Captain Vampire Serial appears below, after Fear and Loathing …Again
Fear and Loathing…Again
By George Morse
They were desperate for a plan, anything that would give them a fighting chance. The clock was ticking.
The office-holders, party functionaries, and donors were seated around an enormous table set with sparkling crystal, shining silver, and bone-white china. Huge baskets filled with red, white, and blue flowers served as centerpieces. Portraits of party stalwarts, living and dead, lined the walls, as if to add weight and wisdom to the proceedings.
The menu ran to six courses, marked by loud and animated discussion. Later, after the table was cleared and the after-dinner drinks distributed, the chairman, his face lined with worry, rose and asked the waiters to leave the room.
“Someone please lock the doors,” he added.
A bespectacled minister rose and gave a lengthy invocation, ending with the customary plea for God to “…guide these wise men in their deliberations.”
The chairman said, “Time to get down to business. The renegades are planning to nominate a candidate for President. We must get ahead of them. We need a candidate, a winning issue, and some policy proposals. I open the floor to discussion.”
A tall ex-military man jumped up. “The issue is just staring us in the face! It’s…Mexico! The Mexican government’s in turmoil and can’t control the border. Let’s send the army down there and straighten things out. Patriotism—that’s the ticket!”
A well-dressed businessman waved a hand. “Now, now. Best thing would be more government support for business. Economy grows, everybody’s happy. Rising tide lifts all boats, and—”
A Midwestern Congressman interrupted, “Why are we dancing around the race issue? It’s tearing the country apart! You’d almost think we’re on the brink of civil war!”
The chairman stared him down. “We’ve finessed that issue for decades. We’re not going to get into it now. We’d look like idiots.”
A pasty-faced political operative stood up to complain. “Then what? What’s our big issue?”
“Immigration!” a red-faced man shouted.
It was as if the man had opened Pandora’s Box, as one angry speaker followed another.
“Foreigners are pouring in!”
“Dirty people with funny names!”
“Claim they’re refugees, but they’re revolutionaries!”
“Don’t speak English!”
“Worse than that! Democrats! Settle in the cities, vote for the regime.”
“Look what they left behind! Uprisings! Civil wars! Chaos!”
“Taking jobs from Americans!”
The minister, silent since the invocation, rose to his feet. “Gentlemen, let’s not forget the real issue—religion! Thousands and thousands of these immigrants belong to a foreign faith that’s abhorrent to us, and they take marching orders from abroad. Worst of all, who knows what goes on behind the walls of their ‘religious institutions’?”
The chairman exclaimed, “Clearly, we agree on the issue, but—what about a candidate?”
A state governor rose and pointed to one of the portraits, that of a portly middle-aged man. “We should stick with tried and true—the country’s fed up with the Democrats, and the insurgents may nominate an unknown. We stand a good chance if we put up a familiar face.”
A Senator raised a hand. “Ex-President Fillmore* would be a good choice to head the ticket if we knew where he stood on the immigration issue, but he’s not here tonight. Do we know his position?”
The chairman replied, “I do know he’s fought against all the pandering to foreign-born voters that goes on in New York.”
“Good enough for me,” the Senator replied.
The chairman asked, “How many would support Millard Fillmore as our candidate in 1856?”
Everybody rose, applauding and cheering.
When the noise died down, the chairman said, “Now, we need some policy proposals.”
A voice shouted, “Close the borders!”
Another cried, “No more Irishmen, Germans, Poles, Hungarians!”
A third exclaimed, “No more revolutionaries! No more Catholics! Imagine our country a hundred years from now, overrun by all of them! Our slogan should be ‘America for Americans!’”
“That’s right!” Someone added, “These immigrants work for the devil, you ask me! They’re all drunkards—the Irish with their whisky, the Germans with their beer parties!”
Yet another voice chimed in, “The Irish? They’re the worst! Bring ‘em over and they just make trouble. Next thing you know, they’ll want to invade Canada.”
The minister, as usual, had the last word. “Let’s hope this flood of immigrants is not the judgment of an angry God, chastising us for our sinful ways. In any case, we must close the door! If we don’t, the Irish, Germans, Poles, and Hungarians will be a mere beginning. The next wave will be the Italians, Greeks, Orientals, Turks, even the Russians! And, once it’s the Russians, it will be…the Jews!”
A shocked silence fell over the room, until someone began the chant, “America for Americans! America for Americans!”
*Millard Fillmore – US President 1850-1853
◊ ◊ ◊
George Morse was born in Buffalo, New York. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College, and enjoyed a thirty-five year career in public education as a history teacher, high school principal, and district-level school administrator.
George is currently writing a coming-of-age novel based on his experiences in working with young adults, and a collection of historical-fiction short stories.
A member of the Just Buffalo Writers’ Critique Group, George saw three pieces published in Queen City Flash: Flash Fiction by Western New York Writers, Gary Earl Ross, Ed., Buffalo: The Writer’s Den, 2013.
a Serial in Seven Parts
By CJ Alexander
No, it mustn’t happen again, but of course, it does. The rumor mill goes into high gear after three more crew members are found in their quarters after failing to report for duty, white like snow. Cold like ice. Bite marks on their necks.
Once again I summon the Security Chief to my conference room.
“Sit down, Chief.” He plops wearily into the chair. “Report.”
“Captain, most of the crew are afraid to enter their quarters. They’ve been congregating in the lounges, the observation deck, and the conservatory. They take group showers in the gym locker room instead of their own. Even the most peaceful ones have picked fights, just so they can get some safe sleep in the brig.” He pauses. I knew this, but it stings, hearing him say it.
“Security teams have been posted in the habitat corridors, but so far they’ve seen nothing suspicious. Then the next morning, there’s always another body…”
“What can we do?”
He sighs. “I recommend we double up on night watch. Each security officer pairs with one non-security crew member. Just until we find the killer, Captain.”
“Do it,” I say.
* * *
Major Thom Anderson is a big, burly fellow. Afraid of nothing and no-one, he’s been watching over the less well-conditioned crew members, trailing them to and from duty, meals, and their quarters. When they stare at him, he winks, trying to soothe nerves. But the crew is wary of everyone, and they can’t help but wonder if Thom’s the maniac responsible for the killing spree. That patch over his eye…creepy. He cracks his knuckles, he picks his teeth, and he hitches up his trousers…His good eye seems to gleam with malice. Where is security? Oh. He IS security.
The next morning, another crew member fails to report for duty. A man this time, drained of blood. It’s Thom Anderson.
* * *
The following week, five more crew members are found dead. Same telltale bite marks. I am literally white with fright, pale even by vampire standards. I’ve begun to entertain the unlikely possibility that I’ve developed a case of amnesia or that I may somehow have become schizophrenic, and that I myself am the culprit behind all those drained bodies. What if! What if! What if my mentally ill alter-ego should kill my own grandchildren? The very thought turns my stomach. So I make an appointment with the ship’s psychologist, Margo Malone.
“What can I do for you, Captain?” By all that’s unholy, she smells so delicious I can barely contain my bloodlust. Her scrumptious carotid artery blood pulses in plain view, like a neon sign that invites me to Eat! Eat! I cross and uncross my legs and arms. I dare not smile. I hope I’m not salivating. Finally, my fangs retract.
“Counselor, have you noticed anything odd or uncharacteristic in my demeanor lately?”
She shakes her head. “Captain, it would be unusual if you appeared to be as jolly as ever, given the current situation aboard the ship. But you’ve been appropriately distraught, and actually you appear quite haggard and drawn. Have you been sleeping well, sir? Eating properly?”
I stare into her eyes. Is she taunting, testing me? No, of course she isn’t, I’m just paranoid. I suppress a chuckle. Imagine that, a paranoid possibly schizophrenic starving out-of-control vampire in charge of the well-being and safety of a hundred or so human space travellers. Am I eating properly?
“I’ve been fasting, Margo. We’re far from any sign of habitable planets and I’m concerned about running out of food. Who knows how long we’ll be hurtling through this blackness before we finally find someplace to start farming?”
“Well, sir, we have seeds, and Hydroponics is still thriving.”
“I’m more carnivore than vegetarian, Counsellor.”
“So I’m told. But Captain, there’s protein in vegetables, you know. You need to eat, and regain your strength. That’s an order, Captain.” She smiles kindly and I try to, too. Then I follow her orders, fixing my right eye on her left eye. I murmur, “Margo….Margo…” a rhythmic chant to render her compliant. Her eyes glaze over, the curtains of her lids droop gracefully, her lashes flutter like fringe on pink cheeks. I brush her hair aside, then drink and drink and drink.
To be continued