Read My Shoddy Work: “The Night Shift” Part 10

Unlike some of you out there, I don’t exist on a spectrum. I exist on a bi-modal distribution. But despite our differences, I hope you’ll give my feeble attempts at art the due consideration they deserve (i.e., skim it till you get bored and move on to whatever else the internet has in store for you).

Anyhoo, I’m pleased to share the FINAL installment of Zoltan (Hungarian Demon Hunter Extraordinaire)’s battle against the forces of darkness.

If you haven’t been following along, you can catch up by reading Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4 , Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7 , Part 8 and Part 9 here.

The holy water caught Constantin squarely on the forehead and made a sizzling, crackling sound. The vampire’s handsome features were now a crackling mess. His coal black eyes rolled in fury and he made as if to pounce on Maria. Sophie cried out in pain. Zoltan didn’t waste the opportunity and landed a crushing blow on the vampire’s jaw with a fist wrapped in rosary beads. Constantin stumbled back. The rosary beads left angry smoking dents in the vampire’s face.

“Stinking cattle!” he swore.

In the microscopic interlude, Zoltan retrieved his sword and struck again. This time, the vampire couldn’t avoid the blow. The silver blade came whistling downward in a perfect arc and embedded itself deep inside the vampire’s skull. Maria heard a sharp gasp coming from Sophie.

There was no scream, no roar of fury. Constantin slumped unceremoniously to his knees and collapsed to the floor. Zoltan put his foot on the vampire’s face to retrieve his sword. Black blood and smoke were oozing from the head wound.

“What do we do now?” Maria’s voice was shaking with adrenaline.

“We finish our work.” Zoltan rolled the vampire over to lay flat on its back and pulled one of the large wooden stakes from his jacket. He placed it over the heart.

“Would you mind holding dis?”

***

Once they had cleaned up the mess in room 1213, they wrapped Constantin in bedsheets for transport. Sophie had not stirred through this entire process. She was breathing steadily and sleeping peacefully. Maria thought she could already see color returning to the girl’s cheeks.

“She did not drink his blood,” Zoltan remarked “she is out of danger. We were fortunate in dis.”

They dragged Constantin down the hallway past the sleeping forms of the hospital staff to the elevator. They went to the top floor and then Zoltan carried shrouded form up the stairwell to the roof.

A cool wind whipped at their faces. The night was ending and Maria could see pale blue hints of dawn in the eastern end of the sky. They dragged Constantin into the middle of the roof and opened the sheet to reveal the vampire’s grimacing form. The stake protruded out of his chest awkwardly. His inhuman talons were clenched in impotent rage.

“How old was he?” Maria asked. “I mean how long did he -”

“How long did he live as a vampire?” Zoltan supplied. “Hard to tell exactly. Two maybe three centuries. Da retractable talons take several decades to develop.”

“How will we explain? When he’s gone?”

“The elderly nuns that sit on the board of dis hospital were apprised of the situation before I arrived here. They vill make no trouble now dat da vampire is destroyed. My order is vell known to dem. Dr. Constantin did us a favor by casting a spell of sleep on the entire floor. Dey will all wake up with the dawn and remember nothing of our exertions.“

The eastern sky was turning gold and red now. Zoltan lit a cigarette.

“How long have you been doing this?” Maria stared.

Zoltan sighed, “Since the late 15th century.”

The forthrightness of the reply made Maria laugh. After the previous night, the idea that she was speaking to a more than 500 year old man wasn’t so far fetched.

“You’re older than that monster we just killed! How?” she asked.

“Members of my order are burdened with physical durability and longevity beyond the average person. I’m not invincible but, I can recover from that which does not kill me outright. I heal faster. Run faster. I’m stronger than most. I can hold my breath pretty long too.” His eyes twinkled a little.

“Even when you smoke those things?”

Zoltan examined the cigarette between his fingers. The sun had breached the horizon.

“Not getting cancer or heart trouble is one of the small compensations I receive for spending half a millennia hunting vermin in the shadows.”

“What will happen to Sophie?”

“Hard to say.” The morning sun struck the roof and the sky was on fire with glory.

He continued, “She’ll mostly recover of course. At most this will be a distant dream to her. She’ll very likely live out her life free from dis kind of assault. Free to make mistakes, free for good or ill. Free as it should be.”

Zoltan gazed up at the dawning sky. The sunlight struck the vampire’s motionless corpse. Maria watched as the battered pale skin cracked and smoked. The combustion set the clothes on fire briefly. Constantin’s skin turned to ash quickly and fell away. Centuries of torture and bloodshed ended.

“What do I do now?” Maria was crying a little.

“Go home. Live your life.”

“What if I can’t? What if it’s too much?”

“I’ll be around.” Zoltan flicked his cigarette into the wind and watched as it swept the ashes of Dr. Constantin away.

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