Zombies vs Vampires, part 30

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.

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“Come with me.” The Mistress walked past Leech, expecting Tom, Danielle and Siobhan to follow her. When they didn’t move, she rounded on them. She was so used to being obeyed, that she didn’t know what to say to get their cooperation.

“Where are you going to take us?” Danielle asked. She wasn’t ready to trust the Mistress about anything.

“There is a room, downstairs, that we use for communication. The others will be there. And…. I have to talk with an important…. Person.” The Mistress was practically squirming, this was so unnatural for her. She caught sight of Leech, staring at her- surprised, but also, obviously, calculating how he could use it to his advantage. She could not let him see her like this any longer. Putting some steel back into her voice, she tried again. “I must talk with my sire. He is the most powerful of vampires, and the most ancient, in Europe. He shall know how to solve the…. problem that has started on the streets, if anyone does.”

“It’s not every day you get to hear the king of the vampires.” Tom said.

“You shall see him. We have video calling set up.”

“Of course you do. This is fucking crazy.” Siobhan said. “Why should we see him? If you people really are vampires, how do we know he doesn’t have some sort of hypnosis stare?”

Tom nodded agreement. He hadn’t thought of that possibility, despite being more inclined than Siobhan to believe the Mistress was a vampire. On the off chance that she really was what she said, they should be more wary about tricks.

“We’re trapped in here already.” Danielle said. “I want to find out as much as I can about whatever’s going on out there. If we watch out for each other, we should be okay. At least, we should be in less danger.”

Tom looked to Siobhan. She broke from glaring at the Mistress to give him, and then Danielle, a nod. They would follow, warily, and see what the mysterious Him had to say.

“Go on then. Let’s hear what He has to say.” Tom gestured in the direction the Mistress had been heading.

Scowling, the Mistress turned and strode off. Leech ushered for Tom, Danielle and Siobhan to follow, but they only walked as far as him. Tom put a hand on Leech’s shoulder, and pushed firmly. “After you. We insist.”

Perhaps Leech had not been planning anything untoward. But his expression said otherwise. Tom gave him the blandest of smiles, and pressed him forwards.

They followed Leech and the Mistress into a corridor. On their left were doors to the bedrooms, on the right, presumably, service rooms. They rounded a corner, then Leech raced ahead of the Mistress to open a door on the right. They entered a stairwell, decorated in the same black and gold as the penthouse.

As she walked down the stairs, the Mistress straightened her back, set her shoulders, and more or less regained her aloof composure. When Leech opened the door on the next landing for her, she glided through it, ready to face whatever was on the other side.

It was another large room, though smaller than the penthouse. Curtains blacked out the windows, and in front of them were several large screens, flanked by tall loudspeakers. A wide couch, running almost from one side of the room to the other, faced the screens, with yet more speakers behind them, facing the screens.

The entertainment set up took up the farthest half of the room. Closer to the elevator were bookshelves and display racks and cases. Almost all the spines were worked leather, looking very old, but there was a cluster of paperbacks on the bottom shelf. They didn’t need to look closely to guess this was a collection of pop culture vampire tales, full of sparkling or suave bloodsuckers. The racks had much more interesting contents, and Tom steered Danielle and Siobhan toward them.

There were weapons on the racks, swords, clubs, throwing stars, flails and more. They were in a variety of styles, from multiple periods. Not one of them would be a replica. The swords were unsheathed, scabbards mounted behind them where they had one. Guns would have been preferable, if any of them had known how to handle them, and any of the ones on display had been less than two centuries old.

Danielle was first to choose her sword. Picking a katana, she stepped back and tested its weight and balance until she had a feel for the perfect grip. Tom and Siobhan didn’t have Danielle’s confidence with swords. She picked a light, slim blade with a shine that told of razor sharpness and a hilt decorated with gold filigree and gems in the pommel. He found something longer and heavier, that was still light enough for him to handle one handed if need be. There was a commando dagger below it. He sheathed the sharp stiletto like knife, and clipped it to his belt before lifting the sword.

Leech had been about to scurry around the couch to work on something on a table between it and the screens. But he stopped when he spotted the movement by the weapons rack, and hurried over. Annoyed, the Mistress watched him go with a scowl and a low hiss. The sibilant sound became louder when she saw what had got his attention.

“Put those down! The Mistress’s weapons are ancient and priceless!”

Tom stepped forward and raised his sword. He was still learning its balance, but its nature was to float easily where its wielder desired. He wanted the tip at just the right height to bring Leech to a rapid halt, staring at it as it danced before his eyes.

“They’re sharp, too. We’ll take good care of them, don’t worry.” Taking a step forward, Tom had Leech scurrying backwards.

The creepy little man looked at the Mistress, hoping for some action or support from her. She looked from him to the three humans, who were becoming more troublesome by the minute, and were now armed. Her sigh managed to convey aggravation, resignation and disgust. “Fetch the others. When you are back, get the computers ready immediately.” she told him.

Leech retreated from the sword point, finding a panel in the wall that was actually a door. He hardly even needed to step through it before turning around and leading three figures into the room.

There were two women and a man, each of them beautiful in a bland way, and dressed in expensively cut, equally forgettable clothes. They strode toward the couch, not noticing the humans in the room at first. Then one of the women, blonde hair almost white and dark eyes in sharp contrast to bloodless skin, sniffed them out. She turned toward the food smell, and was about to leap when she saw the blades that would greet her.

“Humans? In the tower? And armed? What is going on?” the blonde vampire asked. She eyed them for a moment longer, then turned to the Mistress for answers.

“Have you seen what is happening outside? This is a strange night, and unprecedented things are happening.” The Mistress gave a dismissive wave with her reply.

The second new woman, equally pale skinned, twisted a strand of her glossy black around a finger. She turned her feet in to point at each other in a way she must have thought was coquettish, and spoke in a squeaky little girl lisp that immediately grated. “You must know that we never go out before midnight. Esmerelda and me were enjoying Marvin, and have only just looked out of the windows. Whatever is going on down there? Have the mortals found us out? Are these three tasty examples here to cut off our heads?” She finished with a giggle that left Tom tempted to try.

“Something is happening, Lucille, but I do not know just what. He is calling us. I believe He knows what has transpired. We should take our seats.” The Mistress walked around the end of the couch and dropped into the soft embrace of its lush cushioning. “Is it ready, Leech?”

“It is, Mistress, it is. Connection has been made, and the encryption is being done.” Leech was lining up three laptops that were on the table in front of the couch. The middle one faced the Mistress, the outer ones were angled slightly away, to take in the length of the seat. Each screen was dominated by a black window, with a circular buffer icon rotating in its centre.

The other three vampires climbed over the back of the couch to join the Mistress, Marvin on her left, Esmerelda and Lucille on her right. Siobhan used her sword to point to the far left end of the couch, and led Tom and Danielle to stand there, so they weren’t looking at any of the screens head on. Leech came over to join them, then took two careful steps sideways when he looked at all the blades.

One by one, the buffer symbols disappeared, and three slightly different angles on the same scene resolved onto them. A man, who looked to be in his late forties, was sat in a leather chair with a high back and large wings. He wore a sharply tailored suit that could have been cut any time from the 1950s on. His face was thin, but not gaunt, with disapproving, but not angry, air. There was something about his eyes that was unnerving, but the screens weren’t capable of displaying just what.

As they watched, the man looked around, staring out of each screen in turn. As his head moved, it faded in and out of view. Then he disappeared completely, returning blocky and pixilated, slowly rebuilding to his previous level of detail. All the while, the chair and the wood panelled wall behind it, were shown in the same, clear detail.

“Vampires do not have reflections, so they cannot be seen by some cameras. The webcam cameras in laptops are mirror-less, but they and the software can sometimes get confused.” Leech said, quietly, for the benefit of the other humans present. None of them would admit it, but they were each glad to have had it explained to them.

There was a sigh. It was surprisingly loud, coming not from the tiny speakers in the laptops, but being fed through the powerful home cinema system.

“What have you done, Heidi?” Lucille giggled to hear Him use the Mistress’s birth name, covering her mouth and feigning an attempt to muffle the sound. Whether He heard her or not, He carried on, “And why are there humans watching this.”

Danielle, Tom and Siobhan reacted to His ice filled words by tensing up. Their stances became more defensive, and their swords lifted. His head whipped around, to stare, as best He could, out of the screen nearest them. The machines got confused, and he disappeared for a moment. “And armed?” He said, before He was back on screen. “Those are dangerous blades. They should not….” He stopped himself, just as his image resolved enough to show anger and concern that he forced from his face.

“I apologise, Sire. This is not a normal day. I….”

“No, it is not. You have created half raised, bastard undead. Zombies, the mortals would call them. We prefer not to talk of them at all.”

“Sire? I didn’t….”

“That is the problem, though, is it not? I didn’t tell even you. The last time was so terrible, those who were there wanted to just forget it.”

“Sire. I didn’t cause this.” The Mistress’s voice lacked conviction. Even before it was explained to her, she had some understanding of what must have happened.

“You caused it. Or one of those young cretins with you did. No, I can see it on your face. Your blood has power. It raises the dead, siring your simpering brood. But you have to give them enough.”

“Glenn. He cut me.” The Mistress’s hand went halfway to her brow, to the barest memory of a wound, then dropped, guiltily, back to her lap.

“And the barest fleck- a drop, or a fraction of a drop- mixed with his blood. Enough to animate a corpse, and give it the barest of drives with no higher function. Hunger, of course. Perhaps something you could call a drive for revenge, though he won’t truly understand what it is, of course.”

“This has happened before?” the Mistress said. “When? How was it stopped?”

“The Black Death was a plague, but not the one the mortals believe it was. It took much effort, but we managed to write their history so that they do not know what it truly was. The memories linger, deep in the collective subconscious, I suppose, so that they keep returning to tales of the living dead. Today’s mortals may be able to contain the contagion before it spreads too far. They have much more powerful weapons.”

“The…. zombies are at the base of our tower. They may get in. How do we destroy them?”

“They are similar to us in many ways. Destroy the head or….” He looked toward Siobhan, Danielle and Tom again. Realising He had already given away too much, He decided to carry on. “Destroy the head, or remove it from the body, and both will be done. But any other wound will heal up and regrow, given enough time and some food. It will not grow back as clean and healthy as for us. Over time, they become ever more putrid, though they never truly decompose. They do not like direct sunlight, but they are not as…. averse as we are. But the most dangerous difference between them and us is how they make more like themselves. They are much simpler than we are. They do not need to pass on blood. Zombism, if that is what you wish to call it, is passed on like an infection. Their saliva mixing with a victim’s blood is enough to force a change.”

Leech had started twitching and fidgeting. He gave in to what was disturbing him, and pulled a phone from his trouser pocket. His scowl dropped into an expression of worry, perhaps even fear. “Mistress….”

“Not now!”

“Mistress, this is important. Someone is taking the lift up to the penthouse.”

All four vampires turned to look at Leech now. Even the face on the screen shifted its attention to him.

“It could be….” The Mistress glanced toward Danielle, and chose not to finish the sentence.

“Or it might not.”

“Go and see. I want a report from you when this night is done. I expect to be told everything, promptly it is over.” The Mistress and her minions stood. “Do not let them feed on you. They draw extra strength from our blood. And what would happen to you is…. unspeakable.”

The Mistress had turned away from the screen when she heard this. Only Tom saw the look on her face. It told him more than he wanted to know about Terry’s fate.

“No you don’t, Lucy. We’ll carry the swords.” Siobhan had stepped forward and raised her blade across the brunette vampire’s path, halting her progress toward the weapon rack.

“Lucille.” the vampire said, all but stamping her foot. As if using the wrong name was the worst thing Siobhan was doing.

Siobhan moved around to stand in front of Lucille, her blade raised so the tip almost touched the end of the vampire’s pretty little nose. “Whatever. You just stay away from the weapons. Lucy.”

“Let the mortals play with their weapons. They are so very good at heroics.” He said. His right hand lifted, disappearing as it made a signal to someone off camera, and the three screens went black.

The stand off drew out for a while longer, until Lucille sighed and pivoted on her heel. “Very well, play with the shiny things, if you must.” She joined the other vampires, and the Mistress led them toward the door.

Siobhan had her sword ready, tracking the vampires as they moved past her. When Tom and Danielle joined her, she whispered, “Did he say the swords are magic? It’s like, the more I hold it, the more I know the right moves to make with it.”

“I feel it too.” Danielle said. “I’ve practised with a bokken for my martial arts, but when I picked this up, it was like I knew moves levels above where I’ve got.”

“Me too.” Tom lifted his sword, and pointed it at the vampires by the door. “Let’s see if we have to use it.”

“If you keep us from weapons, you may get us all killed.” the Mistress said as she pushed the door open.
“We’ll see about that.” Siobhan said, sword lowered but ever ready.

They had stepped into the stairwell before any of them saw the figure on the landing. As the others turned toward it, Tom sensed a very different motion from Marvin. Before the weedy dandy went any further toward an attack, Tom shifted his weight, and raised his sword enough to be ready and threatening. He didn’t even look around as Danielle reacted to finally meeting her brother.

Part 31

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