Lazarus Von Bloodworthy the Third hated mirrors with a passion rarely understood by the living. They were a reminder of what he once had been, but could no longer lay claim to.
While he breathed, he had been a vain man. One much inclined to spend an inordinate amount of time preening himself. His mirror was his best and brightest friend.
Then there was the encounter with the lady of the evening. Except that the lady of the evening turned out to be a creature of the night. Lazarus was never quite sure what happened. When he woke the next day, he had no wallet, no clothes and no pulse. Not his best day, not even close to it.
One day, passing by one of the mirrors, he stopped from long habit. Since he had been turned, he had never seen himself. As ever, the mirror showed him nothing. He pulled it from the wall.
“Show me how handsome I am. Show me how I never age. Show me, or you’ll regret it,” he bellowed at the mirror. The mirror neither replied nor showed his reflection. He threw it on the floor with all his might. “Damn you, that’s what you get for not listening to me.”
A thousand pieces of mirror scattered and lay still and silent, while storm clouds of ill fortune gathered invisibly in the ether.
Lazarus came to the conclusion that he needed to feed. Rather than going out as normal, he wanted to take advantage of his shape-shifting ability. He changed form to that of a wolf. He thought that once he found a victim, he could lure them somewhere and shift back then feast.
On four paws, he left the house. A few blocks later, he noticed a police car slow down as it passed the intersection he had just crossed. It wasn’t long before the painful wail of a siren assaulted his ears. Lazarus ran, looking for a safe place to change. More sirens began to wail in the distance and nearby.
“Oh shit, where do I go?”
He was so busy trying to outrun the sirens that he missed the quiet van parked along the road. Until there was the soft whoosh of air followed by a sting in his rump. “What?” he thought as he ran. In moments, he lost control of his limbs and fell.
“My, my, aren’t you a big pup,” said one of the two men that lifted him. “No collar, guess it’s straight to the pound for you.”
He was trapped in the van. He couldn’t change, not now. Not when two people knew they had a dog in the van. Plus he still had no control over his muscles.
It was a relatively short drive to the animal refuge. The two men hauled him out of the back of the van. “Check and see if he has a desexing mark,” said the one.
The other gave him a quick check over. “Nope, guess we’ll leave him in a cage for the vet. She can take care of it with the others tomorrow.”
Lazarus would have howled his misery but it came out as a whimper. “Don’t worry, boy. She’ll be quick and then you can find a new home,” said one of the men with a quick pat. They put Lazarus in a medium sized cage in a room with 1/2 dozen other cages.
He spent most of the night trying to escape the cage. A wolf’s paw was too large to fit through the grate and there wasn’t space in the cage to change to human.
There also wasn’t space in the cage to dodge far enough away when the attendant came to prep Lazarus for the vet.
“I’m not a dog,” he whimpered. “I’m not.”
“Aren’t you the talkative boy?” she replied as she gave him the shot. Lazarus fought the drug as it entered his system. The drug won and he was out.
When he came to, he had a sore ear, sore neck and sore balls. Vampires may be immortal but that didn’t make them invulnerable.
He hoped that he’d be put out in one of the big pens for the day. But all the dogs were kept for a day in the small cages in the surgery. He found himself staring at the cage door all day, hoping that somehow it would open itself. It did not.
The next day started with the embarrassment of having a choke chain and lead put on. Lazarus was led to the bigger pens which already held a couple of dogs. He submitted, there were too many people about for him to change. He noticed that the area was fenced in, so a four legged form had no easy way out. One growl and the other dogs backed away.
Lazarus waited for an opportunity to change. A steady stream of humans going past kept him in dog form.
“Daddy, look at that one!” shouted an excited little girl. “Can we have that one?”
“It’s a bit large, sweety. Are you sure you don’t want that little puppy?” replied the man.
“Nope, I want him! That’s the doggie that I want for my birthday,” the girl said, stamping her foot for emphasis. The man sighed. He knew when his daughter had her heart set on something.
“Excuse me, we’d like this one,” he said motioning toward Lazarus.
“He is one handsome dog, I’ll give you that,” said the attendant as she put the dread choke chain back around his neck. He decided to go along with this. Out of the kennels, he’d have more opportunity to change form or escape.
Waiting for the processing was tedious. He had to remember to do things like wag his tail so no one would think he was too strange a dog.
Finally, the payment made, the papers signed, a new collar and lead were put around his neck and they were off.
“That dog of yours is quiet and well-behaved. I wonder why he ended up at the pound?” the father remarked. “What are you going to call him?”
The girl was buckled in the back seat next to Lazarus. She reached out to pet him. “I think I’ll call him Fluffy. He is very fluffy.”
Lazarus couldn’t help the horrified shudder that went down his spine. Fluffy? If any other vampire ever heard about this, it would take centuries to live it down.
The birthday party was just starting when they drove up to the house. The girl grabbed his lead and Lazarus found himself the centre of attention. Some of the kids decided to see if he knew tricks, so there was a lot of “Fluffy, fetch. Fluffy sit. Fluffy stay.”
That wasn’t so bad but there were a couple of boys who thought it was funny to pull his tail or pinch him. This was a problem, how to effectively get them to stop without risking an immediate return to the animal refuge. In the end, he ‘accidentally’ knocked each boy over by jumping on them. He made sure to step on them hard with one foot. After that, they kept more of a respectful distance from Fluffy.
“Daddy, I want Fluffy to stay in my room.” The girl was getting ready for bed.
“No, sweety. Maybe in a couple of days but I want to have our vet look him over first. He’ll be fine for a couple of nights in the garage.”
Lazarus sighed in relief when he was lead out to the garage and the dog bed. He waited until he hadn’t heard anything at all for half an hour before he changed back to human and left for home. “Don’t think I’ll change to wolf any time soon,” he thought as he fled.
Lazarus was driving back from visiting an old friend. Night time road works caused a traffic pileup just outside of a small town. Instead of going through town in 5 minutes, the traffic pileup was lasting for hours. By the time the traffic started moving again, the first hints of dawn could be seen on the horizon. The cause was easy to see once they moved. The entire road had been blocked by the collusion of two trucks and several cars.
While sunlight had yet to prove fatal for Lazarus, the few times he’d been caught outside in day before had been extremely uncomfortable. Driving two more hours to get home just wasn’t feasible. He needed a place to rest for the day.
Toward the far edge of town, Lazarus noticed that there was a funeral parlour. Not exactly his first choice of venue but it was likely to be a quiet location with minimal chance of rude interruptions. He parked in the far end of the car park and walked up to the building. He tried the front door and it was locked. He wandered around the back and the back door wasn’t locked. “This is lucky. They might call the police if I had to break in but no one is ever going to notice.”
He looked around the back room and found a handsome casket off to one side. He got in the casket and closed the lid. It wasn’t long before daytime torpor hit and Lazarus lost all awareness of his surroundings.
“Joe, where the hell is the corpse? The funeral is in an hour, we need to get the casket in place before the family turns up.” Bob checked his watch but there had been no sign of the expected delivery from the morgue.
“Yeah, some of those weirdos come in really early. Don’t think it’s to pay their last respects though, it’s more likely just a way to prove that they are more effected by the death than anyone else,” replied Joe. “It’s weird, those guys usually never miss getting the main participant here on time.”
“Damn cleaner closed one of the caskets again. I keep telling them that they should be open, especially that one,” said Bob as he approached the casket that Lazarus was in. “How are we going to persuade people to spend a lot of money for a luxury coffin when they can’t see the interior?”
Bob lifted the lid of the coffin. “I found our corpse. I guess one of those morgue clowns thought a game of hide and seek would be funny.”
Joe wandered over for a look. “Weird, they really have gone all out. Usually we have to do the clothes and makeup. This guy already looks perfect. He doesn’t even look dead.”
“I wonder why the family requested a closed casket? I don’t see anything wrong with the corpse,” said Bob.
Joe shook his head. “Never ask why. Just do what the instruction sheet says. Although, we’ll have to change coffins. That family did not pay for this one. He should be in the oak one with no padding.”
They moved Lazarus to the plain oak coffin, shut the lid and moved the coffin into the main viewing area.
Lazarus was dead to the world. He didn’t notice that he had been put in a different coffin. Nor did the coffin being put in a hearse, the coffin being laid in the ground and last words said over the coffin. Even though he didn’t notice that he was the main attraction at a funeral, he might have been pleased about how many people were there to pay respects. As the mourners left, the coffin was buried.
Lazarus woke just after the sun set. He congratulated himself on finding a successful resting place for the day. He went to push the coffin lid upwards. It refused to move.
Lazarus blinked a few times, though even a vampire can’t see in pitch dark. After a long pause, he tapped on the coffin lid. The resulting thud told the story. The coffin wasn’t sitting in the funeral home in open air any more. It was in the ground. This was going to be a long night.
He clawed his way through the oak lid, cursing the solid wood as he did. It took hours for the vampire to scrape his way through the dense wood.
When the wood had been significantly weakened, the pressure of the soil above the coffin made the coffin lid flex inward toward Lazarus. Before he could react, the wood gave way and the dirt poured in.
Lazarus quickly realised that though the hard wood had been difficult to dig through, it was still easier than the dirt. The dirt moved easily enough but his arms and hands were restricted by the soil covering his body. Still, there was no choice. The only way he would ever be free was by digging himself out of the grave.
Hours later and Lazarus could tell that only a thin amount of dirt was between him and freedom. He rejoiced as fresh air hit his face when he finally forced his way through. Only to realise that the first hints of dawn touched the horizon. He didn’t know where he was in relation to his car. He sank back in the grave avoiding the touch of the sun.
“Damn it, someone’s been digging at one of the graves again,” grumbled the graveyard keeper. He smoothed over the dirt in the grave.
Underneath the soil, Lazarus could only be grateful that he didn’t need to breath and that at least there was only dirt to dig through the next night. Before the daylight torpor took him away, he vowed to himself to dig a lot faster, no matter what the cost.
Lazarus had been waiting in an alley outside the restaurant for some time. He still enjoyed the smell of food, the spicier the better, even if he could no longer indulge in it himself. A week ago, it had been Indian. Tonight, he was hunting outside a Thai restaurant.
Hunting at restaurants took time though. He watched couples and groups going past to enter and eventually exit the restaurant. He wasn’t hungry enough to bother with them. Trying to pick out one person from a group was simply asking for trouble.
Finally, he watched a young man walk by alone and enter the restaurant. “Dinner has arrived. Stuff yourself, you’ll be donating after dinner,” he said softly to himself.
Lazarus concluded that his intended dinner had decided to do himself well indeed when it was an hour before he finally left.
Pulling the man deep into the alley was easily accomplished. His meal really had no options, vampire strength being what it was.
Lovely hot blood filled his mouth as the scent of the man’s fear, cologne and spices from the restaurant mingled in his nostrils. Ah such a feast for the senses.
The first signs that all was not well was two minutes later. His tongue started to swell, causing him to choke instead of feed. Lazarus tried to keep feeding but had to stop.
“What the hell is wrong with me?” he thought as he let go of his dinner. The man collapsed on the street but Lazarus knew he hadn’t taken nearly enough blood to kill him.
It was just as well that vampires don’t breathe unless they are talking because Lazarus’s throat had entirely closed up.
He had nearly panicked due to the allergy. He had to assume that human medication might be like human food, his system would simply ignore it. So Lazarus waited for three days for his system to work through the peanut and he could once again use his throat and tongue.
“I’m starving, I need blood.” He went back out. This time, he avoided the restaurant area. He went to the local park to hunt. It didn’t take long to spot potential prey. Again, it was a man walking alone. Lazarus would have preferred a woman but only a few walked alone after dark. And those few were cautious about letting strangers approach.
When he got closer, he smiled in joy. His chosen victim had on headphones, he wouldn’t notice the vampire until far too late. The park had only a few people in, Lazarus just had to wait until there was no one close before he pulled the man off the path and into some thick bushes.
“Shhh, shhh,” he said softly after pulling off the headphones. “This won’t hurt much and then you can be on your way.”
“Trippy. That was some good shit,” said the victim.
An odd thing to say when a vampire was about to bite you but he wasn’t struggling or screaming so Lazarus went to feed.
After a few minutes, Lazarus started to feel strange, disconnected and disoriented. “What the???”
The man under him began to giggle. “Told ya it was good.”
Lazarus fell to the ground. “Damn, it is good.”
They both lie there staring upwards at the sky. “Dude, are you really a vampire?”
“Nah, it’s the stuff. It’s making you think crazy things. Like me, I think that the moon is actually a huge silver coin that a god dropped.”
There was a long pause. “Dude, you could be right. How could we be sure?”
Lazarus barely remembered in time that sunlight was a bad idea and fled for home.
“Right, no one who has been eating Thai. No one who looks like they might have drugs in their system. That’s still going to leave most of the city, ready to become snack food,” thought Lazarus. He decided to wait in the park, see if anyone interesting turned up.
He noticed someone walk around the large pond in the park. She chose a bench on the far side of the pond to sit. Relatively brave for a woman after dark, but her gait had been steady. He didn’t think she was on drugs.
Lazarus approached her. “Mind if I sit here?” he asked putting as much charm as he could in his voice. “It’s a lovely night.”
“Be my guest, it is a public bench,” she replied.
“It is not often that I can share my evening with a lovely lady. You are much braver than most women that I meet.”
“There are scarier things than the night. Even if you count the weirdos who come out at this time.”
Lazarus blinked. Did she think that of him? “Are you calling me names already? Usually it takes at least two encounters for that to happen.”
She gave a sudden giggle. “Not you. I can’t tell if you’re weird yet or not.”
“I must try harder to make a proper impression,” he replied in a serious voice. “For instance, did you know that your long, lovely neck looks most tasty?”
When she turned to stare at him, he hypnotised her. “You wouldn’t mind if I took a little taste, would you?”
She nodded mutely. He drew her close, anyone looking their direction would just see a couple cuddling in the moonlight. He took in a large mouthful of blood, ready to savour the flavour before swallowing. Then spat it out.
“That’s horrible,” he said. “What on earth?”
“Oh,” she said, her voice the faintest of whispers. “I’m dying. Would that make a difference?”
She sounded nonchalant about it. It made Lazarus shudder. “My dear, if you could be cured, would you?”
“It is the final stages of cancer. The doctors have no more recommendations for me. I will die. They say at most six months.”
“Would you do anything to stay alive?” Lazarus was feeling nervous. He was offering to convert a woman whom he’d only just met. He’d never done it before but he was willing to try.
“Actually, no. I’m content. There are things that I would have liked to have done but it’s been a good life. That’s why I’m fearless. What’s the worst that can happen, that I die a couple of months sooner?”
“I think I’m cursed,” moaned Lazarus to Christof. “The most unbelievable things just keep happening to me.”
“Laz, you are just such a moaner,” sighed Christof. “What happened? Did you break a fingernail?”
Once a year, Christof and Lazarus met up. Christof was a dentist who ran the only evening/nighttime emergency dental clinic in the state. Most of the clients were humans but he did have to deal with vampires from time to time.
Lazarus would volunteer at the local bloodbank for a day, handing around drinks and cookies after donors gave blood. At the end of the day, he always stole a couple of bags of blood, so he and Christof didn’t need to go hunting.
“I was buried. Do you know how long it takes to dig out of a coffin?”
“I was buried too. Family didn’t know that I wasn’t permanently dead,” replied Christof. “What else you got?”
Laz stared at the bag of blood. “Nearly died from blood. Did you know you can still have allergies? I’m allergic to people who just ate peanuts.”
“All right. That does sound bad. Anything else?”
Lazarus sighed. “Can you keep this quiet? I don’t want it getting out.”
Christof smirked. “This sounds promising. I won’t tell a soul.”
“I was caught as a wolf and taken to the pound. Neutered, adopted and she named me Fluffy,” said Lazarus in a mournful voice.
“Fluffy? You were named Fluffy?” laughed Christof.
“I smashed a mirror and I’m starting to think the belief about 7 years bad luck is true. What would you suggest?”
“If you are a good boy, Fluffy, I’ll give you a doggy biscuit and advice,” snorted Christof.
“Would you stop with the Fluffy? That’s a painful topic, in more ways than one.”
“All right. If I felt I were cursed, I’d find some gypsies. They do have a long association with vampires, and the real ones do know some unusual things.”
Lazarus pondered the idea. It was true that Vlad still swore by the gypsies that lived in the old country, though he did sometimes swear at them as well. “How on earth would I be able to tell if they are real gypsies?”
“What other groups of humans recognise us for what we are?”
It took Laz six months to find real gypsies. The first few leads he followed seemed promising but the people were always fake fortune tellers and the like. Finally he started hunting for gypsies in the old country. More specifically, in the homeland of Vlad.
Even there, finding a group of genuine gypsies wasn’t straight forward. It’s not like they advertise in the newspapers. But one day…
“I am looking for someone who can remove a curse,” he said to yet another group of gypsies through Sam, his faithful interpreter.
One woman looked him over from top to bottom. “Vampire,” she stated bluntly. “There is nothing we can do for you.”
When Sam translated that statement, Laz sighed with relief. This one knew her stuff. “That’s not the curse that I need removed. You see, a couple of years ago, I broke a mirror. I’ve had bad luck ever since. Can you do something about that?”
Needing an interpreter was rather annoying but he quickly found that gypsies spoke several languages depending on where they lived but English was never one of them. He had to wait for Sam to translate everything.
“Bad luck? This is the curse that you want lifted?”
Laz nodded. “I’ll pay well. I want this gone before it ruins my life.” He shuddered at the memories of the past three years. He had suffered enough, if he had to apologise to every mirror that he passed for the rest of his vampire days, he would.
“What you call bad luck, we call the evil eye. We must turn the eye away from you or make you invisible to it. I must think on the best ways to do this. It has been many years since we last had a problem with the evil eye.”
“Think on it? How long?” asked Lazarus.
“Come back in three days,” was the translated reply.
Lazarus nodded and arranged with Sam to come back. The three days passed slowly. This group lived in the mountains and there was little to do at night. Hunting was not easy, most of the houses were barricaded in the night using old techniques that prevented easy vampire access. Hunting in the city was so much easier, especially in summer when open windows abound.
When the time was up, he returned to the gypsies.
“So, how do I turn the evil eye away?” he asked.
“You must wear this,” said the old gypsy woman. She handed Lazarus an ancient pendant, blue in colour with a wide open eye at its centre.
Lazarus accepted the pendant and put it on. He was surprised when she shouted and most of the gypsies gathered around. She spoke to them briefly.
“She’s telling them to make the sign to ward off evil toward you,” explained Sam quietly. The gypsies all performed the sign of the cross and then extended the index finger and pinky of their right hands, pointing the hands in his direction.
“It is done,” she declared. “You pay.”
Lazarus pulled out his wallet and gave them all of his cash, over 2000 in the local currency. He left, more than ready to go home.
Except, it turned out that he had no home to go to. When he arrived at the family estate, he found that the main house had been burnt to the ground.
“What, exactly, do you mean you won’t pay? My home burnt to the ground. My insurance is fully paid.”
“Of course, I’m the owner. The damned house has been in my family for years.”
“My solicitor will be in touch. You will settle or this will go to court.”
Lazarus sighed as he hung up the phone. The gypsies had failed, he was still cursed.
“Dear Mr Von Bloodworthy,
We cordially invite you to attend the annual science fair, featuring the best innovations from this year’s students.
As ever, we will invite you to vote for the best project by donating money in the name of the project toward the University.
Funds will be spent toward science education and lab equipment for next year.
The event will be held at Exhibition Hall. The doors open at 6 PM and the event ends at 11 PM. Food and beverages will be available to purchase.
Thank you for your continued support.
Dean of Science,
Professor Amelia Summers”
“Ah,” thought Lazarus, “the annual letter. At least they don’t request an RSVP.”
He rather liked the events. Yes, it was a blatant money grab. They encouraged the participants to circulate widely and ask for donations toward their project. It was a rare year if he didn’t donate to at least three different ones.
But the benefits of going were great. There were always suggestible coeds around, willing to learn from an older and wealthy man. Lazarus always made sure to dress the part, a smart tailored suit gave off the right impression.
Although, to be honest, he’d had a bit more luck with the young male students the past couple of years instead of the girls. In the long run, either was fine. He never had trouble finding someone eager to go home with him. It was amazing what companionship you could buy for a thousand or two.
The night of the fair arrived and Lazarus timed his arrival to miss the opening when the students presented their projects. His donations were based on more physical attributes than any discussion a student might provide on their work.
He wandered around, letting the students seek him out to ask for support. A few of them he dismissed out of hand. Over time he’d found that the thin students were more likely to have anemia. It made them less satisfying as a meal and they were far too prone to fainting. He preferred his prey to have a solid build.
He noticed a particularly lovely young woman. She was standing near one of the displays, not looking impressed by anything around her. On the tall side, middle build, someone Lazarus would like to know better indeed.
“Greetings my dear. Are you enjoying the fair?” he asked with a winning smile.
“My name is Candy. What is your name?” she replied.
Lazarus noticed that her speech was a bit strange. Perhaps she was an exchange student, there were plenty of them around. Of course, a few of them took the legends of vampires far more seriously. He hoped she wasn’t one of them. He did a quick look around, no one was paying any attention to either of them at the moment. “I’m Lazarus.” She didn’t seem to be one of the students presenting a project. But maybe he could persuade her to donate to his needs. “Would you like to stroll around with me, dear Candy?” He offered her his arm.
Her gripe on his arm was much firmer than he had anticipated. They walked around the exhibits briefly, then Lazarus lead her toward the garden doors. The garden outside the exhibit hall was a delightful place, full of thick rose bushes, low ornamental shrubs and convenient benches to rest on. Since Candy made no protest, he guided her toward one of his favourite benches, well away from the exhibit hall.
Lazarus couldn’t remember the last time he’d had such a quiet companion. She seemed perfectly amiable to his suggestions but had yet to say a word since introducing herself. “My dear Candy, would you care to sit and chat?” he asked as they approached his favourite bench.
She stopped when he did but still said nothing. He smiled encouragingly at her. “Come, sit down. We can have a nice little chat.”
Lazarus’s keen ears just detected a voice shouting in the hall, “What the hell happened to my robot?” He brought his attention back to the motionless girl. “Are you so very shy then?” She stood there, just looking casually around.
He finally decided to sit. Candy sat beside him, delightfully close. “Ah, my dear. Is the moon not beautiful tonight? Don’t the roses smell divine?”
Candy sat there smiling. He tried a new tack. “Are you a student? What is your area of study?”
“I clean. I cook,” replied Candy.
Lazarus shrugged. She might be part of the housekeeping staff but she’d still be a lovely snack. That long beautiful neck was just too tempting. “Oh Candy, I hope you don’t think this is too presumptuous of me,” he whispered in her ear. He lightly kissed her ear, then kissed his way down to her collarbone. Since Candy didn’t protest or stand up, Lazarus decided it was time to go for it.
He bite, ready for the wonderful flood of fresh blood in his mouth. What he wasn’t prepared for was extreme pain from his fangs and no penetration of her flesh at all. “Owww. What the hell?”
A careful exploration of his fangs by his tongue told him the worst. He had broken a fang.
“Candy! Where are you, you stupid robot!” A young man was shouting into the garden from the exhibit hall door. Candy stood and walked back to the hall.
“Oh god, I just bit a robot. No wonder she was so quiet.”
Much to the disappointment of the students hoping for Lazarus’s attention and donations, he left the fair immediately after.
Once he returned home, he set up an emergency appointment with Christof. The two hour drive to Christof’s office was agony. But worse was yet to come.
“Yes, it’s definitely broken. And it’s going to cost you a pretty penny to have that fixed,” said Christof. “Were you a bad boy, Fluffy? Didn’t anyone tell you not to bite the robots, boy? Such a bad dog, Fluffy.”
“Please,” moaned Lazarus. “Fix the tooth first and then you can do as many Fluffy jokes as you like.”
Christof nodded and set to work.
“I need a holiday. Somewhere far from here. I’m sick of everything to do with this city,” Lazarus said to himself as he paced up and down the hall.
He pulled out travel books, maps and went online. “Europe sounds good. There’s much to see in Europe. It’s summer though, the Mediterranean area would be too hot. Northern Europe, maybe start in the highlands of Scotland and go over to the continent a little later.”
One of the advantages a vampire has on international travel is being part of the baggage skipped so much air travel tedium. Lazarus had heard people complain of airlines, airport security, food, how impossible it was to sleep. Once stowed aboard, he would notice nothing until his coffin was opened later. It was the only way to travel long distances.
Lazarus decided on a few destinations and made a more firm schedule. He booked for his oversized ‘luggage’ to arrive in Scotland via an overnight stop in Greenland, all as freight. He found a reliable company in Scotland to move the coffin to his chosen hotel. All the hotels were known to accommodate the occasional vampire.
He had a few trusted people put his coffin and baggage into a carton made to measure. They took the carton to the airport and gave it to the cargo transport company there.
The stopover in Greenland required the removal of freight from the one plane to distribute to other planes depending on their destination.
“I think that one looks the most promising, Hans,” said the middle age man as they unloaded the plane. “It’s one of the smaller crates, but someone thought enough of it to ship it.”
“Anders, you are going to be the death of me, I swear. What if the company works out who steals the bags?”
“That’s why I don’t suggest that we steal things more than once every couple of months. Plus, most of this stuff gets shifted around at least one more time. Don’t worry.”
The two of them put Lazarus’s box at the bottom of their transport vehicle. All of the other items were shifted to appropriate air craft. At the end of the day, they shifted the box to a small sea plane belonging to Anders.
They flew to Uunarteq, an abandoned village near Northeast Greenland National Park. They picked one of the abandoned buildings and carried their loot inside to open.
It was a puzzle why the box contained suitcases and a large pine box. They rifled through the suitcases and found cash of various types as well as gold. Then they broke open the pine box.
Lazarus blinked when his box was opened. He had specific instruction not to open the box until night. He’d have to have words with the hotel, once the sun went down again. Then he realised that the room he was in had no resemblance to the promised luxury of his hotel. Nor were the two men staring down in horror at him dressed as he would expect staff to dress.
“What is this? Where am I?” he asked.
Anders and Hans were terrified. It was bad when they thought they had opened a dead man’s coffin but he came to life? How was that possible? They had no idea what he asked.
Lazarus sat up, still wondering what had happened. When he did, the men fled. Lazarus was unable to prevent their dash for the outside, he was still dazed from the travel and the fact that the sun was still up. He heard the sound of a plane start then fly off. Then there were no human sounds at all. Nothing.
He made the effort of staying alert so he could think. The freight company had a scheduled stop in Greenland. If he were in Greenland in summer…how long until sunset?
Dear god, did the sun set? He realised with horror that he might be in one of those places that had perpetual day in the summer.
He dared to walk outside for a couple of minutes. The sun was not near the horizon. There was no sign of human life, where he was, it wasn’t close to a city. Or whatever passed as a city in Greenland. He retreated to the small building. He forced himself to stay alert and check his watch. He went outside once at twelve and then again at twelve. Even if his watch wasn’t on local time, if the sun were going to set, it should have been close at one of those times.
Since the “Fluffy” incident, Lazarus had been avoiding wolf form. But the animal form was more comfortable in the sunlight than the human form was. So he changed to wolf.
As a wolf, he explored the other buildings in the area. While none of them were occupied, quite a few showed signs of regular occupation. Lazarus realised that waiting for the return of people was his best bet to leave. He hadn’t paid a lot of attention to Greenland during his research but the little he did pay suggested that it was large and vast parts of it were isolated. He could spend years trying to find civilisation again. Especially given there were no roads leading out of here to anywhere else.
For a wolf, prey was plentiful. Small rodents and hares were bountiful near the place he stayed. Sheer boredom meant he spent quite a bit of time hunting.
He was hunting along the shore line when he came on a recently dead seal. The wolf instinct was to eat so he moved toward the dead beast. Suddenly a mound of snow turned into a polar bear. Lazarus took one look at the huge lumbering form and bolted away. He glanced back once to see that it had stopped not far from the seal but he kept running until it was out of sight. “Good god, that was a scary beast,” he thought as he lay panting.
A nearby snort made him stand again. The muskox that he faced looked most annoyed, stamping its foot and snorting loudly. In theory, a pack of wolves could take down a muskox. In practice, he had no pack and that was a lot of angry animal.
This time, he didn’t stop running until he reached the safety of the abandoned village. He stopped just before reaching the first of the buildings. He could hear voices. Humans had returned, but how were they likely to react to a wolf? He had to assume that they would know a wolf when they saw one and at close range, he would not be a welcome sight.
Lazarus crept toward the building he stayed in, careful to stay away from the voices. He would have changed but naked vampire was going to be as hard to explain as wolf. He managed to get into the building unseen, and change back to human form. He dressed in the heaviest clothing that he had brought. He just hoped it would pass.
Only one of the hunters arriving in the camp spoke much English. Lazarus had the impression that he also earned money as a guide during their brief tourist season. Eventually, Lazarus and his luggage were taken up the recently unfrozen river to a small village and from there, a helicopter took him back to the main airport. By this time, a holiday had no appeal and he arranged for transportation home.
Unpleasant as being awake during daylight was, Lazarus was unwilling to travel in his coffin again. It was too scary for this vampire.
“I have you now, you vile fiend,” shouted the man. He waved garlic in front of Lazarus, obviously expecting an extreme reaction. “This will prove once and for all that you are a vampire.”
Lazarus sighed loudly. “Is that the best you can do?” he asked with a shake of his head. “Do you honestly expect me to take that seriously?” He poked a finger at the garlic. “Do you want me to eat it? Raw garlic is disgusting.”
“You are supposed to recoil in horror. Don’t vampires hate garlic?”
Last week, it had been a crucifix. The week before that, it had been a vial of holy water.
It had all started about two months before. Lazarus had been enjoying an evening stroll, casually weighing his options for fresh blood but not really hunting.
“Oi, I know what you are!” said a man that Lazarus didn’t recognise. The man was tall, thin and wore dark glasses, even though it was night. The dark glasses were odd enough to attract a fair number of double takes.
“And what might that be?” asked Lazarus.
“You are a vampire. I’ve been watching and you don’t have a reflection.” The man snickered. “Finally, I’m gonna to kill me a vampire. I’ve been dying to do that for years.”
Dying, well, Lazarus could arrange that if required. But he’d have to make sure that the idiot hadn’t told anyone else about his suspicions. The dark glasses made sense now. He’d heard that vampires can mesmerise people and wanted to avoid it. Unfortunately, the strategy worked.
“Listen, my name is Lazarus Von Bloodworthy. My family has lived around here for generations.” True, even if Lazarus was the last generation. “You wouldn’t kill someone just because you think they might be a vampire?”
“I’m Max. Max Sydney. You have no reflection, what more proof do I need?”
“Max, you’ve just been looking from the wrong angles. I’m no more a vampire than you are.” Lazarus hoped his hunter was a gullible git. “I swear by God the almighty that I am not a vampire.”
Max looked puzzled. “I must admit, I didn’t think vampires could say God. But I’m not convinced.” Max shook a finger at Lazarus. “I’m going to prove that you’re a vampire and then I’m going to stake you.”
Because of Max, Lazarus had to be careful about his meals. No more quick snacks in the park or give someone a ride home in return for a little ‘favour’. He spent a great deal of money on hotel rooms and hired street girls to come in with him. Lazarus made sure his paid companions had no easily spotted puncture wounds. He also left them with pleasant memories of the evening, in case Max decided to question them.
Lazarus also had to put up with regular confrontations with Max. He felt lucky that so much vampire lore was just that, lore. A stake would be fatal, but humans would die too, if someone drove a stake through their ribcage and into their heart.
“So, are you inviting me to dinner and cooking that garlic like a civilised being? Or are you ready to concede defeat?” asked Lazarus with as much sarcasm as he could muster.
Max shook his head. “I know you are a vampire. I will be able to call myself vampire hunter once I stake you.”
Lazarus was worn out from being patient. He was tired of being followed. He was exhausted of pretending that he was still human. “I’ve been curious, Max. How many others have you told? Am I going to open my door one morning to find myself tripping over a dozen of you?”
“No one else knows, yet. But I’ve left an envelope in case I disappear or am found dead. It has everything in it.”
Damn. Max could be lying but he might not be. It would be stupid to assume, one way or the other. “I suppose there is nothing more to say until your next attempt. I wish you just as much luck as I’ve had lately.”
Max tilted his head to one side. “You wish me luck?”
“Oh yes. I most certainly do,” replied Lazarus.
As he walked away, Lazarus came up with a plan. It would require help to pull off. He sighed as he pulled out his phone. “Christof, would you happen to be free to visit over the weekend? I have a small favour to ask.”
He sighed again. “No, Fluffy does not need a walk or a bone. Fluffy has a vampire hunter wanna-be that needs some discouragement.”
“See you on Saturday. I’ll tell you everything then.”
He spent a little time on the internet and found the perfect accessory for his plan. He ordered it express shipped.
When Christof arrived on Saturday, Lazarus was ready.
“So, is Fluffy ready for his walkies?” said Christof with a laugh.
“Nope, Fluffy wants his friend to stake him in the heart,” was the reply.
“Laz! It can’t be that bad, can it? Only one vampire hunter?” Christof was shocked. Yes, vampires sometimes did get tired of immortality. Then they sought out hunters, the sun, and anything else that might help them die.
Lazarus just grinned at his friend. “Let me introduce you to my stake.” He picked up the stake which had been laying on a nearby table. He let his friend get a good look at its slightly twisted shape and then stabbed himself in the hand.
The foam stake collapsed as it was pushed into the hand, and reformed when pulled away.
“I see,” said Christof. “That really looks like wood.”
“Yep, we go out into the park. I make sure my hunter is somewhere near. You stake me with this. I vanish by changing into a bat. Vampire hunter goes away thinking I’m dead.”
“Can I keep the stake?”
“Sure. You can order them online. We should buy a dozen for the next get together.”
Of course, that would be an evening when Lazarus couldn’t spot Max. He wandered around looking as vampirish as he could but no hunter. He was about to call it a night when he finally spotted Max lurking nearby.
He began whistling an old tune. Christof closed in, fake stake at the ready. “Die, vampire, die,” he screamed as he hit Lazarus in the chest with the stake. Laz dropped to the ground, then changed to a bat. He got to listen to Christof being shouted at for killing a vampire that someone else was after. It was nearly worth all the Fluffy comments just for that.
It was the anniversary of the day that he had smashed the mirror in frustration. “Finally, the seven years of hell is over. Life should return to normal,” Laz thought. A stray gust of wind blew the front door shut with a jarring bang. Somewhere nearby, Laz heard something fall and shatter. “Please, god, no,” he moaned.
He went looking and found that a mirror near the door had crashed to the floor, splintering to a thousand pieces. Lazarus moaned as he pondered another 7 years bad luck.