Meg meets San Diego's finest vampire slayers.
The Spawn of Hellsing
I bet you thought I was dead, didn't you? I bet you were like, “ 'Meg knew no more'? What's this tomfoolery? There are a hundred pages left in this story, at least!”
As it turned out, I was only knocked unconscious by the old chloroform-rag-to-the-face bit.
When I woke up, I was here. But where “here” was, I couldn't tell you. The room was small, dark, and windowless. And, of course, locked. It had been hours since I'd regained consciousness. No one had come to tell me what was going on. Was I being held for ransom? Was this the “reckoning” Psycho McBride had promised? What exactly is a reckoning?
Also, I was starving and very thirsty. How long had I been unconscious? I'd left my cell phone in my hotel room, having learned not to bring it to Meet & Greets (it's been stolen before, twice). So I had no way of knowing the date or time.
Outside the room I could hear people arguing heatedly. Whenever I banged on the door and screamed to be let out, the voices went silent. Then they would rise to whispers, and then, within minutes, they would be roaring at each other again. It sounded as though a lot of people were out there. I couldn't hear what they were saying. I had a hunch it was regarding me.
After a while, I gave up listening at the door. I took to wondering about my predicament.
Those vampire hunters had planned to capture me. I supposed I was lucky they'd showed up when they did; otherwise, I'd be a corpse right now.
Who was that vampire? Who'd sent him? What had prompted his attack? I was certain he was some minion of Gabrielle's. But why was she attacking now? Why not six years ago? It was something I'd been wondering ever since she vanished from the cliff that day—when would she return to kill me?
Maybe the time had just come?
I doubted it. Gabrielle was cunning and calculating. She wasn't one to throw darts at a decade calendar and say, “Looks like July 13, 2017 is the day I take my vengeance. Think I'll earn an M.A. while I'm waiting.”
Someone unlocked my cell door and opened it.
A calm, deep, female voice said, “Meg? I'm Sally Garcia. We're sorry we kept you waiting. Please, come join us.”
I exited the dark room and squinted into the dim, artificial light that greeted me. The woman and I were standing in a concrete hallway. A single bulb swung hotly on a wire hanging from the ceiling.
She gave me a bottle of water, which I downed in about three seconds.
Sally Garcia was a very tall woman with a square, defined jawline. Her wide shoulders seemed to span the width of the small hallway. She wore a tailored pantsuit and looked muscular and firm beneath it. She seemed confident, collected, and put-together, but her perfectly manicured fingers, which were fidgeting, gave her away.
“We hope you'll forgive us. This was all a huge misunderstanding,” she said. She handed me a package of Twinkies.
“You kidnapped me,” I said, tearing into the Twinkies.
She took a deep breath, then dove into what sounded like a carefully worded and well-rehearsed explanation. “Our organization didn't kidnap you. A rogue member took it upon himself to act in direct opposition to our orders. You were never meant to come here, and we apologize. We only wanted to protect you. The person who brought you here has had his membership revoked and will never be allowed back into our organization again. If you wish to prosecute Don Bendry, we will fully cooperate.”
“What organization? Who are you?” I assumed Don Bendry was my bearded reckoner.
“We're The Spawn of Hellsing,” she said. “San Diego chapter.”
“The Spawn of Hellsing. We're a vampire hunter society. There are dozens of chapters throughout the country.”
“You were protecting me? Why?”
Not quite meeting my eyes, Sally said, “We send patrols to GothiCons. Those conventions attract bad elements. Please, come with me.”
“You mean, this Don Bendry and his kids just happened to be patrolling outside of my hotel room right when I needed them?”
“His kids were with him?” Sally asked sharply. Then she sighed heavily. “I can you tell you one thing. I'm not unhappy to see that man go.”
I had finished stuffing the last Twinkie into my mouth, but I was still famished. “How long was I in there?”
Sally hesitated, clearly not wanting to answer. “We're not sure. Don didn't tell us you were here. We only found you a few hours ago.”
“Why didn't you call the police?” I asked.
“As I understand it, most of the group wanted to,” Sally said. She muttered under her breath, “It certainly would have been the reasonable thing to do.” She continued: “Meg, you have my sincerest apologies. If I had been here, your release would never have been delayed.”
She opened the door at the other end of the hallway.
The room we entered was large and dim. A few high, grimy, barred windows revealed the dark night sky outside. Rain pelted their glass panes. A bright flash of lightning lit the room. A second later, thunder shook the building.
Stakes of varying lengths leaned against a nearby brick wall. A wobbly-looking card table held an assortment of other weapons and vampire deterrents: garlic, seeds of some sort, herbs, an enormous crossbow with a stake loaded and ready. Hanging from the ceiling was a fanged dummy with several stakes protruding from its pillow body.
Dozens of people, sitting in mismatched chairs or leaning casually against walls, watched as we walked in.
There were all sorts here. Young adults. Old adults. People of all colors. The differently abled. Fat people, and thin.
All that seemed to be missing were kids.
These people had something else in common. They were all staring at me. Some with awe, others with curiosity, others with dislike.
“Everyone, this is Meg Swain,” said Sally.
“Hi, Meg Swain,” a few people said in unison.
After an awkward moment of silence, someone asked, “Do you really fight vampires? Or is that just a story?”
The room somehow grew stiller, more quiet.
“Meg isn't here to—,” Sally started.
“Yes,” I said.
“Yes to which question?”
“I've fought vampires.”
“Okay, you've fought vampires, or so you say,” said a robust looking man in his sixties, his arms crossed. “But are you a hunter? Do you actively seek these demons out? Or do you only take action when they come to you?”
Demons? I suppressed a sigh. I wasn't keen to argue with a bunch of hateful zealots. The truth was that Vincent, his “vegetarian” brother Grebiv, and my best friend Brooke, who was no longer a vampire but who had once been, had changed my mind about vampirekind. When this vampire hunter spoke about “seeking these demons out,” all I could picture was a stake coming down on little Grebiv, and the mob of townspeople that had killed Vincent’s parents.
“Look,” I said, “I've got to get back to the convention…” But a computer in the corner of the room had caught my attention.
I walked over to it.
On the screen was the infamous YouTube video of the blurry Omaha Mall vampire who'd gone viral. Except, on this screen, his image was clear. It was unmistakably Mortimer.
“What's this?” I asked, shaken.
“It's... Mortimer Mainwaring,” said a curly haired guy sitting at the computer. He explained, “We have high-tech software that unencrypts blurred images. That's him, no doubt. You knew him, right? Sorry, that was a dumb question. Of course you knew him.”
I watched as Mortimer in the video did his famous walk past the shoe store mirror. This time I could see the details of his expression. As he turned to view himself in the mirror, he looked, annoyed, at his missing reflection. He stood there for several seconds, staring into the mirror like a moron while two nearby customers watched, mouths agape. Then he stalked off camera.
“We've been tracking him for some time,” said Sally, who'd followed me.
“Where is he?”
She hesitated for a second, as though gauging how much information she should reveal. She said, “More than likely he's on Moose Island.”
“Moose Island? Why?” I asked. I knew Mortimer stayed in character constantly—even after filming My Babysitter Is a Vampire, he still dressed as Vincent. But relocating to Moose Island seemed extreme, even for him. Even after becoming a vampire.
“Why would he go to Moose Island?” I asked again.
Sally and the computer guy exchanged glances. I was aware that the others had gathered around us.
“She doesn't know,” I heard someone whisper.
“I don't know what?” I asked.
Sally bit her lip. “Meg, what do you know about Moose Island?”
What kind of a question was that? I'd only basically grown up there! “Um. It's a tiny island. It's in Eastport, Maine. It's pretty woodsy. It's cold most of the year. Population: approximately one thousand. No one knows why it's called Moose Island; moose don't live anywhere on it. It's the setting of the highest grossing B-movie in history.” I was talking fast, but I didn't know why. Why did I feel like I might hyperventilate? “Um, what else? It's got the best pizza place in the world.”
“Yeah, not anymore,” someone said.
“Who said that?” I asked, rounding on the crowd behind me.
I turned to Sally. “What about Moose Island?”
“Meg,” Sally said quietly. “Moose Island... doesn't really exist anymore.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Let's just say,” someone in the crowd said, “that whoever named your mooseless island Moose Island probably would never think to re-name it Vampire Island now.”
* * * * *
Sally was saying something to me, but I couldn't hear her. Reeling from the news I'd just received, I sank into an empty chair.
What did they mean by 'Vampire Island'? Had my friends, my Moose Island community, vacated their homes and businesses, leaving the island empty for vampires to move in? Where had all my friends gone? To the mainland? They hate the mainland.
I rocked back and forth, thinking. Every scenario I frantically conjured seemed unlikelier than the last, until finally only the likeliest remained.
My Moose Island friends and community were vampires now.
A part of me fought to reject the idea. Hadn't the boy who'd been staked in the bathroom at GothiCon recently returned from a vacation on Moose Island? But another part of me, a coldly rational part, was finally acknowledging what I'd been refusing to fully accept: that the boy had been a vampire. A recently created one.
No one from the island had contacted me in years.
Jack hadn't contacted me in years.
“What happened?” I asked.
“We don't know for sure,” Sally said delicately. “Our organization, The Spawn of Hellsing, was established only three years ago. We weren't around when Moose Island was converted.”
The word “converted” triggered a memory. Hadn't Vincent used that word once? Hadn't he once chastised me for thwarting his efforts to convert Moose Island?
Had Vincent succeeded in his plans after all?
“What's, ah...,” I struggled for words. “What's the extent?”
“What do you mean, dear?” Sally asked, putting a hand on my shoulder.
“How many? How many Moose Islanders are vampires now?”
Sally didn't answer immediately.
I asked, “All of them?”
That rational part of me was taking over. “How could all of them be vampires? Don't they need a few humans around? For food? And if there weren't humans around, wouldn't the vampires leave?”
“Normally, yes,” said the computer guy. “But that's the fascinating thing about Moose Island vampires. Unlike normal vampires, they can't turn into bats. They can't leave the island.”
“Starving, yes. We've been ensuring it. Well, our Maine chapter has. At first, they tried to fight the Moose Island vampires, but there were too many. So they shut down the ferry that linked the island to the mainland. They have boats stationed around the island now, with hunters ready to kill any vampire that tries to swim away. No one gets onto the island. No one gets off.”
“Your Maine chapter sounds...,” I said numbly. I didn't know how to finish my thought.
“Well connected?” the computer guy guessed. “They are. They're the founders of The Spawn of Hellsing. They fund it all. Every chapter in the United States.”
“They're crazy, eccentric rich people, I guess, with a vendetta against vampires. They keep their identities a secret. No one's ever met them. All we know is that it's led by some guy who calls himself The Captain.”
“Crazy?” I felt dizzy.
“Eccentric rich people, yes. With a vendetta against vampires.”
“Vampire!” someone cried. “There's a vampire outside! He's at the door! Knocking!”
“What do we do?” someone asked.
“I thought you were vampire hunters,” I said, grabbing a long stake that was leaning against a wall. Here was something I could hold on to. Here was something I could do.
I headed for the door, stake gripped firmly.
Sally and a few others followed hesitantly. The rest stayed behind.
I approached the front door.
I looked through the spy hole.
It was Vincent.
"Chapter 6: Vincent Returns"
1. GothiCon is a continuation of an original series, My Babysitter Is a Vampire by Ann Hodgman, published in the early 1990s. Meg, Meg's parents, Voldar, Brooke, Caryl, Kilmer, Gabrielle, Mortimer, Vincent, Reid, Trevor, and Jack are Ann Hodgman's original characters. GothiCon was written and posted with permission from the original author.
Sally, Don, Don's kids, and the Spawn of Hellsing are my original characters.
2. Part I: GothiCon is a complete section (with a semi-satisfying conclusion) of an incomplete novel.
Parts II and III will be posted by summer.
3. A million thank yous for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed this chapter. Any input is greatly appreciated and will be reciprocated.