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Chapter Text

October 1981

You're a little hustler, aren't you?

Proud and insolent youth, said Hook, prepare to meet thy doom.

You shanty Irish bastard.

Some people get things they don't deserve.

Novocain for the brain

It says here you like to steal things. There's no tolerance for that sort of behavior here. You'll learn your lesson the hard way. What is the seventh commandment?

Someday I won't be there to save your arse, and if you're not careful, you'll go down, m'lad.

A jumble of words swam in Willie's head as he regained consciousness on the cold, flagstone floor.

Barnabas. Its name is Barnabas. The guy in the picture. He sat up, trying to recollect his thoughts, despite a fuzzy, achy head.

Shit, I was conned by a—vampire.

He crawled over to the flashlight, which still emitted a feeble glow, and with it surveyed the room. The vampire was nowhere to be seen. Good. The tomb's hidden chamber in which he sat was sealed shut. Not good.

The young man could make out a coffin, which stood in the middle of the room on its bier, and the knapsack and tools he brought, which lay scattered on the floor. In one—no, two—corners were tall, carved wooden candlesticks, but the beeswax candles they once held had long since melted and contributed to the mottled colors of the flagstone floor. There were empty sconces on the wall.

Willie had watched enough horror movies and read enough comic books to know all about vampires. He never believed they really existed before, but he didn't believe in God either, or anything else that was intangible. This was possibly a good time to reconsider these hypotheses.

Sweet Jesus, get me outta here.

He addressed heaven by shining the flashlight to the ceiling and recited what he could remember of the prayer about being sorry.

"Omygod, I am heart'ly sorry for havin' offended thee
And I detest all my sins
Because I dread the laws of heaven and the pains of hell
But, most of all – something something
I firmly resolve with the–something, shit—
To amen my life amen."

His act of contrition was apparently unworthy of acknowledgment by God or anyone else. The flashlight exhausted its remaining power and died in his hand.

Willie pulled out his cigarette lighter and with it located the discarded knapsack. In there, along with tools, were two dinner candles, 12-inch tapers he had pinched from the butler's pantry at Collinwood. The boy pulled himself to a standing position and, when the room stopped spinning, lit one and shoved it into a sconce. The bleak flickering illumination from that single source made the room look spookier than before.

Maybe it was daytime and the evil fiend was asleep in its thing. In that case Willie could destroy it with . . . something. Unfortunately, he had neglected to pack crosses, stakes, garlic or whatever else comes in a vampire-killing kit. He cautiously lifted the lid of the casket and peeked inside.

Unoccupied. The monster must be out on the town. It may return at some point and kill him—or not return and Willie would just starve to death. He rummaged through his pockets for a candy bar, gum, anything, but came up with car keys, old matches, cigarettes and 17 cents. The seams of the knapsack interior yielded nothing but a sprinkling of crumbs mixed with lint.