November turned into Thanksgiving, and fall moved toward winter. The Holidays came and passed, and Delaware settled into a dreary northeast winter. It was cold, grey, damp, and occasionally snowy. Finally the middle of February arrived.
Colonels Abramson and Ford found themselves, one Wednesday evening, standing in the parking lot of a club called "The Darke" just north of Wilmington. The club appeared closed. The two men walked up to the front door and twisted the knob. The door opened. They looked at each other, Colonel Ford shrugged his shoulders, and they entered the club.
The club was empty, with the exception of two figures. Henry Fields sat at a large dining table in the center of the room, frowning into a laptop. Jack Williams sprawled on a chair, hands behind his head, staring at the ceiling. When the two colonels entered, both men looked at them and smiled.
"Colonels Ford and Abramson," said Jack warmly, "welcome to my club. Please make yourselves comfortable. We have a cook on duty, so if you are hungry food is available. We also have alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, coffee, tea, and water. Make yourselves at home."
The two colonels took off their winter overcoats, revealing almost identical pinstriped business suits. They sat down at the table, a bit distant from Jack and Henry. They were cautious. Henry went to the kitchen and returned with bowls of peanuts and pretzels. As the two men sat, Cassandra emerged from the shadows, lovely as always.
"So, you are all vampires?" began Colonel Abramson. "Our governments know we are here, whatever your intentions may be."
"Not me!" piped Henry. "I'm not a vamp. Not yet, anyhow."
The two vampires laughed at this. Jack offered each of the colonels a fine Cuban cigar and took one as well. Colonel Ford accepted; Colonel Abramson declined. The cigars were lit; Henry grabbed a Coke, and Colonel Abramson munched on some peanuts.
"I am quite sure you have many questions," Jack began. "Please be assured, we have no intention of harming you and you are quite safe. Ask away, we will answer honestly and sincerely."
"How long have you been a vampire?" asked Colonel Ford, addressing Cassandra.
"I was embraced during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses the Great in Egypt," replied Cassandra, soberly. "I would surmise that I am, oh, around 4,500 years old."
The two men grew deathly silent and said nothing.
"We are an old, ancient race, gentlemen," said Cassandra. "No one knows where were originated or how we started. There are legends and myths, of course, but no proof. Suffice to say, we are here."
"What are the legends?" asked a perking Colonel Abramson.
"I will allow Henry to answer that," said Cassandra. "He has become quite the vampire scholar."
"Well," said Henry, "some sources say that God's curse on Cain for killing his brother Abel was to make him a vampire. After God cursed him, he went to live in a place called Nod, where humans and vampires lived together. Other sources point to Atlantis as the beginning of vampirism. Atlantis was supposedly founded by Set, brother of Osiris, after Osiris defeated him. He created vampires for revenge. And the Chinese and the Indians also have their own set of stories dealing with the origin of vampires. But who the hell knows? I haven't got the time to go digging all over the world looking for clues or artifacts!"
"And Henry," asked Colonel Ford, "what is your role in all of this?"
"Me?" asked Henry. "I'm a ghoul. A ghoul is a human who gets fed vamp blood once a month. We serve the vampires, since we can move about in daylight. It's a good life, really. You would never have guessed from my appearance, Colonel Ford, that I was wounded in South Vietnam. Check it out. Henry Fields, Jr."
Colonel Ford made a mental note to check out Henry Fields, Jr.
"And what of you, Cassandra?" asked Colonel Abramson. "Why have you chosen to destroy your own kind?"
Jack puffed his cigar and listened intently. Antediluvian wisdom was rare, and he wanted to catch every drop.
"It is not a choice easily made," said Cassandra, sighing. "Vampires and humans have always been, to varying degrees, enemies. In some cultures we were worshipped as gods. But, for the most part, we are viewed as evil. Even with our powers, it would be impossible to destroy the human race. They reproduce too quickly. Besides, we would not want to destroy our food supply. But to answer your question, all vampires need a human activity. Jack has his cigars and motorcycles. I have a love of music. When we lose touch with this, we either become feral or go insane. Colonel Abramson, I believe you experienced a feral vampire when we met previously. And Dieter, of course, was insane."
"Do all vampires who go insane want to rule the world?" asked Colonel Ford.
"No," said Cassandra. "Most simply go to sleep and never awaken. Others stay up to watch a sunrise. But Dieter was an exception. The old Napoleonic complex. Ferals and vampires bent on world domination must be put down, like rabid dogs."
"You see, Gentlemen," added Jack, after blowing some smoke rings, "vampires, just like humans, are not always sure of their place. You feed on lesser animals, but, on occasion, lesser animals feed on you. Witness the shark. Does that make either of you evil? Hardly. You also punish your own kind, killing them if needs be, when they become violent. Humans are lesser animals to us. Are we evil? I think not. We rarely kill when we feed, and we take only what we need. McDonald's would go broke if they served us human blood; we do not require that much. And when our own kind violate our laws, they are punished, as you witnessed."
"So," said Colonel Ford, "the stories of the crucifix and holy water are all just bullshit. Right? But what of the wooden stake?"
"Tried the crucifix trick," said Henry softly. "Trust me. It's no good."
This little remark brought a laugh and lightened the mood.
"The stake," said Cassandra, "merely immobilizes. You saw that. Fire and sunlight finish the job. And, trust me, Dieter was quite insane."
There was more conversation, the two men had a beer each, and then departed. The Colonels would go back to Washington, and the two vampires and the ghoul would go on with their business.
Three years later, Colonel Abramson would retire from the Mossad. He would die, in his sleep of a heart attack, one year after retirement.
Colonel Ford would, in five years time, be involved in one more vampire hunt. The only vampire he saw was the one he destroyed. But he knew who was pulling the strings.
Two years after that hunt, he would retire to a small condo in Falls Church, Virginia. He would meet a lovely middle-aged woman and settle down. One day, they would take a ride north on I-95 to Wilmington, Delaware, and look for a club called "The Darke." But the club was gone. In its place was a small strip mall with specialty shops.
Jack and his coven would go on with their vampire lives. Of Cassandra, no one would see or hear of her again. But Jack knew she was out there, somewhere, just waiting.