“A Baptism In Blood”


Here’s another take on my Vampires vs. Amish story that I hope to write someday soon.

 

Vampires are not sexy.

Yes, I know. The movie that came out a few years ago had the actor with the doe eyes going all sparkly when sunlight hit his vampire skin. All of the actors in that movie who played vampires were good looking, or at least were built.

I didn’t see the movie. I’ve seen the real thing.

The real thing is gray, or sickly white, emaciated most of the time, vaguely human, full of teeth and not at all good looking. The recent ones are pretty much just animals, but very, very fast. It’s the Elders, those who have been around for a hundred years or so, that you have to watch out for. They can seduce you, charm you, hypnotize you. You know they look like death warmed over, but by the time they have their hooks into you, you don’t care. Next thing you know, you are invited to dinner. And you’re the main course.

I didn’t start out in the vampire killing business. I went to college to study electronics. But when the vampire problem got so bad, and Dad got the contract to go hunt, he decided that school was done for me. A million bucks a vamp is no chump change. And his career in Special Forces came in handy. Hit a nest with a dozen and you can get rich quick. Hit a nest any larger than that and you probably won’t live to tell about it.

I’m no dummy, and I don’t have a death wish. I would have told Dad no, but I know him too well. First, I know that he doesn’t take no for an answer, so I may as well give in now. Second, he never goes in unprepared. A million bucks a head sounds like you should be driving Ferraris and living in Aspen. But Dad is in it for the long haul. He takes every penny he earns and reinvests it in the business.

Three years ago when I went away to college he was a one-man show. Now he’s CEO of a business that includes three squads of five each, firepower to rival any Delta or SEAL team and a mobile command center that looks like it jumped out of a comic book.

So here I am, learning the ropes at the hands of an ex-Marine and 15 of the hardest nosed veterans you will ever meet. Officially, I am just in charge of the drones and communication. Unofficially, I do whatever needs doing.

I looked down at the cushioned seat I sat in that was surrounded by monitors, controls and dials. Then I looked at the black leather outfit I was wearing and wrinkled my nose.

“Looks good on you, Maggie,” Chet said. The big black man, Dad’s second in command, stood in the doorway of the armored RV and grinned at me, his muscles bulging under his own suit as he checked to see if his AR-15 was loaded.

I sighed. “I am an ugly duckling in the wrong pond. I would never be caught in something so…so…”

“So what?” Dad said, weaving past Chet in the doorway. “Black? Sleek? Leathery?”

“Skin tight,” I said. “Why does it have to show every curve I have?” I wiggled in my seat, then ran my fingers under the high collar. “After all, I’m not the one going down there.”

“Hey it’s tight for a reason,” Dad said. “No looseness means less for them to grab hold of. The high collar, lined with titanium is there for obvious reasons.”

“And besides, you look good in it,” Chet said, winking.

Dad frowned at Chet. “You’re married, Chet, and way too old for her. Watch how you speak to my little girl. Maggie, I know that you aren’t likely to see much action up here, but I’m not taking any chances. Got your 45?”

I nodded, patting the pistol and holster next to me on the seat.

“I didn’t have any more ultraviolet charges, but the kick of the 45 should at least buy you some time if they get around us and get up here. There’s also the shotgun under the seat. Loaded?”

“Of course,” I said, gesturing with my chin to the pump 12-gauge Remington that lay nearby.

Dad nodded, more to himself than to me. He paused, and I could see that he was going through a mental list that only he knew. Finally, he turned and nodded to Chet.

“Assemble the troops,” he said quietly. Then he turned to me.

“Time for the Three Stooges to do their jobs.”

 

The three teams stood outside the command center in the late afternoon sun and watched monitors as the three helicopter drones rose from their base and flew into the opening of the cave. Using drones was actually my idea, one that Dad had agreed to right away. Having the whirring sound of a drone entering the cave before us ran the risk of alerting the vamps that we were coming, but at the same time, it eliminated the danger of surprises meant for us as well.

Operating three drones at the same time is not easy, so I used them just as Dad would coordinate his strike teams. One would forge ahead while the other two waited in reserve. Then when they entered a large room or came to a fork in the passage, I would split them up. But usually one was positioned so it would see the larger picture while the others moved.

“This place is big,” I heard Chet say outside through the open door.

“Second only to Carlsbad for overall size, I was told,” Dad said in response.

“Good thing we have these drones,” Chet continued. “Otherwise we would be hiking for days.”

“And be split up. I didn’t like that idea at all,” Dad said.

“Me neither.” Chet and Dad drew quiet, watching with the others. Then I heard Dad’s voice again.

“Stop,” he barked.

“Which one?” I asked.

“Curly. The red one.”

“That’s Moe.”

“Whatever. Back up. I saw something.”

I did as he asked. Actually, I stopped all three drones and then slowly backed the helicopter called Moe up. The monitor showed a green image of cavern wall as the night vision camera amplified the almost non-existent light of the room. The wall gave way to an opening, yawning dark and forbidding beyond.

“There!” Dad said. “I saw something move in there.”

“You want me to go in?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “I want the drone to go in. That’s why we have them.”

“I want the drone to go in,” I echoed to myself sing-song quietly as I had the copter turn and enter the room beyond. I then noticed a meter to the side.

“We’re just about at the limit of our radio range,” I said.

“Understood,” he said outside. We watched as Moe entered the giant room and began to pan from side to side. The room was so massive that the camera could only see about 20 or 30 feet before it grew too dark.

“Can you go in any farther?” Chet said. “Maybe over to the right?”

I nodded absently, then turned the joystick to the right. A blur went past the camera.

“There,” said Dad again. “What was that?”

“That deep, only one thing it could be.” Chet said. “Want to try the flare?”

“Be like poking a stick in a hornet’s nest,” Dad said, looking at Chet, who shrugged.

“It’s either that, or we send everyone down to perhaps a wild goose chase.”

Just then, the screen went black on Moe.

“Signal’s gone,” I said loudly. “I warned you.”

Dad frowned and looked at Chet, and then at me.

“Send Larry in with the flare.”

I nodded again, and sent the primary drone, Larry, into the darkened room. Its signal had a bit more power and I was able to move about another 30 feet.

“That’s about all Larry’s got,” I said.

“OK, that’s got to do it, then,” Dad said. “Pop the fireworks.”

I flipped the lever which covered the flare button and pressed it. The screen went white.

“Ugh, forgot to switch over from NV to standard video,” I said. “The retina is burned. Give it a minute.” I flipped the video for standard video and we waited for a long minute for detail to return to the screen. A minute later, it turned black, just as Moe’s had done.

I frowned. The screens for Moe and Larry were both black, and as I watched, a blur flashed before Curly’s camera, and it went black as well. A moment after that, Dad and Chet both came charging into the command center.

“What just happened?” Dad said.

I shrugged. “I thought I saw something blur past Curly’s camera before he blacked out.”

Chet nodded. “I saw that too. Are we recording? Play it back.”

I turned in my chair and stopped the digital recorder for Curly and ran it back a minute. We watched the blank wall in front of Curly and then all three witnessed the same blur. The blur that had destroyed our third drone. The blur that could only mean one thing.

“Get everyone ready,” Dad hissed at Chet, who nodded and charged out of the RV. Dad and I looked to see the sun disappearing in the west.

“Lock and load,” I heard Chet shout. “Company’s coming!”

Dad took the seat next to me and began barking out orders. He activated the remote chain gun he had installed on top of the command center. The teams outside scurried around, positioning themselves for the coming onslaught. A moment later, we all felt a rumbling noise as if an earthquake had begun. A moment after that, all hell broke loose.

In the past we broke up nests of six to twelve vampires at one sitting. One time we found 20 in one place. That was a busy time.

Dad had suspected that this cave harbored many more than that. That’s why he had assembled all three teams in one place. His research also suggested that the cave was the abode of the Master vampire, the original vampire, the one called the Source. If Dad was able to stop the Source, people thought that maybe it would stop all vampire activity in North America. That was the idea, at least.

Dad and Chet knew that The Source would be protected by his own private army. What they underestimated was how large—and totally pissed off—that army would be.

The ground erupted with a tide of white and grey beings, rushing forward as if pushed out the earth by something demonic. And the three teams were ready for them, responding with a cloudburst of bullets. Chet directed the flame throwers, the mini-guns and automatic weapons as they ripped through the flood of vampires. Blood, skin and chunks of bodies flew everywhere. In the first five minutes, the three teams were able to hold their own. After ten minutes, two men were down. After fifteen, the body count was three. And then the teams began running out of ammunition.

The ground continued to roll and rumble, and the earth continued to vomit out grey vampires. The sky had turned jet black, with even the moon and stars disappearing as if on command.

Another soldier was down, then another, and a third. The vampires washed over them like vomit from some unmentionable being, and in a sense it was. They were responding to the will of their Master, and as such were more than willing to end their lives if it meant protecting him.

“Regroup,” I heard Chet shout outside over the gunfire. “Position Beta!”

“Group leader,” I heard Dad say over his intercom. “Use the C-4. Blow the entrance!”

“Can’t do it, Commander,” Chet’s voice replied. “Hole is too big, and there’s too much traffic. Besides, they are coming out of two more entrances we didn’t know about.”

“Then fall back,” Dad hissed. “Let me take them out with the chain gun.”

“You heard him!” Chet echoed. “Fall back! Fall back!”

I looked over my shoulder out the bulletproof glass and saw just a handful of men falling back to a defensive position behind the command center. Where there had been 15, now I saw only six. A moment later, the chain gun atop the command center opened up. The electric motor began to whir and I watched as 1,000 rounds of special armor piercing shells per minute began to flow smoothly from the top of the command center and into the entrance of the cave.

I looked at Dad, who had immersed himself into total concentration on his task. I felt like I needed to say something, anything encouraging.

“You’re doing it,” I said.

“For now,” he said. “But a barrel of ammo for the guns only holds 5,000 rounds. What then?”

I looked over his shoulder and sighed.

“I know how to reload it,” I said. “It was one of the first things you taught me.”

He shook his head.

“You could never lift it onto the roof. I’ll do it. You take over the gun.”

We waited until the four-minute mark and then Dad lifted the 100-pound canister onto his shoulder and exited through the door. I moved over to his seat and directed the steady stream of bullets that flowed into the cavern. I also noticed that the temperature gauge for the gun was fully into the red. I realized that Dad would have to load a gun that was literally close to melting.

“Maybe he took some water up with him,” I told myself, then just as quickly realized that he already had his hands full. And as I thought about it, the smooth hum of the chain gun quit.

With nothing to do, I turned to the monitors which were linked to the cameras outside. I gasped as I saw Chet and one other soldier being swarmed under by a dozen vampires. Without thinking, I grabbed the shotgun and my 45 and charged out the door.

I threw open the door and was immediately confronted by two vampires. I aimed the shotgun at their heads and blew them apart.  I turned to where I had seen Chet, and realized that they were already gone. Remembering Dad’s need, I grabbed a water bottle and climbed the ladder to where Dad was struggling with the canister for the chain gun.

And beyond him, I saw the mass of vampires—and something else.

As Dad wrestled with the chain gun, I saw the vampires stop in their frenzy as if they were awaiting someone or something to arrive. The darkness had become complete, and yet, when the being stepped forward, it became even darker.

He was very tall, at least six and a half feet, very dark, and was nothing like the other vampires. He had a regal air about him, and yet at the same time I felt an air of utter evil surrounding him. It was as if all the air had suddenly disappeared; as if he had stolen life itself from the world. He had a commanding presence, and I felt myself drawn to him, even as I knew what he was. I forced myself to break away from him and looked down at Dad.

Dad’s hands were burned beyond healing, cuts surrounded his face and sweat poured from him. But he had the same look of grim determination on his face. I knew that he was aware of what faced us, and yet he didn’t pull away from task. Instead, he looked up at me after a long moment, and said quickly: “Ready.”

I nodded, knowing that my task was below us, to turn the chain gun on, to pour the wrath of modern technology onto a timeless evil. And if technology failed us, then we had no hope.

I started to run away, toward the entrance of the command center, but Dad stopped me long enough to grab the shotgun. We both knew that our only hope was with me getting the chain gun back into action, and Dad had to buy me enough time to see me through.

I ran for the entrance, waiting for the inevitable flood of gray bodies to follow me. But instead they held their positions, as the one we knew as the Source stepped forward.

He opened his mouth to speak, but never got a chance. Instead, my Dad jumped from the room of the armored RV, shotgun in hand, and faced the tall vampire.

Dad fired shot after shot at the Source, knowing all along that the blast would not kill or maim the Source, but buying time for me. The other vampires stood and watched as if they were waiting for permission to continue. The shotgun blasts, one after the other, struck the chest of the tall vampire. The first caused the vampire to stagger, and I hoped that it would fall. But the second was absorbed, and with the third, the Source began walking toward Father.

He reached out with one mighty hand and struck my father down. My father collapsed, the shotgun flying away. And I knew that my time for redemption had come.

I pressed the controls for the chain gun, waiting for the usual whirr of motor and bullets. Instead I was answered with dead silence. I pressed it again. And again.

“Now!” I heard my father say. “Do it now!”

The chain gun was jammed. And I realized that we were both going to die.

 

The Source towered over Dad, his eyes boring into his soul. They were so locked together that he didn’t realize that I had marched forward, 45 in hand, to rescue Dad. The Source looked up, just as I fired the 45 point-blank into the face of the monster. The Source’s face whipped back and he fell. The others witnessed the first time that their Master had fallen, and a gasp went through the mass of undead beings.

In the meantime, as they were shocked, I grabbed my father under the arm and dragged him back to the command center. I saw blood pouring from his neck, but I didn’t have time to do anything about it. Instead my mind was focused on only one thing: escape.

I don’t know why they let me leave. The Master had been knocked down, but I knew he wasn’t out. Any one of the hundreds of vampires that stood around the command center could have taken me down easily. Instead, they all stood there while I loaded father into the command center and drove away.

It had just become dark when the attack began. I didn’t know how quickly they would recover, or how fast they traveled. I did know that the Master would be coming for me. And so I drove—all night, as fast as I could. I don’t even remember what direction I traveled.

All that I know was that toward dawn the out of gas light for our 50-gallon tank came on, and I realized I would have to stop. I didn’t know where I was, but for the moment, I was safe.

For the moment.

 

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