Vampire Esquire's War: A Novella, page 1
Vampire Esquire’s War
By: Michael Wells Jr.
Buster B.’s Books
New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Copyright © 2016 by Michael Wells Jr.
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the express permission of the author. This includes reprints, excerpts, photocopying, recording, or any further means of reproducing text
For my wife and daughter, my angels, always and forever.
Table of Contents
About the Author
July 19, 64 AD, Rome
The fire raged throughout Rome. When the fire started, Quintus stood in the Forum at the Roman Law Courts. The fire separated him from his wife, Quinta. Although only a few miles away on Quirinale Hill, one of Rome’s famed seven hills, Quinta might as well have been hundreds of miles away.
"Over here," a man shouted. The man’s voice came from a door set between two Doric columns. Quintus passed by the door many times on his way to the law courts. He always thought it a facade and not a working door. Now it sat open with faint light coming from it as people, a mixture of citizens, plebs and slaves, scurried amidst the growing inferno, their shadows bouncing off the marble buildings and the dusty pathways.
"Are you talking to me?"
"Yes...you...the tall one. My name is Servus Marcellus. Follow me."
"Follow you where?"
"This way. There isn't much time. We must hurry." The mysterious man pointed to the narrow, torch-lit passage starting at the door’s threshold.
Quintus turned down the dim passageway and followed the man. Marcellus carried a glowing torch in front of him. Quintus did not know why he followed Marcellus, for he had never seen him or at least he didn’t recall doing so. The man’s dark eyes shone with certainty, an absolute certainty that he alone knew the way out of the inferno. His eyes spoke with confidence words could not convey for in their dark implacability they allowed for no doubt. Ultimately the conviction in the man’s eyes made Quintus trust him. The conviction Quintus thought he saw told him the stranger knew the way to safety. Quintus acted out of instinct, and his instinct usually proved correct. His instinct and the man’s conviction told Quintus to trust the man. Quite frankly, he didn’t have many other good options. He could panic among the hapless rabble of people or take a chance and follow the man. Besides, at least there wasn’t fire in the passage.
Quintus felt like eons passed as they raced through the dank passage. His sandaled feet hit hundreds of bricks as he ran deeper under the ground. Occasionally his arm brushed against cold, wet stone, and he heard the constant drip of water around him. Probably from the aqueducts, he thought. In spite of the coldness of his surroundings, he felt a warm aura from what he assumed was the fire above. The passage smelled of wetness and burning at the same time. He ran for at least half an hour, and the distance along with the heat, wetness and cold meant he must have been deep under the earth because he soon felt no warmth from the blazing Roman inferno.
As he ran, he wondered if Quinta had found safety.
"Almost here. We are going to make it. This way..."
That glowing torch was Quintus’ last human memory.
Quintus Gaius Antonious Maximus survived the “Great Fire of Rome” in 64 AD. Servus Marcellus helped him to escape––if losing your life as a human meant you escaped. Escaping human life for vampire existence guaranteed more years, but those years proved empty ones.
Servus’s vampire name was Drago, and Quintus caught Drago’s eye after Quintus skillfully defended his client to an acquittal in the Roman law courts. Servus saw promise in Quintus, and he wanted to make him a vampire. The fire provided the perfect opportunity.
Quintus finally escaped his maker, for he became tired of the carnage and the disregard for human and animal life. He retreated to Gaul, where he lived for hundreds of years, eventually changing his name to Pierre Leblanc.
Eventually he moved to the United States, Chicago in particular.
Leblanc decided long ago to use the law to preserve the peaceful coexistence between humans and vampires. He remained both a lawyer and a vampire.
Pierre Leblanc loved to walk the Chicago streets for hours and lose himself in the teeming city. He lived vicariously through others as he watched them live their lives and imagined what it would be like them, to live and to be human once again. He envied them.
Their faces flashed before him like scenes on a movie screen, images, which faded into the smoky haze of time. The faces could never be more than detached images to him for he remained apart from the human world. And he had been since that day in July 64 A.D.
He spotted one couple walking across the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River, hand in hand, and in love, and he recalled walking across a bridge over the Tiber River in Rome with his wife Quinta. It seemed so long ago—and it was—but the memories etched themselves in his consciousness so that they seemed near in time.
The man was tall with black hair like him, and the woman was athletic and beautiful with short, brown hair like Quinta. From behind they could have been he and Quinta. But they weren’t and thinking about this ridiculous notion only made him feel worse.
He wasn’t human anymore. He was a vampire, and, although he was of the human world, he was not in their world. An interloper, he never felt he fit, not for a few millennia at least. And he would never fit because he wasn’t natural. He existed, but not the way nature intended.
Nature intended death and finite existence not infinite existence. So he tried to separate himself from humans and remain at most an observer. Sometimes, however, circumstances thrust themselves upon him and forced him to act thereby inserting himself into the human world. If he were going to exist for this long, he might as well do his best to make sure humans and vampires both continued to exist.
Part human and part vampire, Pierre owed it to himself to honor both sides. He especially owed it to Quinta because the tragedy that had riven his life so long ago needed to be for a reason. There must be meaning. Otherwise, why was he here? He must embrace his humanity and fight against the negative aspects of his vampire nature.
The couple faded from view, and Pierre couldn’t help but wonder if things would work out better for them. Maybe they wouldn’t make it either. How was anyone to know?
He never imagined he would be in this situation, and it still seemed strange to him even after all this time.
And he blamed his maker, Drago (or whatever he called himself these days assuming he still existed), for this.
Pierre was troubled by vampires, who advocated for a vampire takeover of the world; their numbers seemed to increase each day.
The Vampire League Restoration League, also known as the Nosferatu Vampire League, supported vampire dominion over humans at all costs. Restoration vampires viewed themselves as working to restore the natural order of vampire dominion. Although they claimed to be civilized and cultured, Leblanc knew better. No better than base animals, they would stop at nothing to enslave humans and use them a
Leblanc strove to find ways to lessen the influence of the Restoration vampires.
Leblanc's latest project involved creating a corporation that would allow for the set up of private blood banks. These blood banks would be used to supply vampires with blood. A majority of both vampire and human governments supported the idea. Certain high-level human government officials knew of the existence of vampires and had for hundreds of years. But it was thought to be better to keep vampires a secret because knowledge that vampires were real would cause mass hysteria as history had proven. Unfortunately, however, such plans had proved illusory, and the vampire presence wormed its way into and contributed to many conflicts.
Leblanc had worked on the private blood bank company for years, and he felt it would preserve the peace between humans and vampires. He believed vampires would not be able to attack humans or kill them if those humans acted as donors to the private blood banks. He pushed to make the penalty for feeding on humans staking.
It could be slow going, though, but he tried to use his acumen as a lawyer to lay the necessary groundwork. When the existence of vampires became common knowledge—and that was coming soon—the infrastructure would need to be ready.
Leblanc enjoyed the give and take of lawyering. Although many of the laws had changed over his almost 2,000 years of practice, the motivations that drove people remained the same: money and power.
He recalled the problem of concentration of wealth in the hands of a few; the problem repeated itself throughout history.
The conflicts in ancient Rome were not all that different than the conflicts now, but the law and the motives behind it remained constant even if the rules changed.
The law dealt with either money, power or avenging past wrongs. Keeping these three tenants in mind allowed Pierre to see through the most complex legal problems. Many of the same motivations drove humans and vampires.
Leblanc’s private cell phone rang ending his reflections. “That’s odd,” he said aloud, “because I don’t give that number out very often.” When someone called him on that number, however, it meant something. So he answered.
"This is Pierre Leblanc. May I help you?"
"Mr. Leblanc, this is William Magnum."
He’d heard that name before in various vampire circles, and he knew Magnum was no friend to the vampires. In fact, his kills were legendary. Most vampires didn’t believe a vampire could ever fear a human, but Leblanc knew many vampires who feared Magnum and would never admit it.
Leblanc paused briefly, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. "Yes Mr. Magnum. Tell me please."
"Mr. Leblanc, we have a problem.”
Mr. Magnum didn’t need to tell Leblanc the nature of the problem. Leblanc knew it had to do with the Restoration vampires.
It had been a few hundred years since these Restoration vampires had been a credible threat. But forces now worked through dark, political channels. Leblanc feared Restoration vampires may be funding the Tea Party and other hate groups.
"I'm sorry to hear that Mr. Magnum, but I am not sure how I can assist you.”
Magnum said, "Unofficially I am working for a powerful man, but this is top secret. I cannot say more on the phone even though this line is secure."
Leblanc felt some skepticism about the meeting, but he supposed he had nothing to lose. He hated the cryptic nature of these kinds of discussion. “Mr. Magnum, I am sure you understand my skepticism.”
Leblanc wondered which powerful man. He had offered his services to many powerful men and women, heads of state, business leaders, writers, movie stars and athletes. This call felt different, more important. He couldn’t identify exactly what made him feel differently, but something did. This time it was different. Something in the air; something in his bones; something in his blood, his vampire blood, felt different.
"Certainly Mr. Leblanc. I will communicate by a typed note tacked to the bench two blocks down the Michigan Avenue across the street. It will be tacked to the bottom of the bench by eight this evening. It will provide further instructions regarding the location of our meeting."
“Okay, I will get it,” said Leblanc.
Magnum breathed a sigh of relief into the phone.
"Thank you Mr. Magnum. I will talk to you again soon." With that the two hung up. Leblanc felt a sense of dread, but he also felt excitement. The time had come.
Leblanc left his office at 7:50. He walked north down Michigan Avenue toward the Bean near Millennium Park. The cold Fall air blasted down the avenue, but he didn’t feel it. Weather didn’t affect him. Winter was coming soon, and the weather hinted at it.
People tried to get in and out as quickly as possible, which is why it was a good time and place for a note to be tacked to the bench. Leblanc would be inconspicuous, and, if someone were following him, he wouldn't look too suspicious. He could just bend over and tie his shoe. Even vampires sometimes had shoelaces that came untied. Leblanc always wore lace-up shoes. He found shoes that didn't lace up tacky, a silly matter of personal preference. But preferences told you a lot about someone.
When Leblanc arrived at the bench the wind was blowing quite hard. “I wish I could feel the hot and the cold,” he thought.
He bent over to tie his shoe, and he leaned over with one fluid motion and snatched up the message. He tucked it in his camelhair blazer that was stylish but not haughty.
He would read the message in his penthouse. Even though it was important, he had to assume he was being watched, and he didn't want to arouse suspicion.
Pierre arrived at his penthouse off Michigan Avenue on Dearborn Street at 8:45. He went to his refrigerator and pulled out a gallon-size bottle of chilled blood. He drank it quickly and felt full and relaxed by the time he finished.
He turned on his Bose radio and the calming melodies of Bach soon soothed his nerves.
He reached into his overcoat and pulled out the note from the bench. He opened the paper and peered at the message. It read:
"Mr. Leblanc, I would like to meet you at 5 a.m. near the sculpture known as 'the Bean' where I will provide further instructions. Please be there. Your assistance is needed."
Leblanc closed the note. He recalled other times where relations between humans and vampires were threatened. Chief in his mind was the French Revolution. It had devolved into a horrible spectacle of senseless violence. Vampires ran along the Paris streets at night and preyed upon helpless victims. There was such chaos the humans stood no chance.
Eventually Napoleon restored order, but he wanted to destroy the vampires all together. He was filled with such rage over their barbarity, but Leblanc, who was then a French lawyer and a leader in the vampire hierarchy, negotiated a secret provision in the law. It was secret to most humans but not to vampires.
This law said vampires would be free to feast on prisoners, who were captured in Napoleon's blind quest to conquer the world. Like all compromises, however, this proved to be temporary as it only increased vampire numbers. Many of the dead corpses were eventually made into vampires, and these vampires moved to what is now Germany. And they played an active role in German unification, supporting the Kaiser and later the Nazis.
Leblanc could recall other conflicts, other countries, but it was always the same theme: the peaceful coexistence of humans and vampires was tenuous.
Vampires are hunters by nature. Their very survival depends upon it. While all of them were once human, they tend to dislike humans. They view them as weak. And humans were the prey. It is hard to respect your prey.
Although not a majority, many vampires felt they were superior to humans and should take their rightful role as the overlords of humanity.
“Restoration vampires will not regain control. Not if I have anything to do with it,” said Pierre aloud. He did, however, fear the meeting may have something to do with the more coordinated effort of the
Vampires usually only cared about themselves, and this made it very difficult to coordinate their efforts. Being out of power for several thousands of years made them rethink their approach, Pierre supposed. Better to give up some freedom and independence in order to be more free and in control, he thought.
The counterweight to the Vampire Restoration League was the Society of the Silver Stake. The society drew its name from the weapon its vampire hunters used to slay vampires. A stake through the heart killed a vampire instantly, and a silver stake went through with greater ease. The society didn’t believe in destroying vampires but in peaceful coexistence.
The note brought all these thoughts back. When he’d been summoned in the past, it always started with a series of a combination of cryptic conversations and correspondence. Then it eventually led to a head of state, who knew about the threat and wanted to stop it.
In this instance, there was cryptic communication, and William Magnum was involved along with the Society of the Silver Stake; Magnum always represented the society. From everything Pierre knew about William Magnum, he didn’t get involved unless there was a large, credible vampire threat. He’d heard Magnum viewed himself as a modern day knight errant, but a knight errant always fought for kings. And they usually cost a lot.
Vladimir Lenin’s intercom buzzed. Not his real name, but he liked it. Monique, who also served as his personal secretary, said, “Mr. Lenin, some documents just arrived. May I bring them in?”
Monique opened the gilded double doors and walked towards Lenin, her stiletto heels pressing sharply against the deep, Persian rug.
"Thank you Monique. You can leave the documents right there," Lenin said in perfect French. Monique gazed at him longingly, but he waived her off. He had made the mistake of having sex with Monique on several occasions, and it seemed she thought they were in a relationship. He didn’t believe in relationships because he had no time for it.