Sunday, February 27, 2011

Want to beat the Falcon? Here is your chance...and a short story

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A short story, which is unpublished. It is a sequel to something I wrote many years ago, but it stands alone. I thought with all the vampire love now, it was worth trotting out. So here it is:

DUST TO DUST

He took a long drag on the cigarette. The vampire had been dead a good
10 minutes, his ashes finally cooling off.

Cronin had done this a thousand times; he knew exactly how long to wait.

This one had been tricky; a young, beautiful girl. Her skin looked
tan, thanks to a lot of makeup. That was a new trick. She had blonde
hair, and did everything to avoid the goth look. She looked like any
other California teen-ager with daddy’s credit card, a trust fund and
a lot of spare time.

She was young, too. That made her tough to spot.

In the end, however, she made a mistake. They always made mistakes.

And Cord Cronin had seen them all, for over 400 years.

The last 10 had been the hardest, since he’d been forced to kill his
longtime friend, the only other vampire slayer in the world. They had
once been monks in France, long ago under names he couldn’t even
remember. They had lived a thousand lifetimes since then, hunted down
thousands of vampires, killing them all.

Another deep drag. Smoking was OK for him, because he knew a secret.

As long as he had those ashes, he could never die.

The time had come. Cronin pulled out his coke spoon, quickly snorted
the cooling ashes. Just like Coke. Three lines. Four.

The warmth came over him. He felt new, young. His skin tightened
slightly, the wrinkles faded.

That was the secret they had learned long ago. The ashes of a dead
vampire -- inhaled properly -- would keep you alive forever.

Mack McHenry had just started to figure it out when he died. Cronin
had been fighting it ever since.

With each year that passed, it took more and more ashes to bring that
warmth. To fend off the years. To stay alive.

And after 400 years, Cord Cronin had no interest in dying.

Cronin loved life. He loved all its pleasures; simple ones, such as
the drag of a cigarette. More complex, as in the thousands of women –
and a few men – he’d been with in his life. He loved alcohol,
gambling, sex. Especially sex.

And he loved killing vampires.

He was so good at it. He would let them get closer and closer. He
would try to make himself a potential victim. He would get as close to
being bitten as possible; then he would kill.

It was his greatest pleasure.

And he saw no irony in the fact that he had become what he had sworn
to kill all those years ago,. As vampires fed on the blood of humans
to stay alive – needing to kill to feed – he did the same to vampires.
After 400 years, he was closer to them than humans.

And he didn’t care.

He loved watching vampire movies. He saw a lot of himself in Blade.
Only he didn’t have all the fancy weapons. And vampires would never
organize; they were solitary creatures, and they always kept one
apprentice. So if you killed one, there was always another. Never
more than two. And if one got away, they always found a new
apprentice.

It used to be Cronin and McHenry always got them both. But after
McHenry’s death, Cronin realized a terrible truth.

He couldn’t kill them all. It would mean the end of him.

So now, more often than not, he let one get away, to keep the species alive.

It occurred to him it made him an accomplice. Another human would be
turned. Dozens more would be killed.

But he couldn’t live without the ashes.

He snorted three more lines. More warmth, more calm. He put the rest
in a plastic bag, but he knew he would finish it off before the night.

The girl was actually 67 years old, but physically, she looked 16, her
age when she was turned

She had pretended to interested in him, then pretended to be a
prostitute, not a spoiled rich school girl, swearing she was “at least
19” years old.

That was mistake No. 1.

Cronin was still a very good looking man, and he didn’t look a day
over 28. He was tall, dark haired, with an athletic frame not unlike a
tennis pro’s. His hair was a little too long, but it flattered his
features. His skin was dark, vaguely Arabic or Mediterranean.

The only hint that he was over 400 years old was the eyes. They were
originally hazel, but now they were gray. Anyone who met that gaze was
taken in by the eyes. They were not the eyes of a man; they were the
eyes of an ancient being that had walked the earth for centuries.
There was something sinister there, something brilliant. Something
vaguely evil.

He was not a man who ever had to work very hard at finding
companionship. Finding sex.

But there was nothing like sex with a vampire.

And that was mistake No. 2.

It was on odd quirk of vampires; male ones could not function
sexually; their desires were sated only by blood.

Female vampires, however, were different creatures entirely. They
thrived on sex. They used it to bring in victims, but more than that,
they were addicted to the rush. A female vampire would never kill
until she had an orgasm. Then, she would lock in on the carotid
artery, drawing a deep, slow drink like the drag of a cigarette.

Cronin always knew they were vampires the minute they began having
sex. The vampire bodies were slightly colder than normal, slightly
more dry. And they always closed their eyes. He would catch a quick
glimpse of the fangs, and that would be that.

This one was oh, so close. She was on top, pumping, hoping he would
stay hard long enough to finish first.

She was quite beautiful. Like Cronin, her eyes belied her age, but her
body was the perfectly shaped, lithe frame of a supermodel. She, too,
was athletic and limber. She adjusted to his every movement with
flawless precision; there’s was a dance more than sex. They reacted to
each other as if they had know the other for decades, knew every
little movement that would stimulate the other. There were no moments
of awkwardness. It was pure ecstasy.

Then she screamed the scream of a an animal that was about to kill. He
bodied shimmied and spasmed in pleasure.

And in an instant, she changed -- from a purely sexual being to an
animal needing to feed.

Her bared fangs flashed toward his neck with unnatural speed; she had
done this hundreds of times, and they never saw it coming. She loved
the pure joy of draining a man’s blood as he squirmed underneath her.
Sometimes, if it took long enough, she would have a second orgasm.
Even a third.

Not this time.

Before her teeth got to the man’s throat, she felt a bite in her
chest. A small one at first, but enough to make her stop. Then the bit
became heat. Pain. She sat back up, Cronin still inside her, and
looked at her chest. A small wooden dart had pierced her in the heart.

Cronin smiled at her as she looked at him with a quizzical, almost
bemused stare.

“I love you,” he whispered.

She tried to move, get off him, but the pain was too much. The dart
had gone straight to her heart. She was stunned. How did he know?

“It won’t be long now, sweetie,” he said, his voice smooth, a quiet
whisper, as though he were sharing an intimate moment with the love of
his life.

Again she tried to get off of him, but she couldn’t feel her body
anymore. She was lightheaded.

“You’ll be dizzy soon,” he said softly. She tried to speak, but he put
his fingers to her lips, shushing her, smiling at her the way a lover
would.

“It’s OK, sweetie,” he said. “The dizziness will turn to darkness. You
won’t see your body fall apart. It’s OK.”

Her face started to contort. She looked into his eyes one last time,
and suddenly she understood what he was.

“I love you,” he whispered, and felt the sudden burst of his own
orgasm, and the tingle throughout his body, especially in his face.
Then he felt warmth.

Then pure heat. The vampire was dead now, but her body was about to
turn to ashes. He pushed her off him, and watched how quickly she
deteriorated. The beautiful body that just moments ago was a
passionate lover was now reduced to a smoldering, hot pile of ashes.

“I love you,” he whispered again, softly. “It’s a shame one of us had to die.”

It was then that he sat and waited for the ashes to cool. He had a few
shots of Jack Daniels, put his clothes on and retrieved his dart from
the pile of ashes.


It was just after Cronin did yet another line that he heard a knock on
the door. It was almost 3 a.m., and Cronin wondered if the noise had
awakened anyone. But then he remembered he had requested a room far
away from anyone else. And it was an old Motel 6 deep in Kinder, La.
It was a Wednesday night, and no one was there anyway. He was glowing,
warm from the ashes. And as satisfying as the sex had been, he felt
slightly aroused again.

He pulled his jacket on, put his .45 in his belt and held the dart
under his sleeve. Human or vampire, he would be prepared.

He looked through the peephole and saw a woman. She looked mid-30s,
extremely beautiful, but a frown on her pale face. She had his eyes.

Without trying, he had found the other vampire. She made no effort to
make her skin look less pale. She looked like someone who enjoyed
being a vampire.

“If I let you in, I will have to kill you,” he said through the door.
“I know what you are.”

“Is she dead?” The voice was lilting, sexy, but Cronin heard the pain
and fear in it. Clearly she loved the creature he had just destroyed.

“I’m sorry,” Cronin said. “It was her time.”

Silence. Dark, uncomfortable silence.

Then a deep scream that wasn’t unlike the other vampire’s orgasmic cry.

“You son of a bitch!” She screamed. “Do you know what a beautiful
creature you destroyed? How much history was there? You killed a
treasure, you fucker.”

He went to his suitcase, and pulled out some of his weapons. His
favorite was a handheld crossbow that had a clip of the darts and
worked like a machine gun. He and McHenry had invented it in the early
20th century. It was the only thing that worked.

There were so many myths. Sunlight didn’t kill vampires; it burned off
their skin and put them in a feral state that took months to recover
from. Eventually they would, but their appearance was never the same.
Holy water did nothing. Crosses did nothing.

Only sharp wood. Directly in the heart. It reduced them to ashes,
ashes he could use to live forever. He immediately got greedy,
thinking like a junkie in need of more.

“Can we talk?” He asked. “If I let you in, will you let me talk?”

“I’m going to wait outside until you come out, and then I am going to
kill your fucking ass,” she said.
He sat inside for an hour, almost dozing off. But his erection and the
rush of the ashes got the best of him and he went to the door.

“You still there?”

“Sunrise isn’t for two more hours, fucker,” she said.

“I’m going to open the door,” he said.

“Good,” she said. “And I will kill you.”

He opened the door and stepped back, expected her to fly in and attack
him. He had the dart under his sleeve, the crossbow in his left hand
ready to fire.

But she just looked in his eyes, puzzled, angry. And then she understood.

“You are one of us,” she hissed. “Why would you kill another one of us?”

He pointed the crossbow at her chest. One flick of his finger, and she
would be gone. He loved this feeling, the feeling of holding another
creature’s life in his finger.

He felt like God.

“I’m not one of you, sweetie,” he said lovingly, as if he had known
her all his life. “But I can’t live without you.”

And Ella suddenly knew. He was like them, but he wasn’t. He was a
vampire who lived on vampires. For the first time in her 270 year old
life, Ella was scared.


Ella was turned by Raven, a genius of a vampire who had come over from
England on a boat, ready to conquer the new world. He was beautiful,
powerful. His apprentice had been killed on the boat in a freak
accident, when he fell on a railing one night, and the wood had
pierced his heart. Avry had been with Raven for almost 500 years; the
great vampire lord was devastated.

He met Ella on the boat, speaking one night. Her husband had died from
the plague, and she was lonely. She was going to the new world with
his brother and her wife. When Raven talked of the loss of his dear
friend, Ella was smitten. When he took her soul with his bite, she was
willing. She had found the one true love of her life.

They enjoyed nearly 200 years of happiness and friendship until Raven
was killed by a bowhunter with a lucky shot. It was just an
unfortunate meeting and circumstance. The hunter was drunk, saw Raven
as a threat and fired, hoping for the best. He hit a miracle shot, and
one of the world’s great treasures was lost, just like that.

Ella drank the man’s blood, but made sure he died slowly and
painfully. It took days for him to die. She would lock him in the
basement during the day, keeping him too weak to fight. Then she would
torture him at night.

After nearly a week, he passed away. By then, Ella had turned his
pretty young daughter, Alice, into her new apprentice.

Now, all that was left of Alice Baumgartner was a few stray ashes on
the bed, some on this man’s face, and some in a small baggy he had
just put in his jacket. In a strange way, Alice was all that was left
of Raven, too. Ella felt a deep pain, and a deep anger. One she hadn’t
felt since Alice’s father.


“So one of us dies tonight,” Ella said in a sweet but sad voice.

Cronin smiled. “Not necessarily.”

“I will kill you, sir. Or you will have to kill me to stop me.”

He picked up a pair of glasses and filled them both with straight Jack Daniels.

“Forget your anger for a minute and have a drink,” he said, handing
her the glass.

She looked at him coolly, waiting for her chance to pounce. His smiled
disarmed her slightly.

“Your friend killed my friend. He probably killed another friend of
yours. Should we just keep going with his?”

She frowned and took a deep shot of the Jack. Damn, it was good. It
warmed her cool body.

“I don’t want to kill you,” he lied. “I want you to leave before dawn,
find a new apprentice and live on. I won’t get back this way for some
time.”

He poured her more Jack. She was close enough to pounce now, if she
wanted. But she eyed the crossbow warily. She knew she had no move
here. He would kill her in an instant.

And maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, she thought. Did she really want to
find another apprentice? Keep living without Raven? The undead life
hadn’t been the same without him. As much as she had loved Alice, she
had never gotten over Raven. Maybe it really was time.

Maybe this odd stranger was supposed to do it.

She took another long drink.

“You are going to kill me, aren’t you?” She asked. Her voice quivered,
not with fear but anticipation.

Cronin felt strange. The high of the ashes was wearing off. The
alcohol hadn’t kicked in. He suddenly felt something he wasn’t used to
feeling – sympathy for this creature.

“Yes,” he said. “That was the plan. Get you in here, make love to you,
then kill you.”

“Then let’s get on with it,” she said.


This time was different. This time, when she finished, she didn’t
attack. And then he finished without killing her. And they both lay
silently together, wondering who would move first.

They were enraptured, glowing from the sex and the anticipation. And
they both thought the same thing. “I’ve lived long enough.”

“Cord Cronin. Born Louis Depardeau, France. 1598.”

“Ella Samuels. England. 1738.”

She was warm from the alcohol and the sex, which had been more
fulfilling than any she’d had. Even without feeding. “I have to have a
new apprentice.”

Cronin rolled over and whispered to her.

“I have to kill another vampire.”

“I have about an hour until dawn,” she said.

They made love again. This time was even better.


Cronin felt her body underneath hers. Unlike Alice, Ella was a little
heavy, but still very attractive. She was soft, lumpy. She felt like…a
wife. Cronin didn’t want to kill her.

Ella felt strangely drawn to the man, this vampire chasing vampire. He
was beautiful, strong…he satisfied her main thirst unlike any other.

They made love with deep, heavy passion. Violently, but tenderly at
the same time. They moved in tandem, as if psychic, fulfilling every
need but one.

The thirst.
The thirst started in the stomach, but then it moved to the throat.
Feeling a lover’s heartbeat only made it worse. The cool nakedness
built the pulse. They moved together, up and down, up and down.
Deeper, harder. The orgasm was coming. So was the feeding.

It was tangible now. This time, there would be no letting go. The
bloodlust must be fed. The vampire must eat. And dawn was coming.

She finished before him, looking down and smiling. There was something
about him that touched her, a part of her long dead, perhaps even
before Raven. Maybe, she thought, maybe there was something that could
work between them. In a sick way, maybe they could find love.

But then the hunger took over.

Ella Samuels felt the bite in her heart, and realized what had
happened. She felt Cronin’s spastic orgasm, then her body went numb.
She started to feel dizzy.

The hunger had gotten to Cronin. He couldn’t handle it anymore. There
was something about her – maybe something worth saving. Maybe he could
have been happy with her.

But the hunger…God, his nose was burning.

“I love you,” he whispered, and felt the warmth of orgasm.

“I love you, too,” she said.

“It’s OK, sweetie,” he said. “The dizziness will turn to darkness.”

She was about to black out. “It’s a shame one of us had to die,” she said.

“Yes,” he whispered. “I love you.”

Then everything went dark, and Cord Cronin waited for the ashes to
cool, his face pale, drooling, shaking from his hunger.

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