“Redder Than Red” is a short story written for a Vampire: the Masquerade anthology called Endless Ages. The story’s protagonist is a Malkavian vampire named Rebecca Fleischer who seeks revenge for the murder of her progeny. Rebecca, like all other Malkavian vampires, suffers from the Curse of Malkav in a unique way. She has a form of arithmomania, and this manifests by her need to count.
I hope you enjoy this excerpt of my story set in the expansive, lush setting for Vampire: The Masquerade.
Redder Than Red
Tuesday, 28th of December
In two minutes and thirty seconds the sun will fall below the horizon. Ten seconds later, I will recite a 24-digit authorization code to open my vault. Then, I will feed until my thirst is sated, and I will finish my preparations. Tonight, I will capture or stake Ayisha Jocastian, my greatest enemy, whom I’ve been hunting for five years, seven months, 13 days, and fifteen hours. I have vowed to hunt no other vampire until she is dead, for she killed my childer, Estaban, and she must pay according to the laws of our kind, the Kindred.
More importantly, she must answer to me.
Holding my body taut, I resist the urge to disarm the safe that keeps me secure during the daylight hours. The vault is comfortable enough; it has zero windows, eighteen ceiling tiles, ten emergency blood bags, six floor tiles, four bookcases (containing sixty-five books arranged by date of publication), two stakes, one bed and—
Ring! Ring! My black phone chirps one, two, three times before I pick up the handle. One of my ghouls, Alyssa, calls it “vintage” because it has a rotary dial and a land line. I do not know how to use a cell phone, and I do not plan to learn. Too many variables I cannot control.
“Hello?” My question carries two meanings. It is a greeting to ask who the caller is, and how they accessed my unlisted number. I press the receiver against my ear, listening carefully. If the caller breathes, they are mortal and could be a spy or a ghoul. If not, vampire.
“Rebecca Fleischer, this is Stephan Ashworth.” Ah, better yet. Vampire and ally. Stephan has many words attached to his name—Alastor, Ventrue, British, WWI veteran, hero—and one we share in common. Kindred. “I am calling you on a secure line as you requested.”
“Yes, good. Hello.” I nod my head once, twice. Stephan is my partner for tonight’s hunt. While I want revenge, Stephan’s interest in Ayisha is purely political. Her capture would net him a prize and the respect of the Camarilla’s highest authority—the Inner Council. Nothing personal, for him. Not like it is for me.
“Did you confirm she’ll be at the warehouse tonight?”
For the past several months, Ayisha has been paying ghouls to print and distribute copies of a forbidden tome called the Book of Nod in exchange for thaumaturgically-sealed vials of her blood. An abomination and waste of vitae. We believe the ghouls are organized and have anticipated that possibility, but we cannot be sure until we get inside the facility tonight.
“Yes, at that warehouse on Belmont and Knox near Cicero. It is on the southeast corner of the intersection. Smells of gasoline and toner. Heavy traffic during rush hour, but dies down after seven p.m. I counted 392 red bricks, three garages, and nine boarded-up windows. Two vents on top of the building. Forty-seven—”
“—the building is made out of brick, you say? That will make our entrance more difficult if my man on the inside fails, but it can be done. Entrances and exits?”
“If the garages are unlocked, five. If not, two. One door to an administrative office, and another via a fire exit in the back.”
“Well your efforts are making my job a lot easier. Have you thought about becoming an Alastor? Being a member of the Camarilla’s secret police is a helluva way to spend your unlife. Beats dancing in clubs and feeding on frat boys.”
“I just want Ayisha.” Stephan, to my knowledge, has never lost a childer. He does not understand the gaping hole in my chest, a pain that I still feel for the loss of my progeny. He cannot comprehend Ayisha’s deep betrayal, either, when she turned her back on her Clan. I do. I want to peel the flesh from all 206 of her bones after I break every one of them in four places. I want to hear her scream so loud the dead will wake from their graves. I want to watch my ghouls bind her to a marble effigy of my childer and record the sight of her burning flesh when the sun rises. I want…
“Well, if you change your mind. When am I picking you up again?”
“I will meet you at nine o’clock outside of the Hilton on Michigan Avenue.” I am not staying at the Hilton, but Stephan does not need to know that. He is my ally, sure, but he is still a vampire and can never be completely trusted. “I will bring the briefcase as we agreed.”
“Good…good… And Rebecca?”
Endless Ages is now available now on DriveThruFiction.com. Each story in this collection tackles the different periods published for Vampire: the Masquerade. Watch for upcoming news about additional platforms!