This story is part 9 in the Northern Vampire series. I have a blog page here that lists all my vampire stories in chronological order.
The following takes place about four months after Lucien's new club opens. Everything has been quiet since the events of Northern Vampire Part 8 until...
What's that? I'm a bit disorientated when I come to in the dark, sitting down and tied to a chair. The last thing I remember is stepping out of the private entrance behind the club after closing time and then...nothing. It does go to show that, whatever anyone may tell you, vampires can be rendered unconscious. While you're dwelling on that little nugget, let me get back to the story.
Under the circumstances, I reckon not showing any outward signs of being awake may be the way to go here, at least until I can work out where “here” is and what I'm up against. My senses are working overtime. There's a breeze in my face and it's cold in here. I haven't burst into flames yet so either it's still night time or I'm inside.
There's a pigeon in here. It's somewhere up and to my left, I can hear its claws skittering across metal, a girder perhaps? There are also chains rattling gently in the breeze that's blowing in my face. The breeze brings a low rumble of traffic in the distance and closer, the put-put-put of a diesel engine, marine I think, not a large one; a work boat, launch or something about that size. Without moving my head its hard to pinpoint, but I think it's ahead of me somewhere and moving diagonally to my left.
There's a smell of dust, brick dust I think, and decay about the place, I'm also getting dampness and a hint of mould. There's a whiff of oil and something else metallic that I can't quite place, then in the background the tang of salt and ozone, but no sound of waves on the shore so that rules out the coast. Rotting fish, diesel fumes and a hint of something unmentionable – a river. Tidal. The Tyne?
I feel the rough ground through the soles of my rather expensive shoes. It idly occurs to me that if my shoes are ruined there'll be hell to pay.
My ankles are tied to the legs of the chair, I presume its a chair, with something narrow. I can feel it biting into the skin even through my socks; not a rope then. My arms have been similarly treated, only they're pulled back and tied to the chair back. There's something heavy and cold against my neck that comes over both shoulders, draping in a diagonal cross over my chest then onto the floor. It feels like a chain against my skin.
Okay, enough is enough. I raise my head slightly and open my eyes. There's the scuff of a shoe on the broken ground to my right, quite close, and a sharp intake of breath. I think I just gave somebody a fright.
'Err...he's awake, like.'
I recognise that voice. Last time I heard it, it ended up in hospital with several fractured ribs.
'Glad you could join us, Mr Wheeler.' This voice is different, more of a whispered croak really, not a voice at all.
I focus on where the voice is coming from, taking in the two big lads in my peripheral vision, one standing each side of me about six feet distant. A few yards ahead is a wheelchair, the occupant of which looks familiar silhouetted in the moonlight streaming in through the old warehouse's open loading dock.
'As I live and breathe,' both lies but I force some levity into my tone, 'Geordie bloody Benson! Fancy seeing you here. I thought you were dead?'
'As you can see, Mr Wheeler,' Geordie whispers, 'Reports of my demise have been--'
That earns me a crack on the skull from “Ribs” to my left.
'Leave him,' Geordie tries to shout as you would at a recalcitrant dog, instead he dissolves into a fit of coughing and needs help with the oxygen mask from the person who up until now I haven't noticed standing behind the wheelchair.
'It's alright, pet,' she croons softly, 'Take a few belts of this and you'll be champion, like.'
That's a turn-up for the books. I didn't think Geordie had a girlfriend.
'Hey, Geordie,' I call over, 'One of those slappers from the club providing personal services for you now?' Geordie had a nice little sideline in prostitution the last time I saw him.
More coughing and spluttering.
'I'm nee slapper, you cheeky bastard,' she barks, stepping forward. 'He's me kid brother, like.'
I'm still reeling from this revelation when “Ribs” smacks me in the side of the head so hard the chair tips over.
'Divent dee that, man,' she bellows while the two heavies turn me back the right way up. 'He's mine.' Geordie gurgles in the background.
I focus on her again. Where did that gun come from? The pistol looks huge in her small hand but I'll worry about that later, right now I'm more concerned with the fact that she's pointing it at me. I may have to do something about that. You see, Geordie I knew...I know. Evil he may be, but he likes a good speech before the tire irons start flying. This one I don't know, but I can see she's wound tighter than a watch spring, her knuckles white against the pistol's grip, and that's what makes her dangerous, not the gun.
She's shaking as she walks slowly towards me, and I don't think it's because of the cold. Nor do I think she's scared. She nearly turns an ankle on the rubble underfoot and I start praying the gun isn't going to go off.
'My name, Mr Wheeler, is Charlene Benson. Geordie works for me.'
With her accent, it comes out as “Mista.” So, this is the power behind the throne.