CODE BLOOD

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Chapter Ten

Markus returned to his apartment and fell asleep on top of the bed without undressing. He woke up when he heard Audra at the front door. It was 4:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, almost four hours since his failed China Doll blood quest. It all came back to him—the night had been a horrible disaster. While the Chinese bitch was in the room with the mice, some nerdy scientists almost caught him in the hallway and he had to flee into the tunnel. They had ruined all his plans.

Markus listened to Audra in the other room. No matter when she came home from work, late at night or early in the morning, he knew exactly what time she arrived. She tried to enter the apartment without disturbing him, but he heard her every time. This was the latest she had ever come home. What the hell had she been doing until now? Didn’t she realize he seriously needed a taste of her blood and some nasty sex?

“Audra?”

“In a minute,” she answered from the kitchen. “I gotta eat something.”

“Come get in bed.” He took off his clothes and pulled back the bedspread. He lay on the cool sheets and waited. His anticipation grew as he thought of Audra’s body next to him. Minutes passed and she was still in the kitchen. “Now,” he shouted. Why did she have to fucking eat when she came home? She belonged in bed. “Audra, I said now. Get in here.”

She stormed into the bedroom. “Shut up. I’ve told you, don’t ever say that.” She kicked off one of her high heels. It sailed over the bed and hit the far wall. “You sound just like my father.” She stepped out of her other shoe. “’Audra honey, come to bed with daddy.’ That’s how he always started it.” She moved around the room in the semidarkness, her voice rising. “Every time I heard it, I cringed. When I got older, it got worse. He got more demanding and more impatient and then it was, ‘Audra, NOW!’” She lit several red candles on the dresser, walked to the side of the bed and stood over him in the flickering light, hands on her hips. “You sound just like him. I don’t ever want to hear that again. Not ever.”

Audra was always blaming him for her own problems, and Markus was tired of it. Sometimes she was just too much trouble. He sat up and reached for her. “C’mon, get in bed.”

She continued to glare at him for a moment and then relented. She slid down her pants and thong and stepped out of them. She pulled off her top and stood beside the bed, wearing only her spider-web dance stockings. Her long black hair cascaded down past her shoulders. Her body gave off a faint scent of perfume and cigarette smoke from the club. The candles cast distorted shadows of her long legs on the wall. Her tattoos were a canvas of red hues and shades of black and gray ink. Roses with thorns wound around her arms and neck. Mermaids with flowing red hair stretched up from her waist and reached for the stars on her breasts. More roses grew upward over her bare pubic area. One shoulder showed the tips of the wings of the angel on her back; the other shoulder showed the head of the snake that curled around the angel. Audra’s ears and belly button, pierced with rings, gave a sharp metallic contrast to her tattoos.

Markus looked at her and forgot about everything else. “I’m in a wicked bad mood and I need you.” He tugged on the ring in her belly button.

She sighed and lay down next to him.

Markus grabbed her hand, reached for a pin he kept on the wrought iron night table and pricked her little finger. He wasn’t interested in a lot of blood play; he was in a hurry and jammed the needle in hard.

“Ow,” she cried and tried to pull her finger away.

He held her tight, squeezed the tip of her finger and then sucked it. When he tasted the first few drops of her blood, he got an intense rush, which swept through his body and jacked him up. It was better than amphetamine. “SWEEET,” he said. Markus rolled on top of her, worked his way between her legs and thrust himself inside her, releasing all his anger, disappointment and frustration.

Later, they lay together and listened to the sounds of the day beginning outside. Doors slammed in other apartments and car engines started. A siren rose above the hum of the traffic on Albion. Audra pressed her body against his back and he felt the metal ring in her belly button.

“A little rough,” she said, and yawned.

Markus always mellowed out after sex. This was the one time when he forgot about the dancing at the club and the men she entertained.

“Your skin is like white marble.” She ran her dark red fingernail down the back of his neck.

“You mean white like a corpse.”

“Well, if you wanna be a Goth vampire, it’s perfect.” She reached around and pulled at the white hair on his arm.

“Ever been to Fresno, the fucking raisin capital of California? D’you know what the light’s like up there? They put all the grapes outside and the sun turns them into raisins. Try going out in that when you’ve got no pigment.”

“I hate raisins,” she said and rolled over on her back. “My mom gave me those stupid little boxes in my lunch. I threw them away as soon as I got on the school bus.”

“I couldn’t stand school. All the kids were such dorks.”

“Boys were always trying to touch me.” Audra reached for a tissue and wiped away some of her eyeliner. “I don’t remember what I looked like in sixth grade, but that’s when it all started.”

“I didn’t make it to sixth grade at school. I was too smart, so I quit and my mother home schooled me. I stayed inside and didn’t have to listen to anyone making fun of how I looked.”

“I like the way you look. How many men have pure white hair around their cock?”

“How many have you seen?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Just what I said.”

Audra rolled away from him.

“If you like white skin so much, how come you covered yourself with tats?”

“Because my father’s fingerprints were all over my body. It was like everyone could see what he did to me. As soon as I got off the bus in LA, I startedchecking out tattoos.”

“Well, I’m not your father.”

“That piece of shit. He’ll never see me again.”

Her anger excited Markus again. He moved closer to her and bit her nipple, but not hard enough to get any blood. He ran his finger over the stars tattooed on her breast. “This could be your hottest part.”

“The guy at Tattoo Fest told me, ‘Your tats will become a special part of your body.’ He was right.”

Markus kissed a rose on her stomach.

Audra pushed his head away. “I told him I was thinking about tats and he wanted to know how old I was. I lied and said I was 18. He looked at my arms and legs and said, ‘What’ja have in mind?’ I told him a full upper body. Then he stared at me again like he was looking right through my blouse. I just stood there and let him eye fuck me. ‘Its three or four years,’ he said. ‘And pain. Hours of pricks and jabs and nicks.’ He wanted to know how I was with pain and I told him it was OK. The only places it ever really bothered me was when he worked on my boobs and the back of my neck.”

Markus knew Audra was good with pain and she could handle any of the things he did to her. Years ago, he moved beyond just sucking at a girl’s neck to draw blood through the skin and leave a hickey. Now he was big time into biting, piercing and sometimes cutting; anything to draw a few drops of blood.

His pulse was racing again. He squeezed the tip of her little finger and sucked at it where he had stuck her earlier. He got a faint taste of blood on the tip of his tongue.

Audra lay on her back. When Markus got on top of her, she wrapped her legs around him. She gave a small cry when he pushed inside of her again.

His excitement didn’t last. A stronger taste of blood or a few drops spread across her tits might have helped. It had been a long night and all of a sudden, the vibes weren’t so good. He imagined strangers fondling Audra at the Alley Kat, whispering in her ear and taking her upstairs to one of the rooms. He pictured someone doing her while she made phony sounds of rapture. He imagined her stuffing cash into her purse after some fat retard had flopped her. Markus pulled away from her and moved to his side of the bed. How did he know the sighs of pleasure she made when he was boning her were genuine? Wasn’t it her job to make a man’s fantasies come true? Maybe she was a lesbo and didn’t even like men. Maybe she just needed a place to stay and wanted to make him think she enjoyed it when he jacked her. She was making all that dough and not even sharing expenses with him. At that moment, Markus hated her.

Audra sighed and slipped under the bedspread. Without a word, she pulled a pillow over her head and went to sleep.

Markus lay on his back, wallowing in his anger and staring at the ceiling for a few minutes, then got up and walked naked into the kitchen to look once more at the foot. When he opened the freezer door, ice crystals drifted down like snowflakes and melted on his bare feet.

Snowflake. Bleach boy. Cream puff.

A group of fifth-graders pursued him across the dusty playground. The Central California sun was relentless. His eyes burned from the light. Markus, younger and smaller than the others, was crying. He stopped and they circled around him, shouting, taunting.

Snowflake. Snowflake.

Fucking snowflake.

Long before he heard the word albino or understood the absence of the melanin that creates pigment in the skin and hair, he heard kids calling him snowflake.

Markus was surrounded, trapped. They closed in.

Bleach boy. Cream puff. Snowflake. Snowflake.

It went on and on and on.

Markus, barely able to see, picked up a rock and struck out. A girl in a yellow dress cried out and fell to the ground, a large gash on her head spewing blood. His tormentors were finally silent and backed away. He stood over the injured girl and watched the blood run down her forehead and onto her face. He knelt, reached out and dipped his fingers in her blood. It was Markus’ last day at school.

Fucking snowflake.

By the time Markus was expelled from school, doctors and blood had become a part of his life.

“Are they ever gonna stop sticking needles into my Markey?”

He sat in the back seat of the car and listened to his mother’s sweet voice.

“How many blood samples do they need?” she said.

“They have to do what they have to do,” his father said. “Mark can handle it. He’s a man. Men are brave.” His father turned and looked back at him. “Right, son?”

When Markus heard the doctor say they wanted to test for Hermansky Pudlak Syndrome, a fatal genetic illness related to Albinism, he didn’t know what it was, but it sounded frightening. He cried and thought he was going to die.

“My Markey. Everything will be all right.” His mother comforted him. “Come here, let Mama hold you.”

He climbed onto her lap. The trips to the doctor became bearable because she shared his pain and showered attention on him. Soon, he looked forward to visiting the doctor. The sting of the needle and the dark red liquid streaming out of his arm into the syringe brought his mother’s loving touch.

“My poor Markey. My poor brave little boy.”

At home, his mother pulled him to her, wrapped her arms around him and cuddled him. He pressed against her breasts. He smelled her skin. She stroked his arms, his legs, his body, trying to make everything better. It became a ritual. As soon as he left the doctor’s office, Markus tore off the bandage, pinched his arm and put his tongue to the puncture, hoping to taste a drop of his blood. Then he waited for his mother’s touch. Sometimes, he even tried to scratch or bite himself just to draw blood and gain her attention. For almost a year, his father tied his hands together at night so that Markus couldn’t tear at his flesh.

By puberty, he had substituted the agony of his infirmity for anobsession with blood and a raw sexuality. He had fantasies about drinking the blood of young women and ravishing them. At 14, Markus drifted away from his homeschool lessons to spend hours in the basement surfing the Internet, dividing his time between studying hematology websites, searching for pictures of nude women and frequenting chat rooms like Blud Sukkers.

He also learned the art of computer hacking and soon became an expert at playing Vampire: The Masquerade-Bloodlines, an online role-playing game. Markus was a loner in real life and he played alone in the world of electronic games. Instead of aligning himself with one of the vampire clans orreligious covens in Vampire, he sided with no one and rampaged as a lone blood-drinking monster. The game played out in a virtual Santa Monica—at the Santa Monica Pier and in clubs and residences on rundown streets and alleys. Someday he knew he would live in Southern California and visit the real places.

Mark became Markus, took on the screen name BloodyFangs and began to search the Internet for a blood donor.

BloodyFangs: Me – male - 6’ 2” – handsome. lookin for a blood donor near Fresno. I need a gurl’s blood.

CookieBitch: so ur a vampire???

GutterSlut: everbody wants 2 b a vampire.

BloodyFangs: I suk blud – real blud. I am a wicked, badass vampyre.

Violent Eyes: drinking a lot of blood can make you sick.

Markus wanted to find out.

Sinister Vamp: lol I luv real men U can bite me. I wud like it if u suk MY blud.

A donor!

BloodyFangs: Give me your maiden blood. Cum to Fresno!!

Sinister Vamp: I am a simple layback mello gurl in LA. Hahaha. R u a real vampire?

BloodyFangs: When I taste yur blud.

Sinister Vamp: how old r u? U cum to LA?

Markus had a problem—he lived in the basement of his parent’s home and was still two years away from even having a drivers’ license. How could he go to Los Angeles?

Sinister Vamp: I wanna see what u look lik. Webcam? Need 2 see u.

No way would he show himself on a webcam.

Later, Sinister Vamp published a letter on the Carnival of Hell Chat Board: BloodyFangs is a fake. He’s not a vampire, he’s a predator hunting innocent pepl. Die a thousand deaths BF!

The bitch.

Markus hacked into the web page and took down her letter. He left her his own message: If I ever find you, Sinister Vamp, I’ll drink my fill of your blood and let the rest run into the gutter.

Ten years later, he still thought of Sinister Vamp and her comments still angered him.

Fucking snowflake.

The cold air from the freezer blew on Markus’ naked body. During the 36 hours since he placed the foot in the freezer, the gray-blue color had faded. Through the plastic, the skin now looked pale—almost white, returning to its original color. Markus put the foot away and went to check his e-mail. He had several messages and someone had sent him a link to a website in India where some new hacking software was available. Markus had no money and deleted it before he saw something he wanted. He rubbed his eyes, returned to the bedroom and got back into bed.

He looked at Audra, her breasts rising and falling in the slow breathing rhythm of deep sleep. Just a month ago, she had fulfilled one of his great desires. They had become partners in a blood-bonding ceremony. The act of cutting open their fingers, dropping the blood into a glass of wine, drinking it and then making love, had been very erotic. That thrill was long past now, and he was getting tired of Audra. He needed something new to juice up his fantasies. He needed the elixir that flowed in the China Doll’s veins. He knew it would taste so much better than Audra’s ordinary type AB blood.

Markus closed his eyes. He needed sleep. After lunch, he had to go out to Gates of Heaven and face Alexei and Grisha.

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