The flames dissipated. The smoke subsided. Two cloaked figures searched through the thoroughly cooked bodies.
“Are we too late?” asked the female.
“It looks that way,” the male said.
Several feet away, an unscathed hand rose into the air.
The impromptu rescue party darted for it. They removed their hoods, revealing their faces to the moonlight.
“Is she alive?” Lady Beatrice asked.
“Only one way to find out,” Henry replied. He leaned down to whisper into Hortense’s ear. “My name is Legion…”
Cough…cough. Hortense sputtered for awhile until she gave a week reply. “…for we are many.”
The redhead stood up. Her hair was a twisted mess. “What the hell is wrong with humans these days? Cast a spell to turn all of their children ugly and none of them notice but oh sure, break wind one time in mixed company and its all ‘burn her at the stake! burn her alive!’”
Hortense observed her visitors. “Oh. Hello vampires. Late to the show, I see.”
“You must be moving up in the world, Hortense,” Henry said. “Father sent us personally. I had no idea your power had grown far enough to allow you to pull off that little trick.”
“Uggh,” Hortense said as she stood up. “There was nothing little about it. I’ll be feeling it for days.”
A man’s voice groaned. “Help…please….help.”
Lady Beatrice discovered the source. It was Jericho. He was burned beyond recognition. His face charred. His flesh crisp. All but a few hairs on his head were gone.
“Charming fellow,” Hortense said. “A cobbler by trade and in his spare time, an insatiable reader. Pity he’ll be dead soon.”
Jericho’s blackened hand trembled as he raised it.
“Not soon enough,” Henry said as he lifted his boot, preparing to bring it down on Jericho’s face.
“Stop,” Lady Beatrice said.
Henry returned his boot to the ground. “What?”
Lady Beatrice fell to her knees by Jericho’s side, then looked up at Henry. “I want to keep him.”
“Keep him?!” Henry scoffed.
“You promised we’d start a family,” Lady Beatrice said.
“When we find some trustworthy humans to bring into the Legion’s fold,” Henry said.
“Oh honestly,” Lady Beatrice said. “If we wait to find a trustworthy human we’ll never have children, Henry.”
“You have him then,” Henry said. “He’ll be no son of mine.”
“Look at him,” Lady Beatrice said. “He’s mere moments from death. He’ll be ever so loyal if we save him.”
“He’ll despise our guts if we save him,” Henry replied. “Eternal life is meaningless if you have to look like that forever.”
Lady Beatrice rolled her eyes and popped out her fangs. “Oh Henry. Ever the narcissist.”
The lady chomped into Jericho’s throat, her fangs tearing into the cooked flesh. Within seconds, she was draining Jericho’s blood.
Hortense drew closer. “I’ve heard of this,” the witch said. “But I have never witnessed a vampire turning ceremony.”
“It’s not all that ceremonial,” Henry said. “First she drains the subject of his blood.”
Lady Beatrice lifted her head up. Her face was drenched red.
“The subject dies…”
Jericho gasped and went silent.
“He’s dead now. His soul has traveled off to the afterlife,” Henry explained. “To heaven if he’s been nice, hell if he’s been naughty, you know the drill. And now, my good lady has but seconds to open a vein…”
The lady’s fang tore through her wrist. She held it over Jericho’s face and dripped red drops into his mouth.
“…and feed the subject,” Henry said. “The human body has such a great need for blood that it will search for it up to five minutes after being drained to death.”
Jericho jolted up to a sitting position. Like a mad fiend, he seized the lady’s wrist and suckled at it.
“Vampiric blood restores his body,” Henry said. “He’ll live forever barring silver bullets or stakes to the heart, having his head chopped off, being exploded, the standard pitfalls. And without his soul bossing him around with outdated concepts like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ he’d normally have a jolly good time…”
Jericho continued to feed.
“…if he didn’t look like that,” Henry said.
“Fascinating,” Hortense said.
Lady Beatrice smiled. “Oh Henry. He’s warming up to me already.”
“Yes dear,” Henry replied.
Hortense looked baffled. “How are vampires any different than zombies?”
Henry clutched his chest and gasped. “I beg your pardon?”
“You both die lose your souls,” Hortense said. “You’re both dead bodies that keep walking.”
Henry tapped a single finger against the side of his head. “Our brains still work. Zombie brains do not. Ironically, that’s why they seek to ingest them. Foolish notion that doing so will make them smarter.”
Lady Beatrice snuggled her free arm around Jericho and allowed her new son to keep feed from her open wrist.
“All is well now, my love,” Lady Beatrice said. “Mumsie will take good care of you.”
Jericho stopped drinking. His voice was strained now and full of gravel. “Muh…Mumsie?”
“Shhh,” Lady Beatrice said as she pushed her bloody wrist up against Jericho’s lips. “Drink.”
Hortense snapped her fingers and a broom poofed into her hand.
“Right then,” the witch said. “I do hate to walk out on a vampire birth but, as you may have noticed, they’re burning witches in these parts and I’d prefer not to go through that whole rigmarole again. Did Esmerelda survive the inquisition?”
“She did,” Henry said. “You’ll find her in Spanish territory to the south.”
“Lovely,” Hortense said as she tucked the broom between her legs and grabbed the end. “I’m off!”
Henry watched as the witch launched herself into the sky and streaked away. He then returned his attention to the lady.
“Isn’t this grand, Henry?” the lady asked.
“Hmmph,” Henry grunted.