The midnight vampire tra.., p.1
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       The Midnight Vampire Trap, p.1

          
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The Midnight Vampire Trap
The Midnight Vampire Trap

  by

  L.S. Richards

  Copyright 2014 L.S. Richards

  License Notes

  Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

  For the best audience in the world.

  Prologue

  Desmond Sharpe was a vampire and Desmond Sharpe was an asshole. The very drive and indomitable will that had allowed him to survive the horrific transformation from human to vampire, and to survive the centuries that followed, had also made him an arrogant, egotistical, insufferable jerk. In short, thought Dr. Eleanor Warner, Desmond Sharpe was perfect.

  Because wanting a vampire upon which to experiment, and getting one, were two very different things. One was talking about a creature possessed of human intelligence, considerable monetary resources, and supra-human abilities such as the power to disappear in the blink of an eye, kill with impunity, yada yada yada. But then Desmond, dear, narcissistic Desmond, had gone and done what no other vampire before or after had ever done: he used his wealth to finance --and star in-- a motion picture based on his own life.

  So Eleanor rejoiced. Elated, she opened her journal.

  Why search the world in a fruitless and

  expensive quest for vampires, she wrote,

  when you can make them come to you?

  1

  Demonstration

  The tavern on the waterfront catered to an international clientele: men from Korean freighters carrying Chinese goods, men from Singapore, Vietnam, Hong King or Java. Men far from home and looking for a fast, cheap drunk. Men difficult to trace when they went missing.

  The door opened, spilling noise and light onto the dark street. Two men, an Asian of perhaps forty, tough and ropey; and an Anglo who couldn’t have been more than eighteen, underfed and slightly girlish, staggered out, reeling drunk. The Asian led the way to a nearby alley, then fumbled with the fly of his pants, swaying on his feet. At that, the younger man seemed suddenly sober, suddenly, not drunk at all. He’d been faking all night, plying his victim, and now, when he smiled, moonlight glinted off his fangs.

  There was no struggle. The sailor was far too outmatched to resist.

  Up the street, five people watched through the blacked-out windows of an unmarked van, a van with some kind of machinery attached to its roof. They were three middle-aged men in expensive suits, a younger, bearded man, and a sour-faced woman of perhaps thirty, her hair pulled back in a severe bun, an unflattering sweep of hair across her forehead.

  As the vampire sank his fangs, one of the older men spoke.

  “Is that…?” he said.

  “Sh!” the woman hissed. “He can hear you.”

  In silence they watched the two men embrace, and they watched the victim slump. “He killed him,” one of the older men breathed.

  “He had to,” the bearded man whispered back, and he opened a small computer, the screen of which displayed a single, glowing word: EXECUTE?

  Finished, the vampire released his victim, who dropped, dead, to the ground. The vampire lifted his victim’s wallet, then walked up the street toward his car, to get the chains and concrete blocks, pulling an electronic key from the pocket of his pants. He pointed the key at the car to pop the trunk, and as his finger hit the button, the man in the van hit ENTER.

  There was no struggle. A light on top of the van blinked on, and the vampire was aware of a sudden sensation of heat, as though he’d walked into the kitchen exhaust fan of a restaurant, and then blisters ripped across the his skin, bubbling, searing, smoking. One gasp, and he exploded in a violent flash of light, flesh and bone disintegrating, stolen blood geysering into the air.

  “My God!” gasped the eldest of the men, and in response the younger man removed from his briefcase a sheaf of papers marked CONTRACT.

  With shaking hands, the three men in suits signed the contract, then exited the van, shooting disbelieving looks at the pool of steaming blood in the street. One by one they walked to their own cars parked further away, and drove off. The young man moved into the driver’s seat of the van, began to start the ignition.

  “Wait,” said the woman.

  Exiting the van, she walked to the vampire’s car, stepping fastidiously across the blood. Withdrawing chalk from her pocket, she drew on the wall next to the car two interlocking rings, one red, the other green. Pocketing the chalk, she ran back to the van, and together she and the bearded man drove away.

  2

  The Galaxy Cinema

  That his movie, King of Vampires, was a success, was deeply gratifying to Desmond Sharpe. True, he’d poured millions of his own, and required the studio to pour millions more, into saturation marketing, and true, most mortals were sheep that would do whatever they were told to do, but the fact that it was a hit after all, that people genuinely seemed to enjoy it, was truly touching. And then this happened, this most extraordinary thing: at an ornate old movie palace in Los Angeles, young mortals were gathering for midnight screenings, and they were dressing up as the characters in the movie, they were talking back to the screen, and they were dancing and singing in the aisles.

  Oh, how Desmond had laughed when he’d first heard. How marvelous! How wonderful! It seemed the most perfect possible outcome for his little project, unexpected and delightful, a present from the cosmos to himself. Then a thought crossed his mind.

  “Hey,” he said, interrupting Max’s tedious diatribe, “Wouldn’t it be great for those kids if I showed up?”

  Across town, in a stark, white laboratory, the woman from the van turned to a panel of executives and said, “You’ve seen what can be accomplished. Unfortunately, we consumed the specimen. We’re going to need another one.”

  Word had gotten out. Advertisements had been placed. Desmond Sharpe was coming to the midnight show at the Galaxy Cinema, live and in person. Tickets were sold out, and the crowd outside the theater, bathed in the colored lights of the Galaxy’s blinking neon marquee, was in a state of near pandemonium. A news van parked up front, in the loading zone.

  The limo arrived. The news crew switched on their massive lights and as a delirious scream swept the crowd there he was, chiseled features, waves of black hair, a cape, even; the Byronic ideal personified. He smiled, flashing fangs newly polished, and waved. The crowd went berserk, straining against the interlocked arms of the renta-cops.

  The news reporter, a cute Chicana in a short skirt, came up to him, camera in tow.

  “Desmond! Desmond! Remy Ramirez, Wolf News! Wow, isn’t this amazing!”

  “Remy, enchanté!” Desmond replied, kissing her hand, ignoring the giant, fuzzy boom mike pointed at his crotch. “Yes, yes it is!”

  “The world hasn’t seen anything like this since Rocky Horror, decades ago!” Remy enthused.

  “I will take that as a compliment,” Desmond replied, smiling and waving at the crowd, “though I think mine is the superior film.”

  “Desmond, you’re famously difficult to interview,” Remy persisted, “But you claim you actually are a vampire?”

  “And what is a vampire if not the fulfillment of one’s darkest desires?” Desmond replied smoothly. “Excuse me.” And he swept regally into the theater, his publicist, P.R. manager and agent trailing behind.

  He climbed the stairs to the roped-off balcony, his heart beginning to beat in time to dark, pounding rock music that got louder with every step. Moving to the front railing, he looked down.

  Astounding. The ornate theatre, built in the 1920s, renamed in the space-age ‘60s, was now a lair of decaying elegance: threadbare velvet curtains, peeling gold-gilt wallpaper, chandeliers with missing lamps and dangling crystals, the perfect setting for the decadent rites being enacted below.

  Savage music. Barely-clad dancers on the stage spinning fire from their fingertips. Young mortals in ripped cerements running up and down the aisles, climbing over the seats, making out in the corners. Sex and death alike hovering in the air, teasing, ripe for the taking. A palpable, primordial energy, Dionysus loosed once more upon the world.

  “Oh….my.” Desmond breathed, at a loss for any other words.

  His agent puffed up behind him. “Any other ‘vampires’, Desmond?” he asked.

  “They are as mortal as you, my friend,” Desmond replied, and then the house lights cut out and the music changed to Black Sabbat off the King of Vampires soundtrack, and as the scream from the audience shook the walls, the stage was engulfed in light.

  In the movie, Black Sabbat was sung by actors in sixteenth-century dress. Here, the song was lip-synced by a bevy of comely young women in ripped underwear ranging from the sixteenth century to the twenty-first, upping the sex quotient, pleasing the audience who thronged the apron of the stage, and as the song moved into its driving, chanting chorus they all danced the Black Sabbat dance. In the balcony, Desmond laughed like a delighted child.

  Black Sabbat moved into its closing chords, and as it did another sound emerged, a raw, buzzing, rising chord of that got louder and louder, onrushing, undeniable.

  “What is this?” Desmond yelled to his publicist. “It’s not from the soundtrack!”

  “I don’t know!” the publicist yelled back. “Apparently it’s a thing they do here!”

  And the chord crested and crashed over into the X cover of Wild Thing, and then she was there, a young woman with elfin features, impossibly sharp cheekbones and pointed chin, in a black corset, long black gloves and fishnet stockings, orange hair tumbling wild over her shoulders, and the sunniest, happiest grin on her face, as she and the frenzied audience lip-synced the words at each other.

  She skipped along the edge of the stage, just out of reach of the audience’s reaching hands. Working them, teasing them.

  The song moved into its first repetition, and the long black gloves came off. The corset came off, revealing a skimpy, sparkly black bikini, as behind her, two of the Black Sabbat dancers set up a metal stripper’s pole. As the music spun into a descending, dive-bombing chord, she ran from stage right, leapt into the air, looped an elbow around the pole and reeled down, ending up on all fours, crawling toward the lip of the stage, her eyes now locked on Desmond’s, singing directly to him. At the lip, she stood, ran a hand down her exposed throat, exhaling with Exene, openly inviting him, daring him, to ravish her.

  The bridge kicked in and she spun away from the audience’s reaching hands. As the music built, the dancers brought onto the stage a galvanized tub that they hooked to a rope descending from the ceiling, and they rolled out a small refrigerator, and they opened it, and it was full of blood packs that they tossed from hand to hand in time with the music, slashing them open and draining the blood into the tub as the girl beat time nearby. The music climbs, rising, and now the tub is rising, hauled aloft on a pulley, and she’s taking her place below it and Desmond cannot believe what’s about to happen but there is no stopping it and as the music goes into its pounding, strobing crescendo the tub tips and the blood comes down and she’s bathed in it head to foot, and the grin splitting her face says she couldn’t, couldn’t be happier than she is at this exact moment.

  She screams the chorus at the audience, and they screamed it back, and when it gets to the line about shaking it she does, and blood flies everywhere, spattering the ecstatic crowd, and she is among them, their hands running through the stage blood running down her legs, and she is at once their avatar and their sacrifice.

  The song goes into its final, unstoppable repetitions and then it’s winding down and fading out and she bows low to the audience that feeds her and they applaud her and she applauds them and then someone somewhere starts it, a rhythmic clapping, a steady cadence, and then everyone is doing it, hundreds of hands and it’s Desmond’s intro song from King of Vampires and the music pours in, all sinuous, suggestive sex, and in the balcony Desmond himself stands as if he has no choice at all and places his foot upon the balcony railing.

  “Jesus, Desmond!” his agent cries.

  And he drops, forty feet down into the aisle, landing lightly on his feet and the crowd goes absolutely insane as he sings along to his recorded voice, walking unimpeded to the stage because they love him here and they respect him, so no one rushes him because that would be unseemly, and so he reaches the apron of the stage and the girl holds out a blood-streaked arm and he takes her hand and hops nimbly onto the stage, and they sing it as a duet, she knows all the choreography, and the others fall into their places, acting it out just like in the movie.

  The song ends on its playful button and a standing ovation isn’t enough so it’s a bouncing ovation, five hundred people jumping up and down in mutual delirium. Desmond goes to embrace the girl but she backs off, crying “Sticky! Sticky!” and so instead he turns and addresses the audience, who quiet right down.

  “Oh,” he says, and is surprised to find himself on the verge of tears. “I didn’t know what to expect when I came here tonight, except that… except that it was you know, soothing to my ego…”

  That gets a huge laugh.

  “But, oh…is this theatre for sale? I want to buy this theater. I’ll get you new curtains, I’ll get you new chandeliers. I’ve never known such a feeling, I’ve never known such…” he searched for the right word, “Acceptance. Long live the Galaxy Theatre,” he cried, “Long live this audience, long live King of Vampires!”

  With that the house lights dimmed and the movie itself started. Desmond moved up the aisle and now they came to him, wanting autographs, wanting photographs, wanting to touch and have their moment. Desmond, gratified and a little humbled by their love, graciously submits. He fed earlier, so he is not hungry, and he would not dream of harming any of these precious, precious people who adore him so.

  Out front, across the street, an unmarked van with some kind of machinery on its roof pulls up. Behind the wheel, the bearded man opens his computer. The screen reads, CAPTURE SIGNAL? He hits a key, and a moment later the screen reads SIGNAL CAPTURED. UPLINK? Another key, and the screen changes to UPLINK COMPLETE. The man closes the computer, checks his watch, and settles back to wait.

  3

  Capture

  Two hours later, the man in the van sat up. There was activity at the theater. People were coming out, and yes, there was Desmond, smiling, waving, throwing kisses. He and his entourage entered his limo, drove off. The van waited until the limo was out of sight, then followed.

  Desmond’s limo drove back to the studio, and the entourage got out, heading for their cars. The limo continued on, turning a corner and disappearing. A moment later, the van followed in its path.

  The limo drove to a large, private, gated cemetery on the outskirts of L.A. Desmond exited the car, waved off the driver. Whistling a tune from King of Vampires, he neatly jumped the solid ten-foot fence, and so did not see the van turning the corner.

  He made his way to a large mausoleum, seemingly untouched for decades, seemingly sealed tight, unless you knew where to look. Still whistling, he pulled his key from his pocket, moved it toward the hidden lock.

  There was a sudden, unexpected flash of green light, and Desmond reeled back, gasping, and then ripped open the sleeves of his shirt, exposed the skin of his arms, which was unbelievably, impossibly, but undeniably, burnt, blistered and smoking.

  “What?” he manages to get out and then they are there, mortals, mortals running toward him, mortals with machines on their backs and something like rifles in their hands.

  Desmond fled, a blur of movement. Anywhere, away from them. He didn’t know what was going on but a horrible possibility was flooding his mind, a terrible inevitability…

  More mortal voices, shouting, up ahead and on all sides. Shit! They’d ringed the cemetery! Well, he’d been the subject of ambushes in the past, and he was still here, so he’d be damned if he would be taken in this one. He still had a few tricks to use and now he was angry. Tonight had been so marvelous and how dare these puny mortals think they could ruin it!

  Triangulating from the shouts he hid behind a large obelisk, and when the mortal ran past him he swept over him, ripping out the man’s throat just for the sheer joy of it. In a blink he was gone, looking for the next victim. Behind him, two men ran to their fallen comrade, the bearded man from the van and a dark-haired man carrying a medic’s kit.

  “How bad is it?” the bearded man asked. The medic peeled the wounded man’s bloody hands away from the wound and shone a flashlight upon it.

  “Easy, easy, let me look…not that bad. He only cut an external jugular.”

  “But he can still bleed out!”

  “In six minutes, yes, I know.” The medic eased the man to the ground, one hand applying pressure to the wound, the other reaching for bandages. The bearded man pulled a walkie-talkie from his belt. “He’s getting nasty,” he transmitted. “Take him.”

  In another part of the cemetery, Desmond lay in wait behind a tall headstone. He heard his victim approach, coiled, and struck….and recoiled as a wall of shimmering, wavy green light sprang up between himself and his victim, light coming from one of the rifle-like sticks the mortals held, light that he somehow knew, without a doubt, he could not cross. A soft click sounded behind him and another wall of light appeared behind him, and then another off to the side. He tensed, preparing to launch himself into the sky but the three walls of light converged, forming a pyramid closed at the top, pinning him to the earth.

 
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