Warning! This is a horror/dark fiction story so may be disturbing to some. There is strong language and sexual situations.
Bright and hard and cold.
Summer sat at the end of a black plastic bar running down the center of a high-ceilinged room decorated in the slick post-industrial style that, according to the prince, had enjoyed a few brief months of trendy popularity on L.A.’s volatile restaurant scene some two years earlier. When they had first entered the place he had pointed out to her that the white, high gloss walls and exposed metal heating ducts that were now viewed as stone age relics by the smarter denizens of the city. Lacking any sense of design or style, summer had closely examined the architecture in an attempt to understand what had attracted the humans to it. To her hunter’s mind, however, the stark atmosphere was merely unattractive.
The restaurant, which was for no discernible reason named Scatters, was crowded with chattering, gawking humans the prince had characterized as tourists and visitors from the great suburban sprawl to the north of the city that was known as the Valley.
The Valley. The word struck a familiar chord. Of course! That was where she and Bobby had had coffee. In the Valley, at a place called Squeaky’s.
Summer hadn’t understood the humans’ seeming excitement at being in this cold, harshly lighted room, so the prince had patiently explained to her that because the restaurant had once been a favorite feeding place of wealthy and powerful humans, lesser members of their race continued to come to Scatters and pay outrageous prices for the poor food that was served, unaware that the wealthy and powerful beings they hoped to encounter had long since fled to other feeding places; places as yet unknown to the masses.
In her mind, Summer likened Scatters to an overcrowded waterhole where too many animals gathered to drink, and she replied that she thought she understood. In the wild, predators often lurked by the waterholes, waiting for the herd animals to gather. Perhaps that was why the prince had brought her here.
But the prince had been disdainful of her superficial logic. Although it was true the prey gathered at this spot, he told her, she understood nothing of their motivations or human logic. And these were things she must learn if she was to hunt effectively in the great city.
He had selected Scatters for their first hunt, he explained, because the humans who frequented the place were anxious to mingle with others of higher station than their own. But since few of the prey actually knew how to recognize those they so eagerly sought, it was a relatively easy matter to convince them that the hunter was one of the admired higher class of humans. To avoid frightening them off, however, took the utmost skill and cunning.
She watched him now, grudgingly admiring the casual way in which he lounged at the far end of the long bar, raising his arm from time to time to peer at a large golden timepiece set with precious stones, then letting the sleeve of his silken jacket slide down to cover the gleaming object and looking sadly at the glass on the counter before him, as if perhaps he were waiting for another human who had not arrived. At first Summer had been dubious about the effectiveness of his technique, then a tall youthful female with long dark hair and a curvacious body had gotten up from her seat near the center of the bar to move closer to the prince, and she realized his lure was working.
Summer looked sadly at her own drink, a pink concoction smelling faintly of mint that he had ordered for her, naming it as one of a long list of human beverages that were harmless to their kind.
She wondered if the female prey was bad.
Until now, her experience with humans had been almost entirely restricted to killing them and taking their blood. She had found their customs and the many erratic nuances of their behavior–vague signs that the cold prince professed to understand intimately–bewildering. When she had naively asked why it was not possible to simply relocate to a remote forest area and hunt in the old way, he had impatiently explained that modern police techniques and rapid human communications made that highly dangerous. He had warned her that the humans would set traps for her and that she must never allow herself to fall into their hands, even if it meant going hungry.
His explanation had turned into a stern lecture on the demise of the humans’ belief in the reality of the unseen tribes, a misconception that made it possible for the vampires to live undetected among the prey. Summer had felt like an unweaned youngling as he had repeated his warnings about the effectiveness of the new human technology. If the humans ever suspected the hunters among them, he declared, they might easily employ their technology to track and eliminate this pair and all their kind.
Despite his attempt to educate her and demonstrate the proper hunting technique, Summer found her dislike for the prince growing. She sipped morosely at the pink beverage in her glass, feeling the tingle of bubbles against her tongue and wondering whether it might not be possible to consume human food as well. A small smile played at the corners of her mouth as she envisioned herself sitting in Squeaky’s coffee shop, eating a burger with Bobby.
A large human male was smiling at her. He approached, slid his buttocks onto a stool beside hers and waggled his fingers in the general direction of the bartender. “My name’s John,” he said. “What are you drinking?”
Summer closed her eyes behind the dark lenses, willing him to go away. Please, smiling human, do not sit with me. Do not speak to me, else He will see you and I will be forced to take your life.
“Scotch rocks for me and another of those for the lady.” The stranger’s gruff, friendly voice jarred her attention again and she looked up to see him pointing at her drink. Before she could speak, the bartender nodded and was walking away.
“I’m in software support,” said the human called John, “how about you?”
She looked at him, confused.
“Don’t tell me,” he said without waiting for an answer, “you’re a model. I can tell by your lovely pale skin. Wouldn’t do to have any tan lines, am I right?”
Summer looked helplessly toward the far end of the bar. The tall, dark haired female was leaning close to the prince, whispering into his ear.
April Strysik was excited.
The cool stranger in the dark wraparounds and the expensive sports jacket was somebody. She was certain of it. From the first moment that she had entered Scatters and seen him there at the bar, she had known that much.
April had bided her time, covertly watching from a chrome stool and sipping her Chablis to see if the date who had very obviously stood him up was going to show. When fifteen minutes passed and no one else had arrived, she made her move, slipping down to perch beside him on the thin pretense of sharing an ashtray–although the gleaming black surface of the bar was positively littered with the goddamn things–and pretending to be surprised when he had produced the gold lighter for her cigarette.
God, he was a hunk, and sweet too. April couldn’t imagine anybody actually having stood him up. In just the few minutes that they’d been conversing, she had learned that his name was Daniel, that he owned a place in Malibu and was probably a highly placed executive at NBC or CBS–Oh, he hadn’t said it in so many words, but she was pretty sure from the casual way he talked about the stars of her favorite TV series that he knew them personally and, well, just his clothes….
She had ever so casually let it drop that she, too, was in the business; advertising, actually. She’d mentioned that she was out here on the Coast on business for a few days and that she had absolutely no plans whatsoever for dinner. The tactic had worked and Daniel was already dropping hints about a quiet little place he knew out by the beach. She was almost certain he was going to ask her to join him.
April laughed brightly at some little joke her new companion made and nodded happily as he pointed to her glass, dropping a couple of crisp new bills on the bar and beckoning for the bartender. The poor guy almost broke his neck getting to them and replaced her pathetic little Chablis with a bubbling glass of Dom. She tried to keep from peeing her panties as she glimpsed the label. Dom Perignon! She’d never actually had any before, but she knew it was like two hundred dollars a bottle. April laughed again, tossing her long hair in what she hoped was a display of sophistication and sipping the delicious wine. My God, April, she thought, just look at you now, sitting here in L.A. at the bar in Scatters with an incredible guy who’s probably going to take you to dinner in Malibu. Shelly and Joyce are positively going to have a cow when they find out. Well, it serves them right.
Shelly Price and Joyce Wachs, her associates in the copy department of the medium sized St. Louis advertising agency where they all worked, had traveled to Los Angeles with her for a week-long conference being put on by the computer manufacturer who was installing the agency’s new data system. While the three were ostensibly here to learn the time and money saving techniques of using the computer to transform ad copy directly into camera ready type, all three had excitedly decided to turn the trip into an adventure. One for all, all for one, etc., etc.
That had been all well and good while they were whispering plans to each other across the carpeted dividers in their safe little cubicle back at Barnum, Putnam and Haley. But while Joyce and Shelly were passing brochures of attractions in Southern California back and forth, April had sneaked into the agency library to pore through back issues of People and Entertainment, searching for the names of restaurants and clubs where the stars gathered. Scatters had figured high on her list of musts and they had all giggled over plans to dine here, even discussing on the plane how they would react if Leo DiCaprio or Nicholas Cage should just happen to walk in.
April had been stunned and angry when, after having gone to all the trouble of making a reservation and waiting two days for the big night, her companions had suddenly backed out in favor of an evening at Disneyland.
Disneyland! She still couldn’t believe it. She was glad now that it had started to rain. She hoped they both got drenching wet and caught fucking double pneumonia. Undeterred by their dire warnings about the dangerous city, she had pulled on the slinky red dress she’d bought on the previous day’s shopping spree at the Beverly Center and hopped into the rental car on her own.
To her immense surprise and relief, she had found San Vicente Ave. and Scatters with practically no trouble at all, arriving an hour early for her reservation and, after turning the rental over to a polite, red-jacketed attendant, coming in to sit at the bar where she had met Daniel. Well, she thought, now I’m here drinking Dom at the bar in Scatters and those two poor dumb hicks Shelly and Joyce are getting drenched in Anaheim. Cheers, girls!
Daniel was saying something and she leaned forward just a little further than necessary in order to be sure he had an unobstructed view of the plunging neckline on her new red dress. “Excuse me for just a moment, April,” he said in that cool syrupy voice that sent chills down her spine.
April straightened, watching apprehensively as he moved toward a couple at the opposite end of the bar, wondering if they were anybody she should recognize.
Twisting his lips into a friendly smile, Straight Razor Dan moved toward his female and the large human who sat gazing raptly at her. He was pleased that she had decided to join the hunt after all, and impressed that she had taken so quickly to his teachings. The male at the bar had obviously fallen completely under her spell. Perhaps after she had had her fill of blood she would be more amenable to coupling with him again. An image of her firm young body sprang into his mind and the vampire saw himself poised between her strong white legs….
“Darling,” he called when he was within a few feet of the couple, “I thought I saw you down here.”
The female looked up at him, startled, and it was clear she did not know how to respond to the cheerful English greeting. “Simply agree with me,” he hissed, leaning close and pretending to brush her cheek with his lips. He straightened after a moment and looked at the human male, extending a thin hand. “Daniel,” he said.
The other got clumsily to his feet, extending a large hand to be shaken. “John,” he said, “John Kelly, software.”
“How interesting,” said the creature in his most sincere tone. “I’d love to hear about your work John. I’ve always been fascinated with technical things.” Turning smoothly back to the female, he broadened his smile. “Darling, it’s been ages since I’ve seen you. What luck running into you here. I had a call from the studio just today. They’re anxious to talk to you about the new Travolta project.”
The female smiled weakly and the vampire lowered his voice to a confidential tone. “Here’s an idea,” he said as if a wonderful thought had just popped into his mind. “Why don’t you and John join April and me for dinner out in Malibu? I was just about to ask her.” Leaning close to the big human, he clasped the man’s shoulder in a gesture of comradeship. “Of course it would be my treat and, between us guys, John, the food here at Scatters just isn’t worth the money since Andre went back to Spago….”
“Well now, that’s awful nice of you,” beamed the large human, turning hopefully to the girl at the bar.”
“I’m not sure,” Summer said uncertainly. She looked up at the prince, trying to gauge his expression. “I mean, your…vehicle is so small….”
“No problemo,” said Straight Razor Dan, his voice filled with false cheer, “luckily I brought the Mercedes tonight.”
“Oh.” Summer’s voice was a tiny whisper against the noisy clatter of the restaurant.
“Then it’s all settled,” he smiled. “I’ll just go and collect April and we’ll be on our way.” He turned on his heel and walked back toward the far end of the bar, the false smile still frozen on his lips. Why, he wondered, was the little bitch acting so strangely now? Perhaps she was just nervous at the prospects of taking the large male. Still, her behavior was very odd, considering how brilliantly she had hunted.
The vampire put the disturbing thought aside, concentrating on the voluptuous female who sat by the bar, patiently awaiting his return. He leaned close, lowering his face to within a few inches of her beautiful throat. “April, I’ve just had a marvelous idea.” His voice was a husky whisper.