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The Lorelei Signal


Got Cookies

Written by Gregg Chamberlain / Artwork by Marcia Borell

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It was a dark and stormy night. It really was.


Black thunderclouds gathered together, turning the early evening twilight sky dark as midnight.


There was one brief, bright flash of lightning. Then came the rain. Drumming loud on the roof, and waking the Baron Esterhazy an hour before the vampire was accustomed to rise.


The baron pulled back heavy velvet drapes and looked out one of the second-floor windows of his mansion. Wind-driven rain ran down in sheets against the window pane.


“Tchah!” he tsked. “Not a fit night out even for a werewolf. Feh! Warmed-over plasma tonight then. Bah!”


Just then—bing! bong! —came the faint chime of the doorbell.


Followed right after—Bam! Bam! —by the loud banging of the heavy doorknocker.


“Now, who…?” Letting the draperies fall closed, a puzzled Baron Esterhazy descended a wide, shadowy stairway down to the foyer. The ancient hinges on an age-blackened oaken door squealed loud and long and low as the heavy portal swung open onto the outer porch. The vampire’s eyes blinked against the driving rain as he peered outside and saw―nothing?


“Hello, mister. Would you like to buy some cookies?”


A girl scout. An actual girl scout, standing on his porch, rainwater dripping down the hood of a poncho-style slicker, one hand holding up a cellophane-wrapped box.


Still confused, and now astonished, the baron’s eyes blinked as he peered down at the little curly-haired moppet. “I’m sorry, my child, what did you say?”


The girl scout sighed. The kind of sigh that came with having to be out door-to-door in the pouring rain, trying to peddle cookies just to earn a merit badge.


“Would you like to buy some cookies?” She held the box up higher. “Please?”


A thoughtful frown stole across the baron’s thin face. “This is foul weather for anyone, or anything, to be out and about. Especially for a…girl scout.”


The little girl huffed, drew herself up straight, and snapped a salute. “Troop Transylvania six dash five thousand. Neither rain nor gloom of night shall stop us on our assigned mission!”


“That’s the post office,” the baron said with a sneer.


“We’re better than the post office!” the girl scout sneered back.


The vampire smiled. Attitude. He loved attitude. It was so savoury sweet. He regarded, with interest now, the girl scout standing dripping on his porch, her little gumboot-clad feet shifting in seeming nervous trepidation. Perhaps he wouldn’t have to settle for warmed-over plasma after all.


He stepped back, extending a hand in invitation. “Come inside, child, out of the cold rain.”


The girl scout’s feet stopped shifting. She shook her head vigorously, all the while keeping now wary eyes on the baron. “Huh-uh! I’m okay right here, mister. You want to buy some cookies or not? ‘Cause otherwise I gotta get going. I still got the Cryptkeeper’s and the Old Witch’s places to visit, an’ they’re a long way to walk.”


A slight sneer lifted once more the baron’s lip. “What? Not going to see Dr. Frankenstein as well?”


“That’s Mira’s route!” came the annoyed reply. “This is mine. You want some cookies or not?”


“What kind of cookies do you have?” the vampire inquired, changing tactics.


A big sigh shook the dripping poncho. “Vanilla cream. Chocolate…” —there was a noticeable hesitation in the pause— “…and I think, maybe, I might have one mint chocolate left. Maybe.”


“Mint chocolate?” The baron licked his lips. Even a vampire liked mint chocolate cookies. Especially for dunking in a goblet filled with warm blood, fresh or re-heated. Preferably, he thought, regarding the girl scout, fresh! “How much?”


“Five euros a box.”


The baron frowned. “Five euros?”


“A box.”


Sigh. Cursed inflation. Even for Girl Scout cookies. “Very well. One—no, two! Two boxes. One mint chocolate, and the other chocolate, if you please.”


The girl scout gave the box of cookies in her hand a brief look, then tucked it away back under her poncho. “Nobody ever wants vanilla,” she muttered as she fumbled under the poncho, at last pulling around forward a large satchel.


The baron took a step back from the open door. “Perhaps you’d like to step inside out of the wind and the rain.”


The little blonde head snapped up, blue eyes narrowed in a suspicion-filled stare. “Yeah, like that’s gonna happen! Huh-uh! I’m fine right here, with my pepper spray.” A hand produced a small vial with a little, pink-nailed thumb on the spray nozzle from beneath the poncho. “That’ll be ten euros for two boxes.”


The baron’s lips compressed in a tight-lipped smile. His incisors were starting to ache.


“Fine,” he snarled. “Ten euros. Wait here while I go find some change.”


The vampire spun about on a heel and stalked away, back towards the staircase. He stomped up each step, muttering a curse with every riser ascended about arrogant, annoying, antagonizing, aggravating, argumentative, and awful little moppets and their sinfully sweet seductive girl scout cookies over-priced, over-rated, over-hyped and over there!


“Euros, euros,” he muttered, storming into a room that, in life, had served as the baron’s study. He slammed open the dusty roll-top cover of the desk, raising as he did so a choking cloud of dust heavy enough to give even a vampire a coughing fit. Dry eyes itching, nostrils twitching in an almost-forgotten need to sneeze, the baron opened desk drawers one by one, pawing through each of them in a vain search for loose change.


He found all kinds of change. Kroners, pfennigs, francs, lira, even a few vintage silver talers, tarnished black with age. But no euros.


Questing fingers slid across the yellowed pages of an old Bank of Transylvania chequebook. Maybe the cursed little brat would accept a personal cheque? “She’d better,” growled the vampire to himself, fangs now extended, “or it’s no more Mr. Nice Baron!”


The vampire hastened back to the grand stairway. “I fear, my child,” he called down as he ran, “I’ve no euros available, but if you could take a cheque―wha—!”


The baron felt his ankles catch against something narrow and strong at the top of the stairs. Felt himself topple forward, chequebook in one outstretched hand, the other half-raised to catch hold of the stair railing.


He missed.


Thump. Thump. Thump. The baron must have hit his head on every second or third step during his long rolling tumble down the stairs.


Crack! He stopped falling down the stairs when his head whacked the very hard, very firm, very solid newel post at the bottom.


The baron lay there on the floor of the foyer, stunned, staring up at the ceiling. And at the sharp point of a stake coming down to rest on his chest. Held in place by two small hands belonging to…a girl scout?


Not the one he’d last seen at the door. This one had short brown hair. He saw his blonde-haired girl scout and another—she had raven-black hair, he noted—raising a large mallet together in their four little arms. The last thing he saw was the mallet swinging dow—


“There! That oughta pass muster!” A smiling Anya pushed a damp blonde curl back from her forehead before turning around the mini digicam in her hands so her two fellow girl scouts could see the flip-out viewscreen. They watched tiny versions of themselves staking the Baron Esterhazy, followed by a close-up of the vampire’s body through its rapid decay until only a skull was left behind, grinning, with slightly elongated incisors, up at the camera lens.


“That’s sure to earn us our Van Helsing badges.”


With satisfied smiles Anya and raven-haired Mira collected and packed away the mallet while little Tirce, her short brown hair bouncing with each step, ran upstairs to unfasten and roll up the tripwire stretched across the top of the staircase. Then, together, Mira and Tirce held down the skeleton while Anya detached the skull, stuffed a clove of garlic and a communion wafer between its jaws, and set it to one side. They took a moment for several last photographs, at various angles, of the scene of the Baron Esterhazy’s final rest.


The rain had stopped by the time the trio left the Esterhazy mansion. The sky was still dark but a few stars peeped out now and again through breaks in the cloud cover. One of the girls produced an electric torch from beneath her poncho and snapped it on.


“So, now what do we do?” Tirce asked.


Mira looked thoughtful. “My uncle Yuri’s a veterinarian. I bet I could get some of the tranquilizers he uses to put horses and bulls to sleep.”


Tirce’s eyes grew wide. “Oh! And my dad’s a butcher. Lots of meat scraps and blood. We could mix it all into balls with some peanut butter.”


“Y’know,” Anya said slowly, “my aunt Elizaveta works at a jewelry store. Lots of silver necklace chains there.”


The three little girl scouts looked at each other. Then they all smiled, tipped back their heads, and howled in chorus at the moon as it broke through the clouds.

Originally Published in Alternate Hilarities 2: Vampires Suck! anthology from Strange Musings Press in December 2014

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G Chamberlain.jpg

Gregg Chamberlain lives in rural Ontario, Canada, with his missus, Anne, and their cats, who think that vampires, zombies, and werewolves are wusses. He writes speculative fiction for fun and zombie filk because he can. He has several dozen published examples of his fun in magazines like Abyss & Apex, Daily Science Fiction, and Weirdbook, as well as various anthologies.

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