The Girl Who Cried Vampire - Chapter One
BY THE TIME I’d found her, Maggie Keaton was unconscious. She was bound—spread eagle—atop a stone altar, stained dark with the blood of countless sacrifices. They’d left her clothes on—the men who’d snatched her—which didn’t go too far toward me taking it easy on them, but it helped some. No one would die here tonight anyway, not if I had my way.
The altar to which Maggie had been tied sat among years of dust, dirt, and papers on the floor of an abandoned warehouse the size of an airplane hangar. The warehouse had once been stacked to the rafters with shelves full of paper, now it stood empty but for Maggie and the altar that her captors had meant to be her final resting place. But then, her captors hadn’t counted on me.
My name is Norman Oklahoma. I’m a private investigator who specializes in the supernatural, the unexplained, and the just plain weird. I’m based out of Eudora, Kansas. I’m right there on 7th and Main, just above the coffee shop, you can’t miss me.
Maggie Keaton had been missing for almost fourteen hours. Not long enough for the police to consider her missing, but long enough for her fiancé to get good and worried.
Jeff, Maggie’s fiancé, had quite the crazy story to tell the police. He’d claimed that she’d been abducted and that he had witnessed the entire thing. The problem was that he had been so full of hallucinogens at the time that the police found him to be a bit unreliable.
I’d taken the time to listen to him, something you can do when you’re sharing a cell with a guy.
I’d been arrested that very morning for shooting up the Pub downtown. Sure, I did it, but there were vampires involved, and I hate vampires.
Besides, it worked out. If I hadn’t spanked a couple of vampires and sent them on their way, I never would have been arrested and thrown in the clink. If I hadn’t been arrested I wouldn’t have been there when they brought Jeff in, screaming about little green men taking his fiancé.
That’s when I took a special interest in young Jeff.
See, when most hear talk of little green men, they figure it’s gotta be aliens. Now, aliens do exist, sure, but the general population doesn’t know that, so they assume that the guy doing the talking is nuttier than a house made of peanuts.
To me, little green men mean something else entirely. Especially when you consider the way Jeff was acting. Which—I will admit—was more than a little bat freaking crazy.
No, I don’t go right for the alien option. I knew what Jeff saw, and I believed him. Jeff had him an encounter with a pack of goblins.
My first clue was Jeff’s state of mind. The cops said he was under the influence of some powerful hallucinogens, which in part is true. But he didn’t take them voluntarily. Goblins can excrete a chemical through their skin that will seriously alter a person’s state of mind if they come into contact with it. That’s what Jeff was on. That’s why I believed him.
So I listened patiently as he told me his tale.
The previous night Maggie had come to see him at the Quick Mart on the South side of town. Jeff worked the overnight shift and Maggie had stopped by with his lunch. It was well past midnight, there were no customers in the store, and the lot was fairly quiet as the two stood kissing out by Maggie’s car. That’s when the van pulled in. A lavender panel van with Missouri plates.
It pulled in alongside the couple, the back doors popped open, and seven little green men fell upon them. They took Maggie and left Jeff to deal with the chemicals that now coursed through his bloodstream.
Jeff ran. He couldn’t recall much of what had happened to him after that, apart from coming to in the back of a police cruiser, but I’d been told that the officer who brought him in had found him lying in a cornfield off of Highway 10. Apparently Jeff had just been sitting there in the corn screaming his head off and the farmer who worked the field could hear him all the way from the house.
In the state Jeff was in, I didn’t blame the cops too much for tossing him in a cell, but once I’d sat with him long enough for the chemicals to work their way through him, I’d told him I’d help.
I’d been released on my own recognizance an hour later and so I went to work.
Rumors had been going round recently about a pack of goblins living in Kansas City on the Missouri side. Word was that they had been hiring themselves out to anyone willing to pay their price, no job to big or small. So I kicked over a few stones and in less than two hours tracked Maggie to an abandoned warehouse owned by the Knossos Corporation in downtown KC, which brings us to the here and now.
Maggie was awake and crying. Whoever put her here would pay. No one would die, I didn’t just kill for killing’s sake, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t blow out a few knees here and there.
I pulled a switchblade from a coat pocket, popped the blade, and sawed at the ropes. There were four of them. One for each appendage. They went from ankle and wrist to four thick rings that had been set in the concrete around the four corners of the altar. The rings were dark and old. These guys had been at this for a while.
“Don’t worry, darlin’,” I said, as she watched me work, her eyes wide with fear. “The name’s Norman Oklahoma. Jeff sent me to fetch you; he was getting mighty worried about your wellbeing.”
“Jeff?” she said. “They told me they killed him.”
“He ain’t dead,” I said as the rope on her right wrist broke free. “But he may well wish he was if we can’t get you home to him in one piece. You know who took you? What they want?”
“No,” she said, sniffing. “They wore robes with hoods and I couldn’t see any faces. They didn’t say much. They just tied me up and said that their master would be with me soon and that I should feel honored or something.”
“Tell me, Maggie,” I said as I sawed at the rope on her other wrist. “What do you do for a living?”
I wasn’t really interested, but I wanted to keep her talking, keep her mind off of what was going on. She looked like she might panic at any moment and I couldn’t have that, not if I wanted to work fast.
“W-what?” she asked.
“What do you do for a living?” I said. “You work with Jeff at the Quick Mart?”
“No,” she said. “I’m in school.” The more she talked, the less her eyes reminded me of a cow being lead to the slaughter house.
“Oh yeah,” I said as the rope on her left wrist broke free. “School huh? What’re you studying?” I went to work on her left ankle.
“M-medicine,” she said. “I’m in medical school.”
“You must be one of them big brains then,” I said as the rope broke free.
She smiled and looked me over for the first time.
“Are you real?” she asked.
“I’m very real, darlin’,” I said. “And I’ll have you out of here in no time.”
“Why do you dress like that?”
I sighed. My fashion sense was often the topic of conversation whenever I’d meet someone new. I wasn’t angry, I mean I was used to it, but I’ve just never understood why a suit, tie, overcoat, and fedora were the objects of such scrutiny. True, I wore a Colt Peacemaker low on each hip, but in my line of work you come heeled or you don’t come at all.
“I happen to like the way I dress,” I said.
But our conversation ended there as one of the tall, rollup doors at the far end of the warehouse opened, squealing and screeching as it made the slow journey into the canister at the top of the opening.
I went to work on the last rope, sawing furiously.
“Hurry,” she said.
The rope broke free just as the door reached the top.
“Get behind me,” I said.
I cleared leather on the Peacemakers, thumbing back the hammers as I drew.
Maggie clung to my back. I could feel her shaking.
Over a dozen robed and hooded figures stepped into the warehouse. I counted fourteen in all. Were these just fourteen average guys, I’d only need one reload to take them all out. But these weren’t just fourteen average guys. Not the fella in front anyway, not based on his size. He towered over the other thirteen like Dorothy in Munchkinland.
He was at least eight feet tall and half as wide. The hood that covered the fella’s head was misshapen like the guy underneath wore one of those Viking helmets with the horns jutting out at each side.
But I knew he wasn’t wearing no helmet.
As the figures drew closer, the one in front removed his hood and let his robe fall to the floor.
“Norman Oklahoma,” the thing said.
It was all muscle and sinew. It dressed in simple sandals that laced up to the knees, a leather kilt studded with metal plates, and a belt that crisscrossed its massive chest. The thing’s skin was a dark red like leather. It had the body of a man, but the head of a bull.
“Howdy, Mike,” I said, and opened fire.