Mark James Wooding
they're back

Professor Montague Simplington stopped the delivery van. Several dozen protesters were blocking the rural Transylvanian road ahead of him. Some people were carrying signs, and most of the protesters were shouting. Some of the signs read, “Keep Your Vampires to Yourselves!” or “Go Back to England!”

Pollyanna Dallas, one of Professor Simplington’s research assistants, said, “Professor, what’s the matter with these people? Don’t they understand we’re trying to restore the natural balance?”

Dan de LeDan was Professor Simplington’s other research assistant. He was sharing the passenger’s seat with Pollyanna, and he said, “They’re just a bunch of ignorant country people. What do you expect?”

“Let’s not be so harsh on them, Dan,” said the professor. “We must respect the opinions of others, even if we’re going to ignore them and do what we want anyway. Vampires have been extinct in Transylvania for a hundred years, and these poor uneducated peasants have lived all their lives without the undead scouring their land at night for the blood of the living. They’re afraid of change, which is only natural, especially among the ignorant. They weren’t educated in universities like we were, and they don’t appreciate the ecological rationale for restoring the ecosystem’s natural predators. Once vampires are again a part of the food chain here, the indigenous people will get used to it. People are highly adaptable, even if they don’t want to be.”

“You’d think they’d be glad,” said Pollyanna. “Crucifix sales and garlic sales are going to go way up. It’s going to be great for local businesses.”

An egg hit the windshield, followed by a cabbage and a tomato. Professor Simplington turned on the windshield wipers. He honked the horn, but no one moved. More fruit and vegetables hit the windshield.

“I wish they’d throw a hamburger,” said Dan. “And some chips. I’m getting hungry.”

In the distance, the three naturalists could see Dracula’s castle. In the opposite direction, the sun was setting. The shadows were getting longer by the minute.

“Can’t we just release him right here?” asked Pollyanna.

“Excellent suggestion, Pollyanna,” the professor replied.

Pollyanna smiled, delighted by the professor’s praise. She twirled her hair around one of her fingers.

Between the driver’s seat and the passenger’s seat was a door leading to the back of the van. Professor Simplington looked through the doorway. It was almost completely dark in there. The professor pushed a button on the dashboard, and the overhead light came on in the back. He could see that the coffin they’d brought was still strapped down. It had shifted only slightly during the drive from the airport in Bucharest. The professor looked back at the crowd that was blocking the road.

“I’d planned on reaching the castle and releasing the vampire there, but I don’t see any reason why the vampire can’t get there on his own. He might not even choose to live there.”

“I wouldn’t want to live in that old, crumbling place,” said Pollyanna. “But then again, I’m not a vampire.”

“Professor, can’t we just explain to these people that they’re overreacting? It’s not like we’re bringing Dracula back. He’s dead. This is just Burt, the retarded vampire. He’s not even very good at hunting.”

“These poor rubes, for whom I have nothing but respect and affection, are emotionally driven, Dan. We can’t reason with them. If they don’t want to let us go up to the castle, we’ll just follow Pollyanna’s suggestion and release the vampire right here.”

The professor put the van into park, and he turned off the engine. He left the headlights on because it was getting dark. The protesters shouted, thinking they’d been victorious.

Professor Simplington locked his door. “Come on,” he said to his assistants as he got out of his seat. “Dan, lock your door, would you?.”

Dan locked the door. Pollyanna followed the professor into the back of the van. Dan followed Pollyanna, and his eyes naturally glanced at her well-proportioned bottom.

“Dan, pay attention,” said the professor.

“Was he looking at my butt again?” asked Pollyanna.

“I’m sorry. I can’t help it.”

“Never mind that, you two. We’re about to release the first vampire to roam the wilds of Transylvania in a hundred years. This is an historic moment.”

The professor opened the back door of the van, and the protesters rushed around the van. They moved a few feet farther back when they saw the coffin, but still they shouted and threw produce. Professor Simplington batted away a head of cabbage, and he looked up front. No one was in front of the vehicle.

“Hang on!” he shouted to his assistants. He ran to the front of the van. Before the protesters had figured out what he was doing, the professor had started the van, put it into gear, and floored the gas pedal.

The van lurched forward. Pollyanna and Dan fell over, grabbing onto the nearest item to keep from falling out of the van.

“Professor, Dan grabbed by butt again!”

“It was an accident! I was trying to keep from falling out the back door!”

“Well don’t grab my back door! Grab something else!”

The professor looked in the side mirror. All of the peasants were left behind. “We did it!” shouted the professor. “We’re going to make it to the castle!” The professor stopped the van. “Hurry up front, you two! Get in your seat!”

Dan and Pollyanna returned to the front of the van. Each of them took up half of the passenger’s seat. Dan was happy he’d been able to put his hand on Pollyanna’s sweet, soft bottom for the second time in three weeks.

Pollyanna crossed her arms and looked upset. It didn’t really bother her much that she’d been groped, but she knew that if she didn’t put on a show of outrage that Dan would try to feel her up every day. She secretly wished it had been the professor who had grabbed her, but she would never tell him that.

She especially didn’t want the professor to think that she had feelings for Dan. If the professor had any feelings for her, she wanted to be sure that he wouldn’t be discouraged by the thought that he might have competition. She knew that Professor Simplington was shy by nature. If everything went well with the vampire’s release, the professor’s elation might give him the courage to make a move during celebrations that night, especially if he had a little too much to drink. If he didn’t make a move, Pollyanna was sure that it would take little effort to seduce him. She’d waited many months for the right situation, and it looked like she was finally going to get her wish.

The professor floored the gas pedal again, and they pulled away from the locals who had gotten within several yards of the van. The natives threw more food, but it fell short of the van. When the vehicle rounded a curve in the road leading to the castle, the three English naturalists could no longer see the natives.

“Aha!” shouted the professor. “We should get to the castle just as the sun sets!”

Dan held up his hand for the professor to slap it in celebration, but the professor didn’t notice it. Pollyanna saw the professor’s smile, and she thought that he’d never looked more handsome than at that moment. Nevertheless, she still kept her arms crossed and pretended to be unhappy.

Ten minutes later, the van pulled up to the castle’s gateway. There were hinges still fastened to the stone, but the old wood of the gates had long since rotted away. The professor slowly drove the van forward. He parked the vehicle in the center of the stone courtyard, but he left the motor running.

“I have to say,” said Professor Simplington, “this is very exciting, but I’m a little nervous, too.”

The light was still on in the back of the van. Inside the courtyard, night had almost completely fallen.

“Uh, professor?”

“Yes, Dan.”

“Do you think it might have been better if we had gotten here earlier, and just left the coffin in the castle? Then we could have driven away and let the vampire introduce himself to his native habitat. It’s pretty dark out there now.”

“Well, Dan, you may be right. That might have been a better plan. But we’re here now. Let’s just drop off the coffin and we’ll leave.”

Pollyanna pulled two crucifixes from her pocket. Each crucifix was attached to a golden chain. She put one around her neck, and handed the other one to the professor. “Put this on,” she said, “just in case.”

“Thank you, Pollyanna. That was very thoughtful of you.”

The professor smiled at Pollyanna, and she felt even better about her chances of hooking up with him that night. With any luck, one day she would be Mrs. Professor Simplington.

“What about me?” asked Dan.

“What about you?” Pollyanna replied.

“Do you have a crucifix for me?”

“No, I only have the two,” she said. “Sorry.”

Dan looked at the crucifixes on each of the other two, and he started to feel very nervous. The idea of actually having to face the vampire hadn’t occurred to him.

“Professor, did you bring any garlic?” asked Dan.

“No, I didn’t. Probably should have, though. Next time we reintroduce a monster into its former range, we’ll do a better job of preparing. Now go ahead and undo the straps on your side of the coffin.”

Dan undid the straps, but he didn’t have a good feeling about this. The professor undid the straps on his own side of the coffin.

“Okay, Pollyanna. You get in the driver’s seat and be ready to drive. Dan and I will unload the coffin. Then we’ll get back in the van. As soon as you hear the door close, get us out of here as fast as you can. Okay?”

“Okay, Professor.” As she moved to the front seat, she reflected on how much faith the professor had in her to give her such an important task. Obviously, he respected her and he trusted her. That boded very well for their future together.

The back door of the van was still open. The sun had fully set. The professor jumped down. He put his hands on the end of the coffin.

“Okay, Dan, push the coffin slowly toward me until it’s almost completely out of the truck. Then you can jump down and help me lower the coffin to the ground.”

Dan nodded. He pushed on the end of the coffin. It didn’t budge. He pushed harder, and it began to slide toward the back of the truck. When the first edge of the coffin passed the end of the truck, the professor put his hands under it. He’d hoped that he could hold the coffin in such a way that most of its weight rested on the truck, but it got heavier fast.

When most of the coffin was clear of the truck, the professor said, “Stop! Dan, hop down and grab the other end. We’ll set it down now.”

“Will do.” Dan hopped off the back of the truck and tried to get his hands under the coffin, but it was heavy. “Professor, can you move to your left until this corner is off the truck? Then I can get a better grip.”

The professor did as Dan requested, and Dan was able to get a suitable grip for lifting the coffin.

When the coffin was clear of the truck, Dan said, “Wait! I have to change my grip.”

The professor stopped while Dan shifted his grip, then they slowly lowered the box to the ground. They set one side down first so that they could each get one hand out from under the coffin.

“Okay, Dan. On three.”

One side of the coffin was only an inch above the ground. When the professor counted to three, the two men pulled their hands away and let the coffin drop the final inch.

Dan didn’t wait for the professor to say anything. He jumped back into the truck, then turned and extended his hand to the professor. Professor Simplington took Dan’s hand and got into the truck. Then he closed the back door behind him.

“Let’s go Pollyanna!”

Pollyanna pushed down on the gas pedal. The van moved forward, and Dan fell backward. He did not attempt to grab the professor’s buttocks on the way down. The professor leaned against the back door, and didn’t fall over.

The professor helped Dan up, and they both moved to front of the truck. They did their best to share the passenger’s seat, with Dan closest to the door.

“Keep driving until we’re at the bottom of the mountain,” said the professor. “We can switch places then.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Pollyanna.

Then the back door of the truck flew open. In the overhead light the professor could see Burt, the retarded vampire.

“My god!” said the professor in surprise.

Pollyanna looked in the rearview mirror. She could see that the backdoor was open, but that didn’t explain the professor’s alarm. She turned to look through the doorway between the seats, and she saw the vampire standing in the back doorway of the truck. She looked forward again and saw that she was about to drive off of the road at a curve, and she slammed on the brakes.

One of Burt’s feet was on the bumper. The upper part of his body continued moving forward, but because of his foot he tripped and fell face down on the floor of the truck. The professor also went forward and hit his head on the windshield, then fell back to the floor.

Dan had seen the van about to leave the road, and had braced himself with his hands before Polyanna hit the brakes. Dan looked through the doorway to the back of the van, and he saw the vampire on the floor. Thinking quickly, Dan grabbed the crucifix hanging from the professor’s neck, and yanked it off. Then Dan opened the door next to him and ran off into the woods. Although it was dark, he ran as fast as he could until he reached the road again as it wound down the mountain.

Holding tightly onto the crucifix, Dan kept running down the road until he was safely inside a tavern in the small village at the base of the mountain. He decided that when he got back to England, he would pursue a career in the law, and never mess with another vampire again.

Burt and the professor slowly stood up at the same time. The professor noticed that the crucifix Pollyanna had given to him was gone. Pollyanna wanted to run, but she felt frozen to her seat as she watched the professor and the vampire face each other.

“Hello, Professor Simplington,” said the vampire in a casual tone of voice.

“Hello, Burt,” said the professor slowly, as if he was talking to a person who didn’t understand English well, or who was mentally slow. “We - released – you. We – are – your – friends.”

“Is something wrong with you? Did you hurt your head, professor?”

“Uh, no. I’m all right.”

“Oh, I understand,” said Burt. “You still think I’m mentally retarded. That was a little charade I played on you. You had me trapped, and I knew you’d never let me go if you knew I was smarter than you are. So – I – pretended – to – be – retarded,” he said, putting on the mentally-disabled vampire act. Burt laughed.

“That was a trick?”

“Yes, it was.”

“Oh. Well, we’re the ones who set you free. We’re on your side, and we want you to flourish in your native land. Do you suppose you could let us go, as a favor to us, the ones who set you free?”

“You mean only eat the people who didn’t want me here, and spare the ones who put me here to feed on those other innocent people?”

The professor hadn’t consciously thought about it from that point of view before. “Uh, yes, essentially.”

“That hardly seems fair.”

The professor looked at Pollyanna, and he was afraid for her. He realized that she was a precious, wonderful, incredible young woman, and he wanted her to get away safely. He wanted her to live a long, happy life. He was the one who was responsible for their current situation, not her. She seemed so pure and innocent.

The professor faced the vampire again. “Burt, do you think we could make a deal?”

“What do you propose?”

“I will give you my life, and you’ll let Pollyanna go free.”

“Why don’t I just take both of you?”

“Because we gave you your freedom. We’re on your side.”

“I don’t care. I’m really hungry, and I want to eat now.”

Burt grabbed the professor and drew him close. He sank his fangs into the professor’s neck and drained several pints of his blood. Then he broke the professor’s neck and tossed him aside.

Pollyanna was still frozen in terror in her seat. When the vampire’s attention was directed straight at her, she grabbed the crucifix and held it toward the vampire.

“Stay where you are!” she shouted.

Burt stood his ground, and he stared into Pollyanna’s eyes. “Would you like to live?” he asked her.

His voice was so smooth and powerful. She felt a desire to do whatever he wanted.

“Yes,” said Pollyanna.

“I’ll make you a promise. If you throw the crucifix out the window, I’ll let you go.”

“How do I know this isn’t a trick?”

“I give you my word,” said Burt.

He seemed so nice. A part of her mind knew that he had just killed the professor. She had seen it happen, but it didn’t seem real.

“You’re sure?” she asked. She wanted to believe him so much. His voice was simultaneously soothing and forceful.

“Positive,” he said.

Pollyanna slowly removed the crucifix from around her neck. Something in her gut told her that this wasn’t a smart thing to do, but she felt a strong desire to please him. The vampire had a level of charisma that she had never seen before, and she felt compelled to do as he wished. She looked away from him. She rolled the window down, then threw the crucifix out the window.

Before she could turn back around, Burt had grabbed her and pulled her into the back of the truck. He held her by the shoulders, and he looked straight into her eyes.

The vampire had tricked her, but she wasn’t thinking about that. She was struck by his power and his strength.

Burt the not-really-retarded vampire put his strong arms around Pollyanna’s young, warm, healthy body, and held her in a tight embrace. As his teeth broke the skin of her neck, and his lips pressed down on her skin, she felt a combination of fear, pain and excitement which was more thrilling than anything she’d ever imagined before. She saw the professor’s body on the floor of the van, and she found it hard to believe that she had ever found him attractive. As the vampire took her that night from the world of the living to the immortality of the undead, she experienced an ecstasy incomparable to anything she had ever dreamed of.

Burt looked down at her enraptured face. She would be his first wife, and one of many.

Vampires had returned to Transylvania.

Copyright 2018 Mark James Wooding

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