“The next Feat is called Devil’s Reflex. Essentially, it’s simply reacting with superhuman speed.”
“Okay,” Kyle said. “How does it work?”
She shrugged. “There’s no trick to it. You’ll simply spar with me until you learn it. Now, try to punch me.”
If he had considered swearing to be unchristian, then hitting a woman was downright demonic. Still, he decided to go with it since he was pretty sure she could take care of herself. With that, he threw an awkward punch.
The next thing he knew, he was on the ground. In front of the altar. Ursula stood triumphant over him. “What happened?”
“I grabbed your wrist and flipped you.”
“I didn’t even see it!”
She smirked. “The Devil’s Reflex allows us to move faster than any human. You have no experience using it, so you couldn’t react.” She helped him back to his feet. “Again.”
He extended his arm in another punch while trying to focus on her attempt to grab him. However, a sharp pain abruptly rocked his stomach. He doubled over, groaning. “What the…?”
She folded her arms. “I punched you in the stomach.”
“I thought you were just going to keep flipping me!”
She explained, “A large part of the Devil’s Reflex is anticipating your opponent’s actions. I can’t train you to only guard against flips. Don’t expect Kyrios or his family to be so considerate.”
He managed to straighten up. “Family? Does that mean they are a cult?”
“Not as you know it. You see, most vampires belong to a family called a manzil. I used to be a member of the Kyrios manzil. However, there are many others. The manzil who reign over the smaller ones are called the Guide.
“Does that mean I’ll have to fight them as well?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know the whole future. Some events are more fixed than others.”
His eyes widened as he stared at her. “Wait, you can see the future?”
She gave a slight nod. “That’s my Satanic Gift.”
“Satanic Gift? What’s that?”
“Every vampire gets a special ability that can only be utilized by them. Don’t get your hopes up just yet; you’re not ready. You have to master the other Feats first.”
That was really cool, but it presented a problem. “Does everyone in Kyrios’ manzil have one?”
She shrugged. “I left the group a long time ago. Everyone who serves him now joined after that. I only know his Satanic Gift.”
“You’ve already seen it for yourself. No one he turns can attack him. He leaves a piece of himself in everyone whom he injects with his blood.”
Interesting. It was somewhat of a relief as well. “You mean no other vampire has that power?”
“No. And even if they did, you’ve already been turned, so it wouldn’t affect you.”
He rubbed the back of his head. “Um… okay. Yeah.”
“We’ve talked enough. Let’s return to training whilst we still have moonlight.”
* * *
After two hours, Kyle collapsed to the floor, exhausted. Ursula had thoroughly kicked his butt. However, he didn’t think that was entirely the reason for his current state.
“What’s wrong?” Ursula said while standing over him.
He was on his knees with his palms on the floor struggling to hold him up. “It’s like the first time I gave blood.” He probably wouldn’t be doing that again anytime soon. “I feel really sick.”
“Ah,” she said and bent down to put a hand on his shoulder. “Your metabolism finally resumed.”
“Didn’t you notice you haven’t eaten anything since being turned?”
“I…” He had been too focused on his agonizing situation. And… “I wasn’t hungry.”
She explained, “When you’re turned, it’s a great shock to your system. Your body copes by freezing its metabolism. But after a day or so, it resumes with a bang. Simply put, you need to eat.”
A new kind of sickness came over him. Everybody knew what vampires sustained themselves with. “Please don’t say it.”
She did. “You need to consume blood.”
“No no no no no no no! I can’t do that! It’s too much!”
She smiled. “I think movies and television have given you the wrong idea. Come with me.”
Ursula led him downstairs to the dining hall. It was a plain white rectangle of a room with a small adjoining kitchen. She opened the fridge and removed a slab of white and pink wrapped in plastic. Kyle watched with fascinated dread as she put it on the counter top and unwrapped it. It appeared to be a very fresh cut of meat. Blood and all. Dear God, he was really supposed to eat this, wasn’t he?
He had expected some sort of bag or IV to drink blood from. “Won’t it be hard separating the blood from everything else?”
“Not at all. Place your palm on it.”
He did so, having no idea what was going to happen. The beef was cold and smooth with condensation still present. “What exactly is—?”
His words were cut off when his palm attached to the meat with some sort of suction. His immediate reaction was to try and remove it.
“Don’t fight it, Kyle.”
Despite his apprehension, he managed to calm himself. He then noticed the blood on the beef was disappearing in the direction of his hand. More, importantly, though, his nausea was retreating swiftly. “Am I… sucking it up?”
“Yes,” Ursula said. “An elegant approach, for a more civilized age.”
What the…? “Did you just make a Star Wars reference?”
“I’ve been alive for centuries. Plenty of time to watch your popular films.”
His hand abruptly detached from the beef. There wasn’t a speck of red left on it now. “I don’t taste anything.”
She chuckled. “Of course not. You didn’t use your mouth.”
Kyle examined his palm, somewhat expecting to see a mouth or some sort of opening. But there was nothing. It looked completely normal.
Ursula explained, “The Feat is called Phantom Maw. It leaves no trace. A very clean way to feed.”
“And every vampire does it this way?”
“The refined ones, at least. Kyrios and his manzil still do it the old-fashioned way. However, they refuse to partake of Christian blood. You saw what they do with it instead.”
Jerry and Treia butchered, their essence drenching the room. Suddenly breathing heavily, he managed to quickly get the image out of his mind. But it would be back. It would never leave for good. “I want to kill them and I hate myself for that. Christ said to turn the other cheek, but I can’t do that with them. They need to feel the same pain as their victims. And yet, God wouldn’t want me to do that.”
He didn’t know how Ursula would respond to that, but she still surprised him. “Most people don’t understand him. Christians are taught that their god is a god of peace and love, but he condoned—and in many cases ordered—countless acts of violence.
“What do you think is his true nature?” Kyle asked.
“God is strong and proud. He rewards loyalty greatly but does not suffer disobedience.”
There was an obvious problem with that. “Then, shouldn’t he be the first to wipe out vampires?”
She said slyly, “Perhaps. But that would now include you. Many are victims who were turned against their will. Should they be punished for that?”
“I guess not. But nobody could possibly see Kyrios or his cult as victims. They’re monsters, every one of them.”
They began walking back to the sanctuary. “Most monsters were once victims, Kyle. A tragic incident or an abusive upbringing can shape anyone into a cold-blooded killer who knows only hate.”
He decided to ask the question that had been on his mind for a while. “What made Kyrios into a monster?”
“That is not my story to tell. But his blood is in you now, so you’ll find out soon on your own.”
He didn’t know what that meant, but it was clear she didn’t want to discuss it, so he didn’t pry any further. He did, however, continue to wonder about it as well as the other vampires with Kyrios. Like Chloe. What was her story? Why did she choose to serve him? He hadn’t picked up on any malice from her—or much of any emotion for that matter. He just didn’t know, and even if Ursula was feeling forthcoming, she didn’t know about any of the people with Kyrios anyway.
They soon arrived back at the sanctuary. “I think that’s enough for one night. Your skills are improving at an astounding rate. Tomorrow, we’ll pick it up again.”
* * *
Angelica sat outside Café D’Alsace on 2nd Avenue on the corner of 88th Street in New York the next day. She had ordered caramelized butternut squash and mushroom risotto. As a dedicated vegetarian, she was still free to enjoy food such as this. The sky overhead was cloudy but otherwise this was a fine day.
She put down her utensils as her phone vibrated on the table. She picked it up to see she had received an encrypted message from the police who had been adequately cooperative thus far.
She ran the decryption program and received the following message:
RE: Person of Interest You Asked For
She played the video. It had been taken from a subway station in Queens. It showed a handful of different people waiting for a train on a platform. None of them were distinctive except for perhaps a woman carrying a strange red robe. The young man standing next to her looked quite ordinary.
However, when he turned to look around, Angelica smiled. It was Kyle Falconer. As the video continued, they boarded the train.
Where was he headed?
Another attached video gave the answer. It showed Kyle and the mysterious woman exiting the subway not far from Greenwich Street.
The message had only provided the two videos, meaning if there were any others, they were as yet unavailable.
She looked at the timestamp on the first one. It was a few hours after everyone in Kyle’s group had been butchered. He had somehow survived—or had been involved in the slayings—and now was with this mystery woman. Who was she, and how was she involved in all this? Perhaps she was the true mastermind of the killings and Kyle was her helpless thrall.
In any event, she needed to find them. There wasn’t any more subway footage, so Angelica now believed they were still in Manhattan. However, Greenwich Street covered a lot of ground, and it would be difficult pinning them down without more leads. She had no idea how much time they had before the prophecy came true.
Her phone buzzed again, indicating another message. This one was from headquarters.
Supremo: Rapporto sullo stato. [Status Report.]
She typed her reply.
Angelus: Sto progredendo costantemente. Finirò presto. La profezia sarà contrastata. [I’m progressing steadily. I will finish soon. Prophecy will be thwarted.]
Supremo: Non puoi fallire. Tutto dipende da questo. La volontà di Dio sarà fatta. [You must not fail. Everything depends on this. God’s will be done.]
Angelus: Essere in pace. Moriranno. La volontà di Dio sarà fatta. [Be at peace. They will die. God’s will be done.]
She put the phone back in her pocket and began planning out the rest of the day. She would start by going to the subway station Kyle Falconer and that mystery woman had emerged from after leaving Queens. Hmmm, not quite. First, I’ll have the police meet me there and we can search together.
Kyle Falconer would be found, and Angelica Brassi would have answers. Answers that would hopefully lead her to the rest of the killers.
And they would be stopped before they destroyed everything.
* * *
Kyrios studied a map of New York on his desk in an office of an abandoned warehouse in the city’s Meatpacking District that night. This was crucial to their plan and every eventuality needed to be anticipated.
He was interrupted when Collins walked in. “Sorry ta bother you, but Ducane is here to see ya,” the fair-haired Irishman said.
Kyrios had anticipated this. Their activities couldn’t have gone unnoticed forever. “Send him in.”
“I need no one to let me in,” Ducane said as he came in on Collins’ heels. He was impossible to miss as he towered over Collins’ average frame.
“Leave us,” Kyrios said to Collins who nodded sheepishly and obeyed.
Kyrios opted not to sit at his desk and instead to face Ducane as a man. The two were actually very similar in that they were imposing figures who had no room for humor in their lives.
“I’ll get to the point,” Ducane said. He was a member of the Septim Manzil which was in turn a part of the Guide. But unlike Kyrios and his manzil, he wore a dark European suit which matched his slick, short, pitch-black hair. His chiseled jaw and rippling muscles intimidated most shahid, but Kyrios had nothing left to fear. “Did you really think we wouldn’t notice what you were doing?” he said in his baritone voice.
Kyrios was unphased. “We are shahid. We must feed.”
“Feeding?” Ducane spat out the word as if it were poison. “Don’t give me that nonsense! We are civilized. We laid out the rules for the lesser manzil to avoid being hunted by humans. You drain through the Phantom Maw and you don’t kill.”
Kyrios held his hands behind his back. “I believe the rule is, ‘Don’t kill unless necessary.’”
“There is nothing necessary about what you’ve been doing. The Church already hunts us, and you’re going to expose us all to the rest of the world. I’m only going to say this once. Cease your actions immediately.”
“Very well,” Kyrios said. “I shall reign my manzil in.”
Ducane was silent for a moment—probably gauging Kyrios’ honesty. Finally, “You had better. Any more mass killings and you will be sanctioned.”
“You need not worry about that,” Kyrios said, bowing.
Ducane grunted his acceptance and then lumbered out of the room. Kyrios was disgusted by his own deceit, but nothing could be done about it. He wasn’t about to abandon his mission, but neither could the Guide be allowed to know that.
Collins returned to the room looking nervous. As a boy, he had been abused by high-handed Catholic authority figures along with his supposedly friendly priest. That had made him an ideal recruit. “Is everything all right?”
“Fine,” Kyrios said.
Collins wasn’t buying it. “He knows. Mikhail was right. “Oh, God.”
Kyrios got in his face. “God is the source of all our problems. Do not speak that name to me.”
“But we’re going to be sanctioned!”
Kyrios nodded. “Of course. That was always the plan. You’re a fool if you expected to cause World War Three and escape unscathed.”
“I just…” Collins looked away, tension marring his features. “I just wanted to get rid of the Church. They ravaged my homeland. They need to pay. But the rest of us don’t. We’ve already paid.”
“And they will pay. But we must pay an additional price to make it happen. If you travel down this road with us, you must be prepared to sacrifice everything.”
Collins turned his head back to look at him. “Yes, sir.”
* * *
Collins left the office and went downstairs. Most of the meat-packing stations had been removed long ago, but some equipment still hung from the ceiling. The remains of sawdust still clung to the floor in uneven clumps.
In the center of the floor, a sort of common area had been set up by the shahid. These consisted of two couches facing one another and flanked by chairs. His brethren lounged here. Chloe sat engrossed in one of her cheap romance novels. Collins didn’t see Mikhail, though.
Someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around. Mikhail stood there with an index finger to his lips. Mikhail motioned for them to go to a more isolated corner of the room. When they arrived, he said, “Ducane saw Kyrios?”
“Yeah,” Collins said, not wanting to talk about it.
“We are in trouble,” the Russian said.
“Yeah.” He didn’t want to talk about it!
But Mikhail pressed on. “Some changes need to be made if we’re to survive.”
“What do you mean?”
“For starters, Kyle Falconer needs to be eliminated.”
Collins was not hearing this. “Come on. Ya know Kyrios won’t give the order to take him out.”
A rare smile crossed Mikhail’s lips. “Oh, but he will. Is where you come in.”
Collins knew exactly what he was suggesting. “I could never do that. Kyrios values us, but no one is that forgiving. We’d be killed for sure.
Mikhail was adamant, though. “What do you think will happen if we go through with his plan? We will be sanctioned. You want to avoid, yes?”
“Of course. But the mission—”
“Will still be carried out. But Kyrios’ methods are liability. I have plan that is much more discreet.”
Collins spent several moments mulling it over. Then, “All right. But only because I don’t want to be sanctioned.”
About the Creator
I'm a science fiction and fantasy author living with Asperger's. I've published 10 novels and a few short stories thus far. I decided to join Vocal in order to share stories that are fiction and non-fiction.