Night Shift Ch. 01bymillennium_bard©
Working the night shift was just fine with Ray. A night owl by nature, Ray enjoyed meeting the other "Denizens of the Darkness", as he called other people who worked and played after sunset.
Actually, working after dark was a requirement for Ray. He had a small problem with sunlight. But then, so do most vampires.
Working the aptly named 'graveyard shift' at the convenience store was a perfect occupation for a modern vampire. He could interact with people relatively freely. And the occasional robbers who targeted convenience stores at night provided him (and a few of his friends) with welcome snacks.
Ray had waked up after the party in a cave way the fuck out in the mountains alongside another dude. He was used to waking up sore and stiff after a party, and he had woken up in some strange places, but this was something else entirely.
He found a note next to where he had been laying. The note told him that he was now a vampire, and that he should avoid sunlight etc.
The other dude woke up about the same time.
Ray remembered him from the party, sort of.
The other guy read the note. "Bullshit." he snarled and crumpled up the paper and hurled it to the ground. Ray watched him walk straight out of the cave into the daylight.
A burst of flame and greasy smoke, then just a scattering of ashes that quickly blew away.
After that little demonstration, Ray stayed put well back in cave until after full dark.
It was a good 15-mile walk back to town, but Ray didn't seem to get tired at all. Normally, Ray got tired walking from his house to the grocery store a couple of blocks away.
Back at his apartment, Ray discovered that he had been gone a little over a week. The messages on his answering machine ranged from friends and family worried about his absence, to a call from his job telling him that he was fired. Crap.
Showering and dressing, Ray found that he could see himself in the mirror just fine. He was thankful for this small favor, it made shaving much easier.
Eating however was not so easy. He tried to cook, but the smells made him dash to the bathroom to barf. And what he barfed up stank so bad that he puked some more.
Finally done with the Technicolor yawns, Ray cleaned himself up and staggered from the bathroom. A shot of whiskey stayed down and seemed to settle his nerves a bit.
Ray went out to see if he could find some answers. First stop, his friend Jorge's place where the party had been.
"Hey Jorge." Ray called through the screen door. "Get your butt out here! I need to talk to you."
Jorge came to the door wearing nothing but a pair of raggedy old cut-off shorts. "Raymond! Que Pasa?"
"I'll 'Que Pasa?' you! I just woke up a while ago, and I don't remember a thing after the party. What happened?"
Jorge laughed. "Come in mi amigo. You were muy borracho, very drunk. You gave me your car keys and said that you didn't need a DWI." Jorge sat Ray down on the couch and handed him a beer. "One of Sheila's friends offered to drive you home, and from the way you were looking at her, I figured you went to her place."
Ray opened the beer, but the smell nearly made him ill again. He set the bottle aside and turned to Jorge. "Listen, I really need to find that gal. I woke up in a freaking' cave out there on Mount Lemmon."
"Wow." said Jorge, "You must have been even drunker than I thought."
Jorge's wife Sheila came out to see what the commotion was. "Oh, Hi Ray." she said with a yawn.
Ray could never figure out what a dynamite chick like Sheila saw in Jorge in the first place. He had long since concluded that his friend must be a world-class cocksman. Either that or there was something Ray was missing entirely.
"Hi Sheila." Ray said. "Sorry to disturb you, but I REALLY need to find out who took me home the night of the party."
"Sheila giggled. "Good luck finding her. Maria shows up pretty much at random. I don't think I even still have her phone number now that I think about it."
Ray's shoulders slumped a bit. "Thanks anyway." he said. "Listen, if you hear from her, PLEASE tell her to call me as soon as she can."
Sheila shrugged. "Can do." she said.
Jorge gave Ray back his car keys and Ray drove home. Once inside, Ray tacked heavy blankets over the windows and door of his bedroom to bloc out all the sunlight. Around dawn, he fell asleep.
The phone ringing finally roused him up out of a sound sleep. "Huh? Wassit?" he mumbled into the mouthpiece of the phone once he managed to pick it up.
"This is Maria." came a woman's voice.
Ray sat up suddenly, wide awake and alert. "Maria? From the party?"
"I think we need to talk," she said.
"Yeah, I think I have some explanations due." Ray said evenly. "Where do you want to meet?"
"Well, since I'm right outside your door as we speak, how about your place?" said Maria with a throaty chuckle.
Ray looked at his bedside clock. 9PM.
"OK I'll let you in. Give me a moment."
Ray hung up the phone and slipped into some jeans and a t-shirt. He went to the front door and looked out the peephole. A pretty brunette was standing there on his doorstep. Shrugging, Ray opened the door.
"Well, for once you're as pretty when I'm sober." was out of his mouth before he could stop himself.
To Ray's immense relief, Maria laughed out loud. "Thanks, I think." she said.
"Come in, Come in," Ray said as he stood aside.
Maria walked straight to the couch and sat down. She leaned back, crossed her legs, and then she stretched her arms out along the back. "Nice place." she said.
"The joint's a dump." Ray said. "But the rent's cheap and it's quiet."
Ray couldn't believe himself. He mentally kicked himself, 'engage brain before putting mouth in gear', he thought. "Umm, mind explaining to me what this vampire business is all about?"
Maria blushed faintly, "That was a mistake on my part," she said. "You were funny and cute, I was horny. So you and I wound up in the bedroom. I kinda went overboard there when I nipped your neck." Maria paused, looking flustered. Ray got up and poured each of them a drink of water.
Maria accepted hers gratefully. She took a sip, then continued. "I'd intended to only give you a hicky, but when I climaxed, I bit you involuntarily."
Ray unconsciously rubbed the side of his neck as he listened to Maria.
"When I realized I was feeding from you, it was too late, I had to either try to bring you across, or let you die right there."
"Good choice." Ray said wryly. "OK that explains part of it. But what about the other guy?"
"What other guy?" Maria asked, frowning.
"The other guy in the cave." Ray said.
"But I didn't put you in any cave...." Maria trailed off. Then her jaw tightened and her eyes narrowed. "That bastard Jacques." She hissed.
"Jacques?" Ray asked curiously.
Maria shook herself and crossed her arms over her breasts and hugged herself tightly. "Jacques is the vampire who brought me across a long long time ago. I thought you had just awakened at my place and wandered home. Jacques must have taken you to the cave. The other man was likely to be another of Jacques' playthings."
"Sounds like I owe this Jacques a poke in the snoot." Ray remarked.
Maria laughed and clapped her hands like a little girl. "I would pay a lot to see someone break that aristocratic nose of his." Maria said. "But better you do not even try. Jacques is very old and very powerful. He would surely kill you."
Ray pulled his chair closer to the couch. "OK, Killing a vampire. How can we be killed, aside from sunlight, I mean."
She planted her elbow on her knee and her chin on her fist as she thought. "Well, most of the legends of vampires are only partly true at best." She began. "Silver doesn't harm us, although there are others that it does. Crosses are just crosses." She fished a small golden crucifix on a chain from her impressive cleavage. "And unless you were allergic to garlic before, it can't hurt you now. If you get a wooden stake through the heart. That will kill you. So will getting your head cut off. Or if you were completely burned to ashes or blown to very tiny bits with a bomb. But other than that, we simply regenerate very fast."
Maria pulled a long slim dagger from a sheath strapped to her thigh. "Watch." she said, and plunged the dagger into her chest driving it hilt deep between her breasts. She let her hands fall to her lap and sat up straighter. "See?"
Ray reached out cautiously to touch the hilt where it jutted from her body. "May I?" Ray asked.
Maria nodded her assent. "Pull the damn thing out. It hurts like a bitch!"
Ray grasped the hilt of the dagger and pulled it straight out. He watched fascinated as the
wound healed tracelessly before his eyes. "Wow." he whispered.
Maria took the dagger from Ray and cleaned it on a piece of cloth she took from a pocket on
her skirt. "Now if that had been made of wood, I would have died, permanently and irrevocably."
Ray made a mental note to take up woodcarving and whittling as hobbies. "So now what?"
Maria leaned back again. "Now, you'll need to find a job that allows you to work nights, and
you'll need to find a mortal that you can trust up a bank account for you. ATM's and credit
cards have made life so much easier for us." she said with a sigh and a smile.
"What about the drinking blood etc?" Ray wanted to know.
Maria shrugged, "Depends on you." she said. "Some of our kind prefers to feed on people. Others, like me, get our blood from animals, and only feed in passion or in self defense."
"Damn, I'm gonna miss Pizza and Tacos." Ray said. 'Oh well, Where's the nearest cow or whatever? Do I just walk up to it and say *I Vant To Drink Your Blood! Bla!* in a Transylvanian accent?"
Maria fell over sideways on the couch, laughing. "No, nothing like that." She said. "Most of us keep livestock someplace accessible. It's easy enough to learn how to use an IV needle to drain blood harmlessly and painlessly from our animals. And once you have had your blood, you can handle solid foods again for about 2 or 3 hours afterwards."
"What about diseases?" Ray asked.
"You are pretty much immune." Maria said. "You could drain an AIDS patient and not be affected. But if a person has alcohol or drugs in their bloodstream, then they will definitely affect you too."
"Christ, you must have been bombed after biting me the other night." Ray quipped.
"I was." Maria said. That's how Jacques was able to get you out of my place. I slept for several days after I laid you down on my bed."
Maria stood up and slid into Ray's lap. "I'll take you to my place and get you some fresh blood, then we'll work on getting you a job." She reached down to the zipper on the front of her dress and pulled it downward. "But first, we have a little unfinished business to attend to." Ray couldn't agree more.
It was just an hour shy of dawn when they finally made it to Maria's home south of town. She showed him how to tap into a vein on one of her horses to drain a couple of pints of blood. Then she watched Ray do it for himself on another horse.
"That was pretty good for a beginner." Maria said as they sat in her living room with glasses full of warm rich blood. "It took me almost a year to get it right when I found out about this method."
Ray drained the last of the blood he had drawn from the horse and looked speculatively at his benefactor. "Just how old are you anyway?"
Maria poked her tongue out at him. "You should know better than to ask a lady that question," she said primly. Then she giggled again. "Oh OK." She said. "I was brought over back in 1899. It was in Venice Italy, and I was just 17 years old. I met Jacques at a party. He seemed so handsome and dashing. When he offered to take me away with him, I was such a foolish romantic that I said yes. That night, he fed on me. When I woke, I was underground in Paris, and I was a vampire."
Ray saw tears trickling down her face on either side of her nose as she talked. "It was 20 years before I found out that I could feed from animals. And it was nearly 50 years before I found Jacques again."
Ray moved to sit beside her and put his arm around her shoulders, letting Maria lay her head on his shoulder.
"I have only brought 4 people across," she continued after a moment. "But Jacques has created hundreds of Vampires in his time."
Ray stroked her hair and waited for her to go on.
"OF the 4 that I have brought across, you are the only one still alive. Jacques killed one, and the other two suicided when they found out that they had become." Maria craned her neck to look up at Ray's face. "That's why I was so glad to see you still alive and sane."
"Well, as sane as I ever was." Said Ray with a smile. Then he sobered. "Uh, what about sleeping in a coffin or having to keep some of your home earth with you to sleep on?"
Maria sighed and snuggled against him. "Only if you are homesick." She assured him. "As for sleeping in a coffin, I guess that would have been to avoid being disturbed in the daytime, and a coffin can be sealed to keep out the sunlight I suppose. Personally, I always preferred sleeping in a nice soft bed in a nice dark bedroom somewhere."
"Speaking of bedrooms," Ray stood and picked Maria up as lightly as a feather. "Which way?" Maria pointed the way. Ray slung her over his shoulder and swatted her on the rump. Maria squawked and beat on Ray's back with her little fists, kicking her feet and wriggling. But she wasn't really struggling all that hard.
The next evening, Maria drove Ray back home. He changed clothes and headed out to look for work.
He was filling up his Honda at a Circle K store when he saw the Help Wanted sign in the window. When he went in to pay for the gas, he asked to see the manager. The manager happened to be in back and called for Ray to come on back.
"So you want to work graveyard huh?" Said the manager after Ray had filled out the application. "Well, we can always use someone for the overnight hours."
"I have a severe allergy to sunlight," said Ray. "So I need to work only after dark and leave before dawn."
"Like a freakin' vampire. But OK, we can work around those hours. We really need someone for overnights so I don't have to cover all the damn time." The manager stood up and shook Ray's hand. "You got the job. IF, you can start tomorrow night."
"Not a problem." replied Ray.
Back at home, Ray called Jorge. "Hey hermano, I need you to do me a huge favor."
"I'll be over in about an hour, and you can tell me all about it then. Sheila wants to know if Maria ever got ahold of you."
"She sure did." said Ray. "In fact, I'm going to call her right now."
After Jorge hung up, Ray started to dial Maria's unlisted number. He had only punched the first couple of digits however when he was interrupted by a knock on the door. He put the phone down and answered the door. He was delighted to see Maria standing there. "Come on in Honey, I have some great news."
Maria looked up at him tiredly, "I could use some about now," she said.
"I got a job working nights at a Circle K store over on Valencia Road." Ray told her. Then he paused. "What's wrong?"
Maria wrapped her arms around him and laid her head against his chest. "Jacques is being a pest again. He was at my home this evening, asking about you."
Ray said some rather obscene things under his breath. "Sooner or later, I'll have to deal with that jerk."
Maria just held him tighter. "I don't want to lose you," she said.
"Where does this Jacques lair up?" He asked her.
"Why? What are you thinking about?" she asked warily.
"Just a little something that will put Jacques back in his place."
"He's much too strong." Maria protested. "I can't let you do that."
"Better on my terms than his." Ray said. "Besides, He may be old and powerful, but I'll bet he doesn't THINK like a modern person would."
"Maria looked up into his eyes. "You are stubborn."
"More than you know." he said with a smile.
Maria let go of Ray and sighed. "Jacques has his home near the cave where you woke up. But he has security guards day and night. The place is built like a fortress." Maria smiled grimly, "Jacques has made a lot of enemies over the years."
Ray nodded. Then he dropped the subject.
"Jorge and Sheila are on their way here soon. I'm going to have them arrange to take care of some things during the day."
Maria nodded thoughtfully. "Sheila is a good choice. She has done quite a bit for me."
She shook off her gloomy mood. "After they leave, let's go back to my place to feed and relax."
"Sounds good to me," said Ray.
But his mind was on Jacques, and how to kill a vampire he had never seen.