Just for the hell of it I wrote a vampire story. Go figure.
From 1970 through the end of1985, I considered myself the world’s greatest authority on vampire activity. Although few will ever admit to my expertise, I personally encountered thousands upon thousands of the blood thirsty bastards. But by 1986, my involvement with the hellacious creatures came to an abrupt end. The entire population of Satan’s spawn just disappeared without a trace. I bet you’re all wondering why. Well, just put your feet up for a few minutes and I’ll tell you what happened.
In the late 1600’s, a man named Gort VonBertruden took up residence in the German Alps, not far from the tiny village of Hamlisch. VonBertruden was a known Satanist who cast a shadow of fear over the town’s people. Tales of cannibalistic rituals held at his castle, and the reported sightings of shape-shifting demons ran amok throughout the village. At one point the mayor wanted to form a lynch mob to hunt down and hang VonBertruden, but he couldn’t get anyone to volunteer. In the end, the people’s fear of Satan kept them at bay.
One night in 1710, the light in VonBertruden’s castle went out and it never came on again. Assuming that the evil man had probably died, the mayor of Hamlisch was finally able to talk the townspeople into storming the castle. A mob was formed, and one night, three weeks later, the riotous group marched into the mountains and invaded the dark fortress. What they found was shocking. The castle was empty. No furnishings, no food, and most astonishing, not a trace of Gort VonBertruden. The only item they discovered was a leather-bound, handwritten book. Unfortunately, it was written in an unknown language that couldn’t be deciphered at that time.
For years after VonBertruden’s disappearance, widespread tales of people being attacked by blood thirsty humans were reported. By 1800 the stories had become so numerous that a British scientist named Sebastian Claufield decided to investigate the phenomenon. Claufield eventually determined that a secret society of evil beings existed in the world. He theorized that they were not a hundred percent human, and that they needed to drink blood in order to survive. While stories about rogue vampires had been around for thousands of years, this marked the first time that an actual scientist had made such a claim. He was deemed insane by the intellectual community.
Sebastian Claufield devoted his entire life to proving his theories. In all of his countless hours of investigation, the one name that constantly came up was that of Gort VonBertruden. In 1822, Claufield received permission from the German Historical Society to examine VonBertruden’s mysterious book. For the next seven years, until his death, the obsessed scientist attempted to decipher the unknown text. He was unsuccessful.
In 1850, Carl Claufield, following in his father’s footsteps, finally cracked the coded pages of VonBertruden’s journal. According to the text, Gort VonBertruden claimed that he was sent to earth by the forces of hell to create an army of the dead. From his roots an evil family tree would develop, nursing itself on the warm blood of innocent human beings. In the end, when the number of the undead rivaled that of the living, Satan would make his final stand against the Kingdom of Heaven.
By 1860, Carl Claufield became so obsessed with VonBertruden’s book that it drove him mad. He was eventually committed to an asylum, where he died a few years later with his family at his bedside.
Skipping ahead a few generations, I can now tell you about myself. My name is Howard Claufield. Although I’m not a scientist, I spent most of my life trying to prove to the world that my relatives were not a bunch of lunatics. In 1969 I took a trip to Germany, determined to learn what had become of Gort VonBertruden. Let’s just say I got more than I bargained for on the journey.
When I arrived in Hamlisch, I found that the ruins of VonBertruden’s castle were only accessible by foot. So I stuffed a backpack with supplies, and I hoofed it up the mountain. When I arrived there it was midday. The walls of the castle had been desecrated by World War Two bombings and brightly painted graffiti, which included 666 markings and other satanic symbols. I explored the ruins for hours, hoping to find some lost clue regarding the disappearance of VonBertruden. I found nothing.
As the sun set, I decided to set up camp in the castle. Walking down the mountain at night was not an option. I unloaded my pack, and then I gathered up some dried wood and built a small camp fire. I must tell you, when the sun sank below the horizon, the old castle became quite an eerie place. I huddled up to my fire, jumping at every little noise that emanated from the darkness. Yes, I was terrified. By midnight I was kicking myself in the ass for not having left earlier that day.
Sometime around two in the morning I heard a shuffling sound coming from the castle floor. It got louder and louder, but all I could do was stare into the shadows and wait to see what emerged. I had no idea what sort of wildlife inhabited the German Alps. My instincts told me that within moments I was going to be face to face with some species of bear. Terrified, I slid my body around to the other side of the fire, hoping to use the flames as a barrier between myself and the unseen predator. At that moment the creature emerged from the darkness. It wasn’t a bear at all. It was a man. And judging by the paintings that my family had been studying for decades, I knew who it was right away.
“VonBertruden?” I asked with a tremble in my voice.
“Why does your family search for me?” he replied in a deep tone, staring at me through the burning embers.
“Because you’re life is a mystery. It’s human nature to try and solve history’s puzzles.” I couldn’t believe I was actually talking to a man who had supposedly been dead for centuries.
VonBertruden was a tall man with dark black hair and a thick German accent. The whites of his eyes glowed orange, but I wasn’t sure if it just the reflection of the fire or something far more sinister. Needless to say, I was intimidated by the man, or ghost, or whatever he was.
“Then I shall give you that which you desire.”
In the blink of an eye VonBertruden disappeared from his side of the fire. I knew in that instant that he had taken up a position behind me. I quickly turned around and looked into his eyes. They were still glowing orange, but this time my body was blocking the reflection of the flames. I wanted to run away. I wanted to scream. I couldn’t do either. Whether it was caused by my fear, or by VonBertruden’s devilish magic, I found my legs to be paralyzed.
“For years your family has been hounding for me. What did you plan to do if you found me? Were you going to kill me?” he asked.
I focused on the evil man’s teeth as he spoke. His jaw was lined with razor sharp spikes, and saliva dripped from his lips as he questioned me.
“I’m not sure….possibly.” For some reason I was compelled to tell the truth. The thought of slaying him had crossed my mind at one point in my life.
“And how would you go about killing me?”
“I’m not sure.” I reached into my backpack and pulled out a silver crucifix, along with a plastic squirt gun, which I had filled with holy water before embarking on my trip.
“Ha Ha Ha…You feeble minded fool!” VonBertruden’s cackling laugh echoed through the castle ruins.
Without even thinking, I held the cross out in front of me and I doused him with a mist of holy water from my toy luger. His laughter immediately stopped.
“There’s no way to kill me. Holy water, sunlight, stakes through the heart…all silly myths. I cannot die by a human’s hand.”
“Then why must you kill innocent people in order to live?” I asked bravely.
“I don’t kill people; I recruit them. I’m creating an army for my Lord. Your relative, Carl, figured that out. Are you not intelligent enough to learn from his work?”
“Then you don’t need to drink human blood to survive?”
“The body of Lucifer’s army needs the blood to flourish. What I do is for the greater good. With every person I drain, I create another soldier who, in turn, can spread my Lord’s cause to even greater masses.”
“God will never let you win!” I suddenly blurt out.
VonBertruden grabbed me by the throat and picked me up off of the ground. His strength was amazing. His sharp finger nails dug into my neck flesh like an Eagle’s talons. His orange eyes had turned a deep shade of red.
“Jesus Christ will kneel at my master’s feet!” he growled. Then he dropped me on the cold stone floor. I fell into a clump like a lifeless rag doll.
VonBertruden grabbed my hand and he turned my palm so that it faced the sky. With a swipe of his pointed fingernail, he tore a two inch gash into my flesh. Blood began to pool in my open hand. Then he placed the wound up to his mouth and took one lick of the warm, crimson, fluid. To my surprise, there was no pain.
“Please don’t turn me into one of you,” I begged of him.
“I have other plans for you,” he smiled.
“I will never join your side.” He seemed amused by my defiance.
“By tasting your blood, I have just given you everything your family has been searching for all of these years. You and I will be forever linked. Every time I take a soul, you will see it in your mind’s eye. You will recognize the vampires around you on sight, yet it will drive you mad to know that you are helpless in defeating them. We cannot die, we cannot be destroyed, and we shall prevail over mankind. You will have the pleasure of witnessing the demise of Heaven from the sidelines. That is your eternal punishment.”
“But…..” Before I could respond, VonBertruden had vanished. Totally confused by what had taken place, I wrapped my hand with a cloth, and then I passed out next to the fire.
The next morning I woke up with a headache. I immediately uncovered my hand to look at my wound. There wasn’t a blemish on me. No bloodstains, no scabs…nothing. I assumed it had all been a bad dream, so I packed up my belongings and trudged down the mountain. By the time I reached my rental car, I decided that my quest to find Gort VonBertruden was over. The bizarre dream was as far as I was going to go. I returned home to New York City, determined to start a new life.
By the time I made it home, the visions had already started. Every night, in my dreams, I would be transported to some unknown location, at which time I would witness Gort VonBertruden drain the power of God out of some unsuspecting soul. To add to my misery, I started seeing people for who they really were. Joe the bartender, little Tommy the grocery boy, and even old Mrs. Maynard from across the street had changed drastically in my eyes. I knew they had become vampires, but I was the only one who could see it. To everyone else they were as normal as apple pie. The maddening part about it all was that I couldn’t fight them. All I could do is sit and watch while more and more people were turned.
My sad existence went on for over fourteen years. Then one night, while waiting for the latest version of my mental horror show to begin, I tried to keep myself awake by watching a television documentary on insects. That’s when a light bulb went off in my head. I realized that the only way to destroy a colony of ants was to kill the queen. Knowing that VonBertruden was the leader of the evil army, I wondered if cutting him down would end Satan’s bid for power. All of a sudden I knew what had to be done. Unfortunately, there were two major problems with my plan. One was that I didn’t know if there was a way to kill him, and secondly, I wasn’t sure if I could even find him. Regardless of my doubts, I had to try. I couldn’t live one more night with the images he was casting into my brain.
Over the last months of 1985, I gathered up every vampire fighting tool I could think of. My collection included: Garlic, holy water, crucifixes, wooden stakes, Bibles, priests’ garments, and even silver bullets. I knew the bullets were supposedly effective on werewolves, but I had nothing to lose by trying. My next step was to find the monster.
With every nightly vision, I tried to take in the surroundings the best I could. Some places, like Paris and London, seemed quite obvious to me, while other backwoods locations didn’t resonate with me at all. VonBertruden was all over the place. My odds of finding him seemed hopeless.
Then one night it all came together. I knew by the street sign in my dream that he was in New York City, just a few blocks from my apartment. With my heart pounding out of my chest, I forced myself to wake up, and then I grabbed my vampire killing kit. Within ten minutes I was face to face with the demon in a dark alley. He was standing next to a tall, skinny boy, who appeared to be under a spell.
“Leave him alone, Gort!” I shouted.
“Well, well, I see you got my invitation,” he laughed.
“You didn’t think I chose a victim so close by accident, did you? I thought you might like a firsthand look at what I do.”
In a moment of unexplainable bravery, I reached for my gun and pointed it at the devil man. VonBertruden’s eyes lit up red, causing the pistol to disintegrate in my grip.
“I told you there was no way for you to kill me, fool. For that your punishment will be severe.”
He lifted his hand and sent a wave of energy coursing through my body. I flew backwards and became pinned up against a dumpster. I was helpless. Satisfied that I was totally subdued, VonBertruden turned his attention to the wafer thin boy.
“Please don’t take him,” I begged. “Have some mercy on the boy.”
“Mercy is for Jesus and fools,” he replied.
VonBertruden pulled the boy’s neck to the side and then he sank his sharp fangs deep into the young man’s neck. I could hear the pop of the flesh as the teeth penetrated. The vampire drank for ten minutes, all the while keeping a watchful eye on me. When he was done he laid his victim on the ground and then he faced me head on, blood dripping from his lips.
“Now, in a short time he will rise and become one of us,” VonBertruden boasted,” As for you……”
He started to walk toward me, but then, all of a sudden, he stopped in his tracks. His body began to shake like he was having a seizure. Then the disciple of hell doubled over and fell to the ground. At that moment his hold on me ended. I was free to run, but I did not. I needed to find out what had crippled the indestructible demon.
In the midst his convulsions, VonBertruden turned his head skyward and shouted to the heavens. “You son of a bitch! You don’t fight fair!” he cried.
Those were the last words he ever uttered. I stood and watched as his centuries old body dissolved into a puddle of goo, eventually ending up a stain in a Manhattan alley. Shocked by what had just taken place, I almost forgot about the boy who had been attacked. I quickly ran to his side when I heard him moaning.
“I think you’re going to be alright, Son,” I said, extending my hand to help him up.
“I don’t think so,” he replied.
“The vampire’s dead. His control over everyone has vanished. You might take a few days to recover, but you’ll be normal now.”
“I’ll never be normal, man. I have AIDS. My life is over.”
That’s when I understood everything. The Lord does work in mysterious ways. The AIDS virus, scourge of the late twentieth century, was responsible for the demise of Satan’s army. I learned so many lessons in my life, but the one thing I realized at that moment was that in any war there will always be casualties on the battlefield. It made perfect sense. In order to defeat the bloodsuckers, God had tainted the blood. Genius.