Chapter 7 The Stranger

On an unusually quiet afternoon, a stranger parked in front of Mort’s Curiosities in a brand new red and white 1965 Stingray. He entered the shop looking for something unusual. He wore city clothes, a suit, and a tie, wasn’t friendly, and did not stop to chat with the antique dealer. Instead, he walked around the store, looking at curiosities, moving past ancient lamps, Chinese urns, sewing supplies, Russian eggs, tea kettles, trunks, and clocks. He stopped next to an Egyptian Sarcophagus, noticing a silver dial shaped like a star on the outside. Twisting it, the gears tumbled inside. Canisters of gas released within the tomb and the mummy moved. The key fell into the stranger’s hand who quickly pocketed it.

“Can I interest you in any curiosities?” Mort asked.

“I’m not curious about anything in your store,” replied the stranger in a nasty voice.

Mort had met thousands of visitors in the last year, knowing he would eventually meet an unfriendly one. “Oh well,” he thought. “I guess some people aren’t impressed by antiques.”

The stranger stepped out of Mort’s Curiosities and drove away.

Mort sighed, “Like my antiques, a good story only happens every hundred years.”

How wrong he was when the lid of the Egyptian Sarcophagus slid open.

The End


Chapter 6 Vampire’s Blight

Restoration needed to be done. They hopped into the 1959 Cadillac Hearse, driving back to the Catholic Church.

Back at the rectory, each one of them dumped the vampire’s ashes into the Holy Water. It bubbled and sizzled, turning crimson.

Undead Fiends recommends we let the soup simmer for twenty-four hours before serving it to those who’ve been petrified,” dictated Mort. “Violation of these instructions may cause the restoration to happen too fast, resulting in needless pain. We should get some sleep before tomorrow afternoon.”

            It wasn’t hard to drift off to sleep in the church pews. Morning came and went the next day. In the late afternoon, they woke.

For a second, they were washed with fear, then remembered their heroic deeds, and felt relief for the first time that week.

 “It looks light Vampire’s Delight is finished,” announced Mort enthusiastically.

“I’m not sure you gave the anti-petrifaction potion the right name. It should be called Vampire’s Blight,” retorted Charlie with a grin.

“I don’t care what you call it as long as the potion restores my mother,” whispered Mathew with apprehension.

Mort ladled Vampire’s Blight into a cup and the boys followed him to the baptismal. Mrs. Bailey stood where they left her. “I’ll serve her,” offered Mathew. “After all, she’s my mother.” He gently poured it to her lips. Slowly, they saw her cheeks redden. In five minutes she woke from her petrified slumber, her regular self once again.

“I saw the strangest thing walking up the street. It had frightening features. Wait; where am I?” Mrs. Bailey recognized her son and the antique dealer. “Am I going to be baptized?” she asked. “There…there…I think Mathew should explain what happened.” Her son recounted the story and for the first time in over a year she was proud of him.

“Many others still need to be treated. Charlie and I will restore the Boy Scouts, Mr. and Mrs. Mulberry, and Father Mendel. Mrs. Bailey, you can take Mathew and revive the lighthouse keeper and his wife. I haven’t heard from Hank. He’s probably down by the creek with Frank. They’ll need the Vampire’s Blight.”

At the end of the day the entire town was restored. Within a week, everything returned to normal. Mort went back to his curiosity shop, pondering whether to fix his display window. In the last week, he made more sales than in the past ten years. The folks in Washaway Bay and strangers from neighboring towns enjoyed his story about the night of the vampire, offering lots of money for his mirrors smashed by Drake.

Chapter 5 Night of the Vampire

It was already twilight when they hopped into Arthur’s police cruiser, making their way up the hill to the cemetery. Mort’s Cadillac was still parked in front of the church when they pulled up. Something smelled strange upon entering the rectory. Father Mendel boiled stew in an enormous tub reserved for church potlucks.

“The ingredients demand five cloves of garlic, ash from a vampire, and holy water boiled and simmered at body temperature,” dictated Mort while reading Undead Fiends.

The priest mixed the ingredients, not noticing the sheriff or Mathew entering the room.

“What are you brewing, Vampire’s Delight?” asked Arthur.

“Oh, hello sheriff, I didn’t see you. I’m glad you found Mathew. This remedy we’re brewing is supposed to counteract petrifaction. However, it’ll be difficult to get ash from a vampire until it’s defeated.”

“Too true, but I’ve already collected some of the creature’s ashes,” said Arthur with a grin.

“How’s that possible? We sent Charlie to look for pieces of its clothing among the graves, but he hasn’t come back.”

“YOU SENT THE BOY INTO THE GRAVEYARD ALONE!” shouted Arthur angrily. “Why would you do something so careless?”

“If he’s petrified, we’ll have the remedy to bring him back to life,” replied Father Mendel arrogantly.

“That’s assuming we can defeat it,” retorted Arthur.

“Oh, I don’t think it should be too difficult. We already know how to slay the creature. You said you brought the vampire’s ashes with you?”

“Only a trivial amount,” said Arthur while pulling the matchbox from his pocket.

“That’s ok; it might be enough for one dose. How did you get it?” asked Father Mendel.

“After the vampire petrified one of the boys, I fired six shots in its direction. I must’ve hit my mark because I found stuffing and black fabric on the ground. Sunlight filtered through the trees, incinerating it within seconds.”

“Which boy was petrified?” Mort asked.

Frank Nebowitz; I need to make a phone call to Hank’s Auto Body Shop so he can bring the boy up to the church. He’s usually discrete and won’t tell the rest of the town. If word gets out that a vampire is petrifying our citizens, we could have a general panic on our hands.”

“Was there anyone else in the woods besides Mathew and Frank?” asked the priest.

“Jackie ran from the scene like grease lightning. Would you like me to pick him up?”

“He won’t be a problem. Jackie has a reputation for telling lies and making up stories. No one will believe a vampire is loose on our town.”

“It’s almost dark and Mathew is safely inside the church. Do you think Drake will strike tonight?” asked Mort.

“Contrary to popular belief, vampires will enter a church. We’ll be safe as long as the lights stay on. I’ve already spoken with the lighthouse keeper about the situation. Jeff and his wife have agreed to keep a sharp lookout for the vampire during the evenings. There’s a lookout observatory in the cathedral if you’d like to come and see.”

Everyone followed the priest up the polished ladder to a dark room with an enormous telescope pointed at the heavens. “I usually use this room for stargazing, but just occasionally it’s fun to watch the town of Washaway Bay. You’d be surprised what people do when they think no one’s watching,” chuckled Father Mendel.

The lighthouse beam burned in the distance, briefly illuminating portions of the dark peninsula before heading out to sea again.

“Mort, would you like to be the first to look through the glass?” asked Father Mendel.

“I’d be delighted.”

Looking through the telescope he saw Washaway Bay cast in shadow.

“There’s the summer camp where the Scouts practice archery. To the south, I can see the generators and the lighthouse. Martha’s Diner is easy to spot. Her light is still on. Wait a second, come quick!”

“What is it, what do you see?” asked the sheriff in a hushed voice.

“BROKEN MIRRORS!” gasped Mort.

“Oh my God, you’re right!” whispered Arthur. “What should we do; what can we do; Father?”

“Sheriff, we’d better take your police cruiser to Martha’s and see if she’s alright. Mort, I want you stand watch with the boys. Lock the trapdoor behind us when we leave. If the vampire knocks, pull out the crucifix so it can’t approach.” Father Mendel handed Mort the silver cross and followed the sheriff to his cruiser in the parking lot.

“What can we do to help?” asked Charlie.

“You heard the priest. We’re to stay here to keep a lookout.”

“Screw that idea!” challenged Mathew. “How are they going to slay the vampire when they find it or it finds them?”

“There’s no reason to get belligerent.” said Mort.

“Like HELL there isn’t. Charlie, are you with me?”

“What do you plan to do?”

“Remember what we read in Undead Fiends? The book suggested the only way to slay a vampire is to lure it into the sunlight or jam a wooden stake through its heart. I had an idea when Mort observed the town through the telescope. We should enlist the Boy Scouts at the archery range. A couple dozen arrows are bound to find their mark.”

“I like your plan. Mort, what do you think?”

But the antique dealer wasn’t listening as he gazed through the telescope. The police cruiser arrived near Martha’s Pancake House. “Boy’s, they’re about to go inside.”

Suddenly, the lights in Washaway Bay went out. The generators near the lighthouse buzzed and crackled. Blue sparks flew from the wires connecting energy to the town.

“Drake has disabled our power, leaving Father Mendel and Arthur like sitting ducks. Hold on, the lighthouse is flashing. I think its Morse code. The message reads, ‘Vampire Spotted’ STOP, ‘Power generators destroyed,’ STOP, ‘Need assistance at once.’”

“Mort, do you have your car keys on you?” asked Mathew.

“No, they’re in the hearse. Why?”

“Because we need them right NOW!”

Mathew went down the trap door, intending to do something rash.

“I think we’d better follow,” suggested Charlie.

“Oh…ok, but I’m driving!” yelled Mort. The old man really moved when he wanted to. They almost beat Mathew to the car, jumping into the 1959 Cadillac.

 “Let’s go recruiting and kill this thing!” shouted Mort. He couldn’t believe he was thrown into another life or death adventure, feeling alive for the first time since he purchased his antique shop. Driving the hearse down the hill at break-neck speed, they passed Martha’s Pancake House in half a second. Nearing the lighthouse, Mort noticed Jeff, the light keeper, petrified in the doorway. “I hope the vampire left the scouts alone,” he whispered.

Parking near the campsite, they moved cautiously toward one of the long barracks near the bay. Mathew held the crucifix in his right hand, ready for the vampire to attack.

A light was on inside. He knocked, opening the door. Most of the scouts were awake; some were playing cards, others were reading Boys Life, and a few were tying knots.

“I need you all to drop what you’re doing and follow me. It may be difficult to believe, but there is a vampire loose in Washaway Bay! Grab your bows and arrows. I need your best marksmanship to drive a stake though the vampire’s heart!” yelled Mort

Every scout snapped to attention. It didn’t matter if the vampire was real or fiction. This was definitely more fun than trying to tie a Bowline Knot. Eight scouts, fully armed, crammed into the back of the old Cadillac. Mort drove to Martha’s Diner as fast as he could. Everyone piled out of the hearse, stringing their bows, waiting for any sign of movement.

A full moon rose above them, illuminating the pancakes speared to the diner’s roof. Mort pulled a flashlight from his pocket, deciding to investigate the dim restaurant. Entering, he shined the light on four statues. Martha and Ted Mulberry were behind the counter. Arthur and Father Mendel had their arms out like they were trying to strangle something.

Mort reassured them, “We’ll brew some holy water once we’ve slain the vampire. Walking out, he was confronted by eight bows and arrows ready to fire. “Any sign of the vampire yet?” he asked.

“Not yet,” whispered Charlie. “We thought you were it for a second.”

Then, from further down the street, a figure approached. It’s long black cloak draped on the asphalt, moving purposely toward the crowd. Drake was not intimidated by the living. Lacking a soul, he was unencumbered by fear.

“READY…AIM…FIRE!” shouted Charlie. Eight arrows pierced the darkness, five finding their mark. “AGAIN, READY…AIM…FIRE!” This time, all eight arrows hit their mark, knocking the vampire onto its back.

“That did him!” shouted Mathew. But the vampire got to its feet, drawing nearer. Drake was covered in quills, looking like a porcupine.

“I don’t understand; there are at least five arrows lodged in its heart,” cried Charlie in bewilderment. “Hey Colman, what are those arrows made of?”

“Graphite, I think.” shouted the Boy Scout.

Charlie wondered if they were really going to die because of his trivial oversight.

Suddenly many scouts were petrified. “I thought I said not to look into its eyes,” yelled Mathew.

“I think we forgot to tell them,” replied Charlie. “Quick, give me a leg up. I have an idea. Mathew cupped his hands so Charlie could climb onto the roof. He ran over to the stack of pancakes impaled on a wooden stake. Pulling on it, the sign wouldn’t move. Kicking it, the sign broke off, falling on the ground.

Drake was nearly in reach of Mathew. The boy held the crucifix in front of him with his eyes closed.

Reaching for the silver cross, the vampire touched his hand. Drake felt as cold as ice, opening its mouth, revealing enormous fangs.

Mort fumbled on the ground for the wooden stake, his nimble fingers finding it and flinging the weapon at the vampire.

The javelin struck, temporarily stunning Drake. Mathew grabbed it, shoving the stake into the vampire’s chest.

A whirlwind wrapped around the creature as it disintegrated from the inside. Skin flaked off the contorting body, becoming ashes in the wind.

“Quick, salvage the skin. We’ll need the ashes to revive those who’ve been petrified!” warned Mort.

Adrenalin pumped through Mathew’s veins. It took him a couple seconds to comprehend the antique dealer. He grabbed a handful of Drake’s ashes, stuffing them into his pockets. Mort and Charlie did the same.