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Vile Deeds

by Suzie Wargo Lockhart 9 months ago in fiction

Stains on His Soul

Vile Deeds
Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash

A ray of sunlight snakes through long, vertical blinds, finding rest on Johnny Malone’s pale face. His eyelids flutter, but when he inadvertently moves his head, bright light catches him full-on. Groaning, he rolls over, squeezing the lids tightly shut.

The mattress beneath him is rock-hard, and the bedding scratchy. Where the hell am I? he thought. Didn’t I go home with some whore from the club last night? He tries hard to remember, but details of the previous night remain sketchy. Johnny rubs his temples, trying to focus, but the elusive memories are nothing more than shadows weaving in and out of the fog that was invading his mind.

Did someone spike his drink? It was a possibility. Hell, he’d done it himself to get a broad to go home with him.

But Johnny knew he wasn’t at home now.

Feeling a body beside him, he mutters, “Wake-up, bitch.” Johnny kicks a foot out in an attempt to knock whatever-the-hell-her-name-was out of bed. “Ouch! Damnnit!” He exclaims, his foot meeting something hard.

His big toe begins throbbing and he finally decides to pry open an eyelid; he catches sight of a man’s shoe.

“What the…!” Johnny bolts upright, scrambling to his feet and backing away. Both eyes widen as his sight slowly adjusts to light filtering through the dim room, peering through particles of dust floating weightlessly about to discover he is on a carpeted floor in completely unfamiliar surroundings.

As more light begins illuminating the room, it reveals dark blood—smeared over everything.

“Ahh, no man… No way, man!” Panic turns to hysteria at the sight of a dead body on the floor.

At least, what was left of it?

Johnny stumbles backwards into the coffee table, and he reaches his hand back to catch himself from falling, knocking over a glass in the process.

Mortified by the carnage in front of him, his hand runs through clay-colored hair, dry and unyielding from all the gel smeared through the previous night. Had it been only one night? He tries to think about what to do, but even under normal circumstances, thinking was not one of Johnny Malone’s strong points.

“Man, I’m not going down for this,” he whines, pacing to and fro. He spots double doors leading to a balcony, and as Johnny opens them wide, he discovers a fire escape. Not noticing blood all over his fine Italian loafers, he quietly makes his way down the rusty ladder before sprinting off through a back alley.

***

My name is Detective Trent Slade.

But everyone just calls me Slade.

My partner, Robert Pearson, and I are standing outside apartment number 513.

It’s been said thirteen is an unlucky number, and it certainly was for this fellow.

The scene in front of us is a gruesome one; while horrific crime scenes aren’t foreign to cops, even my seasoned partner looks disturbed beyond reproach.

As we stand outside the yellow tape, we can see blood smeared everywhere: on the furniture, the walls, and the carpet. The victim is sprawled out on the floor; at least, what’s left of him. It appears his flesh has been shredded—as if an animal had ripped him apart.

Except, the tears were more precise.

A strange, prickling sensation runs through me as I stare at the body, moonlight peeking through the blinds to cast an eerie glow on what remained of his skin. It glistened invitingly off all that blood.

Robert and I cross the tape, digging our hands in our pockets as we head for the first officer on the scene.

“What do you have so far?” Robert asks.

The officer is young, probably a rookie. I’d be willing to bet he’s no more than twenty-five. I swear I can see freckles on the kids face. He, too, is visibly shaken.

“He hadn’t been to work for a few days. He’s, was, a teacher at the middle school. The landlord came to check on him, and he…he…, excuse me, sir, I think I’m gonna throw up.”

The kid dashes into the bathroom, where we could hear him retching his last meal.

An older woman on the forensic team heads over to greet us, introducing herself as Marilyn Wallace. Another woman, tall and thin with cropped blonde hair and giant holes in her ears, continues snapping pictures.

“Hello, detectives.” She greets us smoothly.

“So I guess we know now why he hasn’t been at school.” Robert remarks wryly before asking, “What the hell went down here?”

“We aren’t exactly sure, but here’s what we know so far.” I slip on a pair of latex gloves as Robert does the same. He takes the wallet she produces and carefully examines it.

“Milton Drewery. Age, fifty-four. Married?”

“No.” She states dryly.

Robert flips through the wallet, overflowing with pictures of children.

“Did he have…children?” Robert asks, the answer coming to him just as the words leave his mouth.

“No.” Marilyn’s thin lips are set in a grim line.

“I see.” My partner of eleven years turns whiter then he already is. His eyes quickly roam over the scene, taking in the sight of the silver duct tape sitting next to the laptop on the coffee table. Then they travel across the room to the hallway to rest on a child’s shoe.

“I see.” he hisses, handing the wallet gingerly back to the forensic investigator, as though it carried Ebola.

“Looks like we might have some fingerprints!” One of the CSI guys on the scene yells. “Here on the coffee table, and this broken glass. I’ll dust for more prints on the door, since it’s obvious that’s where the perpetrator made his exit. The carpet is indented…”

The woman taking photos follows the trail of bloody footprints leading to the door.

A slight smile crosses my face. “Good work, man.”

We walk near the perimeter of the room, careful not to disturb anything.

“An officer is on the way who can hack into that laptop. I have a pretty good idea what we are going to find on it, unfortunately.” Marilyn tucks behind her ear a tendril of gray hair, which has escaped her tightly woven knot in the back of her head. “Apparently, this was not a good man.”

“What he was, was one sick bastard.” I can hear the strain in my partner’s voice. I know his thoughts are on his own three children. “If you ask me,” Robert growls. “Someone did the world a favor. C’mon, Slade, let’s go get some coffee.”

I nod in agreement and follow. It would seem that way…

We cross back over the crime scene tape, and when we reach the corridor outside my partner rips off his gloves as if they are contaminated. Visibly agitated, he presses the button for the elevator several times. The doors slide open, and we step inside.

His voice is hoarse. “Slade, been on the force over twenty years, and it’s still tough to properly conduct an investigation on the murder of a pedophile. I feel… relief that someone took care of him, before he could hurt more kids. I’m not even sure I wouldn’t have done something to him myself, if he’d have hurt one of mine…”

I remain silent.

“Do you think maybe a parent of one of his victims got to him?”

“That’s certainly a possibility. It did look like a crime perpetrated by someone filled with a lot of rage.”

Robert sags against the elevator wall, appearing to age right before my eyes. I realize he hasn’t pressed the down arrow, so I reach across him and hit it.

Each of us are lost deep in our own thoughts as we exit the apartment complex,

The night is warm, whispering promises of summer. A light breeze wafts through the air, bringing with it a captivating aroma from a few blocks down. We head towards the small diner, anxious to put distance between us and the scene. I’m anxious, too, because every time I see Drewery’s body in my mind’s eye, that strange, prickly feeling returns.

We enter the establishment, and our usual waitress greets us, smiling broadly. “Hi Robert. Slade.” I see the crooked little grin she offers when she says my name.

“Hey.” I say.

“What’s wrong? You both look like something the cat dragged in.”

Usually, Robert likes her smart mouth, but not today.

“Tough case, Michelle.” I tell her. “ Gimme your strongest brew, black. Please.”

She nods as my partner orders a medium roast with sugar.

It doesn’t matter what I get; I won’t taste it anyway.

I drink down the scalding hot liquid in one gulp, and Robert stares at me as I crush the cup before tossing it into the nearby trash receptacle.

“Good God, man, how the hell do you do that?”

I just shrug.

Robert sips his coffee slowly.

“We might as well head home. Call me if you hear something.” I see the yearning in his eyes. He’s anxious to see his kids, his wife, Claire; needing that reassurance only family can provide. I know if we leave now, he’ll make it home in time to see the youngest off to school.

I care deeply about his family, because Robert is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a brother. I’d do anything to help protect them.

“I will, Slade.”

I know they’ll call Robert first, as he’s the senior officer. Robert is six years older than I am supposed to be. In fact, only recently the department held a big surprise celebration for his fiftieth birthday.

“Get some rest.” I say.

He sighs, trying to rub the tension from the back of his neck.

“Yeah, you too, Slade.”

***

At around one in the afternoon, my cell phone buzzes. I already know what Robert is going to tell me.

“Slade, you won’t believe this.”

“What’d they come up with?” I ask groggily.

“Fingerprints, all belonging to Johnny Malone. They already brought him in for questioning.”

“No shit?” I say, pretending to be shocked.

“One scumbag does in another scumbag. What d’ya make of that?”

“Two for the price of one, man.” I manage a deep-throated chuckle before hanging up and wandering over to the fridge for a drink. I hate it cold, but it’s the only way to keep that dark crimson liquid fresh. I take a swig and the coppery taste explodes inside my mouth.

Truth be told, I enjoyed it. It had been a few years since the taste of warm blood crossed my lips. The idea came to me one foggy morning while I was taking a shortcut through the park to get home. That creep, Drewery, was trying to lure a little girl into his minivan. I intervened, and then followed him home.

It just so happened that I was off that night, so I went up to his balcony and crouched outside on the fire escape, watching. I already know what they’ll find on that laptop. I saw some of it right before I ripped out his throat. The warmth of fresh blood had invigorated me.

I felt alive for a while.

I found Malone in a seedy club downtown, slipped something in his drink while he was distracted, and dragged him, unnoticed, to Drewery’s apartment. I put his filthy paws all over everything. I admit, I was tempted to do him in, too. But I’d made a vow to only take out the worst of the worst.

But pinning it on another scumbag. Genius, I thought. Just thinking about it made me want to laugh.

I set the air conditioner to 60 degrees and tried to fall back asleep for a while. Something kept nagging me.

Something vile…

***

I always leave early when I need to be somewhere.

Years of programming, I guess.

This particular evening, my timing proves invaluable.

The impending twilight has added a tinge of purple to the gray, overcast sky. Not a trace of sunlight is visible to hinder my walk to work.

I prefer making my way through the alleyways; the looming shadows from tall buildings help block out the any of the damn sunlight poking through the clouds; a perfect opportunity to search for any scumbags.

I’m halfway to the precinct when I hear a scream. I follow the sound, and when I draw close, I tread quietly behind the perpetrator. I pull the black hood of my sweatshirt over my cropped hair and growl, commanding the woman he has in his clutches to ‘get the hell outta here’.

I don’t need to repeat myself. She is in shock, but as the creep releases her and turns towards me, she quickly grabs her belongings and takes off running in her bare feet.

“Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” I utilize a line I often hear in the action movies I enjoy watching as I stare into his soulless eyes. I don’t give him a chance to respond.

Effortlessly, I take his knife away from him with my gloved hand, and proceed to plunge it deep into his gut, just enough to incapacitate him. Then I slice it across his femoral artery, drinking greedily. The fresh blood pours into my mouth in mere minutes.

The liquid spreads through me, but it is malignant, and taints what remains of my soul. I quickly wipe off any traces of the blood, and toss the body into a nearby dumpster. I slide the knife under the closed lid. I pocket my glove, along with the man’s wallet—no ID will delay identification—once he’s found. I find myself glad the woman fled, because the unquenchable hunger is unbearable at the moment. I am not satiated. I crouch behind a building, blending into the darkening night as I try to regain some semblance of humanity.

I rush back home quickly to shower all the dried blood off my body, and then burn the clothes along with the man’s possessions. Later that night, as Robert and I spend time looking through our backlog, an idea begins to form.

I make a few copies once I’m alone, and take them home with me.

After studying a few files, I think I might know where to find Raevon Washington, one of Detroit’s biggest drug dealers.

I watch.

Wait.

Then one rainy morning, after work…

I cross the river and drive to the docks off of Lake Michigan. The windows of my SUV are tinted, just in case the rain subsides. I know which Yacht is Washington’s. I slip silently onto the boat; everyone is passed out after a night of partying, no doubt. My surroundings reek of money. It disgusts me when I think of him, affording to live in luxury on the backs of addicted kids. I picture some of the faces I’ve seen in the morgue.

I planned this execution out carefully, to make it look like Washington didn’t pay someone he owed. The only thing this had in common with the others was the blood. Which I, of course, drained from him, before tossing his body into the river.

The only one who would miss this low-life would be his mother.

I wasn’t able to frame someone, but I left the scene open to suggestion.

The hunger is now more prevalent than it has been in years.

I could feel myself slipping…the sensation I’d had when I ousted the other perps lingered for several hours afterwards; driving the need to feed. When I arrive at work that evening, my partner eyes me warily.

“You look like shit, Slade. Haven’t you been sleeping well or something?”

“I’m fine!” I growl, uncharacteristically. What has gotten in to me?

Robert raises an eyebrow at me before returning to his desk. “Okay, partner.”

***

After three more ‘murders’, my partner suggests the theory that there might be a serial killer involved. I scoff at him.

“Why would you think that?” My tone is sharp. “There are plenty of murders in Detroit every day.” I should have tried to pin those on someone. I was getting too hungry lately, it was making me sloppy. It plagued me relentlessly these days; the cold, tasteless blood in the fridge just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

“Slade, what’s gotten into you lately? Maybe you need to go get laid or something. That waitress at the coffee shop is always eyeballing you.”

I glare at him. I don’t know what is wrong with me. The more I get, the more I want, but I already knew that. I’d made the conscious decision. Darkness is permeating my soul, taking a little more of my humanity with each kill.

I sigh, trying to exercise some control, in order to sound more like myself.

“Yeah man, it’s been awhile.” I force a grin.

Robert makes a few helpful suggestions. “I bet if you’d shave some of that scruff off your face…”

“Not gonna happen.”

I added the scruff awhile back. Thankfully, I was starting to get a splattering of gray when I was transformed, at thirty-eight years old. I was a slave in the South, and was in supreme physical condition from the torturous work I was forced to endure. Until I met my maker, that is.

After that, everything changed.

The whiskers help me stick around in one place for a few years. Clean shaven, I can pass for mid-twenties. Then, I add the mustache and goatee. Thirties. I add the stubble and stop covering the little bits of gray, and I can pass for a man well into his forties.

“You’d probably look younger, you know. You don’t have many wrinkles, for almost 45.” If he only knew my actual age was 245. Robert squints at me over his reading glasses.

“You know what they say.” I tell him.

“What?” My partner takes the bait.

“Good black don’t crack.”

I don’t think I’ve seen Robert laugh that hard in some time.

Too bad a phone call comes in that ruins the moment.

Yes, it’s one of mine.

A pimp who took pleasure in beating his whores to within a minute of their lives.

So I beat him to within a minute of his before taking what I wanted…needed.

We head to the location of the crime.

My crime.

As we stroll through the scene, I realize I’d gotten even sloppier with this latest one. After whooping his ass, I ripped out his throat without giving it a second thought.

“Prints?” Robert asks Marilyn Wallace, the same forensic expert from the Drewery case.

“My team is working on it.”

To my dismay, Robert asks her if she thinks there is a pattern.

Her dark eyebrows, in stark contrast to her gray hair, knit together. “It is odd,” she states. “These last few killings have all been the dregs of society. It’s possible a vigilante is at work here.”

Robert nods in agreement. “Has most of the blood been drained from Bishop, here?”

I walk towards Bishop’s body as Marilyn confirms for Robert what I already know.

My partner’s hands are deep in his pockets as he stands at my side, musing in a low voice, for my ears only. “Maybe this is the work of a vampire vigilante.”

I know I should probably force a laugh at his comment, but I can’t.

What bothers me most?

Robert isn’t laughing, either. His questioning gaze bores into me.

Has he figured out…what I am?

***

On my day off, I head to the outskirts of Detroit for my next kill, not thinking of anything but the unyielding hunger; filled with inexplicable rage, I come across a small diner where I listen to the stories around me while drinking several cups of strong black coffee, pretending to eat a sandwich.

It doesn’t take long.

A good-ole boy.

As soon as I walk in, he eyes me like I don’t belong there. I soon overhear several racist comments coming out of his mouth, as well as enough information to know he probably isn’t very nice to his wife.

Maybe he doesn’t fit the usual profile, but I conclude he’s not a nice guy; he’s dirt. The day had been cloud covered and gloomy, and as night sets in, no moon is visible; it’s the kind of darkness that covers bad things—when they happen.

I follow him to his mobile home. I slip on my gloves and peer in through the dingy curtains. He is alone. I break through the flimsy door easily, and using a sharp kitchen night, I do him in and feed. Just as I prepare to leave, a beat up car pulls up and a woman in a hotel maid’s uniform steps out. Turning quickly, I race to the bedroom in back and jump out of a window.

As I run towards my SUV, her blood curling scream echoes through the night.

Driving home, I wonder if she had noticed my vehicle. Even if she did, there are plenty of black SUV’s out there. I was certain she had no way to ID the plates.

Hell, besides—hadn’t I just done her a big favor?

***

The deep shadows of darkness are swallowing me up. The blood of all those evil humans I have killed is changing me. Transforming me into a creature I’d never wanted to be. But my grasp on any semblance of humanity is slowly slipping away. I’m certain if I could see myself in a mirror, I’d see that my features have changed. I’m certain the vileness of my deeds would be visible…

I’m not surprised when Robert calls, asking me to meet him out at the docks.

I try for nonchalant as I stroll towards him.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d show.”

“Why wouldn’t I?” I ask, sarcasm dripping from my voice.

“Marilyn called me. About a murder in Ann Arbor her team got called to.”

“So?”

“She called because it was very similar to the cases around here.”

I just stare at him as the hunger slowly begins to consume me.

“I started piecing things together after Bishop, Slade. Did some checking into your background. Looked at pictures. You haven’t changed a bit in fifteen years, Slade, except for that hair on your face. You always work the night shift. I’ve never seen you eat anything. It wasn’t that hard to figure out I’d been right.” My partner was visibly shaken. “I’ve never been one to believe in things that go bump in the night. But…it’s true, isn’t it? You are a vampire—a vampire vigilante.”

I chuckle. “I already told you, Robert. Good black don’t crack.” I smile, realizing all too late that my fangs had—by this time—made an appearance.

I watch as Robert pulls out a wooden stake, filed to a sharp tip. His hands are trembling.

“Seriously, Robert. You think that will stop me?”

“This has to end, Slade.”

My mind is whirling, and I offer him an ultimatum. “I could change you, brother. We could clean up this city together.” My eyes beseech him to understand, even though I’m not sure I do myself.

He shakes his head, “I couldn’t do that to Claire and the kids…”

The self-assured look on his face drops a little. His pulse quickens, and the sound of blood cascading through his veins overtakes my mind. I am on him before he can even react—before I can stop myself. In minutes, my partner, my friend, my brother…is dying in my arms.

“I’m sorry.” My deep voice wavers. “I’ll see to it that Claire is well taken care of before I leave this city, Robert. I’ll make sure your kids never want for anything, man. I promise.”

“Except…me,” he croaks. I couldn’t change him...couldn’t afford him this hellish eternity I’d been cursed with.

I couldn’t force him to live in the shadows forever.

So I let him slip away.

Changing him—that would’ve been another thing to add to my list of vile deeds…

***

My name is Detective Trent Slade.

But everyone just calls me Slade.

My partner, Robert Pearson, and I are standing outside apartment number 513.

It’s been said thirteen is an unlucky number, and it certainly was for this fellow.

The scene in front of us is a gruesome one; while horrific crime scenes aren’t foreign to cops, even my seasoned partner looks disturbed beyond reproach.

As we stand outside the yellow tape, we can see blood smeared everywhere: on the furniture, the walls, and the carpet. The victim is sprawled out on the floor; at least, what’s left of him. It appears his flesh has been shredded—as if an animal had ripped him apart.

Except, the tears were more precise.

A strange, prickling sensation runs through me as I stare at the body, moonlight peeking through the blinds to cast an eerie glow on what remained of his skin. It glistened invitingly off all that blood.

Robert and I cross the tape, digging our hands in our pockets as we head for the first officer on the scene.

“What do you have so far?” Robert asks.

The officer is young, probably a rookie. I’d be willing to bet he’s no more than twenty-five. I swear I can see freckles on the kids face. He, too, is visibly shaken.

“He hadn’t been to work for a few days. He’s, was, a teacher at the middle school. The landlord came to check on him, and he…he…, excuse me, sir, I think I’m gonna throw up.”

The kid dashes into the bathroom, where we could hear him retching his last meal.

An older woman on the forensic team heads over to greet us, introducing herself as Marilyn Wallace. Another woman, tall and thin with cropped blonde hair and giant holes in her ears, continues snapping pictures.

“Hello, detectives.” She greets us smoothly.

“So I guess we know now why he hasn’t been at school.” Robert remarks wryly before asking, “What the hell went down here?”

“We aren’t exactly sure, but here’s what we know so far.” I slip on a pair of latex gloves as Robert does the same. He takes the wallet she produces and carefully examines it.

“Milton Drewery. Age, fifty-four. Married?”

“No.” She states dryly.

Robert flips through the wallet, overflowing with pictures of children.

“Did he have…children?” Robert asks, the answer coming to him just as the words leave his mouth.

“No.” Marilyn’s thin lips are set in a grim line.

“I see.” My partner of eleven years turns whiter then he already is. His eyes quickly roam over the scene, taking in the sight of the silver duct tape sitting next to the laptop on the coffee table. Then they travel across the room to the hallway to rest on a child’s shoe.

“I see.” he hisses, handing the wallet gingerly back to the forensic investigator, as though it carried Ebola.

“Looks like we might have some fingerprints!” One of the CSI guys on the scene yells. “Here on the coffee table, and this broken glass. I’ll dust for more prints on the door, since it’s obvious that’s where the perpetrator made his exit. The carpet is indented…”

The woman taking photos follows the trail of bloody footprints leading to the door.

A slight smile crosses my face. “Good work, man.”

We walk near the perimeter of the room, careful not to disturb anything.

“An officer is on the way who can hack into that laptop. I have a pretty good idea what we are going to find on it, unfortunately.” Marilyn tucks behind her ear a tendril of gray hair, which has escaped her tightly woven knot in the back of her head. “Apparently, this was not a good man.”

“What he was, was one sick bastard.” I can hear the strain in my partner’s voice. I know his thoughts are on his own three children. “If you ask me,” Robert growls. “Someone did the world a favor. C’mon, Slade, let’s go get some coffee.”

I nod in agreement and follow. It would seem that way…

We cross back over the crime scene tape, and when we reach the corridor outside my partner rips off his gloves as if they are contaminated. Visibly agitated, he presses the button for the elevator several times. The doors slide open, and we step inside.

His voice is hoarse. “Slade, been on the force over twenty years, and it’s still tough to properly conduct an investigation on the murder of a pedophile. I feel… relief that someone took care of him, before he could hurt more kids. I’m not even sure I wouldn’t have done something to him myself, if he’d have hurt one of mine…”

I remain silent.

“Do you think maybe a parent of one of his victims got to him?”

“That’s certainly a possibility. It did look like a crime perpetrated by someone filled with a lot of rage.”

Robert sags against the elevator wall, appearing to age right before my eyes. I realize he hasn’t pressed the down arrow, so I reach across him and hit it.

Each of us are lost deep in our own thoughts as we exit the apartment complex,

The night is warm, whispering promises of summer. A light breeze wafts through the air, bringing with it a captivating aroma from a few blocks down. We head towards the small diner, anxious to put distance between us and the scene. I’m anxious, too, because every time I see Drewery’s body in my mind’s eye, that strange, prickly feeling returns.

We enter the establishment, and our usual waitress greets us, smiling broadly. “Hi Robert. Slade.” I see the crooked little grin she offers when she says my name.

“Hey.” I say.

“What’s wrong? You both look like something the cat dragged in.”

Usually, Robert likes her smart mouth, but not today.

“Tough case, Michelle.” I tell her. “ Gimme your strongest brew, black. Please.”

She nods as my partner orders a medium roast with sugar.

It doesn’t matter what I get; I won’t taste it anyway.

I drink down the scalding hot liquid in one gulp, and Robert stares at me as I crush the cup before tossing it into the nearby trash receptacle.

“Good God, man, how the hell do you do that?”

I just shrug.

Robert sips his coffee slowly.

“We might as well head home. Call me if you hear something.” I see the yearning in his eyes. He’s anxious to see his kids, his wife, Claire; needing that reassurance only family can provide. I know if we leave now, he’ll make it home in time to see the youngest off to school.

I care deeply about his family, because Robert is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a brother. I’d do anything to help protect them.

“I will, Slade.”

I know they’ll call Robert first, as he’s the senior officer. Robert is six years older than I am supposed to be. In fact, only recently the department held a big surprise celebration for his fiftieth birthday.

“Get some rest.” I say.

He sighs, trying to rub the tension from the back of his neck.

“Yeah, you too, Slade.”

***

At around one in the afternoon, my cell phone buzzes. I already know what Robert is going to tell me.

“Slade, you won’t believe this.”

“What’d they come up with?” I ask groggily.

“Fingerprints, all belonging to Johnny Malone. They already brought him in for questioning.”

“No shit?” I say, pretending to be shocked.

“One scumbag does in another scumbag. What d’ya make of that?”

“Two for the price of one, man.” I manage a deep-throated chuckle before hanging up and wandering over to the fridge for a drink. I hate it cold, but it’s the only way to keep that dark crimson liquid fresh. I take a swig and the coppery taste explodes inside my mouth.

Truth be told, I enjoyed it. It had been a few years since the taste of warm blood crossed my lips. The idea came to me one foggy morning while I was taking a shortcut through the park to get home. That creep, Drewery, was trying to lure a little girl into his minivan. I intervened, and then followed him home.

It just so happened that I was off that night, so I went up to his balcony and crouched outside on the fire escape, watching. I already know what they’ll find on that laptop. I saw some of it right before I ripped out his throat. The warmth of fresh blood had invigorated me.

I felt alive for a while.

I found Malone in a seedy club downtown, slipped something in his drink while he was distracted, and dragged him, unnoticed, to Drewery’s apartment. I put his filthy paws all over everything. I admit, I was tempted to do him in, too. But I’d made a vow to only take out the worst of the worst.

But pinning it on another scumbag. Genius, I thought. Just thinking about it made me want to laugh.

I set the air conditioner to 60 degrees and tried to fall back asleep for a while. Something kept nagging me.

Something vile…

***

I always leave early when I need to be somewhere.

Years of programming, I guess.

This particular evening, my timing proves invaluable.

The impending twilight has added a tinge of purple to the gray, overcast sky. Not a trace of sunlight is visible to hinder my walk to work.

I prefer making my way through the alleyways; the looming shadows from tall buildings help block out the any of the damn sunlight poking through the clouds; a perfect opportunity to search for any scumbags.

I’m halfway to the precinct when I hear a scream. I follow the sound, and when I draw close, I tread quietly behind the perpetrator. I pull the black hood of my sweatshirt over my cropped hair and growl, commanding the woman he has in his clutches to ‘get the hell outta here’.

I don’t need to repeat myself. She is in shock, but as the creep releases her and turns towards me, she quickly grabs her belongings and takes off running in her bare feet.

“Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” I utilize a line I often hear in the action movies I enjoy watching as I stare into his soulless eyes. I don’t give him a chance to respond.

Effortlessly, I take his knife away from him with my gloved hand, and proceed to plunge it deep into his gut, just enough to incapacitate him. Then I slice it across his femoral artery, drinking greedily. The fresh blood pours into my mouth in mere minutes.

The liquid spreads through me, but it is malignant, and taints what remains of my soul. I quickly wipe off any traces of the blood, and toss the body into a nearby dumpster. I slide the knife under the closed lid. I pocket my glove, along with the man’s wallet—no ID will delay identification—once he’s found. I find myself glad the woman fled, because the unquenchable hunger is unbearable at the moment. I am not satiated. I crouch behind a building, blending into the darkening night as I try to regain some semblance of humanity.

I rush back home quickly to shower all the dried blood off my body, and then burn the clothes along with the man’s possessions. Later that night, as Robert and I spend time looking through our backlog, an idea begins to form.

I make a few copies once I’m alone, and take them home with me.

After studying a few files, I think I might know where to find Raevon Washington, one of Detroit’s biggest drug dealers.

I watch.

Wait.

Then one rainy morning, after work…

I cross the river and drive to the docks off of Lake Michigan. The windows of my SUV are tinted, just in case the rain subsides. I know which Yacht is Washington’s. I slip silently onto the boat; everyone is passed out after a night of partying, no doubt. My surroundings reek of money. It disgusts me when I think of him, affording to live in luxury on the backs of addicted kids. I picture some of the faces I’ve seen in the morgue.

I planned this execution out carefully, to make it look like Washington didn’t pay someone he owed. The only thing this had in common with the others was the blood. Which I, of course, drained from him, before tossing his body into the river.

The only one who would miss this low-life would be his mother.

I wasn’t able to frame someone, but I left the scene open to suggestion.

The hunger is now more prevalent than it has been in years.

I could feel myself slipping…the sensation I’d had when I ousted the other perps lingered for several hours afterwards; driving the need to feed. When I arrive at work that evening, my partner eyes me warily.

“You look like shit, Slade. Haven’t you been sleeping well or something?”

“I’m fine!” I growl, uncharacteristically. What has gotten in to me?

Robert raises an eyebrow at me before returning to his desk. “Okay, partner.”

***

After three more ‘murders’, my partner suggests the theory that there might be a serial killer involved. I scoff at him.

“Why would you think that?” My tone is sharp. “There are plenty of murders in Detroit every day.” I should have tried to pin those on someone. I was getting too hungry lately, it was making me sloppy. It plagued me relentlessly these days; the cold, tasteless blood in the fridge just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

“Slade, what’s gotten into you lately? Maybe you need to go get laid or something. That waitress at the coffee shop is always eyeballing you.”

I glare at him. I don’t know what is wrong with me. The more I get, the more I want, but I already knew that. I’d made the conscious decision. Darkness is permeating my soul, taking a little more of my humanity with each kill.

I sigh, trying to exercise some control, in order to sound more like myself.

“Yeah man, it’s been awhile.” I force a grin.

Robert makes a few helpful suggestions. “I bet if you’d shave some of that scruff off your face…”

“Not gonna happen.”

I added the scruff awhile back. Thankfully, I was starting to get a splattering of gray when I was transformed, at thirty-eight years old. I was a slave in the South, and was in supreme physical condition from the torturous work I was forced to endure. Until I met my maker, that is.

After that, everything changed.

The whiskers help me stick around in one place for a few years. Clean shaven, I can pass for mid-twenties. Then, I add the mustache and goatee. Thirties. I add the stubble and stop covering the little bits of gray, and I can pass for a man well into his forties.

“You’d probably look younger, you know. You don’t have many wrinkles, for almost 45.” If he only knew my actual age was 245. Robert squints at me over his reading glasses.

“You know what they say.” I tell him.

“What?” My partner takes the bait.

“Good black don’t crack.”

I don’t think I’ve seen Robert laugh that hard in some time.

Too bad a phone call comes in that ruins the moment.

Yes, it’s one of mine.

A pimp who took pleasure in beating his whores to within a minute of their lives.

So I beat him to within a minute of his before taking what I wanted…needed.

We head to the location of the crime.

My crime.

As we stroll through the scene, I realize I’d gotten even sloppier with this latest one. After whooping his ass, I ripped out his throat without giving it a second thought.

“Prints?” Robert asks Marilyn Wallace, the same forensic expert from the Drewery case.

“My team is working on it.”

To my dismay, Robert asks her if she thinks there is a pattern.

Her dark eyebrows, in stark contrast to her gray hair, knit together. “It is odd,” she states. “These last few killings have all been the dregs of society. It’s possible a vigilante is at work here.”

Robert nods in agreement. “Has most of the blood been drained from Bishop, here?”

I walk towards Bishop’s body as Marilyn confirms for Robert what I already know.

My partner’s hands are deep in his pockets as he stands at my side, musing in a low voice, for my ears only. “Maybe this is the work of a vampire vigilante.”

I know I should probably force a laugh at his comment, but I can’t.

What bothers me most?

Robert isn’t laughing, either. His questioning gaze bores into me.

Has he figured out…what I am?

***

On my day off, I head to the outskirts of Detroit for my next kill, not thinking of anything but the unyielding hunger; filled with inexplicable rage, I come across a small diner where I listen to the stories around me while drinking several cups of strong black coffee, pretending to eat a sandwich.

It doesn’t take long.

A good-ole boy.

As soon as I walk in, he eyes me like I don’t belong there. I soon overhear several racist comments coming out of his mouth, as well as enough information to know he probably isn’t very nice to his wife.

Maybe he doesn’t fit the usual profile, but I conclude he’s not a nice guy; he’s dirt. The day had been cloud covered and gloomy, and as night sets in, no moon is visible; it’s the kind of darkness that covers bad things—when they happen.

I follow him to his mobile home. I slip on my gloves and peer in through the dingy curtains. He is alone. I break through the flimsy door easily, and using a sharp kitchen night, I do him in and feed. Just as I prepare to leave, a beat up car pulls up and a woman in a hotel maid’s uniform steps out. Turning quickly, I race to the bedroom in back and jump out of a window.

As I run towards my SUV, her blood curling scream echoes through the night.

Driving home, I wonder if she had noticed my vehicle. Even if she did, there are plenty of black SUV’s out there. I was certain she had no way to ID the plates.

Hell, besides—hadn’t I just done her a big favor?

***

The deep shadows of darkness are swallowing me up. The blood of all those evil humans I have killed is changing me. Transforming me into a creature I’d never wanted to be. But my grasp on any semblance of humanity is slowly slipping away. I’m certain if I could see myself in a mirror, I’d see that my features have changed. I’m certain the vileness of my deeds would be visible…

I’m not surprised when Robert calls, asking me to meet him out at the docks.

I try for nonchalant as I stroll towards him.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d show.”

“Why wouldn’t I?” I ask, sarcasm dripping from my voice.

“Marilyn called me. About a murder in Ann Arbor her team got called to.”

“So?”

“She called because it was very similar to the cases around here.”

I just stare at him as the hunger slowly begins to consume me.

“I started piecing things together after Bishop, Slade. Did some checking into your background. Looked at pictures. You haven’t changed a bit in fifteen years, Slade, except for that hair on your face. You always work the night shift. I’ve never seen you eat anything. It wasn’t that hard to figure out I’d been right.” My partner was visibly shaken. “I’ve never been one to believe in things that go bump in the night. But…it’s true, isn’t it? You are a vampire—a vampire vigilante.”

I chuckle. “I already told you, Robert. Good black don’t crack.” I smile, realizing all too late that my fangs had—by this time—made an appearance.

I watch as Robert pulls out a wooden stake, filed to a sharp tip. His hands are trembling.

“Seriously, Robert. You think that will stop me?”

“This has to end, Slade.”

My mind is whirling, and I offer him an ultimatum. “I could change you, brother. We could clean up this city together.” My eyes beseech him to understand, even though I’m not sure I do myself.

He shakes his head, “I couldn’t do that to Claire and the kids…”

The self-assured look on his face drops a little. His pulse quickens, and the sound of blood cascading through his veins overtakes my mind. I am on him before he can even react—before I can stop myself. In minutes, my partner, my friend, my brother…is dying in my arms.

“I’m sorry.” My deep voice wavers. “I’ll see to it that Claire is well taken care of before I leave this city, Robert. I’ll make sure your kids never want for anything, man. I promise.”

“Except…me,” he croaks. I couldn’t change him...couldn’t afford him this hellish eternity I’d been cursed with.

I couldn’t force him to live in the shadows forever.

So I let him slip away.

Changing him—that would’ve been another thing to add to my list of vile deeds…

fiction

Suzie Wargo Lockhart

Suzie Lockhart hopes to bake cookies and tell bedtime stories as well as her favorite TV character, Carol, played by Melissa McBride on TWD. Until then, she w/b writing a YA novel w/ son, Bruce Lockhart. amazon.com/author/suzielockhart

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