Saturday, 25 July 2009

How Many Vampires Does It Take To.......

Vlad and the Count came to to find themselves bound together, back to back and firmly gagged, in the soft twilight filtering through the door frame. They had been propped up on the cold, tiled floor of the front hall.

Trying to talk just produced unintelligible grunts and squirming around, trying to move just resulted in them falling over sideways and Vlad bashing his head against the solid oak legs of a side table. Howling with frustration, Count Antonescu eventually took the matter in hand by using his vast height and bulk to stand up and walk into the kitchen, with Vlad strapped, like an infant in a pouch, on his back. The Count pondered between using a knife to try and cut them free or having a go at lighting one of the gas burners and trying to burn through the ropes. Whoever bound them was unfortunately very good at knots and had used good quality, sturdy rope. Even Vlad's weight being supported on his back and his flailing legs did nothing to loosen their bonds.

Help came from an unexpected source. The wine bottle that Mike Costello had been drinking from had somehow been knocked over and smashed on the kitchen table, leaving a sticky trail of red wine dripping down the table leg to form a glutinous pool on the floor. The Count gritted his teeth, leaned over the table and started sawing at one of the bonds against the jagged broken glass. It was a slow and painful process as he had no hand free to steady the glass, so kept cutting himself, and Vlad, who didn't seem to be enjoying being bound to his back and being leaned over sideways, kept kicking him.

Eventually the frayed threads of one of the ropes parted and Antonescu grimly carried on until enough ropes were severed and he could free his hands to deal with the rest. As the final rope parted he pulled the gag out of his mouth and let Vlad fall unceremoniously into the pool of wine on the kitchen floor.

'What did you do that for' choked Vlad as he pulled out his own gag and tried to stand up 'I'm covered in red wine now and will have to change!'

'Serves you right for kicking me so hard' returned Count Antonescu shortly.

'Look here Antonescu, I'm your Leader now, so you can't talk to me like that!' blustered Vlad.

'Then start acting like one and stop whining!' rumbled the Count 'And while you are at it, can you explain this?'

The Count pushed a crumpled piece of paper across the table to Vlad, who blushed as much as a vampire could when he realised it was Mike Costello's note.

'As my leader, you question my loyalty' asked Antonescu threateningly as he leaned over Vlad.

'No, no, you know I would never do that!' pleaded Vlad.

'But you were planning to meet with this human psychic, and listen to him talk of me being untrustworthy. Me an Antonescu; my family has served yours faithfully for seventeen generations!'

Vlad felt that things were getting out of hand.

'Look Count, I think we are getting side tracked here. Don't you think it is rather more important to work out how we ended up bound and unconscious on the hall floor and how Kingsteignton got away?'

'My loyalty has been questioned; nothing is more important!' growled back Antonescu stubbornly 'You were planning to meet with this human psychic, no? One who slurs the honour of an Antonescu?.'

'Look Count, please don't go all medieval on me! My head hurts, I can't think straight and I don't know how any of this happened to us! begged Vlad pleadingly.

The Count's eyes narrowed but his next comment was more conciliatory.

'We will have to work it out and try and get Kingsteignton back' he declared.

'Do we really want him back' asked Vlad a little nervously.

The Count glared at him again through narrowed eyes. 'He now has even more questions to answer, my Leader, was his behaviour just a ruse to lull us into a false sense of security or did he have help? What can you remember?'

Vlad felt that the Count's mocking tone was a little unnecessary, but decided that nothing was to be gained from winding him up even further.

'I remember nothing until I woke on the hall floor bound to you' he replied evenly ' Before that the last thing I can recall is that I was reading the note and saying goodbye to de Cazalrenoux. You don't think he did this, do you?

The Count snort derisively. 'A werewolf overcome two vampires, I don't think so! And why would he? The only thing he is interested in is his missing Clan member.'

'And women' retorted Vlad bitterly 'But I wasn't knocked on the head, so how were we overcome?'

Antonescu frowned. 'I do not know the answer to that either. You seem to value the information you get from this human psychic, so why don't we go and make this rendezvous with Mike Costello anyway? Maybe he can sense something for us? See what his real game is?'

'Well we'll be late and Mike wanted to see me alone' started Vlad fussily until he realised that Antonescu was now glaring at him in a particularly hostile way.

'Oh, all right then' he conceded 'I'll just change my trousers and let's hope the car starts; I haven't used it in six months'.

As they were leaving through the front door five minutes later, both the Vampires failed to notice the now empty gas canister that had rolled under the chaise longue where Kingsteignton had been laying.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Wasted Journeys

Roland was glad that he had decided to drive as he drove up to the next Bricklayer’s Arms in Putney. He had had no success in Fitzrovia, Poplar and the City and was beginning to believe that he had been set up. But why? Who would lead him on a wild goose chase all over town like this, and for what reason? He pushed the idea that someone wanted him out of his flat so that they could get at his Clan firmly to the back of his mind. He had called Malvolio and he and Proserpine were fine; having the usual arguments about getting homework done but fine. The block was an especially secure one and Malvolio would defend Proserpine with his life if he was required to.

Roland parked up and wandered through the entrance of the pub into its courtyard garden. Immediately Roland caught a familiar scent and stood smelling the air for a few seconds. His quest might well be over; the human Mike Costello had definitely been here. He could also scent the rank, stale odour of a vampire, but it didn’t seem to be Vladimirescu? He looked around, and could see no sign of Costello or Vlad. There were a couple of groups of hardy humans sitting at the scattered tables in the chilly spring air, but no vampire and no psychic.

He moved into the building and wandered around, even going upstairs and into the gents. The interior of the pub was empty of any identifying scents, except for a brief whiff of Costello at the bar.

‘That young man really should bathe more frequently’ thought Roland testily as he loped back down the stairs. He ignored the inviting looks thrown at him by a group of young women giggling at the bar, who had been attracted to his height, gleaming dark red hair and obviously expensive attire, and strode back into the courtyard. He didn’t want to draw attention to himself by obviously sniffing around, but meandered round the tables until he caught a stronger scent from an abandoned table in the corner.

The table had been fully cleared, but Costello and a vampire had definitely been sitting here. Frustrated that he must have missed the meeting, Roland could have howled but, as he was turning on his heel to leave, he spotted a rectangular white card underneath one of the chairs. He picked it up and turned it over. He scanned the card and his brow furrowed and his canines came sliding down over his bottom lip as he read the words

‘Lord Kingsteignton, 26 Clarence Crescent, Belgravia, London, SW1’

The fools! How had they let Kingsteignton get away? He had been a soiled, drivelling idiot when Roland had left Vladimirescu’s house. On the horns of a dilemma, Roland hurried back to his car. Did he return to Vlad’s house to see if he could find out what had happened to them or go to Kingsteignton’s house in Belgravia? Did he have time to do any more before he turned? He swore as he turned the key in the ignition and was promptly punished for not paying enough attention to what he was doing by backing into the car behind him, which would just happen to be a Porsche, with a resounding thump.