Adrian was feeding. The hunger in his gut was burning, but he found his grisly meal not entirely appetizing, though he should have. She was probably 16 years old at best. He had caught her outside after curfew running down an alley. All too easy prey. Maybe she had lost track of time and was too far from her shelter when she realized the sun was setting. Maybe she was attempting a secret tryst with some beau. It didn’t matter.
He siphoned just enough blood from her veins to take the edge off his thirst. She was only the beginning. It would be a long night.
Now what to do with his semi-conscious victim? He didn’t know where she lived, and in any case, it would be too dangerous to him to go near a family shelter. People think they know how to repel and even to kill a vampire, but he’s not quite the same as his television and movie counterparts. In any event, they wouldn’t understand what he was trying to do.
As he picked her up, the girl murmured incoherently. The blood was already clotting at the two puncture points in her neck. He couldn’t just leave her here. There were things much worse than Adrian roaming the night, and any one of them could end her with a messy and prolonged death.
He looked around. Doorways but almost certainly locked, and if one was open, it would leave her too vulnerable. He saw a door near the end of the alley that seemed to lead to a basement, some sort of storage space.
“Yes, I should be able to pick it.”
He set the girl down to the right of the door and searched the inside pocket of his jacket for his lock picks. “This one should do it. Not hard work for someone who was once a thief.” Even after he had stopped stealing, he kept the picks as a reminder of times past. Good thing too in this case.
A few moments work was all it took and the door sprung open. His spell, or rather the chemical effect of his bite on the child, should make her docile for a while longer. Hopefully, when she came to herself again and found she was in a locked room at night, she’d have the sense to stay put until sunrise.
Adrian lifted the girl again, she seemed all but weightless, and carried her down a short flight of steps to what looked like a long abandoned warehouse. No scents. Not even rats. It was empty, which meant it was safe. No need to be elaborate. He put her down on the floor at the foot of the steps and retraced his path upward, into the open night.
He made sure the door was locked securely before he left. If the girl was quiet, chances are nothing would try to get at her. In the world of horror this part of Los Angeles has become, everyone learned survival skills very quickly…or died.
Adrian sniffed the air. Prey was becoming more scarce lately. Both the healthy and the sick knew when to take shelter, not only because of him, because he was only one, but because of the addicts, the looters, and the night gangs. The best he could do for any of those was to relieve them of their lives, usually by a broken neck or back rather than feeding. No need to create any others like himself. The human opportunists who robbed, kidnapped, and murdered those of their kind did not deserve to live.
But there were many innocents inside the containment area, both the well and the sick. Adrian could help them, if only he could find them, especially the sick, in time.
The girl he had left behind was well. He could taste it in her blood. While he certainly helped her, it was the sick who needed him the most.
Adrian could smell him blocks away. The scent was unmistakably one of the sick, someone very far gone. Hopefully he could reach his next victim while his “gift” could still be effective.
There. The burned out car. He’s probably homeless, turned out of wherever he’d been living the first time he coughed up blood. Maybe he was trying to reach the hospital. Maybe he heard they were working on a cure there. Poor bastard. It would have done him no good to go there.
Motorcycles. Addicts on wheels. The scent of the chemicals they’d been huffing sickened the vampire. All of the pharmacies had long since been raided, both by the sick and the addicts, for anything that would get you loaded. The addicts had turned to everything else, from gasoline to printer toner, to huff, to poison their brains. They figured they were as good as dead, trapped in the confinement with the dead and dying.
Damn! They found the sick one. They’ll kill him.
Adrian leapt into the middle of the gang as they were circling the derelict car, the sick man’s shelter.
“He’s mine! You will not touch him!”
Like the madman he was, Adrian began to sweep through the addicts, shattering bones, ripping flesh. His strength was many times that of even the strongest man, his ferocity like a pack of starving wolves. When he struck, there was no mercy in him.
It was over very quickly. Their blood was everywhere, but Adrian was not interested in it. Only the blood of the sick one.
He was so far gone. Bleeding out the eyes, the ears, other orifices. Adrian opened the passenger door and leaned into the backseat. The man, old before his time, too weak to escape or even struggle, was Adrian’s for the taking.
And take he did, but only a little. Not enough to satisfy his blood lust but, if all went well, enough to revive the sick one. All he had to do was stay where we was until morning.
“Rest well and be safe,” Adrian whispered. For an instant, he could feel compassion.
The monster staked the four dead addicts out as a warning that this was his territory and no others should seek prey here. He was sure it would terrify the man in the car when he woke up at sunrise and saw the human debris Adrian left behind. It was the price of this man’s life.
An hour passed…two. Only the addicts were still roaming but they were far off. Even the night gangs avoided him, knowing an encounter with the vampire meant death.
This was going too slow. He couldn’t reach enough people by hunting at night. Adrian needed a way to get to a lot of people all at once. If only he dared trust the doctors at the hospital.
But that’s how it all began. He couldn’t go back. He didn’t trust them. Adrian wanted to help the well and the sick in the containment, but he didn’t want to die. Even this half-alive state was preferable to oblivion, at least while he had a purpose.
Adrian was one of the first to try the new cure. Why not? He got infected helping Dr. Weston develop it. The cure worked. The disease, the horrible disease (curse patient zero for living long enough to take an international flight from Syria to Los Angeles) had been eradicated in his blood stream.
But there were side effects. Of course there were side effects, there were always side effects to medications, especially those developed in desperation as a response to a plague that had forced the police and National Guard to cordon off over ten square blocks of downtown L.A. trapping the sick with the well and the criminals.
Adrian Connor, once a small time crook, jailed, released on probation, had gone to school, become a medical lab technician. Naturally, couldn’t find a job as a convicted felon. Dr. Weston took a chance on him. He was the only one who did. So Adrian owed him a lot, including staying in the confinement area and working at the hospital when he should have run, escaped before the barbed wire and concrete barriers were put up.
He owed it to Weston to even get affected working on a cure, and what do you know, it worked.
But it also made Adrian a latter-day vampire…with a twist. Biting a sick person if they weren’t too close to death, cured them in eight to twelve hours. Biting a well person passed on an immunity to the disease.
Weston asked one more thing of Adrian, one favor too far.
Biting people one by one was too slow. Weston would make a cure, he could immunize thousands with a serum that would not induce vampirism, but it would take all of Adrian’s blood to do it.
Adrian could function during the day, but another side effect of the cure was extreme photosensitivity, especially to sunlight. He stayed down by day. He found a place, maintenance tunnels under the streets, that he could block off with barriers only he had the strength to move.
So for the past month, every night, Adrian the Vampire roamed the streets looking for prey to either cure, if they were innocent, or kill of they were addicts, gangbangers, or looters. He felt like he was performing a macabre public service.
A public service, but both those he wanted to help and those who deserved to die were becoming more effective at avoiding the night. How much longer could Adrian perform his “public service” before he ran out of people and they ran out of time?
Adrian climbed up the side of a building and found a perch on the roof. It wasn’t very tall, but he could see the hospital from there, all lit up, the only building in the containment area that was.
Inside, he could imagine Dr. Weston and his team working in the lab, testing rats, testing whatever human rats who had come crawling into their domain. Hoping some variation of the chemical cocktail they’d given Adrian would work, would cure without creating monsters.
Adrian had become a monster. Yes, he’d once been a criminal, but he never hurt anyone, never killed anyone. Now the craving for blood drove him mad, he was having a harder time taking just a little from his victims and not draining their bodies.
He tried to assuage his need for blood by channeling it into a need to kill, the criminals, the human “monsters,” but that was becoming less effective night after night as well. How comfortable he had gotten with killing, justifying murder by saying the dead he created were worse monsters than he was.
“When will it all end?” Adrian took his head in his hands and wept. He had murdered four men in less than a minute. Where was his compassion? Where was his regret?
There was only one ending. Barring a miracle cure from the outside could be found and disseminated to the people in containment, there was only one service left to perform.
The hat and sunglasses helped as Adrian walked through the main doors of the hospital into the brilliant overhead lighting. The place was trashed of course, but Weston kept the lights going and the security cameras working in case any plague victims came to him.
“I know you can see me, Doctor. I’m here.”
Five minutes later, the elevator doors opened. They could only be operated by a security key so no one went up unless Weston said they did.
“I’m here, Adrian.”
“I didn’t think you’d come alone. You know what I am now.”
“I know you’re a good man who’s in a situation no one deserves.”
“We’re all in a situation no one deserves!” Adrian immediately regretted his outburst but Weston seemed unaffected.
“You can help thousands, Adrian. You can save them all.”
“I just have to die to do it, don’t I?”
“I won’t lie to you. The chances of you surviving the procedure are very slim.”
Weston just stood there waiting. He’d locked the doors of the elevator open and stood in the lobby in front of Adrian.
Adrian the vampire, Adrian the monster, could have easily overpowered his mentor and friend, gotten into the elevator, and from there, gone anywhere he wanted, done anything he wanted, from curing the sick to killing everyone in the building. Weston must know that. He’s an idiot and a fool.
A minute ticked by while the vampire considered his options. In the end, there was only one final choice. He wasn’t a killer. He only wanted to help.
“I’m ready, Dr. Weston.”
“Then come with me.” Weston held out his hand, beckoning.
Together Adrian Connor and Dr. Carl Weston entered the elevator. The doors shut on the monster’s life for the last time.
It should be pretty obvious that the television series Containment was the inspiration for this little tale. I recently reviewed the series. I changed a few things. It’s Los Angeles and not Atlanta. The plague was introduced by patient zero from another country, and wasn’t introduced as part of some sinister plot and cover up. It’s a simple tale, really. I just wanted to write a vampire story with a twist. Hopefully, this is twisted enough for my readers.