Estimated reading time — 13 minutes
The store, called Ferocious Arms and Armory, was heavy with the scent of cured leather. Standing in front of the counter Darrick eyeballed the katana, giving each square inch the attention it deserved. Among the other gleaming weapons that hung on every wall of the shop, this one stood out. The red dragon printed on the sheath gave the sword style, and it felt good when he held it in his hands, as if the cold iron was a part of him. But it was best to consider a purchase of this magnitude with care.
“Is it full tang?”
“I reckon so,” The old man behind the counter said scratching at his gray facial hair.
“Can it take edge on edge contact?”
“No… No sword can. Not for long any way. It’s only in the movies that people slap swords around like that. It’s a real good way to bend or break your weapon. Also… it’s a two hundred dollar replica.”
Darrick did his best to cut him a nasty look and said, “But it’ll chop through… like, three cows right?”
The clerk rolled his eyes and gave a labored sigh. “Yeah… It’ll cut through five or six, and it’ll really let you focus your chi to super-human levels.” The clerk rubbed his eyes with the heel of his palm. “So, are you going to buy the thing or not? The mall is about to close and you’ve been looking at the sword for two hours.”
“Yep, I am.” Darrick wasn’t positive, but it seemed as if the clerk’s voice dripped with sarcasm. However, he’d resolved to let it slide for the sake of getting the sword.
He yanked out the money, and the greedy clerk snatched the bills from his hands then popped open the cash register. He stuffed the money in and said, “Cool, thanks for your business, but I got to close up shop now. I got bowling tonight, and I’ve been late two times this month. The guys in my league kind of frown on that.”
“Whatever.” Darrick grabbed the sword off the counter and walked out of the store a far more dangerous man than he had ever been. He clinched the sword with in his hands as he walked the three miles back to his place in the dark.
Once he arrived at his studio apartment, he cleared the Miller High Life cans and Monarch Vodka bottles off of the coffee table and replaced them with the sword. He brushed his fingertips over the blade, and it sent a chill racing down his spine. One of his major life goals, owning a samurai sword, was complete, but it came with unexpected strings attached.
The forces of the undead were amassing, and he seemed to be the only one that gave a crap. It’s not like the world didn’t know; they just didn’t care. However, that sounded about right for humanity. They were, and always had been, procrastinators, and they always wanted someone else to save them from their own stupidity. Darrick, as Atlas before him, would shoulder this burden and send the children of the night back into the shadows. He smiled as he assumed the lotus position on the somewhat sticky floor. He slid the sword off the coffee table and rested the blade on his lap as he said, “Dear Buddha, see that this sword is true, and guide it into the hearts of the undead. Let none stand without fear when this blade is used, and let all the girls think it’s completely awesome.” Thus the sword became his holy weapon of destruction, and in a voice as deep as his vocal cords could permit he proclaimed, “I name you…Foe Chopper.” He raised the sword into the air, and the ceremony was almost complete. All he had to do now was christen it with undead blood, and that would come soon enough.
After three hours of working out to sword practice videos he’d found on YouTube, he was sure no modern master could stop his speed, cunning and reflexes. He had an unnatural ability to learn the fighting arts. In fact, all he had to do was see a move once or twice and he was able to repeat it perfectly, so in his estimation he’d already mastered six different martial arts from YouTube and Kung fu magazines alone.
Since he’d received government funding a year ago, it allowed him to devote himself to his cause, and he would only get better and better. There was no stopping him. He cracked open a bottle of Blue Nun to celebrate, and didn’t rest until it had been drained along with a few beers and a shot or two of vodka.
When the world became too blurry from the alcohol, he crashed on top of his bed, and he couldn’t help but imagine all the ways he’d use that blade to slice through the undead. The fighting would be like a perfect, yet brutal, ballet, and the night would know him by his code name forever more. He was to become the Dark Slayer, and that name would be on the lips of every hellish being that walked the earth. The sword lay beside him as he drifted off.
The buzzing of the doorbell pulled him from the alcohol-induced coma that passed for sleep. Sure, he slept better than he had in years, but that didn’t mean much as he usually only got a couple of hours in. He always felt ragged, and even with the extra sleep, he still had the hangover to contend with.
Not many people came by these days, but he couldn’t blame them. They wanted to keep living in their fantasy world where bad things didn’t happen to good people, and the dead stayed dead. However, he wouldn’t do it anymore. The more he accepted the world for the way it was, the less he could relate to others, and the more he reflected reality’s harsh truths back at them the more they feared him. It was sad really. The lengths people would go to hide from what was going on never ceased to amaze him.
The doorbell belted out its thin but insistent ring once more, and he shot from his bed. It could only be Miss Halloran, his governmental contact. He snatched the sword off of the bed and shoved it into his closet so she wouldn’t see it. He didn’t need any hassle about it not being a regulation weapon, and he sure as hell didn’t need any flack about all the beer cans either. As an agent in training he was not supposed to drink. However, it was the only thing that calmed him after his workouts, and it was the only way he could get any sleep. So, he grabbed the armful of cans and bottles off the coffee table and shoved them into the trash as he yelled, “Just a second!”
He sprinted to the small mirror on his wall and slapped his hair into shape then rushed to the door. Darrick put his eye up to the peephole, and he saw Miss Halloran’s all too round face distorted by the fish eye lens of the hole. He lingered at the sight for a moment, just to make sure that no one else had followed her. Some might call it paranoid, but one could never be too careful when dealing with either the government or the undead. After a few moments of watching her pace in front of his door, he was satisfied she was still one of the good guys. His hand shot up to the dead bolt, and he unlocked the door.
“Morning,” She said walking in without waiting for an invitation. She could be forward at times, but that was one of the things he liked about her. It was also one of the things he despised.
“Morning,” He repeated as he walked over to his sofa and plopped down. She shut the door behind her and strutted further into the room.
“You haven’t been to any of the meetings in a few weeks, Darrick. Is everything ok?”
He nodded, but said nothing. She never used his code name, and he was sure she did it just to piss him off. Although, he’d never been too adept at reading the female kind. She could have been coming on to him for all he knew. It didn’t matter much to him either way. He had neither time for anger or sex. All that mattered was his first real mission, and that mission was happening tonight. Nothing would stop him from being ready. Besides, Miss Halloran, at best, could be described as frumpy. “Nope, haven’t been to one in a little while.”
“We do the same shit … like, all the freaking time. I just don’t get it and I hate going,” He said.
“Well, the others manage to show up… every time. I don’t think it can be that bad. Besides, attending those meetings is one of the things that got you here,” She said swirling her hands in the air to signal the apartment. She always had to threaten his funding. It was the first place she went to get him to do as she wanted, and she knew he couldn’t say no. However, he wasn’t going to give up without at least a little fight.
“The government has billions of dollars, and the best they can do is toss to me a one room apartment in the shittiest part of town. I’m not too impressed with the way they treat their people.”
Her face scrunched into a mix of exasperation and disgust as he spoke. They’d played this game too many times, and he knew what was going to come next. She reached into her purse and pulled out a small white bag and tossed it onto the coffee table. The bag rattled as it slid across the table and came to a stop on his pack of Camels. “You got to keep up with everything if you want it to stay like this.”
“I have been.” He scratched at his stubble and continued, “Everything’s been hard lately, but I said I’d keep your rules and I’m a man of my word.”
“I know you are, so could you just come to the meetings like you promised?”
“Yeah… whatever Miss Halloran.” She hated it when he called her Miss, but that was why he did it so often.
“I’m not trying to be mean, but I feel you should use my proper title. I like you. However, we need to keep our rolls clear.” She glanced down at the floor and said, “I’ve stuck my neck out for you.”
“I know and I’m going to make you proud. I just need more time.”
She put her hands on her hips and sighed, “Ok, you can skip the next one, but you need to come to all the rest. I mean it.”
“I’ll be there.”
“Ok. I’m going to leave you alone for now. I’ll be back tomorrow so we can have a little more substantial talk,” She looked around the room and grimaced. “Also, clean this place up. It smells like feet in here.”
“Let me know if you need any help.” She opened the door and walked out.
He spent that afternoon organizing his gear for his first mission. His nunchucks, throwing stars, wood stakes and homemade pipe bombs were either placed in his bag or on his tac vest, and when night fell he’d be ready for the gathering of the undead that was happening that night.
Because he was taking action without clearance from Halloran, he was risking everything, but there were too many traitors within the organizations ranks to trust them with any of the details of his mission. It was going to be a sticky situation no matter what, but if he could take down a nest as large as the one he found by himself, they’d be forced to make him a full agent.
He glanced down at the paper bag she’d tossed on the coffee table, and he snatched it up and stuck it in the tac vest. If something bad happened tonight he needed to be able to at least pretend he was playing by some of their rules when they pulled him in.
As night fell, the Dark Slayer, crouched in the trees outside the green two-story house at the end of Maple Avenue. The house itself was nice, at least, nicer than the mobile home he grew up in as a kid, but underneath it all was the stink of the undead. There were already five or six vamps in the house, and they sometimes glared out the windows looking for their comrades or checking for security threats. However, he was too well hidden in the dew soaked underbrush that grew wild on the far left side of the house.
As he crouched in the darkness, the damp and cold night air bit into him like a wild animal. It would have been more bearable if he’d wore more than his black sleeveless Metallica shirt. However, it was important that the vamps saw how ripped he was when he made his assault. His biceps were a powerful form of psychological warfare, and he needed to use every tool in his arsenal to take them down. He’d trained a long time for this, and a little cold weather couldn’t stop him.
He’d show the organization he meant business, and they’d have to let him join. Hell, he’d come so far from where he started, and he’d shown too much gumption to be turned down now. At one time he’d been just like everyone else. He’d once thought the existence of vampires to be little more than a myth, but a documentary on the history channel last Halloween showed him otherwise. At first the show just talked about boring historical stuff, but towards the end it brought on a few actual vampires. They were tall, nerdy looking things, but underneath he could tell they were pure evil. They were dressed all in black, and even the men wore fingernail polish and lipstick, as if they were girls. The thought that people knew these creatures of the night roamed the streets ground on his nerves.
He had begun his search for vampires soon after he’d seen the show, and it didn’t take long to find them. They didn’t even cover their tracks. For God’s sake, they had web sites, and still no one did a thing to stop them. He didn’t read much of the sites’ contents, but they had pictures all over them. He couldn’t believe they could be so bold. But, the wicked often were, and that was the problem with the world. Evil gets right in everyone’s face and no one stands up to it, but the Dark Slayer wasn’t like everyone else. He was a man of action, and most of that action tonight would come from his razor sharp, and completely bitching, samurai sword.
This particular nest of vampires he’d found by accident while looking for research material at Wilson’s Comics. The Dark Slayer wasn’t much of a reader. He preferred to conduct his research in graphic novel form. Wilson’s was a small place packed to the brim with cardboard boxes full of old comics and other things nerds like, and the musty pages of the books made the place reek. He didn’t like the store much, but it was better than reading a Time Life book or a web page. So he’d been going for weeks just to gather information about the undead, and they had mountains of data on the subject.
He couldn’t believe his eyes as it walked into the store one dreary December night. The vamp was a little worm of a kid with thick-rimmed glasses, and his meekness made the Dark Slayer instantly aggressive. However, he contained the power within, and he let the kid be. After all, the Dark Slayer is a protector of the weak and helpless. But his gentile stance was misguided. What lurked within that boy was pure evil, and he was ashamed his keen hunter instincts didn’t pick up on it from the start.
“Hey, Wilson, you mind if I put this up on your board?” the kid asked the goofy shop owner. The kid’s voice was as high pitched as glass being chopped up in a blender, and that’s when Darrick discovered two things. One, the kid was a vampire, and two, that vampirism most likely stunts puberty.
“What is it?” Wilson’s fat lips flapped.
“A vampire L.A.R.P,” the undead monster said.
The vampire trotted over to the cluttered bulletin board and pinned up a self-printed advertisement. The poster was black except for the picture at the top of an open mouth with fangs and bright red font that appeared to be dripping blood. The flyer spelled out their diabolical agenda as clear as possible saying, “All undead are welcome to the first annual undead L.A.R.P. Come one come all and we’ll have ourselves a vampire ball. We play the gathering or other white wolf types of systems.” In smaller block letters underneath it stated, “It starts at 7pm January 14th. Call 907-347-2254 for further details or simply show up at 326 Maple Avenue. The sign will be out front by the mailbox. Just knock on the door.”
It was as if liquid nitrogen had been injected into Darrick’s veins, but he played it cool. He couldn’t let the enemy see his distress. After the vamp left, he ripped down the sheet and just glared at it for a while. When the incredible weight of all its implications rolled off of him, he marched up to the store owner with the leaflet clinched in his fists and tossed it at him.
“What the hell is this?” the Dark Slayer shouted.
“Yo, dude, what up!”
“What up? Are you one of them?”
“Hell, no, I’ve never L.A.R.P’ed a day in my life! If you ever accuse me of that again, you can just get the hell out of my store.”
“I don’t believe it!”
“Dude, calm down. They’re good loyal customers, and they’re just holding their little nerd party.”
“Yah, they just go there and have a good time. I don’t give a crap what they do. It’s weird to me, but to each his own. I mean, they spend a lot of cash in here, so I‘ll tolerate a little weirdness from them. It’s all just nerd pretend dude.” Wilson tossed the leaflet back at Darrick, and it hit him in the chest and rolled to the floor.
The question as to why vampires wanted to pretend to be nerds was a mystery to Darrick, but he’d had too much of the collaborator known as Wilson to care. He snatched the paper off the ground and stormed off.
That’s how he’d come to the house on Maple Avenue, and he’d finish what he’d started. He’d been hiding in the woods for nearly three hours, and his hand was starting to ache from the stranglehold he kept on the Foe Chopper’s hilt. Darrick didn’t like to admit it, but the cold was getting to him. He pried his hands off the hilt of the sword and shoved them into his tac vest. He wasn’t trying to warm them, just looking for his bottle of rum. When his hands found the plastic bottle, Darrick jerked it out, and along with it came the bag Miss Halloran had given him. He snatched up the bag, ripped it open and pulled out the small amber bottle that lay within. Even in the dark, he could make out the horrid black letters printed on it.
Take Orally: Initial Dose: 25 mg 3 times daily.
He popped open the bottle and dropped a few of the pills to the ground. When the organization took him back in, he wanted to be able to say he’d at least taken some of them. As the pills hit the dead leaves carpeting the woods a rusted out red van pulled into the driveway, and vamps piled out, dressed as if they’d taken fashion advice from Morticia Addams. All wore black and held cases of beer, bags of chips, or bottles of wine. There were about five of them in all, and slithering among them was the same gaunt nerdy vampire he’d seen at the comic shop. The Dark Slayer slammed what was left of his rum and tossed the bottle to the ground. Clinching the hilt of his sword, he sprang from the underbrush.
The Dark Slayer sprinted across the lawn and into the yellow glow of the flood lights. One of the vampires, posing as a young teen girl, spotted him as he closed in on his target. She pointed and let out a scream. Her eyes were wide and a look of terror was slapped across her face. Darrick jumped over a flower bed and onto the driveway. The hard rubber soles of his Vietnam jungle boots clacked on the asphalt as he rushed towards the target.
Despite the girl’s screams the poor bastard never saw it coming, and with one quick strike the sword slashed into the back of the nerdy vampire. The vamp let out a low whine as the Dark Slayer brought the sword down again, and he smacked the top of his head. Blood gushed from his wounds as the vamp crashed to the ground, and cries of fright rose from the lips of every undead soul that stood there. Darrick had caught them off guard, and now they were going to be chopped into pieces, along with the rest of the vamps in the house. Miss… Dr. Halloran would be shocked at how good he was when she saw this. If she wasn’t, it just meant she was a sympathizer.
Credit To – Jeremy Bennet
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