The first body showed up in the early morning hours, floating in the Gowanis canal. Somebody did a bad job of tying it to a cinder block. It broke free of the turgid, poisonous sludge at the bottom to fetch up against a freighter dock where the cargo subs from New Atlantic put in. Pretty standard for this part of town till Forensics found two holes in the neck of the corpse. Whoever she was, she’d been drained of blood. The vampire jokes started immediately. Forensic said it had to be a psycho, a cult or somebody more savvy making it look like a psycho. After all, vampires aren’t real.
So it surprised everyone when the second and third bodies popped up. Hookers, one male, one female, same sudden anemia. The murders came under NYPD jurisdiction and they didn’t seem too concerned about it.
Then the fourth body showed up, the sixteen year-old niece of the Mars colony governor-general. She’d landed on earth two days before. Her body had bite marks on the neck, arms and thighs. Overnight the case went from a morbid curiosity to front-page news.
I came in early that morning, taking the tubeway in from Bay Ridge. My partner, the youthful and ambitious Regina Delmar, called me the night before with news that Captain Fabacio wanted to see us first thing. Reg and I had been on paperwork for a few weeks, cooling down from our high-profile involvement in the Snorge assassination plot. I hoped we’d get back to being regular detectives after the publicity died down.
The door guards waved me in to the Port Authority complex as I came up from the tubeway. They didn’t even look at my ID. I was a celebrity these days. Great.
The elevator whisked me up to the ops center. I wondered how many more times I would be taking this ride. I’d been a Port Authority cop for almost nineteen years; I could be out in a year. For most of that time I’d been a detective. My inability to keep my mouth shut kept me from promotion to the command ranks. Now I was Senior Detective and had the youngest Detective First for a partner.
The doors whisked open and Regina Delmar stood on the other side. Reg still looked fresh from the Academy. Hard-bodied as an aerobic instructor, with a tan, oval Spanish face and the temper to go with it. “Captain’s waiting,” she said with her usual economy of speech.
“Top of the morning to you too, my dear,” I said in my best (also worst) Irish accent. County Sligo being long ago and far away.
She sighed. “McManus, try not to get us in trouble this time.”
“Me,” I sputtered, shocked almost out of speech by the gross unfairness of it all. “Me get us into trouble! May I remind you of your part in the affair of The Lesbian Love Goddess? Shall we discuss how you acquired the street handle, ‘Topless’?”
She sighed again and I ended up following her into Captain Fabacio’s office to find Lieutenant Carnahan and Captain Fabacio already there. We sat after the usual pleasantries.
“What I have to tell you,” growled Fabacio, a pleasant motherly-looking woman who was neither, “must remain absolutely confidential or we could be facing a city-wide panic.”
Reg and I exchanged worried looks.
“You’ve heard about the so-called Vampire Murders out in Red Hook and Lower Manhattan.”
“At first we thought it was some kook playing Dracula. It isn’t. It’s far worse. It’s a big galaxy out there and there’s no real order to it. Things go on that we on Earth never even hear about. This is one of those things.”
“Captain?” I said, shrugging a question.
She looked me straight in the eye as if daring me to laugh. “There are vampires,” she said.
“What?” said Reg, shock written all over her face.
“Not the ones of myth of course,” continued the Captain. “No evil undead here. These vampires are an old species from a red dwarf star three hundred light years from here. They are called the Draoi. Evidently they visited our world in the past, snacking on the locals and spawning the legends but haven’t come back to our world for several hundred years. The Draoi quarantined Earth after they realized how vulnerable humans are to shock and blood loss. Apparently we’re the equivalent of beluga caviar. A small group of these vampires broke the quarantine, determined to get at, what I am told, is the tastiest blood anywhere.
“Oh my God,” I said, “blood-sucking gourmets from outer space.”
“Quiet, McManus,” said the Lieutenant.
“Draoi authorities sent us a special police operative to retrieve these people, dead or alive. We don’t have diplomatic ties or extradition to the Draoi. Hell, we never heard of them till last week. So this op will require special handling. You two, much to everyone’s surprise, have proven you can handle the wild and unusual with the Snorge and Arcturian incidents. More, you can both keep secrets. You’ll do both here.” She gestured to the Lieutenant.
He stood and walked over to the window looking out toward Lady Liberty. With a wave he polarized the glass, cutting the sunlight. Then he walked to the rear door and opened it. “Come in,” he said.
A woman followed him in. What a woman. Dressed from head to toe in black leather and red fabric uniform with subdued buttons and insignia, she stood an easy six feet tall. Her pale, flawless skin had an undercast of blue to it. Her eyes burned an emerald green, set off by blood-red hair that piled up like foam. Her body looked athletic but promised a full set of curves. She looked human only more so.
Of course, I thought slightly dazed. They’d have to look human to pass among us. Vampires are all about seduction.
“This,” said Captain Fabacio with a look that mingled revulsion and fascination, “is Police Officer Jelena of the Draoi. They don’t use last names outside of their own species and we’ve given her a courtesy rank of Lieutenant, which seems to correspond with her own rank. She speaks our language.”
“Is she a…” began Reg.
“Vampire?” finished Lieutenant Jelena.
She smiled and I think everyone in the room backed up. She had a beautiful set of canines-for a Doberman.
“Yes,” said Jelena with a slight almost middle-European accent. “It is the way of my people. But before you type me as some sort of demon, let me assure you that my kind does not live to kill. On the contrary, we are among the most gregarious of species. We live and mate with many others.”
“And they live to tell about it?” I asked, swallowing. My mouth felt dry and it got worse when those gem-bright eyes focused on me.
“Yes,” she said, “and relish it. We are an old, and frankly decadent people, always seeking new sensations. We’d never found a species before that attracted us and yet is so fragile. This mechanism you call shock is unknown to us. So we put you aside, but the rumors and stories survived. Now my people have returned. The ones who have come are evil and do not care that their human lovers cannot endure the experience.”
“Your job,” said Captain Fabacio, “is to work with the Lieutenant and to keep her under wraps while she is here. That means she stays with one of you at all times. Your stuff’s been moved to a special office with its own entrance. We can’t afford to have word get out about this and create yet another interstellar incident this year.”
“Any questions?” she said, as if it were a dare.
One would be too many and a thousand too few. I stood.
“Then get to it,” said the captain.
We walked over to our new offices, trailed by Jelena. I found everything there including, in its usual place, the holos of my wife and son. I closed the door after we walked into the room. The room had no windows.
“So,” I said, “you’re from a planet of blood-sucking fiends.”
From where she had perched on a desk, Reg groaned. “Great moments in interstellar relations and ‘You are there.’ Ignore him Lieutenant. It’s just his feeble sense of humor.”
“I understand,” replied Jelena calmly. “The situation must be quite bizarre for you. Consider this though: you may think of me as a monster, but in truth your world is a hell for me. A few minutes under your fierce yellow sun will kill me. If it wasn’t for allergy shots much of your plant life would make me ill, especially,” she shuddered, “garlic.”
Note to self, I thought. Don’t take her to dinner at Riccio’s.
“Being pierced by a large wooden splinter could be fatal,” complained Jelena, “it causes a reaction similar to anaphylactic shock.”
“Makes you wonder why your people risk it all just to nibble on a human neck,” said Regina.
“You do not begin to understand,” said Jelena in a suddenly husky voice. “We are a very sensual people, combining our need for sex and food into one act.” The look she gave Regina sent my blood racing and I wasn’t directly in front of it. “You see,” said Jelena with a languid smile, “you really do look good enough to eat.”
Color flew into Reg’s face and I could see her breathing go ragged. I reached into the box I keep by desk and pulled one out. Disturbed, Jelena turned to look at me.
“Donut?” I asked
We spent the rest of the afternoon familiarizing Jelena with the case file, which didn’t take long, then we went to the crime scene. Covered head to toe and with a tactical mask and sun goggles, she dared the weak, early March sunlight to tour all three spots before collapsing in the back of the car with the a/c blasting at full.
After the little incident where Jelena looked Reg over like an hor’dourve, Reg flatly refused to stay at home alone with Jelena. I got conned into taking her home with me. Figuring the Captain’s top-secret orders didn’t apply to my wife and not really caring if they did, I called Toni and let her know what was coming.
“You’re bringing home what?” she said.
“An alien,” I repeated. “She drinks blood but can enjoy cooked meat if it’s rare. I’ll bring home a pint of O-positive for her to drink. It’s just for tonight. Captain didn’t want to leave her in a hotel.”
“Afraid she’d eat the staff?”
“Okay, prime rib and potatoes then, cooked rare, served at seven. This I gotta see.”
“Oh, honey, no garlic.”
“Wonderful,” replied Toni. “It will be a regular Irish meal, no flavor at all. Just like when your Dad was alive.”
We pulled out of the PA complex in an unmarked air car up into the ‘official business altitude’. I had the canopy fully polarized even though the sun was setting. You could still make out New York in all its sordid, muscular splendor below. Streetlights and buildings lit up the darkling plain.
“Beautiful,” breathed Jelena, staring at the city. The way she said it raised my blood pressure. “We have no cities so vibrant and huge as this. Our world is poor in metals. We are long-lived and reproduce slowly. Were it not for aliens who visited our world, its unlikely we would have developed space flight.”
She told me more about her people as we flew out. “With little plant life, we developed as carnivores,” she said. “Blood became our way of life.”
“Sort of is for everybody,” I said, “one way or the other.”
We reached my home in Bay Ridge and dropped to street level. Toni and I owned a two-story with a garage in the basement and a small garden plot in back.
Toni greeted us at the door. My wife is Italian, short, pretty, fighting a few extra pounds. “Hey honey,” she said, giving me a kiss. “This must be Lieutenant Jelena.”
“Just Jelena,” said the red-haired vampire.
“Brian darling,” said Toni, “do ever meet any ugly women in your work?”
Yellow alert, I thought. There’s a line of possessive Sicilian blood in my wife’s family.
“How kind of you,” said Jelena.”And what attractive skin you have,” she said reaching out and touching Toni’s face.”So firm and moist.”
“Good,” said Toni, drawing back a tad.”Let’s hope the same can be said of the roast.”
The women chatted for a while as I made up drinks. For the life of me I could not imagine what about. I fixed Jelena a Bloody Mary with real blood. After a while Jelena drifted in, sat on the couch and we began to talk shop on the case. I brought up a point that had bothered me in the coroner’s report.
“How do they hold their victims with so little fight?” I mused.”There were no signs of struggle. Do they drug or stun them?”
“It’s a response to our sensual nature,” said Jelena.
I laughed.”No, really-”
She turned to face me. Suddenly it seemed we were very close and the room was warm. Her eyes seemed to glow with intensity. Colors became vibrant: the red of her hair, the green of her eyes. A heady perfume made my senses swim. I was dimly conscious of her lips on mine, tasting like ripe fruit. I could feel her nipples press against my shirt. Her lips moved off mine and down my neck.
“Butana, whore,” someone screamed. I heard a loud whack.
I shook it off, my senses coming back to me in a rush. Jelena lay half-stunned on the floor. My wife Toni was climbing over the back of the sofa with the large crucifix her mother gave her clutched in one hand. Armed with Jesus, she advanced on the prostrate vampire.
Large wooden crucifix. Red Alert.
“No, Toni,” I yelled, grabbing for my wife and lifting her off the floor before she could get a second shot in.
“Butana,” shrieked Toni. “I let you into my house…” Toni switched to Italian for speed cursing. No annoying consonants to slow the process.
Jelena backed away from the crucifix, frightened not of Jesus but by the proximity of wood and an enraged Sicilian.”I was just trying to show him how the victims are taken,” she said clutching her head.”We have great powers of seduction.”
This of course was the wrong thing to say. It took fifteen minutes to restore decorum to interplanetary relations. I finally mollified Toni and got her back to the kitchen. She took the crucifix.
“Feeding doesn’t have to be fatal,” sulked Jelena.”I was only going to take a little nip to make you understand what my people can do.”
“Actually,” I said,”it more to do with the presence of your lips on my neck, than your teeth. Human woman are territorial about their mates.”
“How peculiar,” said Jelena, wincing a she touched the ice-bag on her bruised skull. Fortunately, Tony belted her with the flat rather than the edge and she hadn’t been cut.”How do they get enough sexual variety to keep it interesting?”
“Good question,” said Toni entering with a tray.”What do you say honey?” she asked with a dangerous sweetness.”If you are going to keep showing up with naked partners and sex-starved vampires, how about I get to boff a mailman or a plumber?”
“Your partner was naked?” asked Jelena.
“Long story,” I returned.
Dinner lasted forever. I envied the prime rib, which had at least died quickly. Jelena retired to her room, pleading fatigue and injuries. Toni and I went to bed after we wedged a chair under the door and she hung garlic cloves over the window. In penance for the unexpected guest I gave my wife a long back rub that turned into some unexpected fun. Afterward Toni turned to me.”I want you to wear a cross.”
“Honey, she’s not the undead, she’s an alien. It was the wood in the cross that scared her.
“Do you love me?” she asked.
“Every minute of every day,” I replied.
“Then you’ll wear the cross.”
I smiled at my wife. Enjoying how good she looked without clothes. “Sure, honey.”
Morning came. I got up quietly, showered then picked up the gold cross on its delicate chain. Jelena and I departed without waking my wife. I polarized the windows on the special cruiser I’d been issued and used the infrared to navigate. We got to the station to pick up Reg, entering from a restricted zone used to shuttle VIPs and other people we didn’t want seen. To my surprise, I not only found Reg; I found Freddy, or Fredericka, as he preferred. Freddy was a cross-dressing hooker who I saved from a group of outraged dockers one night. He peddled information along with his butt.
I hadn’t seen him since he returned from Virginia, where I stashed him after he put us onto the Snorge assassins. He wore a white blouse, black leather pants and looked unfairly like a pretty girl.
“Hey, McManus,” he said, tossing back long black hair. “Still mad at me for dating your nephews?”
“Very funny,” I said sourly. I’d hidden Freddy at the American Museum of Frontier Culture in Staunton, Virginia where my brother served as curator. My nephews took him to a square-dance. They concealed the fact that they’d almost immediately figured Freddy wasn’t a real girl so they could have a little fun at my expense. I’d damn near had a stroke.
“Hey, is she the vampire cop?” said Freddy, pointing with his chin at Jelena. My jaw hung open. I looked at Reg.
She shrugged and looked back. “He knew when he showed up.”
Jelena looked at me.”He?”
“Another long story,” I said.
“How did you find out about the vampires?” I demanded.
Freddy smiled coyly.”I get information,” said Freddy. “It’s why I’m so loved and useful. I can’t reveal my sources, but in this case I have a lot of information.”
“How’d you feel about taking a shot to the head with a police flashlight,” I growled.
“I’d prefer a nice spanking,” said Freddie.
I counted to ten mentally.
“Okay, okay,” said Freddy, “don’t get mad. I’ve got stuff you need to know.”
I sighed and sat at the desk. “Usual rates,” I said.
“Yes and no,” said Freddy. “This is personal with me. I want in. I want to help.”
I looked at Reg. “I think someone drugged my coffee.”
“I’m serious, dammit,” said Freddy. “The first girl that was pulled out of the Gowanis, her name was Angela. We used to date a few years back when I first got to New York. We were very close for a while.”
“You like girls?” I said, surprised.
Freddy smiled. “I like everybody, McManus. I’m very democratic.”
The room stayed quiet for a bit. “Sorry about your friend, Freddy,” I said.
He looked at me.”Yeah.”
“I believed you the first time, copper.”
“Freddie,” I said, “we can’t use you on a stake out.”
“Well then,” said Freddie in a surprisingly grim tone, “I guess I’ll have plenty of time on my hands to talk to reporters. That would be a shame, this being a covert op and all that.”
“You want to be held as a material witness, Freddie?” I returned.
“Thought of that,” said Freddie crossing his legs demurely. “If I don’t make regular check-ins with my lawyer, he opens an envelope, calls the media and files a writ of habeas corpus. As soon as I get out, I start singing in my husky tenor.”
“You sing?” asked Reg.
“Yeah, I do some nightclub work. Lousy pay, worse hours. Life’s hell for an artist.”
“Excuse me,” I snapped.
Everyone looked at me. I reviewed my options only to realize I’d been mousetrapped.
“OK dammit,” I said finally.”We need some bait anyway. But you’ll sign a liability waiver so if you get killed in this op, no one can sue.”
Freddie gave a bitter laugh. “McManus, my family would be delighted to learn I was killed while helping the police. I might even be reinstated posthumously.
I looked at Reg. She smiled enigmatically.
“Freddie, meet Lieutenant Jelena of the Draoi police force.”
Jelena nodded.”I think she-
“He,” I interrupted,”he just likes women’s clothes.”
Freddie stuck his tongue out at me.
“-he will do very well as bait. He looks quite fresh.” she said, canines in evidence again.
“Freddie turned out to have a lot of information of dubious quality about goings on in Redhook and the submarine dock area. Strange pale people had been seen at night. Caucasians aren’t unknown in Redhook, but they were a minority. We decided to stake out the scene of the most recent sighting Freddie knew of. Off we went. Two Port Authority cops, a vampire and a transvestite. We pulled into an alley near a lot, around 2AM. I wanted to bring some garlic to supplement our hunting crossbows, but Jelena couldn’t stand the stuff. She carried a wooden-bolt firing air pistol and a stunner attuned to her kind.
“Your stunners would be marginally effective against my species at best,” she warned. “These will be more effective then your metal slug-throwers.”
“How about holy water?” asked Reg.
“A myth your priests made up to sell holy water,” she scoffed.
I wired Freddie for sound and video, making him swallow a locator pill as well.
“How long does this thing stay with me?” he asked suspiciously.
“Till you’re disemboweled,” I replied.
“Well, I guess I’d better get out on the street,” he said.
“Last thing,” I said.”No actual tricks. I don’t care how you turn them down but you aren’t boffing anyone for pay on a police operation.”
“Humph,” said Freddie,”in addition to restraint of trade, what about blowing my cover?”
“Put it this way, your cover is the only thing you’ll be blowing tonight.”
“Oh,” sneered Freddie,”great half-witticism, copper.”
“Go be a vampire yum-yum,” I replied.
Freddie opened the car door and walked out of the alley. The street he walked onto a street lined with three and four story brick buildings, some of them hundreds of years old. They housed the poor, some dockworkers and the occasional artist looking for cheap space. Those that were occupied anyway. Some had small commercial businesses on their first floors. A few seedy bars operated closer to the sub docks, which never really shut down. Occasionally a commercial hover truck rumbled by. Freddie seemed to be the only hooker in the area. The vampire attacks must have made everyone cautious.
We settled down to do what so much of cop work is- waiting. Reg played with her crossbow. I watched Freddie’s screen. Jelena sipped something from a sealed container through a straw.
Freddie turned down a few dockworkers and one guy who rolled up in a car, quoting apparently outrageous prices, or assuring them that what he had wasn’t contagious. I shook my head. It felt voyeuristic. This was Freddy’s life, if you could call it that. He was hardly any older than my son, at least in years. Freddy seemed to have been born with an old and very weary soul. I’d tried to get him off the street a dozen times. I know how this sort of life ends up. He laughed at each attempt. I wanted to give up on him, yet somehow never did. Now here he was, trying to avenge a lost friend, an enigma wrapped in riddle, wearing fishnets.
Nothing happened for hours. I caught myself starting to doze and slapped myself lightly, shifting position. I looked at the locator and frowned.”Freddie,” I said hitting the mike that would whisper in his ear.”Don’t wander so far from the car. You’re almost three blocks away.”
“Yes, mother,” replied Freddie. He turned back and I saw the mouth of an alley.”And stay back from-” I began.
Too late. Dark figures exploded out of the alley. Freddie turned to run and I could see more coming out of an open sewer hole.”Help!” screamed Freddie.”Oh, God help.” They piled on him, no seduction here.
I slammed the car into drive and we roared out of the alley screeching into a left turn.
“They’ve got him,” yelled Reg watching the screen as I watched the road.”Maybe a dozen. He’s fighting. Damn! The picture just went.” Freddie’s screams went muffled then faded too.
We reached the spot in seconds, piling out of the car. Jelena jumped out first, her air gun and stunner both out. All we could see was an empty street. I looked down and saw a manhole cover still partially open and cursed. Reg dove back into the car emerging with the locator and flashlights. “Underground,” she snapped.
“Sewers,” I said.”Why is it always sewers?”
Jelena flipped up the sewer cover without effort.”I’ll go first,” she said,”I think I see best in the dark.” She dropped down into the hole in a jump that would fracture a human’s ankle. They’re stronger than we are, I remembered, got to hit them harder.
I climbed down. Reg handed me the locator and then cocked both her crossbow and mine.
“That way,” I gestured, taking the lead from Jelena. We started down a side tunnel on the edges of a noisome trough. Reg made a retching sound and my stomach lurched in sympathy. “Christ what a stink.”
“What stink?” said Jelena. Her eyes seemed to be glowing in the low light of the tunnel. The sight raised the hair on the back of my neck.
“Explains a lot,” said Reg.”Taste and smell are linked in humans, must be different for Draoi.”
“This way,” I said, gesturing with the scanner. We headed through various chambers and levels sometimes having to crouch to get through. I tried to avoid the worst muck, but figured that I’d need a new set of shoes no matter what.
We came to a larger open area, dimly lit by a few naked, low-wattage bulbs on the walls. These were hooded and I couldn’t see how far away the roof was.”We’re getting closer,” I whispered. I started forward, then froze. Something felt wrong. Impatient Jelena pushed past me.
“Wait,” I whispered, trying to catch up with her. Reg followed me in.
A heavy fabric and rope net fell on us, fouling the crossbows. Through a tear in the fabric, I could see the glimmering eyes of vampires above us. They’d been hiding above the lights. More nets fell. I heard a familiar buzzing and got woozy. Civilian stunner I thought, not powerful, at least I won’t have a headache when I-
-wake up! Awareness flooded back. I looked around. Reg and I both hung from beams by ropes, our feet barely touching the floor. Two male vamps held Jelena’s arms behind her back. A large, dark-haired man faced her, holding her bolt pistol. About a dozen men and women filled the space, which looked to be an old, abandoned subway station from before the electromagnetic tubeways. I could see Freddie, bound hand and foot, sitting with a goofy smile on his face. He looked stoned.
I looked at the male vamp. He looked back, his eyes glowing in the low light.”You’re under arrest, asshole,” I said.
He laughed, displaying the large canines.”So the older male is back with us. He doesn’t look very tasty. Does he, Officer Jelena?”
Two young female vamps looked at me and laughed.”He looks good to us,” they said. One had the same flame red hair as Jelena, the other was a cool blonde. They were gorgeous. They walked over to me and began playing with my clothes. At close range they looked and smelled even more wonderful. I wondered distantly if I wore the same goofy smile as Freddy.
“Snap out of it, Brian,” I heard Reg yell. I was confused, snap out of what? I looked away from the girls with an effort.
Jelena stared back at the lead vamp.”Gregarth. Release us. You are only postponing the inevitable.”
The one addressed as Gregarth smiled coldly.”I don’t think so. If others follow you, I will offer them the same thing I offer you. A long life in a feast of blood.”
“What?” she said.
“Release her,” said Gregarth, gesturing with the pistol.”Take the girl and amuse yourselves. He smiled at Reg.”I have plans for these others.” Most of the vamps gathered around freddie picked him up and disappeared up the stairs. Two remained with me.
“Gregarth,” complained the cool blonde. “Let us stay and play.”
He spared me an indifferent glance. “Very well.” He walked over to Reg, who glared at him.
My fan club giggled appreciatively. They knelt and began pulling at my clothes.
“Just think of it,” said Gregarth, turning back to Jelena.”You could stay, remain with us here forever. Dining on the most succulent blood the galaxy has ever produced. This planet is not so bad, so long as you stick to the cities and the night. But the food, the food,” he said dreamily drawing out the last word and stroking Regina’s throat, “the food is wonderful.” Reg turned her head in disgust.
I could see Jelena’s breast heaving, her teeth showed slightly, resting between parted lips. “You just use them;” she said, “you give pleasure back only with death.”
“So what?” sneered Gregarth. “If you find one you like, you don’t have to eat him all at once. Give yourself the freedom to be selfish. It’s not our fault they are so fragile.”
The female vampires kneeling before me giggled as they finished undoing my pants. Then they began doing something to guarantee a good blood supply to the area they were interested in. With the part of my brain not totally dazed by pheromones, psychic suggestion, or whatever else they used to induce utter lust, I realized that after the little darlings fulfilled their objective, they were going to use their little pointies on my big pointy.
Jelena advanced on Reg, pressing against her. Reg struggled feebly as Gregarth, grinning hugely, backed away evidently content to watch. Jelena embraced Reg, her green eyes boring into Reg’s dark brown ones. Reg moaned and tried to arch herself away but only ended up pressed harder against Jelena, who pulled open Reg’s jacket, running her hands over my partner’s taut body. Unable to resist further, Reg whimpered, “No.”
Jelena drew her close as Reg’s eyes rolled up and she leaned back in submission. The vampire’s arms reached inside Reg’s jacket, cupping her breasts. Her lips brushed Reg’s pulsing throat. Jelena’s hands moved sliding down the back of Reg’s pants.
“Yes,” cried Gregarth, “yes.”
Suddenly Jelena jumped back from Regina, who slumped in the ropes. Jelena turned to face Gregarth with a pistol in her hand.
Reg’s back up gun, I thought muzzily, how clever.
Jelena fired three rounds into Gregarth’s astonished face, right through the forehead, then spun toward me. He fell. Jelena’s bolt-gun flew from Gregarth’s hand landing somewhere in the dark with a splash. My vamps dropped what they were doing and hissed at Jelena. She shot both in the forehead. Dropping the empty gun, she leapt on Reg, wrapping her legs about my partner’s waist.
She wants us all to herself, I thought, my brain starting to clear.
It wasn’t the case. She boosted herself up on Reg’s body and seized the ropes suspending Reg. In one swift move she bit through them. The women tumbled to the ground. A male vamp appeared at the head of the stairs, snarling at us.
Jelena hauled Reg to her feet. “Get McManus loose,” she demanded.
“I can’t bite through rope,” yelled Reg. She turned to engage the vampire coming down the stairs, stopping him with a side thrust kick that slammed him into the wall.
Jelena cursed, ran over and leapt on me as she had Reg. My face disappeared into her impressive cleavage as she pulled up to bite the ropes. Knowing what would happen, I braced and didn’t fall. I looked up into her cold pale face and she smiled evilly, kissed me hard and leapt off. Damn, I thought, she bit my lip.
The headshot vampires stirred slowly, coming off the floor.
Of course, I thought numb with horror; those were just lead bullets. “Look out,” I yelled.
Reg decked the male vamp again with a roundhouse kick, then dropped an ax kick on his neck with a sickening crack. He stayed down. Alive and flopping but out of the fight for now.
Gregarth, or what had been Gregarth, stumbled to his feet and stood there swaying, his forehead a mass of pulped flesh and bone. I tried to get my pants back up and over the sort of erection you get when you are sixteen. Terror helped as more vamps flooded into the room.
Gregarth advanced on me. No intelligence remained in his eyes. The bullets had destroyed his higher functions. “Food,” he drooled. “Fooooood.”
“You’ve got to destroy his entire brain,” yelled Jelena from the stairwell where she and Reg fought a clutch of femvamps.
Fighting revulsion and fear I backed away from Gregarth. He advanced toward me, arms outstretched, an imbecilic smile on his ruined face. I looked around; spotting a fire ax the nest must have liberated while fixing up their new home. I seized it and turned to face the monster.
He was on top of me. I stepped back, screamed like a girl and swung for all I was worth. The ax sheared through flesh and bone and Gregarth’s head dropped off, falling to the floor with a sickening wet sound.
Jelena and one femvamp were tied up in a knot, the second head shot one lay unmoving, a stake in its chest. The third had Reg down. She was clearly losing. I ran over and slammed the ax into the thing’s mid section. It shrieked like a human woman and I almost threw up. As it flopped away from Reg I reversed the ax and brought the blade down. It’s not a woman, it’s not a woman, I had to keep repeating. Lord Jesus Christ it’s not a real woman.
Jelena grabbed the vamp she fought and slammed it into a wall. “No,” screamed the femvamp as I advanced with the ax. “I surrender. I give up.”
“Wait,” demanded Jelena, as I stood irresolute. She produced cuffs and locked the prisoner. “You are under arrest,” announced Jelena. She looked at the male vamp flopping on the floor. “You too,” she said. “No need to cuff him.”
I stared in shock. That’s right, I thought looking around. They are people. Not my kind, but people.
Reg got off the floor and looked at me. “They didn’t give us a choice,” she said.
“No,” I said,”but I don’t have to like it. “I’d been a PA cop for nearly twenty years, dropped lots of goons with stunners, clubs and fists. I’d never killed anyone. God, I felt sick.
We heard a distant scream.
“Freddy,” said Reg, her eyes wide. She spotted our crossbows lying by a wall and handed one to Jelena. I kept the comforting weight of the axe.
“Follow me,” yelled Jelena. I hefted the ax and did. We raced up the stairs and into the next chamber.
We found Freddie tangled with a clutch of vampires. They seemed to be indifferent to his gender issues, people just playing with whatever appealed to them. The scream seemed to have been of somebody’s satisfaction. They were still playing and hadn’t gotten around to teeth.
“Freeze, police,” we yelled. The vamps looked up into the crossbows and ax. One made a sudden move. Reg shot him in the chest and he flopped backward, the stunner falling from his dead hand. The others gradually abandoned Freddie. He snapped out of their spell, pulled his pants up and slugged the nearest male vamp in the eye.”No freebies,” he yelled. Then looking at me, he said. “Out-of-towners, they’re all the same. Cheap.”
Reg and I left the cuffing and restraining to Jelena, wanting to keep our distance from the vamps. We marched them, dragging the crippled ones back to the sewer where we’d entered. I got to the cruiser and called the Captain’s private number. An hour later a black van appeared. Men in what looked like spacesuits came out. We brought the vamps up from the sewers. They were hooded, bound further, and tossed in the van heading for the military base on Governor’s Island.
Freddie begged us to stop at his home for a change of clothes and a shower complaining that the sewer stink was killing him. Reg and I changed and cleaned up at the station. Hours later, after a debriefing, we found ourselves at Governor’s Island. A Navy doctor checked us over and pronounced us OK. He disappeared as a full Admiral walked in. The Admiral kept it brief. “Good work,” he said. “You two may have a future in Intelligence.”
“It would surprise most people who know me,” I replied. “Besides, I plan to retire before long.”
“We’ll see,” replied the admiral. “I don’t see you as a man who could spend a lot of time sitting on his ass.”
“Watch me,” I replied.
“Your vampire friend and her prisoners are leaving PDQ,” said the Admiral.
“Where’s she now?” asked Reg.
“She was outside in the parking lot, talking with that young police woman you came in with.”
“Freddie,” I said,” is not-”
Reg kicked my ankle.
“-still on duty,” I gritted, my ankle throbbing.
“If you want to say goodbye to Lieutenant Jelena,” concluded the Admiral, “then you’d better do it now. I’ll take you to the shuttle entranceway.”
We followed him through the complex till we came to the shuttle gate. He bade us goodbye. We found Jelena standing by a window looking out its polarized window at the afternoon.
She turned to us with a small smile as we walked up. “Mission accomplished,” she said.
“Yep,” I returned.”Thanks to you. We were in serious trouble down there.”
“And for a second you weren’t sure I wasn’t going to take Gregarth up on his offer”
We both laughed nervously but didn’t answer.
“I don’t imagine that we will see you again,” said Regina. I could tell that, like me, she was somewhat relieved at the prospect.
“No,” said Jelena, “our worlds will remain quarantined from each other. Our people will be told to avoid yours under penalty of law. Earth, with its killer sun is a version of hell to my people. It’s only redemption is your delicious blood, which we cannot have. For those with discipline, the mating and feasting could be done safely but few have such discipline.
“Goodbye, McManus, goodbye, Delmar,” she turned and left without a backward look disappearing into the ramp that would take her to the Naval shuttle at the far end. I wondered what the crew would make of her, or more, what she might make of them. We headed back to the parking deck.
“Odd,” I said. “I thought Freddy would stick around to say goodbye. After all, she saved his mini-skirt clad ass too. He was here earlier.”
“He might have said goodbye before,” said Reg. “The Admiral said they were out in the parking lot.”
“Maybe he’s jealous about how much better she looks in leather.”
Reg snorted. “Maybe. It looked as if Earth might be better for Jelena than she suspected. She certainly had better color than when we met her. Almost pink.”
Suddenly Reg grabbed my arm. “Did you leave the cruiser door open?” she asked pointing to our black aircar. It was parked in the shade of deck but I could see she was right. The back door stood ajar. I could see a naked human leg hanging out. We looked at each other, drew our stunners, and ran for the car. We came up on it fast.
Freddy lay inside on his back, a fashionable black dress up around his neck, underwear scattered about. Two bite marks could be seen on his pale exposed throat.
“Is he?” asked Reg.
“No,” said Freddie, opening one eye. “But damn, that woman is amazing.” He looked down.”Whoops,” he said. “Jeez, you’d think she pull a guy’s dress back down.”
I looked on speechless. Reg seemed fascinated by something.
“You know he’s got a really big…” began Reg.
I looked at her.”Don’t say it.”
(c) Ed McKeown. All Rights Reserved
Tags: Bloodlust-UK, Bloodsucking Gourmets from Outer Space, Dracula, Ed McKeown, Short Story, Vampire, Vampire Fiction
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