Samuel Kleinheinz slumped over on his horse. He had ridden almost nonstop for a day, and was extremely tired. He turned a bend in the dirt road and spotted a small cottage. He urged the horse to go faster and reached the building in about two minutes. It had rained the last night, and his hair was unpowdered and greasy. His uniform was extremely filthy and his face was pale. He dismounted and took out a pistol and tucked his knife into his sash. Cautiously, he knocked on the door. When no one answered, he pounded harder. Finally, he pounded on it like a policeman. "In the name of the Holy Roman Empire, open up in there! Schnell!"
The knob turned, and a young woman answered. She held a knife in one hand.
Samuel bowed politely. "My apologies for being so rude, my dear lady. I have been riding for the past day, and I'm not in the mood of a gentleman of Austria. I am Captain Samuel Kleinheinz, of the Holy Roman Army."
The woman was beautiful, but somehow eerie looking. She had long dark hair and weak-looking green eyes. She did not talk for a moment, but then put the knife on a table. "Hello. My, don't you look like a gentleman?" she said sarcastically. "Listen, if you're wanting a tavern, bawdy house, or a church, there's a town due east of here, and it has all three."
Samuel looked at her in surprise. "I'm a soldier! I fought in the battle yesterday at Banja Luka. I'm sore and tired. Could I have some food and sleep in the barn? If you say no, I have the right to demand it from you, for if you are Austrian or Hungarian, I have the right to search and/or seize this house and requisition supplies. If you consider yourself loyal to the Caliphate, I have the right to do anything I want.
Now, may I have some food?" He raised his pistol.
She gave him a nasty look. "I'm Hungarian. Sophie. I need not tell you my last name. Fine. Come in. Sit at the table. I give you food, you sleep in barn, and then you leave." If looks could kill, Samuel should have been in pale a twitching. Samuel stepped inside and grunted. He sat down on one of the table's rickety chairs.
"Anyone else live here?"
Sophie slapped some kind of soup onto a plate a put it in front of him. "No. Almost no one lives in this area."
"Why's that? Seems like pretty nice land, to me." Samuel sipped some of the stuff and found it did not taste half bad.
"Because of the... nothing." She walked out of the room.
Samuel was bothered now. He sprang up and stormed after her. "What's with this eeriness? What are "the...?"
She looked uncomfortable. "The... undead."
"The undead. Corpses that rise from the grave. Vampires. Wolfmen. All manner of horrible beast." She took out a piece of paper from under her dress collar. "This drawing was done by a local farmer. It should give you an idea of our problem."
He ripped the piece of paper from her hands and glared at it in horror. "Mein himmel... It's of the devil! Mother Mary protect us!" He shoved the paper in her hands and ran to the door.
"Don't!" she screamed. She ran over and slammed the door. "Please, they've been coming around my house more recently. They killed my brother two months ago. Please, it's not safe. Stand watch tonight. After that, take me with you to the nearest town."
Samuel nodded. "Jawohl! I will bring in the Holy Roman army to deal with these demons! Have no fear, citizen of the Empire. As long as I breathe you shall not be harmed! I have several important items on my horse. I will get them and get ready for trouble, though God forbid it occur." He raced outside as fast as his tired body could and retrieved his belongings, including the Turkish box. He dragged the things inside and loaded his weapons. "Do you have any guns?"
She nodded. "Many. In the cellar. I'll get them." She opened a hatch on the floor on went down some stairs. Seconds later she reappeared, carrying four muskets. She went down again and came up with another five. Then came bags of musket balls and powder horns. Finally, she brought up several belts of pistols. Samuel laid them out on the table and loaded all of them. Sophie sharpened all the knives she had, and prepared several lanterns.
Later that night...
Samuel slumped down on the floor as Sophie took to the watch duties. She carried a huge musket that was much too heavy for her, but if she could get it to fire, would kill almost anything. Her shoes made annoying clacking noises, but Samuel ignored it and dozed off with his rifle over his lap.
An hour later, she tapped him on the shoulder. "Your turn. I didn't see anything so far."
Samuel nodded and got up. He looked at her for a moment. "Why do these monsters live around here?"
Sophie shrugged. "I don't know. They just seem to like it. Some of them come from the cemetery. Others, like the wolfmen, seem to just move from the mountains to this area annually. It's very frightening."
He kept staring at her. She had not said anything about the vampires. He wondered why. He shrugged mentally and stood near the window while she sat down. He went from one window to another. He did not see anything either. In his boredom, he looked closely at the house. It was very old. At least 1650. He glanced at the fireplace mantel. Mounted on the wall was a wolf head, under that a portrait of some ancestor. He noticed something strange. Almost anyone who was anyone had a Catholic figure or relic above the fireplace. Not Sophie. He also wondered why she didn't have a Bible. Or a prayer book. She seemed to wince when he mentioned God or Heaven. He put it to the back of his mind until he looked at her again. She was reading some philosophy book by one of the deep thinkers of the time.
In almost total darkness.
They only had one lantern lit. Her eyes that he had made a mental note of earlier as verging on blindness looked bright and perky, busily scanning the pages. He also tried to ignore the fact that she was seeming younger and healthier looking. He was exhausted. She had been up for over 20 hours. He slept when his shift ended. She read Spinoza, who, by the way, detested and challenged religion! He could barely stand. She could lug the largest musket around. He knew he would not be sleeping anymore on his breaks.
An hour later, his shift ended. He sat down and forced himself to stay awake. He just kept watching her. She had seemed several years his senior earlier, and now it seemed the opposite. She was practically goose stepping from window to window, even occasionally cracking jokes.
She crouched down next to him a few minutes later. She just stared at him. Samuel started sweating bullets.
First she kissed him normally. Then she moved in on his neck.
He shoved her away as fast as he could. He could see it plain as day. Fangs. She grinned and acted as happy as could be. Her eyes were a very strange shade of her normal green now, and her skin was paler. Samuel knew he was in trouble. Big trouble. She advanced toward him again. "Don't worry. It doesn't hurt you. You'll just become like me. And then we can be together forever."
Samuel shoved her away again and readied his rifle. "Stay away from me, woman! Schnell! Or I shoot."
She laughed. "Shoot me? I love you. Like I said, if I bite you, you'll become immortal!
You and I can live forever."
He cocked the gun back. "I don't love you, witch! Stay away!"
"Are we to stay in this stalemate?''
"I know vampire stories. Plus, I saw you earlier. You're normal by morning. Then I can leave. And I can assure you, His Imperial Majesty will hear of this! The army will destroy this place!"
She stepped back. "Oh, my dear Captain, I can't allow you to do that. Sylvester!"
Up from the cellar barged a huge wolfman. Drool coming from his mouth, he pounced on Samuel and pinned him to the floor.
Sophie smiled. "This is my actual brother. As you can see, we have a very... unique family. Now, are you ready for immortality?"
He spit on Sylvester's face. "No, demon. I am NOT!"
The wolfman put one of his claws on Samuel's neck. "If I so much as scratch you, you'll become like me!" he growled.
Samuel stared at both of them. "Kill me. I am ready. Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne Christ the Saviour, the Deliverer of our souls!"
Both Sophie and Sylvester shrieked in horror. Sophie covered her ears and Sylvester whinnied like a kicked dog. Samuel recited the Hail Mary again. And again. And again, until Sylvester got off him. He whipped out his crucifix from around his neck and held it out. "Back creatures! Though I walk through the Valley-""Enough!"
Sylvester roared and jumped at him. A sudden shriek came out as the silver cross impaled him in the neck. Blood ran down the religious keepsake as Samuel withdrew it from the furry hide. Suddenly, Sylvester turned into a normal human. A Magyar with long black hair and bushy sideburns. He looked like a wolf even in his normal form. Blood was gushing from the corpse's throat as Sophie huddled over the body.
"I won't kill you, Sophie." He picked up his musket. "But I won't allow you to bite me. Thus, I regret I must shoot you in the leg. The Imperial army will come later and mop up you and the others. Expect to see an executioner." He threw her to the floor and aimed at her leg. Horrifically, she grabbed a knife, and thrust it through her own breast and into her heart.
"I won't kill you either." She died.
Samuel's hand trembled. He lowered the gun and stooped down next to her. Her teeth were normal and she once again looked older. Just like Sylvester.
Terrified, Samuel readied his horse and bolted off down the dirt road. It was the fastest ride he ever made. He had seen two creatures of the night die, and their friends probably wouldn't be happy about it. He already thought he had spotted another man-wolf bolting through the woods, following him. He took out one of his pistols and fired. A yelp rang out and a "large dog" stumbled and ran off. It wouldn't be the last monsters he would deal with, as he would soon find out.Like I said, this is sci-fi.