Monday, June 29, 2009

Blood is Thicker than Water: Vampire Swamp Hunt

Chapter 9: In Which the Solutions to Our Problems Fall Into Place

Broadstead tried his voice and found it to be on the squeaky side. If he could wake up Miss Armstrong, surely she would laugh to hear him. But given their surroundings, he thought it imperative that he should wake her up, in spite of his voice’s humor potential.

“Miss Armstrong?” If that brute had caused serious damage to her, Broadstead would never forgive himself for not protecting her better. Certainly she did rush into the fray, but, he felt, it was only on his account. Wherever they seemed to be now was obviously far removed from Miss May Pettijohn’s. The clapboard hut smelled rotting, dank with swamp water. The floor of the hut was claylike. Unless Doyle was running around in the swamp out there, it seemed very likely that there wasn’t a doctor for some miles.

“Please, Miss Armstrong.” Broadstead shook her gently.

Her eyes flickered open. “I want to make sure you don’t have a concussion,” he squeaked at her. “How many fingers am I holding up?”


“That will do nicely. Do you know who you are?”

“Yes, Professor. Juliet Armstrong.”

“And who am I?”

“J. Hamish Broadstead.” She smiled at him. “What does the J stand for?”


“Do I score well enough on my examination to sit up?”

“Rather.” He stood up to give her room, trying to brush muck off his pants. “Leave it to Americans to build a city on top of a swamp,” he muttered to himself.

Juliet smoothed her hair back into place. “Where are we?”

“Some sort of shack.” Broadstead offered a hand to help Juliet to her feet. “No doubt prisoners of the diabolic menace who accosted us. Although I’m not sure why he didn’t just kill us out right. My apologies for not being more effective.”

“You did quite well, considering the circumstances. Can we get out, do you think?”
“I have attempted the door, and while it looks as though it may fall off its hinges, it seems rather against opening.”

Juliet creased her brow. “It can’t be difficult to get out of a building like this, can it? In a recent story by Mr. Mark Twain, his main character broke out of a shack very like this one by knocking one of the boards loose from the wall.”

“The idea is certainly worth the effort.” Broadstead and Juliet pulled on the boards. After a few moments their efforts were rewarded by finding a wiggly one. “I think I’ve found something,” Broadstead said. “Now, is there anything to knock it with?”

They glanced around. Juliet sat down and began to unbutton her boot. Broadstead turned discretely away. “Here you are,” she said, handing him the boot, and standing lopsidedly.

Broadstead hammered and the board slid. “Truth is stranger than Mark Twain’s fiction,” Broadstead muttered. He and Juliet pried away the board, and the hole, they decided, was large enough for Juliet to try to inch through. Juliet put on her boot again before trying.

“We can pry another board loose from the outside,” she said, squeezing through. She pulled and pushed. The professor squeezed snugly through as soon as they worked the hole large enough.

“Nice work,” said Juliet.

“Merely following your lead, Miss Armstrong.” Broadstead untwisted his waist coat. “You’re a very resourceful young woman.”

Juliet blushed. “Really, it was nothing at all.”

“I insist that it was.”

“No, it wasn’t.”

“Look,” Marion said as he stepped beside them in the dark, “let’s not get carried away. You haven’t escaped the clutches of death yet.”

Juliet screamed. Broadstead stepped protectively in front of her. “I’ll thank you to keep a civil tongue in your head, you villain!”

“Geez, Fatty, I don’t think you’re in a position to tell me what I can and can’t do.” Marion cleared his throat. “I suppose you’re wondering why I brought you out here.”

“Now that you mention it,” said Broadstead, piqued, “the question had crossed my mind.”

“Shalimar wants your people dead. I thought maybe the boys in the coffins would like a little swamp chase. It’s much more dramatic than me taking you both out in front of a girl’s school. Besides,” he cocked an eyebrow at Juliet, “I always did like blonds, and now that Baby Doll’s gone, we could make beautiful music together.”

“I’d rather die first!” Juliet retorted.

“Good.” Marion smiled. “It’s easier that way.”

Broadstead clenched his fists. You’ll not lay a hand on her!”

“I hadn’t intended to.” Marion snapped his fingers. A circle of vampires closed around the little hut. The undead looked like they needed a wake up drink and Juliet and Broadstead seemed the best supply available.

“Tell you what,” said Marion, “since I’m such a sport, I’ll give you a head start.” Broadstead and Juliet hesistated. The circle opened to give them a place to pass through. “Run!” yelled Marion.

Juliet pulled Broadstead’s arm and they sprinted into the swamp. Marion allowed them a good thirty foot lead before he sent the vampires after them. “Sic ‘em guys!” The vampires swooped forward, beginning the nightmare chase.

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