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The Great Vampire Strike of 1966 

                The wind howled as it whipped through the trees, rustling what few leaves they had left on them.  The clouds above were almost completely black, all but blocking out the full moon overhead. 

 

                “Okay—Who didn’t pay the taxi driver?”

                “I thought Phil was gonna do it!”

                “Me?  It was Mark’s turn!”

                “I told Smitty to do it!”

                “When?  Last time I paid was when we got rid of the hearse!”

                “Well, it wasn’t me.”

                “It’s never YOU, Drake….”

                “Alright, alright—Break it up,” Paul ordered, holding his hands to signal a time-out. 

 

               

                The Raiders were trying to make it home from another one of their tours.  They had left the hotel back in the city hours earlier, taking a taxi back to the nearest bus depot….or so they thought.  Unfortunately, the taxi driver spoke very little English and possessed a terrible sense of direction.  When his passengers began arguing about where they were supposed to be, he simply pulled over and dropped them on the side of the road.  He cursed at them in some bizarre foreign tongue as he sped away, his tires flinging dirt and rocks at them.

  

    “I didn’t like his attitude,” Phil said, picking up his suitcase.  “He only spoke in dollar bills anyway.”

    “So we didn’t pay the driver.”  Paul dusted off his jacket and grabbed his own luggage.  “It’s over now, so we might as well do something about where we’re gonna stay tonight.”

    Drake observed their surroundings.  Nothing but weeds and trees.  “I wasn’t much in the mood for camping, that’s for sure.”  Something howled in the distance, sending chills up his spine.  “I’m even less in the mood for it now!  Anybody got any ideas?”

    He turned around, finding Smitty piled up in Phil’s arms, shivering.  They both looked terrified.

    “Guys, it’s scary, but not THAT scary.”

    “Yeah, and you’re not LITTLE, either!” Smitty snapped. 

    “I don’t think size matters when something’s gonna eat you anyway,” Phil stammered, looking around cautiously.

    “Cool it, guys.  It’s not THAT bad.”  Mark slicked back his hair, readjusting his famous ponytail.  “Look—There’s someone’s house just up the road.  We can use their phone to call Roger and he’ll get this straightened out for us.”

    “And just where will we tell him we are?  This isn’t exactly downtown Duluth, y’know,” Paul asked caustically.

    “Houses have address numbers—We’ll just tell him the house number when we get there,” Mark answered.  “Really, fellas…  You just panic over anything, don’t you?”

    “AH-ROOOOOOO……” came the howling again.

    Paul suddenly found Mark huddled up in his arms.  “Yeah, you’re a real BIG talker, huh?” he said….just before he dropped him.

 

     The five men trudged through knee-high weeds until they found what looked like a dirt driveway.  They followed it up to the house.  It didn’t look very friendly.

    “Who saw Psycho?” Phil asked.  “I think this is the house…”

    “If a guy comes to the door in an old lady’s dress, I’m running,” Smitty said, fighting with his suitcase.

    “It’s not really that bad, guys.  Cut it out!”  Mark approached the front stoop, examining the tarnished brass numbers hanging on one of the porch posts.  “Remember the house number—It’s 966.”

    Drake peered at the porch numbers, finding the “9” was loose.  He swung it back and forth, curiously, then lined it back up perfectly with the other numbers.  Again, he felt a chill up his spine.  He quickly flipped the “9” back around like he had found it.

    Paul stood before the front door, his hand hovering just over the doorknocker.  “I hope someone’s at home.  It looks awfully quiet.”

    “Yeah, it’s a regular Transylvania Hilton, isn’t it?” Phil scoffed.  “All warm and cozy…  I bet the room service is something to remember.”

    Smitty pulled the collar of his coat over his ears.  “Hurry up already!  I’m freezing my tom-toms off out here!”

    Paul raised the doorknocker and slammed it back against the door.  The noise seemed to echo.

    “Oh gee, no one home,” Drake laughed nervously.  “Guess we’ll have to thumb a ride back to town, huh?”

    The door began to open, creaking laboriously.  A blast of cold, stale air blew from within.

    “Smells like Cleveland did,” Mark grumbled.

    Smitty hid behind Drake.  “I don’t like the feel of this place at all.”

 

    An older, wiry man appeared in the doorway.  His hair was dark and neatly combed back.  He looked quite dapper in his dark suit.  He lowered his glasses, staring at the men outside his door.  “Can I help you?”

    “Well, uh, I, uh…”

    The man looked at the blonde before him in disgust.  “I’m afraid I can’t offer you speech lessons, young man, so I suggest you spit it out already.”

    Paul’s eyebrows knitted together angrily.  “Well if THAT’S the way you feel about it!”

    The older man crossed his arms and continued to glare.

    Paul sighed.  “We had a run-in with a lousy taxi driver and he dumped us out here.  Can we use your phone to call our manager?”

    The man raised an eyebrow.  “Manager?”

    “We’d be more than happy to pay for the call,” Phil interjected.  “We just need to get back to civilization so we can catch a bus home.”  He tried to give a calm, friendly smile.  It only looked ridiculously nervous.

    The man in the doorway uncrossed his arms and focused his gaze on Phil.  “If you like, you can stay here for the night and go back to town in the morning.”  His attitude seemed to have lightened.

    “Are you sure we’re not imposing?  We don’t want to barge in on you,” Mark said.

    “No no no—Of course not!  You’re more than welcome here tonight.”  The man opened the door wider, allowing the musicians to enter the house.  He continued to keep an eye on Phil.

 

     Upon entering the old house, the group felt even uneasier than they had before.  While the house was very nice, it had a spooky feel to it.  The cobwebs and spiders lurking in the arched ceilings didn’t do much to detract from it, either.  Antiques were scattered everywhere, from ornate furniture to old tapestries and Oriental rugs.

    “I MUST get the name of this cat’s decorator,” Drake kidded.  He looked over a suit of armor in the corner.

    “Looks like early Dracula to me,” Smitty grumbled.

    Mark shushed the two men.  “Can it, you two—We’re guests!  You think this guy would appreciate us insulting his house?”

    “Who said we were insulting it?” Drake defended.  “It’s just….unique.”

    “I’m afraid we don’t have much call for guests these days,” said the man.  “We don’t have proper guestrooms, but I’m sure what we have will be sufficient for overnight.”  He led them to the staircase.

    “We?” Phil asked.

    “My daughter and I,” the man replied.  He smiled at Phil.  “I think she would like you if she met you.”

    Phil looked around, confused.  Something about that man didn’t settle well with him.

    

   The man directed them to a hallway on the second floor.  “We’ve only two bedrooms here.  I hope that’s not too crowded for you.”

    “Believe me, we’ve slept in smaller spaces than this,” Mark laughed.  “Thanks a lot, sir.”

    “It’s no trouble,” said the man.  “Feel free to call on me if you need anything.”

    “A Valium would be nice about now,” Smitty muttered.  “Or gin and tonic maybe…”

 

    As the man left, the Raiders split into groups.  Mark and Paul took the room on one side of the hall, while Phil, Drake and Smitty took the other one.

    “It’s not as bad in here as I thought it would be,” Phil commented.  He sat on the large bed.  “What side you want this time?”

    “Let’s see….You had the door side in New York, then I had it in Chicago…  Smitty had it in Louisville….”

    “I think it’s my turn again.”

    Smitty had opened the large drawer at the bottom of the large upright wardrobe, curious as to what was in it.  “Where do you expect me to sleep?” he asked.

    Drake scratched his head thoughtfully.  “I’m not sure, but I think I have an idea.”

 

    “Daddy?  Daddy—Who are those men in the house?”

    “Just some boys who are a little lost,” the man answered.  He paused, thinking.  “Although, there is one of them….”

    “One of them what, Daddy?” the teenage girl asked anxiously.

    “He’s just perfect for you, Pumpkin,” the man smiled, revealing a pair of fangs.

    The girl clapped her hands in excitement.  “Oh goody!  Do I get to bite him?  Oh please oh please oh please—“

    “Settle down now, Madra!  It looks like he’s already one of us anyway.”

    Madra’s smile grew even wider, her fangs very apparent.  “You’re kidding….”

    “No dear,” the man replied, shaking his head.  “What he’s doing with those humans, I’ll never guess.”

    “Oh, Daddy…” the girl snickered.  “You know as well as I do that he probably has to keep a steady food supply around.”

    “They seemed on good terms, though, dear.  That’s a bit unusual.”

    “Da-a-a-a-d…  It’s the 60’s, not the Dark Ages!  Come ooooon….”

    The man patted his daughter on the head, smiling warmly.  “I’ll see if I can get him to come down and talk to us, okay, Pumpkin?”

    “Okay, Daddy,” Madra beamed.  As her father left the room, she continued to flip through her copy of Teen Vampire Today. 

 

    The Raiders had settled in their respective rooms, dozing soundly.  Their combined snoring was enough to make it less than peaceful for anyone else around, however.

    Madra’s father quietly opened the door to the first room.  He tiptoed in, carrying a small flashlight.  He held it near the two forms in the bed.  He frowned when he saw it was the blonde and the one with the ponytail.

    “Curses,” he murmured.  As he turned to leave, he heard Paul begin laughing lowly.  The man froze, afraid he had awakened him.  He glanced back over at Paul again; he was laughing in his sleep.  The man shook his head in disgust.  “Humans….”

    He hurried across the hall to the other room.  He knew it was the right one.  As he made his way to the bed, he stubbed his toe on the edge of the wardrobe drawer.  “Who pulled that thing out?” he growled.

    He shone his flashlight at the drawer, finding Smitty stuffed into it.  His feet hung over the opposite side of the drawer, but otherwise, he fit perfectly.  He rolled over onto his side, pulling a blanket over his head.

    Determined, the man crept to the bed.  He saw Drake first, then spotted Phil just on the other side.  Phil slept with his mouth open, making him snore and also revealing his teeth.  The man carefully lifted Phil’s upper lip and grinned happily when he caught sight of his “fangs”.

    “Perfect,” he hissed.  He put his flashlight in his pocket and proceeded to hoist Phil onto his back.

    “Huh?  Wha’zzat?”  Phil’s eyes barely cracked open.  “I said I dinna wan’ no peaches, Mom…” he said incoherently.

    Madra’s father waved his fingers in front of Phil’s eyes.  “Back to sleep!”

    Phil’s head dropped and he was asleep again.

    The man picked him up and started out of the room with him.  As he headed to the door, he again stubbed his toe on the wardrobe drawer.  He bit his tongue and quietly cursed the little man who was resting in the drawer.  He glared at him, infuriated.

    “I give you a bed and where do you sleep?” he complained.

    Smitty let out a couple of moans and kicked his foot a couple of times, then settled again.

    The man twiddled his fingers at him.  “May you wake up with fleas, you dog.”  He hurried out of the room with Phil.

 

                “Oh, he’s cute, Daddy,” Madra gushed.  “He’s got the sweetest little nose and the cutest little eyebrows….”

                “I knew you’d like him,” the man laughed.  “Nothing but the best for my little girl.”

                Madra hugged her father tightly.  “Oh, thank you, Daddy!”

 

                Phil had heard chatter around him, but it didn’t sound familiar.  His head was pounding and he felt like he had slept in a box, his joints were so cramped.  He raised his arms to stretch, but quickly rammed his fists into something solid above him.

                “Huh?”  He was suddenly more coherent.  “What in the—“  He felt around him…He WAS in a box.

                Okay, Phil, stay calm, he thought.  There has to be a logical explanation as to why you’re in a box…  He felt over the sides of the box, finding them to be satiny.  It was lined.

                “Holy crap—I’m in a COFFIN!!  HEY!  HEY!  SOMEONE LET ME OUTTA HERE!!!”  He pounded on the lid and kicked at the sides of the thing.  “If this is a joke, IT ISN’T FUNNY!  LEMME OUT!”

                Finally, the lid creaked open.  Phil sat up like a shot, stumbling as he climbed out of the coffin as quickly as his body could move.  He staggered backwards, putting as much space between himself and that horrible thing.  He held his chest; his heart raced.

                Nothing about the room looked right.  Phil was staring at a black coffin with purple lining.  It was surrounded by more antique furniture and candelabras that had been refurbished for electricity.  The stone walls were barely covered by a few tattered tapestries and there was a beaten rug on the floor.

    Phil finally settled on a worn couch on the other side of the room.  The moment he plopped down, dust rose from the upholstery, choking him momentarily.

    “Welcome to Chez Dracula,” he coughed, “where the service bites…Just like we do…”

    “You’re so cute like that!” a female voice chimed.

    Phil looked around the room.  “Who’s there?”

    A raven-haired teenager in a black mini-dress appeared from the shadows.  “Hello,” she cooed.  “My name is Madra….”  She strutted across the floor, pausing before the coffin.  She leaned against it, then proceeded to perch herself on the end of it.  She crossed her legs and leaned back, attempting to be seductive.   She ended up slipping off and crashing to the floor.

    Phil rushed to help her to her feet.  “Well, Madra, you should be more careful.”

    “I AM being careful,” she argued.  “I did that so I could get a little closer to YOU.”  She wrapped her arms around his neck tightly, almost choking him.  “Mmmm…  You smell good…”

    “I…can’t….breathe….” Phil coughed.  He pried the girl’s arms from around his neck, welcoming the intake of air again.  “You’re certainly….ah…..affectionate.”

    “I’ve been looking for someone like you for a long time now,” Madra said, looking as innocent as possible.  She stuck out her bottom lip, pouting.  “You wouldn’t want me to have to wait longer, would you?”

    Phil backed away from her.  “Listen, dear—I think you’re a little too young for me, okay?  No offense, but—“

    Madra threw her hands on her hips, insulted.  “I’m at least a hundred!  Isn’t that old enough for you?”

    “What?”

    “Oh, you older vampires are all the same,” the girl fussed.  “You’re so picky about a girl’s age!”

    “What?!?”  Phil shook his head, trying to comprehend what the girl had just said.

    “You probably like girls with bigger fangs—I bet that’s what it is,” Madra pouted.  “I know plenty of boys with fangs bigger than yours, so there!”

    “Fangs?”  He rolled his eyes when the realization hit him.  “Oh great….”

 

     Drake awoke in the middle of the night.  It seemed that the old bed didn’t sleep very well; his back was cramped.  As he sat up, he noticed Phil was missing.

    “Phil?”  He leaned over towards the wardrobe drawer and knocked on the end of it.  “Hey, Smitty—You seen Phil?”

    “Huh?” Smitty yawned. 

    “Phil—You seen him?”

    “Nah, not since we got up here.”  He sat up and started scratching behind his ear with his foot.

    Drake was taken aback.  “Just WHAT are you doing?”

    “Can’t a guy scratch an itch in peace anymore?” Smitty growled.  “Picky picky picky…”  He shook, then turned around three times before settling back down in the drawer.

    “Something’s weird,” Drake commented.  “Real weird.”  He drew back the covers and slid out of bed.  He turned on the lamp by the bed, shedding soft light on the walls in the room.  He glanced over at Smitty again and did a double take.  He fell right off the bed.

    “Would you hold it down?  I’m trying to sleep!”

    Drake, who was still on the floor, carefully crawled around the end of the bed.  He peeped around the footboard, cautiously watching the figure in the drawer.  “Smitty?  Is that YOU?”

    “Of course it’s me!  What’s got you so uptight?”

    Drake located a hand mirror on the dresser in the room.  He scooted across the floor on his knees and handed the mirror to Smitty.  “I think you’d better have a look at yourself.”

    Smitty took the mirror, somewhat perturbed.  “I KNOW what I look like, Drake…  And I already know I need to shave, but it’s what—3:00 in the morning?  Geez….”  He looked in the mirror and yelped.

    “I don’t think shaving’s gonna handle this one, little guy.”

    Smitty was a hairy mess.  His entire body was covered in fur very similar to the brown bird’s nest of hair on his head.  His snout itched mercilessly, as did his large, floppy ears.  He looked at Drake and whimpered.  His tail hung between his legs.

    “We’ll figure out what happened, Smitty.  Don’t worry,” Drake reassured him.

    “Can we fix this?  Gads, I look terrible!”

    “Come on—We’ll get Paul and Mark, then find Phil and get out of here.”

    “This is so humiliating,” Smitty sighed as he crawled out of the drawer.  He stood perfectly on all fours.  “They’ve probably turned Phil into something by now, too…”

 

     “You don’t drink blood?” Madra asked in disbelief.

    “Uh….no,” Phil answered, nauseous.  “It’s not exactly high on my list of favorite things to drink.”

    “Wow….  You must be something special,” Madra gasped.  “Even Daddy’s never met a vampire who could drink something other than blood.”  She patted his hands.  “You must be one of the ancients.”

    “For the last time, Madra, I’m NOT a vampire!”

    “Oh, you poor dear,” the girl cooed.  “You HAVE been around those humans too long, haven’t you?”

    Phil let out an aggravated groan, resting his head in his hand.  “This is worse than arguing with a brick wall…”

    The strange man strode into the room.  “Hello, Pumpkin!”

    “Hello, Daddy!”

    He eyeballed Phil.  “Well?  Is he everything I told you he’d be?”

    “Hmmm…”  Madra hesitated a moment, looking Phil over from head to toe.  “He’s been exposed to humans too long.  He’s starting to think he’s one of them.”

    “Oh dear…”

    “Oh brother….” muttered Phil.

    Madra waved her father over and whispered in his ear.  He grinned at the young man seated on the couch.

    “Ahh….One of THOSE, eh?” he laughed.  He elbowed Phil in the side, nearly knocking him over.  “You WILL be a good addition to the family!”

    “Whoa-whoa-whoa—Wait a minute!”  Phil stood quickly and began to back away from the two vampires.  “I don’t know what your game is, but I’m NOT playing, okay?”

    “See what I mean, Daddy?  He’s such a nervous one…Such a shame, too.  He’s so cute.”

    Phil was ready to pull out his hair.  He knew he should have had his teeth straightened.  This was ridiculous.  “Look—I am NOT a vampire, okay???”  He snarled as he spoke, naturally showing off his somewhat misproportioned “canines”.

    Madra’s father edged closer to Phil, bearing his fangs.  “I am of the undead…  I….am NOSFERATU!”

    “And I am leaving!” Phil exclaimed as he turned toward the door.  He took two steps and bumped into the vampire again.

    “You’re staying right here where you belong,” he insisted.

    Phil turned around again, bumping into Madra.  “You want me to show you how we ‘neck’ these days?”  She grinned and her fangs stuck over her bottom lip.

    Phil was sandwiched between the two vampires; Madra’s father had a firm grip on the young man’s arms, holding him still.

    “For an ancient, he certainly squirms a lot,” he commented.

    “I’ll take care of that,” Madra giggled.  She stood on her toes to reach Phil’s throat…

    “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Phil warned.  “I’m no good!  I’ll make you sick!  Your fangs’ll drop out!  Bats’ll think you smell funny!”

    “They already do,” Madra said as she bit him.

    A wave of warmth shot through Phil’s body; he felt sleepy again.  “Yessir…” he yawned.  “You’ll be in a lotta….trouble….for this…”  His head dropped to the side as he went unconscious.

 

    Paul stared incredulously at the wolf-like beast seated on the floor.  “Let me get this straight…  You wake up and Phil’s gone…”

    “Yeah,” Drake said, nodding.

    “And this is supposed to be Smitty?”  Paul watched the creature as it wagged its tail.  “Oh, come on!”

    “Ya want me to bite him?” Smitty asked, looking at Drake.

    Paul’s eyes boggled.  He pointed at the wolf, flabbergasted.  “It—It TALKS!”

    “Of COURSE I talk!  Geez….”  Smitty groaned; his ears flapped back in irritation.

    Mark could only stare.  “Uh…Are you gonna be able to hold drumsticks in those…ah…paws of yours there….Smitty?”

    “I think that’s a little irrelevant at the moment, don’t you?” Drake interrupted.  “Listen, guys—We have to find Phil and get out of here!”

    “He could’ve gone to the bathroom and gotten lost on the way back—Ever think about that?”

    “How the heck we gonna find him if we don’t know where he went?” Paul asked.

    “You’re forgetting something, Paul,” Drake said with a smirk.  “We’ve got a way to track him.”  He pointed to Smitty, who was busy scratching behind his ear again.

 

    Drake, Paul and Mark trailed right behind Smitty, who was putting his new canine nose to use tracking Phil’s scent through the house.  They followed him downstairs to the living room and entry hall, where the little wolf rushed toward a large potted houseplant.

    “Is it a secret entrance?” Mark asked.

    “A clue?” Paul added anxiously.

    Smitty merely began sniffing the leaves on the plant and chewing on them.  Drake nabbed him by the nape of the neck and pulled him out of the foliage.

    “You’re supposed to be looking for Phil, remember?”

    The creature swallowed hard.  “Oh…yeah.  Sorry,” he said sheepishly.  He resumed sniffing for Phil’s scent.

    “You pull another stunt like that and I’ll have you neutered!” Drake scolded.

    Smitty yelped and moved faster.

 

    They wound through the house to another hallway.  It wasn’t as well lit as the other hallways and seemed to lead into black nothingness.  Smitty ran into it, barking wildly.

    “I think he found something this time,” Paul said as he ran to catch up.

    As their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they saw that Smitty was running toward another houseplant.

    “Smitty—You’re going to the vet as soon as we get outta here!” Drake bellowed.

    “Oh yeah?”  Smitty ran beside the plant and sniffed the stones in the wall.  He stood on his hind feet and pushed on the stones until one finally moved.  He backed away as a secret doorway slowly opened.  “How’s THAT?”  He grinned slyly at Drake and wagged his tail.

    “Smart-aleck,” Drake grumbled as he entered the passageway.  He patted Smitty on the head.

    “I don’t think I can get used to that,” Mark said uneasily.  “It’s just…weird….”

    “At least he’s already housebroken,” Paul observed.

    “Is he?”

 

    “Okay…I smell him….  He’s in here somewhere, I know it,” Smitty said, nose against the floor.  He led the others down a set of cold, stone stairs into the hidden room.

    Mark felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up.  “I really don’t like how this is looking.”  The first thing he noticed was the black coffin on the far side of the room.

    “This is beyond creepy,” Paul said.  “You don’t think Phil’s in….” He thumbed nervously at the coffin.

    “There’s only one way to find out,” Drake sighed.  He sighted the wolf pawing at the side of the coffin, trying to claw it open.  “If Smitty’s nose is right, we’ve got to open it.”

    “Yecch…”

    “Could one of you guys help me with this?” Smitty grumbled, struggling with the lid.  “Paws are NOT made for lifting latches!”

    Drake hurried to the coffin; Paul and Mark followed.

    “Here goes nothing,” Drake said, taking a steadying breath.  He lifted the latch and raised the lid.  Phil was sleeping soundly inside the casket.  “Oh no…”

    “They already got him!” Mark exclaimed.  He turned pale.

    Paul hung his head.  “He was a good Fang while he lasted…”

    Drake listened carefully—Phil was still breathing.  “He’s still alive!  He’s just asleep!”

    Smitty’s ears perked up and he stood with his front paws on the side of the coffin.  He cocked his head curiously, sniffing Phil.  He licked him on the face.

    “EEEEEWWW!!!” Mark shouted.

    “Give him a break—He’s a DOG!” Drake argued.  “He coming around yet, Smitty?”

    The wolf watched the man in the casket.  He shook his head in disappointment.  “Doesn’t look like it.”

    “I THOUGHT he was still alive,” Drake said, putting his fingers on Phil’s throat.  As he felt for a pulse, he found two bite marks.  He quickly drew his hands back, stumbling backwards from the coffin.  “ICK!”

    “What?”

    Drake pointed to Phil’s neck.  “They got him…  Look!”

    Mark, Paul and Smitty crowded over Phil, all examining the holes in his neck.  Their faces all seemed to turn green.

    “What do we do?” Drake asked.

    Mark looked at Phil determinedly.  “There’s only one thing we CAN do.  We have to save him from himself.”

    “Huh?” came the collective response.

    “Smitty—Can you run back to your room and get one of your drumsticks?” Mark continued.

    “I guess…..  Why?”

    “We have to stake him through the heart,” Mark explained.

    “WHAT?!?”

    “He’s a vampire!  We HAVE to do that!”

    “Now just hold on there a minute, Lindsay—Are you CRAZY?” Drake yelled.  “That’s PHIL!”

    “You saw those bite marks, Drake!  He’s a vampire now!  I bet he’s got fangs now, too!”

    “He’s ALWAYS had ‘fangs,’ genius boy!” Paul admonished.

    “Well, I bet they’re longer now!” Mark insisted.  “Smitty—Go get that drumstick!”

    “Nothing doing!  You’re not staking him!”

    “Well, SOMEONE has to do it!  And we have to do it fast!”  Mark looked around the room.  “Paul, do you still have that toothpick from dinner?”

    Paul rolled his eyes.  “Would you give it up already?”

    “You’re gonna stab with a toothpick?  Man, you ARE cracked!” Smitty barked.

    “Your ponytail must be too tight!” Drake added.

 

    Phil heard a terrible racket—It sounded like screaming and dogs barking.  As he came into consciousness, he recognized the voices as his friends’, although he couldn’t explain the dog barks.

 

    “I am NOT about to stake my best friend!” Drake argued.

    “Anybody got a pencil?  Those are wood—They’ll work!” Mark continued.

    “Why don’t you run him through with a school ruler, huh?”

    “If you’ve got one!”

    “Would you shut up?  You’re making enough noise to wake the dead!” Phil screamed as he sat up.  He glared at all of them angrily.  He was greeted by wide eyes and open mouths.  “What?  What’s wrong?”

    “You’re alive!” Paul gasped.

    “Of course I’m alive, Paul.”  Phil looked at the wolf, teetering on its hind feet.  “Whose dog?”

    “Hiya, Phil,” Smitty beamed.  He sat back down on all fours and wagged his tail.

    Phil’s eyebrows shot up in extreme surprise.  “Tell me that’s NOT Smitty.”

    “Okay, it’s not Smitty,” Drake said.

    “It’s Smitty with a fur coat,” Paul amended.  “What about you?”

    “I’d be fine if I’d stop waking up in THIS thing,” Phil answered, gesturing at the coffin.  He began to climb out.

    Mark held his fingers in a cross shape.  “How do we know you’re safe?”

    Phil pushed Mark’s hands aside.  “Oh puh-lease….  I’d be more worried about getting Smitty his rabies shots now.”

    Smitty’s ears shot up.  “What IS it with you people threatening to take me to the vet???”

    “Phil, are you SURE you’re okay?” Drake asked gravely.

    Phil smiled.  “I’m sure.”

    “You haven’t been sucking any blood, have you?”  Mark gawked at him suspiciously.  “Let me see your fangs.”

    Phil opened his mouth as wide as he could, allowing Mark to peer inside.  Mark stepped back, holding his nose.  “Peee-yeeew!  What is that?  Garlic?”

    “Yup.”  Phil laughed.  “Why do you think that vampire girl left me in here?”

    “Vampire girl?” Mark asked, leering.  “Is she pretty?”

    “I thought you wanted to stake all the vampires.  Y’know—Save ‘em from themselves?” Paul reminded him.

    “Well, no one told me there was a GIRL vampire.  That makes it a little different.”  He smoothed his hair back, trying to look more presentable.

    Smitty stood up and whispered in Drake’s ear.  “Maybe you should have HIM neutered instead.”

 

    Footsteps echoed from the stone steps, along with voices.

    “Daddy, are you SURE that awful taste will go away?  I thought he had gone sour!”

 

    “It’s them!” Phil warned.  “Scatter!”

    The Raiders attempted to find decent hiding places in the crypt-like room, but with limited success.  Drake and Paul were crouched behind the coffin; Mark was hidden behind a wall-length tapestry and Smitty was huddled under the old, dusty couch.

     Madra and her father strode into the room.  The teenager immediately approached Phil.

    “Hello, dear,” she said softly.  “Did you have a good little rest?”

    Phil leaned against the rim of the open casket, trying to look as casual as possible.  “Oh, yes I did…Wonderful.”  He leaned against the coffin a little more, crossing one foot in front of the other.  He stumbled, causing the top of the casket to close on his fingers.  He winced in pain, shoving them into his mouth.

    “No no no—Let me see them!” Madra pleaded.  “Is there any blood?  I hope?”

    “That’s just sick,” Paul grumbled lowly.  Drake shushed him.

    Madra inched closer to Phil, aiming for his neck again.  “How about another little nip, hmmm?”

    “Uh….No, that’s okay….”  He shied away from her, bumping into Mark, who was still hidden behind the tapestry.  “I think I’d like a little HELP about now!” he whispered through gnashed teeth.

    “I’d be more than happy to help you, dear,” Madra said lowly.

    Just then, Mark pushed the tapestry back, stepping in front of Phil.  “Helloooo there,” he said suavely.  “Are you the girl Phil has told me so much about?”

    Madra giggled.  “I might be.”

    Drake and Paul peered from behind the coffin.

    “What is he DOING?” Drake asked.

    “Hanging himself,” Paul replied flatly.  “I guess we’d better do something before she puts the bite on him, too.”

    Madra walked past Phil and focused her attention on Mark.  “My name is Madra….”

    “Call me Mark.”

    Madra’s father stormed across the room, pulling the two apart.  “What do you think you’re doing, young lady?” he asked.  He pointed at Phil.  “I picked HIM out for you and in two seconds flat, you’re going after a human?!?”

    Phil shot a helpless glance at the two men behind the coffin.  “Help?” he peeped.

    “But Daddy he just looked so…TASTY standing there,” Madra whined.  “And I bet HE doesn’t taste like he’s spoiled!” 

    “You’ll take who I give you, Madra!” the vampire demanded.  “I went to a lot of trouble to pick this one out for you!”  He pointed at Phil, who shivered.

    “But Da-a-a-a-ad!”

    “Would you take that human like THIS?” the vampire questioned, waving his fingers at Mark.  Mark’s hair was suddenly transformed into a nest of black and brown snakes.

    “YAAAAAH!!!”  Mark shrieked and ran around the room in circles.  “GET-EM-OFF-GET-EM-OFF-GET-EM-OFF!!!”

                “Daddy, that was mean!”

                “I’m just trying to prove a point, Pumpkin!”

                “I’VE GOT SNAKES ON MY HEAD!!!”  Mark looked straight at one of the serpents, which looked right back at him.  They both screamed.

 

                Drake peeked around the edge of the coffin and waved to Smitty, who was still huddled under the couch.  He signaled him to join him and Paul.  Smitty nodded and began scooting across the floor on his belly.  Unfortunately…

                “Daddy!  Who let that werewolf in here?” Madra shouted.  “Ick-ick-ick!  You KNOW how I feel about wolfies!”  She stamped her feet childishly.  “Go on!  Scat!  Shoo!”

                Smitty stopped scooting and simply ran behind the coffin.  “Paul, I’ve decided something,” he said.

                “What’s that?”

                “You’re not paying me enough.”

                “What drives vampires away?” Drake asked.

                “Crosses…  Holy water,” Paul began.

                “Don’t forget sunlight,” Drake added.

                “Dog germs!” Smitty said with a smile.

                “Huh?”

                “She doesn’t like werewolves,” Smitty explained.  “What could be worse than ME?”  He wrinkled his snout mischievously.

                “Sick ‘em, boy,” Paul said, pointing towards the two vampires.

                “And just who is the big bad were-puppy going to sick, eh?”

                The two men and the wolf looked up to find they were being watched by Madra’s father.  They froze.

                “I’m wondering what I can do to you,” he pondered, amused.  “You’re such easy targets.  It’s almost too simple.”

                “TAKE THAT!”  Phil had torn down the old tapestry nearby and threw it over the vampire’s head.  He hopped on his back, trying to subdue him.

                “You would treat one of your own kind like this?”

                Phil pounded him on the head.  “I—AM—NOT—A—VAMPIRE!”

                “You leave my daddy alone!” Madra screeched.  She tugged at Phil’s pants furiously.  “Stop it!  Stop it right now!”

                Smitty charged at her, knocking her down and skidding her across the floor.  He held her arms down with his front paws.  He smiled.  “Woof.”

                The teenager kicked and screamed.  “Eeeewww!  Eeeewww!  Get it off me!  Get it away!  EEEEWWW!!!”

                For good measure, the wolf stuck his cold nose against the girl’s face.  She squirmed and whined even more.

                Mark was still running around with snakes on his head.  Paul snatched him by the collar the next time he passed by and thrust the snakes at the older vampire.  A few of them bit at him.

                “OUCH!”

                “Change him back!” Paul demanded.  “Change them all back!”

                “Never!”

    The vampire fought to pull the tapestry from his eyes.  He threw Phil from his back, only to have Drake run at him with one of the candelabras.  He swung it at him fiercely until the electric cord on the fixture became taut, then unplugged from the wall.

    “Who turned out the lights?”

    “Daddy?”   

    “OW!  Who pulled my tail?”

    “Drake?  Drake—Is that you?”

    “No, it’s me….and I think you’re talking to one of the snakes.”

    “YECCH!”

    “I can’t see anything!”

    “Someone DO something!”

    At last, the lights flickered back on.  Phil had found the end of the electric cord on the candelabra and plugged it back into the outlet.  The two vampires were nowhere to be seen.

    “Where’d they go?” Drake asked, breathlessly.

    “Dunno,” Phil said.  He looked carefully around the room, finding only his band mates.

    Paul ran to the window, still holding firm to Mark’s shirt collar.  “Hey—Look at that!”

    Two silhouettes could be seen against the outline of the full moon.  They flew into the black clouds, vanishing from sight.

    “I’m glad that’s over,” Phil sighed with relief.

    “Yeah, but what about Mark and Smitty?” Paul asked.

    “AHEM—Uh, Paul…”  Mark struggled to free himself from the bandleader’s grip.  “You can let go now.”

    “Huh?  Oh.”  Paul released Mark’s collar.  “You’re not a snake-head anymore!”

    “Thankfully,” Mark said, feeling over his normal hair.  He was glad to have it back.  “I’m not too keen on the Medusa look.”

    “Then what about…” Phil began, glancing back towards Smitty.  He saw Drake standing beside him; the drummer was wrapped in the old tapestry.  “What’s the deal with the rug?”

    Drake smirked.  “Guys—“

    “You don’t see any dogs who run around fully clothed, do you?  Why do you THINK I’m wearing this stupid rug?”  Smitty’s ears turned bright red, so did his face.

 

     “Alright, fellas,” Roger explained.  “I’ve got another taxi on its way to pick you up now.  I gave him the same address you gave me, so he should be there pretty soon.”

    “Thanks, Rog’,” Paul spoke into the phone.  “You wouldn’t believe the night we’ve had.”

    “No kidding!” Phil yelled from across the room.

    “Well, don’t worry about it.  You’ll be back home before you know it,” said Roger.  “Don’t miss your taxi…and be careful this time, would ya?”

 

    “How much longer do you think he’ll be?” Drake asked.  He buttoned up his coat, trying to protect himself from the chill in the pre-dawn air.

    “I think I see him now,” Mark said, pointing to a pair of headlights in the distance.  “We’ll be back home in bed in two shakes of a dog’s tail.”

    “Dog?  Tail?  What?”

    “Snap out of it, Smitty,” Paul bellowed, smacking him in the arm.


                The taxi pulled up the front drive of the old house.  The Raiders happily threw their luggage inside and hopped aboard.  The sun was just rising, casting a much more friendly glow on the spooky house.

    “Back home and back to reality,” Phil said as he leaned back in his seat.  “I, for one, can hardly wait.”  He looked curiously at Smitty, who had his head out the car window.  “Smitty—Get back in here!”

    Pouting, Smitty brought his head back into the car.  He sat quietly, sulking.  However, minutes later, he was at it again, letting the breeze blow through his hair.

    “I don’t think they cured him all the way,” Drake whispered.

    Mark watched Smitty skeptically.  “Are you SURE he’s house broken?”

 

             

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