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"Paul Horacio Garret", I told the man at the check in counter of The Plaza Hotel, even as the young girl holding my hand giggled about something only a drunken mind would find funny. I wanted to laugh as well, the intoxication of the night filling me as much as her. 
"Yes, Mr. Garret, we have your room ready," he said, ignoring Candy, or Sweety, or whatever the woman's name was that I met. It mattered little to me or her. She was looking for a good time on my dime, and I was looking for a good time on her. It was a mutual understanding. No, she was no prostitute, though both of us could be considered such if you added up the yay and the nays of the night. Me, prostituting myself for a warm body and a night of passion, she prostituting herself for a warm bed and a night of comfort. 
No, she was no prostitute. She would stay, maybe a few more days, enjoying the wealthy life. Me, I was not quite as wealthy as she thought, more importantly, as I made her think. I am a reporter, and not one of those overpaid a**holes you see on the television with a backdrop made by green screen and television magic. I am the real deal. The hands on, tell you the what ofs and leave the what ifs to the story tellers who are bought and paid for by better than them. 

 

The Times was paying this tab, though I do not work for them. I am what they call freelance. Means my genitals still belong to me, but I will rent them out time to time for a place to crash, get drunk, and do things that will make the cleaning crews blush, and curse me in their own native languages in the morning. Whatever language that would be. I am not really made for hotels like this, but it sure can help one score a night with a beauty, such as Cherry....or Sherry maybe? It passed the time while I waited for the work. 

 

Paragon City, the city of heroes as some call it. I call it a dump for the most part. Gangs, militias, evil minded supes who will kill you for the nickel in your pocket without giving a second thought. That is the majority of the city, though there are places here that one can feel somewhat safe. Atlas Park is one, and of late Talos Island is the other. That is where I find myself in this 4 star hotel, awaiting the night of love making I so deserve. It has been a while, busy busy in Washington state and along the west coast. The writing there was good at first, with the riots and calls for social justice going on, but the City of Heroes is something of a bread and butter gig for me. I know this place, like the back of my hand, and like I will know the entirety of Candy or Sweety or ......Brenda, her name is Brenda. 

 

Well that night was a bust, but I can't just blame Brenda. The morning sun woke me up as it shined through our opened drapes. The small balcony door was still open and the drapes were flapping in the wind. I barely remember opening them and Brenda exclaiming her fear of heights. We were on the, well, whatever floor we were on was waaaay up in the air. Seems the higher you get the more the room cost, funny how that works out. 
Brenda fell asleep, or passed out, somewhere between "I want you" and taking her mile high stilettos off. I found it funny for some reason, and chuckled. That was the last I remembered. I had to just settle for a warm body last night. Nothing to see here, just move on cleaning lady. 
I shut the balcony doors and pulled the drapes closed. It was only then that I recognized there was no warm body in the bed. The second thing I noticed, now that I closed out the dreadful sun that seemed to permeate every cell of my hung over body, was that the shower was running. Brenda was washing up, probably preparing to leave after such a bust of a night. I was truly hoping we would make the weekend. 

I made my way to the bathroom door and knocked, but only received a grunt, or maybe it was a heave. Well, she was still alive. I did not want to eat, but I had to, if I wanted my head and gut to stop. I fumbled for my phone, to call whatever food delivery they had in this city, before I thought about it. The hotel had its own restaurant, I could order something for the both of us. 
"We aren't serving breakfast anymore sir," the woman said, with what I could sense was a smirk in her voice. 
"Why not," I asked, more out of habit. I am a reporter, we want details, even when our head feels like it is swollen and our body aches as if every disease known to man has decided to take up residence. 
"It is 4:30 sir," she said, and I was about to tell her bull, I mean the sun was obviously up, before I realized she meant in the afternoon. 
Brenda had come out, moaning about her head and asking if I had anything stronger than aspirin. I tossed her my prescription bottle of pain killers while still listening to the dinner special. 
"Can I crash here," Brenda asked, and I simply nodded. Last night we were all about one another, right now it was sheer survival mode. Champagne should never be mixed with those sweet fruit mixed umbrella drinks. Coconuts are not meant to be a cup, I decided as the the menu was finished being read to me. 
"Two of those are fine," I said as I walked and opened the hall door. "Room 713," I read to her. Brenda just flopped on the bed. She was still cute, but not as beautiful as my liquor filled senses would have had me believe. She was wrapped in a towel, but I could see that her legs were well formed, though soft not hard. I hate muscular legs on a woman, and never understood why they try so hard to get them that way. Brenda was soft, and smooth. Maybe this night would be better, as soon as our heads stopped sounding the "WARNING WARNING WARNING" sign that we did not have enough H2O in us. Apparently she was well versed on the healing power of hydration as she sat up and popped open one of the hospitality waters put around the room. She guzzled it down along with two of my pills. Two. I never take more than one when the sinus headache starts,  but I understood her pain right now. I would not take any though. The pain would pass on its own. 
Brenda dropped her towel right there, as she stood up. No, she was not as pretty as I thought, but her body was everything I considered it was the night before. Maybe better. She took no notice, or maybe no care, of my gawking. She apparently was not shy, as she reached for her well laid out dress. 
"Do you want me to come back later," she asked, putting on her heels now that she had the tight dress fixed well enough to cover her. 
"You aren't going to eat," I asked. I don't know why I cared. I met her last night. We partied at the local club, the Times picked up the tab, and neither of us owed the other anything. 
"No, I can't," she said with a smile. "Don't mess me around, do you want me to come back after I go home and change, or are we done."
I looked her over in wonder. She was not being mean, she was not ready to break down, she was simply being straight forward. I considered for a moment, though I don't know why. I knew the answer to that already. 

"Yes," I told her. "Come back, I will be here. Bring some clothes so you don't have to go back and forth."
She smiled and nodded, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and headed to the door. 
"By the way, who was your friend that came in last night? He seemed pleasant enough, but my head is pounding way too hard to even remember much. I think he kissed my neck, though." She said, as she touched a place just under her jawline. 
I just shook my head, having no idea what she was talking about. She accepted that, winked, and left. I fell back on the bed and did not rise again until someone knocked on my door. 


 

Edited by Paragon Vanguard
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Brenda came back, beautiful as I remembered. She had a way of putting on make up that did not look as if she put on make up. In fact, it made it look as if, had she put on make up, she would not be as pretty. Women. I am sure they know this completely confuses men, which is why they do it. Had she simply put on make up like a normal person I could sit here and write about how she would look far prettier without her make up and no one would blink an eye. Now I am having to write about how her dark curls accented her apple shaped face and pouty lips, and how her non make up looking face was far prettier than if she wore make up that made her look made up. Quite frankly the only reason I can tell you for a fact that she was wearing anything resembling make up was because that morning I saw her after a shower without make up. Still pretty mind you. 
How the hell do they make themselves look less made up by wearing make up? 
Again, done to confuse men, so I refused to allow the confusion to set in. I simply smiled and let her in the room. 
"Wow, it's near ten," I said, not accusing, but genuinely shocked at how late it was when I glanced at my watch. 
"I was still tired when I got home," she said, with a slight shrug, as she sat in the recliner near the window. "You said you wanted me to come back."
I simply nodded with a smile. Of course I did. 
It was Friday night, and come Monday morning I would have to get to work. I was in this city of heroes to interview the mayor and opposing council members on the crime sprees that have occurred throughout the city, and why they hampered the effectiveness of heroes who are willing to take these criminals down. I know the details, and what it will all come down to. Vigilantism versus lawful actions taken by documented heroes. I have no side, personally. I was given the narrative and told to write on it. It is what I do. 
"Do you know any clubs here," I asked, a smile on my face as I fixed my tie in the mirror. I lived large, but as I said before, on the dime of others. I was not rich, not by any means. I made good money while the job was there, but could find myself between jobs as a freelancer, living on my own money for a while until I was picked up again by some other news outlet. 
"There are several," she said, looking out the balcony window from her chair. "Why settle for one, why go now," she asked, a rueful smile on her pretty face. 

Why indeed, I thought, now undoing the tie I was just moments before fixing in the mirror. 

It was past midnight when we hit the 3rd Street Club, which was ironic, since it was not on or anywhere near a third street. I am sure there was some kind of grand explanation to the reasoning of the name, that would bore the socks right off of me. I am a reporter, and naturally curious, but some things no one cares about, and looking at the entrance to this back alley dump, I found myself really not caring. I was wondering how Brenda could even bring me here. 
The bouncer at the door was huge, and I slipped him a hundred like Brenda told me to. He just nodded and let us in. No one else was on the street waiting at the time, so it did seem a bit odd and underbelly. I wondered if Brenda was setting me up for something, but had to push that aside considering there was really nothing for Brenda to set me up for. I have never exposed any large criminal chain, refused any jobs in those fields. That is how you end up dead in some cave with a store front door. 
I have never figured out how that happens, but I assure you it does. It just would not be happening to me. 
No, There was nothing fishy, even though the immediate entrance area looked like a dump, that is, until you walked into the main hall. As soon as the door was opened for you the sound of the party atmosphere hit you. It was like entering another dimension. The acoustics in the place was extravagant, and could not be heard from outside. It truly was amazing, but looking around I could see it was design, not magic, that made it this way.
Brenda pulled me to the back, nodding and smiling at people and saying hello as we passed. There were several bars, and several layers to the place it seemed. The center went up to a high ceiling, several stories, but there were floors heading all the way up with tables and people and waiters and waitresses as far up as I could tell. There was no talking as we passed through the dance floor, with people dancing and laughing and having fun, maybe too much for the PPD's good sense of lawfulness, but fun none the less. It was gritty, sexy, and lively. Brenda fit right in. As for me, with my suit and tie and look of upper crest class, I did not. Well, I did not, except, I was with her, which made me fit in perfect. 

 

Looking back I know I should have paid more attention to the red headed handsome man that was watching us. I noticed him, and I noticed he seemed somewhat peculiar, even out of place, but also familiar. He did not hide that he was looking in our direction, before he glided through the crowd. The sea of people parted for him effortlessly, without noticing that they were parting for him, and closing in behind him as I lost him in the crowd. That was all done in moments, and he was out of my head just as quickly as he disappeared in the sea of people dancing. Brenda was talking to, and maybe even flirting with, the bartender. A big bruiser of a man with his hair pulled back in a ponytail. She did not see the red headed man, so it didn't even pay for me to ask her of him. I now had other worries, as men do at times, to insure this bartender did not garner the attention of my date. He did not. She lost interest in him as soon as she had our drinks, and the party went on. 
 

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I put my arm over her, not remembering how Brenda and I got to bed, or even where we were, but it mattered little. She was here now. Though she felt different, and while it took me a bit to clear my eyes, I was able to look around. The sun was fluttering through some drapes, which were flapping in the light breeze blowing in. We were not in my room, nor the hotel I was in. In fact, there was graffiti all over the walls. I glanced at my watch, and saw it was 8 am, and the sun had already warmed up and pushed out the cool night air. 
I rolled out of the bed. No, it was not a bed, it was just a mattress. Looking around it appeared we were in an abandoned building, well, not abandoned. I could hear voices somewhere down the hall, but I was not sure if it was even on the same floor. They spoke in Spanish, and though I know some Spanish, their voices were far too muffled for me to make out what they were saying. 
Standing up I put on my clothes, which were very disheveled with blood down the front of my white shirt. I quickly looked to the lump under the covers, and feared there may have been something horrible done. I tried to remember the night before, leaving the club, but I was still too groggy. 
"Brenda," I said, pulling the covers back.

It was not Brenda. In fact she was nothing like Brenda. She was very slim, small built, and had piercings all over. I could see this because she had on a small tank top, small enough that I could see her belly ring,  and shorts. 
She stirred and slowly began to open her own eyes. She looked at me, almost accusingly, before pulling the covers back over her. 
"Who are you," she asked, not even looking at me, and when I did not reply right away, she said "Why was he after you?"
"I, who are you," I eventually asked back, as she was sitting up and looking about. She began to rub her eyes. She was dark skinned and had dark hair, and she looked Hispanic. She had several eye rings, and a nose ring, and her lip looked as if she did have one but it was gone. 
"You owe me," she said, with only a slight accent. 
"I owe you, wait, I don't remember any of this. Are you a hooker," I asked, my ignorance of the time I left the club to how I ended up here was about to get me into some real trouble. 
She became mad and hollering something in Spanish, I am not sure exactly what, but it had something to do with me stealing, I was sure. I tried to stop her, remembering the voices I heard. She did not stop. I heard people coming our way, and calling back to her. One said "what happened sis," in Spanish. I knew my day was about to get far worse. 

I jumped, or maybe better to say fell, out of the open window, landing on soft ground, and rolling down a hill before I could gain my footing. I looked back only momentarily to see a face looking out of the window I exited, it was a man, most probably the brother. He looked very upset, and was motioning with his hands. I did not watch for long, and I began to run as fast as my groggy legs could carry me. No one chased me that I could see, and blocks away I stopped running and began walking. I did not know where I was, and so found a nice alley to sit in for a moment and think. 

 

We had left the club at about 2 am, both of us once again intoxicated, but I would not say completely drunk. The streets were strangely quiet, and there were no cabs to flag down. Brenda knew the way back to the Hotel, so we decided to walk. She was telling me about this part of the city, the docks, the gangs, and how no matter how hard the heroes try, they could never seem to stop the criminal activities for long. 
It was during our talking, or more importantly her talking and my listening, that he walked out of some shadows.  A light skinned dark haired man.  He smiled, only slightly, at us, but walked the opposite way. A chill struck us both, but Brenda did not seem to really notice the man. She said she was cold, and I put my jacket on her. 

That was why I did not have my jacket!
It was not long before I felt something cold on my shoulder, only for a moment, and was slung backwards with incredible strength. I rolled away from my assailant, and Brenda. I remember that, somewhat, before my head struck something and everything went dark.

 


That was all I could remember. I felt to insure my wallet was in my pants, and it was. I was not robbed. I was able to finally get a taxi, after walking for several blocks to a safer part of the city. The staff eyed me as I entered the hotel lobby, with no shoes and torn dress socks. The blood on my shirt did not help, but at least the patch on my head let them know it was not from some murder I committed. I travelled to the 7th floor, and could not find my key. I tried the door, in hopes that some miracle would happen and it would open. It did not, not until I had already walked halfway back to the elevator. 
"Paul, come back," Brenda said, having opened the door and looked out. 
I turned back around, and her frown at the sight of me was apparent. 
"Oh Paul," was all she said as I walked into my room. She closed the door behind us, and I collapsed on the bed. 

 

Edited by Paragon Vanguard
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"You can let me in," it said. Yes, it. It was obviously not human. It was not a him or a them or whatever. It was an it, and I had not figured out yet, not yet, what it was. 
"No," was all Brenda said, grabbing my arm as I walked toward the balcony. Only moments before the doors swung open as if with a gust of wind, and the handsome stranger stood there as if he, no, it, had been standing there for some time. The sun had just set, it's light still making the distant clouds orange. 
I listened to Brenda. I also listened to my own instincts, as the very sight and very presence of the thing flooded me with great dread. I do not think he was trying to do this to us, in fact, it was opposite of that, now that I look back on it. Now that I understand a little more than I did back then. I think he simply allowed us to feel whatever we naturally felt at the time. No mask, so to speak. No head games. It was there, and we were looking at it. 
I do sometimes believe he kept a part of his mask, but for our sakes more than anything. 

"The door is open, you can come in if you wish," I said to it, suspecting at this time exactly what it was. I had not dealt with such in the past, but I am well read on them. 
Vampires. 
"I think you know I cannot, not without you inviting me" the creature said, a frown forming on his red lips. "I assure you though, I do not intend you any harm."
"No, then what was last night all about," I said, touching the patch on my head, but even then realizing this was not caused by him. 
"I did not do that to you, and in fact the only reason you yet live is because of me," it said in it's soothing voice, and that sounded right. I wondered though how much influence it was pushing on me, as opposed to it being natural. You see, I have learned some things of vampires since this first meeting with it. 
I looked at Brenda, and she was looking at the creature, though apparently not enthralled by it. She was studying it, looking it over for any signs of deceit. 
"He isn't the same one that attacked us," she said, absentmindedly touching her neck. At the time I did not find that strange, but now, well, now I know why she did some of the things she did. His green eyes turned to her, but he did not look at her the way he looked at me. There was no pity in his eyes, no emotion to give for her, and that felt very strange to me, as if something was going on between the two, that I had no part of. 
"Then I shall sit here," he said, pulling up one of the balcony chairs and sitting at the door, careful not to cross the line between outside and inside. "As uncivilized as this is," he finished. 
I said nothing, and thought briefly of closing the doors, but I must admit, though I am no real coward, it scared me deeply to get that close to him, as if he would have drug me outside and ripped me apart. Meeting such as he is not pleasant, not when they appear as they are, without the walls that hide them from humans knowing, or feeling, what they are. 
"You have deduced well enough of what I am," he said, crossing one leg over the other as a gentleman would, and placing his hands in his lap. His nails were long, and appeared manicured, but I had to wonder if that was simply another illusion. "You have not yet figured out why you are in danger. You still hold on to me being the danger, and quite frankly, if we are to be honest with one another, I am, or can be. At this time, I am not."
I had no idea what he was talking about, but was trying not to show that. I dearly wanted to be in control, I mean, this was my room, and my balcony for that matter. The chair he sat on was rented by me. The girl he surely wanted was, well, I have no idea what she was to me. We had only met not long ago. She wasn't his though! 

"Then tell me," I said, and tried to say it with more courage than it came out with. 
"My name is Jerrin Bloodlette, and yes, I am a vampire. That is of little consequence though, as I am neither here to feed on you, or Mrs. Brenda here. You, Mr. Paul, have attracted the attention of another vampire, a more nasty vampire than I. Usually I leave each to their own, as the life, death, and undeath for that matter, of mortals effects me little. The lady you slept with last night is an acquaintance of mine, so to speak. We are not friends, and she literally hates me, and what I am, but she is a willing participant at times when I need to hunt one of my own. I am hunting the dark haired monster you met last night."
Last night. It hardly seemed like just last night. It seemed so much longer now, with sleep having broke up the tale, and feeling as if I have been locked in this nightmare for much longer. This, Jerrin, as pleasant as he seemed, was not as comforting as one may think. I was not feeling relaxed about him at all, and it went deeper than just the mind. Something deep in me despised him, something on a base level that I could not really put into words. The smell drifting in from him was pleasant, yet something underlying in it. Death maybe? His temperament was charming, yet I could tell it was only surface. He was not lying when he said he had no feelings for mortals, how we effect him little. He meant it to the very depths of his being. His smile was handsome but dangerous. His hands, setting in his lap, pale and non threatening to the eye held murder and ill intent in them. I could see all of this about him, and knew he meant for me to. 
"So he is a monster," I said, with only a little bit of sarcasm attached to it. His smile dropped from his lips only slightly, and I caught something sad in his eyes, only for a moment. 
"Yes," he merely said, as if to answer everything I was seeing in him. 

"You are not welcome here," Brenda said, I think fearing I was falling under some spell of his. I felt as if he could, at some point, possibly force his will on me, but it would do him no good. I must invite him in willingly. 
"No Brenda, he is not welcome here, but I do wish hear more of what he has to say," thinking of it as a he for that moment. As I said, it was charming, and yes, I may interexchange it for other pronouns, but that is only because the creature is hard to define. 
"You should be quiet," it said to Brenda, eyes now locking with hers. She did not say anything, but turned away immediately, a sob coming from her lips. 
"I am not here for you girl," the vampire remarked. There was no hate in his voice, though he finished with a very chilling "yet". 
I looked to Brenda, and her pleading eyes were now directed at me. She wanted me to make him leave. Even if I could, I did not want to. This was scary, no, horrifying, but I was a writer, a reporter, and my intuition had saved me many times. I must also confess that my intrigue was great as well. To speak to such, a creature that most do not even believe in anymore. Not the ones like this, the real ones. My intuition said he was not here to kill us. 
"You have a few moments before I call the police," I said, and it sounded weak even to me. What could the police do to such as he? Yet he accepted that, without letting on that calling the police was probably one big joke to him. 
"So tell me, why are you here, and what is it you wish tell me. No matter what, you will never be invited in," I said, as if I had some strength in me. I did not, and the only protection I knew I had from it was that it could not come inside. It was fear not courage that made me stand my ground. It was deeper fear that drove me to sit, my breath caught in my chest, when he finished his tale and departed. 

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"I have to leave the city," I said, grabbing at the clothes I had so carefully put away only a couple of days ago. My suitcase was wide open, like the jaws of some great shark waiting for me to fill it with all of my belongings. Brenda watched, it seemed, in complete horror of the prospect of me abandoning her. I owed her nothing. Not this, anyway. No, we were marked by a vampire that wished me for some reason. 
Maybe it wished Brenda as well, I don't remember much past the vampire Jerrin telling me I was marked, in some way or another. Telling me it would pursue me now relentlessly.
Way to go Paul, never married but a stinking blood sucking vampire has a "till death do us part" fixation on you. 
"You can't just leave me, you can't," Brenda said.
I COULD, and I was more than willing at the time. Hell, I did not even know Brenda's last name. I did not know if Brenda was even her real name.

We were mutually only having a good time BRENDA!

That almost slipped out of my mouth, but it was not my intent to make her feel worse. I wanted to comfort her. I wanted to tell her we would get through this, better apart. Better if I left the city. Better if we did not see one another. That was the best way for us to deal with this. 
Nonsense of course. That was the best way for ME to deal with this, leaving Brenda to fend for herself. I actually almost told her that, but....
"You can come with me," I said instead. "We can leave, and never come back to this city. I will make sure you are safe, until," I said, not finishing the until. Until I could leave her somewhere and not feel guilty was the true meaning behind it, and I am pretty sure she got that. She did not let on though that she did. She left that alone, showing more courage than I at the time. 
"I cannot leave Paragon City, I have family and friends here, and as Jerrin Bloodlette said, they are in danger."
"How do we know this Jerrin is not mixed in with the other? How do we know he really is trying to help us? Maybe he is trying to draw us out, and get us both," I said low, almost in a whisper, my eyes looking to the balcony in case it had returned. 
"I believe him," she simply said, offering no other reason. Maybe she had no other reason. Reason was all gone the moment I knew these things existed. Sure, supes and evil masterminds were all around us in this city of heroes, but a vampire? Not a mutant that liked to act as a vampire. Not something created in a lab. Those things were acceptable in my mind, for what reason I have no idea, but they were. A real evil god forsaken cursed cannot come out in the day does not sparkle mind f**king neck biting blood drinking vampire!
"You believe, okay, you believe him just because," I said, and she could tell I was about to lose it. Do not be too harsh on me at this point, ask yourself what would you do if you found out these things were real, and not in the romantic let's all have a good time that pop culture tries to sell us. No, they were real in the sense that you had to run and never go out of your room at night and hope they do not kill everyone you ever knew kind of real. 
"I can't leave anyway," I finally realized, looking out of the window at the darkness. It was fully night now. Really not the time to leave. 
"No, you should not leave," Brenda said, though I was only half listening. I was closing the balcony doors, and closing the curtains, the heavy ones used to keep sun out, and sliding the dresser to it to insure the wind did not blow them open. Why the wind would blow them open I could not say now, maybe I watched too many movies, but I was going to insure that did not happen none the less. 
"I have to leave though, I have to check on my mother," Brenda said, picking up her purse. 
I simply looked over to her as if she was absolutely mad. Checking on your mother, you dumb.....but of course she was. Would I not do the same? Do not judge me, but I am not so sure I would leave this room for anyone at this point. See you momma, you had a great life! What a brave man I was turning out to be. 
"I don't think that is a good idea," I said, but it was weak. I was really saying I can't build up the courage to go with you. I can't. It wasn't in me, and it shamed me deeply. 
"I am not asking you to come with me," she said, almost as if reading my mind. She was not, it was all over my face. What was really starting to get to me was why she was so calm at this point. My panic had subsided and now my natural curiosity could kick back in. She was upset. She was scared. She was worried. 
She was not panicked, not like I was. 
"What happened to you after I was knocked out," I blurted, and she now saw the suspicion in my wild eyes. 
 

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Brenda's Story
 

As you know it got very cold for some reason, and you handed me your jacket. You were walking by me, and then suddenly you weren't. You just were gone. In your place stood this man, or whatever he was. He was tall, with black as night hair and dark eyes. I have to confess he was handsome, and at the time, I was not really alarmed. It seemed quite natural, you understand. I know that sounds crazy, but that it is how it felt. Looking back I know it was him making me feel this way. He smiled and bowed slightly, without saying a word, and offered me his hand. I took it, and we....we danced Paul. Why I would dance with him, looking back, I don't know, but we danced, to some music I did not know, yet it felt familiar and right. It seemed like for hours but I am sure it was only for minutes. We broke off from one another, and the spell, or whatever he had on me, faded. I could feel him, like we could feel the Jerrin thing, you know how that felt. I began to cry out of fear, out of dread, and out of seeing you laying there bleeding from your head. The vampire paid me no mind, he did not comfort me, and did not care that I was feeling any of this. Not that I think he cared for me, but he made no attempt to even keep me under whatever charm he placed on  me. 
"Go away, or I will kill you," he said, and I took a step to leave. He quickly grabbed my arm, and his grip was like cold steel. I tried to pull away, but he held me firm. 
A woman stepped out of the shadows, someone he saw quite clear but my eyes could not make out until now. She had piercings on her lip, eyebrow, it seemed all over. She held a cross in her hand, a small gold cross that glowed through the night. Unless of course it was just reflecting off of some light. I guess that is possible as well. She looked sure of herself though, and stood between the vampire and you, slowly making her way closer to it. 
"Leave them alone," she said, but not in some commanding voice like I would have thought, given her appearance of confidence. It was more conversational, as if there was more to the conversation to be said. 
There was. 
He told her something about being his daughter, but she had refused him. He said he would have a new daughter, and I think that he meant me. 
"I will not let you take her," she said, and I remember that specifically because this time there was some pain, maybe a little bit of anger in her voice. The creature just laughed at that, and pulled me close to him. He put his face close to mine, but not looking at me, all the time watching her. He had a smile, one I would never forget, on his face. His teeth Paul, his teeth were long, especially the canine teeth. I did not notice that before. The woman moved closer but he said no, and she stopped in her tracks. I think he meant to rip my throat out if she came any closer. 
He looked into my eyes at that time, and I am not sure what occurred after that. Some kind of dream or something happened, because I could hear the music again. It was pleasant, and we were dancing. It was as if he was all that was, all that should be. Paul, I never felt like that about anyone, ever. I don't know what happened to the lady, but I woke up in my house, in my bed, no worse for the wear. 
Whoever she was, I think she saved our lives. I think she knew the vampire as well, no, I am sure she did. I don't know what was between them, but something was. 


 

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It really made no sense. If I was marked, as Jerrin said, why was he after Brenda? Why didn't he kill her? All of these question raced through my mind as I found it impossible to sleep. Brenda left, heading home to check on her mother. I knew there was a distinct possibility I would never see her again, and while this sounds horrible, I was okay with that. Not seeing her again meant I had no reason to feel guilty when I packed up and ran the next day. Not seeing her again meant maybe this wasn't all real, and I could somehow get back to New York and live my life like I lived my life all my life. 
Not seeing her again meant it would all be okay. 
It was not. 

I got out of bed with the door being knocked on. It didn't take much, as I hardly slept anyway. I glanced toward the window and curtains and saw it was daylight, and looked to the hotel room clock and saw it was 8am. That was a good time, and Brenda came back just in time to see me get my things together and get out. 

The door was knocked on again, a little more forceful, before I opened it. There she stood. 
It was the lady I woke up with in the run down building with all the graffiti. Her piercings made her unmistakable, though I had only seen her that once. Yet here she was, knocking on my door, a hammer in one hand and some kind of wooden stake in the other. She was holding them close to her and looking up and down the hall, to insure no one saw her. 
"Good, you made it through the night," she said, and walked in past me. 
"I did not invite...." I started to say but she cut me off. 
"It is day time and I am not a vampire. You do not have to invite me in for me to come in and kill you, I could have done that while you were sleeping," she said, looking around the place. 
"Where is the woman," she asked. 
"Who are you, why are you here," I demanded, but standing in my underwear demanding something from this woman dressed in jeans, a black shirt and a leather jacket seemed a little weak. 
She looked at me, anger in her eyes, like she was ready to go off on me, or worse, and then she just rolled her eyes and shook her head. She slipped the stake into some kind of holder in her belt under her jacket. 
"Well, I don't have to pretend vampires don't exist, or pretend I have to somehow explain the unexplainable to you. You know, you saw, and for some strange reason you are still alive. I would not have put a nickel bet on you for that, but here you are," she said, looking around the room still, even digging in my closet as she spoke. It just felt useless to try and tell her to stop, or if not useless, pointless. 
"Are you a vampire hunter," I asked her, but it sounded stupid when I asked it, and the look on her face assured me it was stupid question. 
"We don't hunt them, don't let anyone fool you into thinking that. They hunt us, we try and survive. No, I am not a vampire hunter. I would just as soon pretend they did not exist, as I said before, and walk away from all of this. That vampire you met assures I cannot."
"Which one," I asked, putting my pants on and getting me a fresh shirt.
She just looked at me, bringing my eyes back to her not so pretty face. 
"You met another one," she asked, her look not hiding her confusion. For some reason it felt good to be one step ahead of her now. I was tired of being the chump, the one not knowing what was going on. I should not have felt good about that, looking back. I did none the less. 
"You first," I said, now suddenly feeling in control, as I fastened my belt and slipped a shirt on. "Who are you and why do you care about Brenda and me?"
She sighed, and sat down not so lady like in one of the chairs I had piled by the window. 
"Clay Rorke, that is it's name. It is always hard to track a vampire, especially if they are old. I would say this one is from the 1800s, maybe before, but not much. I did some research on him a few years back, found someone fitting his name that came by way of Ellis Island. It could be a different Clay Rorke, but I doubt it. He was rich, owned many businesses, and kept on the move. Vampires like him need to stay wealthy, and with the time they have, being immortal, acquiring wealth is not difficult for them.

"So that is his history, what about you, and why do you two seem to know one another?" I said. 
"No no, you next. Where is Brenda," she asked, as if she knew us. As if we were familiar to her now. 
"She went home, that is all I know," I said, then added, "to check on her mother."

She looked at me, disturbed by that information. 
"When did she leave," she asked me, standing up and heading to the door. 
"No ma'm, I ...." I was still trying to be in control but she closed the distance between us quite quickly, anger in her eyes. 
"Shut up, when did she leave," she demanded of me. 
"Last night," I said, and she turned toward the door to leave. I followed her, I don't know why I did. I had no plans of staying in this situation, and following her was all it would take to stay in the situation. Yet I followed her, almost running to keep up with her. 
"What is wrong," I said, but something was itching at the back of my mind. Something telling me I should know, but could not quite place it. 
"Your friend is probably dead," was all she replied. Probably knowing I would now follow her. 

She was probably dead, I thought to myself now, the itching on my mind gone!

 

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Her name is Sasha, Sasha Polinsky. She told me on the way to Brenda's, probably because I was so quiet and lost on what all was going on. Of course I knew it was vampires. Of course I knew the lady I slept with only a day or so ago was probably dead, sucked dry of her blood. Of course I knew these things. It didn't stop me from being in shock. It helped me being in shock, these are of course shocking truths. 
The city seemed different in the day, especially on a Sunday morning. We were both quiet for several blocks, and I did not even question how she knew where to go. 
"What other vampire," she asked me, breaking the silence. 
"Jerrin, something," I said low, looking out the window of her old model Volkswagen Bug, the engine whining in the back as the buildings of Talos Island shot by. She said nothing. I knew she knew him, he had said so. Yet she said nothing, and it brought my eyes over to her. 
"What did he say," she asked, a frown on her face. It did not help her looks at all. As I said, she was not pretty. There was little redeeming features to her, and the metal in her face did not assist in that anymore than her oversized nose did. She could be no more than 20 or 22, it was hard to tell though. She seemed to know more than a person her age should know. More than a person my age, late 30s, should know. 
"You should know," was all I replied, and she did not dig any deeper. It was my way of saying I knew they were connected somehow, and that finally, I seemed to know more than she thought I did. Finally I had something of an upper hand, something I did not have since all this started. It seemed like a week, but had only been 3 days, since I met Brenda. Seems like I should have some feelings for Brenda, more than seeing if this was all over or not. Something. I suppose I did, on some level. I am not without feelings towards other people. I am not that shut off, but I had only known her for a little while. One could count it in hours if they chose. 72? Not even? I could not count it up in my head, too much was there. 

We got to the house without much going on. It was a neighborhood of moderate housing. Probably considered lower middle class in this city, depending on what part of the city you lived. On Talos Island, it was nothing special. 2 maybe 3 bedrooms, a bath or two. A small lawn in the front, well kept. 
"How did you know," I asked, motioning to the house. "Do you know where my mother lives as well?" 
"Brenda lives with her mother," was all she said, as if that explained all of it away. Now I suppose I was suppose to ask how she knew where Brenda lived, but I did not. I really did not wish speak to her, or anyone else at this time. I did wish to see if Brenda was alright, and found myself caring more about that the closer we came to seeing if she was dead or not. Surely she was not dead, things in my life just did not end like that. 
I went to knock but Sasha pushed past me and opened the door. It was unlocked, and opened easy. She looked over at me, and I let her go in first. I know, some hero I am, some man. I don't think I could have stopped her anyway. She went in slowly, into a living room that was obviously decorated by an older person, pictures and furniture depicting some time in their life that wished hold onto forever. I saw a picture that was probably Brenda when she was a child, at least it looked to be. I saw another that was probably her mother when she was young, and looked much like Brenda. 
"Brenda!" I yelled, not being able to contain myself with this slow walk through the house that was happening. Sasha looked at me with frustration, but said nothing. I would not have heard her anyway, as I went down the hall, calling for Brenda again. Again, until I saw it. 
An elderly lady laid dead in her bed, dried dark blood all over her. Her room was dark, but the light from hall captured her features. It was surely Brenda's mother. I entered the room, half expecting to find Brenda dead somewhere in there. She was not. 
"Look in the closet," Sasha said, and I had no idea why she would think that. Yet I did. 
There was Brenda, full of blood as well, and dead. She was slumped under hanging clothes, her chin on her chest, hugging her knees as if in some final horror had come to her. I was sure it did, in the name of Clay Rorke. I should have stopped her from leaving the hotel, and yet I was thinking only of myself. That was right Paul, always thinking of yourself. All of these thoughts were going through my head when I saw her move, only slightly. 
"She moved!" I said loudly, looking back to Sasha who was standing over the dead body on the bed, her back to me. 
"Take her outside," Sasha said, matter-of-factly, and so I scooped her up gently. 
"Paul," Brenda said weakly, and put her arms around my neck. "Paul," she said again. 
"Get her out," Sasha said again, and I heard her hitting something with her hammer.
I heard some screams coming from behind me as I entered the living room. I had no idea at the time what was going on, but I did not care. I would get Brenda out of there, and take her with me. No more until, no more worrying about just me. I was not going to be selfish anymore. I would take her with me, and we would get as far away as possible. 
"No Paul," Brenda said, moving around in my arms, almost throwing me off balance, but she was very weak. Probably from loss of blood. 
"NO PAUL NO PAUL NO PAUL NO PAUL....."
I will never forget her screaming as we exited the house. I will never forget her skin burning, and pealing back, her head and face distorting as her eyes shot up to the sunny blue sky, screaming. I will never forget falling over as the weight of her body disappeared into nothing but ash, covering me from head to toe. The sudden silence, as I looked about for her, it still not sinking in what had happened. 
I looked to the door, thinking maybe I had dropped her and did not know it. I looked to Sasha standing there, blood on her hands, some spatters on her face, looking down at me. No pity. No sorrow. No surprise. 
I will never forget. 

I left on foot. I would not ride with Sasha Polinsky. I would not see her again. I just walked down the street, full of ash, in any direction, I don't even know. Sasha made no attempt to get me. I never heard the sound of her Volkswagen again. She was done with me. She had no use for me now. I was not the one marked, it was Brenda. It was all a game. The vampire playing with his food, so to speak. Clay Rorke fed on Brenda, and she was turned, and in turn, she fed on her own mother. Her mother would have turned, and the cycle would have continued, until someone like Sasha Polinsky showed up, with her stake and hammer and bad attitude and hapless victims to lead her around by her big ringed nose until she found the next vampire to stake. 

As far as Jerrin Bloodlette, the helpful vampire, I do not buy into him being helpful, not helpful to us cattle, us normal people. He is also vampire, and he must also feed. 

I read that a businessman named Clay Rorke had went missing. He was eccentric, to say the least, and did not appear in public much, but his business partners had lost all contact with him. They were offering a big reward if anyone could locate him, as stockholders were very concerned. It was a very small article, not what one would call big news to most. He was assumed dead, and they were not wrong, no matter what. 

As for me? I am back in New York. I have been mugged since returning, but only lost a few hundred dollars. I see a therapist, but we do not talk about vampires or vampire hunters. I steer away from that, as I do not wish to be over medicated and put in a hospital surrounded by mindless chin dribblers. I write this, and you can decide if it is true or not. I will not argue with anyone over it. Anyone that has ventured into the City of Heroes, any normal person with no talent or desire to perform heroic deeds knows good and well what I have written may well be true. We are just the fodder, for the heroes and the villains. We are living in their world, and we must step in line and play the part, or be tossed aside as if we should not exist. Let's face it, after reading this, you will not remember who
 Paul Horacio Garret even is. 


THE END
 

Edited by Paragon Vanguard
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Paragon Vanguard
Jerrin Bloodlette
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Writer's note: I am not sure the title suffices, but I assure it was not intended to be misleading. When I started the short story I really thought Jerrin Bloodlette was going to play a bigger part, but as stories sometimes do, it wrote itself and went in another direction. It went from being a vampire story to the story of the collateral damage that happens to the little people in the bigger scheme of things. I write my stories on site, as is, what you get is what I wrote with only small changes for spelling or added sentence ever really happening. Outside of this story, I have no idea who Paul Horacio Garret is, and as he said, I will probably not remember him in the long run. I hope you enjoyed his story though, I enjoyed writing it! 🙂

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