Wednesday, December 30, 2015
A sharp knock sounded against the mahogany door.
"Yes. Come in." The door opened, and in walked Inman's top aide, Fletcher Turner. "Fletcher, nice to see you. I've got a favor to ask you, but you will need to keep this secret."
Turner nodded in agreement. He always agreed with Inman, or at least he did outwardly. He understood the importance of loyalty. Loyalty was a key component of success in politics as was treachery. The two were sometimes at odds because on occasion you needed to screw over the people you were supposed to be loyal to. Ultimately, the loyalty was really to yourself and your own ambition. That is what Turner had learned from Inman.
Not a tall man, Fletcher was a beady-eyed troll well suited do his boss’s dirty work. In fact, Fletcher was the sort of inside-the-beltway reptile who enjoyed such things. But he did not possess, nor would he ever, the charisma necessary to rise above the level of functionary or yes-man. He did long to rise above his station at some point, and he believed he could provided he made the correct moves.
"Fletcher I would like for you to go to Paris and meet with a guy named Vladimir Lenin. I guess his parents were big admirers of the Vladimir Lenin. But's he's a billionaire many times over, and he's put $2 billion in a Super-PAC to be used by the Republican nominee for president to defeat President Elder. I intend to be that nominee."
Interesting, thought Fletcher. Perhaps this is my chance to make an impression. He always believed Inman would run for president, and that he could win, which is why Turner sought out working for Inman after Turner finished college at Georgetown.
"Certainly sir, and I am glad to hear you are running for president. This country could use a man like you in the Oval Office."
Inman smiled and responded, "Thank you Fletcher, but for now let's keep this between us. And I’m not supposed to have a connection to the Super-PAC. Talk to our lawyers about how we can raise money for the campaign without being officially connected Lenin.
“It is often best to not know where the money came from.”
"Certainly sir." Fletcher turned to walk out of the office overjoyed with this new information.
"One more thing Fletcher. I will remember this. If I am elected, I'm going to take you with me. You have always been loyal to me.”
"Thank you sir. I won't let you down." He hated such canned responses, but, in Washington especially, one had to be obsequious.
Fletcher made it to Paris, enjoyed himself and got up early to meet with Vladimir Lenin the next day.
He arrived at the building off the Champs-de-Elyse at 8:30 a.m. for his 9 a.m. meeting. He didn’t want to be late. Also, he wanted to look around Lenin’s office.
"Show Mr. Turner in Monique."
Fletcher Turner walked in through the ornate French doors which contained elaborate wood carvings and inlaid marble.
Vladimir Lenin beamed a blazing-white smile when Fletcher Turner walked in the room. "Come in. Come in. Such a pleasure to meet you. Would you like a cigar?" Lenin opened a humidor and pulled out a large Cuban cigar.
"No thank you sir. I stopped smoking two years ago."
Fletcher sat down in a Chippendale-style chair. Lenin sat down behind a massive Louis XIV desk with gilded molding on the front, complete with cherubs.
"Mr. Turner I appreciate your coming all this way, although I trust there are worse places in the world to visit than Paris. In fact, I feel confident this trip is a welcome respite for you.”
Fletcher smiled in recognition of the obvious point. “Sir, I’m not complaining.” Both men laughed.
"I'm not one to mince words Mr. Turner. Your boss is a powerful and influential man. I am a powerful and influential man. But your boss cannot achieve his ultimate goal--the presidency--without my assistance. I am sure House Majority Leader Inman has informed you of the Super-PAC I set up for the Republicans."
Turner shifted in his seat, uncertain exactly what to say. "He has.”
"I can get Inman elected with my money, and my money will also help the Republicans gain control of the House and Senate with workable majorities."
Fletcher nodded. "That's reasonable."
Lenin continued. "Second, I want an unofficial position of influence in the administration."
"I think that can be arranged."
Lenin paused to indicate an upcoming statement of some gravity. "Lastly--and this is my most essential term--I want a vampire of my choosing to be in the Cabinet."
Fletcher laughed out loud. He thought it was a joke. Vampires weren’t real.
Before Fletcher knew it Lenin was in front of him, and, quicker still, his mouth was on Fletcher’s jugular. Fletcher felt the sharp stabbing of fangs. My God it is true, he thought. Vampires are real. Strangely, after the initial sharp stab, he felt no pain. In fact, he felt pleasure as if he were drugged. As the pleasure reached its peak, all went blank.
After draining his blood, Lenin buried Fletcher in back of the building. Lenin enjoyed the process of picking out his prey, stalking it, biting it, draining it and burying it. There was something calming about it as if he played a part in the circle of vampire life.
When Fletcher arose again, he would be a vampire, the vampire of his own choosing in the soon to be Inman Cabinet.
Lenin said to himself, "Yes it is all taking shape very nicely. Yes indeed. Soon there will be nothing stopping me."
Posted by The Scribe at 2:29 PM
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Posted by The Scribe at 7:16 AM
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Monday, December 21, 2015
Friday, December 18, 2015
“What am I in a fucking comic book?” said Roland. Roland slammed his duffle bag to the ground, and he folded his arms.
“Lot’s of people have that reaction, but you don’t really have a choice, do you?” said Magnum.
Roland shrugged. “The Society of the Silver Stake dates back to the American Revolution. Vampires tried to aid the British in winning the Revolution, but it didn’t work.”
Roland laughed. “God you are crazy? What am I in a Blade movie? Are you Chris Kristofferson?”
“Okay, I don’t expect you to get this at first, but think of this. Vampires are deeply embedded in our consciousness. They are in our books, our legends, our TV shows and are our deepest fears. Why do you suppose this is? Do you think this came out of no where?”
“I suppose not,” Roland said incredulously.
“I’m going to prove it to you by showing you, but first of all we need to practice for our hunt.”
“The vampire hunt tonight. You will see then.”
“Will you tell me why I’m here in this isolated place?”
Magnum smiled. “You will see. We have work to do.”
Roland rolled his eyes unconvinced. Let’s go inside this door right here. Magnum motioned to a metal door that had glass windows with bars over them. He pulled out a key, and he unlocked the deadbolt at the top and the lock at the bottom.
The door opened into a dark, expansive room. Magnum flipped on a light that illuminated the entryway, and Roland could see the outlines of shapes, although he couldn’t make out what the shapes were.
Magnum motioned Roland towards the dark room with the faint shapes. Roland rolled his eyes. Okay, you crazy old bastard, thought Roland, I will do what you say.
"In order to facilitate you learning how to kill vampires, I've brought a vampire to tell you what to do." Magnum yanked the cord, and the light switched off to shroud the anteroom and larger room in darkness except for a faint ray of light coming from under the blinds near the door. Roland could not move.
Such melodramatic bullshit, thought Roland. I don’t get what all this buildup is about.
Then faint lights came on. What is a rock band about to come out? Jesus. The inside of the warehouse could have been an indoor football practice facility, but it had various obstacles set up throughout the large room. Doors and doors lead to more rooms. It reminded him of his special forces training, but it was different because he wasn’t being trained to go fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
From behind one of the obstacles a figure emerged. The figure was about six feet tall, dark haired and wiry. Roland started to laugh with incredulity. Whose this asshole supposed to be, thought Roland. Maybe he thinks he’s in Wrestlemania.
But, as the figure emerged, Roland could tell the man was different. There was an animal litheness in his movement that was preternatural. He didn’t move like most men. His movements and his bearing made Roland feel a little uneasy.
"Roland Walker, meet Mr. Pierre Leblanc, Esquire… --and vampire."
The guy was odd, but Roland still didn’t buy it; and the man made him uncomfortable.
Leblanc grinned to reveal fangs, but he smiled in a warm and friendly way. Roland thought it must be a joke, but he stuck out his hand and shook it anyway. He would go along with this joke.
Leblanc sensed Roland's apprehension and skepticism, and he spoke. "Roland…--may I call you Roland?" Roland nodded slightly still in disbelief and weirded out by the situation.
“Call me Pierre. I know this is a lot to take in, and I will have time for your questions later. But we have a lot of work to do.”
“No, I want my fucking questions answered,” demanded Roland.
“Why am I supposed to believe you without more proof?”
Leblanc chuckled. “Roland, we really don’t have the time. It will be proven to you soon.”
“Bullshit,” Roland shouted. “Fangs are easy to fake. Dentists put them in all the time.”
“Don’t you fucking Roland me, asshole. Show me or my ass is leaving! I will do my time, but I won’t be tied into this shit show anymore.”
Roland felt himself flying in the air and Leblanc’s arms on him. He saw red in Leblanc’s eyes. Then Leblanc threw him, and he hurdled through the air. Before he could hit the dark ground, Leblanc caught him.
“That’s some strong catgut string,” said Roland.
“You are going to be a little harder,” said Leblanc. “Let’s go outside.” He grabbed Roland and drug him outside. Then Roland jumped and flew into the air. He circled the building and landed gently as if he were Superman.
Roland started incredulously. Okay, there must be a logical explanation for this, he thought.
“Convinced?” Leblanc asked Roland.
Roland couldn’t think of anything to say. All three men walked back inside.
Everything was so new to Roland. He wasn’t sure if he was hallucination or what he saw was the truth. He recalled stories he read as a boy and his history classes, and he felt like some knight errant. Chivalry aside he knew his cause, if what Magnum had told him about the Society of the Silver Stake were true, was a noble cause. In spite of what he just saw, he had his doubts.
Once they got back inside, Leblanc motioned to Magnum who pulled out a silver stake. “This is your weapon Roland, the silver stake. And you must learn how to use it. Silver bullets and silver bolts from crossbows are useful, but nothing works like a silver stake.”
Roland had always felt there was a thin thread that held together established order. He could never pinpoint why. Maybe he felt this way because he always sensed there was more to the world than met the eye. Perhaps there was something unexplained and terrible, and vampires may be that terrible thing; if it were true, vampires were the true manifestation of that vague sense of dread.
If true, here he had found clear evidence of that thin thread. If it snapped, humans would be plunged into Hell on Earth with vampires ruling and enslaving humans.
If what he saw and heard were true, he didn’t have time for philosophical questions. He needed to focus on the task at hand, and that meant learning how to hunt and destroy vampires.
"Pierre, why is it you help people like me hunt and kill vampires?"
Roland didn’t know what he’d seen, but Pierre was different than any person he’d ever known. Perhaps he wasn’t even a person. Maybe he was a vampire or a superhero, but once you saw someone fly you had seen the impossible. What was that saying? If you take away the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, is the truth. For the time being, he would go along with Magnum and Pierre Lblanc.
"I make sure the right kinds of vampires are hunted and killed. Perhaps a better way of putting it is the wrong kinds of vampires.
"Roland you will come to understand there are two kinds of vampires. There are Silver Stake vampires and Restoration vampires. Silver stake vampires make every effort to avoid hurting humans. They purchase blood from blood banks and try to coexist as peacefully as possible. They do not look down on humans. Silver stake vampires remember they were once were human. They try and retain their humanity even though they are undead.
"Restoration vampires are another story. They reject their humanity; they scoff at their humanity. They are vicious, and they kill humans for food, but they take joy in killing them. They enjoy the conquest of it. They fight each other, and they only care about themselves, which is the main reason they have not been successful enslaving humans. If they could ever get organized, they would pose a real threat to human and vampire coexistence, I hear they are unifying better than in years past. So it is imperative we kill as many of them as possible because, if they ever do organize, we want their numbers to be as thin as possible."
Roland nodded his head in silent agreement. If true, there was a clear logic to it. He viewed it as analogous to killing bacteria. If you kill the bacteria, you have a better chance of not getting sick.
“So almost like eradicating a pest of some sort. Let’s say a locust is ravaging your crops. You get rid of all the locusts you can to save the crops.”
“There will always be some locust.”
“True, so you keep killing as many as you can.”
“Exactly,” Pierre smiled.
It had been awhile since Roland fired a gun or shot an arrow. He didn’t doubt his accuracy, but he did doubt whether he could kill again. The events in Iraq had left their mark.
Roland decided to play along. If it proved untrue, he would be none worse for the wear.
"How will I know who they are or where to find them?"
Leblanc was happy to hear Roland took an analytical approach to vampire hunting, yet he did so with some trepidation. Blood lust alone would get him killed. Total fear would paralyze him. Better to balance both feelings. Too much of either emotion would get him turned into a vampire, more than likely a bad vampire.
Leblanc responded, "I know you will be good at it. It is in your blood.
"Roland, it is not mere coincidence we picked you. Lots of people can shoot well. That is a useful skill, but that's not all it takes. It takes a powerful sense of right and wrong, and you have this.”
Leblanc walked up to Roland and looked him in the eye. Despite being a vampire, Pierre had kind eyes. And this comforted Roland. "You must not do yourself this way Roland. I know how you feel. For hundreds of years I troubled myself with such thoughts. I thought there was something I could have done to save my wife, Quinta. I was wrong. My fate was to continue to exist and to hunt down evil vampires. I’m here to preserve the peaceful coexistence between humans and vampires. You are here for the same reason."
How could this man (or vampire) know or perhaps sense so much about him already? Did he wear his past on his sleeve?
Roland’s eyes moistened. Regardless of who or what Pierre was, the conversation had moved Roland. He still felt the pain of his past transgressions, but he felt more hope now, hope that he could make amends.
“All I ask is that you suspend disbelief. I'm going to teach you what to do, but I know you already know what to do. I just have to show you how to do what you already know. I know that sounds strange, but it is true. It is your destiny. I hope you believe in destiny, because I certainly do. We all have a purpose Roland. Don't you forget that. If we get our philosophies straight, the rest will follow."
The words of encouragement reassured Roland. Who would have thought he could derive comfort from a vampire? This assumed Pierre was a vampire. But the world was upside down. He was after all a vampire hunter, which when he thought about it wasn't that much different or bizarre than a ghost buster. Heck, maybe ghost busters existed as well.
Careful not to lose his focus, Pierre said, “Enough about your feelings. Let’s get down to the particulars. Training is important.”
Roland nodded, eager to get started.
“Magnum is going to teach you about the weapons.”
Magnum said, "I've developed silver stabbing stakes and stakes you can shoot. A silver stake is much more effective than a regular stake. It goes through a vampire's chest like a hot knife through butter. The difficulty is getting the stake in a position to be stabbed. Even when weakened the vampire will still be much stronger than you. That is why it is essential to be in a place to strike quickly.”
Roland asked, “Why is a silver stake more effective?”
“Good question. Silver weakens a vampire by its touch alone. It melts skin. It is like acid to them.”
Magnum gestured towards a black blanket, and he pulled it off. He pointed to the crossbow sitting stacked like a medieval arsenal.
"The crossbow is a safer method, but this requires the shooter to be a great shot. You are good with a gun and bow and arrow, but the crossbow is a different weapon. You will need to practice with it on moving targets, preferably younger, bad vampires."
Roland picked up a crossbow and looked through the viewfinder. He liked the light weight yet substantial feel in his hands.
This was a lot to take in, and Roland was surprised there was such a methodology to killing vampires. He did know being a good shot didn’t hurt. He could focus on the weapon. Focus on the weapon. Hit the target. It’s just a target, he thought.
When he was in the Marines, the training took over. Emotion was taken out of killing, but that was one of the reasons he’d killed the innocent people in the village. Sometimes it was important to feel things, but feeling a lot when fighting a vampire would probably get him killed.
Bridgett spent a few hours each night at her apartment in Georgetown reading websites some might call fringe websites about everything from UFO abductions to vampire sightings.
She noticed a large number of videos on You Tube showing attacks of so-called “vampires”. The attacks were short, brutal, and the perpetrator usually vanished, leaving a blood and dismembered corpse. Three out of every ten videos she watched ended with both the perpetrator and the victim disappearing.
Her natural inclination was to think the videos hoaxes, but the videos were remarkably similar in the movements of the perpetrators, regardless of size and gender. The reactions of the victims were similar as well. Both of these things made Bridgett feel there was more there.
Posted by The Scribe at 5:54 AM
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Roland felt a mixture of sadness and self-pity. He started the series of events that led to a man’s death, and he made worse his already difficulty post-military life.
The first night in jail was the hardest as memories of the past haunted him while the emotions from his current situation jackhammered his mind.
He dreamed even though he didn’t feel he ever slept. The faces of the dead children came to him. The boy lying on the ground with the stomach wound spoke to him. “You shouldn’t have done this to us. We are children.”
“Forgive me,” cried Roland.
“Shut up,” a drunk from a few cells over yelled waking Roland from his nightmare while pulling him into a living one.
The rest of the night went this way. Roland would drift off to sleep, but each time the dream was the same. “You shouldn’t have done this to us.”
He knew it was a prelude to what was coming. If he went to prison, it would be worse.
Roland expected bad news when he sat in the waiting room to talk to this lawyer. He’d become accustomed to the scratchy orange jumpsuit and the blue slip on shoes. He sat on the plastic chair behind the metal table and waited.
Instead of his attorney two men in blue suits walked in. Both flashed Secret Service credentials. The tall white man said, “I’m Agent David Davis.” He motioned to the tall black man, who appeared to be an agent out of a movie, “This is Agent Thomas Watson.”
“Where’s my lawyer?” asked Roland. He’d seen enough cop shows to know he shouldn’t say anything without a lawyer present.
"The DA has decided to drop all charges on a few conditions.”
Roland laughed in disbelief. "Seriously?"
"And you are getting out of here. You release is conditioned upon your following instructions.”
This doesn’t make sense, Roland thought. He’d heard crap stories like the one where he was supposed to tell in military court. He didn’t buy that story and refused to tell it, and it hadn’t ended well.
“Agent Watson of the Secret Service will escort you to Chicago where you will meet with the appropriate people. At this meeting, you will be told what you need to do."
"I accept," Roland said without hesitation. How could his situation be any worse than it was now?
"Mr. Leblanc, I presume," said a man’s voice
Leblanc turned around to see a tall man with a long olive trench coat, black hat, and CAT work boots. The man wore a brown beard, which appeared to be a similar shade to his intense, yet kind, brown eyes.
"That's me. I won't say the only one living because I'm....well....--you know."
"Undead," the man responded with a knowing smile. "Let me formally introduce myself. I am William Magnum. I appreciate your meeting me. I assure you I would not have bothered you if the need were not great.”
Magnum paused, giving Leblanc time to respond. LeBlanc said, "I discerned it was a matter of some urgency. And I am willing to listen to you. I believe I know what your need is."
"And what do you think that need is?"
Leblanc did not miss a beat. "There is a vampire with influence who wants to take over and who has the means to take over. Am I correct?"
"You are." A tall African-American man emerged. He looked familiar. “Pierre LeBlanc, let me introduce you to US Secret Service Agent Thomas Watson.” The two men shook hands.
"Mr. LeBlanc, thank you for being here. I am here on behalf of the president. Only the president, Magnum and you are aware of this meeting."
Pierre had met the president just once when Elder was in his first term in the Illinois State Senate, but he knew Elder didn’t remember him. He had heard the rumors of vampire hunting and membership in the mysterious Society of the Silver Stake, but no one knew who the members were other than the members.
Leblanc knew many great men (political leaders, captains of industry, writers and athletes) who had hunted evil vampires.
Chicago had a higher concentration of vampires than any city in the United States other than New Orleans, a fact which Leblanc contributed to the large number of Eastern European immigrants. Many of the immigrants were vampires and hundreds of years old. This made them stronger and less susceptible to the ill effects of sunlight.
Agent Watson stepped forward, and he spoke to Pierre, "Mr. Leblanc, what the president wants you to do is meet with a man he has chosen to be trained as a vampire hunter. The man's name is Roland Walker. We got his charges dropped condition upon him agreeing to be trained as a vampire hunter.
"Mr. Walker is not a bad person. He was also involved in a horrible accident that cost the lives of many Iraqi civilians during the war. Since coming home, he has lacked direction, and he acted out foolishly. But he is not without redeeming qualities; he is troubled, though. He is motivated because he has something to prove, and the president feels Mr. Walker is the only man for the job."
Leblanc considered this. Then he responded "What kind of job?"
"Staking the vampire who seeks to kill the President and stopping his plot. And Roland Walker will help you once you train him. Now there is more to the vampire plot as I am sure you’ve heard.”
Leblanc nodded his head. “The Vampire Restoration League.”
“I figured you had heard of them.”
Leblanc didn’t hesitate. Resolve flickered like a hot flame in his eyes. "What do I need to do?"
"We will be in touch with you," responded Agent Watson. "As you may have gathered, Magnum is part of the illustrious Society of the Silver Stake, so at least you know who one member is. Very few people know about this mission, and, if all goes well, very few people will ever will."
“And if it doesn’t go well?”
“And if it doesn’t go well?”
“Then we will all grow fangs.”
Thomas Watson went back to Springfield and picked up Roland. Then he dropped him off at the bus station in Chicago. Roland boarded a city bus.
The bus dropped Roland Walker at an abandoned factory in Chicago’s meat packing district. He’d only been to Chicago a few times, but he had never been in this area. He did know whatever he had to do was a much better deal than years in prison, and that realization buoyed him.
He stood for several minutes, and his eyes scanned the area. The black street had gray dust on it. Even though it was bright outside, the metal buildings rose up around him blocking the light. He felt hemmed in by the buildings as he stood in their shadows. Roland imagined this area once teemed with workers but not anymore. Eventually the buildings would be snatched up by developers; overpriced apartments buildings would be built; and the sad buildings would be forgotten. The struggles of the workers who toiled in the meat- packing industry would be forgotten as well. Bury the misery of the past, he thought to himself. When it was your misery it was harder to bury and forget.
He didn't see anyone, and the place was quiet other than the distant rumbling of the L
Roland waited and waited. And because he forgot his watch he lost track of the time.
Finally he saw some headlights coming up an alley, and this made him uneasy. Maybe there was more to this deal than he realized. Maybe it wasn't even a deal at all, and people wanted him dead.
A black Ford Expedition pulled up and stopped in front of Roland. The Expedition’s engine stopped and its lights turned off.
The car door opened. A tall man in a black trench coat, boots and a brimmed hat stepped out.
"Mr. Walker, I hear you are a pretty good shot with a gun and with an arrow."
What an odd thing to say to someone, thought Roland. But then again that guy looks odd.
"That's true I guess," Roland said. “But I don’t see what that has to do with anything here in Chicago. It isn’t exactly the backwoods of Illinois.”
"True. Let me explain the relevance then. My name is William Magnum, and I'm a member of the Society of the Silver Stake. Do you know what that is?"
Roland had no idea, and he worried it might be some sort of trick question. He decided the best thing to do was to answer truthfully. "No sir."
Magnum smiled, "There is no reason you would know Mr. Walker. There is much to say, but I be will brief. I'm going to give you some unsettling news." Roland appeared unfazed.
Magnum pointed to the side of one of the gunmetal gray warehouses where a lonely door with a glass window sat. Roland followed Magnum as he walked towards the door and unlocked it with a key from his belt.
The old door shut behind them, and the yellowed mini-blinds slapped against the door. Magnum reached up and pulled a cord, turning on a faint bulb that hung from a ceiling about fifty feet in the air.
What have I gotten myself into, thought Roland. How do I know these guys aren’t crazy people and liars? I’m in a deserted warehouse with a guy who looks like Dr.Van Helsing.
Magnum continued talking. "The Society of the Silver Stake is a very old society, and it has as its goal the destruction of evil vampires and the peaceful coexistence of humans and vampires."
Roland staggered back, and then he laughed mockingly. "Vampires?" he said incredulously. "Is this a fucking joke? You drag me to this deserted warehouse with one light bulb hanging from a string. This is crazy man. Crazy.”
He turned around and bolted towards the door. “This is bullshit man. You fucking people are crazy.” As he started to turn the door, a hand yanked his arm and spun him around. Magnum started implacably into Roland’s eyes. He believes this shit, thought Roland.
“Get your damn hands off me Van Helsing.”
Magnum laughed. “I consider that a compliment, and I’ve heard it before. I’m going to show you Mr. Walker. You will soon believe me.”
Posted by The Scribe at 6:08 PM