Victor staggered down the middle of the road, clutching a bloodied wound in his stomach, his mind sinking into a haze.
Everything was dark save for the towering streetlights above, and a single pub, nestled between a butchers’ and a supermarket.
The entrance was closed, but there were people moving around inside. Victor shuffled over, forced to rest heavily on one of several outdoor tables along the way. Summoning what strength he had, Victor finally managed to reach the front door.
A swift turn of the handle and a sharp snap, he made his way inside, where he was met with several members of a young staff. Behind the bar, Tom, a skinny fellow with fidgeting hands saw him first. His eyes turned wide.
A restless woman with bright green eyes and a sleek brown ponytail. She was shocked silent, practically stumbling over to their final member, Beth, exhausted, she barely seemed present, until she saw the half-dead Victor toppling inside.
“Oh God, oh God…” Beth hurried over to the stranger, a greying middle-aged man with eyes so striking, despite his condition. Taking his arm on her shoulder, she helped him to a seat at one of tables, before gesturing to the bartender. “Tom, call an ambulance, why don’t you!”
Something clicked behind Tom’s eyes and he immediately took out his phone and began to dial. “No!” Victor screamed. All three of the staff stood still for a moment, staring. “You need to go to the hospital, you’re bleeding out!” Annabelle exclaimed.
“I said no!” His eyes turned red as massive fangs ripped out of his mouth, his voice twisting into something resembling an animal’s roar, rather than something human. He winced slightly at his own ferocity.
Everyone backed away from him in terror, even Tom, despite being across the room and behind the bar.
The pub was utterly silent, as Victor hobbled to his feet, and gradually made his way over to the bar, Tom staring at him like a cornered rabbit, clinging to the back wall as if he could sink through and escape. Victor slumped onto one of the bar stools, sweating like he’d run a marathon.
“…Me?” Tom muttered.
“Something with alcohol, if that’s you then by all means.” Victor quipped, annoyed. Tom just very quickly poured a beer, handing it to Victor with a very shaky hand. The staff kept staring at him, too scared to move, as he drank. Victor sighed.
“I’m a vampire. I’ll recover in a minute.” He ignored them as he finished off his beer, but when he was done, he’d had enough. He physically couldn’t bring himself to leave, so he decided to answer some of the many questions clearly darting around behind their eyes.
“What do you want to ask then?” He spoke to the room. Tom didn’t dare move. Standing frozen in place. Annabelle couldn’t bring herself to speak, instead glancing at Beth, who understood.
“A-Alright…” Beth began. “Are you going to, um… hurt us?”
Victor gestured with his glass to Tom for another, who haphazardly obliged, as he answered Beth’s question.
“No. The gaping wound in my stomach has soured my appetite for the likes of you.” Strangely, his sarcastic response helped put everyone at ease, Annabelle and Beth at least.
Both of them could have run for the exit by now, but they wouldn’t leave Tom behind. Besides, they were far too curious.
“What happened to you?” Beth asked.
“Vampire hunter. We came to blows and he got in some lucky hits.”
“W-will they come back for you?” Annabelle muttered, the thought of some supernatural battle breaking out, playing through her mind.
“No. I killed him.”
Tom gasped. Everyone could hear him start to whimper, but Beth and Annabelle were more concerned with the vampire, who didn’t much care what the bartender did.
“And he has no vampire hunter friends, or…?” Beth questioned.
“No, he was the last one.”
“Last one?” Beth asked, her fascination pushing past her fear. Downing his second beer, Victor slowly turned just enough to make eye contact with Beth, who by now had taken the seat she’d offered Victor.
“There used to be a lot more of them, a lot more of me. We’ve been at odds for a while. Eventually, my numbers dwindled, for a number of reasons but mostly fighting them, and without as many vampires there was less cause for vampire hunters. The few that persisted still occasionally died in the field, which was to be expected. Eventually time caught up with both sides, until it was just us. Then just me.”
“…W-what else was killing you…?” Tom spoke for the first time since Victor showed what he was. The vampire just leant back, speaking wistfully like he was remembering some story from his youth.
“Lots of things, I suppose. War, disease, infighting. We were never any good…” Suddenly Victor started coughing profusely. Growing weak, the fit only ending with a handful of blood in his hand. “…at working together.” He continued like nothing happened.
“Probably why a bunch of humans with stakes and silver could take us down.” Beth, unlike the others, couldn’t help but feel concerned for Victor.
“A-are you ok?”
“It’s fine, just pretty sure I’m dying.” Nobody knew what to say, except maybe Beth.
“So, were these hunters some organized group or just stragglers?” She asked, hoping talking about the past would distract him from the pain.
“Oh, definitely organized. An offshoot from the Knights Templars in fact. There were some smaller groups and stragglers every now and again, but the Knights were the heavy hitters.”
“What then, they thought you were demons and decided to wipe you out?” Beth continued. “Not exactly.” Victor actually looked a little embarrassed, if not ashamed.
“13th century France, a group of vampires were really making a mess of things.” The humans in the room could feel the understatement. Victor carried on.
“As a group we vampires aren’t the most well-behaved bunch. But those in France really shat the bed. There was enough of them that they felt invincible. Going from town to town, doing what they liked, killing whom they liked…”
Everyone became ensnared by the story.
“The usual suspects were trying to stop it, and it might have gone by as another bloody chapter in vampire history, if not for one vampire deciding to sow a little chaos; by feeding their blood to the son of the Knights Templar’s Grand Master.”
“Why?” Tom asked, like a good audience member.
“Well, the son was dying, and the vampire in question had taken a liking to the man, so fed him their blood as it could heal all sorts of things. But it wasn’t enough. The son died. With vampire blood in him. So, that night, he rose a vampire too.”
His expression darkened.
“The Grand Master was apocalyptic.
“He couldn’t stand what his son had become, and killed him as soon as he found him. He then abandoned his post as Grand Master, founding his own vampire hunting sect, and so began the Secret Order.”
However this conversation began, Victor looked guilt ridden, like he was performing his last confessions. He looked so pale. He fell off his seat with a deafening thud. Beth and Annabelle rushed to his side, Tom looking over from behind the bar.
“It’s ok. Bound to die eventually I suppose.” Victor said wistfully. His life slipping away like a breath held for longer than it should.
“…Had a last drink… at least…”
In a moment he was gone.
The three humans remained quiet for several minutes, uncertain what to do with the dead vampire in their pub.
Then Beth said something no one expected.
“Let’s take his blood.”
Annabelle and Tom just stared at her. But Beth only grew more excited.
“Come on! You heard them! Drink their blood, die, and you become a vampire! Immortality! Come on!”
She and Annabelle stared at each other intensely, Annabelle practically drinking in her friend’s excitement.
“Ok, let’s do it!”
Tom wanted to scream ‘No!’ But he couldn’t. He was utterly overwhelmed. Part of him couldn’t believe any of this was real.
He just watched as his friends went into the back, grabbing glasses and a knife, and hurrying over to cut a vein and letting the contents flow into their vessels, unconcerned with the mess.
As Tom watched, he felt his hand wrap around a glass bottle. He began muttering.