Aslak Normann and Marius Grønnås
Chapter 1 - Anonymous tip
In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that wasn’t meant to fly;
A man strode down the alleyway. This was yesterday. Some time later the same day, another man also went down the alleyway. Suddenly, a door slammed open (in that same alleyway). A man appeared wearing a butcher’s apron. His exact words as he saw the rodent infested half-rotten bodies of a man and another man was: "Hey, ho and a bottle of rum". This, of course, was because he was dead drunk. The natural response to such a horrid and menacing sight would be to shit (unconsciously) in your pants and drop to your knees in despair and at the same time sit down in your own shit. Errr… but anyway, lets not get carried away. This fellow, however, wasn’t scared shitless, he just greeted them good night and got on with his life.
Later a ringing noise broke the silence in the office. This annoyed the people in the office; they had all settled down and were enjoying the sweet taste of donuts and coffee.
Bobby-Mae, the janitor, saw it as his duty to soothe the over-worked, under-paid officers of the Ankh Morpork City Watch, so he answered the phone.
-’Ello, how can I be of Service, said Bobby-Mae
- Are you a city vatch officer? inquired a suspiciously sounding voice on the other end
At this point, explanation is required
In the universe, you see, billions and billions of particles of inspiration, mischievousness, hatred, love and everything flow through the infinity of space and affects whatever they hit. (It is these particles we humans mistake for demons and gods like Cupid and Amor) But since the universe is so mind-bogglingly big, nearly infinite, the chances of getting hit by those particles are also equally mind-bogglingly low. And it was one of these particles, a mischievousness particle, which hit Bobby Mae square in the face. This explains why he said the following.
- Indeed I am, said Bobby with an evil smirk on his face.
- Good, good. Yes, very good indeed! The person replied.
- You see, I have some information about the recent killings in Ankh-Morpork.
- Indeed? asked Bobby. He knew perfectly well what killings the person was talking about, as a janitor you tend to snap up some interesting information from your surroundings.
- Yes, but I can’t tell you this on the phone, yo-
- Ahh, but you see. It is perfectly safe. New technology has done wonders, Bobby interrupted.
- Quiet! The person whispered fiercely. It is tradition that sensitive information like this can’t be delivered by phone! We must meet.
- M’kay, where is this meeting place of yours then?
- The alley between Big Wallace’s butcher house and Madame Pigoute’s Hair transplants in Dragoon Street.
- All right, I’ll be there.
Chapter 2 - Confrontation
Bobby Mae hung up. He couldn’t understand what had gotten into him, pretending to be an officer of law like that. But the effects of the particle hadn’t dissipated, so he decided that this could be his long yearned for and indeed earned break-trough, which would show those saggy officers at the Watch that he was worthy as an Upholder of the Law. He put on his janitor coat and strolled out the door of the Watch HQ. The stench of the river Ankh punched him ruthlessly in the face. The river Ankh was so polluted that people say you can walk on the water, although if you tried, you would rather sink slowly and inexorably into the stink infested depths if you tried your luck. The river divides the City of Ankh-Morpork right on the middle and spreads its appalling stench all over the city.
Bobby Mae took a deep breath, coughed a bit, and started walking. He looked at the clock on the tower of Ankh-Morkporks Cathedral of Small Gods. The darkness would pay its visits to Ankh-Morpork any minute now. By the time Bobby turned the corner into Dragoon Street, the darkness had pushed away the light and settled down in the streets of the City. The only people he could see were the shopkeepers who closed down their shops. Soon even they vanished from the dark and menacing streets of Ankh-Morkpork. The darkness could be very lethal in Ankh-Morpork. Not the darkness itself of course, but rather those creatures of the more lunar persuasion. They were just a little bonus of the all-round glamour of the City.
Bobby Mae made his way down to the entrance of an alley that seemed right. He stopped, shrugged, and then took some nervous steps down the alley. The smell of garbage and urine fought the traditional tribal war for dominance over the alley.
- ’Allo? He carefully asked the darkness. Silence screamed back at him. Bobby started to sweat on his forehead. He had a creeping sensation that something was not right. He swore he could feel a distant resonance of pure evil bouncing between the walls.
- Mr. Telephone guy, are you there, he ventured.
Suddenly he swirled around and locked his back to the wall. He was sure he had heard something. He strained his ears so much they hurt. (If you listen hard enough it can actually hurt…or so it is said at least) His heart tried to thump its way through his ribs so it could run or jump or whichever is more preferable to safety. Several minutes passed before he dared make a move. His muscles relaxed a bit.
- Ah yesss, you have come.
The terrible shock of the voice was too much for Bobby Mae. His finely attuned janitor stomach acted in sheer panic and Bobby threw up at the wall with such power that the oral residue bounced right back at his face. It was not a pretty sight.
- I’m sorry if I scared you, vitch vas not my intention. Uttered the voice.
- Err, no problem, Bobby answered while desperately wiping off half digested food from his face.
The owner of the voice stepped out from the dark shadows just enough so you could only see the silhouette of the man. It looked like a large and well-built man. It was something about him that told Bobby that he was wearing a very expensive suit.
- I have some vital information about the recent murdersss, the person declared with his hissing voice.
- Well? Bobby demanded.
- Vell, it vasss me. The silhouette replied.
Bobbys mind raced to find a suitable answer, but was stunned by the straightforward manner of which the voiced confessed his sins.
- You heard me…. Vell, are you not going to inquire of me vy I tell you this?
- wh-why do you..
- I like to brag, capice? All loonatics do, the man interrupted.
- Why did you kill them? Bobby said, and surprised even himself with the tranquility of his speech.
- Vell, I was hungry.
A creepy suspicion arose in Bobby Mae. He produced a flashlight from one of his many janitor-pockets, turned it on and aimed at the voices’ face. The dreadful sight which met him striked down his last resources of common sense. What he saw was a dead-white face decorated with two red gleaming eyes, a thin, pointy nose and a mouth with a grin that reaveled two shiny white fangs. His brain lost all control over his mouth.
- y-y-y-yo-yo, he desperately tried.
- a vam-a vamp- a vamp..
- A vampire? Yes, yes I am. How very perceptive of you. Sorry to trouble you like this.. Nov you have to die. I am hungry.
Bobby Mae sought desperately for a way out. His life started to pass before his eyes. When he got to about elementary-school age, he saw brief images of book modeling a vampire before a castle in the background.. He focused on it. He read through it with his minds-eye. This is cool, he thought. It was a rather boring story, but he found something interesting. Vampires are very meticulous humanoids. Therefore, he thought; "if I throw out the abc-crackers I have conveniently put in my pockets, maybe that psychopath of a vampire will stop to sort them alphabetically" and so he did. Like a madman, desperately flinging cookies around to buy himself time. Vexation strained the vampires’ features. Hands curled the vampire gathered itself.
- Hah. Stupid mortal. I laugh at your pathetic attempt to lure me. I have gone to therapy for this.
The vampire seemed to grow bigger as it stood there, its bloodshot eyes fixed on Bobby. Evil resonated from this being. Bobby gulped in spite of himself. The vampire took a few steps forward, baring its fangs as it moved. Meeting a vampire stare for stare could probably qualify as the most insanely stupid thing Bobby had ever done in his whole miserable little life. The vampire lurched even closer, towering over Bobby who was now completely paralyzed.
But the Gods must have smiled (mayhap with a gaily frown on their faces) upon Bobby this day. Or perhaps it was sheer luck, but the point is that a particle of clear thinking pinched Bobby in his arse. Suddenly his head was so full of ideas that some of them poured over and spilled into his mouth. The vampires’ fangs were no more than an inch from Bobby’s neck when he said:
- Holy Macaroni! Oh by the seven hells! Would you look at that! That’s the second most beautiful neck I’ve seen in my life!
With a blur, the vampire spun around and, to its disappointment, saw nothing but air. Dumbly, it turned its head to where Bobby’s neck should have been. More air faced its pale face. Bobby’s rather fast-paced footsteps could be heard in the distance.
- Ahh.. Vell.. I vill just let zer man run for now, the unnamed vampire said, and turned into a bat.
Chapter 3 - The Hunt
The night gave way to dawn, and as the Sun rose over Ankh Morpork, Bobby lay writhing in his bed. Outside the bustle of everyday life in town increased. A rooster expressed its feeling on getting up early. Bobby woke up and had a terrible headache. As he opened his eyes he saw, written in blood, a message of some sort in the ceiling.
"Darkness withers the heart. Seek me at 23rd Gleam Street at midnight" and an additional little something: .. oh and of course the usual "Feel Safe Nowhere"
This might have scared ordinary people out of their wits, but not Bobby Mae, proud janitor of the Ankh Morpork City Watch. In the Watch they train their janitors and other civilian workers especially for the environment inside a Watch-house. And, thought Bobby, letters written in blood were so last century. It was the method used by common thieves, burglars and other sorry creatures to get their message across. Although in movies it is portrayed as something glorious, ominously cunning and noble, it is actually pretty uninventive and pathetic. Automatically, Bobby wrote down the message in the notebook everyone with relations to the Watch always has at hand. The only thing that troubled him was the part that seemed to be in native vampyrian or something like that.
He sat and pondered on this for a moment, until a gust of wind turned, with divine accuracy, his shaving mirror so that he saw in it only the assumed vampyrian literature. The mirror read: "Ve hide in zer light" Oh! Very cunning indeed! Hah.. Had it not been 6 o’ clock in the morning, Bobby would’ve noticed it straight away.
Distancing himself from the appalling episode last night, and exercising some mind-over-matter for his headache, he started making a psychic evaluation of the perpetrator. Assuming the writing was the vampires doing, he concluded the following:
1. The person in question is a total loon
2. The person has seen too many horror movies
On his way to work, because he did have to earn a living, he had a nagging sensation of being followed. When he moved his head to check though, he just caught glimpses of whatever it was in the corner of his eye before it slipped away.
When he entered the Watch-house he got about his duties quickly. And in his janitor uniform he had access to all security levels in the building. (Which just meant that he had to clean the Commander of the Watch’s office regularly) and as he wiped the Commander’s desk, he saw an invitation to Lord Selaachii’s party the same evening along with the guestlist. He read the address to the location to the party. "23’rd Gleam Street" it said. Bobby recognized this immediately as the address written in blood on his ceiling. The sigil of the Selaachii family was a white sun with lots of beams.. Suddenly a thought struck Bobby. His janitor-brain’s subconsciousness had been working overdrive to connect all his subconscious thoughts and observations and had hacked into his consciousness to deliver the message.
"Ve hide in zer light" - A sun! This was so arrogant it struck Bobby as a little odd. And it didn’t fit his psycho evaluation either..
Following the hunch, he quickly signed himself into the guestlist.
Bobby Mae was dead-set on solving this case and he would do just about anything to catch this superhuman villain. Killing was wrong, even if your own life depended on it. The vampire could easily live a happy life on pig’s blood. But hunting big, fat, dirty pig around and to drive your teeth trough hairy skin was not the same as seducing beautiful ladies in the middle of the night and then suck their sweet tasting blood. It just didn’t have the same flare around it.
Later, within the walls of his own home, he made the certain presentations needed for a party so high in the social ranks like this. He washed, he shaved, and he even combed his hair and smeared it in with grease so he would look like a rich merchant or something like it. He put on a really cheap and fancy dress. I didn’t look good on him at all, but he didn’t care much about that. When Bobby was satisfied, he walked out the door. The wind came from the east tonight. Which meant that the smell from the river Ankh wasn’t that dominant. If he didn’t know better he would say he almost could smell a hint of fresh air. He looked up at the sky, it was crystal clear and the black velvet sky was filled with blinking stars. He gave special attention to the moon, which was full. Figures, he thought. Every time the good guy is about to do the final battle with the evil guy, there’s always a full moon. Bobby had heard about werewolves and full moons, but he didn’t know if full moons had any effect on vampires. He hoped not.
Bobby Mae took a right into Gleam Street and the eastern wind smacked him in the face. His back itched as if someone was standing right behind him. He gave worried looks over his shoulder, but he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. He found his way to the house that would be the 23’rd. He could see people dancing trough the windows. He stepped up to the door and knocked. A hatch opened in the door and two tired eyes revealed themselves.
-Yea, what you want? The eyes said.
-I want in, I’m on the list, Bobby replied with a proud grin.
-What ya’ name? Demanded the eyes.
-Bobby Mae… Janitor of the City Watch. Bobby said, still with his wide grin.
-Janitor eyh? Well, hold on, I’ll check... The eyes looked down.
The hatch closed with a smack. Bobby leaned back on the railings and took a deep breath. He looked up at the moon again. It will be a long night, he concluded. The sensation of something watching him crept up his back again, but before he could do anything with it the doors opened. The fat man with the tired eyes from the hatch showed him in with a short nod. He got visibly startled when he noticed that everyone in the room looked like vampires, werewolves or other creatures of the night.
Chapter 4 - Endgame
- Oh, my God, breathed Bobby.
- Yea, it’s terrible, ain’t it? Everyone came as a vampire or werewolf or something like it, said the fat bouncer.
- Oh, this is a costume ball? To bad I didn’t dress up. Bobby said incredibly relieved.
- What you mean? That suit of yours must surely be a carnival suit? I mean, with those colors and so on. Oh, and that vivid smell! Marvelous.
Bobby ignored the remark and started to mingle with the masses. The real vampire could be anyone, he thought. It would be easier said than done to find the real vampire among all the fake ones. He would have to come up with something smart that would expose the real vampire.
The room was crowded with what seemed to be upper class people trying to act their roles properly; everyone had done their best to really look scary and eldritch. They moved about in a manner to suggest that they only did what they did to satisfy some bigwigs’ fancy, but did their best to be best at it. The servants had done their best to decorate the house with old, eldritch candles, chandeliers, spider webs, statues of mummies, and everything else that was commonly accepted as scary. They’d even made a very unnerving maze of mirrors to trap unwary visitors or the occasional man running for his life. As it were, he didn’t have any other choice than to mingle some more. He wasn’t used to this kind of thing.. several people complimented him on his authentic costume, and he didn’t know what else to do than nod approvingly back at their costumes. It was still early, so he went to the bar to keep himself busy.
- So, One’s come to recharge One’s batteries, the barkeeper greeted him.
- ..yes? Bobby ventured.
He had an image in his mind of the loony vampire standing somewhere pressing his fingers together as it nodded to itself. Bobby shivered. At least it wouldn’t try anything with all these people in the room.
- Vut vill One have, the barkeeper said gaily, clearly living into the spirit of the thing.
Bobby chewed on it. Then he ordered, grinning sardonically to himself.
- One vill have a Bloody Mary. And be quick about it, he added.
- Vy, zatz ztrange, the barkeeper said getting a bit carried avay; only One otzer haz had zat zonight. And vat a peculiar figure zat vas. Well, here You are Sir.
Bobby accepted the drink graciously, and began to sip at it. He had expected that. Now the small hand on the neared its peak, and bells started to chime. The sound they made had something final and definite about them. Hells bells, he thought. The crowd was herded into the dining room. Bobby put down his drink to follow them. Instantly he froze. His spine turned to jelly as he turned around and saw the vampire standing a few feet from him, with its fingers pressed against each other, and a loony grin that revealed white fangs with fresh blood on them and its gaze fixed on Bobby. Just like he had imagined.
He felt he had to say something.
- So… er.. Isn’t this a little too urban for you?
- Vut? The vampire replied absently.
- I mean, aren’t you vamps supposed to live in big, old castles or something?
- Ahahaha.. Vell you are quite right, but you see.. a man’s house is his castle, and that is also true for Vampires such as I. This is my … Castle! At the word "castle" ominous rolls of thunder ..rolled in the sky.
- Vell.. Let us end this charade. Prepare to Die, the vampire said grimly.
The vampire advanced on Bobby. As usual, Bobby was completely paralyzed. Once again his life flashed before his eyes. But he had done this before, so he skipped to the important part. Ah.. there he found it. On page 103, he read that vampires were vulnerable to wooden poles. As luck would have it, he always carried one of those around. He had never known why before, but he saw that providence had arranged matters nicely for him. But first, he had a question.
- Excuse me, he said bluntly, startling the poor vampire. - But aren’t you supposed to assail young maidens, not old chaps like me?
The vampire gathered itself, then answered.
- As tradition vould have it.. Yes. But I think its modern. Urban, zo to speak.
Well, what do you know.. a closet-vampire. Bobby was fresh out of replies.
- Well in that case… Geronimo!! He said.
He gathered momentum and flung himself wildly at the vampire, wooden pole at the ready. The vampire took a step back, and Bobby missed completely, falling heavily to the ground.
The vampire, still unnamed, didn’t waste a chance like this. It jumped mightily and plunged, teeth first, towards Bobby. In the meantime, Bobby had rolled around and lay face up on the floor. The descending vampire was met so violently in mid-air by Bobby’s fists going upwards that it missed its prey and got its teeth stuck in the wooden floor. With a sigh of relief Bobby staggered to his feet and aimed his pole at the creatures heart.
A whistling sound came from the vampire. Figures detached themselves from the dark. Oh, bugger. As Bobby wondered what to do with this slight plight, the vampire shook itself loose from the floor and started towards Bobby in that famous posture, fangs bared, head thrust forward, back crooked. Bobby wasn’t aware of the peril before it was too late.
White fangs punctured the skin on his neck. The vampire watched its deed with pride. His blood froze. His limbs started stiffening. He could feel his teeth growing. So.. it has come to this, he thought. Well I’ve had a good life.. I regret nothing that I can think of. .. Oh.. There is one thing. With his last ounce of strength, he rammed the wooden pole into the vampire, planting it deep in its heart. It crumbled to dust. Bobby fell to the floor and lay there writhing. A sliver gash appeared in the air and grew to about a man’s size. Out of it, brushing dust off his robe stepped the Grim Reaper, the old chap with the scythe, the harvester of souls; Death.
- Oh bugger.. said death. The sound seemed to arrive in the brain without going through the traditional way of compressed air, ears and so on.
- You just had to get bitten, didn’t you? You were supposed to die. Not get bitten and get immortal. Do you have any idea how much fuzz this does to my time schedule? Do you know how upset it makes me? Do you? Roared Death.