Little did Fang Force realize that their foe, Chorack, survived the attack; or at least a version of him did. The humanoid vermin skulked in concealment and followed the five as they returned to the castle. He watched from around the corner as the vampires and their leader pressed through the side entrance.
“Now that they think me vanquished they’ll let their guard down,” he said. “That’s when I’ll strike! And when Fang Force falls, Lord Nihilex will elevate me to the right hand side of his throne!” The monster giggled as much as he hissed, and turned his attention back to the crew.
Drake buried his hands in his pockets and kicked the dirt.
“What’s the matter?” Lindsay asked.
He shrugged. “Nothing. It’s just- of all the monsters I’ve fought over the years, none have ever been so weak or pathetic.”
Chorack winced. What cruel words! Five on one he was at a disadvantage, and he’d thrown the battle on purpose; but harsh words still cut his exoskeleton. Didn’t they know not to speak ill of the vanquished?
“Lord Nihilex is testing the waters,” Cassius said, “so he’s throwing the small fry at us first.”
Small fry! The nerve of him! If Fang Force knew what the roach had in store, they would be shaking in their boots.
“There’s weak, and then whatever that was,” Luther added. “As far as jokes go, I feel bad for laughing.”
Vincent stroked his chin. “What was his name again? Roach-stink? Roach-face?”
I didn’t tell you my name! Chorack seethed. What arrogance! Not for long, however. Soon the vampires would laugh from the other side of their faces, and the time would be right for Lord Nihilex to march.
“It’s sad that he didn’t have the heart to use his strength for good,” Lindsay said.
“What little strength he had,” Vincent replied. “Though my gut tells me that this is only the beginning.”
Chorack grinned in a way that was unique to invertebrates, and remained patient while his targets moved inside. Once out of view, he stepped into the parking lot, and clasped pairs of little hands together. The cockroach squatted and pushed to summon the dark power manifest in him.
Then his body split apart, and reformed as two exact copies of the monster. Then they split again, creating another pair; then another, and another, and another. Chorack, while not as powerful as his cohorts, still had some tricks up his collected sleeves.
One turned to the rest and giggle-hissed. “Let’s give ‘em the fright of a lifetime!”
Society is not always welcoming, and is often less so for small, flying mammals of an ‘off’ color with the capacity for human speech. The fact she was categorized as ‘vampire’ rarely helped her cause, either. For that reason Spike often lingered in the clock tower and watched humanity from afar. In those walls she was safe – most of the time.
The little bat scrambled when she heard footsteps. Custom allowed her the ability to distinguish one set from the other. The slow, pained sounds made her aware of Mr. Nowack’s arrival long before he entered. One foot pressed on the first step, before bringing up the other. Then he moved onto the next step, one at a time, favoring his left hip all the way. The metal hinges under the bannister creaked when he leaned his weight to it.
Spike flew, as she always did, to a higher vantage and froze in place. Time had proven that it was simpler for her to play the role of statue rather than justify her existence. That it had been so long that anyone, other than Lindsay, had screamed in her face was a testament to its effectiveness.
This time she struck a regal pose, standing straight, mouth closed and head held high, with a tiny clawed hand over her heart. Perhaps she would be more deft at inspiration than at being frightful.
Mr. Nowack emerged from the top stair. “Is anybody home?” He deflated upon discovering that the belfry was empty, and set about the room.
The curator had inspected the newly opened tower a number of times, but never without one of his new ‘volunteers’ present to watch. Not that he was up to anything suspicious, mind; more that he was better able to sate his curiosity while not in the presence of another.
He came to the pile of books on the coffee table and examined their covers. William Shakespeare, Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas – Lindsay’s new friends had a taste for the classics, which he supposed was evident in their manner of speech. Perhaps, he thought, she’d joined a book club.
All the while Spike remained stiff as a board and unblinking. Even when Mr. Nowack came upon her perch she held in place, and didn’t so much as flinch when he pulled her down.
“I don’t know why they keep this ugly thing,” he said.
Spike’s heart fell in her tiny chest. Why did he always have to say that? She took care of her fur, polished the leather of her wings every other day, and even brushed her fangs. As those of her kind went she was the mark of health and vitality.
The curator did not agree, and as he moved toward the exit he dropped the little bat face down in a waste paper bin for later disposal. Spike, uncared for and discarded, held back the whimpers of defeat until she could hear his steps no more.
“Why me?” the little bat cried. She wiggled and squirmed inside the container, but was unable to regain her freedom. “I suppose I’ll have to wait,” she sighed, and tried her best to become comfortable.
Just then she heard steps; not the heavy steps that belonged to most of the boys, but also out of time with Lindsay or Vincent. Though who else could it be?
“Hello!” she sang. “Could you be a dear and help me out, please? I appear to be in a bit of a pickle!”
The stranger responded, but not with kindness. Rather Spike found her feet pressed further down into the can before a stack of heavy objects – most likely books – were placed on top, sealing her exit. Were it not for the empty handles on either side of the receptacle she mightn’t have been unable to breathe.
“What are you doing?” she cried.
A voice, half laughing and half hissing, leaned down to her. “We can’t have you causing a fuss while I’m doing my work,” the monster said.
The little bit was beside herself. “You’re one of Lord Nihilex’s minions! Somebody! Somebody, please help!”
It didn’t matter who heard, even if it was Mr. Nowack. She had to do something, or else her team were in a world of trouble!
The monster scuttled to the exit, and set about his sinister design.
Fang Force, known to all as guardians of peace and justice; a vampiric cadre dedicated to protecting the human race. However, in the former home of the Great Vampire King they were charged with another, equally important task; jumping out of corners and scaring tourists.
On alternating days it was the role of one vampire to dress as the old Master, to slick their hair back and paint their face in his image. It needn’t have been a close approximation; only one that would make a visitor jump at the sight. Of all the ways for the Great Vampire King to be remembered, this seemed the most appropriate, especially for one whose former mission was to destroy his legacy.
Drake changed into the costume and pulled the dark cape around his shoulders. When he exited the dressing room he stopped. The vampire glared at his reflection in disbelief.
“I don’t understand,” he said. “For centuries we’ve not appeared in mirrors, and now you say we do?”
The proof sat before his eyes, and yet he continued to probe. When he touched his cheek, so did his likeness. The man continued to mimic him as he traced the shape of his nose. He even stuck his tongue out, and performed the same antagonising gestures Drake had conjured to break his character.
Lindsay, who sat waiting for him on the corner of the make-up table, stifled a laugh. “Cass and Luther were just as confused as you, but we think we’ve worked it out.”
“You’re going to tell me it’s not sorcery,” he said.
“Definitely not sorcery,” she told him. “So you know that vampires like you have a kind of ‘allergy’ to pure metals; and that it applies to living vampires just as much as the unliving.”
“Silver, copper, iron, zinc,” he hummed. “What’s your point?”
“Once upon a time silver was used when making mirrors,” she explained, “but they don’t do that anymore. Now they use a kind of aluminium powder mixed with glass.”
Drake furrowed at his doppleganger, and it back at him. “Aluminium?”
“It’s another pure metal, but it’s not found in nature, so it doesn’t count,” she said.
“How is it pure if it’s not found in nature?”
Lindsay threw her arms up. “Don’t ask me! I’m not a scientist! Besides, you need to put on your make-up and get ready for the show.”
For the sweetest of moments he’d forgotten his responsibility. What a shame that he was brought back to Earth. Forcing a half smile as Lindsay left, Drake applied foundation to sponge and began working the blemishes on his face.
When he was alone he stopped, and stared more deeply. It was the first time in centuries he’d seen himself so clearly. The reflections on the water’s edge didn’t convey so much detail. Is this how I appear to others, he wondered.
Before he could continue, there was a knock at the door.
“Who is it?” he asked.
No response came, save for another knock.
Drake groaned. “Come in!”
Again, no response. Just another knock.
The vampire pulled himself from the chair. Whoever had come seemed determined to rob him even the slightest ease. However, while he expected one of his comrades to vex him, Drake opened the door to reveal a dozen or more giant humanoid insects, who descended upon him without a second thought.
They knocked him to the ground and piled on top of him, then piled on top of each other, near drowning him in a sea of fluttering cockroach bodies. He opened his mouth to scream but was gagged by a sock. The others tied his hands and feet. It was something that promised to haunt Drake’s nightmares for years to come.
“That’s one down,” the monsters hissed and clicked. “Let’s hope the others fall as easy!”
To be continued…