Chapter 23: Therefore be o’ good cheer, for truly I think you are damned
Copyright © 2013 by Brian Bixby.
That was the night of October 6-7. Whatever else we and CPD had planned for the Vampire Bureau was almost immediately sidelined. The radicals had come to Chicago.
The major left-wing student organization of the 1960s, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was breaking up into factions, one of which was becoming the Weathermen. The Weathermen had looked at what had happened the previous year in Chicago, and decided to deliberately provoke a confrontation with the Chicago police. They scheduled their “Days of Rage” for October 8-11. Chicago’s police, supplemented by the National Guard, geared up to meet them.
Ned had hoped to use the Days of Rage to showcase our abilities. But the buildup of police and troops made whatever we could contribute seem trivial to the authorities, and we would not actually play a role, which may have been just as well. We hadn’t practiced containing and breaking up demonstrations, and those were tasks that required a large number of cops anyhow.
With the attention off of us, Ned had no particular use for me as a spokesman (if he ever did), and dismissed me from active duty on the evening of the 8th. I decided to go out and observe the confrontation between the cops and the Weathermen and their supporters. The demonstrators had gathered in Lincoln Park. I flew into a sturdy tree and took up watch. The demonstrators were supposed to march toward the city center, but there seemed to be some sort of glitch in their preparations. They spent hours talking among themselves, while making occasional confusing announcements to the crowd. Finally, they set out marching toward downtown at around 10:30 PM. They didn’t get very far before engaging the cops.
I was hovering in flight on the outskirts of the march following one group on the fringe. Unlike elsewhere, where a solid crowd of protestors marched into a solid wall of police, here both groups were less cohesive. The protestors were their own little crowd, while the police didn’t have enough men to block off the entire street. I think both groups were well off the planned march route.
The demonstrators charged the cops, and a melee broke out in the street. The demonstrators had the numbers here, but the cops had the training and discipline. They surged back and forth, slugging it out with each other. The cop nearest the sidewalk close to where I was hovering was particularly active in using his nightstick on the protestors. Unlike some of the better prepared protestors, this group wasn’t wearing helmets, so the cop was taking down almost everyone he hit.
He had just clubbed another demonstrator, dropping him to the street, when this girl just charged him and raked his face with her fingernails. She had surprised him, and he staggered back a step or two. If she’d kept on attacking him, she might have got his nightstick away from him, but she seemed to have no idea of how to engage in unarmed combat. She just stood there, as if she could stare the cop into leaving.
The cop had no such intention. He’d been purposefully and methodically violent up to that point. Now he became “a stony adversary, an inhuman wretch, uncapable of pity, void and empty from any dram of mercy.” He stepped forward, raised his stick, and prepared to crack the girl’s skull.
He never connected. Something shot out of the sky and dropped on him before he knew what was happening. He fell below it. The one word he screamed told the story: “Vampire!”
The vampire attacking him was short, with dark hair. Very short.
I couldn’t believe it. But it’s a wise child that knows its own mother. This had to be Martha. No other vampire was that short and small. She was back in Chicago attacking cops. But like this? Out in the open? She’d always been smarter than that.
And I saw what a thin line we in the Vampire Bureau were treading. We hoped the human cops would eventually accept us, and their behavior so far indicated that was likely. But a year of warring against vampires made the police absolutely hate vampires who attacked cops, even more than they hated radical demonstrators. About half a dozen cops immediately disengaged from pushing back the demonstrators to converge on their fallen comrade, using their nightsticks to beat the hell out of Martha.
I debated whether to intervene. On one hand, I needed to talk to Martha. On the other hand, as far as I was concerned, the little monster deserved a serious beating, and I wouldn’t have shed a tear if she had been killed. In fact, I was enjoying the sight of the cops whaling the tar out of her, which should have been a warning to me.
While I was making up my mind, I noticed the girl who had originally attacked the cop. She’d been busy trying to rescue one of the demonstrators who’d been clubbed, but now she stood up and looked over to where Martha was being clubbed. Brown hair, tall, curvaceous figure . . . associated with Martha? The pieces fell together. This was Make Love Not War. I could make out a resemblance with the woman in the 1890 Bar Harbor photo. And that was why Martha was attacking in the open. She was protecting her ally, the sorceress.
A few seconds later, Make Love Not War did something that removed all doubt as to her identity. She gestured in the air and said something I couldn’t pick up in all the noise of the conflict. Suddenly, all the cops attacking Martha stopped. They dropped their nightsticks and fell on their hands and knees. And then they began attacking each other with their teeth, all the while snorting and squealing . . . just like pigs. Just what the world needed: a sorceress whose sense of humor extended to making slang real. Once she’d cast her spell, Make Love Not War pointed out Martha to six of her fellow demonstrators, who picked Martha up off the street and began bearing her away. They ignored the cops, still busy attacking each other on all fours.
I didn’t know how to help the cops, and I definitely did want to talk to Martha, so I decided to follow her and her associates in the air. I got only one block before I lost them. I couldn’t believe it. It was as if they vanished and I became confused about where I was at the same time. (I later found out Make Love Not War had used sorcery to conceal her departure with the battered Martha.) Once I got myself reoriented, I knew I’d lost the trail. Instead, I went back toward the battle in the street, dropped into human form, and began looking for demonstrators who had been near where Make Love Not War had been. It wasn’t until I caught and enthralled the third demonstrator that I hit pay dirt: someone who knew the sorceress, and could tell me where she lived.
I marched into Ned’s makeshift office. He was sitting behind the desk, looking over some plans, I suppose. I reached into my pocket, pulled out the Vampire Bureau badge, plunked it down on his desk in front of him. “I resign,” I announced.
Ned had been startled by my sudden appearance. He was clearly disturbed by my announcement, and took a few seconds to think before responding. “Do I get an explanation?”
“Sure, Ned,” I said, “Martha’s in town.”
Ned seemed genuinely surprised. He shook his head. “I know nothing of this, Kammen. I will make inquiries.”
“Which is what I’ve been trying to do all along, and which you’ve blocked, O’Donnell.”
Ned grew hot. “I had good reason to do so, Kammen. I’d helped remove Martha from this city . . .” He paused, looked at my face, shook his head. “I’m wasting my time explaining, aren’t I?” He drummed his fingers on the desk. “What if I go with you and we get the answers together?”
“You want me to trust you, Ned? After how you’ve trusted me?”
Ned started to say something, bit back his words before they got out. After a long pause, in a subdued tone he said, “You’ve made your point, though it’s not as if I haven’t had to put up with a lot from you, too. Pick up your badge, take the night to cool off and reconsider. If you still want to resign tomorrow night, Kammen, if you can’t see your way clear to sit down and talk with me and figure out how we can work together again so we can be Chicago cops, then, yeah, resign. I won’t blame you.”
Ned was giving me a way to back out of resigning while still saving face. And he was subtly reminding me that if I wanted to be a Chicago cop again, Ned’s really was the only game in town. But I just couldn’t play in it anymore. So I didn’t bother to answer him, but turned on my heels and left.
I’d cleared the building and was getting ready to take flight when Zalensky caught up with me. He must have just heard from Ned what happened and rushed after me, because he was out of breath as he dropped his hand on my shoulder. “Wait a minute, Sherlock.”
Zalensky hadn’t used my first name since the first time he’d dressed me down. I waited for him to catch his breath. The street we were on was deserted, this block and the next two or three in both directions fronting abandoned buildings and warehouses.
Once he could speak easily, Zalensky said, “Ned tells me you resigned.”
I nodded. “Martha’s back in Chicago. I saw her with my own eyes.”
“Jesus.” Zalensky rolled his eyes. “No wonder you resigned, after the way you and Ned have been at loggerheads over her. You going after her?”
“Look, Kammen, I understand. I’ve seen you like this on investigations before. But you listen to me. The door’s always open, I don’t care what O’Donnell may have said. And you know where the Harlem stop is on the Forest Park branch? I’m in the neighborhood for the hour before dawn, every day. Just between you and me, understand?” Zalensky saw the look on my face, gave me a light slap on the side of my face. “Don’t be stupid, Kammen. You’re too smart for that.” And with that he turned and started to walk away.
“Walter,” I called after him. I’d never used his first name.
Zalensky turned around, waited.
“I won’t be stupid.”
According to the demonstrator I had enthralled, Make Love Not War was living in a commune on the west side of the city. I debated whether to get my gun before going there, and decided against it. I needed to talk to Martha and her sorceress, at least at first, not threaten them. Bringing a gun to a talk is just asking for the situation to escalate needlessly.
The commune apparently had taken over a small six-story building in a rundown district. It was in better shape than its neighbors, which looked as if they should be condemned. But the commune’s building was wearing a new paint job. Someone in the commune had put some sweat into the building was my guess.
The front door was closed. I didn’t see a bell or knocker, and the door was unlocked, so I walked right in. Standing in the hallway was a couple, both bare to the waist, apparently having a conversation with each other. They turned to look at me. They both looked very spaced out. The guy smiled and asked, “You a cop here to raid the place, or one of Martha’s vampires?”
I was torn between bitterly wondering how many of my ex-colleagues had known about this place all along, and amusement at these flower chidren’s sang-froid. I replied, “One of Martha’s vampires. Is she or Make Love Not War around?”
The guy looked to the girl with a shrug. She took the hint, and said to me, “Martha’s not been around for months, not since I got here, but Love just came in from the demonstration a while ago. She’s probably in her room upstairs. That’s 308.”
“Thanks.” I started walking to the stairs, but just as I was about to pass her, the girl reached out and touched my arm. I stopped and turned to look at her. Her eyes were dilated and she swayed a bit standing there. She had to be on something. Yet her words were clear. She asked me, “I haven’t met any of the vampires before. Can you show me your fangs?”
I didn’t really want to, because I was feeling thirsty, but I did. She stared at them for several seconds, and then turned to the guy. “Take me and drink my blood,” she said to him. And he began nuzzling her on the neck.
All I needed. It stimulated certain thoughts I couldn’t afford just then. So I turned to the stairs and started up, but came to an immediate halt when I heard a voice behind me. “And what is a strange vampire doing in our happy little home? Turn around, Mr. Vampire.”
I could feel the spell in what she was saying. I couldn’t do anything but obey.
This was my first view of Make Love Not War up close. She had apparently come into the hallway from another room on the first floor. Even though she had to be almost a century old or so, she looked to be in her early twenties. She’d changed out of the slacks she’d been wearing at the demonstration, into a miniskirt so short I could barely see it beneath the blouse that wasn’t tucked in. It was easier to see her nipples, as the fabric was thin and she wasn’t wearing any bra. She looked at me, shook her head. “I don’t remember you as one of Martha’s. But we’ll get to the bottom of this. Follow me.” She walked past me and up the stairs heading to her third floor room, me trailing behind the whole way.
I should have been thinking about what I was going to ask her, how I was going to get her and Martha to explain what they were up to. Instead, from the moment she passed me on the stairs, I was mesmerized by the sway of her hips, her long legs, and the glimpses I was getting of her panties as we went up the stairs. I began having fantasies about drinking her blood and enjoying it. And my fantasies were becoming seriously sexual, too, which had not happened since I became a vampire, not even with Sally.
Once we’d walked into her room, she shut the door behind us, walked around me until she was in front of me and faced me. “Now,” and she put her arms around me, pressed her body against me, all the while looking into my eyes, “you’re going to tell me everything . . .”
This is what Love naturally did with her sorcery to you when she wanted to use you. She found out your desires, intensified them until you lost all control over them, and made herself the focus for them. She made herself irresistible to people. She hardly even thought about what she was doing, it came so naturally and worked so well. She’d done it to Ned repeatedly, if in a milder form. And she was doing it to me.
However, she had overlooked one aspect of her sorcery. To make herself the focus of desire, she had to take on some semblance of what was desired. And what I desired above all was a submissive masochist to use and abuse as I pleased.
Love had cut off what she planned to say because she realized she was feeling very strange. She knew something was going wrong. She got a very puzzled expression on her face. At the last, she must have realized what was happening, because she got a frightened look in her eyes and managed to take a step back from me. But it was too late for her. Within seconds it was over. She stood there, head bowed, shoulders slumped, arms hanging limply at her side. Make Love Not War had become what I wanted her to be: my slave. Tell not me of mercy. As I moved in, I was already imagining how much I was going to enjoy torturing her while I took her body, her blood, and her life.
End of chapter twenty-three
END OF PART TWO