Go back to previous chapter
Joby looked around the bedroom he and Kieran had been allocated and felt depressed. It was large and gloomy, with a picture window that looked out over nothing but an expanse of grey sea. The room was also very empty, with bare floorboards, no curtains, and only a large ebony-framed bed pushed against the wall opposite the window as furniture.
There was a curtained alcove next to the fireplace, and Joby went into it. He stopped dead on finding the walls decorated in lurid artwork depicting various acts of copulation, with eunuchs substituted for women. China models of differently sized phalluses sat around on the floor, and on the mantelpiece were arranged various dusty tomes, with such titles as "The Encyclopaedia of Pain" and "The Pervert's A-Z".
"Kiel!" Joby yelled, pulling his robe closer to him, as though he felt a sudden chill "Come in here!"
"What a revolting place", said Kieran "Come out of here Joby, you'll go getting ideas".
"But I thought the vampires were supposed to have no time for sex", said Joby.
"Caln always had some peculiar tastes though", said Kieran "As did Vanod. And it was Vanod who resurrected him".
"Where's Vanod now then?"
"That's what I have to find out", said Kieran "It's not Caln I have to destroy, it's him. He's the key. And Caln's not very bright, so sooner or later he's going to let it slip where Vanod really is".
"Sooner rather than later then", said Joby "Before one of us gets eaten".
"I don't know what you're worried about. You're too scrawny to interest him. Caln'll go for the prime cuts first. So it's Hillyard and Lonts I'm particularly worried about, and Lonts has already had a spot of bother".
"Lonts isn't capable of staying out of trouble".
"Exactly! Hardly fills me with reassurance for the immediate future. The sooner I locate Vanod the better".
"Yea well get some sleep first", said Joby "You look all in. And I know I certainly am".
Kieran woke up a couple of hours later to find Joby sitting up in bed next to him, with one of the hefty books propped on his knees. Kieran sat up and took a glance at the title.
"What the hell are you reading the 'Encyclopaedia of Pain' for?" he snapped, wrenching the book from Joby's grasp.
"Fucking weird Kiel", said Joby "There are words in there I've never heard of. Did you know there's a word to describe shoving small furry animals up your arse?"
"No I didn't. I lived quite happily not knowing", Kieran swung himself out of bed and reached for his purple silk robe "You read anymore of that stuff and you'll feel physically sick".
"I didn't know it was so complicated, all that S&M lark", said Joby "I thought it was just all whips and chains. But some people like to walk around with these little balls wedged up their arses, gives 'em a kick".
"Joby! I don't want to hear another word on the subject".
"I don't know what you're getting so upset about. It's only a book".
"That is like saying this house is only a house, or Caln's only a vampire", Kieran threw the book on the floor where it landed with a loud thump "That is evil stuff. What if Lonts got hold of it?"
"After witnessing the Spanking Game, I should think he's prepared for anything", said Joby "And that was all your idea if I remember rightly, so don't go all prudish on me".
"That was a bit of fun. No one got hurt. It was a laugh, nothing else. Whereas that stuff", Kieran pointed at the book "Is an abomination. It's sick, and if you start getting any ideas about practising any of it I'll break your arse!"
"Now who's threatening violence", Joby sneered.
"Come on, we're going to see how Adam is", said Kieran, chucking Joby's robe at him "I'm not leaving you in here alone, just in case the ghost of the Marquis de Sade comes trooping out of the fireplace!"
Adam was trying to shave, which was easier said than done as there wasn't a mirror to be found in either his room or the adjoining bathroom. In the end he had to do a haphazard job by peering into the underside of the lid of a coffee-jar.
"How has Lonts been?" said Kieran, glancing over at the bed where Lonts was sleeping on his stomach.
"Slept like a baby", said Adam "No nightmares even. Quite extraordinary, considering the circumstances we're in".
"You've got a nicer room than ours", said Joby, peering around at the bedchamber which was decorated entirely in pink and white "Even if it is a woman's room".
"Better than the torture chamber we're in", said Kieran.
"Adam!" Lonts suddenly yelled from the bed, where he was now looking around him blearily.
"Over here", said Adam "By the wash-stand".
Lonts clambered out of the bed and walked over to them, tucking his hands under his armpits for warmth.
"You're not cold surely?" said Adam.
"Shivering", Lonts gulped "And I'm hungry".
"Put your bath-robe on", said Adam "And Joby'll take you downstairs. See if there's any late breakfast to be had".
"Oh I will, will I?" said Joby.
"Be a sport Jobe. You've had Patsy all night".
"The way he keeps going on, you're welcome to him", said Joby, and tugged Lonts away by the sleeve of his robe.
"And don't let him out of your sight for a second", Adam called after them.
Domino had lain awake for hours and all to no avail. For as long as he could remember he'd had a fixation with the romantic image of the vampires. The fact that the reality of what he'd heard didn't fit this ideal troubled him not. He simply disregarded tales of them tearing people to pieces, of them stripping flesh from bone, of the dreaded Green Blood. As far as he was concerned they stole into bedrooms in the middle of the night, and took passionate sips of blood from eager flesh. A more romantic and less painful version of sexual intercourse in his eyes. The sight of the red-headed Caln in his fur robe enforced that image. Domino had been excited by the sight of him.
But nothing had happened. He had woken from a cat-nap in the glare of the noon sun to find himself unviolated, free of vampire bites. Here he was, lying in bed in the Bone-House, and no vampire had been anywhere near him! Galling wasn't the word for it.
He had since roamed the house, searching for traces of the vampires, his heart beating rapidly with excitement. But the house had looked disappointingly normal throughout, bathed in sunshine and the sounds of men sleeping. Outside waves crashed against the rocks, and light glistened on the sea.
Heading downstairs he came across the doorway to the cellar. Feeling for sure that something, ANYTHING, remotely gothic must lurk down there, he had climbed down the steep stone steps. Towards the bottom he met Noni coming up. Noni was struggling to put on his shirt and his sunglasses at the same time. Domino was quick enough to notice that his back was lacerated with red wheals. Domino went to speak to him but Noni shrank against the wall, as though letting him pass but not wishing to be noticed at the same time.
Domino entered the cavernous cellar, which was hewn directly out of the rocks and as a consequence flooded easily. He moved through the gloom, his feet paddling in a shallow layer of water on the floor. Caln watched him excitedly. He was still feeling feverish after having thrashed Noni, and was just in the mood for taking on meat. He stepped out from behind a pillar, dropping his whip in his anticipation. Domino gasped when he saw him, and stepped towards him eagerly.
He stopped dead when he saw Angel standing further in the shadows. Angel was naked and looked like a demon, with his staring eyes, furry body and talons. The sight of him shocked Domino into cold reality for the first time in years. There was nothing romantic about the sight of Angel, and Domino began to try to back his way out of the cellar. Realising that his prey was attempting to escape Caln groped for his whip on the floor, only to find that Angel had clamped a hairy foot over it.
"Bastard!" Caln hissed "Get away! You have no place here!"
Angel picked up the whip and cracked it across Caln's face. The other vampire screamed under the pain and tried to struggle to his feet, but his eyes kept misting over.
"I'll give you whatever you want", Caln wept "Take the Vanquisher! He's no use to me. You can have him".
"And what makes you think I need your permission?" Angel grabbed a handful of Caln's hair and yanked his head back "I can take him anytime I want. He's like a pet to me. I all but have him on a leash. Unlike you Caln, I have true power. Not just a fantasy image of it".
Whilst this conversation had been going on Domino had been trying to sidle unobtrusively out of the cellar. Unfortunately Angel had caught his movements out of the corner of his eye, and was across the room in a green haze before Domino was fully aware of what was happening. Angel caught him in a grotesque embrace, pulled his head back and tore out his throat. Whilst he was stuffing himself with the bloody pieces he let Domino's corpse fall against the damp floor, and Caln crawled across the area to feast on Domino's stomach.
They were so engrossed in their gorging that they didn't speak for some time.
"The Vanquisher", Caln gasped, as they sat over Domino's mutilated corpse during a lull in the proceedings "Take him. I'll make a present of him to you Angel. He's all yours. In fact, the sooner you get him off my hands the better. Later today, go to the tower room. They'll never find him there. He'll be yours entirely".
It had been an unusual breakfast. Joby and Lonts sitting at the far end of the polished table, eating doughnuts and bananas, listening to the silence of the house, which was broken only by Noni's occasional heavy tread on the floorboards.
"Can I have the last doughnut Joby?" Lonts asked, once Noni had disappeared behind a screen into the kitchen.
"Yea", Joby grunted "You don't normally bother to ask".
Lonts reached across Joby's plate for the doughnut basket, and succeeded in catching his sleeve on the coffee-pot, upending the tepid black mess into Joby's lap.
"Lonts, you fucking pillock!" Joby screamed, jumping to his feet and wiping himself vigorously with a napkin "You're as clumsy as an ox. Why didn't you ask me to pass it to you?"
"I'm sorry Joby", Lonts cried "But sometimes there are too many things to remember to ask, and I-I can't remember them all. I didn't do it on purpose".
"You're bloody lucky it wasn't hot", said Joby "Or I'd be in agony now. Sit down before you cause anymore damage. You've been nothing but trouble since the first day we met you. Always causing havoc wherever you go".
Lonts sat bawling in his chair for several minutes. He was only stopped by the sight of Isaac walking silently into the dining-room, holding his hands palms outwards, as though giving a benediction.
"Leave him alone!" Joby yelled at the figure, whilst at the same time remembering to keep a firm grip on the boy to stop him possibly running outside into the sea "Get away. You can't have him".
"He has to fulfil his destiny", said Isaac, moving closer "That is why I have come for him. If he doesn't fulfil his destiny then all his fellow Kiskevians will have died in vain. Their blood was shed to give him power".
"That's complete bollocks", Joby's voice cracked under the strain "Don't listen to him Lonts. The Kiskevians died because a madman tricked them into it".
"Lonts is the true disciple of the Anti-Christ", said Isaac "What better way to give him life and power, than to sacrifice the lives of a whole community of God-fearing men? Come with me Lonts. You aren't wanted here with these people, surely you can see that? You're just a burden to them. They want you out of their hair. Come with me, to where you are needed and loved".
"Get away from here!" Joby picked up the silver salt-cellar and hurled it at Isaac, who smiled benignly, and disappeared.
Kieran leaned over and bit Adam sharply on the buttocks. He then smacked him very gently a few times. Adam sprawled across the sheet, gasping in ecstasy.
"This is a more fun version of the Spanking Game", he said "You've got such wonderful hands Patsy".
They were rudely shaken apart by the door suddenly opening. Joby staggered in, pulling Lonts roughly behind him. Joby blurted out what had happened downstairs, distracted all the while by the sparkle in their eyes. Lonts was equally dismayed by this evidence of mutual lust. It only seemed to confirm what Isaac had said about him being in the way. During their gentle spurts of love-making Lonts had seen Adam look very warmly and affectionately at him, but never with such pure unadulterated passion. He was confused and hurt. It appeared that, once again, he seemed to be missing what everyone else had.
"I'm gonna get dressed", said Joby, who was also feeling miffed by what he had seen "Try and get rid of this bloody coffee-stain too".
"You'd better wait a moment", said Adam "Patsy'll go with you, because you really shouldn't wander alone around here. Isacc's not the only suspect character walking about".
"I wouldn't want to interrupt anything", Joby snarled.
"Don't be so bad-tempered", said Kieran "Adam doesn't carry on like this when we've been together".
"Probably 'cos he knows he hasn't got anything to fear", said Joby, bitterly.
"You sulky little bastard!" Kieran exclaimed, and strode across to him so fiercely that Joby almost flinched as though he was about to be hit "You are the most grumpy, the most cynical, the most unconfident little sod I've ever met".
"If Lonts wasn't here we'd both sort you out", said Adam.
"I knew it!" Lonts wailed "You want me out of the way. Isaac was right. I don't belong with you!"
"Well that's just marvellous Joby", said Kieran "Now you've upset the baby".
"It was Adam who upset him actually", said Joby "But why blame him when you can have a go at me instead?"
"Nobody's trying to get rid of you Lonts", said Adam, trying to grab the boy's hand but Lonts pulled it away "That's the last thing we want. Haven't I always said that, eh?"
"But it's not true!" Lonts yelled, in his loudest voice "You want me out of the way. I knew it! I knew it!"
"Lonts!" Adam cried, but the boy had torn open the door and rushed out of the room.
Adam flung himself out of bed, and pursued Lonts as though he was an electric hare around the gallery overlooking the hallway. He in turn was pursued by Kieran and Joby. Hillyard came out of his room to find the extraordinary sight of Lonts in his nappy, Joby in a coffee-stained robe, and Kieran and Adam, both naked, stampeding towards the stairs.
Adam had been closing the gap on Lonts when he suddenly cried out halfway down the stairs, and fell to his knees clutching his chest. He coughed violently and spots of blood began to appear on the carpet. He crumpled into a ball, coughing so hard it seemed as though he was trying to bring up his lungs.
"Adam!" Kieran cried, kneeling down beside him. Adam held onto him as though he was a life-belt "Is it your chest? Deep breaths now. Try and get calm. Hillyard, come and give me a hand! Let's get him somewhere more comfortable".
"It'll be nearer to put him on the sofa in the sitting-room", said Hillyard, picking Adam up in his arms and staggering with him down the remaining few steps.
"Adam!" Lonts screamed, as Hillyard pushed past him "Kieran, is he going to be alright? Tell me!"
"I damn well hope so. No thanks to you, you little sod", Kieran drew level with Lonts and boxed his ears sharply "What the hell were you thinking of, running off like that?"
"Come on Kiel", Joby put his arm around Kieran's shoulders "It's no good having a go at Lonts. It's not his fault Adam's got a bad chest, or that the old devil's too proud and stubborn to do anything about it. Go and get some clothes on. I'll mind the baby".
"I'm sorry Kieran", Lonts sobbed, wildly "I'm really sorry".
"That's all very well Lonts", said Kieran "But if anything happens to Adam we'll all be sorry".
"It was all Isaac's fault", Lonts went on "He said that all ..."
"Can it Lonts!" Kieran shouted, and ran up the stairs.
Go forward to next chapter
Return to Sarah Hapgood's Strange Tales and Strange Places web site