Warning! This is a horror/dark fiction story so may be disturbing to some. There is strong language and sexual situations.
The Questing of Straight Razor Dan
He lay naked atop a tangle of black silk sheets in a large room whose only furnishing was the lacquered rectangle of the ebony bed that supported him.
The room, a vast expanse of polished wood flooring surrounded by featureless white walls beneath a ceiling of colored skylights, comprised the main living suite of a large penthouse surmounting a fashionable Wilshire Boulevard high rise a few blocks from Rodeo Drive at the eastern edge of Beverly Hills.
Since arriving in Los Angeles decades earlier, the vampire had nested in a variety of dens ranging in simplicity from the stark cement box of a dry service tunnel beneath a downtown freeway overpass to the unfurnished confines of a modest ranch house in Studio City. The Wilshire penthouse was by far the best accommodation he had yet enjoyed. Though he cared nothing for the trappings of human comfort or luxury, the exclusive address afforded him the vital privilege of total privacy, a privilege afforded only to the very rich by the society of this day and age.
The vampire had acquired the penthouse and everything that went with it, including a rather substantial income, by the simple expedient of having accompanied its former owner, the reclusive young heir to a massive industrial fortune, home from the trendy West Hollywood gay bar he had been prowling one rainy night six years previously.
After killing the young man, a hopeless romantic and fanatic reader of popular horror novels who had begged with his dying breath to be turned into a vampire like himself, he had lingered on in the peaceful environs of the penthouse, rummaging at leisure through drawers and cabinets until he found several examples of the young man’s handwriting and a thick stack of letters from various firms of attorneys and accountants attesting to his nearly limitless wealth.
The vampire had practiced signing the young man’s name for the rest of that night and well into the next day, falling exhausted onto the bed beside the drained corpse of his victim and sleeping until well after darkness had again fallen over the city. Then, donning the clothes he found in the man’s bulging closet and affecting the soft, pleasant voice he had studied in the gay bar, he had carefully rearranged his own features while looking at the corpse, which he had propped for convenience before a floor-to-ceiling mirror in the blue tiled bathroom.
Hurrying through the lobby of the building, the doorman and security guards had smilingly acknowledged him as the owner of the penthouse. He had called for the young man’s car, a powerful black Ferrari, and driven away into the night to look out, as he often did in times of change, at the timeless sea and to dream of finding the mate he had set out in search of so long ago.
Perhaps, he had thought then, posing as a wealthy young recluse, he would fare better than he had so far in his quest for the female. For he knew she must be somewhere in this vast land.
The Oracle had told it.
Returning to the penthouse late that night, the vampire had divided the body of the young recluse, whose name had been Laurence Barnett, into several convenient pieces which he had disposed of in the sea over the next two days. Thereafter, he had become Laurence Barnett, sole heir to the Barnett railway fortune, Barnett Industries Ltd and Anglo-Barnett Mining Properties, S.A.
When the monthly checks arrived from the Barnett Trust which supported him he signed them with the deceased man’s name, forwarding them to the distinguished firm of accountants who allotted them to the Trust’s various bank and investment accounts and who, from time to time, sent him statements and forms to sign, attesting to this, that and the other business or tax matter.
In six years no one ever questioned his identity, nor had anyone from the Barnett Trust attempted to see or meet with him in person.
Rising from the bed now, he crossed naked to the wall of heavy draperies masking the glass entrance to the rooftop patio and stepped outside to taste the cool morning air. A low marine overcast from the slate gray waters of Santa Monica bay hung over the city, blocking the worst of the sunlight–the effects of which he found mildly irritating to his light-sensitive predator’s eyes, though certainly not harmful, as was invariably portrayed in novelists’ fanciful accounts of his kind. He perched atop a white wrought iron table at the edge of the patio, savoring the chill of the metal upon his skin and reliving his kill of the night before.
The smell of the prey’s perfume still lingered on his hands and in his hair and he closed his eyes, remembering how she had looked, her pale skin beneath a fall of golden tresses all glowing in the harsh artificial light of the crowded theater concourse. For an instant he had thought she was the one…. But no!
Driving the maddening thought from his brain, he forced his attention back to the critique of the hunt: It had gone well. His flawless display of studied body relaxation–demonstrating to the prey his vulnerability and shyness–had drawn her inexorably to his side. His halting, simplistic questions about the city, the celebrity footprints in the cement, the prospects for extra work at the studios, had fortified the overall impression of his harmlessness while simultaneously appealing to her motherly instincts and flattering the knowledgeable Hollywood veteran he suspected her to be. Within moments he had tentatively taken her hand in his and she had not demurred.
They had entered the crowded theater together, choosing balcony seats in the last row. Sitting there, high above the seething mass of the humanity ranked in tiers below them, they had smiled at each other and he had listened attentively as she had begun whispering her meaningless confidences to him: Her name was Mary, although her new agent had made her put the name Ashley on her resume. She was twenty-two and she had been in L.A. for two years, having dropped out of college in Missouri after discovering her boyfriend in her best friend’s dorm room: The worst moment of her life. Her acting career hadn’t yet really taken off, although she had done several bits as a bikini extra on Baywatch and was up for the role of the visiting sister on a popular network sitcom, which might lead to work as a recurring character on the show.
He had said little throughout her breathless discourse, merely pretending intense interest in the mundane details of her perfectly unremarkable life, aahing and nodding in all the right places, breathing in the scent of her flowery perfume, mesmerized by the sight of the soft, pulsing spot on her throat where the bright, fresh blood rushed tantalizingly past just below the smooth white skin.
The lights had gone down without warning, plunging the huge auditorium into sudden blackness and conveying the momentary impression that they were floating above the warm, throbbing sea of invisible humanity filling the seats below their feet.
She had taken him by surprise then, nestling her head close to his chest, slipping her warm hand from his cold one to touch the slick leather covering his leg. He had sighed pleasurably at the unexpected touch of her fingers against his thigh, pushing up the dark glasses he wore and staring through expanding golden irises as she gently stroked the inside of his thigh.
His body’s autonomic response to the female’s sudden erotic gesture had been both immediate and spectacular, the full length of the extraordinarily developed phallus that was characteristic of his species sliding along the length of his upper leg, stretching taut the glove-soft leather beneath her probing hand. She had gasped and turned to stare up at him, blue eyes widening in the dark as the flexible sheath of facial skin slipped back to expose his glittering killing teeth.
The girl had opened her mouth to scream, but by then it was already far too late. His head catapulted forward in a blur of motion, unerringly driving the long, curved fangs into the soft pulsing point on her throat. In the instant before the poison had taken effect, her hand had squeezed convulsively about the cold, hard shaft of him. And then she had gone limp, those wide, empty blue eyes gazing out over the darkened theater as she felt the life being drained out of her.
He had taken his fill then and there, slowly consuming roughly a third of her body’s total blood content before removing the purposely jagged straight razor from his jacket and roughly slashing her throat several times, obliterating the smooth, deep wounds made by his teeth. Then, tilting her gently away from him, and allowing her still beating heart to do the work of pumping the remainder of her blood onto the floor–critical to avoid the suggestion that she had been killed for her blood alone–he had gotten to his feet and calmly walked out through the deserted mezzanine to a restroom where he had doused his face in water before leaving the theater.
Straight Razor Dan.
He had no real human name of his own, so the name the newspapers had given him was as good as any other and he sometimes thought of himself that way, rather than as the weak and witless Laurence Barnett.
He wondered idly how the police were reacting to the killing of the young actress in the balcony of Mann’s Chinese Theater. His technique had been flawless and so there was no possibility that he–or Laurence Barnett–would be implicated. In the matter of identification by witnesses who may have observed him, Straight Razor Dan was dark haired and pale, Barnett blonde and ruddy complected. Still, he was curious. He would have to listen carefully when he went out. The newspapers would, of course, be filled with stories of the spectacular kill, but they were of no use.
Although he had long ago schooled himself in the humans’ mysterious art of deciphering groups of abstract symbols in order to form mental representations of words and ideas, and could comfortably do so in a dozen modern languages, as well as several more that were no longer in use, he had no confidence in the value of the books and newspapers so revered by the prey, having discovered on more than one occasion that the reputably factual stories they carried were highly inaccurate at best. At worst, the printed articles were often complete fabrications.
Decades earlier, with the advent of radio, and then television, he had entertained some small hope that a medium might someday exist through which he might at last obtain factual accounts of events occurring in other places, an eventuality that might actually have aided in his search for a breeding female. Those hopes had come to nothing, however, as the new electronic media quickly proved themselves even less reliable and more vulnerable to human manipulation than the old ones.
So, Straight Razor Dan still got his information from the only source he had ever found to be unerringly reliable; his own six senses. Thus he spent a great deal of time among the prey.
Fortunately, he had never tired of going to the places where they congregated, of watching the nuances of their body language, noting their continually changing modes of dress and hair styles and their current preferences in deodorants and toothpaste, listening to the cadence of their speech, hearing in their thin bleating voices the fears, the worries and, rarely, the joys that circumscribed their short pitiful lives. In this way he learned all that he needed to know. If, for example, the exploits of Straight Razor Dan were becoming a matter of paranoia among the prey–and thus a sign that it was time to change his killing persona–that would be the opening subject of every conversation on the street and in the clubs and bars.
His hunter’s preference for direct information had a second benefit as well: As a result of his wholehearted attention to the minutiae of human experience there was hardly a human being alive that Straight Razor Dan could not classify by size, age, race, prejudice, politics, religion and sexual preference after only a few brief moments of observation.
The prey were, in point of fact, stiflingly predictable; they were hopelessly myopic creatures, endlessly concerned with divorces and bank balances and celebrity sex scandals while their brief, meaningless lives raced by before their very eyes.
He would have long ago tired of toying with them.
If only they didn’t taste so good.
If only the killing, as the previous night’s experience had so richly demonstrated, did not always hold the promise of the unbidden, unexpected thrill.
In fairness to humankind, Straight Razor Dan knew full well that not all humans, even those in the sprawling city he had successfully hunted for so long, were helpless or stupid creatures. To the south and the east of his secure penthouse, for instance, lay the vast urban patchwork of barrios and ghettos demarcated by the moving steel rivers of the San Diego and Santa Ana freeways. And in those places, places with names like Corona and Baldwin Park and Compton, bands of armed human terrorists prowled the streets in gleaming low riders, preying ruthlessly upon the weak and helpless of their own species, warring constantly with each other and the poorly armed and largely ineffective public police force.
Once, in an ill-considered attempt to relieve his boredom with more docile prey, Straight Razor Dan had ventured into such an area with the express intention of hunting and taking down a worthy opponent; a predator, albeit a human one, like himself. He had barely escaped with his life after being set upon by a black street gang whose swift vehicles and powerful weaponry had rivaled that of the strongest military forces.
A foolish risk for a hunter.
Almost as foolish as the time he had dropped all pretense of disguising his crimes as the work of a deranged human and prowled naked about poorly illuminated college campuses, leaping from the bushes in his frightening natural state to rip out with his killing teeth the throats of unsuspecting students; That was the only time he had ever actually come close to being caught by the authorities, who had set elaborate traps for him.
Since that time, he had wisely restricted his hunting to the seldom dangerous but always rewarding pursuit of cleverly stalking and luring safer prey, turning his savage lust for the kill to a gourmet’s quest for the innocent blood of the choicest victims.
As he had done the night before, Straight Razor Dan preferred selecting his kills from the endless streams of young and beautiful humans drawn to the city by the elusive promise of wealth and fame.
His lack of a mate most frequently led him to seek out females of the species and he reveled in skillfully employing the considerable skills of mimickry and charm with which his kind were naturally endowed, luring the unsuspecting females to him in the most public of places, often leading them away to dark and shadowy spots to kiss and fondle and, finally, slaughter them; and often of late, lingering beside their still, cooling bodies to run his hands over the smooth, curving contours of their rounded breasts and buttocks as he tried to imagine what it might be like to truly couple with another of his own kind.
Because of his growing sexual frustration the experience in the theater had slightly unnerved him and he impulsively stood now, striding gracefully to the waist-high railing at the verge of the patio garden and turning his face into the fresh, cold wind. Nostrils flaring to expose the complex network of olfactory receptors lining the delicate tissues of his septum, he searched the sterile air as he had done countless times before, stretching his long neck, turning his handsome head this way and that, testing the gasoline laden atmosphere for the slightest tantalizing hint of the sweet, maddening pheromones that would signal the proximity of another of his kind.