The Problem 4

June 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

Sime knew that Akivasha had to be told. The difficulty was in escaping to tell her.

It wasn’t that Sime didn’t love Akivasha. They all did, every single one of them. They would die for her, despite being nearly immortal. She demanded it, and they could not refuse her anything. The problem was simple. The man they had tried to lure into their trap was no man at all, and he was slaughtering them.

Twisting in the air Sime barely managed to avoid a fist the size of a normal man’s torso. Seething in his fiery sheath the not a man was now nearly ten feet of angry muscle that glowed with heat from inside and shed flames like most sweated. Sparks were thick in the air, and it was beyond understanding how the room hadn’t burst into flames by now. Perhaps not beyond it. The room didn’t burn because he told it not to.

Sime had died nearly one hundred and fifty years before in an old barn in what had been called Yomana. Sime had died because Akivasha had demanded it, and had risen because Akivasha permitted it. Everything Sime had was hers, and there was no question of obedience, nor any desire to defy her. She had ordered the not a man to die. If it had been remotely possible Sime would have accomplished it.

It was not. A blow so hard and fast the vampire could not even see it coming crashed so hard into the chest that bones cracked and splintered, and then the pallid, smouldering form hurled backwards out the door and into the night.Being dead, Sime didn’t need to breathe, so getting upright was merely the matter of righting position. The broken bones brought no real pain, they merely ground against one another and knitted together. But the flames did not go out/ Wherever he touched burned and kept burning. Sime was forced to shed clothing, first the long black jacket, and then the long black shirt underneath it. Sime’s torso had livid red stripes in the shape of clenched fingers, crossing the crushed ribcage, burns that did not heal.

“Imagine that.” The not a man stepped out into the night, and to the excellent vision of the vampire he was cherry red like a banked mass of coals leaping back into heat and life. “You were a boy.”

Sime did not waste time bantering. Dying there would not serve Akivasha. The glowing figure was even taller than he had been inside the Red Hook, coming close to twelve feet now and still growing. Whatever it was, it could not be dealt with alone.

Lunging in a mock attack, the vampire threw itself backward as the giant arm swung at its head and bounced up a pole, clambering with claws extended and flinging itself from the top of the light to a nearby roof. Gone before the moonlight could even highlight the path it took.

The giant continued to burn for long moments, glowering at the rooftops, the slate and dark green of shingles. Then he exhaled and with that exhalation came a burst of flames, rocketing up to the sky.

He was only seven feet tall when he stepped back into the Red Hook. He walked past the ashes that had been hungry dead, and pulled up a chair at the booth where Baldassare Mastrini sat very still. He sat with the back of the chair in front of him, still glowing faintly.

“I’m going to assume you were looking for me. Couldn’t find me. Didn’t know well enough to leave it alone, and asked them to help you, yes? Which means you’re probably connected somehow, or you wouldn’t have been able to find them in the first place.” His beard was a more vivid red than it had been, his hair now a mane of gold and black that looked like soot and traces of fire. “That about right?”

“Shouldn’t we be talking somewhere else?” Baldy looked nervously around at the survivors, the dead body on the top of the bar, exsanguinated and throatless.

“People know who I am here. Well, they know that they don’t want to know who I am here. Basically the same thing.” He stood up, now just a large man in worn old jeans and a ragged long sleeved T-shirt, his eyes the color of the bay in early morning. “But fine, have it your way. You want to talk so bad, let’s go somewhere and talk.”

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§ One Response to The Problem 4

  • Nathan Adler says:

    A tale worthy of publication in a Robert E. Howard anthology, it brought back for me happy memories of the first time I read The Hour of the Dragon. Thank you.

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