Frank and Gordon in: Our Vampires Are Different

 

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Several disparate things were on Frank’s mind that night (the move into his new rent-controlled apartment with his friend Gordon, the threat that any day now Gordon was going to introduce him to this mysterious new and weirdly passive-aggressive and sort of goth girl he had been “seeing,” whatever that means, why did he really need half a year’s rent for a deposit, why was the super so spooky, those sorts of things), so he could have been forgiven for the lack of attentiveness that led him to being bitten by a werewolf.

He barely reached the steps to his walk-up before a large wolf-like beast that could walk on its hind legs jumped out from a nearby hedge and bit him on the neck. He wasn’t sure if it was a werewolf at first; it certainly looked like a werewolf, he thought, but vampires are the ones that usually bite people on necks. Soon after the attack, however, his assailant was happy to clear up any confusion, as he immediately helped him to his feet and offered a huge furry paw for him to shake.

—Hello! I’m a werewolf! And now, so are you! Isn’t that wonderful?

Doing the best he could to staunch the profuse flow of blood from his jugular with the other hand, Frank took the wolf’s paw and shook it. No need to burn any bridges just yet.

—I don’t see what’s so wonderful about it. I’m no longer human, aren’t I? And there’s blood all over this shirt, it was my favorite.

—Oh, I’m sorry. I hope you’re not mad at me. Also, I wouldn’t put too much more stock in that shirt, it’s gonna get torn to shreds once you turn completely.

—I guess I’m not mad necessarily. It’s just that, in our world, we usually greet people politely before we attack them. So, let me guess. All the regular werewolf stereotypes apply? Change into a beast at the light of the full moon, rampage around town mauling people to death until one person shoots me with a silver bullet?

—Sounds about right. You’d better avoid all your friends and family for now, and anyone you’ve ever cared for. There’s no telling what you might do to them.

—I guess that’s not such a big deal, I’m single and I really only have one friend. Still, I would have liked the option, I mean later on…

—It’s not so bad. It is possible to sustain a healthy relationship with your family, it’s just a little more difficult.

The beast reached into his back pocket (he was wearing a suit, torn to shreds, no doubt a consequence of his harrowing monthly transformation) and produced a wallet, showing me a tastefully-photographed portrait of what looked like his family. There he was, in wolf form, posing with his lovely young wife and child, each of them, despite grisly claw wounds spanning the width of each of their faces, smiling to the camera.

—Sometimes I lose control, and if they happen to be near me they get the brunt of it, unfortunately. By now they understand that if I hurt them once in a while, I still love them, I just can’t help myself sometimes.

—You know, I’m not entirely sure I’m comfortable with this at all.

—Well, you don’t have much of a choice in the matter. I did just turn you into a werewolf. You know, you’d be surprised how much fun you can have as a monstrous beast with no control over his id. Let me show you.

The beast sat on his haunches and let out a loud howl at the moon, which was followed by several howls from far away.

—I just called my friends, we can go hunting soon. Is there anyone you really hate?

—Well… my boss is kind of a jerk, but…

—Great! What do you say we go and murder him? It’ll be fun, and best of all, completely consequence-free! You won’t be able to help yourself at all!

—What are you talking about? You just made the conscious decision to..

And then the transformation began (it being a full moon when Frank was bit, and he now a werewolf, he was of course bound to transform into one as well as any others like him). Nothing new to describe here; anyone who’s seen a werewolf movie, or indeed a real werewolf, knows what happened to Frank, as he grew a few sizes in height and strength, tore through his clothes, grew fur and fangs and howled up a ruckus until he generally looked the part of half human and half demonic wolf.

That night, Frank the werewolf, with the rest of his pack of demonic demi-beasts, tracked down the large suburban house where his boss lived and slaughtered everyone inside with tooth and claw, which also included a wife, three children and several cats and dogs. Frank’s boss was planning a little cocktail soiree with a few of his colleagues and their friends and family; unfortunately for them they met the same fate as Frank’s employer. The pack then rooted through the man’s rooms in the house, and to their surprise they found that he had, in the year 2018, an actual rolodex, so even though the amount of bloodshed they caused was unprecedented even for some of the more experienced werewolves among them, in the end they really didn’t feel too bad about it. Anyway, Frank remembered a few of them taking down even more names from the rolodex, and then the rest of the night became a blur of breaking down doors, gnawing and slicing throats open and chomping off limbs whole in one bite. In all, a little over two hundred people met their grisly ends that night before one of the pack gingerly patted Frank on the back and said nice job newbie, we’ll see you back here next month.

One should not feel any repugnance toward Frank’s actions, however, because of course all of them were completely unintentional, and Frank had no control over himself whatsoever.

*

Frank came out of a groggy stupor the next morning and found himself on his bed, his clothes torn to shreds (as promised by his new friend) and covered in mostly-human blood. He appeared to be alone in the place, so without bothering to change out of his werewolf clothes he ambled into the kitchen and made himself a pot of coffee.

He barely finished stirring the half and half into his hot mug before a young woman, long black hair, impractical black clothes, greeted Frank with a long silent stare and an expression of abject terror. Frank took a sip of coffee and reached out a hand to shake.

—Oh, hello. I’m Frank. You must be…

The woman neither shook Frank’s hand nor made any reply to his polite icebreaker.

—…um, the girl Gordon’s been seeing for a while. He’s told me so… um, not much about you…

She interrupted him with a horrible shriek, like a housewife who just saw a mouse, but instead of grabbing a broom and trying to swat Frank away, she turned tail and, pulling her long gothic black hair and still shrieking, jumped through the nearest window. Well, maybe not jumped through, per se; she had to push open the top panel and kick out the insect screen, but she managed to throw herself out of the third-story window well enough.

Frank took a moment to be appropriately baffled by this display of hysteria before he ambled to the open window and looked out. The strange woman landed on the pavement, in that really cool way where you sort of kneel down on one knee and also catch your weight with one fist to the ground as you land, and then scurried away, as she unfurled a jet-black and extremely goth-looking umbrella to shield her from the clear skies of the day.

—Oh no, what happened to your shirt? It was your favorite…

Frank turned around and saw Gordon, still in his comparably-more-intact pajamas, holding his own cup of coffee which he no doubt started to help himself to from Frank’s initial pot before hearing the commotion through the window.

—Hey Gordon. Do you know who that…

—She’ll be fine. What happened to you?

—Well, I… wait, what do you mean she’ll be fine?

—And what’s with all the blood? Oh gosh, look at all that blood…

—Oh, uh, it’s from about a hundred or so people I mauled to death. Don’t worry though, the pack I was with assures me I am a hundred percent completely not liable in any legal or moral way whatsoever, as I had no control in any way over my actions…

—Wait, did you say pack?

—Yeah, so uh, I guess I was bitten by a werewolf yesterday. It was a full moon out last night, and well you know…

—Oh no… Yeah, this is starting to make a lot of sense now.

Gordon went to the open window and looked out. His girlfriend had not gone far since the tumble, and due to that bitchin’ black umbrella, along with a magnificent and extremely gothic black cape flowing behind her in the gentle breeze of the day, and her continuous screeches, interrupted every moment or so by (even from the window) a noticeable limp in her gait, she was not hard to spot.

—So Frank, uh… the thing is… I’m a vampire.

—…what?

—It’s true. I’m a creature of the night, one of the undead, nosferatu. Cursed by the light, I dwell in the shadows and subsist only on human blood, for all eternity.

—You’re drinking coffee, Gordon.

—And, erm… and coffee, sometimes. Look.

Gordon pulled down the collar of his pajama shirt with one finger to reveal two small puncture wounds by his neck.

—So wait a minute. You’re not fucking with me, you’re really a vampire? What do you even do as a vampire?

—Well, ever since Mina and I met and she turned me…

—Her name’s Mina?

—Ever since Mina turned me we just kind of sit around in the dark, and talk about how we’re vampires, and how we’re lonely because we’re immortal because we can’t go out in the sun and we can’t be attached to other mortal beings, and how we only have each other, for all time. Then she sleeps in the closet upside down and I, well, sleep on my bed.

—She just ran outside, it’s seventy degrees and clear skies outside.

—Oh man, I hope she remembered her umbrella then… Look, all of that is beside the point. You’re a werewolf, Frank. And werewolves and vampires are mortal enemies. Vampires can’t stand werewolves and Mina would freak if she found out I was living with one. Which… I guess is exactly what happened.

—So what now?

—Well, I guess either Mina is going to summon as many hordes of vampires in her coven as she can to storm our walls and slay the were-beast befouling and defiling with his mere presence the domicile of a decent upstanding vampire, or… you move out.

Move out, Frank balked to himself, move out?! He just got here! The place was rent-controlled! He had already put down five months of rent as a deposit! Where was he going to go in this area of town, in this market? And how was he going to afford it, since he probably didn’t have a job any more on account of his gruesomely murdering his employer the night before (not that we should fault him for that).

—I’m not going anywhere! It’s bad enough there are werewolves out there who think they can bite whoever they want, I’m not putting up with vampires too!

—I think you have to. They’re going to come for us as soon as the sun sets.

—Well then, let’s get rid of them before they even get a chance to step inside.

—You mean, slay them? I don’t know, I mean… it’s a big job, a calling even. Once you slay your first vampire it’s hard to ever stop. Do we know what their weaknesses are?

—Yes, Gordon. As I have experienced a popular culture on the Western hemisphere of what is known as planet earth, I therefore do know what a vampire’s weaknesses are. Crosses, garlic, stake to the heart and chop off their head. Simple.

With that, Frank began, being the only one among them who could venture into the sun (Gordon’s umbrella broke in a strong wind a few rainy days ago and he hadn’t had a chance in a while to replace it), their preparations for their defense against whatever vampire hordes Mina could muster before nightfall. First, a trip to the Merchant Joseph’s to get as much fresh garlic as Frank could manage. Garlands of garlic bulbs strewn about the doors and windows, over each room, diced garlic sprinkled liberally across the rooms, garlic salt spilled on the floor and on doorknobs, even a dab of garlic oil atop the front door in the hopes that all vampire hordes would pass over their residence for another.

Next were the appropriately-blessed crucifixes and vials of holy water. Frank found a gift shop in a nearby iglesia that was selling them pretty cheap and it was also on the way home, but the staff in the shop wouldn’t let him purchase the stuff in bulk without converting to Catholicism. The baptism, while long, a little tedious, and mostly conducted in Spanish, was otherwise painless.

The service didn’t leave him a lot of time before the sun was to set, so he hurried to a small hardware store and picked up a couple two by fours, a hatchet, a bow saw, and some coarse-grain sandpaper. He figured between the saw or the hatchet he could make a decent stake for Gordon and himself, and when it came to cross the bridge of cutting off heads, well, either of those could also do the job fine as well.

*

It turned out neither Frank or Gordon were strong enough to cut any of the planks into reasonable stakes with the bow saw, and once the sun had set they had only managed to hack off a couple wedges, cumbersome and splintery (there was no time to sand any of them down) but with a decent point at the end nonetheless.

Their preparations more or less complete, the two friends stood in their living room and waited, stake and cross in each hand, a holy-water booby trap hovering over their door, and the whole room reeking of garlic.

—Wait. Aren’t they not allowed to come in here unless they get invited by us?

—I’m afraid that will do us no good. I invited Mina a week ago, and since Mina effectively lives here she can invite however many vampires she wants.

As if they were the devil, and as if someone spoke of them, a vampire burst through the front door of Frank and Gordon’s apartment, followed by a handful of others like him. The leader entered first, and not expecting a bucket of holy water to spill onto him, stood frozen in his tracks for a moment. He let out, not a shriek of agony, but a laugh, or one of those laughs that also sounds like weeping and it’s not at all clear which until the laugher or weeper calms down a little bit and provides some context.

—Look at this, guys! Holy water.

So it was laughter after all. As the other vampires seemed to be more concerned with mocking Frank and Gordon’s preparations than with actually attacking them (at this point the subordinate vampires wandered around the room, snapping ineffectual crosses in half and throwing away strands of garlic bulbs while muttering to themselves in derision), the two friends dropped their guard.

—Why are you laughing, instead of screaming in pain as the holy water burns you into oblivion?

—Because, you bunch of amateurs, we’re not that kind of vampire!

—We’re the vampires from that gay little community theater! And our vampires are different!

(It should be noted that this vampire said the word gay, not as a slur against the LGBT community, nor in that generally offensive way that means something is uncool, effeminate, or undesirable in other ways, but in the sense that they actually were a community theatrical troupe made up of gay, lesbian, and transgender vampires. Upon noticing them a little better, Frank did notice a preponderance toward camp with the coven’s costume design, if not sporting some completely bitchin’ vampire goth like Mina’s totally sweet vampire getups.)

—Yeah. Crosses, holy water, garlic. All that stuff is bullshit.

—We’re the kinds of vampires that drink blood, and live forever, and walk at night and sleep in coffins in the day. We can’t be out when the sun’s up, true, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time when the sun’s down!

—Though it can get lonely sometimes, seeing regular people around us age and have normal lives, while we remain unchanged…

—And you do have to be careful who you want to turn, cause you’re going to be stuck with them forever…

—But we have nothing to do with the devil, and to be honest there’s probably no such thing as the devil.

—Right, we get our vampirism from the curse of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh and her queen who were devotees of a heretical imported Sumerian death cult who worshipped a cosmic blood goddess.

—Yeah! None of that superstitious Catholic mumbo-jumbo. We’re serious vampires here…

While the vampires were speaking to the two friends, none them noticed a man, a hefty beer gut held aloft by a dingy tucked-in muscle shirt, and a face that one could not imagine having anything other than a frown of detached resignation, saunter up to a light-switch near the front door and switch on the last one.

A set of faint blue lights suddenly turned on all throughout the apartment, and the vampires met this new light with horrified shrieks. Most of them tried scurrying out of the front door, but those among them who were a little slower than their compatriots, or those who accidentally tripped over some others, eventually burst into flames. The mysterious man, without missing a beat and letting out a sigh and a roll of his eyes, produced a fire extinguisher and snuffed out the dying vampires as their compatriots left them behind.

Once the room was clear and there was only the smell of charred vampire flesh left, they saw Mina had stayed behind, and once she saw her coven of vampires from the gay little community theater had fallen she let out another blood-curdling shriek and limped toward the window, once again leaping out into the night. The strange man then dropped the extinguisher and gave Frank and Gordon a wave.

—Not sure if we met. I’m the super here.

—I’m Gordon, this is Frank. Wha… what did you do to them?

The super pointed toward the ceiling, before walking over to the switch and turning off the special lights.

—UV bulbs. The closest we’re gonna get to sunlight indoors.

—Gee… thanks, sir.

The super left the apartment with a shrug.

—Don’t thank me. It’s coming out of your deposit.

*

The next morning Frank and Gordon sat together in the living room, sharing another pot of coffee.

—Alright. Well, at least we know the rules for these vampires. I mean, I wish I knew them before I got baptized, but…

—Maybe we should tell the landlord. At least ask the super for advice. It looks like Mina is going to try to bring more vampires over…

—Hell no. I put like five months of rent down in this place, I don’t want to lose anymore by involving any of them. Besides, that super gives me the creeps.

—I dunno, he’s only been a help to us so far…

—Look, we don’t need them. We don’t even need to stock up on anything. One of us just has to stand guard for half the night and when they show up, bam, turn the UV on them.

—We may want to stock up on fire extinguishers then…

At that, the doors burst open once again, and a flood of vampires poured into the apartment. Frank immediately rose from his seat and scrambled to the lightswitch, while Gordon looked on at them in puzzlement.

—Wait… it’s not even nine am, how did they…

The lights came on, and once again the coven of vampires erupted in laughter. Instead of bursting into flames as the vampires from the night before did, they reflected the light into several tiny facets, as if made entirely of cheap department-store diamond.

—Hah! UV lights, what a bunch of amateurs.

—You… you sparkle? You don’t burn up in the sun?

—Of course we sparkle! If we burnt up in the sun, how would we go to school?

—Ah, go easy on them, maybe they’re just used to what they see on TV…

—Well, they should forget about all that. Our vampires are different…

—…who are you talking to?

—The sunlight merely shows our true form. We have heightened senses, agility and strength, and while we’ve been known to feast on human blood from time to time, it’s not necessary.

—Holy water and garlic obviously have no effect on us…

To prove this point one of the vampires produced a slice of white garlic pizza, took a bite with gusto and chewed before spitting it out, as a sommelier would a glass of wine.

—If there’s one thing we can’t stand though, it’s…

The super snuck behind the vampire interlocutor and brought an aluminum baseball bat down on his head. His head shattered like porcelain, and the others were so shocked by this display of violence they scattered out of the apartment; at least those who could outrun the super’s assaults.

—He was going to say werewolves. They can’t stand werewolves.

Mina stood by alone once again, and upon hearing the word werewolves let out a horrible shriek and made toward the window. However, the injuries from her prior stumble out the window made it necessary to have her fitted with a cast on her leg and given a set of crutches, which made it difficult to first reach the window (the crystalline shards of former vampire of course made it difficult for her to have much traction on the floor with her crutches); then, once she did reach the window her crutches made it difficult for her to open it, so she simply knocked out the glass with the blunt end of her crutch and leaped out, extremely gothically.

The two friends said nothing for a while, then Gordon pointed to the shards of vampire on the floor.

—…I don’t understand. How did you kill that one?

—I dunno. The original author never really made it clear. Any blunt object seems to work on them though.

—Wow. How do you know so much about vampires?

The super left the room with a shrug, brandishing the metal bat about.

—I just hate vampires, that’s all.

*

Frank and Gordon spent the hours of six thirty am to about quarter after nine, and then from about two pm up until sunset (as that window of time in the morning to just after noon was most likely when the vampires would be preoccupied with their school studies), taking turns guarding the front door to their apartment with baseball bats, crowbars, and croquet mallets (Gordon had a bunch of croquet mallets, don’t ask). The vampires seemed to take an immoderate pleasure in being able to walk in the daytime, and therefore the two friends figured their best chance of defense would be when the sun was up, and thereby when the vampires would have a chance to gloat.

Imagine Frank and Gordon’s surprise when, barely a moment after the sun fully descended below the horizon as foretold by the official almanacs, a swarm of vampires once again invaded the apartment, with the mad Mina howling behind them. These vampires were far uglier than the first couple batches, a misshapen lizard-like face and mutated proportions accompanied each of the vampire’s bared fangs.

Gordon bravely charged against the vampire’s leader and brought down a croquet mallet on his head, which was, once again, met with raucous laughter.

—A croquet mallet! Look at these amateurs, they think we’re still in high school or something!

—Hah! Little do they know that we’re actually a coven of malevolent blood-sucking fiends, cursed by an incantation from an ancient Aztec ritual!

—…so I’m guessing these vampires are going to be…

—That’s why our vampires are different!

—…thought so.

—We skulk around a seedy dive bar and attract bad people. Criminals, bikers, truckers, you know the type. Every night we feast on the blood of the dregs of society, and only the blessings of a true servant of God can do anything to us!

—Yeah, and you look nothing like a true servant of God! You don’t even have any weird hangups about sexuality, let alone…

They were once again interrupted by the super, who carried up to the front door of the apartment a bucket of mop water. He set the bucket on the floor, made a sign of benediction and muttered in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Having blessed the water, he kicked it toward the lead snakelike vampire, who shrieked in agony and melted into a green goop.

The unlucky vampire’s comrades all scattered, as before with the other covens, leaving only Mina to stay behind and shriek over their loss. She wheeled herself over to the window with her new knee walker, took a minute to open the glass panel before doing a sort of awkward somersault off the walker, through the open window and flat on her back on the ground. Pulling herself onto her feet the best she could she hobbled and screamed deeper into the night. Everyone who saw her do it that night agreed among themselves, it was very goth.

The super and the two friends ignored Mina, however, and instead looked to the floor, in which the melted vampire corroded a human-shaped hole straight through, and could see the guest below them looking back up at them. The super brought his attention back to Frank and Gordon, and before they had a chance to ask, as if he knew they were probably going to anyway, told them:

—I’m also a priest. I got ordained about five years ago, it’s no big deal.

*

Many disparate things were racing through Frank’s mind as he stood in line once again at The Merchant Joseph’s, with yet again another shopping basket full of garlic cloves, garlic-infused oil, and garlic salt.

He had left the apartment in a huff, and didn’t even care to wait for the super to come and bail them out, when the latest wave of vampires crashed their apartment. He was so furious he barely remembered what he said or did when he found out the holy water traps dripped harmlessly on them, and crucifixes failed to drive them away in terror. These vampires, you see, were different.  You had to consider their vampirism as a disease, a biological curse. So all that superstitious mumbo-jumbo would do them no good, and neither, as it turns out, the UV lamps. They were, however, highly allergic to things like garlic, and even silver. Fine, more garlic, whatever, Frank grumbled, shoving them aside as he walked out the door. A good thing he did leave too, since if the super had brought anything silver to the fight it would have put him in danger as well, being a werewolf.

There was first and foremost the financial burden of it all. On top of having to buy reams of garlic, religious relics, replacement UV bulbs, and blunt sporting goods, there was the constant damage to their apartment. Each coven would do their fair share of demolishing rooms and whatever disparate objects they could get their hands on; the first wave advanced to the kitchen and left only the coffee maker intact in its wake, and the second worked their way to the living room after destroying that same coffee maker. When the third arrived, and Frank and Gordon had little to their name except shards of things that used to be their belongings scattered about, they got to work on damaging the windows, fixtures, and other things that would inevitably come out of both of their security deposits. When the super destroyed the last vampire with the bucket of holy water, the corrosive green goop that used to be that vampire burned a human-shaped hole through the floor, and the unlucky tenants in the room below them only had to look up through the new man-hole to see what Frank and Gordon were up to, and vice versa.

But a more metaphysical quandary worried Frank’s spirits as he waited in line for a cashier, the weight of all the garlic straining his arms from holding the grocery basket. What, in fact, made a vampire a vampire? It was bad enough he had to get used to a world with werewolves, and indeed, a world where he was a werewolf. But what could he do, what rock of belief could he hold fast to, if vampires kept changing their rules willy-nilly?

Then a more troubling thought occurred to him… Was it worth it? Was it really worth staying in Gordon’s apartment, the five month’s deposit, the constant breaking of furniture and belongings, just because he had some deep-seeded notion of what a vampire should be that kept changing every day? It was the year 2018 after all, so maybe vampire identity was a more fluid thing than he once thought…

*

They were to take no chances this time. They left the UV lights on by the front door, booby-trapped the door with garlic oil and holy water, and took turns standing by with a couple croquet mallets left over from the third vampire attack. Imagine Frank’s utter fury, then, when every single one of these methods of attack failed to slay a single vampire from the latest wave that breached his door.

—Alright, what’s the big idea?! Come on, we know your vampires are different, what’s up with you guys now?

—Oh, well, you see, our vampirism is more of a disease, a sort of biological…

—Oh, hell no! The last vampires tried to pull that with us! And they said they were allergic to garlic!

—It’s sort of like… well, the disease we have sort of gives us vampiric tendencies.

—Yeah, we prowl along in the night-time, even though we don’t have to, the sunlight doesn’t harm us…

—Yeah, and we hunt for living things to feed off their blood with a single-minded tenacity, even though we don’t really have to…

—Oh, bullshit! I’ve heard enough, you are not vampires!

—Frank, there’s no reason to be intolerant…

—No! If you don’t have suck blood, and you don’t have to avoid sunlight, you’re not vampires. You’re… you’re zombies!

Every vampire in the room gasped at this.

—Frank! Don’t call them that! That’s a slur!

They were so shocked by Frank’s verbal abuse that none of the vampires present noticed the super come in, not until he made the tell-tale sound of a cocked sawn-off shotgun. With this warning, he then pulled the trigger, and where there used to be a head on the lead vampire’s shoulders, there was none. The others scattered out of the apartment, just like before.

—Yeah, with these guys, none of the usual vampire lore seems to apply. You kind of have to treat them like zombies. It’s a metaphor for…

—Oh Christ, I don’t care anymore! That’s it, I’m moving out tomorrow!

—What? Frank, are you sure? Where will you go? You said before you didn’t have a job, how will you…

—I don’t know. The only thing I do know is I hate vampires. And if you are one, and if it’s such a big deal for all the others, then maybe I shouldn’t be here anymore.

—Okay… I understand. But before you go, can I ask you for one more favor?

—…fine, what?

—Can you help me get Mina out the window?

Frank in his anger never realized that Mina had earlier let herself in on a wheelchair, as no doubt the last vampire visit which Frank skipped out on early had made it necessary for her to take yet another one of her famous tumbles out the window. She was now in such bad shape that she forbore from her usual piercing shrieks, and instead attempted a feeble rush to the window, as much as the chair would allow anyway.

Frank grumbled as Gordon wheeled Mina to the rest of the way to the window, which Frank then opened all the way up. With Gordon hoisting her by the shoulders and Frank taking the ankles, it took not a small amount of effort from them both to get her feet-first through the window once again. The deed done, Gordon looked out and couldn’t help but shed a tear at how wonderfully, how incredibly, just absolutely goth it all was.

*

His bags packed with as much broken things as he could muster, Frank made his way to the front door and found, not at all to his surprise, yet another vampire. This one was quite tall, pale with black hair that pointed to a peak on his forehead, wearing a black suit with a cape over his shoulders, and looking through a pince-nez that rested on his rather avian nose.

Gordon and the super both stood by the vampire in a trance, and a cocked shotgun lay on the floor by the super’s feet. Frank knew the story even before the vampire helped himself to tell him in a very thick Eastern-European accent.

—What fools these mortals must be, to use such weapons against I, the lord of all vampires, the scourge of God, the dragon of Carpathia, beloved of the night?

Why not keep going, why not just ignore whatever he had to say? He was only a few steps away from this man no longer being his problem in any way, and really, the worst this vampire could do was make someone a vampire. Gordon already was one, and he didn’t really like the super anyway, so what’s the harm in turning his back on them?

—I who single-handedly routed the invading Ottoman Turks from my beloved homeland, I who sleep in the native soil of my beloved Romania no matter where on this earth I roam…

But then he got to thinking a little more, and he tried a method his therapist recommended for him. Why did he feel this way about vampires? Did he really hate them, or did he just not understand them? Was there some sort of social stigma that he fell for, that in being a werewolf he mistakenly felt obliged to be their enemy? What if he just gave them a chance? What if he just understood that all vampires are different and special in their own way, and some of them just need a little more attention, a little more patience, to realize their true vampire potential and become the true vampire they were meant to be?

—I, who God himself has cursed for the audacious act of snatching his angels from the heavens and having my way with them, fathering my own proud race of Romanian Nephilim giants…

Then it came to him, and in spite of himself Frank let out a wide grin. The vampire by the doorway noticed and stopped his harangue mid-sentence. He looked on in puzzlement as Frank turned away from him and headed to the kitchen, opening cupboards and looking through shelves and pantries for something. He took out a bag of something, and hurled it at the vampire.

Hundreds, even thousands, of grains of rice spilled from the bag and hit the floor. The vampire immediately fell to the floor and began counting each grain of rice. One, two, three, four…

Gordon and the super immediately snapped out of their trance and noticed Frank smiling at them triumphantly, and then the vampire kneeling on the floor, busy with his task.

—I remembered it from Sesame Street.

—It’s not just from that though, it is consistent with ancient vampire lore. In places like Eastern Europe, true, but also even as far as China, peasants would keep a little…

—Don’t actually care. Gordon, I have some great news for you. You’re not a vampire.

—What do you mean? Of course I am, see, I got bit on my neck…

—I got bit on the neck too, and I turned into a werewolf. It doesn’t matter. Guys, listen. I figured it out… All vampires are vampires, because they have to tell you why they’re vampires.

—What… you mean…

—It’s the only thing they have in common with each other. Sunlight, blood, garlic, stakes, crosses, holy water, and… uh, whatever those high-school vampires were, you can’t count on any of those completely. But all of them, without any provocation whatsoever, will exhaustively explain to you what they’re all about.

—Huh… you know, it’s true. It’s how I became a vampire hunter, in fact. You kinda just have to wait for them to tell you how to kill them, and then, you know, it’s real easy.

—Gordon, tell me again. What makes you different from any of the others?

—Well, I don’t know… I guess I, I mean I kinda like it when it’s dark outside, and I never really had any blood yet… now that I think about it I am kind of hungry… for, uh, real food.

—There you go! That proves it. You have no interest in convincing me you’re a vampire, so you’re not a vampire, so that means we can still live in the same room without all these other vampires bothering us every day.

—But what about Mina? Even if I’m not, she can still tell a bunch of other vampires to come by here and…

The super took a look out the open window.

—Actually, I don’t think she’s going to bother you much anymore.

They all went to the window and looked down. There was Mina, lying supine on the ground, her last tumble combined with her previous injuries making her quite unable to move from the spot where she fell the last time Frank and Gordon helped her out the window. As a result, she looked a little less goth. The super pointed a thumb behind him to the latest vampire.

—As for him, he’s kind of the big one. You can’t really kill him, not without him coming back every few years or so. I think if you folks just remember to throw rice at him at the end of every month that’ll keep him busy. You can do that when rent’s due.

At that the super took his leave of Frank and Gordon’s room, his work done.

*

Frank did indeed remember to not only pay his rent (his werewolf colleagues set him up with another decent job, it was the least they could do for him), but also throw another bag of rice at the last vampire to invade their home, starting fresh anew after he counted the five hundred seventy-second-thousand eight hundred and ninety-eighth grain of rice from the first bag.

Unfortunately, just as he was dropping his check off to the landlord, Frank once again turned into a werewolf (if you remember, it had been about a month since the first biting and the first full moon). The landlord was no match for Frank’s feral lupine form, and he died instantly from gashes in his neck mere moments after he accepted the check in his hand. He moved on to his apartment, and while Gordon was locked inside and, since he was no longer a vampire, fast asleep at night, he was safe from Frank’s werewolf form, but Mina, still a vampire (or at least we all think she is?), still lying under Gordon’s window, and still essentially an invalid, was decidedly not.

In all, Frank’s second foray under the full moon resulted in about five hundred more casualties than his first transformation, casualties which included every single living thing inhabiting a neighboring apartment complex, a pet store, a dog pound, an orphanage, a firehouse, and a midnight screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show. As before, however, it is important to remember that as a werewolf Frank had absolutely no control over himself, so every single one of these five hundred or so gruesome deaths, every single formerly-alive human being unfairly snuffed out before their proper time, every one of those was not his own fault, and he should therefore not be held responsible for them or thought of any lesser for them in any way whatsoever.

 

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