Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to True Blood or any of the characters in the Southern Vampire Mysteries.



I.

All ye children of lust and fury! Here is a little known tale of a well known villain, the vampire Dixie Bill. This tale begins some time in the opening decade of the twenty-first century, a time of ill-defined social mores, an ethical frontier society where anything, it seems, could be classed good or bad. Decency ran to perversity with shocking familiarity. Thus lay the land for Bill and his kind.

This is how we find him, the lazy amber rays of the dying southern sunset relinquishing their hold over the landscape, the creatures of the water coming out to greet the gloom. The nightly ritual of hunt and evade, and the tormented quest for reproduction governed the movements of all that crawled and slithered. That ritual also occupied the thoughts of more intelligent beings. Death. Utter darkness. This is how the evening always greeted Dixie Bill. Then awareness instantly rushed in, his eyes wide, mouth gaping, arms and legs shuddering as he rose as if for the first time in eternity. Time and motion is discordant until one is fully centred.

"…That's hot," came a girlish voice from just behind him, "anyway, I've gotta go now, I'll call later-bye-bye."

Bill turned his head in the direction of the voice.

"Hallow Beel!"

Ugh Sookie! There she was, standing in the doorway with a great toothy grin on her face as if waiting for permission for something. Bill looked back at her with an attempted smile on his annoyed face. She hurried over to him as he reclined in his armchair, knelt beside him, placed her hands in his lap and looked up at him in expectation.

"Hello to you too, Sookie," Bill said, warming a little to her effervescent enthusiasm.

She smiled and said, "Have you heard?"

As she continued to look up at him, she began to resemble more and more a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel begging for titbits. He looked back at her with a droll expression, "I've heard nothing, Miss Sookie, I've been dead," he told her.

"Oh now, Mister Beel Compton, I knew that, but you really must work on your people skeals…"

"What the hell are you talking about, missy?" interjected Bill.

"Oh, never mind, I really do have some exciting news for you," Sookie continued, "You'll never guess what just happened…you just won't believe it, I mean I don't believe it and I even saw it!" Bill sat there in silence as Sookie slapped his knee and grinned while squeaking like some kind of rodent.

Finally, Bill said, "It looks like I'll never find out by you telling me."

Sookie presently regained her composure, "Ok Beel, this is it; Oprah Winfrey is coming to our town!" She jumped to her feet with outstretched hands and splayed fingers.

Bill looked up at her with a puzzled look on his face, "What does that have to do with me?" he asked.

Sookie's hands fell and clapped loudly against her thighs, "Beel, the Oprah Winfrey," she said softly, "you've seen her on TV; she's more famous than the Queen."

"Oh," said Bill, "I look forward to making her acquaintance."

"And she's gonna love you," gushed Sookie, having not detected Bill's sarcasm.

Sookie rushed up and kissed Bill then said, "I have to go now, are we still on for later?"

"You'll know if you see me," replied Bill dismissively.

Sookie shot him a coquettish look and said, "That's hot," then bustled out the door, already running late.

It was still early as Bill sat alone in the dimly-lit room and the night air was yet to overcome the lingering heat stifling the house. Bored and restless, the vampire decided to go out for a solitary walk. With a certain vague air of purpose, Dixie Bill took up his coonskin hat and made for the door with no particular destination in mind. Just the solitude and the stillness of the night was all he sought at that moment, he always found the unbound air to be the perfect companion on such occasions. The sounds and the smells of the wild night drew him further into the silken veil of his first and only true mistress. As strange as it might seem, it was in this embrace that he could feel most like himself and least like a monster. He found that one never did familiarize the self with the monster one becomes. As a human, he always felt the pressure to meet the requirements that had been asked of him as a man. As a vampire, the quest of self applied a far greater weight. Lost in his musings, Bill found himself perching at the top of a tree by the riverbank.

From the dizzying height of the tree, the appearance of the town came into sharp focus. The lights penetrating the smoky haze of the scanty precipitation, the shadowy lines that hinted to him the shape and structure of the town, both worked together in a strangely beautiful way to present to him the humble existence of humanity. As he gazed down on this terrestrial constellation, the distant echoes of man-made noise came to him as a faint yet desperate voice. It was the eternal cry of humanity: begging for change, permanence, a second chance, to be recognised as unique and special. At last he was consumed by a yearning to be among them, to be the god that listens, the god that replies. He felt the truth of his condition become clearer, the need to be that dark thing, hard and cold, that comes in the night, out from the wild places, to feast his senses, to consume their terror with the warmth of their humanity heightening this abominable ecstasy.

As the hours slipped by, Bill realised his time to meet Sookie was soon approaching. He felt somewhat unenthusiastic about this, as she was becoming more annoying to him lately. Despite this however, he couldn't help feeling intrigued about this Oprah Winfrey woman. The name meant nothing to him, but there must be something about her for her arrival in town to mean something. Bill would simply not be satisfied until he got to the bottom of this mystery. Of course, what made the whole affair so much more aggravating was that it could amount to nothing more than one of Sookie's girlish fascinations. She was prone to them. Some would call it attention seeking, others would find it cute. After no short time, they could be quite tedious.

Bill's meeting with Sookie turned out to be little more than a brief introduction to cultural significance of the talk-show phenomenon within America peppered with admonitions for not having been aware of this already. (I mean seriously, was he living in a tomb all these years?) At least now Bill was fully aware of what was about to happen. He was about as excited to have a talk-show host come to town as a spinster's cat was to see a couple of children approaching with greasy, grasping, hands. He just knew he was going to be paraded out there and asked all sorts of stupid questions as he sat there on the couch all fierce and sexy. Some twit from the audience might ask for information about their ancestors or even a serenade.

It was at times like these that Bill truly regretted the vampire community's decision to make itself officially known. Those who wanted to assimilate would never be able to and those who didn't want to would be treated like circus performers. Dixie Bill never did like the glare of the spotlight and he shunned most forms of inclusion. He was a loner, as a human he was an individualistic frontiersman, as a monster, he lurked in the darkness. Now it was harder to go unnoticed without going somewhere so remote there was nobody to prey on. Maybe the country town was a bad idea; maybe he should seek the wilderness of concrete and steel. Every decision however, was starting to feel like a bad idea lately and Bill was wondering if it was all just getting a little too hard.

II.

As Bill lay lifeless beyond the reach of the sun, the whole town had taken up the hasty atmosphere of the day before the fair. Having been warned to be on their best behaviour, well scrubbed and dressed, children were tugging at their parents' elbows with endless questions while looking for opportunities to misbehave. Almost every shop had tidied up its window displays in anticipation of celebrity patronage. Strange faces belonging to various TV crewmembers appeared to be everywhere. There had been assistants hurrying around seeking out egg sandwiches and Styrofoam cups of coffee since about 4am. Now that the sun was beginning to cast long and tired beams across the town, a panicked sound-technician was spluttering at a local handyman as a rather important-looking four-wheel-drive roared into the main street. The message retrieved from the colourful discourse of its occupant was that the sound-technician's arse was saved and the show would go on as scheduled.

As dusk gave way to evening, the town's floodlit main street hummed with anticipation. The event that would place their humble town on the great talk-show circuit was just about to take place. And best of all, no white-trash connotations from Jerry Springer and no moralistic admonitions from Dr Phil. You can get on TV with your vampire-lovers and Oprah won't judge you, but you might become a household name. And now the wait was over. The whole street had been cordoned off, with a stage set up at one end so a large crowd could gather in the relatively cool night air. After the excited uproar of the mostly female section of the audience had sufficiently died, the famous personality thanked them for allowing her into their lives for what should be "an intimate look into the changing face as we speak in American society."

After an engaging chat with the town's Baptist minister, it was now time for Sookie to enter the stage.

"Hullo Sookie, welcome to the show, how are you feeling tonight?"

Sookie replied shyly, "I'm well thanks, Miss Oprah, thankyou for coming to our town; we all think you're fantastic. This is a great honour. Oh my gosh I can't believe it's really you."

"You are so sweet," said Oprah, "But really, you have quite a story to tell, am I right?"

"Well I don't know about that," mumbled Sookie, for a second she thought that Oprah had learnt of her telepathy.

"Oh!" exclaimed Sookie, "you mean"- Oprah grinned and nodded – "I am in love with the most wonderful man."

Oprah turned dramatically to the camera and added, "Who is also a. Vampire!"

Sookie blushed and said, "Yes. That's my Beel."

Oprah smiled and said, "So, Sookie. Why a vampire? What attracted you to him?"

The Baptist minister, who had been sitting quietly on the couch, gave a nervous cough.

"Well," said Sookie, "I really can't explain. But I'm sure yawl'l soon see why," she turned to the camera and gave a cheeky grin.

The Baptist minister coughed again. Sookie gave the pastor a disdainful look, smugly surveyed the audience, and said, "That's hot."

Oprah slapped the arm of her couch and exclaimed, "Well in that case I'm just dying to meet him!"

The crowd started to applause as a curtain was drawn from behind where Sookie and the increasingly nervous-looking Baptist minister sat. Dixie Bill strode purposefully onto the stage and stopped in the centre, glancing warily from Oprah to the stage-crew, his well-worn coonskin hat set high on his scalp lending him the appearance of an arch-backed cat just about ready to spit.

"Good evening, Mister Compton and welcome to the show," Oprah said warmly.

Bill made no reply. Oprah smiled awkwardly and said, "Why don't you come over here and take a seat, Mister Compton, or would you prefer Bill?"

"That would be fine thank you," replied Bill and as he walked over to her, he suddenly became more engaging and took the TV personality's hand in his as he smiled at the camera.

Oprah winked at Sookie, "Now," she said, "That's hot," and looked from the audience to the cameras with an open-mouthed grin.

After a number of predictable questions about sunlight and garlic, et cetera, and some others that made the Baptist minister cough more nervously than ever, Bill furrowed his brow, leaned toward Oprah and quietly asked, "Of all places, why on Earth have you come here?"

Her eyes widened and for a very palpable moment she was struck speechless. "Wha-well," stammered Oprah as she struggled to regain her composure, "I just thought it would be interesting for America to get to know a more exotic side to its um, regional, er country, regions…you know, down home, blue grass, vampirie, ah, heritage…" her voice trailed off as she realised she was rambling.

Suddenly this vampire was making her feel very uncomfortable. Suddenly Oprah realised she was a long way from home. "I see," said the vampire, "well in that case, I hope your audience have been duly satisfied."

It was quite clear that this encounter with such an eccentric individual as Dixie Bill had been strangely unsettling, in spite of the fact that he was on his best behaviour. The encounter would prove to be beneficial to Bill however, as it helped him to finalise a question which had been bothering him for some time. He now knew that he had no choice: the world was coming to get him; he could keep to the shadows no longer; it was time.

III.

By the next evening, any evidence of the previous night's events was largely gone and the town's residents had gone back to their usual state. It was to this anti-climactic air that Bill bade farewell as he left for brighter prospects with a sense of fatal optimism firing his chamber-less heart. He had everything prepared; he had the perfect human enthrallment, he had escaped any supernatural allegiances; he was ready to follow his destiny. The vampire had decided that he would miss Sookie, but he needed to exercise his diabolical nature in solitude, maybe they would meet again, in part he hoped they would. But at this time, he did not even want to say goodbye, so he didn't; he just slipped into the embrace of night-time travel. Dixie Bill pulled his familiar coonskin hat down hard over his brow, closed his eyes and went into a trance-state to summon the magic of his hat. After a moment that felt like touching the bottom of a deep, murky dam, Bill's eyes opened on a locational shift. There he stood, under a street-lamp in a distant city; with a sweep of his head, the vampire took in the glare of the lights, the clashing sounds of a million engines, and the gritty air of Los Angeles.

He was exactly where he needed to be, this he knew with instinctive certainty. But he had some important needs to attend to before he could commence his work. Most pressing was the need to recuperate after such an exhausting journey and to do this, he needed somewhere quiet, somewhere safe; and he needed to find it well before dawn. As he walked gingerly along the footpath, the vampire felt more vulnerable than he had in a long time, fatigue hampering his already disoriented mind. He wanted to operate beyond the authority of his superiors, this was necessary because if they knew what he was doing, any one of them would not hesitate to destroy him. But his need to rebel overcame his sense of obligation as well as to some degree his sense of self-preservation. Without the help of contacts, he had to establish a lair within three hours. That would be quite a feat, but not impossible. He passed a few groups of people unnoticed by simply looking like a homeless man. Knowing what he was looking for, he continued along the street, toward the crumbling brick wall that seemed to sit sulkily behind a seldom-used bus shelter. He found the small door just the way he had left it all those years ago. He turned the key in the tarnished lock and the door opened with considerable effort. The vampire crawled into the cramped passage and down into the stone-lined cellar that had served him as a refuge in what felt like another lifetime. At last, thin and ragged, Bill secured his lodgings and collapsed into a restorative sleep.

The sun had already set for over an hour by the time Bill finally stirred from his hiding-place. Still somewhat weak, he knew that he needed one more thing to restore his strength. Not that artificial stuff, he needed the blood of fresh prey. He'd have to be careful though, especially in this state. This operation relied on cunning; which was a good thing, because even for a vampire, Dixie Bill was one hell of a cunning bastard; and something of a lady-killer. He decided that the perfect victim would be easy to find, the trick would be getting her to the right location. He hadn't walked far when he found what he was looking for: a house where a loud party was being held teeming with guests, some obviously uninvited. He guessed the hour to be somewhere around 8 or 9 o'clock and he knew it to be Friday. Perfect timing. Bill strode sullenly up to the house and rapped brusquely on the door then jabbed an impatient forefinger at the doorbell.

The sound of footsteps approaching could be heard accompanying the loud house-music. The door jerked open and a young woman with a cigarette wedged into her fist grasped the door jamb and glared defiantly at him.

"What!" she blurted.

Bill gave her a sombre look, "Good evening, miss," he said in an even tone, "I'm from next-door and I don't mean to bother you, but my mother's having a hard time getting to sleep and I was wondering if you people could just keep the noise down a little."

The young woman snorted at him, "It's that old bitch from number twelve again, isn't it?"

Bill pretended to be mildly offended, "Now see here young lady, that's my mother you're referring to."

The woman gave a sexy kitten snarl, "Ooh! A mummy's boy."

She glanced back over her shoulder to some of her friends, and then said, "Look, I'm sorry, but she's always on our case about something, but she never mentioned she had a son."

"Well," said Bill, "to tell the truth, we don't always get along and I've been out of town for a long time, for my job, but now Ma's getting on in years, well, you know…" As he trailed off, she was looking him up and down puffing thoughtfully on her cigarette.

"Hey," she said, "why don't you come in for a while, have a few drinks, and then I'm sure your mum will be sound asleep when you get back."

Bill looked hesitant, "Come on," she added with a conspiratorial wink.

"Well, ok," said Bill with a naughty smile, "Why not." As the vampire walked toward the main body of the party, the scent of intoxicated femininity greeted his senses and he knew he'd made the right choice.

There was an assortment of inebriated and overweight men standing around trying their luck with some women, who were sitting in groups trying to make conversation. There were some loudly drunk women trying to get even more loudly drunk, and some guys who looked like they might start a fight really soon.

The woman who had bid him enter took him by the arm past the loud women, snatched up a bottle of bourbon and said, "How's this?"

"That's fine thank you," he replied. She took him out onto a porch where it was a little quieter and sat down.

"Tabitha," she said, handing him the bottle.

"Thankyou, I'm Bill, by the way," he said as he took the bottle.

"Pleased, I'm sure," she replied. Bill scanned the surrounds and noticed they were all alone.

"You look nervous, Bill," said Tabitha, "worried I'll take advantage of you?"

"Oh, I'm sure I can handle myself," replied Bill with a sly grin.

"Ohoho!" exclaimed Tabitha, "Confident, are we?"

Bill became quite irritated, but he didn't let it show. He could feel the monster begin to emerge as he gazed intently at the engorged artery running down the bicep of his unassuming quarry. She obviously gets a lot of exercise, he thought, this one might put up a fight. However, the situation was perfect; he would have to give it a shot.

She caught his gaze, "Hello sailor, like what you see?"

He smiled wolfishly and replied, "Oh yes I do." She put her hand on his arm and brought her face towards him, lips parted. He moved like a flash. Without so much as a yelp, he had her lying face down on the cushioned daybed, and with the weight of his body on her back, his fangs drove deep into her neck. He grasped her flailing limbs as he drove deeper still, gorging on her life-blood, drinking in her very essence. All the pride and lust and fury of the woman welled up and exploded as an intoxicating force, taking Bill into its terrifying climax. When he finally released her, the vampire strode into the house as the torn and emptied body fell like a rag doll to the floor.

Usually one for the stealthy approach, Dixie Bill decided tonight would be different. Electrified by the atmosphere and truly invigorated by his first kill in years, the vampire went on a carnal rampage. As his boot-heel struck against the threshold of the room with the resonance of a flamenco dance, every person turned and quaked at what they saw. The tall, raw-boned villain fixed them in a smouldering gaze, the gouts of blood running down his shoulder making him seem to all the Archangel Michael, come to settle their debts. A rather large young man who had promptly retrieved his hand from a highly inebriated girl's blouse screamed effeminately as he stumbled backwards. Bill strode over and brought his fist powerfully down like a mallet on the man's upturned ear as he cringed. He fell sprawling with his jaw shattered unnaturally wide and an eye dislodged from its crumpled socket. With no need for consumable blood at the moment, the vampire exercised no restraint.

As a skinny blonde reached for her phone, he dispatched her quickly by snapping her neck as if she were a chicken. Some were too stunned to do anything, others simply ran about screaming, smashing into furniture and each other. Bill looked about, surveying the scene with blazing eyes and mouth set with a maniacal grin wide enough to eclipse their world. Like a wild dog in a sheep-pen, the monster set about smashing skulls, tearing limbs from bodies, ripping flesh, stomping on people as they fell or fled. The terrified screams rose to join the din of the house-music as the vampire pursued his victims from room to room. Finally, as an upturned bed slid down the wall and the two people who had been cowering under it fell lifeless in a heap after their heads were crushed against each other like walnuts, the only sound that remained was an irregular buzzing coming from the bloodied and mangled sound-system. Bill wiped some of the blood from his hands on a curtain then looked around with a sense of satisfaction. This had been a perfect evening for him, it had turned out better than he had hoped, but now it was time to leave. He had plenty of time before sunrise, but he knew he had to leave before his presence was detected by others who would not approve.

IV.

As he kept to the shadows to avoid detection, Dixie Bill took in the scenes of late-night Los Angeles and enjoyed the sensation of true freedom that only comes with the attainment of monstrousness. He knew he could handle anything now and he felt ready to sneak back to his comfortable life in a country town with his pliable sweetheart. But first he had to finish business in the city and that should keep him occupied for at least another night. He needed to carry out the duty that he alone in the vampire world felt was still necessary. Before the vampire community parodied itself with its pathetic attempt at assimilation, there were certain rituals that were required of any self-respecting vampire. As an anonymous fiend, one lived through renown of one's deeds. This is where the ritual of celebrite macabre had its place. The slaughter of a group of unimportant revellers was pleasing enough and it required some degree of skill, but there was need for the sacred, a special killing, something the humans might regard as a sacrifice, but altogether different in a way that only a vampire could understand. After all these centuries, ritual was still important.

In brief, the ritual involves the deaths of certain people who have been famous in life among humans. They have been successful and influential for various reasons and there is often intrigue surrounding their departure from this world for reasons that would baffle most rational minds. For example, the head of a certain well-known animator remains frozen awaiting re-animation; there may be some still alive who know what happened to the rest of him, but they are all sworn to secrecy by their own volition. There will always be entertainers, sportsmen and politicians reported to be "still alive" whether sighted on an island, or perhaps abducted by aliens, but that is because the truth is usually less interesting, like a fistful of pills and a swallowed tongue. However, sometimes the truth is more terrifying than the human capacity for lurid details can comprehend. Well, if Bill had any say in it, the coroner was going to receive another head-scratcher very soon.

He had chosen his intended victim months ago, but he had not yet chosen their fate. Something about this person's demeanour had irked Bill as he saw her on some entertainment-news show that Sookie liked to watch. The name meant nothing to him, but the arrogant sneer coupled with the vacant eyes of the expensively yet un-classily dressed young blonde compelled him in the most perverse way. The horrid media creature entered his subconscious as his mind meticulously filed every available piece of information that would be useful to his grim purpose. And the opportunity to put to use this information presented itself that very night. He knew he had planned this adventure to coincide with a certain event that would help his ritual to be brought to a conclusion. The entrance to the prestigious hotel's nightclub was roped off with a large group of hopeful patrons firmly held back by some professional-looking security personnel.

This place was practically the second home of Bill's target at this time of year and he knew that once he got inside, the rest would fall easily into place. There was no question of trying to get past the thugs at the door without creating a scene so the vampire would need an alternative point of entry. He walked past the hotel and found a café that had been closed for the night. Bill squeezed into the gap between the café and the retaining wall of a neighbouring residential complex and pushed himself flat as he inched along its length until he found himself standing over an iron grate. Reaching down, he eased the grate aside and slinked cat-like into the sewer below. Unable to stand upright, the vampire crept along the damp stonework in the darkness, feeling his way toward a rusted vent about the same width as his shoulders. Having counted his steps, Bill was confident of what would be on the other side. So he braced himself against the opposite wall, placed a foot against the vent and pushed. At first it didn't budge but then with a tearing sound it gave way.

If anybody were watching, Dixie Bill would have appeared like an octopus probing and squirming its way out of an aquarium as he worked his way out onto the musty floor of the disused cellar. Once free he lay on his back taking in the dimly lit room. Strange that it was lit at all; maybe it was not so disused. That could be a problem. As Bill began to rise to his knees, a strange clacking sound came from a shadow just beyond the source of the dim light. He turned to face it and saw a small, sinewy creature about the size of a child emerge from behind an alcove, its black eyes fixed on him. Not knowing quite what to do, Bill froze.

"Hello," it chirped, "I am Critcha and you are Trespasser."

"I'm sorry," said Bill, "just let me carry out my business and I'll be on my way."

"Too late for business, Trespasser, time for eating," said Critcha.

As Bill raised a hand of refusal, the strange individual leaped onto Bill, gripped him tightly and sank several needle-like teeth into his nose. The vampire swatted the tiny assailant who simply tightened its grip and continued to bite into his face in several places. Bill stood up abruptly and Critcha was squashed against the low ceiling which enabled the vampire to shake it loose. He could see it was hurt, but not injured as it got to its feet and sized up the now alert vampire.

"What the fuck are you?" snarled Bill.

"I told you," it said, "I'm Critcha, I do my mistress favours."

"What!" said Bill, "You're somebody's pet?"

"I do my mistress favours," repeated Critcha with a smirk.

A long magenta tongue darted down Critcha's spiny chin then rose like a cobra ready to strike. Bill raised his hands defensively in anticipation of some kind of spit attack; he then realised the meaning of the gesture. "Oh, you're her sex-slave?" asked Bill. Critcha sniggered.

Bill cleared his throat, "So," he said, "Who is your mistress?"

Critcha wouldn't mention her name, but it soon became obvious that he hunted Critcha's mistress.

"Well," said Bill, "It appears I have business with your mistress, we'll have to put up with one another a little while longer."

From what Critcha had said, Bill understood the celebrity would arrive soon and he wouldn't need to find a way to lure her.

To save himself from the nuisance, Bill used his belt to restrain Critcha and as a second precaution, he trapped the little beast on the dusty floor with his foot. He was tempted to crush it like a bug, but Bill decided that Critcha was more useful alive for the moment. Presently, the room's only door began to creak open; from his vantage point, Bill could see two figures enter then hurriedly pull the door closed. The first was a muscular man with long hair in two plaits streaming over his bare shirtless back. He had a ring in each nipple and appeared to be wearing nothing but a small leather apron. The other was a tall, hard-faced woman with a shaved head and a jagged scar running from the corner of her mouth. She wore a business-suit and carried a small brief-case.

The man looked over his shoulder and spoke to the woman, "She's still coming isn't she?"

"Of course she is you silly cunt," replied the woman.

"Sorry, my mistress," stammered the man.

As he turned back, the man noticed the vampire standing within reach, his jaw dropped and his eyes clamped shut in shock. Bill brought his fist down hard on the man's collarbone, smashing it and forcing him to the floor in one blow.

The woman's shoulders squared and her chin stuck out, "Who the fuck are you?" she demanded.

Bill snarled as he strode toward the woman to kill her where she stood. At that moment Critcha struggled out from under the vampire's foot and sprang into the air with Bill's belt still around its neck, "its name is Trespasser," squealed the agitated Critcha, "and it's mean to Critcha."

The woman jumped back with a start. As Bill swatted at the little creature, it seemed to sprout wings and escaped his grasp to perch just beyond his reach on a ledge near the ceiling. In the midst of this confusion, the door swung open again and hastily the celebrity blonde stumbled into the now sprawling group. The vampire deftly flanked them all and threw the door shut, barricading their escape.

The blonde turned and looked her unexpected guest up and down, "That's hot," she remarked with a shrug. She then looked past the vampire and shrieked when she saw the shirtless man lying on the floor moaning with pain.

She turned and grasped the other woman by the arm, "Zizi, what the fuck?" she exclaimed.

Zizi raised a hand and said, "Don't you worry, puss," then she reached into her brief-case.

Bill reached her and had a strong grip on her neck with a thumb pressed firmly into her cervical vertebra before she could retrieve the wicked-looking curved blade. The vampire bit down on the woman's jugular and briefly gorged himself while she continued to furiously slash the air in front of her with the knife. Meanwhile the Blonde and her creature had grouped beyond the injured man and were cowering as they watched the gruesome demise of their companion. Finally the knife fell to the floor and settled next to the now broken brief-case, out of which fell a quantity of cocaine and some vials of GHB. Bill threw the limp body in a heap up against the door knowing it should serve as a makeshift barricade; he didn't feel like any more disturbances for tonight.

Next, Dixie Bill strode slowly over to the injured man and gently turned him over to his back and looked into his eyes. "Would you like to survive this encounter?" Bill asked the man.

"Please sir," whimpered the man, "I'll do anything, I'll be anything, anything you like."

The vampire chuckled, took the woman's knife and plunged it into the man's bowel; the man shrieked as Bill smiled warmly and continued to work the knife up through the man's innards. He then forced the blade into the man's mouth until it ground against the concrete floor.

Having dealt with those two pests, Bill now had to pull the wings off a certain cockroach and finally take possession of what he had come for. The vampire raced over to where they were huddled and just as he got to grasp Critcha, the little bastard literally sprouted wings. Just like a fat cicada it flew clumsily past him and got to the door. Stunned as he was, Bill was unable to reach Critcha before it yanked the door open and escaped up a stairwell. Should he risk chasing it? No, take the prey and run, this will be his only chance with such an audacious kill. Must move quickly, stun her with a slap under the ear, bundle her down the vent, follow her and pull the cover back in place, then run!

After such a narrow escape, Bill felt positively jubilant, and his work was almost done. Now was time for the ritual, which need not take long, but was important to get right as it was as much for the benefit of others that it is done as for him. He took his victim to a quiet street nearby and found a public yet secluded space, according to the sacred mandate, with elements both natural and man-made and began the ritual. In all, the ritual may have taken less than an hour to complete, but it was surely a masterpiece. To the human observer, it would never be clear just what had taken place, but to the initiated eye the ancient rite of celebrite macabre would be obvious. This would be a gift to his kind and a source of nightmares for many baffled humans. One thing was certain to all, the sneer on that arrogant face would never be seen again.

V.

Now that he had carried out his self-appointed tasks, Bill decided it was time to return to his quiet life. Not wanting to spend another day in Los Angeles, the vampire took advantage of the last hour of darkness to put some space between himself and his illicit deeds. So Dixie Bill adjusted his coonskin hat and made a locational shift just in time to stroll up the path and into his house. As he pulled the door closed, Bill noticed a familiar figure silhouetted in the darkness of his lounge, with the ambiance of a television screen lighting her face.

"Oh, hi Beel," said a voice with hurt in it.

"Hello Sookie," said Bill, "Sorry I had to leave for a while without telling you."

She sighed, "So where have you been all this time, Beel?"

"I really can't tell you," he answered sternly, "But I did bring you something."

He held out his closed hand as Sookie came over to him. She took his hand and he opened it for her to see what he had.

"Oh Beel," she gasped, "It's beautiful!"

Bill chuckled, "When I saw it I just knew it was for you," he said.

"Where did you get it?" she asked.

Bill put a finger to her lips and whispered, "No questions, just love me."

"Oh Beel," she breathed, "I do love you."

Sookie then pouted sulkily at him, "I'm still mad at you," she said shaking a finger at him.

Bill recoiled with his hands in the air, "I surrender," he said, "I'm a jerk."

Sookie batted her eyelids at him, "You're a charming jerk," she laughed, "and a sexy jerk."

With that, Dixie Bill took her in his arms and stroked her spine with his fingertips. She shuddered against him and moaned as his hands sought out the soft warmth of her skin beneath her blouse. She then guided him by the hand to the lounge where their bodies caressed one another as they reached a gentle climax in the last darkness of a long night.

The next evening, Bill emerged from his slumber in a state of delicious satisfaction, still vibrant from the previous night's experience. He strolled into his sitting room where he found Sookie stiffly seated, gazing intently at the television screen. She was clutching a newspaper with one hand and appeared pale.

"Hullo Miss Sookie," he said with a smile.

"Oh Beel," she gasped, "What a shock this is."

The vampire walked over to her and sat beside her, he placed a hand on the small of her back, "Whatever is the matter?" he asked.

"There was another Hollywood murder," she said in a thin voice.

Bill raised his eyebrows to look surprised, "Another one?" he asked. "When?"

Sookie shook her head, "They think maybe a day ago," she answered.

"I think there's a serial killer on the loose," she added.

"Maybe you're right," said Bill, "Who do you think he's targeting?"

Sookie frowned, "Famous people," she said, "I don't know why, though. Must be some twisted psycho who's jealous of successful and happy people."

Bill shrugged, "Not all celebrities are happy you know, Sookie," he said.

Sookie rolled her eyes. "A cynical vampire," she snorted, "who'd have guessed."

Bill sighed and drew a comforting arm across her shoulders. "Oh well," he said, "must be why we're so good for each other."

Sookie pressed her warm body against his chest.

She heaved a sigh, "This one was different though," she said, "the girl that was murdered was so young and vibrant. She had so much life to live and I just know the whole world is gonna miss her. She wasn't just a socialite or an heiress, she was an inspiration."

Bill nodded, and said, "Yeah, I guess she really was an inspiration." Bill smiled inwardly at how much of an inspiration she'd given him personally.

"Don't worry," said Bill, "this feeling will pass, you'll soon forget." The hope in Bill's voice was almost audible.

"Not too soon," replied Sookie, "we've got at least a week's worth of tribute specials to watch and I've already ordered the black ribbon edition box-set of all her shows. That's hot." Sookie's demeanour brightened a little as Dixie Bill screamed inwardly.