"No...you're not LISTENING to me!!! The funds are THERE! Do you hear me? It's there! Look on your little computer screen, re-check your numbers...and FIND MY FUCKING MONEY!!!!"
"I'm sorry, sir. We've checked the account number you gave us several times, and that account has been closed until further notice." Said the voice of the lady on the other end of the phone. Professional, but with a growing hint of frustration. She has no IDEA what frustration is! But she's going to find out if she doesn't stop playing this little head game with me! I felt a trickle of sweat run down my cheek. Couldn't tell if it was from the fear in my heart, the anger in my mind, or the heated doses of alcohol in my system. But one thing was clear...I NEEDED that money! And I needed it NOW!
"Alright...ok..." I said, trying to calm my voice down. "...Get a pen. You got a pen?"
"I've already written down all of the account numbers you've given me, Mr. Kincaid, and all of them are inaccessible at this time..."
"What do you MEAN they're 'inaccessible'??? IT'S MY MONEY!!!" I shouted. "Look, I'm going to give you the numbers again, ok? Just...just write them down...neatly and legibly, and try it again. I'm sure you just...missed a number or two..." I was shaking so violently at this point that my voice was trembling.
"Mr. Kincaid...I apologize for your inconvenience this evening, but I'm afraid that I'm not allowed to continue with this transaction. If you would like to file a formal complaint in the morning, our office hours are..."
"No no NO!!!!" I shouted! "Look here, you fucking BITCH!!! You type those access codes in again, and again, and AGAIN, until you FUCKING get them right!!! I don't HAVE until tomorrow morning! I need that money TONIGHT!!! Do you understand???"
Clearly offended, there was an extended pause on the line. Then she simply said, "...Our morning hours are from 9 AM to 6:30 PM, you can talk with one of our on site managers at that time tomorrow." She had a snotty tone now, obviously cutting me off. I started to speak but she interrupted me by saying, "...And let me REMIND you, Mr. Kincaid, that use of profanity over international telephone lines is a federal offense, and this conversation is being recorded." I felt my stomach begin to flutter until I was almost sick, and I had to loosen my tie and lean against the wall for support. "Is there anything else that I can help you with, Mr. Kincaid?" She said...but I didn't answer. I couldn't. For a few minutes...I swear that my mind literally went blank with fear. "Mr. Kincaid? Mr. Kincaid?" I took my flip-phone away from my ear, and closed it to hang up on her. I nearly dropped it...a shaky hand almost too weak to support its weight.
I looked out at the city view from my condo's living room windows. A beautiful view, with the lake in the background, shimmering with the glow of the crescent moon. My condo apartment had every luxury it could hold. Ridiculously sized television, Blu-ray, home theater, surround sound, track lighting, giant bathtub complete with built in sauna, fully stocked bar, new kitchen, a bathroom that basically cleans itself on a daily basis, and enough open space to hold seven events of the next OLYMPICS if I really wanted to! And yet...looking at it now...all that stuff never seemed so unimportant. Staring at it in this dark room, shaking like a leaf as I reached for my glass of bourbon and timidly brought it up to my lips for a drink...it all seemed so useless.
I put my cell phone down on the desk next to my computer, the screen still blinking with the error message from when I tried to electronically move my assets to a place where I could get to them. I spent hours looking for a way in. ANY way in. But to no avail. And just to the right of my mouse...a note. A note scrawled out on a piece of paper for me...in blood.
I stared at it as I took another gulp of my drink, hoping that it would somehow burn the wings of the furious butterflies swarming chaotically in the pit of my stomach before they drove me insane.
Then I turned to nervously look at myself in the mirror again, lifting my head to get clear sight of the side of my neck. Just to look at it one more time. The mark had gotten so faded, so quickly. It was beginning to peel itself away from my skin like a freshly healed scab. How did they time it so perfectly? How did they design these marks to go away on the exact time and date of expiration like that? I don't know how the vampires came up with the technology...but one thing was certain...
...My 'safeguard' mark was about to reach its due date. And when it does...I'm a DEAD man!
I served them well! I paid the Elders a SHITLOAD of money to get my mark and protect myself from their kind. For three YEARS I gave them what they wanted. I funded a huge chunk of their whole damn underground EXISTENCE here in this city, for Christ sake!!! And I...I *HAVE* the money! I DEFINITELY have the money! I can give it to them! I can pay for another year's worth of protection at LEAST! I just...
...I CAN'T GET INTO MY MOTHERFUCKING BANK ACCOUNTS!!!
At that moment, I heard my cell phone ring. And while the noise startled me at first, I hurried over to it to pick it up! Maybe the bank fixed the problem! Maybe they're calling to apologize! The second I find out who that lazy, hair-brained, BITCH was...I'm getting her fucking FIRED! That's a PROMISE!
"Hello???" I said, trying not to sound too frantic.
"I take it that you're having a bit of...trouble...renewing your mark, Mr. Kincaid?" Came a voice from the other end.
I stood, cold, for a moment. "Who is this?"
"That's not really important, Mr. Kincaid. But what IS important...is the time. As you can see, on one of your...fancy wall clocks, electronic toys, or maybe even on that expensive Rolex watch of yours...midnight isn't very far away at all. And we 'both' know what happens at midnight, don't we?" The voice was about as sinister as anything that I had ever heard before, but I knew my p0ker face had to be impeccable, even over the phone. I can't let them think they've got me scared. They'll come for me even quicker if they think I'm scared.
"You don't intimidate me, you bloodsucking son of a bitch! You HEAR me? I'm GUARDED! You hear me? That means no 'dinner' for you, junior! Why don't you go feed on the rats in the fucking subway or something?"
The voice laughed at me. "You wanna know something? Waiting for your safeguard mark to run out was more exciting than waiting for Christmas when I was a kid. It almost reminded me how to look forward to life's little pleasures again. Your protected status with the Elders is over. I honestly can't believe that we're finally down to the last hour. Mmmmm...I just got an adrenaline rush just thinking about the things we're going to do to you when the timer reaches zero."
"Say what you want, but you and your buddies are going to be really disappointed in a few minutes. Because I'm renewing the mark again. And I'm going to KEEP renewing it for a long time to come!" I told him, now walking back over to my computer to try putting in the account numbers again. STILL getting an error message.
"You know, I'd like to say that this was all a 'personal' vendetta between me and you...but I'm afraid that I really can't take full credit for that." He continued. "There are a LOT of very angry vampires out here, Mr. Kincaid. Vampires that you and you're Senator buddies have been doing great harm over the past few years now. And despite our utter hatred for you and everything that you represent, you've been able to walk right past us, time and time again, with the Elder's safeguard giving you complete immunity for your crimes against us. Strutting around and showing it off like the proud peacock you are. But now...during these final moments...you don't sound like half the man you pretended to be when you were still surrounded by your little protective 'bubble'. Frankly, I'm disappointed."
"You know what happens to you if the Elders find out that you've done so much as lay a finger on me, don't ya? Huh? You and your little 'rag-tag rascal' friends out there?" I told him. "You wanna talk to Elder Juliano? Huh? You wanna explain to him why one of his top human associates was harmed by you because of some stupid grudge?"
"Ohhhhh...we've gone FAR beyond the stupid grudge stage, my friend." He told me. "You may think that the Elders are going to continue to save you from the rest of us, but the truth of the matter is...if they had any further use for you at all, they would have called weeks ago and re-implanted you with another three year mark. But...they didn't call, Mr. Kincaid. Did they?" He said, and I let a silence pass between us as I angrily typed in several different account numbers and passwords, aliases that I had used in the past...every last one of them REJECTED, no matter how hard I banged on the keys and cursed under my breath. "You've been a busy man in this town the last three years. And a very naughty boy to boot."
"I don't know what you're talking about." I grumbled, paying more attention to the computer screen than the voice on the line.
"Why SURE you do. You've been making a pretty penny off our kind, haven't you? Shutting down our habitats, clearing out all of our abandoned buildings and car lots...snitching on other vampires and giving the location of discovered sanctuaries in the area to hunters and assassins...a lot of vampires are either dead or homeless because of you."
"I don't know where you get your rumors, buddy...but that wasn't me."
"The 'rumors' you speak of...came right out of your own mind, Mr. Kincaid. Your thoughts don't lie nearly as much as your forked tongue." He said, almost with a smile. "All of those places for us to reside on the South side...on the West side...on the North side, of the city. Sunproofed and habitable. Perfect for us to just live out our days and stay out of your hair. But you tore them all down and put condos up in their place, didn't you? You take all of the poor and working class...and you 're-locate' them to even poorer, crime infested, neighborhoods. Then you buy the real estate cheap, fix up the area for as little money and effort as possible, and sell it to the rich for triple what it's worth. They always say that you know a bad neighborhood is about to go condo once you see a Starbucks Coffee show up on the corner." He told me. AND WHY WON'T MY PASSWORDS WORK???? "But things have changed, haven't they, Mr. Kincaid? The economy sucks, doesn't it? Hehehe, even for you."
"FUCK you!" I said through gritted teeth. "Despite what you or little pissant sources told you, I've got money to BURN! You hear me? I've got more money than God, Himself! Enough to buy a free pass and walk among you all until I'm old and gray and living on an island you can't even afford to see in a brochure! And the second I get this situation worked out with the bank and access to my 'REAL' money...I'm getting a new safeguard, and I'm coming for each and every last one of you fucks. You hear me? I suggest you look for a SEWER to sleep in! Because I'm tearing down every low budget garbage heap you monsters are 'infecting' with your disgusting presence. I'm going to punish you all, and I'm gonna make a LOT of money doing it too! Just you wait and see! I've got money the likes you haven't even SEEN yet!"
"Why, Mr. Kincaid...certainly you don't mean the private Swiss bank accounts that you've been hiding from your Ex-wife's lawyers? Or the secret accounts you shifted overseas to keep from paying your fair share of American taxes. A country that has given you soooo much in the past. And this is how you repay your debt to Uncle Sam? That's how you would phrase it, isn't it? At one of your shamelessly wealthy galas, full of champagne and shrimp cocktails?" He said, and I froze immediately...nearly dropping the phone once again. "Is THAT the 'unseen' money that you're referring to? Depending on? The illegal accounts? The false aliases? The bank deposit boxes and multiple hidden passwords? Or did you mean the REALLY secret account that you keep in that bank just outside of Fiji? Last five digits, 66303? Hehehe, oh, I certainly hope you weren't depending on that lavish fortune to save you tonight. It won't." I didn't say anything at first. My mouth went completely dry, my heart began to race, and as I saw the same harsh 'error' sign looking me in the face from the computer screen...I nearly felt tears coming to my eyes. "I can guarantee you, all that wonderful cash isn't going to help you tonight. In fact, you've been trying so hard tonight to get in, I'm sure that you've tripped the electronic security system. Too many errors, and it shuts you out completely until your identity can be fully verified...days from now. There aren't too many computers that will let you 'guess' your way into a multi million dollar account. So believe me when I say...that money is going to be locked up tight for at least another 48 hours, if not longer. We made sure of that, by purposely making it look like someone was trying to break into your bank with all the appropriate information and passwords...and then screwing up on purpose when it came to the last few questions. Typically, the system assumes that it's a case of identity theft, and it locks up in order to 'protect' you. Hehehe...how ironic is that, huh?"
"I...I can retrieve it." I said softly, almost breathless as the first tear fell from my eye. "I'll talk to them directly. I...I can prove it's me. I can PROVE it..."
"I'm afraid it won't matter, Mr. Kincaid. Not tonight. Thanks to your cleverly hidden security measures, those banks won't be letting anyone have access to the amount of money you'll need for a new safeguard mark until ALL of the accounts have been declared secure again, and they're authorized to do so. You could actually show up in person right now, give them a fingerprint, retinal scan, hair, blood, urine, semen, AND saliva, samples to prove your identity...and you'd STILL have to wait the minimum mandatory period before you were allowed access again. Monday morning at the earliest. And I'm afraid that's going to be waaaaay too late."
"How...?" I whispered now sliding down to the floor. Helpless. Trapped. Like a scared animal.
"Again with the unimportant questions." He smirked. "Did you really think that a species as advanced as ours would still be living the cliche life of sleeping in coffins and residing in old castles with torches instead of electricity? We have an online presence like you wouldn't believe. And our online pit bulls were able to crack your passwords in less than an hour. 'Sparky', right? Hehehe, you use the name of your dead dog over your Ex-wife? I find that hilarious." I heard his voice deepen into a low growl. "What was your plan, Mr. Kincaid? Did you really think that you could just exploit the poor, the helpless, the disadvantaged, members of our society without conscience...and then you and your mega rich political friends could whisk yourselves away to some ivory tower where you'd be safe from us? Where you could forget about what you've DONE? No, Mr. Kincaid. We will always find you. No matter where you run to. And the more you starve us...the more we lick our lips in anticipation for seeing your life essence spill out of your open throat like a faucet!"
Shivering, mucus running out of both nostrils as I fought back as many tears as I could, I whimpered, "The Elders...they're gonna answer my call. And...they will...they'll..." I babbled without any real coherent thought, but the voice at the end of the line was satisfied with its intimidation at this point.
"I'm afraid not. Not this time." He said. "Take a look at that snazzy watch of yours. Check the time." He said, and even though I looked down at it, my eyes were almost blind with fear. "It's 8 minutes past 11 PM, Mr. Kincaid. You have 52 minutes left to live. I suggest you make peace with your maker before you meet him. As I'm sure you have a lot to apologize for." Then, he added, "See you soon." And the phone went dead.
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