"Oh – oh, Auntie Phee!" Snail came running into my herb room with the little white duck hot on his heels. "That witch Sabine has lured another man into the Magic and we think he – he might be a Vampire!"
Oh my, thought I, darn that witch Sabine, she was always causing trouble around Halloween. And just when I was trying to send Bottom back into the play, A Midsummer Night's Dream.
"What makes you think he's a Vampire?" I asked Snail, almost afraid to hear some horrible gory story.
"He did. Well, not exactly. He yelled – 'You fools, can't you see I am starving here?' – "But, we couldn't tell, he was just a kind of shadowy scary blur moving around us."
I could see that Snail was being mostly sincere and was more than a bit scared. "Where was this?" I asked.
"We are setting up canopies on Sylvain's field for the Halloween Faire and he started tipping over tables and pulling down tents and yelling that he couldn't drink our blood." Snail got the strangest expression on his face, I didn't know if he was going to laugh or cry, "The Vampire said our blood would poison him!"
I turned quickly away from Snail so he wouldn't see the smile that crept onto my lips. Imagine – a – Vampire believing in a bit of packaged Fairy Myth. If he only knew the real truth. "So," I prompted Snail, "What happened then?"
"He just sort of went raving mad and grabbed our jelly donuts and started sucking the centers out of them!" Snail looked up at me with little squinchy eyes, "All of our jelly donuts!"
I took a good deep breath to keep from laughing and patted Snail gently on the head. The image of a ravenous Vampire caught in our particular magical dimension, trying to satisfy his blood lust by sucking jelly donuts was just too bizarre to take seriously. But I was still concerned, a Vampire may not be able to drink our blood (for reasons he didn't understand), but he could still kill many bright hopes along his path.
"It seems, my dear Snail, that we are in need of a Slayer!" and I knew just the person to call to help us out.
Many of you will recall the story of the unusual and brilliant person Victoria Cornelia Bristlecone (see
Mermaid story for more details). Since VC's unfortunate encounter with a real mermaid and subsequent dismissal and disappearance from the Sedgewick Skeptics Society she has slowly been gaining a reputation through a group calling themselves, Steampunk Ghostbusters and The League of STEAM (Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management). Her specialty in the group is chasing down Vampires. I found her networking on Facebook and left a message describing our problem and how to access our Twilafar Village.
Within hours VC was at my cottage door with her team of Vampire slayers loaded down with all kinds of strange paraphernalia.
Tea was moved to the garden as curiosity drew everyone to see and hear what was going on. VC in person is quite as austere as her description with the rather large Roman nose, small penetrating eyes and pinched mouth that seemed incapable of an actual smile. Her slender muscular build clinked invitingly with tools hidden under a large duster coat. I believe the sounds comforted or possibly poked her uncomfortably as she moved often and abruptly, patting herself firmly in different locations. Then again, one of her team might have been something small and alive that she kept on her person, it was hard to say.
The man and woman with her were mostly silent except to show off their various vials of magical potions, silver stakes, knives, silver bullets, Holy water, hand blasters, and their most unique new bot equipment, a Crystal Lattice Array Weapons System, or CLAWS for short, a handsome piece of technology fashioned with the supremely good taste of times past and certainly the best manners. Snail was quite taken by CLAWS and I noticed an unusual gleam in his eye which I completely forgot about until later.
Due to our colorful and over active imaginations the stories of the Vampire had reached epic proportions by the time VC arrived. He was tall as a tent, lean as a pole, fat as a purple horse, broad and ugly as a troll, green, black and slate blue and twice seen as a large bat flying over the community kitchen. About the only thing everyone could agree on was that he had glowing red eyes and had sucked the centers out of every one of the jelly donuts.
VC listened nodding her head and then stood up, rather clumsily clinking and announced, "What we have here gentle folk is what is called a Sugar Vampire!"
There was a general collective and dramatic gasp and a whispered question,.."Sugar Vampire? What is a Sugar Vampire?"
VC squinted her left eye, something I thought might be a slight nervous tic and said, "A Sugar Vampire is a Vampire who has become addicted to and whose primary victims are, humans who eat too many sweets!"
Well then, there was a sigh of relief since of course none of us is human but VC put up one long bony finger and added, "However, when deprived of this particular sugar rich blood source these Vampires can become…insane and given the right circumstances commit chilling crimes, possibly killing anyone who gets in their way."
This caused a general cry of dismay and VC paused dramatically before continuing, "But to give you a slight reassurance these Vampires will make every effort to handle their er – ah – afflictions by sucking up any and all available presweetened goods which seems to include your homemade jelly donuts."
Again there was a general rumble of disquiet and dismay and outright fear. Some of the more sensitive of us were all ready backing away and would probably be in hiding within the hour. Again VC quieted the emotional outbreak and in the most stern voice added, "I recommend that all of you begin carrying upon your person in plain sight, candy, preferably red candy, which does nothing to satisfy the Vampire's bloodlust but will temporarily pacify the sugar addiction. Now off with you, leave the dreadful confrontation to those of us with the knowledge and expertise!" She sniffed loudly, throwing her head back in a haughty gesture and clunked down in her seat seeming strangely exhausted and a tad confused by this meeting.
With another bracing cup of tea VC formally introduced her associates. Aside from CLAWS who had displayed the very best metaskills by immediately introducing himself to me, there was a phantom eradication handler named Frost and a search out and seize system named Blood Drop. Obviously VC was not traveling with humans either.
After tea I led the group to a large barn that was perfect for their headquarters as it had been converted into a workshop and living quarters for Bottom while he stayed with us. Since he was on a field trip at the time to try and locate the Perpetual Reenactment of A Midsummer Night's Dream I felt it was safe to house this odd assortment of what seemed, semi-dangerous characters, for what I hoped would be a very short stay. Then I retired to my cottage feeling concerned about whether hiring VC had been a good decision or not. Shouldn't I have been able to handle this matter on my own?
I would have loved to have gotten my hands on that witch Sabine Celedon for opening a way for this Vampire to invade our safe haven, but she would be long gone by now, cackling and clicking her heels in glee. Someday I would catch her.
The next day was Halloween Eve and there was no sign of the Vampire or VC and her crew so we assumed they were all sleeping the daylight hours away. Snail, Nessa, Wee Willy, and the duck wanted to make costumes so we spent a quiet enjoyable day making costumes, carving pumpkins and making my favorite sweet, candied apples. We were going to have a Halloween in spite of Vampires and Slayers, if I had anything to say about it…and I did.
When we finished the costumes and the candied apples cooled on the window sill it was getting dark outside. The children had agreed to be my spies and reporters on all the activity that might happen later on in the night. It was going to be a dark night, no moon and possibly a scary night but we had gone through many adventures together and had great trust of our abilities as a team. I again wondered why I had been so brash as to hire VC Bristlecone.
Once the children were on their way, loaded down with Treats for the Vampire, night vision goggles, and our special two way communicators I settled down for a cup of double minty tumbling tummy tea and took a contented sip. Before I had time to swallow there was a timid knock at the door which I hesitated a moment to answer. Who could that be? Again, a gentle knock and I sighed, of course I must answer it, so why was I feeling so nervous? I opened the door just a crack holding my wand in front of me and was surprised to see a rather tallish girl standing there crying into an oversized handkerchief. She also appeared to be a peculiar shade of green.
"Oh, my dear girl!" I cried pulling her more or less gently through the door jam, "What has happened to you?" She mumbled something behind the handkerchief and sniffed loudly.
"Yes dear, what did you say?" I asked trying to move the handkerchief aside so that I could see her face. "What is it? Who are you" What has happened? Why are you here?" Questions spilled out of my mouth as fluid as her tears and I finally took a breath while she sniffed, snorted, hiccoughed and blew.
When she could finally breathe she blurted out, "My father is not a Vampire!"
Oh. Well. For a moment all I could do was stare at her in confusion. "All right dear, I believe you," I said gently and guided her toward the kitchen table. "And who are you and who is your father?"
A large gulping sob escaped her, "Willamette. My name is Willamette Shoppenhauser. My father – sniff – is Professor Thomas Shoppenhauser, Curator of Antiquities at the Museum of Contemporary Wunderkammer. He is here somewhere - lost in your strange – ah – cyberspace place…sniff – sniff – sniff!"
I suddenly realized that Willamette was talking about the Sugar Vampire who was the source of our current problem. "Are you sure dear? This seems to be a real Vampire we have here. He is doing all the Vampire things, marauding, stealing, frightening children, eating the centers out of our jelly donuts and all the other Halloween treats he can get his fangs around."
Willamette stopped sniffing and looked at me as if I was a little weird. "That doesn't sound like a Vampire to me." She said quietly looking behind her, "Vampires suck people's blood and turn them into Vampires."
Now that I thought about it, it did seem very weird, "But I've had it on the best authority!" I blurted out defensively. "I think you have made a mistake."
"No –No! The mistake is yours," she countered standing up, suddenly very much in command of herself. My father is not a Vampire! He just likes to dress up and go to parties and to Comicon. He likes to pretend he is a Vampire but he would never hurt anyone. He is really a very nice man!"
"Possibly my dear, your father is suffering some sort of delusional episode right now for he seems to truly believe he is a Vampire and to be honest so do all the people who are chasing him about!"
Willamette began to cry in earnest then and I was feeling more confused than ever. If VC's people did catch up with this Vampire and he proved to be the human Professor Shoppenhauser and they staked him or shot him with a silver bullet…."Oh My!" I cried out loud, "This could prove to be a disaster!" And then in the middle of my lament I happened to notice that Willamette had wings, not smart well groomed wings but wings that looked like she had slept in them. They were also green, like her skin and – er – looking down, like her left foot which was shaped like a large frog foot... "Willamette! What has happened to you?"
She gave me a wide eyed innocent look and said, "Have you been out there tonight, in that forest?" No, I hadn't gone out and come to think on it no one had communicated with me either.
"When I couldn't find my father yesterday I went looking for him and found a map and a note at the museum hidden in an ancient artifact that he was studying. The map was directions to this – to your – a – strange village called, Twilifar. The note just said, "End Corner East, in the Blue Cupboard, Under the Water Pipe, Tap Three Times." So I just Googled, and there it was, a place to come in, under the water pipe but then – oh – what a mess! First I came up from the bottom of a pond and when I crawled out there was some kind of wild party going on and everyone was yelling at everyone else. There was fairies, zombies, witches, women dressed in nightgowns and fancy Victorian clothes and all these little people throwing cupcakes and jelly donuts at each other! SNIFF! And then this one woman in a long coat and goggles starts yelling 'GHOST' – 'GHOST!' and waving a wand and pointing it at a man with a Donkey's head who was chasing a metal dragon with a little elf sitting on its neck, waving a flower" ...Willamette paused and took a breath, "and then the Donkey ducked…the next thing I knew…" Willamette gave a wail…"Zap! I was turning into a frog!"
She collapsed against the table, sobbing bitterly. I ran to the window and threw back the curtains. Sure enough the entire forest was alive with activity. Apparently a troupe of actors of the Perpetual Performance of A Midsummer Nights Dream, had been invaded by Vampire Slayers!
Suddenly there was a terrifying crash and the door burst open, bodies spilling in crying my name, "Auntie Phee – Auntie Phee! It's like a war or something!" Wee Willy threw his arms around my legs while duck quacked and sent feathers flying. My, I had to admire his costume though!
Of the reports that were suddenly coming in from everywhere only one was about the Vampire. It seems that the Steampunkers had gotten sidetracked by the scenery and Victorian costumes and were out chasing what they thought were ghosts. The only sighting of the Vampire was by Honeybell Sprot who having made a fresh batch of jelly filled donuts had sneaked them onto the judge's tent on Sylvain's field. The Vampire had run in behind her, grabbed the jelly donuts and on his way out, a bottle of Tildy Willowink's best homemade ketchup and from all further reports he turned into a bat and flew away. No one could actually say they saw him turn into a bat, they just assumed it when he suddenly disappeared. As it turned out, the Vampire had fallen in a hole behind the tent and sated with sweets had fallen fast asleep and missed all the fun.
Someone did get captured that night though and I was thrilled to hear about. Sabine Celedon had snuck back in to gloat and got caught in the melee. VC had grabbed Sabine's wand and accidentally morphed Willamette with it before she could stop Sabine. CLAWS, with Snail riding on his neck had swooped down and sucked Sabine up into an eternal containment unit, and taken her to UPS to deliver to a newly formed storage facility in Transylvania. Well, at least she will be in good company of her own worst kind!
As for VC, the last I heard from her was that very distinct voice yelling across the forest and field, "Phee McFaddell, This is the craziest place I have ever been!"
VC had quickly moved out of the barn and disappeared after suffering the indignities dramatically heaped on her by a very insulted troupe of Shakespearean actors. We had tried at the time, in the midst of our sincere apologies, to reintroduce Bottom into their troupe but they simply wouldn't have it, saying that the actor they hired to play the part is doing very well and they preferred the donkey's head created by their costume department to Bottom's.
Bottom has moved back into the barn and is now in a fine sulk. This problem we will have to work out later when we can cross back through the ring of time and find the first performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
A wizard named, Zefflebaun flew in to inform us that VC, Frost, and Blood Drop were seen boarding a container ship shadowing a rather large coffin shaped box bound for the Panama Canal. CLAWS was not with them and Snail, who became great friends with CLAWS, told us he is actually an independent and wealthy contractor having inherited the entire fortune of his inventor and creator who died in a freak accident involving a mechanized and as yet un programmed sculpture that cut off his air supply. CLAWS has promised Snail a return visit anytime to help with problems that might arise from the arrival of unwelcome guests. Meanwhile he will be on vacation on his own little island.
It took me a spell or two to sort out the emotional confusion and restore calm to our village and then undo the morph on poor Willamette's green skin and frog foot. Since her father is suffering from the after effects of the Vampire spell and a severe imbalance from all the sweets he has eaten, they both are going to spend several weeks with us recovering.
I, of course, am in double dutch with the Commission for the Furtherance of the Perpetual Performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream for disrupting a performance and will have to go before the board with explanations and more sincere apologies.
You are probably wondering about poor Willamette's wings. They are real, since her mother was an artifact from an ancient prepictish tribe, who was revived for a short time by a drop of blood from a vial tied around the neck of a desiccated crow with a frayed woven ribbon. We thought it was all very romantic and were only saddened to find that she only lived a year and a day afterward. Willamette's wings have not steamed out properly but she has told us she really couldn't fly all that well anyway and she would rather have limp wings than a frog foot. Sweet forgiving girl!
You can make a satchel of your own and many other projects by using an art form called Assemblage Art. This means gathering together a large assortment of items, old or new that seem to follow a certain theme. In this case it would be Vampire Slaying Equipment. The 'satchel' can be made out of a box with a lid, an old carrying case, or simply a cheap frame with a backing. You can paint or decoupage the outside or glue leaves and dirt on it. The inside is where the fun begins.
You will probably find things around the house, and you can also try to go on some adventures to junk shops (I think they are called antique shops now), Halloween shops, or the 99 cent store or out in nature to find serendipity surprises, always thinking about what you would need to fight a Vampire.
Parents: Please help your children with the creation of a vampire slayer costume. All the 'tools' such as the daggers and stakes should be made of soft materials such as heavy cardboard, foamcore, styrofoam, or molded plastic products purchased from a craft or Halloween store. All these tools can be painted and the child should be encouraged to remember that the use of these tools, even if they are make believe, should be done with thoughtfulness for all other living beings. The idea is to use the imagination and have fun.