Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.
See also: http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart
My name: Brian Martin
Miranda was the first to come to her senses, and her senses were overloaded. She felt pressure on her chest, something in her mouth, and she couldn’t see; her leg was on fire; and her ears were picking up a regular scratching sound as of something being pulled across concrete. The first three sensations were all because Brenda was lying limply on her chest, blocking her vision, her hair thrown forward into Miranda’s mouth. She thought at first it was her throbbing leg that had brought her back to consciousness--until she realized that the scratching sound she heard was the sound of the two vampires creeping toward them.
She knew that the only defenses she had were in her coat pocket. She also knew that her arm was pinned beneath Brenda. If she pushed Brenda off, that would alert the vampires, who might pounce before she could get to her ankh. If she didn’t, they’d pounce anyway, and she’d never have a chance. It wasn’t a very difficult choice. She had to at least try. She flexed her arm.
It was Jack.
“I’m going to lead them away,” he whispered. “Follow me with the cart.”
Miranda heard Jack scrambling to his feet, but before she could say anything, he began shouting at the vampires.
“Hey! Over here!”
Both the frog and the toad stopped moving toward the girls at the sound of his voice. They turned their eyes from Jack to the girls and back, as if trying to decide whom to attack first.
He knew he didn’t appear very threatening. He had twisted his left ankle in the collision with Brenda and now he stood lopsidedly with one hand on the fence to support himself. He tried pressing his lips together and narrowing his eyes to seem more determined, but he was afraid that his uncertainty about whether Brenda or Miranda had heard his whispered instructions showed on his face anyway.
When it looked as though the vampires had decided that two victims were better than one, Jack snatched his ankh from his pocket and threw it at the frog. It hit him square on the nose--right between his bulbous eyes.
The frog let out a croaking yelp and somehow hopped backward. The toad saw the ankh on the ground and quickly backed away. Now both were staring at Jack with venom in their eyes.
Jack let go of the fence and began hobbling down the alley as fast as he could. He made it to the beginning of the shrubbery behind the warehouse before something stung his bad ankle and he stumbled. He put out a hand for support and he actually saw a ribbon of blood open along his inner forearm before the pain reached his brain. He knew the vampires were attacking with their lightning-fast tongues. They’re playing with me, he thought. They want to make this as painful as they possibly can.
Each tongue-lashing from the vampires sent a fresh bolt of pain through his system. One particularly painful jolt to his right leg left him on his knees, still struggling forward. He heard the croaking laughter of the vampires as they closed in.
That was behind him. Ahead of him, Jack peered hard into the darkness searching for light. The moon had dipped behind the tops of the shrubs, and its light scattered through the limbs, landing on the pavement in uneven splotches. He was looking for something more regular in shape. He felt a tongue--he didn’t know whether it was the frog’s or the toad’s--wrap around his ankle and begin to tug. He could hardly believe it, but with nothing more than its tongue, the vampire was pulling him backward.
Jack hoisted himself up on his hands, glancing wildly about. Then he saw it. Jack put all his concentration into staring into that pool of light he remembered so well. He was waiting for it to start shrinking, but nothing was happening. Maybe it wouldn’t work, he thought, because he was being pulled backward. He tried yanking his leg, trying to free it from the vampire’s tongue, but that only made the vampire pull harder.
Something Miranda had said to him several days ago popped into Jack’s mind. “Your job,” she’d said, “is to think, to reason. To analyze and examine.” If staring at the light wasn’t working, then he must be doing something wrong.
There’s always a trick, Jack thought. Like the water fountain. Something you have to do to make it work. He thought back to the first time he’d encountered the light. What had been different then? What was different now? Well, he thought, back then he hadn’t been in any immediate danger; there wasn’t any vampire drawing him slowly toward its gleaming fangs. That didn’t seem to be it, though: it didn’t have anything to do with the light itself. No, the only thing he could think of was that now he knew what the light was; then it had been new to him.
Focusing once more on the light, Jack let his mind open. Yes, he knew something about the light, but there was a great deal he didn’t know. He began to wonder how long its effects lasted and what would happen to someone who gave in to it. As his curiosity increased, he began to notice something about the light. It was shrinking!
Behind him he heard the frog start to laugh in its peculiar croaking way. So it was the toad whose tongue was wrapped around his ankle. Keeping his eyes glued to the light, he kicked again; this time, his foot connected with the toad’s nose. Suddenly his ankle was free, but Jack didn’t think he’d hurt the toad; he thought the toad was about to sink its fangs into his leg.
Just then, the light burst once more into a silver ball, floating above the ground. Jack squeezed his eyes shut, waiting for the piercing pain of the fangs. Instead, he heard something strange, a ker-reak, ker-reak sound that couldn’t possibly have come from the vampires. It was behind him, so it knew it had nothing to do with the light. Jack turned his head and opened his eyes.
The vampires were staring over his head, unaware of Jack or the strange sound. Behind them, Jack saw the wagon rolling slowly toward him down the alley. Each time its right front wheel turned, it made that creaking sound. Jack thought he saw someone’s head bobbing over the end of the wagon.
Jack rolled to the side so as not to block the vampires’ vision and scrambled to his feet. He could see better now. Brenda, head down, was puffing hard to push the wagon. She hadn’t seen the light yet, but Jack knew if she did, she’d be captured by it along with the vampires, and he needed her help.
Dragging his left foot, Jack hurried as fast and quietly as he could to the back of the wagon. Brenda didn’t hear him coming. When he slapped his hand over her eyes, she screamed in surprise.
“It’s me!” Jack told her. He turned her around so that they were both facing away from the light, then he took his hand away from her eyes.
“Don’t turn around,” Jack said. “If you look at it, you’ll be hypnotized.”
“Look at what?”
“Never mind,” Jack said. “Where’s Miranda?”
Jack put his hands on Brenda’s shoulders and pressed her into a crouching position behind the wagon.
“Back where we crashed. She told me what you’d said to do.”
Jack stole a glance behind him. All he could see was the back panel of the wagon. “Okay, turn around,” he said. “Let’s keep pushing.”
“What’s going on?”
Together they pushed the wagon forward. After a few feet, the two vampires came into view to the right side. Brenda saw them and would have jumped up to fight if Jack hadn’t held her down. Brenda took a closer look.
“What’s the matter with them?”
“They’re hypnotized,” Jack said. “By that light I told you about.”
“Oh, I get it,” Brenda said, smiling. “Come on.”
She led the way to the left side of the wagon and put her hands underneath. Jack did the same.
Jack and Brenda pushed the wagon up and up until it fell on its side. After that, it was easy enough to push it the rest of the way. It fell over the vampires, trapping them inside.
The night got suddenly darker. Jack looked ahead, but the light was gone.
A furious croaking began from underneath the wagon. Jack smiled at Brenda.
“We got them,” he said. “Now let’s go get Miranda.”