“The Sanctified talk a great deal about our race being damned and innately wicked, but if you ever want to look true wickedness in the eyes, look no further than Cletus Lee Boggs.”
Friday evening, 11 September 2015
GM: “This came in while you were gone, boss.”
Julia smacks the brown paper package over the bar’s counter. Micheal finds a pair of camo muck boots inside. High-quality ones, too, the seasoned outdoorsman can immediately tell. Shell cordovan leather, which can take a six-month tanning process and hours of shaping at the hands of an expert craftsman. Durable, naturally water-resistant, and nearly uncreasable. The inside of the boot features 2 mm of thermal foam beneath the foot bed that will keep his feet warm in extreme temperatures, plus fleece boot linings for additional warmth and comfort. Not that the dead man naturally produces any bodily warmth. He’d hazard a guess that any boots using materials of this quality are custom-made to the size and shape of his foot, too, though where and how the sender could have obtained his measurements are a separate questions. These are the sorts of boots that can cost over $1,000. Not the $50 rubber galoshes you pick up at the sporting goods store.
The boots feel heavier, too, than he might expect. When Micheal turns the left one over in his hands, he can hear the swish of moving liquid.
Micheal: Micheal frowns as he turns the boot around in his hand. He couldn’t afford something like this.
“They say who they were that sent it?”
GM: Julia frowns. “It was this biker chick. She was…”
Micheal’s many-times niece shakes her head.
“Forget it. She just said something about a ‘pardner.’”
Micheal: Micheal looks up, eyes casting over Julia.
“Scary as all hell, I’m guessing.”
GM: “We get a rough crowd here,” says Julia. “If I threw eggs at the houses of any of these OMC guys, I’d seriously be scared for my life.”
For a moment, Julia doesn’t say anything.
“She was making those guys nervous.”
“Glad she’s gone.”
Micheal: Micheal picks up the other boot and starts to leave, then pauses.
“She probably won’t be back but… if she does, let me know.”
GM: “Uh, hold up a sec, boss. I think there’s something in those.”
Micheal: “Yeah, I’m gonna look at ’em upstairs. Not really sure what someone like that would put in a boot.”
He darts up to the office and plunks the boots down on his desk. With one hand he reaches down into the footwear.
GM: Micheal finds a Luger P08 in one boot. It’s an antique pistol formerly used by the Waffen SS. He finds a 1945 bottle of Jack Daniels in the other boot. An attached note invites him to the birthday party of a one “Bubba Jesus Boggs.” An address is provided by means of DMS coordinates.
Micheal: “Wonder which one of these I’m supposed to bring,” he mutters to himself, placing the pistol on his desk and turning the Daniels over in his hand. A good year for whiskey, at least.
His eyes drift over to the pistol. Nazi weapons. Now there’s a bad sign. He picks it up next and slides the magazine out. Loaded. He checks the rest of the parts, all of which are in perfect condition.
He tucks it into his pants as best he can then covers it with his shirt. It’ll have to do until he gets to his bike. Next he slips the invitation into his pocket then grabs the bottle and boots and heads downstairs.
“Julia,” he calls out, raising the bottle up to show her. “Look what was inside. I don’t drink the stuff anymore and it’s too good to waste here. Why don’t you take it?”
GM: Julia just gives the Daniels a wary look.
“Thanks, but think I’ll pass. Maybe Rickey’ll take you up.”
Micheal: A smart choice, really, he thinks, to not accept expensive gifts from scary strangers.
Then again, he’s accepted worse from stranger.
He slides the bottle onto the bar. “Well put it on the shelf for now. I’ve got to head off, but call me if anything comes up, yeah?”
GM: Micheal’s many-times niece nods, bobbing her red ponytail.
Micheal: “See ya tomorrow, Julia.” He heads out of the bar and down the block where his bike is parked. It’s a cheap foreign model; a custom Harley is a little out of his price range. Glancing around first to makes sure there are no curious eyes, he slips the Luger and boots into his side bag. He hops on the bike, double checks the address, then slips on a helmet and speeds off.
Friday night, 11 September 2015, PM
GM: Night has settled over the swamp. Darkness cloaks the dense undergrowth. The water’s muddy surface is oily black. With it comes a clinging, creeping fog, that rises from the water like spectral steam. The fog surrounds Micheal. Its dampness caresses him with cold, clammy hands. Water laps at his booted feet. Even bare, though, the dead man probably wouldn’t feel cold. Each of his steps makes a small splash against the bayou’s chorus of ribbeting frogs, buzzing insects, and cawing birds.
GM: The swamp is so dark next to the city’s bright lights. The trees are twisted shadows with clawlike, grasping branches. Foul odors rise from the murky water, like rotted silk against skin. Past the bayou’s canopy, Micheal can make out ominous clouds rolling across the western sky like a curtain of black smoke. The moon and stars are all but blotted out. Even the vampire is hard-pressed to see clearly.
Micheal: The Brujah moves carefully through the black, eyes drifting back and forth through his surroundings. All it takes is one misstep, one missed sign, as he knows all too well.
“Should be close,” he murmurs.
Cletus: The sound of a three-string slide guitar echoes through the bayou, calling Michael like a Cajun siren.
Cletus: The source of the eerie music is a cigar box, bottleneck guitar being strummed by a man—or a monster that hides in a man’s skin. The man-monster is sitting at the pilot’s chair of a fan-boat, anchored to the DMS coordinates.
Micheal: Micheal gently splashes towards the boat, pausing to look the man over. “Boggs.”
Cletus: Savage, acetylene-blue eyes shine beneath the brim of a dented, manskin leather hat. So beshadowed, his unblinking gaze burns like a butane torch, alluring and deadly. Equally mesmerizing and feral is the fanged smile that teases his supple lips. That smile promises much. Pleasure, pain, perdition. His body has the palpable odor of libido and heat lightning.
His ruggedly handsome, sepulchral-cold face is slick with the night’s humidity, gleaming like moonshine. He carries the paradoxical mien of the bayou-born, the strange melange of redneck simple-mindedness and Southern aristocracy. Yet, lurking behind that mask is a monster, a remorseless sociopath whose evil blossomed long before his Embrace, but has since grown into the most wicked of orchids.
He wears a half-buttoned shirt, spun from Angola’s finest felon-picked cotton, its fibers indelibly soaked with their slave-labor sweat. His thrift-store overalls are stained with blood, barbecue sauce, and cannibalistic lard. His sleeveless, mire-crusted vest bears fine-tooled heraldry of his clan.
His raiment cannot conceal the hard, rangy lines of his powerful frame. Muscles taut as a fishing line hooked to a two-hundred pound catfish swim beneath his clothes. Thick shoulders, corded neck, forearms built for strangling. His cottonmouth-scaled boots click on the beer-bottles in rhythm to his music that died before the Confederacy.
“Kelly,” Cletus responds with a wickedly wide grin.
He stops his strumming, plunging the bayou into a silence broken only by the buzzing of insects and flowing water. The relative silence also reveals the rustling of a large duffel bag. Something writhes, and seemingly moans, within.
Micheal: “Appreciate the gifts. That Luger was fine.” He starts to clamber into the boat, then pauses mid-clamber to look at the bag.
Cletus: “Dem Nazis been knowin’ how to engineer death. Not quite as good as the good ol’ USA, though. Eh?” he asks with his fanged smile.
He places a boot atop the duffel bag, ensuring that its bundle doesn’t roll off the top of the fanboat into the dark waters.
Micheal: Michael finishes climbing in and straightens himself, water dripping from his boots and forming a puddle on the hulls.
“Thankfully, not sure how well I would’ve been able to speak German.”
His eyes drift once again to the duffel bag. “Is that… what is that?”
Cletus: “Oh, dat’s jus’ another… gift.”
He sets down his cigar box guitar and gently caresses the duffel bag, which first stiffens, then begins to thrash violently. And scream. Gagged perhaps. But screaming all the same.
GM: The words of Micheal’s sire echo through his mind.
The Sanctified talk a great deal about our race being damned and innately wicked, but if you ever want to look true wickedness in the eye, look no further than Cletus Lee Boggs. There are stories about what goes on in Slidell.
Cletus: “Open ’er up.”
Micheal: He stares at the bag. He can’t… but then, he’s got a reputation to keep. He leans down and unzips.
Cletus: The oversized duffel bag parts like old snakeskin. Inside, a young woman writhes, her mouth has been gagged by a Confederate flag, her wrists and ankles bound by duct tape. Her braided hair is disheveled, one side of her scalp crusted with blood, her left eye similarly swollen and bruised, the right staring in terror, nigh blind in the darkness. She wears threadbare clothes, stained by the remains of the bag’s previous occupants.
“Why, she looks like ten miles o’ bad road,” Cletus says with mock concern.
He claps a sinewy hand on Micheal’s shoulder. “She’s a spy, ferm Matheson. Been caught ‘er sniffin’ ‘round da blas’ site.”
Micheal: He keeps staring. His hands close slowly into fists.
“Yer shittin’ me. Fuckin’ snake.”
Cletus: Cletus spits in agreement, a nasty red glob. “Yes’um, Savoy been confirmed she’s one o’ dat snake’s ghouls.”
Micheal: “Yer like Father Christmas right now,” he continues, leaning back down and zipping the woman back into her prison. At one point, he grabs the girl’s head and shoves it further in so he can close it. “I’ll make sure she gets what she deserves.”
Cletus: Cletus just shakes his head back and forth slow as the flowing bayou.
“Rightchere, ya don callin’ me Papa Chistmas, but den yer re-stuffin’ ma sack? Nah, Papa’s present is to be played wit’. We be needin’ to know what she be knowin’. And me, I done said that y’all was jus’ the right man.”
“Now dat four-eyed hussy, Preston, she been jus’ laughing when I did said dat.” He smile falters, even as his eyes burn with the same lightning heat. “She been done said that y’all didn’t get hit wit’ da yeller stick, but da whole goddamned forest! And I said dat any man who crossed da pond and fought da Reich ain’t got a yeller bone in his body.”
Micheal: “Damn straight,” he growls.
Cletus: The Giovannini’s next words are barely a whisper.
“Now ya gonna be provin’ one o’ us right and one o’ us a liar.”
GM: The woman-shaped bag writhes and thumps against the boat’s planks.
Micheal: Bloody Preston. Bloody Coco. Bloody this whole situation.
“Well, I was figuring to do it later, but all right. We can do this here and now.”
He unzips the bag and hauls the woman up by the scruff of her tattered shirt. She’s still in the bag, but her thrashing soon frees her from it.
“All right, better tell us what you fuckin’ know.”
He reaches with his free hand and rips out the gag.
Cletus: Cletus’ grin reappears, bright and cold as a cheshire moon. He sits down on the pilot seat.
GM: The ungagged prisoner hacks and chokes, taking big gulps of the humid night air.
“Wa… er,” she gags, her voice as dry as the surrounding bayou is wet. “P… lease.”
Micheal: “What’s that?” He glances to the water then to the girl. “Don’t think it’s you makin’ the demands here.”
Cletus: Cletus leans down and picks up one of the dark beer bottles. He pops off the cap with his fingernail and hands it to Michael. In the darkness, the dark liquid smells not at all of water or alcohol, but something coppery, something far sweeter to the two Kindred.
Micheal: He turns and slams her on the edge of the boat, her face just a foot from the water’s surface. “Tell ya what, you tell me what I want and you get a drink.”
He looks back over and takes the beer from Cletus. “What’s this?” He glances back to girl, not sure whether he’s hoping for her to talk or keep quiet .
Cletus: “Local brew, made by one o’ ma kids, Wynona-Lynn. ‘Tis piss poor drink, to be honest wit ya, long pig juice dat’s been ‘watered’ down wit chicken sauce.”
He shrugs, opening a bottle himself and kicking it back.
“She’s a sweet girl, Wynona, and bless ’er heart, she done tries.” He takes a swig and wipes the red from the corner of his mouth. “She done wears these pants, so tight ya can see ‘er religion, but ’er brain, sometimes I swear, it be ratlin’ round like a BB in a boxcar.”
He looks over at the woman on the boat, her head hovering inches above the gator-infested waters. “Ma apologies.” He waves a hand, indicating Micheal to proceed.
The girl, her body flush with the heat of her racing blood, tries to nod, but only manages a sob.
“P… plea.. s… sse.”
He pulls her further out of the boat and plunges her head into the water. He takes a sip from his bottle as she struggles. Still he holds her down, longer…
Cletus: Once her head is submerged, Clete continues his earlier conversation, not skipping a beat:
“Pretty bad, eh? But don’t y’all be worryin’ yer pretty lil’ fangs, there’ll be the good stuff at Bubba’s BBQ. Bottled or fresh from da tap, if ya prefer.” He takes another swig. “But I promised Wynona-Lynn I’d try ’er latest brew.”
Micheal: “Yeah it ain’t exactly top notch, what, pig’s blood? Used to be a brewer myself, never thought to use blood after. Not much refinement you can do for us.”
Cletus: “Long pig,” Cletus corrects Micheal mildly. “Migrant workers, I reckon. It’s the chicken juice dat makes it be tastin’ so… watery.”
With his last word spoken, he eyes the almost no longer thrashing girl’s body.
“Careful, gators ‘round here might come up and snatch ’er face right off. She can’t be spillin’ ‘er beans if she ain’t got no bean-hole.”
Micheal: He looks at the bottle again, then too the subsiding thrashing. There’s a slight pause, as his eyes drift further towards the inky depths. He quickly pulls the woman’s face up.
“You get a good drink?”
Cletus: Cletus laughs.
The woman can only gasp, desperately, terribly.
Micheal: “You’d better fuckn’ tell us what we you were doing fer yer master. Think all that splashing woke the gators.” He presses her face a little closer to the water.
He debates forcing her under again, keeping her from divulging anything. Hell, it would be a mercy at this point. He has to protect Matheson, protect Julia. But he’s here, alone with this… monster. He can’t give himself away. He has to be strong. Put on a brave face, just like he used to.
Cletus: The girl tries impotently to break Micheal’s marble-hard grip. She spits and gasps, her eyes wild and frantic. “I don’t know noting ’bout no master! Please, please, please, I just ran away from that awful place.”
Her voice raises into a shriek as her head gets pushed so near the water’s inky murk again. “No, no, no, please, I’m sorry, I don’t know, don’t know. I won’t do it again! Whatever you want! No, no, no, no, no, please! Please, please!”
Cletus chimes in, after taking another swig and spitting out a chicken feather. “Miss, ya best be telling dis man rightchere da truth. He ain’t lying ‘bout dem gators. In 1971, a plant near here done blew, spilling coal tar into these waters. Done poisoned most o’ da fish and what did eats ‘em. Only da meanest o’ da bunch survived.” He looks at the water. “I’m talkin’ mean sonufabitches.”
Micheal: Micheal takes another swig of pig.
“It true you can’t even hear or see ’em coming? Water can jus be as calm as anything then BAM!” Another slight push towards the surface. “You’re under. I’m jus’ a city boy, I wouldn’t know.”
Cletus: “Yessir, they got dis deathroll, where they be draggin’ ya down, then spinnin’ so hard yer limbs break off. I’ve been seein’ dem let go o’ der prey then, scoopin’ up da loose hands and feet, gobblin’ ‘em up, only to snatch ya ’gain, jus’ as ya was ‘bout to get dat last gasp o’ air. Down ‘gain, they be draggin’, rollin’, rippin’, and gobblin’. So I’d be best tellin’ da man what he wants to be hearin’.”
The girl’s reply is a stream of half-babble, half-scream:
“Noooo! I don’t know what, p-pleaaaase! No, no, no, no! I don’t know what you want! Pleaaaasse! Somebody, help meeeee!!!”
Micheal: “Goddamnit,” he groans, forcing the girl’s head under once again.
Cletus: Cetus drains the last of his ‘beer’ bottle.
Micheal: He waits again. It doesn’t take long this time for her to weaken and he pulls her right back up.
“Why were you poking around that blast site?”
Cletus: It takes her a moment to regain coherence, much less intelligent speech. Eventually she blathers something about not knowing it was a blast site. She claims she was just looking for something to eat, before the train took off again. She apologizes. She begs. She pleads and sobs and becomes incoherent and insensible with fear again.
Micheal: Micheal looks her over. Ghouls are loyal, sure, it’s a rare one that’s loyal to the point of being eaten by gators. And the crying, the babbling… it feels all too real. There’s a seed of doubt twisting around in his stomach.
He looks back up to Cletus. “You absolutely positive this girl is one o’ Matheson’s?”
Cletus: Cletus nods with slow certainty. “Ya jus’ haven’t done nothin’ permanent to ‘er. Nothin’ to drive home that y’all are real serious.”
He shrugs. “Or maybe da English snake did his mind thing to ‘er. Pain’s what’ll loosen ’er brain, all da same.”
He takes out a skinning knife, its cruel edge glinting hungrily in the moonlight. He passes it handle-first to Micheal.
“Rightchere is Bubba. Be treatin’ ‘im good. Bubba Jesus is named im ’em, after all, and it’d be cryin’ shame ta lose it on ’is birthday.”
Micheal: “Yeah, I’ll keep it safe, don’t worry.”
He grasps the handle, then throws the girl backwards onto the bottom of the boat, where he promptly mounts her and holds the knife in front of her face.
GM: Wet hair limply clings to the girl’s still-grimy features, soaked but not scoured by the bayou’s muck. Algae and fallen leaves stick to her skin. She shivers as swamp water trickles down her back, soaking her down to her underwear. Her eyes blink rapidly. Between the bayou’s darkness, the lack of light source, and her water-logged vision, she’s likely as blind as a bat.
“P-please, I-I don’t know, please, p-lease…”
Her mouth opens and closes several times. There are some low, almost cough-like sobs. It’s not hard to see Julia in this runaway, if he hadn’t taken her in. They look about the same age. What set of circumstances brought her and not Julia to this point?
“I-I won’t t-tell anyone. Just-just let me go. Please. I-I have a mom, she’s w-wondering… where I…”
Over and over, that word.
“Please. Please. Please.”
Micheal: The knot twists again, pulling tight his grip on the knife. He drives out the lingering sight of Julia’s fate. In a sick, twisted way, he’s doing this for her. Still he sees what could have been. He brings his face inches from hers. The scent of bottled blood escapes from his lips.
“Then you’ll have to give us what we need,” he hisses. “You really think protectin’ Matheson is worth yer life, never seeing yer ma again? Worth this?” He presses the blade against the edge of her ear.
GM: More tears well from the girl’s eyes. “I-I don’t know who—who that is, I swear, please, p-please…”
Micheal: His jaw clenches. With one deft motion, the knife slices through her ear like it was butter. It lands with a dull splat on the metal. Blood trickles out, swirling together with the bayou’s grime.
GM: Shrieks split the night air. Raw, hoarse, and long. Micheal feels his fangs growing long in his mouth at the sight and smell of all that blood. Red, hot, and fresh. Not like the cold watered-down piss in those beer bottles. The girl thrashes and bangs her head against the boat’s planks. She’s really bleeding.
Cletus: Cletus idly picks up the ear and begins to eat it. He sucks it dry, then begins to nibble it like boudin.
“Mmm, tastes like… a liar.”
GM: It’s poor fare. The girl is malnourished. The ear is dirty with bayou muck. This is the O’Tolley’s of long pig. But the girl’s fear is real, and lends it a delectable, just-right sourness. This is Marjorie’s lovingly hand-made boss sauce poured over an O’Tolley’s Big O. Cletus’ Beast, so indulged and so well-fed, purrs for more.
It’s unlikely the girl can see what Cletus does.
But she can hear.
She can hear the words. ‘Tastes like.’
She can hear the chewing.
She jerks her head to Micheal’s side and retches, expelling watery yellow-orange vomit all over the boat.
Micheal: Micheal pulls his face away while his Beast calls to bring it closer, to taste that fresh coppery liquid dripping down the girl’s face. He can only stare as Cletus eats the ear. Any disgust he may feel manages to stay down until the girl pukes.
“Fer fuck’s sake,” he cries out, withdrawing his arm for just a moment. Once she’s done, he grabs her hair and rights her head. “You ready to talk, or should I ask my friend here which part of ya he’d like to taste next?”
Cletus: Cletus gobbles down the rest of the girl’s ear, licking his lips.
GM: The girl wails incoherently. They’re big choking cough-sobs interspersed by the odd burp of vomit. Blood and bile trickle down her sweaty face like water from a leaky faucet.
Micheal: “No? Fine,” he grunts, looking over to Cletus. “You got preference?”
Again, Julia flashes through his mind. Could she end up like this, now she knows Coco, he wonders. Tortured by Savoy’s people for information she may not even know.
Cletus: Cletus extends an open, protesting hand, like a man refusing cookies due to a diet. “I shouldn’t, Billy-Rae’d be mighty sauced if I showed up to Bubba’s party already stuffed. Plus, we be needin’ er fer the great honkie gator.”
He looks at the bloodied knife, then adds, ’’Most ’o ’er, at least."
Micheal: “All right then,” Michael growls. He releases his grip on her hair, letting her head fall down. Now he grabs her by the wrist, pulling her face first into the wretched cocktail of mud, blood, and vomit.
GM: The girl feebly struggles against her tormentor’s grip. Blood drips from the side of her head that used to have an ear. She continues that same low, sobbing whine, though the noise is briefly muffled when Micheal presses her face into her own waste. Snort-like wet coughing noises go up instead. When Micheal pulls the girl up, a yellowish mix of vomit and snot is running from her nostrils. She gasps for air.
Micheal: He presses her duct-taped hands out on the floor.
“This can end whenever you want it to.”
He’s not quite sure who he’s talking to.
He wonders how much longer either of them will last. With every injury and humiliation he can feel his Beast swell with pleasure, pulling him in. He twists her wrist, then slams the knife handle-first into the back of her hand.
GM: A gruesome crunch sounds as the girl’s hand shatters beneath the Brujah’s inhuman strength. Another round of high-pitched wails splits the air. A new unpleasant smell wafts up Micheal’s nose, accompanied by a low sss-ing sound… she’s pissing herself. The way her hand feebly twists and flops reminds him of a bird trying to fly with a broken wing.
Mike remembers another time he made someone piss himself. That little boy, whatever his name was, accompanying the nephew who bore his name to Congo Square. They’d been terrified for their lives, until the Brujah said he only intended to return them home, and wasn’t one of the monsters doing God only knows what things two little boys’ feverish imagination could dream up.
The piss still smells the same, a hundred years later.
But it’s hard to imagine another teary-eyed mother thanking him for saving her boy.
Micheal: No, this time the mother will cry for a daughter that’s never coming home. He presses his fist and twists. He feels the girl’s bone and sinew tear underneath his knuckles. Excitement surges through his body.
Cletus: Cletus’ smile widens like a slit cutting his face in two. He picks up another of Wynona-Lynne’s beers. Rather than flicking off its cap, he simply bites the neck off, spitting bloody shards into the bayou’s black waters.
GM: The girl whines and sobs. Vomitty snot dribbles down her chin as Micheal squeezes the pain from her like pulp from an orange.
Micheal: Now he grabs the index finger. An excited growl escapes his lips, and he snaps it back. Another and another, until her hand resembles a crude child’s drawing, with fingers splayed in all directions.
GM: Snap. Shriek. Snap. Shriek. It’s almost like pruning hedges, the snip followed by the branch’s fall. The girl rocks back and forth, wailing and sobbing incoherently.
Micheal: Now he holds the other hand. “Let’s see what we can do with this one.”
He barely recognizes his voice, snarling with glee. Now he grabs the knife. Slice. Her index finger lands onto the hull.
GM: It’s been a long time since Micheal did any cooking. That was his sister’s job. (What was her name? Has it really been that long?) Still, he’d watched her at work a few times. He remembers how it sounded when the knife went thunk against the tabletop, slicing through those carrots.
Thunk goes the knife again. A vaguely carrot-shaped object hits the wood again. This time, the girl doesn’t scream. She tries and just makes a pitiful animal-like whine that dies in her throat. Her eyes roll back in her head as she slumps face-first into her own blood, piss and puke. She must be unconscious. Micheal isn’t sure if it’s from pain, fear, or both. Probably both. The kine are so fragile.
It’s hard not to wonder though, as he stares down:
What would Bree think of this? Her big brother cutting off girls’ ears and fingers, shoving their faces into their own waste?
He can still remember those miserable, poverty-stricken years without their father. Then those miserable years during the Depression, when Bree lived in a ragged tent on a raft and “buried” one of her granddaughters in the Mississippi. Times were hard. She wasn’t above stealing food—how many starving people are?—but she never hurt anyone.
What would she think?
What would Julia?
He’s doing for them. He has to, now Julia is in Coco’s clutches. It’s Bree’s fault, if she hadn’t… hadn’t asked him….
That other part of him knows what he’s really doing. He stares at the girl and he slowly raises a trembling hand to his mouth.
It doesn’t feel like he has much of a choice. If he doesn’t play the part, it could be him on the floor. Or maybe he does. Maybe he hasn’t even tried. His hand slowly lowers and he looks over to Cletus.
“Dunno how much we’re gonna get outta her at this point. I can patch her up a touch, work on her later.”
Cletus: Cletus chuckles. “Ya done mighty fine, Micheal. Mighty fine.” He walks toward the trembling Kindred and dying mortal, broken beer bottle still in hand. “I’m sure that had she done had anything to be sayin’, she would’ve been done said it.”
He smiles wickedly, with a grin as fierce and cold and hungry as the gators’ who prowl the swamps.
“Like had she been an actual spy o’ dat Matheson ‘stead of jus’ ’nother hobo-stray my boys picked up from the train.”
His eyes burn under his manskin brim. “But ya see, Micheal, we had to be sure ya could be goin’ the distance. That y’all had the stomach fer it.”
Micheal: Micheal stares dumbly at the unconscious form as Cletus explains her purpose. His eyes drift along the the blood, the piss, the vomit. He can hear his namesake whisper in his ear…
Like you killed me…
His hand shoves aside the bottle as Cletus moves to drive it into her. “No, leave it,” he growls. “I’ll take care of her.”
Cletus: As the Brujah’s hand blocks the Giovannini’s, is there a momentary flicker of anger that overtakes the latter? Does his fanged smile turn into a temporary snarl, a brief flash of predatory aggression? If so, the moment is as swift as lightning.
Cletus steps back, smiling like a Southern gentleman—save for his blood-streaked face and protruding fangs. “By all means.”
Micheal: He moves in front of her, bringing her hands up, examining the bloody stumps on one. He drops them, and pulls her head to the side. His finger runs along her bloody cheek. He pulls it away and puts it into his mouth. A moment is spent sucking on it.
GM: The girl’s blood tastes almost… moldy, at first. This kine hasn’t been taking the best care of herself. She must have had a poor diet. But her vitae is hot and sour, like a Chinese stir-fry, spiked with her adrenaline and fear. Such sweet fear. The ingredients might not have been the best, but the meal’s preparation and seasoning is flawless.
Mike’s trained medical eye surmises the girl is in a poor state. She’s lost an ear and finger, after all, and will continue to lose blood until that’s staunched. Her hands will need… Mike isn’t sure how 21st century doctors would treat her mangled hand, but he knows broken hands don’t mend anywhere nearly as neat and clean as broken arms and legs. Lot more bones.
Even beyond her immediate injuries, however, the girl looks in poor health. Cletus had mentioned she was homeless and scavenging for food. A doctor’s visit likely wouldn’t have been a poor idea in any case.
Micheal: She’s probably a goner without help.
He might be able to. But he needs to get her out of here.
“I’m gonna take her with me,” he says, looking up at Cletus. “You got a kit? Don’t want her to die on the way there.”
Cletus: Cletus actually rocks back from Micheal’s words as if they are blows catching him off balance. He then rolls forward on his cottonmouth snakeskin boots and snarls:
“The hell ya is!”
“Dat girl there be ma property! Chum bait fer da great honkey gator.” He laughs mockingly. “Ya seriously be wantin’ to save the kine?! Don’t be tellin’ me ya be actually wantin’ to save er?! Don’t be tellin’ me ya gone pussy-yeller! Not after ya been did such a good job spittin’ on Savoy’s bitch!”
Micheal: Micheal rises and turns so he’s staring straight into those icy blue eyes. “Saving her fer myself,” he snarls, lips pulling back. “Way I see it, I played with her, I get to decide what I do with her.”
It’s so easy. He is, after all, just a predator staking claims on its prey.
Cletus: Cletus guffaws, as if his tension has been relieved by Micheal’s show of gumption, or at least teeth.
“Son, ya can be seein’ whatever way those Irish eyes be lettin’ ya, but yer on ma land, at my invite, and dat’s ma property.”
“Now,” he says a smile cutting cruelly across his face, “if yer wantin’ da pleasure o’ rendering ’er cold gator chum, then by all means.”
He extends his hand with a genteel gesture almost comically at odds with the grim, bloody surroundings. “Or,” he continues to drawl, “if yer still be wantin’ ta play, I promise ya’ll have plenty o’ chances at Bubba’s party.”
His voice then becomes icy. “But don’t go a’makin’ me wonder if Preston’s right after all. Don’t be makin’ me believe yer guts as weak as water.”
Micheal: “No. I want her.” He continues to stare the Giovannini down. “You want to exchange something fer her, fine. But you’d better believe I’m taking her.”
Cletus: Cletus responds to the stare with a vice-like gaze of his own. He flicks his nose casually with the pad of his thumb, then smiles. His eyes somehow seem to burn brighter, like the butane torch has been only simmering thus far and now is set full throttle. There’s a hunger, a heat that could peel paint from a plantation house or the flesh from a man’s face.
Micheal: Micheal’s own gaze flickers away in the relative heat of the monster’s. His shoulders hunch, his Beast cowers in the lair of a superior predator, and he feels himself shrink away. Maybe they’re right, he is weak, cowardly.
“Fine.” He bends down and picks up the knife, then turns toward the unconscious form.
Cletus: Cletus just keeps staring, though the heat is no longer an acetylene inferno. He says nothing. A true Southern gentlemen is gracious in victory, after all.
Micheal: His hand grips the handle like a vice. He pulls the girl’s head back, exposing her neck. He pushes the blade against the vein, still as yet hot with blood. He pauses.
GM: He can feel the pulse against his rough hands. The steady thump of her heart, which was all-but hammering its way out of her chest when she was conscious.
Micheal: He can’t take a deep breath, ready himself, all he can do is delay, then…
“No.” He drops the knife. “You already got me to torture some girl, had nothing to do with us. I’ve done enough for you.”
Cletus: Cletus frowns. Disappointed.
Also, a bit worried. He reaches down to pick up the knife. “I been told ya to be careful wit Bubba,” he scolds without any trace of mockery or levity.
He examines the skinning blade, then stows it. He looks back to Micheal.
“Ya’ll feel right as rain once we do a lil’ huntin’. Ya e’er hunt gators ’fore?”
“Firs’ rule is to be bringin’, or makin’, some chum.” He accentuates his point by suddenly punching through the young woman’s chest, shattering her ribs and sternum like drywall. Then, he plunges the broken-necked bottle, held in his other hand all this time, into the young woman’s chest, twisting it back and forth like a saw under his brutal administration. With a swift, strong flick of the wrist, he scoops up the woman’s mashed, lacerated heart and tilts the ruined bottle to his lips. He lets the still-warm heartsblood flow down his lips, chin, and shirt.
“Now dat’s the gospel truth.”
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