When it was just the three
of them, they went to explore the cave system. The tapping noise continued
as they searched every tunnel and hole they came upon. Poe and Conri met
up and called for Prysm to join them. “I have a bad feeling this isn’t
Witch Lilith’s work. She’s too stupid for this. She’s happy with her magic
broom and cauldron of green slime. For the last week she’s done nothing
but fly around all night long and she disappears during the day.” Prysm
showed them a jar of blood she’d found in one of the tunnels. “I think
it’s a vampire and he’s keeping all the animals to suck their blood.”
Poe couldn’t take his eyes
off the jar of crimson liquid. “All the animals are free so whoever it is
will have to spend all that time getting them again and I think the
animals will go somewhere else for a while. Can I hold the jar?”
“Don’t drop it. The blood
will call to the vampire.”
“Give me a break, Prysm.
The blood won’t call it. The vampire will smell it and come.” Poe set the
jar down on the floor. “Don’t knock it over.”
Tink! Clink! Tink!
They heard the tapping
sound again. “It’s coming from that direction,” Prysm said, pointing down
a dark tunnel.
Poe turned on his
flashlight and led the way. They came to another cave. “You two stay back.
I’ll go and see what it is.”
“Who made you the boss,
Poe? Why can’t I look this time, or Conri? He’s three times your size.”
Prysm whined and then put her hands on her hips. “Well?”
“Conri, would you like to
look?” Poe turned to the werewolf.
It grunted and crept
towards the edge, its paws silent on the blood-encrusted stones. Conri
peered over the edge. Prysm and Poe moved towards him, slipping and
sliding. Poe’s foot caught on a dislodged stone and he tripped, flying
into Conri. Conri fell over the edge, pulling Poe with him. The werewolf
landed on his back and Poe landed on top of him. Both lay still.
Prysm looked over the
edge. Once again the cave was full of cages. With only one dim light to
see, she couldn’t make out what the cages held. “Are you all right down
there, Poe? I don’t think there’s anyone in here. The cages are full, but
I’m not sure with what.”
Poe stood and helped pull
Conri to his feet. The werewolf rubbed the pain in his back. “I hope
you’re okay, Conri. Sorry about that.” Poe frowned at Conri, who grumbled
and snarled. Poe was about to apologize again when he saw a man huddled in
the corner of a cage. When he moved closer, he noticed how old the man
looked. The cage next to it held an older woman, dressed in rags and had
unkempt hair. Poe ran from cage to cage. He shouted up to Prysm. “The
cages are full of old people. Conri and I will let them out, but most of
them look too sick and too tired to move.”
“I’m not too old,” a
brown-toothed man snapped. “Get me out of here.”
Poe stopped in front of
his cage. “Who are you? Are you the one who has been tapping on the bars
of your cage?”
“Of course it was me.” He
hit the bars over and over again. “Now get me out of here before Count
what’s-his-name comes back.”
The old man sighed. “The
vampire, Count Wolfbane Dragonears. He kidnapped all of us from Misty
Valley Old Folks Home.” He noticed the werewolf. “Who are you? What are
you? Haven’t shaved in a while, have you, hippy.”
Poe snickered. “He’s not a
hippy. This is Conri. He’s a werewolf and my friend.” The werewolf snarled
and lifted one of his lips, exposing his teeth.
“Is that so? Friend, you
say? That’s good enough for me. Have your friend get me out of here.”
“Wait a second. Who are
you?” Poe turned to Conri. “Would you look for something to break this
lock open please?” Conri rushed off.
“My name is Jack O.
Poe burst out laughing.
“Right. I’m sure it is. What about all these other people? Are they dead?”
He moved to another cage and looked at an elderly man. “He looks dead.”
“He’s only dead if the
vampire has sucked his blood. Hurry. The Count will be returning when it
is nighttime.” Jack started hitting the bars with a filthy tin cup.
“Be quiet.” Poe looked up
at Prysm. “Go and get some help, Prysm. Go get your brother, Shayde and
his friend, Drake.”
“I don’t want to go.”
“Listen, the vampire is
coming back soon. We’re stuck down here, but you can escape. Go back to
the other cave and go through the hole. Find Leeloo and Candi and tell
them to stay where they are and then go and get your brother.”
Prysm didn’t want to
leave, but knew they needed help. “Be careful. I’ll be back in a little
“Watch out for Witch
Lilith!” Poe waved goodbye to his friend. Conri returned with a steel bar
he’d broken off one of the cages. “Thanks. This will do. Stand back.” Poe
hit the lock, but nothing happened. “Here, Conri. You give it a try.” The
werewolf struck the lock and with this use of strength, it fell to pieces.
Jack pushed his way out. “Watch it, Jack. You almost knocked me over.”
“I’m outta here.” Jack ran
towards a door.
“Wait! Aren’t you going to
help with the others?” Poe pleaded with the man for his help. “Mr.
Lantern, please help.”
“Not in your life. If you
don’t leave right now, you’ll be the vampire’s next victim.” Jack
disappeared through a heavy wooden door.
“Okay. So much for that.”
Poe and Conri opened all the cages, but the men and women inside were too
weak to move. “Conri, you’ll have to carry them one or two at a time. I’ll
stay here and watch over the others”
The werewolf tenderly
picked up two elderly women and carried them through the door. After two
hours he helped the last two escape, leaving Poe alone. Before Conri
returned, a bat flew into the cave. Poe watched as it soared around the
room, flapping its black, leathery wings. It swooped from cage to cage and
then landed on the ground next to Poe. Poe backed up against a stone wall
and watched in horror as the bat took the form of a person dressed in
black. The man’s skin was pearly white and Poe could see his veins through
it. His lips were black and his eyes were like pieces of coal and shiny
like obsidian. A black cape with blood-red lining hung around the man’s
shoulders. He hissed at Poe. “Where are my other guests?”
“If you’re talking about
the old people, they are all free and so are the animals.” Poe shivered
with fear. “You can’t suck their blood now. Ha ha.”
“I see. So now you are my
only guest. I believe we have met before.” The vampire saw Poe’s look of
confusion. “You have forgotten already? What a shame. Let me remind you.
Last week, at the cemetery; the pumpkin? Does any of this ring a bell?”
Poe gulped. “That was
“Yes. It was a very
unpleasant experience having to pick rotting pumpkin from my hair.”
Poe stifled a chuckle.
“Well, um, I’m sorry about that. I was trying to get away from the zombie
and you were blocking the exit.”
“I see. Perhaps I should
introduce myself. I am Count Wolfbane Dragonears. Welcome to my home.” He
Poe stood in silence, not
knowing what to reply. “That’s sort of a weird name for a vampire, isn’t
The count’s eyes widened
for a few moments. “Weird? I have no idea what you mean.”
“Most vampires are called
Count Dracula, or Count Vanislov, or some Eastern European name. Wolfbane
is more a werewolf name and Dragonears? What do vampires and dragons have
to do with each other.” Poe shook his head.
“Are you mocking my family
name? I come from a long line of famous vampires. Not once has anyone
dared to insult us, until now.” The count felt his skin grow icier, but
took control of the situation once again. “I think I shall prepare a room
for you so you can relax until dinner.” The vampire laughed out loud,
sending shivers up and down Poe’s back, arms and legs. The vampire grabbed
Poe by the arm and led him to a small cage. Once he’d pushed Poe inside
and locked the barred door, the vampire grabbed a chain and pulled it,
raising the cage to the roof of the cave. “I will allow you some time to
yourself to think about your own family name and how you won’t be around
to continue the family line. I hope you like the view from up there. Most
of my guests are dying to be there.” Once again the count laughed. Poe
still kept silent. “Very well. Once the sun goes down, I will return.” He
turned into a bat and flew around Poe’s cage for a few moments and then
disappeared into the darkness.
Poe shook the cage and
shouted. “Conri! Conri! Help me!” After calling for help for half an hour,
Poe gave up and slouched to the bottom, leaning his back against the cold