The Man In Room 313

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Emmett Westerly had seen his share of strange people as a hotel clerk at The Whitmore Towers for 25-years. None stranger however, than the man in room 313.

He was living there before Emmett was hired in 1936. His neighbors never saw him during the day. Whatever chance encounters occurred were brief and at night. His name was Christopher Ward Cummings III. He was a tall thin man who wore a black hat and a three-piece suit. The brim of the hat was always tilted forward, partly obscuring his smoldering dark eyes. It made him look like a stereotypical spy in the movies. He seldom spoke. In all of Emmett’s years at the Whitmore, he only heard him speak a handful of times. His voice was memorable. Buttery, but threatening at the same time.

When not on duty, Emmett had a small room behind the main desk. It was all he needed being a single man. He ate all of his meals at the hotel’s first floor restaurant which was open 24-hours a day. He went to the movies once a week, which satisfied his sense of adventure, along with his hobby of reading Hollywood monster magazines. His love life consisted of an occasional tryst with a married woman in room 422.

Christopher Ward Cummings III never lost sight of his mission in life.

He’d been hunting vampires for 30-years and lived like one in order to track them down. He went out into the streets of the city every night, searching for bloodsuckers stalking neighborhoods; armed with a wooden stake, a gun with silver bullets, and a long knife he used to cut off heads. He inherited the job. As did his father before him. The Secret Society he belonged to had a long history of killing vampires. They started out in Europe, but soon worked their way to the New World as reports of vampires there surfaced. The migration began long before Christopher was born.

He, like his peers in the Knight’s of St. George, knew that some vampires were just too powerful and it could be a suicide mission to attack them. But he did anyway. It was in his DNA. Their war was thousands of years old, going back to when mankind still lived in animal hide tents and ate raw meat. Christopher descended from a long line of royalty in Spain that was said to have driven the vampires from the country.

A typical night adventure.

Christopher has been lurking for hours behind a car parked directly across from a nightclub in the seediest section of town. His patience pays off when he spots a man and a woman come out of the club. She can barely walk. The man is supporting her and heading for a nearby alley. He waits until they disappear around the corner of the old brick building before running up to the alley entrance. Crouching like a big cat he slowly enters the alley with gun in hand. The thirsty vampire has the woman leaning back into the wall and has peeled her blouse off to get at her throat. She is unconscious and unaware of her looming fate. Taking careful aim at the bloodsucker, Christopher fires two rounds into its body!

The creature whirls in agony as the silver bullets weaken it enough for him to approach with his knife and cut off its head! The woman slides down into a heap at the base of the wall. Still alive, although unconscious. He pulls out a burlap bag he brought with him and puts the vampire’s head in it…careful to avoid the fangs of the still snapping jaw. Much like a snake’s head when severed.

Before the night ends he buries the head in a deep hole, after setting it on fire.

Two nights later.

Emmett was reading a monster magazine when a stranger wrapped in a black cloak with hood approached the check-in counter and asked what room Christopher Ward Cummings III was in? Annoyed at the interruption Emmett brushed him off, “We don’t give out that kind of information at The Whitmore,” and started to go back to his magazine. The stranger reached out with a pale skeletal hand and tore the magazine violently away from him!

“What room did you say he was in?” he growled.

“I didn’t…take it easy pal. It’s against the rules for me to tell you that. I just work here. I can take a message of you’d like?” he offered weakly.

The pale face under the hood grimaced angrily, and his eyes burned like red coals in the sunken sockets that stared at him. That mesmerized him. That ordered him to tell what room Christopher was in. For hours afterward he sat staring into space until someone shook him.

“Hey Emmett! Are you okay buddy?” the night watchman asked, concern in his voice. “I was making my rounds and saw you sitting here like a zombie, and had to check on you. Long shift, eh?”

“Yeah…that’s it Larry. Thanks for checking anyway.

As the watchman headed for the elevator Emmett tried to clear his head. He vaguely remembered what happened. Like a bad dream. The next night was busy because it was a Friday night, and people were coming and going constantly well into the late hours. To his surprise he saw Christopher come out of the elevator and walk over to him. His curiosity climbed the wall as he waited to hear what he wanted.

“I had an unwanted visitor last night,” he said with a dark edge to his voice. “My question for you is, did you give out my room number?

Horrified at the accusation, Emmett’s mouth turned to cotton as he tried to frame a reply. “I couldn’t help it,” he confessed. Christopher’s expression softened. “Describe the stranger who approached you.” 

After Emmett was done he nervously waited for Christopher’s reaction to his description.

“Yes. I thought so. The clumsy bastard tried to ambush me in my own room last night. You should know that he was a vampire.

“Was…?

“Oh yes. I have his head in this bag. It turned out all right this time, but we must come up with a plan to avoid it happening again. Think about it will you? I have business to finish now.

“Yes…yes, sir. I’ll think about it all right.”

He watched Christopher walk out into the night with his bag. Afterwards, he pulled out his stack of monster magazines from under the counter, and unceremoniously dumped them into a metal trash can.

As It Stands, when fantasy and reality collide, it’s time for a new hobby.

The Secret Admirer

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He watched her unlock the front door and step inside her house…for the thousandth time.

Ann Belloc, a struggling Hollywood actress, barely had enough money for her rent again. Her fashionable little cottage was costing her most of the money she made every month. The thought of going back to Oklahoma made her cringe, but also motivated her to keep trying. If only she’d get a break. Bit parts in commercials didn’t fit her interpretation of being an actress. But, so far, they were paying her bills…barely. She believed someone would discover her talents and career doors would open some day.

Bella Karpov, a young actor from Romania found Hollywood very inviting. He was offered parts in several B-movies the day he arrived in Tinseltown over three year’s ago. He had starred in a couple of minor movies in Europe before setting his sights on America. His part as a vampire in both of the movies had earned good reviews. After his last movie, “A Vampire in Venice,” he decided to stay in the horror genre when he came to America. One producer looked at him, and said Bella looked a hell of a lot like Bela Lugosi, whose portrayals of vampires made him a horror legend in Hollywood.

Ann was excited. She’d been asked to interview for a starring part in a movie. It was an independent film with a modest budget, but the director, Earl Acker, had earned his chops in the industry. Anything he was involved with usually turned out making lots of money for everyone. The movie was a remake of the 1936 film “Dracula’s Daughter” starring Gloria Holden and Otto Kruger.

She was interviewing for the part of Marya Zaleska, the daughter of Count Dracula. In the storyline Dracula has died and she hoped that by destroying her body he would never be able to influence her again. Her ultimate goal was to live as a human. Things don’t go too well however, and her dream was destroyed by a jealous manservant who killed her in the end.

Ann had no qualms about making her acting debut in a horror movie. She actually enjoyed the genre and grew up watching Dracula, Frankenstein, the Werewolf, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon on late night TV with her sister Belinda.

She had the script with her when she went home and planned on reading it over a TV dinner. When her VW pulled up in the driveway she thought she saw a man standing next to the tree across from her house. She turned the motor off and looked again. Nothing. Shrugging it off, she walked up to the front door and unlocked it.

He watched her unlock her front door and sighed. She was so beautiful.

Ann had two weeks to study for her part and to work on getting in character. Her cat, Hercules, a huge tabby, was her captive audience. When Hercules got bored and wandered off, she turned to the tall antique mirror that was her grandmother’s and continued her performance. When the day of the interview finally came, she felt confident that she could do the part.

When Bella signed a contract with Universal Studios he immediately bought a house in Hollywood Hills. Compared to the mansions in the area, it was small and an old. It had a history going back to the 1930’s. In those days it was one of only a few in the area and was known for its wild parties. It had secret doors and rooms. The large cellar was once stocked with expensive wines from all over the world. It was one of the reasons he bought the place. The native stone construction reminded him of another cellar in Transylvania when he was just a boy.

He was taught, from earliest memory that he was special. His parents were both vampires and he had somehow inherited a gene that allowed him to walk in the sunlight despite being a vampire. He was unique. There had never been a vampire like him before and probably would never be another.

Ann’s interview was so good, that she was hired on the spot! The next year of filming seemed to go by in a daze, as she shot scene after scene, coming home exhausted (but thrilled) every night. When the film was in the can, she was sent on a promotional tour to drum up interest in it. It was a limited release at first, but turned out to be so popular theatres clamored for it nationwide. Ann was not only very photogenic, she turned out to be a good actor too. It was a pleasant surprise for both producer and director who took a chance on her.

Ann was singing with the radio as she drove up her driveway in her new BMW. So much had happened in two short years. Her money worries were over. She was dating a brilliant doctor and was set to star in another horror movie. It was another remake. This time it was the 1932 movie, Island of Lost Souls. She was cast in actress Kathleen Burke’s part as Lota the Panther Woman. What really made her excited by the production was the producers got Bella Karpov on loan from Universal to play the leading part, Dr. Moreau. She was definitely a fan of his work. As she walked up to the front door she was still humming a the tune from the radio.

He watched her walk up the little cobblestone path to her front door once again…his heart beating excitedly at the thought of kissing her.

Ann met Bella on the first day of filming. He was sitting in a folding chair looking at his script, already dressed for his part.

“Hello!” she said walking up to him with a hand out to shake, “My name is Ann Belloc, we’ll be working together.”

He stood up and gave a small bow, “Yes…I know who you are. My pleasure,” he said in heavily accented English.

She couldn’t help being charmed by his old world mannerism.

“I hope you don’t mind me saying this – and I’m sure you’ve heard it before – but you really resemble Bela Lugosi.

He smiled. A reflection of the legendary actor’s mysterious smile.

“You honor me. I am related to that great actor who was born in Lugoj, Romania, not far from the small town I come from. My parents told me I bear an uncanny resemblance to Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó (his real name). He was a first cousin on my mother’s side.”

“How interesting! How do you feel about playing Charles Laughton’s roll instead of your relative’s part as The Sayer of the Law?

“It’s what you call show biz,” he replied with his enigmatic smile.

As months of filming wore on they became good friends. Her bubbly personality contrasted with his more somber persona in a good way. They often sat together at lunch and in between shoots, exchanging stories about themselves. Unknown to Ann, Bella had mind-melded with her. He could hear her thoughts from any distance with his supernatural abilities.

It was later than usual. Ann didn’t like coming home so late but she was invited to the producer’s house with some other cast members for an informal party that lasted longer than she thought it would. When she got home she noticed her front porch light was out. It was a full moon and she was able to select the right key to open the front door. As she stepped inside a body slammed into her from behind, sending her crashing onto the hardwood living room floor!

Then someone was on top of her! As she struggled with him a ray of light came through the open front door and illuminated the attackers face. He was her first agent when she moved to California, but she fired him after unwanted advances. Now he was attempting to rape her.

Miles away Bella stopped playing the piano in his living room and heard Ann’s fear! He got up and walked over to a partly opened window and flew through it in his bat form. It only took minutes before he appeared at Ann’s house. He saw a man tearing off her clothes, and screaming at her to stop resisting him!

Then Bella grabbed the man by his shoulders and threw him across the room. In an instant he was bent over the prone man and biting into his jugular vein! It was over so fast Ann only had time to sit up and pull her torn blouse around herself.

Despite seeing that he was a supernatural being, she wasn’t afraid when he came over to here. “Thank you,” she said with all of her heart.

She watched his eyes glow in the dark like a cats, as he answered her, “The show must go on, right?” he said with that mysterious grin.

As It Stands, when can you remember ever reading about a good vampire?

The Battle Scavenger’s Story

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Carrig Conchobhar fled his native Ireland just ahead of his pursuers, and the hangman’s noose.

He was a peasant turned highwayman out of necessity. Having violated the rules according to Brehon Law, Ireland’s legal system at the time, he knew that he could expect to have his neck stretched until it snapped like a dry twig.

So he went to Europe, working as a deckhand on a boat for passage. He left the ship when it docked in Normandy, setting out into a foreign land on a quest to make a living. As he walked through the countryside he ate wild fruit and berries, and drank from small streams that crisscrossed the rugged territory. On his third day he met a man, a commoner like himself, who said he was on his way to a great battle.

“Not to fight I take it, judging by your looks and no weapons,” Carrig observed.

“Ain’t yew the clever one,” the man chuckled.

“Why do you travel to such a dangerous place? Battlefields are harvesters of souls.”

“It’s afterwards…when the fighting is over, that I wait to make a harvest of me own. There’s wealthy men lying on the field of death for days sometime. Taking their gold and silver is an easy thing that requires little labor and pays handsomely,” he grinned through a nearly toothless mouth.

“Don’t you fear a penalty if you’re caught? It seems to me looting a battlefield is akin to robbing graves.”

“Aye, but a quick death is better than a slow one watching your family starve to death. We all take chances in life don’t we?” Thomas the commoner, asserted wryly.

Carrig nodded in agreement. The man was right. Being a highwayman was a lot more dangerous than stripping valuables off of corpses. Their conversation died out as the two men made they way through the thick forest. In the distance they heard the screams of men fighting and dying. Then the rain came down so hard they had to take cover under a fallen oak that had been hallowed out by others seeking shelter in the past.

When the downpour stopped in the early morning hours the two men resumed their journey. When they got to the edge of the forest a great plain lay before them. Thousands of dead horses and men were scattered about. They could see campfires still burning on both sides of the battlefield. It meant the fighting would resume that day, Thomas explained.

Carrig and Thomas found comfortable hiding places where they could observe the battle safely. They were both nibbling on scraps of food when they heard a mighty horn blare, and the birds in the trees rose up in surprise. Their eyes turned on the two approaching armies. The English knights powerful steeds broke out in a trot, then a full run towards the French line. The French knights sallied out to meet them from behind their foot soldiers.

The clash of horses, armor, swords, and lances produced a hellish din. In the clouds of dust, men died savagely, fighting until their last breath. When the two armies infantry units collided, the screams of men could be heard for miles.

Finally the French line broke and the English chased the survivors until darkness stopped them. There was only one set of campfires that night and Thomas gave the go-ahead to start looting bodies. Carrig didn’t feel a twinge of guilt peeling the rings and necklaces off of mangled knights. He did keep a sharp eye out for someone who might cause him trouble. Under the light of the moon he could barely make Thomas out, moving among bodies of men and horses like a ghoul.

Carrig was in the process of stripping a jeweled belt off of a white-haired knight who bore the crest of France on his elaborate armor, when he noticed movement to his left. He instinctively hunkered down and watched as a tall shadowy figure moved among the dead, stopping at times to see if life still existed. When he found a man still alive and propped up against his shield, the shadowy figure stopped and bent over him.

At first, Carrig thought it looked like he was listening for a heart beat, but minutes passed and the shadowy figure stood up and wiped his gory lips. He didn’t know what to make of the sight. The figure disappeared in the growing fog.

Weighted down with his loot wrapped in a knight’s cape and in several leather purses, Carrig hurried back to the shelter of the forest, and to the hollowed-out oak he slept under the night before with Thomas. He had found a fine sword that he laid on his lap while he went through the leather purses contents. Suddenly he heard a noise. A minute later Thomas came stumbling toward him with a clay flask in one hand, a large leather bag in the other, and a nobleman’s gold gilded helmet askew on his head.

“A gift from the gods,” Thomas said, slurring his words as he held the clay jar up for inspection. “What a night. I’ve already hidden twice this much,” he picked up the leather bag, “… and with no problems! You’ve brought me luck, good Carrig. This is the first time other looters didn’t beat me to the goods, or take away my findings.”

“I’m glad to hear this,” Carrig said, “but I have a question for you. Did you see a tall thin man dressed in black moving around the battlefield?”

Thomas dropped his clay jar and it shattered on the forest floor. “What was the man doing?” he asked in a rapidly sobering voice.

“I couldn’t really make it out that well, but it looked like he was embracing a live survivor. When he stood straight, I’m sure I saw blood on his lips. Then he disappeared.

“Vampire...” he muttered. “That thing you saw wasn’t a man. He was a count in England once, before being attacked by a vampire as he lay wounded on a distant battlefield. Now he roams battlefields in search of dying men with enough blood left to satisfy his thirst. You’re blessed that he didn’t see you.”

“I wouldn’t say that you greedy fool,” the vampire said, as he appeared before them. “I was just waiting to get both of you scavengers together. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s thieves,” he snarled, showing his sharp fangs.

As It Stands, I’ve always suspected battlefields would be like a delicatessen for vampires.

Rubber Face

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The first time Brock wore a rubber mask for Halloween was when he was five-years-old. He didn’t want to take it off after trick-or-treating so his patient parents compromised and let him sleep in it.

That’s where it started.

After that he insisted on wanting to wear a rubber mask during the day. He couldn’t during school, but the minute the last bell rang he’d pull his rubber mask out of his backpack and put it on. Needless to say, this caught the attention of a lot of people. Children and adults alike.

It was a good thing Brock was a husky kid, because he constantly faced bullies who tried to take his mask away from him. One day two boys jumped him just outside the school grounds. In the tussle one of the boys peeled off the mask he just put on. He fought so furiously that they backed off and left his rubber mask on the ground.

In school, Brock was a shy guy. He always sat in the rear of the classroom. He knew a few of his fellow students by name, but had no friends. Over his school years he got use to eating alone in the school cafeteria. He was content reading the latest issue of MAD magazine at lunch.

His parents didn’t really know how to cope with his obsession. They sent him to a child psychologist numerous times before he entered high school. He always came across, in those sessions, as perfectly normal…with the exception of his unusual attachment to rubber masks. Various theories were discussed, but no one seemed able to break his odd habit.

When he entered high school he got a job at a local supermarket bagging groceries and helping customers take their purchases out to their vehicle. He used most of his paychecks buying new rubber masks. Scary ones, funny ones, and famous celebrities were his favorites. It was no surprise that most of the student body called him Rubber Face behind his back. Some people said it to his face.

In his mind, as he explained to more than one psych, rubber masks were the height of mask making. The ability to change his appearance was very satisfying. That’s the part no one seemed to understand.

He felt safe in a mask. That it attracted attention was not his purpose for wearing it. He understood, at one level, why people thought he was odd. Personally he didn’t think anyone was odd because they strived to look different. Tattoos, pierced body parts, ear plugs, scarifications. It was all good to Brock. He just wished people would be more tolerant of those who chose to step outside the norms in their appearance.

In his senior year Brock swallowed his shyness and went to a Halloween dance. He didn’t have a date. He hoped that there would be some girls there in the same situation. He never went to any of the other dances and proms, and felt extremely awkward. It was his last chance at going to some social activity before graduating. The senior prom was out of the question. He’d never get a date for that. The fact that he could wear a rubber mask to the Halloween dance tilted the scales in favor of going there.

He wore his favorite vampire mask and a rented tuxedo. The gym was already full of costumed students when he got there. The “Monster Mash” was blaring from two four-foot speakers on the stage.

“I was working in the lab, one night

when my eyes beheld an eerie sight

For my monster on the slab, began to rise

and suddenly to my surprise…he did the Monster Mash!

Brock was filling a plastic cup up with punch when a voice behind him said, “Would you get me a cup?” He turned and saw a female vampire waiting for an answer.

“Oh…yeah! I mean…sure,” he bumbled, and handed her his cup. She stood there silently until he filled another cup for himself.

“I like your costume,” she said in a husky voice.

“Yours too. I mean, I like yours a lot.”

In the background…

“Out from his coffin, Drac’s voice did ring

Seems he was troubled by just one thing

He opened the lid and shook his fist

And said, “Whatever happened to my Transylvania twist?”

They sipped their drinks in an awkward silence before Brock spoke up, “Would you like to dance?” he asked.

“Yes. It would be my pleasure kind sir,” she chuckled playfully.

They stayed on the dance floor throughout the night. When it was time to go Brock asked his new-found vampire friend, if she needed a ride home? He could see her eyes twinkling in the mask’s eye holes.

“How kind of you to ask. I could use a short ride if you don’t mind.

“My pleasure,” he grinned happily under his mask. “Which way?”

He followed her directions to the opposite side of the city to an area he wasn’t familiar with. As he drove by an old cemetery she asked him to stop. Puzzled, he obeyed. She got out of the car and walked around to the driver’s side before he could react.

“This is far enough. I’ll walk from here. Thank you,” she said and leaned over and brought her mask up against his. “Maybe next time we’ll take our masks off. I have to go now. My name is Cecile,” she shared, and blew him a kiss before disappearing in the growing fog.

“”My name is Brock!” he yelled out the window.

“I know…” her husky voice replied. “Rubber face,” she said softly and out of his hearing.”

As he drove home he wondered what her real face looked like. How would she react when she saw his rough features? Would he ever see her again? She blew him a kiss! It took all of his concentration to get home safely that night. There were so many questions going through his head.

He was taking an evening stroll in his neighborhood a week later wearing his Sherlock Holmes mask when she appeared from behind a tree in his neighbor’s yard. She was still wearing her vampire costume and mask. He stopped and spoke in pleasant surprise, “Cecile, I presume!” he said, bowing grandly.

Indeed, sir. At your service,” she said happily.

“Shall we walk, and talk,” Brock asked while holding out his arm. She took it and they walked side-by-side down the tree-lined neighborhood with its antique-looking street lights. In the half moon’s glow they talked about things high and low. No subject was taboo.

In the early morning hours, just before the sun started its slow climb upwards, they took off their masks. He saw she was no classic beauty, but her simple plain features were attractive to him. She already knew what he looked like without a mask. She admired him for years. At a distance.

“I have to go now,” she said, sadness tinting her voice.”

“I’ll drive you!” he offered.

“Not fast enough,” she countered. “Remember what we talked about. Especially the supernatural part,” she urged.

Before he could protest she was gone. It was dawn. He went into the house and wondered what he’d say to his parents who were surely up by now eating breakfast and drinking coffee. They were both early risers.

A week went by. Brock was getting desperate to see Cecile so he drove back to the place where he dropped her off the night of the dance. There had to be some homes near the cemetery that he didn’t see that night. It was foggy and he was focused on her. But as he parked in roughly the same spot, he didn’t see anything but hills dotted with monuments and crosses.

The sun set – a fiery red ball in the west – as he pulled on his vampire mask and waited for darkness to settle over the land. He was prepared to tell her that he loved her. He didn’t have to wait long before she was standing by him in her mask.

“I miss you,” he admitted. “And, I love you.” 

“And I you, dear boy entering manhood,” she replied. “But we can’t pursue this love any more. It’s not fair.”

“It’s not fair to who?”

“You. By now you know what I am. You’ll grow old, but I’ll stay young. I’m already 300 years-old. We cannot take this budding romance any further. I admit to having been enchanted with you ever since you were a little boy wearing those masks. I’m sorry.”

“I’m not,” he said. “We can still be friends, can’t we?

“Yes!” she cried, and hugged him. Yes, we can Rubber Face,” she smiled under her mask.

As It Stands, a case of finding love in the wrong place, doesn’t always have to be a sad ending.

Then They Closed The Schools…

Listen to this story narrated by master storyteller Otis Jiry468-Zigeuner-Muellberge

2025 USA

All schools, upper and lower, were closed per the dictator’s orders in 2022. It was the final blow in dumbing down the nation by the ruling Patriot Party.

Ever since the Patriot Party became the first third-party to win a presidential election they systematically took away freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Without a Congress, and no checks and balances, the Patriot Party was able to name a dictator for life.

No more messy elections. No more safeguards for the poor. No protests allowed. Americans were told that there was no need to read, as they could learn about everything that they needed to know on TV, and or, on government websites.

The new regime sent teams of senior propagandists to all 50 states. It was their job to hold “town meetings” daily to keep the masses from complaining about their new realities. It was hardest for seniors, who grew up in an entirely different America where people were free.

For that reason, the government offered bounties on anyone over 65 years-old. The only way to completely erase American history was to rewrite it. For years now seniors were hunted down and turned over to the regime by brainwashed youth seeking monetary awards.

Still, there were plenty of people willing to hide seniors knowing what an important link to the past they were. With the regime’s ongoing book purge, it became all the more important that seniors live to pass on what they learned and witnessed in their lifetimes.

In the early morning hours when the city was still asleep, Ross had to go back inside the crumbling building that was his home. Deep in a secret cellar, disguised by debris, it was the only safe place for him.

Once he was a renowned professor at a prestigious eastern college. But when the purge began he had to keep moving and hiding, unable to trust anyone knowing there was a bounty on his head because of his apparent age.

Not because he was a vampire.

He foraged for food at night through the city ruins looking for human prey. Only the poor lived there anymore. There were no cars or public transportation. No police department, or city government functioning in this once proud city. It was left to die by itself from neglect.

The regime was centered hundreds of miles away in New Washington DC. The city there had all the modern conveniences available. There were cars, trains, helicopters, and subways. Businesses of all kind flourished in the renamed capital.

The rest of the country’s infrastructure was gradually breaking down as people began fighting over the lack of supplies available. A nationwide black market provided some desperate people with basic needs, if they had money.

Ross still remembered the day when the vampire caught him in a deserted alley foraging for food. Instead of draining him dry however, the vampire cut his wrist and let the blood flow into his semiconscious mouth.

When he became conscious again, the vampire was waiting for him. Standing nearby.

“It was the only way professor,” the vampire began, “I was one of your students and know how brilliant you are. This nation needs you to be around with your wisdom. It’s more valuable than gold. You’ll be immortal.

“The day will come, when good Americans will rise and chase this regime into the bowels of hell, and you’ll be there to guide them,” he explained.

Ross fell asleep in the darkness of the hidden cellar and dreamt about giving a lecture to eager young students thirsting for knowledge.

The next night he woke up and went outside. Hunger pangs drove him to quickly search out a blood source. There were no more dogs or cats in the city. That just left humans. He learned not to feel guilty when he drank their blood.

He was, after all, a repository of knowledge. A walking library.

“It’s for the greater good,” he reasoned to himself, whenever the thought entered his head while draining a victim’s life away.

As It Stands, there’s an old African proverb that goes, “When an old man dies, a library burns down.”

The Mail Order Bride

Mail order brides were a common occurrence in the Old West, so when Hank told his friend Logan he’d sent for one, they celebrated in the Bucket Of Blood saloon until they were kicked out by the bartender who was closing up.

Logan had married a lady from Boston last year, when she replied to his ad for a bride. Seeing his friend so happy, Hank decided it was time to seek martial bliss himself. It was pretty lonely at the miner’s camp in Big Gulch, Nevada.

He’d saved up money that he earned hunting for meat and furs for the miners, and felt confident that he could support his new wife.

Unlike Logan, who worked hard everyday at the gold mine owned by the Loman Brothers, Hank was a free spirit who didn’t want to be tethered to anyone, or business.

Gold was first discovered in the vicinity of Carlin in Eureka County, Nevada, in the 1870s, and by the time Logan and Hank arrived from Ohio, it was a thriving business in Jackass Junction.

Hank was a good hunter, and the fur that he cured was easily sold to miners. He also made arrangements with other small mining towns like Jackass Junction, to bring them meat in exchange for coffee, tobacco and liquor.

Once he decided to get married he built a log cabin away from the boom town, and filled it with crude wooden furniture he made himself. There was a bed, kitchen table, four chairs, and several wooden shelves on the wall near a wood-fired stove he bought in a 1887 Sears catalogue.

There were still very few women in the area, and when one arrived in town it was a big occasion for the men, who gathered on the street to greet them. As soon as word got out a newcomer was there to meet her husband, most of the men lost interest and went about their business.

Hank purchased a buggy and two roan horses to pull it. When the day came around for his new bride’s arrival, he joined Logan and the other men in town, lingering around at the saloon.

“What’s her name again pard?” Logan asked.

“Annabel Lee,” Hank cheerfully replied.

There conversation was abruptly terminated when someone shouted, “Coach is here! The stagecoach is here!” The men poured out of the saloon like lemmings to get a look at the new arrivals.

It was a bumper crop of brides, with five women inside. Turned out that only two were brides, and the other three were “soiled doves,” to the absolute delight of the women-starved miners.

Annabel Lee stood out from the other sun-tanned women, because she was so pale. She wore a black dress, with a matching hat and veil, and carried an umbrella. Hank couldn’t help notice some men staring at her oddly.

The stagecoach driver was pulling down Annabel Lee’s luggage when Hank approached her timidly.

“Might you be Annabel Lee?

“You are Hank then. You’re much more handsome than in the photo you sent me.” she said matter-of-factly.

Hank blushed under his recently trimmed beard.

“Thankee mamI’ll take care of your luggage.

Hank helped her up to the buggy seat and went after her luggage. Left alone for a moment, she raised her veil slightly…and hissed, as she surveyed the townspeople.

Hank returned after loading her luggage, and hopped nimbly up onto the buggy seat beside her. He took the reins and gently tugged them. The roan’s took off in a steady pace as they headed to the cabin.

After a few cursory questions the conversation died down. Hank had never felt more awkward in all of his life. His only experience was with a prostitute in the nearby boom town of  Hell’s Half-Acre. Once.

When they got to the cabin he helped her down and unhitched the horses. He led them over to a water trough as she stood silently in front of the cabin. After securing both horses near his stallion, he came back and opened the front door.

“C’mon in,” he said with as big a smile as he could muster.

She didn’t comment on any of the furnishings while Hank started a fire in the woodstove.

“Built this place m’sef,” he offered, by way of conversation.

She took off her hat and veil, and appeared paler than before.

“Very talented,” she softly replied. “What else can you do?” she asked coyly.

“Well…I’m a pretty fair hunter, and a decent shot with a Colt .45. Been riding horses since I was five…

She studied his face as he spoke. He seemed like a nice guy. She knew he would provide good cover for her being here.

He was her complete opposite. She was a traveler who had seen many cities in her long lifetime. He was a country boy out of his league right now. She spoke 22 languages. It was apparent to her that he hadn’t even mastered one, with his accent.

She was tired of the east coast, and when she heard about mail order brides it encouraged her to go on another adventure. So, she answered Hanks letters for a proper period of time, and then made arrangements to come out west and get married.

It had been over 30 years since Edgar Allen Poe immortalized her. She, in turn, encouraged him to pursue his tales of mystery and the macabre. He was the last man she lived with for a while.

The intervening years were spent single, roaming the streets of eastern cities in search of new blood supplies. Unlike novice vampires, Annabel Lee had evolved over the centuries to the thing she was now. The sun was no longer fatal to her. Just something to be avoided.

“I just can’t get over what a handsome man you are Hank! Please forgive me. I know I’m being forward and we aren’t married yet.”

Awwww shucks mam. I set it up with the preacher so we could get hitched tomorrow.

“How thoughtful,” she said. “Come here Hank…”

The next morning while they were riding to town, Hank felt an itch on the side of his neck. When he scratched it, he got a little blood on his fingernails. Not overly concerned, his thoughts quickly returned to getting married.

Most of the miners in town were working when they got there. The preacher was waiting in the saloon for them.

“Sorry mam!” the preacher said, “We don’t have us a church yet. This will have to do.”

Annabel Lee smiled sweetly and declared, “Oh, that’s all right reverend. I’m ready to marry this fine man anywhere.”

After the five-minute ceremony the bartender bought the bride and groom a drink. He set two beers down on the bar for them. Hank tossed his beer down without hesitation.

Annabel Lee looked at hers, and then at her new husband, “I’m so sorry. But I don’t drink any kind of alcohol. Not that I mind if you do though. It doesn’t set well with me,” she explained.

Months later, a dozen miners grew so weak they could no longer walk. The local doctor, between bouts with John Barleycorn, had no idea what was wrong with the men. He told anyone who asked that they were sicker than anything he’d ever seen. He knew it wasn’t consumption.

Hank and Logan were having a beer at the saloon one afternoon when Logan asked, “What do you think about what’s happened to those men? I ain’t never seen anything like it. The doc says the same.”

“Not sure pard.

As Hank rode his horse back to the cabin he was troubled. He knew Annabel Lee was sneaking out at night when she thought he was asleep in the wee hours. He decided that he had to find out what was going on that night.

The moon was at its fullest when Annabel Lee stealthily got out of bed. He marveled at how quiet she could be, then rolled off the bed, and pulled his trousers on and his boots. He slipped on a shirt, and leather jacket.

After a slight pause he strapped his gun belt on. One ould never be sure in this wild country.

Hank followed her trail on foot. It wasn’t easy. She barely disturbed the ground she walked on. As a hunter, he learned long ago on how to track prey. As he followed her a growing uneasiness told him this wasn’t normal.

Women didn’t just get up in the middle of the night and go for long walks without telling their husbands. There was something about her that made him uneasy at times. He just couldn’t figure out what it was.

He was lucky to catch a flash of her skirt as it disappeared inside the tent set aside for the twelve sick men. Hank got down on all fours and crawled over to the tent. A candle flickered weakly on a table next to the woman who was asleep in a rocking chair.

A pitcher of water and partial loaf of bread were on the small table. Annabel Lee confidently moved from man-to-man, sucking on their sleeping necks! Hank who was peeking from underneath the tent flap, recoiled back in sheer horror when he saw what she was doing!

The thought of lying next to that monster who was sucking the poor men’s lifeblood away was too much. He was a simple man who knew very little about supernatural things. He heard a few scary yarns growing up in the Ohio Valley.

But nothing like this.

Hank crawled away from the tent until he was near the livery stable. He got up and made a mad dash for it. Inside, he found the preacher snoring loudly and still clasping a bottle of rot gut rye in one hand.

Hank plucked the bottle from his chubby fist and shook him hard, “Wake up! I need you!” he whispered. It took a pail of water and some slapping, but Hank got him to finally wake up.

Sputtering indignantly, the preacher demanded to know why he was so rudely awakened?

“Hush! Keep it down and listen to me. What kind of creature sucks folks blood?

The preacher’s eyes grew wide as saucers. “Why do you ask?

“That gal I hitched up with, is sucking men’s blood. That’s why those miners are so sick!”

This time the preacher crossed himself, “Are you sure?”

“Saw it with my own eyes a little bit ago,” Hank assured him.

“She must be a vampire!” he said, and crossed himself again for good measure.

“What in Billy hell is that?

“A demon of the night. They can only be killed by a wooden stake through their black heart, or cutting their head off!” the Preacher explained.

“You mean bullets don’t kill them?”

“I’m afraid not Hank. They also have supernatural strength, so don’t get in no wrestling match with her.”

Hank left the now very sober preacher and went back outside. He got back down to the ground and crawled over to the tent. She was still there, stroking the hair of the sleeping woman.

Careful not to make a noise, he headed back to the cabin as fast as he could. It seemed like he no sooner got there when the front door creaked and she slipped in inside beside him on the bed.

It took all the will power he had to lie still, and wait. It wasn’t long before he could tell from her regular breathing that she was asleep. The predawn quiet seemed sinister as Hank slipped out of the bed.

Without dressing, still in his long johns, Hank went outside to the woodpile and went through a stack of sticks that were trimmed off from his last load of firewood. He picked one that was sturdy and narrow on one end.

With a nearby hatchet he sharpened it. Then he got a hammer from the tools in his small shed. The hunter in Hank kicked in as he went back inside.

Before he chickened out he put the stake over her heart and thrust down! He hit the stake again with the hammer! It was over in a moment. Her body turned to ashes. There wasn’t even a skeleton left.

Horrified and amazed, Hank got dressed and rode into town. He went straight for the saloon and waited until it opened. The bartender shook his head when he opened up the saloon.

“Kinda early Hank.”

Nearly a bottle later, Hank was still standing but reeling awkwardly.

When Logan came in the saloon later that afternoon, after working at the mine, he found Hank three-sheets-to-the-wind. Logan patted his old friend on the shoulder and asked him about married life.

Hank started to say something…but started coughing so hard, he fell down to the ground gasping for air. He finally got air enough to moan, “Never again!”

As It Stands, whose to say a few bloodsuckers didn’t go west back in the day?

The Abby of Little Horrors

When Ivan went to school Friday night he had one thing in mind; to get even with his classmate, Miles Newton.

Their rivalry had taken on new heights in the last week when Miles visited Ivan’s girlfriend, Celia, uninvited; while Ivan was taking an exam in the world spells department.

That was the incident that crossed the line.

There’s a saying among monsters, that if you mess with another lupine’s bitch, you better be prepared to eat silver. Touch a wizard’s woman, and there’s going to be hell to pay.

Ivan wasn’t as physically big as Miles who was a werewolf, but he was smarter. He was the son of a wizard. He wasn’t going to attack Miles without some help. That’s where the Jackson twins, who were vampires, came in. They were always ready for an adventure.

Because school hours were at night, it was easy to conceal oneself in the overgrown ruins of the ancient Abby that was their school. Dusky corridors echoed with the screams of monks that were brutally murdered by Viking invaders in dark days past.

Great stones still held up the roof of the Abby, unlike the outlying buildings that were in worse repair and roofless. Stars shone down on the venerable structure and it’s strange inhabitants like curious bystanders.

The creatures of the night that attended the unusual academy of learning at the Abby, were children of werewolves, vampires, and wizards. They were taught by their elders to abide by the laws of the school without question.

Generations of little horrors were prepped for their lives by savvy teachers descended from the most powerful warlocks, witches, werewolves, and vampires of lore. For hundreds of years it had been thus.

Things were about to change.

Ivan and the Jackson twins were waiting for Miles as he rounded the corner smack dab into the three waiting attackers. No words passed. The savage brawl that followed only ended when Ivan pulled out a silver knife and drove it into Mile’s chest!

The law was broken.

When Miles body was discovered, a general alarm went off among the students and teachers. Ghosts wailed pitifully.

Magic crackled in the air angrily. New dimensions opened up. Supernatural electricity darted though the Abby’ stone walls seeking culprits for the outrage.

Chaos was taking over.

The one main rule was violated – Thou shalt not kill a fellow student.

The Abby of little horrors depended upon dark magic and ancient spells for it’s existence. The meanings of the curses and spells were long forgotten, by the central message was always crystal clear. It was a safe zone.

No longer.

A very human emotion, jealousy, was the undoing of all the little monsters. They would never be safe again anywhere. Their universe shifted slightly. A new crack grew between the real world and the supernatural one.

The difference between man and monster narrowed.

As It Stands, the line between the supernatural and the real world is a very fine one.