Authors: Nick Pollotta
Double Dragon Publishing
Copyright ©2009 by DDP
First published in Double Dragon Publishing, 2009
Copyright © 2009 Nick Pollotta
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Double Dragon eBooks, a division of Double Dragon Publishing Inc., Markham, Ontario Canada.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing from Double Dragon Publishing.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
copyright TriTac Games 1982. www.TriTacGames.com
I finally found the murderer, and he was a lulu.
It had taken me months of freelance work to track down the guy who killed my partner, and if the truth be known, I broke more than a few laws doing the job. But I didn't give a damn. As far as I could tell, the sick bastard had slaughtered over forty people across a dozen states. Each done the same way he killed Bill Smithers, my partner in Chicago, slit their throats and drained the blood like he was a freaking vampire or something.
The castle was up on the old New York Palisades, deserted for years. I hid my car in the bushes, so nobody could spot the out of state plates. The lock on the front door was good, an expensive French model. Took me almost ten minutes to get through. Inside, the place was surprisingly clean, some of the rooms even carpeted. Not the usual thing for an undead. But playing on the Count Dracula routine, I checked in the basement.
The place was huge, large enough to land a plane, with a high vaulted ceiling and granite-block walls. The cellar more resembled an underground warehouse than a castle basement. In a corner was a big-screen TV and a brace of DVD players. Overflowing bookcases lined the walls and in the middle of the place, on a marble pedestal, was a large stainless steel coffin, with US Army Claymore mines wired to the outside.
. Ever so carefully, I snipped away the wires on the anti-personnel charges. At last, all those years watching the Discovery channel finally paid off.
The lid was secured from the inside, so I used a keywire gun on the lock. It was a lazy locksmith's best friend. A simple twist and the coffin opened on silent hinges. So much for stereotypes. With my Magnum in hand, I was surprised to find it empty. As I bitterly cursed, a chuckle sounded from behind, I turned and there the bastard stood.
He resembled a computer hacker with that deathly pale skin and weird eyes. Bill Gates on crack. But he was sporting a natty Armani suit that was worth more than I had ever made, woven Italian shoes with tiny tassels, and a gold Rolex watch.
What, no caviar-scented cell phone
A cop would have arrested him and sent the kook to a lunatic asylum. But I wasn't planning on reading this guy his rights. As far as I was concerned, he didn't have any. Not an animal like him.
The murderer came at me with arms extended, as if greeting a long lost relative. His mouth full of those phony vampire teeth you can buy at any novelty store. Pitiful. I didn't have to draw my .357 Magnum. It was already in my hand. Without a qualm, I gunned the freak down, the thundering retorts of the Smith and Wesson echoing around the cellar. But he kept coming, as if my copper-jacketed hollow points had no effect. Must have been wearing a bulletproof vest.
We went hand-to-hand and he had me in a second. Loonies are always strong. Adrenaline, or something. Maybe he was on PCP. The Count dragged me kicking across the basement and chained me to the stone wall. The chains felt oiled and were spotted with red flakes. I had a bad feeling Nut Boy had used these often.
Chuckling, he went away and soon came back with two women. A blonde and a redhead. Real hot numbers wearing skimpy denim shorts, sleeveless T-shirts and also sporting those phony teeth. That was when I went cold. I sure hoped whatever they had wasn't a contagious disease. Death was infinitely preferable to insanity.
They gathered around and made the expected remarks on how tasty and juicy I looked. I invented a few curses, which they took in stride. Then the Count waved the women on and they came at me with hands raised, their fingernails glistened like steel. Probably razorblades glued underneath.
This was no time for finesse, so as they got close, I kicked the blonde in the left breast. She didn't bat an eye. That was impossible. There was no way a bra, much less a Kevlar vest, could be hidden under her T-shirt. Kicking a woman in the breast is like kicking a guy in the balls. Blondie should have dropped big time.
Smiling, Red grabbed my hair and twisted my head about as if I was a child. Then she opened her mouth wide, exposing every inch on those long white fangs. They actually looked like her own teeth. That's when I realized the freaks were really going to drink my blood. I had faced death lots of times in Nam as kid. In the back alleys of Chicago, too. But there was a big difference between a bullet in the chest, or a knife in the stomach, and having a trio of drugged out wackos suck me dry like a free cherry soda. That was no way for a nice PI to die.
My brain was whirling with escape plans, none of them worth a damn, when the door in the corner slammed open and in strode a SWAT team.
Or at least that's what they resembled. There were three of them, two men and a woman. All were dressed in camouflage outfits, with backpacks, satchels and dozens of weapons hanging off them. One guy was tall and skinny, like he hadn't had a good meal since his last birthday. The woman was kinda short, slim and muscular-looking in a nice way. The other guy was downright fat. But he had a genuine shit-eating grin on his face as he worked the bolt on the huge M60 machine gun in his hands. I could tell this was a man who enjoyed his work.
My three freaks spun about at the sound, and hissed louder than steam radiators. Geez, they were really putting in overtime on the old vampire act.
As two of the SWAT guys separated, Skinny pulled out of his shoulder bag a melon-sized crystal ball and smashed it on the floor. Instantly every door and window was covered with stonework sealing us in. In spite of the situation, I dropped my jaw. Impossible. Yet I had just seen it happen. Maybe the ball was actually some sort of electrical device, an EMP bomb maybe, whose command signal pulse triggered the control mechanism for hidden sliding panels. It sounded lame, but what the hell could have happened? Magic? At this point, I began to wonder if they were really a rescue squad, or merely more loonies in on the fun.
The vampires advanced slavering and growling. Red came at Fat Boy, and he let her have a full burst at point blank range. The heavy-duty combat rounds blew holes in her the size of Montana. She burst into flames and dropped to the ground, still screaming and trying to get at the lard bucket.
One tough bitch.
? I wondered.
That was when I realized that the sphere must have contained BZ, military hallucinogenic gas, because everything started to get real funky.
The other two vampire types flapped their arms and turned into freaking bats! No smoke, no special effects. And not dinky little zoo bats, but great big mothers who soared into the air and began circling around the room as if this was Wild Kingdom and I was Marlin Perkins.
Suddenly, Chubby moved in front of me, his machine gun spraying hot lead protection. At least that was no hallucination. I felt the stinging blast of the blow-back gas, and a red-hot shell casing bounced off my hand burning the flesh.
The short lady jumped up on the coffin and, reaching behind her, pulled out a long curved sword so highly polished that the blade seemed to ripple with rainbows. Flipping it over, she knelt and buried the sword to the hilt into the rectangular box.
, I thought. But Batguy didn't care for the idea a bit. Rearing backwards, he opened his jaw and vomited a lance of fire at the swordswoman. She ducked, but it wasn't necessary. A river of ice launched from the cupped hands of Skinny and the two streams hit in midair with a deafening thunderclap worse than an overload at a rock concert.
As I shook the ringing from my ears, I suddenly noticed that Batgirl was gone. I couldn't see her anyplace, but a weird patch of fog was drifting towards Mandrake over by where the door used to be. I shouted a warning on impulse.
However, the coffin was in the line of fire for Rambo and Ninja Girl was dancing with Igor the human hang glider, so Mr. Wizard was alone on this one.
Muttering something, in Latin I guess, he threw a fistful of sparkle dust at the cloud with no effect. What a surprise there. The cloud advanced. Quickly he pulled out a cross and a water pistol, and started chasing the cloud around, shooting streams of water at it. This is where I lost my tenuous hold on reality and started laughing. Chubby gave me a quizzical glance over his shoulder as he yanked a fresh belt of ammunition out of his shoulder bag and shoved it into the breech of his weapon.
"You okay?” he asked in a husky voice.