CHAPTER ONE – A BAR IN A CITY

It was the 1960s or something, and vampires were still doing stuff.

It was in a bar in a city in an America on an Earth. The place was kinda dusty, kinda creaky, but still pretty alright. Comfortable. Familiar. There was a lot of history there. Too much for humans, but just enough for vampires. Vampires thrived on history. They usually had to rely on quick fixes through people’s blood (genealogy always made for a nice meal), but this place, this bar on an Earth in the 60s, was good. Really good. How many people had been through here over the years? Twelve? Twelve thousand? More? Less? About the same? Legcramp didn’t know, but it didn’t matter anyway. He waved at the bartender, a skeleton with a metaphorical and/or literal heart of gold, to top up his glass of red coffee.

‘Leg,’ said the skeleton.

‘Skeleton,’ said Legcramp.

‘You read the news, man? About the war?’

Legcramp’s teeth snaked down to slurp up his coffee. The wet sound they made was always a little disconcerting.

‘There’s a war? Didn’t the war end? I thought it was over,’ Legcramp replied, he speech slightly slurred by his extended canines.

‘Nah, man. There’s another one.’

‘Another one? There can be more than one?’

‘Another one, yeah. It’s colder this time.’

‘Metaphorically?’

‘Probably. They’re saying the world’s gonna end.’

Legcramp finished his coffee and retracted his teeth. ‘About time.’

Skeleton shook his head. ‘Nah, my man. I think this is bad. It’s gonna be like Venus.’

‘Venus ended?’

‘Nah, man. Still sucks there, though.’

The bar’s door swung open and a vampire in a leather coat and leather pants and leather shoes and leather everything walked in. Her hair was all over the place and her eyes were hidden behind sweet sunglasses.

‘Skeleton,’ she said.

‘Armwrestle,’ the skeleton said.

Legcramp nodded to her in greeting. She was a co-worker of his, in whatever job they did.

‘You read the news?’ she asked, sitting down at the bar.

‘Yeah, they’re saying the world’s gonna end,’ Legcramp replied.

‘Uh huh, you wanna help stop it?’ Armwrestle pulled out a cigar and lit it with some obscure vampire power. The cigar looked old. Just being near it would probably keep Arm going for another decade or two.

‘No,’ Leg said. ‘I’m moving to Mercury. This planet blows.’

The two of them sat in silence for a while. Skeleton kept doing that awkward grin like he always did. What was it with skeletons and grinning?

‘Yeah, but-‘ Armwrestle started.

‘No.’

A spider scuttled across the dusty bar and into Legcramp’s coffee cup. No one was afraid of vampires anymore. The world hadn’t gotten any better or any worse. Just more boring. The government once hunted the undead. Now it just ignored them. Legcramp wanted to be feared. Vampires were the personifications of dark pasts. Incapable of looking forward, only reflecting on the spooky junk that’s come and gone. Every second further into the future was another second that could have been his. Now the seconds were speeding up. The future was coming faster, the past was falling behind.

Armwrestle fished out a crumpled envelope from her coat pocket and placed it on the bar.

‘If you change your mind,’ she said, before chowing down on the remainder of her cigar and leaving.

Legcramp thought for some time, then picked up the envelope. Skeleton had left too, probably back to the shadow realm or something stupid like that. Written on the envelope in blue pen was simply FOR VAMPIRES – AN OPPORTUNITY. Legcramp opened the envelope. Inside was a single sheet of paper and a key. The paper read:

 

Undead abomination,

The world is changing. We understand that, unlike humans, vampires require stagnation to persist. If this war escalates, the world will end. We humans will become mutant monstrosities unable to properly file taxes, and with all of history reduced to radioactive rubble, vampires will wither and die. For our mutual survival, we request you use your obscure vampire powers to help us postpone the apocalypse to a more convenient date. If you accept this offer, head to the nearest important-looking location. There’ll probably be an agent of ours there. If there isn’t, go to the next important-looking location until you find one.

Please and thank you,

The Government

 

Legcramp folded the paper neatly, then unfolded it and folded it again roughly, to make a point. His obscure vampire powers, being exploited for human politics? Ridiculous. Legcramp took pride in his vampirism. Every time he turned into a bat or dislocated his shoulder at will was a symbol of his heritage. His own history. The history that would vanish into the void if not constantly fuelled by the background of others. To work with the futurist humans? Would… actually be an excellent opportunity. Legcramp shoved the letter and key into his pocket and got up. He left the bar in the city in the America on the Earth with a grin on his pale face.

 

Nuclear devastation might be just what this world needed.


NEXT CHAPTER: A TOWER IN A CITY

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