Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chekhov's Vampire (Act 3 Scene 1)

Twelve hours is a very long time to think about how STUPID it is to be driving through three states with a body rolled up in the back of your rental car. The benefit of it being a vampire is the lack of a pungent decaying flesh smell as vampires do not rot. I maintain the car at about five miles over the speed limit to keep from being suspicious and hope for the best. After an hour on the road I call Amy McAdams with a description of the body, but as bodies are not normally transported in black tarps for burial, I figure I would be at least temporarily screwed if I get pulled over. Giving the body over to a completely insane vampire is not my idea of smart either. Butch has provided ITG with all of our, admittedly limited, knowledge about vampires, but does that make our continued association with the man worth it?
I chew myself out for agreeing to this deal with him in the first place for the first three hours of the trip. I stop for gas in Colorado about half way to Denver in order to punch through the city before rush hour. The journey is surprisingly uneventful, despite the small nagging fear in my mind that I will get pulled over at any minute, no such issue arises. The only time I even speak to a cop is about ten miles away from Butch's place.
A truck, I can only assume the driver was totally drunk, lost control and traveled several hundred feet off the road, through a chain link fence, knocked over a sturdy looking metal power tower, and swerved off into a transformer. The driver did not survive and the damaged to the power tower resulted in it leaning over precariously, snapping some power lines and dragging another tower at an angle along with it. This had happened sometime during the night and power crews had been working through the night to repair the damage. A cop leans on his car up the road of the sight and signals for me to travel more slowly, I stick my head out the window,
"What happened?" I yell as one of the strained lines give a fitful spark.
"Someone drove their truck in there," he calls with a jerk of his thumb at the vehicle still tipped on its side near the massively dented transformer, "Must have been going a hundred miles an hour. Drive careful." He adds.
I nod and roll up my window, as I drive past I watch the cop in my rear view mirror, he does not even glance at my backseat or trunk. Continuing down the road, I notice that every house for miles has their power about, the truck must have taken out something central to power in the region.
At the end of Butch's driveway I stop, sigh, and study the tarp rolled body in the trunk. Butch does not like visitors and he especially does not like visitors who drive right up to his house. On the other hand it will take me forever to carry a body all by myself up his mile long driveway. It’s not exactly covered either, I flick my eyes along the area, the house is invisible because it's down a fairly steep slope, but before the slope is all flat land open to the road. I weigh my options, carry the body at great inconvenience to myself and possibly be identified from the road or drive up to the house, if cops find me with a body I have no business being around, I go to jail. If I drive up to the house, what's the worst that could happen? Butch might shot or blow up an unknown person in an unknown car. I twist my grip around the steering wheel as I debate with myself if Butch is that psychotic.
After sitting in the car for fifteen minutes, I climb out, retrieve the vampire corpse from the trunk, and start walking. The sun was just passing the horizon when I arrived and now it is properly night. A quarter moon rides in the sky and between it and the stars I can see well enough to make out my path, but hopefully will be difficult to observe from the road.
I start with the body in a fireman's carry over my shoulder, but as I am not a man, it keeps slipping off my less broad, slanted shoulders. After several attempts to readjust and maybe thirty yards of forward progress I give up and drop the body to the ground. Dragging the thing is slow progress on the dirt path and my grip on the tarp is not fabulous. Every couple hundred feet, I stop and readjust. About halfway down the drive, when I guess I am hidden from the road I sit down and take a break. Abruptly, I detect a flickering light out of the corner of my eye; I swing my face towards the light and jump to me feet in a panic before realizing the flicker is a light from the television of the nearest neighbor. The power must have returned in that instant and Butch's neighbors, who as far as I can tell are always watching TV, must have left it on. Several moments pass as I watch the house suspiciously. I have never paid it much attention before, it's too far away for me to see anyone and for them to see me, I judge and continue on with my body drag.
By the time I get to Butch's front step I am worn out and cranky. I have been up since down, taken out vampires, driven twelve hours, pulled a corpse for a mile, and now this asshole won't answer the door. Ringing the doorbell for the third time nets no response. Sitting on the stoop, attempting to decipher the big dipper, I consider just dumping the body there and leaving. Minutes tick by and I realize, I have not left yet. I stand and turn the door handle, to my immense surprise, it swings open. I stare at the dark opening and blink rapidly to make sure I am not seeing things. Peering into the dark, I poke my head inside and study the above ground house. From the stoop I can see every inch of it and nothings there.
"Um, Butch?" I call into the room. "You in there somewhere?" No response of course, I sigh. He is probably a mile away in his concrete cave.
Swiveling my head I examine the looks on the door frame. No sign of forced entry on the locks, any of them, and there's like ten. As if the whole house is going to explode at any second, I pick up my right foot, move it a foot inside the door, hover on one leg dangling my toes over the tile, and finally set my sneaker on the floor. Nothing happens, I slide into the room remaining hyper alert, I examine the second half of the locks on the inside of the door. They all look perfectly pristine and intact.
Why would someone as paranoid as Butch leave his front door unlocked? There's like ten locks and he couldn't be bothered to use one of them? My first thought is that he just forgot to bar the door, but I quickly dismiss that. Maybe he was in a rush, carrying something heavy, my eyes flick to the body. I am not going to find any answers standing with one foot barely resting inside the house, but my fear of the potential security features Butch has managed to install over the years keep me from pushing on. I have no idea what he has done to his house to protect himself from the end of the world.
After several minutes I sigh and decide the best thing to do is go around back to the barn and check on the pigs. I leave the door open, the body at the stairs, and proceed on with my search. Of course the barn might also be booby-trapped. I have known for a long time that Butch maintains a human-like appearance by drinking pigs blood. Apparently, the pigs are close enough that they can substitute for human beings, and he keeps a good number of pigs on hand.
Once, Butch mentioned something to the effect of, "I long for the good old days, when you could pick off a human without any fear of detection." Before he remembered himself and clammed up, I don't think he likes living off pig’s blood.
The sounds and smell of pig reach me long before I get to the barn. I must be down wind, the pigs are inside and have food. As far as I know they show no signs of neglect, but then I am not a farmer and have no idea what a mistreated pig would look like. Even if Butch is dead and they have been starving for a week I doubt I could tell.
I return to the front of the house and conclude there is nothing to do, but drag the body down into the bunker and leave it there. If Butch never returns, fine, at least no one else will find it down there. Pulling it up the short steps is a bit tricky, the corpse is reluctant to go and almost slides out of the tarp back into the dirt where it started. At the foot of the bed I drop it, and feel the locking mechanism beneath the foot of the bed which opens the underground bunker. It is a confusing thing with several tiny bumps and pull levers. I lay on my side and try to peer up at it, but the room is too dark to see anything.
Having observed Butch input the combination on several occasions, I guess, and hope the thing does not strike out with a viscous blade to cut my hand off. To my surprise, the sequence is correct and the bed swings upward. I stare at the opening to the bunker, which is as well lite as ever and the hairs on the back of my neck stick up. Turning I look back out the open door at the stares. There is something wrong here, I have no idea what it is, but something is diffidently wrong. Glancing between the bunker and the body I finally conclude I just want to finish my job and get out of here.
Pulling the body after me, I proceed down the stairs. It is much easier than going up the stairs, but once I am fully inside, the door to the bunker closes of its own accord. I pause and contemplate, trying to remember if it did that all or along and I will just be able to push up on it when I want to leave. Leaving the body to push up on the hatch brings no corresponding opening. I should have just shoved the body in, put the bed back in place, and left. Too late now though, I continue down with my cargo, hoping Butch is down there or I can find his control room and let myself out. At the bottom of the stairs, I push open the door. The table is there the same as always, with still no indication that Butch is anywhere. Rolling the body next to the table, I turn to leave the room. The door has closed itself behind me and when I press to open it, the door stays shut.
"Okay," I mutter allowed, I pull the handle, still nothing no give at all. A few seconds of heaving and yanking let me know it's not moving. "Butch!" I yell into the air, as I spin to survey the room. For the first time I am struck by the incredible blankness of the room. Without the body to orientate myself, I would not even know which door I came in.
"Butch," I call into the air again, "ITG knows I am here. You can't get away with kidnapping me, they'll send people." I know it's true, but I also know there is no one at ITG more qualified than me to take on Butch and no one on assignment within fifty miles. It would take a good long while to send a rescue mission, which might ultimately be unsuccessful or, at least, too late. On the other hand, Butch could be lying dead somewhere, having finally given up the will to hold onto his body, and this is all just a preprogrammed response mechanism of his lair.
I take a seat at the table next to my friend the dead vampire and begin having a conversation with myself about my options. Checking my cell phone, I see an unsurprising lack of signal. My watch shows no paranormal activity, but then I had been lead to believe that the technology in the watch either originated from Butch or was created with his help. I consider it reasonable to believe he possess some way to jam the detector, of course it could still be an indication that he is dead, as in will not get up ever again dead, not the kind of dead he already is. Watching the minutes tick by as I think, after fifteen of them elapse I decide I am not making any progress into investigating the mystery just sitting here.
Resolving to try the other doors, I start with the one on my right. It opens onto the server room, the only other room I have ever glimpsed in Butch's home. The twenty foot long corridor holds nothing, but neatly arrayed computer parts and an identical door at the opposite end. Letting the door swing shut, I stay in the first room and check the other two doors, both unyielding.
Back at the door to the computer server room, I survey the situation. Nothing inside the room to prop the door open and the self-closing, self-locking, sequence of doors behind me leads me to be suspicious of this one.  I drag the body a little further and use it to prop the door. Walking across to the other side of the room I push open the door on a little kitchenette. Two more doors lead off of this room, breaking the completely symmetrical lay out of the bunker thus far. I stand against the door half in both rooms, examining them both, neither has anything in reach to prop open the door. Returning to the first room, I take one of the chairs and use it to prop the kitchenette door open. Unfortunately it's a rather flimsy chair, not heavy enough to hold the door all the way open and I have to place it between the door and the frame to hold it from locking. This cuts off my line of sight through the other two rooms which makes me unhappy.
Quickly, I try the other two doors, one will not budge, the other opens on to a pantry stocked with canned goods. I scan the shelves doing a mental inventory. Most of it looks like it has been home canned from Butch's garden, the room is at least as large as the server room and completely stocked. There are no doors off of it, only the one I am standing in. Grabbing a couple of nearby, large cans off the shelf and prop open the door. Back in the kitchenette, I pull the door to the computer servers wide open.
"Shit." I exclaim, the door back to the first room is closed, the corpse and its tarp gone. Leaving the door into the kitchenette ajar, I run past the severs and push on the door, nothing. Half sprinting, half skidding I return to the kitchenette, the pantry door is still held open by cans, the remaining door shows no signs of moving.
I hop up on the counter of the kitchenette, sitting in a semi-reclining position with my back against the wall and the three doors into my room within sight. "Butch!" I shout again. "I know you're around somewhere and I bet you can hear me." I scan the walls as thoroughly. They are concrete, solid concrete, without any hint of cameras or microphones, but he must have some way of keeping an eye on me.
"Why are you doing this?" I try again. Why is he doing this? Catching a human to drain their blood slowly over time, fine. But why me? It will only spell disaster for him in the end. People know I am here, people who know what he is, people who could destroy him. Obviously, this is what his doomsday stock pile is for, I always assumed it was. Once the end of the world comes, humans would go missing all the time, what is to stop him from holding them, caring for them, and draining their blood every day? But this is not the end of the world. Someone will come for me.
It dawns on me, that maybe he thinks it is the end of the world. The power outage would not have affected him, he is self-sufficient, but maybe his neighbors came over to check on him or charge their phones. Or worse, maybe his neighbors are just as nuts as him and told him it was the end of the world, maybe the brought over a stock pile of guns and before they could use them he locked them in a room like mine. If Butch has guns, that would be my worst case scenario. As a vampire, even a vampire with fresh human blood, he does not stand a chance against me in a physical contest, but if he has a gun and I do not, that levels any playing field.
After a while resting and contemplating, I feel eyelids drooping. I would rather not sleep if possible, so I get up and to get to work. First, I take cans from the pantry to hold the door to the server room and the door to the canned goods completely open. Fortunately for me, both of these doors open into the kitchenette, unlike the door I used the corpse on, which opened away from me. This should make my impromptu doorstops more defensible. By sitting on the kitchen counter I can see the door through the server room back to the first room and the back of the pantry. Sizing up the pantry, I expect that the room is exactly the same size and exactly the same layout as the server room. Meaning, I think there is a hidden door at the back of the pantry. If Butch plans to drain my blood he would need a secret way into this place while I am sleeping to avoid face to face confrontation. The third door might be an option, but I suspect, that room holds a bathroom and possibly a bed.
I try the third door off the kitchenette again, still locked, "When one door closes another door opens." The voice of Butch echoes slightly in my kitchenette, the first contact I have had from him.
"Thanks, I gathered that." I respond to the air, "I can piss in the sink." I am certain this message is meant to imply that if I close the door to the server room, I will gain access to the bathroom. "That's also not true, at some point you let me open two doors." I motion towards my accomplishment. It is unlikely Butch intended for me to retain access to the computer servers, which begs the question, why put them their? A few more moments of contemplation leads me to realize that I have no idea what is going on in Butch's head.
I go back into the pantry and retrieve some coffee from the shelf. Then I open every cabinet in the kitchenette, locating the coffee pot, I start a brew while surveying everything else in the room taking stock of my supplies. They consist of, four spoons, forks, and butter knives, four large plates, four large bowls, four plastic cups, dish soup, a pot, a pan, a hot plate, a can opener and a hand towel. From my pockets, I pull out my own pocket knife and the EE device [in revision: add that she always carries these with her and what the EE is earlier] after a moment of contemplation, I pick up the chair I had used on the door and casually discarded in a corner and smash it on the counter. Amidst the splinters of wood, two of the legs have stayed together mostly, making them potential weapons as well. I line them up with the other things, retrieve a can of soup, which I open and begin eating strait from the can and pour myself a cup of coffee.
Butch has to show himself. I begin hatching a plan to lure him out of wherever he is hiding down here. My first attempt will be, to go to sleep. If there is no one else down here than maybe my prone form will elicit his desire to come drink my blood. Also, I know for a fact that I cannot continue on in a sleep deprived state for very long. This makes the coffee somewhat unnecessary so I stop drinking it. After I eat my soup I check my watch, it's past one in the morning now. I prop myself up against the wall on the kitchenette counter, among the scattered tools of my intended war on Butch and dose off.

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