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© 2017 S.E. Gordon. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form (electronic, mechanical or otherwise) without the express written consent of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locations or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
E-book layout, formatting and design by S.E. Gordon.
Written, edited and produced in the United States of America. S.E. Gordon is proud to represent beautiful Orlando, Florida.
Image(s) licensed by DepositPhotos.com and © Simion Marian (#7492098).
First Edition (v1)
Published on December 5, 2017
Last updated on December 6, 2017
Also by S.E. Gordon
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To Amelia “Mia” Decker,
Troubled, you may call me. But not like the man upstairs. He’s a vampire, they say, and a taxman to boot. The very worst of both worlds, and tax season is fast approaching.
Sometimes I lie awake at night, watching the fan rock in its mounting. Tick, tick, tick... I listen to the sounds of the city: sirens screeching a block over, hoodlums blasting their profane music, car horns honking...
And then I hear him, his labored breath burning holes in my ears as he toils into the night. Rarely does he leave his cramped domicile; I know this because I am with him every hour of every day. Occasionally there’s a loud thud, followed by laughter.
Perhaps he’s just doing taxes. I can only hope...
It’s not always advantageous working from home, especially when vampires are concerned. Laughter quickly turns into screams--horrific screams that cannot be easily purged from the soul.
One morning there was a knock at my door, sending my heart racing once I realized who was standing on the other side. Though day, the old man lingered in the shadows, every patch of his pale flesh covered by a crimson robe. A hood concealed his stony face, save for a trickle of his snowy beard.
“Do you have a stick of butter I could use?” the old man asked.
Like a fool I opened the door, the brass chain preventing me from disarming myself any further. “Please, leave me be!” I cried.
My trembling lips brought a smile to his craggy face. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m just trying to make breakfast: scrambled eggs and blutwurst. Unfortunately, I’m a tax specialist, not a cook, and keep burning the eggs. If you give me a stick or two, I can make you some too if you’d like.” He grinned.
“No, leave me alone!” I slammed the door and bolted it shut. Silence indulged me for a few moments before giving way to his fading footfalls. When I checked the peephole, I found myself eye-to-eye with the elderly kook.
“Very well,” he grumbled, and walked away.
Later that evening he must have been in a particularly foul mood. As the clock struck two, a woman let out a blood-curdling scream. It tore me from my slumber, and forced me to my feet.
Calling the police proved to be a futile effort. Instead of taking a statement from me, the buffoon pounded on the door across the hall. Rather than risk my life, I pressed up against the door and listened to the brief exchange.
“Sorry to wake you, ma’am. Somebody called about a disturbance. Would that possibly be you? We tried the door across the hall, but no one answered,” said Officer Grant.
“Liar!” I screamed. Just as I put my hand on the knob, the old man passed in front of my door.
“What about you, sir? Have you heard anything suspicious?” Officer Grant asked.
A smile broke out across the old man’s grim facade. “Sorry officer, but I did not hear a peep.”
“Get out of there! He’ll kill you all!” I pleaded, but the dimwitted cop stood there and cracked jokes with the old man.
“See anything, Kennedy?” the officer hollered to a second patrolman lumbering down the stairs.
“Nah, nothing. Somebody must have had their TV up too loud.” He gasped for air. “You should really get that elevator fixed.”
“In good time, officer. In good time...” The old man peered over his shoulder.
“Well, if you hear anything, don’t hesitate to call.” Grant tipped his hat and followed Officer Kennedy out of the building.
“And don’t forget to pay me a visit when the vultures begin to circle. They’ll take a pint of blood from you if you let them,” the old man chuckled, and then disappeared from view.
A fool he is to think that he can get away with this any longer. As clever as he’s been, it’s only a matter of time before his hunger betrays him, and his true nature is revealed. The lone witness to his dubious manner, I cannot let his appetite claim another soul. And when a few pieces of his mail arrived in mine, I knew the game was afoot.
Eagerly I sat by, waiting for the butter-eating brute to swing by my apartment and beg me for another stick. The terse note I left on his door was brief, but sincere:
Sorry for the drama.Could we please try again?
It was only a matter of time before curiosity got the better of him and he paid me a visit. And when he did, he was in for a nasty surprise. I leaned back in my chair and envisioned him shooting me that dirty look again. Immediately I would rip open the refrigerator door, grab the bucket from the fridge, strip off the lid, and bury his craggy face in a bevy of roasted garlic butter. And as he struggled, I’d remove the leg from the chair--its keen point cleverly concealed in the underside of the seat--and drive it through his vampire heart. I would revel in the shock streaking through his face as the immortal leech slowly curled up and turned to ash.
In my preparations, I discovered that vampires not only hate garlic due to its pungent aroma, but also because it gives them gas. This rank odor can prove deadly in the heat of battle, incapacitating one long enough for a vampire to sink in its fangs. In light of this, I trained over and over again with a ripe watermelon amidst the stench of rotten eggs. Over the course of the afternoon I perfected my strike, and hoped that the old crag would break down the door so that I could get this over with and expel the noxious odor from my apartment.
All day long I lingered, consolidating bits of code into complete algorithms. A personal project that I dabbled on from time to time, I had devised a simple Match-3 game that put a new spin on the genre by mapping tiles to moving shapes that could also be constructed into new objects. Soon I found myself pondering more than typing, my mind so preoccupied that I could neither sit nor stand. My hands beckoned me to keep them busy, so I disassembled the other wooden chair, sharpened all four legs to fine points, and reassembled them in such a manner that the chair still appeared functional.