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Vampyrs Anonymous Chapter Five
James and Balki have a pissing contest and we meet Barnard
South Street station was a zoo even minutes before closing. The kiosks and restaurants were closed for business by now but there were still travelers from the trains on their way outside and catching cabs or limos. People talked on their cellphones or on the pay phones. Some ran into loved ones and friends who greeted them warmly while others still rushed to get to their buses.
James preferred the fishhook method. Two fingers go in, wallet comes out, pocket the cash and drop it. You don't look down. You don't rubber neck. By the time they realize their wallet is missing it will be in the lost and found, hopefully and you're on the other side of the terminal. As a courtesy James might go into the bathroom where there were no cameras and emerge with a wallet he “found” in one of the stalls and hand it over to a security guard. But he only extended that courtesy on holidays and on days when the guards weren't likely to recognize him. He didn't give much thought as to whose wallet he was swiping. He figured if it meant that much to them they'd keep it in a more secure pocket- or they wouldn't use cash at all. He didn't bother with credit or debit cards and those could be canceled before any real damage was done.
Finally the crowd started to thin. James stepped out onto the platforms just as the gates were being locked. The only people allowed in the bus station were staff and passengers holding tickets and at any rate it wasn't crowded enough in the evenings to get away with much.
Always watching to be sure he didn't have someone following him, James made his way to the wharf where he would be alone. Shelters were crowded so most of the homeless in the city slept near the bus station or on a bench near Quincy Market. As the temperature dropped to thirty degrees and a nasty wind came off the ocean, he knew that no one with an ounce of survival instinct would be down here. The cold didn't bother him. Even in the dead of winter he only needed a light coat and that was just to keep people from staring.
James counted the money arranging the bills from highest to smallest. There were tens and twenties for the most part, a few singles. Two fifties and a hundred. When he counted it all out it came to three hundred and seventy-six dollars. Terrific. Tomorrow would have to be better. Tomorrow would have to be cake if he was going to make rent.
Airports used to be great for picking pockets before September, 11th, but now you had to be a ghost to get past security in Logan.
James pocketed the cash and was about to make his way into the city when the smell of animal hair rushed him once again.
“Spare some change, sir?” A low, taunting voice came from the darkness. James recognized it instantly.
“How did you find me?” He called out.
Balki drew closer. His human form was barely visible in the dark but James could feel the heat coming off of him. He knew from experience that werebeasts gave off stronger heat than humans. As a rule their blood was off limits and it was James' personal policy to steer clear of them all together.
“There aren't that many of you in town,” Balki pointed out. “You left enough of the poor man's blood to give me a scent to track you by.”
“My bad,” James said. “What are you, like a modern day superhero?”
“You killed right outside my sister's business!” he shouted. “Were you trying to draw attention to us!”
James checked his escape routes. He was surrounded by rails and water. His only way out was through Balki and he knew from experience that werebeasts could change fast. He d2
“Your sister, huh? You don't think Felicity's good enough to catch a gig on her own?”
“Don't drop her name to me, parasite.”
“I mean no harm to her,” James went on, hoping he could talk his way out of this. “She has a beautiful voice, she has her whole life ahead of her. If I knew she was there I would never have killed that man outside the club. He was an easy kill.”
“Well that makes two of you.”
Balki's mouth bulged out as his teeth grew larger, like fangs, only he had more of them. James watched long enough to his skin turn a rippling bright orange before turning around and leaping into the top rail. He then leaped back, spinning around as he tried to jump clear over Balki's head. Balki caught him by the waist mid-jump and threw him to the ground before landing on top of him.
James struggled as the three hundred pound tiger pressed town on his chest and leered into his eyes. Balki growled. His breath smelled like dried urine and it made James' stomach lurch as he balled up his fists up and slammed them upward into Balki's face repeatedly. Balki snapped his head back and withdrew his paw, letting James climb to his feet. He gave James three steps before pouncing again slamming him into cold grass hearing the satisfying snap of bone and yelp of pain. He gave a low roar that James swore was laughter.
His right arm was broken and trapped beneath his weight. James bit back the pain and scrambled with his left hand trying to find a rock, a stick, a broken bottle, anything to use as a weapon. Balki was having the time of his life, drawing this out before making the final kill. James wasn't going down easily.
Balki had faced vampires in the past. He was impressed with James' struggle and could see the strength and will to live that must have drawn Felicity to him. Just to see what would happen, he let James up again. The vampire scrambled to his feet but didn't try to run this time. He stepped back slowly, nursing his injured arm and searching for an escape route as Balki stalked him.
“How long do you think we can do this before someone notices?” James asked.
Balki snorted, which came out as a growl. The leach was still trying to talk his way out of this. Didn't he know that he could have killed him long before now? And here he thought Felicity was drawn to his strength. Clearly she only felt sorry for him. At least now she had a chance of meeting a real man.
You're alive for my amusement,he would have said if he could speak in this form. He felt sorry for the homeless man whose blood now fueled this sorry excuse for a life form. It was time to release it. Balki coiled his muscles and licked his lips. Too bad vampire blood was poisonous to him.
James backed up, clutching his left arm with his right, hiding his hand beneath his armpit and sucking up the pain in his bone. Balki was too caught up in the moment to notice him picking up a jagged piece of wood that came from a nearby bench. It wasn't sharp enough to do a lot of good but in his hands it would do what he needed it to.
“Here kitty, kitty,” he taunted. “I told you I wasn't a cat person.”
Balki lunged. James jumped to the side pulling out his crude weapon and swinging as hard as he could. Wood met tiger's flesh and blood splattered as the muscle was torn apart from the swift movement. Balki let out an earsplitting roar while James ran to the safety of the city.
Cameras were set up in most city stoplights these days and James had to slow down when his feet hit the pavement of the streets. He hoped Balki wouldn't be stupid enough to keep chasing him in animal form.
“Keep running vampire!”
James slowed down to look behind him. Balki was gaining on him in human form. His bare skin glistened in the streetlight as he left a trail of blood from the injury on his neck.
“Get back here!”
Not stupid enough to chase him in human form but naked and wounded was okay. Perfect. Where were the cops when you needed them?
James turned down a side street and saw a scaffold going up several stories. It went up several stories and across the street was a lower building top. His arm still throbbed but with a wounded weretiger on his ass he was glad it was still attached. He leaped onto the bottom most level and with his good arm he began pulling himself higher.
Balki stopped at the end of the street and looked up as the vampire limped his way up the scaffold. It hurt when he moved his neck but he learned to silence the pain. It was the blood loss he couldn't ignore, either in human or animal form. As weakness struggled to take control he could see the vampire look down at him.
“Aren't you a little cold!”
“I'll get warm bathing in your entrails!”
“Keep it down will you!”
James looked at the building across the street and saw lights coming on in the apartments. This night was just getting better and better. In the building just behind him he swore he could hear a cellphone camera snapping. He looked down at Balki who leaned against the building for support. For a fleeting second James thought of Felicity and where she'd be without her drummer.
“Are you all right?” He asked.
The question seemed to piss him off more as Balki grabbed onto the scaffold. The entire structure shook as he climbed it. James took a step back and jumped across to the other building. He reached out with both arms catching the ledge and crying out as the weight of his body pulled harder on the broken bone. Balki was already at the top of the scaffold, still bleeding. Police sirens howled.
James pulled himself over the ledge and landed on his feet. There was a doorway leading to a staircase and a tool shed next to it. James snapped the lock on the shed and kicked the door open, searching for a weapon. All he found were bags of concrete and a few buckets of plaster.
Balki jumped, clearing the ledge and landing on concrete. Before he could turn around he grabbed James by the neck, pulling him out of the shed and throwing him onto the ground. James tried to get back up. Balki kicked him in stomach sending him sliding into the ledge.
James writhed as Balki stalked toward him. In his wounded state he couldn't change forms so Balki produced the bloodied piece of wood he pulled from his neck.
“You got the wrong idea,” he said, bending over and yanking James up by the collar of his shirt. “It is me who puts the stake in your heart. But first, we've been running for so long. Would you like something to drink?”
Balki turned his head and leaned over James' mouth. The wound was starting to coagulate but his heart still pounded and it bled just enough to create a flow. James struggled as Balki held his head in place with one hand. His mouth filled with werebeast blood. James tried to force his gag reflex but Balki held his nose shut forcing him to choke or swallow.
A burning sensation washed over his throat and stomach. James writhed. Balki laughed as he reached for the stake and raised it.
“I'll tell Felicity I ran into you,” he said. “She'll dedicate a song to you. A song about a lonely waste of flesh and-”
Someone grabbed Balki from behind and threw him across the roof where he landed in a heap. Shocked and furious Balki scrambled to his feet. A man with short chestnut brown hair and wearing an expensive winter coat stood between him and James. And he used the word man with full rancor.
“Are you all just suicidal tonight!?” Balki shouted.
“I'm sorry, Brother Tiger,” the new vampire said. He pulled a sword out from beneath his coat and held it ready. “But I'm afraid I can' t allow you to harm my friend.”
Balki gave a weak laugh. He looked past the man and saw James who had gone into an eerily calm stupor.
“You're mistaken vampire...brother,” Balki spat the word. “I was merely trying to end his suffering.”
“You're hurt,” the vampire said. “You should get some protein into your system before you grow weaker.”
Balki stared in disbelief. Was this vampire...concerned for his health? His instinct was to strike but the sword gave him pause. On the street a police car squawked.
James watched as Barnard pulled his coat off and offered it to Balki. He didn't know what confused him more; Barnard handing his coat over to a man who looked like he wanted to take his arm with it, or the fact that he swallowed a mouthful of werebeast blood and was still alive. The pain and burning were gone as well.
“Please,” Barnard said. “Take this and cover yourself.”
Balki was exhausted from the ordeal and his wound. He took the coat, keeping his eye on Barnard as he covered himself with it.
“He killed a man outside my sister's club,” he said.
“We will talk about it,” Barnard promised. “But I implore you my friend, lets do so in a less conspicuous venue. My name is Sir Barnard of Aswitch and my father, Odhran will no doubt be willing to discuss any reparations with you and your sister.”
Balki took a cautionary glance at the street. There was a single cruiser parked on the street but the officers were all ready in the building. He could hear the sounds of footsteps on the stairs below. When he turned to voice his agreement he found Barnard and James were gone.
“Damn leeches,” he cursed.