Captain Vampire Serial appears below, after Some Story
by Chris Dean
The Tuesday night crowd was thin at Versacci’s and only seven people heard the cook’s screams. Dan and Marilyn Gruber were at a table in front preparing to leave when the earsplitting noise erupted from the kitchen. Native New Yorkers, they reacted without hesitation. He dropped a fifty dollar bill on the table and she had their coats. They were out the door before the screaming stopped.
Unsure of what was going on, the busboy rushed in from the alley. He let out his own scream when he saw the body on the kitchen floor. “Oh, God,” he whispered in horror. He slid to his knees and began to cry.
Tony Forest not only heard the screams, he saw the blood. He stood and watched the woman inside the kitchen stagger and fall. Her white uniform was smeared with red. His heart began to pound faster and suddenly he was in danger too. He let out a groan and slumped over the table. The filet of sole he had been savoring moments before thumped on the carpet.
Steve Taylor was too shocked to call the police. His cell phone slipped from his hands and splashed into his soup. He burnt his fingers trying to recover it, then lost it again. Stumbling to a pay phone near the rest rooms, he punched 9-1-1. Nothing. He fought with the telephone until he decided the damn thing was out of order.
With twenty years of experience waiting tables, Angie Knowles responded coolly to the emergency. She’d once seen a man get stabbed in the Blue Moon ten feet from where she was standing with four plates of food and she hadn’t spilled a thing. When the cook began screaming she took a peek into the kitchen and saw the woman slide down.
Angie used her cell to call emergency services. Then she went up front toward the register. She saw the old man grabbing his chest as he fell onto the table. A heart attack? First the cook and now this. Angie was going to have some story to tell her kids. She noticed the man struggling with the payphone and shook her head. With nothing to do until the authorities arrived she went out front and lit up a cigarette.
Boom Boom heard the commotion too. Parked only a few feet from Versacci’s, he sat in his LTD waiting for customers from the apartments across the street. He usually did a good business selling meth in that location. But people were screaming inside the restaurant and maybe 5-0 was on the way. It looked like he would have to close up shop early tonight. He saw the chunky white waitress out there puffing away and asked her what was up.
Angie turned and hid her face. She knew what this man was doing there. She knew all about his dirty business. Mr. Versacci had gone to the hospital after hassling one of these people. Now there were strict orders to leave them alone. She stubbed out her smoke and moved to the restaurant door.
“Hey bitch! I’m talking to you.”
“Someone had a heart attack,” Angie said. “I think they called the police.” She rushed inside.
Boom Boom cranked the engine to life. Time to call it a night. He spotted something strange as he eased out of the parking space. High up in the plate glass window of the restaurant, there was a hole. He thought it might be a trick of the light and stared through the open side window. There was a hole, and a few cracks around it. It looked like a bullet had done it. It was worth looking at but it meant nothing to him. He took off down the street.
The busboy and that man who’d been at the payphone were trying to help the heart attack victim when Angie went back in. The busboy saw her and screamed, “Did you call for an ambulance?”
“Sue’s bleeding. I don’t know what’s wrong! She’s bleeding all over.”
The man said, “I think he’s had a heart attack. Do you know how to help him?” He tried to give the old man on the floor CPR. He wasn’t doing it right.
Angie did not want to get any more involved than she had to. But a man was dying right there in front of her. “Pinch his nose,” she said.
Paul lurched away from the body and slipped. He staggered up again. “I’m going to see about Sue.” When he turned back, Angie saw his shirt was splotched with blood from the cook. “How long till they get here?” Without waiting for an answer, he ran into the kitchen.
Angie looked at the front door. She thought the drug dealer was gone but she couldn’t be sure. It would be a bad idea to go back out there. She headed for the kitchen. Paul was crying and stuffing towels under Sue’s bloody smock. Angie skirted the dark pool around the body. She’d never seen so much blood. Sue was still alive and mumbling. Her eyes looked bad and Angie didn’t see how she could possibly make it.
The rear door was open and Angie walked toward the breeze coming in from outside. The cool air felt good. She lit a cigarette. Paul started begging Sue to hold on, like in some movie. Angie took a deep drag of smoke and looked up at the moon. What a night. This was going to be some story.
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Chris Dean is a native of Cicero, Illinois. Traveling throughout the American west, Chris has worked as a gold miner, truck driver, musician, and concert promoter. Currently Chris farms near Chicago; when frost hits it’s off to Nevada for tournament poker.
a Serial in Seven Parts
By CJ Alexander
“Report!” I direct my glance first at Engineering, then Security, then at all the rest of the bridge staff down the line. Twenty days out, everything’s still ship-shape at 0800. It’s theoretically daytime, not that it matters to me in deep space where it’s always dark outside. I settle into my roomy chair, digesting a light meal of Ensign Edwina Karnowsky’s O positive blood. Not my favorite, but then I’m not much of a breakfast person.
“Orders, Captain?” First Officer Renata Toloache peers at me with an edge to her voice that wasn’t there before. I shrug it off. I stay out of my crew’s personal lives. If Toloache needs help, there’s a counselor on board more qualified than I to handle such problems.
“Get Hawking from astrophysics up here. Make sure he’s got all the latest data on Alpha Centauri’s solar system.” I vacate the chair and stride to the private conference room adjacent the bridge.
The bearded face of Dr. Dennis Hawking, PhD, a direct descendant of both twentieth century physics genius Stephen Hawking and the renowned astronomer Carl Sagan, appears in the view screen on my console. “Enter!” I bark. My bark is gruff and meant to intimidate, but I’m told it’s nowhere near as bad as my bite.
“Well? What’s out there, doctor?”
“Captain, the planet orbiting Alpha Centauri is two day’s travel from our current position.” He pauses, frowning.
“Good. Go on.”
“The atmosphere is breathable, and many of the existing elements we know of abound.”
“How about water?”
“There is salt water, and aquatic lifeforms.”
A minor problem, really. We’ve had salt-removal technology since 2095. He’s holding something back. I hesitate – here comes the big question. “Is there any evidence of sentient life?”
“Well, there are structures floating on the ocean that appear to be fabricated, rather than naturally occurring.”
So there are, or were, other intelligent beings in this part of the galaxy. A little variety in my diet would be welcome. I wonder what new flavors of blood I’ll soon be able to sample. I’ll occasionally dine upon aquatic mammals – dolphin and whale – but I won’t touch fish. “How about buildings?”
“Funny thing. I haven’t found any trace of land, Captain. No mountains, no islands, no snow-capped poles.”
“No land at all? Where did the structures – boats or floats – come from, then?”
“Well, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?”
* * *
Two days later, I send Commander Toloache to explore one of the floating islands. She checks in with: “Captain, the flotation devices hold small metal canisters welded shut, obviously to keep water out. There’s no writing or symbols on them.”
“High, but not lethal. Still, it’s too risky to bring any aboard for further analysis, sir.”
“Did you open one? What’s inside?”
“Nothing, sir. Nothing at all.”
To be continued