from here," he says.

That is a lie. We will drive a long distance if I get in his limousine. "Who sent you?"

"You will meet him if you come with me. "

Him. "What is his name?"

"I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to discuss that at this time. "

"What if I don't want to come?" I ask.

Slim sighs. "That would not be good. In fact, it would be very bad. "

They will shoot me if I resist, without question. It is good to know.

"Did you know Detective Michael Riley?" I ask.

"Yes. I worked with him. I assume you met him?"

"Yes. "

"How is he?"

I smile, my eyes cold. "I don't know. "

"I'm sure you don't. " He gestures with his hand. "Please come with us. A police car might be along at any moment. I'm sure neither of us wants to complicate matters. "

"If I do come with you, do I have your word I will not be harmed?" I ask.

He keeps his face straight. "You have my word, Alisa. "

Another lie. This man is a killer. I can smell the blood on him. I shift slightly on my feet. The rifles aimed at me all have telescopic sights. They move as I

move. I estimate at least one of the shooters will hit me before I can get over the pier rail. I don't like being shot, although I have a few times. I have no choice but to go along, I decide, for the moment.

"Very well, Mr. Slim," I say. "I will come with you. "

We walk toward the limousine, Slim on my right, the woman on my left. As we are almost at the entrance to the pier, the limousine down the street suddenly appears. Without picking up the men it deposited, it drives until it is parked behind the first limousine. Four men jump out. Their clothes are all similar--black sweatsuits. They point automatic weapons at me. My fear escalates. Their precautions are extraordinary. If they decide to open fire now, I will die. I think of Krishna, I don't know why. But he did tell me I would have his grace if I listened to him. And in my own way I have not disobeyed him. Slim turns in my direction.

"Alisa," he says. "I would like it if you would slowly reach in your coat and remove your gun and toss it on the ground. "

I do as he asks.

"Thank you," Slim says. "Do you have any other weapons on you?"

"You will have to search me to find out. "

"I prefer not to search you. I'm asking you if you have any other weapons, and that you surrender them now. "

These are dangerous people, highly trained. I have to go on the offensive, I think, quickly. I stare at Slim, my eyes boring into him. He tries to glance away but is unable to. I speak softly, knowing he hears my words as if they were whispered between his ears.

"You do not have to be afraid of me, Mr. Slim," I say. "It does not matter what you have been told. Your fear is unnecessary. I am nothing more than I appear. "

I am planting a suggestion deep in his psyche, pushing buttons he already feels. But the woman takes a sudden step forward. She speaks. "Don't listen to her. Remember. "

Slim shakes his head as if trying to clear it He gestures to the woman. "Search her," he orders.

I stand perfectly still while the woman works her way down into my boots and discovers my remaining pistol and knife. I consider grabbing her and holding her as a hostage. But a study of the eyes of the men assembled tells me that they will kill her to get to me, and lose no sleep over the act. The woman disarms me and jumps back from me as if afraid she will catch something from me. All of them, without exception, are confused about why I have to be treated with such caution. Yet all of them are determined to follow orders. Slim removes two pairs of handcuffs from inside his coat. They are gold colored, and don't smell like steel--probably some special alloy. They are three times thicker than normal cuffs. Slim tosses them toward me and they land at my feet.

"Alisa," he says patiently. "I would like you to put one pair of these around your wrists, the other pair around your ankles. "

"Why?" Now I want to stall for time. Maybe a police officer will come by. Of course, these people would just kill the officer.

"We have a long drive ahead of us, and we want you safely tucked away before we allow you in our car," Slim says.

"You said we didn't have far to go?"

"Put on the cuffs. "

"All right. " I put them on, marveling once more at their preparation.

"Press them together so that they lock," Slim suggests.

I do so. They click. "Happy?" I ask. "Can we go?"

Slim removes a black eye mask from his pocket, similar to the kind people wear to bed. He steps toward me. "I want you to put this on," he says.

I hold out my cuffed hands. "You'll have to put it on me. "

He takes another step toward me. "Your hands are free enough to put it on. "

I catch his eye again; it may be my last chance. "You do not have to be so afraid of me, Slim. Your fear is ridiculous. "

He hurries toward me and covers my eyes. I hear his voice.

"You're right, Alisa," he says.

He grabs my arm and pulls me toward the limousine.

We drive south on the Coast Highway. All is dark, but I still have my sense of direction. All my senses with the exception of my eyes are very alert. Slim sits on my right, the woman on my left. Four burly men sit across from us; two up front. I count the breaths. The second limousine follows a hundred yards behind. They picked up their three marksmen before we hit the road.

There are no incidental smells in the limousine. The car is new. There is no food in the limousine, but there is drink in the bar: sodas, juice, water. There is a faint smell of gunpowder in the air. One or more of the guns in the vehicle has recently been fired. Everybody has his gun out, in his hands or resting in his lap. Only the woman keeps hers aimed at me. She is the most afraid of me.

Several miles go by. The breathing of the people around me begins to slow, to lengthen and deepen. They are relaxing, except for the woman. They think the difficult part is over. Careful, I test the strength of the cuffs. The metal is incredibly hard. I will not be able to break it. But that doesn't mean I can't get around. I can hop, even bound, far more quickly than any mortal can run. I might be able to grab one of the automatic weapons from the lap of one of the men across from me and shoot and kill most of the people in the limousine before they can shoot me back. Then again, the woman might put a bullet in my brain first. Also, I know the car behind us is operating under strict instructions. The pattern in the abduction is clear. If they see me attacking, they will open fire without hesitation. Everyone in the first limousine will die, and I will be one of them. This is why there are two cars, not one.

I must try another way.

I let another thirty minutes go by. Then I speak.

"Slim. I have to go to the bathroom. "

"I'm sorry, that's not possible," he says.

"I have to go bad. I drank an entire bottle of Coke before meeting you. "

"I don't care. We are not stopping. "

"I'll pee all over the seat. You'll have to sit in it. "

"Pee if you must. "

"I will do it. "

He doesn't respond. More miles go by. Since Slim carried the cuffs, I decide he must be the one who has the key to open them. The arm of the woman beside me begins to tire. She lowers her weapon hand: I hear the rustling of her clothing. I estimate our speed to be sixty miles an hour. We are maybe fifty miles south of Water Cove. Seaside is approaching; I can hear the town up ahead; the two all night gas stations; the twenty-four-hour doughnut shop.

"Slim," I say.

"What?"

"I have a problem besides having to pee. "

"What is it?"

"I'm having my period. I have to get to a rest room. I need only two minutes. You and your lady friend can come with me into the rest room. You can point your

guns at me the whole time if you want, I don't care. If you do not stop, we will have a mess here and we will have it soon. "

"We are not stopping. "

I raise my voice. "This is ridiculous! I am bound hand and foot. You are armed left and right. I just have to go to the bathroom for two minutes. For God's sake, what kind of sick person are you? Do you like piss and blood?"

Slim considers. I hear him lean forward and glance at the woman. "What do you think?" he asks.

"We are not supposed to stop for any reason," she says.

"Yeah, but what the hell. " He adds a line, and as he does so, I hear my implanted suggestion. "What harm can she do?"

"She must be guarded at all times," the woman insists.

"I already said you two can follow me into the rest room," I say.

"So we have your permission?" the woman asks sarcastically. The sound of her voice is aggravating. She is from Germany--the east side. I hope she follows me into the bathroom. I have a surprise for her. "I have no sanitary napkins," she says.

"I will use whatever is available," I say softly.

"It is up to you," the woman says to Slim.

He considers, studying me, I know. Then he decides. "Hell, call the others. Tell them we're stopping at the first gas station. We'll pull around back. "

"They won't like that," the man up front says.

"Tell them they can talk to me if they are worried," Slim says. He turns toward me. "Happy?"

"Thank you," I say in my velvety voice. "I won't cause any problems. You really can accompany me if you want. "

"You can be sure I will, sister," Slim says--as if it were his own idea. I want those keys.

The call is made. We slow as we enter Seaside. The driver spots a gas station. I hear the all-night attendant making change. We drive around the side, the second limousine close behind us. The car stops. Slim opens his door.

"Stay here," he says.

We wait for Slim to return. The woman has her gun pointed at my head again. She just doesn't like my looks, I suppose. But the men are relaxed. They are thinking, all this security for what? Slim comes back. I hear him unholster his weapon.

"There will be two of us on you," he says. "Don't get smart. "

"You have to take this thing off my eyes," I say. "I'll make a mess if I can't see. "

Of course I can reach up and remove it myself, when I make my move. But to have it removed now will save me the extra step. Also, I want my vision to plan when to attack. Finally, by asking them to take it off, I emphasize my helplessness.

"Any other requests?" Slim asks.

"No. "

He reaches over and pulls off the mask. "Happy?"

I smile at him, grateful. "I will be when I get in the bathroom. "

He stares at me, doubt and confusion touching his face. "Who the hell are you?"

"A girl with a bad attitude," I say.

The woman pokes her pistol at my temple. "Get out. You have two minutes. No more. "

I climb out of the car. The guys in the other limousine are all out, their weapons hidden but handy. They form a wall between me and the front of the gas station. I hope none of them accompanies me into the rest room. But Slim and the woman are determined to stay with me. I give the watching gang a timid smile as I shuffle past. They chew gum. They stare at my body. They, too, wonder what all the fuss is about. The woman goes into the bathroom first. I follow, Slim on my tail. No one else comes in. The door closes behind us.

I strike immediately. I have it all planned.

In a move too fast for a mortal eye to follow, I whirl and knock Slim's pistol away. Raising my cuffed hands over my head, I bring them down on top of his skull. I use only a fraction of my strength; I want to stun him, no more. He topples to the floor as the woman turns, bringing up her gun. I kick it from her hand by lashing out with both my feet. She blinks as I land upright. She opens her mouth to say something when I grab her face with both my hands. My grip is ferocious; there is blood even before I kill her, around her eyes. My nails destroy her vision permanently.

There is lots more blood when I smash the back of her head on the tiled wall. The plaster cracks under the blow sending up a miniature cloud of white dust shot through with streaks of red. Likewise her skull cracks, in many places. She sags in my arms, the blood from her mortal wounds soaking the front of my leather jacket. She is dead; I let her drop.

The door is closed but not locked. Quickly I press it tight and lock it. At my feet Slim lets out a moan. I reach down and grab him and press him against the wall beside the stain of the dead woman's brains. My hands go around his throat. Perhaps five seconds have elapsed since we entered the bathroom. Slim winces and opens his eyes. They focus quickly when they see me.

"Slim," I say softly. "Look around you. Look at your dead partner. Her brains are leaking out of her head. She's a mess--it's terrible. I'm a terrible person. I'm also a very strong person. You can feel how strong I am, can't you? That's why your boss wanted you to be so careful with me. You can't screw with me and get away with it. Please don't even consider it. Now, let me tell you what I want. Reach in your pocket and pull out the key to these cuffs. Unlock them. Don't shout out to the others. If you do these things, then maybe I will let you go. If you don't, your brains will be all over the floor like your partner's.

Think about it for a moment, if you want, but don't think too long. You can see what an impatient person I am. "

He stammers. "I don't have the keys. "

I smile. "Bad answer, Slim. Now I will have to go through your pockets and find them. But I'll have to make sure you're lying perfectly still while I do so. I'm going to have to kill you. "

He's scared. He can hardly talk. He accidentally steps in the mess dripping out of the woman's head. "No. Wait. Please. I have the keys. I will give you the keys. "

"That's good. Good for you. " I release my grip slightly. "Undo the locks. Remember, if you shout out, you die. "

His hands shake badly. All his training has not prepared him for me. His eyes keep straying to what I have done to the woman's head. A crumpled accordion of bloody assault. Finally, though, Slim gets my cuffs off. My relief at being free is great. Once more, I feel my usual invincibility. I am a wolf among sheep. The slaughter will be a pleasure. I toss the cuffs in the wastebasket. Just then someone knocks at the door. I press my fingers deep into the sides of Slim's throat.

"Ask what it is," I say. I let go just enough to allow him to speak.

He coughs. "What is it?"

"Everything OK in there?" a man asks. They have heard noise.

"Yeah," I whisper.

"Yeah," Slim says.

The man outside tries the doorknob. Of course it is locked. "What's happening?" the man asks. He is the suspicious type, to be sure.

"Everything is cool," I whisper.

"Everything is cool," Slim manages. It is no wonder the guy outside doesn't believe Slim; he sounds like he's about to weep. The guy outside tries the door again.

"Open the door," he demands.

"If we go out that way," I ask Slim, "will they shoot us both?"

He croaks. "Yes. "

I study the bathroom. The wall against which I hold Slim is completely tiled; it appears to be the thickest wall in the rest room. But the wall behind the lone toilet looks flimsy. I suspect on the other side of it might be the late-night attendant's office space. Keeping Slim pinned with my left hand, I reach down and pick up the dead woman's automatic weapon.

"We are going to go through that wall there," I say. "I will kick it in, then we will move. I don't want you wrestling with me. If you do, I will rip out your throat. Now tell me, what is behind this gas station? A field? Another building? A road?"

"Trees. "

"Trees like in the forest?"

"Yes. "

"Excellent. " I drag him into the stall. "Prepare yourself for a fun ride. "

Still holding on to Slim, I leap into the air several

feet and plant three swift kicks on the wall above the toilet. It splinters and I break through what is left of it with a slash of my right arm. We enter the all-night attendant's office. Before he can turn to identify us, I strike him on the back of the head. He goes down, probably still alive. I kick open the door to the outside. The fresh air is sweet after the staleness of the rest room. Behind me I hear the bathroom door being broken down. There are shocked gasps when they see what I have done to poor Miss Germany.

Dragging Slim, I come around the two parked limos from behind. There are men inside the rest room, more hovering at the door, still more getting out of the first limo. I raise the automatic weapon, an Uzi, and let loose a spray of bullets. Screams rent the air. Several of the men go down. Others reach for their guns. I empty the clip in their direction and drop the Uzi to the ground. I don't need it, I am a vampire. I need only my natural power.

In a blur, still holding on to Slim, I cross the parking lot and enter the trees. A trail of bullets chases us. One of them catching me in the butt, the right cheek. The wound burns, but I don't mind. The woods are mainly pine, some spruce. A hill rises above us, a quarter of a mile to the top. I pull Slim to the pinnacle, and then back down the other side. A stream crosses our path and we splash through it. The old belief is not true; running water does not bind my steps.

By now I have badly wrenched Slim's neck. Behind us I hear men entering the forest, six of them, spreading out, searching for us. I can hear others at the gas station, moaning in pain, the sputtering breath of still others dying. I literally pick Slim off his feet and carry him a half mile upstream, running faster than a deer in her prime, even with the bullet in me. Then I throw Slim down behind a cluster of bushes. I straddle his chest. He looks up at me with eyes wide with fear. I must be little more than a shadow in his vision. Yet I can see him perfectly. I reach around to my back side, digging my fingers into the torn tissue. I pull out the bullet and toss it aside. The wound begins to heal immediately.

"Now we can talk," I say.

"W-who?" he stutters. I lean over, my face in his.

"That is the magic question," I say. "Who sent you after me?"

He is struggling for breath, although I am no longer holding him by the throat. "You are so strong. How is it possible?"

"I am a vampire. "

He coughs. "I don't understand. "

"I am five thousand years old. I was born before recorded history began. I am the last of my kind . . . I believe I am the last. But the person who sent you after me knew of my great strength. You were carefully prepared. That person must know that I am a vampire. I want that person. " I breathe on his face and know he feels the chill of the Grim Reaper. "Tell me who he is, where I can find him. "

He is in shock. "Is this possible?"

"You have seen a demonstration of my power. Do you really want me to give you another one?"

He trembles. "If I tell you, will you let me live?"

"Perhaps. "

He swallows thickly, perspiring heavily. "We work out of Switzerland. I have only met my boss a few times. His name is Graham--Rick Graham. He is very wealthy. I do odd jobs for him, my people and I. Two years ago he set us searching for someone who fit your description. "

"How did he describe me?"

"The way you look. Other things as well. He said you would be rich, private, have no family. He said there would be mysterious deaths connected with your name. "

"Did he know my name?"

"No. "

"Has he had you look for anyone else?"

"No. Only someone who fit your description. " He grimaces in pain. "Could you get off me? I think you broke several of my ribs when you pulled me through the trees. "

"You were not concerned about my comfort in the car. "

"I stopped to let you go to the bathroom. "

"That was your mistake. " My voice is cold.

He is very afraid. "What are you going to do to me?"

"What is Graham's address? Is he in Switzerland?"

"He is never in one place. He travels constantly. "

"Why?"

"I don't know why. Maybe he looks for you. "

"But is he on the West Coast now? In Oregon?"

"I don't know. "

He is telling the truth. "But you were taking me to him tonight, weren't you?"

"I don't know. We were to drive you to San Francisco. I was to call from a certain phone booth. I can give you the number. It is in Switzerland. "

"Say it. " He gives me the number. I consider. "I faxed you in Switzerland earlier tonight. Yet you were here. It is possible Graham is here as well?"

"It is possible. We have relays. "

"Do you have a business card, Slim?"

"What?"

"A card. Give me your card. "

"My wallet is in my front right pocket. "

I rip away his pocket. "So it is. " I stuff the wallet in my back pocket. My pants are soaked with blood, some of my own, some of the woman's. In the distance I hear two of the men coming my way. Farther off I hear a police siren, heading south on Coast Highway. The men hear it as well. I can practically read their thoughts, they are so obvious. This woman is a monster. If she has Slim, Slim is dead. She will probably kill us if we do catch up with her. The police are coming. We'd better get the hell out of here and chalk it up to a bad night.

The men reverse their direction, back toward the gas station. I lovingly stroke the sides of Slim's face. Of course there is no possibility I will let him live.

"Why do you work for Graham?" I ask.

"The money. "

"I see. Tell me what Graham looks like?"

"He is tall, six three maybe. His hair is dark. He wears it long. "

Now I am the one who trembles. "What color are his eyes?"

"Blue. "

"Pale blue?"

"Yes. They are frightening. "

My voice whispers. "Like mine?"

"Yes. God, please don't kill me. I can help you, miss. I really can. "

Yaksha.

It is not possible, I think, after all this time. The stories, why did I listen to them? Just because they said he was dead? He probably invented them. But why does he come for me now? Or is that the most foolish question of all? These people had orders to shoot if I so much as burped. He must want me dead.

He must be afraid of what Krishna told him.

"You have helped me enough," I tell Slim.

He pants. "What are you going to do? Don't do it!"

My fingers reach down to his throat, my long nails caressing the big veins beneath his flesh. "I told you what I am. And I'm hungry. Why shouldn't I suck you dry? You are no saint. You kill without conscience. At least when someone dies in my arms, I think kind thoughts about him. "

He cries. "Please! I don't want to die. "

I lean over. My hair smothers him.

"Then you should never have been born," I say.

I open him up. I open my mouth.

I take my pleasure slowly.
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