Happy New Year. This is the second diary I’ve started in the past two weeks. Since I’ve become a believer in vampires, I mean. My name is Robert Rush. I was Detective Rush, but my badge was suspended after I ignored protocol to investigate a vampire… and nearly got myself killed. I just got out of the hospital with a broken leg. If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to find that vampire… even if it’s just to let him finish the job.
This is the first Valentine’s Day I’ve had to spend alone since Diane died last year. I guess that’s one reason I let myself avoid protocol last Christmas. I knew I was going into a vampire’s home without backup, because I wanted to join her. Now I have a new purpose. I want to find that vampire and tell him why I did it. I want to know if immortality is worth it if you can’t have the one you love. I haven’t even been alive six months without Diane, and already I don’t think living to the age of 80 is worth it. But, I’ve still got time to change my mind, assuming there’s someone out there my age who’s willing to put up with my baggage. My partner Janet has always been there for me, but she’s got problems of her own.
She’s looking out for me now, too. She talked the chief into giving me an opportunity to earn my badge back. He gave her a serial case to work on, and it’s got everybody shaken up. No one can figure out the MO, or cause of death. A few witnesses say this guy basically evaporates his victims with something he wipes on the blade of a sword. Frankly, I didn’t believe it at first. But then I started putting together bits that I know. This guy only strikes at night, there’s always been little known about the victims, and the most recent victim was a wealthy guy named Warren Cushman… but on the scene, they found some gag business cards proclaiming Cushman as a “Vampire for Hire.” I haven’t told anyone, not even Janet, but I don’t think those business cards were a joke. I think Cushman, and all of this guy’s other victims, were vampires.
I don’t really have any reasoning behind this suspicion… just instinct. I have no idea how to kill a vampire, but there’s never any physical evidence left to examine, so what else could be the cause here? So I have a plan. It’s not a brilliant plan, but it’s something. I’m going to start talking like a vampire killed Diane. I know it was cancer, which isn’t exactly the same thing, but the killer doesn’t know that… unless it’s someone I know personally, and how likely would that be?
I found the guy. Or rather, he found me, after over a month of whispering to lowlifes that my wife was killed by a vampire. He matches eyewitness descriptions: scar down his face, glasses, a limp. He calls himself Van Helsing, which means I was right from the beginning that his victims are vampires.
I should have called Janet right away, or just made an arrest on my own… but something about the guy… he’s addictive. He’s like what you’d imagine Jim Jones or David Koresh were like, able to convince what might be average people into doing absolutely crazy things. He told me about Cushman, the vampire for hire. He had received an anonymous note. I asked if he still had it, and if so, if I could see it. I have a hunch. Again, no real reasoning behind this suspicion, just instinct. If it’s who I think it is, I’m going to ask this Van Helsing if he knows Nick Dasher… the vampire who almost killed me last Christmas. If he does… Hell, I don’t know what if. It might bring me a little closer to understanding him…Dasher, I mean. There’s got to be a reason why he killed armed robbers and called it justice, and why he steered a genuine vampire killer toward a man who made a living off of making more vampires. Is he one of the good guys? Of course, it won’t be easy convincing Van Helsing that. He’s convinced they’re all evil. But why did Dasher let me live, if he’s so evil? There’s got to be more to vampires than Van Helsing gives them credit…
It’s him. Dasher. Finally!
Van Helsing was suspicious about my asking to see that note, and he disappeared for a week or two. I was worried my opportunity may have slipped from my hands. Not just my opportunity to find this vampire, but also to get my badge back. I can’t keep lying to Janet. Van Helsing hasn’t claimed any more vampire victims since he and I met, so I can’t really turn him in yet. He says he’s got a lead on the granddaddy of vampires, as he calls him, but when I ask for clues, he stays hush-hush. It’s really aggravating.
But he brought by the note and I matched the handwriting to Nick Dasher’s job application as the mall Santa. It’s perfect. So, I asked Van Helsing if he knew anything about a vampire Santa Claus and he became real suspicious. He told me about several run-ins he’d had with this vampire who claims to be generous and the actual Santa Claus who gives to children every Christmas. One of the victims, Richard Warner, was in Dasher’s company at the time of his death. That was just the confession I needed to arrest him, and it tied the man to the very vampire I’m curious about…
But I didn’t arrest him. It’s too soon. I’ve got to see it happen. I’ve got to know for certain how to kill a vampire. If I meet up with Dasher again and he feels he must kill me, I need to know I stand some sort of a chance. Diane wouldn’t want me to die a victim of my own morbid curiosity if I know for certain it can be avoided. But, she always did call me stubborn.
The next time I see him, I’m going to ask if I can go along to one of his executions. He swears he’s close to this“granddaddy,” and that’s when it’s going to happen. I’ll know. And I’ll have my badge back. It’ll feel good to be Detective Rush again instead of just Rob Rush.
Tonight’s the night. I’m going hunting with Van Helsing. He said the vampire feeds at the hospitals, and that his feeding pattern suggests which hospital he’ll be at tonight. I’ve called Janet and filled her in that the serial killer plans to kill again tonight, and that I would be undercover, waiting to make the collar. I just hope everything goes according to plan.
That was the most disturbing thing I have ever seen. I got my badge back, but… was it worth the sleepless night?
He tortured this vampire. Van Hesling, I mean. He poured holy water on various points of his body and asked about Nick Dasher. I think he did it just because I was there. This vampire revealed that he and Nick Dasher were just two of many vampires who claimed special identities. He was Death, the Grim Reaper. He would feed at the hospitals to grant wishes. Nick Dasher also grants wishes, as Santa Claus, and another vampire in Atlanta does the same at Easter. Ernest Bronson is his name. The Reaper told us that they’re friends who mean no harm to decent people. He said the same of himself, but Van Helsing didn’t believe it. He unsheathed his silver sword. Oh, it’s a magnificent sword. He removed the Reaper’s head with it, which reduced the body to smoke. And that’s when I pulled my gun and told him he was under arrest for murder. He thought I was joking at first… and then he called me Dasher’s mortal slave and came at me with the sword. I had to pop him in the shoulder to slow him down; then I disarmed him and put the cuffs on. By this time, Janet and a few other cops were in the room. They heard the whole thing. And I played dumb. I told my partner the man was bat-shit, and that there is no such thing as vampires.
While Van Helsing thrashed against the officers trying to get him out of the room, I slid his sword under the table with my foot. I left it out of my report, saying he killed his victims with a homemade acidic compound. I was referring of course to the bottle of holy water he had with him. Upon testing it, the lab boys won’t find any acid in it, but it gave some sort of validity to my claims.
I walked out with Janet and told her to go to the station without me, that I wanted to stay behind and make my peace with the victim I was too late to save. Like I said, she has problems of her own with things such as guilt, so she did as I asked… and I put the sword in the trunk of my car.
Now that I’m officially back on duty, I have to wait a little while for a vacation break, but then I’m going to pay a visit on Mr. Ernest Bronson. If he’s the Easter Bunny, I don’t think he’ll be much of a threat, but I’ll have that massive weapon in my possession just in case.
I just did get out of there with my life. I told Bronson that Abraham Van Helsing was locked up in a lunatic asylum, so that his kind was safe… but he looked inside me and saw how that came to be. He told me that since the Reaper introduced him to Dasher, he was irate that I was there at his execution and didn’t save him. I tried to explain to him that it was necessary to sacrifice him to make the arrest, but I couldn’t breathe with his hand around my throat. Fortunately, he read my mind and let me go. Then he asked why I’d come. I told him… he did not appreciate my reasoning.
He said, “Let me get this straight…you want me to tell you where Nick is… just so you can talk to him? Need I remind you that you are the reason he had to leave Georgia in the first place? He gave up an identity he liked because you tried to arrest him. He put you in the hospital so he could get away. And you want to put your life at risk for a conversation? Again?”
I said, “I need to know if it was worth it.”
He said, “Why not just ask me? I can relay the message.”
I told him, “He broke my leg. He owes me.”
Bronson laughed at me. “Vampires don’t owe people shit… except maybe a bite on the throat.” Then he reconsidered. “But you strike me as a man of sincerity. You put Van Helsing away, even at the cost of helping him kill Death, so as far as I’m concerned, you have some sort of unhealthy obsession. Nick ought to love you. Or, at least thank you for getting Van Helsing out of our hair.”
“Right,” I said, “because if I hadn’t arrested him, he would’ve come here next, and the circumstances wouldn’t be nearly as pleasant as these.”
He said, “What makes you think I consider this pleasant?” Without pausing for an answer, he sighed and said,“Fine, I’ll tell you. He hasn’t settled yet. He’s living as a drifter, but he sent me a letter saying he’s going to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey because of rumors of a vampire masquerading as the Jersey Devil. But, if you find him, I need to know you won’t tell him I told you where to find him.”
I said, “You got it.”
He then shook my hand and said, “Good luck,” then pointed at the door. It’s a long drive to New Jersey, and there’s a chance that he’s gone by now… but I can’t take that sword aboard a plane.
It’s over. With help from an unlikely ally, he’s dead. Allow me to explain.
I got to the Pine Barrens last week, a week after sending you the letter. I looked around the area that the massacred remains were found in, and I could smell the other vampire. It was a smell I recognized. It was a smell that lingered on my own body after the death of Arthur Tennyson. I smelled the monster that robbed me of my mortal life with Marie and my son, Robert.
I found it perched in a tree. Or, rather, it was perched in a tree when it saw me. It descended upon me and attacked. We fought viciously, and I must admit that it was the first time I’d physically fought a vampire this strong since Vietnam. Woden was the closest thing to practice I’ve had in 30 years, and he was a pushover. But this thing? I was no match for it.
It forced me on my knees and said,“Arthur Tennyson. It has been a long time since I first tasted your blood. Are you still lonely for your bride, buried alive with you in earshot? I’m sure you were a most pathetic sight that day.”
It began to partially vaporize and enter my nostrils. I was too weak from the fight to vaporize myself, and I began to choke as he filled my lungs… and then I heard a voice call Nick Dasher’s name.
Detective Rush, the cop who forced my change of identity last year, was now my savior. My would-be exterminator was distracted, what with being partially inside me… and Rush beheaded it. The smoke in my lungs turned to blood, which I promptly vomited. I looked up… and saw in the detective’s hands the sword that had murdered Rich Warner. But I was too weak to make a detailed inquiry. Instead, I asked, “How long were you standing there?”
Rush said, “Only long enough to figure out that he turned you into a vampire… and separated you from your wife. I’m sorry. I lost my wife to cancer last year.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle. I said,“Last year? My wife’s been dead for over two hundred years.”
He asked, “And it still hurts, doesn’t it?”
I told him, “I saw her at the beginning of the decade. At least, someone I believe to be her. If you wait long enough, Detective, you find your love again.”
He said, “I can’t wait two hundred years for another Diane.”
And I said, “Then don’t. There’s a song that says, ‘If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.’ If you know your years are numbered, make the most of them. You might as well, because I don’t plan on turning you into a vampire.”
I saw something on his face… I’m not sure what it was. I think it was satisfaction.
Then I remembered he was still holding Van Helsing’s sword. I asked him, “Are you going to kill me now, too?”
He said, “No. We’re even.”
I told him, “You’re wrong. You saved my life, so I owe you.”
“You owed me for breaking my leg, but you just gave me what I wanted, so forget it,” he said. “We’re even.”
I asked, “How did you get that sword, anyway?”
He said, “I locked a madman up… and said I didn’t believe in vampires.”
“Is it safe to assume it’s in safer hands?”
He nodded. “I’ll hold onto it for safe keeping. I hate to say it, but you did break my leg. I’m not ready to fully trust you. No offense.”
I chuckled weakly. “None taken.”
He began walking backward and said,“If you’ll excuse me, I have to get back on the road. My partner wants me at her house for Christmas. We spent my first Christmas without Diane together, and I think she wants to make a tradition out of it.”
I nodded and raised my hand in farewell.“Merry Christmas, Detective.”
He smirked. “I never thought I’d find myself saying it to a vampire, but… merry Christmas.”
And then he left.
By the way, you scoundrel, I was able to figure out that you told him where to find me. Fortunately, even though he doesn’t trust me, I trust him. It’s nice to know there’s an antithesis to Van Helsing out there. And now I must start preparing for my journey. I shall visit you soon.
Chris, or as you know me, Nick
It’s over. Marie, Robert, and Arthur Tennyson have been avenged… and yet, strangely, I don’t feel relief. It’s… an empty feeling. Is it possible that the monster changed me by entering my body, or is that just what it’s like to gain no satisfaction through vengeance? It feels like bitterness. As if I wanted that thing to kill me. But talking to Detective Rush reminded me that my love is out there somewhere… Maybe that’s why I feel so empty. I know we’re not together in this world, and it’s tearing me apart. But, thanks to the detective, I still have a mind and body to be torn apart. But how exactly does one go about celebrating that?
It went better than anticipated. And…I got what I wanted. I decided not to wait around to see Diane again. I bought a ring for Janet and asked her to marry me. I may have to give up the badge to make it work, but I’m willing to do that. After all, I had plenty of time without the badge this year, I think I might be able to pull it off. Ironic that I have a vampire to thank for this merry Christmas. I think Diane would smile and tell me God works in strange ways. Through a vampire Santa Claus? Yeah… that’s strange, alright.
Well, I certainly don’t think the“Legendary Vampire League” as Ernest calls it can throw me any more curveballs. The League includes a vampire Santa Claus and Easter Bunny, plus Woden the Holly King… and up until last year, Death and the Jersey Devil. (I’m still a little miffed at Detective Rush for letting Jerry Tolbin kill Death, but that psychopath is locked away now, so I guess I should be thankful.)
Anyway, so that’s five legendary vampires there, and I just bumped into an entirely different kind: the abominable snow man. But no one’s going to see him in the future.
Ernest, Judy, Terry, and I took a skiing trip to Big Bear last week to celebrate Christmas before I had to get busy preparing for my trip tonight. It was also my first official Christmas as Chris Vixen in the real world. Last year, Vixen was a drifter. This year, he worked at the Salvation Army thrift store. Several of them, in fact. In November, I was given a bell and a Santa hat and was permitted to stand in front of a grocery store again.
It was beautiful on top of the mountain, by the way. You would think that skiing at night would be dangerous, but because of our gifted sight and the stark white of the snowy hilltop, we could see perfectly. We fed on four visiting college students on vacation… they had been drinking a lot, so we got a buzz from their blood. We stood beside the college crew’s Jeep, enjoying the moonlight… and the blood. The kids had brought along some fast food and a bottle of vodka, and even though we don’t have much use for it, Terry decided to eat a cheeseburger. He’s a man of simple tastes.
Judy was the first one to see it. Or, him. Whatever.
She called out, “Hey, did someone throw up some blood over here?”
We looked in her direction, but no one had been over there, so we told her it hadn’t been us. Being Judy, of course, this only made her more curious.
“It looks like… pink ice,” she said, as she reached down to touch it.
Always the father figure, I said, “Judy, don’t touch that, it’s probably diseased—”
And then it turned into a hand. A frosty, pink hand in the snow. It grabbed her ankle and, being Judy, she screamed. I was a bit mad at Ernest for not having better schooled his fledgling vamp girlfriend.
Ernest flew toward the hand and kicked it, only to have an identical hand grab his foot. It now had both of them in an icy grip.
Terry approached it a bit more apprehensively. His eyes on me, he walked toward them and said, “Are you seeing this, Vix? Or am I just high?”
I sighed. “You’re not just high, Terry. And don’t call me Vix.” I flew above the scene and peered down.
Suddenly there was a burst of snow and a strange and enormous creature stood there, holding Ernest and Judy upside-down by their feet. I said, “And just who the hell do you think you are?”Even its laugh was cold. “I have no name,” it said.
Ernest, upside-down, said, “Alright, how’s if we call you Frosty and you thank us for the name by putting us down?” I heard the crunching of bone as its frosty hands hardened into ice, crushing my friends’ feetJudy screamed, while Ernest simply hissed… trying to conceal his pain.
It then said, “I was once a vampire like you. I vaporized in a freezer to escape a vampire slayer calling himself Van Helsing. I could not escape, and this happened.”
Terry looked at me. “I thought you said that guy was locked up, Vix?”
“Something tells me this guy became a snowman more than a year ago, Terry,” I said.
It dropped Ernest and Judy and lashed out at me and Terry. It then hissed, “Three years! I can now only feed by tricking fools into touching the ‘pink ice.’”
Incredulously, Judy looked at Ernest and said, “Did he just call me a fool?”
Terry nodded. “I think he did, girl.”
She snapped her ankle back into place, then stood up and flexed her foot. She then flew full-force into the creature’s midsection, which did about as much good as a kick to the wind’s crotch. She came out of the other side, covered in frost. It laughed and swatted her down. Ernest’s low-blow proved equally ineffective, and he was soon knocked aside as well. Terry looked at me and I said, “Distract him while I get a lighter and that college crew’s bottle of vodka.”
Terry said, “Distract him? How?”
I shrugged. “Use your head.”
Terry head-butted the snow man’s knee; to achieve what end, I’m not sure. I guess that was his way of being ironic… and obedient at the same time. He was distracting the snow man.
I grabbed some napkins from the burger bag and made a Molotov cocktail. Then I paused to wonder where that would lead me. I looked back in the creature’s direction and saw Terry, Judy, and Ernest repeatedly attacking it and repeatedly being knocked senseless. Suddenly, an idea occurred to me. I pulled the vinyl top off of the Jeep so that it would have something to fall into. This accomplished, I hollered,“Guys, bring him over here.”
My friends were barely able to stand at this point, and the snow man welcomed a challenge. It said, “You think you can stop me? You and your friends are pathetic.”
“I think you’re just jealous that we can blend in. Did you even have a home when Van Helsing trapped you in the ice?”
It roared and flew toward me at a frightening pace. I lit the napkin and jumped above the snow man’s rampage, then dropped the Molotov cocktail. The explosion threw me from the Jeep, and I had to quickly regain my senses. The snow man screamed as it melted into water in the back of the Jeep, which had also caught fire.
Ernest, Judy, and Terry rallied around the burning Jeep, Ernest asking, “Now what, genius? We can’t let him become solid again.”
And I remembered that at the very core of this creature, it was a vampire. It had vampires’ weaknesses. And it was quickly dissipating into water, mingling with alcohol.
Water, I thought. No, it couldn’t possiblywork.
Terry stammered, “Uh, Vix, he’s moving.”
The snow man roared its outrage, and then somewhere out of the past, I heard a voice from my past say, “Dear Lord, I, Your servant Arthur Tennyson, ask that you bless this water to be used in your service. In the name of Christ the Savior, I say Amen.”
The scream was blood-curdling and extremely disturbing. I imagine that being turned into Holy Water is the most horrible experience to be had by a vampire, but that thing had it coming… I guess. At the very least, I put it out of its misery. Unless there’s an even worse eternity waiting for us vampires, a possibility I never considered until now.
Once the screaming stopped, there was an uncomfortable silence. Terry and Ernest were speechless. Judy said, “Arthur Tennyson? The Lord’s servant? What the hell was that all about, Chris?”
I let out a shaky breath. “It worked, didn’t it,” I said.
We parted ways after that. I wished them a merry Christmas and said I had a lot of work to do. I ignore Ernest’s calls. Terry left me a voicemail, but I haven’t listened to it. Neither one of them has anything to say to me that I want to hear.
The entire episode… paired with what happened last Christmas… I don’t know who (or what) I am anymore. Vengeance over what Arthur Tennyson lost hasn’t helped, and the Holy Water incident made it apparent that he’s still inside me, somewhere. And God was listening to him. But why?
Is it because of my choice to be Santa Claus? Is it because I kill the bad vampires? Is it because of who I was when I was turned? What the hell is it? It’s driving me insane. I sure wish I were smart enough to put the pieces together.Until I figure it out, I should carry on business as usual. Which means… it’s time for me to make my rounds. Merry Christmas.