Henny and the Hobo Vampires
Day One, Part One
If she hadn't taken the shortcut to Dort's house that morning, Henny never would've gotten in this mess. The girl and her cat walked along an abandoned railroad, which would've appeared safe if it weren't for all the garbage strewn across the way and with all the degenerates scuttling about. Still, Henny ignored them and continued on. She promised Dort she would visit him today. And she never broke a promise to her fiance.
"Why do we have to take this route?" Moses complained, looking distastefully at his mud-covered paws. "It stinks here."
Henny made a little noise of amusement. "You're just saying that because you don't like Dort, you silly cat." She kicked a branch out of the way. It landed on a sleeping bum in the bush, and he grunted. "You should be glad that we're taking this road. At least it's shorter. I know how much you hate walking."
Moses stuck his nose in the air. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't humiliate me over my weight."
"Of course not," Henny said. She waved her staff in the air. "You're not fat, just . . . big-furred."
Moses made no reply. The girl stopped and looked around, confused to find the cat no longer at her heels.
"Mo - "
She was cut off by a screech. Whipping around, she found her pet in the clutches of a degenerate-looking man, who was half-hidden under the shade of a refrigerator box. He was trying to hold Moses still and sink his teeth into his neck.
Charging forward, Henny gripped her staff in both hands and swung it down upon the man's head. It landed with a crack. Moses dashed away, coming to hide behind the girl's skirts. Henny glared down at the man; he seemed stunned, but not injured, clutching his balding head as he rolled onto the ground.
"Just what do you think you are doing?" She whirled her staff through the air as the bum sat up. She started when he looked up at her with glowing red eyes, but held her ground. "Trying to eat my cat!?"
The man smiled, showing his canines; they were yellow and elongated. "Forgive me, m'love. I ain't in me right mind since 'm so starved." He laughed a little, and the girl could detect a horrible stench from his breath. "I ain't had a fit meal fer fifteen moons ago . . . "
Henny huffed and gripped her staff tighter. "Get to the point."
The other's smile fell. "Please," he said. His body seized up, and cough spasms wracked his body. "I need yer help." He coughed again, and blood-flecked mucus sprayed into the air; Henny wrinkled her nose. "Please, help meh."
Henny looked down at Moses, peeking out from her skirts. He shook his head fiercely. The girl turned back to the poor man to find him looking so pathetic that she couldn't help but feel her chest constrict. Although, that could've been the arresting effect of his red eyes.
"OK," she said, lowering her staff and ignoring Moses' protests. "What can I do?"
The man smiled again and waved her forward with his pale hands. "C'mere, m'love."
Henny frowned, but stepped closer all the same. The stench from his breath was stronger the closer she got to him, and Henny held her breath as the man continued to beckon her. He did not stop until she stood directly over him.
"What - "
She couldn't finish her sentence. The man lunged forward, and she dropped her staff as he sunk his fangs into the flesh of her arm. She screamed, and Moses hissed from behind.
Henny wrenched herself away and picked up her fallen staff. "You - " she said, her shaking hands fumbling with her only weapon. "You're a vampire, aren't you?"
The man grinned. "'m a hobo vampire," he said, licking Henny's blood from his lips.
Henny stumbled backwards, barely able to keep her balance as a nauseous feeling washed over her. She ran, crashing through the bush, Moses at her heels. She did not pause to see if the man was following her.
"I told you taking that way was a bad idea," Moses said, licking his paws.
"Not the time, Moses," Henny said, tears welling up in her eyes. She crouched over the stream, rubbing water into her bite mark. The girl and her cat had kept running until they reached a brook at a seemingly safe distance from the hobo vampire. He hadn't followed them. Still, Henny kept pausing in her cleaning to look over her shoulder every few seconds.
"I'm sorry," Moses said, walking over to place a paw on his master's leg.
Henny shook her head. "Forget it." She paused in her washing when the cat settled next to her on the bank.
"What will you do now?" he asked, nuzzling against her.
The girl sniffed and scratched Moses between the ears. "Well, I guess I have to find out how to get the cure," she said.
They stood up, Henny wiping her tear-streaked face with her sleeve. She smiled down at her pet. "No use in crying, right? Let's go."
"Why were you crying?"
Henny whipped around to find a villager about her age, stepping towards her through the bush and into the clearing. He carried a pail and looked at the girl with worry etched across his features. Henny pouted.
"That's none of your concern, Ansel," she said, turning away, not wanting him to see her red-rimmed eyes. Ansel tilted his head at her, his dark hair falling into his face.
"Something's wrong," he said, walking up to Henny, slowly so as not to crowd her. "Come on. Tell me."
Henny ignored him and bent to pick up her staff. When she straightened up again, the sleeve of her chemise fell back, revealing the black-and-green splotches on her arm. Ansel gasped and grabbed her wrist.
"What happened?" the boy asked, scrutinizing the infected-looking bite marks.
"Nothing!" Henny wrenched her wrist out of the other's grasp, and Ansel stepped back and muttered an apology. Henny just glared; Moses watched the exchange with interest. "Why do you care?"
Ansel said nothing. After a moment, Moses gave Henny a scratch on the leg; she swore and batted the cat away before looking back up at Ansel, shame-faced.
"OK, I'll tell you," she said, flushing pink. "I got bit by a vampire. A – a hobo vampire." She felt her face burn, and sniffled. "Happy now?" she choked out.
Shaking his head, Ansel lowered his water bucket to the ground and reached forward to hold Henny around the shoulders. "Henny, Henny, it's OK. I might be able to help you."
"How?" the girl asked, eyebrows knitting.
"Well, when did it happen?"
She paused, thinking. "Half-an-hour ago, I guess."
"Then there's still time," Ansel said, taking her wrist – gentler this time – and leading her away from the creek. Moses trotted after them, and Henny didn't even bother to protest.
Henny walked with Ansel back into town, trying her best to ignore the curious glances her fellow countrymen sent her way. Her face was still tear-stained and the ends of her dress were dirty and torn from gallivanting in the brush, so it wasn't surprising, but all the attention still made her uncomfortable.
Henny was absorbed in her thoughts until Ansel stopped outside a shack on the bank of the town's river. He turned to face her.
"You know Wise Baba, right?"
The girl looked away. "Of course I know him." She really didn't, but she didn't want to make herself look stupid.
"Well, he can tell us how to cure you," Ansel said, pushing open the wooden gate around the house. "This is where he lives."
Henny followed him up the path. Ansel stopped at the door and knocked three times.
"It's open," a voice called from within.
The girl sent her companion a curious look, but he was already half-way through the door. Moses at her heels, she entered after him. Henny closed the door behind her.
Wise Baba sat on the floor of the house's front room – which also served as a kitchen and dining room, though it had no chairs – and looked up at them with a smile. Henny started to see that Baba was a young man, not the senior she had been expecting. He looked to be in his early twenties, just a few years older than the Ansel and Henny. She grabbed Ansel's shoulder to keep him from walking towards him further.
"That's Baba?" she whispered.
Ansel stopped and looked at her curiously. "I thought you said you knew who he was."
Henny flushed. She quickly retracted her hand. "Never mind," she said, turning her attention back to the wise man.
Wise Baba stood up to greet them. "Why do you come this fine day, friends?" He bowed at the waist, and Ansel returned the gesture.
"My friend Henny has been bitten by a vampire and needs your help," he said, straightening back up. "A hobo vampire. We need to find the cure."
Baba sent the girl a sympathetic look, which Henny avoided, before nodding and scurrying away. "Ftochoshemophilla," he said, reaching for a book on his shelf. He turned back to the group without tearing his eyes away from the tome, flipping through the pages. "Unfortunate, unfortunate. The elixir needs to be taken before three sundowns after infection, or it will not work," he said, reading from the text. He looked back up at the two teenagers standing before him. "It's a fairly simple procedure. I can make it for you. However, you will need to bring me the ingredients."
Henny folded her arms. "What are they?" she asked.
"You need a gem from the Blodam cave, the blood of a fairy, and finally, the ashes of a hobo vampire. Those are the hardest things to find. You need some other things too, like garlic and arrowroot. It's all in here," he said, patting the book.
"I don't know. That sounds like a lot of work," Henny muttered, staring at her feet.
Baba stroked his chin. "There may be something you can try," he said, blinking owlishly. "Go to Kruor's temple and pray. It might not work, but it's worth a try, now that I think of it. If Kruor answers you, then the mark - " He nodded at the spot on Henny's arm, which by this time had grown so dark and so large that it was clearly visible through the thin fabric of her chemise. " - Will begin to subside within one or two minutes. If it doesn't, well . . . "
"Then I have to get the elixir ingredients," Henny said.
The wise man nodded and sent her a grave look. "But you must make haste. Once you turn, there is no going back."
"We'll go to the temple first," Ansel said, before Henny could make a reply. He made to leave the room.
Henny stopped him from moving, once again, and faced the wise man with a penetrating stare. "What happens if I do turn?"
Wise Baba looked back at the book. "The first thing that will happen is that you will lose all your earthly possessions," he said. "Then, by nightfall on the third day, you will have become attracted to sleeping under freight cars, stealing pies from windowsills, and eating canned beans."
"My God," Henny whispered. "That's terrible!"
Baba smiled a little. "There is one consolation, though," he said, closing the book. "You'd be able to open the cans of beans with just your teeth. Isn't that convenient?"
Henny just sighed and held her head in her hands.
"Well," Ansel said, glancing worriedly at the girl beside him. "We should probably be on our way now, Wise Baba . . . "
Before the group could leave, the wise man whipped a pamphlet out from somewhere and shoved it into Ansel's hands.
"This contains more information," he said, still smiling. Henny looked up. "It has a map too. Look to it when you need direction. Now . . . " He coughed into a fist and rubbed his thumb against his index and middle finger, looking at them expectantly.
Henny rolled her eyes and reached for a small pouch hanging from her belt. "Somehow I should've seen this coming," she muttered, retrieving a few coins and tossing them at the man. Wise Baba smiled and caught them. He counted them up as Henny, Moses, and Ansel left the shack, taking the road to the temple.
"I don't think Kruor will appreciate us breaking into his temple," Ansel said, shutting the wide doors behind him. He turned to throw Henny an uncertain look.
Henny scoffed. "If Kruor had a problem with that, then he would've ordered his underlings to open the temple today," she replied, stepping across the marble floor. She made her way towards the statue of Kruor, listening to the echo of her footsteps.
"It's a show of disrespect," Ansel said, following her towards the statue.
Henny ignored him. She knelt at the base of the figure, looking up at it uncertainly. She had never really believed in a higher power of any kind, so she wasn't sure what to do. Closing her eyes, she clasped her hands together and said a silent prayer. She didn't trust her voice, especially in front of Ansel, who she suspected to be far more spiritually aware than her.
Once she was done, she stood up. Ansel watched as she rolled back the sleeve of her blouse and waited.
A minute passed . . . then two . . .
"How do you feel?" Ansel asked, when she said nothing. Henny sighed.
"Not too hopeful," she said. She showed him the bite mark; it was even larger than before.
Ansel just shook his head. "Don't feel too bad, Henny. Kruor's watching over you . . . just with a different plan."
"Ansel," the girl said, snapping her gaze away from her mark to look him straight in eyes. "I need you to promise me something."
"What?" Ansel kept making eye contact with her as they talked away from the statue.
"If I do turn, then – then I want you to take care of me, OK? I don't want to infect anyone else . . . "
Ansel understood what she meant. "Of course, Henny," he said, nodding as he helped the girl open the heavy exit doors.
They stepped out onto the temple's outside stairs, the late morning sun shining warmly on their faces. Henny turned to her friend with a light blush dusting her cheeks. "Not like I'd ask you for help if I could help it," she said. "I can help myself! Just . . . not this time."
"Shh, Henny. I know, I know," Ansel said, smiling.
And unbeknownst to them, Moses looked up at the two with a smirk.
A/N: So yeah, I have a new story. This is my second time-ever writing fantasy, and the first time since I was fourteen years old. Which would be about four years now. Fantasy isn't really what I'm into, so I really have no idea how this is gonna work out. I feel like a fish out of the water, to be honest x(
I'm also trying to practice writing longer chapters. This one is almost eight pages on Open Office.
Anyway, I don't think this story will be too long. Right now I'm projecting no more than ten chapters.