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5 07 2012

Lampreyhead Meets The Vampire Slaughterers
By Tim W. Burke

Brimstone puffed into the night mist. I stood in a parking lot outside a building with neon advertising beers. The license plates read “Quebec.”
The lights gleamed on my silver scales. My corduroy blazer looked smashing, and a quick tug straightened my black bow tie.
The Demon Prince Wroth roared. “Lampreyhead!”
Wroth knuckled forward on his ape body. On his shoulders sprouted the heads of a raven, a mandrill and a fine arts graduate student.
I trotted over. “Yes, my prince!”
“The Boss Downstairs isn’t entirely sure how you succeeded in your last mission against the Orgasmael Angels. He’s decided to give you this job. He wants to mind the truce.”
Wroth tugged at his soulpatch. “But I want to bring my new creations in to vivisect everyone.”
Wroth lost out on being a major demon because Wrath was already on the list of Deadly Sins. I believe it’s caused him to overcompensate.
“It is best to avoid war,” I said.
“Sure!” cawed the raven head a little too loud: “But it interferes with my artistic expression.”
“Why are we at this noisy dancehall?”
“Somehow, two of the world’s most notorious vampire slaughterers are here at the same time. Downstairs wants you to go in and find out what is going on. I say ‘Kill ‘em and the vampires too.’ They are overdone. Yawn! Boring!”
I raised a finger. “I’m supposed to interrogate the two foremost vampire slaughterers, with my whole thing with my teeth and my blood-drinking?”
Wroth’s sneered. “You are a mere bloodsucking fiend.”
That smarted. “I wonder if the ladies will take that distinction into account.”
“Lampreyhead,” said the Prince, “if you are caught or killed, no one will care.”
I swallowed. “Please inform Downstairs that I am proud to –“
Brimstone blasted into my face. He was gone.
I looked in a rear-view mirror and tested out my most convincing smile. My sucker mouth stretched and showed barbed teeth receding down my throat. I sighed.
The club was hung with gray drapes and sputtering neon. Scattered patrons sat at the bar and tables. Dancers bobbed to thumping music played by a DJ in a booth. The crowd was made up of salt-of-the-earth folk. Except for two:
Drinking at the bar was a wiry, ebon-tressed woman. That was Bonita Poole. She was a vampire slaughterer who could speak with the dead. It is said that Miss Poole killed the undead just so she bring them back and brag to them about having killed them.
Across the dance floor was a caramel-skinned blonde in a kelly-green skirt, white knee socks and a leather duster. Jonquil Holliday: Supernatural Marshal for the Girl Scouts.
They seemed out of place among the regulars. Nearby stood a hefty, tough looking blond man wore leather pants and a gaudy shirt, which didn’t quite work for his waistline. Beside me, a bearded man in an oily mechanic’s shirt sipped a beer.
The barmaid bumped into me and grimaced. “That is one nasty mask you got. You promoting a horror movie?”
“Um yes,” I said.
“It’s so real-looking, I wasn’t sure. But nobody could really be that messed up.”
“A being’s appeal is more than just their appearance.”
She laughed loud.
“Ha,” I said. “Glad you liked that. I’ll have a burger, rare, and an empty glass.”
Now standing beside me was a black-haired woman with her hair in a ponytail. She picked at motor grease under her fingernails. There was no sign of the mechanic.
But a zaftig, tough-looking blonde woman was scoping the dance floor. Her leather pants and blouse were the same as the blond man’s from a moment ago. He was gone.
This club was filling with attractive and stylish women. Bustiers and leather jackets seemed to be the fashion now.
Was there some supernatural entity at work? Time to test and verify!
I interlaced my fingers into the Voorish Sign. Peering through the gaps in the fingers allowed me to see into the Spirit World.
Every soul that has lived and died is swirling around us. These minds follow us around if they like us, and shape what they see to a great extent. Usually in a room this size, maybe a few motes of soul would be swirling. I peeked.
The room was filled to the rafters with tiny spirits, rosy-pink with happiness.
But within arm’s reach of me, the spirits turned gray and flowed away, making a sort of “bubble of indifference.” When the spirits neared the barmaid, they turned pink again.
She clutched her temple. She now had short blonde hair.
“I gotta go,” she said in a Louisiana drawl. “I sense evil.”
I had to confirm my suspicion.
“Ladies!” I called. “Could I speak with you?”
They gathered.
I straightened my bowtie. “I am promoting a horror movie, which explains my rather unusual appearance. I am wondering…how many of you know vampires personally?”
“I’m half-weretiger and half-vampire,” said the first redhead.
“I’m the alpha female of the city’s werewolf pack and I’m involved with a vampire,” said Bonita Poole, stepping from the shadows.
Shouted from the back. “I’m half-fey and I hunt vampires.”
Oh dear.
It seems that it’s in vogue in the Spirit World to admire buxom, leather-clad maidens with striking hair-color. Maidens who are on intimate terms with handsome were-creatures, vampires and such. Two of those popular lasses got together in one place. The spirits liked what they saw, so new spirits joined in to watch, which warped reality and created more maidens, which was bringing more spirits, and it created a reality cascade.
Except around me. The bubble of indifference was keeping me safe.
“Listen, ladies,” I interjected. “Only two of you actually started out as vampire slaughterers. The rest of you are people who have become trapped and tailored to become what the spirits prefer. Really, you have to disperse before metropolitan Montreal is turned into paranormal heroines with complicated personal lives. ”
A man called, “Bon soir, you with the face of the sucking eel-fish!”
Behind the crowd was a pack of leather-clad, sharp-featured men with body hair. One stepped forward, black vest over a bare chest, long-fingered and long-toothed.
“Why is it that you the gruesome one must bother these beautiful cheres?”
The crowd of women parted with sneers.
He walked into the middle of the group. “My name is Malfique. I am alpha male of the Toronto werewolves. And this is the most interesting predicament, no?”
I said, “Yes. And worthy of study, if it weren’t so dangerous to –“
“Ah-ah!” Malfique walked around touching curling locks, looking deep into eyes, smelling necks. All the women glared, yet flushed with excitement.
“There is always danger with certain femmes. They are beautiful and deadly like knives. To have so many, it is the giant cuisinart of love set on ‘grind’.”
“Now Mister Malfique, you may have started out as a werewolf, seeing as these are your stomping grounds. But the spirits have transformed you from a feral beast to some sort of lycanthrope gigalo.”
“This is suiting my taste, Mister Suckerfishface.”
I quickly made the Voorish Sign. Purpling spirits thrust middle-fingers at me. Just because someone is dead doesn’t make them wise or polite. Someone pulled my hands. Jonquil Holliday looked up.
Her whisper was Bubblelicious doom. “I got a phone call from somebody who promised a vampire killing spree. That wouldn’t be you, would it?”
The waitress arrived. “Hamburger rare and an empty glass.”
“Check please,” I said.
I bolted out the door past the newly-amazon bouncers. Behind, the feet of a dozen killers pounded after me. A quick duck in the shadows, a roll under a semi, and a hide behind a dumpster and I was alone.
I communed with Downstairs and informed them of the situation. They were rightly upset. I suggested a course of action. It was a great vote of confidence to see a cloud of brimstone bloom.
A square-shouldered gent in khakis strode up to the club.
I called to the women, “That’s Lord Bruce of the Sydney Werewombats! They rule down-under, and by that I mean Australia.”
“Ooh! An Ozzie!” all exclaimed.
The noble was mobbed by women twirling their hair and touching any part of his brawny arm they could reach. The werewolves moved in for the rebounds.
A puny vampire ran by screaming, chased by beauties with stakes.
Prince Wroth’s voice echoed. “Lampreyhead! They are spilling out into the streets!”
“My apologies! I had thought they would fight each other but –“
Wroth giggled. “I’m going to send in my new creations! They’re not scary; they’re sick, but I love them!”
At the edge of the parking lot shambled doughy pale teenaged men, gleaming with spindly chrome arms, blades and drills. Their mousse-spiked hair was topped with white baseball caps turned backwards. Half-surgical supply house, half-drunken frat party.
“No!” I called. “They’ll just kill innocent people, which will stir the hunters up more! Spirits will join in droves to watch the action! Quebec will be up to its armpits in velvet valkyries! Of course, I know some guys who wouldn’t mind that so much —
“Wait a moment! Give me an hour and some teleportation vouchers! It’s a long shot, but it just might work!”
Wroth’s shadow looked over its shoulder. “What? But… Lampreyhead, I’ve been told to give you one more chance. Then I get to create some art!”
The door was unprotected due to the competitive flirting, so getting back into the club was easy. Until Jonquil caught sight of me.
Her braces gleamed in the dancefloor lights. “You stiffed the waitress. Do you wanna wash dishes, or should I just kill you now?”
Behind me, the crowd stirred.
The dancers parted and averted their eyes, or cast unsettled glances.
A crowd of men with styled white hair walked in lockstep. They wore silk shirts open to the chest and relaxed-fit jeans.
I called, “Divorcees of the Damned! Glad you could make it!”
“Hello, Lampreyhead,” they said, expressions flat. “We accept your invitation to boogie.”
I explained to Jonquil. “They had been the boys from the ‘Children of the Damned’ forty years ago, but grew up and had to re-evaluate their lives.”
We settled into a suddenly-available table. “Twelve pitchers of your finest light beer!”
The barmaid retreated.
The divorcees stared desperately at a table of raven-haired beauties. The women noticed the large crowd and their united, laser-like gaze. They got up and left the bar.
I asked the Divorcees, “Boys, could you fix the jukebox?”
“We agree.”
The irises of their eyes glowed white. In the booth, the disc jockey suddenly froze. He locked the door to the booth. The thumping goth-techno screeched to silence. Then Phil Collins started to sing “Sussudio.”
Dancers pounded on the booth door. Others gathered their leathers and fled.
Jonquil put a stake under my chin. “What’s up with the new guys?”
I pushed the stake away. “They are friends of mine. They leave people in peace unless they are disturbed. All they want is a meaningful relationship.”
Meanwhile, the Divorces were making their play at another table. “Our exes did not understand us, despite inclusion in our hivemind.”
Everyone at the table whipped out their timepieces, said something unintelligible and made for the exit.
Malfique stalked through the thinning crowd. “You and your unsightly friends are ruining the mood of everyone! Why don’t you…how you say? Go blow!”
I was thrilled! “‘Go blow!’ That is a idiom from the 1960’s, when my friends got their start.”
“What is that you are saying, daddy-o?”
“What I am saying is to all you werechaps is that these boys brought their own spectating spirits. Those spirits are creating a counter-cascade. Look!”
Malfique looked down. His leather vest had been replaced by a high school letterman’s sweater. Varsity football, if the gold footballish emblem was correct.
“I…I am Squaresville?”
His hands and face were now covered with well-groomed fur. Fangs protruded in a wicked overbite. He was now the Teenaged Werewolf. Malfique howled and loped out the door.
The rest of the pack scrammed tout-suite.
Spirits red with frustration stamped intangible feet and flew away.
The bar had cleared so much, I could see a woman walking up to me.
Miss Poole pulled a stake from her jacket. “Vampire or demon or whatever you are: Why shouldn’t we kill all of you?”
“These are simple, kind-hearted beings, Miss Poole, just having a beer and seeking companionship.”
She, Jonquil and the rest were too decent to do any rough stuff unless attacked first, even if we were monopolizing the jukebox.
I rasped my tongue along my lips. “I’ve been told that my bite lasts three days. Resulting in a three-day sexual climax.”
“On that note,” Jonquil got up and left.
I admitted. “Well, Miss Poole, no one has actually taken the Lampreyhead challenge but I have that on good authority.”
“I’m washing my hair forever and ever.” And she walked away.
The thinning crowd revealed men and women transforming back to their original states now that the spirits were taking their leave.
The boys were a little down in the mouth, so I ordered another round.
Theory swirled in my head: If this is what the spirits want, who am I to interfere? The spirits would soon tire of all this and move on to other things anyway.
I muttered to myself. “They’d move on after the landscape’s been completely scoured of vampires and other creatures, which would open up the world for new creations and suddenly why do I think Wroth’s behind all of this?”
There was no proof, and even if there was, who knew if what Wroth did was illegal in Hell?
A peek through the Voorish Sign. Purpling spirits had surrounded me and were hammering intangibly on my head. Then they drifted back, laughing inaudibly.
“Interesting!” I further commented. “My bubble of indifference seems to have collapsed and the remaining spirits are influencing me.”
A look in the mirror revealed a face with full lips, button nose, and a no-nonsense look in the eye. I tossed my luxurious red tresses.
Pink spirits laughed at my predicament.
I told them. “This isn’t even powerful enough to have changed my personality. This is a temporary if stylish inconven –”
“G’day, luv!”
A roguish man in khakis sat down. He was stout and tan with brown hair and slightly pronounced front teeth.
“M’name’s Lord Bruce. Care for a Eucalypatini?”
I followed his gaze. I now had bosoms, rather substantial ones encased in a black velvet bustier. The sensation of reapportioned flesh and fabric was surprisingly pleasant.
So what is the appeal of being a vengeful vixen who vexes vampires?
Time to test and verify!