Psalm of Vampires: Chapter Six

Psalm of Vampires: Chapter Six
Wurdulac created in Midjourney; Cover design and photo smashup by author

The Exterminator

Did you miss a chapter? Here are links to the others:

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

The story so far: Streaming vampire Jade Mourning is trying to settle down his followers after several brutal killings in Atlanta. Among the murders: popular streamer Ice Game Z, who was killed in a city park while boasting of his refusal to give in to fear of what appears to be a new serial killer on the loose. Police seem to consider Jade a suspect, but his followers are behind him one hundred percent.


Daphne texted me saying she’d be at the estate in a couple of hours, so I decided to do a livestream. I wasn’t in the mood for gaming or much of anything else, so I started talking on my livestream about Ice Game Z: “Been kinda depressed lately, like everyone here at Fang HQ. Ice meant a lot to people here, and I know he meant a lot to y’all, too.” I always added a slight Southern accent for my livestreams because of my Atlanta location.

“One thing, though,” I said. “I ain’t changed.” I smiled, showing my canines. That, of course, was another of my trademarks and is one reason why I have millions of followers.

I showed off my canines on every livestream because I had sold myself as a vampire from the beginning. The beauty of 21st-century life was that nobody believed me, so they ate it up like it was an act. Besides, I can think of plenty of celebrities who look a lot more like a vampire than I do.

I had gained several hundred thousand new followers in the few days since my team won the League of Legends championship. Winning a championship, even League of Legends, couldn’t garner me so many new followers in a couple of days. I figured the violin solo with Daphne helped win me a few more.

“Anyway,” I said. “Consider this a news report, I guess.” Owens probably wouldn’t be happy with this, but I didn’t care. “I’ve been in touch with the Atlanta police.” I said “police” in a southern Georgia drawl, with the emphasis on “po,” like POlice. “And you’ll be glad to know they are making progress. I can’t go into specifics, but they are.”

The usual stream of emojis and comments began to appear. Some of the comments were hateful toward the police because of Wallace’s recording. I tried to settle those people down. “Yeah guys, it sucked but it’s all been straightened out. I mean, I was pissed, too, but they were just doing their jobs. And we need them to do their jobs, right? That’s in our best interest, and it’s in Ice’s best interest. Cause we gotta find this sucker.” When I said that, someone blasted me with a flow of hearts. Then another person did, then another.

I continued. “And I want y’all to be careful out there. Hang out in groups. Seriously. Groups. Not one or two of ya’. Just for now. Whatever you do, don’t walk alone at night. Male, female, doesn’t matter. Don’t do it.” I knew that if a vampire group like the Battue was murdering people it didn’t matter how many people someone went out with, and I knew the time of day was meaningless. But I said it anyway, because, what else are you going to say?

“What about the pumpkin festival at Piedmont this weekend?” someone asked. Halloween was Sunday night. There was a pumpkin festival planned in Piedmont Park on Saturday afternoon with live bands and a big art fair.

“Let’s see what the police have to say about it. I don’t want to speak for them.” I swiped through a few websites and social media posts on my touch tablet and shared my screen. “There you go, looks like they’re saying that they are adding a bunch of patrol units to the festival.” My screen displayed the following social media post to my viewers:

The Atlanta Police Department is aware of heightened concern regarding the three murders in the Midtown area. We will be sending additional patrol units, including mounted patrols and canine units, to the Pumpkin Festival to be held on Saturday, October 30. The festival will continue as planned but will close at 6 pm instead of the originally announced time of 9 pm. Please contact the Piedmont Area United Arts Council for more information on event times and activities.

I read it out loud. “So,” I said, “between you, me, our friends, and the Atlanta P.D., we should all be safe in the park in broad daylight with lots of people around. The trick will be getting home safely. Keep your eyes open on your way home. If you feel like somebody is following you, then assume that somebody is following you and call someone. Call me if you have to. Do whatever. It’s okay to be paranoid.” More hearts.

I ended the livestream after about an hour, partly because a few people started complaining that it was boring. Of course, they could have just left without complaining about it, but I held my tongue and said that I was still processing Ice’s murder. I wasn’t in the mood for entertaining people.

When I clicked off the video cam and feed, I noticed Moreland standing in the doorway. “Goddammit, will you stop doing that?” I said to her.

She was wearing a long black robe with thin red stripes along each side of a collar that plunged invitingly into her cleavage. It looked like she was wearing only the robe. Not even a pair of sandals, nothing underneath. She seemed to be in a conciliarity mood, because instead of starting with an ad hominem assault she began with, “So what do you think?”

“About the murders?”

“Uh-huh.”

“My best guess is that it’s you. Why do you ask?” I no longer needed to ask her to provide me with an alibi, but there was more than a small part of me that thought she needed one.

She chuckled dismissively. “Like I don’t have more important things to do than squash a few human bugs.”

“You sound as bad as Longtooth.”

“Cut from the same cloth,” she said, running two fingers suggestively down her collar, which opened to a bit more cleavage. “Except Longtooth has long teeth, and I have a long tongue. Which you know well.” One of these days, I knew, Moreland would show up while Daphne was here with me, and I’d have to kill Moreland. If I could. Bringing down Moreland wouldn’t be easy. Especially if I didn’t have my karambit with me. Especially more so if I was naked when she arrived.

“I don’t know who’s doing it. Do you?” I asked accusingly.

“I do not. I don’t like it, but not for the same reasons you don’t. Your weakness has always been your affinity for these two-legged rodents. It will undo you someday. I’m surprised that it hasn’t yet.”

“I don’t like being alone. I’m a social animal. You can’t live in the human world and not be part of it.”

“I manage just fine.”

“You’re alone.”

“I have my friends.”

“Who? They’re all dead. We’re all dead.”

“There are a few more of us than you know. They don’t make themselves known to you for obvious reasons.”

“Bullshit.”

“Not the least of which is this stupid shit.” She waved her hand at my studio. “You’ve developed a bit of a reputation during the last century as a rat in a cage that happily humps all the other rats in the cage to no avail. Rats can normally breed. You can’t, though, not with these other rats.”

“I hereby banish you from my kingdom. Or cage, if that is how you prefer looking at it. Be gone.”

“There are still a number of Battue – mostly in London but a few here and there in Europe and North America. There are the Siberian Yupik, who, sadly, are like you with their weakness for homo sapiens, and who have spread among humans in the Arctic during the last few hundred years. I think even I would have a difficult time telling them apart from the humans they live with, they’ve evolved so heinously.” She clicked her tongue. “But they don’t count, I guess. Then there are the Chlothar from Germany. More of them than you know. They’d tell you that the Longtooth are genteel lapdogs for humans, such is their disdain for human existence. Shall I go on?”

“Chlothar died without an heir. So his people died, too. I saw him die three hundred years ago. Where do you get your information? Is there a fantasy entertainment studio in your backwoods cabin in upper New York State that I don’t know about?”

“He perished, yes. But not without an heir.” She walked up to me and loosened her robe. “You’ve been wanting another heir forever,” she cooed.

I put my hands on her hips and spoke as if I was talking to her tummy, looking directly at it instead of her face. “I have, yes. But if there’s a fifty-fifty chance my heir inherits the sociopath gene, I’m better off without.” I took my hands off her hips and spun away from her. I had a sudden desire to slap her for implying again that we had a kid together when she had said, “Another heir.”

“See, but that’s what you don’t understand. You think I’m this terrible person, but don’t you know? The few of us that are left, they’re a lot worse than me, Jade. A lot worse. I don’t like humans, but honestly? I don’t hate them, either. I just have no use for them. But if our child wishes to frolic with them, I shall permit it.”

“Is that why you came to visit me? To proposition me again?” She was being unusually aggressive with her proposals for reproduction.

“No. No, not really. It just sort of came out. I’m here on behalf of a few of us. Longtooth, Stormcycle, Morgenthau, a few others.”

“Oh?”

“We would like it if you stopped this.” She nodded at my monitors and video cam setup.

“Why? What difference does this all make to any of you?”

“It’s a threat. Exposure is a threat. Good God, you display your fangs on these awful livestreams with the fervor and frequency that human men send dick pics.”

“Do you understand the worlds you live in as time changes?” I asked. “I seem to remember that when we hung out in the eighteenth century, you thought it was the seventeenth century. And so on. You’re always a century or so behind. Humans know this is an act, and they act accordingly. They love it for some reason. Which, honestly, I don’t care about. I mean, I don’t care about the why. But they do love it.”

“You must know that there’s a whole cottage industry attached to you,” she said. “Look.” She slipped her phone from a robe pocket and showed me a podcast called Vampiretruths. One of its blog posts was devoted to me. Its headline was, “Jade Mourning says he’s a vampire. Should we believe him?” Another headline was more ominous: “Is Jade Mourning the Vampire killing people in Atlanta?”

I tapped it. I started reading out loud. “The live-streaming sensation, Jade Mourning, has for years been telling us he’s a vampire. Why do we pretend that he’s making it all up? What if, in fact, he is? Now, there are killings in his hometown, very close to his sprawling compound! The police interviewed him. He’s a suspect. And guess what, folks? The wounds of all four victims are neck wounds. Need I repeat myself? Neck wounds. And I am hearing that the victims were manhandled by someone with superhuman strength. Add to that the fact that Mourning never sleeps, according to people who live with him.”

I looked at Moreland. “Now that’s a lie. I sleep at least an hour a night. This is fun. Shall I read on?”

“You’re an idiot.”

“I love this shit. This totally helps build my fan base. I should send this guy a fee for the great PR.” I read more. “Mourning never ages. Some say he’s been alive for hundreds of years.” I looked at Moreland. “Thousands, asshole.” I read on. “His blue skin isn’t a paint job or some other artificial accouterment. It’s his real color!” I handed the phone back to Moreland. “So he’s a racist, too. I’ll stop there. He’s profiling me. And accouterment? What’s a guy with a third-grade education using a word like that for? Well, anyway, nice talk, Moreland. You should be going now.”

“So that’s your answer? A big FU?”

“I know you’re not a big internet person but there are crank sites for every subject on earth. Google it now. Flat earth. Hours of hilarity.”

She started playing with my hair, twirling it between two fingers. “Look. If it’s just between you and me, yes, I’m annoyed by your antics. But I’m not pissed.”

“You very nearly, and literally, bit my head off the other night when you weren’t pissed. You also nearly turned into a strobe light.”

She ignored my reply and said, “But it’s not about just you and me. There are others, and they are more than annoyed.”

“Stop playing with my hair. So. Is that a threat I’m hearing on the edge there?”

She sighed. “No, Jade, nobody is going to bring it to that kind of level. It’s just a request. I think if you just cooled it for a few weeks, maybe until the murders are solved, that it would make them happy.” She continued to play with my hair, then ran her index finger down my cheek. “You want us to be happy, don’t you?” I swear she sounded like Marilyn Monroe when she said that. Her purple fingernails seemed like they were about eight feet long.

“How about this?” I said. I was finding it difficult to resist putting her finger in my mouth. “I limit my streaming to updates on the murders.”

“Or feedings,” she smiled mischievously. I was glad she wasn’t wearing her translucent robe. Her voice was succulent. The robe she was wearing brought its own temptations, though.

“Whatever,” I said.

“You don’t have another of those stupid tournaments coming up do you?” She stepped away and sat on a stone bench on the other side of the room. She crossed her legs, revealing a lot of thigh. Her soft, blood-red skin was exquisite. I hated her for it.

“No tournaments, but the practice never stops,” I said, looking away.

“Anything else you might surprise me with? I don’t want you to say a few days from now, ‘Oh, I forgot I had this thing going on. Then you’ll say, sorry, gorgeous, and act like a dick again.”

“When’s the last time I called you gorgeous?”

She laughed. “You say it every time you look at me.”

“Don’t let the fact that I’m horny enough to fuck a porcupine go to your head.”

She laughed. “You almost did once. Remember that Egyptian bitch? I think you even called her Needles.”

“The one from Luxor during the Opet Festival? That was a weird hat she wore. All those quills.” Needles was a vampire I knew in the seventh century B.C. with whom I had hoped I could procreate, but she wasn’t fertile. Lousy fertility had more to do with our kind dying out than any of the other many reasons, except maybe the Blood Plague. Only about ten percent of female vampires were fertile. “I had to talk her out of wearing it when we had sex.”

“Yes, you’ve told me eight-thousand two-hundred and thirty-eight times. I started counting at about the fifth time, so, give or take a few.”

“No wonder we hate each other. We live too damn long. Nobody can know each other for two thousand years and still get along.”

“It’s a thin line, like the song says.”

“That it is.” Like I said before, I loved Moreland as much as I hated her.

“We need to solve these murders.”

“We?”

“If it’s one of our kind, yes. Like I’ve been saying. Exposure.”

“I’m working on it, Moreland. I have a detective friend.” Calling Owens a friend wasn’t just a stretch, it was redefining a word by its antonym, but she didn’t need to know.

“Yeah, they seemed pretty friendly on that livestream you posted,” she said sarcastically, referring to Wallace’s recording.

“We’ve had conversations since then. We have an understanding. They’ve cleared my name. They know someone else is the murderer. Good thing, too. I thought I was going to have to ask you to give me an alibi. Which I figured the chances were about as good as you nesting a litter of baby vamps.”

“I would have given you an alibi.”

“You would have? You said no way earlier.”

“Jade, there are some things we need to be together on.”

She was right, which meant that I needed to be nicer to her. But Singapore was always in the background. “Yeah,” I said. “Well, all I’ve said to them is that if there’s anything I can do to help to let me know. You know, lip service.”

“Have you been in touch with Longtooth? The Longtooth clan would be my first choice for these murders if I was to guess.”

“Not you? You were mine.”

“Come on, Jade, this stuff’s for real.”

“I talked to him yesterday. It’s not really his M.O., but anything’s possible. I don’t think he’s in London right now, so that adds an element to the mystery.”

“Really. Why do you think that?”

“I heard American accents in the background when I was talking to him on the phone.”

“This is how I can help. I can sniff around, see what he’s up to.”

“He wants me to kill Daphne.”

“Daphne’s that drummer chick?”

I nodded.

“Why?” she asked.

“He thinks I like her too much.”

“You like all humans too much. It’ll be the end of you someday.”

“You’ve been saying that a long time. I’m still here.”

“You’re young still. We’ll see how things shake out three thousand years from now.”

“Nah. Humans don’t have that long a shelf life. The lights are almost out.”

“Good point. I’m outta here.”

“Next time you visit can you text me first? Otherwise, I’ll have to invest in a pack of werewolves to keep you off the estate grounds.”

“You’re watching wayyyy too many human movies. Woof!” she said. At that, her faint phosphorous glow became a blinding, dazzling, flash, and she was gone.

Good thing, too, because Daphne buzzed me with a text. “I’m here, Jade. Where is everybody?”

Whatever Owens had done to scare away the influencers still had a lingering effect. I texted her to tell her I’d be right down, then scrambled downstairs.

“I hate to say this, but this place is creepy when it’s empty,” she said when I was near the end of the staircase.

“It’s big, it’s stone, and it’s cold, is all.”

“Yeah, maybe that’s it. Where is everyone?” she asked again.

I told her that one of the detectives had given everyone a scare so that he could talk to me alone.

“It was that Owens guy, wasn’t it?” she asked.

I nodded. “How did you know? And you remembered his name. That’s cute.”

“Because he seemed like the smart one. I watched the video of them interrogating you.”

She, who seemed to like everybody, continued with, “I didn’t like him.”

“Neither did I,” I laughed. “But…”

“I know,” she laughed, “They’re just doing their jobs.”

“You watched?”

“Yup. I was the first one to say you were boring,” she giggled. “I was totally teasing you. I wasn’t expecting that comment to go viral! I added a tongue emoji to show I was joking. God. People.”

“I didn’t see that,” I laughed. “If I had known that it was you who started that nonsense, I’d have canceled our butternut squash soup date.”

“Aww, you really got me some?”

“How did you know I went out and got some?”

“Who has butternut squash soup sitting around, silly? I know where you got it, too. So there.”

“You’re a goofball. Shall we?”

She nodded happily and skipped toward the kitchen ahead of me. She reached the doorway while I lingered behind. Then, a shriek jettisoned out of the kitchen and bounced off the stone walls of the living room.

When I reached the kitchen, trailing just behind her, she shrieked again. “Oh my God, what’s that!?” Daphne’s scream, or shriek, or whatever you want to call it, isn’t like a woman’s scream you hear in the movies. It’s like a little squeak. Eek! It’s adorable.

I looked up at where she was pointing. A large bat was hanging upside down from an air duct pipe in the ceiling. The kitchen had a hip warehouse vibe going, with several rows of duct pipe painted white. The bat was hanging in the far corner from a metal brace that held the piping.

“Jade?” she said. “What the fuck is that?”

“It looks like a bat,” I said.

“Umm, yah. What’s it doing in your kitchen?”

I stared at it.

“Jade, you’re taking this vampire act maybe just a bit too far. I’ve got a serious case of the willies.”

I did, too.

She couldn’t know that she was probably observing a scout for the Wurdulac line of vampires, a species that had been considered extinct for several hundred years and was said by many to not even be related to vampires from an evolutionary standpoint. The species of bat in the kitchen was Lyroderma lyra, which was a grey vampire bat native to central Asia used by the Wurdulac wherever they saw fit to scout for prey. Most Lyroderma lyra bats were usually no more than four inches long, but this one looked to be at least ten.

The Wurdulac was a particularly nasty crew that was never afraid of a public fight with humans. Or other vampires. Hence, or so I thought, their extinction. There was a running joke in vampire land that Russia’s president was a Wurdulac. Legend held that they frequently destroyed their own families with their blood lust, but the reality was a bit different. They targeted human and vampire families for destruction and didn’t stop until the entire family was eliminated. Some rumors claimed they were descended from the Battue.

They were large, too, at least as tall as the ten-foot-tall vampires referred to by the Bible as the Nephilim, with pale yellow skin that looked jaundiced. Wurdulacs taller than the Nephilim were not uncommon. They made deep, guttural moans when they were sure they had their prey cornered.

Oh. One more thing. They could fly. Legend further had it that because they looked more like bats than humans, biologically, they were bats. Russian and Slavic folklore held that when you were bit by a Wurdulac, you became a Wurdulac. It would be like being bit by a mouse and becoming a mouse. A preposterous notion, most people thought. But entire families of both vampires and humans were wiped out by them. Including mine.

Maybe my mind was playing tricks on me because I thought that the hanging bat’s dark, black, beady eyes turned yellow for a moment. Then, I thought I saw it smile before it flapped its wings and flew over our heads out of the kitchen toward the living area. When I thought a sinister chuckle accompanied the creature as it flapped its way through the wide-open kitchen entryway, I was certain my imagination had taken over my senses.

The look on Daphne’s face told me otherwise. She grabbed my elbow and planted her face into my chest. “Please tell me that’s a drone?” she asked innocently.

I held the back of her head gently, delighting in the scent of her hair even during this disturbing event. “No, I wish it was. Come on,” I said. I led her to the living room to see if we could track down the beast. “Stay close,” I whispered as we gingerly stepped our way through the living room, past the piano, and into the foyer. I looked up the stairway.

“No way I’m going up there with you, and no way you’re leaving me down here,” said Daphne.

“Fuck this,” I said, pulling the phone out of my trousers’ pants.

“Who you calling?” she asked.

“An exterminator,” I said. “Yeah, Moreland?” I said into the phone. “I’ve got a Wurdulac scout in my house.” Then, I said to Daphne, “She’ll be right over. Let’s wait outside.”

“You just happen to have an exterminator on speed dial?” she laughed as we stepped outside. “Jade, I don’t know who you are.” She couldn’t have been more right, I guess.

We sat down on a concrete bench on the front lawn.

“Is that… thing why everyone is gone? I know you said it was the cop that got people out, but these people wouldn’t much care about anything a cop says.”

“I dunno, Daph. I haven’t asked around. I can text a few and ask.”

She held my hand. “So. It was alive. Like, a real bat.”

I nodded.

“And, let me see if I’m understanding what just happened. We saw a bat. A big ugly bat. You then had on speed dial an exterminator, who knew exactly what you were talking about when you identified the bat as – what? Some kind of scout bat or something?”

I had no idea how to handle this. “A Wurdulac scout. The bat is a Lyroderma lyra. They’re native to central Asia.”

Daphne laughed nervously. “Oh my God. You did bring a bat into your house, but it got loose or something. It’s kind of like method acting for influencers. Kinda brilliant, but I sure hope it gets…” and then she sat quietly for a moment. “Exterminated.” She looked up at me, still holding my hand. “Am I a horrible person?” Daphne loved animals almost as much as she loved music. But not, apparently, bats.

I looked into her eyes and noticed how deeply brown they were – soft, kind. I wanted to kiss them. “There is no word to describe you if we try to find the right word that is the opposite of horrible. I’ve never known such a good heart.”

“Oh my God, Jade, you’re gonna make me cry.” She did sniffle a little. I leaned in and kissed her forehead, and she leaned her head against my shoulder.

Then, like an idiot, Moreland appeared in a flash in front of us. “Oops,” she said, looking at me. “I wasn’t expecting you to be having company. And kissing it. This must be your human friend.” She grinned widely, displaying her impressive set of fangs.

At least she wasn’t wearing a sexy robe. Moreland was dressed in a skintight warrior outfit. It was made of spandex highlighted by alternating bands of blue and orange. It showed off an athletic body that looked like it belonged to an Olympic swimmer. It also looked a little ridiculous.

“You look like a bumble bee advocating for time on OnlyFans,” I said.

“Hi,” she responded, extending a hand to Daphne. “My name is Moreland.”

Daphne said nothing. Instead, she sat next to me staring at Moreland with her mouth open. Daphne was rarely at a loss for words. I sensed that none would be forthcoming soon, so I took Daphne’s hand and lifted her forearm out toward Moreland. Daphne’s arm was limp, so I straightened out the elbow and pushed her arm out forward until her hand was almost touching Moreland’s. Moreland gently took two of her fingers and shook them with a friendly gesture of greeting.

Leaning in behind Daphne’s head, I said “Hi,” in a lame attempt to impersonate a woman. “Nice to meet you. I’m Daphne.”

“Well,” Moreland said to me after releasing Daphne’s hand, “Where is the little bastard?”

Still, silence from Daphne.

“Maybe upstairs? I have no idea,” I said.

“I understand you being spooked by these things, Jade, but relax, I’ve got this. But I’m gonna need your help. And your girlfriend’s help, too.”

“Ummm, I’m not…” Daphne stammered. “His girlfriend.”

“Are you his friend?”

Daphne nodded. I thought she was going into shock.

“And you are female, correct?” Daphne nodded again. “Girl. Friend. Okay, girlfriend, are you ready for a little adventure?”

Daphne looked at me. “Jade? What’s going on?”

Moreland approached her and knelt on one knee. She put one hand on Daphne’s knee, which was covered in black leggings under a ruffled skirt. “You’re in the middle of a bit of a skirmish, I’m afraid to say. But don’t worry. We’ll take care of you.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Moreland showing grace and compassion toward a human. Had I entered another universe? And the thing is, she meant it. I could tell. I was intimately familiar with Moreland’s sarcasm. This wasn’t it. The Wurdulac had that effect on people. In the case of the Wurdulac, it was more than a matter of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The Wurdulac were such a threat that they could inadvertently build centuries-long alliances and friendships among the staunchest of former foes. This meant that Moreland would now guard Daphne with her life. The Wurdulac were that fierce, their removal that important.

Moreland stood up. She looked at me. “You’re certain of what you saw.”

“I’m certain. She saw it too,” I said, looking at my dumbstruck friend.

Finally, Daphne spoke with more gravitas. “I’m guessing this is more than just the kind of bat you see in a zoo.”

“Yup,” said Moreland.

“Yup,” I said.

“And…” Daphne looked at me with unmistakable fear. “This.” She pointed to her front teeth. “It’s not an act is it.”

I shook my head sadly. I wanted to cry for the first time in nearly a thousand years.


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