History has an uncanny way in which it repeats itself. Eleven years had passed since Joe discovered the monster that dwelled within him. For a time, he found money. Happiness. Success. A wife. A son. A home.
Alas, when he found himself in the middle of a dank, dark dungeon, his hands and feet bound to a stone table by silver chains, he began to realize that compared to his new master, Lorante had been a teetotaler.
An iron door opened and two werewolves lumbered in, their heads just barely scraping the ceiling. Blythe stepped into the room as merry as could be, as if he were off to a stroll in a park and not a torture session.
Joe struggled but the silver burned his skin. The more he moved, the worse it got.
Blythe looked down and wagged a finger in his captive’s face. “Bad dog. Bad, bad dog.”
The counselor turned to one of his wolves. “Mr. Hewett, have at it.”
Hewett dragged his claws across Joe’s chest, forcing the prisoner to cry out in pain. Then as quickly as Joe’s wound was made, it was gone. Nothing but bare skin remained.
“Joseph, I had a soul once,” Blythe said. “I can remember what it was like to be in the terrible position of caring. ‘Waah I want love. Waah I don’t like being sad. Waah I don’t want to kill anyone.’”
Blythe nodded at Hewett. A hot blast of air shot out of Hewett’s snout as he slashed Joe’s stomach again, producing even more agony.
“I blame myself for this, Joseph,” Blythe said. “Really, I do. I trained you poorly. Somehow, you thought the only thing your new position required of you was to just stand around and keep me safe.”
Blythe chucked. “And somehow…you got the silly idea in your head that my orders are optional. Again, Mr. Hewett.”
Another slash. Another scream.
“Would you like to tell me what you were thinking?” Blythe asked.
“They were just…people. Innocent people,” Joe said.
Another wag of the finger from Blythe. “That’s that pesky soul of yours talking. You see them as people and I see them as blood bags. And not just any blood bags. Excellent physical specimens. Good health and breeding. Procured at some expense for the board of directors’ pleasure and you just opened up their cell doors and let them walk away.”
Splat. A giant loogie hit Blythe right in the face. Hewett took that as an invitation to slash the prisoner again.
“Just kill me and get it over with,” Joe said.
Blythe wiped the spit off his face with a handkerchief. “If it were up to me I would let you off so easily but I have a board of directors to answer to and our chairman is a real bastard in particular. Mr. Becker, if you please.”
Becker ducked his furry head under the door frame and left the room.
“Have you ever read the works of Plato, Joseph?” Blythe asked.
“Is that a trick question?” Joe replied.
“Not at all,” Blythe said. “I never read them myself but that’s only because I had the chance to listen to him speak about them in person. He theorized that there were three classes of people: gold, silver, and bronze.”
Hewett, used to his boss’s tendency to prattle on, leaned up against the wall to rest.
“The gold class, they’re the thinkers. The politicians. The business tycoons. The big picture people,” Blythe said. “The silver class, they protect the world that the golds create and the bronze? They’re the lowly grunts who do the work that’s beneath the silver and gold.”
“I wish I could kill myself just so I wouldn’t have to listen to you anymore,” Joe said.
“The humans follow this system,” Blythe said. “And evil follows this system as well. At the very bottom of our food chain is the pathetic zombie. No soul. No brains. Mindless instruments of destruction who just bite and eat and destroy whatever is in their way. They’re ultimately useless until given some direction.”
Blythe pointed to the silver chains. “You’re a silver, Joseph. An unfortunate analogy seeing as what silver actually does to beings like us but an apt one just the same. Werewolves have been tasked with the noble duty of guarding the property of vampires since the dawn of time. We don’t ask you to think. We just ask you to do.”
The counselor stroked his hand through Joe’s hair just as one would a well-behaved puppy.
“Did I not take care of you, Joseph?” Blythe asked. “Provide you with a generous wage? Raise you to a higher station in life? And did I not protect you from those humans who’d protest that your shade of color disqualifies you from either? There is no one else on this planet who could have offered you the life I did and you thanked me by making me look like a fool in front of the board.”
Joe stared at the ceiling, praying for a swift resolution.
Becker returned with Lydia slung over his shoulder. He set her down. This time around, she was very, very scared.
Joe wrenched at the chains but that only made him scream. “HOW?!”
Blythe grinned. “Thought you hid her from me did you? Oh Joseph, the eyes, as they say, truly are the window to the soul and once you allowed me to look into yours I knew your achilles’ heal was your family.”
Lydia shrieked as Blythe pulled her body close to his. The counselor opened his mouth and hissed like a snake as two sharp fangs popped out. He used them to bite open a vein in his wrist.
“Henry, please,” Joe said. “This is between us. She did nothing to you. Let her go.”
“The board has already made a ruling, Joseph,” Blythe said as his blood dripped all over Lydia’s dress. “I am but a cog in a greater machine.”
The vampire wrapped his hand around Lydia’s mouth.
“Open,” Blythe said.
Lydia struggled and then relented. Drip…drip…drip went the vampire blood down her throat.
Joe lost control and yanked at the chains with all his might, the silver searing into his flesh.
“Your love and I are bonded now,” Blythe said. “A greater connection exists between us for my blood flows in her veins. It calls out to me, yearning for my guidance. My direction. My control.”
Joe’s eyes turned yellow. The beast fought to take over his body but the silver chains held it at bay.
“Of course,” Blythe said. “She’s burdened by that pesky soul of hers that tells her not to listen to me so let’s relieve her of that, shall we?”
A shot rang out, smashing its way through Lydia’s heart. Once she fell to the ground, Blythe set a smoking revolver down on a small table.
Had any humans been in the room, Joe’s roar would have popped their eardrums.
“Oh enough of the theatrics,” Blythe said. “Her soul’s in a much better place.”
Joe couldn’t see it but he could hear Lydia grown. Then she snarled. Ever so slowly, she rose to her feet. Her eyes were blank white, the retinas completely gone. Her movements were mechanical. She had become a gruesome automaton.
Unsure of her steps, Lydia walked like a toddler towards Joe, then sunk her teeth into her husband’s shoulder. She snapped off a piece of flesh and devoured it, blood dripping from her lips. Joe’s flesh grew back immediately.
“I can’t be damned twice,” Joe said. “You killed her for nothing! NOTHING!”
“Did I?” Joe asked. “Mr. Becker.”
The werewolf henchman exited the room. Lydia moved into Joe’s neck for another bite but Blythe stretched out his hand in a “stop” motion.
“Down girl,” Blythe commanded.
Lydia instantly complied and stood quietly, staring at the wall.
Becker returned with little Miles wrapped up in his paw. The boy was merely five years old and petrified for his life. He was set on the floor and he immediately scurried underneath the table his father was laid out on.
“Please,” Joe said, reduced to sobbing. “Just kill me.”
“If I had any emotions I’d sympathize with you Joseph,” Blythe said. “I truly would.”
Blythe stared at the bullet in his hand. It was remarkably shiny. A glint of candlelight bounced off of it. The vampire loaded it into the pistol then set it on the smaller table by the door.
“I’ll let you figure this out,” Blythe said. “The bullet’s silver in case you’d like to take personal responsibility for what you’ve done and call it quits. If not, well, you know what to do. The board has declared that either your head or hers will be sufficient to consider your debt repaid.”
Hewett and Becker got in front of their boss and formed one gigantic hairy wall of protection. Blythe reached for a lever on the wall, yanked it down, and Joe was released.
Joe lept from the table and charged at his captors.
Blythe snapped his fingers. “Feed at will, dear,” was his last order to Lydia.
Hewett backhanded Joe to the ground and the trio escaped, locking the iron door behind them.
Joe stood up to find the undead body of the woman he loved on the floor, desperately clawing her hand underneath the table, attempting to snatch a crying Miles.
“Lydia,” Joe said.
Lydia waved her arm under the table furiously.
“Miles,” Joe said.
“Stop…” Joe caught his breathe. “Stop that crying now. Mama’s just playing a game with you.”
“She is?” Miles asked.
“Yes,” Joe said.
“Silly Mama,” Miles said. The boy sniffed and the crying stopped. “What are we playing?”
Joe grabbed Lydia by the waist and pulled her away from the table but like a wild animal she kicked and growled.
It was no use. She wrestled herself out of Joe’s grip and dove to the bottom of the table again, the boy’s delicious flesh the only thing on her mind.
Joe grabbed the revolver. “Hide and seek,” Joe told Miles.
“I’m losing,” Miles said. “Mama keeps finding me.”
“I know,” Joe said as he pulled Lydia away again. She shrieked and waled, digging her nails into Joe’s sides and ripping her teeth into the arm he used to hold her with.
“You just have to try harder,” Joe said. “Close your eyes and count to ten.”
The little boy’s voice counted. “One…two…three…”
“Stick your fingers in your ears and sing a song,” Joe said.
Lydia’s teeth cut Joe’s arm all the way to the bone. He fought through it as he raised the revolver to his wife’s temple.
“Then she’ll hear me and find me!” Miles said.
“Nah,” Joe replied. “Mama’s sneaky. She’ll ask you where you are and if you can’t hear then you can’t tell her.”
“Oh,” Miles said. “Row row row your boat…”
Joe kissed his wife on the cheek. She snapped her teeth at his face.
“I love you,” Joe said. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Joe pulled the trigger. The shot tore through Lydia’s brain and her undead body went limp. Gently, Joe laid her down on the table he’d been held on. He wolfed out, punched the iron door off its hinges, then morphed back into human form.
Miles was still singing. “…merrily merrily merrily…”
Joe picked up Lydia and carried her in his arms. He walked out of the room, down a dimly lit hallway, and found another cell. He laid his wife down again, then returned to collect his son.
He reached under the table and pulled Miles out.
“Where’s Mama?” Miles asked as Joe grabbed the boy by the hand and led him down the hallway.
“Her turn to hide now,” Joe said. “She’s hiding pretty good so I think it’ll be awhile before we find her.”
“Oh,” Miles said. “Why are you naked?”
“Lost my pants,” Joe said.
“I lose mine sometimes too,” Miles said. “Mama always finds ‘em for me. She’s a good Mama.”
“Yeah,” Joe said. “Yeah she is.”