The tepid light offered by the moon and stars that managed to shake free of the thickening clouds was plenty. Boyd made his way through the dusty streets as surely as a black panther through native jungles. The target was only another hundred yards away.
He slowed each step as he drew close to the compound. The facility had a metal gate set in mud-brick walls. A guard was there. The smell of heavy cigarette tobacco reached across the windless street to bite the lining of the vampire’s nostrils.
Good. Unless the sentry moved, his location was a known factor in the equation.
A quick turn around the streets fronting and enclosing the Village Elder’s compound revealed no more guards.
A damned big layout for a man of his stature. Too big.
Boyd climbed a tree across the alleyway from a corner of the wall, and sat. The vantage point was not visible from the gate, but gave him a view of the courtyard. He watched people drift away from the largest building, going to smaller structures. Dim electric lights came on in shuttered windows as doors closed for the night. Servants moved inside the walls, clearing away garbage from their master’s dinner. Finally even that activity stopped.
Boyd slipped back the sleeve of his jumpsuit and peeled the Velcro closure away from the face of his watch. Almost three o’clock. Time to visit the leader of the thieves and deliver the major’s message. The clerk at the MP detachment had identified the head of the group of three thieves as Babue Dostrem, son of the Village Elder, Muhammad Dostrem.
He watched as the man he’d caught outside the warehouse fence climbed external stairs in the compound to a room on the second floor of a building in the corner of the facility. Soon, the dim electric light from the room’s window into the courtyard was gone. He slipped down from the tree, keeping the trunk between his body and the enclosure.
The idiots who’d designed the compound had built the houses within five feet of the security wall. The gate, with its guard post stood on the other side of an open yard, about fifty yards square. The vampire’s approach was hidden from the guard by the building. Boyd used a black nylon rope and a hook to climb the wall behind the house where Babue had disappeared. He stepped around broken glass set in the top of the wall. As he placed a hand on the building, preparing to leap to the roof, he heard/felt the unmistakable rhythms of American rap music.
Interesting. What other Western ways has daddy Dostrem’s boy adopted?
As he came closer to a narrow open window the answer was clear. Hash. Babue was not a good little Muslim. The oily-herb smell with its slight sweetish undertone seeped into the Afghan night.
The younger Dostrem would be easier to scare and intimidate if he was stoned. Too bad. He may think the vampire was a hashish-induced, frightening vision.
Boyd slipped his way across the roof. He was silent but knew the thumping bass covered any sound of his movement and the target was probably not acutely watchful. He dropped to the landing outside Babue’s door and crouched below the waist level wall, then waited for ten minutes, checking the guard at the gate several times. When there was no movement from the guard shack and the music from inside continued to thump, he gently tried the door latch. Unlocked!
Millimeter by millimeter he pushed the door inward. As he did, a new sound, one he hadn’t heard over the rap music came clearer because it was out of rhythm. Someone was humming and trying to imitate the singer.
Boyd crouched at the bottom of the door. Finally he could see, in candlelight, what Babue was doing. The man wore only a loincloth and was dancing around his room, waving a short sword. His eyes were closed. He swung the glittering blade in the air with downward strokes on heavier drumbeats. A bong sat on a table beside the bed. Smoke, in a thin, intermittent stream, drifted from the mouthpiece.
It was time.
He stood, pushed the door open and stepping inside, closed it behind him. The Afghani was unaware of his presence. After several minutes Boyd tired of watching the stoned thief shuffling around, waving a sword.om as””” Drinkard 10/26/11 6:33 “””””
Hello, Babue,” he said.
The Afghani didn’t pause in his dance.
“I’m your demon,” Boyd said.
As if he’d been stung by a desert scorpion, Babue Dostrem locked into brief rigidity and opened his eyes.
He yelled a wordless war cry and swung the blade at Boyd.
The air where the vampire had stood whistled its emptiness.
Dostrem spun and saw the intruder was now behind him, standing unruffled next to the bed.
Without another scream he lifted the sword with both hands and swung it in an arc meant to cleave his opponent from cranium to breastbone.
His target, again, wasn’t there.
As Babue began lifting the blade for another attempt, he could not. Boyd had his left forearm across the Afghani’s right arm and held Dostrem’s left wrist like the grip of iron manacles.
The intruder wasn’t a stranger—the thief had seen him before, in the warehouse alley.
The vampire opened his mouth and silvery fangs glittered in the yellow candlelight as he pulled the Afghani to him.
Dostrem started to scream, but his windpipe didn’t inhale air. Blood spurted in choking gouts as he felt his knees collapse. His sight dimmed and melted into final darkness.
When Boyd released his arm, Dostrem dropped to the floor, both carotid arteries pumping the body dry.