23
Mar
20

Vampire 2.0 – Cleaning Up Files

(Want to see it where it started? Click here…)

Cleaning Up Files

Brand did a double take as he slotted the Hummer into the space in front of the apartment building. The GPS, which he had never entirely trusted, had given him the right place, at least.
What wasn’t right was the way the Boss looked. His shirt was rumpled, there was a runner of blood coming from his nose, and he looked pissed. Beyond pissed. Furious, even. Far angrier than Brand could ever remember seeing him before.
The broad with him didn’t look so hot, either; she was shuffling along in those stretch pants like some kind of Lane Bryant zombie, a glazed look in her eyes and a twitching at the corners of her mouth that Brand recognized. The Boss had laid a whammy on her, was making her come along. Brand had seen the look before. Probably against her will. That didn’t look good.
Brand yanked the e-brake, hopping out of the seat to shamble towards Vlad and his lady friend.
“What the hell, Boss? Looks like ya been in a fight, you know? Tyson vs. Paquio or somethin’. Hate to see the other guy.; And what’s with the dame? We got trouble, and you’re playin’ Romancing the Stone or somethin’…”
Vlad’s hand shot out and seized the sensitive nerve between Brand’s neck and wing joint. The grip was agonizing; Brand could feel every inch of foot pressure Franks had designed that steel appendage to be able to deliver, could hear the bones creaking, as though ready to break.
“I’ve no time. I must move the lady to a safer location, and you have cleanup to do. You’ll find the remains in Apartment 302. Take care of it, then come to me. You know the location.”
“Wha… er… yeah, sure, Boss. The hotel or the safehouse?”
Vlad bowed his head. Brand wasn’t sure if he was just thinking it over, or consulting the machine Franks had put in his skull, and didn’t think wasting time with either was really a good idea at the moment. His fright over the look on Vlad’s face kept him silent, however.
Finally looking back up, Vlad shook his head.
“Neither,” he muttered. “Neither is safe, now. Call me when you’re done.”
“Uh, Boss…” Brand hesitated, not sure how to bring up the matter at hand. Safetyy was more of a concern than Vlad realized, Brand thought.
“If you’re going to inform me that the children of the night have gone berserk and turned on me, that’s readily apparent form the news reports this abominable device is providing me. And the silence that answers my demands for an explanation are evidence enough that a coup is ongoing. Tend the matter at hand. The rest will keep.”
Brand’s jaw was hanging. Several seconds had passed before he thought to close it.
Guess he’s getting up to speed with the upgrades, he thought.
Or maybe the upgrades are getting up to speed with him, an unhelpful inner voice chimed in. Brand shook his head, dismissing it.
“Uh. Right. You’re the Boss.”
“Indeed. See to it.”
Vlad released his grip on Brand’s wing and stalked towards the car. The woman followed after him, a little tugboat chained to Tepes’ ocean liner. He opened the passenger door, ushering her in, then circled the vehicle to enter himself. As the pair drove off – making sure to use the turn signals and accelerating normally, Brand noted; the Boss was always careful to keep up appearances – Brand sighed.
He hated cleanup; he just hoped there wasn’t too much of a mess. Vlad was known for spray painting walls red if someone really irked him, and Brand didn’t feel much like donning the rubber gloves and breaking out the sponges.
He turned and walked towards the building, thankful that it wasn’t the kind where you had to be buzzed in. He could have gotten in regardless, but skipping the charade and having to pull out one of his numerous fake IDs was a bonus.
He wound his way through the labyrinthine entrance hall, sighing as he caught sight of the elevator and its bad news: a decrepit and dusty sign proclaiming it out of order was hung from it with a stripe of yellowed masking tape. Taking the stairs instead, Brand clumped his way towards the third floor, panting a little and trying to ignore the dull throb in his shoulder. He was not a fan of stairwells, especially not the kind that doubled back on themselves, pressing in on him from all sides. His mother had told him he’d always been claustrophobic; he blamed the marathon sessions locked in the closet whenever she’d caught him with a girlie mag.;
When he finally reached the third floor and opened the door, he breathed a sigh of relief at his escape from the tomb-like stairwell. His comfort was challenged the second he stepped into the hallway, though. The door opened on a tiny hall not much wider than the staircase with discrete plaques mounted next to a small handful of doors.
“Ya gotta be shittin’ me,” he muttered, shaking his head.
He toddled to his right, checking the nearest tag: 304. Wrong way. Of course. He sighed, turning around and plodding the other way.
He passed 303 and cocked his head the other direction, waiting for the door of 302 to cross his vision. Instead he found a crater in the wall that had a vaguely human shape. A low chuckle slid out of his beak, images from old cartoons flipping through his mind as stepped over a pile of splintered wood that he supposed had been the door not too long ago.
Taking in the scene, he gave a long whistle. Either the dead chick on the floor had been really rabid, or the Boss had blown his top, bigtime. Either way, the place was a mess. Blood all over the floor, furniture shoved to all corners of the room, the shredded head of a broom scattering straw across the whole mess. Brand saw a caved-in point of impact on the far wall, next to the television stand, and winced. Whoever’s head had made that one, they were lucky to still be up and about.
Of course, maybe they weren’t still up and about. He glanced down at the body, feeling a moment of remorse. She was just his type; curves in all the right places, looked like she had a bit of Latin in her from the hair and eyebrows. If she hadn’t done just about the stupidest thing in the world by pissing off the Boss, he might have pulled the makeshift stake out of her and taken her for a late dinner before helping himself to some dessert.
Of course, the blood that had poured out of her, the three feet of broomhandle sticking out between her boobs and the torn flesh around her lips where her fangs had popped might have been a bit of a deal breaker, but he was used to compromise.
Brand coughed into a fist, then glanced around the room, taking inventory. Cleanup wasn’t going to be easy; the lack of a door was just the start of the problems. The boss had left too big of a mess to just roll the undead chica into a carpet and cart it off to drop off the Hoover later. He grinned to himself when he saw the old-school microwave sitting on the kitchen counter, right next to an obnoxiously yellow plastic strainer overflowing with silverware.
“Oh, yeah, baby. I gotta try this one…”
Curbing his enthusiasm for a moment, Brand took a deep breath and tiptoed back to the hallway. He crept across the hell to 303’s door, putting the side of his head against it for a moment and straining. He didn’t hear anything from within, not even the hum of electronics that were plugged in but not on. Just to be safe, he rapped his knuckles against the door in as polite a knock as he could muster.
The Boss wouldn’t like it if he, in the process of removing the evidence, also blew up a family of four. Vlad liked to stay out of the papers.
No one answered his knock. Satisfied, Brand went back to 302. Anyone else on the floor would be clear of the blast, and would have time to evac from any fire, he figured. He was humming The Doors under his breath as he seized double fistfuls of silverware and tossed them into the microwave. Pausing to consider for a moment, he opted to add another couple of handfuls. Nodding to himself, he closed the door – taking a moment to run his rough and scaly tongue against a particularly tempting blot of spaghetti sauce that had splattered against it – before drumming his talons against the timer dial.
“Jeez, they oughta make instruction manuals for these kind of things…”
Shrugging, he turned the dial as far as it would go. Thirty minutes should do it. If it worked at all. Sure, he’d been warned about it hundreds of times, but he still wasn’t entirely certain if it actually worked that way or not. If not, he’d have to lurch down to the gas station and do it the old fashioned way. Probably just should have done that in the first place. But his impish curiosity was awake no, and he’d come this far…
Minutes later, standing at street level and staring up at Monica’s apartment window with the rapt gaze of a cat studying a juicy and possibly eviscerated rat, Brand screeched with delight as a blue arc of lightning flickered across the window. A moment later, the glass blew out, belching a jet of fire several feet long. Raining down into the street below came several knickknacks, a paperback or two, and a single fork, the tines now bent outwards and the silver blackened.
Satisfied, Brand began walking away, dialing 911 as he went. They’d come, put out the fire, determine nobody had been home – best thing about vamps, in Brand’s opinion, was the way they just went poof when they died – and start looking for Monica to have her call the insurance folks. He didn’t have fingerprints to leave behind – one of the many advantages of having talons over actual fingers, as he kept trying to tell the Boss – and any blood from the Boss, his dame, or the dead lady would be flash-fried and buried under the soot. No fuss, no muss, no bother. Plus, rescue staff would get anybody else out before something bad happened.
It wasn’t like he wanted anyone to actually die, after all. He wasn’t a monster


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