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...
Albert picked up the pay phone receiver and dialed the Links’ phone number. After three rings he heard Van Bogart say, “Stoller?”
“Yeah. I’m a block east of where you are. There is a building under construction. You’ll find me somewhere inside. If I catch you first, you’ll hand over Jet,” Albert said in clipped German.
“I told you once how good hunters know their bait.” He replied in their native language.
“Is he unharmed?”
“It’s possible he can survive. You see, I’ve let Scar have a conversation with him. He looks a bit poorly now. Blood everywhere, making me hungry for a good hunt. I doubt you’ll overcome my destiny and win, but if you do, you may come here and have what’s left of Jet.”
Albert’s hand grew numb as his grip on the phone tightened. “Meet me in ten minutes or I’ll come and drag you out.” Albert slammed the phone down and turned to the building under construction. It wouldn’t be long before the sun set and he could move around more comfortably; he knew Van Bogart would wait for the same reason.
He quickly broke into the building and made his way through the maze of sheet-rock. He found a vantage point where he could snipe Van Bogart. It was a vast hole in the floor that was going to be an atrium. He drew his Walther, laid on his stomach, and shut his eyes instead of watch the lobby door.
Albert figured Van Bogart would know better than to walk in the lobby. It was what he counted on. Albert focused on the sounds coming from behind. There was a subtle creek. Albert rolled to his left as three bullets pinged into the floor. He aimed at a swirling shadow that dropped towards him. The bullets made dull thumps and there was a howl.
The shadowy swirl caught Albert’s shoulders and dragged him towards the atrium. They tumbled towards the floor and landed. Van Bogart materialized beside Albert. They both sprang to their feet and faced each other.
“You haven’t worked at honing your abilities over the decades as I have. You have no protean skills. You’ve grown weak and pathetic since I’ve bestowed this gift on you.”
“Forced it on me!”
“It matters not! I have new goals now. I’m tired of our little game, Stoller. It ends tonight.”
“So you’ve forced this condition on Jet as well?”
“I’ve forced more than that on him. I’m working on breaking him so he’ll not rebel against me as I drain all of his parents' money into South America. Issimo wants to reestablish a presence in Europe so we won’t have to grovel for our native soil again. Purity of blood will be establish once again when our new order gains financial control of businesses all over Europe. You know as well as I how vital an aviation company is to a coven of vampires. Without airplanes there is very little way for us to travel comfortably over an ocean. Link Aviation is the key to our growth in Europe.”
“Then I must stop you.”
Van Bogart threw back his head and madly cackled. “You’ll never stop me. It’s my destiny to beat you and subjugate Europe once again. I’m entirely too quick for you. You are the prey; I am the hunter!”
Van Bogart’s form turned shadowy once again. The dark shadow darted towards Albert quicker than he could flinch. A deep, hot gash opened on Albert’s left shoulder. Shadowy Bogart swirled quicker and quicker around Albert, slicing at his face and body.
“I... I’m going to kill that bastard,” Albert mumbled. He closed his eyes once again, listened, and brought his Walther to bear. He steadied his breathing and tuned out the dark, icy chaos around him. His finger squeezed the trigger. Silence followed a loud thud.
Albert opened his eyes and ran over to where Van Bogart now lay bleeding on the ground from a chest wound. The older vampire gaped in shock as he panted. “But... how...”
“You may be quicker, but you granted me a vampire’s enhanced senses. Not only that, but did you forget you were the one that taught me marksmanship when I was studying under you at the university?”
“I’ll recover from this!” Bogart rolled over with loud grunts and struggled to his feet. Blood trickled from the corner of his sneering lips.
“Not before I finish you.” Albert raised his gun and shot Bogart in the head. The vampire fell back to the ground and bled from the head wound. Albert holstered his gun and smirked.
“It’ll take you months to recover from that. By then your ashes will be scattered all over Manhattan.” Albert hoisted Van Bogart’s unconscious body over his shoulder and walked towards the basement. He found a metal drum and placed Van Bogart in one. He fished in his pocket and brought out his Zippo lighter. “Fortunately, we catch fire pretty easily. Trust me, this is going to hurt.”
Albert lit the Zippo and tossed it on top of Van Bogart. The flames grew and grew in a sinister green color. Suddenly, a malevolent screech came from Van Bogart; his body wildly thrashed and finally came to a rest as it crumpled into a thick ash at the bottom of the drum.
As the flames died to embers a hollow ache settled in the pit of Albert’s stomach. He removed his left glove and studied the plain gold band on his blue ring finger. “Hilda, I’ve finally got Van Bogart, but this is not finished yet. Soon Issimo will take his last breath!”
Albert pounded on the door to the Links’ penthouse and ducked beside the door. Scar flung open the door and waved his Luger in the air. Albert smashed Scar’s hand and punched the ghoul in his chin. Scar stumbled back and leaped at Albert. He dodged and turned to face Scar, but the ghoul was swift. The emaciated appearing creature ran down the hallway with a toothy scowl.
“Issimo will punish you for this!”
“Tell him he’s next!”
Scar ran towards the stairs. Albert turned and jogged inside the upscale apartment. He found Jet, dressed only in jeans and lying on his stomach. Deep slashes covered his back. Albert saw the pattern and shook his head at the brutality.
He unfroze when Jet’s fingers twitched and he groaned. Albert carefully took Jet into his arms. Albert could tell it was too late when he noticed that Jet had been stabbed in the abdomen. Jet’s eye fluttered open.
“Albert. I didn’t help them.”
“I know. Please, be still. You’ve lost too much blood. You don’t have much time left.”
“Van Bogart was with me four times. He said I wouldn’t come back though.”
“It takes about six or seven times.”
Jet shook his head, his eyes were wide. “I don’t want to die. Please do something. I want to live. Please save me.”
“But, I can’t. The only chance you would have is if I...”
“Please do it. I don’t want to go like this. I won’t go like this!”
“Hush... I’ll try, just calm yourself. To do this, I’ll end up killing you now. Even then, it probably won't bring you back. Are you sure this is what you want?”
“Yes. Do it. You've got to try,” Jet begged.
Albert nodded and tilted Jet’s head backwards. He placed his lips on Jet’s neck and steadied his breath. He quickly sunk his fangs in Jet’s neck. Jet’s emotions flooded into Albert as his life flowed away: there was fear, excitement, and peace all mixed together. Jet’s hand ran through Albert’s hair and then fell away.
Albert gingerly let go of Jet’s body and placed him on the linoleum. He turned and carefully left the Links’ home, making sure he wasn’t observed. Now he had to make arrangements with the Count and some of his other allies and hope that Jet’s exposure was enough to cause his body to rise again.
Albert rolled his tongue around in his mouth as he walked through the bitter cold night. Jet’s blood tasted metallic and satisfying. It cured a deep hunger he had suffered with for years, denying himself human blood. Denying his monstrous cravings. He shivered, not from the cold, but from the sudden warmth Jet’s blood filled him with.
Albert walked into the funeral parlor and glanced around at the various people mourning the Link family tragedy. He recognized Dr. Gilmore right away and went over to him. He shook the man’s hand and greeted him.
“I’m glad you came, Mr. Heinrich. I know that you’ve only been with Saint Ann’s for a month so I wouldn’t expect you to attend.”
“No. I really wanted to. Jet was quite an extraordinary young man.”
“Yes. It was horrible that such a thing happened. I heard the news on the radio. They believe it was a man named Victor Bogan who had come to work for the Links last August. Port Authority seems to think he’s still in New York. I sincerely hope they catch that man.”
“Justice always seems to overcome wicked men like that.” Albert glanced over as Chang, Geronimo, and Dwambee walked up.
“Good of you to come, Heinrich,” Chang said.
“So are those his relatives?” Albert nodded towards a group of people across the room.
Britain walk over and shook his head. “Those people that look like they belong on ‘Dallas’ are his father’s side. That group of that looks like they walk off the set of ‘The Godfather’ are his mother’s family.”
Albert wasn’t familiar with the references, but Jet’s extended family stood out. Pyunma tugged on Britain’s sleeve, “Are you ready?”
“I know what I’m going to say. I don’t think Joe does,” Britain said.
“He and Joe are delivering eulogies,” Chang explained at Albert’s quirked eyebrow. The group of Saint Ann’s instructors looked over at Joe, Frances, and Ivan huddled in another corner. Joe’s face looked dour as he stared at the floor. Frances was tearing up.
“Ivan doesn’t look so good. Is he going to be okay?” Albert fished to see if Ivan had revealed anything that could lead the police to his involvement.
“No, except he was the last one to talk to Jet. Ivan said he was incoherent, but didn’t describe the attacker to him. The police couldn’t get any clues off of the phone call, but fortunately they were able to trace some paperwork to that Bogan fellow. That and his sudden disappearance. Jet was probably scared out of his mind and walked in at the wrong time. They seem to think Bogan was blackmailing Jet’s parents,” Chang said. Albert was relived that Ivan had lied about what he knew, but he had no idea why the heterochromatic teenager had done it.
“Still... he must have been a sick man to do what he did. The police said Jet fought back; it probably angered the man,” Pyunma said in a somber tone.
A church bell rang out. Britain nodded and said, “I’ll see you gentlemen later.”
After he left, the Saint Ann’s instructors filed in with the other mourners. Albert knew it would be a closed casket service. A lot of strings had been pulled by the small community of vampires that worked in the city morgues and mortuaries.
Jet’s casket was empty, filled only with bricks. Currently, Jet’s corpse was at the Needle buried in New York soil; no embalming had been done. It would give Jet a better chance at rising. Count Saint Germain remained doubtful it would happen. This would be the fourth day, but Albert reminded the Count it could take on up to a month.
The service was an ornate Catholic ceremony that Albert was unfamiliar with, being Lutheran in life. After several people talked about Jet’s parents, Mr. Britain stood up in front of the congregation. The bald, British man gave a wan smile, cleared his throat, and gave a slight shake of the head.
“It’s ironic that only two months ago Jet was standing in this very spot delivering a tearful eulogy for the teacher that had most influenced his life in a positive direction. It’s quite a shock to me to be standing here doing the same for him. He had asked me what he should say. I gave him a passage from Macbeth which he used and then later recited for an assignment.’
‘She should have died hereafter; There would have been a tome for such a word. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools, The way to dusty death. Out bright candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale, Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.’
‘He was so full of life and energy. He had frustrations that many of us tried to understand. He was intelligent, strong-willed, and loyal. His high spirits lead him to make some mistakes, but he was always willing to learn from them and make an effort to overcome them. It’s a tragedy unlike anything to see Jet’s life taken as he was on the cusps of adulthood and about to accept the new challenge of college. The only thing I think I can say is that he will be sorely missed by everyone at Saint Ann’s. His friend Joe Shimamura has a few words as well.”
Joe took Mr. Britain’s place on the dais. Albert thought the Japanese boy looked absolutely shell shocked. He jammed his hands in his pockets and looked over the crowed for one silent minute.
“The one word Mr. Britain said that stuck out to me was loyal. I can’t remember a time Jet wasn’t there for me. We’ve been friends since we were five-years-old so for the last thirteen years I got to know him pretty well. Miss Cathy used to call him a ‘free spirit.’ I used to tease him and say she call him a ‘trouble maker,’ but I knew what she meant.’
‘He always had to follow his heart, no matter what anyone said. He was always so perceptive. He could easily see through any excuses or lies people told him. He wasn’t afraid to give his opinions either, even when it was unpopular or something I didn’t want to hear. I don’t think I’ll find anyone who was that honest or loyal to call a best friend again. Everyone will miss him,” Joe finished and walked back to his seat beside Frances, but not before his moist eyes betrayed him.
Albert watched the ceremony with mild interest. At its conclusion he followed along to the graveyard where the ceremony was concluded. Afterwards, he chatted with his fellow instructors again and left. When he got back to the Needle he went immediately to the lower, underground level basement.
The large cinder block room had a pile of dirt in the middle. To Albert’s frustration, the New York soil remained undisturbed. He walked over to the side of the room where a steamer trunk rested. He opened it and looked to see it was now only half filled with Berlin soil. He slammed the trunk shut, sat on it, and lit a cigarette. All he could do now was wait Jet’s corpse out for the next month.
Albert couldn’t even pursue Scar to find Issimo in Brazil until Jet’s corpse rose or remained dead. Albert had found the choice to stay and care for Jet over his quest for revenge painful at first. To come so close after all these decades and be forced into delay was almost more than he could bear.
The only thing that kept him here, rather than abandon Jet to the Count, was Jet’s plea to not suddenly leave New York. After everything Van Bogart had done to Jet, there was no way Albert could find it in his heart to leave. He had to stop these cycles perpetuated by evil and cruelty or else his revenge was pointless.
Albert knew he would have to be the one to help Jet understand all the nuances in this dark half existence, because Jet had actually granted him his fragile trust. If Albert were to leave now; Jet may loose his ability to trust. Especially with the abuse and neglect his parents had given him on top of the violations Van Bogart had committed. Albert looked down at his clenched fist in amazement.
He let out a large sigh and admitted he needed to stay and focus on this task more than anything. Albert knew if he left Jet, he would have to adopt more apathy and move more towards the cold monster he feared becoming. He needed to stay for himself just as much as for Jet. He lit another cigarette and continued to watch the mound of New York soil.
To be continued.