VAMPIRE, VAMPIRISM, VAMPIRIC, VAMPY!
A collection of short stories which explore and celebrate the vampire genre with talented, world-class writers. There’s something here to delight and horrify even the most seasoned vampire fan.
Abraham R Nox, Adrian Bond, Dennis Kriesel, Emily de Rango, Eric S. Brown, Frank C. Gunderloy, Jr., Greg Beatty, H. Turnip Smith, J.R. Corcorrhan, Jean Burnett, Jennifer Moore, Joshua Alan Doetsch, Laura Cooney, Lester Thees, Liz Williams, Lorna Dickson, Miles Deacon, Mordant Carnival, Raymond T. McNally, Richard Jones, Sheri Morton-Stanley, Stephen Minchin, T. P. Keating, Tom Phillips, Trent Walters.
For stories that didn’t make the cut, audiobook bloopers, book promos and swag, join the Fangers Inc. Email Newsletter.
A vampire story by H. Turnip Smith – Featured in Fangers Inc. Volume One
“Will you for the love of God please turn down that God-awful music!” Wolverhampton, the tenant in the next flat, shouted, banging on the radiator pipes.
“Stick it!” Stanley cried, before grudgingly climbing out of his coffin to oblige the sot. It was whining white-collar complainers like that idiot Wolverhampton who knew nothing about Led Zeppelin that made being a psychic vampire difficult. No wonder a lad felt the need to see another tremble in fear occasionally. Damn whining complainer.
Well tonight would go a long way towards fulfilling that basic psychic need. With trembling hands, Stanley pulled his costume out of the closet and began to get dressed. Yes, the trousers were a little tight (too many Wimpys) and the unfamiliar high collar felt a little strange, but all in all it felt wonderful to be clad as Dracula. Particularly the vaseline’d hair and the pointed ears. Stupid Londoners were going to be falling over themselves in terror when they got a gander at him.
Carefully locking the door of the flat against trash like Wolverhampton, Stanley descended the carpeted stairs and hit the sidewalk, certain someone would go into shock before the evening was over because the moon was full, and a strange wind was sighing in the lindens.
However, as he turned the corner at the laundrette, a geeky child bouncing a ball came up behind him.
“Hey, mister, did you know your shoes don’t match?”
Stanley stared at the freckle-faced brat incredulously. What was the insolent, little shit talking about? Oh no, it was true. In his haste to get on with terrorizing the city, Stan had slipped on one black Cuban boot and erroneously left a purple plimsole on the other foot.
Raising his cape and leering at the little devil, Stanley said, “You’re not scared of me?”
“No, you look nice,” the insufferable kid said.
“Nice? You say I look nice? Don’t you understand I’m risen from the dead and capable of unfathomable evil?” Stanley cried.
The nasty brat began to giggle in response.
Throwing the little bastard a dirty look, Stanley hurried back towards the flat in mortification.
A few minutes later he re-emerged with the shoe situation corrected. Now darkness had begun to settle over the city, and an ominous breeze, suggestive of heaved-up graves, had begun to whine through the plane trees, the perfect setting for sheer terror.
Re-vitalized Stanley ducked into the neighbourhood grocery for some smokes. That’s when he got the idea. The store was empty. He would conceal his bulk by the milk cooler and suddenly jump out and terrify the clerk. The little Pakistani grocer, with a dark moustache and pencil-thin arms, looked incredibly timid. It would be perfect.
A moment later Stanley sprang the trap. Crying “Aahh!” with a well-timed jump, he leapt towards the back of the grocer with raised hands of attack.
Unfortunately, the Pakistani turned around slowly and began to snicker.
“What in God’s name are you laughing at?” Stanley cried.
“I never saw a fat Dracula before,” the grocer said.
“How do you know I’m not here to tear your neck from your face?” Stanley bellowed in frustration.
“Your teeth,” the clerk said with a titter, “your left fang has broken off and is dangling.”
Stanley felt for his mouth. For God’s sakes! It couldn’t be, but it was. He was a dental failure. His left, plastic fang had broken off and was hanging by a thread.
“Damn!” Stanley murmured, stalking out of the grocery store without even bothering to buy cigarettes. Everything was going wrong. Now he’d have to get some super glue and do fang first-aid. All right, a vampire’s life was never easy. The undead had to do what they had to do. The thing now was to get his teeth repaired and get back to the serious business of revitalizing his soul by frightening innocents.
A half-hour later, fangs fixed, Stanley boarded the Hammersmith bus. Having lost his confidence in his ability to make the world cower at once glance, he went to the semi-deserted second tier and took a seat in a subdued manner. One stop later a fat woman who appeared to have her dress on backwards debarked.
Once she had waddled off, Stanley noticed he was sitting alone on the second tier with the exception of a squat, very black African student sitting across the aisle slightly in front of him.
What an excellent opportunity for terror. Stanley’s eyes drilled into the back of the African’s neck, certain than his victim would be utterly paralyzed with jungle dread. Before long Stanley could see the African squirming in desperate fear for his life. Now that was terror!
However, before the coup was completed, the African halfway turned and addressed Stanley with a huge grin that rivalled a search light and said in a decidedly French accent.
“These eese your Havoline, right? That is why you are dressed so strangely, yes?”
“No!” Stan cried, trying to fight the sinking feeling in his guts. “Halloween, not Havoline. It’s Halloween!”
The African grinned once more, threatening to light up the entire West End. “Eet’s very much fun. I enjoy your Havoline.”
Stanley slumped in his seat. The whole Dracula thing was turning into a fiasco. What was wrong with people in this city? You couldn’t scare them with nuclear weapons. They lacked enough basic imagination to even realize they were about to be snuffed out. Well, thank God, he was almost to Earl’s Court. The street party would be going on there. He’d scare somebody there or die trying.
As soon as he exited the bus, Stanley noted that the streets had been blocked off, and a huge crowd of Halloween revellers jammed the thoroughfares. Perfect opportunity for terror as a light drizzle soaked the participants.
Stalking the area with his cape raised Stanley soon sighted his prey. She was a frail, shy-looking, blonde girl of about eighteen, wearing glasses. Pushing a bicycle through the crowd, she was not dressed for Halloween and looked obviously out of place. ‘A damn innocent Scots’ wench come down to the university’, Stanley thought, ‘the perfect victim’.
Briefly trailing her, he got on to the direction she was headed and soon positioned himself back an alley that she had to come down. It was a dark alley with tumbled garbage cans, decaying fruit, and prowling cats. Wedging his way between two dumpsters, Stanley awaited the girl’s arrival with a chuckle. Now this one was going to lose it for sure; he was certain of that. There was no coward on earth like a Scot.
Seconds later the unsuspecting innocent, still pushing her bike, walked past the dumpsters. Flying out after her with a terrifying roar, caped arms raised, Stanley was rudely greeted with a karate kick to his privates, as the sweet young thing wheeled and knocked him flat on his arse.
Roaring with pain, Stanley tried to get to his feet. Bad mistake. The girl’s hands were lightning itself. She knocked him down each of the three more times he tried to stumble upright.
Finally, raising his hands in defeat, he begged her for mercy. “All I meant to do was scare you, miss,” he said.
“Well pick on somebody your own size, you fat brute,” she replied, “and don’t hide in alleys.”
Mercifully, she then retreated, leaving Stanley to his misery. A defeated man, he staggered to his feet, asking himself what a true vampire would do in such a situation. Certainly not surrender. Revenants were made to endure. As he wiped watermelon juice and seeds from his tailcoat, he vowed that his next attempt would not fail.
Directly above his head hung a fire escape, leading up to four storeys of seedy apartments. Now he would surreptitiously climb the escape, choose an appropriate victim, and watch him or her melt in terror before Dracula’s onslaught.
Minutes later, boots left in the alley for the sake of silence, Stanley slowly crept up the slippery, metal fire escape, peering into each apartment as he went. On the third floor, he saw the perfect victim. My God, what a coincidence.
It was the fat lady from the bus. Obese and ponderous in rolled-down hose, she was pottering in the kitchen and talking to her parrot. A seventy-five-year-old fridge with a circular motor on top sat on the linoleum while a heap of filthy dishes lay in the badly stained sink.
“You’re a stinker, Vrikolax,” the old woman said, taking a swig from a tall dark beaker, that appeared to be filled with some strange fluid.
“You’re a stinker,” the parrot repeated in a voice like an ancient .78 rpm record.
Stealthy as a python, Stanley opened the screen door and slid into the flat, concealing himself next to her fridge. His plan was to leap out at the harridan, watch her scream in terror, and then, battery re-charged, dash down the fire escape to safety before she knew what had happened.
As the old woman and the parrot blatted noisily back and forth, Stanley found himself getting more and more excited. Sweat stood on his forehead. His stocking-feet grew damp with anticipation. Butterflies erupted in his belly; and then the old fool made the mistake of turning her back to him, as she fiddled with her tea-making machine.
Seizing the moment, Stanley leapt out of his hiding place, screaming as he assumed a spread-eagled karate fighter’s stance. It was a terrible mistake. When the old woman turned, Stanley saw that her face had transformed. What had been an inconsequential lumpy pile of dough covered with lank white hair, had become a bloody-fanged fright mask: dark, evil, and wide-eyed.
A bolt of terror shot down Stanley’s spine, as he saw the woman crack a teacup against the porcelain sink, then wheel, wielding the jagged edge of the cup like a knife.
“My God,” Stanley screamed, too frightened to flee as the fat woman moved with incredible quickness.
Before he knew it, she was sitting astride him, the jagged weapon searching for his jugular. As pain ratcheted through his flesh of his neck, Stanley saw his pathetic life as a postal clerk flash by, then the harridan’s lips were pressed against his emerging blood as she greedily sucked his life’s fluid.
Stanley’s last cries were little more than pathetic moans as the crone swelled like a gigantic blimp, drunk on his blood.
The next morning a bobby on patrol stopped beside the dumpsters in the alley. Someone had inexplicably abandoned a pair of expensive, glossy Cuban boots. It never occurred to the policeman to look into the dumpster. If he had, however, he would have seen the blood-drained corpse of an overweight young man in a Dracula costume, dead, terrified eyes staring at something horrible and unnamed, but very, very real.
(c) H. Turnip Smith, All Rights Reserved.Featured image by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash