Nighthawks

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Curtis makes an awful discovery on his way home one night. He unearths the truth that there are vampires in Modern day Manchester.

Submitted: January 16, 2014

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Submitted: January 16, 2014

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Once her shift behind the bar was over Juia told her boss she'd see him tomorrow and started on the twenty minute walk home. The moon shone bright and full. There were no clouds, only the torch-like moon in the dark blue sky. As she passed parked cars she could see the frost on the windscreens. She zipped her thick coat right up and curled her hands way up into her sleeves. When she breathed out her breath hung in the cold air for a second.

It had been a good night. There was a real atmosphere in the place. She loved it when it was like that. It was almost a pleasure to work there. Christmas was over two months away but if that night was any indication of what the Christmas season would be like then she'd gladly spend it at work. Her thoughts turned to the holidays. Julia planned on spending the time at the house she shared with her fiance, Jimmy. They would have her parents over on Christmas Day and have Jimmy's parents the day after.

The streets were totally empty. She hadn't seen a soul since she left for home. Everyone was tucked up in their beds or someone elses. The lucky sods, she thought. Nevermind, she was finally on her way home. Only once the pub had been cleaned, glasses washed and the bar re-stocked. Long after last orders and after the last punters had emptied their glasses.

Julia's thoughts were disturbed by a sound from behind her. She was sure it was the sound of footsteps. She walked a little  faster. Taking a deep breath she looked over her left shoulder. Nothing. Looked over the other. Nothing. She told herself that she must have imagined it. There was no-one there when she looked so a trick of the mind could be the only explanation.

She heard it again. She walked at an even faster pace. As she walked the sound of footsteps followed the sound of her own. She knew she wasn't hearing things. She started to run.  As she ran she looked over her shoulder once again. Something was right behind her. A tall pale figure dressed in dark clothing. Tears filled her eyes. She about to scream when the figure grabbed her. One arm held her around the waist and the other across her chest. Held her in an iron grip. She struggled against her attacker. It was no use. Panic and fear ran through her. She felt breathing at her cheek and then her neck. The pain as her flesh punctured was quicky overshadowed by dizzyness. She felt ice cold for the last seconds of her life. Her attacker left her body on the ground. Every single drop of life-blood had been drained from her body. He disappeared into the darkness.

 

Curtis drank the piping hot cup of coffee in two mouthfuls. Throwing the mug into the sink he grabbed his coat and his car keys and left the flat. As he fought his way through the rush-hour traffic he caught the news on the radio. It said a local woman in her early twenties had been subject to a bizarre ritual murder the night before. Julia Brown from the area had been attacked and killed on her way home from work. Her fiance, James Ryder was appealing for any witnesses to come forward. It finished the report by saying that flowers were being left at their home on Church Street. Curtis tsk'd to himself and shook his head. He had no idea of the effect this murder would have on his life.

He got to the office slightly late. The traffic had been bad all the way. People went slower because of the icy conditions on the roads. First things first, he told himself as grabbed his second cup of coffee of the day. Now he was ready for the day ahead. He had worked in the accounts department for the paper company for almost five years. He didn't mind the work and the people were okay. It suited him. He found it went either way, either you were paid pennies to do a job you love or you were paid a crazy amount of money to do a job that would slowly drive you insane. Here, he felt, he had the right balance. Sure, the money wasn't great but on the other hand job wasn't bad.

All the talk in the office that day was of the murder. Most of the forty five people who worked there were from the area so the conversation never really strayed away from the subject. The office was open plan with desks in blocks of four and six like those in a Chinese restaurant. It was your run-of the mill office. Full of photocopiers endlessly spitting out warm paper and phones that never stopped ringing. The two floors of the building were pretty much indentical.

The day went by quickly enough. He had a mountain of files and papers to get through. He found that when he was really busy the day rolled past like the Manchester to London express train. Five o'clock had arrived. Home time. Over the past hour the sun had gone down and daylight was replaced by darkness. The silver-white moon sat low in the sky. Since sunset the temperature had dropped severely. The cold day would be followed by a freezing night.

Curtis marched through the cold across the car park and jumped in his dark blue Fiesta. Before doing anything he flicked the heating on. He sat there for a second rubbing his hands together. Sufficiently thawed out he started the engine and pulled off the parking lot.

The traffic on the motorway was what the radio news presenters would call 'heavy congestion'. He left the slip road and joined the left lane of the motorway. He could see brake lights trailing off into the distance, snaking their way along the route. It was going to be a long night, he thought. He didn't know how right he was. He turned the volume on the cd player up and drummed his fingers in time with the music. Things like traffic jams and waiting in airport departure lounges didn't really get under Curtis' skin. He couldn't tell you why not. Maybe he was overpatient and too tolerant. Maybe there were times when he should have got wound up by things but he was far too laid back for that. As his friends kept telling him, he must have been a hippy in a past life.

The journey home normally took him around thirty-five minutes. He usually managed to weave his way through the rush hour madness without too much trouble. That night was different. Eighty minutes later he finally reached his turn off and left the motorway. Once on the roads the traffic seemed to be back to normal. Five minutes away from home. Nearly there he told himself. He turned right into a side street. The street lights were out. The only light on the street was the glow which spilled out through bay window curtains from the terraced houses lining both sides.

He drove through the darkness. His headlights lit only a few feet ahead. There was something in the road right in front of him. He took his foot off the accelorator and slammed the brake pedal down as hard as he could. There was a thud as his car hit the thing. The car screamed to a stop on top the the figure. Curtis leaned forward straining to see over the front of his bonnet. He reached for the door handle. He would have to go and see what was left of whatever the hell it was he'd hit.

The figure rose up in front of his car. It should have gone from crouching, bent over to standing upright. It didn't. It seemed to be in a standing position the moment the top of it reappeared from under the bumper. It rose up and up to its full height. Curtis guessed it must have been over six feet tall. It had its back to the car. All he could make out was shoulders and its head tilted low. Everything else was shrouded by the black coat it wore.

It turned slowly to face the car. Curtis didn't move. His hand still rested on the door handle. The think had jet black hair down to its collar. The face was white. Not just pale but white. Blood red eyes gleamed from beneath its eyelids. The creature grinned to reveal a set of fangs. Curtis shuddered. There was no doubt that's what they were. Fangs. Smaller central teeth supported either side by sharper longer teeth. They reminded him of the teeth a dog might have. He dug the gearstick into reverse and pushed the accelorator down to the floor. With screaching tyres the car sped backwards. After a few seconds the car was yards away from the creature.

His heart was pounding. He was breathing hard. Nothing else mattered apart from getting away from the monster. As he reversed he looked behind him. He wondered wether there would be enough room to turn the car around. He turned his attention back to the road in front. The creature was gone. There was no sign of it in the road where it had been. He leaned to the left and the right trying to get a good look down the street. No sign at all. He sat back in the driver's seat. Sighed as he ran his hands threw his cropped dark brown hair. He peered again into the darkness. Curiosity got the better of him.

Leaving his engine running he stepped out of the car. All kinds of questions ran through his head. What the hell was that? Where had it vanished to? His initial reaction had been to flee but not a fascination held him. Like those crazy people in America who chase tornadoes. They know the risks but they are compelled to drive towards the thing that every ounce of sense tells them to run from.

Darkness lingered in the street like a fog. He turned three hundred and sixty degrees. He squinted trying to force his eyes to see into the pitch black. He shivered as the cold reached out to touch him. There was no sign of the creature in any direction. He decided that he had better things to do than wander around the dark streets in the moonlight. He looked up at the full moon. Looking for this thing was crazy, like looking for the man in the moon. His peripheral vision picked up the dark figure moving throught the night towards him.

He looked ahead to see the figure coming for him. The creature grabbed him by the throat. Its thin white fingers had long nails. They made the hands appear claw-like. Curtis was pushed back against the car. The monster squeezed his neck with its claw. Curtis felt sick. The evil being had snared him. The grip on his throat told him that this monster was as powerful as it was terrifying. Sweat ran off his forehead. He was suddenly drenched in sweat despite the sub-zero temperature. The claw moved position and forced his head back. He looked the grim reaper in the face. It was even more ghastly close up. The moon reflected in its white face. Eyes piercing red. The cannine smile looking down at him as a predator eyes his prey. The predator tilted Curtis' head to the left exposing the right side of his neck. The grin widened, jaws apart like that of a hissing cat. Curtis struggled but the hand at the top of his throat was unrelenting and the force of the creature's body held him fast against the driver's door.

He heard a vehicle to the far left of him. A car had turned into the street. The headlights on full beam lit the face of his attacker. It captured the creature's startled expression. It turned its gaze towards the impending vehicle. It released Curtis from its grip. Curtis slid to his knees down the car door. His attacker dissolved into the darkness.

Maybe it was a sign of the times that the car coming up the street simply drove around Curtis' slumped form in the road. Head lights swept upto him and then swerved around him. The car made its way down the road. Perhaps at one time the driver would have stopped the car and tried to help the distressed figure in the road. Maybe society had had its fingers burnt once too often when it tried to help. What was about to happen in Manchester would have its people bolting their doors and turning a deaf ear to the screams outside.

 

After sitting in the dark, cold street for a few minutes Curtis shakily pulled himself to his feet. He threw himself in the driver's seat and locked the door behind him. He put his trembling hands to his face. Fear ate away at him like a cancer. He could feel it knotting his stomach. The image of the monster refused to leave his head. He could still feel the hand at his throat. He tried to calm his fraught nerves. He kept telling himself he was okay. He switched on the radio. An old Rolling Stones tune rang out of the speakers. He rubbed his face once more. Shook his head. One hand on the wheel he released the handbrake and drove down the street. Ten minutes later he was home.

Sleep visited him more than he thought it would. He didn't manage his usual eight hours but he slept more soundly than he'd expected when he crawled into bed. The morning rolled around and he woke at the usual time. If he'd have thought about it he would have phoned in sick. If it had occured to him he would have told work that he was attacked the previous night. They would have been more than understanding. Instead he was downing the cup of coffee and jumping in his car the way he did every morning.

He caught the local radio news bullitin as usual. The top story reported that five people were killed over night. An unofficial source claimed that the modus operandi matched the murder of Julia Brown the night before. All the blood had been drained from the bodies.

Curtis pulled into the motorway services and parked up. He stared across the car park at the small shopping arcade. Thoughts raced through his head. He didn't know how he felt about things. He pulled his mobile phone out of his jacket pocket and dialled his work number. His manager picked up.

'John, it's me.' As the voice on the other end went to speak he continued.

'I was attacked on my way home last night. I'm not going to be in today.'

'You okay? When will you be back?'

'I will be.' Curtis replied. 'Soon.'

 

He sat there trying to figure out what it God's name was going on. The first thing that struck him was that what had attacked him was responsible for the murders of the past forty-eight hours. It couldn't be a coincidence. The night some monster attacks him five people were slaughtered. It had to be that creature. The second thing that struck him chilled him to the bone. The idea of just what it was. Suddenly he was in no doubt about what plagued the city and what had attacked him. Everything he had heard and what he had seen with his own eyes told him what the creature was. Vampire.

The word. He said it aloud. Vampire. The word put an image in his head of Christopher Lee in those old Hammer Horror films. There was a part of him that couldn't believe it. The sceptic in him told him not to be so silly. Told him there had to be another more logical, real world explanation. The rest of him knew for sure he was right. He needed coffee.

The service cafeteria was pretty much empty. It reminded him of a school canteen. Tables and chairs filled the large open area which backed onto the self-service food counter. He got himself a hot, strong coffee and took a seat at one of the tables by the window. Apart from him there were only a handful of other diners. A couple of night-shift drivers and the odd commuter having breakfast. He thought about what he knew about the vampire. The attacks only happened at night so it seemed that the vampire couldn't go out in daylight. Having seen the ghostly white demon he supposed this was true. The monster had the complexion of a milk bottle. The vampire wanted to take a piece out of his neck so that tied in with the murders so far and also with vampire folklore. It occured to him that maybe the things that the modern age had long since refused to believe in really existed after all.

Modern society had long since given up on the idea of such things as vampires. But what if, he thought, what if they actually did exist? He recalled a line from an old film 'The greatest thing the devil ever did was convince the world he didn't exist'. If such evil did exist and mankind was totally oblivious they would be sitting ducks. The city's people would be easy prey. This creature, this vampire would be having nightly slaughters and there would be nothing the unaware people could do to defend themselves. No, he told himself, this cannot happen. He looked at the other diners eating their fried breakfasts, cerial and flicking through tabloid and broadsheet newspapers. These people would be unsuspecting mice in the cat's sights.

Curtis was not unsuspecting. He had seen the jaws of the beast and he had survived. He was, he concluded, the only one who could make a stand. It would be good versus even, him against the vampire. He was afraid but he had no choice but to go on this crusade. What alternative was there? Turn a blind eye and hope lady luck favoured him and keep him alive while people died? That would be a worse fate. This was something he had to do. He left the cafe, leaving the diners to finish their breakfasts and newspaper crosswords. He had work to do.

He called into his local hardware store. Ignoring all the D.I.Y rubbish and the row upon  row of various types of bath tubs he went straight for the carpentry section. He filled the orange trolley full of 12 inch wooden stakes. He threw in a mallet for good measure. The term vampire had summoned images of Christopher Lee, he felt he was drifting into Peter Cushing, Van Helsing territory here.

Once back home he threw the carpentry into a large sports bag. He switched the kettle and his computer on. The kettle first. He spent the day drinking coffee and trawling the internet. Most of the stuff was no use at all, mainly film and book tributes. The only sites claiming to be factual were set up by people hooked on Anne Rice novels. They did all agree though that a vampire could be killed by driving a woodens stake through there hearts. Sorted. Curtis looked at the bag full of stakes in the corner of his lounge. He nodded.

At five he dialled out for a pizza. When it arrived forty minutes later he took and munched it over the computer. He leant back in the creaking typists chair as he ate, digesting both the pizza and the information rolling down the screen in front of him. He also visited the Greater Manchester Metropolitan Police web sites and checked out the details on the recent murders.

Rain tapped lightly at his window. The street was dark. He knew what that meant. The vampire would be stirring. The nocturnal beast would be rising and going out to feed. That meant Curtis would have to hit the streets to try and stop him. Throwing the sports bag on the floor in front of the passanger seat he started the car. His plan, if you could call it that, was to drive around the local streets hunting the hunter. All the attacks had occured in the same region so he figured that as he'd been unfortunate enough to come across the vampire once he should be able to find him again.

For two hours he drove slowly round the area. He made his way down the side streets, along stretches of quiet winding roads, up main roads and down back streets. He drove slower than he usually did. He was looking for anything suspicious. As he drove he kept one eye on the road and the other scanned the streets and alleyways. There was no sign of anything remotely resembling the vampire he had encountered the previous night. The only people on the streets were residents going about their business. Some walked their dogs, others struggled with numerous carrier bags bulging with groceries. Two hours of cruising the streets and nothing. He didn't know if he was glad about that or not. He wondered if he should go home. Where had driving round gotten him so far? As he waited for a set of traffic lights to change from red to amber he mulled it over. Sitting there drumming his fingers on the wheel. Once the light change, he decided, he was going home.

Because he was watching the lights, willing them to change, he didn't notice the figure by his passenger side door. He heard the passenger side door being pulled open and turned his attention away from the lights to see the figure sitting in the passenger seat pulling the door shut behind him.

'What are you doing?'

'You're looking for him, aren't you?'

'What?'

'The vampire!'

 

The stranger was probably in his mid thirties. He had high cheekbones which gave his face an elongated appearance. His thick dark hair was slicked back. He wore think rimless glasses. He was dressed all in black, a full length leather coat over sweat shirt and jeans. The lights changed from red to amber to green. Curtis didn't move. His head ran through all possibilities of what could happen if he pulled away with this guy in his car. The guy didn't seem to pose any kind of threat. In fact, he seemed the opposite. He decided to trust his gut feeling and take a chance. He looked the guy up and down one last time and went through the lights.

Back at the flat he made them both coffee. The stranger took his black with no sugar. They went through to the lounge. Curtis took his usual chair and invited his guest to take a seat on the sofa.

'My name is Beck, Mr Curtis.' he began. He looked around the room and sipped his coffee.

'I am interested in the occult. I have spent the last few years studying modern day vampirism. The majority of which you'll be pleased to know if nothing more than a product of teenage angst and a crutch to isolated individuals. The character you met the other night, however, is something quite different. He is as much a vampire as you are human.'

Curtis' living room was the largest room in the flat. It was where he spent most of his free time. In the centre sat his leather three piece suite. The walls were painted a cool blue colour and matched the blinds and carpet. Above the fireplace hung the only picture adorning the walls, an Edward Hopper painting. He had picked it up a few years ago when he'd first moved away from home. It portrayed a deserted gas station in back-water America. He'd been on the look out for a painting for his new place when he came across it in a small picture shop in the Royal Exchange arcade in Manchester city centre. As soon as he saw it he knew he'd found what he was looking for. To one side of the furniture crouched the television. It was a sleek silver number which perched on top of his games console and his digital television box.

If he would have had this converstation twenty four hours ago it would threw him completely. A day later his vision of the world had changed dramatically. Yesterday life was simple. Black and white, concrete. Now it was a murky world of grey shadows.

'I take it by your presence on the dark streets tonight, and by the stakes in your car that you were in search of the vampire which attacked you last night.'

Curtis was puzzled. This guy was certainly well informed.'

'How do you know about the attack?'

'I was driving the car which scared him off.'

'You-'

'I was on the look out after the previous night's murder and saw him go for you. I was going to take care of him when he fled.'

'How come you just left me there?'

'Well, I thought the last thing you needed was to hear about how close you came. Telling you it was exactly what you were afraid of.'

'And now?'

'You have obviously decided to tackle this monster, which is all very well and good but-'

'There's a but? I know the risks. I've been attacked by the thing once so I think that if I'm prepared and kitted out I stand a fighting chance. The way I see it I can't just do nothing. It's me against him.'

'I'm afraid it's a little more complicated than that. It isn't a high noon showdown between you and him. His name is Thorpe. He has been around for two hundred and fifty years according to records. He is a vampire in every sense of the word. He feeds on human blood and is compelled to feed. Sunlight would kill him, he is purely a nocturnal creature. A stake driven through his heart would also kill him. Some other ideas such as crucifixes and holy water, while I'm sure the vampire will not entirely relish these Christian artifacts, they will not have the effect that folklore and Hollywood has suggested.'

'You said it isn't me against him.'

'Quite. Thorpe is a wretched creature. A vampire. He is paving the way for a more powerful vampire. A purely evil being. This recent spate of attacks signals that he is preparing the way for a new era in vampire history. Foundations are being laid. Soon one will arrive which will see these murders increase two hundred fold. He is coming. The one they call October. And with him come many.'

Beck paused, letting his words sink in. A vampire was a lot to take in. The idea of a vampire would blow your mind, the suggestion of a plague of the creatures would take your head and shoulders with it. Curtis looked to the floor. Any courage and bravado desested him. He gulped the last of his coffee and put the empty mug on the carpet at his feet. He didn't register the taste. It could have been cold dishwater for the amount of notice he took. It was purely an automatic action.

His hands were shaking. He couldn't think. His brain felt like a computer ridden by viruses. He was almost oblivious to the visitor sitting on the sofa. His stomach rolled over and over. The sensation made him feel like he was on a roller coaster. His over-riding feeling was fear. He didn't want to die. Suddenly his life felt like a priceless commodity. Sure, he didn't have much. A nine to five office job, a small car, his own flat and his circle of family and friends. At that moment he would have given anything to have the peace of mind and security he had the day before.

Wanting to ease his torture Beck reached inside his coat and produced a silver hip flask. He reached over and placed it in Curtis' trembling hands. He told him to take a drink. He did as he was told gasping as the fiery liquor lined his throat. The spirit calmed Curtis' nerves slightly. His hands weren't shaking as much. Beck saw his moment and chose his words carefully.

'They must be stopped.' he held Curtis' gaze. 'We have to stop them. The repurcussions if they succeed do not bear thinking about. I want you to join me. Help me stop Thorpe and October.'

Still shaking Curtis took another swig from the hip flask. His options were to do nothing and let the evil creatures infest the city or he could work with the mysterious Beck and fight this evil. There was no decision to be made. For the second time in forty eight hours he felt backed into a corner. For the second time he decided to come out fighting.

'Okay.' he nodded. 'I'll do it.'

'Excellent.' Beck stood up. 'I'll be in touch.'

They shook hands and Beck went off into the night.

 

The next day Curtis phoned in work. He told them he was feeling a little better and that he hoped he'd be back soon. That was true enough. Although the idea of the task ahead of him still terrified him he was reassured by the fact that he wouldn't be on his own. It would be him and Beck. The eccentric Beck certainly seemed to know a lot about the vampires. He didn't seem unduly concerned either. Curtis spent the day trying to relax and keep his mind off things. He bought newspapers and watched daytime television. When he bored with that he played football games on his games console.

Just before eight that evening the phone rang. When he picked up Beck told him it was time and that he was on his way to pick him up. He told him to bring his sports bag and that he'd be there in five minutes. The line went dead as Curtis started to ask what was going to happen. He'd soon find out, he told himself as he put the receiver down.

Precisely five minutes later he heard a car horn sound outside. Throwing the strap of his bag over his shoulder he left his flat. Beck, again dressed in black, explained as he drove. He told Curtis that he'd tracked the vampires down to a derelict house on the edge of town. He was certain that was where Thorpe was operating from. He had a feeling that October's arrival was imminent.

They drove through the darkness. It could have been the wee hours of the morning judging by how dark it was. Curtis stared into the glow of the car's headlights. This is it, he told himself. Strangely he no longer felt gripped by the fear. He thought about where they were going and what might happen when they got there. Still no trepidation. He was excited and compelled and sure he was a little anxious but not scared out of his wits like he thought he would be. Like he should be, he thought. It felt like a toothache had gone. The throbbing torture that was the terror he had experienced over the past couple of days had subsided. It was like those soldiers on high risk missions behind enemy lines. When people ask if they had been scared when on these dangerous manouvers they invariably answer that they were not terrified, that they simply got on with the job in hand. They remained focused on the mission.

'We're here.' Beck said. He pulled the car over to the kerb.

Curtis leaned forward and peered through the windscreen. There were no streetlights nearby so he couldn't see much in the pitch black. He could make out an ancient two storey house on the left up ahead. They got out of the car and went to the boot. Beck popped the boot lid and pulled out a crossbow. Curtis was shocked. It struck him that Beck really meant business. This was no boyscouts' Hallowe'en camp out. He loaded a thin wooden stake in the crossbow's chamber and threw the bag full of stakes across his shoulder. Following his lead Curtis pulled a stake and the mallet from his bag before shouldering it.

They walked toward the house. It didn't get better the closer Curtis got to it. It was a two storey brick house topped off by a roof which came to three points. It  looked like every haunted house in every horror film he'd seen. The windows were either smashed or boarded up. The paint work was in such bad condition it looked like it dated back to the Renaissance. Curtis couldn't help thinking of the house the Addams family lived in. The area in front of the house was covered in long grass. A paved path ran the across from the garden gate to the front door.

He took a deep breath as Beck pushed open the rusting metal gate. All the concerns and fears had dulled. His main aim was to deal with these monsters. Fear was reduced to a single whisper in his ear. Beck lead the way slowly up the path. Curtis hung back at Beck's right shoulder. They  reached the front door.

Beck tried the handle. It gave and the door opened. He turned and gave Curtis a wicked grin. He told him they were in luck. One way of putting it, Curtis thought. He weilded the crossbow at shoulder level and forced the creaking door open. They entered the large hallway and closed the door behind them. The hall was dimly lit by tall, thin candles burning in their holder on a small wooden table. The yellow candle light flickered and shadows danced all around them. The hallway lead to a flight of stairs. At each side of the staircase were closed doors. The run down appearance of the exterior was matched by the hall and Curtis assumed the rest of the house. They crossed the ancient bare floor boards. The board creaked and groaned quietly to themselves as the two tresspassers progressed.

Curtis was reminded of a haunted house ride he went on when he was a child. Visiting the funfair in North Wales had beed the highlight of his holidays. He had been sick on the Waltzer, bashed about on the dodgems and scared silly by the Haunted Mansion. He loved it. The memory was as sweet as the candy floss he had gorged himself on. He could almost smell the fried onions smell of the hot dog stands. Where he was now was no fun fair ride.

Aside from the candles on the table he could see no furnishings. The wallpaper had been turned grey by the decades of dust. Curtis could make out rectangular patches on the walls where pictures and paintings had once hung. In places holes in the wall revealed thin wooden strips. They looked like the ribs of the house. There was a musty smell about the place. He wondered if that was from the decaying building or because of the latest tennants. As he breathed in he thought could taste the dust in his breath, getting into his lungs.

Beck pointed to the door to the left of the stairs. They went up to the door. It was solid wood and gave no indication of what lay on the other side. Beck kicked the door open with all his weight and they charged into the room. Beck waved his crossbow to the left and right. Like a soldier he swung his weapon side to side in the hope that should he sight the enemy he would be able to take them out before they could do anything.

They had entered a large sitting room. A further set of candles cast their glow from the dust-covered rotting matlepiece to their left. The walls and the floor were in a similar condition to the hallway. It reminded Curtis of Miss Havisham's room in Great Expectations. The house was like a bad tooth, decaying and rotting around them. There was no furniture in the room. The last occupants must have taken everything with them and house pride was not on the new tennants list of virtues.

The room was empty of people, living, dead or otherwise. The large window in front of them was boarded up from the outside. In the right corner of the room there was a door leading off to another room. The door was ajar. The candle-light didn't stretch into the other room. Whatever lay beyond the doorway was shrouded in darkness. There could have been anything peering out from the darkness in the doorway concealed by the gloom. He turned to Beck. As he turned he heard Beck swear. He followed his gaze and saw a figure rushing towards them from the doorway.

The woman gave the cat-like hiss that Curtis had seen on her fellow vampire, fangs showing. She had thick dark hair which trailed after her like a veil. Her complexion was white and waxy, eyes devil-red and her expression was crazed. She wore an old-fashioned burgundy dress which looked like something from a BBC period drama. Her hands reached out ahead of her. Her bare feet tapped lightly on the floorboards as she flew toward them. Curtis couldn't move. It was like a hypnotist had him under and had told him his limbs weighed a ton. Beck took a step forward, gritted his teeth. He aimed his crossbow, left hand keeping his weapon steady. Squeezed the trigger. The stake flew across the room with a whirring sound. It hit the vampire in the chest and she was forced backwards. She landed on the floor with a crash. Beck reloaded his crossbow and went over to where his victim lay. Curtis snapped out of his spell and stood by Beck.

The vampire was dead. Curtis was in no doubt about that. The red glow in her eyes had dimmed and they stared at the heavens. As they watched her body started decomposing. The flesh on her body aged and then began to wither and rot. Death had finally caught up with her. Within a minute there was nothing left except bare bones lying on the floor boards. Curtis didn't feel any sympathy for the creature. He couldn't explain why not. Maybe it was because the creature had been a predator, a monster preying on the unsuspecting, so its death meant it couldn't kill any more.

Beck grabbed the candle-stick holder on the mantlepiece. Using it to light the way he nodded for Curtis to follow him. They crossed the room to the door to their right. They moved slowly giving the floor boards at their feet as little reason to creak as possible. The door had been ajar. It was now wide open after the vampire had rushed through it. Beck held the candles out in front of him and went through the door. Curtis was right behind him. They were in a small kitchen area. Windows ran down one side of the tiny room. Most of them were boarded up. Boards were missing in places and the dark night took their place. A kitchen sink which could have dated back to the second World War was the only remaining fitting in the room. Satisfied there was no-one in the room they retreated back through the sitting room. The room at the right of the stairs was a similar sitting room to that they had just encountered. It was also free from vampires.

Beck kept hold of the candles and they made their way up the stairs. The stairs were over looked by a narrow landing. At the top of the stairs there was three doors and behind them down the narrow landing was a final door. They rushed through the three doors, one at a time. Although there were no vampires in these chambers there were several coffins. They were ancient, ornate objects made of dark wood and had heavy silver handles. Beck pushed the lids back on them all but they were all empty.

They crossed the narrow landing towards the final door. They heard the sound of a door handle being turned. The door opened in front of them. A tall male vampire wearing a black suit walked out on to the landing. He grinned when he saw them. He ran at them. Beck was in front of Curtis. He slashed at the vampire with the candlestick. The vampire blocked his attack with his forearm. The force sent the canldestick clattering down the stairs. Without the candlestick the landing was plunged into near total darkness.  The vampire caught Beck with a fist to the head. In reply he half turned away and spun back with an elbow to the jaw. The vampire leapt up in the air and went for Beck's head with his boot. Beck ducked the way a prize-fighter bobs under the blows from his opponent, dropping the crossbow as he did so. The vampire's kick sailed over the top of his head. As the creature landed in front of him Beck grabbed him and  threw him off the landing. Beck grabbed his weapon and leaned over the landing rail. The vampire had landed on his back. He glared at Beck. Before the vampire could move Beck fired a wooden stake into his chest. The vampire gave a deep cry, hands clawing at the air. A second later his arms dropped to his side. A minute later he was a pile of bones on the stairs.

Curtis turned as he heard footsteps from behind him. Another vampire was coming for him.  It was a male vampire dressed in similar attire to the creature they had just taken care off. Curtis was getting used to being grinned at by the hissing, blood-thirsty attackers. Beck fumbled at his bag. He needed a stake to load in his crossbow. Curtis knew what he had to do. He ran towards the vampire screaming as he went. As he reached the monster he raised the stake in his left hand to chest height. He swung the mallet in his right hand away from him and then pulled it back towards him and hammered the stake into the vampire. The creature perished on the floor where he had stood. They crossed the landing in the darkness and checked the last room.  This room was again lit by candle light and contained three large coffins. All the coffins were empty. Beck said it was time to go.

They were still on their guard as they made their way down the stairs, Beck's crossbow darting to and fro, Curtis gripping his mallet and stake tight. They pulled the front door shut behind them as they left. After throwing their weapons in the boot they climbed in the car. They were both silent as they made their way back to Curtis' flat. Beck concentrated his attention on driving and Curtis could do nothing but stare out the window into the night with the vampire he had killed stalking his thoughts.

 

Back at the flat Curtis poured them both a large whiskey. As they entered the lounge he knocked the switch on his stereo. A radio DJ's voice seeped into the room. The voice talked controversial nonsense in an over the top Mancunian accent. Curtis needed a bit of background noise. He felt better once the radio was on and he sipped his whiskey. Maybe having the radio chatter in the background told his racing subconscience that it wasn't just the two of them. Beck took a deep breath before he spoke.

'We did well tonight. Their number has been reduced. The vampires we took out are bit players. We need to deal with Thorpe who is the supporting actor to October's lead role. The volume of coffins and indeed the vampires we encountered tonight confirms my suspicions. October is in residence. He acts like a beacon to other vampires. As time passes more of them will gather. We must act swiftly. These creatures feed at night and rest during daylight hours. Because of our efforts last night they are weakened so now we must attack by day. Get some sleep. Come by my house in the morning and we'll get straight to work. Here's the address.'

He handed Curtis a folded piece of paper. He took it and nodded. After he had showed Beck out he took a long shower. He stood under the downpour and let the hot water massage the back of his neck. Leaving the radio talking away to itself he went to bed.

He woke at six o'clock the next morning. After getting washed and dressed he munched a bowl of cerial in front of the television. The breakfast news focused on the horrific murders across a certain area of Manchester. Curtis didn't need telling it was centred around his town. The report included an interview with a police inspector. The man in his fifities wore a moustache which looked older. He looked stony faced as he warned people in the area to stay indoors after dark and to ensure their premises were securely locked.  The report mentioned that there were one hundred and thirty five murders the previous night. It also had soundbites from terrified members of the public. Young and old, men and women, they were all universally afraid of the nightly attacks. One young girl had tears streaming down her cheeks as she told of how she had not been able to sleep since the attacks started.

Curtis hung his head. He just wanted this to be over. He wished he could fast forward however long it would take and come out the other side when everything was back to normal. For it to be over it would mean returning to that ghastly house when all the occupants were home and dealing with them. He switched the television off and reached for his car keys and Beck's address.

He lived in a terraced house on the other side of town. He was there in five minutes. The traffic in his small town at this time in the morning was next to nothing. An hour later the rush hour would be in full force and it would be a different story all together. He pulled his car over behind Beck's and checked the house number. Forty-two. He pushed open his iron front gate. He looked up at the house and a chill ran icy fingers down his back. The front door was wide open. Beck didn't need any police officer to tell him to lock his doors so the fact the door was not just unlocked but open was a really bad sign.

. Curtis felt sick. He could almost feel the knots tying his stomach up.

He ran into the house. He rushed down the hallway and into the first room he came to. It was the lounge. The room had a stereo, a television and the most books Curtis had seen outside of a library. Volumes packed tight into tall wooden bookshelves and the overspill stacked in piles all over the room. The room was a mess. The settee was on its back and the coffee table was in pieces. It didn't take Columbo to figure out there had been a struggle. Beck was lying face down in the middle of the room. Curtis went to his side. With a cautious hand he pushed him over onto his back. His ally had died with a tortured expression on his face. Eyes wide. There were teeth marks on the left side of his neck. It looked like it might have been a dog bite. Curtis was certain which animal had taken him. Emotion swelled in Curtis's throat. He swallowed as his eyes tried to get his brain to register the scene in front of him.

He felt fury. A rage like he had never known gripped him. He could sense his jaw tighten. He reached down and gently closed the body's eyelids. As he straightened he saw Beck's crossbow and bag of stakes.

'Time to finish what we started.'

 

He pulled the car up at the same place as the night before. The house didn't look any better in daylight. It looked bad. A house was an inanimate object but he felt that the house too had been corrupted by the secret it kept. It just looked wrong. He couldn't pinpoint exactly why, it just did. He marched quickly up the path and pushed his way through the door. A sense of purpose drove him on. The inside of the house was dark because of the boarded windows, the light outside meant he could see quite well. It was like when he drew his heavy curtains during the day. The ground floor rooms were empty. He took them slowly one by one, handling the crossbow the way Beck had.

As he put his foot on the first step of the staircase it creaked. He stopped. Aimed the crossbow at the top of the stairs. He took the stairs on step at a time. The doors to the three rooms at the top of the stairs were open. He couldn't remember if they had left them like that. There had been two of them yesterday. He had followed Beck's lead, only stepping in when Beck was struggling. Now however, he was on his own. He wondered who would cover him should anything bad happen. The thought of Beck lying in his home urged him on, he wanted revenge.

He went for the room directly at top of the stairs. The lids of the coffins were correctly in place. This was definitely not how they had left them. He went to the nearest of the three. He reached for a stake. Putting the crossbow at his feet he used the palm of his free hand to push back the lid of the coffin. He eased the lid back far enough to reveal the chest upwards of the occupant. The male vampire looked similar to the others and wore a suit which looked like something worn in the nineteen hundreds. His eyes were closed and the fangs were hidded by pale lips. Curtis grasped the stake in both hands. He raised it high above his head. The creature opened his eyes. Curtis slammed the stake as hard as he could into the vampire's chest. The vampire groaned quietly and shook violently. A second later the shaking had stopped and the body began to rot. Curtis did the same to the other monsters in the two coffins. His mind was focused hard, pure concentration. If he'd have been asked what day it was he would have struggled to come up with an answer.

The other rooms at the top of the stairs were the same. Coffins occupied by sleeping vampires. He caught the monsters napping and drove his stakes home hard. They must have been worn out after the previous night's feed, he thought. He was determined it would  be their last. He turned towards the room across the landing. The narrow landing seemed a mile long. He loaded a stake in the crossbow and held it at his chest. He crossed the landing in slow paces. He reached the door. He turned the handle and slowly opened the door.

The first thing he registered was that the lids were off the caskets. He saw two figures. As soon as he saw the figures in the dim light one of them flew towards him. Before he could fire a stake the creature flew at him kicking the crossbow out of his hands. His weapon clattered to the floor and slid across the room away from him. Curtis landed on his back, on the bag of stakes strapped to him,  in the corner of the room near the door. The vampire, still on his feet despite the almost acrobatic leap across the room, came and stood over him. He wore a black suit, the high lapels on the jacket folding under the black shirt and tie. Curtis looked at the vampire's face. He breathed in sharply. It was Thorpe.

'Good to see you again. Glad you could drop by.' He spoke without an accent. The vampire grinned.

'We've got unfinished business.' Curtis spat in reply.

 

 The vampire grabbed him and dragged him to his feet. He held him tight by the collar, lifted him on his toes. Grinned an angry grin. He had been here before and lived another day, Curtis told himself.  He heard footsteps and the second figure appeared at his side to his right. This vampire was dressed in a black frock coat with a white shirt underneath. He had no hair on his head and wore a thick, black goatee beard. He was around the same height as Thorpe and just as pale.

'This is October.' Thorpe proundly announced. 'Where he treads hundreds will follow.'

'The numbers you are seeing now is a drop in the ocean compared to what is to come.' October continued in a deep husky voice, also with a distinct lack of accent.

'What you are witnessing now is the- how can I put it- the rare cases before the epidemic.'

 

Curtis rumaged quickly through his pockets. He had to do something. He found a pen in his jacket pocket. Perfect. He stabbed Thorpe in his eye with the pen. He screamed and both his hands went to his face. Curtis dived away from them and towards his crossbow. He reached out and picked up his weapon. He turned back to face them both. Before Thorpe could move Curtis fired his weapon. Thorpe swore as his chest was punctured by the stake. He hit the floor hard and turned to bones. October was standing across the room, frozen like a criminal in police headlights.

Curtis pulled a stake from his bag and glanced down as he loaded it into his crossbow. When he looked up again October was gone. Weilding the crossbow he left the room. He went into the first room he came to slowly. He peered into the dark room. He heard creaking floorboards in the hall. Curtis turned. October appeared in the doorway. He fired at his chest. The vampire caught the stake as it got to him. He snapped it in half and threw it to the floor. They charged at each other.

Curtis swung his fist at the creature's jaw. For all the vampire's reaction he might as well have hit him with a pillow. October leapt in the air and kicked Curtis hard in the chest with the side of his foot. The blow sent him reeling across the room. He hit the boards covering the windows and pain ran down his back. He slumped at the bottom of the window. He was racked with pain. It felt like he had been hit by a car. He felt as though his ribs had been smashed from the kick and the boards at the window were not the best thing to stop his flight. The vampire walked towards him grinning. His hands turned out in front of him as if to taunt him, asking him what he was going to do now.

'This is it, my young friend. My kind will rule this world. You are powerless to stop me. You of course will not see these days. Your life will be a memory, as will all of mankind.'

'That's not going to happen. It's over.' Curtis rose to his feet.

October stood in front of him. Curtis slammed his elbow behind him into the plank of wood boarding up the window. Already weakened when it broke his fall it fell away. Pure white sunlight flooded the room. Curtis stood aside letting the beam envelope October completely. He screamed as the light touched him. The daylight ignited the vampire and he burst into flames. He shook and kicked and cried. Curtis watched as the creature fell to the floor. It stopped moving and the flames died down. Ashes were all that was left. A breeze came in through the window and stirred the dark ash. He left the crossbow and the ashes littering the floor and left the room.

Curtis ran down the stairs and out of the house. He stopped as he got to the street. He saw the normal buzz of people. He couldn't help smiling. Rain started to fall from the grey, overcast skies. He stood on the street for a second. It was over. He had vanquished the most terrifying thing he had come across. He felt a pang of regret about being unable to save Beck but that was overshadowed by a sense of pride that he had managed to finish what they both started.

He climbed in his car and started the engine. For the first time in what seemed like an age he could breath easy. It was over he told himself again. He sighed. He had his life back. He had a future to look forward to. He was excited about small things, seeing friends, watching football with his family. The past few days had been a wake-up call, he felt like Scrooge on Christmas morning. He couldn't say what exactly his future would hold but it was going to be interesting he was sure of that. He pulled out from the kerb and made his way down the street.


© Copyright 2019 CTPlatt. All rights reserved.

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