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Posted on 7/9/13

Stop breathing. For the love of God, stop breathing! I’ve wandered into one of those Vampire clubs. These nuts actually think they’re some sort of immortal monsters and they are totally going to freaking kill me! Goth punks with some mad psychological issues---honestly I never knew old guys got a kick out of this stuff? The fat guy, I’ll admit did move quicker than I thought he would, and these old creeps are taking their little game way too seriously! I never thought I would go out this way, and what a load of crap-shit help my gun did! What were these bullets made of, plastic?

“God!” My thoughts grumbled, “I’m going to die, aren’t I? I am totally about to get freaky-vampire gang raped and murdered.” I slid into a small closet under the house and hid in the total darkness as the psychotic maniac looked around the house for me. “I forgot my damn phone at the bar!” I groaned to myself, “No phone, a worthless gun---this was karma for saying I wasn’t afraid to walk home, wasn’t it!?”

I slid my hand back and covered my mouth so nobody could hear my exasperated breaths trying to take in air. Just as I did, I could hear the fat man’s creaking footsteps coming down into the cellar. He would find me in a matter of seconds, and I needed to be ready when he did, I needed to fight him off as long as I could before his weird old friends came to help him kill me. Tears or sweat started to slip over my fingers as my other hand rummaged the small closet for a blunt tool or a weapon that wasn’t a complete letdown. All I could touch was a wad of dirt, some dead cockroaches, and a whole mess of dusty cobwebs.

The doorknob started to turn and I could feel his presence on the other side of the door as my heart literally started to beat so hard that I thought I might throw up. One final time, I stuck my arm back and touched a tiny glass vial sitting alone on the bottom shelf near my head, and I clutched it as if it were a sword. A breeze rushed in and the door was now open, all that was separating us was a thick screen of black air and I prayed that it might be enough to hide me from this madness. That thought slapped out of my grasp as soon as his voice broke the silence; it made me jump and all of the breath in my lungs escaped my body in terror and shock, leaving me alone to face this madman.

“There you are my sweet…” He cackled.

I yelled once and thrust my entire body upward, my arm and all, as I shot to a stand and smashed the tiny vial right across the large man’s face and the overpowering aroma of lemon poured into my nose. I felt his skin, clammy and dry like a corpse’s would feel, and suddenly the cold flesh started to burn as my hand left his cheek and the shards of old glass were caught in his beard. I hissed as the blood, my own I think, started to drip off of my stinging palm and onto the floor; meanwhile, an odd steaming sound had started to fill the silence as only the fat man’s screams of agony could be heard echoing throughout the empty cellar.

I took my window of opportunity and ran as fast as I could up the stairs, not even caring anymore that I had sharp wedges of glass stuck straight through my right hand. The pain was unbearable, but the thought of safety outside was stronger, and suddenly I was back into the living room, looking out the broken window at the night street and the rain. I hurried to the doorknob and reached for the handle, when suddenly I was slammed back onto the floor and the breath once again knocked straight out of my stomach.

“What the Hell?” the thin Goth man rolled his eyes and loomed over me. He gave me a stare and then added, “Where is Falstaff?”

“He’s in the cellar, screaming like a cat that got itself caught inside a shower!” the normal looking British guy scoffed.

Then the old man, the World of Warcraft wizard with the long white hair, he came in and just as suddenly as he saw me lying, gasping on the hardwood floor by the door did his own eyes grow wide with fear. He shot his hand out to the others and ordered, “Get away from her!”

The thin man jumped back as though I had transformed into a haywire chainsaw and both he and the red haired man started to look at me in a funny way too. I rolled over and slid towards the door as the three of them just stood dumbfounded by the staircase. The sounds of agony could still be heard coming from the basement, but the sweet noise of the front doorknob clicking open was the loudest sound I ever thought I could ever hear again. With nothing but a gasp for air, I turned and ran straight down the street and didn’t stop for a single moment. I didn’t go home and I didn’t go back to the bar, I just ran and ran some more until I could get as much distance between me and those psychos as physically possible and then I kept on running.

I don't know how long I had gone, hours it felt like because eventually the storms stopped and dawn peaked as I wearily slammed into a tree in the middle of nowhere's back door and I fell limply into a wet pile of leaves on the murky ground. My eyes shaking and ribs stabbing into my lungs, I vomited into the mud and rolled over to see the gray clouds before finally I passed out and stopped moving.

“Why did you let her go?” Adok snapped.

“Fool!” Orrick thundered and struck him back a step as he shut the door and took in a gruff sigh. “I thought when we exterminated the witches from this area, the servants had half a mind to clean every trace of them from this house.”

“What are you prattling on about old man?” Bennet huffed.

“Brother!” Falstaff sighed and ravaged up the stairs to the living room, his face bulbous and searing as his flesh peeled away like the skin off a grape. He slammed into the floor and shouted, “It is Verbena!”

“Verbena?” Adok spat, “That isn’t possible---we got rid of that blasted weed centuries ago.”

“Guess a few witches harbored a little and brought it back to life,” Bennet almost sounded as though he wanted to smile, but he refrained and slid a large hunk of glass out of Falstaff’s face. His hand wrapped in a bit of loose fabric that he tore off from the drapes, he held the glass to his eyes and added, “It looks like they’ve turned it into some sort of herbal perfume mixed with lemon. Ouch!”

“If this poison still exists out there, then who knows what other weaknesses of ours still live in the mundane world,” Orrick pondered.

“What of that little wretch?” Adok hissed, “She heard everything, all of our plans, and now she knows our weakness! She needs to be killed! I will go after her and split the little quim’s skull myself!”

“Until what?” Bennet shoved, “She slaps you across the face with that hand of hers? Gives you a few shards of glass in your face? Her blood is literally fused with that damned perfume right now Einstein! We can’t touch her until the effects wear off, unless of course you want to join Falstaff in eternal agony on the floor.”

“This has turned into such an unfortunate outcome gentlemen,” Orrick frowned and then sighed, “Good heavens will somebody please silence Falstaff’s infernal screeching!” Adok punched the large elder across the face and even sent him flailing backwards to a complete knock out as his skin continued to blister and bubble. Orrick let out a sound of relief and added softly, “Once the Verbena wears away, Falstaff’s skin will be able to heal normally, but in the meantime he will go through unbearable anguish and suffering.” He cleared his throat and declared, “No matter, this does not change our plans. Adok, Bennet, you are to rally our forces and I will alert Falstaff’s brethren to the battlefield. As for that woman---”

“Easy chief,” Pryor grinned, “Consider her taken care of. I have in my possession my own personal assassin, and he has never once missed a target. The boy could use a little punishment for his insolence, so I’ll order him to hunt down the woman at once---whether she still have the poison in her system or not. A little pain might do him some good any way.”

“I agree,” Adok quivered to admit, “While Bennet may be a complete embarrassment, I have heard numerous tales of terror towards his little ward, Ballison. For once, Pryor has suggested something of use to come from his house.”

Bennet hissed.

“Very well,” the grand elder nodded, “Until the next we meet my brothers…” Orrick started towards the door as Adok followed at his feet and Bennet started to twirl his cane around with a brief sense of accomplishment.

“What a memorable evening,” Bennet teased, “Let’s do this at all of our meetings, eh gentlemen?”

“Shut up, Bennet!” Adok groaned, “But remember, next time it is your turn to bring the liquor---and next time, bring a lot of it!”

“That’s a laugh,” Pryor chuckled once, “We can’t even get drunk, it is just to pass the time.”

“Regardless,” He snapped. Adok looked up at his master and asked gently, “Are you ready to depart, sir?”

“Aye,” he gruffed, warning as he and his followers prepared to vanish, “And remember, Adok, Bennet,” He stared down anyway, “Falstaff. Do not fail me.”

Bristol, England, you are quite different than the last time I saw you. What has it been, thirty years since my last visit? Sometimes when I submit to Pryor I wander by for a brief visit with my hometown. I can still remember the very first time I revisited my town; it was ten years after the night that changed my life forever. I had already killed seventy---no, eighty-five different men and monsters alike; forty of which I was instructed to kill from Bennet, the others were simply part of my practice phase to controlling the poisonous burn that unrelentingly scratched at my throat.

A whole decade passed since the town thought me gone. I came into Bristol a stranger, unrecognized by even the people who had seen me every day in town. I came about curious to the news since I had left, and people were exceptionally eager to gossip the rumors around that night. They say that a ripper was let loose on those three men I had torn limb from limb; stories upon stories had formed until finally a monstrous mess of tangled rumors finally overtook the three workers’ mysterious deaths. They had families, a few of them children now grown. They were less than willing to talk about that night’s events and more worried for fear of what really happened and when this foul creature would strike again. I often found myself wondering the same.

For the farm boy known as Miccam Ballison, I was thought dead by the same monster that had ravaged the workers. The woman I had tried to save, now a mother of three, she confessed to seeing the worker’s beat me, but she said that she fled before ant monster showed its face and for that she was eternally grateful to God, yet equally mournful for the boy who once was me. She said that she never got a good look at his face in all that rain, but when she started to view me oddly, I found it best to keep moving through town.

My father no longer lived at our house, but instead a small family of immigrants from Scotland, potato farmers, I think? They told me that there was once a vagabond of a man who lived here alone in misery, and that he died of the dreaded Typhoid Fever just five years prior; five years after I was labeled dead. When I asked the potato growers about the son of Beckham Ballison, they told me that they never knew the old man ever had a son, and then pointed me off towards the village to ask around elsewhere. My own father, I knew he would never mourn for me, yet still, to see how little impact I meant to everyone brought a foul feeling in the pit of my stomach. Even today my story remains unheard and the tale of the ripper has spread to stories of murder and one called Jack who apparently murdered thousands in 1888. I’m not so sure, but I believe that his tales of murder meshed with my own to form his story and since then the original truth has been far past forgotten.

As I wander the public city streets of Bristol, I’ve seen how everything and everyone has changed. I know the ancestors of most citizens here that even the people and families themselves do not know; I have seen every wooden cottage turn into a brick home and every stone walkway become a black asphalt road. My old farmhouse was condemned and torn down around the early 1920’s and since then the land has been renewed into a shoreline view string of apartments. Even the headstones at the graveyard, some names I knew in my childhood, others so old that they have vanished from significance forever, now tainted with decay and graffiti alike as the city forgot all about the place where I once knew.

The corner where I was murdered, where Bennet found my body and made me what I am today; that corner still exists, it is still an alley between a bar and a successful little book store. No longer can I see the blood that stained the roads, nor smell the stench of my past, once so vivid that it made my chest burn. I sat down on the corner and stared up at the clouded sky as I let the memory of my death come rushing back. I saw the night sky and the brief flashes of rain and then----

My phone started to ring. I dug around in my pocket and pulled the thing out to my surprise only to see Bennet’s number on my caller ID. I touched one of the screen buttons and in overwhelming confusion, I answered, “Hello?”

“Hello?” Bennet’s voice mocked in a disgusted laugh, “Where are you Ballison!?”

“Out for air,” I frowned, “What’s the problem? You’ve never needed me so soon after a hit before.”

“Stop talking and listen closely,” Pryor snapped, “The meeting in New Orleans did not go quite as expected and I have somebody that I need taken care of immediately.”

I pulled the phone away from my face and made all sorts of angry mouthed expressions to myself before finally putting the speaker back to my ear. “I am at your undying service Bennet. Tell me,” I said, “Who is my target this time?”

“A woman in New Orleans, I am not sure of anything else at the moment, but I am busier than you could even imagine right now. Go to Louisiana, find the bar of founders marked with my crest, and then catch her scent, track her down, and kill her! There is no time for your little sympathy games either, Miccam, this woman needs to be dead yesterday, are we clear!?”

“Crystal,” I took a breath, “I’m on my way there now, sir.”

“Excellent. Oh, and Miccam…” Pryor eased, “If you see a large, statuesque man with the appearance of a Norse Viking in motorcycle attire---well then you have my permission to knock him unconscious if he isn’t already so, alright?”

“Uh…” I hummed, “A-alright?”

“Good, now get this task done Miccam and come back to my house right after! I need you for an important event coming up.”

“Event? What event?”

The line went dead.

“Bennet!” I raised my voice, “Bennet, what event!? God!” I shoved the phone back into my pocket and stood up. “This day just keeps getting stranger and stranger.”