The vampire didn't glitter. Nor did it glimmer or shimmer in the slightest. What it did was smell like shit and suck. It reeked from living in the sewers beneath Hippy Haven, the old trustfunder's commune. The one with the pink and yellow circular pod homes.
I caught the vampire sucking the blood from a sewer rat nearly half the size of old Clyde, my bloodhound. The rat squeaked in pain and fear, its tail spinning like a rotary blender as it tried to break free from the monster's grasp, to no avail.
Clyde whined at my feet. He was a good boy and hadn't barked while leashed when we tracked the vampire. But the whine was enough to alert the undead one to our presence. It looked up and snarled at the two of us. I held up my rocket-propelled stake launcher and steeled myself to fire it. Lord, give me strength. A confused look on the vampire's face gave me pause. My thoughts flashed back to nearly a year before.
“Quit fidgeting, Midge,” Papa said. He had brought me to the abandoned lighthouse. The one where Mama and he had picnics, made love, and where he finally proposed to her. Mama had told me all those things. Papa had picked out some of Mama's clothes for our own picnic, and we had shared wine and cheese and crackers.
“There. Without turning your head, gaze to the left. Yes, perfect.” Papa took the shot on his digital camera.
“Can I see the picture, Daddy?” I moved forward.
“Someday, Midge.” He smiled at the image on the camera screen before stuffing the camera in his jacket. “Now, lessons. There are two types of vampires. What are the types and which is more dangerous?”
Papa was a vampire hunter, as was his Papa before him. He was also a VERY successful CEO for a major military weapons manufacturing company.
“Smart vampires and dumb vampires,” I returned. “Both are equally dangerous and before you ask what makes them different I shall tell you. Smart vampires begin feeding on humans nearly immediately after they become infected with the virus, benefiting from the oxygen rich human blood. Dumb vampires fight the blood craving and their brain cells deteriorate before they are finally driven mad and make their first kill.”
A tougher question. One that brought tears to my eyes. “And which kind killed your mother?”
I knew the answer. It was a smarter one. I choked on my reply but gave it nonetheless.
“You ready?” Papa picked up my rocket-propelled stake launcher and handed it to me. I took it and he picked up his own. “You take Clyde's leash. We'll cross the bridge back to the mainland and pop a manhole cover over the sewers in Hippy Haven.”
We took our time navigating the narrow salt-spray washed cable suspension bridge from the lighthouse island back to the mainland. A few minutes later we descended into the sewers below Hippy Haven and killed three vampires in the colony before the rest fled down the tunnels.
We repeated the hunt a few months later. This time we killed another four. The last one I shot had bitten Papa before I finished it off.
“Shoot me, Midge,” Papa pleaded. “Shoot me before I turn, please!”
I couldn't do it. Mama's death was still too fresh. I couldn't lose both parents in the same year. I ascended the ladder to the surface. Papa stayed behind. The virus had already made him vulnerable to the surface sunlight.
Back to the present and a year later I'm beneath Hippy Haven once again hunting vampires. I'd killed four more in the same location after Papa had been taken by the virus, spacing my visits and hunts out every couple months to allow the colony to settle back down each time.
The vampire before me didn't wear designer mall clothing, didn't tear at my heart with an Elvis-like pout as it worked through 120 year-old unresolved teenage angst. In fact, what it reminded me most of was Tom Hanks in “Castaway”, its clothes so beaten and worn. Black streaks of sewage trailed down its legs below the tatters of knee-length pants. It wore no shirt. A gold locket hung around its neck.
I flinched as the vampire leapt toward me, automatically triggering the firing stud on the launcher from well-honed instinct. The stake drove home in the beast's heart. It screeched, its skin blackening suddenly from long denied putrefaction, and it fell forward on its face, further driving the stake in until it punched through its back.
I set Clyde free, watching abstractly as he moved forward, wagging his tail to sniff at the dead monster while I stood there as the adrenaline rush abated. Finally I moved forward and knelt down and removed the golden locket from its neck and opened it.
I removed the silver locket with the picture of Mama from around my own neck and compared the two pictures. You could barely tell the difference between the picture of Mama and the one of me.
|< Prev||Next >|