I'm blathering on again, aren't I? Sorry, I tend to do that. I'll shut up now so you can get to Part 3 of the Bill The Vampire Christmas special
Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven't already. That being said, let us conclude our little holiday tale...
I awoke when my head connected with the wooden floor of my bedroom. I sat up, wrapped in my sheets and covered in a thin sheen of sweat. Holy shit, what a dream! Or was it?
To make sure, I did the first thing that came to mind: I reached down and checked on the boys. Whew! Thank goodness, they were still intact...although they were oddly tender, almost as if they had been....
Nah! It couldn't have been. I had obviously gotten a hold of some tainted blood. Maybe it had been unwillingly donated by a crackhead or something. That had to be it, and it definitely explained the weirdness of the night.
I was almost ready to believe that, when a shadow fell over me. Vampires have excellent night vision - so it's not like I was at a disadvantage in the dark - but even so, when I looked up all I could see was a black void standing over me. No, that wasn't quite right. There was something in it. Whatever it was, it was draped in an unnatural shadow. As my eyes attempted to adjust to the supernatural darkness surrounding it, I saw that things weren't helped by the black clothing it wore...a hooded robe, the color of obsidian.
"Let me guess," I said, untangling myself from my bedclothes. "Ghost of Christmas Future, right?" I stood up, then turned to face my latest spirit and found myself looking down upon it. Hmm, awfully short for a ghost. I felt like I was standing there staring down a Jawa. Oh well, I guess the Grim Reaper doesn't need to be seven feet tall to be intimidating.
The figure raised one arm, entirely clad in the sleeves of the robe, and pointed. Surprise surprise, I was supposed to follow it through my wall again. Jeez, didn't ghosts believe in doors or anything?
"Alright, let's get going. Show me my staking, my funeral, or whatever the fuck dog and pony show you've got in store so I can get back to bed. I'm tired and I figure it's only a matter of time before someone kills my ass anyway. Hell, barely a day goes by where I'm not surprised I lived to the end of it."
The figure began to walk, and I found myself following it. "It's Sally, isn't it? She's the one who kills me, right? It's okay, you can tell me. I wouldn't be surprised."
The mists began to coalesce around us as we walked. Despite knowing what I'd be shown, I found myself rambling nevertheless. "The Draculas, it's gotta be them. They're all assholes anyway. I'm sure they'll sacrifice my ass whenever it suits their needs."
Still no response from the figure. "It's not Colin, right? Please tell me it's not him. That guy is an absolute weaselly prick. I'd sooner be staked by..." I trailed off as the world began to take focus around us. Grey bleakness stretched toward the horizon. I found myself wondering when someone would hit the colorization button to fill things in, but then everything snapped into focus, sharp and crisp, but still drab in tone. This was how things looked. Kinda depressing if you ask me.
My attention was caught by something off in the distance. Squinting my eyes, I saw it was a great city...or at least the remains of it. Broken buildings littered the landscape and random fires burned throughout. Damn, I guess some serious shit went down here.
The figure stopped and I almost bumped into the creepy little Oompa Loompa. It again pointed. I had been so focused on the Mad Max scene playing out in the distance, that I had missed a fairly large gathering of people off some ways to the left of us.
We approached and I saw there was an order to the group. Several dozen people stood at attention in multiple columns. Though there seemed to be discipline in their actions, their method of dress varied. Some were in crisp suits, others in more street level attire. The spirit entered their ranks, and I followed. Passing the first few rows, I caught sight of several smiling faces, fangs protruding from them all...not people, vampires.
Okay, so was this the vampire apocalypse everyone kept telling me about? It didn't look so bad. I could deal with...
"The last human city has fallen!" What the? I turned toward the front of the gathering, where the ghost was now heading. The voice had come from there. Once again, I knew it quite well. I should have...it was mine.
"Even now, our brothers and sisters comb through the wreckage - picking off the last of their resistance," alternate me said from the head of the group. I was dressed...well, damn. I looked fairly badass. I wore a long leather duster over a black outfit, a uniform of sorts. Not to sound egomanical, but I clean up pretty well when I put my mind to it. I'd have to remember that look...might score me some points with the ladies.
I raced to catch up to the spirit. It was now approaching at the head of the column, only a few feet from where I gave my victory rant. Don't get me wrong, I'm not particularly fond of the thought of becoming a genocidal nutcase. Still, I think there are few amongst us who haven't indulged in an evil overlord fantasy or three. Mine just happened to be somewhat more vivid than most.
"I have fulfilled my destiny," emperor Bill continued on, giving a psychotic monologue that would have made Ernst Blofeld proud. "My enemies lie crushed beneath my feet. We are now free to remake the world in our image. The vampire nation reigns supreme!"
A huge roar of approval rose up from amongst the assembled vamps. It was both disturbing and kind of flattering at the same time. I looked down at my tormenting spirit and remarked, "This isn't so bad. I mean there are worse fates than winding up in charge. I could have ended up..."
The figure silenced me by holding up its arm. The sleeve of its robe slipped back revealing a small pale hand. It then pointed back towards where I stood triumphant. Oh well, might as well see what other kick-ass things my future self had to say.
"We shall stride into this new age with our heads held high. Never again shall we hunt from the shadows. Together I and my beautiful bride shall show you glory that our kind haven't known for far too many centuries." Wait? Beautiful bride? Ooh, now this was getting interesting. Not only was I a kick-ass motherfucker, but I was apparently getting some too. I could dig this.
"Come here, my love, and share in my triumph." badass Bill raised his hand and held it out in front of him, pointing it a little to the left of where I stood.
"Of course, my beloved," came an eager reply from the crowd. I knew that voice. No fucking way!
Gansetseg, daughter of Ogedai Khan, strode forward. She was over three-hundred years old in my time, so who knew what age she was now. There was only one small problem...well okay, a lot of small problems. For starters, Gan was batshit crazy. Under other circumstances, I could deal with that. The more pressing issue, though, was that she had been turned into a vampire shortly after her twelfth birthday. Physically, she had stayed that age every since. Yeah, Gan was a kid.
I blinked my eyes, not willing to believe it. Gan walked up to my future self and put her arms around me. He...err...I returned the affection. Ewww! That proved it. I was either in Hell or the vampire apocalypse was playing out in Arkansas. Neither was a particularly appealing proposition.
"Okay, you've got my undivided attention," I said to the spirit beside me, a feeling akin to panic starting to settle in. "I get it. I'm a horrible, evil person. Just tell me what I have to do to avoid this fate."
"Avoid it, my love?" the spirit replied, finding its voice at last. Oh shit. It reached up and removed the hood from its head. Gan's face peered up at me, a large grin spread across her prepubescent face, her green eyes sparkling with excitement. "This is your destiny. There is no avoiding it, although I cannot imagine why you would even wish to. Is it not marvelous?"
It's about here that a lesser person would probably crack.
Oh who am I kidding, I am a lesser person.
"Holy motherfucking shit!"
"I am pleased to see you too, beloved."
When confronted by the most horrific destiny that one can imagine, some people man up and charge headfirst into their fate. Others beg for mercy like the whiny little bitches they are. Me? I prefer to think I'm my own person, an independent thinker, a free will if you please (yes, I did make that pun). Thus I did neither. Instead, I took what seemed to be the most logical course of action: I turned tail and ran off screaming.
Gan's voice followed me as I entered the ether. "This is your future. You cannot escape your fate!" The last thing I heard as darkness closed around me was perhaps the most chilling of all. "By the way, our wedding was beautiful."
Well wasn't that just jim dandy? The world was in shambles, I was joined at the hip with the most dangerous munchkin alive, but at least I knew how to throw a good reception. Lucky me.
* * *
I'd like to tell you I woke up with some of my dignity intact, but let's not bullshit ourselves here. I bolted out of bed; sweat pouring off my brow and a scream escaping my lips.
Bright light streamed through the windows. It looked like it was...morning. Had I slept through the entire day, then night again? It certainly seemed that way. Oh who cares? I was back in my own bedroom and the nightmare was over. I was so happy that I would have even kissed Gan had she been there...but just for the record, I was glad she wasn't.
A sense of elation filled me. I had seen the very worst that life had to offer me, including a nightmarish vision of the future...one that I now would strive to avoid like the plague itself. Screw all that destroying mankind crap! If anything, I would embrace my humanity more tightly than ever before. There was no way I was going down that other road.
Oddly enough, that realization made me feel good...really good. I stood up, feeling light in my step. A smile on my face, I strode to the window and opened it up, feeling the cold morning air wash over me. I stuck my head out and surveyed the town...my town.
"MERRY CHRISTMAS, BROOKLYN!" I shouted. Wait, was it Christmas yet? I couldn't quite remember.
Thinking quickly, I looked down and saw a teenager, gift in hand, ambling down the street. When in doubt, ask.
"You there, boy," I hailed him. "What day is...OH FUCK!" I immediately began to sizzle as the rays of the morning sun washed over me from my vantage point. I yanked my body back inside as fast as I could and shut the drapes. Note to self: embracing humanity is fine...just need to remember that there's still a few caveats attached to it.
Remembering that I had just exposed my vampireness to the world at large, I peeked through the curtains to see what was happening below. The kid I had yelled to was continuing on his way as if nothing odd had just happened. Thank god for New Yorkers. This is the only place in the world where the heights of weirdness get barely a shrug.
Oh well. I stopped, dropped, and rolled to put myself out, then threw on a fresh (and unburnt) set of clothes. Slightly singed, but presentable, I opened my door and stepped out. Despite my little distraction of bursting aflame (again), my new outlook on life was still intact.
"Merry Christmas!" I shouted, spotting Ed in our kitchen nook, coffee cup in hand.
He took a sip and nonchalantly replied, "Christmas is tomorrow, Bill. I'm driving you to your parents, remember?"
"Of course I remember," I lied. "But just because it's tomorrow, doesn't mean we can't celebrate it today. Hell, we can celebrate it every day!" I turned and spied my other roommate, Tom. He was sitting on the couch with his lovely girlfriend Christy.
"Merry Christmas, you two!" I said, striding over. I gave Tom a hearty handshake, pulling him to his feet and embracing him like a brother. I even bent down and gave Christy a little peck on the cheek.
"You're in a surprisingly good mood," Ed remarked, walking over. He raised one eyebrow quizzically and said, "I thought you weren't excited about the holidays."
"Not anymore, my friend. I've decided I need a whole new outlook on life. From here on in things will be different. No more moping and whining. I've been given a gift and by God I'm going to use it to make a difference in this world. Today is the first day of the rest of my life and it's going to be a long, fulfilling life. It's..."
"I knew it would work!" Tom remarked, turning to Ed. "You owe me, dude."
Christy immediately swatted his arm. "Shhhh. You're not supposed to say anything."
"Say anything?" I asked, confused...albeit still elated.
"It's nothing," Ed said.
To which Tom replied, "Ed's right, but he still owes me ten bucks."
Despite feeling that more important matters awaited me today, I found my curiosity piqued. "Why do you owe Tom ten dollars?"
"Oh no reason," Ed replied, sipping his coffee. I still had a grin on my face, but something about his tone bothered me. When you live with people long enough, you can practically smell when they're bullshitting you from a mile away. I knew what I was smelling right now and it was causing my veneer of good cheer to start clouding over.
I knew Ed was a tough nut to crack, thus I turned to the weakest link in the room. "Tom, why does Ed owe you money?" Christy opened her mouth to say something, but I held up a hand to silence her. "Care to enlighten me?"
"You're probably gonna be pissed" he replied. Ed let out a sigh at this and walked back over to the kitchen. We could both tell when Tom was about to spill his guts. It wasn't particularly hard. The dude couldn't keep his mouth shut if it was crazy-glued.
"I promise, I will not be pissed." I help up a finger and crossed it over my non-beating heart.
"Well, you've been a little glum lately, what with all the shit going on..."
"And," I prodded, keeping the friendly smile going.
"And I remembered Christy mentioning a couple of weeks back that she knew this spell, something to do with using a person's subconscious to help perk them up. Right, hon?"
"Heh. It's a little more complicated than that," she replied, quickly stepping behind him, a sheepish grin on her face.
"How so?" I asked conversationally.
"You know, dimensional doors, linking of minds through the astral plan, silly stuff like that."
"You don't say," I replied, feeling my smile turn into gritted teeth. "Truly fascinating."
"I thought it was an awesome idea," Tom continued, still oblivious to the hole he was digging himself, "but Ed told me it was all bullshit. We argued a bit until he bet me that Christy couldn't change your outlook on life."
"Let me get this straight," I said, walking up and putting my arm around him. "Ed bet you that Christy couldn't make me happy by fucking with my brain - all for the princely sum of ten dollars - which you accepted?" As I spoke, I slowly tightened my grip on him into a choke hold.
"Something like that," he sputtered.
"And you thought this was a good idea!?" I asked Ed, feeling my fangs involuntarily extend.
"I take it, then," he replied calmly, "that your outlook has not improved."
"What the fuck do you think?"
"What do I think?" he asked before turning his attention back toward Tom. "I think that proves my point. Kindly fork over the cash."
I let go of Tom, feeling utterly exasperated. My god, what a bunch of pricks I lived with.
I turned back toward my room, deciding that going back to sleep was my best course of action. Visions of Gan suddenly didn't sound so bad.
"No hard feelings, Bill?" Ed called after me. "It was all in good fun...and a little easy money."
"Ask me that in about a hundred years," was my reply as I slammed the door shut behind me.
I took a step toward my bed, then had a thought. Didn't Christy say something about actually linking minds? Was it possible? Hmmm. What the hell? It was worth a shot.
I opened the door again and said, "Oh and just for your information, Sally hates rubies."
The last thing I saw before I shut the door again were Ed's eyes opening wide in genuine surprise.
It was only then that I allowed myself the ghost of a smile. Perhaps it was worth the ten bucks after all. Bah Humbug indeed.
I hope you've enjoyed this little holiday tale and that it's given you your own ghost of a smile this season. I sincerely wish each and every one of you a Happy Holidays.
Now what are you waiting for? This was but a small bit of fantasy. Real life is out there waiting for you. Go out and enjoy it a little. You deserve it.
I swore I would never read a vampire book, but I love Bill. I just finished the first book, and I look forward to getting the next two.
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