FANGS IN THE NIGHT
The old man stumbled along the path, pulling his tattered coat tighter around him as he struggled against the wind and rain. The lightning flashed and for a brief second the tramp saw the house rearing up in front of him, its windows like sightless eye sockets. He carried on eager to find shelter from the raging storm.
Some broken steps led to a huge ornate wooden door. Gasping for breath the man thumped hard on the wood. He thumped again and the sound carried on through the house, down murky corridors and dusty rooms. There was no answer to his knocking. He tried the handle but the door wouldn’t budge. The man saw that the door was very old and the paint peeling, the wood splitting underneath. He gave the lower panel a kick and was surprised to see his boot smash through easily. Getting on hands and knees he peered into the internal gloom. A flash of lightning revealed a wide entrance with broken furniture and bits of masonry lying on the floor. There was even a grand looking staircase at the far end.
The man stood up and was about to kick the door again when it slowly opened on creaking hinges. He went inside and saw just how big the house was. This would make a great place to stay the night.
In no time he had found his way to the large front room and had lit a fire with plenty of wood that lay around. He sat back in an old armchair and gazed at the flames as they crackled and sent sparks up the chimney. Groping in his battered bag he produced some old bread and a piece of cheese. He was smiling to himself, this was good; a warm cosy place from the storm, his supper and somewhere to sleep for the night.
He must have dozed off for suddenly he woke up with a start. He seemed to sense that he wasn’t alone any more. Somebody or something was there in the room with him which was lit only by the flickering flames so that dark shadows lurked against the walls. At first he couldn’t see anything but suddenly a form appeared for only a second before it was lost in the shadows again.
“Who are yer?” the man called.
There was no answer.
“This place is fine for a night’s kip,” the man went on nervously. “Plenty of room in this house. Got no food though,” he added looking at the empty paper that had wrapped his bread and cheese.
Just then a figure came out of the darkness and stood still. The old man could see it was a boy perhaps around twelve or thirteen. He sighed with relief that he wasn’t another bum who might get awkward, he could handle a kid like this one.
“Why are you here?” the boy asked, his voice echoing as though in a cavern.
The man gave him a funny look. What the hell did he think he was doing here? Sheltering from the bloody storm, that’s what.
“Keeping meself warm and cosy in this here house till the morning,” the man explained giving the boy a wink.
“Is that really why you are here?” the boy asked again.
The man stroked the bristles of his chin and eyed this young fella with some curiosity. Firstly, because of his persistent questioning and secondly, because of the way he was dressed. What kind of a kid wore a long, black cloak with a high collar and red lining, a tight fitting white leotard like a ballet dancer, had a purple sash tied around his waist, high black boots and what seemed like some medal hanging from a ribbon around his neck? No young ‘un he had ever seen before, that was for sure. Yet, the tramp had to admit, this youngster was attractive.
“Are you staying just the night?” the man asked hoping he would say no and clear off.
“Oh, I’ve been staying here for a lot of nights, years in fact.”
“What yer talking about? How old are you … you look about thirteen?”
The boy grinned. “Glad you think so as I’ve been in this house for over a hundred years I reckon.”
The man started to laugh but stopped as the child advanced and threw part of his cloak over his left shoulder. The tramp had to admit he was a handsome devil for his supposed hundred years; an oval face and dark blue eyes or were they simply dark red? A small mouth and jet black hair neatly parted down the middle. He had a fine, slim muscular body exemplified by the tight leotard and his legs were long and powerful. Altogether a good looking boy indeed if a bit eccentric in his attire and not too good at his mathematics.
“I ask again, why are you here?” the boy repeated.
The man smiled and then broke out laughing. “Why am I here?” he exclaimed. “Why the hell are you here?”
“Because I belong.”
With that the boy did a twirl letting his cloak spread out behind him exposing a neat backside. He stopped and stood in front of the mantelpiece assuming a classical pose, hand on hip and one leg bent slightly forward.
“What do you think?” the boy asked, smiling.
The man gulped, there was a lot he wanted to say. He had always had an eye for the younger element, especially ones like this young ‘un, tall, slim and around the early teen mark. However, he had never met a young person like this one, that’s for sure … in a fancy dress that was oddly compelling.
“You like me?” the boy asked, only this time he smiled a little which the man could not decide was friendly or menacing.
The tramp straightened up. The mysterious child had started to walk towards him. He smiled again and his lips parted to reveal incisor teeth that were longer than they should be.
“What the hell … ?” The man shouted.
Suddenly the boy hissed and his mouth widened to show a pair of white fangs that gleamed in the firelight. The man saw the boy’s eyes were blood red now. He screamed and lurched backwards overturning the armchair as he did so. He scrambled towards the door but not before the boy had nimbly jumped onto the back of the chair and launched himself at him. The man rolled away to see the youngsters’ boots land only a few inches from where he lay. He looked up with terror as the boy spread his cloak and hissed again.
In times of emergency we can summon strengths we don’t know we have and that was so for the frightened tramp in this case. He got to his feet and literally flew to the door slamming it behind him. He lay with his back to the door, gasping for breath. Just then he heard a thump on the other side. It was as though the wood had been hit by a train. It groaned and splintered. As he grasped the handle he could feel the tremendous strength of the … well … young vampire or whatever it was on the other side.
The man knew he couldn’t hold the door shut so, with a yell, he let go and ran along the passage and up the staircase. He stumbled over pieces of broken masonry that littered the steps. He cried out as his hand was cut by the banister’s splintered wood. Blood oozed into the palm of his hand. Blood! That crazy kid vampire would hunt him out for sure now. He almost felt like he was in some nightmare, this couldn’t be happening, whoever heard of vampires and ones in tight ballet outfits at that?
Reaching the top of the stairs, the man looked down. He felt his heart pounding as he saw the boy below. Shit, he wasn’t even coming up the stairs step by step, he was flying up them! The tramp had hardly got a few yards along a passage before he saw the vampire entering it.
“You cannot escape me,” the child cried with a shrill laugh.
The man hurried along another cobwebbed passage stumbling and falling in his effort to escape. Then, even before he had reached its end, the boy somehow appeared in front of him! How did he do that? The young vampire glided slowly to the floor and stood, hands on hips, legs apart with a smirk on his face.
The man stopped and started to retreat.
“What are you, vampire or something?”
“Right in one,” the child said, grinning wickedly and showing his fangs. As he came towards him, the tramp screamed and stumbled backwards. It was then it happened.
He fell against a large, oaken wardrobe that stood in the hallway. The wood was old and rotten and the weight of the man’s body cracked it easily and the doors flew open. Cups and goblets and lots of silverware crashed onto the floor. One item skidded through the dust and landed right at the young vampire’s feet. It was a solid, silver crucifix.
The boy cried out and tried to shield himself with his cloak. The man watched as the vampire fell back with a piteous shriek.
The man knelt and picked up the crucifix. He smiled an evil smile … he had this supernatural whatever-it-was now. He held it right over the boy’s face as he attempted to crawl backwards along the passage.
“What are you going to do now?” the man said, grinning.
“This,” the vampire said quietly and, raising his boot, kicked the crucifix from the man’s hand so that it skidded along the floor and was lost in among the cups and goblets. Then, with his other boot, kicked the tramp hard in the stomach. There was a gurgling gasp as the air flew out of the old man’s lungs. The boy stood up and lurched forward but not before the man was able to push him away and make a run for it along the passage.
Gasping for breath, the tramp made it to the staircase and ran down them at a pace faster than he had done for many a year. He grasped the handle of the front door and, with an effort, wrenched it open. Outside the lightning still flashed and the thunder rumbled. The man fell down the steps and staggered along the driveway.
Suddenly there was a loud howl, like that of a wolf in the forest. Then came the sound of breaking glass and, looking up, the man saw the figure of the young vampire emerge from the window above. With cloak spread out the dreadful apparition flew down onto its prey. The man tried to run but stumbled and fell. He tried to get up but the boy was upon him. He was forced onto his back while this kid vampire sat astride him. He could only look up in horror as the boy raised his head and howled to the storm that crashed and rumbled across the sky. Then, looking down, the boy parted his lips and showed those sharp, long incisors of his. The man screamed and started to struggle to get up while the vampire merely pushed him back to the ground and put his finger to his lips.
“Ssssh,” he said and did the man detect the hint of a smile there? “I know you like me. I do get lonely sometimes and I know you’re a lonely old man too.”
“How do you know that?” was all the man could say.
The boy winked. “Oh, we vampires know lots of things especially when we’re looking for a companion.”
“Companion? What are you talking about?”
“Just this,” the boy vampire murmured quietly and leaning down he parted his lips and to a crash of thunder, sank his fangs into the man’s neck.
* * * * * *
Now the house is as it used to be, clean, nicely furnished and comfortable. During the day it is strangely deserted but at night it is brightly lit with much merriment and games. Then, when there is a clear moon, the boy and the man sit out on the balcony and gaze at the scudding clouds. The man puts his arms around the young vampire’s shoulders and hugs him tight before they kiss and go inside.