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HOW TO SLAY VAMPIRES FOR FUN AND PROFIT
Johann was, at the moment, an unwilling patron of the Fedderville Public Library. His parents had dragged him there because they wanted to hear a local author speak about her trip to the South Pole. Johann had no interest in poles or local authors. He had no interest in books, either, until he spotted the faded gold letters on the faded brown spine of a thin volume jutting slightly from a shelf in a far-off dusty corner of the second floor of the library, where he’d wandered, looking for something to amuse himself. He read the title twice, since the first reading left him with the impression he’d misread the words. But no, they were just what they’d seemed on first glance: How to Slay Vampires for Fun and Profit.
Johann was always ready for fun. He was also in favor of profit. He pulled the book from between its shelf mates. Somebody messed up, he thought, as he noticed that the books on either side were volumes of poetry written by some guy named Byron. Obviously, the book had been misshelved. No matter. It was in his hands now. He sat on the floor and started reading. He was halfway through the book by the time his parents tracked him down. Their annoyance at having to hunt for him was balanced by their joy at seeing him enthralled by a book for the first time in his life. Both parents, upon reading the title, assumed it was a work of fiction.
Johann continued to read in the car. He finished the book that evening, sitting on the living room couch. He now knew how to lure vampires, trap them, slay them, and sell their ashes for an amazing sum. He’d vaguely known that slain vampires disintegrated into ashes, but he’d no idea there was a market for those powdery remains. The book listed the addresses of several places that would buy them, and Johann checked the Internet to make sure those places were real.
Since the task of slaying vampires was not a solo occupation, Johann enlisted the aid of his friends Cameron and Luis. He told them all about the fun they’d have, but he didn’t mention the profit. That money would be all his.
Cameron and Luis shared Johann’s dark nature, so they were easily persuaded to join the venture. It helped that Luis had a supply of sparklers left over from the Fourth of July. Those were an important component in the slaying part. Their burning light, apparently, could transfix a vampire once several common chemicals were added to the existing mix. It also helped that Cameron’s father was a passionate gardener, with a fondness for the larger varieties of tomatoes. Heavy duty tomato stakes were easily converted into weapons for plunging into vampire hearts.
Throughout the preparation phase, Johann searched all around the town, and all across any countryside within range of a lazy bicyclist, for a site to which he could lure the vampires. The book stated that three to five victims was a reasonable number to expect, though there had been reports of slayers harvesting as many as a dozen. Johann knew he’d do well above average.
Fortunately, human blood was not required to bait the trap, though Johann was pretty sure he could convince Cameron to donate a small quantity if he egged him on with taunts about cowardice. Cameron was easily manipulated. But his blood wouldn’t be needed. According to the book, fresh beef would do, mixed with an assortment of herbs and spices that were not difficult to obtain. Johann chose the middle school gym for the site of the slaughter, because he knew how to get inside the building, even when it was supposed to be locked.
Once the vampire slayers reached the gym, they set out the bait in the darkened, cavernous room. Johann opened the book to the spot he’d marked, illuminated the page with his phone, and read the chant that would help lure the vampires.
As the last word died in the darkness, the vampires came. Silent, half human in form, half smoke, they entered the gym. Five! Then six! Then seven! Then eight! Male and female, they approached the bucket. Johann held his breath, hoping those drawn by the chant and the scent would exceed the dozen mentioned in the book. Soon enough, they did. A dozen came, followed by two more. And then, a final straggler arrived. There were fifteen in all, now fully solidified from their smoke-edged transitionary bodies, forming a ring around the bait in its bucket on the floor, staring down, as if waiting for a command.
It’s a record! Johann’s mind flashed between thoughts of fame and thoughts of riches. Both would be his. Maybe he could even write his own book.
Flanking him, Luis and Cameron trembled visibly. Not Johann. He felt steely calm, and eager to get started. The book was true to its promise. This would be fun. He hefted the plastic bag that lay at his feet, savoring the weight of the stakes and picturing the thrilling leap into action that would mark the start of the slaying. He would move through the vampires like a hero in a blockbuster movie, skewering their undead hearts.
“Light it,” Johann whispered to Luis, when it seemed likely no more vampires would arrive. The first sparkler, specially prepared to ignite easily, hissed like a serpent and threw glowing sparks that pierced the darkness. Luis lit two more sparklers from the first one, and handed them to his fellow vampire slayers.
Johann tucked the book under his arm and raised his sparkler. “Yield!” he shouted, approaching the vampires. “Kneel before me!”
One vampire knelt, just as the book had described. He bowed his head and said, “Yes, my master. I will do your bidding.”
Master! Johann loved the feeling of power the word sent through his body.
The vampire next to the kneeling one smacked him on the shoulder. The kneeling vampire rose. “I was just messing with him,” he said.
The vampires laughed. The sound struck Johann like a stab to the gut.
“Sparklers…,” one of the vampires said. “How could anybody believe something so ridiculous?”
Johann felt more stabs of fear. This time, the jabs pierced his lungs.
“How could anybody believe we could be trapped?” a vampire to Johann’s left said. “What fools these mortals be!”
“Oh, that’s original,” a shorter vampire said in a mocking tone.
This set off a round of chatter.
“Kneel!” Johann shouted, not yet understanding that he was the one who’d been hunted, lured, and trapped. Though he’d been caught with bait far more devious and subtle than a slab of beef dripping with cow’s blood. He took a step forward. Luis and Cameron remained frozen where they stood, clutching their useless sparklers.
Instead of kneeling, the vampires leaped onto their victims. It was their turn for fun, and for feasting. As Johann’s life drained away, the book slipped from beneath his arm.
A vampire snatched it before it could hit the floor.
The vampire who had knelt picked up a dying sparkler and waved it in a figure eight. “I used to love these things.”
“Me, too,” another said.
After the feast, the vampires, half smoke again, and half undead flesh, drifted away from the gym. One of them carried the book to another library, in another town, for the next clueless fun seeker to find. Because, whether you’re a human or a vampire, it’s nice, sometimes, to get your meal delivered.
Copyright © 2018 by David Lubar