A Neighborly Curse

For Halloween I wrote a story about a Vampire and a Cryptofacist. Enjoy.

Even with his windows shut and towels pressed against the frames, the cacophonous hollering of the crowds parading outside his window still permeated his skull and drummed on Larry Jackson’s temples. The Mardi Malade was in full force, with the drunken debauchery literally parading down his street.

The soft bell chime of his doorbell somehow broke through the underlying rumble of laughter and cries. Larry looked away from his computer monitor to the door. Perhaps a prankster? There was another chime.

Mr. Jackson shrugged on a pair of loose-fitting sweats as he stumbled to the door of his studio. “Just a moment,” he muttered, looking around for a shirt. The door chimed again. Annoyed, the middle-aged man opted to pull on an undersized hoodie that he yanked to cover his building hairy stomach rolls.

“Good Evening,” spoke Anu Foster as the burgundy door opened slowly. The nosferatu smiled politely, poxing a pair of pearly wrhite fangs. He tipped his hat politely. “May I come in?”

Larry regarded the well-dressed man in front of him momentarily. His har draped his long chiseled face with curly black locks that fell upon a tall white collar and a purple velvet jacket. The man’s complexion was pale but dark, like a charcoaled log covered in ash. He knew of Foster–all who lived in the Demon Quarter of Kupopolis were well versed in his hand in this slice of the city.

“I think I would do this city a disservice if I turned away Anu Foster. Please, come inside.”

The Kupopolis elder walked through the threshold, extending his hand extended to greet the middle-aged office worker. Larry shook the demon’s hand, glancing down slightly as he felt Foster’s long fingernails scratch against his skin.

“I thank you mister Jackson. I’m glad that a new resident of our lovely city is as learned as you of the local culture. But that is to be expected from someone of your pedigree.”

Larry nodded and rubbed his palms. It felt wet and sweaty. What did he know? He stepped back towards his desk as the light of the monitor gave some degree of comfort. The apartment was small and was perhaps more for storage than residency at some point. The tall frame of the Nosferatu filled the space awkwardly as he stood by the door as there were only a mattress and a swivel chair for seating arrangements.

“I had hoped in coming here I would find kindred spirits. The rest of the web of worlds out there–especially those so-called ‘core’ worlds. They’ve given up on the old ways and gone soft.”

“From what I have watched on the Omninet of your lectures, you definitely have a certain… vision to your work. I can easily understand why you would want to come to our quaint little community, Mister Foster. We are as connected as most of the web of worlds as those places while consider themselves “Core”, but at the same time due to the somewhat minuscule size of our realm, our–how did you put it? ‘Cross-contamination hasn’t obfuscated the purity of the inherent biological destiny of the species’.”

The man’s shoulders relaxed some as he slouched back against the table. His skin still felt balmy against the hoodie. The throbbing at his temples seemed to have subsided, but the noise from outside reverberated against his eardrums now in a muffled dull hum.

“Yes! Those metropolitan bound worlds, especially since the fall of, the fall of… Cole has been jeopardizing the very fabric of sapient identity. The whole White Cell conflict was indicative of this toxicity in…. In…”

Anu Foster smiled a small polite grin at the man. “Is something amiss, Mister Jackson?”

Larry rubbed nervously at the back of his hand. Why did it feel wet? He looked down at his hands which seemed fat and swollen now. He tucked them away into the pockets of his hoodie.

“No, just a bit under the weather. All this… all this… excitement outside doesn’t sit well with me.”

“Mardi Malade has a long-standing tradition here, Mister Jackson. Are you not familiar with it? It’s a celebration of the continual change in the seasons. One must always celebrate change, my good neighbor.”

The vampire cackled to himself now before smiling broadly. Larry looked on as an impish glee spread across Anu’s face. He stepped back from Larry and out from the glare of the computer monitor. Only then did the middle-aged man come to realize how little he was able to see. The vampire extended forward his hand–to which Larry could only make out in a statuesque silhouette–exposing a fanged mouth that dripped blood from the creature’s palm.

His vision grew dim as the light of his monitor began to diminish in its entirety. From that fanged palm, the vision of a burning red eye glowed hotly in his mind. The dull hum of outside turned to whispers. The blurred silhouettes dithered into darkness.

Larry opened his mouth to speak but found no voice. His hands reached from his mouth but there was no jaw, only a putty that dressed from his nostrils down his neck. He reached for where he recalled his phone to be, only to find his fingers spreading out like a fractal across the device. He turned back to the vampire and attempted to step forward to plead with him, only to find his stomach spill out from the folds beneath this hoodie as if the crack of this clothing was that of an eggshell.

Anu Foster’s voice seemed to echo in his mind. “Perhaps next year you’ll find it more to your liking to partake in the festivities, hmm? That is, if you can find yourself out from that isolated blob you seem to have become.”

The red eye in his mind seemed to ascend as Larry attempted to move towards it. As the eye closed there was both darkness and deafness to the world. Behind his ribs, he felt his heart pulse. Though as it did the sensation grew softer, quieter. His limbs attempted to reach for his chest but there were no longer any sinew-filled stumps to reach with. All that was left to him was to agonize internally to the flesh bubble he had become.