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HORRORVILLE, USA - Dallas Releford

Twenty hours after they were married in a church in Blanchester, Ohio, Danny Lansford and his new wife—the former beauty queen of Blanchester High School—found themselves driving toward the Southern Coast of Maine where they planned to spend their honeymoon.
“Don’t you think it’s about time you gave it up,” Patricia asked as hot August wind blew across her creamy white skin and tossed her long brown hair into her face. Her blue eyes were almost the same color as the autumn sky. “I mean, you have written sixteen novels and haven’t sold one.”
“So,” Danny Lansford said as he steered the forest green Mustang convertible toward their destination, the colorful autumn glamour of Maine. “It’ll happen. It takes time, you know. It also takes a lot of understanding on the part of the new bride.” Traffic was not heavy as they neared the New York State line. Relaxing a little, he tried to enjoy the cool autumn air, the colorful leaves and the spectacular blue sky.
“Yeah, and unless you’re a famous, money-making author, they won’t even talk to you much less read your book. Danny, I’m just worried about our future. How can we be happy if we have to worry about where our next meal is coming from?”
“We’ll do fine,” he said trying to comfort her. “I have a job and I’m sure my short stories and my novels will sell. It’s just a matter of getting the right agent.”
Patricia pulled her hand away and sulked. Resting her elbow on the door, staring away from him at the fields and forests, she finally asked, “Do you really call a nine dollar an hour security guard job a career? Danny, that won’t even pay the rent. I mean, I’m willing to give you a chance, but we have to live until something starts to sell.”
“I thought we agreed that I would try writing for five years and then if I—”
Her anger flared up and she lashed out at him before she realized what she was saying. “Damn it, Danny. Don’t you grasp what you’re saying? You don’t realize what a mess we’re in. My parents financed our wedding and I’m paying for the honeymoon out of my own pocket. The rent on our apartment will be due in another month. Oh, Danny, why can’t you see? Why don’t you ever listen to me, or anyone else, for that matter?”
“I do listen,” he said as they crossed over into New York. “I’m a good writer. Your uncle told you that.”
“As a writer, he also told me that the chances of getting published these days are pretty slim. The only thing you write is horror. The chances of a new horror writer making it are unlikely. Why can’t you write romances, or something?”
“For the same reason you like to watch those old horror movies, you like horror, especially the old black and white movies. Horror is what I know and like.”
“Yeah, but you have to remember that not everyone likes what we like. Today’s kids are entirely different than the previous generation.”
“Are they?” he asked. “Horror movies are still popular. People love to be scared.”
She turned her head and looked at him. Why had she married him? About the only thing they had in common was they both liked horror. She had even read all his manuscripts. He was good, but not as good as his super-ego told him he was. Danny Lansford was anything except an ordinary guy. His short blonde hair and his sparkling blue eyes had dazzled her from the first moment she saw him. While the other girls thought he was weird, she thought he was just wonderful. Even back then she thought he might have some potential as a writer. However, he never seemed to improve his writing skills and she wondered if he would ever really make it. Studying his broad shoulders, his massive chest and his handsome face out of the corner of her eye, she knew the reason she had married him. She had married him because she loved him. Patricia knew that she would have to take him as he was, or not at all. “Okay, Danny. I get the picture. Let’s just drop it, okay? How many more states do we have to cross until we get to Maine?”
Scratching his chin as he took an exit that would put them on a more direct route, he thought for a moment before saying, “Well, we are in New York so that means we have to cross Vermont and New Hampshire before we are in Maine.”
“Are you sure we have hotel reservations once we get there?” Knowing how forgetful he was, she tried to cover all the possible things that could go wrong. However, where Danny was concerned, just covering his mistakes took most of her time.
“Of course,” he said. “I made them myself two weeks ago. Why do you worry all the time? Relax and enjoy the scenery.”
“I worry when my husband forgets to purchase a wedding gift for me,” she said. “Things like that worry me quite a lot.”
Embarrassed, he took her hand in his and smiled at her hoping she would forget his unintentional blunder. “I promised you I would buy you a gift just as soon as I get enough money, now didn’t I?”
“Of course,” she said. “When you sell your first book, you can buy me a new Jaguar.”
They both laughed. When the tension faded away, Patricia felt the warm afternoon sun pleasant as it touched her face and she felt her eyes grow heavy. In a few minutes all the sounds around her vanished and she slept.
“Wake up,” a voice said as a hand gently tugged at her shoulder. “We’re in Vermont and you’re missing all the sights.” Rubbing her eyes, she sat up and through blurry eyes couldn’t tell the difference between Pennsylvania and Vermont.
“Why didn’t you just let me sleep,” she said. “When I wake up, I want to see the Atlantic Ocean from my bedroom window.”
“Another few hours and we’ll be there,” Danny promised. “We’ll be in Maine in about thirty minutes. Would you like to stop and eat somewhere?”
“Of course,” she said. “I’m hungry.”
Every restaurant or diner they passed had something wrong with it. It was too crowded, too small or they didn’t serve the kind of food Danny liked. By the time he made up his mind to stop, they had crossed over into Maine. Pulling off the road into the parking lot of a family restaurant that didn’t seem to be too crowded, too small or too large, they got out of the car and stood looking at tall thunderheads with dark bottoms that were being pushed up into the light blue sky.
“Going to storm,” Danny said as they walked toward the entrance. “Maybe we can get to the coast before it hits. I hate driving in the rain.”
“Do you know how to get there?” she asked remembering that he couldn’t even read a map and preferred to find his way by reading the road signs.
“Sure,” he said. “I got it all right up here.” He pointed toward the top of his head and laughed as they stepped across the threshold and stood facing a smiling clerk at the desk.
“That’s probably the only thing you got up there,” Patricia commented as the clerk showed them to a table by the window. “Well, as soon as we’re finished, I’m marching over to that gas station and getting us a bona fide road map. What do you think of that, Daniel Boone?”
“Wasting your time,” he said. “Why get something we’ll never use?”
“Because I know you. You couldn’t find your ass with the Hubble Telescope if someone pointed it for you.”
“Now, is that any way to treat your husband?”
“Wait until you’re married to me for a while. I’ll straighten you out, yet.”
Knowing she was teasing, he hoped, they ordered their lunch and talked about horror movies until the food was finally served. The restaurant wasn’t crowded and only a few guests occupied the tables and booths around them. Danny made funny faces at her trying to pump cheer into her, told her jokes about his grandfather, whom she had never met, and finally smiled when she laughed at how his grandfather had fallen off a horse while trying to teach Danny how to ride.
“Was he hurt, your grandfather, I mean?”
“That old bird? Of course he wasn’t hurt. That old man could land in a bed of nails and not get a prick. My grandfather fought in World War II. Capturing a German machine gun nest single-handedly, he held off the rest of the enemy until help arrived. That’s not all, either. When he was a kid, he used to walk twenty miles a day.”
“Is he still living?”
“Of course,” Danny replied. “You’re going to meet him too.”
“Where? Why didn’t you tell me about him before this?”
“There were so many other things to talk about,” he said. “I forgot. He lives in Maine and we’re going to visit him while we’re up here.”
“Danny. Why are you always pulling these things on me?”
“Why? Don’t you want to meet my grandfather?”
“Of course I want to meet him. I just wish you would give me a little warning so I know what I’m getting into.”
“Don’t you like to be surprised?”
“Sure I do, but this isn’t the kind of surprise that most women like. We prefer nice gifts and things like that, occasionally.”
“Well, I have another nice surprise for you. It’s sort of a late wedding gift.”
“What is it? I hope it’s not a horse or something like that,” Patricia said shooting a warning look at him.
“Oh, nothing like that,” he promised. “You’ll like it though. You’ll also like my grandfather. He likes horror and science fiction movies as much as you do.”
“That’s nice,” she said. “Does the entire family like horror?”
“No. My mother hates it. She says that the blood and gore is too much for her. My father likes some horror shows although he normally watches football.”
“At least somebody is normal in this family. How did you get started writing horror?”
“I read a lot of science fiction, fantasy and horror when I was a teenager,” he said.
“I think you’re still a teenager who hasn’t grown up,” she accused. “But I love you anyway. Who knows? Maybe you will be famous one day and we can have a house in Maine or somewhere.”
“You bet,” he said taking a bite of food. The steak was good, the baked potato was excellent and as he washed it down with red wine, he glanced at the window. Droplets of water were splattering against the windowpanes. “It’s in my blood.”
“Just a passing rain cloud,” she said. “I guess I should be more supportive, and I try to be, but I’m just so worried that something will go wrong.”
“You have to have more confidence in me and my work,” he reminded her. “We’ll make it. We just have to watch our money.”
She looked at him and then at the window. “What kind of work did your grandfather do? Is he rich?”
“He was an actor and he has a little money, I guess. He owns a mansion in Southern Maine, near the coast.”
“Great,” Patricia said. “What was his stage name? Did he use his real name?”
“Boris Nicholas,” he told her. “He only played in a few movies during the thirties and forties. You rarely see them on TCM or any other movie channel. He was really a good actor. A lot of people said he looked too much like Boris Karloff.”
“Really? What kind of movies did he make?”
“Horror movies,” Danny said and continued eating. Patricia realized she wouldn’t get any more information out of him while he was eating so she tackled her own plate with a new gusto. After the long trip, she was hungrier than she thought.
After paying the bill at the counter on their way out, they stepped out into the cool afternoon as fluffy clouds with dark bottoms sailed across the sky like phantom pirate ships. The thunderheads had grown darker and moved up higher. As they got into the convertible, a few raindrops peppered the windshield.
“Well, I guess we better put the top down, just in case,” Danny said opening the door and getting out. She helped him put the top down and then they drove out of the lot and onto the road.
“Danny, stop at that Speedway. I forgot to get a map.”
“Aw, do we have to?”
“You bet we do,” she said. “I don’t trust your sense of direction.”
Reluctantly, Danny pulled into the lot and parked near one of the gas pumps. “Guess we may as well fill it,” he said. “While you get your map, I’ll take care of that. Actually, all we have to do is to take US 202 to Augusta and then to the coast. What could be simpler than that?”
“Your mind,” she said hurrying away before he could answer. “And your personality.”
As they drove northeast toward Augusta, dark clouds dropped closer to the ground and the sun disappeared. Gusts of wind whipped walls of rain on the car and all around them. Darkness descended and Danny turned on the headlights. Other cars coming in the opposite direction did the same. As the wipers worked full force to keep the windshield clear, Danny struggled to find the road. The last thing he wanted to do was to kiss a guardrail.
“Maybe we better find shelter until this blows over,” Patricia suggested. “This could conjure up a tornado or something. I don’t like the horizontal winds.”
“You might be right,” Danny said. “I’ll see if I can find an exit where there are hotels.”
“I can’t believe it,” she replied staring at him.
“What?”
“You finally admitted I’m right and you’re taking me seriously.”
“This wind and rain is serious,” he said. “I don’t want to get caught out here on this interstate with a storm pounding us. There’s an exit up ahead. There must be a place there where we can find shelter.”
Driving through blinding sheets of cascading rain and gusty wind, he took the off ramp and ended up at a stop sign. The road in front of them left him two options, left or right. He could not read the signs telling him which direction would take them to Augusta. “Well? You have the map,” he said. “Tell me which way to go. Personally, I think we need to go right.”
“Which exit is this?” Patricia stared at the map. In the darkness of the harrowing storm, she could hardly see which road was which. “I think we go to the left,” she finally replied. “It circles back toward Augusta, if this is the same exit I’m looking at.”
“Great,” he replied. “Let’s hope you’re right.”
As soon as he turned left, he became concerned when he didn’t see any lights that would indicate service stations, hotels or any other accommodations for travelers that were usually near exit ramps. “Are you sure?” The rain was so thick that he couldn’t see any signs or buildings on the side of the road. It was all he could do to see the centerline that was quickly becoming a lake.
“I think so,” she said. “Let’s drive for a little while and see if we find anything.”
“Okay,” he replied. “You are the navigator with the map.” He knew that if he had said they should go left that she would have told him to go right. That was the way her mind worked.
The storm raged as lightning flashed, winds howled high above them like a banshee and tree limbs cracked and snapped. Thunder roared and Danny wished that he had stayed at the restaurant until the storm passed. Realizing that it was too late, he drove into the storm as best as he could.
“I don’t like this,” Patricia said. “Maybe if we took one of the side roads, we could find a farm or a house?”
“I doubt it,” Danny said. “I can hardly see the fence posts on the side of the road. Anything beyond that is invisible.”
Patricia was becoming scared and concerned. Storms had terrified her when she was a little girl. Now she was out in the middle of a serious one that could do them harm and delay their trip. Watching both sides of the road, she gazed in every direction trying to see lights, electric lines or anything that would indicate they were near other humans, except she could see nothing but walls of water, leaves, twigs and other debris sailing through the air.
Finally, they came to a stop sign. Danny hesitated for a moment until he was sure that it was a four-way stop. The signs on the posts were unreadable. “Which way?” he asked not sure if she knew where they were or if maybe she could read the signs.
“I don’t know,” Patricia admitted. “Why don’t you get out and look at the signs?”
“Are you joking? I mean, with all that garbage blowing around out there? No thanks. I don’t want a tree branch sticking out of my ears. I think we should go right. That should take us back toward Augusta.”
“Maybe you are right,” she said. “I think we have been going too far north. If we go right then that should take us toward the interstate highways.”
Without saying anything, he turned right and discovered that they were headed right into the worst of the storm. “Keep your eyes open for anything that even looks like a house,” he said. “It’s going to get much worse than this.”
“Great,” Patricia said. “I thought it was bad enough when we were back there.”
“We were on the edge of the storm,” Danny said. “Now, we’re in the middle of it.”
They drove for more than an hour at a speed that almost put him to sleep. At times, he couldn’t even see the road. When he became so drowsy he could hardly drive, the storm died almost as suddenly as it had appeared leaving the surface of the road wet, the trees soaked and limbs down all over the place. When dark clouds finally gave way to the sun again they found themselves surrounded on both sides of the road by high trees. “We were lucky we didn’t run into one of those limbs,” Danny told her. “And, we’re lucky one hasn’t blocked our way, yet.” Rolling his window down, he sucked in as much of the fresh air as he could. He always liked the freshness of the air after a good rain.
As they drove over a low hill, he regretted even thinking about such a possibility. “Damn,” he said as he shoved down on the brakes bringing the Mustang to a halt just in time to prevent crashing into a giant tree that blocked their path. Pushing his door open, he jumped out of the Mustang and walked to the front looking at the huge tree. It was across the road and there wasn’t any way around it. Hearing a noise near him, he turned around and looked at Patricia. “No,” he said anticipating her next question. “I can’t move it and we can’t get around it.”
“We got two choices,” she said, “go back or wait for a road crew.”
“Are you crazy? This is not Cincinnati. They just don’t patrol around in trucks with six men and a chainsaw out here. That’s what it will take to remove that tree and it might be days before they find it. We’ll have to go back to the intersection and take another route.”
Patricia groaned and didn’t say anything. At the intersection later, they sat looking at each other trying to decide which way to go. “If we go left we’ll go back to where we originally were,” Patricia said. “We could take the interstate north and get to Augusta a little after dark.”
“That would take too long,” he complained. “We’ll go right and continue the way we were going. Eventually, we’ll come to another intersection where we can get to our destination.”
Patricia slammed the map on the dash and looked dejected. Pouting, she said, “Do what you want to do. I guess that is as good as any other way.”
Ignoring her, he headed back north again. Tall trees lined both sides of the road and they never met any other travelers. After an hour, Patricia became worried. “Where are we? Why haven’t we seen anyone or any houses? Danny, I think we have come too far. Let’s turn around and go back.”
“Back to where, Patricia? There has to be a house around here somewhere.”
“You never listen, do you? We’re lost, Danny and you know it.”
“We’re not lost,” he said. “We’re headed northeast and the interstate is somewhere to the east of us.”
“That is lost,” she said. “We haven’t seen a house, a person or a car in the last two hours.”
“Maine is a big state,” he said. “We’ll find our way. Just be patient.”
“You’re just like your father, stubborn and convinced that you know everything,” she said. “Let’s turn around before we run out of gas or have an accident out here where we can’t get help.”
Danny glimpsed a flash of light as the sun struck something on the side of the road partially hidden by bushes. “What is that?” he asked turning toward Patricia. “Do you see it?”
Patricia looked at where he was pointing. “A large sign of some kind,” she said. “That’s the first indication of civilization I’ve seen for a long time. Slow down so I can read it.”
As the Mustang approached the sign, Danny stopped and sat staring at a long metal sign that was about the size of the Mustang.
“Horrorville, USA,” Patricia whispered. “Population, two hundred and thirty six. Is this a joke? I’ve never heard of a town of that name?”
“Just a small town,” Danny said. “There are thousands of them. Some have funny names. They do it to attract attention.”
“Well, this one should most certainly make the ten o’clock news. It says they have gas and food.”
“We better stop and get something to eat,” Danny said putting the car in Drive again. “Maybe they can tell us how to get to Augusta.”
“You mean Danny Lansford is actually going to ask someone for directions?”
“Maybe,” he said. “I just want to confirm that where we are headed is the right direction, that’s all.”
“Danny, I have a weird feeling about this. Why can’t we turn back?”
“We need gas and we need food, that’s why.”
Perturbed, she started to protest when she saw another sign. “Horrorville, USA,” she said. “Population, 238. Danny, that’s strange. The other sign said—”
“Just a coincidence,” he assured her. “Just relax. How could they know we are here and how many of us just arrived? You’re becoming paranoid, Patricia. You need rest. Maybe we should get a hotel room and stay all night. Get a fresh start tomorrow.”
“Not a chance,” she said. “I want to be on the Maine coast before it gets dark.”
Danny didn’t argue. Long shadows stretched across the road and he felt as if some of them might be alive. Glancing from side to side, he could not keep his eyes on the road. Danny knew that something was watching him. As he peeked into the darkness of the forest to his right, he caught a glimpse of something running across the road in front of him. Instinctively, his foot slammed down on the brake bringing the vehicle to a screaming halt as his eyes found what he had seen. A large black cat, more humongous than he had ever seen before, stood watching them as they got out of the car and stood watching it. Reaching out and taking Patricia’s hand, he squeezed it and asked, “Are you okay?”
Shivering, she couldn’t take her eyes from the cat. “Let’s go back, Danny. I don’t like this?”
“We can’t,” he reminded her. “We don’t have enough gas.”
The cat grew tired of looking at them and disappeared into the forest.
“Did you see its eyes?”
“Yes,” Danny answered. “What about them?”
“Evil,” she said. “I never saw cat’s with eyes so … deathly.”
“Just cat eyes,” he said. “After all, this is Horrorville.”
Patricia didn’t answer as they drove on. Dark clouds hung above the trees blocking out the sun as they stopped at the top of a hill. In the distance, the landscape had changed from forest to a mixture of large meadows and trees. The road, now graveled, wound through the hills, valleys and trees. Cows and other animals could be seen in some of the meadows. The dark clouds now hugged the horizon. A small town could be seen in the valley below.
“That must be Horrorville,” Danny said. “Let’s get going.”
The sun disappeared behind dark clouds as they drove along the gravel road. Cornfields, the cornstalks dead and dying, were on both sides of the road. Patricia screamed and grabbed Danny’s arm as he stopped the car almost skidding off the road on the loose gravel. “What is it?” he asked.
Pointing at four crosses on top of a hill above them, she spoke with a trembling voice. “Are those bodies on those crosses? Why are they in the middle of a cornfield? Is it real?”
“I don’t think so,” Danny assured her. “Halloween is only a couple of days away and they are probably just decorations. Calm down, Babe. Nothing to worry about.” Still, he wondered as he studied the bodies that were dressed in dark clothing. They sure looked as real as anything he had ever seen.
Patricia settled back into her seat as they drove forward. She never took her eyes from them as they drove away. Patricia was sure she saw one of them move. Someone was watching her. Someone had been watching them since they stopped at the first sign. She was sure of it.
Danny stopped the car just before they drove into town and studied the street ahead of them. The town looked pretty much like any small town they had seen in Ohio and the Midwest. White wooden frame houses lined both sides of the street. Danny noticed a barbershop, a hardware store, a movie theater—something he hadn’t seen in a long time—and a gas station. “Looks normal to me,” he said. “Let’s get gas and something to eat. What do you say about that?”
“I don’t like it,” Patricia said. “I don’t like this place at all.”
“What is it you don’t like?”
“It’s eerie,” she said. “Where’s the church?”
Danny looked at her wondering how she could always come up with something that he never noticed or wasn’t worried about. “What? Well, maybe it’s on down the street or something.”
“Yeah,” Patricia said. “You don’t really expect Horrorville to have a church, do you?”
“I hadn’t given it much consideration,” he said. “Let’s get gas.”
“Let’s get gas and get the hell out of here,” Patricia insisted. “This place reminds me of a crypt. Where are all the people?”
Ignoring her again, he drove down the street and drove into the service station. Parking near a pump, he looked toward the office wondering if they had service. Disappointed when he noticed that the pumps were self-service, he felt an anxious tug on his arm. Patricia moved closer to him with her eyes wide and her lips trembling. What was wrong with her now? Had she seen Casper the Friendly Ghost? “What is it?” he asked.
He followed her gaze as she turned her head away from him. The gas station only had two pumps. They were parked on the side that gave them an unobstructed view of the garage. Three men were working on an old rusty truck. One of them was dressed in a brown dirty, oily mechanic’s uniform. Danny felt his heart pump cold blood when he realized that the man was Lon Chaney Jr. The other two men looked vaguely familiar, too.
“Now, will you believe me?” Patricia looked at him with her face the color of alabaster and her eyes as large as blue marbles. Her hands were trembling. “Let’s go, Danny. Get us out of here.” She cringed when the big man—who had been doing something under the hood of the truck—stood up and stared at them. “That’s … the man is Lon Chaney Jr. In case you don’t know, he’s dead. The other two are character actors that played in old horror movies. They’re dead too, Danny.”
“Nonsense,” Danny said calmly as he realized what was happening. “They’re just actors dressed up for the part. Their makeup is great. This is a show town. Don’t you get it, Patricia? This is a tourist town. Maine is a tourist state.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure,” he said patting her shoulder. “Now let’s get the gas and get something to eat.”
Danny got out and waved at the three men. They glared at him, managed to smile and went back to what they had been doing. Patricia stayed in the car. After pumping the gas, he went inside and paid the clerk who looked a lot like a werewolf. He was glad that Patricia hadn’t seen him. Monsters own this damn town, he said as he got back into the car.
“The restaurant is over there,” she said. “Maybe I’ll feel better with a full stomach.”
“I’m sure you will,” Danny said trying to encourage her to be happy. “Dinner is on me.”
Patricia forced a smile. Someone was still watching them. She could feel their cold eyes and could feel cold hands on her bare neck.
Parking in front of the restaurant, they got out and walked through the door. A young woman with skin as pale as snow, dark hair and deep brown eyes stood at the counter. “May I help you?”
“A table by the window for two,” Danny said glancing at the empty dining room. The day was dark and the room was gloomy even though several lighted candles were placed on each table. The candles reminded him of a religious celebration in a centuries-old church.
“Follow me,” she said. “The waitress will be with you in a moment to take your order.”
Leaving them sitting at the table, she walked back to the counter as another woman appeared from the kitchen down the hall from the counter. She had long black hair, a pallid face, unblinking black eyes and an alluring figure. She wore a black dress that barely covered her sumptuous breasts as well as her alluring legs. As she approached, he felt Patricia kick his leg.
Danny looked up at her when she stood above them and felt his mind go numb as his heart raced. Trying not to stare at her was as hard as not staring at her breasts.
“What can I get for you guys?” The woman looked familiar to Patricia. “We have a special if you’re undecided.”
Patricia felt a cold chill drift slowly down her spine and cold hands tug at her heart. “What is the special?” she finally managed to say.
The woman smiled and twisted her hips as she spoke. She fixed her eyes on Danny. “Well, let’s see now. Our special is really special, do you know what I mean? Everybody, I mean simply everybody likes our special. I don’t see how you can pass it up. Everybody likes fried frog legs, lizard legs, turtle eggs and Polk dipped in flower and fried. For desert, we have fish eyes baked in cherry sauce. Don’t that sound good, Honey.” Her eyes were still fixed on Danny.
“Uh, we just dropped in for something light,” he said. “Could you get us some black coffee, fried chicken and a couple of pieces of apple pie? Do you have that?”
“Why sure, sweetheart,” she said. “What do you think we are? We have the best for everybody. Are you folks just passing through or are you here for the big show tonight?”
“No offense meant,” Patricia said. “The special just sounds a little, uh, rich for us, that’s all. We’re on our honeymoon. We just stopped in long enough to get gas and something to eat.”
“No offense taken, honey,” the woman said. “My name’s Elsa and I’ll get your meal for you. Meantime, I’ll bring you some fresh water unless you want something else. We have some cold rabbit blood and tomato juice that tastes pretty good. Of course, it has a little stronger stuff mixed in with it. Do you know what I mean? It has a kick to it.”
“No thanks,” Patricia said. “Water will be fine. What kind of show did you say that was?”
“Why, didn’t you know about the show? Well, I thought everybody knew about the weekly film festival here in Horrorville. Every Friday night we show the best of the old movies introduced by the original stars. Now, I ask you, honey, where else could you get a deal like that, huh?”
“I guess you can’t,” Patricia said. “Did you say the original actors?”
“Of course, Honey. The original actors and you can’t find that anywhere.”
“I guess not,” Patricia said deciding not to pursue the issue any further. She wasn’t sure she wanted answers to the questions she wanted to ask. As the woman walked away, Patricia turned to Danny when she was sure Elsa couldn’t hear them. “Do you know who that is?”
“Elsa,” Danny said. “What is wrong with her? She just dresses a little funny.”
“A little? Danny, that’s Elsa Lanchester, the woman that played Frankenstein’s bride. She died before I was born.”
“You could be mistaken,” he reminded her. “She could be an actress just playing her character.”
“You heard her, Danny. She said that the original actors introduced the old movies. Very few of the old actors are still alive. Something isn’t right here and I want to leave after we eat.”
“Sure, we can leave, but don’t you want to stay and see the movie. I bet it might be the Mummy or the Wolf Man. You know how much you like them.”
“I have all those DVDs. All I want to do is go to the coast.”
“Okay. We’ll leave as soon as we eat. I promise.”
Elsa stood by the counter talking to the young girl showing her legs and her well-formed body. About halfway through their meal, while Danny glanced too frequently at Elsa—a fact that Patricia took quick notice of—the front door opened and two tall characters walked in talking loudly. Patricia had her back to them. Hearing their voices, she turned around, looked at them and wished she hadn’t. Frankenstein and Dracula were talking to Elsa. Patricia wanted to crawl under the table when Elsa led them toward their table. Frankie lumbered across the wooden floor like a tank driving up a wooden sidewalk on an old western set.
“Got some friends you should meet,” Elsa said smiling. Dark circles were under eyes that stared at Patricia. Patricia couldn’t see any life in them.
Patricia shook hands with Frankenstein and then with Dracula who said, “Good evening, miss. Nice to meet you.” Patricia looked at the three people knowing she had just touched the hands of two dead men. “We came over to invite you to the show tonight. It is most enjoyable and we would love to have you come see us.”
“We have an appointment on the coast,” Patricia told them. “We have to be there before dark.”
“Oh, yes, the darkness. Such a joyful time of the day,” Dracula said. “We insist you stay the night and tomorrow will be a better day for your journey. I have heard you are a loyal and trusted fan. You will be most happy here.”
“Yes,” Elsa said. “Your husband tells us that you truly love the old horror films. He says that you are a loyal fan and that you are obsessed by our work.”
Puzzled, horrified, Patricia looked at Danny for an answer. “When did my husband tell you this? I’m not obsessed with anything, never,” she said. “Danny, what is going on here?”
Danny smiled at her and for the first time, she was terribly afraid of him. There was something about Danny that she hadn’t seen in him before. His eyes were red and his teeth were longer, sharper. Or, was it just her imagination?
“I told you I had a present for you,” Danny said. “I could think of nothing better than bringing you to a place where you can meet all your favorite actors, see all your special films and live among the people that made it all possible. What more could the wife of a vampire want?”
Putting her hands to her face, her eyes wide with terror, she attempted to understand what he had said. A scream was lodged in her throat and cold hands massaged her neck as she looked around her. The monsters were real and her husband was one of them. “What do you mean? Danny, how can you do this to me? What do you want from me?”
“I guess I owe you an explanation,” he said. “My family has always been blessed with being vampires, of the new generation, of course. This is our home, not the Maine Coast. The storm had me worried there for a while. Nonetheless, I found my home. The younger vampires have to go out in the world and marry. We bring our wives here to live with us. Once I have made passionate love to you, dear, you’ll be one of us. This is a special place, you see, that exists between this world and another dimension—another universe, you might say—and we managed to bring in some great talent to keep us entertained. You’ll be mine for eternity. Well, how do you like your wedding present? Please be reminded that you don’t have to worry about running out of horror to keep you entertained. We have everything here in this town and the surrounding area. We have spiders, snakes, scorpions and every now and then we bring a human or two here to help with our entertainment. Those bodies you saw on the crosses were crucified humans that didn’t like our little town so we introduced them to a more painful exit from our society. You will never be bored here, Patricia. I hope you like your present.”
Patricia felt her legs become numb, her heart beat faster and she felt like someone had dropped her naked into a barrel of ice water. As darkness developed around her, she knew that she couldn’t hide in the darkness forever. Eventually, she would have to face him, face the horror and madness that was now part of her life. As she felt pain in her neck from his sharp fangs, she wanted to scream except she knew it wouldn’t do any good. Even in the darkness, he was reaching out for her, enticing her to come to him and she wondered how long she could resist him. Even though she knew he would win, she would stay in the darkness for as long as she could. After all, she was now a child of the darkness, a creature that lived in the darkness and lived by its rules. She was a vampire.

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