Captain Vampire Serial appears below, after Aki the Immortal
Aki the Immortal
It wasn’t thunder. Though it could have been, the distant booming sounds carrying through the dusk and the rain and the wind. Orm wished it was thunder. But there was no lightning. Boom. Boom. Boom. It was Orm’s heartbeat, it was the hoofs of his horse slapping down hard on the winding mountain path. It was the sound of Unrim the Sorcerer laying waste to Orm’s home city.
A thing that could not have happened.
The fortress Orm was headed for was protected by ancient magic, and Unrim had tried and failed for as long as anyone could remember to take it down. The city and the rest of the small kingdom in the mountain valley had been safe. But Unrim must have at length found another way through the mountains, some secret passage. It was the only explanation. The fortress could not have fallen. And there would be reinforcements there, and Orm meant to bring them, small hope though it was.
But as the silhouette of the fortress loomed before him, its battlements like jagged teeth between the dark mountainsides edging the pass, he didn’t feel so sure. He reined in his horse and for a moment just sat there, panting, watching the softer kind of darkness where the gates stood wide open.magnet:?xt=urn:btih:C6B3F3B41FAED38B858F9759E9A0EB7FC0705355&dn=war+and+peace+s01e02+hdtv+x264+river+ettv&tr=udp%3A%2F%2Ftracker.publicbt.com%2Fannounce&tr=udp%3A%2F%2Fglotorrents.pw%3A6969%2Fannounce
In the highest tower, the commander’s tower, light flickered. But no one seemed to be patrolling the walls. Orm felt his chest constricting and continued slowly, registering that the lumps scattered on the ground before the gateway were indeed the bodies of fortress soldiers.
He considered, briefly, turning back; clearly, no help was to be found here, and back at the city his sister, his mother, everyone else needed him. But that single light at the top of the tower…he looked up, cold raindrops hitting his face. If the commander was up there still, he would know what had happened here. What new sorcery Unrim had deployed. If there could be hope.
* * *
Orm made his way up the dark, winding stairs and pushed open the heavy door at the top of them. Light. He blinked. A lantern on a massive table in the middle of the room slowly came into focus. Next to it, iridescent shards of glass glinted. Forgotten dreams seemed to stir beneath the shifting colours, and Orm caught his breath; he had never seen anything so beautiful, and though he did notice the man crouching in a far corner, head bend as if in prayer, that just didn’t seem to matter. Not compared to the shards.
Only when the man grabbed his sword from the floor and slowly rose, did Orm shift his attention and open his mouth to greet the commander. But it wasn’t him. This man was short and wiry, clad in the dark green tunic of a common soldier, adorned only by stains of blood.
The man raised his sword and stepped closer, halting just on the other side of the table. “Where have you been hiding?” he hissed.
Orm held up a hand in a calming gesture. “I am Orm Hruglom. I haven’t been hiding. I have just arrived, hoping to find reinforcements here. But I see that isn’t… Unrim—how did he get through? Has he got a new secret weapon?”
The man began giggling and lowered his sword.
Orm frowned. “How?”
The man grinned triumphantly. “My name is Aki. Just Aki. But no one will ever forget it again. I am Lord of this fortress now, and you cannot hurt me. I am immortal.”
Orm arched his eyebrows. This man was mad. “Good for you. But how did Unrim get through? I need to know; he’s attacking our city as we speak!”
Aki’s eyes were shining. “I am immortal. I got the wish. I broke the orb. And there was no one left to disagree.”
Orm’s eyes shifted to the shards of iridescent glass. A shattered orb? Maybe he was imagining it, but he thought, in that moment, that the shards sang to him in low humming voices. His skin began to prickle. “Magic?” he whispered, his mouth suddenly dry.
“Oh yes. Unrim’s magic.”
“Tell me how.”
Aki drew breath, seemed to gaze at something distant. “Beautiful, it was so beautiful in the sunlight, the orb left outside the fortress. And Unrim gave us all a message in that thunder-voice of his. He would grant us all one wish. One. It could be anything. But we had to all agree on the wish, that was the term, and only then were we to break the orb to make it come true. It was all so tiresomely predictable, really—“
Orm put his palm over his face. He supposed it was.
“—Some would not hear of it, and those who would had all sorts of stupid ideas like no more hunger or no more disease or endless riches.” Aki laughed. “They were all so busy fighting over whether to wish and what to wish that no one was paying attention to me. Not that they ever did. And it was simple, so simple, to open the gates—to get the orb. And to let Unrim through; who better to make sure I was the only one left alive? They thought nothing of me. But I’ve shown them all: I got the wish, me alone. The dead cannot disagree.”
Orm clenched his jaws, grasped the hilt of his sword. Then, slowly, he let go of it again. “And it did not occur to you,” he whispered, “that nor can the dead agree?”
“What do you mean?” said Aki. His eyes grew suddenly wide.
That was enough for Orm. “Enjoy your immortality,” he said and smiled a pale smile. And then he left. He had a battle to fight.
◊ ◊ ◊
Astrid S. Nielsen
Astrid S. Nielsen is a chartered surveyor, born in 1982, and residing in Aalborg, Denmark, with her husband and a tank full of fish. Her fiction has appeared in Abyss & Apex , Quantum Muse, and Bewildering Stories. Visit her at www.astridnielsen.wordpress.com
a Serial in Seven Parts
By CJ Alexander
I stare at Renata. How did she find out about me smuggling the kids?
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Oh come now, Captain Vampire,” she sneers. “Food is regularly delivered to your quarters. What do you do with it? Enjoy the vegetarian cuisine, hmm? Or feed it to someone else?”
It’s not possible, I was so careful! No-one on board knows they’re here. She’s fishing.
“Did you honestly believe you could steal the two most valuable humans on Earth, Captain, the last bright hope for the continuation of the human species, without somehow alerting the Hierarchy?”
My children’s children….
“The Hierarchy has long suspected you might try to appropriate them, so they set up this mission as a trap. After we launched, the children no longer attended classes, didn’t respond to communications. When the Institute failed to report them missing, the Hierarchy began…interviewing your colleagues. After a week of intensive – let’s call it interrogation – one of them confessed.”
“There’s no proof that I kidnapped them!”
She frowns. “Not yet. But where else could they be? Where have you hidden them, Captain?” She gets up and examines the walls, floor, and ceiling of my conference room. They’re not here. I’ve moved them from the guest suite to a more secure place, near Hydroponics. I sit very still, willing myself to remain calm, but failing.
She laughs at my discomfort. “A cloaked Hierarchy vessel follows us, Captain, and has been doing so since I alerted them from the communications device on the waterlogged planet. I’d say there’s…oh…maybe three days until rendezvous.”
By all that’s unholy…we’ll never evade a Hierarchy vessel in pursuit.
“I give them the signal, then they board. They’ll search until they find your precious cargo.”
“I’ll never tell you or anyone from the Hierarchy where they are!”
“Captain, you must realize that if you leave them hidden, and you’re no longer able to supply them with food, they’ll soon die. Before long, the stink from their rotting corpses will permeate the air ducts. Wouldn’t it be better to surrender them now? Then we can all reverse course, and go home. Everybody wins, and lives happily ever after, right, Captain?”
Everybody wins, except Adam, Eve and Captain Gaspare, I amend silently. I hate to admit defeat, but what other option do I have? I sigh heavily.
“What will they offer in exchange for my co-operation?”
“You’ll get the satisfaction of knowing your grandchildren will serve the Hierarchy as food stock. They’ll live a natural life amid other quality breeders like themselves. And you’ll get to watch their children have children, until the end of time.”
My fangs emerge like switchblades. I can barely control my desire to rip her to shreds.
“Lighten up, Captain.”
I experience a mammoth struggle to turn off my human emotions.
“One thing I don’t understand, Renata. Why the carnage aboard this ship? Why did you glut yourself, terrorize the crew, turn the trip into a living hell for everyone?”
“I’m not like you, Captain. I take whatever I want, as much as I want. Call it a perk.” She has the gall to laugh. “Besides, I’m going to blame it on you! They’ll believe me – I had no motive for killing, no children to hide. For rescuing the kids, I’ll be paid in gold, given my own estate, and an honorary title in the Hierarchy. Not to mention an endless source of delicious…”
“NO MORE!” In less than a human heartbeat I’m out of my chair, squeezing Renata’s scrawny neck with every bit of my considerable strength. I wrestle her to the floor, maintaining the chokehold, ready to rip her skull right off her spine. How well trained she is, like a Ninja, relaxing into the fray, waiting for an opportunity to escape. I bare my fangs again, not to feed, but to show the depth of my anger, my anguish over the unbearable predicament which confronts me.
“Emergency override, code Alpha-0977!” The door slides open. “Captain! We heard you yell! What’s happening in here, are you all r…”
She screams when I let go. “Here’s your killer! He’s a vampire, sucking everyone dry on board! Look! His fangs! He was planning to suck the life out of me!” She sobs hysterically, clutching her neck.
What could I have said or done to set things straight? My secret is out. I am what I am. Not a killer, but it matters little. Adam and Eve have been released and have joined the crew for the return trip to earth. They’re alive, and well enough cared for, but I can no longer protect them from the Hierarchy’s plans. I’ve been apprehended and charged with numerous counts of murder, treason, and kidnapping. The silver shackles burn. They’ll feed me bagged blood until I can be brought to justice, back on Earth, in front of my peers. The Hierarchy thinks of everything, don’t they?
Everyone on board will rest easier on the return journey, with acting Captain Renata Toloache in charge…
CJ Alexander’s writing career began the day she first laid crayon to paper. She is the blog designer, virtual host and editor of the Whitesboro Writers Group. Several of her short stories have been accepted for publication in 2016 at Horrified Press. A retired accountant, she currently writes and edits in Whitesboro, New York.