Jet is a delinquent from a wealthy Manhattan family. His favorite teacher at his exclusive school dies and is replaced by a mysterious German man. He tries to find out more about Heinrich while gri...
“Come out, you spoiled brat!”
Jet heard the harsh German words and felt a shiver run up his spine. He jerked upright and stilled his breath in the darkened closet. Suddenly the door flung open and Jet was blinded by glaring light; he was yanked out of the closet, dragged to the kitchen, and forced to sit at the oak table. The man was now leaning against the gray marble counter top.
His grogginess wore off as he sat upright; he wasn’t strong enough to stand on his own two feet. Jet sank low into the chair and gripped the armrest when his eyes adjusted, his knuckles turned pure white. He recognized the well built, older man from his mother’s party the evening before.
A jolt to his memory shook off his wave of nausea. “Wait! I thought I knew you from my father’s company, but that’s not right! I know you from a book. Your real name is Van Bogart, isn’t it!”
“Precisely. The fact that you were clever enough to figure it out tells me my instincts were right.”
“Instincts for what?”
“To choose you as a retainer. I found out that you happened to have... crossed paths... with an old friend of mine. That made me decide to play my hand early. Now my plans are more ambitious and they involve your implicit cooperation,” Bogart continued in German.
“What the hell are you talking about!”
“I met your parents last year on one of their business trips to Germany. I was able to persuade them to use my steel manufacturing firm. They confided in me that their poor son was a rebellious, troubled boy spending the summer in a sanitarium. That’s when I started to formulate my plans with some old friends of mine.’
‘I would come over here at the precise time, gain your trust, and then murder your parents. You were supposed to then gleefully hand over the responsibilities to me. I was then going to quietly do away with you after your father’s company was securely under my control. Unfortunately, you weren’t as addle brained as your parents said you were. Far from it.”
“Well, now it’s too late. I don’t inherit a thing until I’m twenty-three. You really screwed up because everything will go to my Uncle Giovanni until then.”
“Oh have I?” Bogart walked over and sat in the chair next to Jet. He gave Jet a leering smile. Jet shivered and looked away, but the man’s hand slid to his thigh. Bogart’s thumb dug in where the yellowish bruise was. Jet doubled over in extricating pain only to have the man backhand him.
“I know you know Heinrich Stoller so lets not... as you Americans say... beat around the bush. It’s very taxing on my patience. Anything your father ever did to you is child’s play compared what I will joyfully... and enthusiastically... do to you,” the man whispered, coolly, clenching the bruise tighter.
Bogart took his hand off of Jet’s thigh; Jet sat up again as sweat broke out over his skin. Bogart stood, gripped Jet’s chin, and said, “You are able to give me three things I want: sex, money, and Stoller. One of which, I’ve been getting from you the last few weeks. Don’t give me that horrified look. You thought you were have the ultimate sexual fantasy, you puerile thing. Keep in mind though, you’ll want to keep on my good side. I’m only hours away from killing Stoller. Once that’s done, any whorish, rich brat will do.”
“So you were after Albert the whole time?”
“No. I was going to quietly earn your trust and stick by your side until you turned twenty-three, however, you were just too tempting to not take advantage of when I observed you last October at a funeral. Your father complained about you bitterly to me and said that they were leaving you alone for a month to get it together. I just couldn’t help myself from getting a little taste. I wasn’t going to reveal myself to you until February. Imagine my dismay when I saw some of the books you were reading. I got nervous and wondered if you knew, somehow.’
‘It wasn’t until I snooped through the books, saw some scrawled notes, and saw the name ‘Albert Heinrich’ that I put it together. Somehow that blasted son-of-a-whore tracked me to New York. Your teacher, ironically, is the one man I’m hunting. I grew rather angry and I followed you to that haven the others of my blood keep... the Needle... last night. He must have confided everything to you since you were allowed to walk on their territory without a pack of ghouls tearing you apart.”
“Albert only told me that he continues to live on after he died. He wants revenge on what you did to his wife. I’ll help him get it too, you sorry sack of shit!”
Van Bogart backhanded Jet soundly and pushed him back in the chair. “My plans have changed. Our kind...”
“I don’t even know what you and Albert are! He wouldn’t tell me.”
Van Bogart looked stunned for half a second and then chuckled. “We are vampires. Stoller... that high-and-mighty Francesco Ragoczy and his ilk.... Issimo... all vampires. I’ve fed off of you four times. Not quite enough to make you one of us. If you were to die now, you most likely would stay dead. It doesn’t suit me to have you permanently dead.”
Jet calmed his rapid breathing and gave Bogart a glare. “What do you want?”
“To kill Stoller. Your call to him has done its trick. Afterwards, you will let me take you one last time and then you will commit suicide. You’ll rise in a couple of weeks and we’ll make it appear as if you were kidnapped. You’ll do as your Uncle tells you and inherit the company in five more years. Then you’ll give it to me and I’ll send you to serve General Issimo down in Brazil. He has quite a thing for redheads. Frau Stoller found that out the hard way.”
“What! I’m not fucking stupid. The minute I turn twenty-three, you’ll just kill me. I’m not going to help you.”
“Maybe one of your friends will? Frances? She very beautiful. She’s wasted on that silly boy Joe who doesn’t even know what he has. Or maybe that girl Helen? She strongly resembles the ghoul that betrayed me. It’s uncanny, almost. Oh the pleasure I would get from torturing her for Venus’ betrayal! I wouldn’t try Joe. He has too much integrity to become my retainer. He would only crack and do something noble like commit a permanent suicide.”
“Don’t you dare touch my friends!” Jet raged. He leapt out of his chair and bolted to the wide door. He paused at the doorway when an emaciated, toothy man appeared on the other side. He was dressed in black leather and had a Luger in a holster. Jet slowly turned to Van Bogart. He placidly asked, “Why did you choose me?”
“Because you are only a means to an end. You hold no intrinsic value to me whatsoever.” Bogart held up a bottle marked ‘cyanide’ and flashed a malicious smile. “You’ll need these this afternoon.”
Jet shook his head. “I wouldn’t let my parents use me, I won’t let you either.”
Bogart's smile faded; his eyes grew icy. “Then you will be persuaded. Scar!” The door opened and the guard stepped in. “Have a talk with Mr. Link and make sure he sees things our way.” Bogart held up the bottle in front of Jet’s nose and placed it on the table. “You’ll beg for this when he’s done with you.” Bogart turned to leave and said, “Make sure to leave his eyes at least.”
Scar gabbed Jet’s arm and pushed him to the linoleum. Jet stilled his fear with anger as the ghoul flicked out a stiletto and gave him a wolfish grin. “Bogart says you hated your parents. Well, how about I give you a little something to remember them by.”
Jet’s eyes traveled over to what Scar was looking at, it was the Link Aviation logo engraved on a bronze dial hanging on the wall. It was of a pair of flaming, interlocked links with feathery wings coming off them. A large ‘L’ was imposed on it. Jet looked at Scar and shook his head.
“Don’t. I don’t want that...”
“Swear obedience to Van Bogart and our coven.”
Scar grabbed Jet’s elbow and forced him to lay on his stomach. Scar sat on Jet’s lower back and gripped his right shoulder blade.
“I’m going to enjoy this.”
Jet screamed out loud as the thin knife cut deep into his back. Scar stopped at three cuts and leaned over to Jet’s ear. “Are you ready to submit to us?”
“Fuck you!” Jet screamed. The knife sliced below his left shoulder blade. He clamped his teeth on his right forearm and settled into single-minded stubbornness.
“I’m sorry, highness, but I must leave. It’s urgent. Jet just called...”
“Yes, Albert, I must talk to you about that boy. He is in a great danger if you continue with him as you are. Drinking too frequently is not something I would recommend.”
Albert gave the Count a baffled look as he walked back to his couch and let Saint-Germain into his apartment. He picked up the Walther P38 and checked it. “I never touched him. You know I sustain myself at zoos and the like. Besides, he just called. Someone killed his parents. He’s waiting on me.”
“His health looked rather poor. I inquired and looked under his eyes. He has the kind of yellowish tint we produce in our companions.”
“You mean snacks?” Albert didn’t bother hiding his bitterness. His hasty activities froze as his mind processed what he had just heard; he swirled towards the Count. “But if it wasn’t me that... That means his parents were probably killed by one of our kind.”
Saint-Germain’s face puckered with the disapproval of an instructor towards an apprentice. “Did you not notice any bruises or fatigue?”
Albert furrowed his brow and thought back. “Well, I noticed a bruise on his neck once. He told me a girl gave it to him. I thought he made it up because another instructor at the school seemed to think he was secretly gay. I thought Jet had been around with a boy, but was lying to me to protect his reputation at school. The fatigue... I just assumed he was still depressed over losing his former teacher. No one at the Needle would touch him. A rogue?”
“The only rogue in New York is Van Bogart. Could he have been tipped off and found you somehow?”
A creeping horror came over Albert, his eyes grew wide as he started to tremble. “Somehow he found me through Jet. He wouldn’t have targeted him otherwise. He also wouldn’t have killed Jet’s parents without a purpose. He’s a very methodical man who doesn’t waste any effort.”
“I fear Jet may not stay alive for much longer. No doubt, Van Bogart is interrogating him.”
“I need to go and finish Bogart!”
“No doubt he’s luring you out. I’ll come with you.”
“No. This is a matter between me and Bogart. I vowed to Hilda, Venus, and all the others that I would kill him by my own hands.”
“I respect that this is a matter of honor.”
“If I fail, will you take up my cause and finish Van Bogart and Issimo?”
“Most certainly. I am your Second. Remember that his head must be struck from his body or he must be incinerated. There is no other way.”
“I understand that.” Albert turn to leave after holstering his Walther. He paused before walking out of his door. “And if Bogart wins, make sure Jet is taken care of.”
“It will be done,” the Count affirmed. Albert shut the door with confidence and left the Needle. He put on a hat and walked down the street. He kept his mind focused on one memory. That day he saw Hilda’s lifeless body in the gas chamber.
To be continued.