The Vampire Within

by Roland Mantell and Brian J. Dooley

This is what you get when a professional writer
teams up with a ten year old boy to create
an amusing story!

Young Josh Wheatley awoke one morning to hear a bumping sound in the ceiling. He got up and followed the noise to the attic. He and his parents and a cat named Ginger had moved to this house just a week ago, so there were still lots of things to discover. He climbed the stairs and pushed open the creaky trap door. Ginger, sitting at the bottom of the stairs, let lose an uneasy yowl.

Josh peered into the dim attic and lots of cobwebs and old furniture and mouldy clothing and boxes. One small box, sitting in the corner all by itself was bumping up and down and seemed like it might contain an amusing toy.

"I'll open that one," said Josh to himself.

Ginger yowled again from the staircase below.

Josh tried to open the box, but it was locked. He tried again, but no use. Then he felt it jump in his hands, and he dropped it in surprise. It sprang open and something came out. It was a dark, fast something that brushed by his face and he felt a gentle nip as it passed by his face and flew out of the broken attic window.

When he recovered from the surprise, Josh thought that it must have been a mosquito or a big fly or something like that, so he wasn't too much concerned. In fact, he forgot all about it when he discovered an old cape and a top hat and a cane in another attic corner. He put them on. There was also a small mirror nearby. He went over to the window to see himself better. The mirror showed a most impressive little boy in a top hat and cape, but the image suddenly faded and shimmered like a bad TV signal, and then just disappeared!

Josh ran downstairs, forgetting the top hat and cane. He looked into the bathroom mirror. There was no image to be found. Ginger yowled again and came to outside the bathroom door, looking at him in a most peculiar way as though he were a particularly large rodent.

Shortly, Josh's mother called him down to breakfast. He didn't feel particularly hungry, and he was a little bit tired and somewhat dizzy. As he sat down, his dad remarked that he looked a little pale.

"I heard something interesting about the house," said Dad, taking a large mouthful of toast. He paused for a moment to chew. "It seems the previous owner was a rather eccentric gentleman who was only ever seen at night and disappeared mysteriously one evening some years ago. They say he haunts the house, and that's why it was such a bargain."

"Josh, why aren't you eating?" asked Mother.

"Not very hungry, mum," replied Josh.

Ginger yowled.

So, Josh went off to school on his bike. His dad went off to the office by car, and his mother watched Josh leave with a concerned look, and Ginger tentatively scratched at the floor.

At school, Josh hurried to his biology class. He sat down near to Mary Jane Brown and beside Georgie Smithers. It was the first class of the year, and the teacher introduced himself as Mr. Wilkinson, and then introduced them all to the class mascot—a small caged mouse called Pinky, which had recently had a litter of little mouselettes. As Mr. Wilkinson droned on about this and that, his voice seemed to fade and Josh thought to himself, "I am certainly feeling very sleepy all of a sudden."

Indeed, he was very sleepy. And getting sleepier. As Mr. Wilkinson talked on, his head fell down on his arms. Mary Jane noticed an odd thing...as he seemed to be falling asleep, on of his eyes opened suddenly and started to rove around the room, turning a little bit pink at the edges. She thought, "Well, this is rather odd," then turned back to writing her notes.

Mr. Wilkinson, meanwhile, turned to the blackboard and started to explain something biological and about mice and so forth. While his back was turned, Josh's arm stretched out quickly behind Georgie's head and his fingers casually flipped open poor Pinky's cage and extracted a mouselette. Which he darted quickly back to his mouth and consumed, the tiny tail whipping swiftly between his parted lips. Much to the horror of the agog Georgie, who was the only person watching.

After one swift gulp and a knowing smirk toward Georgie, Josh's head fell back upon his arms, his eyes both closed, and , after a single loud snore, he raised his head and looked around.

Georgie raised his hand, and Mr. Wilkinson called on him.

"Please, sir, Josh just ate a mouse," he said.

"Ridiculous," responded Mr. Wilkinson. "Don't make up stories about your classmates."

"But sir...," said Georgie.

"You don't want to get into trouble now, do you?" asked the teacher.

"No, sir," replied Georgie, with a baleful look at Josh.

A few periods went by without incident. Then came Art class. Again, Josh found himself seated between Mary Jane and Georgie. Mrs. Kribopple, the teacher, had laid out a nice collection of fruits and vegetables on a table in the centre of the room, and everyone was supposed to paint them. Mary Jane asked for the pottle of green paint, and Georgie got the pottle, passed it to Josh, who passed it to Mary Jane. Josh was too tired to think of how to paint and just looked at the table. Mary Jane asked for a pottle of yellow paint, and Georgie picked it up and passed it to Josh who passed it to her. She seemed to be having a wonderful time. Josh's eyes began to wander. Mary Jane asked for a pottle of red paint, and Georgie picked up the red paint and passed it to Josh who looked at it for a moment. It was a very blood like red, and he could picture veins of it flowing in all directions. All of the colours started to swim in front of him, and he was really, really tired, and his head dropped down. Up it popped again, and, with a great big grin, he swallowed all the paint and licked his lips. "More red paint for Mary Jane," he said, and Georgie, who was still busy painting just passed over the pottle, which Josh downed in one gulp.

"More red paint for Mary," said Josh again. And Georgie passed along another pottle, but he saw Josh lick it up from the corner of his eye.

"Where's my red paint," said Mary.

Josh's tongue flicked up the last daub of paint from his lip. He winked once at Georgie, and his head fell back on the table.

"Josh drank it," said Georgie.

"Then how come the empty pottles are next to you, said Mary, pointing to where Josh had cunningly secreted his empties."

Josh raised his head. "Must have dozed off," he muttered.

"Mrs. Kribopple," cried out Georgie, Josh just drank all the red paint."

"Ridiculous," said the teacher. You go to the principal. I can see those paint pottles right beside you, young man."

By lunch time, Josh was really quite tired and his teeth were itching rather badly. Besides, he wasn't very hungry at all. So he decided to visit the school nurse.

The nurse listened to his story and said, "Well, you can expect to be tired on your first day, young fellow. I can get you something for your teeth."

As she bent over to reach for her medicine drawer, Josh felt a bit woozy and suddenly straightened up, taking a tiny nip at the nurse's neck. It was only the tiniest of bites. Not really noticeable, really, and she thought that her collar must be too tight. But Josh fell back to being partly asleep and didn't remember the incident at all. He thanked the nurse for the aspirin, but it didn't hardly help at all.

Most of the rest of the day passed uneventfully, except for PE, in which he spent rather too much time hanging upside down on the monkey bars, much to the amazement of the PE teacher who didn't really think that Josh was ready for such a stunt.

Josh returned home from school at last, thinking by now that things had gone strangely that day. he was feeling tired and his pointy front teeth were still tingly. And then he coughed and coughed and something like a hairball seemed to emerge from his throat. This was a bit worrying, but he wasn't entirely sure he should tell his folks, since he probably shouldn't have one up to the attic in the first place.

"How did your day go, Josh" asked his mother. "Did you make any new friends."

"Well, I was really tired. But there were some kids who were okay, and Mr. Wilkinson had a really cute little mouse."

He ran upstairs and thought, "Something really must be wrong, and I think it must have something to do with that box in the attic."

While his mother was cooking dinner, he crept quietly up the attic stairs and crawled along the floor to the little box which still lay open in the corner. He took it to the window and looked at it carefully. There was nothing else inside it, but suddenly, with all his manipulations, a secret drawer flew open on the side. In it, there was a single piece of parchment with writing in ancient brown ink:

He who openeth this boxe

Beware Ye the consequence

For a Vampyre shall ye become!

"Oops," thought Josh. But the writing continued below:

Here are the Rules of the Vampyre:

1. Ye shall beware of running water.

2. Ye shall not thy reflection see.

3. Ye shall not touch a cross or blessed water

4. Ye shall drink of blood.

5. Ye shall live forever

6. Beware ye the wooden stake that thy heart should pierce.

7. Ye shall not bite into non-human creatures (although swallowing them is to be encouraged.)

This all troubled Josh somewhat. On the whole, it did not seem to be a good thing.

However, before he had time to take it all in, Josh's mother called him down to dinner. He crumpled up the parchment into his pocket and ran downstairs, thinking that perhaps it was all somebody's joke and he could just ignore it.

When he arrived downstairs, Ginger the cat saw him coming, yowled, and jumped onto the mantelpiece with his back arched and his hair standing straight up.

Josh sat down and his mother put a big plate of noodles on the table and a big bowl of red tomato sauce. His father said, "You're looking a bit pale today, son."

To which his mother replied, "He has been. I do hope that nothing is wrong."

"Oh, I'm okay," said Josh. And everyone began to serve themselves. First, his father then his mother. Then Josh put a pile of wriggly noodles on his plate and took hold of the ladle to get some sauce.

"My, this sauce is red," he said to himself. He was talking to himself rather a lot of late.

He was feeling very tired, and the sauce seemed to be swirling all around, and his teeth began to itch. "It has a blood red look," he thought. He poured one ladle of sauce on the noodles, and then another. And another. The lovely red sauce started to pour down the sides of his plate.

"Josh, what are you doing?" asked his mother. But he just stood there staring ahead and plopping down more and more sauce. Then he sat down and his head fell forward into the crimson pile of wriggly wet noodles.

"Snap out of it, son!" said Dad, in some consternation.

But one of Josh's eyes snapped open, glared swiftly around the room and turned pink at the edge. Suddenly, if fixed on Ginger, who still cowered on the mantelpiece. Up sprang Josh, onto all fours, hurling himself forward toward the unfortunate tabby. Who said "Rowwwrrrrr," or something such and headed for the stair with Josh in full pursuit.

"Josh does seem to be behaving somewhat strangely this evening, don't you think, dear," said Dad.

"You'll have to have a talk with him."

But Josh, meanwhile, continued after the cat in full pursuit, and there was a tremendous banging overhead as Ginger frantically scrambled into the master bedroom and over the bed, knocking over lamps and bookcases in fear for her life, with Josh tumbling ferociously forward and hissing at him. Out again into the hall they went, and into Josh's room, and under his bed and back into the hall and back into Josh's room again. Where Josh collapsed and sprawled across his bed.

"I'll have a talk with him when he wakes up," said Dad. "Let us leave it until morning."

Some time passed. It grew dark. Crickets started to chirp. Finally, the old clock on the mantelpiece bonged twelve times.

Josh's parents were still asleep. But Josh's bed was now quite empty and a chill breeze blew through his open window. A dog howled in the distance and there was a great flapping sound like big leathery wings in motion.

The flapping stopped, and there was a clattering at the window of the house next door. Mrs. Delaney put on her spectacles when she heard a sound at the window, but she could see nothing. She sighed and returned to bed. The next morning, she called the doctor to complain that her dizzy spells had returned and she seemed to have developed a slight rash about her neck.

Down the road a bit, Mr. Hackett slept most uneasily, dreaming that he was being chased by thousands of really big mosquitoes. He woke up batting his hands on the back of his neck and saying "Gotta get me some mozzie repellent, I do."

On the next block, Joe Tasker, the mailman also had a rough night. He dreamed that he was being chased by some sort of flying possum that wanted to bite him on his bum. Joe's dog spent the night circling around and chasing its tail, yowling wildly at the night.

And then, a few blocks away, the Grimley twins who were the worst bullies at Josh's school, suddenly developed identical pimples on their necks which would keep them out of school an under the concerned care of their family physician for a whole week.

Josh himself has dome very strange dreams about flying around upside down and biting people, and swallowing a number of bugs, and possibly, an earthworm. Or two. But he supposed—well, let's face it, he really, really hoped—that nothing in particular had happened.

Dawn broke across the horizon. Gentle rays of sunlight meandered along the streets, tinted a glowing pink. As the light rays filtered into Josh's room, his eyelids flickered and he wriggled and howled and jumped clear of the bed, and he ran all the way downstairs and hid in the firebox.

Ginger pounced on top of the firebox, yowled, and tried to keep the lid closed. Josh fell asleep in the comforting darkness off the coffin-like resting space.

While Josh was sleeping, his parents awoke and came downstairs.

"Boy needs help," said his dad.

"I think so," replied his mother. Ginger yowled from above the firebox, and Josh groaned.

"Needs help quick," said his dad. "And I think I know who to call,"

"Who?"

"Why, Dr. Helmut Von Zootz," said his father. "He's quite famous, you know, and is visiting just now from Transylvania."

So, Dad called the good doctor, and Josh slept, and Mom fretted, and Ginger continued to sit on top of the firebox. Guarding it, as though it contained a particularly fiendish mouse.

Some time passed, and at length there arrived the famous and extraordinarily well-certificated Dr. Zootz.

"Let me see the boy," he said, his tiny spectacles drooping to the tip of his long and bumpy nose.

Dad shooed away Ginger and extracted Josh from the firebox.

Dr. Von Zootz examined him up and down, looked into his eyes, tapped his nose, thumped his chest, patted his back, looked at his palms, clucked disapprovingly, opened his mouth, prodded his teeth, shook his head, clucked again and concluded his examination. He then went to his long, dusty black bag and withdrew a large hammer and a pointed piece of wood.

"Kids' a vampire," he said. "Gotta be staked."

"No, you can't stake my son," cried his mother.

"Nothing else for it. Gotta be staked, Ja?" said Dr. Zootz, taking two large strides forward.

"I won't have it," said Josh's father, "Not in this house. We don't stake people here. Particularly not the children."

Meanwhile, Josh, who had so far been quite docile, pretty much asleep and rather confused, suddenly snapped to attention. His eyes grew red and started to rove and a ferocious grin lit up his face. His fangs extended from his lip, his tongue licked quickly between them, and he pounced for the stair.

Von Zootz pounded after him, followed by both of his parents. They wound up and up the stairs, Josh laughing wildly and slobbering a bit; Von Zootz chugging forward with hammer in one hand and stake in the other, and his parents following behind, trying to grab at the doctor. To this was added the yowl of Ginger who came flying through the air from the rear in one great ball of revolving fur.

Josh reached just below the attic and turned around to confront the Doctor. Who stopped suddenly, readying his stake with steady intent. But Josh's folks, in full pursuit, crashed into him and the hammer and stake went flying. Ginger came tumbling through the sky, grabbing hold of Von Zootz's face, digging in, and holding on for dear life. Josh, in the act of biting the doctor, grabbed, instead, a full throat of hairy kitty instead.

Now, it is a little known fact of vampire lore that a bit with intent into a non-human creature will result in an immediate transfer of the vampyric spirit within. Which, indeed, happened in this case. Unbeknownst to the good doctor. For, although Von Zootz know some things of the dark world, it was but a hobby to him and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. For, the good doctor, a retired dentist by profession, did not fully realise that his moment had passed.

Off sprang Ginger, a devilish grin on his mouth and his fangs growing magnificently. He scampered off into the distancing, purring maniacally.

Josh looked up. "Where am I?" he asked.

The doctor grabbed his tools and tried to stake him again, but was held back by Josh's father. And even Von Zootz at length came to realise that Josh was, well, just Josh again.

 

Copyright 2002, Brian J. Dooley & Roland Mantell