Jude’s Apartment (3rd Draft)

Jude stepped out of the night and into the bar, looked around, then walked directly to a man smoking at the bar.
“Hey, Fields.”
The police officer nodded to Jude. He was in plainclothes.
“We’ve got one of the bastards on the east side of town,” Fields said. “Two homicides in a week. Both bitten on the neck and drained.”
Henry Fields was his liaison to the police force and an old friend. The man took a long drink while he gripped his cigar between clenched fingers.
“How much is the bounty?” Jude asked.
The lawman laughed, a short bark.
“Right to business,” Fields said. “You’re a real bloodsucker, you know that? What would you be doing if you weren’t killing vampires?”
“I don’t hunt them for the money,” Jude said. “You know that.”
The police officer inhaled a lungful of smoke.
“Five-thousand,” Fields said after he exhaled.
Jude nodded.
“Let me see what you’re got.”
Jim reached into his coat and pulled out a folder. Jude took it but didn’t look inside. He pointed at Field’s cigar.
“Thought you were going to quit.”
The lawman shrugged and said, “You know how it is.”
“It’s going to kill you.”
“Oh, I know.”
Jude nodded and left the bar.
Jude stepped into his apartment, locked and bolted the door, and flicked on the lights. The apartment had a kitchen/living room area and a bedroom. The apartment was sparsely furnished. Jude lived alone, and he liked it that way.
He dropped the folder on the kitchen table then stripped off his t-shirt and walked to the refrigerator. The harsh light bathed his torso. The refrigerator was empty expect for a bottle filled with dark red liquid. He grabbed it and took a long drink. He sighed.
After drinking it all, Jude put the empty container back. He would have to get more before he got the shakes.
He sat down at the table and opened the folder. He scanned a police report. Two young women were killed within thirty miles of each other, and an examination of the bodies suggested it was only one vampire. Probably a male.
Jude picked up a photo. Grisly. The picture showed a young woman sprawled on the ground, blank eyes staring up. Her neck was a bloody mess. Almost unquestionably a vampire attack.
He had seen it before. Much worse, actually, and in the flesh too.
Jude noted the location of the two nightclubs the women had visited. The vampire was young in his power and predictable.
Hunting vampires was dangerous. But Jude was good at finding and killing vampires. It was his vocation. He knew how they thought, and he had a good idea where the nightclub vampire might strike again.
But the vampire would have to wait. Jude had other business.
A digital clock on the kitchen counter read: 9:45 PM.
Plenty of time, Jude thought.
He unbuckled his gun belt and left it on the kitchen table and grabbed his backpack on the way out.
Jude drove to Riverside Park and started walking on one of the paths. The night was quiet around him. He walked for a long time and before he saw a figure ahead of him. Jude increased his pace.
As he got closer, he saw it was a young woman. Early twenties. She was stunning. Long brown hair, slender limbs and alluring curves. Young and innocent and unblemished.
He felt a burning in his throat, and a shiver ran down his spine.
She heard him and swung around her head like a startled deer, hair swirling around her face. Her dark eyes were wide.
He smiled.
“Hey. Beautiful night for a walk, isn’t it?”
The girl stood still and stared at him. Jude slid his hands into his pockets and shifted backwards.
“I’m sorry I startled you. My bad.”
“It’s okay,” she said. “I just didn’t hear you.”
He hesitated then said, “Um, you’ve got something in your hair.”
The girl reached up to touch her hair.
Jude darted forward and bit her on the throat. The girl let out a little gasp. The warm blood flowed down Jude’s throat, and he shivered. Euphoria. The girl was struggling in his arms, but it was too late. Too late when she had woken in the morning. Inevitable. Her heart was pounding but it became weaker until Jude finally felt it stop.
After he had slated his thirst, he lowered the limp form to the ground. He unzipped his backpack, pulled out a large syringe, and then stabbed it into the girl’s arm. After filling the syringe, he emptied it into a bottle. He repeated this several times. Finally, he put the syringe and bottle into the backpack.
Jude picked up the body and carried it off the path. He placed the corpse under a pine tree. He stared at the slowly cooling corpse. Suddenly, he spun on his heel and strode back to the path.
Then he walked back to his car and drove back to his apartment.
Jude entered the apartment and locked and bolted the door.
He pulled the blood container out of the bag then dumped the bag on the kitchen table. He drank for a long moment, stopped drinking and sucked in a deep gasp of air. Blood dribbled over his chin.
Jude was the best man in Ohio at vampire hunting, and he was a near legend in law enforcement circles. But his life had changed when he was attacked by a vampire during one of his hunts. Jude had killed it, but during the fight the vampire had infected Jude with its blood. After the Event, scientists learned that vampirism was a virus, and it was transmitted through blood and other body fluids like HIV. There was no cure.
He looked at the clock. 4:27 AM. Time to sleep.
The next night, Jude parked a block from the nightclub the Graveyard and walked the rest of the way.
The two murdered women had each been found behind nightclubs. Jude believed the vampire had lured the woman out with a promise of physical pleasure. Except things hadn’t ended the way the ladies had planned.
Jude camped out on the roof of a nearby building. He had an excellent view of the nightclub’s exit. And so he waited.
It was after midnight when the exit door burst open. A man darted out, pulling a young woman after him.
Jude had seen enough vampires to recognize them by sight. It was something about how they moved, a cat-like grace and lethality.
The vampire led the young woman down the alleyway, way from Jude and out of sight.
He knew what was going to happen. It was just like a cheap horror flick. He jumped to his feet and hurried down the ladder. He leapt to the ground, landed in a crouch, and started running. He drew his gun, and the steel felt cold in his hand.
Jude ducked into the alleyway, legs pumping under him. Time running out. He heard them. If he didn’t know any better, Jude would have thought it was a couple making out. Then he saw them.
The vampire had pinned the young woman against the wall and his face was buried in her neck. As the vampire turned, Jude stopped and fired. The bullet hit the vampire in the shoulder and knocked him to the ground. In a moment, the monster was on its feet and rushing forward, a blur of motion. Jude shot him twice in the chest.
The vampire jerked, a surprised look on his face, and dropped to his knees. Blood soaked the vampire’s shirt. Was all of it the vampire’s blood? Or the girl’s too?
The vampire looked up at Jude.
“Please,” the vampire slurred. “Don’t kill me.”
“We don’t deserve to live,” Jude said.
He shot the vampire in the forehead.
Jude walked over to the girl slumped against the wall. He looked at her and the blood on her throat, and he wanted to finish the work the vampire had started. Vivid scarlet on white skin. Tantalizing. He felt a burning in his throat like an alcoholic with an unopened beer in his hand.
Jude was confused. Was he here as the bounty hunter or the vampire? Can’t remember.
Can’t get mixed up, Jude told himself fiercely. Not here. Not now. I am the bounty hunter, the lawman. Come on, man, hold it together.
He realized the woman was talking.
“—then he bit me and I thought I was going to die!”
You don’t know how close you were to death, he thought.
Jude called Fields, and the police officer soon arrived at the scene. The two men watched from a distance as police officers and other personnel scurried around the scene.
“Do you always leave a mess?” Fields asked.
“The world is a messy place.” Jude walked to his car and drove back to his apartment.
The next day, Fields called him and asked to meet at the bar again.
This time Jude walked straight to the bar. The lawman was leaning against the pitted bar, drinking and smoking.
“Got another body,” Fields said. “Found her in the Riverside Park yesterday.”
Jude blinked. He was talking about the brunette from the park. This couldn’t be happening.
“But I bagged the nightclub vampire last night,” Jude said.
The police officer shook his head.
“The vampire didn’t need to feed two days in a row. Anyway, the method and location are totally different. No, we’ve definitely got another vampire out there.”
Jude shook his head. He felt like an out-of-body experience–he was being hired to catch himself. He took the folder from Fields reflexively, opened it, and flipped through it.
A crime scene photograph of the girl caught Jude’s attention. Her eyes were wide, and fear and pain were etched on her face. She had been so beautiful and full of life.
I killed her, Jude thought.
“How much?” he asked.
“Five-thousand, just like the last vampire.”
I’m just the same to them as the vampire I killed, Jude thought.
Without a word, he left the bar.
Jude entered his apartment and secured the door. He dropped his gun belt on the kitchen table as he walked to the refrigerator.
He grabbed the blood container, sat down at the table, and opened the police folder. The photo of the girl was on the top. Jude took a long drink.
The girl’s blood dripped from his mouth and splattered on photo. He stared at it for a long time. He felt a tension deep inside of his chest, building and mounting.
He jerked up from the table and started pacing, the container gripped in his trembling hand.
This must end, he thought.
Jude looked around the apartment, letting his gaze drift. His eyes settled on the kitchen table with the gun belt, the backpack, the blood, and the police folder. He placed the blood container beside the sink.
He left the apartment, walked down to his car, grabbed the extra can of gasoline, and returned.
His mind was cold and clear. Jude placed a chair under the fire detector, got onto it, and carefully removed the batteries, replacing them with dead ones. He opened the can of gasoline. The scent of gas tickled his nose.
“Forgive us our trespasses …”
He doused the table, wetting the gun and the backpack and the police folder. The gas can gurgled as it regurgitated its contents.
“… as we forgive those who sin against us.”
Jude splashed the liquid across the floor, the kitchen counter, and the kitchen cabinets. When it was empty, he dropped it.
“And lead us not into temptation …”
He picked up the blood container and upended it over the sink, pouring the blood out like a drink offering to a god. The bottle slipped from his fingers.
“… But deliver us from the evil one.”
Jude jammed his fingers into his mouth. His fingers triggered the gag reflex and he convulsed over the sink. He threw up–red blood, slick and warm. He convulsed again and more blood splashed into the sink.
He pushed away from the sink, staggering. Regaining his balance, he stood with his feet planted and chest heaving.
He reached into his pocket, lit a match, and tossed it toward the sink. The match arced through the air, a tiny flame in the dark, and the fire ignited the gasoline fumes in a great whoosh. The heat scorched Jude’s face, and he flinched away.
The fire raced along the counter and up the cabinets and then reached up to claw the ceiling. It darted across the floor and engulfed the table.
The flames boiled the blood in the sink and melted the bottle. It burned the police folder, seared the backpack, blackened the gun and ate away at the belt.
The cleansing fire illuminated Jude’s dark apartment. He watched, the flames warming his face and making fire dance in his eyes. Absently, he wiped blood from his mouth.
Jude watched from the curb as Fields pulled up in his police cruiser. The fire in his apartment had been put out. The police officer stepped out of his police cruiser and walked over to Jude.
“What happened?” Fields asked.
Jude shrugged.
“It was pretty late. I spilled some grease on the stove, and it went up in flames. Couldn’t put it out.”
“Did you get anything out?”
Jude motioned to the clothes he was wearing—t-shirt, jacket, and jeans.
“So you lost the folder for the new case?” Fields said. “I’ll get you another one.”
Jude shook his head.
“I’m done with vampire hunting. You’ve got people better suited for it than me—younger and more zealous. I’ve chosen a different path.”
The police officer scratched his head. “What are you going to do?”
“I have a new purpose,” Jude said. “I need to become more than just a killer.”
He stood and walked over to his car.
“Promise me you’re quit, okay?” he said.
Fields nodded, “I’ll try. But you know quitting is the devil.”
Jude nodded. He got into the car, started the engine, and drove away.

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