Spinetingler’s not been kind to me as far as nightmares go. I like to think it’s because I’m getting to him. Forget lucid dreaming; you can’t really make that happen on command. Or you could, but the book I read suggesting that also gave tips on how to make yourself have wet dreams with anybody you wanted. I suspect gullibility factored heavily into the target audience.
So we got into a pattern. Spinetingler woke me up, I went out and hunted. Some people had imagination, like the crying girl with huge gashes on her forearms and a trail of bloody tears. I also ran into a couple people who preferred more traditional monsters. Like this werewolf I killed from London. His hair was perfect. Or this guy who pretended to be this one whiny teen popstar who never seemed to go through puberty. Actually, it’s possible he was the real deal, but I stand by my decision.
A good example is the last of such nights, when I found some house broken into. Normally, no big deal for me. If anything, it’d usually be an opportunity to critique a burglar’s technique. For one thing, going in during the night? Generally a bad idea. Now, here’s what you…hold up, Optimal Outer Control just sent me a message. Something about legal liability of his ass if I give people tips on burglary.
Moving on, then. I kicked in the door. “Listen up, everyone! This is a rob-, I mean this is rescue!” Contrary to popular beliefs, old habits don’t die hard. Nothing dies hard. You just aren’t using the right tool to kill them. In fact, old things tend to be the easiest to kill. Don’t believe me? Just go on up to granny next time and…Hmm. Another message from OOC.
Moving on. Inside the house, I found I’d arrived a little late. I can’t say much about vampire movies, but this one went ethnic. I found a dark-skinned fellow hanging out in the kitchen, sipping out of a broken skull, draped in intestines. The bloody entrails clashed with his dark purple suit. And with his short-cropped black hair. I don’t know why he thought it’d be a good idea to wear intestines as a crown, but I was intestined out at this point. “Seriously, I’m starting to wonder about everyone’s creativity. It’s always intestines with you people. And with me. We really need to branch out or expand. Like limbs or bladders. There’s an idea. I’m going to rip out your pee cantina and pull it over your own head.”
The vampire looked at me and reached over to grab a brain off a plate. Just munched on it while looking at me. I stepped over the dead body of a little kid to get to the refrigerator and look for food. Spoiled food everywhere. I suppose electricity and groceries have been an issue. And water. “Wow, they’re empty here. Good news! It doesn’t matter now. Ooh, root beer. Yep, I can take that, and some beer.” I turned around and found the vampire standing right behind me, drooling blood. I held up a beer to his mouth. He looked at me with eyes black as a shark ready to pounce. Because sharks pounce. They totally pounce. If they had legs, they’d pounce.
I stuck the beer in his mouth real quick and popped him on top of the head. With a twist, I pulled the now-capless beer free and wiped the sanguine saliva off it. “Thanks, bud. Way to be a pal.” I tipped a good amount into my mouth even as the vampire grabbed my throat and dug its nails into my skin.
Of course, y’all expect I had a plan. Why else would I just let the thing grab me? Why would it be so very easy for a fish to try and eat an anglerfish’s glowey bait ball? Why does that cute little spider look so hair and cuddly? It’s a trap, that’s why! Never cuddle a spider, never stick a fish in your mouth, and never, ever grab me by the throat. The vampire learned that last one the hard way when I spat beer into its face. That shut its mouth in a hurry.
I then knocked it upside its face with the bottle. That reopened the mouth. At this point, I shoved the bottle inside and gave it a nice uppercut to the chin. I kicked back to close the refrigerator door, then threw him up against it and pulled the fridge over so that it crushed him under it. Not a complete crushing. Just a temporary crushing. I just needed the thing held while I devised a good method to kill it.
Sunlight was out. No one’s quite sure what the light is that comprised the day around here, but there hasn’t been a sun in the sky. It’s made people cranky, and it’d really piss off the vitamin-munchers if any of them are still alive.
Stakes? Not sure on the specifics. Like I said, this bloodsucker was ethnic. That’s not really fair. Every vampire is ethnic. As refined as he was, Dracula wouldn’t have been treated very well just because he was a strigoi from Romania. This fellow sounded like this something I’d read about from India, but I didn’t know the name offhand and I couldn’t look it up. So for all I knew, a stake itself wouldn’t do the trick.
It did give me a neat idea to try, and if that failed I could still fall back on decapitation and immolation. By the way, do y’all know why they call it decapitation? Because “de” is a common way of saying something was stopped or removed. Derezzed, determination, debunked. So when you remove someone’s ability to wear a cap by taking their head off, you have de-cap-itated them.
I’m a great teacher. They ought to have me on Sesame Street when this is all said and done. I can give them a nice history lesson, because history can teach people a lot. Like when this guy named Vlad wanted to deal with troublemakers in a land thought to contain vampires, what could he do? Just stake them? Anyone could stake them. No, he needed to go big. He REALLY staked them.
And so did I. I stole nearby mailbox posts, fastened them together end to end, and sharpened one of the ends. Then I impaled our fine Indian vampire friend. Just stuck him up there on the lawn. Then I leaned against it and told him, “By the way, real rude of you not to offer me any brains in there when I was clearly hungry. I’d say you don’t look like you had any to spare, but I think you got my point.”
The sky rumbled, reminding me way too much of people at the refugee camp in my storage area. Sure, I’ve picked up supplies for them and I’m part of the reason nothing ever comes knocking, but apparently a lot of people think I’m kind of an ass. I know, I know, surprised me too. Well, this looked a lot worse than the disapproval of a bunch of people I don’t care about. This looked like a storm. A storm with lightning. No, no, let’s make this more dramatic. A storm with Lightning.
Captain Lightning came streaking out of the sky like parachuting nudist. I threw myself through the previously-broken window to hide in the house. Lightning, both the person and the natural phenomenon, struck. Rather than come in after me, he bombarded the house with bolt after bolt. Both luckily and unluckily, they didn’t function like normal lightning. Rather than follow the easiest route to the ground, it zapped through anything in its path. On the plus side, it didn’t disrupt my electrical systems as I ran around playing a game of deity dodgeball.
It would have been nice if I had my armor. I could hide and escape that way. On my own, I didn’t have a whole lot to work with. Heck, all he’d need to do is go super speedy on me and I couldn’t do anything. It’s not so fun with Road Runner’s chasing Wile E. Coyote instead of the other way around.
When’d he’d blasted the entire second story and the first floor’s ceiling off the house, he floated over to see if he’d got me. Made a whooshing noise, too. He saw me standing in the kitchen, facing the door, waving. “Come and get me, son of a bitch,” I said, tilting my head. Then I’d whip my head back to how I started. “Come and get me, son of a bitch,” I said, tilting my head. And so on.
I felt his gaze on me, but I couldn’t get a good read on him since he wasn’t much in my line of sight. It also occurred to me that I had no idea if he knew enough about me to realize I used holograms.
Perhaps I should have tried more of a Zhuge Liang “Empty Fortress”-style strategy, but that might have failed for the same reason.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him jerk his head around. He glanced back at me, then turned and flew off, leaving a crack of thunder behind him. Boy was I glad to see his crack. It is a pune, or a play on words.
It wasn’t until I got back to the storage area and shooed some kids off my tank that I found out why he ran off so suddenly. Venus practically skipped over when she saw me get back. “Gecko! You’re back!”
I hopped off the tank, jumping up and down all excited. “Venus! You’re happy to see me! Why the fuck?!” I stopped and put my hand on her shoulder. “What’s up?”
She pulled my hand off her and let it drop. “First, maybe come and have some food. I made some more tacos.”
“There’s no way this is made of beef!” cried someone watching my wrestling recordings on a leftover screen.
“Shut your face and eat it!” Venus yelled back, demonstrating strong people skills. Note to self: don’t complain about Venus’s taco. “I don’t know who he’s after, but I found out he’s vulnerable, and why.”
Curious, I sat down and motioned her down with me. There on the floor, with people eating food made of questionable meat, she told me about her night.
“I scouted his tower again, but I saw a chance when he sent out Captain Lightning. He had Mammon and Skinner drag in someone. He asked the guy what he knew about supers. I thought we’d get some help, but the man didn’t know anything. They didn’t affect him before. Spinetingler offered the guy a chance to be the one doing the scaring. When the guy said no, Spinetingler himself walked over and started choking him.”
I facepalmed. She didn’t…
“I saved the man and I threw Spinetingler around.”
“We got out of there in a hurry and had to lose Captain Lightning when he flew back. But we have an opening!”
“Yes,” I nodded. “Some people have more than one. I’m usually quite enthusiastic about adding more.”
She slapped my ear. “Shut up! He’s part of this. Not just leading it. He tried to kill someone himself. I hit him. He looks grody. I think he is looking for a son or daughter like you suggested, because this is personal to him. I think that means we can hurt him. We can beat him.”
“Arrest him?” I asked, raising my eyebrow.
Venus went quiet, losing her smile as she looked at me.
“Kill him?” I suggested. She looked away. “Yeah, sometimes that looks like a real good idea.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. First, we need to take Captain Lightning out of the equation.”
“Yeah, he needs subtracting. I think I know a way to divide him.” I drew a line with my fingers.
“I want him alive.”
“We’ll work together. I have an idea.”
It’s not a bad idea, either. Another classic Venus-Gecko team-up. Just don’t tell her she saved me from Captain Lightning when she did all that stupid heroism in Spinetingler’s tower.