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Authors: Adrienne & Scott Barbeau,Adrienne & Scott Barbeau

Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Fiction

Vampyres of Hollywood (30 page)

BOOK: Vampyres of Hollywood
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“I’m going to kill her myself, right here, right now in front of you.”

I howled and shrieked, struggled against the metal spikes, wrenched hard enough to shift the stones in the wall. Blood, thick and black, flowed from my wounds, and I wept pale ichor. A dozen Changes warped my body, but to no effect: I remained pinned to the stones.

Rudy dropped Maral at my feet. “Tomorrow morning, her butchered body will be found in your home. There will be evidence of drugs, pornography, probably even cannibalism, and any other perversion I can think of. There will be items linking the previous murders to you, trophies from the scenes of each crime. It will be the biggest scandal ever to hit Hollywood and when it is over, your name will be a curse. You, of course, will be missing, and I doubt a worldwide search will ever find you: the Jimmy Hoffa of the entertainment industry.”

Ghul stepped forward and his thin lips cracked into a hideous smile. “Lilith has reserved you for herself as is her right. It will take her a month to devour you, and I will ensure that you survive till the last mouthful.”

Rudy laughed, the sound high-pitched and hysterical. “What do you have to say to that, Ovsanna Hovannes Garabedian, Chatelaine of Hollywood?”

Chapter Thirty-Six
 

 

PALM SPRINGS
5:50
P.M.

 

I was numb with horror and working purely on automatic. Breaking through the garden, I’d seen creatures beyond description. If I were still Catholic, I would have said that I’d seen devils from hell itself.

After that thing had taken Ovsanna, the rest of the monsters, the humans, and the peculiar beast people remained in the abattoir that was the living room. Gathered in a circle around the old Baby Jane woman in her weird, blood-spattered dress, they were eating the dead. The remains of my mother’s pizzaiolla were spattered on the trunk of the palm tree. I’d heaved until there was nothing left but clear bile.

My mind had shut down. I had only one thought: to rescue Ovsanna. I’d watched her almost fight her way out; I’d seen the others take her down and then the albino carry out her unconscious body. Whatever they had in mind for her, it certainly wasn’t good. I tracked the albino through the windows as he moved through the house, following his progress into what must have been a kitchen, except there was neither stove nor refrigerator there. These people ate their meat raw and bloody. The albino pulled open a door and disappeared down a flight of stairs. Seconds later, he turned on a dim light on the first floor and then disappeared again, down another flight of stairs. Whatever room he was going to, there were no windows; it was belowground. Basement, probably. He reappeared on the second floor a few minutes later and tossed a bloody hammer on the kitchen table. Something inside me twisted and I swore that if I found Ovsanna’s corpse down there, I was going to put a bullet into the pasty-faced fuck, but only after I had messed him up with the hammer. Petty, I know, but I was in a petty frame of mind.

I got as far to the end of the palm as I could, held the Glock above my head, and dropped feetfirst into the moat. It wasn’t deep, but it was stocked with things I was glad I couldn’t see in the dark. Something slimy, with rubbery suckers, wrapped around my leg. I pounded on it with the handle of the Glock and it let loose just as a fucking fish bit into my ankle. I could hear more of them swimming toward me as I got my feet on land. I was missing a two-inch chunk of flesh from the back of my foot.

I kept my eyes fixed on the second-floor living room while I used my gun to hack through some of the cactus. The feast—there was no other way to describe it—was a scene by Hieronymus Bosch: women coupling with the leather-skinned beasts; animal-like creatures mounting one another in the midst of the blood, bones, and gore. In the middle sat the Bette Davis look-alike—cackling with glee.

I’m not the brightest, I know that. Sometimes it’s been my saving grace. I didn’t dwell on the implications of what I was seeing, didn’t try to make sense of it. I ignored the scene in the room because I could do nothing about it; I just broke it down into its simplest components. All I knew for a certainty was that a woman was being held hostage and I needed to rescue her. I’d work out the details later. If there was a later.

I’d made it past the Spanish dagger and prickly pear and was climbing up the base of the bridge when the steel gate opened and a cloaked figure came through. I had the Glock ready to fire, but as it got closer I discovered I wasn’t looking at another beast. If I hadn’t been so terrified and sickened, I’d have laughed out loud. He looked liked Rudolph Valentino in those Sheik movies he did in the twenties. He was wearing a costume that was a cross between an Arab sheik and a Spanish bullfighter. The whole ensemble came complete with a sword and cape. He brushed past above me, close enough to touch, and disappeared through the front door.

I pulled myself up on the bridge and followed him into a dimly lit foyer just in time to see him go down the stairs to the ground floor.

The orgy in the living room had reached a crescendo. No one was paying attention to anything they weren’t eating or screwing, and the old lady seemed mesmerized at the sight of it all. I dropped down to the ground on my belly and inched to the stairway door near the kitchen. The hall below me was empty. Bloody boot prints tracked across the tile floor and disappeared down another set of stairs.

I was at the top of the first set of stairs, just about to continue down, when the albino came out of a room below and stepped into the hallway there. Seen close up, he was an ugly misshapen son of a bitch, with tiny red eyes and skin the color of dead fish. He was carrying a limp Maral McKenzie in his arms. As he walked below me, I caught the stink of something foul, and I clenched my teeth to keep down what little bile I had left: he smelled like dead fish, too. He disappeared down the second set of stairs.

I needed to get down there. Holding the Glock close to my chest, I slipped from my hiding place and darted into the kitchen. Pressing flat against the wall, I risked a quick look downstairs. There was the hint of light from below and I could hear the murmur of voices. Snatching the hammer from the kitchen table, I shoved it into my belt and took the first step on the stairs, keeping close to the edges, hoping that none of them squeaked.

I could hear the indistinct drone of a voice and then someone started screaming.

The noise was the most terrifying sound I had ever heard. It was pain personified, overlain with a howl of raw anger, rage, and terror, and it was coming from Ovsanna. It took an enormous effort of will not to rush down the steps. In a way I was grateful for the sound, because it meant that she was still alive.

I heard a second voice, a man’s voice, gloating, arrogant. “Tomorrow morning, her butchered body will be found in your home.”

I was guessing it was the Valentino knockoff. And he could only be talking to Ovsanna.

Four steps from the bottom, I crouched down and peered into the basement. From my position on the stairs, I could only see a segment of the room, a length of dirt floor and about a foot of the wall. Standing five feet in front of me was the albino in his tuxedo. Directly in front of him, I could see the booted legs of the costumed Sheik. Maral’s unmoving body was lying on the ground before him. There was no sign of Ovsanna.

The Sheik continued his ranting, and I realized I was listening to a confession. “There will be evidence of drugs, pornography, probably even cannibalism, and any other perversion I can think of. There will be items linking the previous murders to you, trophies from the scenes of each crime. It will be the biggest scandal ever to hit Hollywood and when it is over, your name will be a curse. You, of course, will be missing, and I doubt a worldwide search will ever find you: the Jimmy Hoffa of the entertainment industry.”

I padded down the last few steps and pressed myself flat against the wall, my gun ready to fire. There was a second voice, the accent unlike any I had ever heard before, the sound cracked and broken, and I knew immediately it was the albino. “Lilith has reserved you for herself as is her right,” he grated. “It will take her a month to devour you, and I will ensure that you survive till the last mouthful.”

My stomach flipped. After everything I had just witnessed, I had no doubts these people were serious. And then the Sheik laughed and the sound was pure insanity. “What do you have to say to that, Ovsanna Hovannes Garabedian, Chatelaine of Hollywood?”

I’d heard enough. Holding the Glock in both hands, I stepped into the basement. “Put your hands up, you murdering little fucker!”

There were probably two seconds of absolute shocked silence, and I needed them to make sense out of what I was seeing: The walls of the basement were hung with men and women, arms outstretched, crucified with spikes through their wrists and ankles. Ovsanna was hanging on the end wall, facing me. Appallingly, they were all still alive and their heads turned as one in my direction.

The albino spun and lurched toward me, arms outstretched, mouth opening wide to reveal a circular maw of triangular teeth that never belonged in a human mouth. I pulled the trigger on the Glock and kept pulling, starting low and letting the recoil bring the gun up along his body. I load the Glock with Cor-Bon 115-grain HJP +P rounds. One round will take the average person down and make sure they don’t get up. It took five rounds at almost point-blank range to even slow the albino. I watched huge gobbets of white flesh and stringy black blood erupt from his back. His giant hands fell on my shoulders, almost driving me to my knees. I knew if I went down, I was dead. He opened his mouth wide and dipped his head toward my face. Ramming the long, square barrel of the gun into his open mouth, snapping some of the ragged teeth, I pulled the trigger. Twice.

The shots lifted him off the ground and the top of his bald head popped off like a busted cantaloupe as he went tumbling away. He hit the ground five feet away from me—and exploded into black molasses-like sludge.

Everyone in the room, including the people nailed to the wall, exhaled in disgust.

The Sheik came at me with his sword, his eyes wide and utterly mad. There was something wrong with his face; in the light of the single bulb, which was now dripping black gore, it looked as if he were changing into some sort of dog.

“Who…who…who…,” he panted like a marathon runner.

“Peter,” Ovsanna said, her voice calm and controlled, despite the excruciating pain she must have been in. “The others will be here. Shoot him and free us.”

The Sheik turned and slashed at her with the sword, opening a wound across her belly and down onto her thighs.

I shot him in the right kneecap, sending him crashing to the ground. Then I shot him in the left for good measure. At this range the 115-grain round practically tore his legs off. He flapped on the ground, howling, clutching his shattered legs.

“Peter,” Ovsanna said evenly, “you must sever his spine to complete his death.”

I was about to protest when the thrashing man suddenly went silent and started to change. Something terrible was happening to his body, something that snapped bones and rent flesh. I heard muscles tear and cartilage grind.

“Young man?” Numbed, I turned to look at the man with the pencil-thin moustache nailed to the wall beside Ovsanna. He was another movie star look-alike, but I couldn’t think who. “Kill him now and free us quickly.” He tilted his chin. “We’re about to have company. I can hear them coming.”

The Sheik abruptly lurched upward, and he was no longer human. A wolf’s jaws snapped at me. I shot it through the top of the skull, then, mindful of Ovsanna’s advice, pressed the gun barrel against his spine and fired again, severing his neck. The creature folded in on itself and started to melt. I swear to God, I will never eat Jell-O again.

I took a step toward Ovsanna, but she shook her head. “Free Orson and Douglas first,” she said, nodding to the two men on either side. “They’ll be of more use to you.”

I turned to the big man and pulled the hammer from my belt. “This is going to hurt.”

“Believe me, it’s certainly better than the alternative,” he said in a powerful voice.

“What’s the alternative?” I asked, inserting the end of the claw hammer into the spike driven into his wrist. Somehow his flesh had started to cover the head of the nail.

“Being eaten,” he said, and continued to smile, as I tried to pull the spike out of the wall and his flesh. Gripping the hammer with both hands, bracing my legs on the wall, I levered. The pain must have been excruciating, but the man never cried out, even when the spike ripped out of his arm with the sound of crunching bones. “Good boy,” he said, then took the hammer from my shaking hands and reached over to lever the spike out of his left wrist. “Keep an eye on the door, there’s a good lad.”

Working purely on instinct, I released the clip and my training took over. I had fired eleven rounds, and although there were still six in the gun, I didn’t want to have to change clips mid-fight. Taking up a position at the bottom of the stairs, I pointed the gun up and waited.

I kept glancing over my shoulder, watching as the man Ovsanna called Orson used the hammer to lever the spike from his feet and drop flat on the ground with a groan. Then he clambered to his feet. “If you’ll excuse me,” he said to Ovsanna, as he quickly wrenched the nails from the flesh of the man she’d called Douglas.

Douglas dropped lightly to the floor and snatched up the Sheik’s sword. Then he joined me at the door, slashing the sword to and fro, smiling a too-perfect smile. He looked like he knew what he was doing. I looked down at his bare feet. I could clearly see the holes in them. And they weren’t bleeding.

“When this is over, I’m going to be asking some questions,” I said, proud that I managed to keep my voice composed.

“When this is over, you will deserve some answers.” He grinned, eyes sparkling. There was something so damned familiar about him.

“Do I know you? Have you been in the movies?”

“Once upon a time, dear boy. Once upon a time.”

And then a monster dropped down the stairs. It reared up on two huge legs, massive claws slashing. It looked like a cross between a wolverine and a rabid bear. Before I even had time to react, Douglas slashed a
Z
across its stomach, and coils of greasy intestines spurted out of its body and wrapped around its legs. “Slows them down, every time,” he said delightedly.

Just to make sure, I shot the thing in the head. Gore sprayed across the others that were shoving into the room: some human, some beasts, some I couldn’t even describe. Douglas was extraordinary, handling the sword as if it was an extension of his arm. Each movement was precise: he sliced jugulars, cut tendons, blinded eyes, disemboweled and severed arteries to leave his victims helpless before me. I executed them without a second thought.

Suddenly the big man Ovsanna had called Orson was beside me. I hadn’t even seen him move. Seconds ago, he’d been pinned to the wall with a one-inch spike through his wrist. Now the ugly hole was little more than a ragged tear and closing up even as I watched it. There were talons where his nails should have been. “Ovsanna needs you,” he said. “Give me the gun and spare clips.”

“Can you shoot?” I asked automatically.

“Can I shoot! Dear boy, my mother—rest her soul—was a crack shot. She taught me everything I know. I could shoot before I could walk.”

BOOK: Vampyres of Hollywood
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