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.
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A vampire story by Emily De Rango – Featured in Fangers Inc. Volume One
Mary, holy mother of our Saviour, be with me this night. The screams of the villagers slice through my prayers, and the howls of the demons grate at my sanity.
I had remained in the church after the evening service, praying before the statue of the Blessed Virgin. It was dark when I left, and the village lay silent. I hurried home, uneasy in the night.
I was almost to the gate of the rectory when I saw it, skulking near the fence. It smiled – eyes wide and blazing with hellfire, long white fangs gleaming in the moonlight. I froze for a moment, then, shaking, held my bible to my heart and recited the Lord’s Prayer.
The creature looked stunned for a moment, then laughed. It took a step toward me, lisping, “Forgive me father, for I have sinned,” and took another step before I thrust my cross at it, God’s words on my lips. It reeled back, hissing like a tomcat, and fled. I rushed into my house and slammed the door shut.
I have never felt such fear as I do tonight. Pure evil shone in those eyes.
The doors and windows are sealed with holy water and am keeping my cross about my neck.
I do not hope to sleep.
This morning has brought more horror. Shortly after sunrise I left the rectory and visited each house in the village – almost half were sites of demonic carnage.
It was as much as I could do not to collapse in tears when I saw the dead – their throats ripped open and bodies drained of blood. No one in those houses was spared. The expressions of pain and terror on their faces struck me to the heart.
Merciful Lord protect your flock, for we are beset by an ancient and implacable evil.
Before last night, I almost believed them myth, but now. . .
I managed to coax the remaining villagers into the church for a meeting, so I could warn them of what we face. Most knew already, and instead I learned more of last night’s events.
The vampires had tried to gain entrance to the villagers’ homes by masquerading as travelling players, struck by ill fortune on the road. Those who were charitable paid an awful price. Those who refused them entry were subjected to unholy beguilement’s – all who experienced their ploys admitted that they were tempted by the demons’ words and triumphed only with willpower and the words of God.
I cannot help but wonder how many of the dead succumbed to their seductions.
Still, these experiences confirm for me some of the myths – the creatures are active only by night, they cannot enter a place unless invited, and are repelled by Christian prayers and sacred items.
All counted, seventy-two are dead – almost half the population. I ordered the bodies gathered and burnt, lest they rise again as soulless fiends. The smell of burning flesh, hair and cloth was suffocating, and black smoke smothered the village.
When the fire was finally ash, I doused it with holy water and offered the souls of the dead to our Lord. The hissing of the coals reminded me too much of the creature I saw last night.
A number of families have chosen to flee the village, meaning to reach the town of Clarence by nightfall.
They go with my prayers, and a communion wafer each as their shield. I have equipped the remaining villagers likewise, and I pray that tomorrow morning may bring gladder news.
More are dead. Despite the protection I offered, some gave in to the temptations of the vampires, whispered though keyholes and down chimneys. I was not spared – indeed, I seemed especially targeted. Three voices washed against me all night, enticing and cajoling, trying to erode my resolve. I met sunrise with a ragged will, my fingers red from constant prayers on my rosary.
Most of those who survived the night have fled, and we are now only twenty in number, mostly single men and older folk unable to travel.
After seeing to the funeral pyre, we agreed to gather ourselves and make our home in the church until this horror is over. We shall be safest in the Lord’s own house.
We should be readying for Easter celebrations – instead, we are preparing merely to survive these demons. Are they sent to test us? Or are they one of Satan’s most terrible raptures?
Lord, I beg thee, give me insight, let me know how to lead my flock through this desert.
The light is failing, and already I hear the sheep bleating in terror. So far, they have not attacked our animals. So far.
Another sleepless night. Throughout the dark hours, the prayerful murmurs and choked sobs of my tiny congregation made a background for the tearing voices of the vampires. They have given up any pretence of innocence, and instead bombard us with threats and appalling details of our fate should we fall into their hands.
By listening to their voices, we have determined that they are five. Eight of the men have decided to go out tonight and try to destroy them – they argue we cannot stay in here forever. I fear they are right. I offered my help but was denied. Again, they are right – I must remain alive to protect my flock spiritually, while they do what they can by force.
Matthew, one of the remaining men, surveyed the village this morning. His grave expression when he re-entered the church told us enough – his description was almost more than we could bear.
The vampires have destroyed our village, ransacking our homes and stealing our few valuables. Apparently, they can enter houses no longer inhabited. They broke down the fences of the sheep pens and killed all the house cows in the village. Apart from the horse Matthew returned with, all our animals are lost.
Even if we defeat the demons, we have precious little to win back from them.
The horse raised another issue – we can hardly keep it with us, but to leave it outside would mean its death. Finally, we decided that two of our number could escape by riding it. After much discussion, Sarah, and Elizabeth, two spinsters, were chosen. The men must remain here to fight, and though it means sending them off unprotected, they will be safer in Clarence than here. To give them the longest possible time to reach safety, they shall leave at sunrise.
I shall spend the last daylight hours praying with the men, before they go out to battle against our foe. I have armed them with crosses, holy water, communion wafers and wooden stakes made from the legs of pews. The blessing of God goes with them, and I can only hope it will be enough. At sunset they will go into peril greater than any we have known.
Mother Mary, look down with kindness on your servant. I am tired, and, God help me, I am afraid. What can I do to save my flock?
I have no idea of the time. The battle was too short, the dying screams of our men too loud. Only two returned – Jacob and David. Jacob is unable to speak and lies shaking near the door. It is David who tells me, with white face and stony eyes, that they killed only two of the beasts before being overwhelmed. The vampires’ deaths means little – with the addition of our lost warriors, their ranks have swelled.
Lord, they are destroying us. Help us, I beg you. Help us.
Sarah and Elizabeth were ready to leave the moment the sun rose. The horse seemed ready too – huffing and shifting about uncertainly, poking its head under the pews as though looking for food.
The two of them had packed food and water into the bags Matthew had brought and folded a blanket into a makeshift seat behind the saddle. I said a blessing over them and made sure they were carrying their communion wafers.
Then we opened the main doors, and they rode out.
The dogs attacked before they were fifty feet from the church, a wild pack of them darting out from the shadows and smothering the horse like a storm cloud. The horse went down, screaming. So did the women. The dogs were on them in an instant, tearing their throats. We stood paralysed with shock, unable to look away. A few of the dogs came toward us, leaving the rest of the pack to their gruesome meal.
They were enormous, almost twice the size of a sheepdog, with matted black pelts. They snarled and stared at us with red eyes, blood-covered noses twitching at the end of sharp muzzles. One of them – the largest – came closer than the others and was about to cross the threshold of the church when it yelped in pain and bolted back to the rest of the pack. As strange as it sounds, we did nothing to defend ourselves. We just stood, watching this new evil with minds too drenched with fear to take on anymore.
I don’t know who closed the doors. Once we had gathered back near the altar our shock left us, and we gave way to fear. I am not ashamed to say that I cried. No one had a doubt that the dogs were the vampires’ creatures, and soon everyone came to the same realisation – we were trapped. With the dogs guarding us by day, we could not leave the church and live.
We soon drifted into silence, and I went to pray before the statue of the Virgin Mary. My prayers were interrupted by a horrid thought – had the horse been a trap? It was the only animal left alive in the village – could the vampires have let it live on purpose, knowing we would use it to try to free some of our number? Then the dogs – we had no knowledge of them before today. Could they have waited until they knew some of us would be outside the safety of the church before setting their beasts on us? Dear God, were these demons deliberately toying with us, playing games to prove our helplessness?
If it is possible, I am even more frightened than I was, knowing they possess this kind of cruelty.
Jacob has not moved since he came in from the battle, and mutters under his breath continuously – no one can make out his words, but he whimpers now and then, like a child having a nightmare.
I have no idea what to do. There are now only thirteen of us remaining – of all numbers! – and we are trapped.
I shall spend the rest of the day in prayer before the statue of Our Lady, for only a miracle can save us now.
Praised be the Lord. Sometime near dawn I must have fallen asleep, for I awoke in full daylight to find a miracle had indeed been worked. On my hands and feet, and at my side, are the marks of Christ’s wounds. I am too overcome to write, but I must share this.
The blood of the Lord has soaked my vestments, but I feel no weakness – indeed, I feel a strength I have not known since this terror began. My sight is clear, and everything shines golden in the sun. My prayers have been answered.
I know what I must do to save the people God has entrusted to me. When the sun goes down, in only a few moments, I shall go outside and offer myself to the vampires. As Jesus our Lord was the lamb of God, so shall I be the lamb for my people. The blood that pours from me seems never-ending – surely the vampires will leave here with me when they see what I offer.
I have not shared my intention with anyone, fearing they would do something rash. Since this morning they have treated me with a quiet awe that. . .
It seems the creatures found my diary. They tell me to continue writing, to finish the story, they say. They seem amused by it.
Very well. They have freed my hands so I can write, though streaks of blood make my words almost illegible.
As I was writing my last entry, just minutes before I meant to go out and surrender myself to the vampires, I heard screams coming from the church. I ran out from my chambers and saw nine vampires standing just inside the main doors of the church, silhouetted against the dusky sky. One of the men – I think it was David – tried to escape out the side entrance. Quicker than wind, one of the vampires blocked his way, and sank its teeth into his neck.
Then they all moved, faster than anything godly, seizing and killing my flock. All this time Jacob stood by the door, muttering “I had to, I had to, I couldn’t help it” over and over again, smacking his head with one hand while tears rolled down his face. One of the vampires approached him and stroked his head like a mother soothing a fretful child. Jacob looked up, silenced. The vampire leaned its head to his ear and whispered something too low for me to hear, then bit him. He didn’t make a sound.
Then, as one, they turned to me. “Hello father, do you remember me?” It was the same creature I saw the first night. They advanced slowly – I was unable to move, hypnotised by them. I blacked out just as the first reached me.
I don’t know how they were able to come inside the church – Jacob gave an invitation, but surely, in the house of God. . . (One of them is reading this. It says they can come into any abandoned place – that then, even God has no power. Had we, in our hearts, already abandoned the church? Had I?)
When I finish writing, they will tie me up again – on my back, arms and legs outstretched so one of the creatures can feed from each of my hands and feet, and one from my side.
From where I lie on the altar, I can see the statue of the Virgin Mary out of the corner of one eye.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for this sinner now – for the hour of my death.
(c) Emily Derango, All Rights Reserved.Featured image by John Cafazza on Unsplash