By Jeffrey Bishop
Tell Time: 3 minutes
Scare Rating: 2/5 Ghosts
Vlad felt famished. In the pre-dawn hours, the creature of the night perched upside down in a tree in the city park. On the sagging branch, he pondered his last bloodmeal — a Guernsey heifer — and worried that he might not make it overday to his next meal.
“This diet is killing me,” he thought, “except that I’m already undead!”
Vlad wasn’t a small creature; indeed, in bat form, he more closely resembled a fruit bat than a small and sleek vampire bat.
As the eastern sky lightened to a dark shade of blue, Vlad resolved to return to his lair to try to sleep off the hunger pangs. That was his plan, anyway, until his keen hearing picked up the soft padding of an approaching walker. Tuning in to the sound, his eyes sensed a man of medium build, being led around the park trail by a small dog.
Vlad dropped from the branch in a cloud of leaves that shook loose as the branch recoiled. As he swooped to where the man and his dog were walking, he transformed into his undead human-like form, dressed out in the formal regalia of 18th century nobility.
“Good morning, Breakfast!” Vlad said to the stunned walker. The man’s pet, an angry Chihuahua, strained at its leash in a feeble attempt to fend off the supernatural assailant.
“Who are you? What do you want?” asked the man once he’d sufficiently recovered himself. The dog, still growling and barking at the monster, clearly wanted to know the same thing.
“Does your bacon and eggs know your name?” Vlad replied. “You don’t need to know anything more than your Maker. Whom you are about to meet after I drain your blood!”
“Wait, you’re a vampire?” asked the man in awe. Noticing the unnatural man’s unnatural girth, and knowing well that he had nothing to lose, he added, “what village did you drink?”
Vlad looked sheepishly down at his patent black shoes; if he could have blushed, he would have shown his deep embarrassment at the insult. He composed himself to give a dignified reply.
“I do, indeed, struggle with my weight a bit, as you’ve so astutely noted,” said Vlad, haughtily. “I am, however, addressing this … Not that it’s any of your business.”
Sensing an opportunity, the man pressed for an advantage in the conversation — and in his fate. His dog settled down to listen in on the discussion.
“I work out myself,” said the man. “Maybe I can help. What are you doing? Pilates? Zumba?”
“I fly around a bit more than I used to,” conceded the vampire. “And I try to watch what I eat.”
Exactly!” exclaimed the man, now confident in his safety. “You really shouldn’t dine on me — I’m high in calories! I know you can’t die from heart disease or diabetes, but you want to feel your best, don’t you? And you want to look nice for Elvira at the Monster’s Ball, I’ll bet?”
Vlad soberly reflected on the man’s words. Feeling rumbly in his tummy, he muttered to himself, “bloody diet!” But despite the hunger in his core, he knew there was truth in the message.
“You have saved Vlad from himself this night,” said the demon spawn with a resigned sigh. “I wish to honor this, by sparing your life.”
The man let out a deep breath — he was visibly relieved. Relief turned to despair, however, when Vlad reached down and grabbed the pet Chihuahua by its collar and lifted it to his lips.
As he floated away with his alternate prey, the vampire bid the man farewell.
“Enjoy the remainder of your life, my friend,” called out Vlad. “I will pass on you for breakfast, and settle for this small, healthy snack instead!”