Maybe I can start this journal with some gratitude thought like my counselor, Ms. Crystal New Age Healer etc…that sarcasm is just because I can’t remember her real name…says to do. I can’t think of any other way to put all this down….. I’m grateful that nobody else remembered what happened on last Friday’s class trip. So glad, so gratitude.
Now for the literal gory details.
Mr. Terrance’s history class never sat still for long. For that, I’m also grateful to the old fart. He loved field trips to the museum when they got in an exhibit from somewhere way out over the big blue water. Nice and poetic and shit, huh? Somebody make Mrs. McKinnon change my creative writing grade to a B.
So, around Halloween, the Denver Museum got some items from what was supposed to be a haunted castle. It was used for torture during the inquisition and, if you believe the internet, it was occupied by ghosts looking for payback to anybody that dared to tread those weary stones.
Damn, I’m good!
Later on, folklore said that those dead from inquisition came back to life as vampires or zombies. More coolness if it was true. Whatever sells tickets, I guess. I’m sold. Shut up.
Spooky and cool and all. Nice way to spend a school day. Looking at racks and coffins and all. We got off the bus and walked, single file to the museum door. Clair Rogers behind me. Damnit. No chance of me being behind her, so I can imagine myself being her protector, her guardian, swooning in my arms if one of the undead occupants of the exhibit came to life and attacked her. Okay, okay, okay. Enough day or night dreaming. On with the show.
Mr. Terrance loved showing off that masters’ degree. The words were background noise to us, to me anyway. Nobody really talked to me. Which was fine. Except for Clair, I didn’t want to talk to anyone anyway. Besides Clair, but we all know that’s not going to happen. Not as far as my expectations go, anyway.
As expected, I had been “concerned about” from my counselor, mom and sometimes dad and my older brother that got into the army early with the right strings pulled.
History, years, centuries, A.D., this age or that age. My way-old ancestors mining this shit, so they could make shit to kill those geeks over there and get their shit. Repeat as needed. Wow! If only I had my tablet with me to sell my first short story with these gems!’
First time I said that history is just the losers getting the shaft, I got principal office visits. One with mom there glaring at me the whole time and one with my dad who just shrugged at an upset Mrs. Gretchen. I kept getting “words” about how important my studies are and how, if I don’t “straighten up and fly right”, I’ll regret it, so on and so on and so on. Not the first time that I wished my grandfather were there. He never judged me, he usually told me “Stevey, no one should ever tell you what you should do or be. You’re my heir.” He was one that my mom and dad won’t talk about and I haven’t seen him since my 16th birthday. I miss him. Something about him…
Anywho, back to my Ted Talk.
We walked through some really nice looking stuff. Now, I’m not a goth or any niche like that, but I think history with torture racks, spikes and coffins and all is salvageable. I’m not considered cool, but as a teenager in this day and age, I’ll take a risk and say that this shit is really cool. To me. This, I could remember. So Mr. Terrance told us all about what was in the teachers’ manual for that week….or at least what the museum guide told him so we can be free advertising. Lots of wars, arguments over who owned what and who was supposed to own what and what names mattered. In between the noises everybody was making, the muzak in the background, there were other noises. Noises that I doubt were part of the museum tour. Shapes, too. When any of us looked distracted, not looking at him when he was giving us the current lecture about it all, he would snap his fingers and order the offender to turn back around and look THIS way. Makes no sense, of course. We’re at a museum, with exhibits and all. We’re supposed to ignore all of this and listen to Mr. masters’ degree tell us what’s in the textbook?
“Can you hear me, boy?!” a harsh whisper flew from one ear to the other. My eyes gave their best effort to stay focused on my teachers’ moving mouth and hands drawing nonsense in the air to educate us. I decided a nod would work best.
“Interesting. You must come to me.” I did all I could to keep myself frozen in place, despite every fiber in my skinny being to go where somebody kept pulling me toward. So far, no one noticed my shaking while I gripped the viewing window guide bar to keep stable. I shook my head and smiled so Mr. Terrance wouldn’t get suspicious. He would think I found his lecture awesome and incredible. Just how all teachers like it.
“No need to fear that ignorant one. You will be transparent to him and the others present. Come. Now.”
I moved my head to see where the….pull….was coming from. “Yes, this way.” Just as a test to see if Mr. spooky voice was wrong. I shrugged. I have nothing else going on, so I might as well see what’s really going on. Maybe those pedos on the news are getting clever.
“Right this way.” It’s not like I have much of a choice by now, feeling the pull like some comic book hand pulling me down a darkening hall, past the lit exhibits and toward a stack of crates. And then……..stop.
I gasped, feeling the pressure in my head and inside me release all of a sudden.
“Here. The box with the iron bars and locks. Their pathetic attempt to subdue me.”
“I don’t know, dude. Looks effective to me if you have to use some kind of psychic friends trick.
“This is not some charlatan trick!” That voice gave me a headache quick and brutal. “Don’t make me do that again. It would sadden your parents, Jane and Kenneth of Trentston, New York, to find you dead of a brain hemorrhage far from the class trip group.” I felt my face flush red. “What are you about?! This isn’t funny!!” I shouted, turning around, waiting for one of my dumbass classmates to come out with his phone, live-streaming this.
“I assure you, that I am not one of your idiotic little friends, playing at being adults who have no idea of what being an elder is themselves. Now. Time to free me.”
“So, if I don’t free you, you’re stuck there to rot, is that right?”
The headache made my nose bleed this time.
“I trust that we have a deal. Free me and I will let you live. Perhaps.”
“How……how am I….supposed…to do that.” I sniffed, rubbed what blood came out onto my arm. Gross as hell, but mom probably won’t know if I hide my arm under my backpack. I could swear that I heard a sniff….
After a tense pause, “There are tools in a box near this crate. There.” The “hand” took control again, pushing my head to look toward the exit door. Sure enough, the creep was right. A toolbox.
“I’m not exactly a mechanic, dude. What do I need?” I desperately wanted to ask him if he made the right choice in forcing me to get him out of a iron-banded and locked crate. Me, with no mechanical skills at all. Getting out of shop class that my dad wanted me to sign up for in favor of wood shop. I knew of some tools, but the teacher was one of those that didn’t give a damn what we did as long as he can get online and watch…..whatever we weren’t allowed to know about….in his office, so I didn’t get an education in what tools do what. I knew I’d get another one of those invisible slaps on the head for that crack, so I kept my questions straight and narrow. It sucks, I know, but nosebleeds aren’t nearly as bad-ass as in the movies.
I saw one of those metal things start glowing. “Pick that up. Bring it here.” I did so. Keeping the head slaps/headaches to a minimum. “Start prying on one of the iron bars. Iron is a weak metal, so it should give easily, even to a weak little one like yourself.”
“Uh, you’re welcome.” I said, working on it. “While I’m saving you, being a hero and all, why don’t you just break free yourself? Why have some weak little one like myself do this for you? From the way you just pulled me in here with some superhero trick, you could have busted yourself out.”
“Iron and I are not compatible.”
“Um…okay.” I actually made some progress. Wow. Good on me. Maybe now, I can open some jars for mom instead of her looking at me for a second or two and then going to get dad. It felt weird to see a wide iron bar go SNAP after some prying and grinding. Wild. I kept after it, working on the others around the antiquated crate with some foreign words all over it. Black letters and some red ones surrounded by a matching red box. I recognized crosses, but not all of whatever they were. “So what are all these words?”
“Warnings from those with puny minds.”
“I have a hard time with warnings. That’s what teachers, counselors and most of my fam says. They warn me about that.”
After a pause, I paused snapping more of those lame iron bands. “Hello?”
“Pardon. I found that genuinely amusing. I may have made the right choice in coercing you after all. You might have a spark of wit and wisdom.”
“Thanks.” again…..caution since he can do that nose bleed, headache trick. The last broken band caused a gap in the crate and what looked like black smoke oozed from it. A smell like the socks my mom found in the back of my closet after I stopped going to P.E.. “Woa. I mean….woa. What have you been eating in there?!” I waved my hand, even though I should have been thinking of getting caught and what I was going to do when I did.
Until the ice cold hand clamped my mouth shut, another hand on the back of my head. “I have stopped my hold over you. The ability that I have to move you, make you open crates. Everything you do from here on is strictly of your own free will. I suggest that you use that spark of wit and wisdom to make wise choices now.” The grip loosened, but I still felt chilled from his temp and his words.
“Your name is Steven Fairfield, I didn’t hear a Roger when I scanned your mind.”
“It’s a phrase, dude. I would say ‘chill’, but you already are.”
I felt turned around and came face to cape with a tall, scary sounding creature. Looking up at his pale face, eyes mostly red and black staring down at me. Truth was, he was probably about a foot taller than me, but something about him said “Don’t piss me off more.” Were those fangs sticking out over his lower lip? Okay. Big-time creep alert. His hands that he held my mouth shut were folded over his midsection. He really was wearing a cape. Not the tall collar kind in those really old vampire movies my cousin Dustin collected. One of those really, really old school capes in those movies that my grandpa liked.
“Okay. Vampire, right? Or a big time cosplayer? Down to the…..coffin?” I peeked around him and sure enough, it was a nice looking oblong box, brass handles, and dirt around it too.
“And you show no fear. No attempt to run? No scream from your smarmy mouth? You do fascinate me.”
“Uhh. First of all, another level of creepy that I won’t get into. Second, are you for real? You mean to tell me that dracula, and all of them were real?”
“They are the result of some discovered folklore and overactive imaginations. To answer you, yes, we are quite real.” He moved around me, toward the exit where I was drawn to him. I was drawn to him again, but not like before. This tall, pale, weird dude caught my interest. He peered around the corner, looking over the group being lectured to. “No one seems to have noticed your absence. I wonder why that is.” I saw Mr. Terrance rub his arms on his shoulders, shivering, asking one of the guides to turn the heat on, even though it was mid-May. I swear that I saw a grin come from my new……friend?
“So what now? Are you here to take over the world? Make everyone in town like you, making us all a bunch of snarling, growling, competitive monsters draining the blood of anything we can get our clawed hands on?” I thought that I heard a chuckle.
“Don’t be stupid. Though we are clearly your superior in every way, we have no interest in converting you to our kind. No matter how your movies and novels portray us, we have weaknesses that can be easily exploited.”
“So what now that I’ve freed you? Make me your mindless ghoul servant, gathering souls for your feeding?” The ice-cold hand clamped around my neck this time, lifting me up.
His red/black eyes looked like they were glowing, shining as he smiled. His trademark fangs showing. “A splendid idea, young savior. Though, I’d rather keep your intellect intact. I enjoy seeing a brilliant mind struggle emerge from this rabble. It shows that you’re an acceptable heir.”
“Heir?” I said, words struggling.
“Don’t you recognize me…..Stevey?” He laughed. I knew that laugh.
“Quite a prank, eh? In the war, when I fed on the enemy, I was considered a jokester. This, however, is serious.” The fangs came out.
The blood ran warm down his chin and mine.
The screams flowed as easily. Mine at first. Then, something about it seemed….right. Good..
I love my grandpa. Thinking of him, holding his old cape. So old school, but quaint. Mom and dad knew about him, but didn’t want him around me after I turned 16. Something about a prime age. Now, I get it. Boy, do I get it. Taking care of the homeless problem around here, criminals too. I’m a real superhero. I laugh, putting his cape down and getting ready to call it a day, seal myself in his old coffin. Shutting the concrete door before that. This is a good life. Thanks, gramps.
I wonder what Clair is doing tonight. I hope she appreciates pranks, too. Mr. Terrance and the rest of the class didn’t. Everybody just needs to stop trippin’.