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Tony Banks

Copyright © 2015 Tony Banks

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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Chapter 1

   “You wanna know how to kill a vampire?” he asked her after taking a drag off his cigarette. “Do you really wanna know?”

   She nodded her head.

   “Well,” he began to say, taking another drag, “if you wanna kill a vampire, forget all that Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, Twilight bullshit.” A cloud of cigarette smoke swirled around his head as he propped one elbow on his knee and peered off in contemplation. “Everything you’ve read in books, everything you’ve seen in the movies, is all bogus when it comes to offing a bloodsucker.”

   She decided to play into his little game, at least for the moment, figuring the longer she humored him the longer she could stay alive and possibly find a way out of her current predicament.

   “So,” she said after a pause, “using garlic on them doesn’t work?”

   “Nope,” he said as a stream of smoke blew out of his mouth. “The bloodsucking bastards eat garlic for breakfast.”

   “What about holy water?”

   “Nuh-uh,” he said, shaking his head. “They drink that shit like mineral water.”

   “What about crosses?”

   He laughed. “They hang those things up in their bedrooms!”


   “No,” he said, shaking his head again. “They bathe in that shit.”

   “Silver bullets?”

   He snorted. “Wrong assholes, babe. That only works on werewolves, remember?” He then mumbled under his breath before she had a chance to continue, “At least it’s supposed to anyway.”

   “What about stakes through the heart? Won’t that work?”

   Again, he snickered. “Nope.” He paused to take another hit from his subsiding cigarette. “That just pisses ‘em off.”

   “So, tell me, oh great vampire hunter,” she said with more than a hint of sarcasm in her voice, “what does kill a vampire?”

   He snuffed out what remained of his cigarette on the damp ground and looked directly at her. The hard look he gave her made her think he was either totally delusional or maybe, just maybe, what he was telling her was the honest-to-God gospel truth.

   “If you want to kill a vampire, you have to drain them.”

   “Drain them?”

   He nodded his head with much vigor. “That’s what I said. Drain them.”

   She asked her next question slowly as if she wasn’t sure she wanted to hear his answer. “What exactly does that mean, drain them?”

   “What that means, sweetheart, is that you have to drain them of their blood.”


   “That’s right, darlin’,” he said with a nefarious grin. He had already begun working on his next cigarette as he continued with his vampire-killing lesson, “Look at it this way: Vampires drain their victims of their blood so they can survive, right?” He didn’t give her a chance to respond either way as he kept on, “So, it stands to reason that if you want to kill a vampire you have to drain them of their blood . . . completely.” He said that final word as if he were Moses handing down God’s Final Commandment.

   “How can you tell if someone is a vampire?” she asked more out of amusement than curiosity.

   The man, sensing her disbelief, simply grinned as he raised his index finger and said, “Here, I’ll show you.”

   Lisa was speechless. She still hadn’t decided if this guy was crazy or what but one thing was for certain, she had to find a way out of the mess she was in and fast. As she sat there bound and helpless in what appeared to be a cave, the man who had abducted her and was now telling her all this off-the-wall stuff about “offing” vampires reached inside the black trench coat he was wearing and pulled out a small Mason jar. She watched with great trepidation as he opened the lid and scooted slowly towards her. Her heart began to beat faster the closer he got to her. He got within arm’s reach of her and stuck the jar under her nose. She peered down inside the jar and saw that it was filled with some kind of red substance that looked like tomato juice. She took one whiff and cringed her nose at the smell. She turned her face away, and he grinned and took the jar away.

   “What is that?” Lisa asked, still cringing her nose.

   He smirked as he closed the lid. “That, my dear, is a vampire’s favorite snack food.”

   She glared at him. “You mean . . .”

   “You got it.” He paused for dramatic effect. “Blood.”

   Lisa cringed again. As he put the mason jar away, Lisa said to him, “You mind if I ask you a question?”

   “Shoot,” he said to her, smirking a little.

   She smirked back. “Why celebrities?”

   He shot her a look. “What do you mean why celebrities?”

   “I mean,” she began, “why is it that you kill only celebrities? Do vampires only become celebrities or something?”

   He paused as he gave her an even harsher look. “Vampires come in all shapes and sizes and all classes just like normal humans.” He took another drag off his cigarette. “I've killed vampires who made more money than God and I've killed vampires who were poorer than dirt.” He glared straight at her like she had really touched a nerve. “But you media types always focus on shit that's the most sensational, don't you?”

   For once, Lisa had no response for him. Then she asked him the main question that was on her mind.

   “What,” she said, pausing, “what are you gonna to with me?”

   “Well, Miss Atwell,” he began, his cigarette dangling from his mouth, “I figured since you’re the one that’s been writing all those stories about me, callin’ me a serial killer and all that, that you would want to get all the facts.” He looked squarely at her as he took the cigarette out of his mouth and held it between his first and second finger. “I mean, that is what you so-called reporters are supposed to do, right, get all the facts before you start writing any old bullshit you feel like about somebody?”

   Lisa was caught off guard by his statement. True, she had been writing all those stories about him in The Inquisitor, the admittedly tabloid-style newspaper she currently wrote for, and she had been accusing him of being a serial killer in her articles about him. But it wasn’t like she didn’t have any facts to back up her accusation. He, whoever he was, had been going around and, as he put it, offing people, mostly high-scale people, rich people, high society people, well-known people, people that you don’t normally kill in broad daylight with a dozen or so witnesses watching you commit cold-blooded, calculated murder. She even came up with a name for him: The Celebrity Killer, as most of his victims did indeed seem to be people who were in fact celebrities of some sort or another. She had even witnessed him in action herself earlier that night, which led to her current quandary, at Sapsagos, a famous Italian restaurant that was normally frequented by celebrities, both A-list and B-list (and, one thing Lisa was noticing here of late when she wrote about celebrities in her celebrity gossip column called Lisa’s List she was writing before The Celebrity Killer seemingly dropped into her lap like a ton of bricks, it was getting harder and harder to tell the difference as more and more celebrities were becoming famous simply for being famous). The editor at The Inquisitor, a rather cantankerous older gent named Theodore Murdock, wanted Lisa to start writing her column again after a number of readers wrote in complaining how they were missing their weekly fix of celebrity gossip and tawdry sleaze. So Lisa, not wanting to piss off Mr. Murdock and quite possibly lose her job in the process (at least before she was able to find a better job writing for a more prestigious publication), reluctantly decided to start writing her insipid column again. That’s what led her that night to Sapsagos, as she was to interview an up-and-coming young model named Francesca Dorian (a name which Lisa thought was more than likely made up).

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Chapter 2

   Francesca Dorian was the type of woman who could make even the most beautiful woman jealous, Lisa thought, with her long wavy blonde curls that draped around her shoulders like a horse’s mane and her high cheekbones and her perfect smile possessing the type of lips some lonely horny guy would order out of the back of Screw magazine, Lisa thought sneeringly to herself. She was wearing tight black leather pants with matching suede leather spike-heeled boots and a white blouse that was covered by the purple leather jacket she had on that was buttoned up so tight that her braless breasts—that looked not-so-suspiciously fake to Lisa (along with, Lisa assumed, all the men in the restaurant—even the “gay” ones—who were all gawking at her like a pack of hungry wolves at a dead giraffe)—poke out of her top to where you could almost see the top of her nipples. Lisa thought she looked absolutely frumpy next to the glamorous Francesca, and she hated her guts for it. But still, she had a job to do, and, if she wanted her paycheck for the week (and she was, as even she would have to admit, paid quite handsomely for writing celebrity bullshit), she would just have to sit there and grin and bear it as Francesca prattled on and on about her latest rock star boyfriend and her trips to Paris and Rome and all about the rest of her “fascinating” life and career, which, according to Lisa’s own research into Francesca’s background, netted her over $30 million in the previous year alone through her many lucrative endorsement deals and her numerous magazine layouts (including a bare-naked layout in Playboy magazine that sold out in less than a week of which she garnered a reported $500,000).

   But what Lisa found rather peculiar in her research into Francesca’s past is how there really wasn’t much she could find about Francesca’s life before she became a high-profile, multimillionaire model. At a time when practically every celebrity’s past is a virtual open book, her past seemed to be shut tighter than a straight man’s asshole at an open-all-night gay bar. But Lisa didn’t really read too much into at the time. She just wanted to get done with this interview as fast as she possibly could so she wouldn’t have to sit there and listen to anymore of this woman’s seemingly endless prattle as she seemed to be as dumb—and as charming—as a walking, talking broomstick. Which Lisa thought was certainly appropriate considering how she had the figure of a broomstick, but, of course, she would be more generous than that when she wrote up her article for her hackneyed celebrity column, as she always was, so she could keep landing interviews with the top celebrities in town. But then, as fast as someone turning off a light switch, Francesca stopped talking. Francesca then gazed behind Lisa like she had just seen The Devil Himself. Lisa, getting a little scared herself, slowly turned around in her seat to see who it was that had gotten Francesca so spooked. There she saw a man standing in the middle of the restaurant dressed in a black trench coat carrying a rifle in one hand and glaring at Francesca like he had a hard score to settle with the trend-setting model. Lisa glanced back at Francesca and saw pure, unmistakable hatred in the beautiful model’s eyes. It was like she was looking at a different person. Every eye in the restaurant had stopped looking at Francesca and were now fixated on the man. No one dared approached him as everyone appeared to be frozen in place as if time itself had stopped completely. Lisa looked back at him as he started to speak.

   “Hello, Francesca,” he said in a low tone, almost like a growl. “It’s been a long time . . . hasn’t it?”

   Lisa glanced again at Francesca just in time to see her open her mouth and let out a shrill scream that was almost piercing enough to make her bones rattle and her ears bleed. Francesca leaped out of her chair with cat-like reflexes high into the air like no human Lisa had ever seen and almost jumped onto the man, but, before she could touch him, he quickly raised his rifle and shot a round into her chest. Lisa watched in horror as blood spurted out from the space between Francesca’s ample bosom forcing the model back down on the floor where she lay still as blood pumped out of the huge bullet-hole in her chest where the mystery man had shot her. She gazed at him, terrified, and then it dawned on her just who it was she was staring at . . .

   It was The Celebrity Killer.

   Lisa, in spite of her fear, contemplated going over and trying to help Francesca, even though she did indeed appear to be quite dead, but then Francesca miraculously opened her eyes and jumped to her feet with a move Lisa had seen in a million cheesy karate flicks. Francesca then opened her mouth like she was going to say something to the man standing before her with his rifle aimed at her, and Lisa could clearly see her teeth actually growing like she was some sort of, well, vampire. But that couldn’t be the case, Lisa thought to herself. It just couldn’t!

   Could it?

   “You are not going to kill me that easy, Slade!” Francesca said in a voice that was not her own.

   The man just stood there and grinned as he cocked his rifle and said, “You always were a hard bloodsuckin’ bitch to kill, Francesca!”

   Lisa jumped involuntarily when she heard the empty bullet-casing hit the floor. All she could do was sit there in her chair and watch with a sense of utter helplessness and terror as Francesca made another lunge at “Slade” who pumped round after earsplitting round into the model’s svelte body causing Francesca’s body to jump back a few feet every time as more and more blood gushed out of her body. But what was amazing to Lisa was how Francesca not only continued to stand after each shot she took point-blank to the chest but how the shots didn’t even seem to phase her none in the slightest as she kept coming back for more, as the old saying goes. Slade had emptied his rifle into Francesca who then laughed at him and said, “Ha ha! You’re out of bullets!”

   She grabbed his rifle and yanked it out of his hand and threw it across the floor. Slade seemed unfazed by the fact that she had just disarmed him as he smiled back at her and said just like he was an actor giving a one-liner in some crappy B-movie, “But you’re still shit out of luck!”

   Slade then quickly raised his right arm and punched Francesca in the middle of her face with enough force to have made Mike Tyson proud. Francesca fell backwards as if the punch had really caught her off guard. She was able to stop herself before she fell down again on the floor. She gazed at Slade as a trickle of blood ran from her nose and down her lips. She laughed a hideous laugh that only a vampire could laugh and said in a deliberate mocking tone, “You still hit like a little girl, Slade!”

   Slade again smirked and replied, “And you’re still a bloodsucking vampire bitch, Francesca!”

   Vampire? Lisa thought. What did he mean by vampire?

   Francesca made another charge at Slade like she was going to strike him, but then she leaped up into the air as Slade grabbed another weapon from under his trench coat that at first glance appeared to be a .44 Magnum and fired as Francesca leaped over him like some superhuman cannonball as Slade emptied his gun into her. In spite of the fact that her body was now riddled with bullets and gushing blood, Francesca was still able to push the stunned waiters and restaurant patrons out of her way and literally threw herself through the front glass door. Lisa’s body made another involuntary jump when she heard the sound of broken glass hitting the restaurant floor and the paved ground outside. Slade, meanwhile, wasted no time grabbing his rifle. He looked around the restaurant and saw Lisa sitting frozen in her chair. He lunged at her and grabbed her by the shoulder.

   “You’re comin’ with me!” he told her.

   Lisa was too stunned to resist him as she meekly allowed him to pull her out of her chair and push her in front of him. One of the waiters did make the mistake of trying to stop him, but Slade struck him across the face with the butt of his rifle. He glared at the rest of the people inside the restaurant and said, “Anymore heroes?”

   Everyone else in the restaurant took one look at the waiter as he held his busted, bleeding nose and they all shook their heads almost in unison.

   “Good,” Slade said. “Now if you’ll kindly excuse us . . .”

   Slade proceeded to push Lisa out of the restaurant and through the hole that once was the front door as he kept poking her in the back with his rifle—that she knew was unloaded along with his gun—as he followed closely behind her.

   “Where’s your car?” he asked her once they were outside the restaurant, his tone noticeably more frantic than before.

   “What?” she asked, still visibly shaken by everything that was occurring.

   “I said where’s your fuckin’ car!”

   She pointed her trembling finger to where her car was parked.

   Slade nodded and said, “All right, let’s go!”

   Slade then followed Lisa to her car and got in with her. Lisa hesitated before getting out her keys and starting the motor, a fact that clearly annoyed the impatient Slade as he pointed his gun at the wheel and said, “Start her up!”

   Lisa did as he said and reached inside her purse and took out her car keys. She inserted the key into the ignition and started her car. As she put the car in drive and started to drive off, she said to Slade without looking at him, “Where are we going?”

   Slade glanced around as if he were looking for someone (maybe the cops, Lisa thought to herself as both she and Slade heard the police sirens approaching from the not-so-far-off distance) and then said tersely to her, “I’ll let you know.” He pointed the rifle at her again and added, “Now drive!”

   She did. They sped off down the road like a bat coming out of the fires of Hades itself. As they were driving, Slade looked around frantically for Francesca’s car (or so Lisa thought) as he kept pointing the rifle in Lisa’s general direction.

   “You don’t have to keep waving that gun around at me,” Lisa said to Slade. “I know it’s not loaded.”

   “Then why did you come along with me if you knew I was out of ammo?” Before Lisa could respond, Slade then added, “Ah, for the story, right?”

   Lisa cocked an eye at him and exclaimed, “What do you mean by that?”

   Slade cocked a sly grin out of the corner of his mouth. “You’re Lisa Atwell, aren’t you? The reporter who’s been writing all that crap-o-la about me in—oh, what is that bullshit rag you write for again?—The Inquisitor.”

  Lisa was again at a loss for words. But she quickly regained her composure and snapped at him, “Well, first of all, it’s not a, as you call it, bullshit rag, and secondly, I can back up everything I’ve written about you. Lest you forget, I saw you in action tonight, remember?”

   Slade snorted. “Well, I learned long ago that you can’t believe everything you read.” He paused and then added with a noticeable sneer, “Especially not in bullshit rags like The Inquisitor, y’know?”

   Lisa had no witty comeback for that one. They drove in silence for a long time until they had driven on the outskirts of the city. That’s when Slade finally spoke up again.

   “Stop here,” he told her.

   “Why?” she asked, somewhat flabbergasted as it seemed they were out in the middle of nowhere.

   “Just stop here!”

   She pulled off to the side of the road and stopped where he said to stop.

   “There’s nothing out here,” she protested. “Why would you want to stop here? I mean, I thought you were going after Francesca anyway.”

   “Don’t worry your pretty little head about that,” he assured her. “I know exactly where Francesca is. Right now, I’m more concerned about you.”

   She glared at him. “About me? Why’s that?”

   Before she even knew what hit her, he struck her to the back of her head with a quick judo chop thereby knocking her unconscious. When she came to, she found herself in what appeared to be some kind of cave, but she couldn’t really tell since it was dark and she could hardly see three inches past her own feet. She tried to move, but she found her arms and hands had been tied together with rope. She thought maybe she could loosen her binds, but this Slade character sure knew how to tie a rope. Humph, Lisa thought rather angrily to herself, must’ve been a damned boy scout!

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