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|Word count: 1,803|
What has this crazy girl got him into? Rupert finds himself in a rather unfavourable position...
“Bit dim, isn’t he?”
Rupert’s head threatened to split open at the sound of this loud voice. He wondered whether he’d been drinking. But no. He hadn’t had any blood since two nights ago, at least. Certainly not enough to give him this kind of headache, either. He became aware of a tangy, seductive scent invading his nostrils. He sniffed curiously. Then he remembered.
Rupert’s eyes creaked open, and were instantly assaulted by a bright light from a candle being held right in front of his face. He squinted painfully up at the person holding it.
“He’s awake, father,” Harriet said, looking anxiously down at Rupert.
There was a faint bubbling sound, then a metallic clatter.
“Damn! Just dropped my essence of gnome… one minute…”
Harriet turned back to Rupert, who had closed his eyes again, deciding that keeping them open wasn’t worth the pain. “Light…” he croaked.
“Oh, sorry!” Harriet exclaimed, jumping back a little with her candle. “I forgot about that…”
Rupert didn’t reply.
As Lord Winkton approached, Harriet leant down close to Rupert and whispered, “Don’t worry, it won’t hurt.”
A good many questions formed on Rupert’s tongue. Hurt? What wouldn’t hurt? Why would you tell me it wouldn’t hurt? Doesn’t that usually mean it will? Be more specific!
But before he got to ask any of them, Lord Winkton’s booming voice had sounded again. “Harriet, dear, what are you doing? Get away from him! Stand back, now!”
Rupert turned his head slightly and ventured to open one eye. He found that he was in a small, dark room, with stone walls and no windows. Shelves lined the room, stuffed with dusty books. He angled his head down to look at himself. From this position, he could see the thick leather straps that held him down on the cold slab… and also the pile of bottles, books and unpleasant-looking instruments that lay just beside him. A pair of large, hairy hands hovered above this array of objects, rubbing themselves together and displaying an air of smugness too great to be allowed. Of course, these hands belonged to Lord Winkton.
“Right!” Lord Winkton exclaimed. “Let’s start, shall we?”
No, thought Rupert desperately, let’s not.
But the hands in Rupert’s vision hesitated slightly. A tiny spark of hope kindled inside him.
“Harriet, my dear?”
“Get my gloves for me, would you? I wouldn’t want to go contaminating myself by touching this vile creature…”
Rupert’s spark of hope was extinguished, very rudely, by a large barrel of water quite inproportional to the size of the flame. He closed his eyes again, wearily.
“Now we’re ready,” said Lord Winkton.
Harriet’s job was to give her father light enough to work with, without hurting the vampires too much. She would normally watch impassively as her father worked on them, but this time she felt… she felt… well, she wasn’t quite sure what she felt, but it wasn’t impassive.
Not that her father did anything unpleasant to them physically, really. A few clamps – one on the nose, to force the mouth open; one on the head, to keep it straight – one or two mixtures to swallow, some smelling salts wafted under the nose, and that was basically it. The real operation happened in the mind – the vampire’s mind, that was – and the real power lay in the words her father chanted as he worked, gleaned over many years from ancient documents and histories, weaving a trick around the vampire’s brain.
Harriet wondered if it did hurt.
Rupert didn’t have to wonder. It did. Not his body, no, but as he heard the words drifting down towards him, he wanted to scream. He couldn’t understand them, but their power made him want to shut his ears and cry out and thrash about. So he did. It didn’t help though, so he stopped. He lay on the cold stone slab, unable to move, panting feebly. He could do nothing. It was sop humiliating. So degrading. Worse than going bump!
But still those dreadful words kept on coming, and noxious potions were poured down his throat, and horrible smells wafted under his nose. And, after at least half an hour of this strange torture, Rupert felt it happen. What it was, he wasn’t sure, but something inside him changed. It was not a pleasant feeling. His insides for a moment seemed to become his outsides, his head seemed to fill with a sweet, sickly treacle… and he could swear his heart actually started to beat for a moment.
Then it stopped.
Lord Winkton stood back from the slab, hands on hips.
“There,” he stated. “Another one done. Another one sterilized.”
Harriet went to undo the straps as Lord Winkton removed his gloves. The vampire stirred feebly. Lord Winkton pulled Harriet back as Rupert levered himself upwards. He sat on the edge of the slab, swaying slightly. One pale hand clutched at his head. More strands of dark hair had escaped and crept down his forehead, Harriet noticed.
“Blzpt?” Rupert queried. Harriet shook her head. He blinked at her slowly, then tried again. “Wha?”
“What have I done?” Lord Winkton finished for him, proudly. He chuckled. Harriet doubted the vampire much liked the sound of that chuckle.
Rupert tried to stand up, but his legs started to shake and he sat back down again. “Can I… can I go now?” he asked, sounding drunk.
“Go?” Lord Winkton exclaimed. “Why would you want to go? The fun’s only just started! And you’ve hardly asked me any questions yet!”
“I did,” Rupert said blearily. “But you just chuckled.”
“Ah, well, ask me again, then, and I might answer you.”
Rupert sighed, and rubbed his temple. “What have you done?”
“Not that one! Ask me something else – I’m saving that until last.”
Time was when Rupert would have jumped this man on the spot for being so pompous and irritating, but he didn’t really feel up to it. “Well… then… What’s that smell?”
“Aha!” cried Lord Winkton (rather over-dramatically, Rupert thought). “That I can tell you!”
Rupert tried to look alert, but failed due to his eyelids drooping involuntarily closed.
“It is a well-known fact,” Lord Winkton began, “that vampires are repelled by the small of garlic – correct?”
Rupert started to nod, but his head seemed rather precariously perched on his neck at the moment, so he stopped, not wanting it to fall off.
“But it is a lesser known fact,” Lord Winkton continued, “even among vampires themselves, that there is a smell that has the entirely opposite effect. One that lures vampires as surely as garlic repels them.”
Now Rupert did look up. This was news to him.
“And that smell… that smell is…” Lord Winkton puffed himself up dramatically. “Are you ready? Ginger!”
Rupert blinked at him blankly a few times. Then, “Ginger,” he repeated flatly. Lord Winkton and Harriet both nodded. “No, but really,” Rupert said. “Ginger?”
“Indeed, thou foul fiend-“
“Don’t start that again.”
Lord Winkton coughed. “Well, as I said, ginger attracts you vampires like moths to a flame, and so I concocted some perfume for my lovely daughter to wear, to lure you brutes into her bedchamber and catch you like flies in a spider’s web!”
Enough with the insect analogies, thought Rupert.
“Of course, there have been a few… technical difficulties. The stoppage of flight, for one. A side effect of the ginger…”
“That’s hardly a nice way to behave, is it?” Rupert asked.
Lord Winkton’s eyebrows shot up almost to his hairline. “Nice?” he thundered. “Nice! Who said anything about nice? Do you think what you do to humans is nice?”
“Well, no-“ Rupert began, but Lord Winkton swept on.
“Swooping down and murdering young men and women in their beds! Draining them of their-“
“Father!” Harriet interrupted impatiently. “For Day’s sake just tell him what you’ve done!”
Yes, Rupert thought, please do. He had another attempt at standing, but after a small fight, lost it, and plonked back down.
“Yes! Indeed!” Lord Winkton exclaimed, swelling with pride once more.
“And without all the dramatics, please,” Rupert pleaded. “My head…”
Lord Winkton frown fell upon Rupert like a ton of bricks, but the request seemed to work. In a way, Rupert wished it hadn’t.
“You can no longer drink blood,” Lord Winkton told him shortly.
A long silence followed these words. Harriet thought she heard a pin drop about a mile away.
Rupert sat frozen. When his mouth had thawed sufficiently for him to speak, he said, “What?”
“Just that,” Lord Winkton said smugly. “No more blood for you, you murderer!”
“What?!” Rupert exploded upwards from the slab, and in the blink of an eye he was behind Harriet, his hands clasping her tightly to him, his fangs poised above her neck. “You think I can’t drink blood?” he asked Lord Winkton, over Harriet’s shoulder. “Just watch…”
Lord Winkton merely stared impassively.
Furiously, Rupert brought his sharp canines down towards Harriet’s neck. But just before they pricked the skin, he stopped. He struggled. A bead of sweat (most unusual for a vampire) appeared on his brow. His lips curled upwards more and more as he tried to force his teeth downwards into Harriet’s neck. Suddenly, he thrust her away from him.
“I can’t do it!” he cried, cupping his head in his hands and sinking down to the floor. “It… I just can’t!”
“Didn’t I tell you so?” asked the smug Lord Winkton.
“But… what am I going to do! I’ll starve!”
“Nonsense!” Lord Winkton said, clapping his hands together and rubbing them delightedly. “Some rare steak, and you’ll be fine. Maybe try a glass or two of red wine…”
“Red wine!” Rupert wailed.
At this, Rupert managed to stand, trembling slightly. He faced Lord Winkton. “How many others have you done this to?” he demanded. “How many?”
Lord Winkton scratched his beard. “Oh, I don’t know,” he said, glancing at Harriet, who shrugged, “Fifty, maybe?”
Rupert was too angry to speak. He drew himself up, turned on his heel, and marched out of the door. At least, that’s what he’d have liked to have done. What he actually did was clench his fists pathetically a few times, turn on his heel, sway unsteadily for a moment, waiting for the room to stop spinning, and wobble out of a door. Then he wobbled back in again. Harriet pointed politely to a second door. He wobbled out of that one.
|Bump! (Part 10)|
|Bump! (Part 14)||
|Honour of the Flame 2/2|