“Vampires have ways of getting into your mind,” Miles said. “They want to control you. Glamour you.”
“Glamour?” Miss Bonnie asked.
“Hypnotism,” Miles said. “Hocus pocus. One conversation is all it takes for a vampire to get inside your mind and make you do his bidding.”
Miss Bonnie rested her head on her hands for a moment, then sat back in her chair. “I talked to Blythe before and he didn’t do anything to my mind.”
“Are you sure?” Miles asked.
“Of course,” Miss Bonnie said. “All he did was convince me to let a bunch of drunk ignorant yahoos stay at…”
She cut herself off. “Aw shit.”
“Never talk to a vampire,” Miles said. “And never let a vampire get a drop of blood anywhere near your mouth.”
Doc took a sip of his Miracle Cure-All. “Young man, this is crazy talk. As a highly skilled doctor I can assure you that there is no danger whatsoever in allowing the blood of another being to come into contact with your person. All bodily fluids are completely natural and harmless. That’s just basic medical science.”
Miles put chalk to slate again. He produced a stick figure with pointy teeth and a little drop of blood falling into a normal stick figure human’s mouth.
“Everyone with me so far?” Miles asked.
Heads nodded around the table.
Miles drew X’s over the human stick figure’s eyes.
“Vampire blood makes zombies,” the boy said.
“You’re going to have to dumb this down a whole helluvalot more, youngster,” Gunther said.
Miles expelled an agonized sigh.
“A human drinks vampire’s blood,” Miles said. “That blood goes to war with the human’s body, crying out for the human to do bad things on the vampire’s behalf. But the soul says no. It stops the blood from conquering body. But if the soul is lost…”
Gunther drummed his fingers across the table. “Like if a smelly shit heel gets shot dead in a duel?”
“Yeah,” Miles said. “A person dies. The soul goes to Heaven or Hell depending on how good or bad the person was…”
The Reverend interrupted Miles with a spit take as he sprayed the whiskey he was drinking through the air.
“You mean all of this Heaven and Hell nonsense was real all along?” the preacher asked.
“Yes,” Miles replied.
“Well I’ll be a son of a bitch,” the Reverend said as he took another drink.
“Shit Reverend,” Gunther said. “That surprises you of all people?”
“Of course,” the Reverend said. “I always thought religion was just an elaborate scam to bilk suckers out of money.”
Gunther pointed at the Reverend’s booze bottle.
“Where did you get that?” the old man asked.
“I’ve got them stashed all over,” the Reverend replied.
Miss Bonnie put her hands up. “Can you assholes pay attention?”
Miles continued. “Without the soul to fend off the vampire’s will, zombies just wander around aimlessly, looking for flesh to eat, waiting for the vampire whose blood they drank to command them.”
Slade, Gunther, and Miss Bonnie all traded glances.
“So Blythe has created a whole army of these varmints,” Gunther said. “To do what?”
“Take Washington, D.C, and conquer the United States,” Miles answered. “Blythe was experimenting with this idea when my father worked for him. Training werewolves to herd zombies and push them forward. Blythe even trained himself to control them as a group.”
“This is the most farfetched pile of cow plop I’ve ever heard in my entire life,” Gunther said.
“Yes,” Doc added. “Why, I dare say if I were to read this unlikely premise in a penny dreadful novel I’d have half a mind to write a stern letter of complaint to the author and demand my money back without delay.”
Gunther looked at Doc. “But I believe the kid.”
“You do?” Doc asked.
“Holy shit, Doc,” Gunther said. “You’ve got dead people walking around, people turning into dog monsters…”
“Werewolves,” Miles said.
“…werewolves,” Gunther continued. “They all aren’t here for Highwater’s spectacular sights because we sure as shit ain’t got any so it makes sense that they’re planning an invasion, doesn’t it?”
“Tell me my lad, do zombies swim?” Doc asked.
“No,” Miles replied. “Sometimes they float and the water will take them away with the current but they’re too dumb to swim.”
“They’d have to have to have some transportation to get across the Mississippi,” Gunther said. “Like a…”
Slade beat the old man to it. “…train.”
“He’s going to fill that damn train full of zombies and tear the East a new asshole from Illinois to Virginia.”
“Goodness,” Doc said. “All this time I thought I was an impeccable judge of character but you all have convinced me. I was blinded by Mr. Blythe’s professional demeanor but it would seem he is an unsavory scoundrel indeed.”
Doc coughed again and settled his throat with another slurp of elixir.
“I have one question.”
“What is it?” Miles asked.
“How in God’s name could Mr. Blythe have possibly infected so many people with his vile blood?”
Miles looked around. Everyone was waiting on his answer.
“I have no idea,” Miles replied to the group’s dismay.
“Curious,” Doc said as he swigged his Miracle Cure-All again. “A confounding question the answer to which we may never know.”