Just something I threw together yesterday to practice writing. I haven’t even really done any proofreading; but I figure part of writing is publishing, so here it is. Don’t really need any feedback on this one – mostly just something I threw down to start getting back into the habit of putting down words
I thought I was safe. Well, that’s a lie. I was scared to death, but I thought I had SOME protection. I mean, garlic, right? Everyone knows about the garlic. What a joke.
I never really believed in vampires. No more than most people, and most people thought they were just some part of a story. Lots of stories. I guess we should’ve figured out that anything that shows up that often in the world’s stories has to have something to it. So when I’m on vacation in Western Europe and we’re touring this spooky old castle and the tour guide starts going on about vampires, I laugh. You know, an polite chuckle to show him I’m listening and that I get the joke and appreciate the history and crap like that. The whole tour group does it. You’ve probably done it yourself if you’ve ever done one of those cheesy “ghost tours” where they tell you all about the spirits that haunt their old hotel rooms.
Right, ’cause when I die I’m going to want to stick around in a crappy ancient hotel.
So anyways, there we were in this castle and this creepy old dude was giving us the line about the vampires that lived there and how that’s why the whole rest of the town is abandoned now and we all laugh because, seriously, who would want to live in a godforsaken place like this anyway, and he gets all quiet and gives us this look. He gets this look like we’re all a bunch of idiots and he’s tired of giving this tour when no one ever listens to him anyway.
My laugh kinda, y’know, died right about then. I never knew what that meant before – “his laugh died in his throat”. I get it now. You can actually feel it there, the life being sucked out of it as it’s trying to claw its way out of your chest. Man that feels weird. But that look in his eyes just did it for me. It was mostly the surrender, right? Like he’d tried his best but he knew there was nothing he could do. Just plain gave me the creeps.
So we finished up the tour and headed back into town – not the abandoned one right outside the castle, the REAL town, like, ten miles away, which was practically to the moon back then, I think. And after we get there me and my friends went down to the local bar to have a good time and keep an eye out for some local girls, amiright? They have the best bars over there, you know that? They call ‘em pubs and crap, but they are *awesome*. So we were drinking there and my buddies came up with this stupid idea. “Let’s go back to that castle,” they said. “It should be wicked spooky at night”. I didn’t much like the idea myself, but I was by far outnumbered. Three to one and down went my vote. Something just felt weird to me and I didn’t want to go. So I spoke up, told ‘em I wasn’t going unless we brought along some protection. “Man, we can’t get any guns over here,” they said, and I said no, I didn’t mean guns. I meant, like, stakes and crosses and garlic and crap. They just looked at me like I was an idiot for a while and then they started laughing. “That,” they said, “is awesome! Can you imagine how much creepier it’ll be if we go in like they’re real?”. I still felt like this was a bad idea, but I kept my mouth shut. At least we should be ready now, right?
It was about midnight when we got back to the wrecked walls of the thing. Sounds like a cliche, I know, but that’s what time it was. It didn’t take that long – we had a rental car – but it took longer than it should’ve because two of us were drunk enough they made me pull over to let them pee.
So there we were, staring up at the walls. I think we almost chickened out. I wish we almost chickened out. Then Joe – he was always the instigator – Joe turns to us and sticks his flashlight under his chin and goes “I vant to drink your bluuuuuuud!” in this stupid accent and I don’t think any of us would’ve had the balls to back out then.
Joe went up last. I was right ahead of him. I didn’t want to be first. I didn’t want to be there, but there I was. The whole place was cold and dark and echoed in ways that kept us jumping at our own footsteps. Everyone had come in holding some weapon against the undead, at first more as a joke, but the longer we stayed the tighter we gripped the stakes, crosses and other assorted crap we’d thrown together. I had my pockets filled with garlic I’d begged from the hotel restaurant back in town and I had a pointed stick locked in a death grip. I could feel my pulse throbbing against the wood as we crept along the halls.
It wasn’t until we’d been there for half an hour that we noticed Greg was gone. He was the guy in front of me. I was coming up a flight of stairs and saw Henry – yeah, the guy in front – up ahead at the top, looking around. I joined him and a minute or so later, Joe came up behind me. It took a few minutes, even then, to realize what had happened. Somewhere in the last, empty hallway Greg had just vanished. There was nowhere for him to go. If he’d stopped I should’ve walked right past him, and he hadn’t gone past Henry. That was the point where we all sobered up, I think. It was all wrong, and we had to find Greg and get out. Or just get out. I know I’m a horrible friend, because I know that’s all I was thinking about just then. Get. Out.
Joe wanted to look for Greg. I think he felt bad for being the one to talk us all into coming in here in the first place. I agreed. That he should feel bad, not that we should look for Greg. See? Bad friend. So we argued about that for a while. Loudly. Henry kept telling us to keep it down. I think we probably should’ve listened, but I also don’t think it mattered anymore. Finally Joe agreed to come with us back to the car. We figured Greg must’ve gotten around us somehow and headed back there. It was ridiculous, of course. There was absolutely no way he could’ve gotten around us, but we just didn’t know what else to think. So we started back down the stairs, our flashlights flared through the darkness. I think we were about halfway to the car when I heard the scream. I don’t know whose scream it was, and I never will. All I know is that it was the last straw for my nerves. I ran like hell was on my heels. And it was, oh god, it was.
After a fifty yards the scream turned into sobs, by a hundred it was only a gurgle. By then I could hear fluttering behind me and a chill breeze on my neck. At the next turn, icy hands grabbed my shoulders and spun me around, pinning me to the wall. I was face to face with an emaciated, ghoulish corpse, grinning from ear to ear. Its horrible, yellow fangs were gaping and I stared back into its eyes. I could tell it was savoring the moment. I’d dropped my hunk of wood in my panic, but remembered the garlic in my pocket as it slowly made for my throat. Reaching into my pocket, I grabbed a head of the stuff and shoved it hard into the vampire’s mouth. It screamed at me – a different scream than I’d heard just before, higher, jarring. Then a noise I thought at first was coughing, and only slowly realized was wheezing laughter.
The thing spit out the bulb of garlic and turned its gaze back on me. Of course I know now that garlic doesn’t really do much to hurt a vampire. It’s just something they hate the smell of. I mean, really hate – like a garbage dump might be to you. It just won’t do anything to keep a really determined sucker back. Still, eat enough of it and the chances of getting picked off at random are almost zilch.
But hey, it ain’t so bad. I never much cared for Italian anyway.