A hollow wind blows through the graveyard. My hellhound is missing! I stand amongst the gray, decaying markers, and whistle and call his name. But nothing. No bark. Not even a whimper.
First, my caretaker! Now my hellhound!
He was an old man with a balding head and curved back. Vietnam veteran. ‘Fraid of nothing because he had already seen the worst that mankind had to offer.
I told him what lurks in the woods beyond, stay on the grounds, and keep my hound fed. Seems like he didn’t listen. I must have looked like Van Helsing marching into those woods to find his body.
A Van Helsing, I can assure you, I am not. I found his body down by Shadow Creek. Its waters run black with the souls of the damned. He had puncture marks all over his body.
His body was-what’s that word I’m looking for?-exsanguinated? He was a bit lighter than I expected as I carried him back to burn him. From the midst of the woods, I could feel eyes upon me, twigs and branches broke behind me.
But I didn’t dare look back! No! Never look back! The moment that you look back is the moment they have you! Haven’t you seen all the horror flicks?!
So, here I am! Sweat drying on my brow from standing beside the incinerator. Have you ever caught the scent of burning flesh? It’s the most God-awful, pungent odor imaginable. It’s especially worse when you’re burning a vampire!
My incinerator is in the basement. A vent sucks out all the ashes and spews them into the atmosphere. I haven’t used it in a long, long time. For vampires, that is.
As I carried the old man down the steps, I knew my time was short. His body was twitching, and not in concert with my steps. Laying him on a steel cart, I sprinkled his body with holy water. Nothing. That’s another myth I’m not sure about.
I grabbed a heavy chain, hooked it to a loop and began to criss-cross it down his body. My heart was thumping in my chest. Outside, light was fading and I could see his muscles convulsing! No doubt he could hear the beat of my heart.
Just as I was about to send the chain through the last loop, his right arm broke the chain! I cried out in terror! His skin was a grotesque white and I could see every vein in his body. The old man sat up on the cart, his back straightened by death!
Eyes as black as my heart stared back at me. His lips were curled back, revealing two four-inch fangs, and on the inside of those close to his incisors, shorter fangs, but just as deadly. His guttural hissing echoed off the walls!
I stumbled backwards, clutching the wall for a machete I knew was there. Each limb in my body felt like lead, and his demonic chuckle froze my heart. With just a flash, just a whir, he swiped at me with his right hand. Pain stung my left cheek and blood oozed between my fingers.
“I can hear your heart, boss! You’re terrified! They’re coming for you! All of them! Where is your hound now?!”
One ring of the chain after another broke. The sound of his disembodied voice chilled my bones. Suddenly, my right hand clutched the worn, wooden handle of the machete. I yanked it off the wall, and with a wide arc, sent the homemade blade through arm! His shriek was horrifying and nearly deafened me!
A nub a few inches long flopped wildly. There was the small circle of bone and gray, decaying flesh. His mouth opened twice its size and he roared at me with all the fury of hell. Grasping the handle with both hands, I raised it high above my head and charged.
The blade, blessed by a priest, sunk into the middle of his chest with a hollow thump! He stared up at me with those black eyes. And for a moment, I sensed a minuscule portion of his humanity. But that’s foolish thinking, isn’t it? Black slime ran from his mouth and covered his chin.
All strength appeared to leave his body. With his limp left hand, he clutched at my shoulder. His nails, sharp as razors, rendered useless.
“I told you to stay out of those God damned woods!”
I drove him back down on the cart with a mighty heave. The scrape of my blade slicing through the slab was ear piercing. His body thrashed upon his deathbed as I wheeled him over to the furnace and shoved him in.
After several seconds, once the fire burned away the flesh, he became silent. I was drenched in sweat and the left side of my face burned. Blood covered my neck and shoulder. As I climbed my basement stairs to the outside world, I could hear the violent cry of the vampires.
They were angry! I killed one of their own kind; their creation. They had taken something from me, and I had taken it back. I evened the score.
They’re coming for you!
And still no sign of my hound. Without him, I don’t know how I will keep the vampires at bay.
Like I said, I’m no Van Helsing!