In which our hero is weak

Meet Timothy Peg. He writes poetry, novels too. He's a vampire who has never tasted living blood.
He is a fantasy author living in a fantastic world. The monsters from his debut novel are coming to life. The only way to stop them is to destroy all the copies of his book, before the creatures destroy him!

'The wall was covered in blood that glistened with a sickeningly bright green. They trod lightly, but crushed bone after bone underfoot. There was a disturbance from further up the tunnel. The creatures howled, ravenous and alert. The candles flickered and extinguished, leaving the group in a choking darkness. Suddenly surrounded by the sounds of otherworldly laughter and the sound of massive, nay, gargantuan teeth grinding, against all common sense, they ram.'

"Damn!" Timothy Peg cursed and ripped the page from his typewriter. He bent down and applied several daubs of correctional fluid, as a mother might gently wipe an eyelash from her baby's face. He sat back and reviewed the page with obvious satisfaction. At least, it would be obvious had he anyone to observe.

'...He kicked the door open violently, causing the snow outside to leech onto the few tendrils of warmth left in the deserted cabin, the physical portal between this world and the world of the monsters. The tender group edged inside, not bothering to shut the door because, whilst they watched Lord Dubious Sedition and his assistant, Ladd search for the tunnel, they knew they would want a quick exit.

"Ladd, pass me the Quantum Junctionator." Ladd opened the large backpack, light as a feather, pulling out a multitude of curious and foreign-looking objects. He picked one from the shambles and handed it back to Dubious. He brushed its side gently with the Sardonyx gem. The resulting reaction forced an arcane tornado through the fragile cabin, blowing the half-open door completely off its hinges and into the snow several metres away.

A man-sized hole ripped through, sucking into it everything that was not nailed down, including the group.

They appeared in a long, dark cave, dimly lit a faint purple from no apparent source. Under this half-light, the group searched for their candles. With these in hand, they approached the First Corner.

The wall was covered in blood that glistened with a sickeningly bright green. They trod lightly, but crushed bone after bone underfoot. There was a disturbance from further up the tunnel. The creatures howled, ravenous and alert. The candles flickered and extinguished, leaving the group in a choking darkness. Suddenly surrounded by the sounds of otherworldly laughter and the sound of massive, nay, gargantuan teeth grinding, against all common sense, they ran.' The typewriter pinged happily as it reached the end of the page. Timothy ripped it off and laid it against the many other pages he had already written of the same novel. In a neat, cursive hand, he wrote at the bottom 'page 27'.

The aspiring author-to-be stretched his weary fingers and checked his clock. 5pm. He would go out soon. He made his way to his kitchen and poured out a measure of a red liquid. He put the cup to his lips and inhaled deeply. He opened his mouth to drink when a knock came at his door.

"Damn! Damn!" he muttered, stashing the cup away in a small niche of a cupboard behind some cereal packets. He rushed to the door, dodging the half-finished manuscripts littered about the place. The hubbub of Short Street came to his ears as he opened the door. "Belinda, darling!" he stepped back to allow his sister to step through. She had long black hair and the slightly haunted expression of a person who had spent too long on the wrong side of the law, and liked it. She bore slight resemblances to Timothy, such as the diamond-shaped face and the narrow grey eyes common in the Peg family, however her skin appeared healthier than his pure white skin. She buzzed with life whilst he waited, still as a corpse.

She sniffed the air daintily. "It smells of blood in here, Timmy. Where was it from this time?" she glared at him with a dangerous curiosity. Her commanding gaze worked on him every time, ever since she was born she could manipulate her brother, able to get him to skip along the road naked singing a humorous song about goblins, if she saw fit.

"Dr. Threeth, roundthecorneratthehospital." he spat out the words as fast as humanely possible.

"I thought Threeth was on holiday." Glare. Result.

"Hegotbackyesterday." Belinda looked out at the horizon, or what she could see of it from her brother's spacious studio flat, with especially bricked-up windows in all but one wall. On the last he had lavished opaque black curtains. The sun was setting earlier than usual; winter was truly upon them now.

"Hmm... Can I see your latest novel?" He nodded, averting eyes so as to not catch her glare, instead gesturing towards the typewriter room.

"I think this one will go through, it's a fantasy, this time." Belinda rolled her eyes slightly. "I used the main character you came up with for me, Lord Dubious, and a small group travel to this alternate reality where massive creatures dwell, who have been trying to break in to their world through different wizards and necromancers for decades. They think that they can defeat the head creature and restore balance, and then, BANG!" he brought his hands together in a dramatic clap.

"And then?"

"Oh, I haven't got that far yet. It's been a lot of foreshadowing at the moment." he shrugged nonchalantly.

"How many pages have you done, Timmy?" she adopted the patronizing voice that would almost certainly not get her what she wanted.

"I wouldn't know. I haven't been counting." he lied blithely. She asked questions and feigned interest in her brother's latest attempt to publish, or even finish, a novel. He talked animatedly, even when she walked away and opened a two-story curtain enough to peek out and note that it was now after sunset. She walked over to the front door, and, with a forlorn thought at the necessary cup of golden-red liquid behind the jar of rice in his cupboard, Timothy followed.

Waiting politely in the street was a magnificent coach pulled by two black stallions, another sign of the Pegs' affluence. The coach driver himself was once a fine example of an alpha male, but thirty years employed as a coach-driver to one of the smallest noble families in the city had caused Jenkins to lose his six-pack and hair.

"Good evening Mistress, Master." he bowed deeply and opened the door for his employers. Timothy held his breath as he passed Jenkins, who always wore a clove of garlic about his person, while not doing anything to Timothy physically, it was an extremely unpleasant smell when mixed with horse dung and sweat.

The horse-drawn coach rattled and jerked into action, Belinda sat as far away as possible from her brother, who, even with his natural docility, still had the ability to revert to his newborn instincts and drain her dry. He was unlike anyone else in their family. When Timothy was twenty-three, almost ten years ago now, ‘the Incident' occurred. He had subsequently been politely asked to leave the main house, as he made many of the inhabitants and staff uneasy, they had given him the flat and a monthly payment to pursue whatever life he sees fit to lead for the rest of eternity.

"What does Mother want this time?" restrained Timothy.

"She worries about you, Timmy. We all worry about you." Her brother simply chuckled at her, as if she meant to tell a joke.

"Alexander doesn't. Father doesn't."

"You don't really believe that, do you? Of course they care."

Timothy snorted in distain. "Yeah? Well, they have a funny way of showing it."

"They love you, and they miss you. They want you back."

"Belinda..." Timothy growled gently, "don't go down that road. Not today."

The coach ground to a gentle halt outside the affluent mansion of the Pegs.

He was ushered inwards by the ever-timid butler, and pushed directly to Mother's chamber. A thick cloud hung in the room, making it difficult to breathe. In the middle of the room there was a huge, four poster bed, with Mother wrapped up in layer upon layer of fur and cloth. She looked less pale than usual, but it still did nothing to dissuade doctors' confusion to her health. While some proclaimed she would go on to live a long life others morosely informed that she barely had two months left. There was only one thing all the doctors agreed on. They had absolutely no idea what was wrong with her.

Mother had been subjected to bleeding, trephining, surgery and a variety of other kill-or-cure techniques of diagnoses and treatment, and each one seemed to lead to the former outcome. Every natural and unnatural remedy that could be legally digested had been, but all to no effect.

"Timothy." His mother smiled warmly at him, and he felt himself smile back. 'I'm so glad you came.' She extended a bony finger and beckoned him closer. "There is something you can do for me." She waved Belinda away, who slammed the door behind her. "I am dying, Timothy. The doctors cannot help me. Do this one thing for me, my boy?" Timothy nodded, slowly. "I am dying, Timmy. I think I will look forward to death when it comes. I do not want you to save me."

"Mother? Are you certain?" he whispered uncertainly.

"Deathly so." There was a pregnant pause whilst Timothy contemplated his mother's words. "Now, run along, before your brother sees you." Timothy disappeared without another word. Absent-mindedly, he dragged a sleeve across his dampening eyes.

Timothy had been enjoying the toughness of his previously weedy body, but swore an oath that he would never drink the blood of a breathing mortal. He bought the blood in bottles from a twisted purveyor working in a hospital around the corner. This dead blood sated his hunger, but did not grant him any of the bonuses that other vampires gained from drinking it fresh from the spring, as it were, such as inhumanely fast healing, an improvement on all vampires' already superior speed and strength and a heightened sense system.

He stared hungrily at the passersby on the street, opening his mouth slightly, exposing the generic fangs sprouted on his top jaw. Belinda cleared her throat and resumed talking, calling Timothy out of his descent into vampirism.

"Timothy, I've been thinking, you know."

"About what?" he asked, however his face said 'Careful...' at her.

"About Caleb, he proposed to me, again. I didn't know what to say."

"Aha..." He nodded absent-mindedly and then registered what his sister had said. "Who's Caleb?"

Belinda rolled her eyes at him in an extremely patronizing manner. She flicked her hair behind her shoulder and Timothy received a huge draft of garlic. "A crotchety old man who runs a local slaughterhouse. He seems to think I have a thing for him, I don't know why. Normally, this would not be important, but Mother fired all my... employees without my knowledge. They won't come back to work, and now Caleb knows where I live. D'you think you could...?" Her sentence trailed off when she saw the hurt look upon her brother's face.

"...I could... kill... him? For you?" Timothy was hurt that his sister would consider such an option. He was no killer. He had never embraced his family's reputation for illicit activities of any level. Nevertheless, he had a hard time with the law. They knew of the Pegs' reputation, but had never been able to pin anything on them. That, combined with the fact that he was a vampire, who did not have a good reputation either, made him the prime target. Say, if he and his brother and a well-known, small-time crook were to walk down a street one-by-one, Timothy would be the one most likely to be stopped.

At times like those all he could do was to grin and bear it. That normally encouraged the copper, though. He had been put in the gaol several times just for being a vampire and a Peg. It was de rigueur to dress in formal wear when one is a vampire, but Timothy boycotted that rule firmly, attempting to blend in more. His skin was as white as a pearl and no amount of sun could change that. Yes, it was a fallacy that vampires couldn't be exposed to sunlight, the vampires themselves did little to assuage that fallacy, it was also de rigueur to only embrace the night sky; such as it was to avoid holy places or lumber mills.

According to the unofficial secret vampire 'Circle', it was to keep up the illusion and so to supposedly keep their strengths - and weaknesses - unknown. Then again, most members of the Circle had lived for a very long time in secret and in shadow, and had grown much attached to their old ways.

The coach rattled on through the streets, Timothy went back to staring out of the window for a few minutes, watching the humans go by. His stomach grew restless as a streetwalker came into his sight, lurking in the opening of an alleyway, waiting for her next john. Her elegant, exposed leg immediately drew his attention. Timothy saw himself leaping from the carriage, sinking his teeth into her thigh, draining her dry before leaping to his next target. Blood after blood until he was finally satisfied.

He tore himself away from the window and toward his sister. "I cannot do what you ask, Belinda. Never ask me to do that."

She tried to reply 'why not?' but Timothy did leap from the coach, onto hard stone pavement, and walk away, leaving the coach door flapping.

"Timothy!" she called after him, "Come back!"

The End

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