Xlade drives a Chevrolet Corvair Monza convertible. Not one that he restored or fixed up or whatever dudes do with old cars to avoid being within talking range of their wives, just one that’s been around since those cars were a thing. When I saw a Chevrolet Corvair Monza convertible it really called into question Xlade’s qualifications as a vampire killer in my mind. But then I thought to myself “what kind of a car would a vampire hunter drive?”
Just because something is dangerous or hard to do or only a few people know how to do it that doesn’t mean you get paid a lot of money to do it. In fact it’s often the opposite. I don’t know exactly what the most dangerous jobs are, mining, working on power lines, fighting wildfires, crab fisherman, but I know that the people that do those jobs get paid a lot less than I do to fuck around in an air-conditioned office and send people e-mails they don’t ever read. It’s some kind of cruel joke. Being a good vampire killer might be like being good at air guitar, it’s a skill, just not a skill anyone cares about.
We were speeding via Corvair to Duke’s River Market condo. I know where he lives because when I first started working at a company that sells installs and calibrates industrial refrigerator thermostats, before I figured out that Duke is a garbage person, I went to a party at this place. It’s nice enough, if you like condos, but it has a weird sad little courtyard/alley thing with a tennis net in it, no lines or paint or anything, just bare concrete with a saggy net. That one feature makes it 77% crummier than it would be without it.
I had to half-shout at Xlade because even with the top up it was kind of loud in there “How is this going to work? We’re just going to bust in on him? Aren’t vampires dangerous?”
No music was playing but Xlade was bopping his head like there was “Not when they’re sleeping.”
I waited a moment for him to elaborate, which he did not “If he can go out during the day when does he sleep?”
He leaned over my way instead of turning his head “Vampires are supposed to sleep during the day, they can stay awake but it’s like drinking a bottle of Nyquil and then trying to play Dirt, you can do it for a while but afterwards you crash hard and sleep like the dead.” He grinned like that was hilarious “I guarantee you he’s conked out in his place right now.”
“What if he isn’t?”
“He will be” he bopped his head confidently to nothing.
“And if he is what are you going to do?” I glanced into the back seat “I see you brought a bag of weapons, what’s in there? Wooden stakes? What do you do with the body? This is technically murder right? How do you get away with it?”
He smiled nocently “Don’t worry about it, Xlade is going to take care of everything. There won’t be any body, that’s why they call it dusting. You want to clean up the crime scene all you need is a vacuum!” He laughed like that was uproariously funny.
“How will you actually do it though, what kills a vampire? Is it like in the movies, are they immune to normal stuff? Can I just shoot him?”
He shook his head like I was disappointing him with my valid questions “Relax, you’ll see how it all works once we get there. What’s your big hurry to know everything all at once?”
Trying to learn anything more at that point seemed unlikely, Xlade obviously enjoys being the keeper of the keys. Thankfully it was a short drive. Unthankfully once we got there Xlade took a pill out of a bottle from the glove compartment, crushed it up and snorted it off the back of his hand. Being a gentleman, he stuck his hand towards me with a look that said “eh?”
I waved off his generous offer of random drugs politely “No thanks.”
He raised an eyebrow “You sure? Seeing this stuff for the first time can be messed up.”
I demurred and he blasted through the rest of the powder with a couple good snorts. Once he was appropriately chemically altered he grabbed his sack of killing tools and we headed up stairs to Duke’s unit. For some reason he was whistling “The Farmer in the Dell”. Once we got to Duke’s door he looked over at me.
“You ever watch the Wire?”
“What?” I confusedly asked in confusion. I was about to ask him if he was going to pick the lock when he bashed the doorknob off with a hammer. I jumped at the sound. “Jesus Christ!”
“You religious? You got a big cross tween your tits?”
Without waiting for an answer he strode inside. I was looking around, I expected that someone would have heard the noise and was calling the cops right then. I should know better than that. No one pays much attention to anything other than playing loud music, and if they are they don’t care. I scurried in after Xlade like a frightened mouse.
Duke’s apartment wasn’t a disaster but it was far too messy for my taste. One thing I can’t abide is leaving food out. I know people do that, and those people are filthy pigs. Put your shit in the trash. Does that mean that vampires eat food and drink blood? I tried to remember if I had ever seen Duke eating anything. Was all that food there for other people? I wanted to ask Xlade but I was also terrified of making a sound.
As promised Duke was there, laying stock still fully clothed on top of the covers on a bed under a giant nude picture of Scarlet Johansson. He even had his arms cross over his chest like a vampire in an old black and white movie. Xlade tossed his bag on the bed next to him with a clank and a thud. I couldn’t help but skitter back in alarm.
Xlade was examining the poster closely “You think this is real? Her real name is Ingrid did you know that?”
“Hurry up” I whisper-hissed at him.
He grinned and sat down on the bed “You have got to chill out baby, he ain’t gonna wake up.” To prove his point he knocked on Duke’s head with his knuckles “See, once they go down they can’t wake up until it’s time. Well, some of them can, but . . . anyway.” He pointed to the bag “You’re up Ela, grab the white dildo looking thing out of there.”
Amongst the bats and knives and garden tools in the bag was a white stake (dildos aren’t sharp on end for the record, at least they shouldn’t be) about a foot long with little symbols carved into it like those whale bones or walrus tusks you see at educational/cultural center centers for indigenous people. I held it about as gingerly as I would a stranger’s sex toy.
Xlade leaned back against Duke’s headboard “That there is the Ancient Bone Saber of Zuma Kalis. Well, a part of anyway. Making a sword out of bone turns out to be a terrible idea, thing smashed to pieces the first time anyone tried to stab someone with it. That chunk still works fine though. It’s thrice blessed and then three times three times blessed again. Kills vampires first time at the plate, no problem. Wooden stake? That hurts ‘em, but it don’t kill ‘em. You gotta stake ‘em and then cut the head off and do all kinds shit to kill them that way. This baby is a one-shot deal.”
Looking at it too closely made my head hurt “Where did you get it?”
“Crate and Barrel. Go on then slayer, do your thing, slay this fool.”
I straddled Duke, which felt weird but it seemed like the best way to get a good shot at the heart, and raised the bone shard above my head. It was harder than you’d think considering that I’ve daydreamed about killing him so many times. Turns out that the reality of ending a life is must different than a fantasy. Who knew right? After a moment Xlade gave me a little nod and then I slammed it down as hard as I could into Duke’s chest.
Except it wasn’t Duke anymore.
I’m ready for the Xlade spin-off series (assuming he’s not dead by next episode).
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Now I’m curious what Transmorphers/Atlantic Rim style Blade rip-off exists
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