VAMPIRE, VAMPIRISM, VAMPIRIC, VAMPY!
A collection of short stories which explore and celebrate the vampire genre with talented, world-class writers. There’s something here to delight and horrify even the most seasoned vampire fan.
Abraham R Nox, Adrian Bond, Dennis Kriesel, Emily de Rango, Eric S. Brown, Frank C. Gunderloy, Jr., Greg Beatty, H. Turnip Smith, J.R. Corcorrhan, Jean Burnett, Jennifer Moore, Joshua Alan Doetsch, Laura Cooney, Lester Thees, Liz Williams, Lorna Dickson, Miles Deacon, Mordant Carnival, Raymond T. McNally, Richard Jones, Sheri Morton-Stanley, Stephen Minchin, T. P. Keating, Tom Phillips, Trent Walters.
For stories that didn’t make the cut, audiobook bloopers, book promos and swag, join the Fangers Inc. Email Newsletter.
A vampire story by T. P. Keating – Featured in Fangers Inc. Volume One
Sure, too much sun makes me itch and blood sausage tastes superb after midnight, but compared to my distant vampire heritage, Aunt Daisy had to cope with far worse. She drove a black cab at night, and consequently earned more money in the winter than in the summer. To compensate, she’d tried working as a courier, hidden from sunlight beneath a crash helmet. But the summer heat got to her. Now she was gone, dead at the tender age of 145 from dehydration, and I pondered the set of keys that represented her last wishes for me: the pleasure of managing a small, self-catering holiday home in Suffolk.
After a slow train journey from Liverpool Street station, courtesy of over-running engineering works, the local taxi took 20 minutes to whisk me from sleepy Saxmundham station to the house.
“Here you are, Island Farm,” he announced.
“Wow, is there a moat?”
“Not of water. That’s why the name’s such a good source of local humour. There isn’t a stream for miles.”
Paid and tipped, he headed back to the station. My total factor sunscreen kept the blistering June sun at bay, while the two-storey house at the end of the long driveway shimmered gently in the heat. Bees buzzed, birds tweeted, and I felt glad for travelling light with only my vanity case. What did he mean, not of water? Mind you, set amongst summer’s rioting flora, the old stones did present themselves as an island of seclusion.
The front door, I appreciated. An ancient affair of solid oak, I could almost see the parchment proclamations nailed to it in days of yore. Actually, on closer inspection, those could be the very nail holes. The key fit the lock. The door opened.
Fancy the previous visitors leaving all that broken glass on the kitchen floor. I briskly swept up the shards with my stiletto-clad feet and put the incident from my mind. Why start on a bad note? I found the fridge well stocked, so I put my supply of blood pudding away and settled down for a brie salad sandwich with a jasmine tea. Considering that I’d not even noticed where the nearest house was, whoever played that distant flute must’ve had great lungpower. I half listened during my snack, before taking a tour of my new property.
According to Auntie’s list of bookings, the next paying guests weren’t due until around mid-day on Monday, which gave me two whole days of indolent relaxation. The kitchen led to a conservatory, while the first floor contained three sizeable bedrooms. I set up my portable CD player on the kitchen table, along with a variety of CDs that should see me through the weekend.
The hours took care of themselves, making their entrance and exit so discreetly that I didn’t notice them pass. Only when my gaze strayed to the wall-clock did I realize that evening had arrived. At the bottom of the garden, a full moon hung low and large over a line of distant trees. The local telephone directory and a swift phone call took care of dinner. A pizza was on the way over from the nearby village. Cooking for one felt like too much of a chore. After enduring London for so many months without a break, melted cheese was a fitting reward for my stoic efforts.
A loud knock at the front door.
“Evening, lady, here’s your spicy Mexican, no garlic, with a medium diet cola and classic strawberry cheesecake.” In his late teens, he didn’t even get off the motorbike during the transaction. I gave him cash and a reasonable tip.
Only when I turned did I spot the parchment nailed to the door. Someone could sure hammer quietly. “Your sort go home,” it read. Charming. Hadn’t I just contributed to the local economy? I mean, many second homes can stand empty for months on end. Whereas Island Farm sees more comings and goings than some border crossings. On reflection, the note must’ve been meant for the untidy previous guests. A forgettable distraction on such a fine night.
I’d only intended to rest my eyes for a moment when I placed my head in the crook of my arm on the table. Events and the heat had all proved more tiring than I’d appreciated, as a noise woke me from a deep sleep. Hang on, wasn’t that the sound of glass breaking?
Silly me, I must’ve knocked a glass off the table while asleep. If the previous visitors didn’t bother to clean up after themselves, no wonder the locals got riled.
Another knock at the door. Bemoaning the lack of a security chain, I cautiously opened it to find half a dozen people, each carrying a blazing torch. “Ah, a quaint local custom,” I exclaimed. “Let me find a suitable reward for your theatrical efforts. An apple each, perhaps? Or I might just have some oranges.”
“Your sort aren’t wanted,” a man said, in the lovely local accent.
“But I’ve just bought diner from the village pizza restaurant, and the tip was pretty good, in my estimation.”
“Your aunt is a vampire,” he continued. Obviously, the ringleader of the rabble.
“My aunt died on Monday.”
“Sorry to hear it. But the point remains, you’re a vampire too.”
“What does that mean?”
“My symptoms respond to treatment. Or, to put it another way, I don’t bite.”
“Stake her,” came the cry. They all joined in, “Stake her stake her stake her.” I shook my head. It’s so bad that we’ve lost faith in our medical system. In a scatter of gravel, a motorbike skidded to a halt between the mob and me.
“Let her be,” the brave lad suggested. Surely this was proof that the tip had been sufficient? The gang shifted with uncertainty.
“We’ll call it a night, Brett, but only because your dad’s firm is the main employer hereabouts.” The ringleader turned to go.
“Actually, we’re the only employer. If this goes further, don’t forget that the firm could re-locate any day.” They slunk back along the driveway and Brett gave me a serious look. “We need to talk.”
“Then do come in. I’ll put the kettle on.”
Once indoors, he offered a thin, un-gloved hand for me to shake. “Brett D’Amico,” he said.
I busied myself making the tea while he sat at the kitchen table and glanced through my CD collection. “I didn’t take you for a Nu-tronics fan,” he said with a smile.
“Death samba is timeless.” I joined him.
“Look, don’t worry about those idiots from the village. I’ll get my Dad to make them do some snap overtime if you wish.”
“No need, it’s okay. I’m only here for the weekend, then Island Farm is fully-booked for months.”
Crashing glass announced the return of the village idiots, via the conservatory. Brett fought two of them, but the other four soon had me in a losing position. Judging by the preponderance of sharp wooden stakes, my holiday was about to be cut short. When Brett killed the light, I acted on instinct, biting one of them and feeding incredibly quickly and deeply. Don’t ask where I got my strength from. Well, from some inner anti-goddess, I guess. While feeding, the body helped protect me from the other attackers, until they’d all fallen before me into a pool of moonlight.
When Brett was shoved to the floor, I took care of one of the remaining pair. But the final housebreaker scrambled to his feet and drew a gun on us, which brought all our fight to a dead halt. He caught my eye and smiled slyly.
“No, this won’t kill you, it will vanquish you for all eternity.”
“Say… what?” I managed, although my cunning question didn’t prevent him from taking aim.
“The bullets are made of wood. It takes staking to a whole new level.” His spine snapped and his knees buckled.
“Pardon me for interrupting,” said Aunt Daisy, removing her hands from his neck. “I couldn’t help but see how you were doing, before heading off to the Far East.” She still wore her motorbike leathers, with her greying hair in a severe bun.
“I thought you’d had enough of driving, Auntie?”
“I’m going to set up my own little rickshaw company with the proceeds from my life insurance. By the way, thanks for weighing down my corpse in Highgate Pond. Hello Brett.”
“Hello Mrs H.”
“Sorry Brett,” I said, as he got up and brushed himself down. “Honestly, I’ve never done that sort of thing before. You know, the biting and the slurping stuff. Never been forced to, really.”
“No worries. We’ll keep them out of daylight until tomorrow evening, when Dad can switch them to kitchen work.” He flashed a set of super-sharp teeth.
For the first time since leaving London, I felt completely relaxed. Ah, the soothing effects of jasmine tea. I might even visit the pizza parlour later on, to make sure this heavy-handed mob didn’t spoil such a heavenly product. The firm also supplied the best organic blood sausage in the land, and I began to wonder if its much-publicized secret ingredient wasn’t simply a drop of humanity.
(c) T. P. Keating, All Rights Reserved.