Down the Devil’s Road

Vamp!Boosh. Howard's been running, but now he's been found.


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Down the Devil’s Road by Maestro

Howard tugs at the straps holding his arms to the ceiling, above his shoulders, crucifixion style. The goons that brought him in have done their work well; there’s a little give in the leather, but not enough to work with, to wriggle out. He’s fixed there.

There is the sound of creaking hinges somewhere behind him, tortured squeals of metal, and footsteps, slow and clear.

“Hello?” It’s a stupid thing to say. The room is dingy but well-lit, some nondescript warehouse somewhere. Whoever it is can see him. And if they’re not talking, yelling ‘hi, I’m Howard’ isn’t exactly going to make them chatty.

The footsteps get closer, and curve behind him to his right. He turns his head, waiting to see who it can be, praying to whoever’s listening that it isn’t who it must be.

A shock of black hair. A bowed head, the hint of a dark smile. Leather jacket. Tight jeans. Hands in pockets. All black, now, and yet hints of colour there too—like there’s a negative spectrum in darkness, hints of colour in material like night.


Vince doesn’t raise his head. Howard can’t see his eyes, hidden in shadow, but he can see the smile there, and he knows it isn’t good. Knows that if Vince has this kind of power, here, far away from London, the game is up.

“You shouldn’t have run, Howard.” His voice is deeper, softer, than how Howard remembers it. He remembers shouting, gesturing, bright eyes and an open mouth.


Vince shakes his head. He keeps walking, slow steps round Howard until he’s standing in front of him, maybe a couple of feet away, fingers tucked through belt loops, hips tilted at a cocky angle. “You made me chase you.”

“You didn’t have to.” Howard doesn’t want to speak, not really, it’s far too painful. To talk to this person who isn’t who he remembers. The man who’s wearing his best friend’s face. But first there is talking, and then there is pain, and then there is death. Naboo told him that, once. Preparing him before he left.

“Not that it hasn’t been… fun.” Vince licks his lips obscenely, slowly, still staring at the floor, almost coy.

“I’ve had a whale of a time.” He’s played this game long enough, run away long enough, that he can mouth pleasantries while his brain does calculations. Like: I’m unhurt. Meaning: he told his boys not to beat me up. Meaning: he wanted me in perfect condition. Meaning: oh God…

“You certainly went far. I always thought you were afraid to fly.”

“Got over it.”

“And you hate hot countries.”

“Hate other things more.”

“But still.” Vince pulls his hands out of his pockets, clasps them behind his back, and finally raises his head, thrown back like he’s a defiant schoolboy sent to the headmaster, a hint of a smile playing about his lips. Like he’s won. “Mexico, Howard? Isn’t that a little… clichéd? And you hate Mexican food.”

Howard clears his throat. His arms are starting to ache, and he can feel the sweat drenching his shirt. “You can get used to anything, I suppose.”

Vince grins, revealing a perfect set of teeth. “Yes. Yes you can.“ He reaches into his back pocket, pulls out a pair of silver scissors, gleaming as the light hits them. Howard can’t help it, he’s grown and he’s learned, but he’s still Howard, and he flinches, leaning backwards, the leather above him creaking as he moves.

Vince steps forward, making snipping sounds with the scissors, soft as silk slipping through your fingers, and runs a nail down the buttons of Howard’s shirt. “Oh, Howard. You don’t know how happy I am that I finally found you.” He snips straight through the threads, the shirt falling free and the buttons slipping to the floor like beads from a broken necklace.

And Howard can’t help it, not with Vince so close and so… similar. To what he was. “You didn’t have to do all that,” he blurts out, and wishes he hadn’t.

Snip, snip, snip goes Vince, intent on his work.

“You didn’t have to kill all those people.”

Vince’s voice is calm, musing, like he’s talking about a gig he saw, not bad, nothing special. “Maybe not. It was just fun.” He reaches the bottom of Howard’s shirt, and pulls the halves apart carefully, like curtains, exposing Howard’s skin. He smiles up at him through eyelashes, heartbreakingly innocent, and starts slicing through the sleeves, snip, snip, snip.

“Besides,” he murmurs, his face close to Howard’s, although turned, looking down his arm, concentrating. “Besides, it was mainly your fault.”

My fault?” Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it…

“All those people you got to hide you.” Vince cocks his head, makes a mock-unhappy face, bottom lip jutting out. “You must have known what they were risking. For you. All because you were being stubborn.

“I didn’t. I swear I didn’t know.”

Vince sighs, reaches the end of the first sleeve. The material is stuck to Howard’s arm, and he gives it a little tug. It flutters down, limp and useless, by Howard’s side. He turns to the other side, glancing at Howard briefly. “Maybe not the first time. Maybe not when Fossil and Bainbridge went.”

“‘Went’?” The floor of Fossil’s office slick with blood, red, reeking with the smell of it. The bodies arranged carefully in the bath, in a parody of love, a parody of sex. Fossil’s legs wrapped around Bainbridge, poised above him, rigor mortis already set in. Expressions of lust carved in like a Hallowe’en pumpkin.

“But after that, you must have known.” Vince giggles, actually giggles. “I mean, getting the Board of Shamen to protect you. Honestly. Don’t you care about anyone besides yourself?”

Howard swallows, feeling painfully hot despite his tattered clothing. And he won’t think about that, refuses to think about that. Because there’s a chance Naboo might still be alive. Disappeared isn’t the same as dead isn’t the same as killed.

Vince meets his eyes, mocking, and shakes his head. “Sorry.”

Howard has to distract himself. With the others dead, Naboo is his last hope, and even if he is dead, knowing it will destroy him. “What would you have done? If you were me?”

The question throws Vince, reveals that he’s capable of being shocked still, and he looks at Howard like he’s a dog that’s learned an amusing trick. He taps the blades of the scissors against his lips, pulling a thinking face. He looks almost serious for a moment. “When I came to you, that night, and told you what had happened. After the funeral. I would’ve reacted better.”

He didn’t expect a serious answer, is startled into the truth. “I’d buried you, Vince. I thought I was losing my mind.”

“Okay, fine.” His voice is cold, the mocking edge gone, and he resumes snipping away at Howard’s last sleeve. “But the next time. When I came back, when you’d had time to get used to it. You tried to kill me.”

Naboo had tried to kill him. Howard had simply played bait, not sure Vince would show, half hoping he wouldn’t. He closes his eyes, keeping one idea fixed in his head. “You’re not you. Not any more.”

Vince gets to the end of the last sleeve, and it falls, Howard’s shirt slipping from his back and landing somewhere behind him.

And Vince is angry, which is a first. Howard hasn’t seen him angry since that night, since Naboo tried to stake him. Since Howard had pulled out a crucifix from under his pillow and driven him backwards, the shock in his eyes melting to rage. He holds the scissors, still uncomfortably cold, against Howard’s neck, and he can’t help it, his head tips back away from the metal, his neck exposed.

“I’m not me? Who am I then?” he spits.

“You’re a vampire.”


“And Vince wouldn’t kill people.”

Vince leans in a fraction. “Maybe I would. If I couldn’t have you. Maybe I’d do whatever it took.”

It’s the idea that’s taken Howard to every cheap taberna in Mexico, drinking until oblivion. That it might be Vince in there, somewhere, and that his rage, the driving force that has followed him not only through every locked door in London but around the world, might be Howard’s fault. That if he just gave up, gave in, he might be able to end it all. Naboo kept telling him it wasn’t so, but Naboo’s gone now, and he’s not so sure any more, not with Vince so close. Smelling like Vince, God, isn’t that weird? As a vampire he uses the same aftershave. How can that be right? How can that not be Vince?

Vince sighs, a world-weary sigh, and he leans forward, resting his forehead on Howard’s shoulder. Howard can’t move, but he’s not sure he wants to. Can’t swear that if his arms weren’t tied up, he wouldn’t be holding Vince right now.

There’s something ridiculously difficult about running. And there’s something so comforting about being found. At least someone wants him.

“What are you going to do to me?”

Vince doesn’t move, and Howard feels his voice as a vibration through his chest, although he doesn’t feel his breath. Vampires don’t breathe. “I’m going to change you. I’m going to make it so you won’t want to run away any more.”

“And then?”

He feels Vince’s lips curve into a smile against his skin. “And then… everything.”

“But what…” His voice bubbles up in his throat, desperate, like a drowning man. You don’t just die, not like that. “What if, if I said I’d stay, yeah?” God, he sounds pathetic. “You don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to turn me, I’ll stay with you, and, and, I won’t run. I’ll promise.

Vince pulls back, and looks at Howard sadly. He shakes his head. “I wish I could believe that.”

He hates it, but he can’t stop it, not to have run so far and lived so long and go like this. And not to Vince, Vince who would always listen. “I’ll promise anything. Whatever you want, I mean it. Just don’t… don’t kill me. Please.”

Vince’s eyes shift away from Howard’s, only a fraction, just enough so that he’s looking at something past him, something far away. There’s a horrible ripping sound, bones breaking and re-knitting, skin reshaping itself. His eyes go from their wonderful, haunting blue, to something feral, the pupils elongated like a cat’s. His brows knit together, his cheekbones shift upwards, turning his mouth into a snarl. It reveals teeth, canines pointed and curved over his lips, the rest pointed. Animal teeth.

Howard’s seen it before, saw it on that first night. He saw it as Vince, smiling like a saint, crossed the magical boundaries put up by Saboo and ripped his throat out. But here, up close… he tries to control himself, knows it’s a test, but he can’t help it, not so close, not so inhuman. He leans back, makes a small squeaking sound of fear, tries to put as much space between him and the creature in front of him as possible.

Vince’s expressions are hard to read when he’s in vampire mode, but he closes his eyes for a brief moment. “You see?” He lisps softly with his new teeth, like a child who hasn’t quite learned how to talk around his braces yet. “It wouldn’t work. Not with me like this, and you like that. It has to be this way.”

He forces himself to make eye contact. “You caught me off guard, that’s all. It’ll get better, I swear, give me time!” Vince takes a step forward, and Howard’s voice breaks. “Please!”

“I’m not waiting any more.” And Vince leans in, one hand gentle on Howard’s shoulder, the other wrapped carefully around his waist, and kisses his neck. Howard braces himself for the pain he’s seen on the faces of so many others.

It’s worse than he could have imagined. Vince’s teeth slice through his skin, the first wave of pain hitting him and making him cry out, making his knees buckle. He’s held up by the leather straps, and by Vince. But after that, after the wound, is Vince, drinking his blood. His blood, disappearing, sucked out through his neck. He feels dizzy, stupidly weak, like going too long without eating. He sees dark spots pricking his eyes at the corners, and he tries to move his hands to bat away the soul-aching pain at his neck, forgetting his hands are tied up.

Vince’s hand on his shoulder rubs gently, consoling him, but all he can feel is a mouth on his neck, and his life being drained. He feels like he’s disappearing, getting smaller, the universe contracting to nothing except the pain. His vision goes dark. He forgets his own name.

Right there at the end, the very end, there’s a sudden rush of euphoria, like the body making a last stab for life. His head is reeling, but it’s like drunkenness, he’s happy, everything is going to be great. He has a warm body pressed against him, and he tries to move his hands to hold it close, not really minding that he can’t manage it.

Right there, at the end, he sees Vince, arm outstretched.

The creature wakes up with the taste of blood in his mouth, and licks his lips, running his tongue around the inside of his mouth to get every last drop. He starts to test the air with his senses. He can smell blood, somewhere. His neck, a freshly healed wound aching like a broken tooth, pleasant to feel. There’s someone else in the room… lying next to him. And he’s on something soft, a bed, it feels like.

He opens his eyes. The room is pitch black, so he shifts to a pair of eyes that can see perfectly. The body next to him is familiar, but he can’t quite place it, as if from a dream. A young man, black hair, naked. A cut on the inside of his wrist that smells just like the inside of the creature’s mouth. He turns towards it, takes hold of the arm, and pulls it towards him, tongue flicking out to taste the congealing blood there.

A hand grabs him by the throat, viciously, and he gags, puts both hands up to grapple with it, but he is still weak. He looks up and sees a face, twisted into vampire features, and it growls at him. He drops his head, and relaxes his hands.

“Play nice,” the voice warns him, and he is let go. He rubs his neck grumpily, nose wrinkled.

A hand slaps at his face. “And put that away. No one wants to wake up to that.”

He shifts his face back to human form, feeling exposed and stupid, the darkness suddenly blank and threatening. He can only see the outline of the man next to him, and he feels a sudden wave of hatred for whoever this is, making him do things he doesn’t want.

“How do you feel?”

“Fine,” he mutters.

“Just fine?”

“Hungry.” He’s ice cold without any blood rushing around his system, and he lies back down, rolling into the sheets. The man next to him curves and puts an arm around him, and he doesn’t like it, but realises that he doesn’t really have a choice at this point.

“I’ll get some of the lads to fetch you something. Be patient, Howard.”

Howard. There’s a nagging twinge at the back of his mind, like a match flaring, but then it’s out and gone and he’s not sure he felt it in the first place.

He closes his eyes, pretends to sleep, and watches for a way to escape.

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