Spuke

by Camy


 

At just shy of his seventeenth birthday, Joey Warren was a true romantic. He firmly believed in the pursuit of perfect love, and preferably, or so he prayed to God each and every night, in the pursuit of love at first sight. It was, apart from being a Vampire, his biggest secret, and he'd told no one.

It was Joey's unwavering faith, mixed with a badly crossed line, that sent his prayer, the week before Christmas, to Spuke, a rather small and mean-spirited sub-Godling with a nasty sense of humour. His prayer set in motion what was later to be described around the well-to-do dinner tables in Heaven as 'The Texas Fang Fest Christmas Horror'. But that was hours in the future from where we start this tale: Joey's kitchen, late afternoon, Christmas Eve.

"Joey, sweetheart, pay attention dear, your father's asked you twice now."

"Hmm? Oh, sorry, mother … yes, please, father, I would."

"Yes, but which? 'Would you like three or four sausages' requires an answer that isn't 'I would'. The answer has to include a number. 'I would' only shows you're either deaf or stupid, and I'm beginning to think you might be both, young man," his father said, putting three sausages on Joey's plate and passing it over to him. "So … have you fallen in love again?"

Warren Warren smiled at his wife. They were well aware of their son's sexuality, and had been totally understanding when he had publicly explained it to all and sundry during his thirteenth birthday party. The party entertainer, a clown who was also a charter member of the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, hadn't taken it so well, however, and had collapsed, having to be carted off to hospital, frothing at the mouth with an aneurysm.

"Yes, father, I have." Joey smiled sweetly and batted his eyelashes at his mother. "He's just …."

"Gorgeous!" His parents interrupted in harmony, and laughed.

"Yep, he's that all right," Joey replied, "he's moved into the old Vlade mansion …."

He was interrupted by his mother dropping the bowl of mashed potatoes on the floor. Looking up, he saw she'd gone white and was starting to shake.

"Mother?"

"You can't fall in love with a Vampire again, Joey, how many times do your father and I have to tell you? It's just not on."

Joey didn't like being told what to do, especially when it involved an affair of the heart. It was true he had only seen Vlade in the distance and it was true that he hadn't spoken to him yet, but Joey felt he was quite possibly 'the one', and objected to interference from his parents; so he did what came naturally and pouted.

"Niki, you tell them."

I knew it was going to come to this. Joey always used me as a foil when it came to arguing with his parents, and as his familiar, I couldn't really say no.

"I, umm …."

"Niki!"

Sighing, I cast the spell, and his parents' expressions became vacant as they forgot the last few minutes.

"Thank you." He said it quietly, which added to my surprise; he'd never apologised to me before, but then this was going to be his first major holiday as a fully fledged Master, and neither of us knew what to expect.

"You're welcome, but don't think they're oblivious to the mind-altering. Your parents are far from daft."

"I know, Nik, it's just that they keep on and on about Vampires and I just …."

"Yeah, I know, mate, I know," I commiserated, willing his parents to sleep with a wave of my hand, "so, any new powers manifested yet?"

"None that I've found, which seems odd, don't you think, though I do have more control over my fangs, which has got to be good, hasn't it?" He demonstrated, though to be honest all I could see were his lips.

"For sure, that's a good start, mate." I patted him on the back, dragging my eyes away from him and glancing at his parents, who were now slumped over the table, snoring quietly. "Do you want me to put them to bed?" I added as Joey looked at his watch. The light was fading and we were supposed to be meeting the gang at the mall in an hour.

"Would you mind, Nik? I guess I should do it myself now I'm a Master, but …." He looked worried, and I watched him as he ran through the litany of basic spells all Masters had at their command, without success.

"Don't worry, Joey, all in good time. You've got the invitation, and there are still five hours to midnight." "Yeah, but most of the rest have their powers already, why not me? And why am I drawn to Vlade, yet I've never met him?"

"Dunno, I'm just your familiar, Joey," I replied, frowning. He grinned back at me and my heart did the pit-a-pat thing it had been doing a lot recently.

"Yeah, and I thank God for it every night," he said, the grin getting wider as he patted me on the back. I smiled vaguely in response, not because I didn't believe him, but because I wanted to pull him into a hug and ravish his body there and then, which was not a thought a familiar to a Master Vampire should be having.

"So you go and get changed for the party and I'll put your folks to bed, 'k?"

"'K, Nik, and thanks." As he left the kitchen he brushed past me, and as he did, I felt my inner spirit begin to rear up with a sudden surge of love so powerful I almost couldn't control it. I held my body still by force of will as he closed the door, and then I collapsed into a chair that slid out from the table and placed itself behind me, seemingly of its own volition.

"Shit!" I suddenly began feeling very odd, and started to sweat profusely.

"Shit's apt."

"Who the fuck are you?" I hissed at the creature now rummaging around in the fridge. It stood about three and a half feet tall, was dark red with flecks of green and brown, had two arms and legs that I could see, and when it turned around and slammed the fridge door it had a half a chicken in its claws.

"Bob," it said, taking a bite out of the bird as another chair slid out to accommodate its overlarge arse. "You can call me Bob, Niki, and we need to talk."

"If you need to speak with my Master, he's upstairs …." I paused, rifling my memory for any recollection of Bob and coming up empty; "umm … who are you?"

"Told you, Bob, and there've been seriously crossed wires ...." He ripped off a leg and started to crunch happily on the bones; "see, it's like this: you Master, Joey familiar."

I laughed.

"Na, na … nanana, don't be daft, Bob, I'm not Master kind, I'm the familiar, and very happy I am too."

He nibbled and gnawed for what seemed an age at the rest of the carcass and then belched, loudly.

"You're mistaking me for someone who gives a fuck. I'm just here to give you a message, and that message is 'you Master; Joey familiar'. I didn't say that was the way it was supposed to be, I just said that's the way it is. Now, bye bye then." There was a sound much like a flatulent cow and Bob vanished, just as the kitchen door opened and Joey returned.

"I heard voices?" He was dressed to kill, and I felt my inner spirit getting restless as my underwear became way too tight. I used my breathing exercises to calm the situation and as I was still sitting down, I absentmindedly waved Joey to Bob's recently vacated chair.

"We've … we've got to talk, Joey." He frowned and sat down.

"I thought you were going to put the parents to bed," he said. I looked at him, waved my hand, and still gently snoring, they vanished. I could sense them cuddled together in their king size and made sure they were warm enough before I brought my thoughts back. I wasn't sure what to say or how to handle it. It was by far the most difficult situation I'd been in.

I mean, how do you tell someone who thinks they are a Master Vampire that they aren't and that the person they thought was their familiar is in fact their Master instead? See what I mean? It's difficult.

"You're chewing your lip, Nik."

"Ya." I carried on chewing. There didn't seem like a lot of point in stopping.

It could have been a year later, but was probably more like five minutes, when there was a brisk knock on the door and the son of the devil walked in. He wasn't really the son of the devil of course, but that was what Joey and I called him. Japheth Thwat, Junior, royal pain in the arse, Master Vampire, and bully.

"Joey, are you ready?" He never bothered to address me. Familiars are often treated like second class citizens but honestly, as far as Japheth was concerned, I couldn't give a shit.

"Yes, thank you, Niki and I are all set."

"Oh." Japheth spoke through his nose so it came out as more of a 'eww'. "You've decided to bring your … familiar."

"Why? Aren't you?" Joey asked, flushing, and as the colour spread across his cheeks I found I could sense his thoughts -- at least at a superficial level -- and I found myself blushing in response. It was love I felt, pure unadulterated love, and then his thoughts were shut off hard. I glanced at him, and he returned the look with a glare. Luckily Japheth missed the exchange.

"Yes, of course I'm bringing mine, but he's just a servant, whereas you have taken your Master-familiar relationship beyond the bounds of decorum."

"You sound just like your father, Japheth." God, I felt proud of him, and projected a little of it in his direction to bolster the feeling of unnerved panic he was projecting. He glanced at me, looking shocked, which wasn't good. I gave him a silly grin back, and he looked away. Unfortunately Japheth hadn't missed that one.

"Eww, are you two queer for each other?" he said, pulling a handkerchief from his waistcoat pocket in as camp a fashion as I'd seen in a good long while. I shouldn't have done it, but I just couldn't help laughing. Japheth was not amused. "Control your familiar, Warren, or I shall have to do it myself," he said, examining his manicured nails. His fingers were quite beautiful; I couldn't help imagining breaking them one by one, painfully. I pondered the thought, and decided it would ruin Joey's evening. Gritting my teeth, I apologised.

"Sorry, Japheth."

"Call me Master Thwat, familiar." His bullying streak raised its particularly ugly head and I sighed, looking at Joey for support. This wasn't going to be an easy evening, especially as I saw Joey wasn't paying the slightest attention; instead he was trying out his teeth again, with little success.

*****

One thing Japheth Thwat was good for was transportation. The Thwats were one of the town's oldest families and consequently rich as pigs in shit. Japheth had organised a limousine for the Masters and an old panel van for the familiars.

"I want Niki to travel with me, Japheth," Joey said sotto voce as we left the house. But Japheth, the bully, was having none of it:

"We don't want the servants to know everything, do we, Joey?"

I got a pleading look from Joey that nearly melted my heart and a look from Japheth that would have turned my heart to stone if I hadn't been a Master. I saw he was surprised that his spell hadn't worked, and pretended to stagger a bit, which confused the little shit. I hid my smile.

After seeing Joey into the limousine, I got into the van, joining the timorous Paul, Japheth's familiar.

"Hi, Paul." He didn't look at me, which wasn't unusual. He'd been continually browbeaten by Japheth, and probably a lot more besides, though that was only rumour. I took my seat and forgot about him, instead projecting myself so I could keep an eye on Joey.

The inside of the limousine was lined with leather, and I hid my projected spirit in the top corner by the driver's glass partition and listened to Japheth's vitriol.

"He's far too familiar for a familiar, Joey." He laughed at his own wit, which nearly made me vomit, then continued, "they are supposed to be our servants, ours to do what we please with, and I think I know what you'd like to do with Niki, eh Joey?" The lascivious bastard put his hand on my … what was he? my love? did I care that much? I found I did and was about to get very angry, then decided to see what Joey would do. I was relieved when he turned and picked Japheth's hand off his leg.

"I don't think so, Japheth; we have to collect the others from the mall and get to the party, so let's do that, shall we?"

Japheth affected a moue, then laughed.

"Later then, Joey, later." I let a little of my power feed through Joey, enabling him to do what I knew he wanted to; Japheth's face was a picture of shocked surprise as a mini-lightning bolt jumped from Joey's hand to his. Joey grinned; I could feel he was pleased that his powers seemed to be coming to him at last.

"Damn, it seems you really are a Master now, Warren," Japheth snapped. He moved down to the other end of the bench seat and used the intercom to tell the driver to get a move on.

It was lucky Paul didn't see when Bob appeared on the seat next to me in the familiars' van, and just as well, considering I nearly had a heart attack.

"For fuck's sake, Bob, what now?" I said shielding him from Paul and the driver. He'd brought a leg of meat with him and was slavering, nibbling and drooling over it.

"Want some?" He offered the mauled and sodden meat to me, grinning. I rolled my eyes.

"You know I'm a vegetarian, right?" He nodded, his grin so large it nearly split his head in two.

"Yeppers, we've got a pool running on how long you'll last as a Master without drinking … blood!" he added with a hideous cackle.

"Erm, no one can hear you, so knock off the cackling crap, ok? Anyway, why are you here?"

"To keep an eye on you, 's all." He was trying hard to look piteous, and I was wondering why when we arrived at the mall.

They were already waiting as we pulled up. Joey's school friend Joaquin and eight other Masters I'd never seen before got into the limousine, whilst their familiars got into the van with Paul and me. The doors slammed shut and we set off. I wasn't paying enough attention as Rafe, Joaquin's familiar, scootched me up the seat and plumped down next to me, looking with interest at Bob, who had transferred himself to my lap, leg of meat and all.

"Who's your friend, Niki?"

"Bob," I muttered, hoping that whatever was pressing into my groin was nothing more than a claw. Bob chuckled, belched and vanished, leaving the meat bone stuck up between my legs suggestively. "He's a kind of familiar's familiar, I think, not too sure. … Anyway," I continued, gingerly removing the bone and chucking it out of the van's window, whilst keeping an eye on the inside of the limousine where they were now drinking champagne out of crystal flutes, "how are you then, Rafe?"

"Oh, ok," he said, glancing at the stain the bone had left on my trousers. "Joaquin was worried that Joey wasn't going to come into his powers in time for his birthday, but apparently he has?"

"Joey's fine, honestly, and when midnight strikes I'm sure there won't be a problem."

"So why's it taken him so long?" I was taken aback by the bluntness of the question, but Rafe and I had known each other for a while and were friends, so I didn't take umbrage.

"It's probably like humans and puberty. Some go through it later than others." I turned and looked out of the window, making it plain I wasn't going to say more. I could see Rafe's expression turn from quizzical to noncommittal and was just about to ask him what we could do to help Paul when I felt a flood of panic emanating from Joey. It had started to snow. I fed him some warmth tinged with love through our connection and felt his panic level drop back, though I knew I'd have to be with him in person to totally remove it.

We swept up the drive to the Vlade mansion just behind the limousine, and I was aware of the clang of the tall stainless steel gates closing behind us. The limousine stopped under a large portico, and we watched as our Masters were escorted inside by a kowtowing hunchbacked servant, before another servant pulled back the sliding door of the van. The snow was now coming down in buckets and the temperature had plummeted in the short while we'd been travelling.

Rafe and I were the only two to make it to the side entrance without slipping over on our arses, and I managed to save Paul from being crushed by a behemoth familiar I'd never met. The lout gave me a foul look as I scooped what he'd probably seen as a soft landing from under him, whilst Paul whispered 'thank you'.

The party hadn't started yet. The familiars were all handed towels, then herded into an overly large, high-ceilinged and busy kitchen, staffed by Imps. I thought Bob wouldn't have looked out of place amongst them, and wasn't too surprised when he appeared by my side.

"Nice here, eh?" he growled, clutching the ubiquitous joint of meat. I rolled my eyes.

"Why don't you nob off and leave me alone, Bob? I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course."

"Can't do that, Spuke'd get upset."

"Who the hell is Spuke?" I asked, thinking it not an unreasonable question. Bob looked devastated, and his large protruding bottom lip began to quiver as he dropped the joint in dismay.

"You … you don't know Spuke! Spuke; sub-Godling to the rich and famous, Spuke; sub-Godling to the poor and homeless, Spuke; sub-Godling to the…."

"So he's a sub-Godling then," I interrupted what I felt was on its way to becoming an overly lengthy honorific, "but what's he got to do with me?"

"Not you, you …," Bob was turning from his usual mottled lobster red to a rather vile shade of green, "… wretched creature. Your Master. Your Master prayed, and Spuke answered … and," he gave a little bow, "sent me."

"Hang on a tick, Bob. Joey prays to God, not to some unknown sub-Godling, and anyway, you said I was the Master and Joey, my familiar … oh!"

"Yes, indeed, 'oh' is apt."

"So he prayed … he wants … he's given up … he's in …." I couldn't get the words out. Though the feelings of love I'd experienced had been getting stronger and stronger all day, I hadn't had an inkling of what Joey was really feeling. Bob's grin stretched from ear to ear.

"Not too bright are you? Anyway, it's up to Drazzilb. He always has the final say over those in his dominion."

"Sorry, Drazzilb?" I queried. Bob reached out and grabbed a handful of chicken drumsticks off a silver platter.

"Drazzilb is the … well, for sake of simplicity he's in charge of all Vampiric goings on." I watched as he happily swallowed them one after the other before belching.

"You're foul, Bob," I said, pursing my lips. "So who's Vlade then?"

"Anagram."

"Ah." I thought for a minute as Bob reached out for a tray of kebabs and had his claw soundly slapped by the Imp in charge. "And where is this Davel?"

"Could be Vadel … It's 's firs' name."

"You mean Christian name?"

Bob shuddered and I couldn't help but chuckle.

"No, I do not! Davel Drazzilb, fool." We'd got to the bantering stage, which, all things considered, was better than hanging out with Paul and the rest of the familiars. Rafe was ok, but Bob was far more entertaining.

"Would all familiars proceed to the dining room?" A masked Master of Ceremonies dressed in an ornate blood red velvet robe and carrying a scepter ushered us through a series of rooms, then knocked portentously on a set of large double doors. Bob grinned, patted me on the arm and started fading away.

"Gotta go, see ya later." I was left looking at his eye, which winked at me, then disappeared with a pop.

"Come." It was Thwat's voice, and as he spoke the doors swung open. The room was magnificent. A log fire burnt crepitantly in a fireplace I could have walked in. Rich brocade and silk tapestries hung from the walls and in the center, lit by three candelabras, stretched a highly polished rectangular table adorned with gold place settings for twelve.

At one end and nearest the doors sat Thwat. To his right and left a pair of ludicrously dressed, badly coiffured caricatures: identical twins I'd never seen before. The rest of the places were filled by others I had met occasionally and didn't care a jot for, then furthest away, and looking frankly unhappy, Joaquin and Joey were facing each other.

The final place at the far end of the table was unoccupied. Behind it, filling the entire wall, was a window … a window that showed that the snow, which had started as a small flurry, was now hammering down in a full scale blizzard. For some reason this made my heart sing.

We moved to stand behind our Masters, and I managed to cheer up Joey with a few stray happy thoughts -- which was odd, considering the occasion.

The Master of Ceremonies walked slowly around the table three times before stopping behind the unoccupied chair and banging his scepter three times. Nothing happened. The Master of Ceremonies harrumphed quietly and I couldn't help but smile. As I did, I felt rather than heard a chuckle from behind me, though I knew better than to turn and look. He banged his scepter three times more, and on the third strike the windows blew open, letting the blizzard in.

For half a minute or so pandemonium reigned, until a couple of hefty Imps helped by Rafe and me managed to get the windows shut. As they closed, I heard a voice behind me whisper, "Spoil sport."

I laughed. I honestly tried not to, but I couldn't help it, and the room went silent as I walked back to stand behind Joey. Japheth Thwat stood up, displaying his power by clearing the snow that had covered the table with an incantation, and then pointed his finger at Joey.

"This boy should not be here if he cannot control his familiar." All the others except for Joaquin banged their fists on the table in agreement.

Joey rose to his feet.

"Niki is my familiar; but I see no reason to control him. He is my familiar, and he is my friend, and furthermore, I am here at the invitation of Davel Drazzilb, not you, Japheth Thwat."

It was lucky I was tuned in to him because at the end of his speech, which had me almost in tears, he incanted to fill his and Joaquin's glasses with wine, an incantation which failed until I fed him the power. Thwat's face went red with anger as Joaquin and Joey toasted Rafe and me.

"Davel Drazzilb is dead, you pathetic fool, he is dead; for surely otherwise he would be here, and were he here, he would be saying the same thing: a Master is worthless if he cannot control his familiar!"

A very small icicle that had formed on the ceiling when the windows opened began to grow, and grow, and grow. Before the last echo of Thwat's speech had died away, the icicle had transformed into a stunningly handsome man in his middle years. His eyes were of the palest ice blue, and perfectly complemented his pallor, which was the antithesis of his raven hair. He wore a robe of white samite interwoven with gold, and his lips were blood red.

"Dead, Thwat? I think not, and to be truthful I was in a playful mood until I heard your diatribe."

The Master of Ceremonies nodded, and courteously pulled back the last chair. Davel Drazzilb sat down, picked up his empty goblet and looked directly at me. Without thought I waved my hand and filled it with wine.

"Thank you …?"

"Niki, Master."

"You may call me Davel, as may your … ah … Master …?"

"Joey … Davel."

Davel inclined his head at Joaquin and Rafe, "You too."

Japheth Thwat was stupid, as were his followers. He should have known that even with the power he possessed, even with the power they all possessed, they were not a match for Davel Drazzilb.

They rose to their feet as one, pushing their chairs backwards, their fangs as evident as their red glowing eyes. Davel just sat there at the end of the table, sipping his wine, and then, and I know this because I was watching, his little finger twitched and they were all frozen where they stood.

Slowly Davel got to his feet. And bade us follow as he walked around the table.

"There is so much beauty in the worlds, yet these people, given one hint of a sniff of power, go mad with it. And what of love? Love is what binds us as truly sentient beings. We and we alone have love at our fingertips and all too often do nothing about it." He glared at me and then at Joey, his eyes momentarily flaring red, before fading back to ice blue.

"Do you love … him?" I watched, shivering in anticipation, waiting for Joey's answer. It was the most important question in the world and I wasn't asking it. Why hadn't I had the sense to tell him what I felt? Why hadn't I just taken the plunge and bared my soul? Was I that much of a wimp, or was it that I was frightened he might say no, even though I knew in my heart he wouldn't? I was so wrapped up in these thoughts I almost missed his quiet reply.

"Yes."

One word, and it made everything that could possibly be bad turn to good. I felt power surging through me -- not the power that made me, according to Bob, a Master; but the power of truth and of love.

Davel turned to me and winked.

*****

The blizzard lasted for three nights and days. Towards the end, as the skies cleared to the palest winter blue, a snow plough came across a limousine overturned in a ditch with ten bodies inside. They were frozen to death. Not widely reported was that they had been drained of blood. After all, as Davel so succinctly put it, "a chap's got to eat."

The nine familiars were all released, and occasionally Paul visits. I don't think he's ever going to be normal, but for one who's been on the far side, he's not doing too badly.

Though I never got to meet Spuke, I still see Bob from time to time. He and I have become friends -- 'the odd couple', according to those who see us together.

And Joey and I? Joey and I are great! I recommend love to anyone brave enough to say yes. It took us a while, but thanks to Davel we're where we should be, and happy.

And if you're reading this, Davel, though I've said it countless times before, I'll say it again: Fangs a lot!




Spuke by Camy

First published in the 2006 Gay Authors Winter Anthology

Thanks to Kitty, for all the editorial input and tweaking.
She made this tale much, much better than it was. Gassho.

Feedback would really be appreciated! you can email me at: Camy[at]awesomedude.com

© Camy - all rights reserved