Down With Power Audiobook!

L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 910, February 19, 2017

Nobody voted for the man because they
thought he is a libertarian. He is not.
I don’t know what he is, and I don’t
think he does, either. The important
thing is that he isn’t Hillary Clinton.

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Vamp Until Ready
A short story by
J. Neil Schulman

jneil@pulpless.com

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Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

Special thanks to my daughter, Soleil, for convincing me to write this, and to my friend Brad Linaweaver for pointing out I needed a new ending. (Sorry, Brad, I couldn’t figure out where to put in your “Don’t take any silver nickels” line)
—JNS

“Whadda we got?”

“Whadda we got?”

It was difficult for the detective to be out during the day, but a combination of a classic Burberry trench coat, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, gloves, and 10,000 SPF sunblock made it at least possible, if not comfortable.

“Just what you’d expect in this neighborhood,” the uniform, a lycanthrope, said. “Human on human. Body parts all over the street. You taking over, Detective … ?”

“Vladimir,” said the detective, flashing his gold shield. “Yah. Secure the alley and start a canvas for witnesses.”

The wolfman snorted. “These cannibals never talk to us.”

Detective Drac Vladimir grinned, exposing his fangs. “They always talk to me, once they look me in the eyes.”

#

After filing the witness reports back at the precinct, Vladimir and his partner, Detective Bela Sipos, sat down at their usual cop bar, Blue Bloods.

A cute vamp sauntered up to their booth in the back. “The usual, Vira,” said Vladimir.

“Two Bloody Mary’s,” Vira wrote down, and headed to the bar, swaying her behind for attention.

ViraIllustration by artant

“You ever going to ask her out?” Vladimir said to his partner.

“Too young for me,” Bela said. “Not even two hundred. We’d have nothing to talk about.”

“Anything about today seem strange to you?” Vladimir asked.

“We’re off the clock and you want to discuss the case?”

Drac cocked his head to the side.

“Okay. What did you see I missed?”

“It’s not what I saw, “Vladimir said. “It’s what I didn’t see. Human body parts all over the alley but not a drop of blood.”

Vira arrived with the drinks. Bela took an appreciative sip but waited until the vamp was out of earshot before he spoke. “You think it was one of us.”

“Maybe. I’ve asked the M.E. for an expedited report.”

“On a humacide?” Sipos shook his head. “Drac, this is Daytown. These creatures never grow old enough to learn not to eat each other.”

“Precisely,” Detective Vladimir said. “They’re babies. So if one of us is a pedo, I take a special interest.”

“Okay,” Bela said. “When have I ever not played second fiddle to you on a case? Speaking of that, you playing this weekend? I’m bringing a new string quartet by Mala Deutscher.”

“Absolutely,” Detective Dracula Vladimir said. “Amazing child prodigy. The vamp’s only forty and she’s already composed a violin concerto, an organ cantata, and a grand opera.”

Both detectives sipped their Bloody Mary’s in concert.

#

“Vladimir! Sipos! My office. Now!” Captain Stoker’s voice bellowed through the squad room.

“Pay me,” Drac said to his partner as they got up from facing desks.

“How do you always know the exact time?” Detective Sipos asked, tossing a gold coin in a perfect arc.

Vladimir swiped the coin mid-arc and dropped it into his vest pocket. “When you can answer that, boychick, you can be lead detective.”

The two detectives went into their captain’s office and sat down opposite the ornate mahogany desk. Constantin Dimitrescu’s “Peasant Dance” was playing softly out of the Captain’s desktop computer.

Captain Stoker used his desktop guillotine to cut the tip off a Havana cigar and struck a wooden match, waiting for the flare to die by half before lighting it.

He blew a perfect smoke ring which expanded over his detectives.

“Why is it always you two?” the Captain asked.

Sipos opened his mouth but before he could get out a word, Stoker shook his head.

“That was a rhetorical question,” Stoker said.

“Captain,” Vladimir started.

Stoker interrupted. “I have IA asking me why two of my detectives are walking on their turf.”

“I walk where the forensics lead,” Detective Vladimir said. “The M.E.’s report says the heart didn’t have a drop of blood left in it. We’ve got a pedo.”

“Or a zombie,” the Captain said.

Detective Vladimir shook his head. “Zombie wouldn’t drain the heart and leave the valves perfectly intact. Would’ve eaten the whole thing. No, Cap, it has to be one of us.”

Sipos added, “And someone who knows enough about police work to make it look human-on-human if you don’t care enough to look carefully—which Drac always does.”

Stoker puffed the Cohiba again. “If it’s someone on the job you bring it to me.”

“Yes, Captain,” Vladimir said. Detective Sipos nodded.

“If I get even a hint of what you two did on the Van Helsing case,” Captain Stoker warned somberly, “I’ll have your shields.”

#

The two Detectives genuflected before the altar at Saint Alastor Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, drank the blood and ate the wafer, then took seats in a rear pew with a clear view of the entire congregation, just as Black Mass began.

The Bishop read from the Book of Medici, the choir sang from Carmina Burana, and the Detectives focused almost all their attention on a figure cloaked in black, two rows ahead of them.

Detective Vladimir nodded to his partner, and Dracula and Bela slowly and softly began moving apart … when the Figure Cloaked in Black turned around and looked Detective Drac Vladimir directly in the eye. “Not here in this Unholy space,” she said.

It was Vira, the vamp cocktail waitress from Blue Bloods.

Vira metamorphosed into a bat and flew high into the belfry, smashing into a bell before crashing through a stained glass window into the freedom of the night, the bell ringing and ringing, underscoring her melodramatic escape.

“Call it in, I’m after her,” Drac said to Bela, just before metamorphosing into a bat, himself. Then Detective Vladimir tossed the gold coin he’d won from his partner back to him. “For the collection box.”

The End

February 15, 2017

Copyright © 2017 by The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


J Neil Schulman to L Neil Smith

Mea culpa.

Back in 2013, while touring the preview cut of Alongside Night the Movie, J Kent Hastings and I played the movie at Norby’s BBQ in Fort Collins, CO, a screening hosted by L Neil Smith. Neil was not only a gracious host he later wrote one of the earliest and most complimentary reviews in The Libertarian Enterprise.

At a luncheon the following day at one of Neil’s favorite Mexican restaurants Neil autographed for me copies of two of his most recent books, Down With Power and Sweeter Than Wine.

Being a fellow RKBA-er I read Down With Power shortly after returning home.

Not being a fan of stories about vampires, Sweeter Than Wine assumed a place of honor on my bedroom shelf where I keep friends’ autographed books, but never read it.

A few years later my daughter Soleil, who is a fan of stories about vampires, convinced me to try breaking my writers’ block on my novel- in-progress, The Fractal Man, by writing a short story -- and challenged me to break into new territory by writing a type of story I’d never myself read.

I took up my daughter’s challenge and within 24 hours wrote my first-ever vampire story, “Vamp Until Ready.” The title is an inside joke to Soleil since I wrote it to “vamp” until I’m ready to get back to writing my new novel.

But in doing so I inadvertently slighted my old friend, L. Neil Smith.

That slight gets corrected now.

I just purchased two copies of the Kindle edition of Sweeter Than Wine, one for Soleil and one for myself.

I will adjust the type size on my Kindle Fire to large print, so I can read it in comfort, and without putting wear-and-tear on my autographed collector’s edition.

J Neil Schulman


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