The traveling vampire sh.., p.36
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       The Traveling Vampire Show, p.36
 

           Richard Laymon

  Stryker raised a hand and signalled her to stop.

  She halted.

  Like a boxing referee, Stryker spoke to both contestants. I couldn’t hear a word he said.

  For our benefit, he held up an open hand—the unstretched fingers apparently representing five minutes. Then he hurried backward from between the two women and brought his arm down fast.

  As Lee and Valeria started to circle each other, Stryker left the cage. Outside it, he shut the door and did something to its latch.

  I gasped, “Hey! He shut the door!”

  “No sweat, kid,” said the man on my right.

  “Don’t worry about it,” Vivian told me. She patted my thigh. “Door or no door, your gal won’t be getting out of there alive.”

  Chapter Fifty-eight

  Down in the cage, Lee and Valeria kept circling each other, staying apart but bent over, their arms wide open, their heads up.

  Though both women were about the same size and I couldn’t make out their faces very well, they were easy to tell apart. Lee’s blond hair swung and flipped behind her head in a soaked, stringy ponytail. Valeria’s straight black hair was plastered down against the back of her skull. Lee wore her sleeveless chambray shirt, white shorts and blue sneakers; Valeria was stark naked. Every so often, I glimpsed the smooth, inner slopes of Lee’s breasts through the gap of her open shirt; except when her back was to me, Valeria’s breasts were in full view, bouncing and swaying with the motions of her body.

  Suddenly, Valeria growled and swept an open hand at Lee’s face as if to claw her cheek open.

  Lurching back, Lee grabbed the hand. She seemed to fall away, stretching Valeria’s arm. Valeria staggered toward her, then stumbled sideways, breasts leaping. Lee let go. Valeria twirled away and her back slammed against a wall of the cage. The impact shook her. She stayed against the bars as if she needed them to hold her up.

  Instead of rushing in to take advantage of the situation, Lee retreated to the other side of the cage.

  “Get her!” I shouted. “Knock her out!”

  Hearing me, she looked over her shoulder. She probably couldn’t see me, though, because of all the headlights and how I was sitting in the darkness.

  It only took a few seconds for Valeria to recover. Then she came for Lee.

  Prancing sideways with her back to the bars, Lee put the casket between herself and Valeria.

  Valeria chased her around the casket. It was like some sort of lame comedy skit…goofballs circling a dining room table. Except both the goofballs were beautiful women and one was completely naked and I hated to think of what would happen if she caught Lee.

  I got the impression that Valeria was enjoying the chase. But she couldn’t let it go on forever. In whatever remained of the five minutes, she needed to catch Lee and sink in her teeth.

  Suddenly, she bowed at the waist, grabbed the casket with both hands and swung it off the ground. On its way up, it overturned. Out fell a red leather skirt and top, red boots with spurs attached, and a black leather belt. Holding it high, she marched straight toward Lee.

  Oh, God, she was something to behold!

  Though I knew that she planned to smash Lee with the casket, I suddenly noticed a stiffness in my jeans. No telling how long I’d had it. I felt guilty and ashamed, but it didn’t go away.

  “Look out!” I yelled at Lee.

  She needed no warning, though; she could see what was coming. She backed away until she was stopped by a wall of the cage.

  Then she ducked and charged. Apparently, she meant to go in under the casket and crash her head into Valeria’s belly. But she wasn’t quite fast enough.

  Valeria slammed the casket down on Lee’s back. I heard the whomp of its impact, heard a grunt from Lee. An instant later, she was face down on the mud floor of the cage, sprawled flat.

  Valeria tossed the casket out of the way. Then she leaned over Lee, grabbed her by the pony tail and the seat of her shorts, picked her up and hoisted her overhead.

  Lee’s arms and legs drooped. Her shirt hung open. I could see her breasts.

  I didn’t want to look at them, but I couldn’t help myself. My eyes were latched to them. I grew harder. I felt as if I were betraying her. Betraying Slim, too. But I couldn’t look away. I’d been wanting to see them for so long, and here they were, pale and shiny, glorious…and suddenly lurching on her chest as Valeria ran with her across the cage.

  Oh, my God!

  Valeria planned to ram her into the wall of bars.

  “NO!” I cried out. “LEE! WATCH OUT!”

  I don’t know if she heard me, but both her arms suddenly darted up and she grabbed a bar above her face and came to an abrupt stop.

  Unprepared for it, Valeria almost tore Lee loose, but not quite. Though Lee cried out in pain, she clung to the ceiling bar. Valeria lost her hold on Lee’s pony tail and shorts and stumbled on, waving her arms, trying not to fall.

  Suspended by her arms, Lee twisted and swung.

  As Valeria came back for her, she chinned herself up and kicked a foot toward the ceiling of the cage. If only she could hook a foot through the bars, she might be able to pull herself all the way up…maybe out of Valeria’s reach.

  But one leg was still hanging down. Valeria grabbed it with both hands.

  I yelled, “NO!”

  On both sides of me, my guards clapped and cheered.

  Valeria tugged at Lee’s leg until the other one came down beside it. At that point, it would’ve been simple to pluck Lee down from the ceiling bar. She didn’t do it, though. Instead, she pulled off both of Lee’s sneakers and tossed them aside. Then she smiled over her shoulder—at me?

  After the smile, she stepped behind Lee and peeled her white shorts down and off. First her shorts, then her panties.

  Lee dangled from the bar, facing me, her open shirt barely reaching past her ribcage, her body naked from there down. She looked as if she were being stretched by her own weight. Her arms almost seemed longer than usual. Her belly looked taut. I saw a golden tuft of hair between her legs.

  Her legs began to spread apart. Then a hand appeared between them. Valeria’s hand. Stroking her.

  Lee’s jaw was clenched. She had a strange, tight look on her face. A tightness that trembled. She was wet and shiny all over, so there was no way of knowing if she had tears running down her face.

  But I knew she was crying.

  When I see a girl cry, something happens to me.

  Especially if it’s a girl I love. Like Slim or Lee.

  Shouting, “Leave her alone!” I leaped up and drove the point of my elbow into the face of the big man on my right. He grunted and grabbed his nose. Vivian grabbed my other hand, but I didn’t let her stop me. Pulled by my weight, she rose off the bench. I tried to fling her and we both tumbled down the bleachers.

  When we came to a stop on top of a wet board near the bottom, Vivian was sprawled under me. She raised her head. I slugged her in the nose. Her nose crunched. The back of her head struck the wood with a sound like knuckles on a door.

  I scurried off her.

  The big guy was coming for me, leaping down the slippery face of the bleachers.

  I jumped off the bottom row and ran for the cage.

  I still had to get through Stryker.

  But he wasn’t even looking at me. He stood with both hands on the cage door.

  Racing toward him, I looked into the cage. Lee no longer hung from the ceiling bar. She had Valeria backed up against the rear of the cage. Head down, she was slamming punches into Valeria’s belly.

  Yes!

  Maybe she didn’t need my help, after all, but it was too late to back out.

  “Open the door!” I shouted as I ran toward Stryker.

  I hardly thought he would do it.

  But he stepped backward swinging it open, grinning at me through a space between its bars. “The more the merrier,” he said.

  I rushed into the cage.

  He swung its door shut. Clang!<
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  Valeria was still on the bars. Lee kept landing punches to her belly. They were strong punches. Her fists sounded like mallets smacking wet meat. Each blow shook Valeria and made her breasts lurch. With each blow, she grunted.

  “Good going, Lee!” I called out.

  “Very good going,” Valeria said, smiling at me. She spoke with a fluid, languid drawl. “For a girl,” she added. Though Lee was still pounding her, she wasn’t reacting. Just calmly talking to me. “Do you suppose you can do better, Mister Thompson?”

  Okay, so she knew my last name. I wasn’t going to let that bother me. Much. It bothered me a lot more that Valeria didn’t seem the least bit fazed by the punches.

  “Lee’s doing just fine,” I said.

  “Is she?” Valeria grabbed the front edges of Lee’s shirt, swung her around and slammed her against the bars. Lee’s whole body jerked with the impact. She started to sag.

  A hand to Lee’s throat, Valeria pinned her to the bars. With her other hand, she dragged the shirt off Lee’s right shoulder, baring her upper arm and breast.

  Then she stepped back, keeping Lee pinned to the bars. “Lee is doing just fine, isn’t she?”

  “Let go of her!”

  “Oh, I don’t suppose so.” Reaching out, she slipped a hand beneath Lee’s right breast. “Lovely, isn’t it?” She squeezed it, but Lee didn’t react.

  Out cold?

  Maybe that’s good, I thought.

  “How do you suppose it tastes, Mister Thompson?”

  “Leave her alone.”

  Valeria licked her lips, then spread her mouth open wide.

  “NO!” I yelled.

  As I plowed into her, she stumbled away and let go of Lee. In the corner of my eye, I glimpsed Lee sliding to the floor.

  Arms clamped around Valeria, forehead pressed between her breasts, I chugged with my feet and drove her across the cage. I had a vague notion of slamming her against the far wall and going at her with my fists the same as Lee had done.

  But Lee’s punches hadn’t hurt Valeria, so why should mine?

  Anyway, we didn’t make it to the far wall. Valeria fell flat on her back and I landed on top of her.

  Aren’t the five minutes up yet? I wondered.

  Maybe they’ve stopped counting.

  “TIME?” I shouted.

  Valeria, beneath me, said, “This is not a game anymore.”

  She was under me, breathing hard. I felt the quick rise and fall of her chest against the side of my face. It was wet and hot and I heard her quick heartbeat.

  She’s no vampire!

  Of course not, I thought. No such thing.

  Just a woman.

  Just.

  I pushed myself up. Sitting on her pelvis, I pinned her wrists to the muddy ground by her sides.

  She smiled up at me. “Now what?” she asked.

  I had no idea.

  I looked to Lee for an answer, but she was sprawled on the ground, apparently unconscious.

  “Give up?” I asked.

  “I don’t believe so.” Smiling, she writhed. I watched the rain bounce off her shiny breasts. Her nipples were dark and rigid. “I know what you would like to do.”

  I shook my head.

  “Go ahead. I’ll let you. I let your friend Rusty do it, and he’s not nearly as cute as you.”

  “You let him?”

  “Did you honestly believe he’d overpowered me?” She chuckled softly. “I hardly think so. Nothing happens to me unless I allow it. And I hereby allow you, Dwight Thompson.”

  I shook my head.

  A smile spread over her face. “I know you want to. I know you lust for me.”

  “If you say so.”

  “Now’s your chance,” she said. “You have me at your mercy, Mr. Thompson.”

  “Yeah, well…”

  “I’m all yours.”

  “Forget it. All I wanta do is get outa here. Come on, okay? It’s been five minutes.” I looked over my shoulder and saw Stryker outside the cage door, staring in. My two guards were standing beside him. “Come on!” I yelled. “The five minutes are up! Let us have Rusty back and we’ll…”

  Smiling, Stryker shook his head.

  “You don’t want to die a virgin, do you?” Valeria asked.

  I suddenly didn’t feel too good.

  “Die?”

  “This may be your one and only chance to avoid such a miserable fate.”

  I just sort of stared at her.

  “Kiss me,” she said.

  I shook my head. “We just wanta get out of here. With Rusty.”

  “Kiss my breasts.”

  I shook my head.

  “Fuck me.”

  “No thanks.”

  “Last call. You’re about to die, either way. You might as well die happy.”

  “You’re really beautiful and everything,” I said, “but I don’t even like you. I wouldn’t do it to you if you were the last woman on…”

  She roared in my face and flung me off her body. As I rolled across the floor of the cage, she sprang to her feet. She swept down, grabbed my shirt and ripped it open. Then she picked me up by it.

  She raced across the cage, holding me out in front of her, and rammed me into the bars. My ears rang. Barely conscious, I felt her rip the shirt off my shoulders and down my arms.

  She rubbed her wet, slippery breasts against my chest. Writhing against me, she kissed me on the mouth. “See what you’ll be missing?” she asked. Then she clutched my right shoulder and my head. She shoved my head sideways, stretched her mouth open wide and went for my neck.

  Shrieking, I pushed at her.

  I knew it wouldn’t do any good, but I shoved at her breasts with both hands and a weird little part of my mind thought how nice they felt.

  I knew that the next thing I felt would be her teeth sinking into my neck.

  Instead, I felt Valeria yielding to my push.

  She’s just letting me think…

  Then I saw the thin wooden shaft protruding from her right eye. Sort of like a pencil…

  Someone stabbed her with…

  As she stumbled backward, I saw how long the shaft was. I saw the feathers near its end. Then came a heavy thunk, a second arrow hitting her. This one popped through the nipple of her right breast and blood squirted. The arrow went in deep, skewering her breast, holding it rigid while she staggered backward.

  Still on her feet, backing away from me, she got it with a third arrow. This one caught her high on the left side of the chest, just over the heart. Her left breast jumped. Unsteady now, she raised her arms for balance. Only a couple of inches of the last arrow showed. She looked as if she had a strange, feathered broach pinned to the skin of her chest.

  Waving her arms, she fell. She landed with a splash and lay spread-eagled on her back in the mud.

  Chapter Fifty-nine

  I stared at Valeria. She twitched and shuddered. Blood poured out of her wounds, but was quickly washed away by the rain. When she stopped moving, I looked toward the cage door.

  Nobody there.

  Stryker and the others must’ve run when the arrows flew. Probably to their bus. It was stopped about twenty-five feet away, its engine running, its headbeams bright in my eyes.

  The cage door was shut.

  Lee, conscious now, was braced up on her elbows. Except for her shirt, she was naked. Her shirt was mostly off. It covered her left shoulder, and that was about all. Face scrunched, she scowled through the rain at Valeria’s body.

  “You okay?” I called to her.

  She looked at me, frowning. “What happened?”

  “I guess Slim happened.”

  “Jeez.”

  I hurried over to the sodden rag of Lee’s shorts and snatched them out of the mud. They were white in front, filthy in back. I turned them over and the rain sluiced off some of the dirt.

  When I got back to Lee with them, she was on her feet and leaning back against the bars. I handed the shorts to her. “Thanks,” she s
aid. She shook them open. As she raised a leg to put them on, I turned away and tried to spot Slim.

  I figured she must’ve shot her arrows from somewhere under the bleachers where I’d been sitting earlier. Because of the headlights on me, though, I couldn’t see very well into the darkness. If Slim was crouched beneath the bleachers, I sure couldn’t see her.

  I could see through them, though. To the back of the BEER-SNACKS-SOUVENIRS shack, to the area that had earlier been crowded with parked cars and trucks. There, all the headlights and taillights were gone. The field was dark except for the thin, moving beams of six or eight flashlights.

  Stryker’s crew.

  Apparently unaware of what had just happened in the cage, they seemed to be checking on the abandoned vehicles and other things they found interesting in Janks Field.

  “Damn,” Lee said.

  I looked at her. She was bending over, shoving the shorts down her legs.

  “What’s wrong?”

  “Can’t get ’em on.”

  “Huh?”

  “Too tight.” With a kick of her right foot, she sent the shorts flying. Then she ran toward the other side of the cage. She slid to a stop, bent down and plucked Valeria’s red leather skirt out of the mud. Stepping into it, she said to me, “Try the door.”

  I hurried over to it. There was no handle. I grabbed the bars and shoved. The door rattled in its steel frame and stayed shut.

  On the other side was a hasp and a padlock.

  Groaning, I turned my head. “We’re locked in!”

  Lee came running over. The red leather skirt was so short it hardly covered her groin. She’d straightened her shirt, but only fastened one button, down near her belly.

  “Let’s see,” she said.

  I stepped out of her way. Lee studied the situation, then reached through the bars, grabbed the lock and jerked at it.

  “Oh, boy,” she muttered.

  “What’ll we do?”

  “I don’t…”

  “Hey!” Slim’s voice. It seemed to come from the area of the bleachers.

  Lee and I both started to turn.

  “Don’t look.” She sounded a little strange, her voice tight like someone talking through pain. “They’re in the bus. Probably watching you. Fiddle with the door or something.”

 
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