Thursday, November 04, 2004

Post 2, Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

Bruce activated the automatic garage opener and pulled into his apartment building, leaving behind an ever brightening earth. He pulled into his space and took the elevator to his floor. It was the perfect building for him. Once he pulled into the garage, there was only indirect or artificial light to be seen, and the interior hallways on his floor had windows only at the very ends of the halls, far from his apartment. He could stand a moment or two of light without too much trouble, so the odd door opening without warning didn't concern him much.

He walked to apartment 218; unlocked the door and went inside. Bruce really liked this apartment. It was owned by him through a corporate blind which he used to buy most of his material objects. Companies can live forever, people do not, so its tricky when a person owns something for longer than a proper lifetime. Forgetting for the moment the risks of being interviewed by Willard Scott, being 100 and looking 30 wasn't wise in a society just past the pitchfork and torches phase.

Like many older vampires, he didn't sleep in a casket or any such apparatus during the day. That was stupid and insanely difficult to explain away. Some traditions were fine to dispense with. That said, when he moved in, he did install 2 layers of thick, heavy drapes over the home depot (open 24 hours! Perfect for the undead hardware trade.) standard blinds, leaving only a faint easily avoidable penumbra of natural light around the drapes.

He dropped his keys and wallet on a bookshelf and made his way to the couch, loosening his tie while he thought about what to do next.

Finding a job wasn't vital for Bruce, as prudent saving and a knack for picking decent investments had paid off to the point where Bruce didn't worry about money. In fact, he had so much of it, it was everything he could do to keep things mellow and unnoticeable in the money department.

He liked working though, especially with the animals, and the vet jobs worked as he could find a shop with a night shift in pretty much every town. The other vet in town already had a night person, so he wouldn't be going there anytime soon. That night person wasn't undead, and Bruce expected that the undead would start having very real problems with their animal friends without him installed somewhere.

He considered starting his own office, just for the immortal, but that seemed so elitist and boring, he liked not worrying about payroll and hiring and accounting and the rest. These things weren't hard, but they were harder for someone who couldn't go out in the sun. For the 1000th time that month he considered moving somewhere like Alaska or back to oslo where he could get some very real nighttime going on, but he decided to stick around till his next change of identity.

His last ID change had been 20 years prior and he was really enjoying his last decade in this persona. He went for a full rewrite every time. This time, veterinarian, last time, doctor, the time before that he was a butcher. Before that he was mortal, a sad , lame mortal with the desire to live forever. So far, so good, he thought as he reached for the remote.

Uh oh.

"Authorities are baffled at the rise in animal attacks in the country, Sheriff John Steward had the following to say about it:

'We're honestly baffled at what animal is attacking these cats and dogs, we're considering a wolf or an especially aggressive fox.'

"When asked about the possibility of a mountain lion being responsible, he said that the last time the country had to trap a lion was almost 27 years ago, and that they hadn't ventured down into town where most of the attacks have happened since. Back to you Paul."

Bruce shut off the TV, there was definitely a new kid in town, and Bruce was beginning to get a little annoyed at his behavior. Picturing all those kids finding their pets mutilated and the needless speculation about what could be causing it made Bruce feel very territorial. This new guy clearly hadn't heard about his rule: don't feed on pets in El Dorado county. Or else.


Bruce made his way to the kitchen... he had something to eat earlier, but he felt the need for a little bit of blood, a bottle of which he had chilling in the refrigerator. The pigs blood tasted good going down, and he felt the fatigue of a long day coming on, before work the previous night he had woken up early to get some reading in and it was catching up with him.

Bruce checked the windows, dead bolted and chained the door and made his way to his bedroom, where within a few minutes he slept like a baby.

The phone's ring made its way into Bruce's dream. He was running from a crowd of people carrying sunlamps, screaming "Get him! Let's give him a tan he won't ever forget." It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't all wearing jodpurs and hunting vests. The sound of the foxhounds barking faded out as he woke up, annoyed by the phone.

Bruce picked up the receiver and said, groggily, "Hello?"

"Bruce. That you?", the voice was familiar, but Bruce was in a rough state, still coming awake, so he didn't recognize the caller.

"Yeah, who's this? Damnit. I was sleeping," Bruce fumbled for his watch which was under a magazine on his bedside table. The watch read 6 pm. Bruce must have been pretty tired to sleep so late.

"Jeeze, Bruce, you gotta feed on some humans, you're slowing down. It's Yuri, I'm in town. Can I come by?"

"Yuri? Valentine? Yeah, sure...when will you get here?"

"I don't know, probably and hour, I'm just on the other side of Sacramento."

"Okay, call me when you park, I'll come down and get you. Okay? "

"Sure."

Yuri Nicolas Valentine could be called a friend of Bruce's, although "comrade in experience" or "colleague" would be a better description. Bruce and Yuri were both sired the same year by the same vampire in 1926. Both were old men when they were sired and partied, and they both took great joy celebrating their newfound youth, smooth skin and strong bodies with a number of other newly immortal women.

The bacchanals of the newly immortal were something to behold, and while initially Bruce did his part, over time he slowly migrated out of that life. Yuri didn't ever get tired of the 24 hour party people branch of the intact undead, and he and Bruce had fallen out of touch with each other. They just hung with different people, took different risks.

In 2003, after the undead had managed a suitably protected web presence, Bruce had gotten an email from Yuri, who he learned was a fixture in the late night culture that was still running strong in San Francisco. In San Francisco, like in all the great cities, the undead and mortal mixed freely, even if the nature of their party mates was not clear to the mortal attendees.

Bruce didn't really approve of the direction Yuri had taken over the last 80 years, but he had given up trying to convince him to adopt a lower profile, as that wasn't in Yuri's nature. And because of that, Bruce was not expecting a call much less a visit from his old friend.

Bruce picked up the remote and turned on the TV, the tivo had revolutionized Bruce's life, making TV both accessible and convenient. A great number of the undead had adopted it. Bruce chuckled to himself considering what the Tivo marketing people would think if they knew how many of their subscribers weren't simply night shift workers but were in fact the undead. He could picture the marketing slogans, "Just because you're dead, doesn't man you have to watch infomercials," or, "Never miss another 'Buffy' again."

He selected a science fiction program he had been meaning to watch and waited for the call from Yuri that he was close. Near the end of the program, his phone rang and, pausing the TV, Bruce answered, "Hello."

"Hey Bruce, I'm pulling up, where should I park?"

"You on a bike?"

"Yeah"

"Just pull up behind my car, I'm in space 63, near the elevator."

"Great, I'll see you in a few minutes."

"Later."

Bruce watched the last few minutes of his show and pulled on his hoodie, jeans, socks and shoes, grabbed his keys and left his apartment. It was still a little bright out and the windows at the end of the hallways glowed with malevolence. Bruce took the stairs down, noting that they didn't smell like a dog had peed in them for a while, which he was happy about. He emerged into the garage right as Yuri was pulling into the garage. Yuri favored the faster motorcycles as he felt it left him the ability to run away from the police if need be, as he didn't subscribe to such mundane restrictions like speed limits and such. Yuri waved and pulled behind Bruce's Volvo, put the bikes kickstand down and pulled off his helmet. He worked the earpiece from his phone out of his ear and put locked his helmet onto his bike.

"Hey Bruce, hold on, I just gotta put the disc locks into place."

Bruce didn't have the heart to tell him how useless all his preparations were. This wasn't the city, Yuri could leave his keys in the bike and it'd still be here 24 hours later.

"Okay, you're looking well, how is San Francisco treating you?"

"Well, I have a very good time there, lots of new vampires, you should meet some of them, they're really something else, so many young people opting to become one of us, it's kind of strange, I almost want to tell them to experience their mortality first, but they just don't want to take that chance."

"And your thirst doesn't help motivate the warnings, I'd imagine."

"No, not much, I love young blood, it's like brandy, the smell alone sends me, you know?"

"I do, but I also know how risky that is, people miss the young more than the old, you know that..."

"Damn Bruce, I haven't lasted this long by being reckless with my feeding, this isn't Louisiana, you know."

"I know, but I still think all the partying is going to catch up with you some day."

"Yeah, maybe, hey, lets go inside, my face is a little hot from the ride, I really need to put more tinting film on this helmet, I think some UV is sneaking inside."

"Yeah, lets go, elevators over here..."

Bruce led Yuri to the elevator. After they entered Bruces place, Yuri went into the bathroom with his bag to peel off his leathers, with a: "Back in a second."

Shortly thereafter, he came back into the room and said to Bruce, "We gotta talk. There's a big problem."

"What? Wait, what are you talking about? Here in town? Or in San Francisco?"

"No, man, there's a problem for all of us, everywhere. Vampires are dying, the undead are dying."

"What do you mean, I haven't heard anything."

"I know man, the older immortals are trying to keep a lid on it, we don't want the people to panic and start siring mortals left and right, it would be a mess and the jig would definitely be up with regards to the whole secrecy thing."

"Wait, start over, what's going on?"

(Written November 4th, 6363 words total)
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