Fangers Inc. An Anthology of Vampire Fiction - available Worldwide from Amazon
Fangers Inc. - An Anthology of Vampire Fiction

Fangers Inc. Volume 1:’On Friday I’m Joe’ by Adrian Bond

Vol 1. Fangers Inc. KINDLE Book Cover

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.

STORIES BY:

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.

On Friday I’m Joe

A vampire story by Adrian Bond – Featured in Fangers Inc. Volume One

The air-conditioner was a bomb blast played slow. But I couldn’t cover my ears because I was busy picking the lock.

I opened the door and felt the quiet and smelled blood.

He could see me as well as I could see him. The room was dark except for the light that came faint and billowing without wind through the window. He was sitting in a chair by the bed. By a bedside table with two pairs of sunglasses on it. One of them still had a price tag.

He said, “Holy fuck, holy fuck,” and he pointed a gun at my head. It looked like a toy.

The girl was sleeping on the bed, and he was watching over her. Saying holy fuck, holy fuck. The girl he’d picked up in Lethbridge. They’d been driving like hell for two weeks. Driving at night, generally southward, but there wasn’t any pattern: high school drop-outs on a frenetic American tour, just trying to get to the farthest place they could before daybreak. They’d tried for Phoenix last night, but they hadn’t made it.

“I was lucky I found you,” I said, because I’d lost them when I’d run out of gas, watching their taillights burning into the distance. He told me they should have left here hours ago. He was talking slowly, not thinking, not looking at the girl. Someone was playing piano—a radio next-door? —the volume turned down so low no one else could have heard it but us.

“But she overslept,” I said.

He nodded. She was quiet on the bed, lying still on the bed, her arms crossed, and she stank of blood because it was a darkness the light wouldn’t touch, and it stained everything in the room.

“What happened?”

“I know you, oh fuck, I know you” he said, the darkness staining him from mouth to midsection.

“What happened?”

“You did this.” It was a scream and we both felt it, both put our hands to our ears as the sound contracted the room. But it wasn’t much to worry about, not in a dump like this, and what got outside the air-conditioner would muffle. I had time, enough time, unless they traced the car. He let the murmur return before pointing the gun back at my head.

I walked closer to the bed and looked down at the girl. She lay still and her face was paler than the dirty sheets and the blood was a shawl she’d forgotten to take off when she lay down.

He was crying: “I don’t understand. I don’t understand.”

“I’m here to explain. What did you do to the girl?”

“We got married.” This after a while. I waited him out. “We got married and she wanted, and I wanted—.”

“To make her like yourself.”

“I didn’t want to get involved, you know. Until it was right. I mean, she knew what I was. I told her. She wanted to marry me.”

Her neck was gnarled, tatters of flesh like fingers raking back the blood, trying to bring it all back. I looked at the hole in her forehead. I tried not to look at it, but I had seen it, tried not to think: small entrance point, close range. It was a pellet gun, CO 2 cartridge, hardly any velocity, but more than enough to make a hole. There were wisps of hair across it like she’d tried to cover it up.

“She wouldn’t,” he said. “It took so long. It hurt so long.” Bleeding to death.

“She changed her mind.”

“It just took so long.”

He had planned it on Hammer films and comic books. Laying her to rest in her wedding bed, bringing her to death to bring her to life but it had taken too long, the bleeding, and he had shot her, a pellet in the head to carry her across the threshold and back out with him into the dark racing night.

He was imploring me for advice, his eyes big and glowing with borrowed light. “You did fine,” I told him because there was nothing to say. She was gone, and at least that made things a little simpler now between us. I brought the stupidity out of his expression with a stare. If he’d been less romantic about his wedding night, she’d be licking darkness like honey from his lips right now.

“When will she wake?” he asked, and his voice was dry like my mouth. I told him three days, I told him to keep a candle lit and not to move her, I told him to lighten up on the garlic and to send back wedding presents that dealt in silverware. I told him whatever the hell he wanted to hear. He wondered if he should bury her.

“No,” I said. “It makes it harder.” I leaned forward and uncrossed her arms, brought them down to her sides. I saw the terror rise in his eyes. He thought he’d blown it all by making a cross, bungled it with an absent-minded gesture. What had he to do with custom or niceties? He was whirling sick in his eyes and I calmed him.

“Just to keep the circulation going. Or she’ll wake up stiff.”

“That’s right,” he said, “that’s right. I woke up stiff. That’s right. The next morning after you killed me in the alley.”

“That’s right, when I killed you in the alley.”

“Why, man?” Crying again. “Why the fuck did you do that?”

This time I couldn’t calm him, and he started waving the gun in my face. Close to my nose, knuckly and cold when it touched like an arthritic finger. “Fucking kill you man, fucking kill you.” Expression died on my face a long time ago; there’s no artistry to my deadpan. I told him to put the gun down.

“That’s no good against me,” I said, banking on the conviction of comic books. He’d been scared for her, for his new life, and must have conveyed that fear to her, or just sent her out in the day to buy it. It looked like a toy, but it was more than enough.

Finally he lowered his arm, put the gun down on the bedside table. He had no idea of his vulnerability, had no idea that so much about what you hear just isn’t true, and you live what’s true and even then, you can’t believe it.

“Why?”

“I wanted company,” I said.

“Who asked you?”

“You did. Your eyes. I saw myself in you, my youth, wasted in fear and loneliness. I was trying to help you.”

“You were killing me.”

I’d have to work a little harder if he was going to buy it. “Maybe it was more for me than for you. But I’ve given you something extraordinary.” He turned his face and I turned it back with a hand on his shoulder. He was too scared, too confused to refuse it. “That girl, I know about that. She saw you and she couldn’t help loving you.”

He looked into my eyes. “You’re irresistible,” I told him. “Never be lonely again.” He liked that. His sobbing slowed; he caught his breath.

“I couldn’t understand it myself,” he said.

“That’s the gift.”

“And I’m immortal?”

“Of course.” I tried a smile, but it hurt my skin. I went with softened eyebrows instead.

“I’m strong now,” he said.

“Could be the captain of the football team.”

“And fast.”

Christ, he was a mess. I nodded, “Could also be the captain of the track and field.”

“But I can’t turn into a bat. I tried. I can’t do it.”

“Takes practice.”

He looked hopeful, and he saw my skin for the first time, reached to touch my cheek like he did that night after the recital, fingers in sympathy with the pianist’s. Meeting him then in the dark outside I knew what I was seeing was myself. We were drunk with sound, unable to stand unless we held each other, and I could believe from his eyes that he knew everything, and I could give him some love, but it was my mistake because he ran.

Tasting him, his blood, stumbling after him into the parking lot, my sunglasses falling away, not finding them, trying just to read the license through the glare of the taillights. They burned in my eyes long afterward.

He caught his hand in mid-air, withdrew it. “You look like shit.”

“Sun burn. Super-sensitivity. You’ve probably discovered the disadvantages.” I gestured at the sunglasses, why the room was dark. Even an accidental glance at a naked light bulb would make pain a private obsession. “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it, but we’ve got to get down to business,” I noticed his expression, “if I’m to help you.”

“First we need to clear up some things,” I said. “Okay,” he said. I asked him about others, pointing with a nod of my head to the girl. He said no, sincerely. He assured me he’d been faithful to her, but it’d been three months since that night we’d met and I could only account for the last few weeks, finally catching up with him, following him at a distance, waiting for the right moment, then watching him take up the girl.

“Before her, but since you met me. Anything casual? A one night stand, a hooker, an old flame?” He shook his head.

“Someone else?”

He knew what I meant, yelled “No.” We covered our ears. Okay, that was entirely my mistake. I asked him if he had shared needles with anyone, shot up. He shook his head easily; he was a good kid.

“Nothing at the blood bank, no donations?”

“Man, you came collecting.”

“And nothing since?”

Fangers Inc. An Anthology of Vampire Fiction - available Worldwide from Amazon
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

He said no. I asked him if he had cut himself recently if he could possibly have spilt his blood some place. Are you prone to drooling or nocturnal emissions? He said no, worried now. This was getting personal. I asked if he’d given a semen sample to a clinic. If he’d masturbated in a public place, left semen on a toilet seat?

“No no.” His voice was like a siren, wailing up and down, growing faint in the distance, turning the corner, coming back loud. His eyes stared hard at my overcoat, like I had Polaroids taped inside, might catch him out by flashing.

“So there’s absolutely nothing, is that it?”

Whining: “Fuck the questions. I’m the victim.”

“I know,” I said.

“Wait a minute, man, I’m your victim.”

“Yes, you are. What’s the answer?”

“No,” he said.

The whole time we were talking the girl lay listening, finding none of it amusing, never smiling. You needed a poker face when you saw what she saw.

I took a breath, stood back, looked him over. He had finished shaking, his face relaxing. He was a clean, sentimental, very troubled youth, and he convinced me. He lent that conviction even in the midst of this despair. He had that strength and I needed it. Because I knew what I had to do, had planned it all day in the grave I’d dug myself in the desert when my car ran out of gas. I had time to think then, and I was thinking clearly, being honest with myself, thinking about the girl. I’d made a snorkel from a pen I’d found in the glove compartment, and I had to concentrate on my breathing, just relax and think things out. I felt the sun come up because the sand started to burn, blistering my skin and I thought more clearly because it was going to kill me. I knew what it would mean now if I let it.

“Qu’est que c’est?”

Voices near me. I’d heard the car stop, heard the footsteps approaching. They’d noticed my car, where I’d pushed it off the road. They were checking it out. There was no way for me to hide it out here, which is why I hadn’t climbed into the trunk. I would have had to leave it ajar and the slightest curiosity would have opened it.

But I should have walked farther before starting to dig, shouldn’t have panicked when I looked to the horizon, because I was too close to the car and they were coming over.

“Regarde ce-ci,” she was saying beside the swell of my grave and he answered her and now he was here too, above me. They were tourists and they liked finding things. How well can you bury yourself? Could only be a few inches of sand, all the difference but not much. Dear God, but it was too late: the pen shaft pulling out of my mouth.

“Quoi?” How long can you hold your breath? It didn’t matter. They’d started digging. I felt his foot harder than hers, kicking me in the side, and then a heel once across my face taking off most of the sand.

The rest falling away as I rose up because it was all right now. It was dark enough and this was as good a wake-up call as any. She made a noise like a backwards laugh and he gave me the car keys when I asked him. I left them to discover the desert, left them holding each other with a sudden, deep affection, trying to read the license plate of their rental as I drove it away. They needn’t worry; someone else would remember it for them. I had to make time now, racing down the highway, turning off every side street, doubling back, checking the motels for his car. I stopped only once to get gas, because I knew what I had to do, filling all those cans, because now there was the girl, and I wouldn’t get him back. Living clean as a priest, guarding this religion, all these years, living with it alone, but I’d made a mistake and I had to take back my love before he started giving it away, converting the world.

I led him to the window. It opened out and a blood-damp breath lifted the curtain in its passage.

“What do you feel?” My voice softer now.

“Calm,” he said.

“That’s the night. She gives us her thoughts, her peace, when she descends when she rethinks us.”

He needed better poetry than that; he needed to be occupied. I recited anything I could remember, taken from any source. I ran them together and I repeated them when I ran out. He leaned forward with the words, leaned his body forward so his face was out the window, feeling the coolness. Maybe he thought he was going to turn into a bat. Maybe the words were part of the magic. I had my left hand on his right shoulder and I softly replaced it with the right. I stepped back behind him and with my left hand I reached for the gun on the bedside table. “I have so much to teach you. You left before I could explain, before I could help you adjust.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, and he was watching the night, calmly, confessing himself. His delicate fingers touching the window ledge.

“Did you ever play a musical instrument?”

He told me about lessons in grade school. He’d given it up.

“Too bad. You missed your calling.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I never even got your name,” I said, and I brought the gun up slowly to the back of his head.

“David Wilson,” he confessed. A name like any other. “And you’re Joe, right?”

“That’s right, on Friday nights. It was a Friday night, and I was Joe. On Thursdays I’m Bob.”

He thought that was funny and he was laughing through it with me. “And tonight?”

“Let’s see, it’s still Saturday,” I said. “So I guess I’m David Wilson,” and I had all the time in the world because he was crying again, crying even before the faintest movement of my finger tendons rustled the hairs in his eardrums, before he smelled the cool barrel and felt the slight draw as it took in a breath, drawing it in from the night across his tear moist cheeks. Crying because he knew all along it was too good to be true. He’d died in an alley outside a concert hall and dying he had had this dream.

The flames took away the roof before the others were out of bed, and they mistook the light for dawn when it roused them. I was already well away, and I stopped to watch them opening all the doors, dancing out slowly. I could hear them chanting, the harmony of a siren in the distance getting stronger. They were waving blankets and sheets, fanning the flames that poked out of the windows. They’d finish the job; it wouldn’t take much. Just a little while longer and the whole sky would catch, and it would burn all day with its impossible white fire. I started walking again. I figured it was only a few miles to Phoenix. But I wasn’t going to make it.

(c) Adrian Bond, All Rights Reserved.

Featured image by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Author, Writer, Editor, Coach, Mother of Cats.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: