Saturday, June 13, 2009

Vlad: XVI.

The game was up. The small cluster of bats circled for a while outside the building before deciding to fly to the only quiet place they could find in Taipei: Bao-An Temple. It was Grace who led the bats in their flight to the temple. She thought the temple was a good place for them to rest while they discussed what had happened, and she was proud to take the lead of her terrified and confused comrades.

"This way, vampires!" she cried in the air. "This way! I know the place we can go!"

A few minutes later they were all hanging upside-down from one of the temple's brightly-colored rafters. They had not hesitated to actually fly into the temple itself. Grace opened the meeting:

"Is everyone here?" she asked.

"Yes, we're all here."

"They've beaten us!" said Wilson. "They've won! What can we do now?"

"I want revenge!" said Lon. "We should get revenge. I want to see that priest with two big teeth of his own! I won't let this happen!"

"It isn't so easy to bite a priest," said Vlad dejectedly. "They usually wear crosses, and if they see you about to bite them they will start to say the name of Jesus Chr--"

"Don't say that name!" yelled Wilson at the top of his voice. "My shoulder is hurt from the burn, and you still want to repeat that name! Are you crazy? I can't stand it!"

"Alright," said Vlad. "I feel sick too when I say the name. It's just that…"

Wilson's yelling had attracted the attention of an old Buddhist monk. The old man was now thirty feet below the bats staring up at them with wide eyes. He couldn't believe he was hearing bats speaking in human voices.

"Demons!" he said to himself. "Demons in the temple!"

"Look at that old guy," said Felicia. "What does he want?"

"I'm not afraid of him," said Lon.

"Me neither," said Luke.

"Out!" cried the monk from below, waving his arms. "Shew! Pssst!" And then: "You bats get out! Away right now! Pshew!" And then again: "Shew shew shew shew! Shew! Get out! Pssst! Out!"

He was waving his arms around and stomping with his sandals.

"Just ignore him," said Grace.

"I'm not afraid of him," said Luke.

"How did they know we were vampires?" asked Lon. "How did they ever find out?"

Everyone was silent, looking at each other. Then some of the vampires noticed Vlad's face was quivering: he was about to cry.

"Vlad," said Grace. "Do you know something about it? How did they find out we were vampires?"

"Yes," he said, finally breaking into a sob. "Yes, I know about it. It's my fault. It's all my fault!"

"How?" they all asked. "What did you do?"

Tears were dropping down now from Vlad's little bat eyes. They rolled down the side of his face and then off the tip of his bat ears and fell thirty feet straight down to the temple floor.

"C'mon, Vlad," said Kurt. "How did it happen? You can tell us. We're all friends now."

"You know I'm in love with Candy," said Vlad.

"Oh, no. He's going to talk about Candy again," said Lon.

"Quiet, Lon. You all know I’m in love with Candy. I didn't know what to do about it. I had never been in love before, and I was very confused. I thought I could make her love me too. Even though I was a vampire, I thought I could make her love me."

"But you didn't tell her you were a vampire," said Wilson. "Did you?"

Vlad was silent. All the vampires were waiting for his response.

"Vlad," said Grace, "you must tell us everything now. Did you or didn't you tell Candy you are a vampire?"

But Vlad was silent.

"C'mon, Vlad," said Kurt. "Just tell us."

"I told her," said Vlad, looking down at his feet, or rather up at his feet, in shame.

"I can't believe you told her!" cried Felicia. "I can't believe it. And you didn't bite her? Why didn't you bite her?"

"She is so delicate," said Vlad. "She is special. I couldn't just attack her right away. I wanted her love first. I wanted her to know everything, and then love me as I loved her. I wanted to--"

"You loser!" interrupted Grace angrily. "How can you be so stupid? You should have just bitten her like you did with us. Like you did with me on the ferris wheel after you tricked me! Then none of this would have happened, and she'd be here with you now!"

Vlad started to sob again, heaving his grey and hairy little bat chest. It was a pathetic sight. The others were furious.

"You're right," he lamented after a moment. "You're right, Grace. I should have just bitten her. Oh, I'm so ashamed! Why didn't I bite her? How stupid I was! I guess I thought she was special. I thought I could win her heart first. Oh, why didn't I just bite her!"

"Stop your crying!" said Kurt. "What are we going to do now, huh? Now everybody will know we're vampires. What are we going to do?"

"There's nothing we can do," said Vlad. "It's all finished! Our lives are finished. Why didn't I just bite her!"

Vlad was sobbing even more heavily now

"You baby!" said David. "Quit your crying! It may be finished for you because of your precious Candy, but it isn't finished for us. You can bite a silver bullet if you want, but I'm not going to. I want to live."

"You will get tired of life," said Vlad. "I know you will. What can my life be without Candy?"

"Loser!" they all cried. "Loser! Loser! Loser!"

"You have no sympathy," said Vlad. "You are all too young. You don't know what it's like to be in love. Oh, I love her so much! She is so sweet, and so cruel. Oh, why didn't I just bite her!"

"If you don't be quiet about that right this minute we're going to fly somewhere else and leave you here alone to listen to that monk," said Felicia. "Look, there's another one down there."

Indeed the monk was by now chanting mechanically and had another younger monk next to him rhythmically drumming on a hollowed little gourd. A third monk was approaching with incense.

"Let them do what they want," said David. "That stuff doesn't affect me in the least. And I know they don't have a cross in this whole place, so we're safe."

"Hey, shut up down there!" yelled Kurt. "Shut up!"

All the bats repeated: "Shut up! Shut up down there!"

The monks stopped their purification ceremony and stared up at the bats with frightened eyes.

"Yeah, you!" yelled David. "We want you to shut up!"

The old monk now began to shake his fist.

"In the name of the Buddha!" he cried. "In the name of the Buddha I order you demons out of this temple!"

"Hah hah hah!" laughed the bats. "Hah hah hah hah! You better be quiet before we come down there and bite your skinny little necks!"

The monks stared at each other in wonder. They didn't know what to do. "Back to the purification," said the old monk to the others. They began again with their chanting and drumming.

"Vlad, you have betrayed us all," said David. "You who are the oldest and most experienced vampire here--you have betrayed us!"

"Yeah," said Lon, "even I know that what you did with Candy was stupid. And I've only been a vampire for a couple weeks."

"I'm sorry," said Vlad. "I apologize to all of you. I know it's all my fault. I was stupid to think she would love me."

"Now my mother will find out I'm a vampire," said Felicia. "Everyone will know."

"It's true," said Grace. "We can't go home any more."

"What can we do then?" asked Gangster Wilson. "Where can we go? All my computer games are at home."

"Oh, no!" cried Kurt, suddenly realizing something. "All my Jordan shoes are at home! I have three pairs. And they don't even make the black ones any more!"

"You boys are so immature," said Grace. "Don't you realize home is something more important than computer games and Jordan shoes? Don't you realize what's happened here? Now none of us can go home."

"Maybe I can at least stop by and grab the black ones," said Kurt, not listening to Grace.

"I am so sorry, everyone," said Vlad. "I have taken your lives from you. I don't know how I can ever make it up to you. I've taken you from your families. I’m nothing but a monster, a terrible monster!"

"We're monsters too now," said Wilson. "We're all the same."

"We must stay together now," said Grace. "All we have is each other now. I can promise you all that I will treat you like my family. I have no one else."

Tears began to form in Grace's eyes.

"But what can we do now?" said Wilson. "How can we get food if we don't have our families? Should we become robbers?"

"I don't want to be a robber," said Felicia. "It’s bad enough that I have to bite people to live. I won't rob them too."

"But I think we have no other choice," continued Wilson. "I think we must become robbers. There’s no other way. I will be the leader of our robber gang. Okay?"

"Money is no problem," said Vlad. "No problem at all. Listen. I am very rich. I have enough money for all of you. We can all live together on my money. I’m happy to have you as my family. I too have no one else. I’ve betrayed you and taken you from your families. At least I can help you with my money. Will you accept? You must accept my help. This is all my fault. It’s all because of Candy!"'

"How much money do you have, Vlad?" asked Grace.

"Very, very much. Really. Money is no problem for me. There are probably only three or four people in Taipei who have more money than me. That should give you an idea how rich I am."

"If that’s true," said Lon, "then you really are very rich. I can accept living on your money. I don't hate you, Vlad. I’m a vampire too now. Maybe we can have a decent life together, as long as you don't meet another Candy."

"I've learned my lesson," said Vlad. "Yukio was right. A vampire should never fall in love."

"So if we accept to live with you," asked Grace, "what does it really mean? For instance: where are we going to live?"

"I want to invite you to Europe," said Vlad. "I thought Europe was a bad place, but now I realize that I’m starting to miss it. I am a European. I want to invite you to come and stay with me there. If you all don't like it, then we can try somewhere else. But I hope you will come. I hope you give it a chance."

"Where in Europe will we go?" asked Wilson. "Can we go to Sicily?"

"I want to go to Switzerland this time," said Vlad. "I want us to start our life in Switzerland, in the mountains."

"Switzerland is beautiful!" said Felicia. "I want to go!"

"Do you all accept?" asked Vlad.

There was some hesitation from David and Kurt, but finally the vampires all accepted.

"It's decided then," said Vlad. "We are all going to Europe together. It will be a new life for you. And I think it should begin right away. If you all don't mind, I think we should leave right now. I don't even want to go back to my apartment. I want to leave everything here behind. I want us to leave this night. Now."

"But my Jordan shoes!" said Kurt.

"Oh, shut up, Kurt!" said David. "Don't you see how much money Vlad has? If you need Jordan shoes in Switzerland, I'm sure he'll be able to get you some."

"Those monks down there are really annoying," said Felicia. "Let's swoop down and scare them a little before we leave."

"Why don't we bite them!" said David.

"No," said Vlad. "You don't want to bite them. They're vegetarians. Their blood is thin and sickly and it will taste like scallion soup. You won't feel good for three days afterward if you drink that kind of blood."

"Let's just scare them to death," said Wilson.

"Is everyone ready?" asked Grace. "I will count to three, then we drop down on their heads screaming at the top of our voices. Are you ready?"

"Ready!" they all cried.


Swooping down in a hellish little cluster, screaming at the top of their bat lungs, the vampires knocked the monks to the ground. There were five monks now, for others had in the meantime come to join in the purification ritual. They all fell in a frightened heap. The little gourd drum broke in half under the weight of the young monk and one of Lon's bat claws got tangled up in the old man's robe. The other vampires swooped in tight little circles over the screaming monks as Lon got himself untangled. Hissing and baring his teeth, Lon finally cried, "Next time you better find a cross, old man!" before he took off.

The vampires flew back up to the rafter and the monks, getting themselves up from the ground, fled in all directions.

"I don't mind leaving tonight, but how are we going to get tickets to Europe?" asked David after they had all caught their breath. "What if there are no seats?"

"What do you mean tickets?" asked Vlad. "We can just fly to Europe ourselves."

"Fly to Europe ourselves?" asked Felicia. "But we're just bats. It would take us weeks to fly to Europe!"

"No, you're wrong," said Vlad. "We are not just bats. We are vampires. We have special flying abilities. I guess I never told you about it. We just have to switch over into hyper-bat."

"Hyper-bat?" asked Kurt. "That sounds cool. What is it?"

"Hyper-bat is something only vampires can do. Regular bats can't do it. I will show you how. C'mon, let's go!"

They all followed Vlad out of the temple. As they flew together in the warm night air of Taipei, Vlad instructed them in hyper-bat.

"Okay, everyone," he called out. "Hold your wings like this.… Okay, do you have it? Good! No, Wilson, more like this…. Okay, that's it. You've got it. Now everyone, listen. Keep holding your wings like this and say Ro-MAH-nia three times after me. Are you ready? ONE. TWO. THREE…

Ro-MAH-nia! Ro-MAH-nia! Ro-MAH-nia!
Just under three minutes later the eight vampires were hanging upside-down under the huge stone facade of a downtown Zurich bank.

"Amazing!" said Kurt. "I don't even feel short of breath."

"Hyper-bat," said Vlad. "It's the only way to travel."

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