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I didn't need to ask who was knocking on my door in the middle of the night. The knock itself was self-evident -- three sharp pairs of thuds, a few seconds apart. Gerrick.

"You have any idea what time it is?" I asked, as I flung the door open.

He just sort of shrugged, his sizable frame heaving up inside an equally large tartan-themed trenchcoat. A lopsided, sheepish grin crossing his face as he told me he needed a ride. "Just up to the old Oak Hill House, you know. The one by that cemetery on the edge of town."

I let out a long sigh and shook my head as a grabbed my coat.

When we got there, he pointed to a side road leading off to the left, into a darkness of bushes and trees. "Up that way, man."

"Why, what's up there?"

His grin was broad and boyish now. "You'll see, man, you'll see."

The road turned to gravel, and before long we parked on a bare spot and went on foot. I could see, through the trees and a bit of a ways down the hillside, the taller memorials from the cemetery.

"So, hey," Gerrick boisterously interrupted the dank quiet of the night, "did I ever tell you about my cousin's girlfriend? Her favorite manicurist just up and, whoosh, disappeared!!" He made a hand gesture somewhere between a bird and a plane.

"Dude," I whispered harshly, "why are you talking so loud?"

Gerrick scrunched his face up in a goofy sort of cross-eyed way. "What are you talking about, man? We're out here in the middle of nowhere, no one's listening."

I felt a little silly, but still uneasy -- we were close to a cemetery, after all -- no sense in 'waking the dead' as it were. But Gerrick went on talking.

"So my cousin, he tells his girl to come see me, and I'm like, psssht, manicurist, what do I care about some manicurist."

I thought I heard a twig snap. "Dude, did you hear that?"

Gerrick waved off my silly worries again. "So finally I tell her, okay, I'll track down your manicurist, but I better get my toenails done free for life!!"

WHAP!! From out of nowhere something attacked us, knocking me off my feet in a blur before coursing toward Gerrick. But Gerrick was ready, as if he'd been waiting for this moment all along. From a pocket of his coat he flung a length of rope -- only it didn't act like any rope I'd ever seen. It encircled the attacker and brought it to the ground, where Gerrick pounced on top of it.

It was a vampire, sure as night, fangs visible is it screamed and uttered the curses of the ancients, struggling against its bindings and Gerrick's weight. Leaning one elbow sharply on the vampire's neck, Gerrick barked, "shut your pie hole!!" From another pocket of his coat he pulled out.... well, it looked like an especially large one of those foam-rubber stress balls people squeeze to relieve tension. And then Gerrick jammed the thing in the vampire's mouth. Now I could see that the ball had a circle of rope attached to it as well, which Gerrick jerked over the top of the creature's head, pulling it tight with some kind of clasp.

"Dude, what the fuck!!" I pushed myself up to my feet. "You brought me out here to wrangle a vampire? And you put a-- a fucking ball-gag on it?"

"Sorry man, I needed a ride." Again with the shrug and the sheepish grin, even as he continued holding down his struggling prey.

I pursed my lips in anger for a moment, but let it go. The deed was done. "You got a stake in there is well?" The word made the vampire's eyes widen with marked concern.

"Nah, I'm not gonna stake this fucker. Got something better planned for him." With that, Gerrick reached into another pocket -- how many pockets did that damned coat have, anyway? -- and pulled out a coil of rubber tubing. At one end of the tube was a shaft with what looked like the business end of a turkey baster, culminating in a large-bore needle. The kind you stick in the meat when you want to inject some flavoring into the heart of it. With a complete grin, Gerrick hefted up the baster, and jammed the needle deep into the vampire's neck. It jerked with violent spasms in response. Blood immediately started spurting into the baster and filling up the coil, and then Gerrick.... well, he fucking drank it. Put his mouth right on the tube and started sucking it up like soda through a straw.

"Jesus Christ, what the fuck!!" I couldn't think how to possibly react to that.

"It's payback, motherfucker!!" Gerrick gleefully hollered between deep gulps. "See how you like it!!"

"Dude," I took a careful step towards him, "you're going to turn into a vampire!!"

"No I'm not," Derrick replied with a casual wave of his hand. "You can't turn into a vampire by drinking vampire blood. That's an old wives' tale."

"But-- but it's some kind of virus they carry...." Actually, now that he mentioned it, I wasn't really sure how all that worked.

After taking another long draught, Gerrick wiped his mouth and explained, "the infectious part is only in the fangs. Shit, they have to want to turn you into one of them for that to get released, even."

I still didn't quite understand, but if there's one thing I knew it was that Gerrick was a guy who could take care of himself. So I shut my mouth for a while, and he kept on drinking. A lot.

Finally, when he hit his limit, he turned to me. "Now, we bury this fucker. With all the blood I've drained out of him, he'll be too weak to even move. We stick him deep enough in the ground, he'll probably be stuck there for a century." Gerrick yanked the vampire's head up. "Hear that, Frankenstein? By the time you see moonlight again, me and my bud here will be long dead from old age!!"

"Dude, Frankenstein wasn't a vampire."

"Hmm, oh yeah. Well, whatever."

It turns out Gerrick had been to the cemetery earlier in the week -- he'd gone in the daytime and taken the bus -- and had already prepared a nice, deep hole in the woods. Which I was thankful for, since it really sucks having to dig a vampire grave in the woods in the middle of the night. In the squirming, struggling creature went, followed by a large pile of rocks and bits of rebar from an old construction site, and an even larger pile of dirt. Gerrick took a final piss on the grave ("Hey," he insisted, "I had a lot to drink"), and then home we went.

On the way back, I asked, "so did that vampire kill the manicurist?"

"What manicurist? Oh, her? Nah, fuck if I know what happened to her."

----

A week and a half later, Gerrick's familiar knock graced my door again -- this time at a far more reasonable early evening hour.

"Hey man, I need a ride."

"What, the cemetery again? I'm really not keen for any more vampire hunting."

"No cemetery, no vampires, I promise."

"So where're we going?"

"To this cabin up on Old Cragtop Mountain. Got some business to take care of up there."

I thought it over for a minute, and figured, eh, what's the worst that could happen. I grabbed my coat and off we went.

It was well after dark by the time we got to the mountain, but fortunately our way was illuminated by the bright, full moon. Gerrick pointed me to follow this fork in the road and that as we wended our way there.

We parked by the cabin well after midnight and stepped out of the car; Gerrick was in the middle of a story, as we walked across the porch.

"So there I was in the middle of Alan's funeral having to tell Mrs. Middleston that I had a nervous condition which made me laugh uncontrollably whenever somebody died in a freak hang-gliding accident."

"Huh? But didn't Alan die in a boating accident?"

"Yes. Why do you ask?"

Suddenly the attack came, a beast much larger than the vampire bounding out of the woods. I may as well have not existed; it went straight for Gerrick. And Gerrick was ready. This time the ropes were metallic, silver, I guessed, as they coiled around the limbs of the attacking werewolf. The werewolf struggled, and much more effectively, I thought, than the vampire, but Gerrick managed to hang on and get it rightly hogtied. And then, out with the tube and the needle again.

"Seriously? Dude, I think you need some help."

"Nah, I got this." He jammed the needle in, and the werewolf howled and strained with such fury that I thought it just might break free. But the binding held, and Gerrick drank away.

"So, you can't turn into a werewolf from drinking werewolf blood?"

Gerrick stopped for a moment. "You know, I hadn't thought about it. Eh, I figure it's the same as with the vampire." Then back to drinking.

Half an hour later we were turning in for the night, werewolf still tied up on the porch. By morning he'd be human again, and would easily slip his chains, probably with no memory of what had happened the night before, but what must have seemed like a wicked insect bite on his neck. No point in killing the werewolf. He wouldn't remember us to seek revenge (or, if he remembered Gerrick at all the next time he transformed, his instinct would be to steer far-the-fuck clear of that scent).

On the way home, Gerrick mentioned that he'd finally found that manicurist. She'd run off with her boyfriend's best friend, after the boyfriend had smacked her around one time too many. Gerrick didn't cotton to that sort of thing, so he'd given the boyfriend a taste of a beating. I asked whether he'd tied the boyfriend up and drank his blood. Gerrick thought the question was ridiculous -- he wasn't, after all, some sort of monster.

----

Two weeks later, there was Gerrick at my door again. He looked.... different. His skin was practically aglow with a smooth sheen of new youth, but his hair was noticeably thicker and coarser.

"Dude," I asked him, "did you get.... taller?"

"Hey, I told you I wouldn't turn into a vampire or a werewolf. Never suggested that it'd have no effect at all. Anyway, I need a ride."

I rolled my eyes. "Where to this time?"

"The city museum, downtown. The one that's having that Egyptology exhibit."

I gave him a sidelong look for a moment. "You do realize, don't you, that mummies don't even have blood?"

He gave me his best deadpan 'I got this' look. "Yes, I know that. See? No tube." Instead, Gerrick produced from his pocket an oversized knife and fork. A grin ran across his face. "....but they sure as hell do have brains!!"

I heaved a deep sigh as I reached for my coat....

THE END.















For Children of the Night: The 2012 Halloween Horrorquest

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