After smashing through the window, Robert moved further into the deathly quiet mansion. Making his way deeper into the dark foreboding room and becoming impatient for any sort of action, he searched, with gun in hand, for some sign of his quarry. He felt the blood seeping from his injured thigh, its warmth turning cold as the thick liquid slid down his leg. He stood behind a large couch, quickly pulled the belt from his coat and tied it snugly on top of the wound as a pressure bandage.
That taken care of, he moved silently toward the main staircase which led upward into the heart of the large house.
As he scanned the stairs he suddenly became aware of a man standing on the landing above him. Borza himself had appeared from out of the gloom and the shadows. Robert immediately aimed his gun at Borza's chest.
"Mr. McCall," Borza's voice was deep, mellifluous and hypnotic. Robert took a few steps back.
"Borza," Robert replied, holding his gun steady, "So, you know who I am?"
"Yes, Mr. McCall." Borza moved down a few steps, extending his hand for a handshake, just as though he was greeting a guest at a soiree.
Robert stepped back again. "Stand right there. Not another step."
Even in the darkness of the room, Robert was able to see his target clearly. Over six feet in height, Borza was a splendid figure of a man. He had piercing gray eyes that seemed to hold their own glow. His large head and strong jaw was further enhanced by a full head of long wavy black hair; a lion of a man. Robert was surprised at himself but he couldn't help but be drawn to him. Borza radiated energy, vitality and power.
Borza's eyes and teeth shone as his fleshy and sensuous lips parted in a smile. "Of course I have heard of you," he said with a mild Romanian accent, "who in the KGB has not heard - and been warned about - the Master spy, Robert McCall?"
Borza stood to attention, tipped his head and snapped his heels in a salute. "I am very happy to finally meet you." He spread his arms out to the sides and walked down the rest of the steps. "Welcome to my home away from home. I came to England especially for your comfort Mr. McCall. I wanted us to meet under the most auspicious of circumstances. After all, the land of a man's birth holds a special meaning in his heart. Don't you agree?"
"Ah, yes." Robert said flatly. "Good. Would you be so kind as to raise your hands up above your head. I am going to take you into custody."
Borza threw back his head and laughed in an explosive roar. "No Mr. McCall, don't be foolish. Put your gun down and try a glass of the wine that I have procured especially for this occasion, the moment of our first meeting."
Robert aimed the gun and, in a voice ringing with authority, said. "Put your hands up or I shall have to shoot."
With his back to Robert, Borza walked to a large desk. He picked something up, and turned quickly.
Robert fired and was confounded, when Borza remained standing.
Borza touched the bullet hole in his jacket over his heart. He looked at Robert, his eyebrows raised and his lips twisted into a wry smile, "My best suit Mr. McCall. Really rather rude of you," He whispered. "Don't try my patience any further. I am doing my best to behave as a perfect host to you, my honored guest."
Robert stared wide-eyed at Borza and then at his gun. Could someone have toyed with his weapon? Robert looked at the pistol that had just betrayed him. Understanding came in a flash! Borza must be wearing a bullet proof vest and he must be very strong. He had withstood the impact of the bullet amazingly well.
Borza held out a glass of wine to Robert. He smiled again and held Robert's eyes with his deep gaze. "Put down that weapon. I would hate for you to get hurt - or for that matter, for your amanuensis Mr. Kostmayer - to be hurt either."
"Kostmayer?" Robert's heart skipped a beat, "What about Kostmayer?"
"Ah yes, the young and vital Mr. Kostmayer and I have just shared a few rather intimate moments. I have become quite fond of him. I might even venture to say that I have come to admire him as much as I admire you." Borza smiled gently. He lifted the glass toward Robert again. "Please, Mr. McCall. Drink." His voice was sensuous, velvet.
Without knowing why Robert lowered his gun and allowed it to fall silently onto the carpeted floor. Powered by some unknown outside source, his hand lifted from his side and reached out for the glass of wine that was being offered to him.
Robert stayed his hand when he saw only one filled glass. "Aren't you having any?" he asked in a voice that sounded strange to his own ears.
Borza smiled again, his face immensely handsome in the dim light. "No," he said, "I never drink... wine."
Robert recognized the line from an old vampire movie and, angry with himself, he mentally shook off the creeping feeling of ennui that had overcome him. He broke away from Borza's gaze and walked away from the proffered wine.
"McCall, McCall," Borza murmured, "so strong a will as yours, is not common upon this earth. Most living beings permit their passion to sway them. But you seem to have severed the connection to your baser emotions. I have been searching for years to meet one such as you."
"I don't know what sort of game you are running here, but I assure you, you will be made to pay for you crimes." Robert tried to raise a feeling of bravado to match his words, but he was having trouble concentrating.
Borza set the glass of wine down and half sat upon the edge of the large desk. Robert saw he was completely at ease and he couldn't help but admire the man's apparent confidence.
"Crimes? I have committed no crimes. I am a patriot of Romania, and have been one for..." He looked at Robert and again donned his mesmeric smile, "a long, long time."
"You have butchered agents from the Company," Robert retorted.
"One must butcher an animal before one dines upon it. You will agree on that, McCall. And I only used my enemies." Borza's eyes glinted an angry red, "Your comrades at the Company chose to slaughter all of my associates who accompanied me on my last official mission for the KGB. Because of the monstrous way your men acted, I decided to permit my more base instincts to retaliate, to... take wing against them."
Robert felt his breathing slow while his heart began to race in his chest. The peculiar lack of oxygen made him feel as though he was wrapped in cotton. Everything seemed to be far away. He heard Borza speaking, but the words ceased to be of much interest to him. The only thing Robert could clearly see in the room was Borza, whose eyes and gestures enthralled him.
"I have always believed in the bovine mentality of the masses." Staring at Robert, Borza lifted his strong, handsome chin high and spoke out, letting his powerful voice fill the room. "Capitalism promotes self worth and that sort of thinking will lead to the detriment of those in power. I am, and have always been, one of those who has enjoyed power. I joined the KGB years ago, to fight to protect my way of life, and I always showed good results."
Borza spoke clearly, intelligently and Robert was fascinated. Robert started to approach, closing the space between them. He wanted to be near the man. Borza kept speaking, and in the back of Robert's mind he suspected he was walking towards his own death.
Borza rose up but never once did he take his piercing gaze from Robert. "As long as I did what they wanted, those fools in the Kremlin permitted me much freedom." He stood in front of Robert and set his large hands heavily upon the shorter man's shoulders. Borza looked down into his face, and spoke softly, "I'm sure it is the same with you." His breath, cold and heavy with the scent of copper, wafted across Robert's upturned face.
"A man of your obvious talents, with your intellect and your self-command," Borza squeezed Robert's shoulders and bent his head lower, his lips almost touching Robert's pulsing jugular vein. He whispered softly, "A man such as you, must always be shown much veneration and esteem." He sighed and took a deep breath in, as he bared his fangs.
Robert felt a rush of adrenaline as the reptilian part of his brain registered imminent danger. With skill that had been honed over years of repetition, Robert deftly stepped into Borza's path, grabbed his arm, pivoted and flung him over his shoulder onto the floor.
Borza lay upon the carpet with an expression of total surprise. He looked up at Robert standing over him. "You are absolutely amazing!" Borza said with a wide astonished smile. "No one has ever been that close to the Change and managed to escape!"
In a flash, Borza was standing upright. "McCall, McCall... Robert." His eyes and bright smiling teeth were beacons of light in the dim room. "I am gratified that I have chosen so well this time. You and Mr. Kostmayer, are both worthy, no more than worthy - you are absolutely deserving of the meritorious honor I wish to bestow upon you." Borza laughed in delight and opened his arms to Robert. "We three will be astonishingly glorious companions for the next few hundred years."
By now Robert had backed away almost across the room. The madness of the situation and Borza's almost incomprehensible actions started messages firing in his brain urging him to flee from the room, from the house, from the country.
Robert looked furiously around the room for a weapon. He spotted his gun on the floor near the desk and desperately wanted its comforting weight in his hand again. He looked toward Borza and feinted a move to the rear of the room away from him. When Borza moved to grab Robert, a pivot and roll to the opposite end of the room brought Robert's hand to his gun.
Without a moment of hesitation, Robert fired straight into Borza's face.
Borza dropped to his knees and covered what should have been left of his ruined face and blighted head with his hands. Robert was just about to shoot into the still animated torso, when Borza roared with anger. He wrenched his hands away from his face and Robert was horrified to see no damage whatsoever to that powerful visage.
Borza stood up slowly and then, with a sneer that mutated his handsome face into the mask of a demon, he flew across the room. He embraced and lifted Robert as if he were a child's rag-doll, pinning him outstretched against the back of a couch, his cold hands pressed against Robert's powerfully struggling body.
Robert felt a dead cold move over him as Borza leaned against his body. He felt his neck being pulled and elongated by Borza's deathly grip. Robert redoubled his efforts to get the madman off and away from him. Borza's face was twisted with anger, his teeth bared in an animalistic snarl.
"Fight me, McCall. I ask no less from you, my new pet." With amazingly little effort, he lifted Robert up into the air over his head and then brutally pounded him down onto the back of the couch. Robert's breath was violently expelled from his lungs and he felt darkness start to descend upon him.
"I was able to subdue our young friend without this much unpleasantness only because he still permits his passions to flow. Not like you!" Borza pressed his icy, massive bulk over Robert's bridled body. "Because you have diminished your ability to feel, I see I shall first have to make you my pupil, my student, my serf." Robert felt the repugnant, vile creature lean closer to his exposed neck and touch cold lips to the skin covering the vein that held his wildly flowing blood.
Borza whispered seductively, "This will be wonderful."
As he bared his fangs once more, Robert could smell the cold, fetid air of the crypt escape from the vampire's mouth. Robert's eyes opened in horror and with the last of his strength, the last of his energy, the last of the stalwart life force that had kept him alive in so many previous moments of peril, he bellowed a long last protest. "NOOOOOOOOO!"
His cry rang off the walls and the ceiling. It traveled throughout the room and up into the second floor.
Borza sneered at the sound of the last note of human life and sank his teeth deep into the warm pulsing neck. Robert felt the needle-like teeth pierce and slide into his body's life line. Borza began to suck deeply and rhythmically, following the soon to be slowing heartbeat of his prey.
Robert breathed a single "Ahhhh!" and plummeted into darkness.
End of Part 3...