Vampire Games (Chapter Ten)

With Criss Angel in town, I figured something as mundane as a giant flying vampire bat would go unnoticed.

And so I stood on the ledge of my fifteen-floor balcony at the MGM Grand, one of the few hotels in Vegas with open balconies. It was perfect for viewing the Vegas skyline from…or leaping from.

Don't try this at home, kids.

The hot desert wind buffeted my naked body. My longish hair snapped behind me horizontally. Standing naked on a balcony's edge was liberating. Despite being perpetually cold and despite the hot desert wind, I shivered slightly.

After all, the wind was blowing where, as they say, the sun don't shine.

I looked down at the city. An image of the young boxer collapsing in the ring came to me as I stood there. No surprise. This was the city where he'd died, where his autopsy had been conducted, and where I was beginning to suspect he had possibly been killed.

And not by Russell Baker.

Whether or not Caesar Marquez's death was an accident – or something else – remained to be seen.

I didn't need a psychic hit to know that something screwy was going on here. Something wasn't right. What exactly, I didn't know. Maybe I would never know.

I tilted my head back and spread my arms and deeply inhaled the heated desert air – air that was suffused with something that smelled suspiciously like all-you-can-eat $1.99 BBQ ribs.

I stood like that for some time, and the longer I did so, the more I was certain of one thing: I was becoming less and less human.

And more and more something else.

One of them.

I knew this because no human stood on the ledge of their hotel balcony, with arms spread, head tilted back, naked as the day they were born, reveling in their freedom, knowing that an even greater freedom was about to come. A freedom from gravity.

As I stood there, the wind whipping my hair into a frenzy, I wasn't thinking of my kids or Kingsley or Fang or anyone. In fact, I wasn't thinking at all. I was only feeling, only sensing.

The wind, the heat, the smells, the sounds.

I felt elemental. Animalistic.

I didn't feel like a mother or a friend or a lover. I didn't feel human. I felt, instead, deeply connected to the Earth, a part of the Earth, a part of its elements, its raw material.

I tilted my head forward, knowing that I had to either jump or go back inside. Sooner or later, the cops would be beating down my door. A naked woman on a balcony's ledge was bound to draw some attention.

And I sure as hell wasn't going back in.

The flame appeared in my thoughts. A single, unwavering flame, and within the flame was a creature that should have looked hideous to me, but didn't. It was a creature I felt an extreme fondness for. A love for.

It was, after all, me. In a different shape.

A very different shape.

I lowered my arms and looked down. There was nothing to hinder my drop. No buttresses or projecting balconies.

Just a straight drop.

And so I did just that, tilting forward away from the ledge.