The Rescue: Part Sixteen
Another Short Story Post: Continuing from the last post! This was NOT written by me! All credits go to writer Kimber (KimbersPlace4320@aol.com).
The Rescue: Part Sixteen
Helga had been an Olympic hopeful. Skilled at triathlon and judo, she’d spent her life in training, all to have it end when she tore a ham string in training. After major surgery it healed, but not before her moment had passed. Her depression grew larger by the day. She drifted from job to job. She was a model, a failed actress, a saleswoman, and finally a medical secretary. She was at her desk, blonde hair streaming around a perfect oval face, when Julian DuFron found her.
It was no accident. From the moment he returned he’d sought his next subject. This was a major component of his plan. He’d once again have his work and his science, but he needed minions, body guards. He’d combed through records for years, seeking the perfect candidate, and found Helga.
How he’d wined and dined her. Knowing her mind was a finely tuned as her body, which she had never stopped training, so he took her to art shows, museums, libraries. He’d fed her mind with his ideas as well, his quest for the perfect human. In her he found a student, wide eyed and open, yearning to dig herself out of her crippling depression.
At the right moment he let it slip. Yes, he did know a way to modify the human body, make it stronger, faster, more resilient, nearly indestructible, and truly immortal. His words were like oxygen, she breathed them in. Mesmerized, she talked him into using her for his subject. He told her there would be pain such as she’d never known, and sickness. She’d pass through death and rebirth into a new world, that of the immortals, but she was determined. Julian DuFron had worked his evil magic again.
She looked at her reflection in the mirror. She saw a tall, beautiful young woman with unnaturally long arms. The Kindred power to regenerate had rendered them from those of an ape to human arms. It was yet another amazing property of the undead flesh that it fused and accepted, then changed the new limbs until they appeared to belong.
Helga lifted her head and viewed the angry red scar on her chest. Here, DuFron had implanted titanium mesh to protect her heart and carbon fiber to shield her solar plexus. She flexed a long powerful arm and smiled. The scars would fade quickly and no one would ever know.
The procedure was relatively quick, but it took enormous preparation. DuFron’s agents procured him the human parts he needed to modify Helga’s existing body. This needed to be done within the three day “incubation period” where the mortal becomes a fledgling Kindred. DuFron had discovered that he could surgically implant human limbs onto the body which would be infused with the blood and become part of it. He’d discovered this in the sixteenth century when he began his career as undead.
In those days of repression, with his Kindred Elder, and the Kindred woman, his Sire’s mate, from whom he’d tricked the blood destroyed, he had to be careful just to survive, but there was in Julian DuFron something stirring that he could neither overcome nor deny. He had to know, to experiment.
He started with rats. He’d infuse them with his own blood after draining theirs, and he’d remove their limbs, to replace them with those of other rats. His success led him to experiment on dogs and cats, even to mixing the limbs from one species to another. Unlike mortal humans, the Kindred body does not reject foreign tissue if introduced within the critical three days. As he created his monstrosities, he destroyed them, removing their hearts and driving wooden splinters through them, burning all. There were escapes, and the sewers of Florence still contain a few immortal rats, incredibly strong and intelligent, they have survived for centuries and would probably exist after millennia.
Finally, he turned to humans. From grave robbers he obtained bodies, each one chosen for some desirable limb, which he dissected. Kidnapping a young peasant, he gave him the blood and watched him begin the transformation, and then he began his work. The boy had shown remarkable skill at the harpsichord, but his hands were big, the fingers thick, those of a farmer, not a musician. For all his talent, Andre would always be limited by those hands. Convincing himself he did a service for music lovers in centuries to come, he gave the helpless teen aged boy the hands and a fourteen year old girl.
No corpses had been available at the time, so DuFron found a suitable girl and drained her of blood. He removed her arms and brought them to his hidden lair where he performed his ghastly operations. There he grafted them onto the boy’s shoulders and watched, amazed as the body accepted them, fusing them, flesh and bone, within minutes. Never in his animal experiments had the results been so dramatic, and he knew that the Kindred blood was meant for humans, not the lesser things.
In weeks, Andre was playing again, and better than ever, but though his arms had healed beyond a few fading scars, his mind had not overcome the horror DuFron had put him through. It would take decades and the creation of yet another of DuFrons monstrous chylder for him to begin to break free of the old monster’s grip on his mind.
They traveled for nearly ten years, crossing and re-crossing Europe several times. DuFron found work as a healer, and Andre performed for the crowds at taverns, then fairs, finally for the nobility. Never had they been able to remain long in any place. It was too risky for DuFron to practice his twisted science, but he knew the medicine of the day, and things far beyond it, and was able to treat any malady he was presented with. It was his own paranoia that drove him to constantly move. In his madness he imagined the slayers were at his heels no matter where he went.
It was in this time that explorers drove further into the darkness that was Africa. Exotic animals of all kinds found their way into Italy. Rome boasted zoological gardens the like of which had not been seen since the time of the emperors.
In an effort to compete, Florence began a zoo of her own. Here Julian DuFron would visit late at night, watching the animals. Of course, the zoo was closed, but that was no difficulty for a Kindred of his growing power. In a large iron cage were several apes, now known as Chimpanzees. DuFron was impressed by their enormous strength, several times that of the strongest man. In his twisted mind, he devised a combination of ape and man, the perfect guardian.
Not long after, he bribed a merchant who dealt in rare animals. For an enormous sum he was able to procure an ape of his own. In his killing of the girl so long ago, he’d learned that he could get much better results if he first drained then infused the subject with his blood. He did so with the ape, and then as he had with the girl, he amputated its arms and grafted them onto a newly made fledgling, a barrel-chested wanderer of limited intellect. Then the ape was destroyed.
One did not “kill” a blood drinker, even a fledgling, DuFron knew. One “killed” the heart by piercing it with a sharpened spike of wood. The heart was everything. He could replace the rest, even the head, and he did so with his helpless new victim. Not only did he replace limbs, short stout legs to replace those of the screaming man on the table, into the chest, over the ribs he fashioned a mesh of steel infused with other metals to prevent it from rusting away, strong enough to repel a stake. The result was Martine DuFron.
He was a shade over six feet tall, but nearly as wide. His shoulders were massive and from them hung arms twice the size of any wrestler’s. His body was square, blocky, and his short legs were like the legs of a piano in size and strength. He could rip even an old and powerful Kindred to pieces with his bare hands, and he was nearly indestructible. In all his years of life, no one had ever defeated the gentle giant but Professor James Keller. Rather than match strength against this engine of destruction, Keller had procured a pair of gloves which could be used as a taser. He used them to paralyze and subdue the man mountain. Martine loved the man who had bested him for despite his monstrous appearance, Martine was the gentlest of souls. He preferred to watch children’s television shows and play with his cats. DuFron’s influence could not make him otherwise.
Andre got the job of tending to Martine during the three days. Even as DuFron cut and stitched and tormented the poor wretch, Andre soothed and comforted him. By the time he’d become a fledgling, Martine and Andre had bonded, a bond which would last forever.
They served their evil master in any way he demanded. So strong was his influence that he never suspected they would someday rebel. By his command, they robbed graves and kidnapped victims. Andre assisted in the surgeries, handing his Sire the instruments and later calming and tending the subject as the transformation took its course.
It took centuries for the shame to finally overcome their terror of DuFron. Andre realized that they had become powerful in their long years, the two of them far more powerful than even their master. Not one to rush into anything, Andre spent years watching, observing DuFron, cataloging his weaknesses, until he felt they could strike.
One evening, as DuFron returned from his nightly feeding, Martine attacked. In an instant the older Kindred was swept off his feet and slammed against the stone wall of their abode. Bones audibly snapped and broke, then crushed as Martine vented all his many years of frustration and hatred. Never had his full strength been used against another, he was far too gentle to use anything beyond necessary force, not once had he broke a bone in any kidnapped subject. He merely held them and Andre gave them an injection that paralyzed them, Martine then carried them back to the lair.
Now, though, he was rampant. Fists the size of cantaloupes, taken from a massive sailing man, pounded DuFron. Powerful in his own right, DuFron fought back, but he could do nothing against his mountainous Chylde. At last the big hands wrapped around his head and began to squeeze. DuFron screamed as his eyes popped out. His skull caved in and he lost all ability to move. His thoughts were jumbled, instinctive as the brain matter was crushed.
“Let him go, Brother.” Andre said finally, and Martine released the body, more like a bag of broken shards now.
This was the time they should have destroyed him once and for all, Andre knew, but it wasn’t in him, or Martine to do so. They set fire to DuFron’s lair and left. Andre had booked passage for them on a ship bound for France. There they would spend over a century; sure they were rid of their monstrous master forever. It was not to be.
Wilma pressed the button on her intercom.
“Can you come here for a second, please? I think I have something.”
Wilma wasted no time in getting to Gabriel’s desk.
“Okay,” She said, “give.”
“I’ve been cross matching possible aliases for William Van Horn with travel destinations, and I think I found him. A Mr. Wurster booked a private jet a few days ago to Fiji. Once there, he registered at the Royal Ambassador Hotel.”
He brought up a video camera image on his screen.
“This is our Mr. Wurster entering the lobby of the rental agency where he booked the jet.”
He enhanced the image and the unmistakable face of William Van Horn appeared.
“Yes, that’s him, all right. Good job, Gabriel.” Wilma said, lifting the desk line. “I’ll have…”
“Wait, Ms. Bankey, there’s more, and it’s not good news.”
Slowly she set the receiver back on its hook.
“It seems our Mr Wurster has disappeared.” He said quietly.
Before she could respond he raised a hand.
“There was a report of a small fire on the same floor as Wurster’s room.” Gabriel went on, “I haven’t received verification yet, but I think its Van Horn.”
His big blue eyes found hers.
“Didn’t Keller tell us once that really old vampires burn to ash when destroyed? Well, that’s what they found at the scene of the fire, just a pile of ashes, in a vaguely human shape.”
She nodded. He was most likely right, and if he was, it meant William Van Horn was dead, truly dead, and so was their lead.
“Good work, dear. Let me know when you get the verification.” She said and walked back into her office.
The door closed quietly, but Gabriel heard her swear bitterly once it was closed.
(To be continued)