Miles was a boy again. Covered up with a blanket, he spent an hour educating the group on everything he’d ever ever learned from his father about the forces of evil.
His artistic skills came in handy. The Reverend gave him a slate board and a piece of chalk that was usually used to teach children during Sunday school.
The approach made sense, because to the group, this information was all so new and confusing that they felt like children as they grappled to understand.
“Son, I see your gums flapping but not a lick of it is making any sense,” Gunther said.
The boy slapped his forehead. He scribbled on the slate for a minute, then held it up next to the lantern in the center of the table.
It was a drawing of a man with pointy teeth. Underneath, Miles had written, “BLYTHE = VAMPIRE.”
“Young man,” Doc said. “Your tale is ludicrous. You’d really have us believe that the entire country is run by an evil corporation which in turn is operated by beings who hold themselves out as respectable citizens but in secret, are blood sucking fiends who find joy in spreading misery across the land?”
“Yes,” Miles said.
“Shit, that’s nothing new,” Gunther said.
Slade lit up his cigar. The end glowed red in the dark.
“How do I kill him?” he asked.
“Stake through the heart,” Miles replied. “Any pointy piece of wood will do. Or cut his head off. Or get a piece of silver into his heart somehow. Shoot him in the heart with a silver bullet if you can.”
The Reverend had opened up another bottle of whiskey. He took a good pull then wiped his mouth. “Judas.”
“What?” Miss Bonnie asked.
“Judas Iscariot,” the Reverend said. “A close friend of Jesus who betrayed our lord and savior for thirty pieces of silver. No doubt these evil fiends have an aversion to it as some kind of biblical vengeance. Our Lord is not without a sense of irony.”
Slade held a bullet up against the lantern light, causing the silver tip to glisten.
“Your father made this?” he asked.
“Yup,” the boy replied.
“Son,” Gunther said. “I wish your Pa had told us all of this before.”
“Would you have believed him?” Miles asked.
Gunther shook his head. “No. I probably would have told him he’d lost his mind.”
“He said no one who has never seen any of this could ever believe it without seeing it with their own eyes,” Miles said.
“I’m still not sure I believe it,” Gunther said. “And I’ve been seeing it all night.”
Miss Bonnie sat between Gunther and Slade. “Is there anything else we can use against Blythe?” she asked.
“A cross or holy water will slow him down,” Miles said. “Or you could just…”
The boy hesitated. “No.”
“What?” Miss Bonnie asked.
“Blythe is a day walker,” Miles said. “Most vampires are only allowed to roam at night but Blythe is one of the few vampires trusted by the chairman to be outside during the day.”
Slade blew out some smoke. “Who is the chairman?” he asked.
“No one knows,” Miles replied. “Whoever he is, he’s the only one the vampires are afraid of.”
“So how is Blythe able to go out during the day?” Miss Bonnie asked.
“The chairman gave him a medallion that protects him from sunlight. Snatch it off his neck when the sun’s out and he’ll burn right up but…he’ll never let you get close enough.”
“I find this all rather preposterous,” Doc said. “I’ve never known Mr. Blythe to be anything but a paragon of virtue.”
Slade and Gunther’s heads snapped toward the Doc so fast they almost fell off.
“You…know Blythe?” Gunther asked.
“Certainly,” Doc said. “In the course of my work as a practitioner of the medical sciences. If he has an evil side, he didn’t show it to me.”
“That’s what they do,” Miles said. “They pretend to be good but all the while they’re doing bad behind your back.”
Doc took a gulp of his Miracle Cure-All. “Poppycock.”
The good doctor drew a deep breath then exhaled. He found himself needing to do that more and more. From time to time, it felt like his lungs were quitting on him.
“Is this lad someone we can trust?” Doc asked. “He is after all a dog monster.”
“Werewolf,” Miles said. He scribbled another drawing of a furry man. Underneath the picture he wrote, “WEREWOLF.”
“He saved my life,” Miss Bonnie said. “He didn’t have to.”
“Not every werewolf is evil,” Miles said.
“Yet you’d have us believe Mr. Blythe is evil,” Doc said. “And if that is true and your father was in his employ, what did that make him?”
Annabelle patted her hand on Doc’s. “Maybe now isn’t the time to…”
“Balderdash!” Doc said.
Miles put his head down. “Ashamed.”
The boy put down the slate. “It made him ashamed. For the first part of his life he was treated like cattle. Traded and herded like a cow or a horse.”
Doc coughed into his hand. It was a loud hack. “Oh heavens it would appear I have invited a sob story…”
Annabelle slapped Doc lightly upside the back of the head then looked to Miles. “Don’t mind him. Go on.”
“Then he met Blythe,” Miles said. “And he gave Pa a job. Blythe put money in his Pa’s pocket. Let him walk around wearing a fancy suit. Gave him respect that no one like us ever gets.”
Miles looked at everyone’s faces peering at him through the lantern light.
“But Blythe wasn’t exactly up front about the particulars of the job,” Miles said. “Didn’t tell Pa he’d be expected to kill innocent people. Or find people for the vampires to feed on. Or…”
“What?” Slade asked.
“That he’d be expected to help Blythe herd a zombie army towards Washington,” Miles said.
Miles scribbled some more on the piece of slate. He turned it around to reveal a stick figure with two “Xs” in its eyes. “ZOMBIE.”
“The dead brought back to life,” Miles explained. “Though it isn’t much of a life at all. They only have enough brain power to move them around slowly. They eat…other people.”
Doc stroked his beard. “Yes. These cannibals are most unnatural.”
“Easy to take out a few of them,” Miles said. “Just destroy their brains.”
“That part we got,” Gunther said.
“But you don’t know this part,” Miles said. He drew on the slate again, then turned it around. More little stick figure zombies with Xs for eyes surrounding a stick finger with pointy teeth.
“Blythe can control them,” Miles said.
Gunther leaned over the table. “What’s that now?”