Boyd climbed through the window which looked out the back of the building, walked along the wall to the spot where he planned to rappel to the ground. He stopped, locked into place by a sound.
The gate was opening and a vehicle was entering the Village Elder’s compound. Too late at night/early in the morning for normal visits.
He climbed back to the window ledge, pulled himself up to the flat roof and belly-crawled to the edge fronting the courtyard. Rap music still vibrated from dead Babue’s room.
What he saw and heard astonished him and called up a predatory grin. An American Hummer had just parked. When Lieutenant Nichols got out, the Village elder enthusiastically greeted with hugs, as an old friend.
Well, well, well. Major Russell will be deeply interested.
Boyd slithered back across the roof and down the wall.
Backtracking his trail from Dostrem’s house was faster than the journey in. Boyd moved with speed and grace that were beyond even the inhuman abilities he’d found since his transformation,
Blood sang along his veins like wind through high-tension electric lines. Every pebble on the road and each leaf in the trees that stood in rows along each side, were clear. His legs seemed capable of increasing speed and endurance as he pushed them for greater performance.
He had, for the first time since his transformation by Anna, his New Orleans vampire lover, tasted human blood. The amount was minimal, but spiked with hashish, it blew through his mind and body like a river of fire.
Vic Russell’s eyes were weary from straining through the night-vision goggles to detect possible threats as he and Flynn waited for Boyd’s return.
It was nearly four-thirty when a flickering movement, like a black moth flying through deepest shadows, caught his focus at the periphery of his vision. He swung the short barrel of the submachine gun to engage the moving shape if it was hostile.
When the sergeant was in the vehicle, he immediately began changing clothes. The reason for his haste came through Russell’s nose. Two pungent odors reeked from Boyd’s clothes: hashish and blood.
“What the hell happened? Why were you gone so long? It shouldn’t have taken so long to slip into the compound and scare the shit out of the thief,” Flynn said.
The stench of blood was heavy in his nostrils as if it was drying in the mucous membranes themselves. Why the odor of hash clung like a reeking blanket, overlaying the gore, Russell waited for Boyd to explain.
“Sergeant Major, Sir: my approach to the target, the surveillance and moving to confront the man in the compound without alarm took most of the time. When I found Dostrem, he was stoned on hash and dancing around to rap music while he swung a sword through the air. When he became aware of me he tried to cut my head off. He failed,” Boyd said.
As he finished the last words of his report, he raised a black folding knife like a torch. The blade flicked out with a precise, deadly, snap. Without light, Russell and Flynn could imagine darkening rusty stains along the blade.
Flynn made no comment. He turned on his night vision goggles, adjusted them and drove back toward battalion headquarters. When they reached Warehouse Six, Boyd got out of the vehicle.
“Leave the jumpsuit and knife. I’ll take care of them, Russell said.
Boyd hesitated, and handed the folded black suit to the Major. He put the closed knife on top.
“I had no choice, Sir. He was stoned and trying to kill me,” he said.
“I understand. If you need some extra time off to catch up on sleep, let us know. Otherwise, come to my office day after tomorrow before you’re scheduled to go on duty,” Russell said.
“Taking a life is something that grinds on your mind, Boyd. The Major and I have both been there,” Flynn said.
Boyd waved a casual salute as the Hummer drove away. He opened the warehouse gate, locked it behind him and climbed to the roof again. Not his assigned location, but the one he chose for the moment.
He stripped off his shirt and poured tepid water from his canteen over drying streaks of blood that had run down his chest. The odor wasn’t objectionable, but it wasn’t, as he’d feared, seductive.
If the long-eared owl that flew past the building took notice of the man who sat with his arms locked around his shins, he would have looked calm and at rest. The vampire’s body was peaceful, but his mind was afire.
He would tell Major Russell about Nichols’ visit to the Dostrem compound, but not immediately. He decided to first look more closely at the situation.
Tainted with hashish, the blood of his victim still flamed along his nerves with an intensity that threatened to make his muscles throb. His skin seemed tight as the head on a banjo, resonating with the thin winds blowing from the mountains.
Taking Babue Dostrem’s life, feeling the man’s struggles end and tasting his blood had been intoxicating, almost erotic.
He wanted more.