James’s Note: Here we bring in one of my favorite charters, Israel. I love vampire stories that play around with vamps from different time periods, but they never seem to pick any of the cool ones. We’re just getting to know him here, but I hope you end up liking Israel as much as I do.
While I might not be sold on the idea of this all being wrapped up with a little bow for me, my strongest and indeed only evidence pointed to the Brotherhood, so that was where I had to start.
I pulled up to a shody office, located in one of those grimy strip malls that almost always contains a pawn shop. As a matter of fact, this one did contain a pawn shop. It also contained a donut shop, laundromat, and a very dodgy looking storefront that purported to be a church. The office was unlabeled except for the address. The door was open even though it was the middle of the night. Considering this was a vampire run establishment, that wasn’t surprising.
As I walked in, I was mildly surprised to find the place was at least clean. While it wasn’t exactly run down, the contrast with the opulence of the penthouse I had just visited was somewhat jarring.
Behind the desk that had almost certainly come from Ikea where it had enjoyed an unpronounceable Swedish name, sat a harried looking man in his twenties in a suit that had almost assuredly come from Goodwill. He was currently shouting at someone over the phone.
“Look Nicolai, I don’t care how much they’re offering. We are not a goddamn NASCAR team and we don’t take sponsors. Besides, I know his type. The money starts off free, just to make sure you’re good and grateful. Then, you’re slowly asked to do things, purely out of your sense of gratitude. Before you know it, you’re the expendable foot soldiers in an elder vampire war. Don’t ask me how I know. Tell him to shove his money up his ass, if he can still remember which orifice that is after so many years of disuse.”
He slammed the phone down and collapsed backwards in his chair, narrowly failing to flip over backwards. He suddenly noticed me and straightened, looking slightly embarrassed. But, to his credit, only slightly.
I smiled. “You must be Israel.”
“That’s right,” he replied, “ what can I do for you?”
I did an almost cartoonish routine of looking around and behind me to make sure we were alone. “I want to talk to you about the Brotherhood of Blood.”
Israel’s eyes narrowed, and then he sniffed. Vampires, at least of his sort, have a very strong sense of smell. I knew he was performing a check of my vampire credential, which I was spectacularly failing.
He eyed me suspiciously, but not unfriendly. “Okay, you’re definitely not a vampire but since you know about the Brotherhood, I’m also guessing you’re not here to talk about the light bill. At least I really hope you’re not here to talk about the light bill. I’m a little behind, and if they’re sending supernatural entities to collect my overdue utilities, then I’m screwed.”
Damn it, I thought, what is with vampires today and actually being likable.