That Time With The Vampires
Chapter 7




How do I describe the look on John Phillips's face? "Disappointed raging disgust" is the best thing I can think of. He looked like he completely expected to find me here, but was nonetheless shocked and appalled that it happened anyway. I quickly scanned the place for escape routes and found... well, I was boxed in. I braced myself for a fight.

Phillips came toward me in a motion that made me realize I was dealing with a very experienced fighter. He was also bigger than me, and probably stronger. I changed my mind about tangling with him, and I grabbed a handful of dirt from a houseplant and threw it at his face. Then I picked up the pot and looked for a window to throw it through. There was a large one in the front of the living room. I threw the pot, the glass shattered, and I took off to fly out and-

Phillips grabbed me by the ankle.

I turned and scrabbled around to bite, gouge, and everything else I could think of, but the vampire was strong. Not just the kind of strong you'd expect from a guy his size, but strong. Next thing I knew, he had me restrained in an iron grip. And then Michael walked in. He winced and shook his head, like he was pretending to be profoundly disappointed that I'd stolen cookies from his secret stash.

"You know, I really hoped it wouldn't come down to something like this," Michael said, "but I guess I can't say that I'm too surprised."

"Were you following me?" I asked.

"Nah. Paul called us when he saw your friend's campfire. We figured you might make trouble, so we told him to call us if anything weird happened. Good news is, now you can finally make yourself useful."

"What, as a vampire's lunch?" I asked.

Michael laughed. "Nah, blood's cheap. We need you for something a little more special. Your gift actually. We're gonna finally put it to good use."

"You're gonna cut my hair and make it into a wig," I said dryly.

"You wish," he said. "We're going to extract your vital force and turn it into an elixir of immortality for someone who actually belongs with our organization."

"Because it worked so well the last time, with that other stuff?" I asked.

Michael shrugged. "That's just normal mortal stuff. You - you're immortal. So there's a good chance you might be just what we need. See, your gift - it's the gift of a god, Adry. And what have you even done with it? Bum around for seven hundred years? It's painfully obvious that you're a lazy good-for-nothing SOB."

"At least I don't commit murder. Why don't you just turn 'em into vampires?"

Michael pulled a disgusted face. "Who'd wanna be a vampire if they had a choice? You're a gross dead body and you gotta live on blood. Plus the sunburn's terrible. Nah, we need something better. Okay John, go stick him in the cage."

And so Phillips carried me out of the house and into a large shed, where I was shoved into a metal cage and locked inside. There was another age nearby; in the dim light I could faintly make out a human shape in it. Wordlessly, Phillips left us alone.

"So did ya learn anything, dear?" Omar's voice asked me from the other cage.

"Yeah, a lot," I said. "You got a way out of here? You seem pretty calm."

"Nope," he said. "Kinda figured you might. You seem like the type."

"Yeah, well. I was an idiot. I forgot to bring the kit." I sat down.

"Well, what can ya do? So what did you learn?"

I explained what Michael had told me, and what I'd found in the basement. "You know, I know I'm probably gonna die sooner or later, but this is... not how I wanna do it," I finished.

"No? How would ya rather do it?" Omar asked me.

"Not helping evil alchemists." I paused. "What do they wanna do with you, anyway?" I asked.

"Not much," he said. "Just stick me outside as soon as the sun comes up."

"Oh. Makes sense." I leaned back and tried to figure out what I could possibly do to get us out of here. It was pretty much dark, so I couldn't see anything. I grabbed my Zippo lighter out of my pocket and opened it so I could get a look of the place. Omar's cage was probably eight feet from mine. Although the walls had tools and boating things hanging from them, they were all out of my reach. The padlock holding the cage wasn't what I'd call amazing, but it wasn't something I could just pull apart in my bare hands, either.

I sat back down and sighed. "Sorry I dragged you into this," I said.

"Nah, it's fine," Omar said. "Like you said, gonna go sooner or later. And if I wanted to spend my whole life being safe, I'd have just stayed home."

"I guess," I said. I looked over at him, and suddenly, I had to ask the question. "What made you decide to be a vampire?"

He didn't respond for a few seconds. Then he leaned his head over to look at me. "Money," he said.

"Money?"

He nodded. "They was paying good in these fight rings, and they uh. Paid extra if you were a vampire or something. Made it more interesting. I was broke, what can I say?"

I nodded. "When was this?"

"Nineteen thirty three, I think."

"You fight good?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, I was pretty good. If I do say so myself."

"Then how'd they catch ya tonight?" I asked.

"Guy came up to me and blew some kinda dust on me. Made me dizzy. Couldn't move."

"What, like some kinda drug?" I asked.

"Nah. Didn't inhale it. I think it had to be... well, magic or something."

I considered this. Then I remembered the book I'd grabbed earlier. Maybe it had a spell to open padlocks, or something. I pulled it out of my pocket and grabbed my lighter, and with the faint light of the Zippo I looked through the pages of the book. Nothing.

Then I looked at the notebook itself, and it hit me that I had a spiral notebook. Perfect.

I tore the cover and the pages off the wire spine. I bent and twisted the spine around until I got a few small (or somewhat small) pieces. I didn't have a pair of pliers to bend them, so I took my pants off and used the hole in my zipper tab to help get them into the shapes I needed. It took awhile to get them right. Omar was silent the whole time, and in the dim light I couldn't really make out his expression. Eventually, I had a small torsion wrench and lock pick. After giving my fingers a stretch, I put my pants back on and got to work on the lock. Once it came open, I went over and opened Omar's cage. He climbed out. I walked to the door and pushed it open, and took a cautious step out into the night.

Barely a second had passed before someone's huge, thick hands grabbed me by the neck. John Phillips. I realized he must have been outside guarding us. And he must have been hiding behind the door. He lifted me up and bared his fangs at me. For a second I wondered how he hadn't heard me and Omar escaping. Then I realized he probably had - he was probably just looking for an excuse to beat me up. I hoped he wouldn't kill me; after all, they needed me to stay alive long enough to brew a potion out of me. But then again, some people really don't cooperate well when pissed off. I levitated and tried to kick off him, but his grip was too tight - and it was only getting tighter. I couldn't breathe.

Then a figure charged out of the shed brandishing an oar like a spear. The tip of the wooden paddle rammed into Phillips's back, and he collapsed, leaving me hovering. I looked to see Omar holding the paddle. "You okay?" he asked me.

I rubbed my neck where Phillips had grabbed me. It was going to be sore for days. "I'll be fine," I rasped. I landed and looked at Phillips, who was definitely alive, but not moving. "What did you..."

"Broke his back. He's a vampire; it'll heal. For now, let's you and me split this joint."

I didn't need to be told twice. I told Omar to head to the road while I grabbed the binoculars I'd left on the roof. After I did that, I caught up with him and landed, and we walked back down the road. "Shoulda brought a flashlight," I said. Dark as it was, I'd have a hard time finding the stones.

"It's fine. I can see where we're going," Omar said. He led the way until he stepped off the road. I heard a car door open and shut, and my the headlights of my car came on. He got out, and I climbed inside the driver's seat and fastened my seatbelt.


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