Once again, I’m featuring my good friend RLL. Today, to complete Witches and Insanity, we have Vampires (oh my!)
FICTION FACTORY. Welcome to my mini-self-publishing imprint for short stories running around 30,000 words. These stories are not collected or bundled with other tales. If you buy WITCHES, you won’t suffer disappointment in later life by finding WITCHES reheated for a collection called TALES TO IMPRESS PALAEONTOLOGISTS. Be thankful for that small mercy.
Crashing parties used to amuse Vance. He hurled himself into a world of no commitments. When the synthetic blonde offered more of the same, guided by brusque phone texts, he didn’t see the harm in another meaningless fling.
“Rule 1. If I text and you are busy, that’s fine. The rule runs in both directions. No pestering.”
He was okay with that.
“Rule 2. We never attend social functions. I don’t do weddings, though I will crash parties.”
Suited him, just fine.
“Rule 3. No gifts.”
“Five rules. Rule 4. If we see each other with strangers, no questions. No introductions to family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, serial killers…”
Vance had no problem with the fifth rule. He thought his problems began next day.
There, in red lipstick, she’d left a mirror message.
WIPE THIS OFF. STICK TO THE RULES. SEE YOURSELF OUT.
The bar? Reasonable. Didn’t try too hard to be trendy. He knew no one here – not on a Wednesday night. Vance watered at the venue on the odd weekend. Open the door on a world without strings. In.
Scene. The jet minx in front of him shook hailstones from her bobbed coiffure. Melting pellets bounced off his heavy coat. By contrast, she appeared to be wearing a black plastic bag for no protection from the night.
He eyed her tight black jeans. Painted on. Sheathed legs stopped at bare ankles and shiny stab-me black shoes. Hang about…
37,000 words, plus notes.
This prologue is best-read while listening to Pretty in Pink, by the Psychedelic Furs.
“What the fuck’s this?”
“Oh yeh? Do me a favour, love. Next time you declare something self-bleeding-evident, make sure you know it’s self-bleeding-evident to me.”
“This is an invitation to a masked ball.”
“Very similar to a dropped ball. Sounds a bit hairy.”
“We have been cordially invited…”
“Invited as cordial.”
“To. A. Masked.”
“You were being flippant.”
“I parked on yellow lines once. What a crime.”
“Don’t believe you.”
“It’s true. I was lying about parking.”
“Are you finished?”
“Please do go on.”
“When’s this masked ball?”
“Are you still being flippant? You CAN read the time on the invitation.”
“I wasn’t being flippant a moment ago. Am being now, though.”
“FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF…”
“Don’t do the eff-thing. I hate that.”
“You swear all the time.”
“Not word after word, love. Fuck fuck fuck. I don’t do that. Apart from just then.”
“Neither do I. I use the word off as a stress-reliever. Are we going to this fucking party or not?”
“Were you invited?”
“YES. HERE’S. THE. INVITATION.”
“I’ll consider going.”
“You are going. I’m bored. Bored bored bored. Existence is boring. I want to party. You haven’t been to a party since…”
“The last time. What was the last party you were at? Oh, I remember. The Nazi Party.”
“Don’t judge. That was 1933. I look stylish in black boots and a peaked cap.”
“Seen Adolf lately?”
“He’s back with Eva.”
“Yawn. Heard it all before. Quiet night in with the Hitlers.”
“They are now the Goldstein family.”
“Learning Yiddish, is he? Blending in?”
“He’s clean-shaven. And he stopped wearing brown shirts. Hebrew. He’s learning Hebrew.”
“Yawn again. What do they get up to, of an evening?”
“Stuff. You know. Things.”
“Wall-to-wall history shows. He foams at the mouth every time someone mentions Churchill or Stalin. Come midnight, Eva blacks up and does her minstrel cabaret act. His heart’s not in the playbill.”
“She sings all the wrong songs. Won’t listen to advice.”
“Then it’s some half-arsed bloodsucking from the bags in the fridge. She spends her time on the world’s largest jazz cigarette.”
“That alleviates the tension.”
“He stays up until dawn writing letters to the party faithful and trying out new speeches in front of the laptop. Computer wallpaper? Freeze-frame shot of a rally. Massive crowd. Look closer and you’ll see it’s a photo of the London Marathon. All the colours of the rainbow represented, but someone’s cropped the rabbinical contingent from the happy event.”
“Bormann’s a Microsoft engineer. He dabbles in desktop publishing. Admin’s more his thing.”
“You can say that of a lot of Adolf’s friends. I thought Bormann was declared dead in 1973.”
“Marty still had friends in government then. Called in a Bundes-favour or two.”
“Night in with the Hitlers, eh. Timeline? Five minutes until cock-crow. Adolf suddenly remembers he’s a vampire and reluctantly returns to the bunker. Am I wrong?”
“Your sweep of the details is broad. Though that sweep is, lamentably, correct.”
“Are the Hitlers going? To this ball…”
“Don’t know. Should I call and ask? Oh, what if they haven’t been invited? Does it matter, either way?”
“Depends. Wouldn’t be the first party Hitler crashed. Does it matter to me, you mean?”
“You may imagine from my impending silence that I am mentally repeating FUCK OFF in a loud angry manner. Inside my head.”
“Well that saved a bother of repeating it outside your head, next mine. What was the question?”
“Which side were you on, back then?”
“World War Two.”
“Was there a second one? Bloody hell.”
“Are you being flippant? Before you answer, you should know that I am being flippant in asking.”
“I can’t remember. Things were quiet at first. Then there was a load of bombing. I’d wander the war-torn streets at night, picking up tasty nibbles. Could have been anywhere.”
“Were the nibbles speaking German?”
“I didn’t give them time to speak, love. You don’t talk to the food.”
“That’s nonsense. I always do.”
“You are the chatty type.”
“So from 1939 through to 1945, you managed to survive in some war-torn landscape. Without ever having a conversation.”
“Don’t remember. What’s there to talk over? Someone bombed my house. You’ve had a rough day, mate. And the night’s about to get rougher. Fang you very much.”
“Crap. You were in London in 1941.”
“Maybe. It’s all a blur.”
“You still have that accent. Go by landmarks. Transport. Music of the time.”
“Nothing. Accent. Yeh. Where did you dig up that American accent, exactly?”
“Concentrate. Fashion. Slang. News items. THE LANGUAGE.”
“Yes. Finally. The language. Goes with the accent, I’m guessing.”
“I remember wandering choice sewers. Built to last.”
“Yeh. London, then. Going by the sewers. Had to be.”
“Well, I strolled in Berlin. For a time.”
“Where did you go, after?”
“I lived in Moscow. That must have been 1942. Mix-up. Commie phase.”
“Looked stylish waving a red flag, did we?”
“If we meet Hitler at this ball, and he starts waxing lyrical about his vampire superspy deep in Soviet territory…”
“Stroll on. Seriously?”
“The story may surface. Let’s ensure it surfaces as I’d prefer to tell the tale.”
“Are we going?”
“Right. Dress inappropriately. Then you’ll match me.”
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