“Right over left, left over right makes a knot both tidy and tight.”
Alexander the Great*
Welcome to day 3 of Vampiric Talents. I know not everyone checks this blog daily or you may be new so here's the rundown: Vampiric Talents is a flash fiction series I'm doing this week about a vampire named Cordell. Please read the earlier episodes if you're new. There both the past two days posts. Scroll down or use the archive on the left side of the blog. If you're an email subscriber or don't want to/can't/don't feel like doing either of those methods you can use the two links below to pages with those two previous episodes. Reread the stories if you don't remember what was going on either.
Now enjoy the stories!
(Episode 1) http://langdonflashfictions.blogspot.com/2012/08/todays-flash-fiction-vampiric-talents.html
(Episode 2) http://langdonflashfictions.blogspot.com/2012/08/vampiric-talents-ep-2-cordell-meets.html
Vampiric Talents Episode 3: Cordell Meets The Vampire Hunter
Jennifer's route to our location was a solidly built road along a trade route. Made sense why her Dad would use it to travel on his political trips as mayor. As we went along more and more roads joined it. It must have been used a lot to reach other places, including The Diox Cross. There were many checkpoints for travelers. Mostly selling fuel, rooms and food. My map took me through wilderness and caves to cut a few days off the trip. The only reason I sneaked into the violinist's performance was to take some stress off my hurried travels. Even though we would stay at checkpoints we knew no one would give a ride to a vampire. We tried buying a car off some people. But after several humans saying “We're not selling our own car to a ****ing vampire.” and considering the fact that many travelers wouldn't sell what they were traveling in to someone, we gave up. And threatening someone with an unloaded gun to give us their car would have ended badly if they called us on our bluff.
“Man we've been walking for days.” I groaned, annoyed. I wished I could have brought a car over the border when I first entered this human country. But sneaking cars over borders is very difficult so I just had to walk in alone. “Well at least despite the hatred for vampires like me we've been to at least able to stay at every single place we go to.” I held my black umbrella above my head to shield me from the sun. It would definitely hurt if I let too much sunlight hit me today. I could only see one or two small clouds at a time no matter how hard I looked. I could imagine my normally pale white skin turning into a painful sunburn red. Vampire sunburn is like being peeled with a knife. I wonder how pleasant human sunburn is in comparison.
Jennifer then responded, “Ever hear the expression that anybody's money is as good is anyone else's? Remember we have a boatload of money from a whole fake-hostage situation. Sure people won't give us their cars but it's amazing how some prejudges disappear under the right circumstances.” Jennifer smiled. “The people at the checkpoints don't see a vampire and a human. They see profits! It's sad that none of the checkpoints sell clothes though. I hate having to recycle this dumb green shirt and skirt combination.” I looked at my human partner-in-crime. The entire situation was questionable, but it got me away from the werewolves and the money has helped us get closer to The Diox Cross. Well, we can't exactly return the money anyway. But it didn't matter. I needed that talent to save my friend's life. “So yeah. Exactly what talents as a vampire have you drained if you don't mind me asking? And can vampires drain the abilities of other vampires?”
I sighed. “Vampires can take the abilities of other vampires. We can take the abilities from nearly anything we can sink our teeth into with only a few things being poisonous to us.”
She looked at me startled. “You can steal talents from other things?”
“Yes.” I replied. “Humans. Werewolves. Ogres. Goblins. Dogs. Cats. My Uncle has the agility of a cheetah. Lost an arm getting it though.”
She smiled. “Wow.”
I groaned. “It's nothing to be proud of. Well, some vampire cultures think it is. Anyway we have to make up with our inability to learn talents and abilities on our own somehow.”
She then said, “Sorry. Anyway what are the talents you have?”
I then told her, “Well it is good for you since we are traveling together. I play violin. I paint. I read. I write. I can tie my shoes. I can make origami. I can cook a few things. I can clean. I can play rock-paper-scissors. I can play soccer. I can swim. I can play chess. I can make paper airplanes. I can play poker. I can draw. I can thumb wrestle. I can waltz.” I could tell Jennifer was shocked. I had already told her that vampires had to steal everything they learned because of their long term memory problems. But I never did give her a long list of examples. I could see the surprise in her tin-gray eyes. I guess it came from the fact I listed things like thumb wrestling and rock-paper-scissors as abilities I had. That they were list worthy.
Before I could continue my list a thick, masculine voice yelled from behind us, “Count Edward Genocide! I've come for you!”
Jennifer and I turned to see a very tall man with a huge black jacket. Strapped to the back of his jacket was a gigantic shotgun. His jacket had six front pockets filled with ammo. He had a belt with knives and two holsters with another two guns. I noticed his jacket also bulged out from his chest. That must mean his jacket had more ammo or knives or guns or other nasty things I didn't like stuffed inside it. The man was blonde with a thick blonde beard and long hair and mean blue eyes.
“Yes. You are Count Edward Genocide right?” he mumbled. He then looked me over. “Bright green eyes. Black hair. White jacket. Blue pants. Hostage is a 'pretty cute brown haired girl with mellow bronze skin' I hate werewolves. Why do they let their teenagers hunt?” I remembered that the werewolves back at Jennifer's town were young. “Yes. You definitely are Count Genocide.”
“Um...hello!” I said to him with an awkward smile.
“This is the point where you take me hostage...” Jennifer whispered to me. I quickly grabbed her and held our unloaded gun to her head. I wrapped my other arm her neck while still holding my umbrella in it.
The man laughed while he pulled a gun out of its holster on his belt. “Count Edward Genocide I have won every single sharp shooting contest I have participated in for the last ten years. I can shoot you straight in the head without hitting the girl. Now I'm a fair man. We're going to make this a quick draw contest. You release her. She counts to ten. We draw and fire. Understood vampire?”
I then quickly replied, “It was all an elaborate ruse for her to leave town with money. We were going to split the money. The gun wasn't even loaded. See?” I unloaded our gun to show it didn't even have a bullet in it. I let go of my hold on Jennifer.
Jennifer looked at me. “You're quick to give up.”
I looked back to her. “I never stole 'quick draw' as an ability. And even then I can't quick draw with an empty gun.”
The man put his gun back into his holster. “I really should have figured a name like Genocide was an alias. Well, I thought about it, but y'know I figured that many werewolves couldn't be wrong about a threat. But wow those dumb dogs can be wrong even in a pack.”
I then said to the man, “So yeah we never actually were a threat. She's fine so you can leave.”
He then laughed. “No, no, no vampire. That's not how it works you see. I'm Bonecrusher the Vampire Hunter. And I'm not leaving without hunting me a vampire.”
I then asked him, “Um, for curiosity's sake what's your real name?”
He then replied, “Tom Vampiremurderkill.”
“What?” Jennifer said with a shocked tone.
He smiled. “I come from a long line of vampire hunters.”
“Ah.” I looked around. We were in an open part of the road. Nowhere we could run. He could simply gun us down. “Couldn't you make this an exception? I haven't hurt anyone. It was all her idea. You can't hunt a human right?”
She smiled. “Yeah it was. I forced him to do it. I even tore up his map he was going to use to travel alone. He did have plenty of opportunities to hurt me too. He's a good vampire.”
Tom Vampiremurderkill laughed. “Sorry, but I don't care what you say about him. And if there was a scheme he came up with it, and you, sweet little girl, are covering for him. How thoughtful to cover for something even as vile as a vampire. However I am not like my ancestors and I will give the monster a fair fight. He has no weapons so I will fight him hand to hand. Now come here vampire!”
“Uh oh!” I yelled as the man charged towards me. He pushed Jennifer aside. He then knocked away my umbrella. He began punching me. He began throwing me to the ground. But I didn't care. The punching was nothing. He got rid of my umbrella and the Sun's light was hitting my skin. Human's may experience a little sunburn but as I've said a vampire's skin is so much more sensitive. I wouldn't be able to tell the difference if I was kissing glass. Or were bees dancing their stingers along my palms. I bet you're wondering why we vampire's don't cover ourselves up completely. Well we need sunlight like you humans. But just so much less so we must leave ourselves exposed to some degree. And being completely covered would just scream “vampire” to everyone around you and wouldn't allow us to move around even at night. So at this moment I had to let my skin boil as this man worked at trying to break my bones. And sunblock or sunscreen? Nothing's strong enough to help. Anything that is even close we're allergic to.
“Stop! I beg you!” Jennifer yelled.
The man stopped beating me before he did any real damage. So far I only had large bruising and the sunburn. I ran and grabbed my umbrella. I quickly hid under it. I don't think I could last if he started again.
“Now that's interesting. Not only do you want to save the vampire. You think I honestly think I will spare him.”
She then told him, "I can pay you! We have cash here! Loads of it!" She then opened the aluminum suitcase we were using to carry the money.
The vampire hunter laughed. “I'm armed to the teeth. What's to stop me from simply taking the money from you? What a stupid plan.” He then pointed a gun at me. “Don't move vampire. Bring the money to me girl. I want to see if its real.” Jennifer closed the suitcase then walked towards the man. She timidly twiddled her fingers as she inched towards him. She shuffled towards him like a nervous child instead of her usual more cocky teenage walk. The vampire hunter bowed his head down a bit when she raised the suitcase just a little. He wanted to get a good look when she opened it.
She then swung the aluminum suitcase as hard as she could and hit the man upside the head and knocked him out.
“Sucker!” She smiled. “Though I would hypothetically have given the money up for you. I just knew he would have killed you anyway so I got him. Let's disarm him quickly.”
Instead of taking everything off his jacket we took his jacket and belt off him to save time. The belt wasn't there to hold up his pants. It was only there to hold his gun holsters. Under his jacket was a dorky plaid shirt. When I looked at the inside jacket pockets there wasn't more weapons and ammo as I expected. There were matches and rations. A compass. A good amount of money. Probably because the man was a bounty hunter who didn't believe in credit cards. And many pictures of people. All pictures he was in. There were children who shared traits with him and a woman. It had to be family. Old people to. Why did there have to be family photos in the jacket? Why couldn't have there just been more weapons and ammo?
However I wasn't going to let that cloud my judgment. It didn't matter if he had family. He was still a dangerous man. It didn't matter if he ran an orphanage! He still murdered all of those vampires. He's still a rampaging killer. I think he wears half of these guns to brag. And of course he challenged me to his “fair fight” during the day. I knew this man was a walking execution chamber whether or not the crimes were real or not and the death necessary or not. I knew how humans like him thought. And they were worse than werewolves. With or without their families and their pictures. In fact they are the ones that kill families. I closed the jacket to make sure that Jennifer didn't see the pictures. I didn't want them to make her do something stupid. “There's nothing but survival stuff inside the jacket.” I told her. We took the weapons off the jacket and set them aside, far away from him.
When Tom Vampiremurderkill came to I was pointing his gigantic shotgun at him.
“I wonder how many vampires I would save by shooting you right now. After all you're just going to keep killing after this aren't you?” I asked him. I never killed a human before. But the more I thought about it the more it made sense to do it.
“Monster.” The hunter said to me before going silent as I pushed the gun a little closer to him.
I sighed. “Let me tell you something Tom. We can't learn things on our own. That's why we steal abilities. I couldn't learn how to tie my shoes. I had to take the ability. Since I was just a kid at the time I needed the ability and it was too risky to take me out for such a simple ability. It was a birthday gift from my grandfather. I had to suck his blood. He's been in only socks ever since. It doesn't hurt him too much since he stays inside. We mostly had to tie his shoes for him for years. Grandpa gave me the ability to read and write too. Since kids aren't strong enough to safely get abilities on their own without get caught and killed by people like you they have to take it from family. We did get Grandpa the abilities back to by Grandpa taking it from Dad and Dad getting it again from a human librarian. We figured that kind of person would be able to get the abilities back the quickest. We are stuck hunter. We are always stuck.”
The hunter stayed silent.
“I never want to kill but I feel like I would be killing tens or even hundreds of others by letting you go. How many would it be?”
The hunter then smiled. “Vampire. I know you can't learn things on your own. But I didn't know about you willing to swap within your own family. And it even sounds like your ashamed of your position of forced theft. And the fact that you hesitate to kill me to even protect your own people. What a moral creature you have turned out to be. But hunting your kind is a compulsion for me.”
My hand shook a little. “But I can't let you keep killing people like this.”
Tom then said, “Wait. Please have mercy vampire.”
I glared at him. “Is my mercy going to stop you from killing people?” I saw Jennifer. For the first time I saw a fear in her eyes. Obviously not for her own safety. I guess she feared for both the hunter but perhaps also me. What would happen to me if I killed this man.
Tom panicked then he said, “No. Don't shoot! I have an idea. Even if I have my compulsion if I cannot act on it then I will eventually lose it. You can drain all of my vampire hunting talents. Drain my ability to use firearms. Drain my ability use knives. Drain my ability to fight. Drain my ability to track. Drain my honed senses. Drain my ability to spot a vampire from a human from a distance. Drain my ability to navigate difficult terrain. Drain it all. If I don't have the ability to track and kill vampires I cannot cave to the temptation. I would be an old man incapable of hunting before I even had the chance to get close to getting half of those skills again. So I could never hunt another vampire. Please don't kill me.”
“How people change when a gun is pointed at them.” I turned to Jennifer. I then handed the gun to her. “Shoot him if he tries anything funny.”
“Thank you Count Genocide. Thank you for your mercy. Please forgive me and the rest of my family line before me.”
“My name is Cordell.” I told him.
He chuckled. “I think I preferred the other one.”
I then knelt over to the hunters neck and drained those talents. And only those talents. Despite my incredible hate for the man. I knew he had killed many vampires. They may have been evil vampires though for all I knew and not just innocents. Though based on his attitude he seemed like the man who hunted him for sport. But still I kept my anger back and I left his other abilities there and only took those he could to hunt vampires.
“I wonder what I will do now?” He looked at my fangs. I figured he could still see his blood on them.
“I felt many talents in there. I didn't know you knew carpentry.” I told him.
He then had a baffled expression on his face. “You know talents as you suck blood?”
“Yes.” I told him. I didn't tell him the many downsides as this can tell you some things you'd rather not know someone was good at while dipping your fangs in their blood. “I think this is where we should part ways. Anyway I suggest legally changing your name when you recover from being bitten. Tom Vampiremurderkill may not be good business.” I laughed. A vampire laughing around a vampire hunter was a joke in itself.
Tomorrow: Vampiric Talents Episode 4: Cordell Meets Dracula
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